Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Solitary at Devens' Segregated Housing Unit

John Collauti, the public relations spokesman for the Federal Medical Center at Devens, says Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in segregation in a small cell with a steel door that allows food to be passed through and prison officials to watch him.

Collauti said in a telephone interview that Tsarnaev is in secure housing where authorities can monitor him. His cell has a solid steel door with an observation window and a slot for passing food and medication.....[M]edical workers making rounds each shift monitor the inmates. He said guards also keep an eye on some cells with video cameras.

Also, inmates in the more restrictive section do not have access to TVs or radios, but can read books and other materials, he said.

In other words, he's in the hole. [More...]

The Special Housing Unit is used for administrative detention and disciplinary segregation. From the Code of Federal Regulations (28 CFR Sec. 541 et seq):

Administrative detention status is an administrative status which removes you from the general population when necessary to ensure the safety, security, and orderly operation of correctional facilities, or protect the public. Administrative detention status is non-punitive, and can occur for a variety of reasons.

There is no television or radio or contact with other inmates. Detainees are on 23 hour a day lockdown, 5 days a week. They are allowed 1 hour of excercise if they are able to take it in a maximum security setting. The other 2 days they are on 24 hour lockdown. Showers are limited to three times a week.

28 CFR 541.23 lists the reasons one can be put in the SHU. They include:

(a) Pending Classification or Reclassification. You are a new commitment
pending classification or under review for Reclassification.

...[c]; Removal from general population. Your presence in the general population poses a threat to life, property, self, staff, other inmates, the public, or to the security or orderly running of the institution and:
(1) Investigation. You are under investigation or awaiting a hearing for possibly violating a Bureau regulation or criminal law.

28 CFR, 541.27, provides for placement of a detainee in administrative detention status if staff believe:

“[b]ased on evidence, [the inmate’s] safety may be seriously jeopardized by placement in the general population.”

If the detainee is placed in segregation on this basis, he is entitled to a hearing “within seven calendar days” to determine if there are reasons justifying the placement. 28 FR 541.27(d).

The same rules are applied to inmates placed in the SHU for administrative reasons as those there for disciplinary purposes.

§ 541.32 Medical and mental health care in the SHU.

(a) Medical Care. A health services staff member will visit you daily to provide necessary medical care. Emergency medical care is always available.

While the Constitution does not provide for comfortable prisons, it does require humane prisons and adequate medical treatment.

With all of his injuries, who is monitoring Tsarnaev for infections?

Contrary to some news reports, Devens is not a minimum security facility. All six of the BOP's medical facilities are administrative facilities, meaning they house all security levels. Devens provides Level 3 and 4 medical care, but it is not a hospital.

There are more than 1,000 inmates at Devens. While there is an adjacent minimum security camp, it only houses about 120 inmates, and Tsarnaev is not one of them.

40% of the inmates at Devens are sex offenders getting treatment. There are lifers and violent offenders.

There have been many lawsuits filed against Devens for inadequate medical care and negligence. Jeffrey Barrett filed a complaint in October, 2012, alleging gross negligence due to his infections being untreated. His hand, wrist and part of his forearm had to be amputated when they finally took him to a hospital. (Case No. 12-cv-11726.)

Barrett suffered from kidney failure before being imprisoned. He had been getting hemodialysis through a central line. When he was taken into custody, they put him in Orangebury, South Carolina which decided to discontinue the central line and instead implant a fistula into his right arm.

The day after the surgery, they handcuffed him, put him on Con Air and flew him to Devens. At Devens, he was placed in the SHU. Here's one page of what he says happened at Devens. Shorter version: He was left for 5 days in the SHU with no medical treatment. They didn't even change his wound dressings. On the 6th day, bleeding profusely, they rushed him to the hospital. The infections and necrosis of his hand (gangrene)were so severe, doctors had to amputate.

According to Barrett's complaint, detainees in the SHU are confined to their cells 23 hours a day on Monday to Friday and 24 hours a day on weekends. They eat, sleep, bathe and use the toilet in the same small cell.

What is required for inmates needing medical care in the SHU (BOP Program Statement P6031.01)


All Health Services Units will have procedures and control systems to ensure continuity of medical and psychiatric care and treatment for inmates housed in SHUs. Health care staff will be informed immediately when an inmate is transferred to SHU. Procedures will be determined locally.

Local procedures will include at least the following:

  • Protocols to provide for the assessment and review of inmates transferred to SHU.
  • A health care provider will make daily rounds during the “lights on” period, except in extenuating circumstances. These rounds will be announced and recorded on the Special Housing Unit Record (BP-A0292).
  • A mechanism describing how SHU inmates will notify medical staff of their need for health care.
  • Daily rounds to triage urgent requests for care (should be accomplished by the same staff member who conducts the morning pill line in SHU, typically an RN/LPN/LVN).
  • Procedures for follow-up care by an MLP or physician. All SHU inmate encounters, including medication refills or dispensing of over-the-counter medications, will be documented in the inmate health record

Here's a list of the various BOP medical care program statements.

