Interrogating Justice Publishes Bombshell Report on USP Tucson

Interrogating Justice Publishes Bombshell Report on USP Tucson

Yesterday, Interrogating Justice published a bombshell report on the gun incident that took place at the minimum-security satellite camp at USP Tucson back in November. Until yesterday’s report, the only version of events made public about the incident was from the Bureau of Prisons.

“A federal prison inmate who was able to obtain a firearm at a prison camp in Arizona pulled out the gun in a visitation area and attempted to shoot a visitor in the head,” the Associated Press reported on Nov. 14, 2022, the day after the incident. “Officials said the inmate was restrained and the firearm was seized.”

But Peter J. Tomasek, a writer and attorney for Interrogating Justice, talked to several people who were in the visiting room or outside on the patio next to it when the incident occurred. Their stories directly undermine what the AP called a “vow[] to bring new transparency” for the BOP.

Image courtesy of Federal Bureau of Prisons via Wikimedia Commons.

What happened at USP Tucson on Nov. 13, 2022?

According to Interrogating Justice’s report, a man in USP Tucson’s satellite camp pointed a pistol directly at the head of his wife, Ismaela, in the camp’s visiting room. According to sources in the room, however, Jaime used the wrong bullets and didn’t go off.

Eventually, as the AP reported, “the inmate was restrained and the firearm was seized.” But Jaime wasn’t restrained by BOP staff. He was restrained by another camper, Vargas, who risked his own life to help save Ismaela. And the firearm wasn’t seized by BOP staff either. It was pried out of Jaime’s hands by Ismaela and Vargas.

According to the people Tomasek spoke with, BOP staff did almost nothing to help. One of the officers was the first out of the room when the doors opened. And some witnesses said he literally looked the other way so he didn’t have to watch the attack happen as he stood by.

Image courtesy of Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons.

What has happened in the three months since then?

Since Nov. 13, 2022, the BOP has reportedly treated the officer who ran like a hero. He was immediately put on paid medical leave for the “stress” he suffered. Ismaela and Vargas, on the other hand, got nothing.

Ismaela and her teenage daughter who was outside of the room and watched as her dad tried to kill her mom were both handcuffed and interrogated before being allowed to leave. Neither received any medical or mental-health treatment.

Vargas, like the other campers in or near the visiting room, were put in solitary confinement at the nearby maximum-security facility. Eventually, all of the other campers there were moved to the nearby maximum-security facility, too. And their treatment there has been significantly worse than the maximum-security offenders who were already there.

You can read more about their treatment in Tomasek’s report. But the good news is that, according to his tweet last night, the campers’ loved ones received messages last night indicating that they were finally being returned to the camp. While this hasn’t been confirmed yet, the possibility of them finally being moved is great news.

Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation via Wikimedia Commons.

The Takeaway:

The BOP is an $8 billion dollar a year federal agency. Yet it operates with seemingly zero oversight and zero accountability. It completely botched implementation of the First Step Act Time Credits Program. No consequences. It has made countless headlines about mismanagement and corruption. No consequences. And it almost let a husband murder his wife in a minimum-security camp’s visiting room. So far, there have been no consequences for that either.

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