The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Newly Contrite Neo-Nazi Bill White Headed Back to Jail

By Hatewatch Staff on September 13, 2012 - 1:20 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist

A Virginia judge sentenced notorious neo-Nazi and convicted felon Bill White to 10 more months in prison yesterday for violating his parole and fleeing to Mexico after posting an Internet rant against the U.S. government. He had indicated on his Facebook page that he was in Tehran, but was arrested June 8 in Playa del Carmen, which is about an hour south of Cancun.

“I’m sorry for leaving the country without permission,” White told U.S. District Judge James Turk. White, the former leader of the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party, also said that after completing a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence on multiple charges of threatening enemies, he had tried to leave his former beliefs behind, but a difficult transition from solitary confinement to living on parole led to what he called “irrational thinking.”

White was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation when he was brought back to the U.S. because of a series of bizarre screeds in which he claimed the U.S. was a “demonic dream.” In one instance, he sent a letter to federal authorities claiming that while in prison he was given drugs that enabled him to communicate “with beings that … allowed [him] to explore certain hidden and obscured aspects of human experience.”

The Roanoke Times reported that White gave no answer for why he fled the country, but he acknowledged it was a setback in what he claims are efforts to turn his life around. “I tried to start my life over and I went about it the wrong way,” he said. “I’d like a chance to try to do it again.”

White’s new life notwithstanding, the Times noted that testimony during his sentencing hearing hinted that his legal troubles may not be over. Probation officer Mike Price said that an investigation into possible new charges is under way, though no details were available.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Wendell, I want to thank you for that lucid and heartfelt essay about your experiences.

    For folks who have missed it, I’ll bring you up to speed on Mr. Witten: he leads off an article in the latest issue of “Intelligence Report,” in which he does his bit for the greater glory of the National Alliance in their massive media blitz: he puts up nasty little stickies extolling the party’s goals and virtues in men’s rooms in restaurants. These deeds are a far piece from William Pierce addressing audiences and selling his magnum opus, “The Turner Diaries.”

    The article continues to discuss how Mr. Witten had emerged from prison after doing time for domestic violence.

    Now, in the blogpost connected with that article, Mr. Witten adds not one but two small, moving, essays, in which he describes how he fell into the trap of neo-Nazism and how he emerged from it. There is a supportive note from Mark Potok.

    I highly recommend that folks pick up on those two small notes and the original article — I printed out the relevant blog post and put it in the appropriate copy of “Intelligence Report,” and learn how Mr. Witten ruined his life and is struggling to rebuild it.

    Finally, I urge Mr. Witten to take the time and energy to do two things:

    1. Go back to the rest rooms he defiled and remove those stickers, if they are not removed already.

    2. Write an essay for Intelligence Report on his descent into neo-Nazism, his experiences in that world, and his rise out of it. It is important for the average reader to know how people get caught into the downward and useless spiral of that life, how they escape those clutches, and to know that there is indeed hope, forgiveness, and redemption after such experiences.

    Good luck to you, Mr. Witten.

  • aadila

    In the wake of Wendell Witten’s awe-inspiring commentary on the capacity of human beings to overcome our own greatest shortcomings, I would like first to reverence his thoughts.

    Second, I would like to point out that my experience with those who work in prison chaplaincy from a Buddhist perspective repeatedly refer to the same ideas that Wendell has expressed: humanity gives up hope on humanity in prisons. There is something fundamentally wrong about locking people away and forgetting about them because it does not address the root of the problem of crime, error, or why those in prison come out so traumatized that most go back in.

    I will say it again because it cannot be said enough. There are four things which are known to be effective in keeping people out of prison upon their release. I believe these things are morally rehabilitative even for prisoners with little or no chance of release. These four things are:

    1) Substance abuse education and treatment.

    2) Job skill training that fosters self confidence and the practical ability to support oneself and family by legal and constructive means upon release.

    3) Educational opportunities from basic literacy all the way up to higher degrees.

    4) Faith-based counseling that fosters a new sense of self and gives inmates an opportunity to discover within themselves a sense of ethics and morality that they may not have had the opportunity to develop.

    In terms of the fourth intervention, faith based counseling, there are numerous examples of prisoners considered “monsters” by society who acquire new understanding in prison, turning from oppressors to protectors of weaker inmates, seeing new reverence for human life, and finding hope for their own luminous spirit in the very darkest place on the earth. The slightest amount of light can dispell total darkness.

    We are all, every one of us, to greater or lesser extent, prisoners of our own minds.

    We are all likewise capable of liberation.

  • Wendell Witten

    Having served time in prison, I can speak to this type behaviour from a personal perspective. When one spends years knowing nothing but the inside of a monument to one’s moral and personal failures, the tendency is to formulate an “I will never matter again” core-belief system. This self-loathing and anger is intensified within the the system itself. Other than Dr. King’s “Most segregated hour in America” (Church), prisons, with few exceptions, are the most racially-segregated/charged environments in America 24 hours out of every day. Sadly, men of all races and creeds come out of this environment with a feeling of inadequacy born of the fact that society by and large will never recognize any good they ever did prior to their crime, or any they may attempt to do after it.

