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By: Daniel J. Simms, Imprisoned Independent Journalist/Author/Host

An insidious practice has invaded the U.S. prison system. Both Federal and State. Which inflicts severe psychological trauma upon incarcerated Americans. And accelerates unrestrained damaging climate change. The evil practice has two names: (1) Diesel Therapy and (2) Diesel Treatment. Diesel therapy is the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) version of repeatedly transferring prisoners from prison to prison usually many miles or States apart. Diesel treatment is the State Department of Corrections (DOC) version of the same practice except the prison-to-prison transfers are usually within the State. Nevertheless, both practices produce the same debilitating mental strain upon our troubled people. Usually, the practice is used for retaliatory, petty, or classification pretextual reasons. Prison administrators have institutionalized the practice. There was no psychological harmfulness research, studies, or assessments conducted. Zero due diligence to ascertain the environmental impacts. Nothing. Hate minded prison administrators instituted an effective way to keep imprisoned Americans suppressed through disorientating them. And they do not appear to be stopping any time soon. The practice is prolifically used across the whole Nation.


When you uproot and move people frequently it inflicts severe trauma on them. As one that has experienced horrific diesel treatment over thirty (30) times I can personally attest to how violent and harmful it is. Violence is defined in the Law Dictionary, Anderson Publishing Co. (2002), as "physical force used against law, private rights, or public liberty an assault or intimidation by a display of force." That is exactly what diesel warfare inflicts. Prison administrators physically force, intimidate, and coerce prisoners to board these "chain buses." Each time prisoners are transferred they are stripped naked, put in jumpsuits, shackled with leg and waist cuff chains, and nothing else. All their property is separated from them and put into boxes which will be mailed to the prisoner at their own expense. When you are a slave in the BOP or DOC you can barely afford hygiene let alone discretionary items such as postage. Most rely completely on State issued low quality indigent hygiene products for day-to-day personal care. Yet even these inadequate inferior products saddle untold debts upon prisoners. Prisoners are required to repay the debts upon receipt of any incoming funds. Which is a slap in the face as the State has monetized prisoner slave labor effectively stealing billions of dollars of wages from them. It is a disgrace. I have personally had to spend a minimum of one hundred dollars ($100.00), to as much as two hundred dollars ($200.00), each time. Since I've been given diesel treatment over thirty times, I've personally spent over three thousand dollars ($3,000.00)


Many diesel practices consist of prisoners being transferred to intermediary prisons. Spending from one night up to weeks there. Since prisoners have none of their property it is a struggle to stay hygienic. To stay connected to loved ones. To stave off boredom. And insult to injury, most are coffee drinkers denied that one daily necessary small, caffeinated cup that makes them feel human. As most know, including prison administrators, without daily caffeinated cups, a regular coffee drinker deprived of it, will most likely get excruciating headaches. Therefore, that preventable pain is intentionally inflicted upon our people. Indignities such as these quickly add up.


Another indignity prisoners encounter is having to establish yourself all over again. When one arrives at a prison, they introduce themselves to the community. They forge friendships. Bonds. Acquaintances. And learn which guards, administrators, and prisoners to stay away from. Learn all the written and unwritten rules that the prison and fellow prisoners impose. Memorize all the proper times for prison movements, programming, and religious services. As you can imagine, this hostile environment gets considerably more hostile if you do not quickly adhere to all the written and unwritten customs of each prison. From my own experience, most prisoners tend to get into one fight, or one negative guard or administrator interaction, at each new prison they arrive at. The guards, administrators, and fellow prisoners do not know the newcomer so human nature dictates they should be wary, inquiring, and sometimes even standoffish. Prisoners are extremely tribal. They carve out their respective tribes (i.e. gangs, race, etc.) and exclude everyone else. Personally, I have been compelled to fight at every prison. Likewise, I have had negative interactions at every new prison as well. It is a terrible existence. The incarcerated want peace. Stability. And security. Just like every other human on earth. Yet this corrupt practice inflicts the opposite.


