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2014-2015  Updates, Progress, and Headlines

The following includes updates, progress, and headlines related to prisons, prisoner's rights and prison abuse.  To search our news page using a PC (not a Mac), hit "CTRL+F" and enter the name of the issue you want (i.e. rape) then hit "enter key" or "return key".  If using a Mac (not a PC),  hit "Command+F" and enter the name of the issue you want to find (i.e. torture) then hit "enter".  The Command key on a Mac is also known as the Apple Key or Clover Key.

Ind. governor: Prison rape prevention rules too costly John Tuohy, The Indianapolis Star 12:25 a.m. EDT June 3, 2014 Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks before a Fire Department instructors group at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released Monday, June 2, Pence said his state would not comply with federal prison rape guidelines issued in 2003, citing high costs.(Photo: Robert Scheer, The Indianapolis Star) 93 CONNECT 35 TWEET 6 LINKEDIN 35 COMMENTEMAILMORE INDIANAPOLIS -- Gov. Mike Pence has told the U.S. attorney general that Indiana won't comply with federal prison rape standards because they are too costly. In a letter to Eric Holder, Pence said complying with the Prison Rape Elimination Act "would require the redirection of millions of tax dollars currently supporting other critical needs for Indiana." Indiana is one of seven states to tell the Department of Justice that it will not follow federal guidelines designed to reduce prison rape and sexual abuse. The law was passed in 2003, and governors had a May 15 deadline to inform the Justice Department whether they were in compliance or planned to be. Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison said it would cost the state $15 million to $20 million a year to follow the guidelines, mostly because they require hiring more staff. He said the DOC already has put many rape prevention measures in place, including a rape complaint coordinator in every prison. Pence, in his letter, said meeting the federal mandate wasn't feasible. "Many additional staff would need to be hired, additional equipment installed, and resources put in place," he wrote. Indiana stands to lose 5% in Justice grants because of the move, but Garrison said that adds up to $345,000 a year at most. "Certainly less than the overall cost to comply," he said in an e-mail.  Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/02/indiana-prison-rape-act/9896183/
Prison reports second inmate death in less than a month Prison reports second inmate death in less than a month Saved Save Article My Saved Items Print Email 2014-06-03T14:45:00Z Prison reports second inmate death in less than a monthThe Sentinel The Sentinel June 03, 2014 2:45 pm  •  The Sentinel Inmate dies at SCI Camp Hill CAMP HILL — Officials say an inmate died Wednesday at State Correction Institution at Camp Hill. Read more CAMP HILL - State Correction Institution at Camp Hill Tuesday reported the death of an inmate – the second death at the prison in less than a month. The prison said a corrections officer was performing a routine security check on a housing unit at 4:20 a.m. Tuesday when he discovered inmate Warren Pennick, 56, unresponsive in his cell. The officer immediately called for assistance and began performing CPR until prison medical staff arrived, the prison said. The inmate was pronounced dead at 5:06 a.m. The official cause of death will be determined by the Cumberland County Coroner’s Office, and Pennsylvania State Police will investigate the death as a matter of policy, the prison said. Pennick had been in prison since April 28 and was serving a 20- to 40-year sentence for third degree murder out of Montgomery County. Pennick is the second inmate to be found unresponsive in a cell at SCI Camp Hill in less than a month. The prison previously reported that Joseph Diorio, 33, was found dead at 4:20 a.m. May 14. Diorio had been found in his cell with a sheet around his neck, the prison said. Diorio had only been in prison for five days before the incident after he was sentenced to 1 to 3 years for possession with intent to deliver in Philadelphia.  Source: http://cumberlink.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/prison-reports-second-inmate-death-in-less-than-a-month/article_37842414-eb4f-11e3-ba56-001a4bcf887a.html
Inmate challenges death penalty drug secrecy By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER Associated Press 06/04/2014 12:51 PM 06/04/2014 3:26 PM Story Comments The next Missouri death row inmate scheduled to die by injection wants a judge to halt his June 18 execution over concerns that the state's refusal to disclose its drug supplier violates a law protecting the public's right to know. An attorney for condemned inmate John Winfield asked a Cole County circuit judge on Wednesday to issue a preliminary injunction that would postpone the execution. The legal challenge argues that the Missouri Department of Corrections is violating state public records laws by keeping the identity of its execution drug supplier and other details secret. The state says such anonymity is vital to protecting the compounding pharmacy that supplies pentobarbital and its employees from retaliation, including possible physical harm. In this Feb. 9, 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections is John E. Winfield. Winfield's attorney asked a judge in the state capital Wednesday, June 4, 20914 to issue a preliminary injunction that would postpone the scheduled execution over concerns that the state's refusal to disclose its drug supplier violates laws protecting the public's right to know. | Missouri Department of Corrections/AP Photo Related Galleries Related Stories Related Blogs Related Links "There's not a more public act than executing a prisoner," attorney Joseph Luby told Judge Jon Beetem during a hearing in the state capital. "It's called the Sunshine Law for a reason. We have a strong policy of promoting open government." Beetem didn't immediately rule on the injunction request but said he expects to do so soon. The execution is in two weeks. The vast majority of the 32 death penalty states refuse to disclose the source of their execution drugs, citing similar concerns. But legal pressure against such secrecy is mounting as states have turned to lightly regulated compounding pharmacies after other drug manufacturers stopped supplying execution drugs for use in capital punishment. Winfield's request comes as the same judge considers three separate public record lawsuits over the identity of Missouri's drug suppliers. Plaintiffs include The Associated Press, The Kansas City Star, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and retired Democratic state lawmaker Joan Bray of University City. In Oklahoma, a court agreed to a six-month stay of execution for a death row inmate after a botched lethal injection in late April during which the state used a new three-drug blend for the first time. Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack after his vein collapsed during the attempted execution. Oklahoma authorities have agreed not to carry out any executions until an investigation into Lockett's death is completed. And in Texas, a federal judge halted the scheduled execution of a serial killer and ordered the state to disclose the supplier of a new batch of drugs, as well as information on how those drugs are tested. A federal appeals court threw out that ruling hours later, leading to the death of Tommy Lynn Sells in early April after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to step in. Luby called the Missouri law protecting the identities of execution team members overly broad, noting that laws in states such as Georgia and Florida explicitly list those whose identities cannot be disclosed. Assistant state prosecutors Stephen Doerhoff and Gregory Goodwin countered that other Missouri laws include narrower exemptions through the use of the word "only" — meaning lawmakers intended to give state prison leaders the autonomy to decide who merits confidentiality as members of its "execution team." "The Legislature could have done that," Doerhoff said. "They did not." In addition to the public records challenge, Winfield has also asked a federal appeals court to halt his execution. The petition to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals claims that Missouri's lethal injection process violates his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. Missouri's next execution would be its first since another convicted killer, Russell Bucklew, was spared on May 21, when the U.S. Supreme Court sent his case back to the appeals court. Another execution is scheduled for July. Since November 2013, Missouri has executed one death row inmate every month using pentobarbital. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/state/missouri/article475740/Inmate-challenges-death-penalty-drug-secrecy.html#storylink=cpy 
Rikers Island inmate’s ‘hot cell’ death ruled homicide by Meghan Barr, Associated Press | June 3, 2014 at 3:48 PM Comments Print This December 15, 2010 photo provided by the New York State Department of Correctional Services shows Bradley Ballard in New York. In September of 2014, Ballard, 39, who was mentally ill and an inmate at the Rikers Island jail in New York, died a gruesome death there after being locked alone in his cell for seven days. (AP Photo/New York State Department of Correctional Services) Related Posts Mentally ill inmate died after 7 days in Rikers Island cell Funeral held for NYC inmate who died in hot cell Jerome Murdough case: Homeless NYC inmate ‘baked to death’ in cell Funeral held for NYC inmate who died in hot cell Family of inmate who ‘baked to death’ files lawsuit NEW YORK — The death of a seriously mentally ill and diabetic inmate who sexually mutilated himself after seven days in a New York City jail cell has been ruled a homicide, the city medical examiner’s office said Monday. Spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said the cause of 39-year-old Bradley Ballard’s September 2013 death on Rikers Island was diabetic ketoacidosis with a contributing factor of genital ischemia. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when people don’t have enough insulin and the liver breaks down fat instead, which can be fatal. Ischemia occurs when tissues don’t get enough oxygen and die. Ballard, who family members said had been diagnosed as schizophrenic, was discovered lying in his own feces in a cell with a rubber band tied around his scrotum. He had been confined to his cell in a mental observation unit at Rikers for seven days for making a lewd gesture at a female guard, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press. Documents obtained by the AP show Ballard was not given his medication for much of the time he spent locked in his cell in a mental observation unit. The documents show he was checked on dozens of times by correction officers but never taken out of his cell until he was found unresponsive. The Department of Correction, citing a pending and ongoing investigation, declined to comment. The Bronx District Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately comment. Curtis Griffin, Ballard’s stepfather, said, “It’s hard to believe that things got this bad. You can’t cover these things up. Bradley is not the only one. If they don’t know what their job is they shouldn’t be there.” Ballard’s death and the death of another inmate who died in an overheated cell have prompted a city lawmaker to schedule an oversight hearing. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new task force that would overhaul how the corrections system treats the mentally ill. —Copyright 2014 Associated Press  Source: http://thegrio.com/2014/06/03/rikers-island-inmates-hot-cell-death-ruled-homicide/
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00 Haywood jail inmates rack up big medical bills Written by  Becky Johnson Print Email Media A rash of medical complications hit inmates in the Haywood County jail over the past year, socking the county with a $100,000 cost overrun. Blame lies in part with a handful of big ticket procedures — a major stroke, heart bypass surgery, a heart catheterization following a heart attack for another. But there was also a run on more minor hospitalizations. “For the first nine months this year we had 60 people admitted to the hospital that were inmates,” said Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher. Haywood’s jail had a streak of bad luck, but medical costs for inmates have been trending upwards year after year. “We only seem to bring in people who are very, very unhealthy. There’s very few marathon runners or people who are in good shape when they come to the jail,” said Christopher. The jail population has its share of drug addicts, alcoholics and smokers. They are more likely to have bad teeth and poor nutrition. And these hallmarks of an unhealthy lifestyle add up to more medical issues. Christopher can’t help but wonder. “Some people might commit a crime to go to jail just so we’ll be there to fix the problem,” the sheriff said. Shuttling inmates to the hospital or specialists has also been a drain on the budget. And while in the hospital, inmates have to be babysat 24/7 by a deputy. “We have to sit there the whole time they’re in the hospital,” Christopher said. During a concatenation of inmate medical problems this past year, Christopher had five deputies at the hospital with five different inmates. This contributed to a $56,000 cost overrun for overtime for deputies. Haywood County isn’t the only one seeing rising costs in jails. The budget Macon County Manager Derek Roland recommended for 2014-15 includes a $100,000 increase in the medical treatment line item for inmates, doubling the previous budgeted amount of $100,000 to $200,000. That increase has led the county to find an insurance policy they will be able to purchase for the inmates.  Rising jail costs in Macon also include $50,000 more for jail food service in the 2014-15 recommended budget. Since the last fiscal year, meal costs have increased by 35 cents per day, Roland said, and the average length of stay has risen as well.  “Those are things that at this point are out of our control,” Roland told commissioners at their May 13 meeting.  Jackson County’s burden isn’t quite so severe. During the current fiscal year, the county has spent $27,319.97 for inmate medical services. Another $11,581.92 was spent for medications, bringing the county’s total cost for inmate health care to $38,901.89. The county’s proposed budget for next fiscal year stays the course with $45,000 for inmate health care.   Two years ago, Haywood County outsourced with a private firm that specializes in overseeing health care in county jails, a common trend nationwide. The county hoped it would save money with a fixed-rate contract. But it wasn’t all-inclusive. The county still bore the liability of hospitalizations and treatment by specialists. And the rash of major medical issues with inmates squelched hopes of cost savings under the outside provider. Haywood’s cost overrun of $100,000 this fiscal year seems more dramatic in part due to optimistic budget projections on the front end. Almost every year, the county budgets for inmate medical care with its fingers crossed. But by year’s end, the projections prove too optimistic and more money has to be allocated.  • In 2012-2013, $240,000 was spent on inmate medical costs. • In 2013-2014, $267,000 is the likely tab for inmate medical costs. • In 2014-2015, $184,000 has been budgeted for inmate medical costs.  Source: http://smokymountainnews.com/news/item/13007-haywood-jail-inmates-rack-up-big-medical-bills
Home About Us Events National Press Club Forum: A 25-Year Vision for Criminal Justice Reform Unlocking Justice: Alternatives to Prison Sign Up Sign Up for News and Updates Subscribe to RSS feed June 2, 2014 (The Boston Globe) Convicted as teen, inmate shouldn’t have had to wait decades to be heard A letter to the editor from The Sentencing Project's State Advocacy Associate, Joshua Rovner: IN THE May 26 editorial “After 2 decades, teen offender deserves a chance for parole,” the Globe highlighted the case of Joseph Donovan, still imprisoned for his role in a 1992 crime. Donovan was just 17 when he senselessly punched Yngve Raustein; a 15-year old accomplice then stabbed and killed Raustein, who had fallen to the ground. Under a pair of misguided laws, Massachusetts had no choice but to sentence Donovan to a mandatory term of life without parole. Though 17, he was sentenced as if he were an adult. Though he did not kill Raustein, he was convicted of felony murder. As a result of rulings from the US Supreme Court and Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court, Donovan had the chance to express his remorse before a parole board (“Two life inmates plead for parole,” Metro, May 30). The board will judge the Joseph Donovan of 2014, not the reckless youth from 1992. Like Donovan, I was 17 in 1992. He and I took different paths, but all of us who have left our teenage years behind can look back on the errors of our youth with some measure of regret. Donovan has been imprisoned for more than two decades. He deserves to have his voice heard. It is a shame he has had to wait this long. You can find the letter here. READ ARTICLE   Source: http://www.sentencingproject.org/detail/news.cfm?news_id=1846&id=167
Prison counselor from Boardman accused of having sexual relations with inmate Posted: Jun 04, 2014 11:53 AM PDT Updated: Jun 10, 2014 6:00 PM PDT   CLEVELAND, Ohio - A counselor who works at a private prison in Youngstown faces federal charges for allegedly engaging in, or attempting to engage in sex acts with a federal inmate.  Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced that a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Nicole White, age 34, of Boardman, Ohio, with sexual abuse of a ward. The indictment charges that on or about October 2013, White, who was a Correctional Counselor at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, engaged and attempted to engage in sexual acts with a federal inmate at the facility. White is scheduled to be arraigned on June 18 in U.S. District Court in Youngstown. If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. Source: http://www.wfmj.com/story/25694218/prison-counselor-from-boardman-accused-of-having-sexual-relations-with-inmate
Prison staffer pleads to sex with inmate Prison staffer pleads to sex with inmate Saved Save Article My Saved Items Print Email 2014-06-03T17:24:00Z 2014-06-04T18:34:40Z Prison staffer pleads to sex with inmateMARK SCHAAF mark.schaaf@journaltimes.com Journal Times June 03, 2014 5:24 pm  •  By Mark Schaaf Mark Schaaf mark.schaaf@lee.net Follow @markschaaf (14) Comments Ex-prison workers accused of having sex with inmate RACINE — Two Kenosha County women remain free on signature bonds after Racine County prosecutors charged them for allegedly performing sex act… Read more RACINE — A 41-year-old Kenosha woman accused of performing sex acts on an inmate at the Racine Correctional Institution has pleaded guilty to a sexual assault charge. Karina Herrera pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree sexual assault by correctional staff, according to court records. A charge of delivering illegal articles to an inmate was dismissed but the judge can take it into consideration when Herrera is sentenced. Herrera is scheduled to be sentenced July 15. She faces up to 25 years in prison, 15 years on extended supervision and a fine of $100,000. According to criminal complaints, Herrera and Lisa M. Hawkins, 33, smuggled in a cellphone to the inmate and performed sex acts on him in a bathroom of the prison, 2019 Wisconsin St., Sturtevant. Police allegedly found videos of the incidents, which occurred in 2012, on the inmate’s phone. Investigators also found cellphone memory cards, a phone charger, a lock of hair and four naked photos of Herrera in the inmate’s cell, according to the complaints. The inmate told the investigator that Herrera brought her nude photos to him, saying they were from her modeling file, according to her complaint. Herrera was working in the correction institute’s Health Services Unit at the time of the incidents. Hawkins, of Salem, was also charged with second-degree sexual assault by correctional staff, as well as obstructing an officer. She is due back in court Aug. 5 for a status conference, according to court records. Source: http://journaltimes.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/prison-staffer-pleads-to-sex-with-inmate/article_d746dd2a-eb6d-11e3-a518-0019bb2963f4.html
An Ohio correctional officer is indicted for sex with an inmate Posted: Jun 04, 2014 1:06 PM PDT Updated: Jun 04, 2014 3:51 PM PDT Posted by 19 Action News Digital Team - email     Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - On Wednesday, June 4, Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland, Ohio, returned a one-count indictment charging Nicole White, 34, of Boardman, Ohio, with sexual abuse of a ward. MOREAdditional Links Special Read now on 19actionnews.com Read now on 19actionnews.com Check out the most popular stories on 19actionnews.com.  More >> The indictment charges that on or about October 2013, White, who was a correctional counselor at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, engaged and attempted to engage in sexual acts with a federal inmate at the facility.  If convicted, the defendant's sentence will be determined by the court after review of the defendant's prior criminal record, if any, the defendant's role in the offense and the nature of the violations.   The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the Bureau of Prisons.  The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David M. Toepfer.   Copyright 2014 WOIO. All rights reserved.   Source: http://www.19actionnews.com/story/25694962/an-ohio-correctional-officer-is-indicted-for-sex-with-an-inmate
LocalPolitiCal Arizona prison litigation echoes California cases Paige St. John contact the reporter Justice SystemTrials and ArbitrationJails and PrisonsCourts and the JudiciaryAmerican Civil Liberties Union California-style prison litigation in Arizona Federal appeals court gives green light to Arizona prison class action A federal appeals court has given the green light for a prisoner class-action lawsuit over alleged civil rights violations in the use of solitary confinement and delivery of healthcare to go forward — in Arizona. Arizona state prison in Tucson Arizona Department of Corrections The Arizona State Prison Complex near Tucson. A federal appeals judge Thursday gave approval for inmates at 10 Arizona prisons to pursue a class-action case alleging unconstitutionally poor prison health and psychiatric care. The Arizona State Prison Complex near Tucson. A federal appeals judge Thursday gave approval for inmates at 10 Arizona prisons to pursue a class-action case alleging unconstitutionally poor prison health and psychiatric care. (Arizona Department of Corrections) The case echoes the historic prisoner civil rights cases that have kept California's prison system under federal control in many ways, including involving many of the same lawyers and the lead judge writing Thursday's opinion. A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections said the state "disagrees" with the decision but, pending appeal, would not comment on details of the ruling.  "Today’s decision does not change the fact that the factual allegations made in this lawsuit are still merely allegations," said spokesman Doug Nick. "The allegations are not accurate, and the Department of Corrections looks forward to vigorously challenging them and presenting our case at trial." lRelated PolitiCal Gov. Jerry Brown wins two-year delay in prison crowding caps See all related 8 The litigation covers conditions within Arizona's 10 state prisons, housing about 33,000 inmates. It is now set to go to trial in October. cComments Got something to say? Start the conversation and be the first to comment. Add a comment 0 Thursday's opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, upholds a federal district court ruling that Arizona inmates can press a class-action claim against the state. The underlying lawsuit alleges "inadequate staffing, outright denials of care, lack of emergency treatment, failure to stock and provide critical medication, grossly substandard dental care, and failure to provide therapy and psychiatric medication to mentally ill inmates," Reinhardt wrote. In the opinion, Reinhardt characterized the case as painting a "grim picture of [Arizona's] operations." The Berkeley-based Prison Law Office, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project and various prisoners' rights groups, also alleges that Arizona subjects its state inmates to "systemic" cruel and unusual punishment by holding them in isolation cells where the lights are always turned on, there is inadequate food and no outdoor exercise for months at a time. Prison Law Office attorney Don Specter called the case a "combination" of the major class-action lawsuits in California that wound up with the state under federal orders to reduce crowding and with its medical system run by a court-appointed official. "Although it’s an Arizona case, the court’s class-action ruling has very significant implications for prison and jail litigation here in California and throughout the 9th Circuit," Specter said, "because it recognizes that all prisoners are at risk in a correctional facility that has inadequate care and imposes solitary confinement." Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times   Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ff-california-prison-litigation-upheld-in-arizona-20140605-story.html
Prison until death is cruel, unusual for 13-year-old The News TribuneJune 5, 2014  2014-06-07T07:27:51Z The_News_Tribune FacebookTwitterGoogle PlusRedditE-mailPrint Barry Massey, 13, is led from Pierce County Superior Court in February 1987. At left is Massey’s mother. STAFF FILE PHOTO, 1987 Today's Deal $6 for $12 at Man Pies $6.00 Buy Now! Recent Headlines Our Voice: Kennewick finds success with southern expansion 10 minutes ago Our Voice: Good solution for Seattle's new minimum wage law 10 minutes ago In Focus: Tomas Villanueva: a man beyond measure 10 minutes ago Obama does his best to alleviate student debt Seattle makes high-risk bet on $15 minimum wage The case of Barry Massey — the notorious 13-year-old killer — gets right down to the bedrock concerns of justice. It’s all about the border between retribution and redemption. This week, Massey will probably be free of the life-without-parole sentence he received in 1988 for the vicious murder of a Steilacoom marina owner the previous year. At the behest of the U.S. Supreme Court and Washington Legislature, a Pierce County judge is expected to replace that abandon-all-hope fate with 25-years-to-life. Massey has already served more than 27 years, and he could theoretically be released soon. That decision will be up to the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, a body known as the parole board back when sentences with fuzzy expiration dates used to be common. Massey would presumably be subject to community supervision once released and could be thrown back in prison if he violates the terms of parole. His murder of Paul Wang in 1987 shocked Steilacoom and Pierce County. He and a 15-year-old accomplice, Michael Harris, summarily shot and stabbed Wang to death in his shop to grab candy, fishing gear and something over $140. Wang, who loved children, was murdered for the sake of petty items and petty cash. Massey’s penalty has been an issue ever since. When he was sentenced at age 14, he became the youngest killer in the United States to be sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole. Aggravated murder was the obvious crime. Then-Prosecutor John Ladenburg was right to prosecute him as an adult for that, and Massey deserved a very long sentence. At the time, an aggravated murder conviction required either the death penalty or imprisonment until death. One or the other — it was automatic. But the U.S. Supreme Court was also right in 2012 when it held that states couldn’t require judges to sentence juvenile killers to inflexible life sentences without any consideration of their age or circumstances. In recent years, research has demonstrated that young juveniles — especially boys — are often slow to develop adult impulse control, moral judgment and the capacity to foresee the consequences of their actions. This isn’t bleeding-heart social theory. Scientists have pinpointed the precise brain structures linked with decision-making and documented their development –or lack thereof — during adolescence. Justice requires punishment — long and hard punishment for a crime like Massey’s. Still, automatically flushing a defendant down the toilet for a murder committed at 13 is both cruel and unusual. Massey might still belong in prison for many years to come. But that judgment ought to be made carefully, by human beings who’ve studied the particulars of his case and gained a sense of who he is now. One-size-fits-all isn’t justice for adolescents barely old enough to shave. Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/06/05/3681391/prison-until-death-is-cruel-unusual.html?sp=/99/122/#storylink=cpy 
From prison to the dance floor: Program bridges cultural divides Text Size: A | A | A Print this Article Email this Article ShareThis Buy This Photo Photo 1 of 1  |  Zoom Photo + Susan Slotnick with members of Figures In Flight: Released.Photos by Molly Rust 1 of 3 clicks used this month LOGIN | REGISTER | SUBSCRIBE By Brian PJ Cronin For the Times Herald-Record Published: 2:03 PM - 06/05/14 Last updated: 2:48 PM - 06/05/14 Choreographer Susan Slotnick has been working with marginalized populations for over 20 years. In that time, she's run across her fair share of skeptics. Like the corrections officer at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, where Slotnick has been volunteering as a dance instructor for the past eight years. The officer told her that it was very nice that she was there, but that she shouldn't get too carried away. “He told me, 'You need to know that these men in your modern dance company here, as soon as they leave here they're never dancing another step. This is just to get a certificate and look better for parole,” she recalled. “So I looked at him and said, 'That's really interesting because all of the men who were part of the company who've already gotten out are performing together at the famous 92nd Street Y in New York City this Saturday night.'” That modern dance company, named Figures In Flight: Released, was founded by Andre Noel, a former student of Slotnick's at Woodbourne. Tomorrow night it'll perform at SUNY New Paltz along with Slotnick's teenage modern dance company, Figures In Flight 4. Each company will perform its own work, and the evening will culminate in a 20-minute collaboration between the two companies titled “Welcome To The World.” Slotnick always told her students at Woodbourne that they should form their own company when their time at the correctional facility was up. “I'd say, 'Oh, my dream is that when you get out you're going to form your own company and perform in prisons all over the world, and show people what the incarcerated are capable of,” she said. “I never thought it would actually happen. But it did! All because of Andre Noel, dance became his life. It's his calling.” Slotnick told Noel that when he formed the company, he could have all the choreography that the group created when they were still behind bars. But she's purposely kept her involvement with the new company to a minimum. “They're free men now,” she said. “They don't need me telling them what to do.” The other group on the program, Figures In Flight 4, is Slotnick's fourth teenage dance company. They didn't start out as a teenage dance company, however. Like her previous three groups, Slotnick created it when the dancers were just 5 years old. She works with the group throughout the years until they graduate high school, then assembles another company of 5-year-olds and begins again. She says that Figures in Flight 4 will be her last youth company. “I'm retiring after this,” she jokes. Of course, she's not really retiring. Slotnick still travels to Woodbourne every Sunday to work with incarcerated dancers and experience what she calls the “overwhelming glowing magic that occurs when people that are marginalized get to dance to beautiful music.” Their intensive dance training was made possible through the New York State Rehabilitation through the Arts program, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the creative arts as a tool for transformation in prisons. All of the company's former members who have been released are doing well, are all gainfully employed and have kept out of trouble. Many have started families. Slotnick refuses to give herself any credit. “They are responsible for what they do with their talents.” But it's hard to deny the positive impact Slotnick's program has had on the incarcerated men with whom she works. She may be hesitant to give herself credit, but there is no doubt in her mind that her program, and others like it in prisons across the country, are performing an undervalued service to society as a whole. “We incarcerate over two million people in this country,” she said. “Between 97 and 98 percent of them are getting out. This is what people don't understand, those who don't want us doing programs in prison, who don't want to fund therapy, or fund college educations for the incarcerated. We're not just doing something for them. We're doing something for us. Because they're all coming out.” ***** IF YOU GO What: Figures In Flight When: 7 p.m. June 7 Where: McKenna Theater at SUNY New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz Price: $15, $10 for seniors/students with ID and children 12 and under Tickets: Available at the door starting at 6 p.m.   Source: http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140605/ENTERTAIN/140609824
Arizona Inmates Advance in Challenge Over Health Care By TIM HULL  ShareThis        (CN) - A class may advance claims that Arizona's prison health care system is dangerously understaffed and negligently managed, the 9th Circuit ruled Thursday.      Led by Victor Parsons in a 2012 complaint, the inmates say that medical, dental and mental health care provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) exposed them to substantial risk and harm, including "preventable injury, amputation, disfigurement, and death," violating the Eighth Amendment.      Emergency treatment and other medical care in ADC prisons is often delayed or denied, and it was difficult to secure medications and medical devices, according to the complaint. Inmates say dental care is also substandard and focused largely on extracting the offending tooth. As for basic mental health care, the inmates say some prisoners are kept in isolation units with constant illumination and given inadequate exercise and nutrition.      U.S. District Judge Neil Wake in Phoenix refused to dismiss the case and then certified a class and a subclass of inmates. In its appeal , Arizona argued that the inmates had failed to demonstrate the "commonality and typicality" required for class certification.      A three-judge panel sided with the inmates Thursday, crediting their "four thorough and unrebutted expert reports, the detailed allegations in the 74-page complaint, hundreds of internal ADC documents, and declarations by the named plaintiffs."      This evidence is more than enough at this stage in the case to show "the existence of the statewide ADC policies and practices that allegedly expose all members of the putative class to a substantial risk of serious harm," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the court.      "Those policies and practices, moreover, are defined with sufficient precision and specificity," he added. "They involve particular and readily identifiable conduct on the part of the defendants, such as failing to hire enough medical staff, failing to fill prescriptions, denying inmates access to medical specialists, adopting a de facto 'extraction only' policy for dental issues, and depriving suicidal and mentally ill inmates access to basic mental health care."      Arizona houses about 33,000 inmates in 10 prisons, and has for two years hired private companies to provide health care inside.      In 2012, then-contractor Wexford Health Services reported that, "for higher-level providers, such as physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, nurse practitioners, and management-level health care staff, the overall vacancy rate across ADC facilities exceeded 50 percent," according to the ruling.      Wexford also "described 'long-standing issues, embedded into ADC health care policy and philosophy' and noted that ADC's health care system was 'extremely poor,' 'dysfunctional,' 'sub-standard,' and rife with 'deficiencies.'"      Corizon Inc. replaced Wexford in March 2013, the San Francisco court noted.      The ruling rejects Arizona's claim that the inmates had failed to meet the strict commonality requirement for class certification handed down by the Supreme Court in the 2011 decision Wal-Mart v. Dukes.      "What all members of the putative class and subclass have in common is their alleged exposure, as a result of specified statewide ADC policies and practices that govern the overall conditions of health care services and confinement, to a substantial risk of serious future harm to which the defendants are allegedly deliberately indifferent," Reinhardt wrote. "As the District Court recognized, although a presently existing risk may ultimately result in different future harm for different inmates-ranging from no harm at all to death - every inmate suffers exactly the same constitutional injury when he is exposed to a single statewide ADC policy or practice that creates a substantial risk of serious harm."      The ADC did not immediately return a request for comment.      The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU National Prison Project and the ACLU Foundation of Arizona.  Source: http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/06/05/68497.htm
Former Inmate Can’t Afford Food Because of $21,000 in Fines Added by yvette on June 6, 2014. Saved under Black News Tags: 000, Ardell Shaw, felons, jail, legal, New york times, prison, probation If you ever wonder why ex-cons have such a hard time integrating back into society, maybe Ardell Shaw’s story will help you understand the obstacles put in place by the state to make it almost impossible for them to rebuilt their lives. In a discussion with HuffPost Live on Wednesday,  Shaw revealed that his arrest on drug charges in Washington state not only sent him to prison for 14 years, but also impoverished him. Shaw explained that he was fined $600 for each of his three drug charges, amounting to a total fine of $1,800. The judge told Shaw that he didn’t have to pay the fees until after he was released from jail. Little did Shaw know, his fine was collecting interest while he was still behind bars and unable to pay. By the time Shaw was released he owed $21,000, making it hard for him to piece his life back together. “When I go to apply for a job, when I go to try to get a vehicle, or when I try to do anything where I need to run credit, they see I owe $21,000, and that makes it hard,” he explained. He says he’s always forced with choosing between whether to make the required payment on his legal obligation or to buy food and gas. And it’s not just felons who are being locked up and charged outrageous fees. In 2012, the New York Times reported that a judge in Alabama temporarily halted a system whereby private probation companies were basically robbing citizens. People were being fined for things like traffic viοlations and when they couldn’t pay, they were often jailed as additional feels piled up.  Source:  http://blacklikemoi.com/2014/06/former-inmate-cant-afford-food-21000-fines/
Inmate overload for county jails Arkansas Sheriffs' Association is pushing for a special state legislature meeting to address the state inmate population Post to Facebook CancelSend Sent! A link has been sent to your friend's email address. Posted! A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Join the Conversation To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs Subscribe Today Log In Subscribed, but don't have a login? Activate your digital access. Inmate overload for county jails Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery on state inmates in county jail. By JOSH DOOLEY, jdooley@baxterbulletin.com 2:18 a.m. CDT June 7, 2014 Currently, there are approximately 2,700 state inmates housed in Arkansas county jails Danielle Campfield, (left) Baxter County Sheriff’s Office jail administrator, and jailer Kenneth Looney serve lunch to a long line of inmates housed at the Baxter County Detention Center on Thursday.(Photo: Kevin Pieper/The Baxter Bulletin) 48 CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE If the Arkansas Sheriffs' Association has its way, the Legislature will head back to Little Rock for a special session regarding the state inmate population in county jails. "This is a dire situation in our county jails and in our communities across the state," said Ronnie Baldwin, executive director of the Arkansas Sheriffs' Association. "The sheriffs of Arkansas have decided to engage legislators and set the tone for this issue being added to the call for a possible special session this summer." State inmates crowding county jails across the state isn't a new problem, it's been ongoing for a number of months. Currently, there are approximately 2,700 state inmates housed in county jails. The sheriffs' association would like to see that number drop drastically. The Sheriffs' Association wants legislators to cap the number of state inmates housed in county jails at 1,600 — or 1,100 less than they currently hold. "The state must address this critical situation that is already at its boiling point," Baldwin said. "It is far past due for the state to take responsibility for all of its inmates." As always, the big problem is money. Counties are reimbursed $28 per day for each state inmate they house. According to the sheriffs' association, a state legislative audit estimates it costs $45 per day to house an inmate. "The low prisoner reimbursement rate costs counties an excessive amount, and actually pulls funds from other needed resources within the counties," said Chris Villines, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Counties. "This difference in a woefully low reimbursement rate, compared to the actual cost during a crisis like this, manifests into an estimated $18 million per year cost to counties." Where to put the prisoners If there is a special session, the Arkansas Department of Correction will stand beside the sheriffs' association and ask for funding to open 330 beds currently available, but unused due to a lack of money, according to Benny Magness, chairman of the Board of Corrections. To open those beds, Magness said, the DOC would need an additional $3 million in funding. DOC officials also are looking into potentially renting or leasing a currently unused minimum security facility in Pulaski County that could house an additional 250 inmates, Magness said. If legislators choose those options, it still would leave an additional 500 beds the state would need to find to satisfy the 1,600-bed cap the Sheriffs' Association is looking for. For those beds, Magness said it's possible the DOC could look out of state for the solution. A state inmate being held in the Baxter County Detention Center holds a bible on Thursday. Nearly 40 percent of the jail’s population are state inmates awaiting bed space at a Department of Correction prison facility.(Photo: Kevin Pieper/The Baxter Bulletin) "We've housed prisoners out of state before. It's been years and years since we've done it, but we have done it in the past," Magness said. "We need to look at the options and do what's best for the state, the communities and the inmate population." Baldwin says sheriffs already have seen a negative impact on public safety due to housing state inmates. The more state inmates a county houses, the more difficult it is for the sheriff's office to perform its normal duties. In one county, Baldwin said, a sheriff recently had to release 26 people arrested on felony charges due to a lack of space. In another county, he added, one inmate had been in jail more than 400 days waiting for a space in the state prison system. The excessive number of state inmates makes it difficult for sheriffs to serve arrest warrants, collect fines and restitution, enforce civil orders and arrest misdemeanor violators because there is not enough room to house suspects in those instances, Baldwin said. "We want to keep our constituents safe, but right now we can't do that," Baldwin said. "We need the state to house its own prisoners." Montgomery on issue Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery says the problem has an impact here. Currently, the jail has only four beds open. "Approximately 40 percent of our inmates right now are waiting to go to prison," said Montgomery, who is second vice president of the Sheriffs' Association. "So, a lot of times their behavior is less than good." The added population puts stress on the jailers and the inmates alike, according to Montgomery. "We hear a lot about the private option and that big controversy, but that's just one small thing," he said. "Right now, the prison overcrowding and crisis, to me, is equally or more important than that because you're talking about people's safety." BY THE NUMBERS 2,700 Current number of state prisoners being held in county jails 1,600 Cap sheriffs' association wants on its state inmate population $28 Daily reimbursement county jails receive for a state inmate $45 Actual daily cost for county jails to house a state inmate $3 million Money needed to open 330 state prison beds currently unused due to lack of funding.  Source: http://www.baxterbulletin.com/story/news/local/2014/06/06/inmate-overload-for-county-jails/10111693/
Video shows inmate stripped of clothes, placed in cell for hours, sheriff says no wrongdoing Posted: Jun 06, 2014 2:53 PM PDT Updated: Jun 13, 2014 3:58 PM PDT By Katie Bauer - bio | email   Video shows Tabitha Gentry being stripped of her clothes and placed in a padded cell for hours at the Floyd County Jail.     Laura Landenwich NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – An internal investigation is underway after an inmate claims her constitutional rights were violated. Video shows Tabitha Gentry being stripped of her clothes and placed in a padded cell for hours at the Floyd County Jail. Laura Landenwich, an attorney for Gentry, is filing a federal lawsuit against the county on her behalf next week. The attorney provided a video copy of this incident and said an inmate should never be denied clothes. The Floyd County Sheriff said he does not believe jail policies or procedures were violated. On March 30 Gentry was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, two misdemeanors, after a fight with her estranged husband. "There are appropriate ways to handle someone when they are emotionally upset," said Landenwich. According to an incident report by the Floyd County Sheriff's Department, Gentry appeared to be highly intoxicated. She refused to answer basic questions, resisted commands such as those to stay seated and tried to kick officers.  "In this case we don't know what was said, but we do see in this video that Tabitha said something to these officers and they descended on her, grabbed her around the neck, grabbed her body, and drug her into what they call a padded cell," said Landenwich. Landenwich said the video clearly shows Gentry being stripped of all her clothing. In the cell there was an inmate smock.  "They left her there naked for about 30 minutes while she banged on the door, begging for someone to give her some clothing," said Landenwich. According to the incident report, after being asked to stop Gentry continued to kick the door. She was then pepper sprayed by an officer. Gentry was left in the padded cell for 45 minutes before officers allowed her to rinse her body and decontaminate the room. She was placed back in the padded cell for five hours. "There is no justifiable law enforcement purpose for treating someone this way," said Landenwich. "There is no officer safety issue implicated by her having clothing what this is, is humiliation." Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills said because of the pending litigation he is not allowed to go on camera. He said strip searching inmates is not a standard policy of his department, but there are guidelines when it is allowed. He said female or male inmates will be put in a padded cell, if they are acting combative, if they could possibly harm themselves or if they are highly intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. While in a padded cell, there is a standard smock that is issued to all inmates. There was a very similar allegation at the Floyd County Jail last year involving Gentry's cousin. A lawsuit was also filed by Landenwich. Mills said that case was settled. The Floyd County Jail's attorney, Jeff Rowe, did not return a call for comment. Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.  Source: http://www.wave3.com/story/25715646/sheriff-says-no-wrongdoing-after-video-of-inmate-stripped-of-clothes-placed-in-cell-for-hours
­ Philly Prisons taps FastFWD startup fighting recidivism with tablets - Technical.ly Philly Technical.ly Philly Business Jun. 9, 2014 8:00 am Philly Prisons taps FastFWD startup fighting recidivism with tablets As part of a $30,000 contract, Philadelphia Prison System inmates will be able to rent out tablets from Jail Education Solutions and use Edovo, its rewards-based educational software. Wanna open a U.K. office? This contest can help [Links Roundup]Previous Firefly acquired by PegasystemsNext A guard tower looms over the correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Emma Lee/NewsWorks.org) Jail Education Solutions believes it can reduce recidivism, the rate at which incarcerated individuals return to prison, with a tablet-based educational program for inmates. The City of Philadelphia, which in 2013 had one of the highest rates of recidivism in the state, hopes it can, too: starting this summer, Philadelphia’s prison system will be the first to use the software. As part of a $30,000 contract, inmates at Philadelphia prisons will be able to rent out JES’s tablets and use Edovo, its rewards-based software. Edovo offers vocational and educational training, such as an Intro to Psychology course and a GED math skills course. It also offers legal information, including courtroom etiquette, and mental health information, including a course on strategies for thinking productively. Inmates are rewarded for completing courses, though CEO Brian Hill was vague about the reward system because it’s still getting worked out. JES wants to take the “unstructured time” that inmates have — the time they might spend watching TV — and turn it into a useful experience, said Hill. They’re banking on the fact that there’s a demand for inmate programming. According to a Government Accountability Office report on federal prisoners, slightly over a third participate in some type of betterment program, with about 14 percent [PDF, page 68] enrolled in a literacy program and another 12 percent sitting on waiting lists. Inmates in Philadelphia will be able to rent the tablets for between $2.00 and $2.50, roughly the cost of Snickers bar or a 15-minute phone call, Hill said. It’s not yet clear how many tablets Philadelphia will deploy during the pilot. In 2012, the city’s average daily prison population was 8,777, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. JES is one of ten companies that completed FastFWD, the social entrepreneurship accelerator backed by a $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies grant. The accelerator, focused on public safety, awarded $10,000 to each company, as well as mentorship, training and an opportunity to pilot their product in Philadelphia. As was announced last week, JES was one of three companies chosen by the City of Philadelphia to pilot its product. FastFWD is run by GoodCompany Ventures, the City of Philadelphia and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. In the weeks to come, we’ll highlight some of the FastFWD companies. See all our coverage here. ### The business plan: Prison systems will pay a one-time setup fee and no ongoing cost, Hill said. The City of Philadelphia’s $30,000 contract is a significantly discounted cost, he said. Customers? Philadelphia will be the first and there six other cities that are set up to launch after the roughly yearlong pilot in Philly. The Philly pilot has helped get other cities on board, Hill said, because “it’s tough for governments to take risks.” Philly’s willingness to take a chance on JES helped with that. On his experience in FastFWD: FastFWD was useful in opening the right doors in city government, Hill said. He was also impressed with Philadelphia, which he called one of the most innovative cities he’s worked with. Prisons Commissioner Louis Giorla and Mayor Michael Nutter fully supported using the JES product, he said. Challenges? Politically, Hill said, it’s a “nightmare” to get cities to invest in this type of programming because no one wants to spend more money on the inmate population. JES argues that it will save cities money in the long term by reducing recidivism rates. Staff: Hill, 29, previously worked at General Mills in customer account and business planning capacities and also ran a consultancy to help nonprofits become financially sustainable. There are 10 full-time JES staffers based in Chicago, and most of the company’s founding team attended Northwestern. Hill is finishing his MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Location: JES will remain in Chicago, though the team will go back and forth between the two cities during the pilot. The company will also have contractors on the ground in Philly to help with hardware support and maintenance. The (investor) ask: JES is actively raising money right now but declined to share how much it was raising. Related This city site is like a Facebook for Philadelphia lobbyists The site was created as part of the city's lobbying law, which requires lobbyists to register online and to file reports about how much money they spent trying to influence… In "Civic" Bentley Systems: Exton-based infrastructure software company to open Philadelphia office Update: Mayor Michael Nutter did cut the ribbon on Bentley's new office space on the 16th floor at 1601 Cherry Street, according to the press release. Bentley Systems, the international… In "Entrance Exam" Digital On-Ramps among 30 winners of Digital Media Learning competition, to build standardized badging system for digital literacy Digital On-Ramps (DOR), a city-wide collaboration to use technology to improve workforce development led by Lisa Nutter, was one of 30 winners in the Digital Media Learning (DML) Competition held… In "digital divide" -30- Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technically Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly. Source: http://technical.ly/philly/2014/06/09/jail-education-solutions-philadelphia-recidivism-pilot/
Oklahoma inmate’s body returned without heart 0 More FILE - In this file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Clayton Lockett is pictured in a photo dated June 29, 2011. The body Lockett, who died after a botched execution of what corrections officials have said was an apparent heart attack, was returned from an independent autopsy without the heart or larynx, a state medical official said Monday. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File/Associated Press) By Associated Press June 9 OKLAHOMA CITY — The body of an Oklahoma inmate who died after a botched execution of what corrections officials have said was an apparent heart attack was returned from an independent autopsy without the heart or larynx, a state medical official said Monday. The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office, which is conducting an independent autopsy on the body of inmate Clayton Lockett, retained the body parts, a practice that is not uncommon, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office. “Oklahoma law reads that the Office of the State Medical Examiner can retain any kind of tissue or samples indefinitely,” Elliott said. “And my understanding is it can be the same in Texas.” Dallas County officials did not immediately return messages Monday. David Autry, Lockett’s attorney, said a private doctor is working to complete a second autopsy and has asked Dallas County to preserve all evidence in the case, including the heart and larynx. “I assume they retained those for additional testing, but we’ve asked them to preserve all the evidence,” Autry said. Lockett’s body has been returned to his family and cremated, Autry said. Dr. Amy Gruszecki, the medical director of American Forensics, a Dallas facility that conducts independent autopsies, said doctors conducting the autopsy likely found something specific with the heart and larynx that they wanted to further document. “It’s not completely unusual,” Gruszecki said. “They might want to do some additional investigation or saw something that was very important to the diagnosis.”  Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/oklahoma-inmates-body-returned-without-heart/2014/06/09/10fe542c-f018-11e3-ba99-4469323d5076_story.html
Sunday, June 8, 2014 Missouri Prison Guard Investigated for Supporting Death Row Inmate’s Clemency Request John Winfield POTOSI, Mo. (KMOX) - The Potosi Correctional Center is investigating a staff member for the offense of “over-familiarity” because the staff member has pledged support for inmate John Winfield’s petition for clemency. According to court documents, the guard has worked for the Department of Corrections for more than 20 years. He has supervised Winfield’s work for years and “superlatively describes Mr. Winfield’s work habits, his kindness to other prisoners, and the respect with which he is regarded by staff and prisoners alike.” The staff members notes that Winfield took a special interest in looking after the inmates in the Special Needs Unit, who have disabilities, and he further describes Winfield as among the “elite one percent of all inmates.” Winfield is scheduled to die June 18 for killing two women in St. Louis County in 1996. The documents also state that in the guard’s more than 20 years of service, “he has met a few exceptional individuals who have been sentenced to death, but who have become changed men.” He states that Winfield is “a compassionate and generous person who has the ability to mentor young inmates and change their lives.” Source: CBS, KMOX, June 3, 2014  Source: http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2014/06/missouri-prison-guard-investigated-for.html
West Valley Detention Center inmate alleges five years of abuse David Smith, 26, of Covina, is the latest inmate to come forward alleging he was abused by deputies at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. courtesy photo By Joe Nelson, The Sun Posted: 06/10/14, 7:25 PM PDT | Updated: 4 days ago # Comments A former inmate and chow server at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga said he was subjected to five years of Taser gun abuse by at least a dozen deputies who stunned him more than 80 times. Allegations by David Brian Smith, 26, of Covina and attorneys who represent him and nearly a dozen other inmates in federal lawsuits contradict claims by San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon that alleged abuse at the jail involves only three rookie deputies, since fired, over the past year. The allegations, which surfaced in March, have prompted a criminal probe by the FBI and an internal affairs investigation by the Sheriff’s Department, both of which are ongoing. Attorneys and inmates continue to allege inmate abuse was much more widespread than McMahon has acknowledged. “I think he (McMahon) wishes that were the truth, and I think he’s probably been told that by his captain and the other deputies there,” said Victorville attorney Jim Terrell, who along with attorneys Stanley Hodge and Sharon Brunner are representing inmates in federal lawsuits alleging civil rights violations at San Bernardino County’s most bustling jail. Hodge said Tuesday that the alleged abuse, which includes inmates being repeatedly shocked with Taser guns as part of a hazing ritual involving mainly chow servers, has been going on for years and is indicative of a long-standing culture condoned by the rank and file and administrators, including the sheriff himself. “I think there is a culture that has developed over the terms of several sheriffs, including this one,” Hodge said. McMahon was out of town and unavailable for comment Tuesday. Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said the department was not at liberty to comment on the allegations due to the pending criminal and administrative investigations. The allegations stem from a unit at the jail where inmates are segregated from the general population because they are more vulnerable to abuse by other inmates due to the crimes they are charged with or other extenuating circumstances. Smith is a suspect in a high-profile murder case involving the execution-style rifle and shotgun slayings of a teenage couple in an abandoned Air Force bunker near Barstow in January 2008. He awaits trial. Terrell said Smith signed on as a plaintiff in the litigation last Saturday and that a separate lawsuit will be filed on Smith’s behalf. “Of all the people, this is the worst one,” Terrell said of Smith’s alleged abuse. “It’s the most amazing and intriguing story of all.” Smith said his alleged abuse began in 2009, when he became a food server. Food servers, referred to as “chow servers,” receive special privileges including more time out of their cells to prepare and serve food to other inmates. Smith said about a dozen deputies stunned him with their Taser guns at least 80 times over a five-year period. All the alleged abuse occurred in what he calls the “G room,” a common area of the jail where food is prepared for inmates. The room also houses the visitor’s area, a nurse’s office and hair cutting room. The worst incident, Smith said, occurred in the last six months, when three deputies sat him in a chair and all three stunned him at the same time with their Taser guns. When the deputies were finished they did the same thing to two other inmates, Smith said. “It’s like a game to them. They do it for fun,” Smith said during an interview at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto on June 5. He was transferred from West Valley to the High Desert jail following completion of its expansion. Smith declined to name the deputies who allegedly abused him because, he said, he is cooperating with the FBI in the criminal investigation, and investigators asked him not to talk to anyone about the case. Two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside on May 7 and May 28 by a total of 10 inmates allege 10 different deputies repeatedly subjected them to Taser gun torture, which included deputies entering their cells at night while they slept and stunning them with Taser guns. Inmate John Hanson, a plaintiff in the first lawsuit, said during an interview at the jail he would awaken in the middle of the night to the ear-piercing sound of a police siren, followed by the theme from the television reality series “Cops” blaring over the intercom. Deputies Brock Teyechea and Andrew Cruz, two of the three rookie deputies who were fired in the wake of the allegations, would run into his cell laughing, stunning him and his cell mate, Michael Mesa, with their Taser guns. Teyechea, Cruz and another deputy, Nicholas Oakley, were fired in the wake of the allegations. All three had been with the department less than a year. Other inmates allege they had shotguns placed to their heads, had their hands handcuffed behind their backs and their arms pulled up, a practice known as “chicken winging,” and were subjected to searches in which they were digitally sodomized. The inmates said they were either denied grievance forms or questioned as to why they wanted them when they asked. Some were threatened with physical violence, the lawsuits allege. Hodge said Tuesday that he plans to call a “legion of witnesses” to testify at trial. “We will have dozens, if not more, current and former prisoners to testify as to the lack of bonafide, legitimate grievance procedure,” Hodge said. McMahon said during a previous interview that his department follows proper procedure regarding inmate grievances and adheres to Title 15 of the U.S. Code, which addresses the prisoner grievance and redress process. Smith and other inmates alleging abuse said Eric Smith (no relation to David Smith), suffered the brunt of the abuse and was the first to come forward with the allegations that prompted the criminal and internal affairs investigations. During an interview in May at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino, Eric Smith of Hesperia said he had Taser gun scars all over his body and constantly feared for his safety. Eric Smith has since been sent to North Kern State Prison in Delano, where he is serving a sentence after being convicted for an assault with a deadly weapon. His attorney, Peter Schlueter, said his client endured two years of physical and psychological torture at the hands of deputies, and that the alleged conduct could not have occurred over such a long period unless it was learned and institutional. “I don’t think those deputies are acting in a vacuum. I don’t think they would ever dare to act the way they did, with impunity, if they didn’t think that the sheriff’s management would look the other way, if not passively approve,” Schlueter said. “They must believe their supervisors don’t care, and that becomes a driving force behind the cruelty.” Sheriff McMahon has said there is no evidence to prove that.  Source: http://www.sbsun.com/general-news/20140610/west-valley-detention-center-inmate-alleges-five-years-of-abuse
Prison reform group calls for new St. Clair warden, citing third inmate homicide in 10 months Warden Carter Davenport (right) speaks to media members during a tour as State Senator Cam Ward (center) and Kim Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections listen at the St. Clair Correctional Facility Fri., March 16, 2012 in Springville, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale). (BERNARD TRONCALE) Print By Casey Toner | ctoner@al.com AL.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 12, 2014 at 2:16 PM, updated June 12, 2014 at 3:32 PM Reddit Email Alabama's prison problem Alabama Department of Corrections responds to AL.com investigation of abuse by prison wardens Prison secrets: AL.com investigation finds prison bosses have little to fear from breaking the rules Prison reform group calls for new St. Clair warden, citing third inmate homicide in 10 months Alabama prison officials suggest grisly medical tales incomplete and "grossly inaccurate" (updated) Alabama prisons commissioner Kim Thomas to join discussion at WBHM, AL.com public event All Stories | MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- A top Alabama prison reform group is calling for a new warden at St. Clair Correctional Facility a week after a third prison inmate was killed there in 10 months. The Equal Justice Initiative, which previously sparked a federal investigation into the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, urged Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas to remove Warden Carter Davenport and appoint new leadership to address what it claims is rising violence at the Springville prison. Last week, inmate Jodey Waldrop, 36, became the third inmate to be killed at St. Clair in the past ten months and the fifth inmate to be killed in the past 30 months, the EJI reported. "I have the expectation that people locked down in secure facilities not be murdered by other people on a regular basis," said Bryan Stevenson, EJI executive director. "This is a football state, and I don't care how much we like the coach, if a team loses season after season, they are going to get a new coach." ADOC spokeswoman Kristi Gates wrote in an email that the ADOC "will not tolerate a culture of abuse at any of our facilities." "Our priority is on inmate and staff safety, including keeping inmates compliant and ensuring officers utilize our policies and training to maintain a safe environment," Gates wrote. Mack Waldrop, Jodey's father, said his son was stabbed with a shank twice below the ear and neck and 10 times in the chest. St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell said the incident occurred inside Waldrop's cell at about 1:57 a.m. June 3. The slain inmate, a Mississippi native, was convicted of capital murder in 2007 in the shaking death of his 3-week old son, but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the case and ruled he should receive a new trial. In 2011, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. This is a football state and I don't care how much we like the coach, if a team loses season after season, they are going to get a new coach. "It's just a tragedy you gotta deal with," Mack Waldrop said about his son's murder. Stevenson said St. Clair staff often smuggle in drugs and contraband that leads to inmate conflict and violence. He also said the St. Clair cell doors don't always lock and that the prison staff repeatedly ignores inmate requests for assistance when they are threatened or feel in danger. Davenport was promoted to warden in October 2010 "despite a history of discipline for unprofessional conduct," according to the EJI. Davenport earned $87,856 last year, payroll records show. Stevenson said that the department has not adequately held wardens accountable for the problems within its prisons. Former Tutwiler Warden Frank Albright, who retired last June seven months after being transferred to Kilby Correctional Facility, remained at Tutwiler despite reports of employee-on-inmate sexual abuse and sexual harassment at the prison. "Everyone agrees there is this period of time where people were being systematically raped or abused and no one was removed speaks to the problem of no one being accountable," Stevenson said. Mack Waldrop said he had his son's remains cremated, and his ashes now sit in a vase in his living room. In the upcoming weeks, he said, he plans to scatter the ashes at the family plot at Oak Hill Christian Church in Corinth, Miss. He had few kind words for Davenport, whom he said needs to have "a dog pound job." "That's what he deserves," Waldrop said. "He doesn't deserve to have someone's life in his hands."  Source: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/top_alabama_prison_reform_grou.html
NEWS: Senator French Requests Legislative Briefing On Inmate Fatalities at Alaska’s Correctional Facilities NEWS: Senator French Requests Legislative Briefing On Inmate Fatalities at Alaska’s Correctional Facilities 13th June 2014 Press, Senator French For Immediate Release: June 13th, 2014 Senator French Requests Legislative Briefing On Inmate Fatalities at Alaska’s Correctional Facilities Senator calls for meeting with Commissioner on DOC protocols for inmate safety          ANCHORAGE – Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) sent a letter to Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt asking for a legislative briefing on DOC protocols for inmate health screening and risk mitigation.          ““The Department of Corrections deals with thousands of inmates a day.  Like many Alaskans I am concerned about recent deaths.  I have invited the Commissioner to brief me and other legislators on what kind of screening is done for physical or mental health issues, and what protocols are or need to be in place to ensure best practices for the care of the Alaskans while in the custody of the Department of Corrections,” said Senator French.          To view the letter to Commissioner Schmidt, click here:          http://alaskasenatedems.com/docs/061214_Commissioner-Schmidt.pdf          For more information contact Myer Hutchinson at (907) 465-5319.   Source: http://alaskasenatedems.com/french/2014/06/13/news-senator-french-requests-legislative-briefing-on-inmate-fatalities-at-alaskas-correctional-facilities/
Former prison guard heads to trial Charles Schillinger Published: June 13, 2014  Former Lackawanna County Prison Correction Officer Joseph Black of Dickson City, who is accused of sexual assault with female prisoners, leaves the Lackawanna County Courthouse in downtown Scranton. Butch Comegys / Staff Photographer A judge agreed there was enough evidence to send a former correctional officer accused of sexually assaulting female inmates to trial.   Meanwhile, the continuation of a Joseph Black’s preliminary hearing started where it left off last month, with his attorney, Joe D’Andrea, clashing with Assistant District Attorney Bill Fisher.   The two ended their last appearance with a shouting match laced with obscenities. Friday, the two talked over each other, disputing whether one of the women, who collapsed at the last hearing due to an apparent seizure, would return to the witness stand for more questioning.    Ultimately, the woman finished her testimony and Magisterial District Judge Alyce Hailstone Farrell determined there was enough evidence to send Mr. Black to trial to face most of the charges.    One of the women accusing Mr. Black was not present for the preliminary hearing and charges and counts related to her testimony were dismissed. The district attorney’s office will have the opportunity to refile those at a later date.   The Times-Tribune does not identify victims of sexual assault.   Mr. Black, 50, was charged Jan. 17 with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and several other sexual assault counts. Prosecutors said he sexually assaulted five female inmates from 2002 to 2011. A grand jury recommended the charges in December 2013. Mr. Black was fired Jan. 24.    Only four of those women testified at the hearing Friday and charges involving the fifth woman were dropped. Mr. Black originally faced 22 counts, but now faces 14 after charges related to that woman were dismissed. The prosecution also chose to withdraw a rape charge related to that woman.  Source: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/former-prison-guard-heads-to-trial-1.1702793
Fred Grimm: Florida’s prisons should be graded just like other tax-funded institutions Fred Grimm The Miami Herald   By Fred Grimm fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com In Florida, data rules. Except for prisons. Public school administrators’ careers hinge on graduate rates and test scores. State law mandates that the “merit” in teachers’ merit raises depend on whether knucklehead students ace high-stakes tests. Cops find pay and promotion tied to “smart policing” data systems, based on crimes and clearance rates. Hospitals are rated on performance-based data bases. Florida's public universities compete with one another for a share of a $100 million pot designated as “performance-based funding” by the state Board of Governors. The board adopted a complex 10-point “metric” system, including employment data, graduate rates and financial reports. The BOG criteria is utterly unforgiving, with the bottom three universities not only losing out on a cut of the bonus money — they’ll also get docked 1 percent of their budget. That’s tough, but everyone knows that in the new Florida, data rules. Odd, then, that a state leadership obsessed with number-based accountability doesn't hold Florida’s other great depository of human potential to performance metrics. Probably because the Department of Corrections would flunk. Some 27.6 percent of DOC’s grads cycle back into prison. They emerge from the corrections system uncorrected. They commit more crimes. They rob or assault or burglarize or defraud or rape or kill more victims. Mostly, they surrender, again, to illegal drugs. They leave their spouses and children impoverished and bereft of opportunity. They clog up the criminal justice system. They return to the prison system and cost taxpayers $17,338 a year for their upkeep. Yet, legislators grant DOC more money than they allocate to the university system — $2.3 billion a year, with no strings, no metrics, no incentives attached. The money gets apportioned to 55 state prisons without regard to individual institutions’ recidivism rates. Of course, everyone in the system — except those behind bars — is fat and happy with the status quo. Unions want to keep those 22,400 guards and probation officers on the payroll. Prison administrators sure as hell don’t want to mess with the criteria that has made them big players in a Florida growth industry. “The way the reward system works, the way you increase your budget and increase your importance is to get more inmates,” said Allison DeFoor, chairman of the Project on Accountable Justice at Florida State University. “Nobody's getting paid to drop the number of prisoners.” “Prisons have zero accountability,” said DeFoor, famous hereabouts for his time as a judge and sheriff in Monroe County. He said the average community college faces more accountability than Corrections. It’s a system, he said, that fails to recognize the stark reality that the average prisoner will be heading back into society, utterly unprepared for life on the outside, in just 2.8 years. Rather, DOC seems to operate on the assumption that its 100,000-plus inmates are never getting out. Only 2 percent of the DOC budget goes to education or drug rehab (although 16.9 percent of the prison populations are serving drug sentences.) There’s no incentive to do otherwise. No legislation to reward DOC, with one of every seven state workers on its payroll, to reduce recidivism. No incentive to empty prison beds. So even as the crime rate goes down, the prison population goes up. Much of the prison boom can be blamed on the state’s get-tough-on-crime laws. Florida abolished parole in 1983 and adopted a series of mandatory sentencing laws. Then in 1995, the state passed a law requiring prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. The unintended consequences of the harsh sentencing binge were captured nicely in a report released June 2 by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Florida now leads the nation in the percentage of prisoners released straight back into society without some period of supervision. The Pew study found that 64.3 percent of Florida inmates in 2012 (21,426 convicts) were set loose without parole monitoring or with some sort of support network to help ease them back into society. That was the highest rate of any state. The average among all the states was 21.5 percent. In Florida, DeFoor noted dryly, an inmate can go “straight from solitary confinement to the streets.” The need to fix our zealot sentencing laws isn’t a left-wing issue. It’s about fiscal conservatism. It’s about the data. “I ain’t no liberal,” declared DeFoor, former vice chairman of the Florida Republican Party. He points out that a national coalition of conservative Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, are pushing to reform a mindless system nationwide that has the highest incarceration rate in the world, that imprisons 25 percent of the world’s inmate population, that incarcerates one of every 108 Americans, that costs taxpayers $60 billion a year to maintain. “Our corrections system is not correcting,” Gingrich wrote for CNN last month. “Within three years of being released from prison, nearly half of prisoners are convicted of another crime, with one out of every four ending up back in prison. “When a typical bureaucracy does its job this badly, it wastes money, time and paper,” Gingrich wrote. “The corrections bureaucracy, in failing to correct the large majority of inmates in its charge, not only wastes money but also wastes lives, families and entire cities.” The Florida Legislature inched cautiously toward sentencing reform this last session, raising the threshold for the amount of illegally obtained narcotic pain mediation that would trigger a minimum mandatory sentence. Another new law provides identification documents for newly released prisoners. That’s a start. But why not give prisons the same kind of incentives and penalties in getting their grads ready for the real world that we’ve forced on public schools and universities? It’s time to crunch the prison data like we do with so many other taxpayer-supported institutions. “If we can measure the problems,” DeFoor insisted, “the solutions will present themselves.” Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/14/4177226/fred-grimm-floridas-prisons-should.html#storylink=cpy 
Sample of prisoner complaints in Southern Poverty Law Center's lawsuit against Alabama Dormitory I at Julia Tutwiler Prison Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, in Elmore County near Wetumpka, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com) Print By Challen Stephens | cstephens@al.com AL.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 17, 2014 at 4:12 PM, updated June 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM Reddit Email Alabama's prison problem Chief Justice Roy Moore says there is 'systemic problem' with Alabama's habitual offender law in court opinion In Alabama prison investigation, AL.com co-hosts panel, examines Tutwiler leadership and warden abuses; inmate medical lawsuit filed Add your voice to the call for change in Alabama's prisons What does a successful prison system look like? Rate the answers After prison, a new start for Army veteran trying to give back All Stories | The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing Alabama, arguing prisoners go for months, even years, without proper medical care. "Numerous prisoners have died from a failure to treat medical conditions from cancer to diabetes to hepatitis." Others lost the use of limbs as a result of inadequate medical care. Some lost vision. Alabama prisons, the lawsuit argues, offer little mental health care beyond pills. Those who don't take their pills can be beaten or placed in isolation. Disabled prisoners are not given access to accommodations, and are punished because of what they cannot do. "The defendants operate the most overcrowded prisons in the nation and spend among the lowest amount on medical care per prisoner of any state in the nation," argues today's suit against the Alabama Department of Corrections. Here's a brief survey of the claims of nine of the 39 incarcerated plaintiffs behind today's 120-page lawsuit: 1. Chandler Clements, an inmate at Staton, has difficulty breathing. He "was persuaded" to sign a 'Do Not Resuscitate' order to avoid being placed on life support. "After he signed the DNR, he was denied breathing treatments and medications because of the DNR." 2. Christopher Jackson has been in prison since 2006. "He has been in segregation since 2007." He is not receiving treatment for mental illness. 3. Hubert Tollar has been in state custody since 1977. "In response to an outbreak of tuberculosis at St. Clair in January and February of 2014, plaintiff Tollar was given a chest x-ray. There was a spot on his lung." The suit argues he then had a CT scan in March, was told he had cancer and would be sent for a biopsy the next day. "As of May 28, 2014, plaintiff Tollar had not been sent out for a biopsy of the cancerous spot on his lung." 4. Rick Martin, in an Alabama prison since 1998, has a long history of heart problems and had a stent inserted in 2010. In 2012, he received a new stent, but "was not given necessary blood thinners afterward, resulting in his requiring emergency open-heart surgery because his un-thinned blood quickly clogged the stent." 5. Bradley Pearson, an inmate since 2013, was excluded from work release because he is deaf. 6. Augustus Smith was imprisoned in 2007 and was provided a catheter and a colostomy bag in anticipation of surgery to address an infection in his groin area. He is still waiting for the surgery. His suffers frequent infections and hospitalizations. 7. Willie McClendon, incarcerated since 2007 and currently at Limestone County, developed an infection in a testicle. Unfortunately, the condition was discovered on a Saturday when no doctor was on duty. He was sent back to the dorm with an icepack. He saw a doctor on Monday and was taken to the hospital. But it was too late. The condition had "turned gangrenous, and resulted in his losing the testicle." 8. Brian Sellers has been in state custody since 2001 and is currently at St. Clair. He suffers from hepatitis C, high blood pressure and heart disease. "Sellers was taken off his blood pressure medicine, resulting in a heart attack." 9. Daletrick Hardy has been in prison since 2002, bouncing between several state facilities. Hardy is mentally ill with a history of suicide attempts. He was taken off medication two years ago. The suit claims he was not told why. "He is not receiving any mental health treatment and has been in segregation at St. Clair since May 2012." The suit argues "almost none" of the facilities meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit argues that the Alabama Department of Corrections is deliberately indifferent to harm resulting from inadequate medical care. The suit is packed with wider allegations. Infections allowed to turn gangrenous. Diabetic conditions left to result in amputations. Prisoners forced to swap mattresses during a scabies outbreak. Prisoners allowed to mingle between dorms during a tuberculosis outbreak. Plumbing problems. Rats. Sewage backing up into dorms in Kilby and St. Clair.  They argue diabetics are not given snacks when needed, but rather at a set time. They argue hepatitis C goes untreated. They argue the only remedy for a cavity is pulling the rotten tooth, and that those teeth are not replaced. The Southern Poverty Law Center, working with the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, seeks class action status for all affected prisoners. They argue for increased medical staffing, better access, better screening and quicker responses. They also ask the federal court to require more mental health care and accommodations for disabled inmates. State response State officials last week responded to initial reports of these allegations by the Southern Poverty Law Center. "The Alabama Department of Corrections is proud of the health care we provide to inmates, health care which costs Alabamians millions of dollars each year and is better than health care given to most uninsured Alabamians," replied Kim Thomas in a lengthy statement emailed to media outlets last week. Some of the complaints were included the Center's initial public report, "Cruel Confinement." Prison officials said the medical stories were incomplete and that the Southern Poverty Law Center wouldn't help the state track down individual details.  "We certainly will work with any organization," Gov. Robert Bentley told AL.com reporters last week. "If they find problems, we want to know it. We really do. We want to resolve these issues."  Source: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/sample_of_prisoner_complaints.html
