Overzealous Prosecution

It sure looks like the Feds are bending over backwards to make sure R. Allen Stanford, accused of massive investment fraud, is not allowed to defend himself.  The Feds are running the whole playbook at him, from onerous pre-trial detention requirements to asset forfeiture (the latter to the point that the Feds are working to make sure the insurance policy he had to pay for his defense in such actions is not allowed to pay him.)  I understand that a guy who has substantial interest in offshore banking centers might be a flight risk, but this is absurd:

Mr. Stanford has been incarcerated since June 18, 2009 and was moved to the [Federal Detention Center] on September 29, 2009. Immediately upon his arrival at the FDC, he underwent general anesthesia surgery due to injuries that were inflicted upon him at the Joe Corley Detention Facility. He was then immediately taken from surgery and placed in the Maximum Security Section "” known as the "Special Housing Unit" (SHU) "” in a 7' x 6 1/2' solitary cell. He was kept there, 24 hours a day, unless visited by his lawyers. No other visitors were permitted, nor was he permitted to make or receive telephone calls. He had virtually no contact with other human beings, except for guards or his lawyers.

When he was taken from his cell, even for legal visits, he was forced to put his hands behind his back and place them through a small opening in the door. He then was handcuffed, with his arms behind his back, and removed from his cell. After being searched, he was escorted to the attorney visiting room down the hall from his cell; he was placed in the room and then the guards locked the heavy steel door. He was required, again, to back up to the door and place his shackled hands through the opening, so that the handcuffs could be removed. At the conclusion of his legal visits, he was handcuffed through the steel door, again, and then taken to a different cell where he was once again required to back up to the cell door to have his handcuffs removed and then forced to remove all of his clothing. Once he was nude, the guards then conducted a complete, external and internal search of his body, including his anus and genitalia. He was then shackled and returned to his cell. In his cell there was neither a television nor a radio and only minimal reading material  was made available to him. He remained there in complete solitude and isolation until the next time his lawyers returned for a visit.

In short, Mr. Stanford was confined under the same maximum security conditions as a convicted death row prisoner, even though the allegations against him are for white collar, non-violent offenses. He is certainly not viewed as someone who poses a threat to other persons or the community, nevertheless, he has been deprived of human contact, communication with family and friends, and was incarcerated under conditions reserved for the most violent of convicted criminals. Officials at the FDC informed counsel that this was for Mr. Stanford's "own protection" and to minimize their liability.  .  .  .

Remember, he has not been convicted -- this is pre-trial detention.  The sole goal, legally, is supposed to be to keep him from fleeing before his trial.

I am sensitive to this from my climate work.  My gut feel is that people who are truly confident in their case do not work overtime to make sure their opposition is not allowed to make their case.


  1. me:

    Well, it isn't "cruel *and* unusual punishment" if we inflict it on sufficient numbers of people, isn't it - it is simply cruel. America is doing a good job emulating the escalation in Germany in the 30ies.

  2. DrTorch:

    Maybe he's really Magneto.

  3. Thomas:

    It appears he ripped the wrong people off.

  4. bbartlog:

    Could be what Thomas says, could be that the case is weak and the prosecutor hopes to force him to plead to something. Or it could be that someone is trying to extract information about hidden funds from him. Certainly it's astoundingly and inhumanly punitive given the circumstances.

  5. Jeff:

    Actually, these are standard high-security isolation procedures in prison facilities. The reason he is in high-security isolation is because at the last place he was beaten up, and if a high profile prisoner gets beaten but is not isolated after... there is the possibility for the prisoner to sue the prison or the state for damages. The lawyers can also make a cruel and unusual punishment argument and argue for release on bail. Once released, he does become a major flight risk.

    Is he asking to go back to general population? My guess is he'd rather be in this situation than back to being a punching bag. He's lucky he has money for real lawyers, or he'd be getting his jaw broke in addition to his nose next time.

  6. D-man:

    If there were true justice in the world, this is the sort of treatment Obama should be subjected to on a daily basis. After all, Obama has ripped us all off for TRILLIONS. This guy Stanford is small potatoes compared to our commander-in-thief.

  7. Dr. T:

    Jeff, your argument might make sense if they were only isolating him from the general prison population. However, they are isolating him from outside contact, they are handcuffing him (a non-violent detainee) within the prison, and they are stripping him and performing a body cavity search every time he speaks with his lawyer. They are also depriving him of standard prison recreation activities (no exercise, no TV, no radio, etc.). He is being more severely punished than most convicted mass murderers and serial rapists. What is your reason for downplaying his mistreatment?

  8. Steve W from Ford:

    I don't care if he is ultimately found guilty or not, no one deserves to be treated like a rabid dog, unless they prove themselves to be one and he has not. My question is where are the federal courts during this travesty of justice?

  9. anon:

    The SEC, etc. are no different than the DEA goons that entered that Mo. house and shot the dog.

    And they're still going to botch the case, even after stacking the deck.

  10. Ken:

    Though Sanford being kept in the SHU unit is not typical, much of the rest of his experience is typical for pre-trial detainees.

    Here in Los Angeles, many of my federal clients are housed in San Bernardino County jail, an utter shit-hole about an hour and a half drive away (in light traffic, that is). The feds contract with them because the downtown federal facility is overcrowded.

    On court days, clients are lucky to get 3 hours of sleep.

  11. orthodoc:

    If he's found not guilty, my hope is that he is able to sue each and every person involved in his mistreatment. I strongly suspect that the reason for his mistreatment is that the case against him is weak, and they're trying to squeeze him into a plea deal.

  12. tomw:

    I had not heard of Stanford before this post. I read in one of the links/comments that he had PO'd the SEC and their investigators.
    He still deserves treatment at least as decent as the 'unindicted Islamist terrorists' in Gitmo.
    They get sunshine, volleyball, a Koran, and fresh ocean air.
    My understanding was that SHU's were for physically dangerous prisoners that had no respect for the law, and were a danger to other prisoners. Stanford does not fit any of the SHU characteristics. I don't see how any other prisoners would give a flying F for an investment schemer, ponzi or not, as I doubt they'd have any investments, no?
    He made someone mad, and he is the designated bullseye. Ready Fire Aim.
    Methinks there may be a maltreatment/human rights civil action in the future.
    He has gotten worse treatment than Bernie Madoff... Are the 'crimes' similar?