Courtesy of Senator Chris Murphy

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced that in response to concerns that they raised over the last two months, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has now indicated that it has altered its plan to turn the only secure facility for women in the Northeast, the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) at Danbury, Connecticut, into a facility for men.  BOP now intends to construct a new facility for female inmates that will be located near the FCI and maintain a satellite camp for women close by as well.   Image courtesy

“This is excellent news for the children and families of inmates in the Northeast, and we applaud the Bureau of Prisons for hearing our concerns and making this decision,” the senators said. “The original plan put forward by BOP to transfer female inmates out of Connecticut would have nearly eliminated federal prison beds for women in the Northeastern United States, dramatically disrupting the lives of these female inmates and the young children they often leave behind. We are pleased that will no longer be the case.”  

Previously, BOP had announced that it would convert the FCI from a secure facility for women into a men’s facility.  This conversion would have left one of the most populated regions of the country without a secure facility for women.  While BOP still intends to turn the existing secure facility into a men’s facility, it now intends to turn the existing minimum security Satellite Camp for women located near the FCI into a low security facility for women.  It will also maintain a minimum security camp facility for women near the new FCI by constructing a new building next to the FCI. 

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Third Circuit Finds Just Cause or Excuse Defense Not Applicable in Prison Assault Case

By Derek Gilna

Aaron Taylor, incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Philadelphia, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon under 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(3) and assault resulting in serious bodily injury under § 113(a)(6), stemming from an attack on another prisoner. He attempted to assert the affirmative defense of “just cause or excuse” but the district court held that he failed to establish the defense as a matter of law.

On appeal, the Third Circuit found that “the elements of justification are: First, that [the defendant] was under an immediate, unlawful threat of death, or serious bodily injury to himself or to others; Second, that [he] had a well-grounded fear that the threat would be carried out if he did not commit the offense; Third, that the criminal action was directly caused by the need to avoid the threatened harm and that [he] had no reasonable, lawful opportunity to avoid the threatened harm without committing the offense … and Fourth, that he had not recklessly placed himself in a situation in which he would be forced to engage in criminal conduct.”

The district court allowed Taylor to testify as to the elements of his defense, but ultimately refused to permit additional witnesses and a prison-culture expert due to the circumstances of the assault. Taylor, who is black, had been involved in what appeared to be a racially-motivated disagreement with a white prisoner who allegedly had threatened Taylor for staring at a white, female psychiatrist. Taylor later attacked the other prisoner, who was handcuffed, while in a recreation cage – stabbing and cutting him with a shank fashioned from a razor blade. Following his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(3), Taylor received a 120-month sentence run consecutive to his prior sentence; the § 113(a)(6) charge was dropped.

Although the district court noted that Taylor may have felt justified in trying to deal with a perceived threat of harm, he was not entitled to prevail based upon his affirmative defense of “just cause or excuse” because he never “availed himself of [a] reasonable lawful opportunity” to avoid that threat. The judge precluded Taylor from offering additional witnesses and also refused to instruct the jury about the doctrine of justification.

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Employing Ex-Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmates

There are a number of good reasons to employ former federal prisoners.  The reasons for, and programs available to employers who, employ former federal prisoners are examined on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website at, through their “Employing Ex-Offenders” web page. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website, “Work opportunities provide hope and

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ADX Prisoner Not Allowed to Communicate with Family Members or Receive Publications under SAMs

In another series of court rulings upholding the use of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), a prisoner at the federal ADX supermax facility in Florence, Colorado was prohibited from receiving certain publications and communicating with his nieces and nephews. The federal Bureau of Prisons’ use of SAMs originated in a regulation promulgated in 1996 – 28 C.F.R. §

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