Women’s prison in Fort Worth rife with corruption, cover-ups, whistleblower says


Amanda McCoy/amccoy@star-telegram.com

The union president at FMC Carswell prison in Fort Worth laid out accusations of “corruption, misconduct, and malfeasance” at the federal women’s prison in a letter sent to state and federal leaders.


Jennifer Howard, union president at Carswell, said upper management at the prison covers up reports of misconduct by supervisors, retaliates against staff who file complaints, and violates federal law by not honoring contract negotiations.


In the letter, Howard — who represents more than 300 staff members at Carswell through the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1006 union— requested a congressional inquiry.


“It is the mission of the Bureau of Prisons to confine offenders in facilities that are, among other things, safe, humane, and secure,” Howard told the Star-Telegram. “Misconduct increases the inherent risks of working in a correctional environment for everyone by allowing harmful practices and corruption to flourish.”


In response to questions about the allegations, a BOP spokesman said the agency does not comment on investigations or matters subject to legal proceedings. The spokesman referred the Star-Telegram to the BOP’s policy on staff misconduct.


“Allegations of staff misconduct are taken seriously and referred for investigation if warranted,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement. “Incidents of potential criminal activity or misconduct inside BOP facilities are thoroughly investigated for potential administrative discipline or criminal prosecution.”


Howard sent the letter in early July to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey. A representative of Cornyn’s office confirmed they received the letter, but did not provide further comments. Representatives from Monaco and Veasey’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


In May, Warden Michael Smith took over at FMC Carswell. His arrival has caused increasing tension and misconduct at the prison, according to Howard.


When staff report complaints against upper management, Howard said, “it is often ignored, covered up, and not investigated.” A staff member reported Smith for “unethical misconduct” on May 25, Howard said, but no investigation was ever done. The Bureau of Prisons as a whole set up a system in which reports of misconduct are handled “in-house,” Howard said, “resulting in many reports and complaints going nowhere.”


In addition, Smith’s administration has retaliated against staff who report misconduct by placing staff members on leave without pay, ordering them to leave facility grounds, or reassigning them to other facilities, the letter says. Even managers who speak out against misconduct in the administration have been “targeted, threatened to be shipped, ostracized and publicly humiliated amongst their peers,” it says. Other administrators within the BOP have “condoned and supported” these policy violations by ignoring repeated allegations of wrongdoing, Howard said.


In another case, a staff member reported being sexually harassed and stalked by a woman incarcerated at the prison. A unit manager expunged the staff member’s incident report and the staff member was put back into the same unit with the woman, according to Howard.

“The staff member is now being taunted and harassed by other inmates who refer to the inmate in question as his stalker and making fun of the situation,” Howard told the Star-Telegram “The staff member deals with this harassment daily.”


The administration also handles complaints differently based on staff members’ ethnicity and gender, Howard said. When people of color raise issues, they are often ignored, she said.

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