Prison medical care lawsuit: Inmate's mother says just treat them 'like humans' Reesa Gentle of Scottsboro speaks about her son, a state inmate at St. Clair Correctional Facility, during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala., on July 17, 2014. Gentle's son, Joshua Dunn, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging unconstitutionally poor medical and mental health care in Alabama's prisons. (Mike Cason/mcason@al.com) Print By Mike Cason | mcason@al.com AL.com Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 17, 2014 at 6:45 PM, updated June 17, 2014 at 8:28 PM Reddit Email Alabama's prison problem Chief Justice Roy Moore says there is 'systemic problem' with Alabama's habitual offender law in court opinion In Alabama prison investigation, AL.com co-hosts panel, examines Tutwiler leadership and warden abuses; inmate medical lawsuit filed Add your voice to the call for change in Alabama's prisons What does a successful prison system look like? Rate the answers After prison, a new start for Army veteran trying to give back All Stories | MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- Reesa Gentle of Scottsboro says she lies awake at night wondering if her son is safe. Her son, Joshua Dunn, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit that alleges the Alabama Department of Corrections does such a poor job at providing medical care for state inmates that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. "We just want them to be treated like humans. Don't throw them away and try to hide them," Gentle said at a Montgomery news conference to announce the lawsuit. "If I could do the time for him, I would," she said. Dunn is one of 40 inmates named as plaintiffs in the 120-page complaint filed by lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. The plaintiffs asked the court to make the case a class action lawsuit, so that they can represent all current and future prisoners. [Related: Sample of prisoner complaints in Southern Poverty Center's Lawsuit] The lawsuit claims the Department of Corrections fails to provide a constitutionally required level of medical and mental health care and violates federal laws requiring accommodations for disabled prisoners. DOC Commissioner Kim Thomas issued a statement saying that DOC believes many of the claims in the lawsuit are "grossly inaccurate" and that DOC is ready to defend in court what it says is quality medical care for inmates. Dunn, according to the lawsuit, has bipolar disorder. In November 2012, he was attacked, beaten and stabbed 15 times by four other inmates but his wounds were not cleaned or treated, according to the lawsuit. Dunn has repeatedly cut himself with a razor blade, been placed on suicide watch, then returned to his cell where the razor remained, and received no follow up attention from mental health staff, the lawsuit says. It says the cycle was repeated five times during a nine-month period starting in June 2013. "He was seeking help. He did not want to die," SPLC attorney Maria Morris said. In March, he cut himself so deeply that he cut a tendon in his forearm, the lawsuit says. He told a sergeant and a nurse, but got no medical attention for several hours, the lawsuit says. He was beaten by two officers before eventually being taken to the infirmary and later to Brookwood Hospital, where several staples were used to close the wound, according to the lawsuit. Dunn pleaded guilty to manufacturing a controlled substance in 2012, according to court records. This story was updated at 8:27 p.m. to add Dunn's guilty plea and to delete sentence that said Dunn has been at St. Clair prison since 2010, which was incorrect.  Source: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/prison_medical_care_lawsuit_in.html
California inmate sterilizations investigated Print print Email Email this article | Tweet MORE MORE! X Digg Delicious Tumblr LinkedIn StumbleUpon Newsvine Reddit Associated Press Posted on June 19, 2014 at 7:05 PM Updated Thursday, Jun 19 at 7:06 PM SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — The illegal sterilization of dozens of female prisoners in California demands an investigation, a report said Thursday. The state audit asks California's medical board and Department of Public Health to look into 17 doctors and eight hospitals involved in 39 illegal sterilizations that were performed without inmates' lawful consent. At issue is whether the women were properly told of the nature and permanence of the procedure. The legal advocacy group Justice Now raised the issue in January 2010, and the issue surfaced again after the Center for Investigative Reporting found that doctors sterilized nearly 150 female inmates without proper state approval over five years. The 39 cases were among 144 between 2006 and last year in which inmates had tubal ligations or other procedures for the sole purpose of sterilizing them. Another 650 inmates had other medical procedures that could have resulted in sterilization. In 27 cases, the inmate's doctor did not sign a required consent form saying the patient appeared mentally competent, understood the permanent effect and had waited at least 30 days to give the patient time to reconsider. Margarita Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the California State Auditor, said the sterilizations were performed by private doctors at hospitals outside the prisons. Surgeries on prison inmates are typically performed at outside facilities. "Clearly this demonstrates a real systemic problem that frankly implicates the entire culture," said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who said she found it shocking that nearly 30 percent of the procedures were performed without obtaining proper consent. Jackson is the author of legislation which would bar the state's prisons and jails from sterilizing inmates for the purpose of birth control. It passed the Senate last month, 36-0, and is awaiting consideration in the Assembly. Jackson fears that inmates may feel pressure to have the sterilizations, a topic that was not part of the auditor's review. "The experience in and of itself is extraordinarily coercive," Jackson said of obtaining health care behind bars. "It's very difficult for a woman to exercise her free will under those circumstances." The 39 cases will be referred to the department and medical board, said Liz Gransee, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed official who controls prison medical care. She said the investigations are confidential. The federal receiver's office took control of prison medical care in 2006, but said it didn't learn about the sterilization procedures until the group Justice Now raised the issue in January 2010. The receiver's office previously said it immediately took steps to stop the practice. Justice Now did not immediately comment on the audit. Auditors found the receiver's office failed to make sure its own staff obtained necessary approvals from inmates and from two medical procedure review committees before inmates were sterilized. They recommended that the federal receiver adopt better procedures to monitor its own medical staff and medical providers who work under contract with the state. That includes improving medical record-keeping and making sure inmates give their informed consent to medical procedures.  Source: http://www.wfaa.com/news/national/263864761.html#
Inmate Died Of Seizures While Guards Kept Shooting The Breeze, Family Says Published June 20, 2014 Fox News Latino AP PUEBLO (AP) –  The family of a mentally ill Colorado prison inmate who died in restraints filed a lawsuit Thursday saying that guards ignored his medical needs as he suffered a series of seizures. The lawsuit filed in federal court said at least 16 state prison staff members did nothing to help Christopher Lopez, 35, as he died at the San Carlos prison on March 17, 2013. Lopez, who was serving a four-year sentence for assaulting a prison guard after a previous conviction for trespassing, suffered from bipolar schizoaffective disorder, the lawsuit said. When guards found Lopez unresponsive on his cell floor, they treated his condition as a behavioral problem instead of a medical emergency and put him in chains and shackles, according to the lawsuit. The incident was captured on prison cameras, and Lopez was visibly shaking at times and was unable to answer a guard's questions, according to the lawsuit. One of the photos accompanying the lawsuit shows Lopez handcuffed to a chair, slumped to one side. The camera video showed Lopez had two seizures while the guards laughed and discussed their views on Walmart, the lawsuit said. "We have an unobstructed view as Mr. Lopez takes his last breath, dying, half-naked on the cold concrete floor of a prison cell — isolated and alone with no defendant caring whether he lived or died," the lawsuit said. The lawsuit also said another prison employee attempted "to put on show for the video camera" by asking Lopez questions after he had stopped breathing. About 20 minutes after he died, guards called for medical backup, but it was too late, the lawsuit said. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson said three employees were fired and five were reprimanded after an investigation into Lopez's death. In an email, Jacobson called Lopez's death a tragedy and said the department "does not condone the actions or omissions of the employees involved." Their response did not conform to department policies or training, she said.  Source: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2014/06/20/colorado-inmate-died-seizures-while-guards-kept-shooting-breeze-family-says/#
California inmate sterilizations violated informed consent rules: audit Thursday, June 19, 2014 4:52 p.m. CDT By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - California failed to follow its own rules for obtaining consent from female prison inmates who were sterilized by having their fallopian tubes tied, a state audit released Thursday shows. The audit is the latest blow to the state's troubled prison system and comes as California is struggling to meet court-ordered demands to improve medical and mental healthcare in its overcrowded prisons. The report "shocks the conscience," said State Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat who represents part of suburban Los Angeles. "These systemic failures are unacceptable for a procedure that is life-changing and irreversible." The report by the California State Auditor showed that of 144 tubal ligations performed between 2005 and 2011, errors were made in obtaining informed consent in 39 cases. In 27 of those cases, a physician failed to sign the consent form as required, the audit showed. In 18 cases, there were potential violations of a mandated waiting period after women gave consent. Prison rules make tubal ligation available to inmates as part of regular obstetrical care. But until the issue was brought to officials' attention in 2010 by an inmates rights group, proper authorization for the procedure was rarely obtained, the report said. Carol Strickman, a prisoner rights lawyer, said, "This disturbing report shows that California is still a long way from meeting its duty to provide constitutionally adequate health care for prisoners." Auditors criticize federal officials put in place to oversee care in the state's prisons in 2006. The current official in charge, receiver J. Clark Kelso, was appointed in 2008, but did not learn about problems with tubal ligations until 2010, when the prison rights group Justice Now brought it to his attention, the audit said. Just one procedure was performed after the concerns were brought to Kelso's attention and it was deemed medically necessary, the audit said. "We are glad to see that our efforts to stop the practice have been successful and we look forward to working with auditors office to improve the process further," said Elizabeth Gransee, a spokeswoman for Kelso. She said the receiver's office had undertaken several steps to address the problem, including appointing a women's healthcare executive to focus on health issues for female inmates. In past years California prisons have struggled with crowding and concerns about the use of long-term solitary confinement for prisoners with suspected gang ties, which led to a hunger strike last summer. The state has been under court orders to reduce crowding in the prisons since 2009. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Bill Trott)  Source: http://wtaq.com/news/articles/2014/jun/19/california-inmate-sterilizations-violated-informed-consent-rules-audit/
­ Prisoner unbarred through art Inmate won't be released from prison until 2019, but painting has shown him a different kind of freedom Inmate artist Kirk Charlton adds depth to his mural by adding relief using drywall mug to build up areas on the mural and painting subjects over them. () Photos by E.J. Harris/East Oregonian Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution inmate artist Kirk Charlton sits in front of a mural he painted on a wall at the Pendleton prison. () Inmate artist Kirk Charlton talks about how he modeled another mural he is working on after an aquarium he used to visit in his native state of Hawaii. () 1 2 3 By KATHY ANEY, East Oregonian Published: June 20, 2014, 6:00 AM   An inmate at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution is slowly beautifying his surroundings, one mural at a time. Artist Kirk Charlton uses prison walls for canvases. One of the inmate’s creations, a smorgasbord of American pop culture and iconic historical figures, graces a cinder block wall near a steel-gated sally port that leads to the prison lobby and ultimately to the outside, a place Charlton won’t see until his release in 2019. His mural of Americana transforms the 23-foot slab of wall into an explosion of images. In one grouping, Benjamin Franklin mingles with Betsy Ross, Cesar Chavez, Batman, the Statue of Liberty, the Welcome to Las Vegas sign and a smiley face. Another unlikely assemblage features Babe Ruth, Louis Armstrong, Sacagawea, Big Bird, the Golden Gate Bridge and the rock group Kiss. Elvis shares space with Mark Twain, Darth Vader, Kermit the Frog and dozens of other images. “I wanted this to blast you as you go by,” Charlton says. “I don’t do nature scenes with deer sipping water from streams.” Indeed not, though the 52-year-old Hawaiian is currently transforming the prison visitation area into a harbor scene that features a dock, a Mazatlan sunset and an aquarium full of fish and crustaceans. At the top of a wooden stairway, a painting of the prison ghost, a little girl rumored to have roamed the institution since the days the prison was a state mental institution, peeks out from around a corner. The artist loves trompe l’oeil, a French term that means “trick of the eye,” a way of using optical illusions to create depth in paintings. Charlton’s stairways appear three-dimensional, a chair sitting in front of the harbor scene seems real and a train busts out of the Americana mural, chunks of cinder block blasting from the scene. Charlton will have spent 20 years total behind bars by the time he is released. His downslide began after experimenting with marijuana at age 12 or 13 during a time of emotional struggle. He eventually moved on to harder drugs. “Drugs became an elixir, a remedy for anything that felt bad,” he said. ‘Balanced and positive’ Most recently, the former pawn shop manager was convicted of robbery for illegally repossessing a car. He was high at the time. His incarceration has given him plenty of time to ruminate on the past and come up with a plan to pull himself out of his self-made pit. “I’ve been able to make a spiritually based transformation here,” he said. “I’ve been able to deal with things like guilt and self-hatred. I know it’s finally over.” Art has given him mental stimulation and a way to express feelings, Charlton said. He called the recent closure of the prison art department a blow for the inmates. “The therapeutic value of art is endless,” he said. “Art plays a major role in keeping a human being balanced and positive. You are not out in the yard talking about crime or sitting on your bunk.” EOCI spokesman Ron Miles said cutting the art program was a byproduct of a tight budget and a small recreation staff. He said prison officials are looking for a way to reinstate the program, possibly with volunteer leaders. “Philosophically, we agree with Mr. Charlton,” Miles said. “Art is cathartic. We’re looking for the right solution.” Charlton said he feels fortunate to have permission to paint prison walls. As the artist looks ahead to leaving prison in five years, he dreams of doing art therapy in such places as prisons and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. In the meantime, he will paint wherever and whenever he gets the chance. “I’m always looking for canvases,” Charlton said. “They’re all over the place.”  Source: http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/jun/20/inmate-art-eastern-oregon-correctional/
Inmates lend a hand battling blazes in state  During each wildfire season, a wild land firefighter crew made up of inmates from Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC) - Yuma can be called upon to travel throughout Arizona to help battle any blaze which ignites in the wilderness. A few members of the crew are seen here taking a break from fighting a recent fire. Photo Courtesy of AZ-DOC Crews 2 The ASPC - Yuma crew (seen here battling a recent wildfire) is one of 12 crews from state prisons across Arizona available to help local, state and federal firefighting agencies when additional boots on the ground are needed. Each crew, containing about 15 to 20 inmates, is supervised by a corrections sergeant. Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014 5:45 pm Inmates lend a hand battling blazes in state By Chris McDaniel Yumasun.com During each wildfire season, a wild land firefighter crew made up of inmates from Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC) - Yuma can be called upon to travel throughout Arizona to help battle any blaze which ignites in the wilderness. The ASPC - Yuma crew is one of 12 crews from state prisons across Arizona available to help local, state and federal firefighting agencies when additional boots on the ground are needed. Each crew, containing about 15 to 20 inmates, is supervised by a corrections sergeant. "Crews are requested by the Arizona State Land Department and we send them as needed," said Doug Nick, Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman. "When there are no active fires, crews will often work on brush abatement, border cleanup, and so forth." Before being deployed to a fire, each inmate learns basic life support techniques and CPR, and attends a 32-hour basic wild land firefighter course. Some inmates may also receive additional training for special duties. The inmates provide "a valuable service for the taxpayers, and many inmates express interest in being selected," Nick said, noting "all fire crew members must be non-violent, minimum security inmates." The ASPC - Yuma wild land firefighter crew was most recently involved in active firefighting duties in late May when it was sent to battle the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon. The inmates from Yuma joined a group of about 72 inmate firefighters and 12 corrections supervisors. "Inmate fire crews and their corrections supervisors are dedicated and hardworking firefighters," Corrections Director Charles Ryan said at the time. "The state may experience a long and difficult wildfire season, and the Department of Corrections, as always, is prepared to respond." In addition to aiding Arizona residents in their time of need, the experience inmates gain while on the crew can help them attain meaningful employment after their stint in prison is completed. "I don’t have precise figures, but many inmate firefighters have been hired as firefighters after their release from our custody," Nick said.   Source: http://www.yumasun.com/news/inmates-lend-a-hand-battling-blazes-in-state/article_2dd1e994-f99e-11e3-ac6f-001a4bcf6878.html
Three Former Georgia Correctional Officers Convicted for Offenses Related to Beating of Inmate and Ensuing Cover-Up The Justice Department announced that Christopher Hall, a former sergeant for the Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) at Macon State Prison (MSP) in Oglethorpe, Georgia, and two former CERT officers, Ronald Lach and Delton Rushin, were convicted on Friday night by a federal jury on federal offenses related to the beating of an MSP inmate in 2010 and the cover-up that followed.  Three other defendants, James Hinton, Derrick Wimbush and Tyler Griffin, were acquitted of related charges.   Ronald Lach was one of several MSP officers who participated in a retaliatory beating against an inmate as their form of punishment for the inmate’s prior misconduct.  Lach was convicted of violating the inmate’s rights, conspiring to obstruct justice after the assault and obstruction of justice.  Hall and Rushin were convicted of conspiring to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.   In related cases, five former MSP officers have pleaded guilty to various charges in connection with a series of beatings of inmates in 2010 at Macon State Prison, and the cover-up that followed.   “Eight former corrections officials from Macon State Prison now stand convicted for their involvement in beating inmates and in the coordinated cover-ups that followed each assault,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “These officers betrayed the public trust by using their official positions to commit violent civil rights abuses and then tried to cover up their crimes.  The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute vigorously corrections officers who use their power to violate federal law.”   These cases were investigated by the Macon Resident Agency of the FBI, with the support of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.  The cases were prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Tona Boyd for the Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Macon.  Source: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/June/14-crt-659.html
Calipatria State Prison holds inmate graduation Posted on Monday, June 23, 2014 by Michelle Mraule By Lt. Everardo Silva, AA/PIO Calipatria State Prison Calipatria State Prison (CAL) recognized 30 inmates who earned a GED, vocational certificate in Electronics or associate degree during a recent graduation.   “They can no longer refer to you as a statistic of a failed system,” Warden (A) Warren L. Montgomery told the graduates. “This is an opportunity to continue to demonstrate to yourselves and those who otherwise had forgotten about you that the best you have to offer has yet to come.” Wearing blue, black or burgundy caps and gowns, the graduates celebrated and shared refreshments with about 50 guests on hand to offer support and congratulations. The class valedictorian noted that the inmates have acquired the knowledge essential to find jobs upon release.  “When I say ‘essential’ it is not just because of the academic advantage and doors to higher learning that a high school education opens,” said inmate Donnell Jeffers, “but also because reaching this milestone sets a standard in regards to showing how an individual manages potential, which in turn will establish the standard of life.” Guest speaker Maria Nava-Froelich, mayor of Calipatria, encouraged the students to continue their educational pursuits upon their release. They were also urged to continue their education by Manuel Altamirano, who has been the associate degree teacher at CAL. “I feel you have accomplished a lot by receiving your GED, but this is not the end but the beginning,” he said. “You who have earned your GED, you need to start your associate degree, and you who have received your associate degree, you must start your bachelor’s degree, and then your master’s degree as this is only the beginning.” This entry was posted in Older Posts, Rehabilitation. Bookmark the permalink. ← Extra! Extra! San Quentin’s inmate journalists share their talents CCWF celebrates the Vocational Graduating class of nearly 200 inmates → Source:  http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/06/calipatria-state-prison-holds-inmate-graduation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=calipatria-state-prison-holds-inmate-graduation
Cass County Jail nurse under investigation for sexually assaulting inmate, bringing in contraband By Emily Welker on Jul 1, 2014 at 7:00 a.m. Email FARGO – A former jail nurse is being investigated by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department after a search warrant indicated she is accused of sexually abusing a male inmate at the Cass County Jail and smuggling in contraband to that inmate.  According to the search warrant filed in Cass County District Court, the investigation was sparked when another inmate, not the victim, left a note in the jail programs room on May 29 saying inmates cleaning the cells had discovered a cellphone hidden inside a deodorant dispenser. The inmate later told a Cass County investigator that a nurse brought in the cellphone and a charger, plus chewing tobacco and beef jerky, for the victim. Officials searched the jail for the contraband and nothing was discovered, said Jail Administrator Lt. Andrew Frobig. Frobig said within a day, other inmates began echoing similar stories, including details about an inappropriate personal relationship between a nurse and an inmate. The next day, another inmate approached a jailer and said a cellphone was hidden in one of the cells and the charger was hidden in a push broom in a cleaning closet, and that the nurse who brought the contraband in for another inmate had sexual intercourse with him. Cass County sheriff’s officials said they didn’t believe the stories at first. “Initially, we thought it just wasn’t happening,” said Frobig, especially given that subsequent searches turned up nothing. He said jailers often receive information from inmates that turns out to be unsubstantiated. Cass County Sheriff’s Capt. Mitch Burris said was surprised, not only because there’s never been a cellphone smuggled into the jail in recent memory, but a jail worker has never before been accused of sexually abusing an inmate. “It’s difficult. Everyone gets training seminars,” he said. “I don’t think anyone gets hired at Cass County who were not upstanding citizens.” After two more days of searching, Frobig said, the tobacco was discovered in a deodorant dispenser in one of the cells, and the victim was interviewed June 2. The victim told Cass County investigators the nurse kissed him the first time they were alone in the nursing office, then gave him a TB shot to justify his visit to her. She told him to make visits to her through the corrections officers because she thought the newer ones would be less likely to log them, he said. He had at first tried to ignore her sexual advances, but when he did, she “looked disappointed and made a comment about (him) hurting her self-esteem,” the inmate told investigators. Frobig said because a week had elapsed between when the inmate reported being assaulted and the physical contact, no rape kit was performed on the man. The sealed search warrant, which was obtained by The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, states that Cass County investigators recovered a card in the inmate’s possession signed, “Love you! Anna,” the pseudonym under which he said the nurse bought him the cellphone and wrote notes to him. The handwriting on the card and the nurse’s handwriting appeared to match, the search warrant said. Investigators also recovered a receipt for a card in the nurse’s purse, purchased four days before the victim received his card. Burris said video evidence and the timeline established by corrections officers logging the inmate’s visit to the nurse also substantiate the inmate’s claims. Investigators also took photographs of an identifying mark on a part of the nurse’s anatomy that the inmate described to them, according to the search warrant. The search warrant affidavit states the nurse admitted in an interview only to giving the victim her home phone number, written on the underside of his inhaler. She allegedly said it was a poor decision, but thought he could call her on release, the warrant said. Burris said the nurse has since indicated she will not cooperate with investigators. He said potential charges against the nurse include sexual abuse of a ward and delivery of a wireless communications device to an inmate, both Class C felonies, and false information to law enforcement and delivery of tobacco to an inmate, both misdemeanors. “I don’t think in this society, we don’t typically think of a male as our victim, and I think in this case he’s a victim,” Burris said. “He’s essentially no different than a woman who was raped by a male,” said Cass County Detective Joe Gress, who has been assigned full time to investigate alleged criminal behavior occurring at the jail. The Forum did not name the nurse because she has not yet been charged. Because of the case, sheriff’s department officials are re-evaluating security procedures at the jail, Burris said. They are considering implementing a search-upon-entry policy for all people coming into the jail, including staff members, he said. The nurse, who was a contract employee with Fargo-Cass Public Health, was terminated there June 5 for giving her phone number to an inmate, a violation of city employee policy, said a public health spokeswoman. The nurse, who had worked at the jail for six years and had no criminal record, underwent a criminal background and professional license check before being hired, the public health spokeswoman said. Source: http://www.grandforksherald.com/content/cass-county-jail-nurse-under-investigation-sexually-assaulting-inmate-bringing-contraband
Inmates lament high cost of phone calls, states want a cut By Jeffrey Benzing | PublicSource | June 30, 2014 Post type On the beat Photo by KOMUnews / flickr With a captive audience, private companies are charging “sky-high” rates for prison inmates to make telephone calls and transfer money, according to a recent New York Times story. Inmates and family members complain they are being gouged, the story said, because companies don’t have to follow regulations that protect the general population. In exchange for business, companies often pay fees to state and local governments, an arrangement that can drive prices even higher. One Pennsylvania inmate has taken his frustration to court. In April, Walter Chruby sued Virginia-based Global Tel-Link for charging “unjust and unreasonable” rates for phone calls, the story said. Chruby, who is incarcerated at SCI Laurel Highlands in Somerset, has served 19 years of a life sentence for murder. Since late 2005, Chruby said he has had no choice but to make phone calls using GTL, which pays commissions to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, his federal lawsuit said. Companies acknowledge that pressure to increase commissions has caused a hike in prices, the story said. One Texas company promised a county $55 per inmate each month, according to a contract reviewed by the Times. According to the story: Mr. Chruby’s sentiment was echoed in dozens of lawsuits filed by inmates against Securus, Global Tel-Link and other providers. While the F.C.C. capped interstate telephone rates at 25 cents a minute earlier this year, after agitation from prisoners’ rights advocates, local phone rates can still be steep and other fees vary widely from state to state. For instance, using a phone to transfer $10 into an inmate’s account via JPay to the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Mo., costs $3.95, while a similar transfer to the Illinois Youth Center in Chicago runs $5.95. Even dropped calls can be costly, burdening inmates and their families, the story said. The chief executive of Miami-based JPay said the commission system should be modified, adding that lowering commissions might be difficult because many states are hurting financially. GTL, which serves at least 1.1 million inmates, according to the Times, recently told the Federal Communications Commission that its prices are based on demand from states and cities for more money. When governments want more, inmates pay. “There is no free lunch,” the company said, according to the Times. The prison industry is a growth business, the story notes, and Wall Street is bankrolling companies that profit from an audience that is growing and can’t choose alternatives. Even after incarceration, inmates are hit with fees to access money left over from their time behind bars. According to the story: Rather than giving released inmates checks for the money they had when they were incarcerated, as well as any prison earnings, many prisons are putting the money on prepaid debit cards, which often come with high fees. On its EZ Exit prepaid card, for instance, EZ Card & Kiosk of Irvine, Calif., charges $15 to replace a lost card, $4.95 a month to maintain it, $4 to receive a paper statement and $2.99 to withdraw money from an A.T.M. Not all states are in it for the money. While a 15-minute in-state call from  Union County, N.J. costs $8.50, the Times reports, the equivalent call would cost 72 cents in New York State, which doesn’t take commissions. Reach Jeffrey Benzing at 412-315-0265 or at jbenzing@publicsource.org. Source: http://publicsource.org/from-the-source/inmates-lament-high-cost-of-phone-calls-states-want-cut
Michigan’s Prison Food System Is Falling Apart Written by Matthew Zuras Senior Editor July 7, 2014 / 2:04 pm Food shortages, drug smuggling, sex with inmates. It might sound like another episode of Orange Is the New Black, but it’s reality for many Michigan prisoners, who are at the mercy of a private vendor that has taken over the state’s prison food system for the worse. Take, for example, the maggots. On June 27, inmates at the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson discovered fly larvae within exposed cracks on the kitchen’s service line. Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) spokesman Russ Marlan told reporters that the gaps should have been filled with caulk, as though a sealant alone would have prevented the infestation. Within two days, about 30 prisoners reported feeling ill, with diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches. The state contracts its food service operations out to Aramark Correctional Services, based in Philadelphia, which claimed that there was no connection between the inmates’ symptoms and the flies. (Aramark did not return our request for comment at the time of publication.) If true, however, that hardly excuses the conditions in the kitchen. “We don’t know if we will ever be able to confirm where it came from, but when you have 30-some people getting sick, it typically comes from food,” Marlan told reporters. Less than a week later, at a separate facility less than a mile away, inmates found more maggots—and this time, they were in the food. Fly larvae was discovered in the Charles Egeler Reception & Guidance Center’s potato supply, which was removed from the kitchen that was subsequently scrubbed down with bleach. But that’s only the latest incident involving Aramark since December, when it began a three-year, $145 million contract that was expected to save the state $16 million and eliminate 370 state jobs. At least 71 Aramark employees have been banned from entering Michigan prisons for violating various policies—including one who was fired for being drunk on the job. Nor is this the first time a state prison system has taken issue with Aramark. In 2005, Kentucky privatized inmate meals through the vendor, which cut the state cost of inmate meals from $3.49 per meal to $2.34 per meal. (That was increased to $2.63 per meal in 2010.) Over time, that didn’t sit well with inmates. A riot broke out at Northpoint Training Center in 2009, and Kentucky Department of Corrections officials initially blamed anger over the food as one of the precipitating factors. In response to that report, the state deployed an audit of the Kentucky contract, which was unable to confirm that Aramark “consistently followed approved recipes, used the proper quantity of ingredients and met food safety standards regarding food temperatures or use of leftovers because of the vendor’s poor documentation.” Additionally, Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Crit Luallen claimed that the state made “more than $36,000 in overpayments” to Aramark “due to billing errors and other contract violations.” In one case, Aramark billed for an extra 3,359 inmates that did not exist. The report also found that Aramark underestimated food quantities, leading to food shortages, meal delays, and unapproved menu changes, which may not have met the daily calorie requirements calculated for inmates. Auditors heard allegations that “certain items on the menu were watered down or items were routinely missing or cut out of recipes.” Food there was frequently held at improper temperatures, and food service workers were sometimes found to have cuts and wounds. The Michigan DOC fined Aramark $98,000 for menu substitutions, food shortages, and worker violations. In one incident, an Aramark employee was accused of having sex with a prisoner. A similar situation arose in Florida. Aramark canceled its contract with the Florida Department of Corrections in 2008 after repeated complaints about food quality and cost. A 2007 audit by the Florida DOC, which also cited menu changes, concluded that “[feed] rates have declined sharply since the contract’s inception in 2001, creating a windfall for the vendor and reducing the value of the services provided without a proportionate decrease in per diem rates charged to the Department.” Even after Florida fined Aramark $241,000 over staffing, supply, and sanitation issues, 277 inmates at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton fell sick after eating chili. The situation in Michigan appears to be following the same pattern. Prior to the maggot incidents, the Michigan DOC fined Aramark $98,000 for menu substitutions, food shortages, and worker violations. In one incident, an Aramark employee was accused of having sex with a prisoner, though DOC officials called that an exaggeration. In March, another Aramark employee was arrested for trying to smuggle packages of marijuana into the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility. Only a few days earlier, the Michigan Corrections Organization, a labor union representing corrections officers, urged the DOC to end its contract, saying that Aramark was endangering prisoners. In one of its weekly newsletters, the MCO reported that the food service operation at the Cotton facility was temporarily shut down in June “after being overrun with mice and fruit flies,” and that “kitchen cleanliness has declined since [Aramark] took over.” The MCO has also claimed that Aramark employees poorly oversee kitchen equipment that could be used as dangerous weapons. As of last month, at least 71 Aramark employees have been banned from entering Michigan prisons for violating various policies—including the food service director at Parnall, who was fired for being drunk on the job. Still, shortages and substitutions continue. The Detroit Free Press reported that Aramark employees at the St. Louis Correctional Facility served bread and peanut butter instead of the approved waffles and sausage. In an echo of the Kentucky riot, corrections officers there used tear gas against prisoners who were yelling and breaking things in their cells in response the quality of the food available. The Michigan DOC has put Aramark on notice to clean up its operations across the state, or risk losing its contract. Meanwhile, inmates there have little choice than to take what they’re given. Let’s just hope that doesn’t continue to include maggots. Source: http://munchies.vice.com/articles/michigans-prison-food-system-is-falling-apart/
Inmate’s gassing death detailed in Florida DOC whistle-blower complaint By Julie K. Brown The Miami Herald   Joining a chorus of criticism of Florida’s prison system, four investigators filed a whistle-blower complaint against their employer. The cell where Randall Jordan-Aparo, a man imprisoned for credit card fraud and drug charges, died while gasping for breath. A Department of Corrections investigator says Jordan-Aparo was gassed after threatening to sue the prison. Fullsize Buy Photo previous | next Image 1 of 2 Randall Jordan-Aparo Florida Department of Corrections Fullsize Buy Photo previous | next Image 2 of 2 Photos Related Content Transcript of the interview with Office of the Chief Inspector General By Julie K. Brown jbrown@MiamiHerald.com Four investigators with the Department of Corrections have accused the state of Florida of running a prison system rife with corruption, brutality and officially sanctioned gang violence — and of retaliating against them when they tried to expose what was going on. The four filed a federal whistle-blower complaint on Monday alleging that state prisoners were beaten and tortured, that guards smuggled in drugs and other contraband in exchange for money and sexual favors, and that guards used gang enforcers to control the prison population. They claim those actions were either tacitly approved or covered up. For weeks, the Miami Herald has reported on claims of abusive treatment by corrections officers, as related by inmates, nurses and a psychotherapist, primarily at Dade Correctional Institution, where an inmate was herded into a scorching hot shower and left until he collapsed and died. Now claims of abuse are coming from DOC investigators, the persons charged with rooting out such abuses. “We have zero tolerance for unethical behavior, and take any allegations of abuse seriously,” said Melinda Miguel, Gov. Rick Scott’s chief inspector general. “An investigation into these allegations is currently active, and upon the conclusion of the investigation information will be made publicly available.” In the complaint and accompanying documents, veteran investigator Aubrey P. Land described the death of a 27-year-old inmate, Randall Jordan-Aparo, who was found lifeless — a Bible next to his head, his body coated with yellow chemical gas — at Franklin Correctional Institution in September 2010. According to Land, Jordan-Aparo, serving an 18-month term for credit card fraud and drug charges, was placed in solitary confinement and gassed multiple times by guards after he had begged to be taken to the hospital for a worsening medical condition. Land, who said he stumbled on the death of Jordan-Aparo while investigating other “garden-variety” corruption and abuses at Franklin, said the prison’s medical staff, corrections officers and supervisors later conspired to fabricate reports and lie to law enforcement about the events leading to the inmate’s death. Jessica Cary, a spokeswoman for the DOC, said the agency had not yet seen the lawsuit so it could not comment. To date, no one has been criminally charged or held administratively responsible in the death of Jordan-Aparo. “I’ve done this for 30 years. My skin don’t crawl very often,’’ Land told Miguel in a taped interview in March. “They killed that damn kid [Jordan-Aparo]. He laid there for five days begging for help.’’ In their lawsuit, Land and fellow investigators John Ulm and Doug Glisson concluded that the DOC’s 2010 Jordan-Aparo death investigation “was either intentionally misleading or the Department of Corrections’ investigators at the scene in 2010 had been grossly negligent.’’ The case is one of several DOC inmate deaths that remain under investigation. The fourth plaintiff, David Clark, was not involved in the Jordan-Aparo case, but investigated others. In May, the Miami Herald reported on the death of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate at Dade Correctional placed in an excruciatingly hot shower, allegedly as punishment for defecating in his cell. As with Jordan-Aparo, Rainey, 50, is said to have begged for help before he died. A fellow inmate said guards who placed him in the closet-like chamber taunted him by asking: “Is the shower hot enough?’’ After two years, Miami-Dade police have yet to complete their probe, and Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Bruce Hyma has not released the cause of death. The Department of Corrections suspended its investigation but says it has reopened the matter, at least to look at how showers are used in the prison system. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, as well as church and human rights groups, have asked for a U.S. Justice Department probe into the Rainey case. Dade Correctional inmate Harold Hempstead, a burglar serving more than 100 years, repeatedly wrote letters to the office of DOC Inspector General Jeffery Beasley providing details about the death of Rainey, who was serving a two-year term for drug possession, and the alleged scalding of other inmates. Convicted killer Mark Joiner also wrote a letter, saying he helped clean up the “crime scene’’ and was ordered to discard evidence. In an interview with the Herald, Joiner said he placed pieces of Rainey’s skin that had peeled off his body into a shoe. A guard told him to throw the shoe away, he said. Neither Hempstead nor Joiner was interviewed by police or the DOC until the Herald began writing about Rainey’s death. Land told Miguel he learned about Jordan-Aparo’s death when he was sent to Franklin in early 2013 as part of a state law enforcement task force probing an assortment of problems. “We got inmates down there that are getting their throats slashed on a regular basis,’’ Land said, according to a transcript of the Miguel interview filed with the lawsuit. “Their faces slashed, beat down with locks and socks; tremendous amount of contraband … allegations that staff is ordering this and bringing in contraband and being paid … and everybody we’re talking to is saying, ‘You know they killed that kid.’ ” “So finally, I had heard enough. And I said, go back and start looking at all the deaths. Nobody would give me a name. And I find Randall Jordan-Aparo and immediately bells and whistles start going off. This thing ain’t pretty.’’ In an interview with the Herald, Jordan-Aparo’s father, Thomas Aparo, said prison officials and the Franklin County medical examiner told him that his son had died of an “infection’’ that, he said, they likened to a cold. In reality, the 27-year-old suffered from a rare blood disorder that was noted in his prison medical file, according to records obtained by the Herald. He had been ill for weeks prior to his death, begging for medical attention as he increasingly grew weaker. When he could barely breathe, walk or talk, he demanded that the prison’s nurses take him to the hospital. They allegedly refused, even after consulting by phone with doctors and other medical staff. Jordan-Aparo became angry, and cursed the nurses, threatening “to sue their asses’’ if they didn’t get him to the hospital, records show. The nurses called the guards, claiming Jordan-Aparo was being “rude.” The guards placed him in a steel-walled solitary-confinement cell. “The next day, the captain comes down there and gasses him, and gasses him and gasses him,’’ Land told Miguel. He was sprayed so much that photographs show the outline of his body surrounded by mustard-colored gas all over the cell walls. The prison’s supervisors and guards fabricated reports saying that their use of chemical agents was justified because Jordan-Aparo was “causing a disturbance.’’ Land, who said he viewed video footage of the inmate’s last hours, said the inmate was too sick to cause a disturbance and that all he wanted was to go to the hospital. Land said Beasley had interfered with an earlier probe of his involving a corrections officer whose brother worked under the DOC inspector general. Land told Miguel that Beasley had cited “professional courtesy’’ as cause not to pursue a case against the officer, who was accused of accepting bribes and sexual favors in exchange for giving a woman access to a prisoner with whom she was having a romantic relationship. Land said he refused to go along. “I’m not going to be bullied over this,’’ Land told Miguel. “And I’m going to tell the Jordan-Aparo story.’’ He further told Miguel that by October 2013, with the Jordan-Aparo probe complete, he and fellow investigators Ulm and Glisson found themselves the subject of internal affairs complaints, which they believe were filed in retaliation for pursuing the Jordan-Aparo case. The investigators say DOC Secretary Michael Crews told them that if they wanted whistle-blower status — a form of protection from administrative sanctions — they should take their concerns to Miguel. Land said he was referred by Miguel to the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which investigates discrimination and sexual harassment as well as whistle-blower-type complaints. The FDLE confirmed that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General are investigating Jordan-Aparo’s death. Source/Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/07/4223414/prison-system-mired-in-corruption.html#storylink=cpy 
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Texas prosecutor of ex-death row inmate faces disbarment The prosecutor who tried a now-exonerated Texas death row inmate could face the loss of his law license over allegations that he withheld evidence and used false testimony to win a conviction. An attorney for the exonerated inmate, Anthony Graves, said Monday that the State Bar of Texas had found "just cause" to proceed with a hearing against Charles Sebesta, the former district attorney in Burleson County. Kathryn Kase, executive director of the Texas Defender Service, said the state bar notified her they were moving forward with a grievance filed by Graves in January. Sebesta also confirmed the state bar's finding. Sebesta prosecuted Graves, who was condemned for the 1992 slayings of 6 people. He would spend more than a decade on death row. One witness, Robert Earl Carter, was also given a death sentence for the killings and testified that Graves was his accomplice. But Carter would recant that testimony later, including in the moments just before he was executed. A federal appeals court reversed Graves' conviction in 2006. It found Sebesta withheld that Carter told a grand jury that he committed the murders alone, and then allowed Carter and another witness to give false testimony. A special prosecutor then appointed to investigate the case again found that Graves should be freed and declared innocent. Since his release in 2010, Graves has called for Sebesta to be disbarred and punished. Graves said Monday that Sebesta was essentially guilty of "attempted murder" for pushing a prosecution that sent him to death row. "We care about justice in our state," Graves said. "It's part of the initiation process to reform by holding this prosecutor accountable." A 3-person panel is expected to hear evidence in private. It could dismiss the allegations, issue a public reprimand or recommend Sebesta's disbarment, Kase said. Sebesta has said he continues to believe Graves is guilty and posted extensively about the case on his personal website. He said Monday that the state bar had already reviewed his conduct and cleared him once, in 2007. "It's over," Sebesta said in an interview. "You get 1 bite at the apple and they've taken it and that's it." Prosecutors in Texas have rarely been punished for wrongdoing in the more than 140 exonerations in the state. The highest-profile example is the disbarment of the prosecutor who tried Michael Morton, a Central Texas man wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years for the murder of his wife. Source: Associated Press, July 7, 2014

Graves Prosecutor Under Misconduct Review Charles Sebesta rejects innocence finding in 1994 prosecution The Texas Defender Service announced today that the State Bar of Texas has found "just cause" to review allegations of prosecutorial misconduct against former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta, Jr. for his 1994 capital prosecution of Anthony Graves, for which Graves was eventually exonerated. Graves spent 18 years in prison, more than 12 on death row, for murders he did not commit and of which he was ultimately declared innocent. Sebesta prosecuted and convicted Graves (along with other defendants) for a 1992 multiple murder in Somerville, and during his lengthy incarceration, Graves was twice scheduled for execution. His conviction was overturned in 2002, and he was ultimately exonerated altogether in October of 2010. Prosecutors reviewing the case (Burleson County District Attorney Bill Parham, and special prosecutor Kelly Siegler of Harris County) found not only that Graves was innocent, but that Sebesta had engaged in what Siegler called the "worst" prosecutorial misconduct she had ever seen. As Jordan Smith reported for the Chronicle in 2010, Siegler told reporters, "Charles Sebesta handled this case in a way that could best be described as a criminal justice system's nightmare. It's a travesty, what happened in Anthony Graves' trial." There was never any physical evidence tying Graves to the murders, and he had an alibi for the night they occurred. Nevertheless, Sebesta continues to insist Graves is guilty, and on a web site he maintains continues to attack Graves (and Parham and Siegler) as conspiring against him and the rule of law. Of the prosecutors, he writes: "They needed to perpetuate their argument by destroying my credibility and convincing everyone that Charles Sebesta had committed numerous acts of 'Prosecutorial Misconduct' in obtaining the conviction. With an anti-death penalty, liberal media 'lapping up' everything they said, that wouldn't be too difficult. In fact, it would become a 'feeding frenzy' of half-truths and lies." [quotation marks in original] According to a statement released by Kathryn Kase, executive director of TDS and counsel to Graves, Sebesta elected to have his case heard by an administrative judge, meaning the proceedings will remain confidential pending a decision; had he agreed to have the case heard before a state district judge, the proceedings would have been public. Kase added, "The State Bar of Texas has power to sanction Charles Sebesta for his unethical conduct, up to and including disbarment and loss of his license to practice law in Texas." Kase continued, "As yet unresolved is whether this rogue prosecutor will be held accountable for his violations of law, ethical misconduct, and breaches of the public trust. Texas citizens deserve to be represented by zealous prosecutors, but only those who follow the rule of law, and who respect the presumption of innocence." In a statement also released by Kase, Graves noted that Sebesta has refused to accept Graves' exoneration and continues to insist he is a murderer and attack his character. "I sought justice for a long time while imprisoned, having to trust the court system and the legal profession to care about justice, and to do the right thing," Graves said. "I am glad to see the State Bar of Texas now act favorably on my grievance at this stage. I am confident that the Bar will discipline Mr. Sebesta for his misconduct and do whatever it can to stop him from continuing to persecute me, a completely innocent man." Source: Austin Chronicle, July 7, 2014 Source/Read more: http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2014/07/texas-prosecutor-of-ex-death-row-inmate.html#ixzz37OQ519zH
Prison chief to assess scalding shower death The Associated Press   The Associated Press MIAMI -- The head of Florida's prison system says he's traveling to Dade Correctional Institution for a full assessment on the death of a mentally ill prisoner left in a shower so hot his skin separated from his body. Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews said Wednesday that he will meet with Miami-Dade police officials to offer assistance on the investigation. The announcement comes several weeks after civil rights groups sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for a federal investigation. The groups say Darren Rainey was locked in a closet-size shower stall at the Dade Correctional Institution in June 2012 as a form of punishment. He was left unattended for two hours with scalding hot water that later measured as high as 180 degrees. He was found dead. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/09/4227193/prison-chief-to-assess-scalding.html#storylink=cpy 
Florida prison boss ‘outraged,’ vows firings over shower death By Mary Ellen Klas and Julie K. Brown The Miami Herald   Darren Rainey FORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS Photo By Mary Ellen Klas and Julie K. Brown jbrown@MiamiHerald.com TALLAHASSEE -- Declaring himself “outraged,” Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews announced Wednesday that he will travel to Miami to accelerate the investigation into the death of inmate Darren Rainey, who was locked in a scalding-hot shower by guards at the Dade Correctional Institution. Crews, ending two months of silence amid a string of news reports in the Miami Herald, said firings are to be expected. The previously unreported death of Rainey, who was serving two years for a drug conviction at the institution south of Homestead, was detailed in a series of articles about Rainey and other inmates whose lives were lost in suspicious incidents. In a statement released by the department, Crews also said he will travel to prisons across the state to “assess operations, meet with leaders and officers and take action on activities that run counter to the Department’s mission of maintaining a secure environment for officers and the inmates the Department houses.” Crews, the third DOC secretary under Gov. Rick Scott, said he will personally do what he can to assist Miami-Dade homicide detectives, who are investigating the death of Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally ill inmate found dead June 23, 2012. The Herald detailed how Rainey was forced into the small, locked shower by guards, who placed him there, allegedly as punishment for defecating in his cell, for nearly two hours. Fellow inmates said he screamed for mercy but that guards taunted him — asking if it was “hot enough?” — and left him until he collapsed and died. At least three fellow inmates filed various complaints to the department about the circumstances of Rainey’s death, but their complaints were disregarded. The DOC suspended its internal investigation two summers ago. Police did not interview witnesses until May of this year, as the Herald was preparing to publish an article about what had occurred and the inmates’ unsuccessful efforts to have corrections officers held accountable. The autopsy has not been released, and Rainey’s family still has not been told the cause of his death. Crews’ comments came a day after the Herald reported that a predecessor, former DOC Secretary James McDonough, had dispatched an email criticizing the department’s inaction. McDonough said the reports in the Herald, if true, “smack of torture, sadism, murder, cover-up and ignoring of the facts.” McDonough said he was “revolted … by the lack of sense of outrage by Department officials, and other officials.” Crews’ statement also followed a whistle-blower complaint filed this week by four DOC investigators regarding another suspicious death behind bars. Randall Jordan-Aparo was gassed repeatedly by corrections officers at the Panhandle’s Franklin Correctional Institution after complaining about a worsening medical condition and pleading to be taking to a hospital, records show. No one has been charged in the September 2010 death. The whistle-blowers, who revisited the Jordan-Aparo case after being dispatched to Franklin to investigate other “garden variety” allegations of staff malfeasance, asserted that the prison’s medical staff, corrections officers and supervisors conspired to fabricate reports and lie to law enforcement about the events leading to the inmate’s death. The investigators complained to DOC officials and to Gov. Scott’s inspector general, Melinda Miguel, but when nothing was done about what they deemed a cover-up, t hey filed the federal whistle-blower lawsuit, naming the governor’s office, Miguel and the DOC as defendants. The lawsuit says the investigators have been retaliated against for alleging wrongdoing. Hours before Crews issued his statement, the Herald reported that three more inmate deaths had occurred in Florida prisons over the Fourth of July weekend, and that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had opened investigations into each one. Authorities would not release any information about the new deaths, except to provide the inmates’ names and ages — Dan Myers, 42; Craig Coburn, 35; and Dennis Alvarado, 32 — and to say that two of them died at Hamilton Correctional Institution, east of Tallahassee, and the third at Columbia Correctional, near Lake City. The Herald also reported that the FBI is looking into conditions at Suwannee Correctional Institution, the site of an October riot by inmates who attacked five prison guards. In April, inmate Shawn Gooden, 33, died under mysterious circumstances at Suwannee, and his death is also under investigation by the FDLE. Inmates there have long complained of violence, abuse and corruption at the prison, located in Live Oak, just west of Lake City. The department’s handling of the allegations also has drawn the attention of several legislators who sit on committees that oversee the department. “I’m deeply concerned and troubled by what I’ve read recently in news accounts about what has been happening at some of our facilities around the state,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. “Prisoner abuse is entirely unacceptable, and it’s the Senate’s complete expectation that investigations move forward as quickly as possible and that anybody that has done anything wrong be identified and brought to justice.” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, said the agency has a history of “generational challenges,” but he would wait for Crews to complete his investigations before deciding how to proceed. “If there’s a problem, let’s fix it,” he said. “First we have to determine where the problem lies and who is at fault.” Meanwhile, the ACLU and state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, have asked the federal government to investigate alleged excessive use of force and the treatment of mentally ill prisoners at Florida prisons. In his statement Wednesday, Crews acknowledged that the “integrity and trust of my department is at question, and we must do more to ensure facilities are safe.” He said the department is “fully prepared to move forward with terminations of anyone involved in the June 2012 death.”  Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/09/4227637/florida-prison-boss-outraged-vows.html
Maggots found in third Ohio prison kitchen | The Columbus Dispatch Maggots found in third Ohio prison kitchen 15708 Mcconnellsville Rd Caldwell, OH 43724 View Larger Map Related Items Maggots found in food at two Ohio prisons Buckeye Forum Podcast The Dispatch public affairs team talks politics and tackles state and federal government issues in the Buckeye Forum podcast. Your Right to Know Check out some summer Sunshine By Alan Johnson The Columbus Dispatch  •  Thursday July 10, 2014 6:39 AM Comments: 3  288  52  734 Maggots turned up at a third Ohio prison yesterday, prompting officials at the Noble Correctional Institution in Caldwell to shut down a food line and throw away food. The maggots, which are fly larvae, were not in the food but were seen crawling out of drains in the serving equipment on the food line, said Jo Ellen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The food-service area was cleaned, and administrators at Noble will do inspections before each of the three daily meals for the next week, she said. There were reports of a “strong odor” coming from the food area. Word of the new infestation came yesterday as agency officials ordered health inspections in kitchen and food-service operations at all 27 Ohio prisons after maggots were found in two facilities, the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville and Trumbull Correctional Institution in Leavittsburg. Health inspectors from the Union County Health Department visited the Marysville prison twice, and inspectors from the city of Warren Health Department were at the Trumbull facility today. Smith said the agency is taking the food problem seriously and will have state employees who monitor food service inspect all 27 state prisons within the next week or so. “Food service and sanitation are a critical matter for us.” All Ohio prisons have food service provided by Aramark Correctional Services, the Philadelphia company that feeds inmates under a $110 million state contract. An Aramark spokeswoman said this week that maggots found in a turkey roll at the Ohio Reformatory for Women on June 30 were “one issue that was resolved.” However, The Dispatch found additional incident reports of maggots at Trumbull and at the Marysville prison earlier this year. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio also weighed in, urging the state prison agency to sever its contract with Aramark. The ACLU cited the Ohio cases and a situation at Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson, Mich., were 30 inmates became sick with food poisoning symptoms after maggots were found in Aramark food there. “This is not an isolated incident that prison officials can expect to solve without taking broader action. Aramark’s long track record of incompetence and unsanitary conditions is well documented,” said Mike Bricker, ACLU senior policy director. “Officials have already tried to hold Aramark accountable by levying steep fines, and that has not worked. It is time we ... cancel the contract.” Earlier this year, the state fined Aramark $142,100 for contract violations, including failing to hire enough workers to prepare and serve meals. ajohnson@dispatch.com  Source: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/07/09/prison-food-update.html
3 more Florida inmate deaths prompt 3 more investigations By Julie K. Brown The Miami Herald   Related Content Behind bars, a brutal and unexplained death Staff at a Miami-Dade prison tormented, abused mentally ill inmates, former worker says After latest death, Florida prison system faces more scrutiny 2 years later, Florida keeps lid on prison death details Under fire, Florida prisons changing policy on death investigations Prisoner: I cleaned up skin of inmate scalded in shower; human-rights groups call for federal intervention Inmate’s gassing death detailed in Florida DOC whistle-blower complaint By Julie K. Brown jbrown@MiamiHerald.com New investigations are underway by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the deaths of three inmates whose bodies were found in state prisons over the Fourth of July weekend, authorities confirmed Wednesday. The deaths bring the total open, in-custody state prison death cases under scrutiny to 10 — nine of them being handled by the FDLE. The Miami Herald also confirmed Wednesday that an FBI investigation is ongoing at Suwannee Correctional facility, the site of an October prison riot by inmates who attacked five prison guards. In April, Shawn Gooden, 33, died under mysterious circumstances at Suwannee, and his death is also under investigation by the FDLE. Inmates there have long complained of violence, abuse and corruption at the prison, located in Live Oak, just west of Lake City. The FDLE would not release any information about the new deaths, except to say that two of them happened at Hamilton Correctional Institution and the third at Columbia Correctional. The Hamilton inmates were identified by the Department of Corrections as Dan Myers, 42; and Craig Coburn, 35. DOC spokeswoman Jessica Cary said Coburn died of natural causes. Dennis Alvarado, 32, died July 4, after being involved in a clash with another inmate, Cary said. No other information was available. The new cases come just days after four veteran state DOC investigators filed a federal whistle-blower suit in connection with the 2010 death of a 27-year-old inmate, Randall Jordan-Aparo, at Franklin Correctional Institution. The original death was originally ruled the result of complications from a rare blood disorder. But DOC investigators revisited the case in 2013 after discovering that corrections officers and supervisors at the prison covered-up evidence and fabricated reports to make it appear that he had died from his disease. In fact, Jordan-Aparo, who was serving 18 months at Franklin for check fraud, had been placed in solitary confinement and repeatedly gassed by guards until he died. In the hours before his death, he pleaded with the guards and the prison’s nurses to take him to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. When his body was found, he was coated in yellow residue, his face was pressed up against the bottom of the steel door and a Bible was next to his head. After three of the investigators were thwarted in their efforts to bring charges in his death, they contacted Florida’s chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel, asking for whistle-blower protection, a status that would enable them to challenge the chain of command without facing reprisals. Miguel declined, instead referring them to the state Commission on Human Relations to file a complaint against their boss, DOC Inspector General Jeffery Beasley. In the lawsuit, the investigators allege that Beasley and deputy DOC Inspector General Kenneth Sumpter filed false internal affairs complaints against them in retaliation for uncovering violations of state and federal laws in connection with the Jordan-Aparo case. The four investigators involved in the lawsuit, Aubrey Land, David Clark, Doug Glisson and John Ulm, allege that state prisoners have been beaten and tortured, that guards smuggle in drugs and other contraband in exchange for money and sexual favors, and that prison staff use gang enforcers to control and punish the prison population. They claim those actions were either tacitly approved or covered up. They also allege that Miguel and her deputy, Dawn Case, ignored their evidence of retaliation — as well as other allegations of widespread inmate abuse, neglect and corruption within the agency. Miguel on Monday issued a statement saying that their allegations are under investigation. In addition to the nine FDLE death investigations, Miami-Dade homicide detectives are investigating the death of Darren Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally ill inmate who was found dead in a shower at Dade Correctional Institution in 2012. Rainey was forced into the small shower by guards, who left him there, allegedly as punishment for defecating in his cell. For almost two hours, he screamed as he was drenched in scalding hot water until he collapsed, with his skin peeling from his body, witnesses said. Police did not interview witnesses until May of this year, as the Herald was preparing to publish a story about his death. The case remains open and neither the police report nor the autopsy has been released. His family still has not been told how he died. Former Department of Corrections Chief James McDonough said Tuesday that events at his former agency “smacks of torture, sadism, murder, cover-up, and ignoring of the facts.” McDonough, the former drug czar and DOC secretary under Gov. Jeb Bush, was responding to a series of reports by the Herald detailing inmate deaths and cover-ups at the agency. McDonough was tapped to head the prison department by Bush from 2006-2008 after Bush fired then-secretary James Crosby, who was convicted of taking kickbacks. “I am revolted by what I am hearing, just as I am by what I am not hearing,” said McDonough, a retired army colonel and Purple Heart recipient, in an email Tuesday. “The latter refers to the silence and lack of sense of outrage by Department officials, or for that matter, other officials. “There is only so much that can be feigned as we ‘wait for the conclusion of an official investigation’,” he wrote. “These cases did not end tragically last week; they ended in horrific and suspicious deaths some years ago. Where has the leadership been?” Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/09/4226805/3-more-florida-inmate-deaths-prompt.html#storylink=cpy
Norton Speaks at FCC Session on Perfecting Reforms that Reduce Inmate Call Costs & Contemplates Further Reforms 2 Jul 9, 2014 Press Release WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Prison Telecomm Reform Working Group, spoke today before a follow-up panel led by Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the FCC’s new Inmate Calling Services (ICS) reform.  Norton said it was very rare for a regulatory agency to do a follow-up of its work, such as today’s panel of experts who not only looked at the impact of the FCC’s ICS reform, but also at additional reforms on inmate calling services. “Commissioner Mignon Clyburn led this historic reform with great skill, dedication, and professionalism; it has significantly reduced the cost of calls between inmates and their families. Today she showed that she isn’t through yet,” Norton said.  “She has already pulled off major regulatory reform with profound consequences for millions of inmates and their families, and having done that, she is quickly moving to improve on the masterful job she did.  Inmates and their families are seeing or will see the consequence of her leadership of the FCC reforms in reduced recidivism and increased public safety.” In February, the FCC reformed interstate ICS rates and practices to curtail exorbitantly high costs to inmates and their families. At a press conference in April 2013, Norton, along with former returning citizens and their family members, reported on the work of her Prison Telecomm Reform Working Group on the CBC response to the FCC notice of proposed rulemaking to make prison calling rates reasonable.  In August, the FCC issued the order after more than a decade of delay. See Norton’s August 2013 press release on the FCC order: http://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/norton-chair-of-cbc-working-group-says-new-phone-rates-critical-to  Source: http://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/norton-speaks-at-fcc-session-on-perfecting-reforms-that-reduce-inmate
Prisoner swap: Man visiting son in jail gets trapped for 32 hours Print print Email Email this article | MORE MORE! X Digg Delicious Tumblr LinkedIn StumbleUpon Newsvine Reddit Pinterest by Elizabeth Eisele/ KMOV.com KMOV.com Posted on July 9, 2014 at 9:03 PM Updated Friday, Jul 11 at 8:57 AM Related: Man trapped in Chicago jail room for 30 hours files lawsuitadd to reading list (KMOV.com) – A man visiting his son in an Illinois jail ended up feeling like a prisoner as he was trapped in the jail for more than a day. When the man took a seat in a visiting room in the Cook County Jail, jail officials said the door somehow shut behind him, locking him in. The man told officials he pounded on the door for hours, but he didn’t help. Then 32 hours later, he came up with a new plan. “He went into that room through two steel doors, both of which shut behind him and he was locked in,” said Cara Smith, Executive Director of the Cook County Jail, “Fortunately, he had the foresight to see a sprinkler head and break it off and so the room began to flood. The Chicago Fire Department was alerted very early Monday morning and fortunately was able to get him out of the room.” The man has now filed initial paperwork in court claiming he was deprived of food, water, and a bathroom for more than 30 hours.  The Cook County Sheriff said his office is investigating the incident to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.  Source: http://www.kmov.com/news/mobile/Prisoner-swap-Man-visiting-son-in-jail-gets-trapped-for-32-hours-266527511.html
Political Prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin in Declining Health, Urgently Needs Medical Care Wed, 07/09/2014 - 14:06 — Bruce A. Dixon Jamil al-Amin Ill [1] | U.S. political prisoners [2] da_rap_is_live.jpg [3] By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon Politcal prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin was one of the leading lights of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960s rural Alabama. Wrongfully accused and falsely convicted of murder in the shooting of two Atlanta deputies, he has been buried alive in the hellhole solitary supermax prison of Florence CO the last dozen years. Though his spirits remain high, he is 70 and in declining health, and urgently needs moving to a medical facility for appropriate care. Political Prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin in Declining Health, Urgently Needs Medical Care By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon Iman Jamil Al Amin [4], the former H. Rap Brown was wrongfully accused and falsely convicted [5] of the March 2000 shooting of two deputies in Atlanta, where he served as imam of a local mosque for more than a decade. Jamil El Amin earned the attention of the FBI and other authorities as early as the mid 1960s, when as H. Rap Brown of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he headed a project that registered voters, organized freedom schools and cooperatives in rural Alabama. His work is widely acknowledged as helping lay the foundation for what black political power exists in that part of the South to this day. He played an early role in the Black Panther Party, and served five years in prison in New York for confronting drug traffickers. While in prison he converted to Islam, and moved to Atlanta after his release in 1976. Despite becoming one of the leading lights of the US Muslim community, founding several business enterprises, a mosque and youth sports leagues authorities pursued a decade's worth of aggressive investigations resulting in a string false accusations and attempts to frame Al-Amin. In the incident where he was finally convicted, another man confessed to the killing [6], but this fact was concealed from Al-Amin's defense lawyers. Once you earn the lasting ire of police authorities in the US, you don't lose it, not even after your conviction and incarceration. Prison officials apparently regarded Al-Amin's presence in a maximum security Georgia prison, near his family, congregation and a community which widely disputed his guilt, a threat. So over the objections of some prominent African American political figures, they hurriedly transferred El Amin in the dead of night to the remote federal supermax prison of Florence, Colorado, despite the fact that he has never been accused, let alone convicted of any federal offense. In Florence he never sees direct sunlight, and inmates are typically allowed only a few communications with the outside per month. Iman Jamil Al-Amin's life and work, and the way in which he was singled out for repeated attempts at false conviction, along with his highly questionable trial [7] and his uniquely savage handoff into federal custody absent any federal offense plainly mark him as a political prisoner. Though his mind and spirit are undimmed, the imam is now 70 years old. His age, and the last dozen years in solitary confinement with the indifferent or wholly negligent medical care typical of US prisons have taken a toll on his health. As with tens of thousands of other prisoners, his keepers resisted and refused his requests for adequate medical care for years on end. An athletic man till his arrest in his late fifties, he spent a recent two week period barely able to get out of bed twice a dBruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.ay. After calls from two members of Congress and a recent visit by former US Attorney General Ramsey ClarFreedomFreedomk in his wife, Attorney Karima Al-Amin reports that the prison authorities finally took blood and urine samples. Their preliminary indication suggests multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells, which might be confirmed by a bone marrow biopsy. Based upon his advanced age and deteriorating health, Mrs. El Amin says, it's time to call for Iman Jamil El Amin's immediate transfer to a federal medical center, either at Butner NC, or Rochester MN, where he might receive appropriate monitoring and medical care. Here's what you need to do: Call ADX Florence at 719-784-9464 and politely express your concern for the health and well being of Iman Jamil El Amin #99974-555. Email FLM/execassistant@bop.gov [8], also politely expressing your concern. Visit the Bureau of Prisons web site at http://www.bop.gov/inmates/concerns.jsp [9]. Select Florence ADMAX USP, and enter Jamil Al-Amin #99974-555. Contact your representative in Congress and ask her or him to make the call. Contact the office of the director of the Bureau of Prisons, Charles Samuels [10] at (202) 307-3198, or via mail at Charles Samuels, Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 320 First St. NW, Washington DC 20534. Efforts, says Mrs. Al-Amin are underway to directly contact US Attorney General Eric Holder [11] as well. Atlanta's Nadim Ali, now imam at the masjid once headed by Jamil Al-Amin notes that even if you dispute Jamil Al-Amin's status as a political prisoner or imagine he is guilty of what the state convicted him of, the question of adequate medical care is a moral and humanitarian one, and an urgent one.  Time is of the essence. We at Black Agenda Report have learned not to set much store by corporate social media. Facebook and Twitter are known to manipulate placements and users, to filter content and “trending” topics, and in the case of Facebook, to deliberately limit how many are able to see any given content unless that content is advertised. So paste links to this in Facebook if you must, and Tweet it. But go the non-corporate social media route as well. If you forward this to twenty or a hundred of your friends, unlike Facebook or Twitter, you KNOW twenty or a hundred will actually be ABLE to see it.  So please, forward it to your family, your friends, your co-workers and associates, with a sentence or two at the beginning on why YOU think it's important. Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com. Because it is. Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com. [12] Source URL: http://blackagendareport.com/content/political-prisoner-imam-jamil-al-amin-declining-health-urgently-needs-medical-care Links: [1] http://blackagendareport.com/category/african-america/jamil-al-amin-ill [2] http://blackagendareport.com/category/us-politics/us-political-prisoners [3] http://blackagendareport.com/sites/www.blackagendareport.com/files/da_rap_is_live.jpg [4] http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/left-side-history-political-prisoner-imam-jamil-al-amin [5] http://hiphopandpolitics.com/2014/02/02/black-history-month-legacy-h-rap-brown-imam-jamil-al-amin/ [6] http://www.abcf.net/abc/pdfs/jamil.pdf [7] http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/jamil_abdullah_alamin/index.html [8] mailto:FLM/execassistant@bop.gov [9] http://www.bop.gov/inmates/concerns.jsp [10] http://www.bop.gov/about/agency/bio_dir.jsp [11] http://www.justice.gov/contact-us.html [12] http://www.addtoany.com/share_save?linkurl=http%3A%2F%2Fblackagendareport.com%2Fcontent%2Fpolitical-prisoner-imam-jamil-al-amin-declining-health-urgently-needs-medical-care&linkname=Political%20Prisoner%20Imam%20Jamil%20Al-Amin%20in%20Declining%20Health%2C%20Urgently%20Needs%20Medical%20Care  Source: http://blackagendareport.com/content/political-prisoner-imam-jamil-al-amin-declining-health-urgently-needs-medical-care
Devils Lake jailer accused of sexually assaulting inmate (UPDATED) By Kevin Bonham on Jul 10, 2014 at 4:40 p.m. Email UPDATED 4:40 P.M. JULY 10:  A jailer at Devils Lake’s Lake Region Law Enforcement Center is facing a felony charge of sexual assault on a female inmate. Jonathan James Defoe, 23, was charged today in Northeast District Court in Devils Lake. The alleged incident occurred in a jail cell July 3, according to Detective Sue Schwab of the Devils Lake Police Department.  Source: http://www.grandforksherald.com/content/devils-lake-jailer-accused-sexually-assaulting-inmate-updated
