Tyrone Love, Jr. -- #05355-067

20 Years -- Crack Cocaine Conspiracy

Tyrone Love Jr., prisoner of the drug war
Prison officials had known for years that the "cowboys" were guards who routinely beat and abused inmates at Florence Colorado Maximum Security Penitentiary. Though reports of sadistically systematic abuses were filed with top officials in the Federal Bureau of Prisons as early as 1995, most of the accused guards continued to work at the prison for four years -- and some may still there. A conspiracy of government employees were committing unthinkable atrocities against the inmates in their custody.

Warden Joel Knowles and Assistant Warden Jim Greco received monthly reports from the local union president and vice president about the "cowboys" abusing inmates. But instead of investigating the allegations brought by the union leaders, the brutal acts were rewarded with promotions. When Dale Lewsader was the local president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union, he requested a congressional investigation in April 1996. He wrote that guards "are engaging in illegal acts of physical abuse against inmates. What makes this so bad is that local management knows this is happening and is condoning these assaults. We understand that in some cases supervisors are even ordering the assaults."

Tyrone Love confirms guard brutality. He was sent to Florence after the "crack riots" at Lompoc, California in 1996, when Congress denied the Sentencing Commission recommendation to eliminate the quantity guideline disparities between crack and powder cocaine. Love is serving a 20-year sentence for a non-violent, crack cocaine offense that was committed in the aftermath of the CIA/Nicaraguan conspiracy that flooded African-American communites with the drug.
Tyrone Love with his son, Terell

Upon arriving at Florence Maximum with twenty other inmates from Lompoc in November of 1996, Love heard the screams of fellow inmates ahead of him. They were being "processed" with brutal beatings as he waited in a small holding cell for his turn. Over 50 Florence employees were in attendance during the beatings, recalls Love. He said that the torture was a reminder not to "fuck with staff." Tyrone Love was one of the black inmates who were singled out repeatedly for unusually brutal treatment, replete with racial slurs.

Fabricated reports were routinely filed by guards to justify excessive force. Self-inflicted wounds were used as false evidence against inmates. And any guard who dared violate the code of silence was told that the "cowboys" might be slow to respond in the event of a life-threatening altercation with vengeful inmates.

Routinely, guards would drop handcuffed inmates face-first on concrete floors, and would then kick them repeatedly in the ribs, kidneys and testicles. Flaming papers were thrown into cells as a pretext for spraying inmates with fire extinguishers. Meals were served with feces and urine in the food trays. The faces of inmates were smashed into concrete walls. Handcuffs were clamped so tight that wrists and ankles were left lacerated and bruised. Leg shackles cut flesh to the bone when inmates were forced to run, and when they fell to the ground, they would be "kicked, hit and slammed some more." These horror stories were documented by the ACLU and others, and are particularly credible as the accounts were told by 23 inmates who were unable to compare notes with each other in the isolation of the Special Housing Unit, infamously known as the SHU.

The Bureau of Prisons statement regarding these abuses is that a "zero tolerance policy" is maintained toward excessive force. Yet the brutality continued at least from January 1995 through July 1997, according to the federal grand jury indictment of seven former prison guards at Florence in November 2000. A lieutenant and two guards had previously pled guilty to beating inmates in 1999. Incredibly, some of the "cowboys" continue to work as guards at the prison, according to Chris Kester, one of the AFGE union leaders who first reported the abuses to the wardens. Kester told the Rocky Mountain News on January 3, "If they come out with under thirty (cowboys), they don't have them all."

Tyrone Love's son, Terell

Tyrone Love has been alone for the past four years. He lives underground and is locked down for 23 hours a day. Some inmates are unable to survive the mental agony of constant isolation. But Love has hope. He has faith in Allah, and is looking forward to being reunited with his son, Terrel. He continues to pursue his civil suit filed against the "cowboys" for the beatings and brutality that he endured. Love has two more years to serve, and will be released into a new world after years of solitary confinement.