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Federal Office of Special Counsel Aids BOP Whistleblower

by Derek Gilna

The Bureau of Prison culture of retaliation against whistleblowers appears to be alive and well, at least in the instance of Linda Thomas, a BOP employee who was punished for revealing the unearned compensation of a fellow employee.  When Thomas revealed this to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) she was assigned to work in a converted cell without proper office equipment with which to do her job.  Then the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) stepped in.

A 2010 U.S. Equal Opportunity  Commission report cited repeated instances where the BOP took action against its own employees for revealing agency wrongdoing. The BOP, secretive in its dealings with not only the public, but also curious members of Congress, is notoriously publicity shy. Woe to any BOP employee who draws attention to any wrongdoing, even it involves clearly illegal conduct or misuse of authority.

Even GOP Senator Charles Grassley, no friend to prisoners and defender of mandatory minimum sentences, lashed out at BOP Director Samuels in a sharply worded letter, was incredulous that $150,000 of unearned compensation was received by Thomas' superior and that in retaliation she had been assigned to a clearly inappropriate work space with no computer facilities isolated from her co-workers.

However, as a result of the efforts of the OSC, the retaliatory actions were reversed. On November 12, 2014, one day before she was scheduled to change offices, (the) BOP agreed to OSC's request not to move Ms. Thomas to the jail cell.  Ms Thomas was allowed to stay in her existing office.  In February 2015, during OSC's investigation, BOP moved (her) to an appropriate work space in a different Justice Department facility that was satisfactory to her.  BOP also agreed to include relevant whistleblower topics in its training for new prison wardens."