Marc Emery’s US Prison Blog #23 – Discrimination Against Jailed Foreigners

Dear Jodie,

The censorship of my mail here at D. Ray James is continuing to outrage me. So far I am aware of;

* 36 letters returned
* An 8 x 10 Christmas card (hand made)
* An electoral map of the Nov. 2 elections
* A US atlas seized
* 75 years of DC comics hardcover denied because its size constitutes a security risk. (it’s 12x24x2 and $125)
*Over 100 books denied that have been sent to me
* Numerous magazines returned to sender

For me to receive any books of any kind at all I have to mail out an equivalent number. To receive 5 books I have to send out 5 books to somewhere. Currently I am mailing them to Loretta in Alabama because postal rates to send them within the US are cheaper than to Canada.

US citizens in federal prisons do not have to experience this discrimination. Additionally, US citizens in US federal prisons all have email access to up to 30 correspondents for hours a day. But not for Canadians in a US fed prison. Even the paltry 300 minutes a month of phone access – and there is no reason why D Ray James limits us to 300 minutes – is erratic, as this facility can cancel phone access at any time as they did to me Dec. 22 – 27. Some Canadians here have not been able to make a call out for 13 days now, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 4, like Trevor Lubbers from Vancouver and the Canadians from Montreal, New Westminster, Vancouver, still have no phone access as the computer here which controls our phone access just mysteriously cancels our phone access. This happened exclusively to Canadians.

All newspaper clippings get taken out of my mail. Photocopies of newspaper articles get removed. Even a copy of an email sent to D Ray James protesting their tampering with my mail was removed from a letter from Catherine Leach to me! In none of these instances of refused letters, books returned (dozens) books denied me (about 100), Christmas cards rejected, newspaper clippings, was I given any notification as is required by D Ray James and BOP policy and procedure. Most importantly all this mail room behaviour violates Bureau of Prisons policy and procedure. But, the mail room, like everything else about this place, runs not on any established BOP policy but arbitrarily whims made up on the occasion. So, it’s MADDENING!

I will consult with lawyer Kirk Tousaw when he visits next week about taking legal action against this place. It routinely violates my civil rights whether it’s interference in every aspect of my mail, or in the blatant discrimination that goes on against Canadians in the US Federal prison system. The sign in the intake hall specifies that the US Federal prison system does not discriminate on the basis of national origin! My chart (published below) shows Canadians are to receive nothing here at D Ray James that an American inmate routinely receives at an American ‘low security’ federal prison – email, exercise equipment, courses and classes in skilled trades, word processors, proper reading library and law library, outdoor visitation areas…

When BC MLA Guy Gentner visited me for 4 hours on Sunday Jan. 2, I emphasized that these private prisons, this one run by GEO, which receives $2,400,000,000 from the US Federal govt. In 2010 for prison services; I emphasized that private prisons do not adhere to or operate under any fidelity to Bureau of Prisons policies and procedures. Secondly, the prisons are about warehousing humans using the least possible monetary expenditures. A huge percentage of money the taxpayer gives over to GEO goes right into the pockets of the shareholders and executives. Almost nothing is spent on services or rehabilitation for the inmates, unlike a government-run US Federal prison.

After being moved from SeaTac FDC on Oct. 27 or thereabouts a full 70 days ago, my property (books, photographs, food, notes, batteries, book light etc…) still has not been delivered to me here at D Ray James. I am satisfied at least that word about these concentration camps for foreigners and Canadians handed over to the US by our compliant Canadian government are getting some small amount of attention. No Canadian should ever be extradited to the US while Canadians get shockingly less opportunities, facilities and access to communications as compared to US citizens in a US Federal prison.

Conrad Black wrote articulately about the prison he was at, Coleman FCI. Yet Coleman is the Hilton of prisons compared to here. Coleman had email, exercise equipment, outdoor visitation areas, extensive courses (Mr. Black taught creative writing) yet Mr. Black is not an American in an American only federal correctional institution.

Americans in Canadian federal prison are treated identical to Canadians in Canadian federal prison. If Americans are going to be putting Canadians in the ghetto facilities based on our nationality, our government should insist on parity; Canadians should have the same access to services that any Americans would get in a low security federal prison.