Prison food supplier has Michigan officials at wit's end July 13, 2014   |   197 Comments Email Print Share LinkedIn Tumblr StumbleUpon Reddit Del.icio.us Digg A A Purchase Image Inmates are served food through the Aramark Correctional Services on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at the Charles E. Egeler Reception & Guidance Center in Jackson. / Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press By Paul Egan Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau Filed Under Local News Michigan news Related Links Cancel the Aramark contract? Kitchen friendships, sex acts lead to firings for Aramark's prison staff Aramark's record in other prison systems Aramark's food problems seen as recipe for prison unrest What is Aramark? Snyder: Decision on Aramark prison contract coming in 'next week or two' 4 prison workers kissing inmates in kitchen cooler — last straw for Aramark? 4 Aramark prison workers caught in sexual romp with inmates, fired Cancel the Aramark contract? Kitchen friendships, sex acts lead to firings for Aramark's prison staff Aramark's record in other prison systems What is Aramark? Aramark's food problems seen as recipe for prison unrest Senate leader says Michigan should rebid Aramark prison contract Partial quarantine ordered at prison in Jackson as 150 inmates fall ill Maggots found in food at second Michigan prison Gov. Snyder: Maggots near prison food 'unacceptable' Inmates sick after maggots found on serving line at prison in Jackson Aramark pushed to end prison meal shortages or risk losing $145M contract Food worker accused of trying to smuggle marijuana into Jackson prison Purchase Image Zoom Aramark Correctional Services food service director Jeff McClelland keeps an eye on operations as meals are served Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at the Charles E. Egeler Reception & Guidance Center in Jackson. / Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press More ADVERTISEMENT LANSING — Maggots in the kitchen and on the chow line. Workers caught smuggling contraband or engaging in sex acts with inmates. Food shortages and angry prisoners. Those are among the problems that have plagued Michigan prisons since December when the state — in a move aimed at saving more than $12 million a year — switched from using state workers to feed prisoners to a private contractor, Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia. Ongoing turmoil with the 7-month-old contract — including many instances never previously disclosed — is detailed in more than 3,000 pages of state records obtained by the Free Press under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act: One Aramark food service director showed up drunk and failed a Breathalyzer. Another worker was caught trying to smuggle marijuana. Others have failed drug tests, kissed prisoners, threatened to assault inmates, or announced intentions to “go postal” inside a facility, records show. “I’m at my wit’s end,” Kevin Weissenborn, the Michigan Department of Corrections manager in charge of policing the Aramark contract, e-mailed one Michigan warden in March, records show. “I know how you feel,” replied Warden Heidi Washington of the Charles E. Egeler Reception & Guidance Center in Jackson. “At first I felt like Lansing thought I was just being too difficult and too demanding because I was always complaining. However, I think everyone knows that’s not the case. “Bottom line is lay down with dogs, get up with fleas.” Though Aramark’s total workforce in Michigan prisons numbers just over 300, some 74 Aramark workers had been banned from prison property for various infractions as of the end of June. Gov. Rick Snyder and his officials are nowconsidering scrapping the $145-million, three-year contract before the summer heat intensifies unhappiness over prison food and possibly threatens security and safety. The state put Aramark on notice in March by fining the company $98,000 for repeated contract violations such as running out of food and making improper substitutions for required menu items. In June, it stepped up the pressure, telling Aramark that starting July 1 it would strictly enforce the meal portion and substitution requirements of the contract, with further violations leading to possible termination. Prison officials confirm at least two instances of meal shortages have been reported this month. Free Press reports about the discovery of maggots in two Michigan prisons have prompted some state lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, to call for new bids from other companies. “It doesn’t matter if they’re prisoners or who they are, people don’t deserve that type of treatment,” Richardville said. Still, some feel Aramark isn’t getting a fair shake, because most wardens didn’t want the company coming into the prisons and many unionized corrections officers view the nonunion Aramark workers as scabs. The records shed light on tensions between Aramark and Corrections Department workers that could be contributing to the company’s problems feeding about 43,000 state prisoners. For example, Aramark officials were upset in early March — soon after the state hit the company with fines — when they received reports that a captain at Baraga Correctional Facility used a prison radio system to invite prisoners to report problems with the food so Aramark could be fined some more. “I am working on getting statements from the hourly associates as there were numerous issues with the staff at Baraga treating Aramark rudely,” Aramark official Lars Larson e-mailed his boss, vice president of operations Michael Flesch, records show. Corrections officials said the remarks were taken out of context. While many view the discovery of live maggots in Michigan prisons — quickly followed by similar reports from Ohio, where Aramark took over prison food services in September — as an indictment of Aramark, the company finds the events suspicious. “Aramark has served billions of meals, to millions of inmates, at hundreds of correctional facilities around the country and never encountered sudden incidences like those reported in two states in the span of one week,” company spokeswoman Karen Cutler said. ■ Related: Aramark's record in other prison systems “Each corrections system is operated independently and the only common denominator is that both of them recently privatized their food services in a decision that has drawn criticism from some special-interest groups.” Aramark is “focused on delivering the service and taxpayer savings we promised,” and isn’t “interested in the political and media circus about anti-privatization,” Cutler said. But the prison food contract isn’t the first state of Michigan privatization effort to run into major problems. The privately run Youth Correctional Facility in Baldwin, known as the “punk prison,” which opened in 1998 under former Gov. John Engler, closed in 2005 amid reports it was too costly to run and neglected the health and educational needs of its young inmates. With the Aramark deal, fraternization between its workers and prisoners and growing inmate unrest have been major problems. But poor food quality, meal shortages, poor sanitation, and inadequate training, staffing and supervision resulting in extra work for corrections officers and other prison staff also are pressing issues, records show. Jeff McClelland, Aramark’s food service director at the Egeler Center, where newly admitted prisoners are sent, is a former state prison food service worker whose job was among the 370 eliminated by the Aramark deal. He said he’s eaten prison food prepared by the state and by Aramark and “there is no difference in the quality.” “Aramark is super strict,” McClelland said during a recent Free Press tour of the Egeler chow hall. “They’re following the menu to a T, a little bit more than the state did. There’s no room for error.” Prison officials, who recently dealt with an outbreak of sickness among more than 100 prisonersat Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson that resulted in a partial quarantine due to an as-yet-undetermined bug, have a different view. ■ Related: Partial quarantine ordered at prison in Jackson as 150 inmates fall ill “When I entered the unit, it smelled like rotten meat,” Capt. Pennie Chappell of Baraga Correctional Facility e-mailed another Corrections Department official on Jan. 22, records how. She said when she inspected the meatballs they were “bright red inside and smelled rotten.” Aramark workers told Chappell they flagged the smell of the meat, but the supervisor said “it only smelled funny because part of it was turkey, and they should serve it,” she reported in the e-mail. The Aramark workers also said “they were worried about the food in the freezer as it had been down a couple of days and everything had defrosted and re-froze.” In other e-mails, Aramark officials confirmed the freezer problems — which they said were less severe than what was described — but denied the meat was bad. At Egeler, Capt. Jeremy Bush, who has since been promoted to acting deputy warden, reported in February that “we had an issue with the french fries being frozen,” and “this is a recurring issue,” with “meals ... reported as undercooked or frozen.” When menu items run out, Aramark substitutes, in one case using hot dog buns to make pizza. Another time, “instead of getting juice for breakfast this morning, everyone got 2 Minute Maid popsicles,” Corrections Department official Kelly Wellman reported in a January e-mail. “You can’t make this stuff up.” ■ Related: Inmate warns that food problems are a recipe for unrest Under its contract, Aramark is supposed to comply with a statewide standard menu that provides a daily average intake of 2,600 calories for men and 2,200 calories for women. Any variations must be approved by the Department of Corrections. The department cites hundreds of incidents in which Aramark made unauthorized substitutions or did not prepare the required number of meals, records show. Publicly, Aramark has minimized the problems as normal in any transition. Behind the scenes, however, the response has been more animated. “Moving forward, any substitution not properly reported, forms not filled out and submitted you leave me no choice but to hold you accountable for your teams failure,” Flesch, the Aramark VP, e-mailed his regional directors on Jan. 13, according to records. “I have been talking for weeks now and no progress is made in the field. Every day I receive e-mails about substitutions that are not approved and no forms are submitted. Enough is enough.” Ironically, “enough is enough” is the very phrase state employee unions have seized on in urging Snyder to cancel the contract. With most workers paid about $11 an hour in a high-stress environment with high turnover, Aramark has had persistent problems recruiting and retaining staff. At Lakeland Correctional Facility, “the Food Service Director has resigned their position as did the initial manager,” Weissenborn of the Corrections Department e-mailed on Feb. 20. “They will also be losing two additional line staff by next Friday” and “have two vacancies already.” Bush said in a Feb. 24 e-mail to Washington, the warden at Egeler, that Aramark made counting the number of prisoners who get fed — the company’s basis for getting paid — its top kitchen priority, meaning corrections staff had to pick up the slack in other areas, such as making sure prisoners on the meal line weren’t stealing food. The e-mails also documented problems in the first two months of the contract with Aramark workers leaving knives unsecured — an issue that eventually led the company to remove all knives from prison kitchens. Now, “we just have dough cutters,” McClelland said. Bush said the combination of problems “absolutely” results in more work for other prison staff than when state employees ran the kitchen. Union officials say the extra work and disruption will offset any savings, though they have yet to produce numbers to support that claim. “We’ve found there is an extra added need for security and for some of the basic food service duties,” Bush said during the recent tour at Egeler. Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com  Source: http://www.freep.com/article/20140713/NEWS06/307130099/aramark-prison-food-privatization-michigan
Scathing study cites Bridgewater practices Report demands reforms far beyond what Patrick plans By Michael Rezendes  | Globe Staff   July 13, 2014 Share via e-mail To Add a message Your e-mail Print Reprints Article Comments ( 28 ) Subscribe Back To Top John Tlumacki/Globe staff The Legislature is already considering Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to reform Bridgewater State Hospital, which, despite its name, is a medium security prison. A federally funded watchdog group is demanding sweeping reforms at troubled Bridgewater State Hospital, charging that prison officials are not qualified to run the mental health facility and that guards and clinicians routinely violate safety rules and the rights of patients. The changes outlined by the Disability Law Center go well beyond a recent plan to revamp practices at Bridgewater announced by Governor Deval Patrick. Both Patrick’s plan and the report were triggered by a Globe story in February about the death of a mental health patient as guards subdued him and strapped his wrists and ankles to a bed. Continue reading below The center’s report portrays Bridgewater as a place where staff members are more concerned with punishment than patient care and sometimes harm patients already scarred by mental illness, traumatic brain injuries, sexual abuse, or intellectual disabilities. Related A death in restraints after ‘standard procedure’ Disability Law Center’s report (pdf) RELATED: Use of restraints rose at Bridgewater, even after 2009 death Lawyers for the center, who spent six weeks at the Bridgewater complex reviewing records and interviewing patients and staff, said prison guards and clinicians do little to treat patients and often take a “one size fits all approach” to patients’ problems — secluding or restraining them for everything from feelings of anxiety to refusing medications to getting into fights. “At its very core, however,” the 23-page report concludes, “the excessive restraint and seclusion is symptomatic of a more fundamental problem: these patients with serious mental illness are being held and ‘treated’ within a correctional facility rather than within a mental health facility.” The Legislature is already considering Patrick’s proposal to reform Bridgewater State Hospital, which, despite its name, is a medium security prison. Center officials praised the governor’s plan, but said it doesn’t go far enough because it would leave the Department of Correction in charge of the institution. Continue reading below Massachusetts stands virtually alone in assigning a correctional department to run its mental health facility for patients who have had contact with the criminal justice system. In every other state except Iowa, these so-called forensic hospitals are run by mental health departments. “It is time for Massachusetts to join the other 48 states that provide care and treatment to this population through a state mental health agency rather than a correctional agency,” the center said in its report, which was obtained by the Globe. A spokeswoman for Patrick emphasized that the governor’s proposal would move all Bridgewater patients except those serving criminal sentences to other facilities run by the Department of Mental Health, adding that it would double the number of clinicians at Bridgewater and make physical improvements to the complex. “The Patrick administration, in partnership with the DLC and other stakeholders, has proposed a comprehensive plan to ensure that mentally ill individuals receive appropriate care in appropriate settings,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure that Massachusetts has a 21st century approach to care for the mentally ill in our criminal justice system.” On Friday, Patrick signed a state budget that includes $13 million to support his proposal. Separately, he filed a $10 million supplemental budget request to dramatically increase Bridgewater’s clinical staff. The Boston-based Disability Law Center, designated under federal law to investigate complaints about the abuse and neglect of disabled people, delivered its report to Patrick on Friday morning. A major focus of the report is the excessive use at Bridgewater of seclusion and four-point restraints, which strap a patient’s wrists and ankles to a bed. Read the Disability Law Center’s report The Department of Correction says it has cut the use of restraints by more than 90 percent over the last several months, and the use of seclusion by more than 60 percent. But the center said these improvements are likely to be temporary unless the facility is turned over to the Department of Mental Health. “When the spotlight is dimmed, those numbers will inevitably climb back up due to the essential nature of a correctional facility filled with men with serious mental illness,” the center’s report said. Like Patrick, the center concluded that Bridgewater doesn’t have sufficient resources to run the complex safely, noting that, as the guards have reduced their reliance on isolation and restraints to control patients, assaults on staff and other patients have been on the rise. That is a clear sign, the center said, that reforms at Bridgewater will remain incomplete without a shift in management, additional staff, and physical improvements such as the creation of quiet rooms where agitated patients can calm down. “There’s nowhere to go to read a book, nowhere to go for peace and quiet,” said Christine M. Griffin, the center’s executive director, in an interview. “It’s in no way conducive to effective treatment.” Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff Lisa Brown, the mother of Joshua Messier, reminisced about her son as she held a copy of a painting he made. Messier was a young mental health patient who died as Bridgewater State Hospital guards were forcibly subduing him and putting him in restraints. Bridgewater State Hospital houses a wide range of male mental health patients, including violent convicted criminals, those who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity, and others who have been accused of minor crimes and referred to the facility for psychiatric evaluations. Many have never been convicted or served time in a state prison. Bridgewater’s population generally hovers around 325 men, including about 50 who are assigned to work details and are not mental health patients. But recently the census has dropped to about 250, Griffin said. The center’s investigation followed a series of Globe stories highlighting the rampant use of restraints and seclusion at Bridgewater, including a detailed account of the 2009 death of Joshua K. Messier , a young mental health patient who died as guards were forcibly subduing him and putting him in restraints. Messier’s death was ruled a homicide, but none of the guards was prosecuted or disciplined until the first Globe story was published earlier this year, prompting Patrick to suspend three of the guards, fire one correction official, and discipline two others, including Commissioner Luis S. Spencer. Lawyers for the center who visited Bridgewater reviewed patient records and interviewed 75 patients as well as medical and mental health clinicians, and prison guards. But the center said its investigation is incomplete because Department of Correction officials have yet to turn over crucial documents, and that it filed its report early for the benefit of state lawmakers considering Patrick’s legislative proposals. The Legislature’s formal session is scheduled to end on July 31. Essdras M Suarez/Globe staff Photos of Joshua Messier, who died in 2009 while in state custody at Bridgewater. Among its 29 recommendations, the center calls for the appointment of a “human rights officer” to ensure the rights of patients, and a two-year monitoring period during which patient complaints and internal reports on uses of force and patient deaths would be referred to the center on a quarterly basis. If the center finds that its recommendations are not followed, it could file a federal lawsuit to force changes, as it has in the past. In 2007, the center sued the Department of Correction after alleging that the state’s prison system was subjecting mentally ill prison inmates to cruel and unusual punishment by placing them in solitary confinement for prolonged periods. The department made significant concessions to end the suit, agreeing to minimize use of isolation for mentally ill inmates and provide specialized housing for mentally ill inmates who may be violent. The settlement followed a Globe Spotlight Team investigation, which found that inadequate care for mentally ill prisoners often resulted in suicides. Stan Eichner, the center’s litigation director, said the organization is more interested in encouraging reforms at Bridgewater than in pursing legal action against the state. But he also said, “We are a legal organization. If that’s what it takes get these men the rights they are entitled to, that’s a possibility.” More coverage A death in restraints after ‘standard procedure’ Graphic: What happened in 2009 death Video: The problems at Bridgewater Use of restraints rose, even after patient’s death Facility given 45 days to act after concerns for patient safety bring surprise inspection Michael Rezendes can be reached at michael.rezendes@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @RezGlobe.  Source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/07/12/new-report-says-prison-officials-not-qualified-run-bridgewater-state-hospital/YuJAJtsAdwMIf4yQu2xOsJ/story.html
Prison Officers Routinely Brutalize Mentally Ill Inmates at Rikers Island But Are Never Punished By: Kevin Gosztola Monday July 14, 2014 1:33 pm Share on facebook32 Share on twitter75 Share on google_plusone_share0 Share on email Rikers Island (US Government Photo) A four-month investigation by the New York Times has uncovered a regular pattern of prison officers at Rikers Island committing brutal attacks against inmates in the New York prison. The investigation found that the vast majority of inmates who are attacked are mentally ill and in handcuffs when abused by officers. The media organization found evidence of “scores of assaults through “interviews with current and former inmates, correction officers and mental health clinicians.” It also reviewed hundreds of pages of investigative, jail and legal records, including a secret internal study by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which it refuses to release under the state’s Freedom of Information law. According to the study reviewed by the Times, “Over an 11-month period last year, 129 inmates suffered ‘serious injuries’—ones beyond the capacity of doctors at the jail’s clinics to treat—in altercations with correction department staff members.” These injuries apparently included “fractures, wound requiring stitches, head injuries,” etc. Most significantly, the study showed 77 percent of the inmates, who were seriously injured, have mental illnesses. Eighty percent of the cases involved inmates who were reportedly “beaten after they were handcuffed.” In “73 percent of the violent encounters with officers,” inmates were injured in the head or by a blow to the face, which according to Correction Department regulations is supposed to be the “last resort when restraining an inmate.” One third of assaults led to broken bones and at least 40 percent of injuries resulted in stitches. The Times was able to figure out specific details related to all 129 cases where inmates were seriously injured. It decided to highlight 24 of what it considered to be the “most serious incidents.” (Also, attacks on inmates which were not in the secret internal study were examined by the Times.) Shakima Smith-White’s son, Michael Megginson, who suffers from bipolar disorder, had been in state psychiatric hospitals for three years. The hospital would typically give him a shot “in his backside to knock him out,” according to Smith-White. Megginson would be put in a padded room until he calmed down. However, that is not how guards at Rikers Island handled her son after he was “jailed on a robbery charge.” “At the jail, on October 8,” the Times reported, “after a violent encounter with guards, he was found by clinicians curled up on the concrete floor of a holding cell, his wrist fractured, an eye swollen shut and bruises all over his body.” The following cases are highlighted by the Times: —Jose Bautista, who tried to hang himself with his underwear, and when officers rushed in to cut him down, was made to lie with his face down as officers punched him so hard that he “suffered a perforated bowl” and required “emergency surgery.” —Carlos Gonzalez, who suffers from depression and schizophrenia, was thrown against a wall and ordered to apologize to a guard after he refused to stop holding hands with his fiancée in the visitors room. Guards allegedly punched him in the face when he would not apologize as loud as the guards ordered. His eardrum ruptured. His jumpsuit became covered in blood. —Brian Mack, who was convicted of grand larceny, complained about guards stealing food from inmates. This led a captain to retaliate against him and strike him in the eye with a radio. Another officer then punched him in the jaw. —Andre Lane, who was in solitary confinement in a cellblock that is supposed to be for inmates with mental illnesses, was beat by several guards. He had become angry at guards when he did not get his dinner. He splashed liquid on them and he was handcuffed to a gurney and taken to a clinic examination room, where video cameras could not see him. And while he was being beaten, medical staff begged for guards to stop hurting him. Lane was interviewed by the Times for this story. He recalled, “One officer took a knuckle brace and put it on his hands, just started hitting me, boom, boom,” and, “My head started leaking blood, and that’s when I started getting dizzy and dizzy and dizzy.” He later became unconscious. In February, a 56-year-old African-American homeless veteran, who was on “anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication,” according to the Associated Press, baked to death at Rikers Island. The cell was over 100 degrees. (When AP contacted his mother, it had been a month since his death and nobody had notified his mother he was dead.) But the Times’ investigation is careful to distinguish between that instance of negligence and the persistent and routine violence against prisoners. For this brutality, there is no accountability. No officers have been prosecuted for using this kind of force against prisoners, including those suffering from mental illness. The Times reported, “None have been brought up on formal administrative charges in connection to the cases so far either.” Officials in the jail will claim that they are overwhelmed by violent mentally ill inmates, who require force to be restrained because they fight back against guards. At the same time, there seems to be a lack of resources in the jail for treating the mentally ill and as a result the solution has become violence. The city has done nothing to discourage guards from making this the solution to the problem. Furthermore, what is most striking is how easily the city of New York can keep this all under wraps through combination of unspoken commitments to secrecy, threats of retaliation for employees who speak out and refusals to let transparency laws pry loose records confirming rampant brutality. As the Times put it, “Reports of such abuses have seldom reached the outside world, even as alarm has grown this year over conditions at the sprawling jail complex. A dearth of whistleblowers, coupled with the reluctance of the city’s Department of Correction to acknowledge the problem and the fact that guards are rarely punished, has kept the full extent of the violence hidden from public view.” Not only do defenseless and extremely vulnerable people suffer severely in the prison but citizens are kept ignorant by their government because they know this is quite scandalous and corrupt behavior on the part of all officials involved.  Source: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/07/14/prison-officers-routinely-brutalize-mentally-ill-inmates-at-rikers-island-but-are-never-punished/
Information on prisoner deaths expensive to get Story Comments Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014 12:02 pm | Updated: 3:06 pm, Mon Jul 14, 2014. Information on prisoner deaths expensive to get Associated Press | 0 comments ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Department of Corrections official says a state agency is considering declassifying an unpublished regulation on investigating prisoner deaths. Corrections deputy commissioner Sherrie Daigle told the Anchorage Daily News (http://bit.ly/1oXOgZx ) she only recently became aware of the regulation. But she said it could not be shared with the public now because the information could "threaten the safety and security of institutions." She did not say how. The newspaper requested copies of the Department of Corrections' internal investigation documents related to inmate deaths from 2000 to 2012. The idea was to look at how the department evaluates its performance in cases of prisoners dying while in state custody. The paper was told it would cost more than $4,000 and take more than 100 hours to locate and copy the files. ___ Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com  Source: http://www.moultonadvertiser.com/news/state/article_5b81e391-44b2-5874-b071-d096117a7259.html
­ Elise Patkotak: Prison system must be held accountable for deaths Elise Patkotak July 15, 2014 Share on emailEmail Print Text Size-A +A OPINION: Columnist Elise Patkotak says it's too easy for most of us to shrug at deaths inside Alaska's prison system. That's wrong, for the Department of Corrections must be held accountable - for everyone's sake. Pictured: A cell at Goose Creek prison. Loren Holmes photo Sometimes it’s easier than we care to admit to turn our faces away from a headline about a death in jail. Subconsciously most of us believe, if only a little, that a prisoner is someone who has done something bad, so the death is not really a big deal. This is probably why, given the number of deaths in the state corrections system over the past few months, there has not been a huge outcry and demand for transparency concerning them. These deaths have run the gamut of how people die – suicide, homicide and just found dead. If any other agency, from the Alaska Psychiatric Institute to the Brother Francis Shelter, had those deaths occur while the person was in their facility, there would be a public demand for a thorough investigation of all circumstances surrounding the deaths. But these deaths happened in prison, and so we all quietly avert our gaze and hope it will go away. After all, they were in jail. They must have done something wrong. So let’s not put too much time and money into this. Related:  The untold story behind Israel Keyes' jailhouse suicide Inmate found dead at Seward maximum-security prison Sadly, the state system looking at these occurrences seems totally lacking in everything from competence to computers. Given the reasons stated in Monday's ADN article by Michelle Theriault Boots, the state Department of Corrections seems to be reveling in its incompetency and daring anyone to put up the time and resources needed to wade through the jumble of paperwork and confusion that passes for an investigation of an in-custody death. It’s as though the DOC has taken the VA as its role model. The one point on which I agree with the DOC is that people are often incarcerated when, in fact, they should be hospitalized for mental illness. The closing of mental health institutions, combined with the lack of mental health services to support those no longer living in institutions, make our jails and prisons de facto long-term mental health facilities. Dealing with people experiencing mental illness takes some very special training and understanding. It is not necessarily the kind of training and education most working in the penal system get beyond a cursory review of the topic. Thankfully, people with mental illnesses have strong advocacy groups in our community who work to help both those ill and those coping with family and friends who are ill. But their reach seems to stop at the prison door. And what about those others, the ones who died of homicide or bleeding ulcers? Families deserve some answer about how someone is killed in a supposedly secure facility. Families deserve to know how someone has the time and access to items that allow the person to kill himself or herself without being noticed by prison personnel. Families deserve an answer to how someone dies of a bleeding ulcer, a condition that is all too treatable if someone is paying the slightest bit of attention. Again, I find the resounding silence from the general public on this topic astounding. When we imprison people in this country, we do so based on a constitutional guarantee of no cruel and unusual punishment. Bleeding to death from an ulcer that could have been treated might be considered by many as cruel and unusual punishment. Being placed in a cell with someone who already tried to kill a cellmate might also be considered in this light. There might be very good reasons why this was done. There might be very good reasons why no correctional officer noticed someone dying on the floor of a cell. There might be very good answers for all these deaths. The thing is, unless the Department of Corrections acknowledges the public’s right to know and becomes more transparent in dealing with the families of those who died in its custody, we’ll never know for sure. Some prisoners may have done horrible things. Some may have simply gotten too drunk in public. Some may be innocent and incarcerated for a crime they didn’t do and for which they will eventually be acquitted. They are all human beings. They deserve to be treated as such. You think it will never happen to you or yours. But it can. And when it does, you’ll want answers. Just don’t expect to get them. The DOC is apparently a god unto itself. It need answer to no one. Elise Patkotak's latest book, "Coming Into the City," is available at AlaskaBooksandCalendars.com and at local bookstores.  Source: http://www.adn.com/article/20140715/elise-patkotak-prison-system-must-be-held-accountable-deaths
Give prison facilities consistent, independent oversight By DEBORRAH BRODSKY   By DEBORRAH BRODSKY dbrodsky@fsu.edu The Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) has been under intense scrutiny recently as the Miami Herald has been probing the unresolved story of the death of Darren Rainey, an inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution. There are as many as 10 open investigations of inmate deaths in DOC facilities. In addition, four DOC investigators filed a whistle-blower complaint, presenting an increasingly alarming picture of potential corruption and criminal activity. In Florida, few mechanisms exist for external oversight of criminal-justice matters — specifically, for monitoring prisons. While we have institutionalized accountability throughout other public policy arenas like education, we have yet to address this in criminal and juvenile justice. Prisons are largely insular to protect the public. But a lack of transparency is unacceptable when it threatens the protection of those inside locked facilities. These public institutions — even if they are privately run — should not be so closed off as to become unsafe, or so insular that it prevents healthy public scrutiny. Imagine a $2.3 billion corporation running without a board of directors’ oversight. That is what it happening in the DOC. Now consider education in Florida: There are expectations of accountability, through test scores and school grading, teacher and principal performance pay, local school board reviews, college and state university boards of trustees, and, at the state level, the boards of education and governors. And although stakeholders don’t always agree on what or how things need to be measured, accountability, oversight and transparency mechanisms are deeply embedded in the fabric of education. But the same cannot be said for criminal justice. While the deaths under investigation may be viewed as separate occurrences (and responsibility may ultimately be tied to a few who are found directly culpable), there is a shared thread of distressingly limited transparency. Defensiveness of this magnitude points to a larger, continuing challenge that demands a more-systemic approach toward public accountability in Florida’s correctional facilities. When Gov. Rick Scott was elected, his transition team provided many recommendations. Among them, that the inspectors general of both the departments of Juvenile Justice and Corrections be made independent and, rather than report directly to the secretary of each agency, should instead report to the governor, the Legislature, and the agency. A variation of this was passed by the 2014 Legislature as HB 1835 and has now been signed into law by Gov. Scott. It will help to provide more arms’-length distance for these government watchdogs — up until now reporting to the agencies themselves — to be better positioned to perform their oversight functions and is a step in the right direction. But it is only one step. A second recommendation called for the creation of an independent advisory council responsible for external oversight of both the departments of Juvenile Justice and Corrections. Charged with monitoring the conditions of all Florida correctional facilities, this body would be empowered to walk into any facility at any time — juvenile and adult — with access to every corner, inmate, employee and record. A third recommendation called for a Special Advisor Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor for Public Safety to act as liaison to and coordinate with the advisory council, local governments, the Legislature, reentry networks and various criminal-justice stakeholder groups. The latter two recommendations have not yet been heeded. Oversight doesn’t have to be a dirty word. In fact, more attention to our correctional institutions can bring several benefits: expanded opportunities for public and private collaboration; safer work environments for correctional professionals; proactive deliberation to address challenges, problems and crises; public platform for budget and policy matters toward better outcomes; and fewer deaths and lawsuits. As a 2006 Vera Institute of Justice report notes: “What happens inside jails and prisons does not stay inside jails and prisons. It comes home with prisoners after they are released and with corrections officers at the end of each day’s shifts. We must create safe and productive conditions of confinement not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it influences the safety, health, and prosperity of us all.” Deborrah Brodsky is director of the FSU Project on Accountable Justice, a partnership of Florida State University, Baylor University, St. Petersburg College, and Tallahassee Community College dedicated to advancing public safety through evidence and research. Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/16/4239834/give-prison-facilities-consistent.html#storylink=cpy 
Inmate's Heat Stroke Death Gives Court Pause By CAMERON LANGFORD  ShareThis        HOUSTON (CN) - Immunity is not available to a nurse after the Texas inmate she sent back to his allegedly "blazing hot" cell died of heat stroke, a federal judge ruled.      On the night he died, Aug. 8, 2011, Michael Martone had complained to guard Kerry Collard about feeling "very sick" and said he had been puking for the past two days, according to the complaint.      It had been the eighth straight day of 100-plus degree heat at Huntsville State Prison, 70 miles north of Houston, and 57-year-old Martone allegedly griped on his way to the infirmary about feeling dizzy, short of breath and dehydrated, despite drinking lots of water.      Nurse Peggy McCleskey was the only staff member in the infirmary at the time, and all she cared about was getting off work at her scheduled time, according to the complaint.      She allegedly connected Martone to Patricia Rye, a nurse at another prison, via videoconference and clocked out.      "Despite knowing that Mr. Martone took medications that react dangerously with the heat to treat his disabilities, and he had been suffering classic symptoms of heat stroke for two days, Nurse Rye dismissed his concerns," the complaint alleges.      Rye told Martone it was "nothing serious" and instructed him to drink lots of water and return to the infirmary in the morning, according to the complaint.      Martone was not long back in his cell, however, when a guard allegedly saw the inmate grasping the bars on his cell's window. Martone then began convulsing and collapsed, according to the complaint.      Although he was slipping in and out of consciousness, guards allegedly waited 20 minutes to call 911.      An ambulance got there an hour after Michael's collapse, and he was pronounced dead in a hospital emergency room with his body temperature measured at 108 degrees, according to the complaint.      Martone's daughter Roxanne filed suit last year against several officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, as well as the University of Texas Medical Branch, which provides health care to 80 percent of Texas prisoners, including the Huntsville prison.      She claimed that Texas does not air-condition the cells of its state prisons, but wardens and other officials keep their offices cooled to "a comfortable 75 degrees."      The policy has had dire consequences for susceptible inmates as 14 have died of heat-related causes since 2007, she added.      Martone allegedly suffered from high-blood pressure and depression, and he carried 309 pounds on his 6-foot frame at the time of his death.      Finding that the complaint sufficiently alleges a claim against the medical branch, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison refused to dismiss it as a defendant on Wednesday.      The court also denied nurse Rye qualified immunity, finding that her actions - allegedly failing to take Martone's vital signs - "were objectively unreasonable."      TDCJ executive director Brad Livingston and three other officials had sought similar relief, but Ellison deferred deciding their motion with a nod to ongoing "parallel" lawsuits in other Texas federal courts.      Back in March, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos had refused in Hinojosa v. Livingston to decide whether Texas prison officials are liable for an inmate's heat-caused death.      Ramos requested further inquiry into when and how the officials learned about specific prisoner deaths, whether the officials commissioned a study on extreme heat and inmate safety, the officials' familiarity with related 5th Circuit case law, and if the prison directors had studied the costs of reducing cell temperatures.      With those questions still unanswered Ellison wrote: "The court defers ruling on qualified immunity and allows limited discovery to resolve the issue. Discovery is limited to the personal knowledge and personal conduct of each defendant as it relates to Mr. Martone and the circumstances that led to his death."      Martone's attorney, Brian McGiverin with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said he felt good about his client's chances in light of the ruling.      "The judge's ruling was smart and thoughtful," McGiverin said in an interview. "The most important part was that he decided to defer judgment on the issue of qualified immunity. ... Given the circumstances I'm fairly confident we will succeed on the issue."      Livingston's lawyer, Cynthia Burton of the state attorney general's office, did not return a request for comment.   Source: http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/07/18/69631.htm
Maine prisoner on monthlong hunger strike to protest living conditions Print Email Share Tweet By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff Posted July 18, 2014, at 5:22 p.m. Last modified July 19, 2014, at 2:52 p.m. WARREN, Maine — A Maine State Prison inmate has been on a hunger strike for one month while protesting his living conditions there, according to prisoner advocates. Nadim Haque, in his mid-40s, was described Friday as a “model prisoner” by Judy Garvey of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition. But the Indian man, serving a 50-year sentence for the 1996 killing of his ex-girlfriend in Lewiston, decided to start the hunger strike after he was placed in solitary confinement when he refused to be “double-bunked,” or given another inmate as a cellmate, she said. “MPAC members are very worried about Nadim’s health,” she said. “Nadim should be returned to a single cell, where he’s been living quietly and peacefully for 10 years.” But Jody Breton, associate commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections, said Friday that while she cannot comment on Haque, in general the prison has been moving for a year toward having almost all prisoners share cells with other inmates. Some inmates in “close” — or higher-security cellblocks — view the move from single to shared cells in a medium security cellblock as a punishment, she said. “It’s not for a punishment. It’s to put more incentive for people to move to a less-restrictive [block],” she said. “Basically, it looked like a rewards system in reverse before.” Haque wrote Garvey on July 1 to tell her about the situation, saying then that he did not want to have a cellmate for a number of reasons, including the fact that he is a Muslim from a different country. He was worried that his prayers, rituals, diet, cultural differences and politics would cause dangerous conflicts with a cellmate. Haque also told her in the letter that he felt singled-out by prison staff because he was vocal about asking for an investigation into the February murder of inmate Micah Boland, who died when he was stabbed multiple times, allegedly by inmate Richard Stahursky. Haque and other prisoners have also told Garvey they fear their exposure to contagious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV would increase if forced to share a cell with another inmate. “I want to put a stop to people doing long time forced to double bunk without screening for mental/ physical health/ religion/ cultural/ political views,” Haque wrote Garvey. Until being moved to solitary confinement, called the Special Management Unit, Haque had one of the coveted paying jobs in prison industries, Garvey said. The advocacy group has heard from him over the years, as he has written to let them know about problems or to thank them for their work on behalf of prisoners. But recently, he wrote to say that he was deeply distressed about the change in his living situation. “The noise level is maddening. Everyone is in each other’s way,” he wrote Garvey. “Everyone is forced or strong-armed to be double-bunked. If they refuse, their paying jobs are taken away from them and they are placed in the Supermax, the SMU.” Garvey said that prisoners with long sentences, like Haque, need to have “some kind of quality of life.” “They can become positive role models for other prisoners,” she said. “The thing that works is having a schedule, and a cell, and things in places where you can count on them. When all of that is taken away, you can despair.” It is not the first time that Haque has reportedly resorted to a hunger strike. In 1996, before his conviction, he went without food for two months to protest conditions at the Androscoggin County Jail. He said he stopped eating to protest being fed pork, which violates his Muslim dietary restrictions, according to the BDN archives. Jail officials asked the district attorney whether they could seek a court order to force-feed him. Breton said that the Maine Department of Corrections has a protocol for hunger strikes. After prisoners claim to have missed three meals, she said, prison staff starts a hunger strike log and notifies medical officials. Striking inmates have their weight, blood pressure and electrolyte levels monitored, and if they reach a point where they are unable to function in their unit, they will have a more in-depth medical assessment to determine if they need to go to the hospital or infirmary. “We regularly talk to the inmates about what they are doing to their body,” she said. “If it got to the point of requiring force-feeding, we’d have to get legal permission to do so.”  Source: https://bangordailynews.com/2014/07/18/news/midcoast/maine-prisoner-on-month-long-hunger-strike-to-protest-living-conditions/?ref=moreInmidcoast
Prison roof in Texas collapses, 19 inmates injured The Associated Press 07/19/2014 1:31 PM 07/19/2014 4:00 PM A Lufkin Fire Department ambulance leaves the gates of the Diboll Correctional Facility carrying injured on Saturday, July 19, 2014 in Diboll, Texas. Authorities say the roof of the privately run East Texas prison has collapsed, temporarily trapping dozens of inmates. Warden David Driskell says 84 inmates were in the area and many were trapped briefly. Diboll police Sgt. Brandan Lovell says 20 inmates were injured, with 10 taken to hospitals. Driskell said the others were treated at the scene for minor injuries and none appeared life-threatening. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Rhonda Oaks) MANDATORY CREDIT Story Comments DIBOLL, Texas Authorities say the roof of a privately run East Texas prison has collapsed, temporarily trapping dozens of inmates and sending 19 injured inmates to hospitals. One of those inmates was later airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston after the Saturday collapse at Diboll Correctional Center, about 100 miles northeast of Houston. Neither his identity nor his condition has been released. In a statement, a prison spokesman said the other inmates suffered cuts and bruises when wallboard fell from the ceiling of a housing area at the prison about 11:30 a.m. Law enforcement personnel from Lufkin Police Department, Diboll Police Department, the Special Response Team and Texas Department of Public Safety officers quickly devise a way to secure the perimeter of the Diboll Correctional Facility, Saturday, July 19, 2014 in Diboll, Texas. Authorities say the roof of the privately run East Texas prison has collapsed, temporarily trapping dozens of inmates. Warden David Driskell says 84 inmates were in the area and many were trapped briefly. Diboll police Sgt. Brandan Lovell says 20 inmates were injured, with 10 taken to hospitals. Driskell said the others were treated at the scene for minor injuries and none appeared life-threatening. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Rhonda Oaks) MANDATORY CREDIT This Saturday, July 19, 2014 photo shows the perimeter of the Diboll Correctional Facility in Diboll, Texas. Authorities say the roof of the privately run East Texas prison has collapsed, temporarily trapping dozens of inmates. Warden David Driskell says 84 inmates were in the area and many were trapped briefly. Diboll police Sgt. Brandan Lovell says 20 inmates were injured, with 10 taken to hospitals. Driskell said the others were treated at the scene for minor injuries and none appeared life-threatening. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Rhonda Oaks) MANDATORY CREDIT Lufkin Police and Texas DPS officers work to secure the backside of he Diboll Correctional Facility on Saturday, July 19, 2014 in Diboll, Texas. Authorities say the roof of the privately run East Texas prison has collapsed, temporarily trapping dozens of inmates. Warden David Driskell says 84 inmates were in the area and many were trapped briefly. Diboll police Sgt. Brandan Lovell says 20 inmates were injured, with 10 taken to hospitals. Driskell said the others were treated at the scene for minor injuries and none appeared life-threatening. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Rhonda Oaks) MANDATORY CREDIT Related Galleries Related Stories Related Blogs Related Links Spokesman Issa Arnita said 86 inmates were in the area when the ceiling material fell. He said officials are trying to determine the cause. The 518-bed minimum-security facility is operated by Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corp. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation-world/article765639.html#storylink=cpy 
Inmate art on display at OSR Visitors to OSR purchase items made by those incarcerated Jul. 19, 2014   Print A A Purchase Image Visitors got a chance to examine pieces of art created by MANCI and RICI inmates on Friday during the Inmate Art Show at OSR. / Jason J. Molyet/News Journal Written by Mark Caudill News Journal Filed Under News Local News Purchase Image Zoom Visitors got a chance to examine pieces of art created by MANCI and RICI inmates on Friday during the Inmate Art Show at OSR. / Jason J. Molyet/News Journal More ADVERTISEMENT MANSFIELD — Lauren Erwin found just what she needed at Friday’s inmate art show at the Ohio State Reformatory. “She’s been collecting jewelry, and she wanted a jewelry box,” Tina Erwin, her mother, said of the 7-year-old. Jewelry boxes were among the many items on display. Inmates from Richland and Mansfield correctional institutions did the artwork, which included paintings, sketches, wicker baskets and jewelry. Eighty percent of the profits go back to the inmates. The other 20 percent benefits students at Richland Academy. LuAnn Bay, activities therapy administrator at MANCI, encourages inmates to get involved, especially with art and music. “They can do that until they’re old and gray,” she said. “My dad was in his 90s, and he still played the fiddle.” Bay noted inmates have a lot of down time. “When they’re idle, it’s not good for them or the staff,” she said. “It (art) fills a big void.” A number of inmates drew animals or birds. Marilyn Monroe was the choice of two artists. One painting, among the priciest items on display at $300, featured portraits of Martin Luther King Jr., Shirley Chisholm, Nelson Mandela and President Barack Obama. Erwin said she was impressed with the artwork as she and her daughter wandered around the tables. “This is our first time here,” she said. A number of visitors to the inmate art show were at the old Reformatory on self-guided tours. The art show continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Marilyn Cleland, of Gambier, bought a painting of a tree at sunset. She liked the muted tones chosen by the artist. “I can’t draw stick people,” she said. mcaudill@gannett.com 419-521-7219 Twitter: @MNJCaudill  Source: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20140718/NEWS01/307180027
Commission Continues Important Work of Providing Relief from the High Cost of Inmate Calling by: Kalpak Gude, Chief, Pricing Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau July 18, 2014 On July 9, 2014 the FCC held a workshop to analyze the impact of, and discuss issues relating to, ongoing reforms of Inmate Calling Services (ICS).  Last fall, the Commission – in response to a petition that had languished for almost a decade – reformed what it concluded was an unjust, unreasonable, and unfair ICS rate structure by adopting a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Order) on the subject.  Among other things, the Order capped interstate rates at $0.21/minute for debit and prepaid calls and $0.25/minute for collect inmate calling.  These rates took effect on February 11, 2014.  By holding this workshop, the Commission highlights its continued commitment to ensure just, reasonable and fair rates, by hosting frank and open discussions with groups representing diverse points of view, including ICS providers, public policy leaders, elected officials, correctional facility officials, human rights organizations, and inmate advocacy groups. We heard about the impact that the Commission’s reforms have had on inmates and their friends and families, but also learned that there is more to be done.  For example, we learned that: Reduced calling rates have increased call volumes and connectivity between inmates and family and friends — and this increased connectivity may reduce recidivism rates. Ancillary charges often account for 30 to 40 percent of end-user charges, and therefore can significantly decrease the funds end users have available for placing calls. Many facilities do not have a deaf and hard of hearing accessibility plan in place and are unaware of the communications needs of these inmates, leaving these inmates vulnerable and their families with little or no means of contact.  Very little has been done to alleviate the specific challenges faced by deaf and hard of hearing inmates since the Commission released the Order. The Alabama Public Service Commission has taken significant steps toward intrastate ICS reform, including the adoption of tiered rate caps and restrictions on both the types of, and rates that providers can charge in, ancillary fees. Federal detention facilities operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement offer inmate calling rates, which exclude site commissions but include robust security features, well below the Commission’s caps. New communications technologies are being developed in the ICS market to the benefit of inmates and their friends and families, but these new technologies must be continuously updated to respond to client demand and monitored to prevent unexpected misuse. We thank all of the participants in our workshop.  For those who were unable to attend, you can find more information, as well as a link to an archived video, here:  http://www.fcc.gov/events/workshop-further-reform-inmate-calling-services. Panelists also discussed the need for increased transparency.  We remind parties that responses to the one-time mandatory data collection for all ICS providers are due on or before August 18, 2014.  This data will help address any lack of transparency surrounding the industry as well as help the Commission move forward with our commitment to ensure that ICS providers continue to provide secure inmate calling at just, reasonable, and fair rates.  Data submitted by providers will be available to the public pursuant to a protective order.  More information on the data collection and how to obtain access to the data may be found here:  http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/ics-mandatory-data-collection.  Source: http://www.fcc.gov/blog/commission-continues-important-work-providing-relief-high-cost-inmate-calling?fontsize=
Waupun prison guards accused of abuse Marvin Smith, 26, describes treatment he saw or experienced while serving time at Waupun in Wisconsin. (July 20, 2014) Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Bill Lueders, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism 8:39 a.m. CDT July 28, 2014 Waupun Correctional Institution has a drawn a large number of complaints from inmates alleging mistreatment by guards. (Photo: Lauren Fuhrmann/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ) CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE Marvin Smith still has scars from his time at Waupun Correctional Institution — on his hand, wrists and leg. His injuries were received on Jan. 3, 2013, in the state prison's segregation unit. Smith, 26, in a federal lawsuit he filed himself, alleged abuse by prison guards. He said they purposely injured his wrists and arms, put him in a choke hold, smashed his face into a cell door and twisted his ankle. Smith insists he was not resisting. The defendants denied the allegations and portrayed Smith as the aggressor, saying he "violently pulled" a guard's hand into his cell, causing injury, and refused to obey directives. Smith, a convicted armed robber, was disciplined over the incident and receieved an additional 11 months in segregation, commonly called solitary confinement. Smith's claims of abuse by state correctional officers, though rejected by prison officials, are similar to allegations made by dozens of other inmates at the prison located 55 miles northeast of Madison. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has identified 40 allegations of physical or psychological abuse by correctional officers against inmates in Waupun's segregation unit since 2011. The allegations, involving 33 inmates, allege extreme mistreatment, including being beaten and stomped on while handcuffed behind their backs. In many cases, prison records document the use of tasers, pepper spray, knee strikes, wall slams, takedowns and other measures, but describe these as a necessary response to inmate behavior. Commonly the inmates are disciplined or even charged with crimes over these incidents. Marvin Smith, 26, alleges that one particular prison guard at Waupun Correctional Institution's segregation unit, Joseph Beahm, intentionally abused inmates. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Two-thirds of these allegations of abuse involve a single guard, Joseph Beahm, who, according to the DOC, has worked continuously in the segregation unit at Waupun since October 2006. State prison officials have defended Beahm, and records show he has never been disciplined for improper treatment of inmates. Beahm did not respond to interview requests. These allegations have been made in federal lawsuits, sworn affidavits, interviews, internal complaints and other prison records, and letters to state officials and Peg Swan, a retired nurse's aide who advocates on behalf of inmates. Swan has been trying for months to call attention to the allegations. "I don't know what has to happen for these guys to be believed," Swan said. At least 15 lawsuits have been filed by inmates since 2011 alleging abuse by guards in the segregation unit at Waupun; nine are pending. The other six have been dismissed. University of Wisconsin law professor Walter Dickey, who headed the state prison system from 1983 to 1987, said the allegations merit investigation. "When you have allegations that are as extensive as these, the continued legitimacy of the system requires that you investigate them with integrity so the public will have confidence in the conclusions that are reached," he said. "And then you let the chips fall where they fall." The state Department of Corrections, which runs the state prison system, maintains the inmates making these allegations are lying. This summer, the DOC is conducting a three-month pilot project at Waupun, in which segregation unit officers wear cameras on their chests or eyeglasses to record their interactions. DOC spokeswoman Joy Staab said that Waupun correctional staff "requested the opportunity to pilot the cameras due to the high number of false accusations." The DOC is also creating a new Office of Special Operations to investigate alleged staff misconduct statewide so "staff falsely accused can be exonerated more quickly and returned to work." Waupun Warden William Pollard, in a statement, noted that the maximum-security prison houses some of the state's most violent criminals. "In some cases, inmates make allegations in an attempt to manufacture lawsuits, gain public sympathy and get attention," he said. DOC secretary Ed Wall declined an interview request but provided a written statement saying all assault allegations are taken seriously. "Every allegation of assault that is brought to the attention of staff is investigated," Wall said. "During the past several years, there have been no substantiated allegations of staff on inmate abuse at Waupun Correctional Institution." A PROBLEMATIC STRUCTURE The wave of allegations of abuse at Waupun comes during a time of growing national concern about the use of segregation for inmates, especially those with mental illness. Inmates in segregation are confined to their cells for 23 to 24 hours a day. The cells feature concrete and steel furnishings, one small window and a steel trap door through which food and medication are passed. A regular segregation cell measures 6 feet 2 inches by 12 feet. Segregation is commonly used as a punishment for misbehavior. Wall, citing the growing national debate, in April sent a memo to DOC staff indicating his desire to rethink the use of segregation in Wisconsin. "Are we placing inmates in segregation because we are mad at them (or) ... out of a sense of retribution?" he asked. "And if we are, does this help our inmates or does it make us any safer?" The segregation unit at Waupun can house up to 180 inmates. As of early July, it had 131, more than 10 percent of the prison's overall population of about 1,250 inmates. Dickey said inmates in segregation can be hard to deal with, and working there for long periods of time is "not healthy." Segregation, he added, "brings out the worst in everybody. You've got a structure that starts a human dynamic between people that's destructive." Eugene Braaksma, a state psychologist who worked at Waupun from 2006 to 2012, agreed. "There's no way to have a power structure where one party has all of the power and the other party has none where abuses don't happen," he said. Braaksma never directly witnessed the abuse of inmates. But he did see "things that troubled me," including inmate injuries that he thought were highly suspicious. State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, who formerly chaired a state legislative committee that dealt with corrections, continues to get letters from inmates. She said the number of complaints of abuse from the segregation unit at Waupun "seemed to rise in 2013." Taylor said outsiders need to be brought in to investigate inmate complaints to avoid having "the fox run the henhouse." Swan agreed: "To have an independent complaint process would revolutionize the system." Swan also called for Waupun to add mental health resources, rotate guards out of segregation every three months, and train guards better on how to deal humanely with difficult and mentally ill inmates. State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, has received a significant number of abuse complaints from Waupun, saying these “seemed to rise in 2013.” (Photo: Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ) NO CARROT FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR Brian Cunningham, a Waupun correctional officer who heads the Wisconsin Association for Correctional Law Enforcement union, said working in segregation is an exceptionally difficult job in an increasingly difficult profession. "We are under constant, constant stress," said Cunningham, speaking in his capacity as a union official. "I think it's gotten way more dangerous." The DOC has tallied that from mid-2012 to mid-2013 there were 351 assaults, attempted assaults and assault-related injuries to state prison staff, who number 10,000. More than two-thirds of these assaults occurred in segregation. Cunningham said the state's truth-in-sentencing law, implemented in 1999, and a 2011 bill signed by Gov. Scott Walker to end early release for some inmates made matters worse by removing one of the tools correctional officials use to maintain order. "We took away the carrot for good behavior and we replaced it with nothing," he said. But while agreeing that the pressures of the job have risen, Cunningham said he's never seen any physical abuse of inmates by staff in his 20 years with the department. 'CORROBORATION IS HARD' Kit Kerschensteiner, managing attorney with Disability Rights Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy group, noted that with complaints brought by inmates, a key issue is credibility. "Regardless of what actually happened, it always boils down to, who is going to be believed: a reputable guard or a convicted felon?" Kerschensteiner said. "Corroboration is hard." Of course some inmates, being criminals, often hardened and lifelong ones, tell lies. But correctional officers sometimes do, too. "Some staff cover for one another," said Jeff Endicott, the former warden at Columbia Correctional and Redgranite state prisons. "It's difficult to affirm a complaint or make a judgment in favor of an inmate, unless there is other corroborating evidence." Endicott said when he was investigating allegations against staff at Columbia for making racial comments, "There were many people who denied it happened, including witnesses to the behavior." The experience left him "shocked." Marvin Smith, outside his family’s home in Milwaukee in late March, is one of at least 15 Waupun inmates who have filed lawsuits since 2011 accusing guards of physical or psychological abuse. (Photo: Lauren Fuhrmann/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ) SMITH FACES NEW CHARGES For his part in the events of Jan. 3, 2013, Marvin Smith was found guilty of a major offense and sentenced to an additional 330 days in segregation. He completed his sentence and was released late last year. In an interview in March, Smith talked about pressing forward with his lawsuit, for the sake of those still at Waupun. A month later, he was arrested again, charged with taking part in a shootout with another man near a school in Milwaukee. He faces up to 30 years in prison. After his arrest, Smith missed a deadline for responding to a defense motion in his lawsuit. The state, citing this failure, asked that the lawsuit be dismissed. In mid-June, the judge granted this request. The lawsuit never reached a determination on Smith's allegations. The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. A LOOK AT SIX ALLEGATIONS OF INMATE ABUSE AT WAUPUN What follow are brief synopses of inmate allegations of abuse by correctional officers at the segregation unit at Waupun Correctional Institution. For a spreadsheet summarizing all 40 allegations identified by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, click here. CHRISTOPHER HAMLIN #507328 Convicted of charges including felony burglary in 2006; now on active community supervision. Incident date: 1/1/13 Alleges in a federal lawsuit that a prison lieutenant pushed him face-first into a wall, splitting his lip and chipping a tooth. The defendants' response confirms these injuries but portrays Hamlin as the aggressor, saying he resisted, yelled obscenities and was threatening to eat torn off chunks of his mattress. Suit is pending. JESSE DOZIER #427235 Has convictions for second offense drunken driving, felony theft from a corpse and bail jumping. Incident dates: 10/18/13, 11/30/13, 12/25/14, 1/22/14 Alleges repeat abuse and mistreatment in letters to prisoner advocate Peg Swan, including having his head held under streaming water in the shower by correctional officer Joseph Beahm: "I am totally unable to breathe, fearing for my life." In a pending federal lawsuit, he alleges being placed in an observation cell with "feces smeared all over the walls, floor and ceiling" for several days after reporting being suicidal. The state has denied the allegations; Dozier has been transferred to another state prison. He is facing new criminal charges for allegedly kicking a Waupun officer on March 26. QUENTON THOMPSON #311898 Convicted in 2004 of first degree intentional homicide and first degree intentional homicide of an unborn infant; given two life sentences. Incident date: 4/11/13 Alleges in letter to Swan that after filing a complaint against Beahm, the officer and another guard "jumped on me beat me real bad." Claims "my head is busted open" and that Beahm "tore my anus with his hand/fingers." Writes to Swan: "Peg, I just want to die, I can't take this any longer." Beahm, in incident records, said Thompson tried to pull away from his escort hold; he admitted that he and another officer delivered knee strikes. Thompson was convicted at a disciplinary hearing of being resistive and disruptive and sentenced to 300 days in segregation as punishment. DEWAYNE KNIGHT #476366 Has convictions for armed robbery from 2007 and 2011. Incident date: 12/29/12 Alleges in federal lawsuit that officer Beahm "threw plaintiff Knight down a flight of stairs ... while he was in restraints, cuffed behind his back," and along with others "punched, pinched and twisted plaintiff Knight's arms and legs, and punched him in his ribs and groin." The state's response denied the allegations, and the case was dismissed. Knight, in another lawsuit, still pending, alleges staff showed "deliberate indifference" to an asthma attack and bent his wrist backward; the state denies this. RICHARD SMITHERAN #562408 Has two convictions for burglary in 2010 and 2011. Incident date: 5/15/13 Fellow inmate Stephen J. King alleges in a letter to Swan that Smitheran was beaten by guards after he threw his meal tray through his cell door. King, in a letter to a reporter, elaborates, saying that officer Beahm "took his head and ran it straight to the wall. All we heard was a big hollow bang and when they brung him out he had blood all over his face." Prison officials, in their incident reports, say Smitheran threw an "unknown substance" at staff and became resistive; he was sentenced to 240 days in segregation as discipline. WILLIAM COUNTS #211570 Convictions include two counts of armed robbery and two felony prisoner throw/expel bodily substances. Incident dates: 5/30/12 and 1/10/13 Counts alleges in a filing over a 2012 incident that guards "punched me with closed fists, kneed me, kicked me, choked me, and strangled me" while he was handcuffed to a shower door. Also alleges in pending federal lawsuit that in 2013 officers jumped on his back, causing his cuffs to cut into his arm, leaving him "howling and screaming in pain." The DOC says Counts was "attempting to harm staff" in the first instance and "purposefully obstructed DOC personnel from restraining him" in the second. Counts received 210 and 180 days in segregation as discipline, respectively, for his role in these incidents. HOW THE WCIJ INVESTIGATED PRISON-ABUSE ALLEGATIONS The Wisconsin Center for Investigation, in its five-month investigation into allegations of abuse of inmates by guards at Waupun Correctional Institution, obtained letters and internal complaints sent to public officials, a state prisoner rights advocate and a private attorney. It also received letters from prisoners and interviewed former inmates. Additional material came from filings in federal lawsuits and state court proceedings. In response to an open records request, the state Department of Corrections provided records of disciplinary investigations for eight employees; it withheld records showing what discipline, if any, was imposed, saying this would "have a chilling effect on management's ability and willingness to candidly discuss" disciplinary actions. The DOC also released several hundred pages of incident reports and other records for 23 individual cases of alleged abuse. Subsequent responses were provided for seven more cases. DOC Secretary Ed Wall, through staff, "respectfully" declined an interview request, but provided a statement. Waupun Warden William Pollard responded to questions via email. The DOC denied the Center's requests to interview inmates and take photographs in the segregation unit at Waupun, or videotape an inmate at another facility. It redacted from the released records references to inmate injuries and the physical or mental health treatment they received. It categorically denied access to formal complaints filed by inmates against guards, although some released records do convey the inmates' perspective. And it denied access to video recordings to various incidents, saying this would compromise security. DOC spokeswoman Joy Staab answered questions by email and provided photographs, including those of empty cells at the segregation unit at Waupun. She declined the Center's offer to have the stories read to her as an accuracy check prior to publication.  Source: http://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/investigations/2014/07/20/waupun-prison-guards-accused-abuse/12868631/
California State Prison-Solano inmates bands make music for rehabilitation (photo gallery) Posted on Monday, July 21, 2014 by Bill By Krissi Khokhobashvili, CDCR Public Information Officer Photos by Eric Owens, CDCR staff photographer Rising above the loud buzzing of the sally port locking and unlocking, the soulful strains of “Just My Imagination” float through the halls of the prison. Upon entering, the bluesy rhythm of the Temptations song fills the room, and the small group of people assembled to listen can’t help but nod their heads in time and sing along. The pitch is perfect, the timing is just right and, for a moment, it’s easy to imagine the venue as a sold-out concert hall instead of the brightly painted visiting room of California State Prison-Solano (SOL). Meet the musicians of Music Innovators, a self-help group formed by inmates who have two things in common: a love for playing music and a desire to rehabilitate themselves. “Part of rehabilitation is learning how to function like you would on the outside,” said Tonya Parker-Mashburn, Community Resources Manager for SOL. Music Innovators is more than a bunch of musicians getting together for a jam session. Its 75 members are tightly organized, with practices scheduled throughout the week, equipment tuned and maintained and musicians held accountable for attending practice and helping the group function. Level II Associate Warden Kim Young said Music Innovators is a great example of the self-help programs she supports at SOL. Not only does the program give inmates the opportunity to express themselves and display their talents, it also provides an array of life skills that will be invaluable when they return to their communities. “That’s what drives me: To give people the opportunity to change their lives,” Young said. The program members have formed more than a dozen bands ranging in genres as diverse as the musicians themselves; blues, rock, country, even heavy metal are played. Some of the inmates play different instruments in several bands. Inmate Khaliyfah Taylor, who grew up playing music, never thought he’d find himself in a metal band, but here he is, singing and playing drums, keyboard and guitar as needed. The several groups he belongs to include Di-Ma-Ryp, which is “pyramid” spelled backward, a nod to his Egyptian upbringing. During a recent rehearsal, Taylor belted out the lyrics to his original song “Madiba,” a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela. “It’s kind of like therapy for me,” said inmate Louis Watson, bass player for the band Magic Carpet. “It keeps your mind free, directed, focused. The music program is one of the primary things that I need.” Watson is no stranger to the stage; a bass player since age 5, he once performed with Little Richard and with soul/R&B stars Tony! Toni! Toné! He credits the music program with his rehabilitation in terms of his mind and his body. Choices made in the past resulted in gunshot wounds to his hand – he didn’t think he’d ever play again. The Music Innovators came calling in 1998, and he slowly began his recovery. “I’ve reformed my life, and I want to give back, and continue to give back,” Watson said. He pointed out that rehearsing and performing together gives inmates the skills needed to work well with others under stressful situations. Inmate Troy Johnson, another bass player and background vocalist for Soul Theory, also stopped playing for a time, but picked his instrument back up thanks to the program. “It’s cathartic,” he said. “No matter what type of problems you’re going through, everything just falls away.” The program’s therapeutic value, coupled with the lessons in patience, responsibility and accountability, resulted in a major life change for Frederick Varner, who was granted parole and returned home in June. During his parole hearing, he said, he spoke at length about how the program changed his life for the better. “The Music Innovators have been very instrumental as a morale developer and maintainer,” he shared. “It’s really fulfilling.” The inmate coordinator for the program is Antonio Morris, who coordinates practices and performances for institution events such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day visiting and the twice-monthly Friday Night Lights events that feature motivational speakers and the band. Those “gigs” teach the musicians the importance of following through on commitments. “If you don’t take a personal interest in yourself,” he said, “you can’t expect anyone else to.” The instruments are donated by community members and local musicians, and the musicians take great pride in repairing and maintaining their equipment. In addition to performances and lengthy rehearsals – eight hours every Saturday – several inmate musicians volunteer to give music lessons to other inmates. Drummer Jesus Gonzalez speaks with a thick Cuban accent, but the language of music is universal, as proved by his successful and well-attended percussion classes. “I love to do it, because of how it feels to be able to help other people,” he said. “God gave me the gift, and it makes me happy to share it.” Lamont Williams, the voice behind “Just My Imagination” at the beginning of rehearsal, said at first that he sings simply “to give people something they like to hear.” But upon further reflection, he commented that there’s something much deeper that comes with being part of the program. “There’s a good feeling in it – we love doing it,” he said. “You have to connect with your soul when you play music.”  Source: http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2014/07/california-state-prison-solano-inmates-bands-make-music-for-rehabilitation-photo-gallery/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=california-state-prison-solano-inmates-bands-make-music-for-rehabilitation-photo-gallery
Emails show cover-up of Miami-Dade prison inmate’s scalding death started early By Julie K. Brown and Monica Disare The Miami Herald   Emails in connection with the death of a mentally ill inmate at Dade Correctional Institution two years ago show that the prison’s staff told conflicting stories about what happened. Mentally-ill prisoner Darren Rainey, 50, was allegedly left in a shower so hot that his skin separated from his body. Emails show the cover-up of his death began immediately after his body was found in the scalding puddle of water at Dade Correctional Institution in 2012. Florida Department of Corrections Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, continues to pressure the Department of Corrections and law enforcement to answer questions about suspicious inmate deaths, like Darren Rainey’s, around the state. Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times file Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, continues to pressure the Department of Corrections and law enforcement to answer questions about suspicious inmate deaths, like Darren Rainey’s, around the state. Steve Cannon / AP file On Friday, Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews, pictured, fired warden Jerry Cummings and announced that the two corrections officers involved in Darren Rainey’s death had resigned. Lynne Sladky / AP file Randall Jordan-Aparo, 27, was critically ill, suffering from a documented blood disorder, when corrections officers threw him into solitary confinement in 2010 at Franklin Correctional Institution and repeatedly gassed him as he begged for medical attention. His entire body and large portions of his cell were yellow from the gas when he was found dead with a bible beside him. Photos Related Content Dade Correctional Institution warden fired after inmate death in shower reported Amid probe, another DCI inmate death is under scrutiny Miami-Dade warden tied to shower death of inmate is suspended Florida prison boss ‘outraged,’ vows firings over shower death 3 more Florida inmate deaths prompt 3 more investigations Prisoner: I cleaned up skin of inmate scalded in shower; human-rights groups call for federal intervention Behind bars, a brutal and unexplained death Read the emails obtained by the Miami Herald By Julie K. Brown and Monica Disare jbrown@MiamiHerald.com The cover-up of the death of mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey began immediately after Rainey’s body was found in a puddle of scalding water at the Dade Correctional Institution two years ago, emails show. That night, and into the next morning, the prison’s administrators, corrections officers and medical staff told widely conflicting stories about what led to Rainey’s death. At one point, they even claimed that Rainey himself had turned up the water temperature, essentially scalding himself to death, according to emails obtained by the Miami Herald. The chaos following Rainey’s death — played out in written messages to top state corrections officials during the week after his death — were made public Monday as state lawmakers Dwight Bullard and Cynthia Stafford continued to pressure the Department of Corrections and law enforcement to answer questions about suspicious inmate deaths, like Rainey’s, around the state. Also on Monday, Gov. Rick Scott gave his first comment on the issue, saying that the Miami-Dade Police Department’s investigation into Rainey’s death had “taken a long time.” The governor, however, sidestepped questions about why the two guards accused of killing Rainey were allowed to continue to work at the prison after Rainey’s death. Rainey, 50, was serving a two-year sentence for drug possession. He suffered from severe mental illness and was housed in DCI’s psych unit. Prison officials admit that he was forced into the shower the night of June 23, 2012, and left in the small stall for almost two hours. While guards who placed him there claimed he was checked “periodically,” other inmates have said the guards turned up the temperature as far as they could, and corrections officers allegedly taunted Rainey and walked away as he screamed in pain. He finally collapsed and died, his skin so scalded that chunks of his flesh had fallen off his body. Afterward, one inmate claimed he was ordered to clean up the site. Other inmates, as well as sources inside the prison, have told the Herald that the particular shower that Rainey was in was specially rigged so that the guards could use it as a form of punishment. In Rainey’s case, two guards allegedly forced him into it because he had defecated in his cell. The investigation into Rainey’s death, however, languished for almost two years until the Herald began asking questions about it in May. Prior to that time, neither Miami-Dade police nor DOC investigators interviewed witnesses who claimed they had evidence that Rainey was killed by the guards. On Monday, Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Nancy Perez said the police probe was “nearing its final stages.” On Thursday, DOC Secretary Michael Crews fired the warden, Jerry Cummings, and announced that the two corrections officers involved in Rainey’s death had resigned. Cornelius Thompson left earlier this year to take a job with the federal prison system; and Roland Clarke resigned July 3. In response to a public-records request, the DOC on Monday released Cummings’ emails from the days and weeks after the death. They show that Cummings was called to the scene the night Rainey died, and that top DOC brass, including Tim Cannon, now the department’s deputy secretary, had been briefed. The emails, some of them redacted, provide little detail, however, about what actually happened. It is not clear why there are no emails from Cummings to any of his command staff asking questions, nor are there any emails from Cummings to his bosses concerning Rainey. But it is clear that Cummings was worried about how his staff members worded their reports and emails. At one point, he appears to take staffers to task for jumping to conclusions. “This is not necessarily true; we do not know what the cause of death is for me/M [sic] Rainey. I think we should wait until an autopsy report is completed before such information is published,” he wrote the following Monday to staffers. Dena Tate, the prison’s senior health administrator replied: “I agree! Staff will be informed to watch the verbiage when reporting incidents without final reports and/or investigations.” To date, Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Bruce Hyma has not released the autopsy report or told Rainey’s family how he died. He has said he is waiting for police to finish their probe. However, the emails are more telling for what they don’t say than for what they do say, according to former DOC Secretary James McDonough. “The email thread shows great concern with the verbiage used in speaking about the death and matters related to it,” he said. “The emails show little concern with the substance of the investigation.’’ He found it particularly incredible that the prison staff said Rainey turned the hot water on himself. “The report, seemingly unchallenged, that the inmate scalded himself to death begs incredulity and serves as a prime example of the tilt of the so-called investigation,” he said. On Monday, Bullard also expressed outrage over the 2010 death of Randall Jordan-Aparo, who was gassed by guards at the Franklin Correctional Institution. His death was covered up until 2013, when three state corrections investigators learned that prison officials had lied in their reports. Three officers at the prison were suspended and remain on leave pending the outcome of a federal probe. Jordan-Aparo, 27, was already critically ill, suffering from a documented blood disorder, when corrections officers threw him into solitary confinement and repeatedly gassed him as he begged for medical attention. His entire body and large portions of his cell were yellow from the gas when he was found dead with a Bible beside him. “I have made it clear that there is zero tolerance for corruption or abuse at the Department of Corrections, and we will root out any and all bad actors who do not live up to our expectations,” Crews said Monday. Four of Crews’ investigators — including the three who uncovered the truth about Jordan-Aparo’s death — filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the department two weeks ago. They claim that their boss, DOC Inspector General Jeffery Beasley, retaliated against them when they tried to prosecute those responsible for Jordan-Aparo’s death. The state lawmakers, at a press conference, said DOC needs to examine the way it treats both mentally ill inmates and prisoners of color. “The idea that the federal government has had to bring to light things that should have been caught years ago by this administration is problematic,” Bullard said. Miami Herald staff writer Amy Sherman contributed to this report. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/21/4247793/emails-show-coverup-of-miami-dade.html#storylink=cpy 
