The opportunity came when the Florida congressman confronted Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Colette S. Peters on what conditions the arrestees have been subjected to.
"I was very heartened by your discussion of site visits to our prisons to get a firsthand understanding of what's going on there," Gaetz said to Peters. "Sometimes members of Congress have had challenges doing that. Could you give us some advice if we wanted to glean those benefits and get that firsthand experience, but what's the best way for us to go about that with your team?"
Peters responded: "Thank you, Congressman. So if you have your team reach out to our Office of Legislative Affairs, we will be happy to make that arrangement."
Gaetz then asked: "Does the Bureau of Prisons retaliate against people based on constitutionally protected speech?"
Peters insisted that "retaliation will not be stood for on [her] watch" and that "if anyone engages in retaliation, [they] will hold them accountable."
The Florida congressman proceeded to ask about John Strand, whom Peters claimed to not know.
"Mr. Strand was a witness at a hearing that we had regarding some of the civil rights concerns of people who'd interacted with the Department of Justice in Jan. 6 matters. He was convicted, sentenced in his FCI Miami and I had received word that he had been placed into 'enhanced confinement' and into higher acuity securing as a consequence of information that others had put out on his Twitter feed. So is that something, does that ring a bell to you?" Gaetz asked.
"Congressman, I wouldn't be able to speak to an individual's circumstances regarding their behavior inside our institutions," answered Peters. "What I can assure you is that if an individual is placed in our special housing units, it would be for conduct that happened inside the institution."
Peters defined a "special housing unit" as "one of our restrictive housing placements that could include disciplinary segregation, protective custody, and would house individuals that either were at harm to harm their themselves or others, or had actually engaged in misbehavior inside our institutions."
Gaetz soon after asked if Peters had heard of Owen Shroyer, only for her to say she had not.
"Very similar fact pattern," explained Gaetz. "You know, somebody who had sort of spoken out, was prominent in the public is convicted as a consequence of activities on Jan. 6, now feels as though there's specific Bureau of Prison retaliation. I don't think any group of people should be retaliated against. So I look forward to taking you up on the offer to perhaps go in and do some site visits and see how people are being treated and get that information. directly. So I hope I get prompt cooperation."
Gaetz shared the exchange on X after it transpired, noting that he "has received disturbing allegations of political retaliation by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons against [John Strand] and [Owen Shroyer]."
He added, "I’m looking forward to taking up Director Peters on her offer for on-site visits to investigate how J6 defendants are being treated."
Rep. Greene appeared to concur. She responded to Gaetz's post on X: "I would like to go with you. There are many reports coming out about human rights abuses against J6 defendants."
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