Friday, February 2, 2007

A Defendant Anxious to Go to Prison

No one really wants to go to jail, but once you're in, it would probably be nice to get assigned to a decent facility to serve out your term rather than spend time in a cramped holding facility for over a year.  That is the plight of Jamie Olis, however, who seems to be in the netherworld of the federal Bureau of Prisons, having been in the Houston Detention Center since December 2005 awaiting resentencing and then reassignment.  As a picture of the Houston federal jail shows (here), this is not a particularly pleasant place, one that former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow found particularly despicable.  A Houston Chronicle story (here) discusses the delay in assigning Olis after his resentencing in October 2005 to a six-year term for his fraud conviction, down from the original twenty-four year sentence.  It recounts the BOP's excuses for not sending him to a regular facility, even after other high-profile defendants from the Enron case who were sentenced after him have received their assignments. 

By focusing media attention on the BOP, the Chronicle story could have the unintended consequence of prodding the bureaucracy into assigning Olis to a facility even further away from his wife and child, who live in San Antonio.  Beware of rousing the sleeping bureaucrat, particularly one with virtually unreviewable discretion on where to send a person to spend a substantial period of time.  Tom Kirkendall has a good post on this topic on the Houston's Clear Thinkers blog (here), noting that the BOP's excuses for not assigning Olis to a permanent facility ring pretty hollow. (ph)

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Comments

I have no direct proof, but a pattern of such stories suggests to me that the BoP is willing to the do the bidding (or take the hints) of sore-loser prosecutors by exercising their statutory "discretion" over the place and timing of designations. In this way, they enhance the punishment of defendants whose sentences the prosecutors think were too lenient, or who failed to "cooperate" when pressured to do so. Here, Olis's travesty of a 24-year sentence, imposed at the prosecutors' behest, was reduced by the judge to six. A six-year term is normally served 100% at a minimum security prison camp (no picnic, but still not a maximum security jail facility like Houston FDC). Indeed, normally the defendant would surrender himself to the "camp" directly, and never spend a day in the Marshal's lock-up, in a detention center, or being transported in chains from place to place. As a result of these "delays," Olis receives a higher degree of punishment than actually called for by the sentence. All perfectly "legal" of course.

Posted by: Peter G | Feb 3, 2007 7:40:42 AM

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