I Worked at a Prison. My Boss Stalked Me to Prove I Wasn’t Injured.
Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.LightFieldStudios/iStockphoto/GettyIt started back in 2016 after I tore my peroneal tendon in my ankle on the gun range.
The agency fought tooth and nail with the office of workers’ comp not to approve a much-needed repair surgery. Two of my personal doctors said I needed it. So did an orthopedic specialist that the agency selected. Still, the agency delayed my surgery until 2018. All that time I was walking around in a cast or boot in agonizing pain.
I was not working because they would not let me work considering that I needed surgery. My supervisor, as a way to try to get promoted, felt as though she had to prove to the office of workers’ comp and senior management officials that I was not injured. So she decided to stalk me. She was outside of my house. I had pictures taken of her following me. I had her arrested. I went to court with this lady to prove that she was stalking me. And I won my grievance and had a restraining order issued against her.
After that, in 2019, the agency decided that I could no longer be at FCI Aliceville in Alabama. They transferred me to FCC Yazoo City in Mississippi.
It only gets worse. I mean, that’s mild compared to some other things that this agency has done to me. I’ve been with the Bureau of Prisons almost 12 years. This place is very troublesome. They don’t try to hide it either. This agency likes to pride itself on integrity and leadership—but these words are a far cry from what they’re about. Because integrity? This agency doesn’t have any. Leadership? There’s none. It’s the old-boy network.
You have to understand that in the Bureau of Prisons, these people are connected in more than one way. If they’re not connected through marriage or blood relations, these people are connected socially. I know that’s why they targeted me at FCC Yazoo City. It’s like you just go from the frying pan right into the fire.
After I reported to FCC Yazoo City in the fall of 2019, my brother passed away. They denied my request for leave. Still, I went out—grieving my brother. For that, they listed me as AWOL.
It opens up a disciplinary case on you. They’re saying you decided not to come to work. And they can use that as grounds for terminating you.
It got worse from there. In December 2019, I had a doctor’s appointment. When I came back, I had a walking boot on my foot. It was just supposed to be on for three or four days until I had an MRI. Well, during that time I was told I couldn’t come back to the institution. They said they had no place for me so I couldn’t come back till they had a meeting to determine a placement.
I would email them every day, and every day turned to every week, asking them what the outcome of my meeting was. Weeks became months. These people kept me out of work for seven months without receiving a paycheck.
So I filed the EEO complaint against them.
They received the Report of Investigation telling them I had to be reinstated. Then they had the audacity to tell me I had 24 hours to report back to work—in July 2020! Once I got back, I found out they had listed me as AWOL for the seven months I was out.
So finally, I’m back at work, and then I was placed with a supervisor who has a propensity for being an aggressor. She has, I want to say, five or six threat assessments, which is where you have allegedly posed a threat to someone you’re supervising or working with.
In April this year, she threatened me, moving in an aggressive manner. But the agency didn’t think she was a threat, so they wouldn’t remove me from her line of supervision.
Then in June this year, she decided she was going to “accidentally” discharge her OC spray in an area I occupied. I’m asthmatic, so I ended up having to go to the hospital.
She never owned up that she did it. She didn’t report that she had discharged it. But I was off work for a week or so afterward, and I’m still receiving medical treatment because I have developed a lung issue regarding this pepper spray.
While I was off work again, upper management decided they were going to further be nasty by telling me that I couldn’t come to work—even though my doctor returned me to work. Once you’re given a clearance to return, if the agency doesn’t have a job for you, it’s incumbent upon the agency to pay you through administrative leave. And they didn’t want to pay me. I said, “I’m not going home without knowing how I’m gonna get paid.” So they called the sheriff’s department to have me escorted from the premises. A false rumor went around—and I believe management started it—that I had been arrested and escorted off the property for bringing in contraband to the inmates and having sex with the inmates.
I’m a teacher at the prison complex, and in the meantime they now have me sitting at the camp education department. They’re trying to make it appear as if I’m under investigation, but that’s not what’s happening: I’m at the camp because I can’t be around OC spray and can’t walk long distances because of the injuries sustained to my lungs. But the rumor has spread.
At the Bureau of Prisons, here’s what they like to do when they have an issue with you: They kill off your character. That’s what mean bosses do. They kill off your character. To try to give you no credibility within the agency or with your peers. And that’s what they’re trying to do with me.
This agency is a monster. And as we speak now, I am trying to either transfer to another agency or leave the institution where I’m at. I would love to go to the Department of Defense with the military school system, or to work with the Department of Education itself in DC. But the BOP is just not it.
This story is part of our Bad Bosses project, a reported collection of accounts from workers about their terrible bosses and the system that creates them. You can read more about the entire project and find every story here. Annotations—highlighted throughout—can be clicked for further context and comment from other parties. Got your own bad boss story? Send us an email.