A Just Cause

Federal Prisoner Wrongly Denied COVID-19 Release for Alleged 3-Way Call

Warden Retaliates To Keep Inmate Imprisoned After Approved for COVID-19 Release


Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/14/2020 --On April 30, 2020, inmate David Banks was told he was being released from the minimum security federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado after being approved under the COVID-19 pandemic, but on the same day, in a fit of retaliatory rage, Acting Warden Holzapfel had Mr. Banks taken from prison camp and thrown in the "hole" at the medium-security prison camp.

Banks was told he was being put in the hole because he was under investigation for allegedly making a 3-way call to his mother about his desire to self-quarantine at home consistent with Attorney General Barr's April 3, 2020 memorandum due to the prison's questionable quarantining practices, including solitary confinement, being transferred to the medium security housing unit where both sick and violent felons are being housed and being exposed to more correctional officers and other staff who transition daily between the prison and the community. Although it only takes five minutes to review the short phone call, a presumably angry Holzapfel kept Mr. Banks languishing in the small cell for four days for having the temerity to question the prison's quarantining practices.

Parishioners from Mr. Banks' church (Colorado Springs Fellowship Church) took to the street outside the prison complex in protest of Warden Holzapfel confining Mr. Banks (a minimum security prisoner) at the medium security FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) and the prison's continuing refusal to release Banks who not only was approved for release under the COVID-19 pandemic but also under the First Step Act which the BOP has failed or refuses to implement. The protests were organized and led by Banks' brother, Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. See videos at (https://www.dropbox.com/s/ctj7mivff3wmrm1/Protest%20Final.mov?dl=0)

After four days in the hole, Mr. Banks (who has an exemplary conduct record) was rushed into a disciplinary hearing where he was not only quickly and wrongly found guilty of making a 3-way call but was also immediately sanctioned 27 days of good conduct, 30 days of phone restriction as well as having his COVID-91 release date revoked by the new Warden, Elizabeth Carter, not to mention he should've been released under First Step Act months ago. "Given these facts, it's not surprising President Trump called the BOP a 'criminal enterprise,'" says Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause. "Mr. Banks simply asked to be quarantined at his release residence given that he lives only an hour away in Colorado Springs and would have no exposure to the public when driving directly home by car," says Stewart.

According to his April 3, 2020 memo, AG Barr directed the BOP to expedite releases, and in 'appropriate' cases such as David Banks', to allow self-quarantining at the residence to which the inmate is being released. "Mr. Banks has a legitimate grievance about the Florence's prison complex's quarantining procedure and it stems from certain safety procedures that were designed and implemented to protect the staff and not the inmates," adds Stewart.

"Complex Warden True and Ms. Himlie, the Complex Health Services Administrator, developed and implemented a COVID-19 safety procedure that prohibits the common practice of staff traveling between or working at the four prison institutions (USP, FCI, ADX Supermax, Camp) on the complex but allows a mean-spirited Warden Holzapfel to retaliate and threaten the life of my brother (David Banks) by retaliating against him and moving him outside of his custody level to the medium security FCI for 4 days under the absurd guise of investigating a 5 minute phone call," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "And now Warden Carter doubles-down on Holzapfel's treacherous disregard for David's life by pulling his home-confinement release date," muses Lamont Banks (AJC). "Wardens Holzapfel and Carter's cruel retaliation tactics are far too common in the BOP and are prime examples of the Florence FCC's continuing disregard for the seriousness of COVID-19 and their indifference to the health, well-being and lives of the inmate population and the public," contends Lamont Banks (AJC).

According to the BOP Incident Report, Banks specifically told his Mother that three-way calls are not permitted but to put her son (Lamont), Banks' brother on her second landline "so she can tell him something that just happened" and could "pass the message to him." Banks' mother put Lamont on the speakerphone of her SECOND LANDLINE to listen in to the conversation her and David were having on the speakerphone of her primary landline.

"With this incontrovertible evidence that Banks took steps not to violate the BOP's 3-way call prohibition and his mother didn't use the 3-way calling feature to connect Lamont into their conversation, Wardens Holzapfel and Carter, with malice and in their hearts, retaliated against Banks to revoke his COVID-19 home-confinement release, risking the health and well-being of Mr. Banks, prison staff, inmate population and the public," concludes Stewart.

Banks' attorney, Bernard Klein has notified Warden Carter, that the vernacular, plain meaning of a three-way call established by the telecommunication industry and recent case law rejects Banks' call to his mother as a 3-way call but Carter has yet to reinstate his release date. If not reinstated very soon, Kleinman will take formal legal action in the courts.