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Report from Federal Prison Camp, Jesup, Georgia
 
 
On April 28 the following "Press Release" was received from William Lincoln, M.D., a prisoner at the Federal Prison Camp in Jesup, Georgia. It is addressed to the attention of Human Rights Groups, and dated April 11, 1999.

"Did the Jews’ Status as Prisoners Justify Poisonous Gassing?

Re: Poison Gassing of Inmates at the Federal Prison Camp

"At a time when the World is fixed on Serbian war crimes, a Ghastly poisoning of inmates at the un-fenced minimum security prison camp has occurred. Approximately one hundred low level offenders, marijuana dealers, porno distributors and white collar miscreants were gassed while they slept with a full spectrum biocide that kills all life forms. While the biocide was pumped through the ductwork, inmates became dizzy and suffered signs of neurotoxins (blurred vision, nausea, vertigo and difficult breathing). Inmates were unable to open their windows due to the windows being bolted down shut only days before the toxic gasses were released. The orders to cut off fresh air and bolt the windows shortly before the gassing was carried out has led to speculation that the gassing was premeditated. The prison officials state that the order to use the biocide, which is not approved for use on or near human beings due to its hazardous nature, was given in order to sterilize the camp ductwork. In the process of cleaning the ducts, the workers mixed the broad spectrum biocide with chlorine bleach, the resultant mixture gave off the poisonous vapors. The inmates were not evacuated from the units during the biocidal duct work. The biocide product was produced to sterilize boiler and cooling tower liquids and is not approved for use on human beings. A small amount of the biocide sterilizes thousands of gallons of liquids.

"The inmates are planning to file a class action lawsuit, in part to discover what the long term effects could be, after they recover from their present acute illnesses. This comes after the Government has conducted a lengthy defense of lawsuits related to ‘agent orange,’ a biocidal herbicide used in Vietnam. The Jesup Victims intend to file their legal action in nearby Brunswick, Georgia before the Honorable U.S. District judge Honorable Anthony A. Alaimo who oversees the Jesup Federal Complex. Investigations are ongoing and further details are available through inmate contacts and the U.S. Court Filing Records."

 

Three days later, on May 1, a letter was received from Paul, a marijuana prisoner with training in chemistry who asks not to be further identified.

"My dear friends,

"I do this at great risk. Officers have just led away in handcuffs William Lincoln – the major whistleblower in this toxic chemical incident. Who knows who will be taken away to isolation ("the hole") next for their humanitarian activism.

"My cognitive functioning has been affected. I fear retaliatory action against myself for even discussing the toxicology of the compounds to which we were exposed with William Lincoln.

"As I write, a new batch of some chemical slurry with a pungent odor characteristic of phenols has been dumped into the shower drains ‘to clean them.’ The use of these compounds is reckless and irresponsible, and I fear for our health as a consequence. I ask you to disseminate this data.

"Your imprisoned brother, Paul"

 

Two further pieces of information arrived during the week of May 2. The first of these consists of a Biocide Profile Sheet and a Toxic Exposure Data Sheet, documents evidently obtained from the manufacturer of Spectrus NX-104 Biocide for submission to the court. The second is a submission by Dr. Lincoln entitled "Prescription for Disaster: the Jesup Camp Gassings."

Biocide Profile Sheet

Name of Product: Spectrus NX-104 Biocide

Manufacturer: Betz-Dearborn Inc, 200 Witmer Rd., Horsham, PA

Company’s Data Line: (215) 773-6269
Chemical Composition:
methylene bis thiocyanate
dodoecylguanidine
isopropyl alcohol
"The above chemicals are not only toxic deadly chemicals when used alone, individually, but when combined together and with other chemicals such as strong oxidizers (bleach) or accumulates of buffer dust or vent accumulation can form other chemicals and congeners.
"The factory will give the best version of toxicity and will state that [the] biocide is not approved for human applications in any form and that it is extremely toxic to all life forms."

 

The Toxic Exposure Data Sheet lists as targets of liability the officers and directors of Betz-Dearborn Chemical Company, Janet Reno as figurehead defendant, and certain staff of FPC Jesup.

Charges and pertinent jurisdiction for action include "Right to be free from cruel and unusual punishments, freedom from cyanide type poisons, right to fresh air, and freedom from toxic damage to our bodies."