Incidental to diesel warfare is the fact it spreads gangs. The gang ideologies, hits, and politics are seamlessly transported from prison to prison. It is hard to believe prison administrators did not know this would happen. A prisoner such as I, and many others, not inclined to participate in prison gang life are constantly vulnerable to the waves of incoming prisoners passing messages and politics. Any new incoming message or political issue could impose obligations or even inflict violence upon prisoners. It is a grossly negligent practice that literally invites violence and harm upon prisoners.


The sad fact is virtually every prison could house a prisoner for the entirety of their sentence. Even if you subscribed to the classification system. In the classification system administrators calculate points towards a "custody level." A custody points scheme will determine whether you go to maximum, closed, medium, or minimum custody levels. The administrators calculate multiple factors to ascertain your custody such as, your age, your crime, your infraction history, your escape history, and any pending new crimes or immigration status. Some prisons only have maximum and closed custody. While others have medium and minimum. Nevertheless, every prison has the capability to convert so that all custody levels exist within each prison. That way once a prisoner arrives at a facility they remain there until they are released. Sure, there could be extraordinary reasons to transfer prisoners such as escape attempts, stabbing or extreme violence victims, prisoners with known hits on them, protective custody or gang dropouts, or some other exceptional and rare factors. But simply moving prisoners because they got a tattoo, smoked a joint of marijuana, or got into a simple mutual fist fight, is absurd. It is clearly an abusive and violent State action. In essence, the State is inflicting more damage upon prisoners than the prisoners have done to deserve such harm. Therefore, proportionality is out of whack with any legitimate penological interest. Which is the test the courts have expressed to explain systemic injustices such as this. Yet with Carceral Deference the courts take virtually any explanation prison administrators give as the truth. Therefore, it is hard, if not impossible, to reverse institutionalized corrupt policies such as diesel warfare.


The inexactitude of the classification custody system cannot be overstated. The general purpose of it is to keep those extremely violent or chronically misbehaving separated from those less inclined to do such activity. But in practice it does not do that at all. The truth is the classification system does not discriminate at all. It actually punishes prisoners for behaving naturally in institutional settings. When in the military, prison, or other type of institutional setting it is natural to want to make friends, to impress them, to succumb to peer pressures, and to defend oneself physically if need be. So, first time nonviolent offenders that end up getting tattooed, smoking marijuana, or mutually fighting are classified to closed custody. And of course, closed custody is where the established gangsters reside so they are quickly indoctrinated with gang prison politics and sent on "missions."  Missions can consist of assaulting other prisoners, guards, or administrators, or it can mean smuggling drugs into the prison. The missions vary. But what does not vary is the fact low level nonviolent offenders are intermixed with murderous established gangsters. Obviously, this ensures the nonviolent prisoner ends up becoming violent, gang affiliated, and more gang indoctrinated. So, the entire classification custody system is deeply flawed.


Maximum custody is also known as solitary confinement. Prison administrators constantly rename practices, policies, and unfavorable customs with innocent sounding euphemistic names. Maximum custody, restricted housing, intensive management, administrative segregation, and special housing units are all solitary confinement. But many dislike the torture policy of solitary confinement, including this author and most the entire world's population, so the State constantly renames it. Attempting to hide the true purpose. Which is basically known as euphemizing. As if we are dumb enough to miss what it truly is. Getting assigned maximum custody should in theory be reserved for the most extremely violent prisoners. And even then, for a very limited amount of time. But as all of human history has shown us, absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is exactly what happened with the power over solitary confinement/maximum custody. The prison administrators almost immediately started overusing solitary confinement. Abusing their power over prisoners by hammering them indiscriminately and widely. It is common to be placed in maximum custody for months, or even years, for "investigations" or other vague purposes. With very little oversight or checks and balances. And even if there is oversight, or checks and balances, it was conducted by a fellow blue line law enforcement correctional officer. Therefore, the oversight, or check and balance, was completely worthless. Established only to give lip service to due process.