Compare Lompac FCI or Terminal Island FCI with D Ray James. All are considered low security yet the differences are staggering. Terminal Island has numerous skill trade courses, email, exercise equipment. Lompac has the same 1-2 man cells (unlike my 64 man dorm) outdoor visitation areas. In fact, I qualify to be in a minimum security camp, but because I am Canadian I am denied any opportunity to serve my sentence in a minimum security camp, which are used exclusively for US citizens. D Ray James is run like a medium-high security prison, even though all inmates here are non-violent offenders.

If anyone has suggestions I’d welcome them. Of course, there’s little assurance I’ll get your letter responses if people do write with their suggestions. I will be meeting with my Canadian lawyer and a Georgia lawyer from NORML, Richard Mallory Barnes in the next few weeks to explore my legal options; But this censorship and frugal access to communication in this private prison is frustrating. My treaty transfer paperwork is due in DC by Friday. Jan 21. Only 16 days away.

I need all Americans and Canadians to send letters on my behalf to the DOJ urging my transfer into the Canadian Correctional System. Getting US elected officials to write the DOJ recommending my transfer is especially valuable in aiding my successful transfer.

Trying to keep positive in the US Gulag,


PS. I cannot understand why Mr. Black, a non-US citizen was not put in one of these, shoddy, cut-rate prisons for foreigners. Mr. BlacK is a citizen of the UK I believe, having given up his Canadian citizenship.

Comparison between the conditions for US citizens in a US federal prison and a Canadian housed in a US federal prison for foreign nationals.

The US Bureau of Prisons has a policy statement to the effect that there is no discrimination between US and foreigners in the custody of the US federal prison system. My comparison shows this is not true.

Low and Medium Security Facilities for US Inmates D. Ray James “Low” Security Facility for foreign inmates
• Single fence security for “Low” • Multiple fences, razor wire on every structure and fence
• Unlimited Corrlinks e-mail access ($3 an hour) • No Corrlinks, no e-mail
• Gymnasium, exercise equipment • No gym or exercise equipment
• Musical instruments available to play • No instruments available
• Money can be placed in an inmate’s account by Western Union, money orders, US based credit card • Canadians cannot use Western Union, money orders or Canadian based credit card

• US inmates are regularly in 2-man cells • Canadians are placed in 64-man dormitories
• US inmates have doors or curtains on showers and toilets • No doors or curtains on showers or toilets. Canadian inmates have no privacy at any time
• US inmates are placed within 800 miles of family • I am 4,000 miles from my spouse at the most remote facility available for Canadians US
• Inmates have up to four televisions in common areas and often in separate rooms • Inmates have two televisions – one sports, one Spanish language
• Comprehensive current library
Includes hundreds of magazines, current & back issues.
• Pathetic library with books all 10-40 years old in very bad condition. For 800+ hispanic inmates, there are less than 200 books in Spanish. 50 magazines, all outdated, several months old. No money has been spent on a single new book or magazine in 10 weeks since DRJCF opened October 4
• Comprehensive law library including Federal Prisoner Handbook, many other publications, Prison Legal News • Lexus/Nexus only, on disc
• Computers with word processing capability and printers • No access to computers or printers. Inmates must use one of 3 1980s typewriters
• Photocopiers • No photocopiers
• Photographs taken of inmate and family on federal holidays • No photos taken
• Commissary purchases straight-forward and easy, often delivered to the housing unit. • Must wait outside in the rain, cold, or heat for 30-90 minutes each week for commissary
• Inmates allowed “open” movement within federal correctional facility (Low security) • Inmates rigidly controlled in their movement at all times
• Inmates have up to 50 different technical, trade vocational opportunities including electrical, computer, dentistry, business, welding, landscaping, carpentry, etc. • Nothing in trades or skilles of any kind
• Inmates can get married with ease under clearly stated BOP procedural policy • Inmates who want to marry are stalled and obstructed
• Inmates receive fresh fruit with breakfast and lunch • Inmates receive one scrawny orange every two days
• Inmates receive a variety of foods in meal menu • Inmates receive virtually the same food everyday; ground chicken (that looks like ground beef), corn, shredded lettuce, rice, beans, and tortilla. This is every lunch and dinner, with almost no other variable!
• Inmate can make collect calls to family in the US • Canadians cannot make collect calls to family in Canada. (Prepaid collect calls to one number only cost $8.50 for 10 minutes)
• Inmates have metal upright lockers to house property • Inmates must store all belongings in two boxes under bunk
• Thanksgiving meal for inmates is the best meal of the year inside the prison • Thanksgiving meal consists of two baloney sandwiches on white bread, a bottle of Sprite and a scrawny orange
• Inmates have a superior selection of commissary items at lower prices • Inmates must select commissary items with fewer choices at higher prices, from a Bush family-owned company called Keefe Commissary Network. Inmate funds must be deposited exclusively through Keefe company
• Second Chance Act (approved by Congress on 2009) allows inmates 12 months of their sentence at a halfway house, followed by 6 months of home confinement • Program not available
• Inmates receive RDAP program; drug rehabilitation program that reduces sentence by 9 months when competed • No program available
• Correctional officers maintain a discreet presence • Correctional officers every 20 feet, searching and frisking hundreds of inmates daily
• Toilets are porcelain with a wooden or plastic seat • Toilets are metal with no seat
• Inmates can work for BOP’s Unicor company , earning 29 cents an hour to $1.40 an hour • Inmates must work 40 hours a week for 12 cents an hour (for kitchen labor) to a maximum of 40 cents an hour
• Most inmates speak English • 95% of Inmates speak Spanish, staff speaks exclusively English
• Staff are trained and knowledgeable • Staff are completely untrained

Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.



  1. Anonymous on

    the other facility is only for us citizen or permanet resident can go there D Ray James how many facility have there

  2. DM on

    During my time “served” we did get to play basketball, when we actually had a ball which was never so we basically got to go outside into our cage and sit (this was our gym). Was 100+ of us in a dorm that was supposed to house 60 inmates. Put a petition in to see the doctor and in 6 months I might have seen him leave the building once? Never actually met him. Our library was a push cart and if you wasn’t the first dorm on the list you might have got a ripped piece of paper that was left from the books that had been on it. 1 television for all of us but the guards controlled it so they watched what they wanted. We worked but didn’t get paid. We got a variety of food, same thing every week just on different days. Same metal no lid crappers. Got to do collect calls for $2.00+ a minute. No computer access. Other than that life was grand and the guards were cool. Just got to hang in there and it eventually will be over.

  3. Jodie on

    Mandatory prison time for pot was introduced in Canada way back in 2008 as Bill C-26, which was killed with the porogation of Parliament, then reintroduced as C-15, then died again, and was reintroduced once more as S-10, which is what it’s called now.

    So the protests in 2010 for Marc’s freedom have no connection to the mandatory minimum legislation in Canada. Even if Marc was here and free, those bills would still be introduced by the evil Conservative government.

  4. Jodie on

    1) Marc did agree to a plea deal, but only after being assured that Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey wouldn’t go to prison. The USA agreed to that plea deal arrangement in January 2008, which would have Marc serve ten years in Canada and Greg and Michelle no time, but the Canadian government didn’t like Marc’s part of the deal. So they vetoed that, but thankfully Greg and Michelle got their end of the bargain (no prison time). Marc then had to arrange a new plea deal, and the offer was 5 years — or go to trail for a guaranteed “guilty” verdict and get 30 years to life. He did the right thing.

    2) Marc has been petitioning to serve his time in Canada ever since he got extradited. His application was submitted to the Canadian government the same day as he was sentenced (September 10th, 2010), which was the soonest it could be done. His US application got underway once he was sent to this D Ray James prison, which was also the soonest that part could be done.

    So you say “It sure looks like Emery should have cut a quick deal and quietly petitioned to serve his time in Canada” — and that’s exactly what happened.

  5. Dave on

    Yes and that’s why America has been called the Great Experiment. We can now suppose their experiment has failed!

  6. Anonymous on

    Marc you are in transformation inside your cocoon -when you are released, you shall be a mighty butterfly

  7. Dave on

    Let me quote Dr. Steven Weinberg:
    “Without religion you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evils things. But for good people to do evil things it takes religion”

    In my opinion those are Harper and Co’s true colours!

  8. Dave on

    Lets see now:
    I’m not that current on US politics but I’m pretty sure Ron Paul does not support private-for-profit-prisons; just like I don’t think he supports private fire departments, private police departments nor the privatization of your money supply. I think he’d be call a progressive conservative up here in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, we could use a few more progressives ourselves!

    “The US has some excellent things about it”. Can you list a few for us out of touch folks? Our government is trying to take us in that direction; maybe you can outline the benefits for us?

    Death penalty for Cannabis Seeds in the middle east; probably forced on them by the US. This type of cooperation probably opens the door for the Saudi’s to procure American-War-Machines.

