Hidden guns, far away prisoners and families

By Nora Callahan, Executive Director

From reports in local newspapers in the town of Waseca, Minnesota, Lt. Jose Santina, a Federal Correctional Institute supervisor, was denied a permit to carry a concealed weapon. According to the Chief of Police Jim Staloch, Lt. Santina applied for a concealed weapon's permit because "the prison has brought a lot of families and undesirables to Waseca, and I believe the police force in Waseca can't handle what's going on."

Chief Staloch was offended, "That is an insulting statement to the Waseca Police Department and the hard working officers."

Prisoner Randy Phelps was also offended and wrote the Razor Wire to say, "Calling our family members 'undesirables' doesn't promote good relationships between guards and prisoners. Our families remain the innocent victims and should be able to live where they choose."

Warden Ron Mundt of the FCI was defensive while addressing the issue at a community Lion's Club meeting. While detailing results of "very extensive" research conducted over two days, Mundt said humbly that only nine prisoners had Waseca phone numbers on their phone lists. Furthermore, he assured residents that of those nine, only three of the numbers had been called since January. The reports didn't say if the Lions had convened an emergency meeting, or if the Warden's calming, public assurances were made during a routine meeting.

FCI Executive Assistant J.D. Hill spoke of the 'families' and 'undesirables', saying that allegations of family members of prisoners living in Waseca are false. "They aren't here," he promised.

What neither Hill nor Mundt explained to reporters is why family members don't live in Waseca near their loved ones. Federal prisoners are not usually housed near their homes. Family members can't afford to move to places like Waseca, and even if they did - they can't relocate their home, and change jobs, each time their loved one is transferred to another distant prison in the vast national federal system.

According to published reports, we didn't hear Warden Mundt and Spokesman Hill say, "Sorry folks," either. We heard not a whisper that went anywhere close to something like, "I apologize to family members of prisoners, and local law enforcement personnel. Lt. Santina was out of line. Family members of prisoners are just like people in every community-communities with or without a prison. They work, pay taxes, and serve their communities and neighbors. They should not be characterized 'undesirables' by any member of our prison staff."

Nope, we didn't hear that, but if you have any questions or comments, you can direct them to the Federal Bureau of Prison's North Central Regional Administrator. This person oversees the federal prison at Waseca.

G.L. Hershberger, Regional Director
North Central Regional Office
Gateway Complex Tower II, 8th Floor
400 State Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101-2492
913-621-3939, Fax: 913-551-1175