From the January 2009 Idaho Observer:

A victory for non-violent "offenders"

Your letter inquired about the court case I won. It has two parts of interest to me and a third part also of interest to other inmates.

For me, the issue of "notifications," upon release as if I were a violent criminal, was only to get standing to seek an "Administration Remedy" so I could get the real issue into court.

The real issue is the inclusion of "possession" of a machine gun as a crime of violence. Mere possession of anything doesn’t mean anyone is going to do anything in particular with it in the future, and to claim that mere possession of a machine gun creates a "substantial risk" that force or violence will be used against someone in the future is not realistic. Just because I own an automobile doesn’t mean there’s a substantial risk that I will drive it drunk, or that I will use it to intentionally create an accident. The point is to show that machine guns are no different than any other gun as far as using or possessing them. The notification issue is being skirted by the Consolidated Legal Center here at FMC to create an entirely new form of "notification" to comply with the judge’s order. It does not mention or claim that it is pursuant to 4042(b). I have put these little squirrels into a retaliatory tizzy. Since one of the Nazi staff told me of their plan to give the altered notice, I will now ask the court for further relief to make sure they are in compliance with the first Order and to make sure they do not further violate my rights.

It is a big win for Second Amendment rights that there is no justification left to treat machine guns any differently than other guns because there is no more or less a propensity for "violence" with a machine gun than any other gun.

The third issue, of significance to other inmates, is the receipt of other program benefits to "non-violent" offenders, such as the year off of one’s sentence for completion of the RDAP Drug Program. Many entirely non-violent "crimes," such as my conviction, are wrongly classified by the FBOP as violent. My case opened the door for other inmates to challenge the BOP classification based on the "categorical" approach, which says only the actual elements of the crime of conviction may be used to determine "violent" crimes. All the highly subjective observations rendered into a presentencing investigation report are irrelevant now. The matter is very clear-cut and fewer inmates will be subjectively labeled "violent." Only actual violent behavior will be labeled as such now. Other inmates are coming to me to get their crimes removed from the program statement list which wrongly classifies them as violent.

Norma David Somerville

Lexington, KY