  9. Dave on

    I’ve discovered, at least here in Canada, when communicating with bullies, registered letters are more effective than emails. Would that be good advice when dealing with your bullies?

  10. Anonymous on

    By E-Mail

    E-mail to the Department of Justice, including the Attorney General, may be sent to [email protected]. E-mails will be forwarded to the responsible Department of Justice component for appropriate handling.

    Please note:

    * Before sending e-mail, please read our Privacy Policy for details about how we handle personal information.
    * E-mail accounts are not available for service of official, case-related or legal documents and is not monitored for such submissions or for other time-sensitive communications.
    * E-mails with attachments will be deleted as a precaution as they may contain viruses.
    * Please include your mailing address in the event that the Department replies via United States Postal Service.

    If you know the specific organization or official you wish to contact, please indicate such in your message or check the Component Contact Information Page to contact them directly.

    In some instances, however, the volume of e-mail traffic on a particular issue is such that we cannot respond to each message individually. We would like you to know, however, that all incoming messages are forwarded to the appropriate organization within the Department of Justice and you can be assured that your voices and views are being heard.

  11. Mister Grean on

    “A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable”

    Mahatma Gandhi said this. Personally I prefer to believe that a soceity can also be judged by how it treats its prisoners. If the American prison system feels that it can strip inmates of their rights as defined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which was developed by Canadian John Humphrey) it serves to diminish all nations.

    What if an American was imprisoned in Canada for the same ludicrous crime Marc is imprisoned for? What if that American suffered the same indignities that Marc faces? Would not the US Government demand better treatment for their disposed citizen?

    Seriously, America tarnishing its already dirtied image by imprisoning Marc when they have greater issue of their own they should be attending to.

  12. Dave on

    “Strike at the heart of the American system (beast), using the very federal court system that has convicted and sentenced Marc Emery to imprisonment”

    This to me, Sir is probably the best advice I’ve heard since they sent you south. Once your transfer-paper-work is submitted, I suggest you start using their system (beast) against them. Trying to be nice so Harper will let you back is most likely, as David would say, a pipe-dream!

    So let me get this straight. While in American jails you have to work for corporations for what amounts to nothing and they won’t let you better yourself through literacy and education, wow! Didn’t they do that to African people? I thought that stopped a long time ago?

    Wasn’t there a recent issue about Chinese factory prisons; how it is illegal to import those products into Canada. Oh, Harper is not importing the products he’s exporting the workers; another wow! As mentioned before, “aren’t we supposed to be moving away from barbarity not towards it”?

    I think Harper is part of the crowd that encouraged that crazy guy to use his Second Amendment as a political solution?

  13. Anonymous on

    I think it would be best to focus on a single issue, such as voice-recordings, there’s no reason he should be prevented from having a podcast.

  14. Tripper on

    I hope that is true. I think Conrad B has duo citizenship, American, the yanks did not care about his british title thing I think.

    indeed hard to see how he can’t come back asap under conditions like that.

  15. US Ex Con on

    There is case law that a foreigner incarcerated in American prisons enjoy the same civil rights as American prisoners. At a minimum, the denial of a proper law library violates the 1st Amendment. The BOP and this private gulag housing prisoners are not above the U.S. Constutition, and the civil and human rights prescribed therein.

    Human warehousing, like the war on drugs, does nothing for the people incarcerated in the name of rehabilitation. It only supports the prison industries business, which is like cancer in a free nation: UNICOR is a parasite company, the products made from which replace items made by non-slavery businesses, foreign and domestic, small and large. The excesses of which are sold for profit in the sales of government surplus, to fatten the wallets of those in power.

    Prohibition, which is established in the name of Health & Welfare, is a sham. It has never worked, it serves to increase the black market. Portugal, a conservative nation, recently decriminalized drugs, and tried legalization and education. Portugal has successfully reported that the crime rates have dropped, the citizens have turned to rehabilitation once fear of prosecution was removed. The USA is not acting in the people’s best interest in perpetuating an already lost war on drugs. It is the dept of “Just-Us,” increasing itself.

    Strike at the heart of the American system, using the very federal court system that has convicted and sentenced Marc Emergy to imprisonment. I have read about Marc Emery’s lifelong activism and purpose, this is what he were created for: to fight against the American government’s oppression of a free people.

    Godspeed Marc Emery.

  16. Anonymous on

    i’ve did time as a Canadian in all three North American countries,they all suck, but the difference with us (me and “Mr. 11 months”), and Marc is, we were guilty. there is nothing i can think of worse than loosing your freedom for something that the goverment themselves can’t figure out if it is or isn’t illegal.

