Just a day after he was transferred to a federal prison in West Virginia, notorious Boston gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Jr was killed behind bars.
Just a day after he was transferred to a federal prison in West Virginia, notorious Boston mob boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Jr was killed behind bars.
The news of Bulger’s death in a high-security prison has shocked many – but not those who know all about the penitentiary nicknamed ‘Misery Mountain’.
Bulger, 89, was transferred to USP Hazelton on Monday. By Tuesday morning, he was dead.
He is the third inmate to be killed in the prison just this year.
In April a 48-year-old inmate named Ian Thorne was killed after he got into a fight with another prisoner. Both used homemade weapons during the altercation.
Richard Heldreth, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 420, blamed Thorne’s death on understaffing at the prison.
He called it part of a ‘very disturbing trend with increases in drugs and weapons being found at the complex’.
Since January 2018, there have been more than 60 documented violent incidents at the prison, which has also been locked down nine times this year ‘due to violence’, Heldreth told the Preston County News & Journal.
‘It has become an every day occurrence,’ he added. ‘For example, there have been at least 11 weapons confiscated at the facility in the last two days that I have seen documentation of.’
Heldreth argued that the prison had become far less safe since the Trump administration announced a federal hiring freeze in January 2017 and the Bureau of Prisons was asked to eliminate 6,000 unfilled jobs – including 127 at Hazelton.
While 785 out of 863 positions were filled at the prison in October 2016, only two dozen correctional officers were hired by the end of 2017.
‘Clearly, doing “less with less” in an effort to save money is not working, and is certainly having a negative effect on the safe operation of the FCC,’ Hazelton said.
Five months after Thorne was killed, another inmate was murdered.
Bulger is the third inmate to be killed at USP Hazelton (pictured) – nicknamed Misery Mountain – just this year
Demario Porter, 27, was killed in September during a fight with another prisoner. He had only arrived at Hazelton days beforehand.
Heldreth once again spoke up about the death, saying it was proof that understaffing was making the prison more dangerous.
He also pointed to the fact that the Bureau of Prisons is now using augmentation, in which prison employees from other departments – including secretaries, teachers and plumbers – fill spots for correctional officers.
West Virginia Sen Joe Manchin spoke out after Porter’s death, saying he has pressed the Bureau of Prisons and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ‘follow the law and act on this dangerous situation’.
‘They have done nothing,’ he continued. ‘The lack of action on the part of the Bureau of Prisons is unacceptable.’
And just weeks before Porter’s death, a staff member at Hazelton was physically assaulted by an inmate in a holding cell.
Bulger, 89, was transferred to USP Hazelton (pictured in an aerial shot) on Monday. By Tuesday morning, he was dead
But violence on Misery Mountain is nothing new and Bulger is just one of many prisoners who have been killed at Hazelton through the years.
In 2007 inmate Jesse Harris was murdered by prisoners Patrick Andrews and Kevin Bellinger, who stabbed him to death with prison-made knives.
Two years later, Jimmy Lee Wilson, 25, was killed during a fight that involved at least five other prisoners.
The fight was reportedly racially motivated and the prison had to be placed on lockdown for more than a month before officials felt it was safe again.
Heldreth has been fighting to make USP Hazelton a safer place for more than a decade, writing about problems at the prison as far back as 2008.
‘In the past 10 years I have watched as we have been forced to take huge staffing cuts, while the inmate population has soared,’ he wrote in a Times West Virginian op-ed.
‘We are forced to manage the high security inmate population at Hazelton with staffing numbers that would not have even been considered sufficient to manage a low or medium security institution 10 years ago.’
Bulger (pictured in 2011) hadn’t even been processed at Hazelton when he was killed, sources said. Someone reportedly knew he was being transferred and put the word out
Heldreth said it was common for correctional staff to be outnumbered by inmates ‘at over 100 to 1 ratios’.
He said officers were also not allowed to carry ‘any type of means of self-defense’ and were not permitted to wear stab-resistant vests.
Heldreth said officers confiscate ‘hundreds of lethal homemade weapons’ from prisoners every year.
And every month there are ‘numerous assaults and acts of violence within the prison’.
He revealed that in addition to Harris’ and another inmate’s death, two officers have been ‘savagely stabbed’ with homemade knives and one had boiling liquid thrown into his face.
‘There have been hostage situations, suicides, scalding, and beatings,’ he continued. ‘Just about every flavor of violence you can imagine.’
Bulger was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives for 16 years until his 2011 arrest in Santa Monica, California. He is pictured here in a 1953 booking photo
Bulger (pictured in an undated FBI handout photo) had been convicted in 2013 of killing at least 11 people and was serving a life sentence
Bulger hadn’t even been processed at Hazelton when he was killed, according to sources. Someone reportedly knew he was being transferred and put the word out.
Sources told the Boston Globe that a fellow inmate with Mafia connections is being investigated in the homicide.
It emerged in Bulger’s 2013 trial that he had served as an FBI informant as far back as 1975, though he always denied the claim.
Law enforcement sources tell DailyMail.com that Whitey had been talking about outing people in the FBI who were part of the informant program.
Bulger had been convicted in 2013 of killing at least 11 people and was serving a life sentence.
He was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives for 16 years until his 2011 arrest in Santa Monica, California.