Dr. Lincoln’s submission reads in part:

"On or about the summer of 1995 inmate workers were ordered to block off the fresh air intakes that serviced the individualized floor cooling-heating units after staff complaints that the cooling units were failing to deal with the summer heat and keep the units cool enough (the Unit inmate population had been doubled over its design capacity).

"Winter of 1998-99 saw a new Captain, Mr. Grady Turner, assume his duties at F.C.I./F.P.C. Jesup. Captain Turner became obsessed that for eight years the inmates were able to raise or lower their windows to get fresh air. During wax stripping operations noxious fumes could be ventilated out, the inmates being confined to their dormitories by prison regulations for much of the 24 hour day. This freedom apparently irritated the Captain, who began to make personal surveillance of the window opening-closing operations by inmates. Two inmates were seen by Captain Turner smoking in the rear stairwell with a raised window and were sent to the "hole." The word went out that inmates who sought fresh air would be put in the disciplinary unit in the adjacent medium-high security prison. Captain Turner would often be seen watching the windows from the distance with binoculars. He appeared to be obsessed with having windows sealed shut. Under the Captain’s pressure, the windows were bolted down shut making nearly air-tight "chambers" out of the dormitories. Back doors were also sealed shut and locked. During the final weeks of March 1999, just a few days before the gassing, all lower floors had their windows sealed shut. Although upper windows had not yet been bolted down, workers were told they too were to be done. Under threat of disciplinary action, inmates were forbidden from opening their windows in any event. The only possibility for fresh air in the sixty-person closed chamber dormitories was a front exit way that consists of two doors with an airlock between. In effect the prisoners were in air-tight chambers.

"The prison camp staff were notified by inmates of concerns over the inability to ventilate the units during wax-stripping and drain-cleaning, but these concerns went unheeded.

"The Maintenance Department decides to clean the interiors of the vent systems. The Maintenance Supervisor contacts "Powerhouse" Supervisor for some chemicals to sterilize the vent systems. The "Powerhouse" Supervisor provides a jug of "Biocide" manufactured by Betz-Dearborn Chemical Company. This is kept outside the powerhouse facility due to its toxic nature, and has the symbol of skull and crossbones marked prominently on its side. This Biocide is not approved for human contact. It contains thiocyanate, a combination of sulfur and cyanide. A quantity of chlorine bleach was also provided to the inmate workers. Mixed with chlorine bleach, cyanide gas can be released…. The Biocide/chlorine was mixed and applied to the A-1 and A-2 Units on April 8 and to the B-1 and B2 units on April 9. Many inmates reported to medical as the toxicity built in their systems from the poisonous vapors. Many inmates would not be treated because of fear that the prison camp would retaliate and place them in the "hole" or ship them. Burning eyes, dizziness, severe headaches, raw throats, bleeding noses and sore lungs were common complaints. The long term effects of this exposure are not at present known."

(signed) William F. Lincoln, M.D.

a Jesup victim

Writing from the "hole" in response to a request for more detailed clinical information, Dr. Lincoln records that "First my eyes burned and the right eye went out of focus, severe headaches began, throat became raw, sinus blocked, chest pain over the pericardium, and sore lungs developed. Chest X-ray showed a diffuse toxic pneumonia. My right eye is still blurred. My general neurological responses are slowed and prone to error" He concludes with the observation that access to breathable air is a human right as basic as access to food, water, and shelter, a right he had a moral obligation to defend on behalf of all prisoners incarcerated at FPC Jesup.

The above report was transcribed and submitted to Dr. Lincoln for his approval. In response Dr. Lincoln wrote on June 4, 1999:

"Thank you for your letter. Yes, the report is accurate and I back it and am glad to have it made public. Also the article should state that the 'Lawsuit is assigned for hearing now before the Hon. Magistrate Judge James E. Graham, U.S. District Court, Brunswick, Georgia and has been assigned Case No. CV 299-097'.

"I think the above information is key to go with the other data since it adds credibility to it. After all it is now a federally docketed case and as such is a proper topic for coverage …"

The writer notes that he is still confined in the SHU isolation unit at FPC Jesup and has been told he is due for shipment to Atlanta. He ends "Words cannot express my gratitude for your help in the ongoing struggle for human rights."

Dr. Lincoln requests that the information he has provided be made public, and gives permission for his name and Registry Number (44505-019) to be published.

 

The Committee on Unjust Sentencing
Los Angeles, California, June 21, 1999

 

 

 

 

 

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