Last Wednesday, amid nationwide services commemorating the 12th anniversary of the terror attacks upon America, the Bureau of Prisons, through the Justice Department, issued a statement for "immediate release" to the media and the public. "Staff Assault Contained," was the headline of the one-paragraph announcement about an incident that had occurred behind bars that very morning. Here's how it read in its entirety:
At approximately 7 a.m., on September 11, 2013, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum, Florence, Colorado, initiated an assault on a staff member using a homemade weapon. Additional staff immediately responded and all were able to quickly and effectively restrain the inmate. All three staff members were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The FBI has been notified and an investigation of the incident is underway.
The feds wanted everyone to know, immediately, that prison officials had restrained a violent inmate who had inflicted "non-life threatening injuries" upon a few staff members. That's the kind of news the Bureau of Prisons likes to share with the world. It suggests to outsiders an environment within the nation's federal prison system where officials are in control — and capable of responding "quickly and efficiently" to warning signs of danger from inmates.
But what federal officials did not rush to disclose that day — indeed, what it has not been publicly disclosed until now — is that another prisoner, a man named Robert Gerald Knott, was found hanging dead in his cell on September 7th, the evident victim of yet another suicide at ADX-Florence. That is definitely the sort of news that the Bureau of Prisons generally does not rush to trumpet to the world because it suggests to outsiders an unconstitutional level of chaos and disorder within the federal prison system that can result in the death of a man who is required by law to be protected from himself.