By Christopher Zoukis Three Massachusetts state prisoners have been placed in segregation in apparent retaliation for their prison reform activism. Timothy Muise, Shawn Fisher and Steven James, all incarcerated at the medium-security prison MCI Shirley, were taken from their cells late at night on March 23, 2016 and transferred to three different Massachusetts facilities, where…

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By Christopher Zoukis

A growing and troubling trend has emerged within the prison consulting industry: persons spending time in prison, being released, and opening their doors as prison consultants, when they really have no business doing so in the first place.  This also applies to attorneys who have no real experience with the Federal Bureau of Prisons or state departments of correction, yet still advertise that they can assist with in-prison matters.  While there are a few glowing examples of how this can work out for the best (Brandon Sample and Michael Santos are two examples of ex-prisoners, and Alan Ellis and Todd Bussert are examples of attorneys who know what they are doing), there are also firms which operate on hope, fear, and a swindler’s charm.  One of the areas these swindlers profit immensely from is in allegedly brokering transfers for currently incarcerated inmates.  This interview serves as a warning against such swindlers, and aims to alert Prison Law Blog readers as to how the process actually works and how federal prisoners themselves can attempt to effect prison transfers on their own.

Jack Donson is the president of My Federal Prison Consultants (www.MFPCLLC.com).  During his career as a Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Case Manager and Case Management Coordinator (CMC), Jack was an integral part of the prison transfer process.  Currently, in Jack’s consulting business, he has come across many family members of prisoners who are concerned for their loved ones and have been scammed by nefarious “prison consultants.”  Due to this growing trend, he has asked to speak publicly about this matter, and the Prison Law Blog is glad to provide the platform for him to do so.

Christopher Zoukis: To start, please introduce yourself again to the Prison Law Blog readership.

Jack Donson: My name is Jack Donson.  I retired from Federal Bureau of Prisons’ in 2011 after a 23-year career as case manager and case management coordinator.  Currently, my principle employment is as the President of My Federal Prison Consultants (www.MFPCLLC.com), a Manhattan-based prison consulting firm.  I’m also the Director of Programs and Case Management at FedCURE, a Special Issues Chapter of Citizens United for the Reformation of Errants (CURE).  In addition, I serve as Executive Director for a new advocacy organization called Out For Good (O4G) and serve on the corrections committees of the ABD and NACDL.  I am very much plugged into the federal prison reform movement, legislation and the prison consulting arena.

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By Christopher Zoukis and Jack Donson

This article seeks to clarify the process, and variables, associated with seeking a transfer to a different prison within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  This information is being disseminated in the hopes that it will help to guide current and future federal inmates in seeking a transfer to the prison of their choosing.  It aims to inform those in need of this information so that they have the tools they need to effectively advocate for themselves, and help to steer readers away from costly “prison transfer” services which are essentially scams of prisoners and their families.

Initial Designation at a Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility

Federal prisoners are not given a choice in which prison they are first designated to.  This designation is made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) in Grand Prairie, Texas.  Initial designation determinations are based upon a number of factors.  These factors are scored using the BOP’s Custody and Classification Form, which takes into account length of sentence, charge, criminal history, and a number of other factors, such as release destination, history of escapes, and self-surrender status.

Differences Between Initial Designation and Transfer

The process of seeking a transfer post-initial designation is different.  These determinations are primarily made by the federal inmate’s unit team at their local prison, not at the DSCC.  However, the process, and qualifications, to seek a transfer are anything but simple.  What follows are tips about the practice of seeking a transfer within the BOP.

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