The cold-hard fact is virtually every prison has enough "units" to segregate each "custody" level at their facility. Most every prison has solitary confinement and multiple units. Therefore, redesignating them maximum, closed, medium, and minimum custody units would be easy. A flick of a pen could do it. Keeping prisoners at one facility for the entirety of their sentences. Cutting the flow of gangs and gang politics. And preventing severe traumatic stressors from ever occurring.



One factor that rarely gets addressed is the deep impact greenhouse gases from diesel engines are having on climate change. The environment is changing before our faces due to human actions and inactions. Hotter summers. Milder winters. And more extreme weather. Only partisan ideologues can dispute the reality of what is happening before our eyes. It is funny we used to value scientist warnings for everything from earthquake predictions to volcano explosions. Now we cannot even agree on evidence based repeatable data proving the existence of climate change. As if the data is somehow a partisan Democratic party invention. Ridiculous. No offense to the right wing but the environment is not going to wait for bipartisanship. In fact, it is going to deteriorate whether we agree it is deteriorating or not. With that said, currently every prison system, Federal and State, overuses diesel "chain" buses to transport prisoners. Every single day countless diesel buses across the country are spewing harmful greenhouse gases. Highly contributing to global climate change. Yet no mass media, climate change activist organizations, or any other entities, besides, has raised and loudly objected to this damaging practice. Sadly, even politicians that zealously support climate change policies have been willfully blind or deliberately indifferent to it. We need strong fair-minded reasonable politicians to stop this appalling practice known as diesel warfare.


Diesel warfare affects prisoners beyond mental health damage. It can be used to damage civil and criminal cases. For instance, when Henry Ford was fighting his criminal case in July 1996 until November1997 he alleged that the "diesel therapy began shortly after he was taken into federal custody in July 1996." Ford stated that "over the course of the next 17 months, Ford was transported 15 times to prisons in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia." Ford contended that he was innocent and was prevented from researching case-law and preparing for his criminal trial. Unsurprisingly, leading ultimately to him losing his criminal trial. Ford asserted that "being moved continuously" during his pretrial period prevented him from having adequate opportunity to confer with his defense counsel and contribute with his defense. During transfer times he was deprived of telephone calls, mail, and visits. In addition, at each transfer location, Ford was placed in a holding area for two or three days before being registered as an inmate and had no telephone calling time during that period. Ford claimed that before the trial he only got to meet with his defense counsel one time and was never housed in a prison long enough to receive copies of any motions filed on his behalf or by the prosecution. Clearly, repeated transfers during a sensitive period such as criminal proceedings would mentally damage anyone. Understandably Ford claimed he suffered severe mental injuries from the diesel therapy. Inflicting him with anxiety thought disorder, depressive thought disorder, and substance use disorder. Ford also asserted he lost family connections and employment opportunities from his wrongful incarceration. (See: Ford v. Garland, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163647).


Maltreatment does not discriminate by gender. For example, transgender, Jeremy Pinson, alleges that in December 2020 and January 2021 he was subjected to diesel therapy and was "severely restrained." Pinson stated he was deprived of food, water, medications, stationary, sleep, access to a phone or the internet, and access to his legal materials for the duration of the transfer between prisons. Pinson produced emails proving the prison administrators planned on transferring him again. Yet the Court still failed to take action. (See: Pinson v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123738).


David L. Simpson, a prolific jailhouse lawyer, was transferred at minimum seventeen times in a four-year time span. Simpson alleges it was more like twenty-five times. Regardless of whether it was 17 or 25 times either way it is outrageous. During those repeated transfers Simpson alleged he was assaulted by guards, that he was attacked by other prisoners and the guards did not protect him, and that he experienced medical negligence at various prisons. Simpson was intentionally placed in the cell with a violent prisoner named Patrick Pride, which threatened and then assaulted him. Simpson was assaulted multiple times, including once in front of a guard, and the guard did not even intervene except to verbally demand Pride to stop. Simpson would carve out time and opportunity to file a lawsuit and then the retaliatory transfers would occur. Obviously, diesel therapy was used to silence Simpson ensuring that keeping track of his lawsuit, legal materials, and grievances were virtually impossible. Despite all the trauma that would naturally accrue to any human facing such terrible abuse the Court still ruled against him. The Court stated that, "Diesel Therapy does not violate Plaintiff's due process rights because it has long been established that an inmate has no constitutionally protected liberty interest in being confined in one particular prison." (See: Bobcat v. White, 102 F.3d 267, 274 (7th Cir. 1994). Simpson was not complaining to stay at a "particular" prison. He sought, like every other prisoner, to be housed at ONE prison.


