In March 2020, NSA whistleblower Reality Winner filed a report alleging that a guard sexually abused or harassed her. Now, her mother says days ago the guard she reported came to her unit and threatened her with retaliation.
The report was filed under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), a law passed in 2003 with the intent of ensuring that prisons do more to document sexual abuse and harassment in order to stamp it out of facilities.
Winner has been incarcerated at Federal Medical Center Carswell since October 2018, where she is serving a 63-month sentence after accepting a plea agreement.
According to Billie Winner-Davis, her daughter finally met with an “investigator” on January 4, but “they minimized and blamed Reality Winner for the lack of action and response.”
Winner-Davis received a phone call in the morning on New Year’s Eve. Reality was crying and upset. She was not sleeping and informed her mother for the first time that she submitted a report alleging abuse and harassment. She suggested the grievances she (and others) filed were “blocked.” (It is possible the PREA official claimed the allegations could not be substantiated.)
The night before, a guard and lieutenant reportedly came to Reality’s unit and announced to everyone that they knew Reality complained. “If you lie on me, I go for blood,” the guard allegedly stated.
Reality became afraid the prison might put her in solitary confinement and maintain it was for her safety. She did not want to be removed from her unit, where she believes fellow prisoners would protect her. And she was convinced if she was in isolation the guard would “have access to her.”
Winner-Davis was told by Reality that two or three of the prisoners in the unit also have an active PREA report against the same guard.
A PREA audit conducted in 2019 found Carswell did not always conduct “retaliation monitoring” in a timely manner. Staff were instructed to review the standard and “correct time frame” for such monitoring.
“In November 2017, a former male case manager was sentenced to 12 months incarceration and two years supervised release for sexually abusing a woman incarcerated at FMC Carswell in November 2016,” according to a report [PDF] from a congressional oversight body.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Brady Michael Green was a guard at Carswell and pled guilty in 2014 to “making a false statement to a government agency for lying about having sex with an inmate at least three times.”
As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has noted, Carswell, “which currently houses about 1,300 inmates, has a checkered history of accusations of sexual assault and medical neglect.”
A 2009 Inspector General report found “58 inmates at Carswell had reported incidents of staff sexual abuse” from 2001 to 2008. “That was the fourth-most complaints among institutions managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.”
Reality Winner survived a COVID-19 outbreak at Carswell and spent most of 2020 fighting for compassionate release. She has submitted a clemency application to the Justice Department.
“Just when we think it can’t get worse, it does. Just when we think the worst is behind us, a new nightmare emerges,” Winner-Davis declared.
Her mother is deeply concerned about the safety of her daughter. “I can’t stop worrying, not knowing what’s happening to her. Is she okay? I just don’t know where to go for help anymore or how to protect her. I just keep doing whatever I can do.”
Winner-Davis contacted both of her senators in Texas—John Cornyn and Ted Cruz—as well as a congressional representative, Filemon Vela. Only Cornyn responded, and he declined to help her.
Reality Winner is not eligible for release from prison until November 2021.
As she has stated, she is a political prisoner, and the staff hate her because she has a voice. She is a veteran, and they hate her because of her service. She is a human being, and they hate her because she knows her worth.
“I am a daughter, sister, auntie, and they hate me because I am loved.”