Access to Legal Services Attorney
Visits Attorney visits will be arranged by the Unit Team. Attorneys will be required to contact the inmate’s Unit Team at least a day before the requested visit. Attorneys are encouraged to visit during regular visiting hours; however, visits from an attorney can be arranged at other times based on the circumstances of each case and availability of staff. Attorney visits will be subject to visual monitoring but not audio monitoring. The assignment of a privacy room in the Visiting Room will be on a first come, first served basis. Inmates are expected to refer to the institutional supplement for further information or reference.
During attorney visits, a reasonable amount of legal materials may be allowed into the visiting area with prior approval. Legal material may be transferred during attorney visits, but is subject to inspection for contraband. This material will be treated in a similar manner as the Special Mail procedures described above. Inmates are expected to handle the transfer of legal materials through the mail as often as possible.
Attorney Phone Calls
In order to make an unmonitored phone call between an attorney and an inmate, the inmate must follow procedures established by the institution. Phone calls placed through the regular inmate phones are subject to monitoring.
Electronic Law Library
The law library is located in the Education Department and contains a variety of legal reference materials for use in preparing legal papers. Reference materials include the United States Code Annotated, Federal Reporter, Supreme Court Reporter, Bureau of Prisons Program Statements, indexes, and other legal materials. The law library is open during convenient non-working hours including weekends and holidays. An inmate law library clerk will be available for assistance in legal research. Legal materials are also available to inmates in detention or segregation status via a delivery system. The Special Housing Unit (SHU) also contains a basic law library for inmate use.
Under the provisions of 18 USC § 4004, unit secretaries are authorized to notarize documents. A recent change in the law allows that a statement to the effect that papers which an inmate signs are “true and correct under the penalty of perjury” will suffice in federal courts and other federal agencies, unless specifically directed to do otherwise. Some states will not accept a government notarization for real estate transactions, automobile sales, etc… In these cases, Notary Services are available during Open House in the Records Office.
Copies of Legal Materials
In accordance with institution procedures, inmates may copy materials necessary for their research or legal matters. At FCI Fairton, a machine is available in the Education Department for inmate use. Individuals who have no funds and who can demonstrate a clear need for particular copies, may submit a written request for a reasonable amount of free duplication to their Unit Team.
Federal Tort Claims
Tort claims are based upon the negligent act of a government employee for which the claimant is entitled to compensation. Inmates are instructed to send a Cop-Out to the Business Office, who will provide a copy of the form, which is attached to the program statement in the law library. Freedom of Information (FOIA)/Privacy Act of 1974 The Privacy Act of 1974 forbids the release of information from agency records without a written request by, or without the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertained, except for specific instances. All formal requests for access to records about another person and/or agency record other than those pertaining to themselves (including program statements and operations memoranda) shall be processed through the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC § 552. Address requests to FOIA Section, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520. Inmate Access to Central Files An inmate may request review of disclosable portions of his central file (plus Pre-Sentence Report and/or Summary). Inmates should submit a request to the Unit Team for this disposition and institution staff will schedule a review of the central file. Inmates may not maintain copies of their Pre-sentence Investigation Report, Statement of Reason and any other document deemed non-disclosable.
Inmate Access to Other Documents
An inmate can request access to the “non-disclosable documents” in his central file and medical file or other documents concerning himself that are not in either the central or medical file, by submitting a FOIA request to the address listed above. Such a request must briefly describe the nature of records wanted and approximate dates covered by the record. The inmate must also provide his register number and date of birth for identification purposes. A request on behalf of the inmate by an attorney, for records concerning that inmate, will be treated as a “Privacy Act Request” if the attorney has forwarded an inmate’s written consent to disclose materials. If a document is deemed to contain information exempt from disclosure, any reasonable part of the record will be provided to the attorney after the deletion of the exempt portions.
The Bureau advises all inmates that the President of the United States is authorized under the Constitution to grant executive clemency by pardon, commutation of sentence, or reprieve. A pardon is an executive act of grace that is a symbol of forgiveness. It does not connote innocence nor does it expunge the record of conviction. A pardon can be in “full” or “partial” depending on whether it absolves a person from all or a portion of the crime. A pardon may have conditions imposed upon it or can be “absolute,” which is without conditions of any kind. A pardon restores basic civil rights and facilitates the restoration of professional and other licenses that may have been lost by reason of the conviction. A pardon may not be applied for until the expiration of at least five years from the date of release from confinement. In some cases involving crimes of a serious nature, such as Violations of Narcotics Laws, Gun Control Laws, Income Tax Laws, Perjury, and violation of public trust involving personal dishonesty, fraud involving substantial sums of money, violations including organized crime, or crimes of a serious nature, a waiting period of seven years is usually required. Other forms of executive clemency include commutation of sentence (a reduction of sentence imposed after a conviction), and a reprieve (the suspension of execution of a sentence for a period of time).
Commutation of Sentence
The Bureau also advises inmates on commutation of sentences. This is the form of executive clemency power used to provide post conviction relief to inmates during their incarceration. This clemency power is authorized by the Constitution for the Chief Executive Officer, who is the President of the United States for federal offenses. Commutation of sentence is usually the last chance to correct an injustice which has occurred in the criminal justice process. The rules governing these petitions are available in the law library.