  17. M.Sebastian Patrick on

    I’m sorry you have been sent to serve a prison sentence in my country, yet I always expected it because I know how twisted and zealotous officials in my government can be. Private prisons in what is supposed to be a free nation is an outrage! I have believed that Marc; you must use your hardship, your pain, your suffering: to be a sort of Martyr for the cause of ending global cannabis prohibition. Much like Nelson Mandela found himself imprisoned for his beliefs under unjust cicumstances-so are you. Use our laws and constitution to stick it to those who have wronged you and do not stop until it reaches the highest courts in my nation. Many politicians republican and democrat alike here believe our prison system needs serious reform. Give them the fuel they need to fuel that fire. Do not ever lose hope in your solitude: use this as a time of reflection so that by the time they do set you free in five years you can properly finish the life’s work that you have started. You have already inspired so many to change their world for the better-remember that.
    M.Sebastian Patrick

  18. Anonymous on

    No one should be outraged; I know it can be hard not to be, but it’s a bad feeling to have, it’s unhealthy & inspires sadism in some. It’s a little ironic that a Ron Paul supporter would prefer to be in a government prison than a private prison, but Libertarianism isn’t very intelligent (or moral) afterall & it is objectively true that a Canadian prison would be better than that more abusive one.
    -heads up, average people in Georgia are psychopathic & de facto schizophrenic: they favor Republicanism, don’t understand why global warming is a fact or why evolution is a fact & many are very plainly sadistic, sexist, racist & anti-intellectual. I’ve been in a GA jail & know firsthand that many sadists and/or racists go to work in them.
    Let’s all remember: selling cannabis seeds to such a tyrannical nation as the US is dangerous for your wellbeing… it is moral to do so, but it might not be worth being a martyr over. The US has some excellent things about it, but it has some tyrannical things to which should be kept in mind; the US violates rights regularly, it abuses… similarly, sending seeds to Saudi Arabia might get you the death penalty (much worse than US policy).
    Marc shouldn’t be there because cannabis is safe & effective: bottom line.

  19. Anonymous on

    No, they didn’t confiscate maps, in fact they made sure they were acurate! The Germans also made military ID’s and other papers redily available to the inmates and even showed them the best spots in the wire to escape from.

    No offense Marc, but here in the Good Ol USA Big brother does what they want and only follow the rules if under Media scrutiny or ‘it suits them too’ follow the rules.

    Best of luck and God bless!

  20. mtnlionco on

    he has to send out a book in order to receive a book? what kind of an insane rule is that? why wouldnt they just let him receive a book and donate it to the library?

  21. TG on

    Probably nobody new you were in jail, or have the stage to demand your rights. I sent the Atlas, I dont see how this presents a risk? I thought it would be nice to identify where all the people who were writing you lived. Its not an escape map out of the prison. WTF. 11 months is not 5 years, or the 30 he was first subjected too. His plea was the best thing at the time

  22. castklearr on

    SHUT UP N DO YOUR TIME……its the same in every prison!

    I did 11 months in Cowansville for importing hash oil. My country the US.

  23. Conrad Black on

    He’s speaking out against Harper’s plan. You should get in touch! I’m sure Jodie can pass him a note through the National Post.

  24. Anonymous on

    It may not be a concentration camp by WW II German standards but it sounds awful. I don’t blame Marc for complaining but time will tell if it will do any good.

    It sure looks like Emery should have cut a quick deal and quietly petitioned to serve his time in Canada. All the pre-deal organized protests across Canada prompted the Conservatives to veto a deal between Mark & the US to serve his time in Canada. And after that they introduced mandatory minimum sentences for growing a few plants.

    So it seems to me that since all the protests got Mark sent down to the furthest point away from Canada possible in a miserable warehouse , as well as put Canada’s pot lovers under attack, I have no idea
    why anyone would think the Conservative gov’t is going to OK Mark’s transfer back to Canada. Pure wishful thinking.

  25. Anonymous on

    in an earlier missive marc mentioned his current residence was a ” concentration camp ”………does anyone know if they used to confiscate the atlas’ and comic books at auschwitz??????

  26. BallyHoo on

    Funny how Harper buys into this evil. Ignorance is so rampant, evil ignorance.
    Stay strong Marc. With good hope, you will be home shortly to finish off this travesty of justice at home.