Locked up with Glenn Neasham
By Steve Savant
The big crooks get 4-5 years for their thievery. The same amount of time California prosecutors are throwing at Glenn Neasham.
Over the last six years, I've volunteered in jail, federal and state facilities housing both men and women. I've been on over 40 different yards and have held meetings from minimum security jails to maximum security prisons. I've been accidently caught in lockdown twice, a drug raid by the SWAT team and feared for my life in one of Amnesty International’s worst prisons in the world.
I've interviewed hundreds of former felons on radio and told their stories in a jail house journal. I've counseled hundreds more in “tank orders,” which are one-on-one inmate meetings in a cube the size of a small bathroom.
I've been scammed, spinned, punked and lied to by the best con men and women in the incarcerated community. Only recently have I finally picked up this sixth sense that detention officers have acquired over the years. It’s an intuitive, street smart, extra-sensory perception — some call it spidey sense.
I've learned to trust it. It could mean the difference in getting beat up in prison or worse.
This morning, the detention officers brought 52 country jail inmates into the meeting dressed in pink underwear, socks and t-shirts covered with the old style white and black horizontal striped prison garb. They came to chapel in chains. Fifty-two inmates are the maximum limit security permits, even though we’re in a minimum facility. We’re in one of Maricopa County Jails in Phoenix run by America’s toughest Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
Most of the attendees are awaiting trial for drugs or criminal gang activity. But there are always a few inmates who just don’t look like they belong. They don’t fit the profile. They’re inmates with conventional haircuts, no tattoos and an MBA vocabulary.
They’re doing time for white collar crime. It’s generally not some nickel and dime misdeed. These are big time gamers of corporate America, absconders — perhaps not at the level of Bernie Madoff, but accounting theft and bank fraud in the millions.
The big crooks get 4-5 years for their thievery. The same amount of jail time California prosecutors are throwing at Glenn Neasham.
When I consider the prosecution’s talking points against Neasham and compare them to the white collar criminals I've met inside, Neasham doesn’t fit the resume of the convicted. Neasham doesn’t even fit the profile. Perhaps the worst scenario should have led to non-binding arbitration or Neasham just falling on his E&O sword.
But I’m not addressing his selling methods, his target market or the products he offers. I am offering my experience with the incarcerated. And that experience leads me to believe that any time served, whether in prison or probation, would be a huge miscarriage of justice against Neasham.
One last thought: Every once in a while, inmates and officers who are keen observers of human behavior make their own judgment call on an inmate. They just don’t buy his guilt. It means nothing outside the walls of prison, but it’s very meaningful inside prison.
Exoneration by fellow inmates is rare and with officers, rarer still. But when it happens, it generally turns out to be true. He’s innocent. I have experienced this gut feeling myself about an inmate and seen it come to fruition on appeal. He’s innocent.
I've spoken to Neasham on the phone and read most of the articles on Neasham. My spidey sense tells me he’s been caught in a political web of grandstanding by people who are using this case as a stepping stone with bigger ambitions. Neasham’s not a criminal, and he just doesn't belong behind bars.