Another of Barrett's claims: The staff at Devens inaccurately told his mother he had died. After getting that news, she died.

Then there's Devens inmate Aktham Abuhouran who contracted Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ("MRSA"), a highly contagious staph bacterium, after being transferred to an area of FMC
Devens that was less sanitary. His story is horrifying. The Judge, in ruling on his complaint, described the medical facilities at Devens (Case No. 07-40201):

FMC Devens, a federal prison that houses male prisoners requiring specialized medical care and contains three separate housing units for inmates: the "Long Term Care Unit" ("LTCU"), P-2 units and N-2 units.....

LTCU resembles a hospital where inmates bathe frequently with the assistance of orderlies, are continuously monitored, have unrestricted access to medical care and which is cleaned frequently.

P-2 houses prisoners who need less medical care. They use communal showers and are responsible for cleaning their own rooms and laundering their own linens (in shared washers and dryers), but they also enjoy unrestricted access to medical care. Mattresses in P-2 are cleaned infrequently, if ever.

N-2 is for prisoners who are healthier than those housed in the other two units but still require medical attention. N-2 prisoners live in two-man rooms, and like P-2 bathe in communal showers and are responsible for cleaning their own rooms and laundering their own linens. They do not have access to unrestricted medical care but must submit a sick call which typically results in a medical appointment a few days later. They must travel to the FMC mess hall to receive meals, whereas prisoners in the other two units have their meals delivered to them. N-2 mattresses are also cleaned infrequently, if ever.

Also tragic is the story of Michael Black, a severely obese paraplegic. On Lexis.com, there are 128 rulings in lawsuits over medical care at Devens.

In 2011, the Feds put out bid solicitations for mortuary services at Devens. It said there are approximately 25 deaths a year.

Tsarnaev has not been convicted of a crime. He is entitled to adequate medical care and humane conditions. Prolonged solitary confinement in the hole is not humane. His public defenders are 40 miles from Devens. Due to sequester furloughs and cuts, they will have even less time to spend on his case than they normally would. While the court will appoint additional counsel for him, that hasn't happened yet.

If Tsarnaev doesn't receive adequate medical care, and ends up with infections or worse from his shooting injuries, it will be a black stain on the Bureau of Prisons and the nation.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Here's a good profile of Miriam Conrad (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Peter G on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 01:26:11 PM EST
    Chief Federal Public Defender for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

    Thanks for that, Peter (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Dadler on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:17:08 PM EST
    Thankless and hugely burdensome job. And, for justice in a system we can all be proud of, invaluable. Free Americans of the most impressive sort. As a nation, we must always strive to be better, and folks like Conrad show us how. The maven of this site included, and yourself no doubt. ;-)

    Since (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:29:24 AM EST
    it is now accepted practice, accepted by the top levels of our government, for us to maltreat suspects and prisoners who are foreign nationals, it was only a small step to have have this treatment of American citizens to be similarly commonplace.

    Lentinel, unfortunately we have (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Zorba on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 02:51:22 PM EST
    a long history in this country of prisoner abuse, regardless of whether the prisoners were born here, or elsewhere.  And it started well before 9/11 and the "War on Terrorism."

    It (none / 0) (#6)
    by lentinel on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 04:22:45 PM EST
    just seems to me that things are more institutionalized and mechanized these days.

    Person to person barbarity by rogue guards is one thing.

    But this seems to have barbarity written into the manual.

    I know you're right about the long history of prisoner abuse, but I was raised to believe that we were humane. In fact, it used to be said that "enemy" soldiers would look to surrender because they knew that they would be treated well.

    I'll accept that this was just another myth, but for me, coming to terms with reality is difficult. Thank you for your comment.


    Lentinel, I expect that (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Zorba on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:15:18 PM EST
    you are younger than I am.  I am very, very close to Social Security age.
    I went through the whole Vietnam War protest era, as well as the Civil Rights and feminist protests.
    And, while I was also raised to believe that we were "humane," I very, very long ago learned that we were not.  Just look at how we treated the Native Americans, who were here way before we were.  And how we treated Japanese-Americans during World War II.  And how we have always treated African-Americans.  And on and on...........
    I could give you example after example of our failings.
    However, at the end of the day, I still have to say that I love this country fiercely.  And I want it to become the exemplar for the world.  When we fail in this regard, then I weep or our country, because I think that we can be better than that.