    Some of us, especially later in life, when the reality of being a convicted felon and the associated, onerous barricades to success this reality presents, turn to these “Hate-Groups” in the hope that we can some how matter. Most of us are -In my opinion- just thoroughly depressed that through our own choices we have ruined our own lives; but most tragically, have also brought difficulty to the lives of those we now love, i.e. children and wives in our inability to provide for them, or hold professional, respectful posititions for which they can be proud of us.

    This is by no means a plea for anyone to feel sorry for me or anyone else that has committed a crime. It has taken a public identification by Mr. Mark Potok of my brief association with a hate-group that led me to seek spiritual and psycological help in overcoming the feeling of disenfranchisement associated with being a felon in America, and to turn that sadness/self-anger-turned-outward into a hope that I can make a difference in preventing others from making the same mistakes I did.

    Men and women coming out of prison are especially vulnerable to groups that pat them on the back and tell them that it is some specific group of people that are responsible for their difficulties rather than their own personal failings and poor decisions. I hope Mr. White can turn his difficulties to the betterment of society for all human beings.

    I wish there were more education programs in prisons that addressed the pitfalls of embracing seperation of race and cultures while incarcerated. Perhaps we’d have fewer former-convicts being successfully recruited by groups like those the SPLC is trying to protect all human beings from.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Well, Yodz, you have a very good point…Bill White did switch from far-left to far-right.

    I have read that such is actually common in radicals, that they go from one side to the other. The late Karl Hess was the best example of that: he went from Goldwater backer to SDS supporter. Style is more important to extreme radicals than contents.

    I too hope that Mr. White has been changed by his experience in prison. He is not a run-of-the-mill vioent career criminal, who regards time in jail as part of his trade, his deeds are based on his screwy mentality and racial animus. He may not have even expected to get caught. I suspect it was a staggering experience for him…probably shattered him to his mental and physical core.

  • Yodz

    Stranger things have happened than a person with White’s beliefs rescinding those beliefs and working to right the many, many wrongs he has committed. Keep in mind this is a guy who historically has moved from a far left, gay rights supporting, anti-misogynist before becoming the monster he became. Not surprising at all that he has mental health issues.

    While actions speak louder than words, I do hope he has legitimately seen the light and will do what he needs to in order to make amends for his deeds once he serves his time. However, until his actions truly reflect such a turn-around, he’s going to have to continue to reap what he has sown.

  • aadila

    Sam Molloy,

    One person’s prohibitive expense is another person’s ranch in Utah.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Ciara:

    Bill White is nuts, but he isn’t crazy.

    I think he had an idea that he could flee to Iran, but I suspect the Iranian Embassy in Mexico City thought he was too unstable even for them, when he showed up a la Lee Harvey Oswald back in 1963.

  • Sam Molloy

    I would think that with the overcrowding in our prison system, solitary conefinement would be prohibitively expensive in the vast majority of cases.

  • Ciara Vero

    Why would a neo-nazi like Bill White *want* to flee to Mexico, much less Iran (as he tried to claim)? Is the U.S. so bad for him that he couldn’t just serve his parole here?

  • aadila

    Well then, the ACA inspections must be a joke. Ever hear of Operation Streamline for the various private Texas prisons (worth $25 million)? Someone on an immigration violation died of a seizure in solitary due to lack of medical attention. And is this nothing unusual. Numerous complaints refer to prisons ignoring basic health care. I am beginning to think you support the private prison system, Emu. Is it so? The private prison system in America screams its lack of accountability. I refuse to tolerate state-sponsored torture in my country.

  • Erika

    i’m sorry, emu but anyone who thinks that an “indepedent” reviewing agency (see also the Joint Commission re: hospitals) does anything in their accrediting process beside help their “members” at the expense of everyone else is delusional. Okay, maybe delusional is too strong, but naive isn’t.

    and prisons – especially state run ones are essentially immune from law suits anyway thanks to the Prison Litigation Reform Act and “qualified immunity” – guards practically have to be caught killing or raping inmates on video (or at least with very strong non-inmate evidence, in the rape cases such evidence is almost always pregnancy) to have any possibility of a law suit getting past the initial defense response – let alone ever showing liability. And actually the PLRA applies in the case of private prisons too, but qualified immunity may not exactly attach. The PLRA essentially has eliminated any prison condition suits as well.

  • thesneakyemu

    aadila- Any institution seeking an ACA accreditation must be inspected by the ACA annually. There are mandatory and voluntary standards, which are in turn reviewed. All mandatory standards must be met in order for the institution to be accreditted. Most institutions are accreditted largely because it helps when lawsuits about conditions are filed. The ACA auditors are independent of any system. Most agency also run their own review to ensure that the prisons are being run according to the system’s standards, which again varying on the system may actually be tougher than the ACA’s review.

