Monday, December 29, 2014

Sentencing Commission Updates

Sentencing Commission Lists “Economic Crimes,” “Mandatory Minimums” as  2015 Priorities


By Derek Gilna


            The U.S. Sentencing Commission is an interesting body.  Created by Congress to deal with complex sentencing issues, with a minimum of legislative direction and oversight, it now enjoys wide discretion to make serious changes to sentencing law,  subject only to a veto by Congress  prior to the effective date of any changes.  The most recent two-level drug reduction is a perfect example; Congress could have derailed it, but chose not to.  That’s a nice way to pass the buck and avoid any blow-back for being “soft on crime.”

            That’s what makes the Commissions Fall press release even more significant.  The press release says: “only Congress can make the more fundamental changes needed to fix the disparities and problems the Commission has found some mandatory penalties to (reduce) federal prison populations and costs.” 

What this really means is that the Commission recognizes that Congress as currently constituted is probably incapable of decisive, prison-emptying actions, but in the meantime, we at the Commission will nibble around the edges, but not enough to have you slackers in Congress veto what we doing.

            Drug offenders got their reductions in 2014, and in 2015 it will be the white-collar and mandatory minimum offenders’ turn, the Commission appears to be saying.  The Commission also says that one of its priorities is to “focus on fulfilling its statutory mandate to work to reduce overcapacity in federal prisons.”

            The Commission noted that it received  thousands of public comments, which you can believe were overwhelmingly in favor of sentence reduction. Here’s hoping the Commission follows through on this and other initiatives in the New Year.  My educated guess is that they will.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mass Imprisonment and Poor Medical Care A National Scandel

Abuse of Elderly and Sick in Prison A Major Issue in Bureau of Prisons


By Derek Gilna


            We all read about the “cushy” and “country club” federal prisons growing up, where doing time was easy and worry-free.  The next thing we heard about was the

“fantastic” medical care that federal prisoners receive from a benevolent federal government.  All of this was very clever public relations to provide political cover for the “War on Drugs” for the past decades.  The media has now begun to expose these lies.

            I wrote about George Will last week, who shone a bright spotlight on a “political system that takes bizarre delight in creating new crimes for enforcement,” and stated that “American government is increasingly characterized by an ugly and sometimes lethal irresponsibility.”

            Nowhere is that irresponsibility more on display than in the prison “medical system.”  Allow me to quote an email from a female prisoner at the Carswell, Texas, BOP “medical center.”     There, one prisoner wrote, “There have been so many deaths and hardly any releases for compassionate release cause of illness…such as terminal cancer… (prisoners) usually die before anything gives and never make it home.”  “This,” she said, “is what our government does to families- destroys children’s lives by taking their parents away from them…”

            Even one convicted of wrongdoing does not deserve to die in prison.  Medical science has advanced to the point where more terminal illnesses can be diagnosed in enough time that a compassionate release system could easily release an incapacitated prisoner to his family prior to his passing. The Bureau of Prisons needs to properly implement the policies that already exist to speed up this process. Not only would they be showing actual concern for the welfare of their prisoners, but they would also save millions of dollars that could be devoted to providing vocational training to reduce recidivism.

 Compassionate release is a difficult process to carry out on your own, but you are not alone.  I’ve done them, successfully.  Can I do one for you or one of your friends in the institution that is hurting and deserves mercy?  What about the ones who have already been injured by medical negligence or neglect?  It would be my privilege to assist you.


Derek Gilna

113 McHenry #173

Buffalo Grove, Il  60089

 (847) 878-0160

Monday, December 15, 2014

Torture Report Builds Criminal Reform Momentum

Torture Report Builds Pressure on Criminal Justice Establishment


By Derek Gilna


            As a native of Chicago, born on the South Side no less, I have always had a rather jaded view of the criminal justice system, even as I worked as a Consumer Protection Attorney for the State of Illinois, protecting defrauded consumers from crooked businessmen.   While in private practice I did nothing but defense work, once again bucking the power brokers one case at a time.  However, like many others in the legal profession, I did not recognize the creeping and (now) obvious over-incarceration of not only people of color, but also everyone else out of what the media felt was mainstream. However, the media has now begun to recognize the truth, and  pressure is building for change.

            However, the times have changed and so have I, and I am not alone.  Over the past decade I have worked to redress the balance in the justice system, as a prisoner rights advocate, post-judgment specialist, and a writer for prisoner rights publications. However, in the past two or three years I have been pleasantly surprised how momentum has grown for reform on both the state and federal level.

The recent publicity from Ferguson and New York City has awakened the general public to the fact that the police and criminal justice system is populated by too many individuals who feel that they are above the law, and that their misdeeds have no consequences. The general public has been exposed to not only this, but also rampant IRS misconduct and other evidence of government incompetence and overreach, and rocked by the disclosures that the same government that spies on us on a daily basis has tortured people, according to no less an authority than the former POW Senator John McCain.  Just yesterday, George Will, a noted conservative journalist, was quoted on national television saying that the issue is not just torture in Guantanamo but in American prisons! (How is denying proper medical care in’ the greatest country in the world’ not torture?)

The national discussion has changed.  People are no longer buying the “tough on crime” mantra.  For those already on the inside, however, the message appears to come a bit late, but it is no time to lose hope.  Judges, prosecutors, and prison officials also read the news and watch television.  Now is the time to take action on your own quest to gain your freedom.  Contact me if you feel that you would like to try.  Thank you.


Derek Gilna, 113 McHenry, #173, Buffalo Grove, IL.  60089.

(847) 878-0160 owever, times have changed and so have I

Monday, December 8, 2014

BOP Medical Care is No Joke - Or is it?

Tyleno Hailed As New Cancer, Dandruff and Baldness Cure, says BOP


(A Parody)


By Derek Gilna


            In a medical breakthrough, the Bureau of Prisons, known for their cutting-edge medical treatment hailed by medical experts such as federal judges and federal prosecutors, as well as by numerous publications from prison guard organizations in  Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, generated real excitement in the medical community with its most recent announcement.  In a wide-ranging (and mandatory) study covering over 200,000 captive participants, the BOP announced that based upon its years of treatment experience that Tylenol and bed rest has shown real progress in treating all forms of cancer, not to mention dandruff and male pattern baldness.

            Senators Grassley, Cornyn, and other elected officials who have continued to push back against reforms of mandatory minimum sentences, pointed to the results of the study as proof that “mandatory minimum sentencing works” and is “a real health benefit to those who receive such long sentences.”  “The BOP has shown real courage in sticking to the Tylenol regimen,” they said, even in the face of statistics from other research bodies that call the BOP study “junk science.”

            Not so, say the BOP doctors and administrators, who point to statistics that treating serious illnesses with Tylenol has dramatically reduced BOP medical costs, permitting them to continue to incarcerate older and sicker prisoners, for whom a BOP sentence statistics show generally means a reduced life span or even death. 

 Treatment times for cancer patients have dropped dramatically, since most prisoners pass away prematurely.  “The best part,” say BOP officials, “is that we have the prisoners buy Tylenol off the commissary, if it is open.” One prisoner noted that, “When I came in I thought that getting BOP medical treatment was better than living under a bridge.  Now that bridge is looking pretty good.”



BOP medical treatment is no joke. It is structurally unsound and getting worse as the prison population ages and more prisoners need medical treatment, which there is little funding to provide.  Prisoners are suffering and dying unnecessarily.  It is time to take action.  Your life may depend upon it.  If you enjoyed this newsletter, pass it on.




113 McHenry Rd


Buffalo Grove, IL 60089