    The problem is (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 06:40:05 PM EST
    Muslim terrorists don't look to surrender. They look to attack again.

    More generally, there's a long human tradition... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 06:25:54 PM EST
    ... of inhumanity.

    No American "exceptionalism" is involved.

    Some primitive societies don't even have prisons, begging the question of who is actually more civilized.


    Are Things Really That Bleak? (none / 0) (#2)
    by RickyJim on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 11:10:34 AM EST
    The fact that he is apparently out of his bed indicates progress in Dzhokhar's medical situation.  Since he now has an excellent lawyer assigned to his case, one would think that any mistreatment in prison would come to light very quickly .

    Question for Jeralyn or other lawyer here (none / 0) (#10)
    by TycheSD on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 02:43:26 AM EST
    Every legal expert quoted in articles or interviews I have seen about how to defend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have stated that the best that he can hope for is to avoid the death penalty - that he will either get the death penalty or life in prison without parole.  

    Is this true, in your opinion?  Or is there a possibility that a judge or jury would be disposed against sentencing someone so young to life in prison without parole?  Also, is it possible that, instead of going to one of the super-max prisons, that he could be sent to one of the "cushier" federal prisons?  Or, is the political situation so prejudiced against him, and the crime so heinous, that he would be lucky to stay alive?  

    I notice that Miriam Conrad defended Rezwan Ferdaus, and he got 17 years.  Ferdaus did not kill anyone, so this is a different situation, but potentially, he could have killed many more than the Tsarnaevs did.  What's your view on the possibility of a lesser sentence than life without parole?

    All federal criminal statutes of which I am aware (none / 0) (#12)
    by Peter G on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 08:29:41 PM EST
    that involve intentionally causing death -- whether murder statutes, or called something else -- and nearly all federal crimes that involve recklessly risking the deaths of others while engaging in illegal conduct carry only two possible punishments if the defendant is at least 18 years old:  death, and life without parole.  There may be such statutes that permit a sentence of a term of years short of life, but I don't think so.  As for the type of prison, that's up to the Bureau of Prisons.  The lowest security level that I am aware of for prisoners convicted of violent crimes or serving very long sentences is "medium" security, which is very far from "cushy" by any standard.

    Correction/clarification (none / 0) (#13)
    by Peter G on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 11:03:57 AM EST
    When I wrote that "federal crimes that involve recklessly risking the deaths of others while engaging in illegal conduct" require a sentence of death or LWOP, I meant to include the further requirement "and from which a death results."

    seems to me that the US (none / 0) (#11)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 10:35:54 AM EST
    has a big interest in taking care of this guy.  So I am not too worried about him.  He is safer in solitary, so I am not feeling sorry for him either.  He can read.  I'd like to know he had more time for exercise, but if he wants it he can do it in his cell.
    Poor kid just wanted to kill and maim as many people as possible because life sucked here in America where he went to excellent schools and was loved and respected by his peers, where his religion was accepted and diversity embraced for the most part.
    I hope he gets a fair trial and that he is NOT given the death penalty.  I hope that he can find some way to atone for his sins against humanity...for the sake of his own soul.  I sincerely hope he can seek redemption.

    His Motives Aren't so Clear (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by RickyJim on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:34:11 PM EST
    He may have worshiped his older brother so much that he became a robot in his hands.  I think there is a lot more to learn about both of them.  Tamerlan, 6'3", handsome, fluent in 5 languages, classical and pop piano skills, golden gloves champion, would have made a fine CIA or FBI agent.  Their choices were bizarre.  We are not talking about kids trained from infancy in a Saudi financed madrasah.

    Is this some kind of suggestion ... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:09:38 PM EST
    I think there is a lot more to learn about both of them.  Tamerlan, 6'3", handsome, fluent in 5 languages, classical and pop piano skills, golden gloves champion, would have made a fine CIA or FBI agent.

    ... that the elder brother (or both of them) actually were FBI/CIA agents?


    please stay on topic (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:14:22 PM EST
    which is his incarceration at Devens.

    Not to Point Out the Obvious... (none / 0) (#17)
    by ScottW714 on Wed May 01, 2013 at 01:21:57 PM EST
    ...but wouldn't be easier to monitor someone though bars vs a steel door ?  He's not a danger to anyone, he's there for his own safety.

    Medical treatment; while I agree with you, it's a hard sell when you consider how man people don't have insurance that didn't do what he's accused of.  And while he hasn't been convicted, it's an almost certainly that he was involved in a police chase that resulted in a dead cop.  Loads of witnesses and I am guessing many cameras.  The bombing stuff is much more uncertain, but my point is that kid will never see the light of day.  

    There is no sympathy for prisoners or terrorist or cop killer and he might be convicted of all 3.