Indiana prison employee complained after workers had sex on her desk - and she was then told to wash it every day Connie J. Orton-Bell allegedly told to wash her desk every day after she complained that workers were having sex on it Orton-Bell made allegations as part of appeal after she was fired for having an affair with official at Pendleton Correctional Facility, in Indiana Appeals court agreed with Orton-Bell that state discriminated against her by treating her differently to man she had affair with  By Daily Mail Reporter Published: 11:22 EST, 24 July 2014 | Updated: 01:19 EST, 25 July 2014 6shares 2 View comments A female prison employee was told to simply wash off her desk every day after she complained that workers were having sex on it, according to court documents. Counselor Connie J. Orton-Bell made the allegations as part of an appeal after she was fired for having an affair with an official at the maximum-security Pendleton Correctional Facility, in Indiana. A federal appeals court has now ruled that Indiana's prison agency mistreated Orton-Bell when it fired her for dismissing her complaints and later firing her. Counselor Connie J. Orton-Bell made the allegations as part of an appeal after she was fired for having an affair with an official at maximum-security Pendleton Correctional Facility, in Indiana In a mixed ruling, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday said it was wrong for a district judge in Indianapolis to dismiss Orton-Bell's claims that she was subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment. The appeal court sent the case back to federal court in Indianapolis, which had initially ruled against Orton-Bell, Associated Press has reported. The appeals court's three-judge panel agreed with Orton-Bell's claims that the work environment was made hostile by the 'unending barrage of sexually charged comments.' The panel however did not agree that she had been the victim of retaliation.     More... Court rules father used 'reasonable force' when spanking son, 8, at a party after the boy cursed at an adult Widow of chain smoker wins $23.6BILLION in damages from tobacco company she sued over his death In court documents Orton-Bell had claimed the prison's atmosphere was saturated with sex.  She said that in 2010 she discovered employees on the night shift had been having sex on her desk. In response to her complaints however, Orton-Bell claims she was told by the internal affairs investigator to wash her desk every day. She was fired in April 2010 after officials learned she was having an affair with Major Joe Ditmer, a 25-year Department of Correction veteran who was in charge of custody at the prison. Both appealed the decision, with Ditmer subsequently allowed to keep his benefits and pension. Orton-Bell's appeal however was denied. According to court records, during the affair Ditmer and Orton-Bell would have sex at her home during their lunch breaks, while he also also told an internal affairs investigator they had sex in his office,The Indianapolis Star has reported.  The appeals court has now said the state had discriminated against her by treating her and Ditmer differently.  It said the Department of Correction 'fails to provide any reason it did not offer Orton-Bell the same settlement terms it gave Ditmer.' Department of Correction spokesman Douglas S. Garrison told The Indianapolis Star the ruling would be reviewed by the state. He said: 'It should be noted that state government and its personnel policies prohibit sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace conduct.' Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2704518/Indiana-prison-employee-complained-workers-sex-desk-told-wash-day-complaining.html
­ Do Heat-Sensitive Inmates Have A Right To Air Conditioning? : NPR Do Heat-Sensitive Inmates Have A Right To Air Conditioning? by Alisa Roth July 24, 2014 1:33 PM ET Listen to the Story All Things Considered 4 min 28 sec Playlist Download Transcript   i i hide captionInmate dormitories at Louisiana State Penitentiary, like this one photographed in July 2011, have heating in the winter and cooling by fans and open windows in the summer, but no air conditioning. A judge ruled earlier this year that that constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but installation is on hold pending a state appeal. Scott Threlkeld/The Times-Picayune/Landov Inmate dormitories at Louisiana State Penitentiary, like this one photographed in July 2011, have heating in the winter and cooling by fans and open windows in the summer, but no air conditioning. A judge ruled earlier this year that that constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but installation is on hold pending a state appeal. Scott Threlkeld/The Times-Picayune/Landov The exact cause of prisoner Jerome Murdough's death at Rikers Island in February is still under investigation. But the temperature in the cell when he was found in New York City's biggest jail was at least 100 degrees. The death of Murdough, who had severe mental illness, called renewed attention to a long-standing problem: maintaining reasonable temperatures in jails and prisons. The high temperatures at some U.S. facilities can form a dangerous — even deadly — combination with the aging inmate population. Medications can make the mentally ill more susceptible to heat, and some prison guards say it's not safe for them, either. Dr. Susi Vassallo grew up in Texas, so she's not afraid of heat. But the physician and New York University medical school professor still remembers her reaction when she stood in a non-air-conditioned prison cell one summer. "When you closed the ... doors, they had just little dots in them, which provided any ventilation from the outside," she says. "Even after five minutes ... it was absolutely stifling — it was inconceivable to live there 23 hours a day, day after day." Vassallo, an expert on heat-related illnesses, is often called to testify in lawsuits about temperatures in jails and prisons. She says that for most people, those conditions are uncomfortable, but that those with some health conditions — including high blood pressure and diabetes, or those taking certain medications — can be much more sensitive. For those prisoners, exposure to heat can lead to long-term health consequences or death. And the number of inmates prone to this sensitivity has been growing; the elderly prison population has been increasing for years, and people with mental illness make up a disproportionate percentage of inmates in the U.S. Prisoners' rights lawyers and others have been arguing for decades about what constitutes a reasonable temperature. One lawyer, Mercedes Montagnes, filed a lawsuit last year demanding that the heat index — a calculation of heat and humidity — on Louisiana's death row not go above 88 degrees. A judge agreed and ordered air conditioning installed, but that's on hold as the state appeals the decision. Montagnes knows that plenty of people outside prison don't have air conditioning. But prisoners have a right to reasonable temperatures and can't escape the heat the way the unincarcerated can, she says. hide captionAlma Murdough and her daughter Cheryl Warner hold a photo of Murdough's son Jerome. Jerome Murdough died in February in a Rikers Island jail cell. New York City officials say the cell was at least 100 degrees when his body was discovered. Jason DeCrow/AP "Those individuals have the ability to go to a freezer, to get cold water, to go to a mall, to go to a movie theater ... to take action in order to mitigate the effect of the heat on them," she says. The argument for air conditioning prisons has found allies in some unlikely places. Last year, a group of prison guards from Texas joined a lawsuit against the state's Department of Corrections. Lance Lowry, a former prison guard in Texas who now works with the guards union, says the corrections officers have many of the same heat-sensitive health conditions as prisoners — obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, even mental illness. "Officers frequently suffer from heat cramps and a lot of heat illnesses," Lowry says. He says prisoners are harder to manage in the heat, too — there are more fights and more psychiatric emergencies. Texas is among several states facing lawsuits over temperatures in its correctional facilities — of the more than 150,000 prison beds in the state, only about 550 are climate-controlled. Because of that litigation, state officials wouldn't talk on the record, but the state corrections department said in a statement that it is trying to mitigate the high temperatures. Those efforts include purchasing more than $50,000 in industrial-grade cooling fans to test at seven facilities. Former Texas warden Keith Price, now a professor of criminology and sociology at West Texas A&M University, said that it's important to accommodate heat-sensitive prisoners, but that inmates also need to acknowledge that prison is not a five-star hotel. "You know, they don't get to go get a cheeseburger whenever they want to, either," Price said. "So, I mean, you know there's a certain amount of things that you give up when you become incarcerated."  Source: http://www.npr.org/2014/07/24/334049647/do-heat-sensitive-inmates-have-a-right-to-air-conditioning
Union: Stockton prison staff told to fake health checks Employees were told to check on inmates every 12-15 minutes NEXT STORY Fox 40 anchor accused in theft of Coach wallets Text Size: ASmall Text AMedium Text ALarge Text View Large Photos SACRAMENTO, Calif. —California prison employees were pressured into falsifying suicide-watch records at the state's troubled new Stockton medical facility, endangering inmates and violating standards imposed in response to federal court orders, according to the union representing psychiatric technicians. The union told The Associated Press that employees were instructed by supervisors to routinely sign log sheets certifying they had followed rules stipulating they check on inmates in the mental health crisis unit every 12 to 15 minutes when they had not done so because they were too busy with other work. Two workers were disciplined when video surveillance showed that they lied. One worker won her job back earlier this month when the video recording backed up her story that she was busy performing other required tasks when she was supposed to be checking to ensure inmates were OK, said Steve Bassoff, attorney for the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians. The second employee is awaiting a hearing in September before the State Personal Board. "It illustrates the problem that we're talking about," Bassoff said of the video. "They had other duties they were performing, so they essentially couldn't be two places at once." The union says inadequate staffing is prompting shortcuts that circumvent requirements meant to protect inmates. Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed receiver who oversees prison medical care in California, said she can't discuss personnel issues, "but obviously any falsification isn't appropriate and won't be tolerated." Officials from her office and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation plan to meet Monday to discuss policies at the crisis unit, Hayhoe said. The $1 billion Stockton facility opened a year ago and has nearly 3,000 beds. It mainly treats sick and mentally ill inmates. Medical admissions were halted in January amid what federal receiver J. Clark Kelso described as serious, systemic problems with care. Admissions were resumed last week. The mental health crisis unit serves inmates deemed most at risk of harming themselves or others. One of the psychiatric techs who works there is responsible for passing out medications, while a second is responsible for checking on the welfare of inmates, among other duties. Union representative Ann Lyles said she has been complaining about staffing since May. She was not aware that any inmates harmed or killed themselves during the time that they were not being observed as often as required. Corrections department spokeswoman Dana Simas could not immediately say if any inmates harmed themselves during that period, but otherwise did not comment and referred questions to the receiver's office. A consultant hired by Kelso recently recommended the prison add an additional psychiatric technician on each shift at the crisis unit. Attorneys from the nonprofit Berkeley-based Prison Law Office toured the Stockton facility in July, but they were not informed of the issue with the logs, director Don Specter said. Filing false documents for a government agency is a crime that merits further investigation, he said. "These welfare checks were put in there because of the extremely high suicide rate we have in California," Specter said. "It's a serious issue. It could mean the difference between life and death."  Source: http://www.kcra.com/news/union-california-prison-staff-told-to-fake-checks/27249016#!buiESW
Prison Company Pays $8 Million in Back Wages LOS ANGELES — Aug 20, 2014, 12:14 AM ET By GILLIAN FLACCUS Associated Press The nation's largest private prison company, Corrections Corp. of America, has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees guarding federal inmates at a prison in California City, officials with the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday. The payments came after an investigation found that the federal prison subcontractor underpaid 362 employees at the California City Correctional Center under the terms of its contract, where pay rates are established by law, according to federal officials. The company disputed the findings and said it had not violated any laws but was paying its employees under the terms of a pre-existing contract. "This is about the U.S. Department of Labor wanting to retroactively apply a wage standard that wasn't part of the original contractual agreement," company spokesman Jonathan Burns said in a statement. Officials with the Labor Department, however, said that over a period of years employees were paid 30 to 40 percent less than they were supposed to be paid, said Eduardo Huerta, assistant director of the department's wage and hour division. Many employees recouped more than $30,000 in back pay, benefits, overtime and holiday pay, officials said, and had worked at the lesser pay rate for up to five years. The facility houses federal inmates being detained by the U.S. Marshal and federal immigration authorities, as well as state inmates. The back wages applied only to CCA employees working with federal inmates. Corrections Corp. of America will seek a retroactive cost increase for the contract to absorb the additional wages and benefits, Burns said. "We greatly value our employees and the important work that they do to keep our communities safe and secure," he said. The company also wasn't making the required contributions to health and life insurance and retirement accounts, Huerta said. The investigation found record-keeping violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, include inaccurate recording of breaks, lunches and overall hours worked. "If somebody was supposed to be making $30 an hour, they were making $20 an hour instead," said Huerta. "The people that get these federal monies from a federal agency to get one of these contracts have to abide by the wage rates." Corrections Corp. of America — the fifth-largest prison system in the nation — has come under scrutiny before. In Kentucky, it paid $260,000 last week to settle claims that it denied overtime to shift supervisors and forced them to work extra hours. In Kansas, CCA and a group of collections officers, case managers and clerks settled in 2009 in federal court over allegations of unpaid overtime. CCA agreed to pay a maximum of $7 million but did not acknowledge fault in the case. Idaho, which had contracted with the company for its Boise prison, began the process of returning operations of the facility to state control. The facility was sued and plagued by accusations of violence, gang activity and understaffing after the private prison contractor took it over. Corrections Corp. of America operates detention centers for federal, state and local governments in 20 states in the U.S. and houses nearly 80,000 inmates at 60 facilities. California City is about 110 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/prison-company-pays-million-back-wages-25043189
Amid reports of deadly abuses by staff, Florida prisons boss announces changes By Michael Vasquez The Miami Herald   Buy Photo Corrections Dept. Reforms In Wake Of Scalding Death Of Dade Inmate Previous Up Next Share on email By Michael Vasquez mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com Following months of damaging news stories, Florida’s prison chief on Wednesday announced a series of system-wide reforms designed to improve transparency and provide better training in the handling of mentally ill inmates. Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews called the changes “a huge first step” — the reforms include special training for corrections officers and having outside investigators handle prison deaths. Crews also vowed to create a more-professional atmosphere within Florida’s 100,000-inmate prison system, even as he insisted that the vast majority of prison employees perform their jobs honorably. “Ninety-nine percent of them...they do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do,” Crews said. Crews’ Wednesday morning news conference left some questions unanswered. There is still no conclusion to a Miami-Dade police investigation into the case of 50-year-old Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate who died more than two years ago at Dade Correctional Institution. Crews told reporters that Miami-Dade police plan to meet with prosecutors and the medical examiner’s office later this week regarding the Rainey case, but it is unclear whether that means police are close to wrapping up their investigation. According to other inmates at the Dade Correctional, located south of Homestead, Rainey had angered guards by defecating in his cell and refusing to clean it up. As punishment, guards allegedly locked him in a brutally hot shower and left him there until he collapsed and died. Crews said Wednesday that both guards involved in the 2012 incident are no longer in the prison system, but that’s because they resigned — neither was fired. Crews said the two men weren’t fired because the investigation into the incident wasn’t finished, and there was the possibility that some employees were being wrongfully accused. “We had the allegations, but we try to make our decisions based on fact,” Crews said. Asked about the multiple prison inmates who made written complaints about the circumstances of Rainey’s death — and were ignored — Crews denied that his department has been indifferent to an inmate’s suffering. “It’s not cultural,” Crews said. “It’s easy to think that, when you have eight, 10, whatever the number is of criminal investigations going on in an agency right now, but I can tell you it is a handful and they are the minority in our department going foward.” As part of the package of reforms being implemented, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will now investigate all prison deaths that are not from natural causes. Crews said there are 82 of those cases currently being looked at, but he could not provide more details as why these prisoners are dying. He did say that, starting five weeks ago, there is a new procedure where the warden of a prison will call him directly to discuss any prison deaths, and that more information will be available as the department discusses those deaths with FDLE. The goal, he said, is “to make sure that a death is never routine.” According to Crews, the department will also: • Expand its crisis intervention training for corrections officers “so they don’t unintentionally escalate an incident or hurt an individual with our use-of-force techniques.” • Develop specialized reentry centers for inmates who suffer from mental illness. One will be at Everglades Correctional in Miami-Dade, which was the site of Wednesday’s news conference. • Create a “transparency database” for disseminating information on inmates who die in the custody of the department. Steven Wetstein, a member of the Stop Prison Abuse Now advocacy group, attended Crews’ news conference and said he was glad to see that the department is promising action. But Wetstein’s group still wants United States Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Rainey’s death. Wetstein added that tough talk from Crews doesn’t guarantee that things will actually change. “We’ve seen abuses, and unnecessary deaths, and we just have to see what actually occurs, rather than simply what’s said,” Wetstein said. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/20/4299167/florida-prisons-boss-under-fire.html#storylink=cpy 
KRQE News  For jail boss, ‘red flags’ in inmate labor program By Jeff Proctor and Katie Kim Published: August 26, 2014, 10:00 pm | Updated: August 27, 2014, 9:18 pm  ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Bernalillo County house arrest inmates assigned to clean up weeds and trash as part of their community service spent nearly as much time on private property as on public rights of way during a four-day stretch last summer, according to newly released GPS data obtained by KRQE News 13. News 13 first reported on allegations involving De La Cruz, Metzgar and the clean team last month. At that time, Metzgar said the team never went onto private property because it was against the rules, and De La Cruz was emphatic in saying “no one ever stepped foot onto my property.” GOING IN-DEPTH •GPS data obtained by KRQE News 13dispute statements that Bernalillo Couny Commissioner Art De La Cruz told us last month that inmates never stepped onto his property •Inmates assigned to community service are only allowed to clean public rights of way, not private properties. •County jail boss promises tighter controls after seeing GPS data. The data, provided to News 13 after a public records request, show that neither of those statements was true. Each inmate assigned to CCP, including those working on the clean team, wears an ankle monitor equipped with a GPS tracking device. The devices send a “ping” back to CCP staff each time an inmate spends at least 30 consecutive seconds in the same location. That’s a clear violation of county policy, and the county has brought in a private investigations firm to look into who is responsible and how deep the problems go. The data offer a direct contradiction to claims made last month by County Commissioner Art De La Cruz and his friend, Ernie Metzgar, who supervises the Community Custody Program’s “clean team.” Maps provided to News 13 show at least one inmate was on a piece of property owned by De La Cruz for at least 30 seconds one day last July. That piece of property is right next door to the commissioner’s private residence in the South Valley. De La Cruz and Metzgar both said last month that the commissioner’s office had asked Metzgar to bring the clean team to De La Cruz’s and his friends’ neighborhoods to clean up in advance of a city garden tour they had been chosen for. But they emphatically denied that inmates ever went onto anyone’s property. Instead, they said, the clean team was only working along public rights of way. Deputy County Manager for Public Safety Tom Swisstack said his review of the data “really raised a flag,” given that they showed with certainty inmates on private property. Swisstack said he has two primary concerns: public safety and whether officials abused their power. He is awaiting the results of an investigation by Robert Caswell Investigations before making any determinations. But in the meantime, Swisstack said he is considering disallowing the practice of commissioners contacting Metzgar directly to request the clean team’s services. A News 13 review of county records shows that the clean team spend more than 70 percent of its work time in Da La Cruz’s district, one of five in the county, during the past year. Swisstack also said he may prohibit the clean team from working in residential areas at all. Swisstack said he expects the results from Robert Caswell’s investigation in the coming weeks. He promised to make them public. Source: http://krqe.com/2014/08/26/for-jail-boss-red-flags-in-inmate-labor-program/
Wall Street bets on prison growth from border crisis By Matt Egan  @mattmegan5 August 29, 2014: 3:42 PM ET Replay Next up: Replay Cost of unaccompanied immigrant children Your video will play in 00:17 224 TOTAL SHARES 185 39 NEW YORK (CNNMoney) There's a crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, and Wall Street is betting that it will result in a boom for private prisons. Geo Group (GEO)and Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) are two of America's largest for-profit prison operators. They have thousands of open beds, and they have deep relationships with the federal agencies charged with doling out contracts to house undocumented immigrants, including children. "It's highly likely that the federal government will have to turn to the private sector for help with this crisis. Both companies are extremely well positioned," said Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst at CRT Capital Group who covers the stocks of Geo Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Investors are clearly seeing dollar signs. Shares of both CCA and Geo Group have spiked since the border crisis landed on front pages this summer. CCA has climbed 8.5% since July 30, and Geo Group is up over 7%. That's a lot better than the S&P 500's 1.5% advance over that time span. Related: Crisis on the border The Obama administration has already shifted over $405 million in funds to address the crisis and is urging Congress to pass a $3.7 billion emergency supplemental bill. "Investors see this as an opportunity. This is a potentially untapped market that will have very strong demand," said Alex Friedmann, an activist investor who owns shares of both CCA and Geo Group. Positioned to profit: Some of the prisons CCA and Geo Group own are not filled and others are completely idle. That means they are in the unique position to offer their services to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (known as ICE). Ruttenbur said CCA and Geo Group have both been talking to the federal government about how they can help. "We are always in conversations with our government partners including ICE, but we don't have anything new to report," a CCA spokesman told CNNMoney. Geo Group did not respond to a request for comment. The best outcome for these companies would be landing a contract with the government to help house some of the undocumented immigrants at existing facilities that are currently idle. That's exactly what happened last month when the U.S. border control inked a contract with Geo Group to give its adult detention center in Karnes County, Texas a makeover. Now the facility is able to house hundreds of immigrant women and children. Related: How far can President Obama go on immigration without Congress? Bullish long-term trends: Of course, there's no guarantee CCA and Geo Group will end up benefiting from the border crisis. It's notoriously difficult to call the timing on any government contract. "I've been doing this 20 years and I've never gotten that right," said Ruttenbur. Still, analysts remain very bullish on the for-profit prison industry. Both companies reported better-than-expected earnings and raised their outlook for the rest of the year -- a double high-five that investors love to see. Wall Street also applauded when CCA and Geo Group, which went public during the 1980s and 1990s, recently converted to real estate investment trusts, or REITs. That status, which is also used by hospitals and office building operators, gives them enormous tax advantages. Related: Hot stocks: 10 companies trading at all-time highs For-profit prisons are not without controversy. Some of these facilities have been criticized for poor conditions, including the CCA-run T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Texas. A 2007 lawsuit that alleged immigrant families at the center were kept under virtual 24-hour lockdown and denied adequate services. The U.S. government stopped housing families there in 2009. But investors are attracted to prison stocks because they give generate lots of cash flow, have strong dividend yields and high occupancy rates compared to other real estate options. "The long-term trends are very much in place right now because the federal, state and local governments aren't willing to put up the capital to build new facilities. The only group building new facilities is the private sector," said Ruttenbur.  Source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/29/investing/border-crisis-prison-stocks/
Former prison guard says he was harassed and hazed Don Carrigan 9:57 p.m. EDT August 30, 2014 jail hazing(Photo: NEWS CENTER) 15 CONNECT 6 TWEETLINKEDIN 2 COMMENTEMAILMORE AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A former corrections officer at the Maine State Prison says he was harassed and hazed by several senior guards, including supervisors, apparently just because he was a new recruit. Cory Peaslee says the incidents happened in May, after he had been working at the prison less than two months. Peaslee, who is 20 years old, says he took the correctional officer (CO) job because he thought the experience would help fulfill his longtime goal of becoming a police officer. He went through the state's three month CO training program, graduated in mid-March, and then immediately went to work at the prison. Peaslee says there were no problems until one Sunday in May, when a sergeant began to harass him. Peaslee says it began with hiding his lunchbox, then locking him outside the security fence area within the prison, then making him carry what turned out to be joke notes around the complex to other sergeants. Peaslee says he was even told to read a message over the two-way radio that belittled him. The final incident that day, he says, came when three other guards, with a sergeant present, jumped him, wrestled him to the floor and tried to handcuff him. Peaslee says he resisted until a sergeant held a can of pepper spray in his face and threatened to spray him if he did not allow himself to be cuffed. Peaslee says he did not file a complaint about the behavior. He says he was upset, "but I wasn't going to say anything to anyone, 'cause that makes you look weak. 'cause a lot of them are from the military and maybe they expect me to handle it and let it slide off my shoulders." However, several other guards did report the harassment to the warden, and Peaslee says he was called to a meeting with top prison administration several days later. He says the warden told him the harassment was wrong and should not have happened. Peaslee says he later suffered an anxiety attack, and a doctor told him he should not return to work inside the prison. Peaslee says he didn't want to go back, because he no longer felt safe working there. The state transferred him to a job at the Department of Transportation. Peaslee says he has no desire to sue the state, and that he hopes the prison leadership makes some changes as a result of his experience. "What I wanted," says Peaslee, "was for them to look at everything that happened that day and realize this is wrong. We shouldn't be doing this to new employees. We should be wanting to help them teach them the ropes, show what they should do and shouldn't start their career at the prison by harassing them to this extent." The Department of Corrections only said "no comment" when asked about the situation. However, Peaslee says he has been told unofficially that there will be a hearing on the incident next month, and he may be asked to testify.  Source: http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/local/2014/08/29/prison-guard-harassed-and-hazed/14820693/
California proposes isolation units for mentally ill prison inmates Mule Creek State Prison U.S. District Court Group therapy cages for inmates at Mule Creek State Prison. Group therapy cages for inmates at Mule Creek State Prison. (U.S. District Court) By Paige St. John contact the reporter Mental HealthTrials and Arbitration California proposes special isolation units for mentally ill prison inmates To comply with federal court orders to improve the care of mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement, California proposes to create special isolation units that handle only those prisoners. In the new units, mentally ill inmates would get extra time outside their isolation cells and have added access to treatment programs. Under policies previously submitted to the court, they also would be placed in isolation only if their treating clinician agreed. Document The state's proposal for solitary housing unitsOpen link The state's solitary confinement cells -- called Security Housing Units -- are used for prisoners who commit new crimes while behind bars, break rules or are involved with gangs. Currently, only those with the most severe forms of mental illness are segregated in special psychiatric units. lRelated Nation Now Colorado bans solitary confinement for seriously mentally ill See all related 8 California's treatment of mentally ill prisoners has been controversial, and a federal judge in April ruled that the state violated those inmates' rights by subjecting them to excessive punishment, including pepper spray and solitary confinement. Lawyers for inmates note that 11 of the 14 suicides in California prisons during the first seven months of this year occurred in isolation units, and 10 of those who died were mentally ill. In Friday's filing to U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton, the state proposes to create special segregation units for those with general forms of mental illness. Male prisoners in those units will be allowed out of their cells up to 20 hours a week, 15 for women. Both are substantial increases over what is currently allowed. cComments @Dwilkins@pd.sbcounty.gov As a Public Defender, you know full and well that many, if not most criminal defense attorneys are extremely adept at "manufacturing" defenses. That is a common and well known practice. Sorry, we all know there are "some" in prison who are... tommythek501 at 6:37 PM August 29, 2014 Add a comment See all comments 7 Karlton immediately issued an order accepting the new housing units, and commended the state and lawyers for inmates "for the substantial effort" behind those policy changes. The state said it would also begin a case-by-case review of inmates currently serving lengthy isolation terms to see who might safely be returned to the general population. In a previous filing, the state proposed that those who are moved from solitary confinement to psychiatric units be screened before they can later be returned to isolation. Corrections officials declined to elaborate on the new housing plan. "We are letting the filing speak for itself," said agency spokeswoman Dana Simas. In the filing, state lawyers say California guidelines exceed Karlton's order to provide "treatment while in segregation." Michael Bien, one of the lead lawyers for inmates in the class-action lawsuit that led to Karlton's ruling, described the new policy as "a substantial improvement," with the benefit of having been designed by the state rather than the court. "It is what they can do now, and make work," Bien said. The mental health and physical effects of California's use of long-term solitary confinement is the subject of a separate class-action lawsuit. Twitter: @paigestjohn  Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ff-california-prison-system-creates-isolation-cells-for-the-mentally-ill-20140829-story.html  [HEAL Note:  Isolation causes mental illness.]
Former inmate at Sierra County Detention Center recounts sexual assaults Updated: 08/29/2014 10:37 PM | Created: 08/29/2014 10:19 PM By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4 TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES -- A day after reporting about at least three officers at the Sierra County Detention Center in Truth or Consequences are said to have bribed or threatened female inmates into having sexual relations with them, KOB spoke with a former inmate at the detention center about the horrors she says she endured. The woman, who didn't want to be identified, is out on bond after serving time for vehicular homicide charges. She said she was afraid to come forward, but hopes that no other inmates at the jail ever have to endure what she did. Documents detailing the investigation by Truth or Consequences police, along with allegations made by the former inmate, say that some of the sexual relations were consensual, but a "majority" of them weren’t. Some of the female inmates reported to police they had relationships with guards in and out of the jail. But the former inmate whom KOB spoke to said her experience was definitely not consensual. "They took a lot of nude pictures of me, and [I was] possibly raped by every male; there was even a female officer who was bisexual," the former inmate said. "This went on for over five days. I was drugged and couldn't walk…I would have to crawl to the toilet." She said she never came forward about what happened until seeing Thursday's report on guards Virgil Eaton, Joshua Corley and Miguel Herrera, men she says she know from her two-month stay at the Sierra County Detention Center. "I was bruised from head to toe; [there were] finger marks on my legs like they were forcing my legs open," the former inmate recounted. "I knew what was going on; I knew what happened to me but I was scared." She now plans to contact investigators, and says she hopes it will prevent this from ever happening again. The Sierra County Manager, Bruce Swingle, says the center has already made changes to protect the inmates. Swingle says one of the changes in place is to have only female guards interact with the female inmates. "These are very serious allegations that have been made, and the county wants to ensure everybody that we're taking the appropriate steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again," Swingle said. He also said the detention center is addressing the "blind spots" in the jail's surveillance system, but the former inmate said it's too late to fix what has happened. "It's brought so much damage to my life because what they took from me…I can't get it back," she said. "Just the hurt and how they hurt me…they took advantage of a helpless person… [they] drugged me, and I don't want this happening to anybody again." Since the allegations came to light, the county has appointed a lieutenant in the Sheriff's Department take control of the detention center. Former guard Virgil Eaton is already in custody, and a local newspaper reports that Herrera has since been arrested as well. There is still a warrant out for a third former guard, Joshua Corley.  Source: http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3546760.shtml?cat=500#.VA0T--l0y1s
Inmate program back at work Prisoners keep Summit County beautiful David Burger, The Park Record Posted:   09/02/2014 04:55:30 PM MDT0 Comments If Summit County's roads and byways look cleaner this summer than last summer, there is a good reason for that. The four blue-shirted, blue pants-wearing prison inmates of the Inmate Community Work Program have often been working up to 11 hours a day on weekdays cleaning trash from roads, among hundreds of other projects in the Summit County Sheriff's Office program. Due to budget cuts, the calendar year of 2013 was the first year since the program began under Sheriff Dave Edmunds' first years in office that the program was shuttered. But it returned this year, and officials in the Sheriff's Department want it to be expanded in the future as a way to benefit the community as well as inmates. "It helps out because it reduces recidivism," said Captain Justin Martinez, who along with Lieutenant Kati Booth oversees the program. "It rehabilitates inmates, and helps the community out." There is one deputy per four-inmate team, with Deputy Bryan Johnson, a retired Salt Lake City police officer, in charge of the work details. "This saves Summit County a tremendous amount of money," Johnson said. "It's a tremendous resource for teaching people who have been in trouble how to work, and it teaches them responsibility." With only four spots budgeted for, there is a lot of competition to snag one of those spots, even with 11-hour days the norm, and not the exception. "They are grateful and don't want to do anything to mess that up," Martinez said. Advertisement All the inmates involved are state prison inmates, and on average have about six months left in their sentences, Johnson said. There is an application process, as well as lengthy screening process that often puts the applicants in kitchen jobs before being allowed to be on a work detail. "We vet them very thoroughly," Martinez said. "There is no one that will prey on society We make sure they aren't problem children." If the inmates are lucky enough to be placed on the work detail and get some fresh air, Johnson makes sure they are busy. The shackles and handcuffs get taken off and they mow lawns, cut weeds, help out at Habitat for Humanity, wash Search and Rescue vehicles, plant trees, shovel elderly people's driveways and sidewalks, paint anything that isn't alive, and after they have done all of those and hundreds of other things, they pick up trash all around the County. The work detail only does work for non-profits and governmental entities, Johnson said, and murderers and other serious offenders aren't allowed. They each get paid $6 per day of work. Besides saving the county money by putting them to work, the opportunity to teach the inmates skills that they can put to use in the outside world is unbeatable, Johnson said.  Source:  http://www.parkrecord.com/summit_county-news/ci_26454042/inmate-program-back-at-work  [HEAL Note: Exploitation?  Slavery?  Debt Peonage?]
Jersey City woman who ran prisoner re-entry group accused of welfare fraud Annette Joyner speaking at an awards ceremony in Jersey City in 2010 - David Jolkovski / The Jersey Journal (Jersey Journal file photo) Print By Terrence T. McDonald | The Jersey Journal The Jersey Journal Email the author | Follow on Twitter on September 05, 2014 at 5:25 PM, updated September 05, 2014 at 7:55 PM Reddit Email A woman who ran a Jersey City nonprofit devoted to getting jobs and housing for ex-prisoners may soon need a similar program for herself. Annette Joyner, 50, of Jersey City, is facing charges that she accepted and kept for herself nearly $60,000 in welfare funds meant to pay for rent for former inmates. At the time county officials claim she took the money, between 2010 and 2013, she was running nonprofit Friends of the Lifers. Hudson County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Gene Rubino said this is all the information he can release at this time. Reached by phone, Joyner told The Jersey Journal that she hasn't "been found guilty of anything" and accused her brother-in-law of releasing information about the charges to make her look bad. Joyner identifies herself as the executive director/CEO of the Friends of Lifers on her LinkedIn.com profile page, but she said the organization is no longer active.  Her attorney, Pamela Hayes, said Joyner has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Hayes also said Joyner did not take any money. Joyner denied she was indicted, but court documents indicate that a grand jury indicted her in Hudson County Superior Court on May 6 on a charge of theft by deception (welfare fraud). If convicted, Joyner would face a maximum of five years behind bars. Friends of the Lifers was created in 1992 and formerly run by the late Harvey George, a former prison inmate himself. Editor's note: This report has been updated to reflect new information.  Source: http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2014/09/head_of_jersey_city_prisoner_re-entry_group_accused_of_welfare_fraud.html
Report Points to Fly Ash Pollution in Prisoner Health Complaints Some prisoners blame their cancers and respiratory illnesses on pollution from a nearby fly ash dump. Photo: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections September 5, 2014 Some inmates and workers at a Pennsylvania state prison are blaming their cancers and respiratory illnesses on pollution from industrial toxic waste. A nearby dump is filled with fly ash, leftover from coal-fired power plants And the prison itself is built on a site where coal was processed. A new report by two social justice groups highlights complaints from the State Correctional Institution Fayette in LaBelle, Pa. The report by the Abolitionist Law Center and Human Rights Coalition, catalogues dozens of health complaints—sometimes in graphic detail. Of the inmates who responded to the groups’ survey, 81 percent say they suffer from respiratory and sinus conditions. Those range  from chronic coughing to tumors in their noses, mouths, and throats.  "People are going there healthy and getting symptoms after they arrive," says Ben Fiorillo, an author of the report.   Other prisoners have thyroid issues, gastrointestinal disorders and cancer. Lee Ulery was a guard at the prison until last year. He was only 44 when he started feeling pain in his right side a couple of years ago. Ulery was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and says he knows other guards at the prison with the same type of cancer. "That’s the only thing we have in common, the water we drink and the air we breathe," Ulery says. "And I think one of those two is the reason we have so many sick people."Ulery says when he started working at the prison in 2004, he didn’t know that fly ash containing hazardous metals like mercury, lead and arsenic were being dumped nearby. Or that the prison itself was on a brownfield. Environmental groups and residents of LaBelle have complained for years about black grit blowing off the dump site—a phenomenon many prisoners have witnessed. The authors of the recent report say their sample size is too small to draw definitive conclusions. But they’re calling for further studies. They say if a correlation is found between the illnesses and the fly ash, conditions at the prison might be unconstitutional and it should be closed. Spokeswoman Susan McNaughton says the state’s Corrections Department is reviewing the report. - See more at: http://www.alleghenyfront.org/story/report-points-fly-ash-pollution-prisoner-health-complaints#sthash.4sqH9tKH.dpuf   Source: http://www.alleghenyfront.org/story/report-points-fly-ash-pollution-prisoner-health-complaints
Why is crime down but prison ranks growing? By Jordan Schrader Staff writerSeptember 5, 2014  2014-09-05T17:56:58Z By Jordan Schrader FacebookTwitterGoogle PlusRedditE-mailPrint  Crime is down, way down, yet Washington prisons are busting at the seams, and prisoners are sleeping on floors. To understand why, don’t look at murderers and sex offenders, new research indicates. Take a look at lower-level criminals, especially the ones who commit break-ins and other property crime. Washington releases property offenders with no state supervision — even those deemed at high risk to return to crime. “Other states take a more balanced approach to make sure folks aren’t just sanctioned but also held accountable upon release,” said Marshall Clement, director of state initiatives for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Clement’s team is taking a microscope to Washington’s criminal justice system as part of a U.S. Department of Justice initiative. It found that one driver of a growing prison population is repeat offenders committing lower-level crimes. Sentencing guidelines often require that they receive long sentences — two to three times as long as states like North Carolina and Kansas, Clement said — with no alternative of probation for a court to consider. Yet long sentences don’t seem to have an effect on whether these repeat offenders return to crime yet again upon their release. “You’re holding people a lot longer, but you’re seeing them reoffend at similar rates when they come out,” Clement said. Researchers presented those findings Thursday to a state task force trying to come up with alternatives to opening a new prison. With 17,485 inmates at the end of last year, the prison system is at 102 percent of capacity and headed upward. The Department of Corrections is looking for more room. Washington actually has fewer inmates in prison as a share of its population than all but nine other states, according to a 2012 comparison by researchers. And the state’s prison population has been growing more slowly than the state’s population as a whole. But the state closed prisons such as the one on McNeil Island as it managed recession-era budget cuts. Expanding to house the 1,400 extra inmates that prisons are projected to contain in a decade would cost an estimated $387 million to $481 million. That would start hitting at a time when Corrections is coming up with scenarios for Gov. Jay Inslee on how its budget could be cut to satisfy the need for more school spending — including early release, a shift of responsibility to local jails, or further cuts to already vastly scaled-back supervision requirements. All this raises the incentive for policymakers to grapple with a head-scratcher: With the number of adult arrests falling a dramatic 22 percent over a decade, why hasn’t the adult prison population fallen with it? Researchers say they have some of the answers, but the question is whether the Legislature will take measures that could be perceived as being weak on crime. The researchers haven’t made formal recommendations. Some victims of crime are angry when they see offenders receive just supervision, said Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, one task force member. But another, Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, said that kind of sentencing approach can appeal to people — even those with a conservative, law-and-order bent — when it’s presented to them as an evidence-based way to reduce recidivism. “I say, ‘I could give a rip about the offenders. What I give a rip about is them not offending you again,’ ” Hargrove said. However, Hargrove said, the state shouldn’t add supervision just for supervision’s sake. Supervision with treatment is the key, he said. The current sentencing system has its defenders, who note there are far fewer drug offenders entering prisons now than a decade ago. “We worked pretty hard for sentencing policies that in the aggregate are very rational and have built our prison population into one of people that earned (their) way there, not because they have necessarily substance abuse problems, things like that,” said Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge, another task force member. Hauge said the best way to deal with someone who has been a burglar since he was a teenager is probably to put him behind bars to remove the threat he poses for a while. But for those whose histories are not so extreme, Hauge said he supports supervising them — giving them sentences that may not be harsh in locking them up, but are “harsh in demanding responsibility.” Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826 jordan.schrader@thenewstribune.com @Jordan_Schrader Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/09/05/3363282_why-is-crime-down-but-prison-ranks.html?sp=/99/289/&rh=1#storylink=cpy   Source: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/09/05/3363282_why-is-crime-down-but-prison-ranks.html?sp=/99/289/&rh=1 
Inmate’s special work duties raises questions  by Renee Murphy WHAS11.com Posted on September 16, 2014 at 8:09 PM Related: Judge at center of Clark Co. Drug Court Program loses primary in S. Ind. add to reading list Clark Co. Commissioner concerned about court employee misconductadd to reading list Clark Co. Drug Court employee fired after investigationadd to reading list Clark County Drug Court employees under investigationadd to reading list CLARK COUNTY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- There is a new controversy in the Clark County, Ind. courthouse; it’s centered around an inmate and a judge. The Sheriff’s department is defending the actions after an inmate was used to move a judge’s furniture at his private property. The matter is now under review. Should inmate Michael Oliver have been used to move furniture from Judge Jerry Jacobi's private rental property? “They've been used to move things in the past that specifically I can't say but I've been told yes they have done that in the past,” acting Sheriff Brian Meyer with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department said. Meyer said the inmate wasn't released to do this but is a trustee. That means he has special work duties that take him outside the jail sometimes. Meyer said the county's community service director asked to use Oliver and Meyer says he didn't know what for. The furniture was moved to Jerry’s Place in Jeffersonville. It’s a halfway house and recovery center. Meyer said this was all part of doing good for the community. “I thought it was a good thing and I would do it again might being what's happened I'd probably use my own employees to do it,” Meyer said. Larry Wilder is speaking on behalf of Judge Jacobi. He says the judge didn't know an inmate was going to be used. “He did not direct anyone to do anything. How that was handled was between the parties involved,” Wilder said. The probation and parole director at the courthouse oversees the community service director. Henry Ford told me using the inmate for this is "unusual" and said he wants to "talk to Judge Weber" who presides over his office to see if this was appropriate. “The inmate in question, I think it was the next day by court order out of the judge’s court, was transferred next door to community corrections,” Meyer said. Meyer said that transfer was not because Oliver moved the furniture. Source: http://www.whas11.com/news/local/Inmates-actions-in-question-after-completing-task-during-special-work-duties-275348491.html
Ugly allegations of abuse, inmate hazing at Bartlett State Jail Holy God! I hardly know what to make of this! From the San Antonio Express-News ("Lawsuit: Texas prison okays odd sex assault," Sept. 26): A lawsuit filed against the Corrections Corporation of America in Austin alleges the private prison company violated a former prisoner's constitutional rights by allowing a hazing tradition called "ass on the glass" that led to a sexual assault. The suit, filed in federal district court, claims a Bartlett State Jail guard knowingly allowed the man, referred to as John Doe in the court documents, and more than 50 other prisoners to be subjected to the hazing tradition that involves forcibly stripping an individual, turning him upside down and slamming his buttocks against the glass of a guard's station. During a two-hour incident last October in which all 55 prisoners in the cell block were subjected to the hazing, a prisoner allegedly "inserted his finger into Mr. Doe's anus, and another grabbed his testicles, sexually assaulting him in violation of the Texas Penal Code," according to the documents. The defendant claims that the one officer on duty, responsible for four cell blocks with 55 prisoners in each, "watched dozens of men get slammed up against the glass wall" and "did nothing." ...  The Bartlett State Jail, a men's prison, is located in Williamson County and has 140 security employees and a capacity of 1,049 inmates, according to the TCDJ. The Texas Civil Rights Project is handling the case. TCRP attorney Scott Medlock, formerly an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, told the Express-News that "the man was sentenced to 180 days in state jail for possession of less than a gram of a controlled substance. He said the defendant 'made a mistake, was punished for the mistake, but did not deserve to be sexually assaulted.'" Of course, for now these are only allegations, but they're certainly disturbing ones. If they're true, it makes you wonder about a) the effectiveness of TDCJ contract monitoring with private prisons and b) whether Corrections Corporation of America's recently announced commitment to preventing recidivism and reentry programs could possibly jibe with the organization's historic institutional culture. In the meantime, add the Bartlett State Jail to the list of facilities the Legislature might consider shuttering if they decide to close more prisons. If its institutional culture was tolerating this, it's hard to imagine staff there will suddenly shift toward a rehabilitation mindset. Better to just end the contract and cut bait.  Source: http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2014/09/ugly-allegations-of-abuse-inmate-hazing.html
Private Prison Operator Sued by Texas Inmate for Allowing Sexual Abuse by Eli Magaña  |  September 16, 2014 Last week, a civil rights lawsuit was filed in a Texas federal court by a former prisoner against Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation’s largest private, for-profit prison operators, and two of its employees for allegedly allowing the defendant to be sexually assaulted by other inmates at a facility in Bartlett, Texas. The incident occurred during a sexual hazing ritual in which inmates are routinely forcibly stripped of their clothing by other prisoners and slammed against a protective glass window, exposing the victims’ naked bodies to prison staff on the other side. According to court documents, CCA and the facility’s warden were aware of the hazing practice, but did nothing to stop it. After the defendant reported the incident, CCA subsequently put him in solitary confinement, which according to the lawsuit, is a common practice by CCA officials in responding to rape survivors’ outcries. “It’s well known now that these private facilities lack the oversight capacity, training programs and staffing to protect inmates and correctional employees,” stated Lance Lowry, president of AFSCME Local 3807. “With the ever-growing list of scandals and lawsuits, states are now starting to rethink the whole idea of contracting out prison operations to private enterprises.”   Source: http://www.afscme.org/blog/private-prison-operator-sued-by-texas-inmate-for-allowing-sexual-abuse
Constitution Week: Cruel and Unusual Punishment Alleged In Inmate’s Suicide Posted on September 18, 2014 by admin 9/18/2014 8:01:00 AM Jennifer Hersey Cleveland Staff Writer The Eighth Amendment to the United State Constitution protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. What constitutes “cruel and unusual,” though, is often a matter of opinion. St. Johnsbury attorney David Sleigh said the amendment means that citizens cannot be subjected to conditions that are subhuman or that don’t recognize basic human needs. And since those who are incarcerated are remanded into the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Corrections, they are entitled to reasonable medical and mental health services. “They are not free, by virtue of their detention, to get their own medical services,” Sleigh said. “Thus, the custodian stands in their shoes as the entity responsible for securing reasonable medical and mental health services for inmates.” Courts have universally held that part of that obligation is to protect against foreseeable suicide risks, Sleigh said. As one might guess, the rate of suicides is much higher in the incarcerated population. Inmates tend to become depressed and suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues at a much higher rather than those who are not jailed, Sleigh said. In the case of Robert Mossey, an inmate who hanged himself while incarcerated at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport City in August 2013, prison authorities ought to have taken measures to prevent his death, Sleigh believes. Sleigh and attorneys A.J. Ruben and Doug Brines, of Disability Rights Vermont, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Mossey, administered by his mother Eleanor Jimmo, alleging cruel and unusual punishment as well as wrongful death. Defendants in the case are the state, the DOC, corporate medical contractor Correct Care Solutions (CCS), and DOC and CCS employees. While it is impossible to read someone’s mind, Sleigh said, there are certain factors relied upon as indicators that someone might be considering suicide. He said Mossey had attempted suicide in the past, was known to be suffering from depression, and had significant recent stresses in his life. Sleigh said those are all red flags. “I think most courts would recognize that the Department of Corrections and Correct Care Solutions should have seen he presented a foreseeable suicide risk,” Sleigh said. But they took virtually no effort to prevent Mossey’s death, Sleigh said. Department of Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito said at the time that Mossey was not on a suicide watch, which would involve corrections staff checking on him at least every 15 minutes. He also said, during investigations into the suicide, that there didn’t appear to be any employee misconduct. A Defender General report asked the Department of Corrections to consider the adequacy of staffing levels at the prison and to investigate the care provided to Mossey by the contracted provider, Correct Care Solutions, “pursuant to the requirements of Vermont Statutes.” According to a report written by state police Det. Sgt. Darren Annis, 38-year-old Robert Mossey appeared depressed and quiet to others prior to his Aug. 30 suicide, but did nothing to cause fellow inmates or staff members to believe he was suicidal. The lawsuit also raises questions about Mossey’s prescriptions, the administration of his medications, and the response of correctional officers on the day of his suicide. Mossey, 38, a father of three minor children, was a resident of Winooski when he hanged himself Aug. 30, 2013. He had an extensive criminal and drug abuse history. The eighth amendment states in full: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” A judge and/or jury will ultimately decide if Robert Mossey was subjected to the latter.  Source: http://www.sleighlaw.com/constitution-week-cruel-and-unusual-punishment-alleged-in-inmates-suicide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=constitution-week-cruel-and-unusual-punishment-alleged-in-inmates-suicide
Two Salinas Valley prison guards arrested for manslaughter Arrests follow fatal bar fight By Julia Reynolds jreynolds@montereyherald.com @jreynoldsmh on Twitter Posted:   09/19/2014 02:53:56 PM PDT3 Comments Updated:   09/19/2014 07:03:17 PM PDT Click photo to enlarge Travis Woolf « 1 » SOLEDAD >> Two Salinas Valley State Prison correctional officers have been arrested on manslaughter charges in connection with the death of a San Miguel man. Sergio Aranda, 35, of Salinas and Travis Woolf, 36, of San Miguel were arrested Thursday evening without incident. On Friday, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office announced the arrests after earlier saying there were "no outstanding suspects" in the death of Alvaro Jaramillo Medrano, 54, of San Miguel, a quiet mission town just south of the Monterey County line. Medrano died during a fight with the officers on Sept. 7 outside the Elkhorn Bar in San Miguel. Detectives said Woolf was arrested at the prison in Soledad without incident. While attempting to arrest Aranda, the Sheriff's Office learned an attorney was already posting bail for his arrest warrant. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's spokesman Tony Cipolla said Aranda was not booked into jail because the bond had been posted. He said the fight did not involve firearms, but did not give further information about the cause of death. He said the final determination will depend on toxicology tests that follow Jaramillo Medrano's autopsy, which was conducted on Sept. 10. Both suspects are charged with voluntary manslaughter. "This was a lengthy investigation," Cipolla said. "It was mainly because of conflicting statements and the number of people involved in the fight." Advertisement He declined to say when Aranda and Woolf were identified as suspects. "We talked with everyone involved," he said. Deputies arrived on scene about 11:45 p.m. the night of Jaramillo Medrano's death after receiving a report of a fight in progress between two groups in front of the bar. The officers found Jaramillo Medrano unconscious and applied CPR. Jaramillo Medrano was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Lt. Darren Chamberlain said both officers were placed on paid administrative time off, pending the outcome of the investigation and court proceedings. According to the Paso Robles Daily News, the bar had been the scene of violence before, noting that a man was reportedly shot in the leg in front of the bar in March 2011. Julia Reynolds can be reached at 726-4365.  Source: http://www.montereyherald.com/localnews/ci_26568558/two-salinas-valley-prison-guards-arrested-manslaughter
--> Autopsy: Mentally ill NC inmate died of thirst Posted September 25 By MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina inmate with mental illness who had been held in solitary confinement died of thirst, according to an autopsy report released Thursday. Michael Anthony Kerr, 54, was found unresponsive in the back of the van March 12 after being driven roughly three hours from Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville to a mental hospital at Central Prison in Raleigh. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety subsequently fired a captain and four nurses at Alexander. A nurse and a staff psychologist resigned. At the time, Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry pledged an "an aggressive, yet thorough internal investigation" into Kerr's death. However, nearly nine months later the agency has not made public any results of that probe. In the North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office report, pathologist Dr. Susan E. Venuti says a senior prison official allowed a "witnessed review" of an internal report into Kerr's death, though the medical examiner's office was not permitted to keep a copy. Venuti wrote that the report left unanswered key details about the circumstances leading to Kerr's death, including when the inmate last had access to food and water. Because of the lack of information, the pathologist wrote that she was unable to make a determination about whether Kerr's death should be classified as natural, accidental or homicide. "Mr. Kerr's psychiatric history was significant for schizoaffective disorder for which he was not receiving any treatment at the time of his death," Venuti wrote. "It was not possible to make any firm conclusions regarding the inmate's nutrition and fluid intake, and whether or not his mental health and/or external factors played a role in the dehydration." Venuti noted abrasions on Kerr's forearms were "consistent with restraint devices." Records show that before being driven to the hospital, Kerr was being held in "disciplinary segregation," the term North Carolina's prison system uses to describe being confined to a solitary cell. Inmates commonly refer to it as being in "The Hole." The agency did not respond to a request filed Thursday for information about why Kerr was being punished or how long he had been held in isolation prior to his death. In a statement, the agency said the investigation into Kerr's death is ongoing and that the autopsy's findings are being reviewed. "From the start, we have been committed to finding out exactly what happened in this case and in taking appropriate administrative and operational actions," said David Guice, the state commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, according to the statement. A request to interview Venuti was not approved by the state Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the medical examiner's office. In an interview earlier this year, Kerr's sister, Brenda Liles, told The Associated Press she had repeatedly called prison officials in the days before her brother's death trying to get him help after hearing from another inmate that he was in danger. She said her brother had been struggling with mental issues since two of his sons were shot to death in separate incidents in recent years. Records show Kerr, whose criminal record includes several convictions for larceny, was sentenced in 2011 to serve 31 years as a habitual felon after being charged with illegally possessing and discharging a firearm. North Carolina's prison system has long faced criticism for its treatment of inmates with chronic mental illnesses. In 1997, a federal audit of Central Prison prompted by the death of an inmate found he died from dehydration after being held in solitary confinement for four days. Water to the inmate's cell had been cut off after he'd stopped up and repeatedly flushed his toilet to cause flooding. In 2006, Alexander Correctional came under scrutiny after a report that prison staff there routinely used a nylon strap similar to a dog leash to tether inmates whom administrators considered dangerous. Two years after that, Alexander inmate Timothy E. Helms was left paralyzed after he said he was clubbed by correctional officers after setting a fire in his locked cell. Medical records indicated Helm's skull had been smashed. A subsequent state investigation failed to determine precisely how Helms received his injuries, and prison officials denied any wrongdoing. Helms, who had been previously diagnosed with multiple psychiatric disorders, later died. Some states have moved to curb the long-term isolation of inmates, which can greatly exacerbate such psychiatric symptoms as paranoia, anxiety and depression. The longstanding policy in North Carolina's prison system says no inmate should be housed in isolation for more than 60 days in a stretch. However, Helms' prison records showed he was kept in isolation 571 consecutive days before the fire.  Source: http://www.wral.com/autopsy-mentally-ill-nc-inmate-died-of-thirst/14016190/
Sep 24, 2014 7:16 PM by katc Lawsuit Filed against Lafayette Sheriff, deputies in inmate beating The Acadiana Advocate reporting today that a lawsuit was filed Monday against Lafayette Sheriff Michael Neustrom and four former deputies accused of beating an inmate in April of this year. The plaintiff says on the night of April 7, 2014, he was incarcerated at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, when he placed his foot into the drain hole of the toilet and flushed it. The plaintiff's Attorney L. Clayton Burgess says a deputy told the inmate to stop, and he complied, but moments later Deputy Brandon Gallien and Deputy Michael McSheffrey entered the cell, telling the inmate to lay down on the floor. Burgess goes on to say Gallien and McSheffrey raised the inmate's arms behind his back, and one of them began striking him. Burgess says, several other Sheriff's deputies eventually entered the cell, rolling the inmate over, pepper spraying him, then striking him once again. The inmate was placed in a restraint chair where Burgess says he sat for an hour before he was transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment. Doctors determined the inmate had four fractured ribs and a punctured lung. The inmate remained hospitalized for three days before returning to the LPCC. Burgess says, "Based on information and belief, the staff involved in the incident took steps to disguise, deceive and cover-up their actions and/or involvement including falsifying information contained in their reports and/or deliberately misstating the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident." Burgess also believes, Deputy Scarla Celestine, and Deputy Adrian Theriot both had some sort of involvement in either the attack and/or cover-up following the attack. Among several other things, Burgress says his plaintiff is seeking, the payment of his medical bills, as well as any other expenses, and punitive damages against Sheriff Michael W. Neustrom, Sheriff Deputy Brandon Gallien, Sheriff Deputy Michael G. McSheffrey, Sheriff Deputy Scarla N. Celestine, and Sheriff Deputy Adrian Theriot. For more on the story, click here.  Source: http://www.katc.com/news/lawsuit-filed-against-lafayette-sheriff-deputies-in-inmate-beating/
SPLC court filing details barbaric conditions at private prison in Mississippi 6.6K160 by Jamie Kizzire A prisoner at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF) told the counselor that his heart was hurting and that he didn’t have a reason to live. He was also having hallucinations. As the counselor met with the prisoner in December 2013, he noticed that the man was attempting to cut himself with a small, dull object. There was also a long rope around the prisoner’s neck. The counselor reached a conclusion: This prisoner is not in distress. The counselor then simply walked away. The prisoner would not see a mental health professional for nine more days. An expert reviewing the case for the Southern Poverty Law Center would later describe the incident as “beyond any deliberate indifference I have seen in my entire career; it is the definition of intentional patient abandonment.” The prisoner eventually resorted to a tactic that others at this privately operated, for-profit prison use to get help: He set fire to his cell. Two days later, he was found dead in his cell – the apparent result of a heart condition the staff at the Meridian, Mississippi, prison rarely took seriously. And it appears that attitude at this prison – home to many prisoners with mental health needs – never changed, if an entry in his medical chart is any indication. The entry showed that his vital signs were stable. He had been dead for 10 hours at that point. “I cannot state with certainty that the blatant and callous lack of care that this 43 year old man received during his last months at EMCF caused his death,” Dr. Marc F. Stern, a board-certified internist specializing in correctional care, wrote in a report for the SPLC. “However, I can state that it deprived him of any chance he had for continued survival.” The SPLC in 2013 sued the state over conditions at the prison and yesterday filed a motion to certify the suit as a class action. If certified by the court, the lawsuit would benefit all prisoners at the facility, including the majority who have serious mental health needs. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Law Office of Elizabeth Alexander, and Covington & Burling LLP are serving as co-counsel. The original lawsuit describes a nightmarish, violent prison where lights and toilets often don’t work, prisoners rarely see sunlight and go without showers for weeks, and floors and walls are covered in feces, blood and urine.   Blood on the floor of a cell at EMCF   The prison is operated by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation, which describes itself as the country’s third-largest operator of private adult correctional facilities. Health care is provided by Health Assurance LLC, based in Jackson, Mississippi. “The hellish conditions that have been allowed to fester inside this for-profit prison should shock anyone with any sense of decency,” said Jody Owens, managing attorney for the SPLC’s Mississippi office. “It’s sickening that private companies earn profits through the misery and suffering of mentally ill prisoners who can’t get their most fundamental human needs met. The people of Mississippi should be outraged.” The motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division, includes hundreds of pages of expert reports that give a glimpse into a dangerous and filthy prison that left experts aghast. “Taken as a whole, the conditions in solitary confinement at EMCF are the worst I have witnessed in my 40 years as a forensic psychiatrist investigating jail and prison conditions,” Dr. Terry A. Kupers wrote in a report examining the prison’s mental health care system. “These conditions can accurately be described as torture according to international human rights agreements and standards. They press the outer bounds of what most humans can psychologically tolerate.” Eldon Vail, former secretary of the Washington State Department of Corrections, also found the conditions in segregation to be deplorable. “They are the worst I have ever seen in 35 years as a corrections professional,” he wrote in his report. “It is my opinion that all inmates confined to the segregation units at EMCF, and most especially those with serious mental illness, are subjected to an ongoing substantial risk of serious harm from the dangerous, filthy, and degrading conditions there.” Where there’s smoke The dysfunction at this prison literally hangs in the air as the smell of smoke wafts out of segregation units where prisoners have set fires. Thick cell doors are scarred with scorch marks.   Scorch marks seared on the doors in Unit 5   When Vail visited the facility earlier this year, he found a “smoldering pile of debris in the middle of the day room floor.” Another expert found makeshift wicks in the cells, possibly the only tools prisoners have to get prompt attention from officers. Emergency call buttons in the cells are either broken or unreliable. Even when prisoners get the attention of the staff, it’s unlikely they’ll get the help they need. There are numerous stories of prisoners struggling to get medical care. “There was not a single medical chart I opened … that did not immediately reveal multiple serious examples of dangerous to life-threatening defects in health care,” Dr. Stern wrote. “Every aspect and dimension of health care delivery at EMCF is dysfunctional.” This dysfunction is clear even in a small sampling of prisoner experiences. A 28-year-old prisoner lost vision in his right eye when he didn’t receive his glaucoma medication. He was already blind in his left eye. A doctor failed to respond to a prisoner’s repeated requests to discuss an ultrasound showing a testicular mass. The 25-year-old prisoner has metastatic testicular cancer. A 64-year-old prisoner with schizophrenia and tuberculosis infection was found to have diabetes in 2012, but the doctor did not review the prisoner’s lab reports or see the patient. The prisoner’s diabetes was untreated as of April 2014, and his vision has deteriorated. A 55-year-old prisoner wasn’t sent to the hospital for days after correctional officers used force on him. It wasn’t until he started having seizures that he was sent to the hospital and diagnosed with subdural hematoma from head trauma.   Other prisoners may be going without treatment because of the copay they are charged for sick call requests. Often, prisoners pay copays for sick call requests that don’t result in a consultation with a nurse or doctor. “There were numerous incidents in the records I reviewed that documented patients in distress over mental health and psychotropic medication issues but declined to write a sick call request because of the co-pay they would be charged,” Terry Abplanalp, chief psychologist of the Washington State Department of Corrections, wrote in his report. ‘Swiss cheese’ records The reports raise other issues as well. For example, a prison van is often used to transport prisoners to the emergency room, even in instances when an ambulance is needed. During the first 10 months of 2013, the van was used in 125 of 168 trips to the emergency room. That means during those 125 trips, the private contractors did not have to pay for an ambulance. “Based on the cases I reviewed, many of these transportations by van were dangerous and placed the inmates at risk,” Dr. Stern wrote. Prisoner medical records are another concern. One expert compared the medication records to “Swiss cheese” because there are so many holes. Entries documenting rounds by personnel frequently appear to be nothing more than a summary stating the prisoner is fine that has been repeatedly copied and pasted. “I found, almost literally without exception in each of the mental health charts I reviewed for patients with serious mental health needs at EMCF that their charts were grossly incomplete, unreliable, and in many cases with entries that were apparently fabricated,” Abplanalp wrote. Caught on video Since prisoners can only get their most basic needs met by setting fires, breaking rules or cutting themselves, there is “an overwhelming number of unnecessary and dangerous use of force events and abusive practices.” Vail reviewed video of such incidents, including an encounter where a prisoner was speaking to corrections officials through the tray slot of his cell door. As the prisoner complains about being “treated like a dog,” an officer sprays his face with pepper spray. “Such a ‘sneak attack’ completely destroys any trust the inmate might have in speaking with mental health staff and will likely make the prisoner much harder to manage in the future,” Vail wrote. In another video, a prisoner warns officers that another prisoner has asthma. He is sprayed anyway. The wheezing prisoner collapses on the day room floor. The prisoner, whose T-shirt is already spattered with blood, coughs blood onto the floor. “This incident illustrates a complete callous disregard for the health and safety of the inmate who was suffering from the effects of the gas and illustrates the risk of substantial harm for every prisoner in the facility,” Vail wrote. Dirt and darkness Even without these issues, the prison is a dangerous place. A December 2013 video reviewed by Vail demonstrates that cell doors can’t be counted on to work. It shows an officer attempting to place a prisoner in three different cells with broken locks. “This sequence would almost be comical were it not for the serious risk of harm unsecure cell doors present to the prisoners,” Vail wrote. Vail also found the prison to be filthy. Inmates within a segregation unit are apparently instructed to throw their Styrofoam meal trays through their tray slot after eating. The trays land on the day room floor, which may explain why prisoners complain of rats.   Meal trays in the middle of the dayroom floor    “[Prisoners] told me they block the bottom of their cells with clothing or towels so that rats cannot get in,” Vail wrote. “One told me he fed them.” Prisoners also appear to live for weeks or months in dark segregation cells with broken or missing light bulbs. “During my tour of EMCF, a large majority of the cells in the segregation units were dark in the middle of the day, and most of the inhabitants of the cells were lying on their bunks in darkness,” Dr. Kupers wrote. “I have never, in my 40 years touring prisons, seen anything like this.” Broken lights were even found in the shower area, forcing prisoners to bathe in dark and dangerous conditions. Exposed electrical wires were found in the shower area. In one dimly lit area, prisoners were in danger of stepping out of the shower into dried blood. An expert touring the prison also found blood smeared on a cell window and left there for days, potentially exposing prisoners to blood-borne pathogens such as hepatitis and HIV. When an inmate worker was summoned to clean a blood-stained cell, he was not provided with protective gear to guard against such dangers. ‘Awful’ conditions remain But the dangers at the prison shouldn’t be news to Management and Training Corporation. As Vail noted in his report, records from late 2012 show the company president toured the prison and found conditions in long-term segregation concerning. The pages of reports submitted to the federal court show that little has changed. “Conditions in segregation are still awful today,” Vail wrote. “It is tragic that nearly a year and a half later, those units and the showers are still in that condition.”  Source: http://www.splcenter.org/Eastern-Mississippi-Correctional-Facility-Court-Filing
