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Why was Larry Nassar Assaulted? Insights from Former Bureau of Prisons Staff
Bruce Cameron -- Federal Prison Consultant Bruce Cameron -- Federal Prison Consultant
Dallas, TX
Thursday, July 26, 2018

USP Tucson

Why was Larry Nassar Assaulted? Insights from Former BOP Staff

  Ralph Miller, Senior Designator (Ret.)


Larry Nassar, former MSU and USA gymnastics doctor, was sentenced to 60 years for Federal Child Pornography charges.  He is currently housed at USP Tucson with a release date of March 23, 2069.  Since his arrival in early February, little has been heard of inmate Larry Nassar.  Since his arrival, Nassar has been in the news almost on a daily basis as the victims of Nassar and Michigan State University reached a historic $500 million settlement. 

Most recently, Nassar's attorneys filed a motion asking for their client to be resentenced with a new judge.  Nassar argued he was given an invalid sentence because the Judge was not unbiased or impartial which contributed to Nassar being assaulted soon after his release to general population in May 2018.  

USP Tucson is a high security facility that houses a significant proportion of sex offenders.  The primary goal of these institutions is to reduce the need to place sexual offenders in protective custody, and to create an institution climate conducive to voluntary participation in rehabilitation and treatment. The United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona is the only high security facility designed to house sex offenders and offer these offenders rehabilitative treatment. In the Bureau of Prisons, sexual offendes have a difficult time adjusting and remaining in general population in facilities not designed to house a significant number of sex offenders. These type of offenders are rarely welcome and often forced to request protective custody or risk the chance of being assaulted. This is especially true at "high" security level facilities.

Where was Larry Nassar from his arrival in February until his release to general population in May, 2018?   There are three reasons why Nassar would have been in the Special Housing Unit three months after his arrival.  He received a disciplinary report, he was refusing to enter general population or upon his arrival, he was released to general population and was threatened and placed in the Special Housing Unit for a Protective Custody Investigation.  If the latter is true, the threat was identified and removed from USP Tucson allowing Nassar to reenter general population. 

Why was Nassar assaulted upon his release from the Special Housing Unit in May 2018?  Fights and assaults are a common occurrence in a prison setting.  While they are more prevalent in a high security setting, they also occur in minimum, low and medium security facilities.  Nassar could have sat at the wrong table in the dining hall.  Nassar could of looked at someone the wrong way and they felt disrespected or he could been assaulted because he is Larry Nassar.  The latter is the most reasonable conclusion. 

In recent history, Nassar has received more national publicity than any other federal inmate. The fact he is also a sex offender makes him a target.  Sex offenders and individuals who cooperate with the government are considered the "lowest of the low" in a prison setting.  USP Tucson houses the vast majority of these types of inmates, as well as inmates who are in "bad standing" with gangs.  It is likely that Nassar was assaulted by a white supremacy gang member who was considered in "bad standing" with his group.  He may have been assaulted by this type of individual to get back in the good graces of his gang or just because he is Larry Nassar, a sex offender in a high security prison who is known by everyone based on the national media attention his case has received. 

Was he assaulted because the Judge was not unbiased or impartial?  Probably not, he was assaulted based on details of his offense, the numerous victims and the media attention his case received. 

Remember Jared Fogle, the former Subway pitchman?  His case was also covered extensively in the national media and he was assaulted at FCI Englewood, a low security prison also designated to house a significant proportion of sex offenders.  The majority of convicted sex offenders in the Federal Bureau of Prisons are not assaulted and are able to program in general population; however, if they are high profile and their case is widely known due to media attention, their probability of being assaulted increases. 

What is next for Nassar?  Based on his recent assault, USP Tucson will complete an investigation to determine if there is a continued threat to his safety if he is returned to general population.  If the threat is removed from USP Tucson and no other threat is identified, he will be returned to general population.  If it is determined that he can't safety be returned to general population at USP Tucson, he will be submitted for transfer to another facility.  Consideration will be given to USP Coleman II and USP Terre Haute.  They are facilities that are similar to USP Tucson.  The house a higher percentage of sex offenders, inmates who have cooperated with the government and inmates who are in bad standing with their gangs.  Since Nassar has over 30 years to  serve, he has a public safety factor which requires him be placed in a high security facility.  However, if it is determined that he can't be safely housed in a high security facility, the Bureau of Prisons could waive his public safety factor and place him in a medium security facility.  Ultimately, it is the mission of the Bureau of Prisons to house inmates in facilities that are safe and that will be their priority in making their decision. 

For any questions about Federal Bureau of Prisons policies, programs and facilities, contact us.



Bruce Cameron is a widely known expert, most known in his prior engagements as a Federal Law Enforcement official with over 25 years in development, consultation and assessment for high value and high potential individualls.  He is the founder of Federal Prison Authority.  Bruce has given multiple national and international talks and presentations, authored several publications and has numerous media mentions. Ralph Miller is the lead technical consultant to the Federal Prison Authority.  Mr. Miller has over 24 years of experience working with the Bureau of Prisons.  Mr. Miller retired in September 2017 while employed at the Designation and Sentence Computation Center where he was employed as a Senior Designator.  He is a subject matter expert in the classification and designation of federal defendants and specializes in sex offender classification and designations.

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