  • aadila

    Absolute agreement on private prisons, local jails, and differences between different facilities. I am sure there is every effort to put a big yellow smiley on the jailhouse, but how do we know ACA guidelines are being followed? Because the prisons say so?

  • thesneakyemu

    aadila- Policies differ from system to system. Most prisons follow ACA guidelines, but not all. Jails are particularly hard to regulate because they are genrally run by the local authorities and strpped budget and a draconian Sheriff can lead to some very inhumane conditions. As far as, abuse and racial disparities it varies also and depends on a variety of factors. Privatized prisons are especially dangerous because they are not directly accountable to the public as with a state, federal, or county run facility and private prisons are ultimately made to serve their share holders over the good of the public or those housed inside.

  • aadila

    sneakyemu,

    Human Rights Watch estimates 20,000 human beings are currently warehoused in Supermax facilities, whereas the estimated numbers of persons in solitary confinement on any given day in America are about 80,000. Hundreds of thousands each year are locked in solitary confinement for 30 or 60 days, well beyond U.N. recommended limits of 15 days for prison discipline to avoid outright torture. This includes minors, by the way. Pelican Bay in California held hundreds for over a decade of continuous torture. Lousiana the same. Physical beatings are also quite routine in jails and prisons all around the country.

    There is quite a lot of evidence that it is not necessarily just people who break the rules but people who file grievances against their torturers who are most often detained. Black prisoners and mentally ill prisoners are most likely to receive this punishment. By the way, another study showed a five and half time higher incarceration rate for blacks in U.S. facilities in 2006 than at the height of apartheid South Africa. We are the world’s hypocrites.

    I am not aware that the situation has improved. In fact it was only in June this year that after three decades of human rights activism the Senate Judiciary Committee finally met to reassess this common form of torture in American prisons and jails.

    Maybe this wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t a hugely profitable industry with so much money changing hands over human misery. But I doubt it.

  • thesneakyemu

    @aadila- The solitary confinement you speak exists still but most systems have changed it where people now have roommates and they try to get them outside for a few hours a day. For example, the Supermax in Florence is a lockdown facility, however the inmates have a small out door area which they have a limited amout of access to a day. Mind you to earn a bunk at Florence you have to have quite a bit of notoriety. In fact, Mr. White’s buddy Matt Hale is house there. Again, most confinement\special housing units have the ability to house two or more inmates and in the federal system they make a concerted effort to ensure locked down unit inmates have a cellmate.

  • adamhill

    i’m no expert, but my understanding is that solitary confinement is a consequence of breaking–severely–prison rules. I wonder if “protective custody” is what White was really in.

    I’ve decided, with no small trepidation, to accept Bill White at his word that he has wanted to “turn his life around” (and that “turning one’s life around” in this context means rejecting his poisonous beliefs and making efforts to heal the various personality pathologies which enabled them). Stranger things have happened. While it is rare, WN monsters occasionally turn themselves around and direct their efforts toward repairing the damage they have caused.

    Of course if I am wrong, Bill White can deservedly expect more and more prison time, with its attendant episodes of rape and brutalization, to be added to his present burdens.

  • aadila

    Interesting info sneakyemu, I’m in your debt. He claimed he was in solitary, hence my question.

    A single cell is different than solitary confinement, where people are completely isolated from human contact and spend 23 of 24 hours in their cell, usually with one hour for physical activity alone outside — not uncommonly in a outdoor pit designed specifically to prevent inmates from seeing the sun.

    Within days the personality begins to disintegrate in a timeless, colorless hell.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Yeah, he’s sorry.

    He’s sorry he got caught.

    He’s sorry he had to spend time in a federal prison. (From his photo, he looks like he shaved off his hair and aged a good deal)

    He’s sorry he lost his audience.

    He’s sorry he lost a lot of his rights as an American citizen (Good luck getting a bank loan with that federal felony conviction, Bill).

    But sorry for all the threats he made, the damage he did to people, the vicious racism he spouted, the money and time the authorities had to expend in dealing with him?

    I don’t think so.

    I don’t think he’s had a real epiphany in his life, and realized that his whole life has been nothing but a tragic waste.

  • thesneakyemu

    @aadila- If he did federal time most likely he spent no time in Solitary, unless he was at the Admax in Florence, but I am not sure if they even have single cells there. Everywhere else, including almost all special housing units, have at least two men in cell. Again in the Federal System.

  • aadila

    I would be curious to know how much time Bill White spent in solitary. Solitary confinement is considered a form of torture by most international experts due to the rapid depersonalization of inmates.

    There is little hope of rehabilitating anyone by the use of torture — especially with someone already suffering from a serious mental illness.

  • Mitch Beales

    Sounds like the court has given White the opportunity to start prison life over.

  • Reynardine

    I see his Gib o’ the Woods ploy didn’t work out after all.