Doctor involved in botched execution 'experimented' on inmate, suit claims Family of Clayton Lockett, who was killed in prolonged execution, names doctor and says he violated rule established at Nuremberg trials The 21st century death chamber: $100,000 for an execution Share 187 inShare3 Email Ed Pilkington in New York theguardian.com, Tuesday 14 October 2014 14.22 EDT Jump to comments (23) The Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, where Clayton Lockett was put to death. Photograph: Anonymous/AP The family of Clayton Lockett, the death row inmate in Oklahoma who suffered a long and apparently traumatic execution in April, is suing a family doctor who they allege actively participated in the botched lethal injection process that killed him. The legal complaint, lodged with the federal court for the western district of Oklahoma on Tuesday, names Dr Johnny Zellmer as a defendant both in his individual and official capacity. The lawsuit accuses him of engaging “in human medical experimentation in torturing Clayton Lockett to death”, and says that his participation in the execution was against international protocols established at the post-second world war Nuremberg trials of Nazi doctors. The naming of Dr Zellmer under court privilege is a rare instance of the identity of a physician who allegedly participated in an execution coming to light. Death penalty states, including Oklahoma, go to great lengths to guard the secrecy of their execution teams. The position of doctors is particularly sensitive as physicians take the Hippocratic Oath to show “utmost respect for human life”. Where doctors have been present in the death chamber, their role has in most cases been tightly limited to assessing whether the prisoner is unconscious and then officially pronouncing death. However, in the case of Clayton Lockett, the state has admitted that a physician was present who actively took part in killing the prisoner. The report of the internal investigation into the Lockett execution reveals that the physician stepped in to finish the job after the paramedic who had initiated the execution failed to place the IV into Lockett’s veins. “The IV access was completed by a physician licensed as a medical doctor,” the report said. The direct participation of the physician in helping guide lethal drugs into Lockett’s body is an apparent violation of the Hippocratic Oath. It is also a breach of the voluntary code laid out by the American Medical Association that states that doctors should not play any role that contributes to the cause of death in a legallyauthorized execution. David Lane, a civil rights lawyer in Denver who is acting for the Lockett family, said he called Zellmer a month ago and gave the physician the chance to deny that he took part in the Lockett killing. According to Lane, Zellmer replied: “Y’all have to talk to the prison about that,” and put the phone down. The Guardian attempted to reach Zellmer but was not immediately successful. Terry Crenshaw, wardens assistant at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, walks past the gurney in the execution chamber at left, in McAlester. Photograph: Anonymous/AP Lockett endured a 43-minute execution involving an experimental concoction of lethal drugs in which he was observed writhing and groaning on the gurney. The investigation report indicated that there had been a shortage of appropriate needles that day, and that the physician and paramedic had failed to place the IV into the prisoner’s vein, leading to the injection of a mass of lethal drugs into his muscle. Lane said that he had learned the identity of the doctor from an “inside source”. Zellmer is listed by the Oklahoma medical board as a fully licensed and active doctor, specializing in family and emergency medicine and practicing out of McAlester, where the state penitentiary that houses the death chamber is located. The investigation report into Lockett’s death notes that the physician had been involved in one other execution about four or five years earlier. He had been contacted just two days before Lockett was scheduled to die as another physician had pulled out due to a scheduling conflict. The doctor was specifically told that his duties would only involve assessing whether Lockett was unconscious and pronouncing death. It remains unclear why the doctor agreed to go further, and actively attempt to place the IV. The report does not identify the physician, but does say that he had a license that expired on 1 July every year. Zellmer’s current license expires on 1 July 2015. Oklahoma has introduced a law that guards the confidentiality of the execution team. Lane said that he was aware of the law, but said he had a first amendment right on a matter of supreme public concern. “I know that it was Dr Zellmer who participated in this execution, and to deny me the right to sue the doctor who killed Clayton Lockett is to deny his family their civil rights,” he said. The lawsuit against Zellmer also names as defendants the governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, the director of the department of corrections Robert Patton and various unidentified members of the execution team. It alleges that Zellmer received payment for his services, adding that his “participation in the failed medical experiment directly caused the tortured death of Clayton Lockett”.  Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/14/oklahoma-clayton-lockett-execution-doctor-experiment-oaths-lawsuit
AG: Lyon County deputy forced female inmate sex acts Emerson Marcus, RGJ 4:20 p.m. PDT October 17, 2014 Jerry Peek, 33, was booked Tuesday in the Washoe County jail with a $750,000 bail. Specifics weren’t released, but charges include indecent exposure, gross lewdness, misconduct of public officer, asking or receiving a bribe from a public officer, coercion, voluntary sex conduct with a prisoner and inhumanity to a prisoner. (Photo: WCSO ) 30 CONNECT 8 TWEETLINKEDIN 2 COMMENTEMAILMORE A now-fired Lyon County deputy faces 21 counts of sexual misconduct and forcing female inmates to perform sex acts, according to a Nevada Attorney General criminal complaint. Jerry Peek, 33, was booked Tuesday in the Washoe County jail on $750,000 bail. According to the complaint filed Monday, Peek allegedly forced female inmates to show their breasts and perform oral sex. Four women were named in the complaint. Allegations were first brought to the sheriff's office June 2013 when Peek was a 14-month employee of the agency, Lyon County Undersheriff Albert Torres said Friday. Peek was put on paid administrative leave pending investigation until he was fired in March, Torres said. The Lyon County Sheriff's Office released a statement on the arrest Friday, saying it withheld information pending internal affairs and Nevada Division of Investigation probes. A warrant was obtained and Peek was arrested in Washoe County on Tuesday. Peek lists Reno as his home on Facebook. "We had not released any information prior to this at the requests of the victims," Torres said. Torres said the Lyon County Sheriff's Office has revamped policy in the jail — from cell checks and regular duties — following the alleged incidents. When asked for specifics on those changes, Torres said he's "not willing to get into those details." He added: "I can't think of too many things much more serious than something like this happening at a sheriff's office." The Lyon County Jail is staffed with about 18 deputies and holds an average daily inmate population between 75 and 80, Torres said. Source: http://www.rgj.com/story/news/crime/2014/10/17/lyon-county-deputy-booked-prisoner-sex-charges/17451637/
Prison guard sexually assaults dozens of inmates, strikes deal to avoid jail time Published time: October 23, 2014 04:02 Edited time: October 23, 2014 04:37 Get short URL Reuters / John Sommers II Tags Corruption, Court, Crime, Education, History, Law, Police, Politics, USA, Violence A former Kentucky corrections officer charged with dozens cases of sexual assault, drug trafficking and misconduct all of which he admitted will serve no jail time. In a plea deal he gets seven years of probation. Former corrections officer, James Johnson, 54 was arrested by State Police following an investigation where they determined he was trafficking drugs to inmates and sexually abusing them at the Kentucky Correctional Institute of Women in Peewee Valley, according to WLKY-TV. Johnson’s attorney, Mary Rives said about her client “He is really eager to put this behind him. We thought it was a good resolution for all parties involved.”  Source: http://rt.com/usa/198360-kentucky-prison-sexual-assault-deal/
Ex-county analyst sentenced to prison in insurance scheme Ex-county analyst sentenced to prison in insurance scheme A former county human resources analyst was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in a scheme to steal $827,445 from a national auto insurance company. (Thinkstock) image By JEFF GERMAN LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL A former Clark County human resources analyst was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison Thursday in a scheme to steal $827,445 from an auto insurance company. Erik Holman, 49, also was ordered to pay back the money to American Family Insurance and serve three years of supervised release after prison. U.S. District Judge James Mahan gave him until Jan. 23 to surrender to federal prison authorities. In March a federal jury found Holman guilty of one conspiracy count and 14 wire fraud counts in the insurance scheme, which occurred between October 2005 and April 2009. He worked for Clark County for roughly 12 years until his felony conviction. Holman was accused of conspiring with his late “life partner,” former Henderson Municipal Judge John Provost, who ran the Wisconsin-based company’s claims litigation office in Las Vegas. Provost, 48, who served on the Henderson bench from 1996 to 2003, committed suicide by overdosing on the prescription painkiller oxycodone in July 2009, three months after the scheme was exposed. He later was named as an unindicted co-conspirator when Holman was charged after an investigation by the FBI’s public corruption squad. Holman maintained his innocence to the end, telling Mahan Thursday that he was betrayed by Provost, who had a massive gambling addiction, and knew nothing about the scheme. “I did not do what I was charged with,” Holman said. “What I am guilty of is trusting my partner of 10 years. I had no reason not to trust him. He handled our finances from day one.” Holman and his lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Raquel Lazo, sought a sentence of probation, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Damm pushed for prison time. Damm said he found it odd that Holman still couldn’t admit that he committed wrongdoing despite evidence presented during the trial that showed he was “fully engaged” in the conspiracy. Holman wasn’t honest about his conduct with his family and friends, many of whom wrote letters of support for him, Damm said. Mahan told Holman he was a “lucky man” to have so many friends, but the judge explained that he couldn’t ignore the jury verdict and was obligated to sentence Holman to prison. Damm described the insurance fraud scheme during the trial as “ingenious” and said Holman was a willing participant out of greed. Provost created phony invoices for private investigative work Holman didn’t do for American Family Insurance. Then, he wrote checks to Holman and deposited them into bank accounts, including one the two men shared, according to the prosecutor. Holman used money stolen from the insurance company as his “personal slush fund” to take cruises and trips overseas, Damm said. Lazo, who plans to appeal Holman’s conviction, contended during the trial that Provost acted alone. She told the jury that Provost made Holman an unwitting pawn in the embezzlement scheme, pouring money into their joint bank account without his knowledge. Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ  Source: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/ex-county-analyst-sentenced-prison-insurance-scheme
Inmates at Washington County Jail go to extremes to show alleged conditions By Kati Weis, Photojournalist Rodney Rocker Published: October 23, 2014, 7:25 pm Updated: October 23, 2014, 10:01 pm  CHATOM, Ala. (WALA) – After FOX10 News received some exclusive videos and photos where inmates complained about the deplorable conditions inside the Washington County Jail, we decided to see for ourselves. Last week, some inmates inside the jail sent reporter Kati Weis photos and videos of the jail through the use of smuggled-in cell phones.Weis also received multiple calls from concerned family members who alleged that the conditions inside the jail were unsafe. So, we traveled to Washington County to take a tour of the jail, and to get some answers.In one video from the inmates, they claim an inmate is having a seizure, and that he was not taken to a hospital until several hours later.One family member of an inmate said of the situation, “I don’t care what you’ve done, you should never be treated in this manner just because you go to jail.”But, there’s one inmate at the jail who actually wanted to come forward to deputies, in a recorded interview with them, he actually said that those video sent to FOX10 News by the inmates were actually staged. “They talking they were sick, falling out, well there were drinking baby oil, baby oil make them throw up, they eat a lot of salt, to make their blood pressure go up,” said the inmate to the deputies. Washington County Sheriff Richard Stringer said inmates fake illness almost 90 percent of the time, just to try to get out of jail. “We’ve had them in the past, stage incidents to the feds, send it to ABI (Alabama Bureau of Investigation), we’ve had them actually come to our jail, just like any other jail, but we’ve never been found negligent of anything,” said Sheriff Stringer. FOX10 asked the sheriff if he felt that if a prisoner truly is sick, he or she will be properly treated. “I’m not going to say we won’t ever make a mistake, doctor’s make mistakes, but, we do the best we can with what we’ve got,” said Sheriff Stringer. Inmates also sent FOX10 some photos of just how dirty they believe the jail to be. “There’s mold everywhere, it’s bad,” said an anonymous family member of an inmate. When FOX10 toured the jail, it was fairly clean. A shower in the women’s cell was grimy, with what appears to be mold, similar to the picture sent to us by the inmates. The sheriff said there’s also a fluctuating overcrowding problem. He’s said the jail has a maximum of 60 inmates. When we were there, there were 62. “It’s cramped, just cramped,” said inmate Kristy Pitts. However, the kitchen has a health department rating of 97. Some inmates also complained that they hadn’t had any fresh air in several months. The sheriff admits that can be an issue for some inmates serving out their sentences because there is no recreational yard for the jail. The county has a total revenue of nearly $11 million and $404,000 of that is budgeted for the jail. As for the smuggled-in cell phones, Sheriff Stringer told FOX10 News they have been confiscated, and they are enforcing stricter search policies to prevent any others from coming into the jail.     Source: http://fox10tv.com/2014/10/23/inmates-at-washington-county-jail-go-to-extremes-to-show-alleged-conditions/
Two Knox County deputy jailers charged with abusing inmate By: Phil Pendleton - Email Updated: Fri 6:20 PM, Oct 24, 2014 By: Phil Pendleton - Email Phil Pendleton Reporter Connect With Me: phil.pendleton@wkyt.com Home / Headlines List / Article Tammy Spicer KNOX COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - Tammy Spicer had just arrived at the Harlan County jail….from the Knox County lockup…when police say jail staff know knew something wasn’t right. “As soon as the inmate arrived…it was pretty clear she had been assaulted,” said Kentucky State Police Trooper Shane Jacobs. Spicer..who had faced various drug offenses..and one of resisting arrest..was badly injured. She was taken to the hospital..and state police launched their investigation. It resulted in the Knox County Jail Chief Deputy Sheila Brown..and deputy Jennifer Ross being indicted. “We can’t go into exact specifics on the case, however we know an assault took place and it resulted in two jailers being arrested,” Jacobs said. The criminal abuse indictment alleges the two women used ‘torture, cruel confinement, and or cruel punishment’ as they inflicted serious injuries on the inmate. Brown and Ross are also facing charges of assault 4th and official misconduct. “There’s no excuse for an inmate to be assaulted or to have any type of injuries while in jail,” said Jacobs. Spicer remains in the Harlan County jail where she is listed as a state inmate. Both Brown and Ross have been placed on administrative leave but signed a surety bond to remain out of jail themselves. “We’re going to take this very seriously. We’re going to investigate this no matter what detention center it is,” said Jacobs. The Knox County jailer said she did not wish to comment on the allegations against her employees.  Source: http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/Two-Knox-County-deputy-jailers-charged-with-abusing-inmate-280312802.html
Former Old Main inmate: I was tortured and experimented on Bizarre accusations surface in ex-inmate's motion  I was experimented on, former Old Main inmate says Show Transcript Hide Transcript HAASE WAS GOING. THE OLD MAIN PRISON IN SANTA FE WAS HOME TO ONE OF THE DEADLIEST, MOST GRUESOME PRISON RIOTS IN U-S HISTORY. NOW, AN EX-PRISONER CLAIMS OTHERS THINGS ... LIKE TORTURE AND BIZARRE EXPERIMENTS... HAPPENED THERE TOO. NOW, HE WANTS THE CHANCE TO PROVE IT'S TRUE. KOAT ACTION 7 NEWS REPORTER MATT HOWERTON IS HERE TO EXPLAIN. ROYALE, THIS MAN ASKED A COURT TO LET HIM SEARCH THE PRISON GROUNDS FOR EVIDENCE HE CLAIMS HE BURIED, MANY YEARS AGO. EVIDENCE THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS SAYS... DOESN'T EXIST. ' AFTER A RIOT THAT LEFT 33 PEOPLE DEAD... THE OLD MAIN PRISON IN SANTA FE CAN FEEL A BIT EERIE. SOUNDS OF DOOR. NOW AN EX-INMATE--SAMUEL CHAVEZ--CLAIMS THERE'S EVEN MORE REASON FOR THE PRISON'S HAUNTED REPUTATION. CHAVEZ SPENT TIME THERE AFTER BEING CONVICTED OF MURDER IN 1988. HE'S SINCE BEEN PAROLED. BUT RECENTLY, HE ASKED A JUDGE FOR PERMISSION TO DIG INTO LOOSE SOIL AT THE PRISON. CHAVEZ CLAIMS HE BURIED EVIDENCE THAT THE PRISON CONDUCTED MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS, AND TORTURED HIM AND OTHER INMATES. EVIDENCE LIKE FINANCIAL RECORDS, SHOWING HUMAN ORGANS WERE SOLD FOR A PROFIT. THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS... "the claim is not... true...it's just not true." SAYS CHAVEZ IS FLAT OUT WRONG. "we don't have the equipment or the ability to do some kind of major surgery ...we don't have the ability to store an organ or blood for viable use later." "you just have to look at it and say the facts kind of outweigh the claim here." THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME CHAVEZ HAS SUED CORRECTIONS. THE LAST TIME HE TOOK THE DEPARTMENT TO COURT, HE WON, SAYING HE WAS WRONGFULLY HELD IN SEGREGATION FOR 7 YEARS. BUT THIS TIME... CHAVEZ WASN'T VICTORIOUS. THE CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT SAYS THE JUDGE DENIED HIS REQUEST FOR A SEARCH. IT'S NOT ALL BAD NEWS FOR CHAVEZ. CORRECTIONS WILL LET HIM LOOK THROUGH THE PRISON, IN A WAY THAT FOLLOWS THE SAME SAFETY STANDARDS SET UP FOR PUBLIC TOURS. BACK TO YOU. WHILE BEHIND BARS, CHAVEZ WORKED AS A JAILHOUSE LAWYER. HE'S NOW BECOME A PARALEGAL. POLICE SAY THEY SANTA FE, N.M. —Newly filed court documents are turning heads in Santa Fe. Related CYFD encourages all concerned to report child abuse Mom of fatally beaten boy: 'I should have been there' Woman admits to performing oral sex on 7-year-old Drugs found in sonogram mailed to inmate Neighbor: Visitor saw Alexandra near trash cans An ex-inmate from the storied Old Main facility is claiming he and other inmates were tortured and medically experimented on by the prison’s administration during his time there. The inmate, Samuel Chavez, aims to build on the prison’s already haunting reputation after at least 33 inmates were killed in a 1980 riot -- the nation’s most gruesome riot to date. Is Old Main still haunted by its violent past? The bizarre accusations have surfaced in a motion by Chavez to search for evidence that he says he buried underneath the prison in sealed containers that would prove his claims. The motion requests Chavez be allowed to "dig into loose soil surfaces under one of the buildings at various locations in order to obtain documentation buried by the plaintiff showing evidence of medical experimentation and torture of plaintiff and other prisoners." “Ledgers showing revenues from sales of prisoners' body organs and blood,” it says. “A dank, rigid, monolith used by defendants to torture and irreparably harm plaintiff is still in place." Chavez was an inmate at Old Main after he was convicted of murder in 1988. He’s since been paroled. The motion is connected to a 2007 lawsuit filed by him against the Department of Corrections. Chavez served as a jailhouse lawyer during his time behind bars and has been called an intellectual and credible person by former lawyers who have worked with him. Still, the Department of Corrections calls the claims completely bogus. “We don't have the equipment or even the ability to do some kind of major surgery,” spokeswoman Alex Tomlin said. “We don't have the ability to store an organ or blood for viable use later at that facility." In the documents, Chavez also claims to have served as a meat cutter, safety and sanitation clerk, and physical plant services maintenance assistant while at Old Main. He claims his employment in these positions allowed him to bury the evidence that supports his claims of mistreatment, but Tomlin said it would have been impossible for an inmate to even bury something like Chavez said he did beneath the prison. Mobile users: Tap for video Chavez has met the Department of Corrections in court before. He once won a lawsuit where he claimed he was placed in segregation wrongfully seven years while behind bars. Chavez did not win his motion for the search, according to the Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections will allow him to look through the prison, but it will have to align with the same safety standards set up for public tours which means, no digging or excavating, according to court documents. Chavez and his attorney could not be reached for comment.   Source: http://www.koat.com/news/former-old-main-inmate-i-was-tortured-and-experimented-on/29614004#ixzz3JCYCPxLv
Inmate grievances from slavery to bad shower shoes are heard in Kansas’ court of last resort Posted 11:30 pm, November 26, 2014, by John Holt Facebook10 Twitter4 Pinterest Google LinkedIn Email TOPEKA, Kan. — If you think the state of Kansas owes you money, for whatever reason, there’s a “court of last resort.” It’s at the Kansas State Capitol. But get in line. You won’t be alone if you’re filing a claim with the state, and you won’t believe who’s in front of you. There are enough claims to keep lawmakers busy even when they’re not in session. Recently, FOX 4 watched as they tackled a full slate, including some “frequent filers.” The setting is Room 218 North–the Kansas State Capitol, and the joint committee on special claims against the state launches into six pages of claims. The committee meets three or four times a year to handle the aggrieved. It might be a tax issue, it might be damages; a non-court, court of last resort currently chaired by Senator Dan Kerschen that hears grievances. “They have a right to a hearing and we provide them that right,” Sen. Kerschen said. But “they” are more often than not tenants in state housing, better known as inmates in state prisons. On the day FOX 4 visited, as on most, inmates are the only claimants. Everything from lost property to lost time over disciplinary actions is reviewed. Their claims denied at the prison, inmates reach out one final time to state lawmakers and plead their case via conference call. A state attorney represents corrections. “We dispute that. There is dangerous contraband and various other charges in his disciplinary record,” the attorney said. Claims often routinely dealt with by a committee, charged with jealously guarding scarce state dollars. “Oh yes, that’s a very important part of it. Because we’re not just going to frivolously pass out money,” Sen. Kerschen said. Note that word: “frivolously.” “We just need to have you confirm that you have appealed these two cases,” the senator said while in session. “The lady you were just talkin’ to has denied me my legal papers here at the institution because I’m on a hunger strike. I can’t answer your question because I don’t have my legal papers,” inmate Milton Lee replied. Lee, inmate 74977, might be the poster child. In and out of prison since 2002 for making threats and assault, and with a long list of prison infractions, Lee knows the claims process well. Since 2003 he’s filed 12 times, from slander and libel to involuntary servitude and slavery. The total of the demands: $71.6 million. Each claim was deemed frivolous and subsequently rejected. Lee isn’t alone. Ronald Hailes, inmate 39699, filed 34 claims filed since 1990, totaling more than $305,000. That includes two claims for failure to provide $5 shower shoes, one for $6,000 thousand, a second for $3,000. And the list goes on, inmates who’ve filed multiple claims, most quickly rejected. Senator David Haley, who sparred with inmate Lee over his recent $7.5 million dollar claims, has seen enough. “I don’t think the State of Kansas is going to pay a million dollars for involuntary servitude to someone who’s been tried and convicted of a crime,” Sen. Haley said. “It’s not, but it’s spending a lot of time and tax dollars dealing with this kind of thing. Is that a good use of tax dollars?” FOX 4’s John Holt asked. “Well I don’t think so. I wouldn’t think it would be,” Sen. Haley replied. Neither does Kristen Czugala she’s the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department’s victim advocate who thinks “frivolous filer” crime victims would be outraged. “At the very least offended, that all this time and effort and money is being spent on these kinds of claims, when those kinds of claims feel like he’s trying to make himself the victim,” she said. No question some claims are legitimate, in 2013 the committee approved about $500 in prisoner claims. But in a bi-partisan spirit, both the Republican committee chair and Democrat member believe the frequent filer must be curbed, perhaps with limits on numbers of claims, or even a screening process. “Before we squander taxpayers’ time sitting in a committee to debate how much a pair of shower shoes should go for,” Sen. Haley said. Missouri’s solution, claims are dealt with at the prison level or in some cases with the help of a citizens advisory committee appointed by the governor. As for Kansas costs, they take a small bite out of the state’s budget, about $10,000 a year plus the correction’s attorney’s salary. But it all adds up and Senator Haley and others argue it’s a matter of fiscal and moral principal to reign in abuses. FOX 4 wanted to ask the inmates we featured themselves about their claims, they did not respond to our e-mails.  Source: http://fox4kc.com/2014/11/26/inmate-grievances-from-slavery-to-bad-shower-shoes-are-heard-in-kansas-court-of-last-resort/   [HEAL Note:  Many inmates can receive e-mail through a special service but must respond by post.  If you are a journalist e-mailing inmates for comments, please be sure to include your physical postal address so the inmates can respond.]
External Link: Good Article on Exploitation in US Prison Banking System: http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/09/30/15761/prison-bankers-cash-captive-customers
State Police: Corrections Officer Arrested for Raping Female Inmate By: Web Staff 12/12/2014 01:31 PM - State Police arrested a corrections officer from Wappingers Falls after they said he raped an inmate over a six-month time period.Police said 30-year-old Jose Guzman had a consensual relationship with a female inmate at the maximum security Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.Guzman is now charged with rape.He was arraigned and released due to back in court in March. - See more at: http://hudsonvalley.twcnews.com/content/news/792288/state-police--corrections-officer-arrested-for-raping-female-inmate/#sthash.69iRB0lj.dpuf 
After inmate deaths, Department of Justice to probe Florida prison system By Julie K. Brown jbrown@MiamiHerald.com 12/13/2014 11:00 AM 12/13/2014 6:48 PM Bernadette Gregory Florida Department of Corrections Story Comments Bernadette Gregory was getting out of prison in eight months and planning her wedding when she was found hanging in a cell at Florida’s Lowell Correctional Institution. Prison authorities say Gregory, 42, tied a double knot in a sheet, twisted it several times around her top bunk, looped the other end around her neck and hanged herself. Despite relying on a wheelchair to get around, she did all of this in 11 minutes — while she was handcuffed, a detail the Department of Corrections’ investigative summary mentions only in passing. Gregory’s 2009 death is one of many that don’t seem to add up but have nevertheless been tucked away in the department’s files, categorized as suicides, homicides, accidents or natural deaths. Related Darren Rainey | Florida Department of Corrections Randall Jordan-Aparo | Florida Department of Corrections Latandra Ellington | Florida Department of Corrections New Florida prison boss is a DOC lifer Florida prison boss orders use-of-force audit Inmate’s family latest to sue over Miami-Dade shower death Deadly abuse in Florida’s prisons: A Miami Herald investigation At a violent Florida prison, a death foreshadowed Interactive map | Five years of Florida prison deaths With 320 inmate deaths tallied as of Dec. 8, Florida’s prison system is on track to have the deadliest year in its history. This rise in prison deaths coincides with an aging of the prison population, but also with a doubling of incidents involving the use of force by officers over the past five years. Now, six months after the Miami Herald began an investigation into the questionable deaths of inmates in Florida’s state prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice is gathering evidence for a possible investigation into whether the agency has violated the constitutional rights of prisoners. The Justice Department has sent letters to Florida’s three U.S. attorneys informing them of the inquiry. State lawmakers also are scrutinizing the prison system in the wake of a public outcry by human rights groups and prison reform activists. Gov. Rick Scott last week named a new DOC secretary, Julie Jones, to head the department — which is the third-largest prison system in the nation, with 101,000 inmates and a $2.1 billion budget. In yet another development, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement this month asked the Legislature for an additional $8.4 million to probe prison deaths and cases involving excessive force by Florida law enforcement officers. “If nothing else, the corrections officers and the people running the institutions have been put on notice that someone else is watching them and they are no longer policing themselves,” said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami. Since starting its investigation in May, the Herald has received dozens of letters from inmates and their families, providing troubling details of other suspicious deaths in Florida prisons. Many of the letters assert inmates were killed by corrections officers or died from criminal negligence by handlers who then, with the approval of their supervisors, covered up their actions. In many cases, the inmates allege that officers threatened to harm or even kill them if they told anyone about what they saw or heard. The Herald began its series with the death of Darren Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally ill inmate at Dade Correctional Institution, south of Homestead. Rainey died after corrections officers allegedly locked him in a 180-degree shower, purportedly as punishment for defecating on the floor of his cell and refusing to clean it up. Witnesses said they left him in the closet-like shower for nearly two hours as he screamed in agony, then collapsed. After the story was published, then-DOC Secretary Mike Crews forced DCI’s warden and deputy warden to step down and announced a series of reforms. But a review of those actions shows that few of them have actually resulted in the accountability and “transparency” that Crews — who retired this month — promised. For example: ▪ Though the secretary fired more than two dozen officers for excessive force that led to the deaths of inmates, many have since gotten their jobs back. ▪ A new inmate mortality database lists all inmate deaths, but the supplementary reports that detail their deaths are so heavily redacted that many are unreadable. The prison system says the redactions are justified by a federal law that prohibits hospitals and other entities from releasing medical information. Families, however, have to hire a lawyer and go to court to get unredacted reports to learn the full story of how their loved ones died. ▪ The “transparency database,” as Crews called it, posts detailed reports only on those inmates who died of accidents, homicides or suicides. More than 90 percent of Florida prison deaths are deemed “natural” — a higher percentage than in comparable states. There is no way to glean if the classification is justified. ▪ While the agency installed hundreds of new, high-tech “fixed-wing” surveillance cameras, no one from the public can view the footage because the state sees that as a breach of security. In the Rainey case and others, investigators also say that surveillance cameras malfunctioned. ▪ Crews announced that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would henceforth review all inmate deaths, thereby providing another layer of oversight. But in order to do this, FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey says he needs about $8.4 million and 66 new investigators, analysts and supervisors to handle the added caseload. The request is pending, meaning scores of death investigations are in limbo. The investigation by Miami-Dade police of Rainey’s death remains open even though it happened more than two years ago. The Herald found that despite multiple witnesses coming forward, neither police detectives nor the medical examiner interviewed them until the newspaper began asking questions about the case this past spring. Randall Jordan-Aparo’s death at Franklin Correctional Institution was one of those determined to be the result of natural causes. But in 2013, three years after he died, inspectors with the prison system’s inspector general’s office accidentally discovered key evidence in the case had either been ignored or covered up by their own agency. Jordan-Aparo, 27, suffered from a rare blood disorder that caused him respiratory distress, yet he was repeatedly gassed — blasted with debilitating chemical agents — by officers who lied on their reports, according to a subsequent investigation, saying the inmate had been causing a disturbance at the prison. Jordan-Aparo, the inspectors found, had only begged to be taken to the hospital because he was ill, and had spoken curtly to a nurse who dismissed his pleas. He was found sprawled on the floor of his cell, coated with chemical residue, a weathered Bible by his side. The Justice Department is reviewing his death. Latandra Ellington was found dead just days after she wrote her family a letter saying that a sergeant at Lowell Correctional was threatening to kill her. Though a source at the prison told the newspaper that prison officials announced Ellington died of an overdose, an independent autopsy paid for by her family showed she had suffered trauma to her abdomen consistent with being beaten. NO POLICE SCRUTINY Bernadette “Brandi” Gregory’s death at Lowell, on July 22, 2009, is one of hundreds of inmate deaths annually that received no scrutiny from local police or the FDLE, even though her family told prison officials and the medical examiner that she, too, was being threatened by corrections officers. Four days before her death, DOC records show that Gregory filed a written complaint alleging that a Captain Greer had beaten her and bashed her over the head with a radio. “I will not sleep on this. I will follow through to the end and press charges,” she wrote in her complaint, dated July 18, 2009. She had, records show, repeatedly complained that officers were ridiculing her, telling her they would beat her “crippled ass.” She complained that officers had falsified disciplinary reports as a means to place her in solitary confinement for more than 96 days. Her fiance, Clifford Evans, said he couldn’t visit her because she was in confinement most of the time. He last spoke with Gregory about two weeks before her death. “She only had a few more months. She was planning on coming home and wanted to have a wedding. She didn’t kill herself, I can tell you that,” said Evans, who received her last letter on the day she died. In the letter, she wrote that guards at the prison were threatening her and that the captain had beaten her over the head with his radio. Evans said Gregory required a wheelchair to get around because she suffered leg injuries in an ambulance crash in Polk County three years earlier. She was thrown from the ambulance, and a firefighter assisting with her transport was killed. “Both of her knees had to be replaced,” Evans said. She received a $75,000 settlement from Polk, according to news accounts. Linda Thompson, a former Lowell inmate, described to the Herald seeing a group of corrections officers beating and kicking Gregory in a common area of the prison on the day she died. “They flipped over the wheelchair, and she hit her head. We all saw it happen. The guards tried to block us from seeing what they were doing, but I saw a sergeant beat her in the head with a radio,” — which would have been a separate head-blow from the earlier one alleged in her letter home. About dinnertime, Thompson said, the ambulances arrived. “Right then, we all said they killed that girl. She was in lock-up and half the time they don’t let you have any clothing, blankets and pillows, nothing. How did that woman get a sheet? How did she tie it in knots when she was handcuffed?” Former Lowell corrections officer Debbie Escoe, now retired, said she doubts that Gregory’s death was the result of foul play because surveillance cameras would have showed everyone who came and went from her confinement cell. Escoe, who helped cut Gregory down, said it would have been difficult — but not impossible — for her to tie the ligature in 11 minutes while handcuffed in front of her torso. “I had to lift her up, and I don’t know how I did it because she was a lot bigger than I was,” said Escoe, who left the prison system in 2010. As with other reports, the death investigation summary is heavily redacted, with large chunks of information blacked out. There is no indication that any inmates were interviewed. A spokesman for the department said Friday that her death was thoroughly investigated and two officers were disciplined for failing to follow procedure and failing to protect Gregory. DOC’s investigative summary said that a “suicide-type note” was found in the pocket of Gregory’s dress. In fact, the note doesn’t appear to be a suicide note at all. It was a birthday letter to her fiance that mentions nothing about intending to take her own life. “Happy Birthday honey. I love you with every breath that it takes,” the note said. federal involvement If the federal government exerts control over the Florida prison system, it won’t be the first time. In the mid-1970s, Florida State Prison inmate Michael Costello charged in a lawsuit that prison conditions were unconstitutional because healthcare was so abysmal. Costello filed the lawsuit on a paper bag because corrections officers wouldn’t supply him with writing paper. As a result, the federal courts, citing the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, oversaw the state’s prisons for more than two decades, ordering legislators to relieve overcrowding and provide adequate medical and healthcare. Federal judges have also ruled that Florida’s propensity for gassing mentally ill inmates constitutes a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Ron McAndrew, a retired Florida warden, said a shake-up in the department is long overdue and that he hopes the Justice Department will step in further. “They are getting away with murder, quite frankly,” said McAndrew, who now works as a prison consultant. “There are cases that go back decades and not just state correctional institutions, but juvenile institutions as well.” Miami Herald staff writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report. A year of turmoil June 14 The prison system reopens its investigation into the death of Rainey July 10 As prison boss Michael Crews visits Dade Correctional to announce the suspension of its warden, a Dade inmate dies under disturbing circumstances. May 17 The Miami Herald unearths the June 2012 death of Darren Rainey, who collapsed in a scalding shower, where he was locked up after defecating in his cell. His pleas for mercy were ignored by guards, who allegedly mocked him. Subsequent complaints about the incident by others were also ignored. May 21 Damion Foster dies in a clash with with guards in the mental health unit at Charlotte Correctional Institution. A month earlier, Matthew Walker died in a similar incident in the same prison. June 14 The prison system reopens its investigation into the death of Rainey July 10 As prison boss Michael Crews visits Dade Correctional to announce the suspension of its warden, a Dade inmate dies under disturbing circumstances. July 17 Crews dismisses Dade Warden Jerry Cummings. July 29 Lavar Valentin, a Dade inmate who had pleaded to be transferred because he feared he'd be killed by his cellmate, is found strangled, allegedly by the cellmate. Aug. 19 Crews announces system-wide reforms designed to improve handling of inmates with mental illnesses. Aug. 30 Herald report details the death of Randall Jordan-Aparo, who was repeatedly gassed at Franklin Correctional Institution. The death, now under investigation, was initially termed “natural.” Sept. 9 Disability Rights Florida sues, saying inmates with mental illness have been tortured and abused for years at Dade Correctional. Sept. 11 Five Florida prison sergeants and a captain are arrested, charged with gassing, beating and kicking a handcuffed and shackled inmate, then lying about it. Sept. 18 Thirty-two guards are fired, including one who is the subject of a pending expose in the Herald. Oct. 1 Latandra Ellington, an inmate at Lowell Correctional, turns up dead days after writing her family saying a sergeant had threatened to kill her. Oct. 16 With use of force by Florida guards rising dramatically, Crews orders an audit of all use-of-force reports. Nov. 13 A think-tank of prominent academics and others calls for an overhaul of the prison system to stem widespread abuse and corruption. Nov. 24 Crews retires as secretary of the Department of Corrections. Dec. 10 Gov. Scott appoints Julie Jones, formerly head of the state's highway safety agency, to head prison system. Florida Department of Law Enforcement seeks budgetary authority to hire 66 investigators to probe growing number of prison deaths. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article4457578.html#storylink=cpy 
State's prison industry system puts profits before prisoners Michael J. Berens and Mike Baker of The Seattle Times As of Saturday, December 13, 2014 Sign in to add to your reading list Discuss Comment, Blog about Share this Email, Facebook, Twitter Recommend 0 Print this article Advertisement #Editor’s note: This is the first part of a three-day series on Washington’s prison industries to run today through Tuesday. #Three decades ago, as get-tough-on-crime laws channeled more offenders behind bars, the state Department of Corrections launched a campaign to leverage profits from prisoners. #Compel inmates to produce low-cost goods for state agencies at no public cost. Teach offenders new skills to help them land better jobs after release. Turn bad people into better people and reduce crime. #Washington’s pitch — crime can pay — was an easy public sell. #Today, some 1,600 men and women in prison factories produce everything from dorm furniture to school lunches. Washington Correctional Industries (CI) generates up to $70 million in sales a year, ranking as the nation’s fourth-largest prison labor program. #But behind it all is a broken program that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, charged exorbitant markups to state agencies to make up for losses, and taken jobs from private businesses that can’t compete with cheap prison labor, a Seattle Times investigation has found. #Far from being self-sufficient, CI has cost taxpayers at least $20 million since 2007, including $750,000 spent over three years on a fish farm to raise tilapia that has yet to yield a single meal. #CI has reaped millions of dollars — money it keeps — by inflating prices of furniture it sells to state agencies and public universities, capitalizing on a law that requires they buy from prison factories. In many cases, prisoners didn’t make the items, but CI instead bought prebuilt furniture then resold it with markups, previously undisclosed state records show. #The Times also found dozens of private business owners in Seattle and statewide who say they’ve had to stop hiring or lay off workers, victimized by unfair competition from an inmate workforce paid as little as 55 cents an hour. #“Have we had some problems?” said Danielle Armbruster, director of Correctional Industries. “Absolutely.” #“I believe in this program. We hope to expand and reach even more inmates. If we help just one inmate, then that’s one less victim in the future.” #But CI can’t substantiate that key claim — that inmates who work in Correctional Industries commit fewer crimes after release than those who do not. State recidivism studies often contradict each other and are rife with shortcomings, failing to account for thousands of inmates who commit new crimes, according to a Times analysis. #Likewise, officials have publicly claimed that CI inmates more successfully gained jobs after release, but they actually have no idea which offenders get jobs or where they’re working. #CI has even undermined its key mission. Rather than always employing inmates nearing release, CI attempted to cut costs and boost profits by filling at least 171 prison jobs with those serving life sentences. They will never be on the outside. Touring the factory #CI’s furniture factory is the showcase of its inmate work program, reaping more revenue than any other CI industry. #Corrections officials spent $12 million to rebuild the factory four years ago at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen. A 90,000-square-foot warehouse now holds millions of dollars of computerized manufacturing equipment. #This is where lawmakers and the media are often shepherded on CI-led tours designed to highlight the benefits of prison labor. #The state’s pitch: Inmates learn specialized skills using the latest technologies, better preparing them for jobs on the outside. CI has dozens of testimonials by inmates about how the program helped them. #“This isn’t about making money,” said Lyle Morse, then-director of the CI program, said earlier this year. “It’s about making better people.” #But when The Times visited the factory, inmates weren’t making furniture. This was not an aberration, previously undisclosed state records show. #Rather than always building its own furniture, CI since 2010 has spent at least $4 million to buy prebuilt products from furniture dealers and retailers, records show. Officials call them “pass-through products” because inmates do little more than unpack boxes or perform basic assembly, before passing furniture to state agencies. #Either way inmates’ skills haven’t been in demand on the outside. At least a dozen furniture retailers, dealers or manufacturers have been asked in recent years during hearings in Olympia whether they have hired a former inmate from the CI program. The answer was always no. Built-in monopoly #State agencies are required by law to buy furniture from CI, and the prison program has capitalized on that monopoly with hefty markups. #Some agencies and businesses have complained about this for years. The Department of Social and Health Services once ordered two steel bookcases from CI, a furniture executive testified to lawmakers in 2005. A private vendor offered the same pair for $376 with overnight delivery, he said. CI charged $536 and took 13 weeks to make delivery. #Last year, CI reaped an average profit margin of 17 percent on its furniture sales — an extraordinary boon for an organization that is supposed to be providing low-cost goods for government. #In the past fiscal year, CI reported $16.4 million in furniture sales, nearly all to state agencies, keeping $2.8 million in profit. #With tax dollars swept in from other agencies, CI amasses public money to cover losses in its other prison industries. Lawmakers generally expect CI to be self-sufficient and have passed laws that make it difficult for state agencies to buy furniture from any other vendor. Many private business owners say they’ve been hurt by CI’s competitive advantage. #Kerri Brockhaug of Zebra Solutions, a Seattle-based furniture dealer, told lawmakers in 2011 that her company had hoped to sell furniture to a public university, but CI officials swooped in and took the contract. #“I had to sit down with my staff and tell them that they were going to lose their jobs,” she said. Mission unaccomplished #Founded in 1983, Correctional Industries promised that its core mission would be rehabilitation, with a goal of putting more and more inmates to work in prison each year. That never happened. #Fifteen years ago, CI employed about 2,500 inmates. Today, there are 1,626 inmate laborers, about 10 percent of the state’s prison population. #While lawmakers have pushed to increase the number of inmate workers, they’ve limited the educational opportunities that could help offenders find work outside of prison. #Rep. Larry Springer, a Democrat from Kirkland who serves as deputy majority leader, views the CI jobs as “basic skill” work that may only help former inmates find very low-paying jobs. The better use of tax dollars would be for higher education for higher-skilled jobs. #“Those are much more important, marketable skills,” Springer said. Prison break #To cut costs and turnover, CI officials reasoned in 2008 that the garment factory at Clallam Bay Corrections Center should employ long-term inmates rather than pay to train offenders who would soon be released. #For the next three years, CI officials readily recruited inmates with violent histories. #Among them were Dominick Maldonado, serving a 163-year sentence for gunning down shoppers at Tacoma Mall in 2005, and Kevin Newland, serving a 45-year sentence for the 2006 murder of a teenage girl, whose body was found under the floor of a Stevens County cabin. #Both were assigned jobs in the CI clothing factory, which meant extra pay and extraordinary freedom compared to other prison jobs. #On a drizzly morning in June 2011, shortly after the morning shift break, Maldonado twisted apart a pair of sewing scissors and pressed a metal shear against a correctional officer’s throat. Newland jumped on a forklift, rammed through a reinforced-aluminum door and accelerated toward a perimeter chain-link gate. #Outside the secure perimeter, a corrections sergeant with a shotgun happened to be driving to the prison’s shooting range for practice. Responding to the breach, he fired a warning shot and yelled for Newland to get on the ground. As Newland drove to ram the gate once again, the sergeant fired a fatal blast to the chest. Maldonado promptly surrendered. He was later transferred to the maximum-security unit at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. #Behind closed doors, top prison administrators were astonished to learn the extent of CI’s use of lifers. #Prison officials ordered CI to refocus its programs on soon-to-be-released inmates. Among the changes: No inmate could hold a job longer than seven years; and CI’s workforce could not have a higher percentage of lifers than the prison as a whole. #A September 2013 internal audit found that five of seven prison factories surveyed remained in violation. At times, CI was employing up to 12 times the number of inmates serving life sentences than allowed, the audit found.  Source: http://union-bulletin.com/news/2014/dec/13/states-prison-industry-system-puts-profits-prisone/
NC inmate's autopsy was limited by unusual state restrictions By Joseph Neff jneff@newsobserver.comDecember 25, 2014  2014-12-26T01:59:56Z By Joseph Neff All autopsies are important, but the autopsy of Michael Anthony Kerr was especially so. Kerr, a 53-year-old inmate at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, died of dehydration in March after spending five days handcuffed in solitary confinement, lying in his feces and urine. But before prison officials at the Department of Public Safety would share its records, they required the state medical examiner to sign a form specially drafted by lawyers for the prison system. The form said the medical examiner could look at prison records but not keep copies. "I've never seen anything like this in all my career, and I've been doing this for 28 years," said Dr. Greg Davis, a University of Kentucky pathologist who worked as a medical examiner at Wake Forest Medical School for five years. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has broad authority to conduct death investigations, including the power to subpoena any records helpful to its investigation. Davis said the unusual "read but don't copy" memo raised a big red flag: "What are you hiding from me and why?" Dr. Susan Venuti, who performed Kerr's autopsy, found that the cause of death was dehydration. But she did not make a finding on the manner of death: accident, natural, suicide or homicide. Instead, she wrote "undetermined." Deputy Director of Prisons Gwen Norville allowed Venuti to review an internal investigation known as a Sentinel Event Review. "However, no reports were permitted to be retained by the OCME and no additional reports were provided for review," Venuti wrote in her autopsy report. Venuti wrote that it was unclear whether prison officials withheld fluids, whether Kerr refused them or whether some other factor led to his death. The details of Kerr's death could result in criminal charges or civil lawsuits. The department has not released its investigations into Kerr's death. Details on his treatment and death have to be gleaned from a variety of sources: the autopsy report; inmate letters; letters to the nine prison employees fired after Kerr's death; and court files begun by fired employees fighting to get their jobs back. Investigations by the State Bureau of Investigation and FBI will not be made public unless charges are filed. After the release of the autopsy on Sept. 25, federal prosecutors in Raleigh began a grand jury investigation into Kerr's death. The SBI had started an investigation in April in response to a request by David Guice, commissioner of adult correction and juvenile justice. Frank Perry, the secretary of public safety, said his department is not hiding anything. "I wanted a full, fast and fair internal review," Perry said. "The medical examiner's office got what they needed. Something like this is so important, we want to take the right steps." A claim of privacy Perry, who retired after 22 years in the FBI, most recently as head of the Raleigh/Durham office, said he was concerned about releasing Kerr's records while other investigations were in progress. Perry said he didn't want to release the personnel records of prison employees or run afoul of HIPAA, the federal law covering the privacy of individual medical records. "There is no right to privacy in a North Carolina medical examiner investigation, and HIPAA does not apply," Davis said. "This guy should have been better prepped by his legal counsel." North Carolina has a prison population of 37,500. Scores of inmates die every year from illness, old age or accidents. Under state law, the prison system must report every death to the Office of the State Medical Examiner, which decides whether to perform an autopsy. The medical examiner has performed six autopsies on the 89 inmates who died in 2014. Have HIPAA concerns ever entered into the death investigations of any other inmate besides Kerr? "I don't know," Perry said. Death from dehydration Kerr, a Sampson County native, was a 12-year Army veteran and preacher. He had run-ins with the law in the 1990s with a string of larceny convictions. Brenda Liles, his sister, said Kerr had a series of nervous breakdowns after two of his sons were murdered. Shortly after the second murder, in October 2008, Kerr fired nine shots into a house in Garland. He was convicted and sent to prison. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder. Around October 2013, Kerr stopped taking the drugs prescribed for his mental illness. According to prison records, inmates with mental illnesses generally develop behavioral problems three months after they stop taking medications. On Feb. 18 of this year, prison officials put Kerr in solitary confinement, known as disciplinary segregation, for disobeying orders and tampering with a lock. Three days later, a captain wrote that medical staff were worried that Kerr could become dehydrated. On March 8, staff at Alexander called a Code Blue - a medical emergency - because Kerr was unresponsive. Staff entered his cell and put Kerr in handcuffs and leg restraints while a nurse examined him. They removed the leg restraints upon leaving but left him handcuffed for the next five days. During those days, guards observed him several times an hour, noting once that he was standing and all other times noting that he was lying on his bunk. On March 12, prison officials prepared to move him to a hospital at Central Prison. They found Kerr in his cell with his pants and underwear at his ankles, lying in his own feces and urine. "Staff could not unlock the handcuffs because they were clogged with dried feces," according to the letter of termination delivered to a former captain at the prison. A sergeant called for bolt cutters and cut off the handcuffs. Prison officials drove Kerr to Raleigh. When he arrived three hours later, Central Prison staff found him dead and cold to the touch. Venuti performed the autopsy the next morning, on March 13. Autopsy reports generally take six to 12 weeks to complete. In the course of the investigation, medical examiners routinely review medical, psychiatric and other records. On Aug. 6, almost five months after the autopsy, a top prison official allowed Venuti to see a Sentinel Event Review. Venuti signed the form crafted by lawyers working for the prison system. "The documents included confidential personnel information and confidential inmate records," said the document, written on Department of Public Safety letterhead. "While reviewing the documents, I made notes relating to my inquiry. I understand that DPS intends to maintain all documents reviewed by me and that, if necessary for the cause of death inquiry, I may have access to the same information in the future." Though the document says that Venuti made notes, no notes exist in the autopsy file. Kevin Howell, a spokesman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said there were no other notes. Howell also said Venuti would not be available for an interview. Davis, the University of Kentucky pathologist, said that Venuti performed an excellent autopsy, with the correct cause of death, dehydration, and the appropriate manner of death, undetermined. He commended Venuti for telegraphing to the discerning reader, such as a pathologist or lawyer, that she did not receive all the necessary records. "They should have opened up every bit of discovery they have," Davis said. "It's the right thing to do. And do not they think that a civil lawsuit will burst this case wide open?" Neff: 919-829-4516 Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/12/25/4429378_nc-inmates-autopsy-was-limited.html?sp=/99/102/&rh=1#storylink=cpy 
31 December 2014 Prison labour: a vehicle for reintegration or exploitation? by Feriel Alouti In 1987, prison labour in France became a right rather than an obligation, and takes on different forms. To convince companies to use prison labour, flexibility and cheap labour are presented as the key advantages offered by France’s 191 prison establishments. Youth detention centre of Fleury-Merogis, May 2002. (Michel Lemoine) There is, first of all, what is known as general service work. Inmates in this category, known as "auxiliaries", are employed by the prison authorities to perform the tasks involved in maintaining or running the prison, such as cooking or serving meals. Then there is production work. Inmates in this category, known as ’operators’, work for the Industrial Board of Prison Establishments (RIEP) or for a private company. Although a degree of skill is sometimes required for jobs provided by the Industrial Board, it is largely unqualified work involving simple, repetitive tasks with little added value, such as packing, assembling, folding or cutting. As a result, according to the Observatoire international des prisons (OIP), the inmates’ experience during their time in prison "only reinforces their negative image of work". "There is no reintegration dimension to most prison work. It is more occupational than anything else," it denounces. Working is, nonetheless, a way for inmates to make a living and is a key factor in the granting of a reduced sentence by the authority in charge of sentence enforcement. And yet figures show that only a quarter of the prison population has work. According to the 2011 report of the Contrôleur Général des Lieux de Privation de Liberté (CGLPL), the independent public authority in charge of ensuring respect for the fundamental rights of persons deprived of their freedom, 17,497 incarcerated persons had a paid job in 2011, which corresponds to just 27.7 per cent of the 63,000 persons in detention that year. "If all inmates were able to get a job, then yes, it would be a means of fostering a calm prison environment, but this is not the case," laments Marie Crétenot, a legal expert at the OIP, in an interview with Equal Times.   Cheap labour A number of private companies also call on the labour services offered by the prison authorities. Total discretion is used and most of them choose to conceal their identity. "They simply don’t want their business image to be associated with crime or the exploitation of cheap labour," writes the CGLPL in its 2011 report. As a way of protecting their anonymity, some go through subcontractors and, in some instances, sign confidentiality clauses to ensure their names are not divulged. To convince companies to use prison labour, flexibility and cheap labour are presented as the main pluses offered by France’s 191 prison establishments. On its website, the prison authorities, which did not respond on time to our request for an interview, underlines the "financial gains" as well as the "flexibility" and "reactivity" derived from being able to "quickly mobilise a large number of operators to respond to orders". Despite these persuasive arguments, growth in the sector has stagnated over recent years, with prison labour now facing increased competition from the Eastern European or North African countries to which production is being relocated. "And since the prison authorities’ involvement in the services sector is limited, offers of work are falling," explains the OIP. As indicated in Article 717-13 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which governs life in detention, "the employment relationships of incarcerated persons are not covered by an employment contract". The only regulations that apply are those of health and safety. Prisoners, therefore, have no right to paid leave, to form or join a trade union, or to sick pay. "The fact that the labour legislation does not apply to them creates a sense of exploitation among prisoners," denounces Marie Crétenot. They can, however, acquire pension rights by paying social contributions. But given how low their pay is, they struggle to validate their quarters; so where an employee who is paid the official minimum wage (SMIC) covers four quarters a year, a prisoner only validates one. Whilst there is no employment contract, Article 33 of the Penitentiary Law of 2009 provides for the signing of a "hiring document" between the head of the establishment and the detained person, which covers the employee’s occupational rights and obligations, pay and working conditions. In 2010, a Decree was passed specifying the terms and conditions with regard to pay: 45 per cent of the hourly minimum wage (SMIC) for production work (€4.05 an hour - US$5.04), and between 20 and 33 per cent for general service jobs (€1.80 to €2.97 an hour - US$2.24 to US$3.50). But as the CGLPL notes, wages are, in fact, often "lower than the minimum thresholds set by the Decree". "The result is very low pay and major variations from one establishment to another," it points out. Some prisoners are still paid piece rates, in breach of the law. In some instances, piece workers spend the whole day in their cells, taking part in no other activity, and even work in the evening after dinner and sometimes at night to reach the target set by the company. According to the OIP, the average monthly wage of a prisoner in France is €200 (US$ 249). This amount corresponds to the cost of living in detention: the cost of renting a television, a fridge, phone calls and the purchase of tobacco, food and toiletries.   Justice for prisoners? Over recent years, a number of prisoners have decided to take legal action to ensure compliance with the hourly rate of pay established by law and the conversion of the "hiring document" into an employment contract. In 2011, a prisoner working for a call centre was dismissed for making personal phone calls. The Appeal Court of Paris deemed her pay to be "derisory" and ruled that she be paid €2358 (US$2939) in back pay, at the same time as pointing out, however, that the worker was not bound to her employer by an employment contract. Two years later, two inmates of the Metz prison, in eastern France, presented the Labour Court with an "application for a priority preliminary ruling on the issue of constitutionality" (QPC), a procedure whereby the constitutionality of laws already passed can be challenged. In this instance, the issue was the working conditions in detention and the absence of an employment contract. In June 2013, the Constitutional Court finally rejected the QPC. "The chancery accepts that the administration flouts the rules. There have been nearly a dozen court cases over the last two years, that should be enough for things to change," considers Crétenot. "The administration is regularly condemned over wage issues," Sylvain Gaucher, a lawyer specialised in prison law, tells Equal Times. "But because most prisoners never take legal action, it costs it less to break the law." Although the courts are ruling in favour of inmates taking legal action over their appalling pay, the justice system does not yet seem ready have the labour law introduced into prisons.   This article has been translated from French.   Source: http://www.equaltimes.org/prison-labour-a-vehicle-for?lang=en#.VKjXsOktG1s
Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, January 8, 2015 Three Former Correctional Officers At Angola Prison Sentenced for Abusing an Inmate and Cover-Up Three former correctional officers with the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, were sentenced today before United States District Judge James J. Brady for the Middle District of Louisiana for abusing an inmate and engaging in conduct to cover up the criminal conduct.  Mark Sharp, 33, received 73 months.  Kevin Groom, 47, was sentenced to one year probation and a $500 fine.  Matthew Cody Butler, 29, received two years probation and a $3,000 fine. According to court documents filed in connection with their guilty pleas, on January 24, 2010, defendants Groom, Sharp and Butler were on duty as correctional officials when they learned that an inmate had escaped from his assigned location.  Shortly after the defendants joined the search for the escapee, the inmate surrendered to prison officials.  The inmate was handcuffed behind his back and placed in the back of a pick-up truck to be transported to the medical unit.  Groom, Butler, and Sharp escorted the inmate on the back of that truck.  During the drive to the medical unit, Sharp repeatedly struck the inmate with a baton.  During the investigation of the inmate’s complaint that officers had abused him, Groom and Butler engaged in various conduct to cover up the assault. Sharp pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of the inmate and to making false statements to the FBI.  Groom pleaded guilty to falsifying records in a federal investigation and making false statements to the FBI.  Butler pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony. Another former officer, Jason Giroir, also pleaded guilty on May 29, 2013, to falsifying a report and making a false statement to the FBI.  He will be sentenced separately on January 29, 2015. “The vast majority of American law enforcement officers conduct themselves with honor,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “But when law enforcement officers abuse inmates and attempt to cover-up their misconduct, the Department of Justice stands ready to hold those officers accountable for their conduct.” “It is unfortunate that the defendants’ criminal activities threaten to overshadow the courageous and outstanding work performed every day by the vast majority of law enforcement officers, both inside and outside the penal system,” said U.S. Attorney J. Walter Green for the Middle District of Louisiana. “This thorough and patient investigation  not only resulted in the full accountability of all correctional officers involved, but also demonstrated unwavering adherence to the procedural rights of the victim and accused,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Anderson of the FBI’s New Orleans Office. The investigation in this matter was conducted by Special Agent Taneka Harris of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney AeJean Cha and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert W. Piedrahita. 15-019 Civil Rights Division Updated January 9, 2015   Source: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/three-former-correctional-officers-angola-prison-sentenced-abusing-inmate-and-cover
Two inmate deaths raise questions on Allegheny County Jail health care contractor January 9, 2015 12:00 AM Frank Smart, 39, died Monday. Clarence Jewett Jr. of the West End was arrested Dec. 16, and after 10 days at the Allegheny County Jail, the 62-year-old was dead. Share with others: Tweet Related Media: Two inmate deaths prompt county to review privatized infirmary ACLU concerned about medical care at Allegheny County Jail Allegheny County controller calls for improvements in jail medical care By Molly Born and Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette An outburst of obscenity led to the arrest of Clarence Jewett Jr. as he tried to enter his own apartment, and after 10 days at the Allegheny County Jail, the 62-year-old man was dead. Mr. Jewett had a history of mental health problems, but his family knew of no life-threatening health condition he may have suffered. Mr. Jewett brings to seven the number of jail inmates who died in 2014. That’s roughly one death per 350 people in the average daily population, a mortality rate that is about double the average for jails nationally. Another inmate died Monday. The attorney for that inmate, Frank Smart, 39, suggested the jail did not provide medicine for his epilepsy. County officials have maintained that health care in the jail is improving and declined to comment Thursday on the recent deaths, citing medical privacy laws. A spokeswoman for Corizon, the Tennessee-based firm that has run the jail infirmary for 16 months, declined to comment. Mr. Jewett of the West End was arrested Dec. 16 when Pittsburgh police Officer Jason Lloyd saw him standing on a sidewalk, “screaming obscenities,” according to the police affidavit. The officer “ordered him to stop screaming the obscenities” and intended to cite him for disorderly conduct, according to the affidavit. When Mr. Jewett attempted to go home, the officer followed him to his apartment door. “I grabbed Jewett’s shirt, and attempted to pull him away from the door [to his apartment], but he did not budge and pushed my hand off his shirt sleeve,” according to the affidavit. Officer Lloyd then waited until backup arrived, and he and five others, including two detectives, forcibly arrested Mr. Jewett. One officer hurt his back during the arrest, during which Mr. Jewett attempted to pull away and drop to the sidewalk, and was “calling us ‘racists’ and ‘KK’ repeatedly,” the affidavit states. At the jail, the officer wrote, Mr. Jewett “was immediately placed into the restraint chair.” Pittsburgh public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said that Allegheny County Police were investigating, but that the city officer had been been cleared of wrongdoing. “I talked with a couple of people at the jail, but they said they can’t tell me anything,” said Cynthia Jewett, one of his four children, who lives in Alabama. “Physically, he was in good health,” she said. “He had schizophrenia, but he’s a great person … .” Mr. Jewett died Dec. 26 at UPMC Mercy. Autopsy results were incomplete pending the results of toxicology and tissue tests, according to the medical examiner’s office. Mr. Jewett had a history of occasional arrests, which typically happened when he lapsed from his medication for schizophrenia, according to family members and his attorney, Emanuel J. Oakes Jr. A social worker recommended he be committed to Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County in 2013, according to court records. That August, he refused to leave his cell for a preliminary hearing on charges of defiant trespass and resisting arrest. “Any time he went off his meds, he most likely was in a very confused state,” Mr. Oakes said. “Never any violent behavior. Resistant to the police, perhaps.” The cause and manner of death for Smart of the Hill District also is pending test results, according to the medical examiner’s office. Smart was charged Saturday with theft by deception and other crimes, after police said he used counterfeit bills to buy tickets to the Steelers-Ravens game from a scalper. He was taken to the jail that evening and died Monday at UPMC Mercy. His attorney, Lee Rothman, said he “had a seizure disorder his entire life. … It’s my understanding that he was complaining of needing medication or else he’d have a seizure, and they said he would have to wait until Monday.” “It appears that there was some medical treatment done for him at the jail, but it may not have been proper.” Smart also was awaiting trial on separate charges of selling marijuana that were filed in September. Over 20 years, he was convicted of repeated drug possession with intent to deliver, recklessly endangering another person, marijuana possession, tampering with evidence and driving with a suspended license. His family told Mr. Rothman they were not available to comment. Corizon told the Post-Gazette last month that it provides nursing staffing above that required in its contract with the county. Corizon’s level of physician coverage, though, is much lower than that once provided by Allegheny Correctional Health Services, a nonprofit arm of the health department that ran the infirmary through August 2013. Warden Orlando Harper said that Corizon provides one full-time and one part-time physician, plus a psychiatrist. Allegheny Correctional had three full-time physicians and two part-timers, plus two full-time and one part-time psychiatrist. Corizon declined a request for an interview with the jail’s new interim medical director, internist Abimbola Talabi. Dr. Talabi replaced physician Michael D. Patterson, who died Nov. 26. She told the county’s Jail Oversight Board in December that the firm has been improving in the jail. Questioned by one board member, Dr. Talabi said the jail needed more doctors to handle the inmate population but declined to give numbers.  Source: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2015/01/09/Two-recent-inmate-deaths-raise-questions-on-Allegheny-County-Jail-health-care-contractor-Corizon/stories/201501090030
Angola Warden Burl Cain accused of role in inmate beating, lawsuit says Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain was one of several corrections officials named as a defendant in a civil suit filed in 2010 by an inmate who claimed his rights were violated when he was severely beaten in the back of a pickup truck after attempting to escape from the prison at Angola. Four corrections officials pleaded guilty in 2014 for their roles in the beating. Print By Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune Email the author | Follow on Twitter on January 09, 2015 at 3:49 PM, updated January 09, 2015 at 4:30 PM Reddit Email Angola Prison News Former Angola prison captain sentenced to serve 6 years for beating of handcuffed inmate Death Penalty declines in the United States, The Washington Post reports Angola warden Burl Cain mulling run for governor Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox's 4 decades of solitary 'barbaric beyond measure': NYT editorial Louisiana AG 'committed' to keeping Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox imprisoned despite court ruling All Stories | All Photos | All Videos A civil lawsuit filed in 2010 accuses Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain of personally playing a role in the beating of a handcuffed inmate in January of that year at the Angola prison. The since-settled lawsuit is centered on the same inmate beating incident, which occurred in the back of a pickup truck following the inmate's attempt to escape, that this week garnered a federal prison sentence for one corrections officer and probation for two others. A fourth former corrections officer awaits sentencing for his role in a cover-up of the incident.  The suit filed in federal court by Roy McLaughlin Jr., the 52-year-old inmate who was beaten, was dismissed in March 2011 after the state settled with the him for $8,250. McLaughlin had originally asked for $350,000 in damages for physical and emotional pain. Named as defendants were Cain, three of the former prison guards who were convicted in a criminal case following a federal investigation into the beating, and three unidentified "John Doe" corrections officers.  While details about the federal investigation into the incident from the FBI and U.S. Attorney are sparse and make no mention of Cain, the original civil complaint tells McLaughlin's lengthy account of what happened the day of the beating on Jan. 24, 2010. In his handwritten account, McLaughlin says Cain arrived at the scene shortly after McLaughlin surrendered to guards and was strip searched from the waist down, kicked some and then placed in the back of a pickup truck.  The complaint says Cain grabbed McLaughlin, who was seated in the truck bed, by the hair with his hand and "slamned [sic] plaintiff's head (2) two times onto the upper horizontal edge of the closed tailgate." The victim alleges in the lawsuit that Cain then told him, "Roy you're going into a paper gown," presumably referring to the medical ward or hospital, before ordering at least two of the officers sentenced in the case and some others to transport McLaughlin to the hospital.  Former prison captain Mark Sharp, who federal investigators indicate was responsible for the bulk of the beating, proceeded to hit McLaughlin several times with a metal baton during the ride to the hospital. McLaughlin said at least three and as many as four guards were in the back of the truck with Sharp during the ride when the beating occurred.  A call to the prison seeking comment from Cain was referred to Louisiana Department of Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde. Laborde said the department couldn't comment specifically on the lawsuit or its accusations against Cain, who is considering a 2015 run for governor of Louisiana. She noted, though, that department's legal staff said the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice -- meaning it cannot be amended or a similar complaint filed -- in 2011, "after a settlement was reached without admitting fault or liability by either party." Asked if the accusations against Cain were part of the federal investigation, Danette Willis, a spokeswoman in U.S. Attorney Walt Green's office, said Department of Justice policy prevents the office from commenting on this issue or similar issues.  Sharp was sentenced Thursday (Jan. 8) to serve six years and one month in federal prison for violating the inmate's civil rights and lying to the FBI. Matthew Butler, 29, was sentenced to two years probation and a $3,000 fine for misprision of a felony, or failing to report the felony acts. He was the warden on duty, according to McLaughlin's civil complaint. And Kevin Groom, 47, was sentenced to one year of probation and a $500 fine for falsifying records and lying to the FBI. Groom was also in the back of the truck during the beating, McLaughlin says in his complaint.  The $8,250 check issued to McLaughlin was issued by State of Louisiana Treasury Department from the office of risk management within governor's Division of Administration, according to court documents. Additionally, the state treasury department paid $350 in McLaughlin's legal fees to the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana.  The complaint offers other previously unreported details about the incident from McLaughlin's perspective.  McLaughlin alleges that after the truck drove away from Cain, he was belly-down in the bed with his hands cuffed behind his back when Sharp "deliberately, maliciously, sadistically, and expressing gargantuan cowardness [sic], assaulted and beat the fifty-two year old plaintiff" about 30 times with the baton.  The suit says the plaintiff overheard Sharp telling another, unidentified officer in the truck bed with them, "Try and crack his scull." The other officer, after hitting him twice in the head, eventually responded: "That boy has got a hard head."  The complaint also refers to the beating in a number of instances as attempted second-degree murder.  One of the unnamed officers, McLaughlin alleged, told Sharp to put away his baton when the truck arrived at the hospital's sally port, telling him "Someone may see us."  McLaughlin's account says he suffered a toe fracture, contusions and hematomas on upper buttocks and legs and other injuries. The lawsuit says in April 2010, three months after the beating, he still suffered from headaches, toe pain, hand pain and a "burning-like sensation to both upper rear legs."  The fourth corrections official who pleaded guilty in the case, Jason Giroir, will be sentenced Jan. 29 on charges related to the incident. He pleaded to a conviction of falsifying a report and lying to the FBI. Click here to download this file (PDF) . . . . . . Emily Lane is a news reporter based in Baton Rouge. Reach her at elane@nola.com or 504-717-7699. Follow her on Twitter (@emilymlane) or Facebook.  Source: http://www.nola.com/crime/baton-rouge/index.ssf/2015/01/burl_cain_angola_inmate_beatin.html
