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Bulger's Transfer Was a 'Death Sentence'

Prison staffers say the move was obviously fatal
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2018 2:24 PM CST
This 1953 Boston police booking photo shows James "Whitey" Bulger after an arrest. Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig, were apprehended Thursday, June 23, 2001, in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16...   (Boston Police via AP)

(Newser) – Whitey Bulger's prison transfer was a "death sentence," say people working in that world—so why did the notorious Boston mobster get moved? NBC News reports that prison files stated Bulger was done with his medical treatment at Coleman prison complex in Florida, meaning he could be reintegrated into the general population. But current and former prison staffers say it's no surprise he only survived a day at West Virginia's Hazelton penitentiary, considered one of America's most violent. More baffling, prison records reveal that Bulger wasn't most recently at a prison hospital at Coleman, but rather in solitary confinement. Yet multiple offices of prison bureaucracy still signed off on his transfer.

Some point to Bulger's disciplinary history. The 89-year-old had threatened a Coleman nursing supervisor in February, allegedly saying "your day of reckoning is coming." Bulger was subsequently placed in solitary for eight months. "That's a huge red flag," says Vito Maraviglia, a retired prison investigator. "There was no reason for him to be locked up that long." Even then, NBC's sources say Bulger should have gone to a federal prison considered safe for informants. Bulger arrived at Hazelton Oct. 29, and was found beaten to death the next day. "Unfortunately, it looks like they gave him the death sentence," says Maraviglia of prison bureaucrats. "And for people to say, I didn't know he'd get hurt there, it's an outright lie." (See who is suspected in Bulger's killing.)

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