Diesel treatment is no less vicious in the State DOC. Quandarian Faulkner filed a civil rights lawsuit and experienced immediate retaliation. Within a small amount of time, he was transferred four times between prisons. He was understandably unable to compete fairly in the civil case due to the diesel treatment. Apparently, Alabama DOC "lost" his legal documents during one of the transfers. There are numerous cases similar to these. A simple case law search produces many. Yet a vast majority of abusive diesel warfare instances are completely unknown because prisoners did not file lawsuits or speak out regarding the ugly practice. (See: Faulkner v. Dunn, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 237282).


When Robert Dale Alexander hit the weight deck to stay in shape, he did not anticipate getting injured. But he did. His suffering propelled him to seek medical attention. He sought it at three different prisons in Oregon DOC. As it is in virtually every prison, the medical care was inadequate, and Alexander filed a civil rights lawsuit over medical malpractice. To be expected the many bus rides exacerbated and substantially increased his pain and injury. "Plaintiff made it clear to both Dr. Gulick and Dr. Handsen that these repeated bus rides were [causing] him a substantial amount of pain and requested they place a medical hold on him that would allow him to remain at one institution [until] treatment was completed," but Dr. Gulick and Dr. Handsen denied Plaintiff's request for a medical hold. Alexander alleges that the "repeated transfers" he was subjected to "[a]re what are known as diesel treatment and are designed to punish inmates who file [lawsuits], grievances, etc.." Complaint at 14 (See: Alexander v. Williams, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166913).


Practically every State has abused diesel warfare. Inflicting violent physical damage on prisoners’ mental health. Some argue that physical violence cannot happen to mental health but that is absurd as your brain is part of your physical body. The Courts have turned a blind eye to the terrible abuse of power due to prejudice and bias in favor of prison administrators. In accordance with what is known as Carceral Deference. The blue line code of silence should be extended to the blue line code of willful blindness as well.


The State of Washington is no different in the application of diesel warfare basically following every other DOC and BOP in this cruel practice. Supposedly on the forefront of fighting climate change and addressing criminal justice inequities. Yet from the trenches of mass incarceration neither appears to be getting the focus they deserve. Climate change demands politicians and the public to work together to find solutions to the calamity we all face. One easily instituted solution, which could happen overnight with the stroke of a pen, is ending diesel warfare. By ending this corrupt policy, prisoners could be kept at one prison for the entirety of their sentences, unless an extraordinary circumstance exists to transfer them, and it would effectively reduce unimaginable amounts of greenhouse gases that lead to global climate change. Moreover, the American people have long demanded fairer sentences, ending enhancement schemes, and abolishing de facto death sentences for nonviolence (evil three strike laws, wickedly stacking enhancements, etc.) but none have been enacted. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all of us to continue bringing these injustices and miscarriages to the light.


To illustrate the harm diesel treatment had upon me personally I wanted to share two short stories. Out of over thirty instances of diesel treatment they are representative of what millions of imprisoned Americans have gone through. Labeled a pestering Jailhouse lawyer simply because I pursued litigation to better conditions for our imprisoned Americans, I frequently became a target. Once my friend, Steven Nall, got into a mutual fight with another guy, I tried to be a peacemaker and verbally break the fight up. The administration seen the video of me near them fighting and charged me with aiding and abetting assault. While the two in the altercation were only charged with mutual fighting. They issued me diesel treatment. While the two that got into it went back. After a month or so at the new prison they reversed the assault infraction down to aiding and abetting a mutual fight. And then gave me diesel treatment again. After a month I got into a self-defense situation and the administration used that petty pretext to issue diesel treatment again. Both instances were completely innocent on my part, yet they used them to transfer me repeatedly.


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