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Mel Reynolds’ prison gripe: Treated like ‘animal’ — blames ‘Trump people’

Mel Reynolds speaks after his sentencing hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building in May. File Photo. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Mel Reynolds has had a rough first few weeks in prison, and President Donald Trump’s administration is to blame, the disgraced ex-congressman claims in a letter to a federal judge released this week.

“It is becoming clear to me that the new Trump people at the [federal Bureau of Prisons] have put politics into this now,” Reynolds told Judge Robert Gettleman in a six-page handwritten letter dated Aug. 9.

“Your Honor, nothing that I have done justifies me being treated like a dangerous worthless animal for political reasons, while the BOP says that they are trying to protect me.”

Reynolds says his trouble started as soon as he reported to the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center Aug. 1 to begin serving his four-month sentence handed down earlier this year for failing to file income taxes.

The 66-year-old complains that he immediately was placed in the jail’s “Special Housing Unit,” which is set aside for problem inmates or those considered at risk in the general population. Other inmates started calling him “a fed snitch” after seeing media reports about him, he writes.

Reynolds says he’s locked up “sometimes alone” for 23 hours at a day.

Reynolds expresses shock at his younger cellmates “cooking liquor” and selling synthetic marijuana for a “ring that is being run by El Chapo’s young relative” on the jail’s 15th floor.

He also claims he is “facing major surgery and the BOP is totally ignoring this; they do not even have a person to draw blood currently on the medical staff.

“My fear is the BOP is going to send me off to some faraway place and put me in the SHU there, because there is no place safe in the system from the gangs. This punishment does not fit the crime that I was sentenced for.”

Mel Reynolds arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building Thursday, May 10, 2018. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times
Mel Reynolds arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building Thursday, May 10, 2018. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

BOP representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reynolds didn’t make a specific request to Gettleman other than to “please consider helping me out.” He is scheduled for release Nov. 24.

This is the Harvard-educated former Rhodes Scholar’s third prison stint.

He was first sentenced after a 1995 state conviction for having sex with an underage campaign worker, and earned another sentence for a 1997 federal rap. That marked his first trip to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he went on a hunger strike before being convicted of fraud charges. That sentence later was commuted by former President Bill Clinton.

Reynolds has vowed to move to Africa when he is released from prison this time.

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