SC pays $1M+ to inmate's estate after he died in custody By Tim Smith Greenville NewsJanuary 10, 2015  2015-01-10T01:01:20Z Tim Smith The_State Facebook Twitter Google Plus More Linkedin Reddit YouTube E-mail Print Order a reprint of this story Recent Headlines Suspect who shot at deputy’s patrol car and considered ‘armed and dangerous’ arrested in Gilbert 3 hours ago Police: Teen stabs classmate over Snapchat message ‘Why are you punching him?’ 3 hours ago 1 arrested in Sumter after a man was struck by a vehicle Boy, 14, accused of stealing car, leading Kershaw deputies on chase Today's Deal For $49, get your choice of 5 Room Carpet Steam Cleaning or Tile/Grout Cleaning from Atlantic Ocean's Inc. ($99 value) $49.00 Buy Now! National Videos Taylor Swift Reacts to Hilarious Video of Police Officer Lip Syncing to 'Shake it Off' Inform News BACK Embed Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use This video player must be at least 300x168 pixels in order to operate. Taylor Swift Reacts to Hilarious Video of Police Officer Lip Syncing to 'Shake it Off' A police officer in Delaware is caught on tape dancing to Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off,' and his video goes viral. The video is so hilarious it even has Taylor Swift responding. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the details. Inform News 1:09 Now Playing Up Next Taylor Swift Reacts to Hilarious Video of Police Officer Lip Syncing to 'Shake it Off' A police officer in Delaware is caught on tape dancing to Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off,' and his video goes viral. The video is so hilarious it even has Taylor Swift responding. 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(Jan. 19) 1:13 Now Playing Up Next Eastwood's "American Sniper" wins big in box office battle Oscar-nominated war film "American Sniper" is hitting the target with moviegoers. The film starring Bradley Cooper led U.S. and Canadian box office charts over the weekend with a record-setting $90.2 1:43 Now Playing Up Next Obama previews State of the Union in weekly address ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Obama says 2015 is about "America's comeback" and he wants to "make sure that every American feels that they're a part of our country's comeback." During 2:17 Now Playing Up Next Driver pinned between 2 semi tells of crash COLUMBIA, SC — The state has paid $1.2 million to the estate of an inmate with mental retardation who died in 2008 after being kept naked for 11 days in solitary confinement and developing hypothermia. Records from the state Insurance Reserve Fund also show the state paid an additional $199,000 to its private lawyers in the case, which was cited last year by former state Circuit Judge Michael Baxley in his landmark, 45-page order finding the state Department of Corrections had violated the rights of inmates with severe mental illness. The estate of Jerome Laudman sued individual officers in the case in federal court and filed suit against the prison system in state court. Both cases were settled last year, records show, with the federal suit being dismissed and the state agreeing to pay $1.2 million in the state case. “We settled the case for 1.2 million,” Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said. “Corrections continues to make significant changes and improvements for the safety and security of officers and staff, inmates and the community.” Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville, chairman of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee, said of the settlement that “$1.2 million doesn’t bring this man back to life. ... (But) hopefully the family can have closure on that.” Scott Evans, a lawyer for the Laudman estate, said the family of Laudman feels the settlement was a fair one. He said the maximum amount that can be paid in a state medical negligence claim in South Carolina is $1.2 million. He said $600,000 is the limit for a wrongful death claim and $300,000 for other types of claims. Laudman’s final days and evidence of an attempted cover-up by correctional officers were detailed in documents reported by The Greenville News last year. Baxley wrote in his 2014 order that an investigative report found Laudman had been “physically abused” by a correctional officer during his cell transfer and that a prison investigator later “found evidence of an attempted cover-up by correctional officers” who cleaned the cell before investigators could photograph it. Baxley reported some inmates had died “for lack of basic mental health care, and hundreds more remain substantially at risk for serious physical injury, mental decompensation, and profound, permanent mental illness.” Lawyers for the state and the plaintiffs in the class-action case that resulted in Baxley’s order have been in mediation talks for months working on solutions to the problems cited in the order. Fair said at the time of Laudman’s death, prison protocols for dealing with the mentally ill were different than they are today. “Did the Department of Corrections knowingly do something wrong? Probably not,” Fair said. “They know now. But then they might not have known that the outcome for mentally ill people put in lockdown could be what it was for Mr. Laudman and that that is not the appropriate treatment for the mentally ill.” Laudman, who was 44 when he died, was admitted to the prison system in 1998, Evans said last year. He pleaded guilty to strong armed robbery and was sentenced to 10 years, he said. Laudman suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, mental retardation and bipolar disorder, according to documents in the federal lawsuit. He also had a speech impediment that made it difficult for him to communicate, according to the records. For much of his incarceration, the prison system’s mental health treatment of inmates was strongly criticized. One report in 2000 described it as in a state of “crisis.” The agency lacked adequate personnel and resources, the reports found. Among the recommendations was that the agency train its officers in how to handle the mentally ill. Laudman was committed to the prison system’s Gilliam Psychiatric Hospital at least 13 times, according to the federal lawsuit. On Dec. 7, 2007, he was placed in crisis intervention at Lee Correctional Institution, the Bishopville prison where he was assigned, for displaying “severe emotional problems,” according to the lawsuit. Crisis intervention, according to the lawsuit, is designed to provide intensive inpatient mental health treatment for “legitimate mental health disorders” for up to seven days. Instead, according to the suit, Laudman was placed on crisis intervention for up to several months. On Jan. 22, 2008, he was seen by his psychiatrist and prescribed medication. According to the lawsuit, he would never see the psychiatrist again, despite the psychiatrist’s order for a follow-up in two weeks. On Feb. 7, Laudman was moved to the Lee Supermax, cells designed to “punish and provide intensive supervision to inmates exhibiting assaultive behavior,” according to the suit. Why he was sent there and who authorized the move remains somewhat of a mystery, according to court documents. One administrator told a prison investigator that he was transferred because he was “trashing his room, was uncooperative and parading around naked,” according to the prison system’s investigative report. But the administrator didn’t know who authorized the transfer and the investigation could find no one who knew, according to the report, which is included in the federal court files. According to the report, witnesses to Laudman’s move said Laudman was sprayed with chemical munitions after initially refusing an order to be handcuffed, then handcuffed and thrown into the wrong cell. He was pulled out and thrown into the cell he was assigned. The officer accused of throwing Laudman denied the allegation, according to the internal report. When an investigator looked at the videotape of the transfer of Laudman, he noted that it contained only a few minutes of footage before it went blank, according to the internal report. The cell was bare, with a concrete pad for sleeping and no blanket, according to the suit. The lawsuit alleges that the entire area was cold and there were problems with the heating system. Laudman was stripped of all “basic necessities,” according to the lawsuit, including mattress, sheets, socks, shoes, underwear and uniform.” He also wasn’t provided access to his medication while in the Supermax cell, according to the suit. Four days after Laudman was placed in his new cell, an officer noticed that he was sitting and stooped over “like he was real weak or sick,” according to the internal investigative report. The officer also noted that food trays were piled up near the door, Laudman was naked and the room was bare. The officer didn’t report what he saw, according to the report, because when he brought up issues in the past he was told to “leave it alone.” Cell check logs for the time Laudman was in his Supermax cell show entries initialed by an officer who denied either making the initials or authorizing them, according to the internal investigative report. One date was blank and showed no cell check. In his order, Baxley wrote that, “The evidence before the court contains proven instances of fabricated cell check logs,” and noted Laudman’s cell checks as an example. Some inmates told the prison investigator after Laudman’s death that they had tried to get officers to look at Laudman, believing something was wrong since he wasn’t eating and not making his usual noises, according to the report. An officer told them that it was “out of his hands,” according to the investigative report. On the last day of Laudman’s life, Feb. 18, 2008, one of the officers repeatedly told a supervisor that “Laudman needed help,” and was lying in his own feces, according to the internal report. When the nurses assessed Laudman, one reported he was “extremely cold to the touch, ‘like ice all over his body,’” according to the lawsuit. The nurses said that he was unresponsive, with a pulse of 50 and pupils that were fixed and dilated, according to the prison internal report. One nurse noted that there were large bruises on Laudman’s hip bones, “suggestive of hips pressing against a hard surface for a long period of time.” Two inmates told an investigator that after Laudman was removed from the cell, other inmates were told to clean it. One said he was ordered to clean up the cell before any investigators arrived. He also said an officer advised him that if he was questioned by investigators “it would be best if he said nothing about it,” according to the investigative report. He said he put the feces, vomit and a jumpsuit found near the shower area in a trash can, according to the report. The investigator said in his report that he noticed no smell of feces or vomit as reported by a nurse when he saw the cell but did notice “the distinct odor of cleaning supplies.” When he asked a supervising officer, the officer told him the area hadn’t been cleaned or anything removed from the cell and that the cell was in the exact same condition as when Laudman left. Laudman was transported to a hospital, which later reported he was suffering from hypothermia and had a core temperature of 80.6 degrees, according to the prison internal report. He later was pronounced dead from cardiac arrhythmia. Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2015/01/10/3918834_sc-pays-1m-to-inmates-estate-after.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy 
Groups Call for Additional Reform on Prison Phone Rates January 16, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil A coalition of civil rights, faith, labor, media justice, and other groups from around the country this week wrote in support of further reforms to lower predatory prison phone rates. The letter urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to eliminate site commission payments, which can drive up rates. The letter also calls for backstopping rates with local caps reflective of competitive rates outside prisons, jails, and detention facilities – especially since the majority of calls to and from those facilities are local. In addition, the letter asks the FCC to consider the needs of prisoners with disabilities since “The deaf and hard of hearing community face unique challenges while incarcerated or detained,” and says the “reliance on outdated technology for incarcerated people is not acceptable.” In February 2014, after more than a decade of advocacy, several prison phone rate reforms went into effect, including a 25-cents-per-minute cap on interstate collect calls. The FCC also banned prison phone-service providers from charging extra fees to connect a call or to use a calling card. In September, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn issued a joint statement announcing they were circulating proposals on further prison phone rate reform, noting that “many families of inmates still face exorbitant rates for in-state calls, not to mention punitive and irrational fees – all of which make the simple act of staying in touch unaffordable.” These reforms are particularly important to the civil rights community because high prison phone rates place an unfair financial burden not only on prisoners, but also on their families and loved ones. According to an October 2013 report by The Leadership Conference Education Fund, in-person visits are often too expensive for the families of prisoners who may be incarcerated hundreds of miles away, leaving phone calls as “the most reliable and practical method of maintaining relationships with parents, children, spouses, siblings, and friends.” - See more at: http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2015/1503-fcc-letter.html#sthash.5NUvuhHv.dpuf 
 Zoë Carpenter » A 2-Day Revolt at a Texas Private Prison Reveals Everything That’s Wrong with Criminalizing Immigration A 2-Day Revolt at a Texas Private Prison Reveals Everything That’s Wrong with Criminalizing Immigration | The Nation Zoë Carpenter RSS Feed DC dispatches. E-mail tips to zoe@thenation.com. A 2-Day Revolt at a Texas Private Prison Reveals Everything That’s Wrong with Criminalizing Immigration Zoë Carpenter on February 24, 2015 - 2:46 PM ET Share (Screengrab: KGBT Action 4 News) The latest uprising at the Willacy County Correctional Center began quietly on Friday morning, when prisoners refused to go to their work assignments or to breakfast. Then, inmates broke out of the massive Kevlar tents that serve as dorms. Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence told reporters some had kitchen knives, sharpened mops and brooms. Prison officials sprayed tear gas; a SWAT team, the Texas Rangers, the FBI and the US Border Patrol all showed up. It took two days to quell the demonstration. Now administrators are beginning to transfer the 2,800 prisoners—undocumented immigrants, most serving time for low-level offenses—to other facilities, because the protest made the center “uninhabitable.” But reports suggest that Willacy has been uninhabitable for years. This is the third disturbance at the center since the summer of 2013, when inmates protested after their complaints of broken, overflowing toilets were ignored. “I feel suffocated and trapped,” a prisoner named Dante told the American Civil Liberties Union, which released a report on conditions at the facility last year. Dante and others described the 200-man tents they were housed in as “dirty and crawling with insects…. the toilets often overflow and always smell foul.” The ACLU also found that "basic medical concerns are often ignored or inadequately addressed." Reportedly, inadequate medical care is what sparked the weekend’s demonstrations. The events at Willacy put a spotlight on a shadowed corner of overlap between the federal prison system, private prison companies and the nation’s immigration enforcement machinery. Willacy is one of thirteen facilities in a network of Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons under the jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Prisons. These “second-class” prisons, run by notorious contractors like the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, hold some 25,000 immigrants whose crimes largely fall into two categories: minor drug offenses and immigration infractions such as re-entering the country illegally. A decade ago the latter was rarely treated as a criminal case; as I explain in more detail here, increased prosecution of unlawful entry and re-entry has become a hallmark of President Obama’s enforcement policies. In 2013, nearly a third of all federal criminal cases related to border crossings. In Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, they represent 80 percent of the federal criminal docket. CAR prisons are distinct from the detention facilities maintained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, but they aren’t run like most BOP facilities either. Most CAR prisoners don’t have access to attorneys, and because the BOP assumes they will be deported after serving their time, they are denied some services and considerations afforded to others in the corrections system, such as work training or drug treatment programs. Bob Libal, the executive director of a Texas prison reform group called Grassroots Leadership, explained the BOP’s reasoning: “In a system with scarce resources, why should we be giving them to immigrants who are just going to get deported?” “These uprisings are a predictable consequence of the Bureau of Prisons turning a blind eye to the abuse and mistreatment that happens at these private prisons,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Carl Takei. Successive riots broke out at the Reeves Detention Center Complex in Pecos, Texas, late in 2008 and early 2009, after a year in which four inmates died. One was Jesus Manuel Galindo, who’d been convicted of re-entering the United States illegally, and died of a grand mal seizure while locked in solitary confinement. Several CAR prisons use isolation excessively and capriciously, the ACLU discovered. It’s essentially written into their contracts: because of quotas, Texas CAR prisons house twice the percentage of their population in solitary as the average BOP facility, even though CAR inmates are considered low-security. Takei interviewed inmates at Willacy in 2013. The facility, he said, “is a physical example of everything that’s wrong with the criminalization of immigration, and the relationship of the private prison industry to both ICE and the Bureau of Prisons.” Willacy was built as an ICE detention facility in 2006, but after a series of reports of sexual and other forms of abuse, the agency transferred the detainees and ended its contract with Management & Training Corporation, the company running the center. Just one month later MTC announced it would again be responsible for detaining immigrants at Willacy, this time with a new partner: the Bureau of Prisons. The ten-year contract was worth more than half a billion dollars. Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50! Although the BOP monitors conditions at CAR prisons, the ACLU says that the agency has failed to enforce oversight and accountability, “leaving the private prison companies in a position of dangerous impunity.” When the BOP re-evaluated its contract with the GEO group for the Reeves facility in 2010, the agency noted, among other problems, that “lack of healthcare has greatly impacted inmate health and wellbeing” and that the “contractor shows little sign of improvement.” The BOP renewed the contract anyway—in part because officials were worried the BOP would lose “credibility as a solid customer” with prison corporations. At this point it’s hard to know exactly what happened at Willacy beyond official statements, or what awaits the detainees being transferred. Takei and Libal said that prison officials had cut off all access to the facility and communication channels to prisoners. But nothing that happened is particularly surprising in light of the ACLU’s findings—not even the reports that three of the ten housing tents were set on fire. "A lot of people get very upset and angry,” Dante, the Willacy prisoner, told ACLU staffers in 2013. “Sometimes they become so frustrated that they even speak of burning down the tents. But what’s the point? They’d build them back up.”   Source: http://www.thenation.com/blog/198889/2-day-revolt-texas-private-prison-reveals-everything-thats-wrong-criminalizing-immigrati
Luna County investigating complaints about inmate treatment By The Associated Press Posted:   05/12/2015 08:58:59 AM MDT DEMING >> An inmate at Luna County Detention Center says officers handcuffed and pepper-sprayed inmates last week. The Deming Headlight reports that 28-year-old LCDC inmate Franco Martincigh told the newspaper that the jail was locked down while detention officers searched an area and then ordered 38 inmates on their knees and handcuffed and pepper-sprayed them, despite the inmates' compliance with instructions. Luna County Manager Charles "Tink" Jackson acknowledges that there was a "situation" at the detention center, but says he cannot give more information because it is under investigation. An official at the detention center also declined to comment Friday. Martincigh says he told officers he couldn't breathe after they threw tear gas containers in the room. He says he was struck on his head and later transported to Mimbres Memorial Hospital.  Source: http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_28098902/luna-county-investigating-complaints-about-inmate-treatment
York County permanently suspends collection of inmate fee By GREG GROSS 505-5433/@ggrossyd Posted:   05/12/2015 07:50:11 PM EDT# Comments Updated:   05/12/2015 08:12:08 PM EDT For months, the processing fee assessed to incoming inmates to York County Prison hung in limbo. On Tuesday, the county's prison board voted unanimously to permanently suspend its collection. Funds generated by the $25 fee were allocated to the millions of dollars inmates owe toward court costs, fines and restitution to victims. However, some county officials voiced concerns, including the cost the county incurred to collect the fee, the questionable process by which it was collected and that families of prisoners could ultimately be paying the $25. "We're going after the right people but not at the right time," said Steve Chronister, president commissioner. "Let's wait until they are out and working. You can't get blood from a turnip." Though the county won't be collecting the fee now, that may change in the coming months after officials investigate a new collection method. The fee: The county began collecting the fee, which inmates were charged when entering the prison, about a year ago. But in October, the prison board suspended its collection after concerns were raised. The fee was assessed to all inmates, even if they didn't owe fines, court costs or restitution. "If they don't owe any restitution ... why are they paying," Chronister said. If a prisoner had argued against the collection and requested a court hearing, the process could have ended up costing the county more money than it received in fees, officials have said.  Source: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_28102358/york-county-permanently-suspends-collection-inmate-fee
Nebraska officials investigating deadly prison revolt, say unclear if it was properly staffed Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts, left, listens to Scott Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Corrections, during a news conference in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, May 12, 2015, as they discuss the aftermath of the weekend prison disturbance that left two inmates dead at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in southeast Nebraska. The Tecumseh State Correctional Institution remained on lockdown Tuesday, Frakes says the situation was under control. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) Associated Press May 12, 2015 | 7:52 p.m. EDT + More By GRANT SCHULTE and ANNA GRONEWOLD, Associated Press LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska officials promised Tuesday a thorough investigation of a deadly prison revolt, including a review of the facility's staffing and emergency procedures and how exactly two sex offenders were killed. Authorities declined to give specifics as prison officials worked to reopen sections of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution damaged in the 11-hour security breakdown. Two inmates serving time for child sexual assault were killed, four prisoners were injured and four staff members were assaulted. The prison was still on lockdown. Director of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes acknowledged that the prison in the southeast corner of the state has struggled with high employee turnover and overtime due to staffing shortages. But he said it wasn't clear whether the facility was properly staffed during the unrest that began about 2:30 p.m. Sunday after workers attempted to disband a large group of inmates. "Corrections is a business of risk," Frakes said. "It's easy after the fact to say we knew or should have known that something was going to happen. There's always a potential for something bad to happen in prisons." Frakes said he met with about 30 inmates at the prison less than three weeks ago and didn't sense that a major conflict was brewing. Some of the men voiced frustration that their movements were restricted and said they didn't have enough to do, Frakes said. Frakes said the 960-bed facility houses about 60 more inmates than intended and is one of the state's least overcrowded prisons. Tecumseh State Correctional Institution has 502 full-time staff positions, but it wasn't clear how many are currently filled or how many staff members were on duty Sunday evening, spokeswoman Jessica Houseman said. Frakes said the disturbance began at the start of a shift, and staff rosters were not completed or entered into the electronic system. Autopsies were scheduled Tuesday for inmates Shon Collins and Donald Peacock, both 46, who died during the chaos. Prison officials have said both men were likely killed by other inmates. Frakes declined to release how the inmates were killed until the autopsy results are final. Peacock and Collins were serving sentences for first-degree sexual assault of a child and visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct. State officials have said they don't yet know whether the dead inmates were targeted because they were sex offenders, but the head of the union that represents prison workers said such actions are common in riots. "Once you lose control of a situation like that, inmates will do inmate justice — or what they believe is justice," said Mike Marvin, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees. Department spokesman James Foster declined to say Tuesday where the bodies were found, citing the criminal investigation. Two days after the incident, Foster said prison officials still didn't know what prompted the inmates to gather in the yard. Prison officials moved some inmates into other cells to make room for repairs. Frakes said the damage included surveillance cameras, walls and cell-door windows. No overall cost estimate was available yet, but replacing the cameras was expected to cost $25,000 to $30,000. Frakes said the department has brought in a review team to examine the prison's emergency response plan, review incident reports from the disturbance, and interview staff and inmates. A review by the Corrections Department will be incorporated into a broader prison reform plan scheduled for release this fall, Gov. Pete Ricketts said. The review will include whether more staffing is needed at the facility. Building a new prison remains a last resort, Ricketts said. Marvin said the Tecumseh prison relies heavily on overtime to fill job vacancies. Some officers volunteer for 16-hour shifts but only do so because they think it will increase their chances of getting a day off, he said. "It's a dangerous situation when you're relying on that much overtime," Marvin said. "You get tired. You make a mistake. Mistake can cost lives." In addition, Marvin said the high turnover and rare pay raises have cost the facility experienced workers who might have defused the situation. The prisons location also makes it harder to recruit, he said, because few people want to commute an hour from Lincoln or Omaha. Source: http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2015/05/12/nebraska-officials-investigating-after-deadly-prison-revolt
NORCO: State senator wants prison closed Sen. Loni Hancock, chair of a state public safety panel, says the facility has rats, cockroaches.      Hancock Norco Closure Letter More from this story DATA: NORCO: State senator wants prison closed Today's PollWhat's this? Do you want the Duggar family back on TV? Yes No No opinion Trending ONTARIO: Off-duty probation officer shoots suspected carjacker RIVERSIDE: Four arrested in DUI sting SAN BERNARDINO: Man found dead in car SAN BERNARDINO: Police nab eight at DUI checkpoint LAKE ELSINORE: Car fire reported on Interstate 15 shoulder SolarMax Tech 800-477-9709 Riverside Yellow Pages THINGS TO DO     800-514-7253 ADVERTISE YOUR JOB OPENING HERE. . BY ALICIA ROBINSON AND BRIAN ROKOS / STAFF WRITERS Published: May 12, 2015 Updated: May 13, 2015 5:00 p.m. NORCO: State senator wants prison closed Print Photo Share on moreShare Pin It 1 of 2 More Galleries ADVERTISEMENT     The former Lake Norconian Club spa and resort is used to house the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco. FILE PHOTO Related article » PRISON CLOSURE? A state senator has suggested the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco be shut, but state corrections officials say they can't close the prison and meet a court-ordered cap on the state's inmate population. Here are some facts about the prison. Opened: 1962 Size: 98 acres Inmates: About 2,970 Staff: About 1,000 A state legislator is calling on corrections officials to follow through on a 2012 promise to close the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, which she described as “dilapidated and unsafe.” In a Tuesday, May 12 letter, state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, – chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety – told California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeffrey Beard that the state’s prison population has fallen enough to transfer Norco inmates to beds at other facilities. She also says the prison has rats, cockroaches and broken floor tiles. A corrections spokesman said the prison must remain open to meet court and legislative mandates on the inmate population to prevent crowding. Norco city officials, including Councilman Kevin Bash, have said they want the prison closed. But Bash took a more nuanced position Tuesday, saying he’s worried about what would happen to the employees and the prison once it’s empty. Inland state representatives also are approaching the issue with caution. State Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, who sits on the Senate Committee on Public Safety – chaired by Hancock – declined comment because he needs more time to study the issue, a spokesman said. State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, said in a written statement that the proposal must be “fully analyzed.” He added that, if the prison were to close, officials should get input from the employee union and others to ensure they are “not adversely affected.” ‘DECREPIT, RUN-DOWN’ The Norco prison opened 1962 in buildings much older than that. It now houses about 2,970 inmates on 98 acres. The campus also includes buildings associated with the Lake Norconian Club, a late 1920s resort, and a World War II-era Naval hospital. Hancock’s letter notes that some structures are “nearly a century old” and that its health and safety hazards include a leaky, cockroach-infested kitchen, rats in food storage areas, broken floor tiles and drain covers and improper water temperatures in restrooms and food-preparation areas. Hancock spokesman Larry Levin said Hancock hasn’t been to the prison, but read a recent health and safety report that “really shocked her about how decrepit, run-down and how unsafe the place was, and how much it would cost to renovate it.” The court-appointed receiver overseeing prison health care pegged the cost to rehabilitate the Norco facility at $1.4 billion, Levin said. Corrections spokesman Bill Sessa acknowledged the conditions. “We’ve also done quite a bit to address many of the issues that she is describing.” Levin said Hancock wants corrections officials to follow a plan in the 2012-13 state budget that pledged to close the Norco prison while also building new facilities with 2,376 beds at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione and Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County. The 2012 plan said the Norco prison would be closed by June 2016, and Hancock is not aware of any steps corrections officials have taken to meet that deadline, Levin said. That deadline has been suspended by legislators, Sessa said. Corrections must meet – and sustain – a court-ordered inmate population standard of 137 percent of capacity statewide, Sessa said. The department also must find room for returning inmates who had been temporarily moved to out-of-state prisons to relieve crowding. To do so, Sessa said, the Norco prison must stay open. Sessa said the closing date was once December 2016 but now is open-ended. “We have to deal with today’s reality with how many inmates we have,” he said.  Source: http://www.pe.com/articles/prison-767086-state-norco.html
Private prison companies are investing in alternatives to prison Updated by German Lopez on May 14, 2015, 4:30 p.m. ET @germanrlopez german.lopez@vox.com Tweet Share on Twitter (66) Share Share on Facebook + LinkedIn Share on LinkedIn (1) Email Email Print Print John Moore/Getty Images Private prison companies are facing up to the realities of criminal justice reform — and how it could hurt their bottom lines if they don't rethink their approach soon. Related3 reasons America still leads the world in imprisoning people The government knows LGBT immigrants are often raped in detention. It puts them there anyway. As more states and the federal government have enacted reforms to decrease the number of people in costly, overcrowded prisons, private prison companies have invested in the services that many new criminals will be pushed to instead of prison — probation, parole, and halfway houses. Bloomberg's Matt Stroud reported on the moves of two of these companies, GEO Group and CCA, both of which pulled in a combined $3.3 billion last year: GEO Group in 2011 acquired Behavioral Interventions, the world's largest producer of monitoring equipment for people awaiting trial or serving out probation or parole sentences. It followed GEO's purchase in 2009 of Just Care, a medical and mental health service provider which bolstered its GEO Care business that provides services to government agencies. "Our commitment is to be the world's leader in the delivery of offender rehabilitation and community reentry programs, which is in line with the increased emphasis on rehabilitation around the world," said GEO chairman and founder George Zoley during a recent earnings call. For $36 million in 2013, CCA acquired Correctional Alternatives, a company that provides housing and rehabilitation services that include work furloughs, residential reentry programs, and home confinement. "We believe we're going to continue to see governments seeking these types of services, and we're well positioned to offer them," says Steve Owen, CCA's ‎senior director of public affairs. The common refrain, as outlined by a 2011 report from the Justice Policy Initiative, is that private prison companies have hugely benefited from mass incarceration, since they're paid for each prisoner they hold. And as they've benefited, they've used the proceeds to lobby lawmakers to not carry out prison reforms, so they can keep a steady flow of prisoners. But this diversification shows that private prison companies aren't necessarily all in for mass incarceration anymore. They're developing other options, too — although they'll still rely on a steady flow of people under correctional supervision like probation, parole, and home arrest to boost profits. Still, private prisons are poised to get increased profits from at least one kind of incarceration in which they've heavily invested: the detainment of undocumented immigrants. A 2014 Government Accountability Office analysis found that the number of non-citizens in immigrant detention nearly doubled between fiscal years 2005 and 2013. And US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a mandate to keep 34,000 detention beds available — although Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has said this is a mandate to keep the beds, not necessarily fill them.  Source: http://www.vox.com/2015/5/14/8608017/private-prison-companies-diversifying
Ex-Captain at Rikers Island Deserves ‘Substantial’ Prison Term, U.S. Says By BENJAMIN WEISERMAY 18, 2015 Inside Supported By Photo Terrence Pendergrass, a former captain at Rikers, in March 2014. Credit Anthony Lanzilote for The New York Times Advertisement Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Share This Page Email Share Tweet Save more Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Federal prosecutors want a former Rikers Island captain to be sentenced to a “substantial term” in prison, though less than the 10-year maximum penalty, in a civil rights case that highlighted the failures of New York City’s jails to accommodate the needs of mentally ill prisoners. The former captain, Terrence Pendergrass, was convicted in December of a civil rights violation after prosecutors presented testimony and other evidence that he had refused to seek help for a Rikers inmate who was pleading for medical attention and later died. Judge Ronnie Abrams of Federal District Court in Manhattan is to sentence Mr. Pendergrass on Thursday. In a memorandum filed on Monday, prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York urged the judge to be mindful of the need to deter similar misconduct. Continue reading the main story Related Coverage Ex-Captain at Rikers Is Found Guilty of Civil Rights Violation in Inmate’s DeathDEC. 17, 2014 Account of Death at Rikers Is DisputedDEC. 9, 2014 U.S. Plans to Sue New York Over Rikers Island ConditionsDEC. 18, 2014 Rikers: Where Mental Illness Meets Brutality in JailJULY 14, 2014 For Mentally Ill Inmates at Rikers Island, a Cycle of Jail and HospitalsAPRIL 10, 2015 Even as Many Eyes Watch, Brutality at Rikers Island PersistsFEB. 21, 2015 The inmate, Jason Echevarria, 25, who was being held in a punitive segregation unit for mentally ill inmates, swallowed a packet of highly toxic detergent known as a soap ball in August 2012. He had been gasping for breath, vomiting and banging on the door of his cell as he pleaded for help, prosecutors had told the jury. Although correction officers had reported his pleas to Mr. Pendergrass, the captain did not summon assistance and even ordered one officer who was trying to call for help to hang up the phone, prosecutors had said. “As a result, Mr. Echevarria was left to suffer horribly for hours, and ultimately to die in his cell, alone,” the prosecutors, Lara K. Eshkenazi and Daniel C. Richenthal, said in the sentencing memo. “The culture of violence and the poor treatment of inmates by correction officers at Rikers Island has been well documented. The defendant was in a position of power in an institution that appears to be plagued by systemic indifference by correction officers to the medical and other needs of prisoners. A significant sentence is thus all the more necessary.” Mr. Pendergrass, 51, of Howard Beach, Queens, was convicted of one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. The indictment charged that he willfully deprived Mr. Echevarria of his right as an inmate “not to have his serious medical needs met with deliberate indifference.” Mr. Pendergrass’s lawyer, Samuel M. Braverman, had told the jury that his client “was never indifferent to Mr. Echevarria’s serious medical needs.” In a defense sentencing memo, Mr. Braverman suggested that his client was being held responsible for the failings of other jail staff. “This case is tragic and Mr. Echevarria’s death, though self-inflicted, could easily have been prevented by so many officers, including Mr. Pendergrass,” Mr. Braverman wrote. The government did not specify a requested sentence except to say that it should be “a substantial term of imprisonment” that is higher than the recommended range of 21 to 27 months under federal guidelines but below the 10-year maximum. The court probation department had recommended the 10-year maximum sentence for Mr. Pendergrass, while Mr. Braverman had sought a term of no more than 21 months. Mr. Pendergrass was dismissed upon his conviction, a spokesman for the Correction Department said.  Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/nyregion/ex-rikers-captain-deserves-substantial-prison-term-us-argues.html?_r=0
Lawrence court officer accused of raping inmate indicted Jose Martinez, 46, of Lawrence, indicted Monday NEXT STORY School cancels senior ball after 'chaos' erupts in school Text Size: ASmall Text AMedium Text ALarge Text Photos LAWRENCE, Mass. —A Lawrence court officer is indicted on charges of sexually assaulting a female prisoner, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced Monday. Court officer accused of raping shackled female inmate A Lawrence court officer is accused of raping a female inmate several times while she was shackled. More Court officer accused of raping inmate faces new charges A Lawrence District Court officer accused of raping a female inmate while she is shackled is facing additional charges. More Jose Martinez, 46, of Lawrence, was indicted by an Essex County grand jury on four counts of rape, six counts of indecent assault and battery and one count of assault with intent to rape and misleading investigators. Prosecutors said Martinez assaulted the victim in a holding cell, a prisoner elevator and a stairwell at the courthouse on three different dates in 2009 and 2014 while the victim was in custody on drug and fugitive-from-justice charges. She told staff at a jail where she was held later about the 2014 assaults, which prompted an investigation by Massachusetts State Police. Martinez was arrested on sexual assault charges March 4 and was placed on leave from the court. He was arrested again a week later for allegedly attempting to mislead state police by trying to have a coworker destroy a cellphone that Martinez had hidden inside the Lawrence courthouse before it could be seized by investigators, according to prosecutors. His bail was revoked at the time. Martinez is scheduled to appear in Lynn District Court on Wednesday. An Essex County Superior Court arraignment date has not yet been set.  Source: http://www.wcvb.com/news/lawrence-court-officer-accused-of-raping-inmate-indicted/33087842
Rikers Island guard at women’s jail raped inmates: lawsuit BY Stephen Rex Brown NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 6:51 PM Updated: Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 7:04 PM A A A 152 Facebook 72 Twitter Reddit Email 9 Comments 223 Share Print Share this URL Todd Maisel/New York Daily News Benny Santiago, a correction officer at the Rose M. Singer Center, a women's lockup at Rikers Island, is accused of raping two inmates. The women's jail at Rikers Island is home to a "pervasive culture of rape" where monstrous correction officers retaliate against inmates who blow the whistle, a new lawsuit charges. The case, brought by the Legal Aid Society and seeking class action status, details horrific repeated sexual assaults of two inmates at the Rose M. Singer Center identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 at the hands of correction officer Benny Santiago. Jane Doe 1, who is an inmate at Rikers, claims she has been repeatedly raped out of sight of security cameras by the sadistic brute who would become jealous when she made eye contact with other guards. The suit charges that Santiago refused to wear a condom, and even visited Jane Doe 1's parent's home in an effort to assure she remained quiet. Her first encounter with Santiago was in 2006, papers claims. During returns to Rikers she endured his abuse again and again, papers charge. Jane Doe 2, who did two bids in Rikers between 2012 and 2014, was also one of Santiago's targets. He plied her with tobacco and ecstasy, and threatened her if she did not comply with his orders, papers charge. "I can get you set up. I can get you fu---- up," he allegedly said. The suit charges that he followed through on his threat when he suspected Jane Doe 2 had talked to authorities on him. Santiago let some inmates out of their cell one night and allowed them to menace Jane Doe 2 for "snitching," the suit reads. Soon, she was denied food and showers, papers read. Other correction officers stood idly by as the retaliation continued, papers read. Jane Doe 2, who is out on parole, developed post-traumatic stress disorder and got an STD from Santiago, the suit claims. Correction Department spokeswoman Eve Kessler said she could not comment on pending litigation, but said DOC had a “zero-tolerance policy with regard to sexual abuse and assault. “There is no place at DOC for the mistreatment of any inmate,” she said. A source said Santiago is on modified duty and does not interact with inmates. Bonifacio, Mark Inmates stand in line inside the Rose M. Singer Center in Rikers Island. The center is a women's jail that's considered one of the worst female lockups in the nation regarding staff sexual misconduct. Nevertheless, the suit charges that the Jane Does’ experience is not unique. Women at the jail endure all manner of retaliation, including "placing them in punitive segregation based on false disciplinary charges, threats and other verbal abuse, deprivation of food for extended periods of time, and refusing to permit women to bathe," the suit charges. The Rose M. Singer Center is one of the 12 worst jails in the country regarding rates of staff sexual misconduct, according to Legal Aid. Nationwide, 3.2% of jail inmates reported sexual victimization, but at Rose M. Singer the rate was 8.6%, according to a Department of Justice survey. Approximately 5.9% of RMSC inmates reported sexual abuse by staff. The suit seeks a judge's order of reform to the jail, as well as damages for the inmate-victims. Last year Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara joined a separate class-action against Rikers alleging out of control use of force by correction officers against inmates, as well as abuse of incarcerated juveniles. Settlement talks regarding reforms to the jail are ongoing. A Law Department spokesman said the suit will be reviewed once it is served. With Reuven Blau  Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/rikers-island-guard-women-jail-raped-inmates-lawsuit-article-1.2228477
'Prison guards can never be weak': the hidden PTSD crisis in America's jails ‘Eight and the gate’ is a corrections officer’s unofficial motto, but the hyper-vigilance of the job and the episodes of inmate violence take an extremely high toll. ‘We’re doing time too, we’re just getting paid for it’ Jeff Hernandez poses in a T-shirt that asks: ‘Is there a tougher beat?’ Photograph: Dasha Lisitsina Dasha Lisitsina in Oregon and New York Wednesday 20 May 2015 15.15 EDT Last modified on Thursday 21 May 2015 23.30 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on WhatsApp Shares 25,104 25k Comments 180 Michael Van Patten’s 18-year-old son came home to find his dad crouching on the kitchen floor, gun in hand, a nearly empty bottle of gin by his side, tears running down his cheeks. Trevor grabbed the weapon, ran up to his room, shut the door and didn’t speak to his dad – or anyone – about the incident for 13 years. For Michael, this was the build-up of nearly three decades working as a corrections officer at the Oregon state penitentiary. “The only way I knew how to deal with it was to eat a bullet.” There is little awareness of how the culture of endemic violence in prisons affects the correction officers who interact with prisoners. But with over 2 million prisoners and around half a million COs, it is a widespread and underreported problem. Corrections officers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at more than double the rate of military veterans in the US, according to Caterina Spinaris, the leading professional in corrections-specific clinical research and founder of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, a nonprofit based in Colorado. This in turn inevitably affects prisoners. While there is no hard data on guard-on-inmate assaults, interviews with current and former corrections officers revealed that COs occasionally take out the stress of the job on inmates. In 2011, Spinaris did an anonymous survey of corrections officers, testing them for indications of PTSD: repeated flashbacks of traumatic incidents, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, suicidal thoughts and alienation, among others. She found that 34% of corrections officers suffer from PTSD. This compares to 14% of military veterans. The suicide rate among corrections officers is twice as high as that of both police officers and the general public, according to a New Jersey police taskforce. An earlier national study found that corrections officers’ suicide risk was 39% higher than all other professions combined. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Michael Van Patten in uniform: ‘The only way I knew how to deal with it was with a bullet.’ Photograph: Dasha Lisitsina “Right now, we’re about where the military was 10, 15 years ago when it comes to them dealing with PTSD,” Van Patten tells me. Nearly 20 of his fellow officers have committed suicide since he started working in corrections. He nearly became a statistic himself. Advertisement Van Patten was assaulted when he was helping a nurse give a rectal exam to an inmate suspected of packing drugs. As he was reaching down to grab the inmate’s ankles to flip him over, the inmate came down on Van Patten’s back, dislocating his skull from his spinal vertebrae. Van Patten couldn’t walk for five months, nor could he hold his newborn child. “It was a shock,” he said. “You don’t go to work expecting not to walk when you come home.” Most of his job, around 95% as he estimates, is pretty mundane. Every day he does a cell count, keeps an eye on inmate’s activities, fetches someone toilet paper. This goes on for eight or, often, 16 hours straight – sometimes without a lunch break, depending on the day. It’s the other 5% that leads to the extraordinarily high rate of PTSD: dealing with inmate violence, coming home with faeces smeared all over his uniform, trying to stop suicide attempts. Van Patten said the biggest stress factor is not knowing when crisis situations may arise. This leads to permanent hyper-vigilance, “because we go into a place where we have control, but yet we don’t have control, because the inmates let us run the prison. If they wanted to, they could take it. They’re compliant until they choose not to be,” he said. As soon as a CO enters a prison, he or she goes into battle mode. “We put on our armour. When you walk through the first gate, it clicks. And so does your back,” says Michael Morgan, an ex-officer at Oregon state penitentiary. “You’re in the pressure cooker” for at least eight hours – the duration of one shift. Corrections wisdom dictates that you deal with trauma by not dealing with it at all. “They teach us to leave it at the gate,” said Morgan. “Eight and the gate” is the unofficial motto. But even off-duty, the guards are always on edge. At an interview over lunch, Jeff Hernandez, another CO at Oregon state penitentiary, requested to swap places at a restaurant so he could sit facing the entrance of the room. This is a common quirk among those working in corrections. COs say working in prison has significant long-term effects on your personality. Van Patten said the job changed him within six months. He became more cynical, withdrawn and aggressive. “You almost become non-human, robotic, emotionless,” said Charles Ewlad, the warden at Riverhead correctional facility at the eastern end of New York’s Long Island. When he first started, “people came to work hammered every day. That was the deal.” This is no longer the status quo, though substance abuse is still a widespread coping mechanism. “I went to work every day and I put this persona on,” Van Patten said. He has seen inmates show up at recreational activities with a nine-inch shank sticking out of their eye, others hang themselves, and still others cut their arteries and bleed to death. “I didn’t know how to release the stuff I kept dreaming about. You’re doing tier count and you’re watching a human being die in front of your eyes because he’s coughing up lungs and screaming with his eyes for help and there’s nothing you can do,” Van Patten said. “Even though he’s an inmate, he’s still human; you’re still human.” On the first day of work, his son Trevor – who also works as a corrections officer – remembers seeing the remains of a prisoner who was beaten to death by other inmates. “You see people smashing pumpkins on Halloween. Imagine all of the orange being red. And then all the orange on the outside being white. That’s what it looked like on first image. That’s a human being.” An hour after that he was eating lunch, then went back to work. ‘When I was struggling, nobody helped me’ In the years and months leading up to his attempted suicide, Michael suffered from all the typical symptoms of PTSD: insomnia, cold sweats, phantom violence while asleep. He worked out obsessively and self-medicated with alcohol. He didn’t even know what PTSD was at the time. That’s partly because it’s not something that COs talked about. The culture is tough and macho, and any sign of vulnerability, especially a mental health diagnosis, carries stigma. “Officers can never be weak. Inmates can never be weak. It’s its own world,” said Brian Baisley, the head of the medical evaluation unit at Riverhead. Unlike a soldier returning from war or a policeman after an extraordinary incident, there’s little respite for a corrections officer. “You’re always still there,” he said. “It’s long periods of boredom, punctuated by excitement.” Jeff Hernandez, the CO at Oregon state penitentiary, recalls one incident where an officer working on the notoriously difficult intensive management unit had a breakdown and burst into tears on the job. “I know from talking to several people there really still is an undercurrent of ‘You never should have done that on the unit’,” he said. Hernandez is currently on medical leave for a physical condition, but when he stopped to greet another officer, the officer avoided asking him why – because, Hernandez says, “as far as they know, it could be PTSD. That’s very indicative of how people respond to that. No one knows how to approach it.” PTSD is considered taboo partly because many fear a diagnosis will have negative repercussions on their career prospects. “They won’t get diagnosed because of the stigma,” Michael Van Patten says. Many are afraid that they will be put through a “fit for duty” test with a state psychologist as a result, and will be decertified. Some corrections officers at Oregon state penitentiary and Riverhead in Long Island do not think prison is a rehabilitative solution, merely a punitive one. “There’s got to be a better way to do things than put, say, James here in a corridor with 30 inmates for eight hours,” says Charles Ewlad, warden of Riverhead. “We’re doing time too, we’re just getting paid for it,” says Brian Dawes, head of the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network. The national average annual wage for a CO is $44,910, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In California this can go up to $100,000. Facebook Twitter Pinterest The Oregon state penitentiary: ‘There’s got to be a better way to do things’ than put someone in a corridor with 30 inmates for eight hours. Photograph: Dasha Lisitsina In 2013, Van Patten decided to go public within his department about his attempted suicide, out of concern over the recent slate of staff suicides. “I finally thought that I’d been around there long enough, that someone had to break the ice.” He recorded a video of himself speaking to his son Trevor about the incident. That was the first time they ever spoke about it together. The film was screened at the annual in-service training. Jeff Hernandez remembers feeling shocked when he saw the video in that context: “I was not prepared because his personality has never been where I could even consider the possibility of him trying to do something like that.” But some COs still feel the stigma of having mental health issues. Michael Morgan, the ex-CO, was diagnosed with PTSD. He said that when he reached out to the state’s mental health emergency hotline and the department during his extended breakdown, they were dismissive of him once he said that he wasn’t feeling suicidal. “As far as I’m concerned the department of corrections did nothing for me,” Morgan said. Morgan’s mental health struggles started when he was pulled over in 2010 for driving while drunk. He spent 32 hours on the other side of the bars for the first time while he was waiting to be arraigned. “I pretty much hit rock bottom,” he said. “When I was struggling, nobody helped me.” A year later, he got a decertification notice based on multiple charges. He was working on the intensive management unit at the time and was awaiting to hear the results of his case. “There were times when I got off a 12-hour shift that I would go out in my truck and I would turn the radio up as far as it would go for five to 10 minutes, just to feel something different that I could say: ‘OK, I can feel this rather than the other sensation’.” It was during this period that Morgan ended up in the psychiatric ward. He was driving in the car with his wife when he pulled over, put on the emergency brake and told his wife to call the police on him: “I didn’t feel in control and I knew that that’s not a good thing.” Morgan was diagnosed with PTSD on the psychiatric ward. Although this seal caused him a lot of anxiety, it actually helped him in his appeal to the decertification panel. Once he submitted his medical paperwork, instead of firing him they transferred him from security to a non-security job under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He is now the co-facilitator of a mental health training program at Oregon state penitentiary and, along with Michael Van Patten, is making an example of himself to raise awareness of PTSD. “But,” Van Patten said, “you can’t change a culture over night.”  Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/20/corrections-officers-ptsd-american-prisons
Creating Community-Based Alternatives to Incarceration: A Win-Win for Parents and Children Saturday, 06 June 2015 00:00 By Susan Sered, Susan Sered's Blog | Op-Ed font size decrease font size increase font size Print  7   Email A bill to create community-­based sentencing alternatives for non-­violent primary caretakers of dependent children (House Bill #1382) was filed a few months ago in Massachusetts. The mover behind this bill was Andrea James, a formerly incarcerated woman and founder of Families for Justice as Healing. According to James, the goal of the bill is “alleviating the harm to children and primary caretaker parents caused by separation due to incarceration of the parents, while reducing recidivism and strengthening family unity and communities.” Citing a report issued by Erika Kates, Ph.D, of the Wellesley Centers for Women, James emphasizes that an estimated two-thirds to three-quarters of incarcerated women in Massachusetts are mothers, over half of whom likely lived with their children prior to arrest. My own strong support for this proposed legislation grows out of the research I have conducted for the past decade among Massachusetts women who have been incarcerated. The majority of these women were primary caretakers of dependent children at the time that they were incarcerated, and the consequences of incarceration were and remain overwhelmingly negative for the children, their mothers, and often for the entire extended family. When mothers are sent to prison, their children become collateral captives, following their mothers into the institutional circuit and often ending up in foster care or living with an extended family member who may be less able to parent than the incarcerated mother. While many foster families take in children for all of the best reasons, other foster care settings seem to set children up for life-long problems. Many of the women I know struggle to care for children who at the age of eighteen (released from child welfare services) have come back into their lives, angry and wounded from years separated from their mothers. According to the Government Accountability Office, children in foster care frequently are prescribed psychotropic drugs at higher levels than allowed by the FDA. Foster children have been found to be prescribed cocktails of powerful antipsychotic drugs just as or even more frequently as the most mentally disabled children, and at twice the rate of children not in the foster care system. Risperdal, Seroquel and other drugs that were developed for schizophrenia are prescribed regularly even though schizophrenia is extremely rare in children. Even children under one year old have been prescribed these drugs, many of which have side effects of drowsiness, rapid weight gain and carry the risk of creating metabolic problems. In fact, children who spend time in foster or institutional care are disproportionately likely to later spend time in juvenile detention centers and eventually to transition into correctional institutions. In other cases the children of incarcerated mothers are given into the custody of family members. While this scenario can be better than foster care– and it’s the one that mothers often prefer – it carries its own set of problems. When Tonya was locked up her mother received custody of her daughter. And while the child was raised by a loving and well-intentioned grandmother, she simply was too old and frail to set appropriate boundaries for an angry adolescent. While Tonya can’t know for sure that things would have turned out differently if she’d been able to stay with her daughter, she is morally certain that she would not have sent her daughter to a locked program for “difficult” adolescents, a program from which her daughter fled – to the streets – on her eighteenth birthday. Tonya’s mother is kind and well-meaning, but the fact that the majority of criminalized women experienced abuse during their own childhoods means that there are grave risks that their children will be placed with the very same family members who had committed or allowed (tacitly or explicitly) the abuse of their mothers. In one especially nightmarish case, Francesca saw her children given into the custody of the brother who had sexually abused her as a child. For mothers, separation from children is experienced as a severe and ongoing trauma, compounding the trauma of their own childhood abuse. Some mothers spend their time in prison frantically trying to keep tabs on their children’s well-being, a task made near impossible by restrictions and costs on telephone calls. Even while incarcerated, mothers work to parent from a distance by arranging care with relatives, keeping on top of child welfare services regarding appropriate placements, setting up visitation, checking to see if children are doing their homework and if they have been taken to the doctor for check-ups, and trying to arrange adequate housing for the family once they are released. These mothers describe feelings of extreme helplessness, anxiety and panic, often leading to increased prescriptions of psychotropic medication. At the other extreme, some mothers tell me that, “Once my kids were gone, I had no reason to try to stay clean. I was off and running [that is, increased substance abuse].” As Kahtia explained, permanent loss of custody while in prison sets them up “to hit the streets running” – looking for drugs – when they are released. Kahtia knows about these problems from just about every angle possible. She herself was subjected to horrific sexual abuse as a child. She “lost” her first children “to the system” when she was on the streets as a young adult. Over the past eight years her life has calmed down; she has settled into a reasonably good relationship with a decent man, and together they parent two children. A few years ago, however, Kahtia’s past caught up with her and she was sent back to prison on an old warrant. The children’s father continued to care for the children while she was locked up, but he couldn’t bring them to visit her in prison because of his own problematic legal background (he was an undocumented immigrant at the time). Kahtia’s favorite aunt took on the job of driving the children for visits until she, unexpectedly, passed away. A terrible loss for Kahtia and her daughters, the most immediate consequence was that there no longer was a way for the children to visit. Kahtia contacted Child Welfare Services for assistance, but was told that it was not their responsibility to bring the children to see her because Kahtia and her husband had not lost custody. Kahtia and I spent many hours writing letters and making phone calls trying to arrange permission for me to bring the children to visit, but to no avail. After two months without personal contact her relationship with her children deteriorated. Her older daughter, now almost three years old, refused to speak to her on the phone and Kahtia became increasingly depressed and anxious. Following months of “making progress” (her therapist’s words), Kahtia attempted suicide three months before the end of her sentence, was put in solitary confinement to “calm down” and was denied the early release that previously had seemed likely. Myths circulate about criminalized women: that they are “bad” mothers who cannot possibly be positive caregivers for their children. The women I have come to know through my research do not fit popular dichotomies in which motherhood is idealized or demonized. Like most mothers everywhere, they embrace normative cultural ideologies of “good” mothering. They endeavor to enact those ideologies in their daily life; they are judged in light of those ideologies; and they interpret their own actions as those of a “good” mother. Mothering is central to their thoughts, feelings, conversations, choices, strategizing, actions, and self-presentation. They beam with pride at their children’s accomplishments, stay up at night with them when they are sick, regularly put their children’s needs before their own and try their very best in difficult circumstances. Some have ended up in jail for attempting to protect their children from abuse or for stealing in order to feed and house their children. Most incarcerated mothers count the days until they can be reunited with their children. But the post-incarceration reality for mothers is far from easy. In prison women may fantasize about being perfect mothers to angelically behaved children, but realize upon release that they are not perfect and that their children are not angels. Relationships need to be renegotiated with children who may be angry that their mothers left and afraid that their mothers will leave again. Mothers may be surprised at how much their children have grown and changed. They may feel overwhelmed upon moving from a setting (prison) in which everything is decided for you to a setting where you are responsible not only for all of your own needs and decisions but also those of your children. Those who lack economic resources may especially struggle with caring for children while also trying to get their own lives back together, all in an environment of poverty. These challenges are compounded even further for the many mothers who leave prison without immediate access to appropriate and secure family housing. As a sociologist I am aware that diverse types of household and family arrangements can be found around the world. There is no one right way of raising children. Yet I also am aware that children need stability and consistency in order to thrive. Creating community based sentencing alternatives for primary caretakers of dependent children will allow many more children to benefit from the on-going presence of their mothers at the same time as it will allow mothers to develop the resources, skills and support networks that they need in order to be effective parents. For these reasons, I urge all who are concerned about the well-being of families in Massachusetts to call or write to their senators and representatives urging them to support House Bill #1382. This bill would require a sentencing judge to determine whether a person is a custodial, primary caretaker of a dependent child, and eligible for consideration under this bill, and if so, the court shall order a community-based, non-incarcerating sentencing alternative. Such sentences shall take into consideration a myriad of services, based on individual assessments, including individual and group counseling services, relapse prevention workshops, vocational and educational groups, medical, housing and financial assistance, domestic violence intervention and workshops, parenting skill development (if applicable), entrepreneurial and empowerment seminars and recreation and leisure activities. I am not naive enough to think that these services and programs will solve the problems of poverty, homelessness and violence. Not all alternatives to incarceration are benign, and many reinscribe the same sorts of injustices that plague the prison system. But I do think that this bill is a good start. For more information on how to voice your support of this bill, email info@justiceashealing.org .  Source: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/31165-creating-community-based-alternatives-to-incarceration-a-win-win-for-parents-and-children
1 prison guard pleads guilty, 1 going to trial in inmate beating Christopher Blake Christmas. By ZACK McDONALD | News Herald Writer | Twitter: @pcnhzack Published: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 08:05 PM. Photo Galleries Guilty plea PANAMA CITY — One former prison guard will be defending himself at trial against charges he conspired in an orchestrated beating of an inmate. Christopher Blake Christmas, 32, was scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. However, as Judge Robert Hinkle questioned him about changing his not guilty plea, Christmas denied any prior knowledge of a group attack on an inmate but said he was accepting a plea deal in hopes of a lighter sentence. “I didn’t know they had plans to do anything other than escort the inmate,” Christmas told the court. “At no time did I hear (the captain) say he would yell [that] the inmate spit on him and that we were to jump on him, although I don’t doubt he said it, because he was that type of person.” Christmas was one of five Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) officers indicted on charges of violating 31-year-old Jeremiah Tatum’s rights to not suffer cruel or unusual punishment at the Northwest Florida Reception Center (NWFRC) in Washington County during an act of jailhouse retaliation. All but Christmas have pleaded guilty to the charges, with James Fletcher Perkins pleading guilty earlier Wednesday. William Francis Finch, Robert Lewis Miller and Dalton Edward Riley have admitted to accepting orders from former Capt. James Kirkland prior to slamming the inmate face-first to the ground and then falsifying reports of the incident. Kirkland has since died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Defense attorney Rachel Renee Seaton-Virga initially said in court Wednesday that with the four other men prepared to testify, Christmas was accepting a guilty plea to keep his family from suffering a longer hardship. “He’s the sole provider for his family and if convicted at trial he faces a substantially longer sentence,” she said. “He has elected to forgo a trial in hopes of a lighter sentence.”  Source: http://www.newsherald.com/news/crime-public-safety/1-prison-guard-pleads-guilty-1-going-to-trial-in-inmate-beating-1.486797
Prison reform reducing free inmate labor Jeff Amy, Associated Press 6:28 p.m. CDT June 7, 2015 Mississippi Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, center, discusses the importance of the Joint State County Work Program in helping keep state highways clean.(Photo: File photo/AP) 8 CONNECT 4 TWEET 4 LINKEDIN 2 COMMENTEMAILMORE Should Mississippi gear its prison policy to produce free inmate labor for local governments? The answer that some sheriffs, county supervisors, lawmakers and others are giving seems to be yes. The fuss is over Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher’s decision to shutter the Joint State County Work Program. It’s a hangover from the Legislature’s 2014 decision to reduce inmates in state prisons. Then, most people seemed happy about dialing back on prison sentences. Republicans wanted to spend less money on the Corrections Department, and Democrats wanted fewer harsh sentences. That was a reversal of Mississippi’s decades-long pattern of imprisoning a lot more people, leaving the state with five times as many inmates as in 1980. That rate of increase was greater than the nation as a whole, and it made the Magnolia State a world leader in incarceration. Mississippi had the second-highest rate of jailing people among states in 2013, behind only Louisiana, according to the Sentencing Project. And the United States as a whole trailed only the tiny island nation of the Seychelles in its rate of locking people up. While civil rights advocates have complained about over-incarceration, Mississippi’s prison industrial complex has benefited some. For example, the bribery opportunities for now-convicted Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps were probably more lucrative because of the state’s large and growing number of inmates. And the state needed places to house prisoners. One solution was regional jails, 15 facilities mostly in rural and depressed areas. Counties borrowed to build them with the promise of state inmates, creating some jobs. Other local governments facilitated borrowing for private prisons. When Mississippi had more inmates than it knew what to do with, county work programs were another place to stash them. There too, counties borrowed to build special facilities to host nonviolent offenders nearing the end of their sentences. But with the prison population falling, both the county programs and parallel state-run Community Work Centers are about half empty. Fisher has sided with preserving his own employees’ jobs, closing county facilities instead. “The taxpayers are going to be left holding the bag for that,” Mississippi Association of Supervisors Executive Director Derrick Surrette said of indebted counties last week. But more acute is the disappearance of the inmates. More inmates mean sheriffs get to hire more jail guards, and local entities get an estimated $23 million in free labor. Carthage Mayor Jimmy Wallace noted inmates have helped repair churches in Leake County, a sure source of electoral goodwill. Advocates say taxpayers deserve to have inmates riding garbage trucks or painting county buildings. “One of the most positive things is the taxpayer telling us they’re glad to see the prisoners out there doing that work, not lying in some bunk bed in Parchman,” central district Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said of his department’s contracts with counties and cities to have inmates pick up roadside litter. “The taxpayers are paying for that guy to be out there doing that work, they’re feeding him and clothing him and housing him. They want him out there doing something, not piddling away somewhere.” Although it’s hard to see the lucrative future of roadside litter collection, supporters argue some inmates are learning skills like carpentry or auto repair that will help them in the outside world. . “We’re also teaching these guys skills once they’re released from prison,” Wallace said. Lawmakers and candidates are piling in too, trying to save the program. Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, is proposing widening the number of prisoners allowed to participate. “We need to change the law to make even more people eligible for this program,” he said.  Source: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/06/07/prison-reform-reducing-free-inmate-labor/28659865/
3 Rikers guards arrested in 2012 inmate death; New York City dumps jail healthcare company after probe Wednesday, June 10, 2015 04:49PM NEW YORK (WABC) -- There are two big stories out of Rikers Island Wednesday, after a current and two former guards were arrested in connection with the death of an inmate and city officials announced they are dumping the jail's healthcare provider after an extensive probe. Federal prosecutors announced that former guards Brian Coll and Anthony Torres and current guard Byron Taylor are now facing charges in the 2012 beating death of Ronald Spear. Court papers say Coll repeatedly kicked Spear in the head, while Taylor helped restrain Spear and then lied about his role. Torres pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice and is said to be cooperating. Officials say Spear posed no danger to any correction officer at the time of the attack. He had kidney problems and walked with a cane, suffering from end-stage renal disease. He required regular dialysis and wore glasses and a bracelet that indicated he was a "risk of fall." "Coll repeatedly kicked Spear in the head while Spear was already restrained and while he was lying face-down, prone on the prison floor," the criminal complaint reads "Coll continued to kick Spear in the head even after another correction officer told Coll to stop and attempted to shield Spear's head from further blows." Coll then put his face "inches away" from Spear and said, "That's what you get for fu----- with me. Remember that I'm the one who did this to you." Spear's death, at 52, was ruled a homicide. Attorneys say Spear complained that guards retaliated against him for contacting lawyers about his kidney disease treatment. He was awaiting trial. A corrections captain told investigators that Coll asked six to eight months after Spear died whether he should get a teardrop tattoo on his eyelid, something street gang members do after they kill someone. She said Coll told the captain after the state court case ended without charges, "I beat the case." New York City settled a lawsuit last year for $2.75 million stemming from the death. Meanwhile, New York City on Wednesday dropped the private company that delivers health care in its jails after a year of scrutiny over high-profile deaths of mentally ill inmates and a city probe that found the company hired felons and provided questionable care. Corizon Health Inc.'s contract, which is set to expire Dec. 31, won't be renewed and instead the city's public hospital system will run medical and mental health care for the roughly 70,000 inmates who pass through Rikers Island and other city jails every year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "We have an essential responsibility to provide every individual in our city's care with high-quality health services - and our inmates are no different," he said. The announcement comes as Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters revealed the findings of a six-month probe into the Brentwood, Tennessee-based company, the nation's biggest for-profit correctional health provider, which has been under contract with the city since 2001. Corizon, and Rikers, have come under increased scrutiny since a series of reports by The Associated Press revealed the horrifying deaths of mentally ill inmates in recent years, including one who an official said "basically baked to death" in a sweltering cell and another who died after he was ignored for days, during which time he sexually mutilated himself. The AP first reported last fall that city officials were reviewing Corizon's contract in a story highlighting 15 inmate deaths deemed medical since 2009 in which investigators said the quality and timeliness of care was a factor. The DOI report released Wednesday takes an in-depth look at Corizon's hiring practices, concluding that its background checks of new hires - which in some cases were nonexistent - failed to fully account for prospective workers' financial, criminal and professional histories, leaving them susceptible to corruption. In a statement, the company said it was disappointed to lose the New York contract, emphasizing the challenges of providing health care in jails. It also disputed the report's findings, saying the conclusions are "misleading" and inappropriately place blame on Corizon instead of on the Correction and Health Departments, which oversee the jails. In recent months, DOI has arrested a Corizon nurse on charges he took bribes for smuggling alcohol and tobacco to inmates, a mental health clinician on charges he smuggled tobacco and synthetic marijuana inside a lotion bottle and, last month, a Corizon employee who had served 13 years in prison for kidnapping on charges he smuggled a straight-edge razor into a Rikers facility. The report further concluded that persistent communication problems between the Department of Correction, which runs the jails, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees inmate care, and Corizon, which provides the care, has resulted in pervasive hiring problems. The Department of Correction hasn't conducted criminal background checks of the 1,100 fingerprinted Corizon employees working in city jails since at least 2011 - a problem it didn't discover until DOI informed them of it last year. The fingerprints of hundreds of Corizon employees sent by the company to the Department of Correction for full criminal background checks were ignored, apparently never forwarded to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and not run through the jail's own inmate intelligence databases, the report found. Investigators even discovered a 1-foot stack of Corizon employees' fingerprints, stuffed into FedEx envelopes, on a former top Department of Correction official's filing cabinet. Even more concerning is that state officials stopped accepting physical fingerprints in 2010, moving to an electronic fingerprint system, the report found. Speaking to reporters after the report's release, Peters said there was blame to go around - not only with city officials who failed to properly oversee Corizon's practices but also with company officials who never followed up on the status of the background checks. "Regardless of how you slice it up, we're going to be left with the undisputed fact that it didn't get done right," he said. "And it's got to get done right." After reviewing the files of 185 Corizon mental health workers, investigators found that in 89 cases, Corizon failed to conduct any background check at all, hiring employees whose professional licenses were suspect and, in eight cases, employees with criminal records for kidnapping, murder and other crimes. In one case, Corizon hired a mental health clinician who disclosed in his application that his law license had been suspended for 30 months. DOI investigators found court officials suspended his license after discovering he "misappropriated" $1,000 in client funds and mismanaged client trusts. That clinician was arrested in April for his role in a yearslong mortgage fraud scheme involving a partially blind 60-year-old client. He had recently been disciplined for improperly handling a suicidal inmate. (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)  Source: http://7online.com/news/2-rikers-guards-arrested-in-2012-inmate-death;-nyc-dumps-jail-healthcare-company-after-probe/776316/
Prosecutor of exonerated Texas death row inmate stripped of law license | Fox News Prosecutor of exonerated Texas death row inmate stripped of law license Published June 12, 2015 Associated Press Facebook90 Twitter0 Email Print HOUSTON –  A former Texas prosecutor has been stripped of his law license after a panel of the State Bar of Texas determined he withheld evidence and used false testimony to win a capital murder conviction against a now-exonerated death row inmate. A three-member evidentiary panel of the legal agency ordered Thursday the disbarment of Charles Sebesta, who spent 25 years as district attorney in Burleson and Washington counties, after finding he committed professional misconduct in his prosecution of accused murderer Anthony Graves.  Graves was convicted and sent to Texas death row for the 1992 slayings of six people. A federal appeals court reversed his conviction in 2006. He was released from prison four years later, after a serving a dozen years on death row, when a special prosecutor determined he should be freed and declared innocent. "It takes great courage to say a prosecutor was so clearly acting against the rules of fair play that he should be stripped of his law license," Graves said Friday in a statement released by his lawyers. "But the panel did just that, and I appreciate it. "I have waited 20-plus years for complete justice and freedom. ... No one who makes it a goal to send a man to death row without evidence — and worse, while hiding evidence of my innocence — deserves to be a lawyer in Texas." Sebesta left office in 2000 after 25 years as prosecutor in the two counties about 100 miles northwest of Houston. He did not immediately respond to telephone messages Friday from The Associated Press. His State Bar profile lists him as retired. He has said he continues to believe Graves is guilty and has posted extensively about the case on his personal website. Texas has achieved notoriety as the nation's most active death penalty state and prosecutors rarely have been punished for wrongdoing. Sebesta's disbarment comes about 18 months after another former district attorney, Ken Anderson, served four days in jail and forfeited his law license for the wrongful murder prosecution of a Central Texas man, Michael Morton. Morton served nearly 25 years of a life prison term for the 1986 slaying of his wife but was freed after a special court of inquiry determined Anderson intentionally concealed evidence favorable to Morton's defense. In Graves' case, another man, Robert Earl Carter, also received a death sentence for the killings and had testified that Graves was his accomplice. Carter subsequently recanted that testimony, including in the moments just before he was executed 15 years ago. When a federal appeals court reversed Graves' conviction, it found Sebesta withheld that Carter told a grand jury that he committed the murders alone, and then allowed Carter and another witness to give false testimony. Graves in January 2014 filed a grievance with the State Bar. A year ago the organization's Office of Disciplinary Counsel found "just cause" to believe Sebesta had violated ethics rules, leading to a four-day disciplinary hearing last month. Sebesta invoked his right under State Bar rules to keep those proceedings private. Besides his 12 years on death row, Graves spent two years awaiting his first trial, then another four in jail awaiting a second trial. "The ordeal experienced by Mr. Graves is almost unimaginable," his attorneys, Kathryn Kase, Neal Manne and Charles Eskridge III, said in a statement Friday. "We are humbled and inspired by the grace and character he has shown throughout — including when he shook Mr. Sebesta's hand after the hearing ended and wished him well." Graves and Carter were convicted separately of the murders of Bobbie Davis, 45; Nicole Davis, 16; Denitra Davis, 9; Brittany Davis, 6; Lea 'Erin Davis, 5; and Carter's 4-year-old son, Jason Davis. Court records showed Carter was upset that one of Davis' daughters had named him in a paternity suit, a step toward seeking child support. The six victims had been stabbed or shot, or both, and were discovered by firefighters responding to a blaze at a home in Somerville, about 80 miles northwest of Houston, in the early morning hours of Aug. 18, 1992. Evidence showed their killer tried to burn the bodies to hide the deaths.  Source: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/06/12/prosecutor-exonerated-texas-death-row-inmate-stripped-law-license/
