Kristin Davis: I Just Spent the Last 7 Days Being Handcuffed on 10-Hour Bus Rides

I've been re-designated and moved to another prison facility.
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Kristin Davis
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I've been re-designated and moved to another prison facility.

In my first post, I described what it was like to self surrender to a Federal Prison. I also described what it was like for people who weren't allowed to self surrender and how truly awful the transport process is by the US Marshals.

I can now speak from first hand experience as I just spent the last 7 days being handcuffed on 10- hour bus rides just to go 350 miles from Southern California to Northern California (by way of Nevada).

I have spent the last 45 days incarcerated in the Federal Prison Camp in Victorville, California.

Last week, I was informed that I had been re-designated. What this means is that my designation has changed to another prison facility -- so I was told to "pack out" and that I was moving.

This is good news. I have been waiting to get into a Federal program which would take time off my sentence. They do not offer the program where I was so I would need to go to a facility that offers it.

I was told to "pack out" and wait for R&D (Receiving & Discharge) to call me for further info and that this could take up to a month. However, the very next morning I was called and expected to bring my things to mail to my next facility.

I was not told where I was going or on what date I would actually be leaving. This is of course highly stressful because now I would be living in fear of the unknown and without toiletries or clothes (other than the government-issued uniform) because my things were in a box going who knows where.

Now mind you, my new location can be anywhere the BOP has a facility with the program -- it could be Florida or Texas or Minnesota. And I have no idea how I would be getting there -- whether it's via bus, in shackles or on "Con Air."

I spent the next two days worrying about my new location and trying to communicate with my family that I may be unable to contact them for a week or so. I did leave a few toiletries behind so I would be comfortable and just chalked it up to money lost...I would buy new things at the next institution (more money for the BOP).

On the second day I was called to R&D and told I was leaving immediately. I was locked in a room until the transport came. Then it was time for the ever so fun strip search. Stand naked in the middle of the room, lift and shake your hair, turn around and bend and squat and cough deep two times. Finally I was put in clothes to transport which consisted of a khaki uniform and clog slippers.

I was taken in a van to what is called the "Air Lift." For Victorville this is the old air force base the property lies on and it is not just for plane transportation, but it is also used as a sorting facility for both bus and plane departures and arrivals. I actually found this quite interesting since there were a number of commercial planes there including 6 to 8 planes with Fed-Ex logos.

At the air lift, they unloaded the "Con Air" plane with roughly 100 male and female inmates. There were also two huge buses with around 150 other inmates on them.

This was very quite interesting to watch. Because Victorville has a US Penitentiary (this is where the worst of the worst criminals are housed) they unloaded some very colorful characters. I, of course, was watching from a secure van because they do try to limit the exposure to the US Pen inmates.

I sat there watching as five officers had to forcibly remove an inmate. This relatively small man - about 5'4 inches and 140 pounds was not going to come off the bus willingly. They actually had five officers removing him and five more surrounding him.

This man did not want to get off the bus. He was fully tattooed (even on his shaved head) and in a paper jumpsuit, handcuffed at both the waist and ankles. The officers had to carry him off the bus as he was swinging the entire time. He was trying to fight them and they would talk him down and just when you thought he was calm -- he would start swinging and kicking  and spitting. It took them a good 30 minutes to move this guy.

From here I was put on a bus with three women who had come from San Diego to go to Pahrump Nevada. The bus was split in two cages -- one in the back for the men and one in the front for the women.

It took us four hours to reach Pahrump. I was then considered out of BOP Custody because I was officially in the hands of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) Nevada facility.

Upon entering CCA, we were put in the intake area (this was much better then the one I described in Rikers). Each inmate was put into a shower stall and locked in. An officer came around and asked us to strip and hand her our clothes thru the slot in the door. The officer conducted the now routine strip search and then gave us a towel and washcloth and told us to shower. A few minutes later she brought clothes for us to change into.

We were also given a bed roll which consisted of three orange uniforms, a small soap and toothbrush/toothpaste and underwear.

In this facility, everything is recycled. So I was given utterly disgusting used, torn, and stained underwear to wear. I have been through some crap but this was pretty degrading and just plain gross.

