How the BOP Would Have Handled Brad Marchand Striking the Penguins` Goalie
Boston Bruins` player Brad Marchand punched the Pittsburgh Penguins` goalie in the head, knocking him over, and then slashed at him with his stick as he was being led off the ice by a ref during a game this last week. For this, Marchand was suspended for six games without pay and fined $500,000. Let`s take a look at how the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) would`ve handled this incident.
First, the BOP`s response would`ve been way different. The ref would`ve hit his “body alarm,” and about 30 staff members would have swarmed Marchand and the goalie. When Marchand swung his stick he would`ve been pepper-sprayed, tackled, and handcuffed.
I think most people could understand that kind of response to Marchand`s actions. But here`s where it gets interesting. The BOP would have also done the same thing to the goalie, even though he didn`t do anything. There`s no such thing in the BOP as a one-sided fight. In fact, I`ve seen disciplinary reports where guys were punished for “fighting” even though they didn`t touch anyone. Instead, they yelled at another prisoner. The BOP considers a “verbal altercation” to be a fight.
The penalty for fighting in the BOP is rather severe. While it`s not half a million dollars in fines, like in Marchand`s case, it`s still severe. Fighting is considered a 200-series incident, just one step below “greatest severity” (e.g., killing or escaping). The penalty almost always includes a month or more in disciplinary segregation, a concrete and metal room with no comfort features and no commissary except some medications.
The BOP is also required to take “at least” 27 days of good conduct time. Because the BOP factors in all good conduct time up front when calculating someone`s release date, this means the people involved in a fight will spend at least four more weeks in prison. There are also other sanctions for fighting, such as loss of phone, visits, commissary, email, all for a few months to a year or more. Often, the BOP imposes most or all of these sanctions at the same time.
The punishment is handed out by what`s called a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO), a member of staff who weighs the evidence and decides guilt. A prisoner has no right to a lawyer for this process, even though he can lose all his good conduct time and spend extra years in prison. It`s an extremely biased proceeding.
There will also be a lockdown. This could be the entire prison, or just one housing unit where the fight happened. If it`s two different races, it`ll be the entire prison. This lockdown will last at least a day but usually about a week. This gives staff time to interview the different racial groups to make sure nothing else will happen (if it is racially motivated).