Prisoner says he was told to keep quiet about maggots Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press 9:06 p.m. EDT June 11, 2015 Inmates supervised by Aramark serve meals at a Michigan prison in 2014.(Photo: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press) 12 CONNECT 34 TWEET 1 LINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE LANSING, Mich. — The prisoner who discovered maggots in a vegetable slicer at a Jackson-area prison on June 2 told investigators that an Aramark Correctional Services supervisor told him to clean the machine and "not ... say anything about this issue," according to reports released Thursday under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act. When prison officials at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility responded, they found "one to two dozen maggots," on a food preparation table, but lunch still being served. They found Aramark supervisor John Morario in his office at his computer, rather than taking charge of the situation, the reports say. After prison officials ordered the lunch service halted and the food thrown out, Morario suggested a replacement meal featuring rice in place of potatoes, according to one of the reports. USA TODAY Prison escapees still confound as search intensifies "I instructed (Aramark) to provide two chicken patties and bread," Deputy Warden Fredeane Artis said in a critical incident report. "Anything but rice." But Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler on Thursday criticized the reports, saying they are "missing key eyewitness testimony from Aramark's first manager who was on the scene." Cutler said that unnamed manager, who is out of state and couldn't be questioned by investigators, "along with a corrections officer, agreed to follow proper procedure and they immediately stopped the serving line and the area was cleaned." The reports said a state contract monitor, Lawrence Mason, later found the bags of potatoes Aramark had on hand had not been date-labeled, as required, so it wasn't possible to tell if they had been kept too long. ENTERTAIN THIS! Why is Pamela Anderson serving food in prison? Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz cautioned that many of the reports released Thursday are raw evidence in the form of witness statements and are not conclusive. Still, it's the latest in a series of incidents since Philadelphia-based Aramark replaced about 370 state workers and began a three-year, $145-million contract to serve meals to Michigan's 43,000 prisoners in December 2013. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March 2014 for food shortages, unauthorized menu substitutions and over-familiarity between kitchen workers and inmates and $200,000 in August 2014 after problems persisted. The state later confirmed it quietly waived the March fine soon after it was imposed, and Aramark never paid it. There were earlier incidents of maggots found in or around food, though state officials later said the maggots couldn't be blamed on Aramark so much as issues with how food was stored. USA TODAY 'Shawshank Redemption' pales in comparison to N.Y. prison break There also have been incidents of Aramark employees arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into state prisons for inmates and several instances in which Aramark workers and inmates have been caught engaging in sex acts. Earlier this month, a former Aramark worker at Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula was arraigned on criminal charges for trying to hire an inmate to assault another inmate. Prisoner John Doe — his real name, not an alias — discovered the maggots in a machine used to cut potatoes and was told to keep quiet and "clean it up," using vinegar to wash the machines, according to the reports. "I told him to wait so I can tell Mr. Morario my supervisor about it and find out what to do," Troy Jordan, the Aramark worker closest to Doe when the maggots were discovered, told investigators. "I asked (Morario) about what to do," and he "said just clean it up." Jordan said that didn't sound right to him so he asked a second supervisor, Cynthia Vogelsong, who said the same thing. USA TODAY Inmates sick after maggots found in prison cafeteria When prisoner Doe told Jordan that just cleaning up the maggots was not the proper way to handle the incident, he gave Doe permission to tell Corrections Department staff, the report says. It wasn't until Corrections Department officials were notified that the meal service was stopped — several minutes later — according to a report prepared by Capt. Chandler Cheeks. Under the direction of Artis, "all Aramark employees were instructed to immediately remove and discard all potentially contaminated food from the serving lines," Cheeks said in the report. "All preparation tables, trays, utensils, serving lines and hot boxes where potentially affected food was stored for the serving lines were immediately sanitized. The food processor was disassembled, sanitized, and also removed from service. The contaminated inventory of potatoes that was identified was immediately pulled from inventory and discarded." Morario's report to investigators said he "saw the insect larva on the chute area of the food processor and also near the base of the machine and on the prep table" after he was alerted by prisoner Doe. Morario said he cleaned the table and had a prisoner bag the food processor and that Morario alerted the deputy warden's office, which decided to stop the meal. USA TODAY Mich. prison worker suspected in attempted hired hit Artis, the deputy warden, said he found Morario in his office at a computer and Morario told him the Sloppy Joes the kitchen was serving were not affected by the maggots. "I asked him, 'How do you know?'" and stopped the meal, Artis said in a report. Doe said in a written statement that after he discovered the maggots, Vogelsong "politely asked me to clean the machine and not to say anything about this issue." Only one prisoner reported not feeling well and officials believed that was unrelated to the maggots, according to the reports. "What remains unknown is the source of the problem," said Cutler. "No pests were found in any of the food or the storage area, and the MDOC's equipment log shows that the vegetable slicer involved was cleaned and stored properly prior to use. We have passed our recent sanitation audits, while MDOC continues to work with its pest control provider to manage a persistent pest problem in the kitchen. "Interestingly, these allegations are similar to those from a year ago when Aramark was wrongfully implicated and eventually cleared by MDOC and the state."  Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/11/prisoner-says-he-was-told-to-keep-quiet-about-maggots/71097896/
Federal lawsuit alleges abuse by prisoner transport company BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER Published: June 15, 2015 Article Tools Font size: [A] [A] [A] Our Social Networks Facebook Sign Up Text Alerts |  A Florida man who violated his probation for a bad check conviction in Pike County claims he was urinated on and forced to endure other abuse from employees of a prison transport company during a 10-day trip to return him to answer the charges. Darren Richardson of Spring Hill, Florida, says workers with Prisoner Transport Services of America withheld food, attempted to extort jewelry from him and fastened shackles around his legs so tightly that he lost circulation, causing his legs and feet to turn purple by the time he arrived at the Pike County Correctional Facility last June, according to a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit says employees of the Tennessee-based transport company also forced the inmates to hand over their debit cards, which the guards used to purchase cigarettes and other items, and subjected them to repeated verbal abuse. Officials with Prison Transport Services did not respond to emails or a phone message seeking comment. Mr. Richard’s attorney, James Conaboy of Scranton, said issues involving private transport companies are becoming a “national epidemic.” The lawsuit is among numerous suits that have been filed across the nation against private prison transport companies that allege negligence and abuse. “There are little to no regulations on their operations,” Mr. Conaboy said in an email. “ The treatment of Mr. Richardson and the others in the custody of the transport officers is unspeakable. They were forced to live a real life nightmare for the amusement of the officers.” Prison Transport Services claims to be the largest private inmate transport service in the nation. An Internet search revealed the company has faced several lawsuits in other states, including one filed by a Texas woman who claims she was improperly shackled and denied water. Other transport companies have also been sued. The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado sued TransCor America of Tennessee in 1999 on behalf of a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a guard. TransCor America also faces a pending classing action lawsuit filed in California that alleges prisoners were forced to ride in vans for 24 hours continuously without being provided overnight rest in a bed. It could not be determined how long Pike County has used Prison Transport Services or how much the firm charges to transport inmates. The Times-Tribune sought a copy of the company’s contract under the state’s Right to Know Act, but the county had not responded as of Thursday. Lackawanna County has utilized Prison Transport Services to transport inmates since 2008, said Sheriff Mark McAndrew. Mr. McAndrew said he’s never had any complaints about the firm’s service. In Mr. Richardson’s case, he claims he did not go to the bathroom for six days and did not eat anything for four days as he was being transported from Florida to Pike County from June 5 through June 15, 2013. He was arrested in Florida on May 29 after he was stopped for a traffic violation and the officer learned of a warrant issued in 2009 after he failed to meet his probation officer and pay a $250 probation fee. Mr. Richardson said he was held in a van so small that there was no room to allow him to move his legs. His legs began to deteriorate due to a lack of circulation, leaving him unable to walk or stand, the suit says. At some point Mr. Richardson and other inmates were taken to a county jail to sleep overnight. Mr. Richardson was switched to another van because the bus he was in was too large to navigate through New York City. An unidentified sergeant told him “May God have mercy on you. That’s going to be a ride from hell’” and proceeded to urinate on Mr. Richardson, the suit says. Mr. Conaboy said Mr. Richardson continues to suffer from physical and psychological injuries. “The horrors that he experienced have profoundly impacted him. We anticipate that he will continue to require medical care indefinitely into the future,” he said. In addition to the transport company, the lawsuit names Pike County Commissioners Richard Caridi, Matthew Osterberg and Karl Wagner as defendants as well as Craig Lowe, warden at the Pike County Correctional Facility, and two assistant wardens, Jonathan Romance and Robert McLaughlin. Mr. Osterberg declined to comment on the lawsuit. Attempts to reach the other commissioners and attorney Tom Farley, solicitor for Pike County, for comment were unsuccessful. Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com  Source: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/federal-lawsuit-alleges-abuse-by-prisoner-transport-company-1.1898265
Protest held after inmate dies of dehydration in cell Posted: Jun 21, 2015 11:24 PM PDT Updated: Jun 21, 2015 11:33 PM PDT Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email   According to the official report, in the hours before he died, jail staff lied about checking on him. (Source: family photo/KIRO/CNN) Inside WDAM.comMore>> SEATTLE, (KIRO/CNN) - Sunday, hundreds of people held hands and surrounded the Island County jail in memory of a man who died from dehydration in his jail cell. They carried signs that read, "No water equals death." MOREAdditional LinksPoll Utah inmate's son sues after father misses dialysis, dies Utah inmate's son sues after father misses dialysis, dies The son of an inmate who died at the Utah state prison has sued corrections officials and health care providers, accusing them of violating his father's civil rights by failing to give him dialysis for two days.More The son of an inmate who died at the Utah state prison has sued corrections officials and health care providers, accusing them of violating his father's civil rights by failing to give him dialysis for two days.More On April 8, Keaton Farris died in jail from dehydration after jail staff had shut off water to his cell. "He was just an awesome guy who gave great hugs and had an awesome smile," said his father, Fred Farris. "I'm worried about everyone that's in those cells up there. You know, I want to go grab them and hug them and say, 'Come on, let's go. Let's get out of here.'" Farris' father wants the whole jail shut down after what happened to his son. He said Farris had struggled with mental health issues the last couple of years and had been arrested after trying to cash a forged check. According to a report released last week, he had put a pillow in the toilet, flooding his jail his cell, so staff shut off his water. "There's no excuse for anyone to die of dehydration, in a climate-controlled facility that's three blocks from a hospital," a protester said. On April 6, when a jail nurse checked on him, he said, "I need a medical professional." She asked him how he was doing. "Not good," he said. According to the official report, in the hours before he died, jail staff lied about checking on him. "Keaton did not die of natural causes. He was killed. When you deny water to somebody, you are killing them," a protester said. The sheriff has apologized for what happened. In a statement he said, "I share the family's anger and grief over the recent death of their son Keaton while he was an inmate at Island County jail."  Source: http://www.wdam.com/story/29373473/protest-held-after-inmate-dies-of-dehydration-in-cell
Columbia University Will Divest From Private Prison Companies Posted: 06/22/2015 9:51 pm EDT Updated: 06/22/2015 9:59 pm EDT This Oct. 10, 2007 file photo, shows the statue of Alma Mater on the campus of Columbia University in New York. Columbia became the first major university to divest from for-profit prisons on Monday. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS Share 1825 Tweet 291 Email 0 Comment 46 tumblr stumble reddit NEW YORK -- Columbia University trustees voted Monday to divest from for-profit prison companies because of concerns about mass incarceration, becoming the first major university to do so. Columbia, in New York, owned more than 230,000 shares of Corrections Corp. of America, the largest private prison company, headquartered in Nashville, Rolling Stone reported last year. The school no longer owns those shares, law professor Jeff Gordon disclosed in April. The school still holds shares in G4S, a British prison and security services company. The trustees' vote pledges Columbia will not invest its endowment of more than $8 billion in for-profit prisons in the future. It follows a recommendation this year from the school's Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, and was endorsed by university President Lee Bollinger. "This action occurs within the larger, ongoing discussion of the issue of mass incarceration that concerns citizens from across the ideological spectrum," Columbia trustees said in a statement. "We are proud that many Columbia faculty and students will continue their scholarly examination and civic engagement of the underlying social issues that have led to and result from mass incarceration." Gordon, chair of an advisory subcommittee, said the group is considering whether Columbia should divest from fossil fuel companies as a stand against global warming. Students protested for months to get Columbia to divest from for-profit prisons, citing alleged violence and human rights abuses. An article in The Guardian described a G4S facility in England as rife with drugs and alcohol. An American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit accused a Corrections Corp. of America-owned prison as permitting excessive violence and prison guards who laughed as they declined to treat prisoners' injuries. According to the ACLU, "several studies suggest that prisoners in for-profit prisons face greater threats to their safety than those in publicly-run prisons." Like Us On Facebook | Follow Us On Twitter | Contact The Author Tyler Kingkade covers higher education at The Huffington Post. Contact him at tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com. More: Prisons Private Prison Divestment For Profit Prison Divestment Cca Divestment Columbia Divestment Columbia University Prisons Columbia University Divestment Columbia Prison Divestment Columbia Divest Prisons What's Working   Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/columbia-divest-prison_n_7640888.html
Maggots prompt call for prison kitchen inspections By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press 11:10 p.m. EDT June 24, 2015 Proposed legislation responds to another report of maggots Buy Photo Prisoners supervised by Aramark serve meals at a Jackson-area prison.(Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo 450 CONNECT 41 TWEET 1 LINKEDIN 72 COMMENTEMAILMORE LANSING — Michigan's prison food contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, is targeted in a bipartisan bill to require food safety inspections of prison kitchens, following the most recent incident involving maggots in or around food. Reps. John Kivela, D-Marquette and Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, want Aramark to pick up the cost of the inspections by local health departments. Currently, prison kitchens are exempt from the food safety inspections that restaurants receive because they are not considered "food establishments" under the Michigan Food Law. House Bills 4748 and 4749 would change that. "Just in the past few weeks there was yet another allegation of maggots in food served by Aramark in one of our prisons, so clearly fining the company and the bad press they've received over previous incidents hasn't helped get them to run a good food service operation or clean kitchens," Kivela said in a news release. Related: Did inmates eat potatoes with maggots in them? McBroom said, "Our prisons should face the same scrutiny as our schools, universities and senior centers," and "it seems only reasonable that those kitchens face the same strict inspections as required by any kitchen serving the public." Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler said "food safety is our highest priority and we welcome the public discussion regarding the appropriate roles and responsibilities in the MDOC (Michigan Department of Corrections) kitchen facilities as it relates to overall food safety." MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz said the department has no position on the bill, but is open to discussing it. He said the kitchens are inspected more frequently now than when they were staffed by state workers, because state contract monitors do monthly inspections, a registered sanitarian does an unannounced annual inspection, and Aramark also employs a company that conducts inspections. The Free Press reported June 2 that maggots were found that day in potatoes being prepared for serving at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson. Gautz said though it was possible some contaminated food was served to prisoners before the meal was stopped, there were no such reports. On June 11, after obtaining records under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act, the Free Press reported that the prisoner who discovered the maggots said an Aramark supervisor told him to keep quiet about the incident. DETROIT FREE PRESS More maggots found in food in Aramark prison kitchen Cutler said the prisoner's account is hearsay. "We have passed our recent sanitation audits, while MDOC continues to work with its pest control provider to manage a persistent pest problem in the kitchen," she said. Gautz said there have been "isolated incidents" of pests at Cotton, which the department has addressed, but "we don't have persistent pest problems at the Cotton facility." He agreed the department is responsible for pest control, while Aramark is responsible for kitchen sanitation. The discovery of maggots was the latest in a series of incidents since Philadelphia-based Aramark replaced about 370 state workers and began a three-year, $145-million contract to serve meals to Michigan's 43,000 prisoners in December 2013. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March 2014 for food shortages, unauthorized menu substitutions and over-familiarity between kitchen workers and inmates and $200,000 in August 2014 after problems persisted. The state later confirmed it quietly waived the March fine soon after it was imposed, and Aramark never paid it. There were earlier incidents of maggots found in or around food, though state officials later said the maggots couldn't be blamed on Aramark so much as issues with how food was stored. There also have been incidents of Aramark employees arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into state prisons for inmates and several instances in which Aramark workers and inmates have been caught engaging in sex acts. Earlier this month, a former Aramark worker at Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula was arraigned on criminal charges of trying to hire an inmate to assault another inmate. DETROIT FREE PRESS Third Aramark prison worker suspected of drug smuggling DETROIT FREE PRESS 4 Aramark prison workers caught in sexual romp with inmates, fired On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Ohio renewed a contract with Aramark to feed that state's 50,000 prison inmates, despite similar early problems with that contract involving understaffing, running out of food and a few cases of maggots near food preparation areas. Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4. Source: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/06/24/bill-targets-aramark-requiring-prison-ktichen-inspections/29210815/
Chatham County deputies indicted in Taser death of inmate | Political Insider blog Chatham County deputies indicted in Taser death of inmate June 25, 2015 | Filed in: confederate flag, David Scott, Hank Johnson, Morning Jolt. Comments 4 Authorities in Savannah have finally confirmed that a local artist was shocked to death in the Chatham County jail while strapped to a restraining chair. From the Savannah Morning News: Two former sheriff’s deputies and a contract health-care worker at the Chatham County jail were indicted Wednesday on felony involuntary manslaughter and related charges stemming from the Jan. 1 death of Mathew Ajibade, 21, at the jail…. Chatham County Sheriff Al St. Lawrence addresses reporters at a press conference earlier this month on the use of Tasers by officers on inmates in the jail. Ian Maule/Savannah Morning News/AP The grand jury said Jason Paul Kenny, 31, caused Ajibade’s death during the commission of “reckless conduct … without any intention to do so by tasing him while he was restrained,” Chatham County grand jurors said in the indictment… Kenny was also charged with aggravated assault for “drive stunning” Ajibade with a Taser while he was restrained. Lawyers for the Ajibade family say they are disappointed that murder charges weren’t leveled against the deputies. More background can be found here. Here’s your Wikipedia definition of “drive stun.” Some Taser models, particularly those used by police departments, also have a “Drive Stun” capability, where the Taser is held against the target without firing the projectiles, and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the target. “Drive Stun” is “the process of using the EMD (Electro Muscular Disruption) weapon [Taser] as a pain compliance technique. This is done by activating the Taser and placing it against an individual’s body. This can be done without an air cartridge in place or after an air cartridge has been deployed.” Guidelines released in 2011 in the U.S. recommend that use of Drive Stun as a pain compliance technique be avoided. The guidelines were issued by a joint committee of the Police Executive Research Forum and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The guidelines state “Using the ECW to achieve pain compliance may have limited effectiveness and, when used repeatedly, may even exacerbate the situation by inducing rage in the subject.”  Source: http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/06/25/chatham-county-deputies-indicted-in-taser-death-of-inmate-2/
Court reverses denial of prisoner's request to sue as pauper Story Comments Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Posted: Friday, June 26, 2015 11:21 am | Updated: 11:47 am, Fri Jun 26, 2015. Court reverses denial of prisoner's request to sue as pauper Associated Press | LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court has reversed a ruling that denied a prisoner's request to sue prosecutors and other attorneys without having to pay the costs of his claim. The court said in a ruling Friday that a Lancaster County judge erred when she denied the inmate's request for legal status as a pauper. The inmate, Paul Castonguay, was convicted of first-degree sexual assault in Douglas County but filed his complaint against prosecutors, public defenders and two other attorneys in Lancaster County. Judge Stephanie Stacy denied his request for pauper status on her own accord after concluding that Lancaster County wasn't the proper venue for the case.  Source: http://www.theindependent.com/news/state/court-reverses-denial-of-prisoner-s-request-to-sue-as/article_9df32aaf-9b18-51fd-8eb8-f87ee349dd31.html
More unrest erupts at private Arizona prison Jerod MacDonald-Evoy and Craig Harris, The Arizona Republic 2:56 a.m. EDT July 5, 2015 Police lights are seen in the distance after several days of unrest at the Arizona State Prison-Kingman.(Photo: Patrick Breen/The Republic) 225 CONNECT 191 TWEET 2 LINKEDIN 47 COMMENTEMAILMORE KINGMAN, Ariz. — A third disturbance within four days erupted at a private prison outside Kingman, authorities confirmed Saturday afternoon. Units with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Mohave County Sheriff's Office helped the Department of Corrections in quelling the unrest at Arizona State Prison-Kingman. A spokesperson with the DPS stated the department was asked to assist with a "prison riot." Mohave County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jody Schanman said units were called to the prison, but she could not elaborate on the specifics of the situation. Late Saturday, DOC spokesman Andrew Wilder acknowledged that there was a riot Thursday at the complex but described Saturday's incident as a group of inmates being "non-compliant." He also said the transfer of about 700 inmates that began Friday because of Thursday's riot continued into Saturday. He would not disclose where they'd be transferred but said that state law allows the convicts to be placed temporarily in county facilities or even shipped out of state. He added that correctional officers from public prisons have been called in to assist Management & Training Corp., the Utah-based company that manages the Kingman-area prison. He declined to specify which prisons the additional officers came from. MTC did not return requests for comment Saturday night. Saturday's incident resulted in one or two inmates sustaining minor injuries, Wilder said. There were no reports of staff being injured. Wilder declined comment regarding MTC's operation of the private prison. He also said he had no information on who would be paying for the transfer of the inmates or the bill for local law enforcement having to respond to back-to-back incidents. The DOC spokesman reiterated that contrary to some bloggers' reports, there were no escapes and that no inmates breached the prison's perimeter either Friday or Saturday. The prison is about 20 miles west of Kingman and the complex can easily be seen from Interstate 40. Earlier Saturday night, the flashing blue and red lights of at least a dozen law-enforcement vehicles could be observed around the perimeter. The road into the complex was blocked by local police officers, and the Kingman Police Department and Mohave County Sheriff's Office referred all questions to MTC. At about 9 p.m., the law-enforcement vehicles began pulling back from the prison's perimeter and the roadblock was lifted. About 2 miles away, law enforcement and medical crews stood ready to respond, but they also began pulling back late Saturday night. Gov. Doug Ducey has been briefed on the situation, said his spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato. "The state's Number 1 priority is to protect Arizona citizens and our public safety officials," Scarpinato said via e-mail. Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan issued an order Friday to transfer 700 inmates from the prison, following unrest Wednesday and Thursday that resulted in minor injuries for eight staff members and left two medium-security units "uninhabitable." The first disturbance on Wednesday evening injured six corrections officers in what the department deemed a "major disturbance" among minimum-security inmates. Five of the six injured officers were treated at the prison, with one transported to a local hospital for treatment and later released, according to Issa Arnita, a spokesman for MTC. Thursday's incident was described as a full-scale riot involving inmates in the medium-security unit, and it spread over two of the prison's five housing units, Arnita said. The prison, which is in Golden Valley and houses about 3,600 minimum-and medium-custody inmates, opened in 2004. It has had several high-profile security breaches in recent years. An inmate serving a five-year sentence for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia was badly beaten there in January and died at a hospital three days later. His family is seeking $7.5 million from the state and MTC. In 2010, three inmates escaped and went on a violent crime spree that included the murder of an Oklahoma couple vacationing in New Mexico.The inmates were caught and received new prison sentences. On July 22, the DOC will begin accepting bids for a $50 million project that would be spent on up to 2,000 prison beds in the next two years, according to Samuel Richard, executive director of Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition.  Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/07/05/unrest-kingman-prison-arizona/29730491/
Is Kingman prison more geared to profit or protection? Laurie Roberts Laurie Roberts, The Republic | azcentral.com 11:41 a.m. MST July 6, 2015 Men dressed in Army fatigues arrive with batons, gas masks and other gear after two days of rioting at Arizona State Prison-Kingman in Golden Valley July 5, 2015.(Photo: Patrick Breen/The Republic) Tags Doug Ducey 597 CONNECT 22 TWEETLINKEDIN 16 COMMENTEMAILMORE Well, at least no murderers escaped this time. The riot at a private prison near Kingman left 16 prison staffers and inmates wounded. And cells so compromised that the state has removed more than 1,000 inmates. Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered an investigation "to know what led to the incident and what needs to be done moving forward." As part of that, I hope he will ask for a full-scale investigation into how much private prisons really cost us. Opponents have long said they are more expensive than state-run facilities but curiously, our penny pinching Legislature has shown no interest in finding out whether that's true. Whether it makes sense – fiscally, physically or morally -- for private operators to run prisons. What we do know is that private prisons make a ton of money for private prison operators, who in turn dump a ton of money into political campaigns. What we do know is that inmates were roaming free enough for days to cause havoc and destroy entire blocks of cells. What we do know is that correctional employees had to be called in over the weekend to regain control at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman, which is operated by Utah-based Management & Training Corp. And local law enforcement had to guard the perimeter – to keep the inmates inside. No doubt, with visions of an infamous former escape dancing in their heads. In 2010, three inmates escaped from this prison and killed an Oklahoma couple vacationing in New Mexico. Ducey has called for an investigation. It should include more than just the who's and what's of what happened here. It should determine whether private prisons, run for the purpose of making a profit, are safe. Whether private prison operators are hiring on the cheap and operating on the margins in order to boost profitability. Sadly, I doubt that'll happen. The industry is too ensconced in the hearts and minds (and campaign treasuries) of our leaders. And later this month, the state will begin accepting bids for yet another 2000-bed private prison. Is it a cheaper, effective alternative to the state running prisons? Who knows? At the Capitol, no one seems to care to find out.  Source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/laurieroberts/2015/07/06/kingman-private-prison-riot-investigation/29770701/
Boy, 10, looked like 'prisoner of war' after beaten, shot by mom, officials say Small Text Medium Text Large Text Print Mother accused of abusing two children Show Transcript Hide Transcript  - A mother of seven is accused of severely starving and beating her two young sons, even shooting the boys with a BB gun.The details of the abuse, which came to light last year, were so shocking that Harris County Precinct 4 deputy constables likened the abuse to how prisoners of war are treated. Sandra Anna Gonzalez is charged with two counts of injury to a child. An elementary school administrator told investigators she arrived to work around 8 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2014 and saw one of Gonzalez's children sitting on a curb in front of the school. The administrator noticed the child had a bruised and blackened right eye, and he had severe scrapes and scabs on his knees. Quick Clicks Man found shot to death outside sports bar Fight leads to fatal shooting of 20-year-old man in... Police: Man killed after drunken driver T-bones car in... Porter man sentenced to 40 years in prison for possession... Ramirez, Guyer lead Rays to 3-1 win over Astros The 10-year-old told the administrator that he did not want to go home because his mother was abusing him, according to court documents. School administrators immediately called authorities. The boy told investigators that his mother was abusing him by "wiping her feet on his and his brother's knees and shooting him with a BB gun." In addition to the bruises and scrapes on the boy's knees and around his eye, deputies saw numerous scrapes and bruising on the tops of his hands and bruising and swelling on his back. Investigators had the boy remove his shirt. The boy appeared to be severely malnourished, and investigators said they could clearly see his ribs and spine.  Investigators documented that the child looked "like a prisoner of war who had been starved." Authorities called for paramedics, and the boy was transported to Texas Children's Hospital. Investigators also found similar injuries on the boy's 12-year-old brother. That child was also sent to Texas Children's Hospital for evaluation. Gonzalez had three girls, ages 5, 10 and 14, but they all appeared to be in good health. It was her boys that she would take her anger out on, investigators say. The boys told investigators that they were constantly locked in a laundry room and only allowed to eat one bologna sandwich per day while their other siblings were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. The boys said their mother would punish them by shooting them with a BB gun and would allow the other siblings to shoot them, as well.  The boys said their mother, their siblings and a cousin shot them with the BB gun at close range in the arms and back. The 10-year-old victim told investigators that on Aug. 3, he and his brother tried to wake up his mother and stepfather to ask permission to eat. When the parents did not wake up or respond, the two boys went into the kitchen and began eating.  When their mom woke up and caught them, she threw the 10-year-old into the air and he hit his face on the wall, causing his right eye to blacken, the charges say. Gonzalez allegedly slammed the 12-year-old's head into the wall, spattering it with blood, which the mother covered with fresh paint, according to court documents. The boys said Gonzalez made them kneel on seeds almost all day for the past several weeks, causing injuries to their knees.  The boys said their mother beat them with a number of objects, including spray bottles, belts and wooden boards. A physician documented that the boys were suffering from malnutrition, physical abuse, and psychological abuse and neglect. Children's Protective Services took custody of the children in 2014 after the abuse allegations surfaced. Gonzalez gave birth to another child in February 2015, and CPS took custody of that child as well. Charges were filed against Gonzalez and her bond was set at $10,000 for each count. She has a prior conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Gonzalez is out on bond and was scheduled to appear in court on Monday but did not show up.  Source: http://www.click2houston.com/news/pct-4-boy-10-looked-like-prisoner-of-war-after-beaten-shot-by-mom/34020250
‘Physical restraint’ cited in Allegheny County Jail inmate’s death July 10, 2015 12:00 AM Allegheny County jail Frank Smart, 39, of the Hill District, died Jan. 5. Share with others: 0 inShare By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette An Allegheny County Jail inmate died of a seizure disorder in January, but “physical restraint” was also a contributing factor, the medical examiner’s office ruled. That disorder was listed as the immediate cause of death for Frank Smart, 39, of the Hill District, and “physical restraint in prone position” was listed as a “significant condition” related to his death. The manner of death remains undetermined. Since Mr. Smart’s Jan. 5 death at UPMC Mercy, his mother, Tomi Lynn Harris, has said, and records published by Bloomberg news service confirmed, that her son was handcuffed and shackled by jail employees who were responding to a medical emergency involving him. Those records show that Mr. Smart had been lying on the floor, with saliva and blood dripping from his mouth, shortly before he was restrained. "Numerous" times he "resisted [medical workers'] assistance to him" and his behavior became more "aggressive," according to those records. Ms. Harris has said he was having a seizure at the time. Ms. Harris declined to comment through an Allegheny County Jail Health Justice project spokeswoman, but she has said that her son took an anti-seizure medication twice daily and called her from the jail to ask for help getting health care workers there to give him the medication. County spokeswoman Amie Downs declined to comment. Also recently completed was the autopsy for Timothy Haskell, 49, of West View, who died in the jail on April 9. He died of acute peritonitis due to colon perforation, and the death was ruled natural. Mr. Smart had been jailed on theft and related offenses, and Mr. Haskell had been charged with prohibited acts, according to court records. A day after two other inmates died in May, the county announced it would cut ties with jail infirmary manager Corizon Health Inc. and replace it with a system run by Allegheny Health Network in September. A statement from Corizon about Mr. Smart’s death read in part: “Our records indicate that within ten minutes of Mr. Smart’s arrival at medical intake, our staff ordered the medications he said he needed, and he received those medications as prescribed. During an emergency event later that evening, our records show that our staff administered additional treatment to Mr. Smart and that he responded to the medical care provided.” Tennessee-based Corizon took over the infirmary Sept. 1, 2013, and last year saw seven inmate deaths — a mortality rate double the national norms for jails. Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @molly_born. Source: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/07/10/Physical-restraint-cited-in-inmate-s-death/stories/201507090188
Bipartisan Unity on Mass Incarceration: Opportunity or Sidetrack for Movement Building? Monday, 13 July 2015 00:00 By James Kilgore, Truthout | Op-Ed font size decrease font size increase font size Print  77   Email People arriving at California's San Quentin State Prison have their shackles removed, July 6, 2007. California's Proposition 47, aimed at reducing prison populations, has been a contentious topic among activists. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times) Mass incarceration continues to trend. As Heather Thompson, professor of history at the University of Michigan and leading scholar on the Attica prison rebellion, told Truthout, "Three years ago to talk about incarceration was like you were talking Latin." No more. The past year has offered us a cavalcade of conferences, webinars, nonprofit startups, media events, potential and actual legislation along with feel-good moments where everyone from Rand Paul to Eric Holder jumped on the bandwagon of criminal "justice" reform. While this has been a process, two events do stand out. The first was the extravagant Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform in Washington, DC, in March. The unlikely collection of sponsors included the Koch brothers, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Van Jones' nonprofit #cut50 (as in reduce the incarcerated population by 50 percent in 10 years). Additional support came from partnering organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance, the Sentencing Project and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The summit, emceed by Jones, brought together an array of superstar speakers from various parts of the political spectrum: Newt Gingrich; conservative Georgia governor Nathan Deal; former prisoner turned writer, entrepreneur and activist Shaka Senghor;Orange Is the New Black author Piper Kerman and singer John Forté, who played his guitar and spoke about his own incarceration. In the audience dozens of state and federal elected officials joined well-known researchers and activists who were fighting mass incarceration long before Charles Koch knew what a mandatory minimum was. Since this summit, the Koch brothers have built the event out into a roadshow, holding smaller versions in Ohio, Florida, Georgia and Illinois. The second landmark was Hillary Clinton's speech on April 29. Addressing the David N. Dinkins Leadership & Public Policy Forum, Clinton tried to trump all other candidates' positions on criminal justice by calling for an "end to mass incarceration" and declaring her support for "common sense reform." While she offered no contrition for her and her husband's major role in expanding both prisons and the punishment paradigm during Bill Clinton's presidency, Hillary hit all the buzzwords, touching on racial disparity, the need for drug law reform, etc., etc. Unlike in 2012, when being "tough on crime" was still in vogue and Barack Obama didn't make a peep about incarceration, the 2016 presidential candidates are priming their publicity machines to develop vote-grabbing sound bites on criminal justice. A third key moment could be in the offing, if Obama comes through on recently touted granting of clemency petitions. For those who have been decrying US incarceration rates and exposing the prison industrial complex for decades, the new terrain is simultaneously promising, challenging and confusing. Bob Libal, head of Grassroots Leadership in Texas and a long-time opponent of private prisons, calls it a "window of opportunity." Marc Mauer, director of the prominent progressive think tank The Sentencing Project, told Truthout there is "room to work together without having to give up core beliefs," noting that "we may part ways [with conservatives] down the road." By contrast, Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right, which chronicles the leading role played by Democrats in prison expansion, said she expects "little or no break" in the mindset and practice of "hunting and caging" people. Flurry of Legislation One thing is certain: In an election season, this bipartisan moment will precipitate a flurry of campaign promises and formulation of new legislation. Thompson, who also spoke at the March summit, expects significant sentencing reform, especially at the federal level. Mauer predicts changes to drug laws as well. Some movement is already evident. Recently, a Supreme Court ruling moderated the use of the "career criminal status" in the federal system, an action that could impact up to 7,000 people. The Smarter Sentencing Act, the SAFE Justice Act and a number of other criminal justice reform bills aimed at addressing harsh sentencing are in the congressional hopper. Despite drawing considerable media attention, congressional legislation in most cases only impacts the federal system, which includes about 10 percent of US prisoners. State prisons, which house about 60 percent of the nation's incarcerated, are governed by their own laws and regulations. In 2014-15, some 30 states took steps to reduce prison populations, from eliminating juvenile life without parole (West Virginia) to reducing marijuana penalties (Maryland and Oregon). A number of states are considering measures to release people who are elderly or ill, as well as moderating penalties for nonviolent offenses. All of this will likely lead to some decarceration, which has been a key goal of social justice activists for years. Since 2009, prison and jail populations have tailed off by about 2.4 percent after three decades of meteoric expansion. However, while legislation may lead to decarceration (an overall reduction in the rate of imprisonment), ensuring that reforms are amenable to the boundaries of bipartisan unity can mean keeping in line with the neoliberal paradigm followed by conservatives and most Democrats. Deborah Small, the founder of Break the Chains, an activist group that seeks to decrease racial disparities in arrests, convictions and incarcerations for drug offenses, questions such a paradigm. She suggested that rather than focusing on decarceration, social justice activists should reframe the problem as one of criminalizing poverty, of which mass incarceration constitutes a subset. In her words, "Reframing the campaign as one to reduce criminalization would also weed out those who see prison reform as a vehicle to promote privatization and limited government and have no interest in the 'justice reinvestment' approach that seeks to use savings derived from reduced incarceration to invest in the communities where the majority of criminal justice consumers live." The Texas Model Small's concerns are reflected in the fact that emerging models for alternatives largely come from the right. At a state level, reforms that have taken place in Texas repeatedly surface as ones of "best practice." By now the 2007 efforts of Republican Texas legislator Jerry Madden to reach across the aisle and develop a counter to a proposal to spend $530 million on 17,000 new prison beds have become key marketing scripts for bipartisanism. Madden described to Truthout how his efforts, in tandem with Democrats, were aimed at breaking "a criminal justice trend" while ensuring public safety. The results, he said, were "amazing," leading to the closure of three state prisons and nine juvenile facilities. Texas has also used funding previously dedicated to prisons to back drug treatment and re-entry. Madden predicted Texas would continue to see a "slow drop" in both prisoner numbers and the crime rate. While still the largest state system in the United States, Texas' prison population has fallen by about 2.6 percent since 2010. However, many activists on the ground remain skeptical of the Texas model. The Austin-based Libal, a long-time opponent of the state's private prisons, told Truthout that the changes were "a drop in the bucket considering the crisis of mass incarceration in Texas," which in his view remains a "hyperincarceration state." But despite critiques of the Texas model, Madden's brand of right-wing criminal justice reform has found a voice. Propagating this vision has largely fallen on the shoulders of Right on Crime (ROC), a conservative criminal justice think tank and advocacy group in which Madden, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich play leading roles. Formed in 2010, ROC has helped the bipartisan reformers hijack the criminal justice microphone. For years, radical and progressive critics like Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Marc Mauer and more recently, Michelle Alexander, have monopolized the discourse. They may now be edged out by prime ROC cooperant Van Jones along with core ROCers Gingrich, prison fellowship founder Pat Nolan, Gov. Nathan Deal and, perhaps most importantly, Mark Holden, the public face of Koch Industries, which is bankrolling much of the Right on Crime efforts. Part of the agenda of these new spokespeople, according to Thompson, has been rewriting history by not "adequately crediting social movement activism," including mobilizations around Ferguson as the catalysts for bringing mass incarceration onto the agenda. Cory Greene, a formerly incarcerated New Yorker who now heads How Our Lives Link Altogether (HOLLA), a social justice organization devoted to youth of color, agrees with Thompson. He contends that mass incarceration has become a "buzzword" because of the struggles of many people over the last "30 to 40 years" but noted in a Truthout interview that many adopting the rhetoric now "have a language to say something but no depth," no real understanding of how imprisonment "impacts families and communities." How New Is Bipartisanism? Moreover, while advocates and mainstream media have stressed how "new" this bipartisan approach is, Murakawa and others maintain that criminal justice has been a point of across-the-aisle unity throughout the last three decades as Democrats and Republicans worked together to implement "tough on crime" legislation and to fuel the war on drugs. Several formerly incarcerated activists have raised this point. "There's nothing revolutionary about a coalition that's always existed deciding to continue on, albeit in the opposite direction," said Glenn Martin, president and founder of JustLeadershipUSA, an advocacy group seeking to cut the US prison population in half by 2030. Dorsey Nunn, founder of All of Us or None, a grassroots effort to advocate for the rights of people with felony convictions, expressed the argument more bluntly: "You say this is a bipartisan moment. My oppression was bipartisan. White supremacy and racism are bipartisan." Challenges for a Social Movement Against Mass Incarceration Ultimately, the bipartisan approach presents several key challenges for building a social movement focused on mass incarceration and criminalization. A hot-button issue in this regard remains differentiation between people with convictions for violent and nonviolent crimes. Early release or community service for people with nonviolent charges is a linchpin of the reform agenda and one that attracts considerable public sympathy. Critics argue that such an approach has at least two major shortcomings. In a recent article for The Marshall Project, Dana Goldstein emphasized that the number of incarcerated people could not be even halved by freeing all those with nonviolent cases. In Goldstein's estimate, people with drug offenses comprise only 16 percent of the more than 1.3 million people in state prisons. Hence even a "cut 50" approach, which would still leave the United States with an incarceration rate double that of most European countries, could not fully succeed by simply freeing everyone with a drug conviction. The article concludes that any significant decarceration would have to involve either releasing or not charging people involved in crimes of violence, who are disproportionately people of color. But for Murakawa, the issue is more philosophical. She argues in favor of "denaturalizing the division between nonviolent and violent," maintaining that this division "preserves the overall intensity of punishment" by vilifying individuals who are victims of the same system as those with nonviolent convictions. Greene expressed similar views, noting that these trade-offs may also dull the race, class and gender lens by adopting a "politics of respectability" where people convicted of certain kinds of crimes or who are of certain genders get thrown under the bus. He cites, for example the possibilities of pitting "cisgendered men against transgender folks" in the name of pragmatism. In practice, however, resisting this division poses difficult decisions in terms of how to respond to legal reforms that offer relief only to those with nonviolent convictions. Strategic Trade-Offs for Organizations Beyond the question of violent versus nonviolent offenses, those involved at a grassroots level must assess other types of trade-offs. A critical strategic point is deciding how to balance efforts at building alliances for legislative change with extending popular support in communities of color, which are most impacted by incarceration. On the one hand, pushing for changes in laws may offer short-term possibilities of reducing prison numbers. In addition, this is likely to be an area where bipartisan unity is helpful, as well as a good bet to attract donor support. But this activity often relies on extensive research, lobbying elected leaders and the ability to negotiate the terrain of complicated government processes. Such an orientation tends to privilege the skills and networks of the educated, who often remain disproportionately white and in many communities, cisgendered males. On the other hand, mobilizing critically impacted communities and linking issues of incarceration to other grassroots efforts to address housing, education, unemployment, gender oppression and violence requires very different skill sets and personal networks. Also, if bipartisan unity increasingly becomes the dominant paradigm, organizations may find it difficult to attract funding support for more bottom-up processes. Nonetheless, some organizations have been able to successfully assess this tradeoff and carry out effective action. One example is the initiatives to "ban the box." Begun by All of Us or None in the early 2000s, "ban the box" campaigns have mobilized a vast range of both legal experts and formerly incarcerated people. Their work has highlighted the injustices of denying people access to employment due to a felony conviction while developing an effective, if limited policy measure that has been adopted by many state and local governments across the country. In the future, legislative opportunities are likely to come at a faster pace, often tempting organizations to drop their constituency building efforts to help pass what are often defined as "game-changing" legal measures. All of Us or None organizer Manuel La Fontaine told Truthout he worries that this sort of bipartisanship will marginalize "those who are directly impacted ... the critically conscious edge." He fears that initiatives that focus solely on legislative change will select the "sanitized voices" from among the formerly incarcerated, rather than those who are imbedded in the communities where mass incarceration has hit hardest. Many specific measures and pieces of legislation contain trade-offs within their texts as well, often promising relief for people adjudged as deserving while ratcheting up the punishment for people deemed a threat to public safety. The 2014 Proposition 47 in California exemplified the difficulty for social justice organizations to respond effectively in such situations. Prop 47 offered the promise of releasing up to 10,000 people from state prisons by converting certain nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors. The measure had the backing of progressive state-level politicians while conservative organizations such as the police chiefs' and sheriffs' associations opposed the measure, claiming it would threaten public safety. However, some social justice activists also had different reservations, arguing, among other things, that the proposition reinforced the division between people convicted of nonviolent crimes and those convicted of violent offenses. In the end, while the proposition passed, no unified stance by anti-prison forces emerged. Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), a leading statewide coalition with considerable roots in the prison abolition tradition, opted not to take a position on Prop 47. Other organizations with long histories of a radical critique of the prison-industrial complex fell on different sides of the fence. A New Way of Life - a group based in Los Angeles that advocates for the rights of formerly incarcerated women and their families, along with All of Us or None - supported the measure, arguing that the release of people from prison overrode any other considerations. By contrast, pro-abolition groups like Critical Resistance and Justice Now opposed the proposition. Such divisions highlight some of the complexities of dealing with the new terrain. Extending Parameters Beyond these conundrums, some activists have expressed the need to come forward with bold initiatives. Marc Mauer, for example, put forward a proposition to cap all prison sentences, except in the most exceptional circumstances, at 20 years. Murakawa suggests that a virtual purge of existing legislation must take place, a process of paring away the vast number of laws, regulations and ordinances that have become vehicles for punishing the poor. In the absence of this type of change, Murakawa fears that restructuring will only mean net-widening, or finding new ways to expand the "prison beyond the prison" through repackaging punishment via "alternative" measures like electronic monitoring, gender responsive jails or mental health lockdowns, which generate revenue for prison profiteers. Similarly, Libal expressed concern about moving people from the "prison industrial complex" to a "treatment industrial complex," where carceral-like conditions emerge in institutions supposedly addressing mental health issues and substance abuse. Key Question: Pushing Parameters of Debate Ultimately, the key question for a social movement focused on mass incarceration and criminalization is finding ways to push the parameters of the debate beyond a narrow legislative focus while not rejecting viable options for legal reform out of hand. While in the past, pressing for sentencing reform itself was often a radical measure, in the present context, Thompson argues that the left must shift away from sentencing reform and "start reinvigorating the discussion about community investment." Likely this would also include incorporating concepts of transformative justice in such initiatives. All this points to the need for a more coordinated national social movement. While there have been repeated calls for such a formation, to date nothing on a significant scale has emerged. Perhaps the forces within Black Lives Matter and the movement for undocumented immigrants' rights can become a significant voice on criminal justice issues beyond policing and immigration. Without such a movement, slow, cosmetic change is the most likely outcome of bipartisan unity. As Glenn Martin put it, "The lack of urgency on both sides of the aisle is business-as-usual," especially once election season passes. He stressed that this inertia dominates when "top-down approaches ... are divorced from grassroots organizing." Ultimately, he argues, we need a process that's "driven by values, not just budgets."  Source: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/31803-bipartisan-unity-on-mass-incarceration-opportunity-or-sidetrack-for-movement-building
L.A. sheriff officials on leave after 'troubling' allegations over inmate treatment Sheriff Jim McDonnell Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, seen in May, on Saturday said that he had relieved from duty 10 jail workers. L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, seen in May, on Saturday said that he had relieved from duty 10 jail workers. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times) By David Zahniser contact the reporter Jails and Prisons Crime Jim McDonnell Ten Los Angeles County Jail employees were relieved of duty pending further investigation following an incident involving an inmate who was allegedly “restrained” for 32 hours, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Saturday. McDonnell called the allegations of inmate neglect “troubling” and said he took the actions Friday, a day after he learned of the inmate's complaint. The incident has been reported to the FBI and various offices charged with oversight of Sheriff's Department misconduct. Shortage of deputies could threaten L.A. County sheriff's reform agenda Cindy Chang As Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell tries to turn around a department under federal scrutiny for jail brutality, racial harassment and corruption, one of his most immediate challenges is a staffing shortage that could threaten his reform agenda. As Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell tries to turn around a department under federal scrutiny for jail brutality, racial harassment and corruption, one of his most immediate challenges is a staffing shortage that could threaten his reform agenda. ( Cindy Chang ) The sheriff said he received allegations last week that an inmate booked June 19 at the department's Inmate Reception Center had been handcuffed for a “lengthy period of time” and had not been provided food, according to the sheriff's statement. Those alleged circumstances occurred after the inmate reportedly assaulted a female deputy. During the time the inmate was restrained, he received medical treatment and a cup of water, according to the statement. lRelated L.A. Now Three L.A. County deputies convicted in beating of jail visitor See all related 8 “The investigation into this incident is ongoing and will be thorough,” said McDonnell, who came into office on a reform mandate last year in the wake of widespread reports of inmate abuse. “It will not only focus on employee actions, but also on corrective policies and procedures.” Two lieutenants, one sergeant, one senior deputy, four deputies and two custody assistants were relieved of duty pending further investigation. In addition, “a number of others” were reassigned to other duties, the department said. Jails Under Scrutiny A series of Times' stories has tracked allegations of deputy brutality and other misconduct in the Los Angeles County jail system. Got a tip? Contact reporter Robert Faturechi. A series of Times' stories has tracked allegations of deputy brutality and other misconduct in the Los Angeles County jail system. Got a tip? Contact reporter Robert Faturechi. Read more stories McDonnell's announcement comes less than a month after three sheriff's deputies were convicted of beating a handcuffed inmate bloody and then lying to cover up the abuse. That case was the product of a wide-ranging FBI probe in the county's jails. The sheriff’s statement about the latest inmate abuse allegations was released about 7 p.m. Saturday. Department officials declined requests from The Times for information on the inmate's name, age and reason for being booked at the Inmate Reception Center. The inmate filed a complaint with the department June 27. According to the department's statement, the inmate ate upon entry to the jail. While he was restrained, he received medical attention and a cup of water, according to the statement. cComments @Mdmmignon Last time I checked, unions helped get rid of child labor, established the 8 hr work day, minimum wage, and a host of labor laws that prevent employer abuse and living wages for a prosperous middle class. Please remember our best economic times were when unions were well established.... sayitaintso1 at 10:07 AM July 14, 2015 Add a comment See all comments 54 Department officials notified custody personnel of the protocols regarding the restraint and feeding of inmates. They also ordered additional training and other “corrective action.” “I am deeply committed to providing the highest levels of constitutional care to those in our charge and will quickly address and remedy any conduct, policies or practices that do not meet this expectation and high standard,” McDonnell said in his statement. The FBI is conducting an investigation of the Sheriff’s Department’s management of county jails. At least 12 members of the department have been convicted of crimes, including civil rights violations and obstructing the FBI’s investigation. The most recent convictions came last month, as two deputies and their former supervisor were found guilty of violating the civil rights of a man who was beaten and pepper-sprayed while handcuffed at Men’s Central Jail. The man, Gabriel Carrillo, had gone to the jail with his girlfriend to visit his brother, who was an inmate there. A federal jury deliberated for just four hours before delivering its verdicts. The FBI is investigating a range of jail abuses that allegedly involved those at the highest levels of the department. In May, former Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka was indicted on obstruction charges, along with a captain. Tanaka’s lawyer called the charges "baseless" and promised to aggressively defend him in court. david.zahniser@latimes.com Times staff writers Richard Winton and Karen Kaplan contributed to this report. Twitter: @DavidZahniser  Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-sheriff-inmate-neglect-allegations-20150711-story.html
Allegations inmate was starved, cuffed for 32 hours prompt changes in L.A. County jails By Brenda Gazzar, Los Angeles Daily News Posted: 07/12/15, 3:11 PM PDT | Updated: 4 days ago # Comments Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said late Sunday he has ordered changes in the jails after learning that an inmate was allegedly left handcuffed and deprived of food for more than 30 hours following an arrest last month. A new around-the-clock team has been created to facilitate movement of inmates to a housing area where they receive mandatory welfare checks periodically, which is reducing wait times at the Inmate Reception Center, McDonnell said. The sheriff has also ordered additional training on handcuffing inmates, and officials have been tasked with drafting a training document with new policies on handcuffing and feeding inmates as well as procedures for isolation cells, he said. “The goals are to be able to ensure that people are kept in a safe manner, treated in a humane manner, that they receive appropriate medical care,” McDonnell said by phone late Sunday night. “The context is you’re dealing with people who are dealing with mental illness issues. They oftentimes have to be restrained to protect them and those around them. Trying to get that balance between minimal restraint and safety is always a challenge.” McDonnell said he intends to do all he can to minimize such occurrences by “setting the right tone, raising the bar high and holding people accountable.” He said he is also looking “for the right people with the right moral compass in hiring, promotions, training, mentoring and supervising our people.” Los Angeles County Supervisors praised McDonnell earlier Sunday for swiftly launching an internal investigation into more than a dozen jail employees accused of leaving an inmate who allegedly had mental health issues handcuffed and depriving him of food for about 32 hours following an arrest last month. McDonnell — who was sworn in last December amid federal allegations of abuse and corruption in the jails — announced the investigation Saturday as 10 staff members, including supervisors, had been relieved of duty and “a number of others” had been reassigned to other duties pending further investigation, according to sheriff’s officials. “At the end of the day it’s about accountability,” Supervisor Don Knabe said. “(McDonnell) said he’s going to do that and this is a good example. From my perspective, at least, I strongly support his efforts to change the culture. ... It’s not something that happens overnight.” In earlier days, it may have taken longer to launch such an investigation, but McDonnell has “taken action immediately” to determine whether there were violations and if so, how they can be fixed, he said. “This is a new day, a new sheriff,” Knabe said. Advertisement The case of the inmate is reflective of ongoing challenges the department is dealing with in terms of the mentally ill and custody enforcement, McDonnell said. About 10,000 inmates are booked in the Inmate Reception Center each month and conservatively speaking, an estimated 20 to 25 percent of the county’s inmate population is dealing with mental health issues, he said. During a portion of the 32 hours in which the inmate was allegedly cuffed and did not receive food, there was an extensive search for a missing gun from a locker outside the security areas, which may have been a factor in the inmate’s wait times that day, McDonnell said, adding that it should not be an excuse. McDonnell, who formerly served as police chief of Long Beach, made a decision regarding the employees’ status within 24 hours of learning of the inmate’s complaint, sheriff’s officials said Saturday. More than a dozen current or former members of the sheriff’s department have been convicted of federal charges following the launch of an FBI investigation that dated back at least several years into abuse and corruption at L.A. County jails. Among them were three department employees convicted in June of viciously beating a visitor at a county jail and falsifying reports to cover up the crime. Other cases have yet to head to trial, including that of former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was indicted in May on obstruction of justice charges involving the federal probe. The sheriff’s agency agreed last year to federal court oversight regarding use-of-force issues and to adopt a new policy to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by inmates who said they were beaten by guards. McDonnell’s message is clear in that he’s attempting to establish a zero-tolerance policy for abuse, neglect and anything in between, which is needed to turn the department around toward consistent, professional and constitutional law enforcement, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This is particularly important in our jails as they are under rather intense scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice, and it pertains precisely to the issue of the mentally ill,” he said. “Somehow, the message has not gotten across adequately to those responsible for custody enforcement and compliance in the jails so the sheriff simply has to redouble his efforts, and I think that’s what he’s attempting to do.” The Justice Department found last year that the sheriff’s department had still failed to provide sufficient suicide prevention practices to protect prisoners from self-harm and that there were other serious deficiencies in their delivery of mental health care despite a 2002 memorandum of understanding to deal with such issues. Supervisor Mike Antonovich called the latest allegations “very troubling” and if true, “highly irresponsible” on the part of jail staff. “I have confidence in the sheriff’s commitment to continue the reforms in the jails, including rooting out bad apples and holding all ranks accountable for their actions,” Antonovich said by email via a spokesman. The unnamed inmate, who was booked at the Inmate Reception Center on June 19, alleged that he was handcuffed for about 32 hours and not provided food during that time, only medical attention and a cup of water. This allegedly happened “following a force incident during which the inmate reportedly assaulted a female deputy,” sheriff’s officials said. The deputy “sustained a concussion” after the inmate reportedly “head-butted” her, McDonnell said. She was treated and released, he said. Those relieved of duty in the incident included two lieutenants, a sergeant, a senior deputy, four deputies and a two custody assistants, officials said. McDonnell’s actions were “very necessary” and make an important statement about his leadership in light of the “heinous and tragic” allegations, said UCLA Professor Jorja Leap, a gang expert. “I think this is a significant and important first show of leadership by the sheriff,” she said. “I also think there needs to be systemic change, and this is an important step in that direction.” Peter Eliasberg of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said he was pleased to see McDonnell take a proactive approach in apparent contrast to the sheriff’s predecessor, Lee Baca. It’s not the deputies’ job to punish an inmate if he in fact did do something wrong, but rather the criminal justice system or the appropriate mechanism within the sheriff’s department, he said. In addition, starving an inmate for 32 hours would be “barbaric treatment,” he said. If the latest allegations prove true, some employees in the department’s custody division will have to be let go since that would be “a key component to changing the culture in that department,” he said. The sheriff’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau and Internal Affairs Bureau are looking into the allegations of “possible neglect,” officials said. The county’s Office of the Inspector General and the FBI were also notified of the investigation. Staff writer Brian Day and the Associated Press contributed to this report.  Source: http://www.sbsun.com/general-news/20150712/allegations-inmate-was-starved-cuffed-for-32-hours-prompt-changes-in-la-county-jails
Officials Not Sure How Prisoner Got Sawed In Half, With Organs Missing by Carman Tse in News on Jul 11, 2015 2:27 pm Inmate Nicholas Anthony Rodriguez, whose body was discovered cut in half with his organs removed at Solano State Prison (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) Officials at a state prison in Vacaville aren't exactly sure how an inmate managed to get sawed in half or where his internal organs went under the eye of prison security. The body of 24-year old Nicholas Anthony Rodriguez was discovered the evening of May 4, stuffed into a trash can in a shower stall near his cell in California State Prison, Solano. Although homicides are not unusual in California's prisons—over 160 inmates have been killed in the last 15 years—Rodriguez's body was found nearly cut in half with most internal organs removed, raising many questions for officials and investigators. Compounding the matter, prisoners were kept on lockdown when Rodriguez's body was discovered, almost fifteen hours after a riot in his cellblock. The details of the gruesome death were revealed by the Associated Press after a public records request. The only suspect in the case is his cellmate, 46-year old Jesus Perez, a man already serving a life sentence for murder. A spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told SFGate that the riot prior to the discovery was "linked" to the killing but did not elaborate further. Officials are trying to piece together the murder, wondering how it could happen in a closed facility under so much surveillance. "Unfortunately, we know that there are drugs, there's alcohol, there are weapons," said Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance. "As much as the officers can police that, we know we’ve got the toughest, the baddest, the most violent criminals in our state prison and unfortunately some of the most cunning prisoners in there as well." "They are going to find ways to do that." The autopsy report determined that Rodriguez had alcohol in his system and was killed with a blow to the head before he was cut open. He had been serving an 8-year sentence for robbery in Alameda County. His mother, Maria Rodriguez of Oakland, was not told any of the details of her son's death by officials. Contact the author of this article or email tips@sfist.com with further questions, comments or tips.  Source: http://sfist.com/2015/07/11/solano_prison_sawing_how.php&ct=ga&cd=CAEYASoSODA3NTAzMzgxMDQyNTY4NTc0Mho0YTN
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Complaint: Prison guards plotted inmate's attack, framed him for assault Two prison guards are behind bars after allegedly framing an inmate. Garrett Pelican, WTLV 9:16 a.m. EDT July 17, 2015 Former corrections officer Cody Gabbard, 22, was arrested Wednesday on charges that he and another officer beat a 25-year-old inmate, who was wearing hand and leg restraints and concocted a plan to cover it up.(Photo: Baker County Sheriff's Office) 238 CONNECT 13 TWEETLINKEDIN 3 COMMENTEMAILMORE RAIFORD, Fla. -- Two prison guards carried out a plot to attack an inmate and cover it up by fabricating evidence, lying in official reports and framing him for assault at Union Correctional Institution, state records obtained by First Coast News on Thursday allege. An internal investigation surrounding the incident by the Office of the Inspector General for the Florida Department of Corrections revealed their use of force was not justified and later led to their arrests. The guards, corrections officer Justin Clemons and former corrections officer Cody Gabbard, 22, were arrested Wednesday on charges that they beat a 25-year-old inmate, who was shackled with hand and leg restraints, and concocted a plot to pin the blame on him. Clemons and Gabbard filed use of force and incident reports suggesting that inmate Nate Evans had spit on them during an escort June 9 and insisting that physical force was necessary to prevent any "further assault," charging documents state. But surveillance video showed that Evans never turned his head to face either guard. In fact, it showed the pair stop Evans at some point during the escort. Then Clemons appeared to spit on Gabbard before the pair knocked Evans to the ground where he hit his face on a concrete walkway, an affidavit said. FCN FIRST FOR YOU FDOC: Prison guard, former prison guard arrested in inmate's attack Afterward, a third corrections officer, Lt. Matthew Clemons -- a cousin to Justin Clemons -- approached the pair, glanced between Evans and the dormitories the pair had escorted him from, charging documents show. Then Justin Clemons appeared to spit on Gabbard's hat. Corrections records show Evans has been incarcerated since November 2010 on an eight-year prison sentenced stemming from his conviction for robbery with a deadly weapon in July 2009. (Photo: Fla. Dept. of Corrections) Following the attack, Evans gave a sworn statement to investigators, saying he had overheard the officers planning the attack. They were "conspiring to batter Evans and frame him for spitting on Gabbard while they were walking from V-Dormitory to the [redacted] area," according to the complaint. "Upon review of the video it was determined the reports submitted by Gabbard and J. Clemons appeared to be falsified," the affidavit said. First Coast News asked for a copy of the surveillance video, citing Florida's broad public records laws. A spokesperson for the Office of the Inspector General declined to release the video. The agency referred to a list of exemptions to state law, including: information revealing surveillance techniques, photographs of active or former correctional officers, information related to active investigations, and video pertaining to prison security. Justin Clemons and Gabbard are charged with falsifying official records, battery on an inmate and conspiracy to commit battery on an inmate, authorities said Wednesday. Baker County Sheriff's deputies arrested Gabbard in a raid of his home while Clemons was arrested by Union County deputies at the prison. The Department of Corrections said an investigation into the use of force incident remains open and active, despite the arrests. Secretary Julie Jones issued the following statement on the arrests: "The Department of Corrections is committed to taking firm and decisive action against those who engage in behaviors that threaten the safety of our inmates and the security of our institutions. I am confident in the abilities of the Office of Inspector General to aggressively identify and bring justice to those who discredit this Department through criminal and administrative misconduct." Corrections records show Evans has been incarcerated since November 2010. Evans is serving an eight-year prison sentence stemming from his conviction for robbery with a deadly weapon in July 2009. Follow @GarrettPelican on Twitter.  Source: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/crime/2015/07/16/use-of-force-records-union/30257477/
