342.1121/21

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Canada (Robbins)

No. 51

Sir: Referring to your despatch No. 161 dated August 14, 1933,49 and to the Department’s instruction No. 27 dated August 17, 1933, concerning the case of George Giller, alias John O’Brien, and the right of foreign consular representatives to visit their nationals in prison, I quote the following extracts from letters received by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons with respect to the practice followed regarding such visits in Federal penal and correctional institutions in the United States:

“No consular representatives have ever called here to visit inmates who were foreign citizens. It has, therefore, been unnecessary for us to permit or deny such visits.” (Letter dated August 2, 1933, from the Superintendent of the Federal Reformatory Camp, Petersburg, Virginia.)

“Reference is made to your letter of July 29, concerning visits of Consular representatives to inmates who are citizens of foreign countries. On several occasions we have had Consuls of foreign countries call to see inmates who were citizens of their country. After definite identification we extended to them the same privileges granted to attorneys.” (Letter dated August 3, 1933, received from the Assistant Superintendent of the Detention Headquarters at New York City.)

“We … wish to advise you that we have had no occasion to permit or deny visits to foreign citizens by consular representatives. In the future, we will govern ourselves according to the rules and regulations laid down in this connection.

“In connection with the men held by us for the Immigration Authorities, we permit no visits without special authority from Mr. Zurbrick, the Immigration Director of this District.” (The Superintendent of the United States Detention Farm at Milan, Michigan, in a letter dated August 4, 1933.)

“Consular Agents of foreign governments have visited inmates here who are citizens of their respective countries on several occasions: The [Page 88]most recent have been the Vice Consuls of Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Mexico. These visits have been regarded as a matter of course. I have, however, never had occasion to pass upon a request for a visit of such Consular Agents where the inmate was undergoing disciplinary punishment.” (Letter dated August 4, 1933, from Warden of the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.)

“I have never in the past had occasion to deny visits to foreign Citizens by consular representatives.

“I can recall but two instances of visits by consular representatives since the institution was opened. They were granted.” (The Superintendent of the United States Industrial Reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio, in a letter dated August 4, 1933.)

“While we have several citizens of Mexico here, none of their relatives or consular agents has as yet visited them. Our policy would have been, however, to admit them at any reasonable hour, the distance traveled being too far to insist on an enforcement of the Sunday afternoon regulation for visits.” (The Assistant Superintendent of the United States Southwestern Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma, in a letter dated August 5, 1933.)

“I do not know of any case of this nature occurring during the past ten or twelve years, but certain classes of punishment call for the restriction of visits while under such punishment.” (The Warden of the United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington, in a letter dated August 7, 1933.)

“Since I have been Warden of this institution I have not had occasion to permit or deny visits to foreign citizens by consular representatives as no such visits have been requested.” (The Warden of the United States Penitentiary Annex, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in a letter dated August 7, 1933.)

“We have never had occasion to permit or deny visits by consular or foreign representatives.” (The Superintendent of the Federal Correctional Camp, Fort Eustis, Lee Hall, Virginia, in a letter dated August 7, 1933.)

“It has been the practice in this institution to permit visits by Consular representatives with inmates citizens of their respective countries, under the usual conditions, and so far I have not heard any complaints either from the prisoners or the Consular representatives, of their being refused such an interview.” (The Warden of the United States Penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia, in a letter dated August 7, 1933.)

“In response to question in your letter as to whether or not our practice in this regard was in accordance with your circular, will state that I have had occasion to approve several visits by Mexican Consular Officials with the prisoners here. As a matter of fact, I have approved all requests of this kind and have never had occasion to deny any.

“I might state in this connection that I had the pleasure of showing the Mexican Consul General, Mr. Luis Lupian G, through the institution. I brought about this visit myself so that the Mexican Official and his staff could see the place and its advantages, for so many of their nationals are confined here.” (The Warden of the United States Detention Farm, La Tuna, Texas, in a letter dated August 7, 1933.)

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According to a communication received from the United States Northeastern Penitentiary recently constructed at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, there have not been thus far any applications from foreign consular officers for permission to visit inmates. It is stated, however, that “should the occasion arise, we shall be guided by this regulation”. (See regulation quoted on page 1 of Department’s instruction No. 27, dated August 17, 1933.)

You may transmit these extracts to the Canadian authorities for their information. Please report whether any action has been taken to have George Giller, alias John O’Brien, released from solitary confinement.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Harry F. Payer
  1. Not printed.