Then we were taken to our new home. This is one big room -- roughly 7,000 sq feet. It is a self contained unit -- meaning we do not leave the unit ever.

There were 50 bunk beds in the room and roughly 30 of them were filled (60 women). The beds had hard two-inch thick mattresses which were only about 5 ft long so I couldn't even really lay down. The bathrooms and showers were in the unit as well as stainless steel tables to eat on as our food was brought in to us. 

On one corner of the unit was the "rec" area which was a small fenced area outside (think adult dog kennel). Even visits in this facility are non-contact visits and are done on a closed circuit camera system from inside the unit (your guests come visit and you only see them thru the TV).

The worst part of Pahrump was the bathroom facilities. There were about 10 toilets with 3-foot high walls on each side. They have a small piece of thin plastic (similar to a clear shower curtain) covering the front which you unhook like a door to enter the toilet. When you sit on the toilet you can see the entire room and they can see you. Even worse, you can see the person next to you using the bathroom.

The showers were not much better. They were five showers in stalls with walls about 4.5 ft high. The shower nozzles were old and the water came out spraying in every direction. I was taught by another inmate to wrap a maxi-pad around the nozzle to make a shower head. This helped.

There were no hooks or anything in the showers so you either brought your towel and clothes in to change and got them wet...or you hung them outside and came out half naked for the entire room to watch you get dressed.

And then came the food. I thought Victorville was bad but this place took the cake. None of the food had any flavor and most meals consisted of a small piece of cornbread and beans -- and mystery meat.

About six days into my stay in Pahrump I was told we were leaving. We were not told where we were going. Twenty of us were told to get ready and we would be moving in 15 minutes.

We were then taken to a secure area and strip searched. We were put in paper pants and tops that were completely see-thru. I learned the reason why they commute us in paper gear is that the facilities don't usually get their clothes back so they don't want to spend a lot of money on things like this.

Then we were handcuffed around the waist and ankles. They took special care to use the black box on our wrists. The black box is a little black box that they attach to the front of your handcuffs which secures them so you cannot move at all. It's horribly uncomfortable.

The final step was to handcuff us together again. They took a chain and connected me at the waist to another inmate.

The bus ride from Pahrump to Dublin took almost 10 hours. On a hard wood seat. They did stop once to give us bologna sandwiches and let us use the portapotty on the bus. (This is not a luxury bus and the potty was basically a hole.)

I cannot tell you how much my body hurt after riding on a bus all night shackled to someone else. The seats were hard plastic and not comfortable. There was nowhere to lean my head so I had to sit upright in handcuffs the entire time. The box on my handcuffs was so tight that I couldn't even rest my hands in my lap because they wouldn't reach. So I was constantly fidgeting trying to relieve the pressure the cuffs were putting on my wrists.

Of course, after the cuffs were taken off, my wrists were swollen and bruised. My ankles were actually bleeding in spots where the cuffs tore thru the skin.

Going through this process is extremely physically taxing on your body. Both buses are hard wood and you have to sit upright for hours. The handcuffs are put on tight and you are bloody and bruised when they come off.

And the process is exceptionally emotionally draining because you are NEVER told where you are going. I spent almost a week not knowing where I was headed "for security reasons." Even though I was in a camp and working in a car in the garage all day and could have easily driven off at any time.

This entire awful transfer process could have been avoided had the Warden of Victorville granted my request for a transfer furlough. I'm not sure if he even knew I requested a transfer furlough as no one ever got back to me about it. I asked my team manager and she said it was denied, however my written form was never returned or mentioned. The reason for the denial was that I had to be there 90 days for a furlough when BOP policy clearly states that there is no time minimum for a transfer furlough.

When I got to my new facility I learned that I was in Dublin -- and not going into the Camp but into the real prison.

I am still inmate #69007-054. Now I am behind the wall in a Federal Correctional Institute. Dublin to be exact. You can write to me at Federal Correctional Institute, Kristin Davis 69007-054, Unit D. 5701 8th Street Camp Parks, Dublin, CA 94568.