The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
A Comprehensive Survival Guide
By Jonathan Richards
SK Enterprises (2012)
Reviewed by Ann L. Hester
If you have clients who are about to begin a federal prison sentence, Jonathan Richards’ book, Federal Prison: A Comprehensive Survival Guide, could alleviate some of their anxiety by providing them and their families with useful information about what to expect from prison life. The book also is a valuable resource for attorneys who would like to be able to answer clients’ questions about prison or who simply want to know more about the conditions clients experience in prison.
Richards is a former federal inmate who served time at a Federal Medical Center (Devens). The book is based on his experiences and those of other inmates. In fact, the book’s appendix includes narratives from several other inmates. While some of the information will be relevant to prisoners serving sentences at any security level, the book will be most helpful to prisoners serving time in a Federal Prison Camp (FPC), a Federal Medical Center (FMC), or a Federal Correctional Institution (FCI).
The book proceeds primarily in chronological order, beginning with a chapter on preparing for prison, explaining how inmates are designated, and moving on through chapters aimed at arrival at a prison facility, surviving in prison society, eating, working, visiting privileges, medical care, and release. It also has a handy table of contents in case the reader is looking for a particular subject.
The author’s style is conversational, and although it contains a lot of information, I found it easy to read. Although I have been representing indigent federal prisoners for years, I was surprised by some of the information. For instance, I did not know that many prisoners entering a federal prison begin their stay in solitary confinement if a bed is not available. What an introduction! I also had no idea that in some facilities, rather than living in cells, prisoners are assigned to “cubes,” which have walls about five feet high, making top bunks extremely
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undesirable and making headphones and a radio, which they must purchase from the prison commissary, a necessity for inmates who are bothered by the noise.
Perhaps the most valuable tips in the book are Richards’ bits of advice about etiquette among inmates. For instance, use of the prison commissary and trading snacks from it involve a set of customs among prisoners that anyone entering prison for the first time will have to learn. Knowing which inmates to avoid being seen with (child sex offenders!) and avoiding being perceived as too friendly with corrections officers (snitch!) also is important for a new prisoner.
This book can answer many of your federal clients’ questions before they report to prison, and it also may provide them with information they didn’t know they needed. But be aware that it costs $97 per copy on Amazon.com. While relatively inexpensive compared to legal treatises, the price makes this book out-of-reach for my indigent clients.
About the Reviewer
Ann Hester is an Assistant Federal
Defender in Charlotte, N.C.
Deal With the Devil
The FBI’s Secret 30-Year
Relationship With a Mafia Killer
By Peter Lance
William Morrow (2013)
Reviewed by Darryl Genis
As noted in a 2006 review of Triple Cross , his most recent book on counterterrorism, “Peter Lance is the last of a dying breed: an investigative reporter who is disciplined enough to devote half a decade in pursuit of the truth. A newsman cut from the same cloth as the legendary journalist I.F. ‘Izzy Stone.’ A gumshoe reporter who still pounds the pavement and relies heavily on public documents to present the facts.”
Having been exposed to Peter Lance’s investigation of corruption in the Santa Barbara Police Department, I can second that reviewer’s sentiment wholeheartedly.
Only in Deal With the Devil, he’d been raking the muck on the FBI for nearly 12 years post 9/11 and this, his latest epic, is a page-turning indictment of the FBI’s shameful organized crime track record dating back to the early 1960s. With meticulous research based on more than 20,000 pages of trial transcripts, interviews and heretofore secret FBI memos, Lance documents the Bureau’s decades-long corrupt relationship with one of the most vicious members of the Mafia in history: Gregory Scarpa Sr. aka “The Killing Machine,” “The Mad Hatter” and “The Grim Reaper,” one of America’s most prolific serial killers ever.
Deal With the Devil is an investigative history that reads at times like a John Grisham thriller and at other times like a legal brief. This book is a “must read” for any criminal defense attorney: It reveals the willingness of senior FBI officials and federal prosecutors to ignore Brady material and to utilize secondhand and thirdhand hearsay testimony from bottom-feeding Mafia soldiers to send defendants away for multiple life terms, even after these informants had served in Scarpa’s murderous crew at the same time he was acting with the clear advise and consent of Bureau officials in New York and D.C.
Lance makes some extraordinary revelations: Two years before Joseph Valachi (credited as the first Mafia turncoat) testified before a Senate committee in 1963, Scarpa gave Hoover the entire Mafia playbook — including the hierarchy of La Cosa Nostra, the secret induction rites, and the leadership of all five families. During his years as an informant, the FBI facilitated insurance rewards and paid Scarpa fees that equaled more than $1,000,000 (in 2013 dollars). From 1980 to 1992 Scarpa Sr. committed or ordered 26 murders while he was serving as a “T.E.” (Top Echelon informant) for his last “control” agent, including the violent rubout of his own brother Sal in 1987 and the driveby slaying of his nephew Gus Farace, which triggered a 500-agent manhunt.
Scarpa, who ran multi-million dollar drug, gambling, and auto theft operations, also stole millions in bullion, jewelry, stocks and bonds. While three separate Justice Department Organized Crime Strike Forces (in
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