Life Sentence Is "Slow Death Penalty" for Drug Prisoner Left Off Obama's Clemency List Ray Bennett and other drug war prisoners hope for freedom through presidential action, but a White House ‘lottery’ is no solution to a systemic problem. By Alan Yuhas / The Guardian July 23, 2015 Print 3 COMMENTS Photo Credit: oneword/Shutterstock.com For two years in the late 1980s, a young addict drove between Florida and Georgia ferrying crack cocaine and cash in a liquor bag. During the next two decades, his brothers and sisters raised families without him, his wife divorced him and died, and he was barred from attending his mother’s funeral less than 50 miles away. Ray Bennett, now 59 and decades sober, will die in prison as sentenced 24 years ago – unless, as he hopes, he receives the same clemency that Barack Obamaissued last week for 46 prisoners with similar cases. Bennett was disappointed not to be on Obama’s list of inmates whose prison sentences were cut short, his sister Edna Thornton, 81, told the Guardian after speaking to the inmate on Sunday. “But he said, ‘I’m not giving up,’ and somehow he has never been bitter or angry. “He always felt that if he did the crime he could do the time. He just never dreamed it would be life without parole.” As his sister put it, Bennett “got caught up” in a five-man drug ring run by an old friend, John Hansley, to pay for his addiction to crack. He had two prior drug convictions: one in 1980 for having 12 tablets of diazepam, and one in 1988 for possession of crack cocaine. After police seized him and almost 300 grams of crack cocaine at a bus station in 1990, a prosecutor pressed enhanced charges based on his prior convictions. Bennett was found guilty at a jury trial – he refused to testify against Hansley, writing that he felt “a moral obligation” to him. “A friend since I was a young boy [I] did not want to say anything that would hurt him.” Because he declined to cooperate, the prosecutor added the enhanced sentencing, according to Bennett and his attorney. Under the law, the mandatory minimum sentence was life. “A life sentence is tantamount to a death sentence,” Bennett wrote the president in his petition for clemency. “It is the slow death penalty. “I’ve seen those around me lose hope and commit suicide. I never knew that such levels of despair and despondency existed in our nation. I never knew a nation this great could treat its people so inhumanely.” Three of Bennett’s co-defendants have already walked free from prison. The fourth, Hansley, is scheduled for release in 2017. “Ray’s case illustrates the heart of the problem,” said Bennett’s lawyer Margaret Love, who previously reviewed pardon applications for the White House as the US pardons attorney. “It exemplifies one of the most serious problems of the mandatory minimum regime, leveraging guilty pleas by threatening enhancements.” Love contrasted the modern system to that of the 1960s, when Lyndon B Johnson granted clemency to hundreds – years before Richard Nixon declared war on drugs and the US prison population quadrupled to the 2.2 million incarcerated today. “The president cannot hope to do more than a few of these clemency cases,” Love said. “He’s doing the best that he can, but clemency was never supposed to be used in this systemic fashion.” The problems, however, are systemic, according to reform advocates. Long mandatory minimum sentences for drug violations, especially repeated minor convictions, have left thousands of low-level, nonviolent offenders imprisoned for decades to life. Lawmakers passed one reform in 2010 that narrowed a racially disparate difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences. If Bennett were sentenced today under the new law, he likely would not receive a life sentence. And as part of last week’s criminal justice push, Obama urged Congress to pass bipartisan sentencing reform bills that would go much further to roll back mandatory minimum sentences, saying that in “far too many cases, the punishment simply does not fit the crime”. But prisoners who have already been sentenced rarely find relief. Only a fraction of the tens of thousands who apply receive clemency or a pardon, leading some activists to compare the system to a lottery. “Clemency can mitigate the effects of mandatory minimums, but really only Congress can change it,” said Jeremy Haile, federal advocacy counsel for theSentencing Project, a reform organization. “They enacted the laws at a time when there was a lot of hysteria about drug abuse, the war on drugs. It just became very punitive. “The president should continue to say there are too many people incarcerated in too many prisons, for too long, for no good public safety reason.” Even judges have publicly denounced the rules. The judge who sentenced Bennett did his duty reluctantly, saying the drug runners were “just country folks” and not the major traffickers that Congress likely had in mind. More than 20 years later, at least two federal judges continue to wage public campaignsagainst the terms. A handful of Republicans and Democrats, including Texas senator John Cornyn and New Jersey’s Cory Booker, hope to pass a bill in Congress this year addressing the issue. “Justice is dispensed on an individual basis and you can’t do it on an assembly line,” Cornyn said last week. Defenders of minimum mandatory sentences argue that they bring order to inconsistent courts and can convince suspects to provide testimony. We’ve created a caste system in this country that disproportionately affects minorities,” Booker said, noting that black children are particularly likely to grow up with incarcerated relatives. “For many communities it’s a matter of life and death, a matter of having the American dream or being denied it.” Bennett and his relatives, who are black, also described the pain of prolonged separation. “I will never forget being told by my unit staff that, due to my life sentence, I would not be allowed to attend my own mother’s funeral,” Bennett wrote. “This prison robbed me of closure. A funeral is for letting go, but I have not been able to do that.” Given their age difference, Thornton said she thinks of Bennett as more of a son than a brother. She and 10 other relatives – siblings, nieces and nephews – wrote letters to the president pleading for Bennett’s release. Visits to Jesup Correctional always left family looking “so sad and broken”, wrote one niece. “Ironically, he ends up encouraging me more than I encourage him.” Although the president can issue executive orders or guidelines to help former inmates find work or housing, Obama can do little beyond offering clemency or pardons for the federally incarcerated. Love argues that the Justice Department should use a law that permits it to take cases with “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances back to court for sentence reductions. The law is almost exclusively used for cases of terminal illness, but Love says the phrase could apply to broader cases. She also suggests the president should rely on the Bureau of Prisons to recommend prisoners for clemency: “Who knows better than them who can hold a steady job, who’s reliable, who’s not going to cause trouble?” Last year, the Justice Department invited prisoners to apply for clemency, but found itself struggling with the deluge of applications. Since 2009, the attorneys at the Justice Department’s pardon office have received more than 30,000 applications, each a hefty sheaf of facts, claims, counterclaims and technicalities. The administration then recruited outside lawyers to help pro bono, under a coalition called the Clemency Project 2014, but the effort appears to have slowed under the work. Bennett’s application remains somewhere in the application stack, the recommendations of family and prison supervisors – he works in the tool room and as a counselor – filed away. “We know that what he did was wrong,” Thornton said. “We just feel that the punishment doesn’t fit. He has made amends and we believe that he would do well on the outside. I do think he will get out,” Thornton said.  Source: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/life-sentence-slow-death-penalty-drug-prisoner-left-obama-clemency-list
Was a prison built every 10 days to house a fast-growing population of nonviolent inmates? By Keely Herring on Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 2:17 p.m. We looked at a claim about prisons and inmates by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. (AP/Julio Cortez) This is the Instagram post by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., that we put to the Truth-O-Meter. (Instagram) With criminal justice reform in the national spotlight, first-term Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., commented on the growth of the prison system in recent years. "We built a new prison every 10 days between 1990 and 2005 to keep up with our mass incarceration explosion of nonviolent offenders," Booker said in a post to his Instagram account on July 27, 2015. Before joining the Senate, Booker served as mayor of Newark. Is Booker’s claim correct?  We decided to check. Prison growth, 1990-2005 We’ll start by evaluating the first part of Booker’s claim about a new prison being built on a near weekly basis between 1990 and 2005. Booker’s communications director, Jeff Giertz, pointed to an almost identical quote in Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, published in 2014. Stevenson is a law professor at New York University School of Law and executive director of a nonprofit group in Montgomery, Ala., called the Equal Justice Initiative. "Between 1990 and 2005 a new prison opened in the United States every 10 days," Stevenson wrote. Neither Booker’s nor Stevenson’s statements specify state or federal prisons, but if we assume they are referring to both types of prisons, then data and an expert we contacted largely corroborate this claim. According to a Congressional Research Service report, "the number of state and federal adult correctional facilities rose from 1,277 in 1990 to 1,821 in 2005, a 43% increase." That’s an increase of 544 new facilities. There are 5,478 days in a 15-year span, which works out to almost exactly one facility every 10 days on average. John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham Law School specializing criminal justice and the recent boom in mass incarceration, said Booker’s claim is correct if it includes both types of prisons. Pflaff said Booker is actually underselling the statistic by not going back to 1984. Between 1984 and 2005, the number of facilities grew by about one every 8.5 days. That said, Booker’s time frame makes some sense because "crime began to drop in 1991," and 2005 is the latest available year from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Census of State and Federal Correctional Facilities. Mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders The second part of Booker’s claim is somewhat less clear. Grietz of Booker’s staff pointed to data that showed the total number of nonviolent offenders incarcerated between 1980 and 2013 grew from 122,000 to 607,000 in 2013 -- a 400 percent increase, compared to a 300 percent increase of incarcerated violent offenders. But for the specific period discussed in Booker’s Instagram post, the data runs counter to his point. Pfaff pointed to data gathered by a study in the Harvard Journal on Legislation that shows violent offenders contributed 60 percent to state prison growth between 1990 and 2009, while nonviolent offenders (drug and property offenses combined) contributed only 27 percent. Pfaff also added that the universe of state inmates is much larger than the pool of federal inmates. All told, 86 percent of prisoners are in state systems while only 14 percent are in the federal system. As it turns out, the big increase happened earlier. The data shows that 55 percent of state inmate growth came from nonviolent offenders between 1980 and 1990, before declining to 27 percent between 1990 and 2009. So Booker is wrong to focus on the period 1990 to 2005 when discussing a "mass incarceration explosion of nonviolent offenders." A big rise did occur, but it started earlier than Booker’s post indicated. Finally, we’ll note that in the much smaller universe of federal inmates, 76 percent and 72 percent of those sentenced to federal prison were sentenced for nonviolent offenses, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission data for 2012 and 2013. Our ruling Booker said, "We built a new prison every 10 days between 1990 and 2005 to keep up with our mass incarceration explosion of nonviolent offenders." Booker is right that a new prison was built every 10 days during that period. But while there was a significant rise in the incarceration rate of nonviolent offenders, it took place over a longer time period than the post indicates -- between 1980 and 2013. On balance, we rate his claim Mostly True.  Source: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/jul/31/cory-booker/was-prison-built-every-10-days-house-fast-growing-/
Poor Living Conditions Sparked Kingman Prison Riots A A Facebook 37 Twitter 12 More shares recommend reddit email   6 By Elizabeth Stuart Friday, July 31, 2015 | 1 day ago Benjamin Haas/Shutterstock A three-day riot at an Arizona private prison that sent 13 people to the hospital and led to the relocation of more than 1,000 inmates earlier this month was driven, in part, by poor living conditions, according to the prisoner rights organization Middle Ground Prison Reform. In a letter delivered to Governor Doug Ducey on Friday, the nonprofit outlines complaints obtained from family members of inmates housed at Arizona State Prison-Kingman, including allegations of violence and inadequate access to food and medical care. “Contrary to the belief of many in prison administration, government, and media, most prison disturbances are not the result of inmate organization; they are due to administrative disorganization,” writes Donna Leon Hamm, executive director, and James Hamm, director of legal services. “When administrative or program staff are not accessible to inmates, or act as though their attention to the inmate’s issues or problems is a nuisance … tension builds up.” Damage from inmate riots at Arizona State Prison-Kingman Arizona Department of Corrections Issa Arnita, director of corporate communications for Management & Training Corp., the Utah-based company that operates the prison, says an initial investigation into the riot shows "it was caused by a small group of inmates attempting to harm another offender." "A full investigation is underway to determine what led up to the unrest," he says.   Middle Ground describes a violent atmosphere rife with drug dealing that is enabled by staff misconduct and improper security practices. “Some staff are reported to be regular importers of controlled substances, which are provided to inmates who subsequently sell them on the yard,” they write. “The introduction of drugs on any prison yard facilitates the problems associated with drug dealing, extortion, debt repayment, threats, and assaults.” Related Stories Activists Question Quality of Arizona Prison Riot Investigation Fighting among inmates is “routine” at Kingman, Middle Ground reports, which suggests the Arizona Department of Corrections system of classifying inmates “is not working in an acceptable manner.” Private prisons in Arizona are authorized to house only minimum- and medium-custody inmates, but former and current department employees tell New Times that more dangerous inmates are frequently reclassified in order to fill beds the government has contracted to pay for. “Is the department simply ‘winking’ at its own classification scheme?” Middle Ground asks. Staff frequently uses pepper spray, not just to control fighting, but as “acts of cruelty,” and kick inmates when they are handcuffed on the ground, defenseless, according to the report. In one case, a Muslim inmate returning from Ramadan prayers was maced and beaten when he asked for a meal to break his fast. Middle Ground also alleges that food is of poor quality and is not being delivered in a timely manner. If inmates have a visitor, they are not served breakfast or lunch, presumably because family members are expected to purchase them food from a vending machine in the visitation area. “It is an invalid assumption that all prison visitors possess the money to purchase vending machine foods for an inmate, especially at the exorbitant prices charged,” they write. “If an inmate arrives at visitation at 9 a.m. and leaves at noon, he should be provided both breakfast and lunch by the prison.”  Damage from inmate riots at Arizona State Prison-Kingman Arizona Department of Corrections Inmates are also frustrated about the difficulty of obtaining medical care, according to Middle Ground. One woman tells New Times, for example, that her husband was prescribed Oxygen for severe migraines but was not allowed to use it. When he complained of lockjaw, he was “ignored” and “made to believe that he was being a hypochondriac." Another family filed a legal claim against the state for failing to get Neil Early prompt care after he was sexually assaulted and beaten at Kingman. It allegedly took prison administrators two hours to call emergency responders. He later died from his injuries. In the letter, Middle Ground calls on Ducey to examine, not only “What can we do to punish the perpetrators?” of the riot, but also, “Did we contribute to the cause of this riot?” and “How can we change things to avoid another riot in the future?” In particular, the group asks for an investigation of the Department of Correction’s inmate-classification process, and the private prison administration’s approach to violence, food, temperature control, and visitation practices. “Business as usual is unacceptable now,” they write. “There is strong likelihood that signs of unrest at the Kingman prison had been brewing long before the July 2015 riots. But if administrators don’t care or aren’t skilled enough to notice, then something is terribly wrong and needs to be corrected.” Source: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/poor-living-conditions-sparked-kingman-prison-riots-7531256
CCA prison in Tennessee scene of attacks, death Tom Wilemon, twilemon@tennessean.com 9 a.m. CDT August 1, 2015 Tennessee has signed a $277 million contract for CCA to house inmates at a new prison as the company copes with deadly violence at an old prison.(Photo: Thinkstock.com) 152 CONNECT 15 TWEETLINKEDIN 1 COMMENTEMAILMORE Correctional officer Charlotte James suffered multiple stab wounds when a prisoner tried to force her to perform oral sex. The attack didn't happen at a state-run prison. It occurred in February at a private prison in Tennessee operated by Corrections Corporation of America - the same place where inmates were killed in 2013 and 2014. The state sends thousands of inmates to prisons operated by CCA and several thousand more will end up in its custody once the Nashville-based company finishes construction on a new prison in Trousdale County. The state is set to pay out $277 million to house inmates at the 2,552-bed prison, according to terms of a contract running from 2016 through 2021. The construction of the CCA prison occurs as state-run prisons deal with severe manpower shortages and safety concerns - a scenario set in motion when hundreds of correctional officers quit after the Tennessee Department of Correction switched them from a traditional 40-hour work week to a 28-day schedule to save $1.4 million in overtime costs. CCA has its own set of problems. The company faces a class action lawsuit in federal court for allegedly failing to pay overtime - accusations the company challenges in court papers. CCA is also accused in other suits of failing to provide safety for inmates at the South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton. CCA, the nation's largest operator of private prisons with $1.65 billion in revenues last year, has come under criticism nationally from critics ranging from justice reform organizations to college students. Trustees for Columbia University voted last month to divest holdings in the company following student protests. Idaho last year ended its contract with CCA after the company acknowledged it falsified staffing reports submitted to the state. THE TENNESSEAN Fix Tennessee prison system woes now The American Civil Liberties Union In Tennessee has launched a petition asking Gov. Bill Haslam to stop doing business with CCA. It has garnered more than 26,000 signatures. The company has come under criticism for the money it spends nationwide on lobbying. In response, CCA began posting a political activity report on its website. In 2013, it spent $835,3350, including $92,300 in Tennessee. "Our company does not, under longstanding policy, lobby for or against policies or legislation that would determine the basis for or duration of an individual's incarceration or detention," the website states. James, the correctional officer attacked at the prison, declined to comment. The Tennessean learned of the Feb. 22 attack after obtaining an incident report. A spokesman for CCA said staffing was not a factor in the attack on the officer or other incidents. "We take seriously the safety and security of the inmates entrusted to our care, as well as the safety of our dedicated facility staff members and the communities they call home," said Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for CCA. "All of CCA's Tennessee Department of Corrections-contracted facilities are required to maintain staffing of mandatory posts." The facilities are staffed by full-time TDOC employees with unfettered access to the prisons who monitor them for contract compliance, he said, including safety protocols and staffing requirements. Two inmates have died in homicides at the Clifton prison since Sept. 1, 2013. The Human Rights Defense Center issued an alert about the deaths after autopsy results were released on the second prisoner. Gerald Ewing was killed at the prison in 2013. Jeffery Sills was killed in 2014. Sills' brother, Jerry Sills, has filed a lawsuit against CCA. The lawsuit alleges that the prison housed his brother in the same cell as Travis Bess, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, where Bess "beat, tortured, stabbed, cut and strangled" him. Another inmate at the prison asked a federal judge in July for help at the prison, alleging that it was allowing "security threat groups" to be housed with the general population, posing a risk of serious harm to staff and other inmates. THE TENNESSEAN Haslam chief of staff: Not privatizing TN prison system The Tennessee Private Prison Contracting Act limits the state to one private prison contract, but there is a way around that law. A county enters an agreement with CCA for a prison then the state pays the county to house the inmates. The state entered into a fee-for-service contract with Trousdale County for the new prison being built there. CCA housed 5,211 state inmates as of June 30 at three prisons it runs in Tennessee. Reach Tom Wilemon at 615-726-5961 and on Twitter @TomWilemon.  Source: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2015/07/31/cca-prison-tennessee-scene-attacks-death/30941481/
Drew Clark: Utah prison volunteers provide a caution against a distant relocation Print Font [+] [-] 8 Comments » By Drew Clark, Deseret News Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 12:00 a.m. MDT Updated: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 10:41 a.m. MDT  DRAPER — Utah's rate of voluntarism is the highest in the nation, and that apparently extends to the number of individuals that serve as mentors, trainers or religious volunteers within the walls of the Utah State Prison. The 1,200 volunteers that serve in the Draper facility are a key reason — and the most persuasive one — for doing everything possible to keep a new prison as close as possible to the current one. "You just don't see numbers anywhere near what you see in Utah," said Brad Sassatelli, a former warden at three different prisons in Illinois and now a corrections consultant working for Utah's Prison Relocation Commission. The federal government's National Institute for Corrections doesn't appear to have any state-by-state comparisons of volunteers. But Sassatelli said that a typical facility outside of Utah might have 100 to 200 volunteers. Of those, maybe 30 will regularly come to the prison, while the rest might visit once or twice a year. Even accounting for the large size of the Draper prison — with 4,000 inmates, it is more than twice the size of an average state prison — the number of volunteers is exceptional. Consider further than many of those 1,200 volunteers visit the facility on a biweekly basis. "Contact with people from the outside is a strong morale-booster, and keeps a realistic perspective" for inmates, says Cherry Silver, who has volunteered with her husband Barnard at the Draper prison for several years. The Silvers began serving when they were asked by the leaders of their Latter-day Saint congregation to run a "Family Home Evening" group at the prison on Monday evening. They've also participated in worship services for prisoners, including services for individuals of other faiths, including Catholics, evangelicals and Muslims. Volunteers operate within strict guidelines set by the Utah Department of Corrections. These include rules against revealing personal information or against taking anything out or bringing anything into the prison — even cookies. They also agree not to have contact with the families of inmates, or with former inmates: "There are others who help them on the outside. We help them on the inside,” she says. "Lately we have been talking about how to handle conflict," she says. "We may read a passage from the New Testament about love your enemies, and how to apply that to their own situation." She and other volunteers interviewed for this column called their service in the prison extremely rewarding. "There are always prayers of gratitude for the volunteers. And they don't have to look as if they are all put together; they are willing to talk about mistakes, changes, what has built them, what are the hard problems in their life, and how they are facing them." Although volunteering is rewarding, relocation to a distant site, including those being considered in Tooele County or beyond Eagle Mountain in Utah County, might dramatically decrease the number of willing volunteers, she says. Don Wright shares that worry. He began his association in the Family History Library here. Observing the great need for education among inmates, Wright went on to start the PrisonEd Foundation, which offers educational books and instructional material. Regarding the possibility of relocation, Wright says that "the highest priority is that the prison does need to be easily accessible to volunteers." At the same time, the current prison is very limited in being able to offer classes and training. Whether with a new prison elsewhere, or if still in Draper, "they absolutely do need to do some rebuilding, at least to make classrooms available for education." "There are huge numbers of people here who are desperate in wanting to use their time in improving their lives and becoming better people," says Wright. "The old mentality of 'lock ’em up and throw away the keys' is insane." As an example of the type of training launched here this past year, the Department of Corrections points to a female and a male offender transition initiative. It provides basic "life skills" on employment, transportation, housing, education and child-rearing to inmates six months prior to their release. Although constrained by their current facility, "Our vision is that we actually start, from the very beginning when they get into prison, getting them thinking about getting out of prison," says Capt. Bryan Taylor, who oversees the program. "A new facility would only enhance what we can do." But at what cost in volunteer resources would a new prison come, if relocated far from the population center of the Salt Lake and Utah valleys? "Parts of the prison are up-to-date and should be used along with the [multi-denominational] chapel as the start of a new prison on site," says Barnard Silver. He calls the chapel here "the principal center for building good character and insightful reflection on life." Next week: The dollars, and sense, of relocating the prison from Draper. Drew Clark can be reached via email: drew@drewclark.com, or on Twitter @drewclark, or at www.utahbreakfast.com.  Source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865633693/Utah-prison-volunteers-provide-a-caution-against-a-distant-relocation.html?pg=all
Jail guards used snake to torture former inmate, lawsuit alleges BY Denis Slattery NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Saturday, August 1, 2015, 10:06 PM A A A 532 Facebook 65 Twitter Reddit Email Comments 595 Share Print Share this URL Pauline S Mills/Getty Images/Vetta Trawick Redding Jr.  claims when he awoke from a nap in his bunk one of the officers was holding the snake inches from his face. A former inmate of an Alabama jail has filed a $3 million lawsuit claiming guards used a snake to torture him, according to reports. Trawick Redding Jr., of Ozark, filed the federal lawsuit Monday claiming he suffered injuries after two guards used a 6- to 7-foot-long yellow Burmese python to torture him while he was locked up on theft charges. Redding claims when he awoke from a nap in his bunk one of the officers was holding the snake inches from his face. He jumped and hit his head. Following the incident, Redding was sent to an offsite medical facility and saw a therapist, the suit says. Woodstock/iStock Redding Jr. reportedly had to seek therapy after the incident. He is seeking $3 million in damages. “We think this is a very serious matter that should be dealt with,” Redding’s attorney Martin Weinberg told AL.com. “This was not just a garden snake that somebody just found on the ground walking into the jail.” The two guards were fired over the incident.  Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/jail-guards-snake-torture-inmate-lawsuit-article-1.2312032
Arizona inmate, 26, tears right eye out of socket after being placed in solitary unit  BY Lee Moran NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Monday, August 3, 2015, 7:19 AM A A A 110 Facebook 35 Twitter Reddit Email Comments 143 Share Print Share this URL Pinal County Colin Corkhill, 26, was reportedly hospitalized after gouging his own eye out while being held in Pinal County Jail near Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday. An Arizona jail inmate was hospitalized after he ripped one of his own eyeball out of its socket. Colin Corkhill allegedly pulled out his right eye at Pinal County Jail near Phoenix on Thursday, reports AZFamily.com. The 26-year-old from Scottsdale was booked the previous night on a slew of charges, including attempted murder, auto theft, aggravated assault and resisting arrest. He was allegedly driving a stolen car that got stuck in the median. When an Arizona State Trooper tried to help, the suspect allegedly attacked him. A scuffle followed and the trooper fired a shot. The officer was injured and hospitalized for a short period, but has since been discharged. Detention officers initially housed Corkhill in a cell with other inmates. But he was moved to a solitary unit and placed under mental health watch after they witnessed him punching himself in the face. Officers saw blood on the window of his cell door on Thursday night. They then discovered that he'd pulled his eyeball out of its socket. Doctors were unable to save his eye. His current condition is not known.  Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ariz-inmate-tears-eye-socket-solitary-unit-article-1.2312743
Yes, prisoners need college education. But they need to get their GEDs first Chandra Bozelko 75% of inmates are illiterate, which is what makes the debate about college funding so misplaced Literacy levels are very low among US prisoners. Photograph: Nick Daly/Getty Images Monday 3 August 2015 10.15 EDT Last modified on Monday 3 August 2015 10.18 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on WhatsApp Shares 629 629 Comments 23 Many progressive groups assume that we must prioritize making college education accessible to prisoners if we are to reduce recidivism. That is why Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday that President Obama will temporarily lift the ban on Pell Grants – money from the federal government for who couldn’t afford college otherwise – to see if there is a connection between education and re-offending. But this plan misses one important fact: you can’t get a college degree if you are illiterate. Pell grants to bring college back to prison: US is 'a nation of second chances' As Obama administration reverses 1994 Clinton cuts, supporters say hard-won victory and higher education is pivotal to re-entry for the formerly incarcerated Read more Inmates barely receive proper and effective high school education. As of October 2010, the last date for which data is available, 17,609 inmates were on waiting lists for GED classes in federal prisons alone. It seems unlikely that the backlog would have cleared as federal prison populations grew between 2010 and 2014. We don’t know how many inmates in state facilities are waiting to access high school classes.  The numbers of inmates who have a high school diploma or equivalent bounce all over the place. Some – like the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency prevention – say it’s as high as 80%. Other sources say it’s about 40%, so we don’t really know how many people have high school education when they land behind bars. A study conducted by the Educational Testing Service in 1996, shortly after prisoner Pell grants had evaporated, found that about 67% of inmates couldn’t write a brief letter explaining a billing error, read a map or understand a bus schedule. Using 12th grade literacy as the standard, 75% of inmates are illiterate. The situation is worse for juveniles in the justice system, 85% of whom are illiterate. That’s what makes the debate about college funding so misplaced. While the infusion of grant money might resurrect some of college programs and provide a classroom experience for prisoners, what professors can accomplish in classes containing remedial readers? Of course, there are literate inmates who can benefit from the funding for college programs. When my cellmate took a sociology course offered by Trinity College, I watched her throw off the shackles of emotional abuse – being called useless, stupid – as she convinced herself that she could be a successful college student. I watched her rehabilitate herself through that course. But so many more inmates are not ready for college courses because they can barely read. We owe these inmates the high school education and literacy training that can prepare them to apply for those Pell grants. In not including increased funding for secondary education in prisons in his criminal justice reform agenda, President Obama is ignoring the most effective way to reduce recidivism. Consider that the 2013 Rand study that correctional education advocates rely on as evidence of education’s power to reduce crime does not specifically tease out the effect of higher education on recidivism. The report states that high school education can have a great impact in reducing recidivism. This effect is most likely because these inmates are learning to read in the GED programs offered. Learning to read cuts a prisoner’s chances of re-offending from 70% to 14%. And we are clearly not fixing the problem of prisoner under-education if the statistics on prisoner literacy – a rough proxy for high school education – are any indication. Despite the staggering problem of prison illiteracy, only 9% of all inmates with low literacy skills receive literacy training while they are incarcerated. That’s why ending the ban on Pell grants isn’t the boon to criminal justice reform that everyone thinks it is. Other correctional educational needs must be addressed first if this country wants to prevent released prisoners from re-offending.  Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/03/prisoners-college-education-need-geds-first
U.S. 'supermax' prison: 'Alcatraz of the Rockies' is seen as 'inhuman and degrading' Supermax prison Chris McLean / Pueblo Chieftain Guard towers loom over the federal "supermax" prison in Florence, Colo., where solitary confinement is the norm.  Guard towers loom over the federal "supermax" prison in Florence, Colo., where solitary confinement is the norm.  (Chris McLean / Pueblo Chieftain) By Richard A. Serrano contact the reporter Jails and Prisons Trials and Arbitration Europe Terrorism Crime Dzhokhar Tsarnaev U.S. Department of Justice U.S. prosecutors want Ali Charaf Damache in the worst way. An Irish resident originally from Algiers, Damache, 50, is accused of using online chat rooms to recruit American women into a would-be terrorist cell operating in this country and Europe. One man and two women, including Damache's wife, have already been convicted in U.S. courts of providing material support to terrorists. And Damache was captured by Irish authorities in 2010 in Dublin on a separate charge of making a telephone death threat and held without bail. NEWSLETTER: Get the day's top headlines from Times Editor Davan Maharaj >> But despite requests from U.S. prosecutors to have him extradited to this country for trial in Philadelphia, the High Court of Ireland has refused. Prolonged exposure to involuntary solitary confinement ... is damaging to the integrity of the mind and personality, and is damaging to the bodily integrity of the person.- Irish High Court Justice Aileen Donnelly, who denied extradition to a U.S. terrorism suspect because he would have been transferred to Colorado's 'supermax' prison It's not because they want to prosecute him themselves or believe he is innocent. Rather, the Irish court ruled that Damache, if sent to the United States, would probably be locked up in the federal "supermax" prison. And to the court, that amounted to "cruel and unusual" punishment. The court's refusal to extradite Damache highlights the conflicting perspectives on incarceration between the U.S. and Europe. Some European nations see the U.S. prison system as a barbaric anomaly in a country that has often insisted on the protection of human rights around the world. Even a terrorism convict, the Irish High Court said, should not be subjected to the harsh conditions at the supermax facility in Florence, Colo., with its 24-hour solitary confinement, no family visits and lack of access to the media. Such a prison, the Irish court said, "amounts to a breach of the constitutional requirement to protect persons from inhuman and degrading treatment and to respect the dignity of the human being." So on May 21, High Court Justice Aileen Donnelly set Damache free, after he had served his time on the lesser death-threat conviction and faced no additional charges in Ireland. Opened in 1994, the Colorado supermax prison is the toughest and most controversial correctional facility in the U.S. federal system. It is dubbed the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," and has housed some of the nation's most notorious prisoners, including Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber; and Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber. No one has ever escaped. Food is delivered through a slit in the cell door. Family visits are banned, conversations with others are restricted, and rarely, if ever, do inmates glimpse a tree or a bird through a window. They spend days and nights alone, their feet on concrete, their thoughts to themselves. See the most-read stories this hour >>Read the story It's considered so harsh that in recent years, defense lawyers have increasingly used the specter of the prison fortress to persuade jurors to vote against the death penalty and instead send their clients to supermax. They argue, in effect, that time there would be worse than capital punishment. In the 2006 capital murder trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the self-described "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 attacks, prison expert James E. Aiken testified that inmates at supermax "rot" away. Moussaoui, he predicted, "will deteriorate." The jury agreed and sentenced Moussaoui to life without parole at supermax. This May in Boston, defense expert Mark Bezy testified that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, if spared the death penalty and sent to supermax, would be limited to two 15-minute phone calls with his family each month, and his mail would be screened. For the victims and their families, he would be forgotten, Bezy testified, calling supermax "a mechanism to cut off an inmate's communications with the outside world." cComments @Alice Johnsonn So? Nonetheless the Congressional Black Caucus did lobby for harsher penalties for rock cocaine. So you are a 9/11 truther? Nough said. Max Plank at 6:05 PM August 09, 2015 Add a comment See all comments 191 The jury sentenced Tsarnaev to death anyway. Though he was initially transferred to supermax, he will eventually be moved to federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind. The issue of solitary confinement has been raised in other formats too. President Obama, who last month became the first sitting president to tour a federal prison, wondered whether solitary confinement "makes sense." Last month, Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said locking someone away all day and night "exacts a terrible price." In the Damache extradition effort, U.S. officials argued there was no certainty he would end up in supermax, and they denied allegations of mistreatment. But they said harsh conditions are necessary to ensure that convicts do not continue to run criminal operations from inside prison. 'I am sorry,' Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tells Boston Marathon victims at his sentencing Richard A. Serrano In a thick Russian accent — with his head bowed and body shaking — the man who appeared cold and emotionless throughout his trial for bombing the Boston Marathon two years ago stood in federal court Wednesday and apologized for detonating one of two explosives at the historic race. In a thick Russian accent — with his head bowed and body shaking — the man who appeared cold and emotionless throughout his trial for bombing the Boston Marathon two years ago stood in federal court Wednesday and apologized for detonating one of two explosives at the historic race. ( Richard A. Serrano ) Kenneth Fulton, unit manager at the prison, offered a rare glimpse of supermax when he told the Irish court in legal documents that the prison houses less than one-quarter of 1% of all the federal inmates in the U.S. Christopher Synsvoll, supervisory attorney at the penitentiary, said that as of August 2014, 407 inmates were kept there — out of the total 207,504 in the federal system. Jennifer A. Williams, lead assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia in the Damache extradition effort, is coordinating with Justice Department officials in Washington to challenge the Irish ruling. "We are exploring the possibility of an appeal," said spokeswoman Patricia Hartman. In her 333-page decision, the Irish justice said there "is compelling evidence" the Colorado prison is inhumane, citing affidavits from human rights groups and other records. "I am satisfied," Donnelly said, "that prolonged exposure to involuntary solitary confinement exacts a significant physiological toll, is damaging to the integrity of the mind and personality, and is damaging to the bodily integrity of the person." She further noted that Damache already had completed a three-year prison sentence in 2013 in Dublin for the separate Irish charge. He was held until the U.S. extradition request was adjudicated. Damache was indicted in Philadelphia in 2011 along with the three others on charges of plotting to assassinate a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the prophet Muhammad as a dog. The others all pleaded guilty and were sentenced last year. Mohammad Hassan Khalid, a Pakistani native, was 15 years old and living in Maryland when he was recruited into Damache's plot. He was sentenced to five years in prison. Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, whom Damache married, was given eight years; and Colleen R. LaRose, dubbed "Jihad Jane" in the media, received 10 years. At her sentencing, LaRose still spoke highly of the thin, bearded Damache. "I had so much respect for him," she told the court. "He was so brave." As head of the cell, Damache allegedly recruited others online to wage jihad and created separate teams to plan, research, recruit and finance terrorist operations. Damache apparently believed that American women would draw less attention from security officials. The indictment said he emailed LaRose of his desire to die a martyr's death, writing that "i tried twice but I wasn't successful…[but]…I will…try until Allah will make it easy for me." Upon his release from jail in Dublin in May, his tone was strikingly different. "I always had faith in the Irish legal system," he said in a statement issued by his lawyers. "After more than five years in jail, I am looking forward to moving on with my life here." richard.serrano@latimes.com  Source: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-extradite-supermax-20150809-story.html#page=1

 

PRISON NEWS ARCHIVE

ACLU Urges Supreme Court to Protect Rights of Disabled Prisoners:  WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in combined cases that will determine  whether disabled prisoners may sue state officials for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  “Prisoners rely on state officials to meet their basic needs, and  persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to neglect or mistreatment,” said Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in today’s case. “Congress understood that problem and the ADA was designed to address it.”  The ACLU submitted its friend-of-the-court brief along  with 18 other civil rights organizations and advocates for people with disabilities, including the American Diabetes Association, the American Council of the Blind and the  National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The groups argue that the High Court should overturn a lower court decision and allow paraplegic Georgia inmate Tony Goodman to  pursue a civil lawsuit against the state.  For complete story, click here.
The Prison Industry: Capitalist Punishment--Oct. 28th, 1999--The assembly lines at CMT Blues look like those at any other US garment factory, except for one thing: the workers are watched over by armed guards. CMT Blues is housed at the maximum security Richard J. Donovan State Correctional Facility outside San Diego.  Seventy workers sew T-shirts for Mecca, Seattle Cotton Works, Lee Jeans and other US companies. The highly prized jobs pay minimum wage. Less than half goes into the inmate workers' pockets -- the rest is siphoned off to reimburse the state for the cost of their incarceration and to victims' restitution fund. The California Department of Corrections Joint Venture Program, and CMT Blues owner Pierre Slieman say they are providing inmates with job skills and work experience.  But two inmates and former CMT Blues employees say Sleiman and the Department of Corrections are operating a sweatshop behind bars. What's more, they say that prison officials retaliated against them when they blew the whistle on corruption at the plant. Inmates Charles Ervin and Shearwood Flemming spent 45 days in solitary confinement after talking to reporters about an alleged label switching scheme in which they claim they were forced to replace "made in Honduras" labels with "made in USA" tags. They are suing CMT Blues and the California Department of Corrections for labor and civil rights violations.  The CMT Blues scandal and the host of human rights and labor issues it raises, is just the tip of the iceberg in a web of interconnected business, government and class interests which critics dub the "prison industrial complex." Borrowing from the phrase "military industrial complex" coined by President Dwight Eisenhower during the Cold War, the term refers to the growing political and economic power that emanates from the increasingly intertwined relationship between private corporations and what were once exclusively public institutions. In short, incarceration has become big business. And it's booming.  The prison industry now employees more than half a million people -- more than any Fortune 500 corporation, other than General Motors. Mushrooming construction has turned the prison industry into the main employer in scores of economically depressed rural communities. And there are a host of firms profiting from private prisons, prison labor and services like healthcare and transportation.  Today, there are over 1.7 million people incarcerated in the United States, more than in any other industrialized country. They are disproportionately African American and Latino (almost 70% of US prisoners are people of color) and two thirds are serving sentences for non-violent crimes. One in three African American men between the ages of 20 and 29 is either in jail, on probation or parole. 1.4 million black men -- or 13% of African American men -- have lost the right to vote because they have committed felonies.  Taxpayers foot the bill for "get tough" policies that treat a generation of young people -- mostly young people of color -- as expendable. New York and California, states that once had arguably the finest public university systems in the country, now spend more money locking people up than on giving them a college education. Meanwhile, prison gates are swinging wide open for corporations. Some like CMT Blues, Microsoft, Boeing, TWA, and Victoria's Secret, are using low cost prison labor for every thing from manufacturing aircraft components and lingerie to booking reservations. In addition to companies exploiting prison labor, there are eighteen or so private prison corporations that control about 100,000 prison beds across the country. The largest, the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America -- whose securities were dubbed the theme stock of the nineties by one investment firm -- also operates private prisons in Puerto Rico, Australia, the UK and will soon open one in South Africa. These private lockups cut corners on labor costs, often hiring untrained, inexperienced guards, leading to a dismal record of escapes and brutality against inmates.  In a Texas prison operated by one company, guards were videotaped beating, shocking, kicking and setting dogs on prisoners. While private prisons hardly have a monopoly on such violence, critics argue that hiring low wage, untrained guards -- some of them with criminal records of their own -- makes brutality more likely.  The prison industry is not a new phenomenon, but rather has some grim historical antecedents. As death row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal argues in a special column for CorpWatch, mixing the profit motive with punishment only invites abuse reminiscent of one of the ugliest chapters in US history. "Under a regime where more bodies equal more profits, prisons take one big step closer to their historical ancestor, the slave pen," writes Jamal.  In fact, prison labor has its roots in slavery. Following reconstruction, former Confederate Democrats instituted "convict leasing." Inmates, mostly freed slaves convicted of petty theft, were rented out to do everything from picking cotton to building railroads. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm resembling a slave plantation later replaced convict leasing. The infamous Parchman Farm was not closed until 1972, when inmates brought suit against the abusive conditions in federal court.  Today, criminal justice issues have become so urgent that organizing efforts by diverse communities around the country are beginning to pierce the deafening "tough on crime" drumbeat espoused by pundits and policy makers for the last 20 years. Community organizers, church groups, labor unions and progressive think tanks are coming together to fight prison privatization in the South. Organizations like Families against Mandatory Minimums are fighting discriminatory sentencing. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch put prison issues at the top of their US agenda. In Concord, California 2,000 Latino students have taken to the streets to demand "education not incarceration," as part of a protest against the backlash against immigrant communities.  Labor code and freedom of speech violations like those alleged in the suit against CMT Blues also resonate beyond prison walls. UNITE, the garment workers union, has joined inmates Ervin and Flemming in their suit against the clothing manufacturer and the California Department of Corrections. And the suit has caught the attention of first amendment advocates who would like to overturn California's ban on journalist interviews with state prisoners.  Punishment endured by prisoners like Ervin and Flemming has "an incredible chilling effect on prisoners because, combined with the media access ban, they know they can't communicate (with the press) with out suffering retaliation," explains Joseph Pertel, an attorney for the inmates. Pertel says it was actually a prison employee, not his clients, who called a local television station. Nevertheless, the two men, both convicted of second-degree murder, spoke out against working conditions at CMT Blues jeopardizing their eventual parole.  Because prisoners have so little voice on the outside, we highlight writings by prison journalists in this Issue, including an original column by Mumia Abu-Jamal and writings from Prison Legal News, edited by two Washington State inmates. Contributor Alex Friedmann, due to be paroled next month, was transferred out of a CCA private prison into a Tennessee state penitentiary, when his reporting behind bars angered company executives. We hope that by giving a voice to those inside prison walls we can contribute to a dialogue on redirecting criminal justice policy in this country.  For complete story, click here.
Justices to Decide When Victims' Transcripts Can Be Used:  WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 - The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to address a major new debate in criminal law and decide the circumstances under which prosecutors can use the transcripts of 911 calls, and similar unprompted statements by crime victims, as evidence at trial.  The debate was opened by the court itself in a decision last year that significantly limited the use that prosecutors could make of statements by witnesses who did not appear at trial or otherwise make themselves available for cross-examination.  For complete story, click here.
Hospital of Horrors:  Time in Carswell¹s prison medical facility can be a death sentence for women prisoners.:  This is the prison at Carswell. ...We got an inmate  who is not breathing. She’s turning blue.” The 911 tape was scratchy, but the words were clear.  “Are they doing CPR?” the Med-Star ambulance company operator asked.   “I assume so,” the caller replied. “They’ve got about 90 people up there. ...”Betty Appleby gets angrier and more frustrated each time she listens to the tape, describing key  moments in a tragedy that would change her large, closely knit family forever.“Can you believe that? Ninety people? I know that’s an exaggeration by whoever’s calling, but  what it says to me is that a lot of people were tramping around that cell and destroying evidence that could have helped us find out exactly what happened to my sister so  that we could see justice done. And get some peace.”Appleby is speaking of her youngest sister, Linda D’Antuono Fenton — the inmate who was “turning blue.” On Feb.  23, 2004, Fenton was found unconscious and near death in a supposed high-security cell at Federal Medical Center Carswell — a prison that a federal judge two years  earlier had allegedly ordered her removed from. She was two days away from being released, after serving almost seven years for a drug offense — two days before she  could get out and, as she had promised in letters to her family and friends, tell the world about what was going on inside the Fort Worth federal prison hospital walls. For complete story, click here.
4 ward suicides prevented:  STOCKTON -- Staff prevented four wards at a youth prison near Stockton from committing suicide last week, a spokeswoman for the  California Division of Juvenile Justice said Monday.  The four wards at DeWitt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility, southeast of Stockton, were making nooses out of clothing  and bedsheets, Juvenile Justice spokeswoman Sarah Ludeman said.  Staffers performing regular checks Wednesday prevented them from carrying out the group suicide in  the Modoc hall living unit for drug counseling. Three of the wards were taken by ambulance from the youth prison, Ludeman said.  Ludeman did not know the wards' ages but  said all four had been transferred to other youth prisons for special treatment. For complete story, click here.
2.26 Million Inmates In The US:  A staggering two-and-a-quarter million people are behind bars this morning in America. The Bureau of Justice Statistics says its newest calculations show:.. As of Dec. 31, 2004, 104,848 women were held in state and federal prisons -- up from 68,468 in 1995. Women constituted 7 percent of all inmates -- up  from 6.1 percent in 1995. For complete story, click here.
D.C. Inmates 'Tortured,' Mothers Claim:  A group of mothers said yesterday that their sons were "beaten and tortured" by guards at the D.C. jail during several incidents  last month in which they alleged that inmates were sprayed with Mace, stripped, blasted with water hoses and dragged from their cells and attacked out of the view of  security cameras.  Sabrina Wynn, testifying at a D.C. Council hearing on behalf of six mothers whose sons are jailed, called on the District to investigate the allegations and  fire any corrections officers who are found to be responsible…"If dogs were mistreated as our sons have been, those responsible would be prosecuted for animal cruelty,"  said Wynn, whose testimony came in a day-long hearing by the council's Judiciary Committee into the operations of the Department of Corrections. For complete story, click here.
Boozman introduces drug courts bill:  WASHINGTON -- Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, on Tuesday introduced legislation aimed at strengthening the powers of local drug courts.  The bill directs the U.S. attorney general to create standard guidelines for drug testing and require penalties or therapy if an offender fails a test. "Currently, we have drug courts that are exceptional," Boozman said. "We have drug courts that aren't working very well at all because there is no structure.  "The bill calls on the attorney general to set standards that require each offender to be tested for every controlled or addictive substance. For complete story, click here.
Prisoners Left to Drown in New Orleans:  A makeshift prison has been set up in the Greyhound bus and train station in downtown New Orleans. It's being run by the Burl  Cain - the warden of Angola prison as well as prison guards from New York. The nearby prison, the Orleans jail was flooded after the hurricane. What happened to the  prisoners there and in other parish prisons in New Orleans?  For complete story, click here.
Conflict Seen in Contract for Private Prison:  SACRAMENTO — California's state auditor, investigating private prison contracts, found that one operator failed to disclose that two of its employees had been high-ranking state prison officials but cleared another firm of any conflict.  In a 58-page report, the auditor said the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation "needs to better ensure against conflicts of interest and to improve its inmate population projects." For complete story, click here.
Nevada prison employee accused of helping inmate to escape:  RENO, Nev. (AP) - A Northern Nevada Correctional Center employee was arrested on suspicion of helping an inmate to escape the facility in a truck, authorities said.  Ana Kastner, a dental assistant at the medium-security prison, was booked over the weekend into the Washoe County Jail on a charge of aiding and abetting an escape.  She provided a cell phone to inmate Jody Thompson, who used it to coordinate his escape Thursday by hiding in a prison industries delivery truck that left the prison, investigators said. For complete story, click here.
Petty Crime, Outrageous Punishment:  There was nothing honorable about it, nothing particularly heinous, either, when Leandro Andrade, a 37-year-old Army veteran with three kids and a drug habit, walked into a Kmart store in Ontario, California stuffed five videos into his waistband and tried to leave without paying. Security guards stopped him, but two weeks later, Andrade went to another Kmart and tried to steal four more videos. The police were called, and he was tried and convicted.  That was ten years ago, and Leandro Andrade is still behind bars. He figures to be there a lot longer: He came out of the courtroom with a sentence of 50 years to life.  If you find that stunningly harsh, you're in good company. The Andrade case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Justice David Souter wrote that the punishment was "grossly disproportionate" to the crime. For complete story, click here.
High Court Hitching Post Win Leads to Loss in Alabama:  Larry Hope and his lawyers discovered last week that winning a battle at the U.S. Supreme Court does not guarantee victory in the war.  Hope was the Alabama prison inmate in the 2002 case of Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, in which a 6-3 majority cleared the way for him to sue guards who left him handcuffed to a hitching post for seven hours.  Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that evidence indicated guards "were fully aware of the wrongful character of their conduct."  "The obvious cruelty inherent in this practice should have provided respondents with some notice that their alleged conduct violated Hope's constitutional protection," Stevens added. For complete story, click here.
Justices to Hear Inmate Case for News:  WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider reinstating rules that keep newspapers and magazines out of the hands of disruptive Pennsylvania inmates, a case that court nominee Samuel Alito dealt with.  A panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had sided with inmates who claimed the ban on most reading material and personal photographs violated their free speech rights.  Alito, one of the lower court judges in the case, filed a dissent and argued that the state should be allowed to withhold the news. For complete story, click here.
The Sickening Details--Why the Prisoners are Dying:  On a daily basis for more than seven years I have been alerting other journalists and the legislators that the prisoners are  dying preventable deaths. We have nineteen families in our UNION group who have lost a son or daughter to the unbearable callousness and incompetence of the prison bureaucracy.  When we were simply begging for help to prevent some of these deaths, medical neglect wasn't a topic that anyone wanted to recognize, let alone remedy.  But when we were able to find lawyers to file six lawsuits in the past year, then and only then, did reform become a higher priority.  Headlines in the major newspapers the  past two days state that a prison healthcare emergency exists in general terms. But since I know the specifics surrounding a number of the prisoner deaths, I feel compelled to share the systemic dysfunction that just never seems to make it to public view let alone get corrected. For complete story, click here.
California's life-and-death politics:  HERE'S CALIFORNIA, a state so blue they could name a Crayon after it — Left Coast Azure. And yet, next month, the Big Blue Golden State plans to put a man to death.  California, your red is showing.  It's true that Republicans here can't prosper without pledging to be as eco-green as a can of baby peas, but most Democrats — even that metric standard of liberalism, Barbara Boxer — can't advocate emptying death row and still hold on to office.  Most of the other big blue states don't have a death penalty, or don't use it. Massachusetts, still a little freaked over those witch trials, hasn't put anyone to death since 1947. New York, first to use the electric chair, hasn't sent anyone to the hot seat since the Beatles were just some British band. For complete story, click here.
Florida Prison Guards Get New Policy On Violent Acts:  Hoping to change a two-fisted culture in the ranks of prison guards, the head of Florida's prison system  Thursday ordered a new policy of automatic suspension of any employees charged with a violent attack - on or off the job. For complete story, click here.
Judge rails against drug sentencing:  PROVIDENCE -- Federal judges and prosecutors in Rhode Island have joined a national debate over the disparity in prison sentences for crack versus powder cocaine.  U.S. District Judge William E. Smith sentenced a Pawtucket man in September, saying he would not "blindly apply" federal sentencing guidelines that treat 5 grams of crack as the equivalent of 500 grams of powder cocaine. (A packet of sugar weighs about 1 gram). For complete story, click here.
Officer describes deadly chase Drug agent on trial for manslaughter in shooting of suspect:  Mike Walker, the first California drug enforcement agent ever charged  with killing someone in the line of duty, took the stand Monday in San Jose and calmly described the harrowing car chase that led to the shooting death of Rudolfo "Rudy"  Cardenas.  Walker's testimony came in the fourth week of his trial on voluntary manslaughter charges for killing Cardenas, a 43-year-old San Jose man. Walker is trying to  show he acted in self defense, but prosecutors have called him a cowboy cop, whose reckless and rash behavior led to Cardenas' death.  If convicted, Walker could face up  to 11 years in state prison. For complete story, click here.
Congress Moves to Limit Prisoner Habeas:  Congress moved on several fronts last week to impose sweeping limits on the ability of prisoners to challenge the legality of their convictions and sentences in federal court. For complete story, click here.
Jose Padilla's America:  WHATEVER ELSE HE IS, Jose Padilla is an American citizen. That inescapable fact explains both the Bush administration's decision last week  to charge him with a crime — and the importance of the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on whether to hear his case.  The first decision represents a change in course  for an administration still struggling, more than four years after the attacks of 9/11, to find a legal strategy in the war against terrorism. But it is the second decision, due in  almost three weeks, that could prove to be more significant to Americans and the rule of law. The Supreme Court needs to rein in the Bush administration's war on the  Constitution. For complete story, click here.
The Long Struggle of Leonard Peltier:  Leonard Peltier, one of America's longest-serving political prisoners, turned sixty-one-years-old on September 12, 2005. Peltier has spent nearly thirty years in federal prison, the result of one of the most infamous political frame-ups in modern U.S. history. He was convicted of killing two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. Believing he could not receive a fair trial in the U.S., he fled to Canada. The Canadian government extradited him in 1976, and he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to two life terms in 1977.  Many of today's progressive-minded people will find themselves unfamiliar with the details as well as the significance of the Peltier case. This is a tragedy, given the widespread opposition to the Patriot Act and the heightened fear of political repression by opponents of the Bush administration. The rush of events since 9/11, instead of bringing the Peltier case back into focus, seems to have pushed it further into the margins of political consciousness, where it has unfortunately been for two decades. This is something that needs to be corrected. For complete story, click here.
Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake:  In May 2004, the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister.  Ambassador Daniel R. Coats carried instructions from the State Department transmitted via the CIA's Berlin station because they were too sensitive and highly classified for regular diplomatic channels, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.  Coats informed the German minister that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, Khaled Masri, for five months, and would soon release him, the sources said. There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Masri and others with similar allegations. For complete story, click here.
DART cops put a guy in jail 11 days for jaywalking:  DART police pepper-sprayed Todd Lyon and cuffed both him and his 14- year-old son, Jared. The father spent 11 days in jail. The offense?  Jaywalking. For complete story, click here.
Demonstrators rally at Richmond City Jail On Human Rights Day, they decry prisoner treatment in U.S.:  From cell doors that haven't locked properly to the beating  death of one inmate by another, Richmond's jailhouse has faced its share of criticism this year.  It received more yesterday from a handful of folks who protested across the  street in recognition of International Human Rights Day.  Specific criticisms of prisoner treatment were leveled against the city jail and correctional facilities across the nation  and U.S. military prisons abroad. For complete story, click here.
EU Official Calls for End to Death Penalty:  European Parliament president Josep Borrell called on the 76 countries still allowing the death penalty to respect the right to life and end the practice of capital punishment.  Borrell said the United States is the only democratic state that makes "widespread use" of the death penalty and the EU has a duty to convince the Americans to abolish it.  For complete story, click here.
Court May Hear Chinese Detainees Muslims Lack Country of Refuge:  A federal judge in Washington said yesterday that he will consider allowing two detainees in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to appear before him in court to challenge their confinement, telling lawyers that the ethnic Uighurs who have been cleared for release have been held too long.  U.S. District Judge James Robertson said he believes the case of the Uighurs (pronounced wee-gurs ) presents "a genuine dilemma" because the government has determined they are not enemy combatants but has not found a country to accept them. U.S. officials are not willing to send the Uighurs -- Muslims who are seeking their own homeland on what is now part of northwestern China -- to their native country for fear that they would be tortured or killed. For complete story, click here.
Guilty When Charged:  While enjoying the Christmas season in the comfort of your home, take a minute to say a prayer for the wrongfully convicted.  American prisons are full of wrongfully convicted persons. Many were coerced into admitting to crimes they did not commit by prosecutors' threats to pile on more charges. Others were convicted by false testimony from criminals bribed by prosecutors, who exchanged dropped charges or reduced sentences in exchange for false testimony against defendants.  Not all the wrongfully convicted are poor. Some are wealthy and prominent people targeted by corrupt prosecutors seeking a celebrity case in order to boost their careers. For complete story, click here.
Alabama inmates sue secretary of state over voting rights:  Three Alabama inmates have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Secretary of State Nancy Worley,  claiming they are wrongfully being denied voting rights.  The suit, filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, contends Worley violates  Alabama's constitution by requiring felons to apply to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to have voting rights restored.  The suit contends the constitution doesn't strip voting  rights for certain felonies and there is no need to ask the parole board to restore them. For complete story, click here.
Nun freed after serving 3 years for war protest:  Sister Ardeth Platte, 69, walked out of a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., Thursday morning filled with peace and joy, but not  a bit of remorse for her crime.  "I feel very good about offering 41 months for peace in this world. So every day has been sacred for me," she said. For complete story, click here.
Man Jailed for Over a Year Saw No Lawyer:  DALLAS - A man was jailed for more than a year without ever seeing a lawyer as he waited for a repeatedly postponed court hearing, gaining release only after a cellmate told an attorney about the case. Walter Mann Sr., 69, was released Dec. 16 after a year and three months - more than twice the time he would have served if he had been convicted in his contempt-of-court case. For expanded story and source, click here.
U.S. to Seek Dismissal of Guantánamo Lawsuits --Bush administration wants federal judges to deny hearing habeas corpus petitions effecting at least 300  detainees 04 Jan 2006 The Bush regime notified federal trial judges in Washington that it would soon ask them to dismiss all lawsuits brought by prisoners at Guantánamo  Bay, Cuba, challenging their detentions, Justice Department officials said Tuesday. The action means that the administration is moving swiftly to take advantage of an  amendment to the military bill that President Bush signed into law last Friday. The amendment strips federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions from Guantánamo detainees. For complete story, click here.
Success for Sentencing Reform in New Jersey:  Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey has achieved a big victory for sentencing reform in the lame duck session of the state legislature.  The New Jersey Senate and Assembly passed legislation on Monday, January 9, that would give judges discretion not to revoke people’s drivers’ licenses for  drug offenses.  For complete story, click here.
Gateway killing suspect's past includes lengthy criminal record:  …Considered a youthful offender, he was ordered to pay $90 in restitution to the business and $50  in investigative costs. The court ordered he be placed in youth facility and recommended boot camp.  In court papers, Cooper said he had only completed the 10th grade at  South Fork High School in Stuart, that he worked as a dishwasher at a restaurant for $4.25 an hour and rode a motorcycle. For complete story, click here.
Bill aims to block `panic defense':  The Bay Area men convicted last year of murdering a Newark transgender teenager said they panicked upon learning that the beauty  they had been intimate with was biologically male.  Using that ``panic defense,'' their attorneys called it merely a manslaughter, but jurors rejected that argument. Now a  civil rights group wants the California Legislature to redress what they see as victim-blaming in hate-crime cases.  Named in honor of the 17-year-old who was beaten and  strangled in October 2002, the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act would amend jury instructions to state that the use of so-called ``panic defenses'' is inconsistent with  California's comprehensive hate crimes law.  For complete story, click here.
State board awards $750,000 to falsely imprisoned man:  SAN DIEGO – A state board agreed today to award more than $756,000 to a Rancho Penasquitos man who  spent 21 years in prison before doubt was cast on his second-degree murder conviction in the death of his girlfriend's toddler.  The Victim Compensation and Government  Claims Board agreed with a hearing officer's recommendation to approve Kenneth Marsh's claim, said the board's public information officer, Fran Clader.  Marsh is to receive  $100 for every day he spend behind bars.  In a 12-page proposed decision, hearing officer Kyle Hedlum wrote that at a December hearing, Marsh proved by a preponderance  of the evidence that he did not murder his girlfriend's son.  Philip Buell was three months shy of his third birthday when he was died on April 27, 1983.  Included in a list of  nine "findings" in the hearing officer's proposed decision were that the toddler had an undiagnosed blood disorder that contributed to his death, and that a doctor's decision to administer the drug Mannitol to the boy contributed to his death.  One of Marsh's attorneys, Donnie Cox, said Mannitol sometimes is used to treat head injuries. For complete story, click here.
Federal Judge Blasts Mandatory Minimum Sentences:  Forced to impose a sentence he deemed unjust, a Northern District of New York judge took sharp aim last week at a federal statute that required him to impose a life-without-parole term on a 32-year-old "relatively small-time drug dealer" with an IQ of 72.  Judge David N. Hurd said child rapists and murderers will go free on parole while Justin D. Powell languishes in prison for life, largely because the defendant was convicted of drug crimes twice during his teenage years, more than a decade before the instant offense. Because of those prior convictions, the sole sentencing option was life, Hurd said.  "The increment of harm in this case bears no rational relationship to the increment of punishment that I must impose," Hurd said at a sentencing proceeding last week in Utica, N.Y. "This is what occurs when Congress sets [a] mandatory minimum sentence which distorts the entire judicial process... . As a result, I am obligated to and will now impose this unfair and, more important, unjust sentence."  For complete story, click here.
Two guards convicted in Wilson jail beatings:  Two former guards accused of beating prisoners at the Wilson County Jail became inmates themselves yesterday after a federal jury convicted them of violating prisoners' civil rights. For complete story, click here.
Judge Requests Clemency for a Killer He Condemned:  In a highly unusual development, a judge who condemned a killer to die has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant clemency.  Michael A. Morales is to be executed Feb. 21 for the 1981 killing of Terri Winchell, a Lodi high school student. Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles R. McGrath, appointed by Gov. Ronald Reagan, said in a letter to the governor that he believes the sentence was based on false testimony from a jailhouse informant. For complete story, click here.
Why Prisons Don't Work:  I was among 31 murderers sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1962 to be executed or imprisoned for life. We weren't much different from  those we found here, or those who had preceded us. We were unskilled, impulsive and uneducated misfits, mostly black, who had done dumb, impulsive things -- failures,  rejects from the larger society. Now a generation has come of age and gone since I've been here, and everything is much the same as I found it. The faces of the prisoners  are different, but behind them are the same impulsive, uneducated, unskilled minds that made dumb, impulsive choices that got them...  For complete story, click here.
Losing a Friend:  When you've been buried alive in federal prisons for nearly a quarter century like George Martorano has, you get used to bad news. While serving a life sentence for drug smuggling, he's already lost his mobster father to a gangland hit, his son in a motorcycle accident and his wife to cancer [Cover, "In the Name of His Father," Brendan McGarvey, March 3, 2005].  Last Tuesday, a fellow inmate came to his cell with some more bad news: Chris Penn, the actor who's long supported Martorano, had died at his California home.  Penn, whose Academy Award-winning brother Sean is also known for taking on causes, has stood behind Martorano's feeling  that he was being punished because of his bloodlines. "We spoke on the phone almost every Sunday afternoon for 15 years," Martorano said on the phone from a central  Florida prison. "It's hard to lose him."  Penn—best known for playing Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs—was talking about producing a screenplay Martorano had written  while incarcerated.  "He's the longest-serving nonviolent offender ever. It's ridiculous," Penn said during a September interview with City Paper. "He should be out here, not in  there. I can't wait until the day he is free."   For complete story, click here.
Telemarketing? You call that rehab?:  Church allegedly made people work for 28 cents an hour.  A rehabilitation program at a church is facing allegations it forced people to work as telemarketers for 28 cents an hour under the threat they could go back to jail.  The state Department of Human Services, which investigated the program, notified the House of Refuge on Thursday that it had 10 days to explain itself before its license would be revoked and the program shut down.  The men were sent to the program by judges or state agencies for substance abuse rehabilitation. A department report said they were paid about 28 cents an hour, but even those wages were withheld and donated to the church.  Most of the men in the program have since been pulled out, officials said. It was unclear if anyone remained in it Friday.  (Webmaster Note:  This is not surprising and not a rare or unusual practice in Utah.  Utah has many programs for youth called "residential treatment programs" and/or "boot camps" where children are enslaved (not paid anything and forced to work under threat of physical violence and denial of privileges including food and water).  Utah courts regularly place children in RTC's as an alternative to state run juvenile facilities.  And, the practices of abuse, torture, and POW-style brainwashing are regularities in that state and in many other programs run throughout the Mid-West and Southern states.  Please learn more at www.heal-online.org/childtortureusa.htm  We must stop this before all of us are under the thumb of reckless, evil bastards.)  Story is no longer available through CNN and story could not be located elsewhere.  It was originally on www.cnn.com, February 3rd, 2006(?) under the headline in bold above.
Imprisoning the innocent: 'It's un-American':  Alex Villalobos vividly remembers when he prosecuted his first case as an intern in State Attorney Willie Meggs' office back in the late '80s.  Villalobos, then a Florida State University law student, was assigned a juvenile burglary case. The youth arrested for the crime was accused of breaking a window, entering a residence and stealing a gun.  He swore he didn't do it, but Villalobos won a conviction.  Eighteen years later, Villalobos, 42, is majority leader in the Florida Senate, an influential Republican from Miami who's in his 14th year as a lawmaker. Unlikely as it may be, he still wonders if that convicted burglar actually was telling the truth.  Five years ago the conservative politician first thrust himself into the spotlight as the Legislature's poster boy for defending the interests, through law and science, of wrongfully convicted inmates. For complete story, click here and scroll down.
A Glimpse Inside the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, Where 90 Percent of the Cases are Drug Related:  One afternoon in February 2000, when I was learning the ropes at the district attorney's office, I got a call from Phil Matier of the Chronicle who wanted to talk about police chief Fred Lau. On Chinese New Year's the SFPD's Lion Dancers had performed at a party in Brisbane, for which they got four hours of overtime pay, authorized by Lau. Matier wanted to know if the DA's office was investigating the episode; if a complaint had been received; and the section of the law pertaining to misuse of funds. I said I'd look into it.  It occurred to me that by making a big deal out of episodes like this, which may have cost the taxpayers a thousand dollars, the media directs attention away from the big ongoing story: one-third of all San Francisco cops' pay is overtime. Overtime pay goes out to the vice and narcotics squads daily, in amounts that add up to millions a year. Because it happens every day, it's routine; it's not news. Thus the system is never exposed. A thousand dollars in bullshit overtime pay is news. A thousand thousand dollars in bullshit overtime pay is not news.  Seventy percent of the cases handled by the district attorney's office are for possession or sale of illicit drugs--mostly crack cocaine--and another 20 percent involve attempts by poor, desperate people to get money for drugs.  On a typical morning in Department 10, one of the four municipal courts on the first floor, 26 people wait patiently as the proceedings begin at 9:20 a.m. None appear to be affluent. Guessing from their demeanor and attire, six are regularly employed, including a muni driver and his wife. The rest are lumpen. There's a tall white man with dyed black hair, a Carl Perkins impersonator. Two Samoans, four Latinos, a white woman dozing, a white-haired Greek gent in his sixties. Everybody else is African American.  At the end of the day I debriefed the assistant DA--a self-described "progressive" hired by Terence Hallinan--who handled all those cases. For complete story, click here.
New Supreme Court Gatekeeper for 11th Circuit:  The U.S. Supreme Court has assigned Justice Clarence Thomas, a strong supporter of capital punishment, to handle emergency stay requests coming out of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The move could affect Florida death penalty appeals.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, a relative  moderate on death penalty issues, previously handled the 11th Circuit, which includes Florida, Georgia and Alabama. For complete story, click here.
Harrison County inmate tortured by jailers, attorney says:  GULFPORT — A Harrison County inmate who died following a weekend altercation with jailers was tortured  and beaten "relentlessly" while restrained, a Gulfport attorney representing the dead prisoner's family says.  Michael Crosby, who is representing the family of Jessie Lee  Williams, told the Sun Herald on Wednesday that numerous witnesses are prepared to testify in court, if necessary, that Williams received abuse at the hands of jailers  Saturday night.  For complete story, click here.
Autopsy reports expose cruelty of lethal injection:  It's the stuff of nightmares, and the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment: A prisoner remaining aware, but paralyzed and unable to speak, while a deadly, caustic drug flows through his veins.  This could be the reality of execution in the United States. Lethal injections, the preferred method of execution in every state but Nevada, use three drugs: sodium thiopental, a surgical anesthetic, followed by the paralytic drug pancuronium bromide, and finally potassium chloride, which stops the heart and causes death.  A medical journal's review of autopsy reports in 49 executions by lethal injection in Texas and Virginia showed that 43 had critically low levels of anesthetic in their bloodstreams, and 21 had so little that they were likely conscious throughout the painful process of stopping their heart.  This is unwelcome news to death-penalty supporters,but no surprise to those familiar with the history of lethal injection.  For complete story, click here.
Calif. prison guard convicted of aiding racist prison gang:  LOS ANGELES (AP) - A former prison guard was convicted Tuesday on charges of aiding a white supremacist inmate gang that operated at the California Institute for Men in Chino.  Shayne Allyn Ziska, 44, of Fontana was found guilty of federal charges of participating in a corrupt organization's conspiracy, violent crime in the aid of racketeering and deprivation of rights under color of law.  Ziska helped the Nazi Low Riders distribute methamphetamine, heroin and other drugs, federal prosecutor Adam D. Kamenstein said.  U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr., who heard testimony from several inmates and other correctional officers over a two-week trial, also found Ziska guilty of allowing a gang member to stab an inmate.  For complete story, click here.
French prisons on the borderline of human dignity:  After visiting two prisons in Marseille and Paris, the council's Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles  said: "...inmates' living conditions are on the borderline of the acceptable, and on the borderline of human dignity."  Europe's top human rights watchdog said some French  prisons were in a "disastrous" state on Wednesday in a damning report on the country's criminal justice system that fuelled a mounting sense of crisis.  French courts were overworked and underfunded, police operated with a sense of impunity and defence lawyers needed better access to their clients, said the report by the 46-nation Council of  Europe based in Strasbourg in eastern France. "Conditions in some holding facilities are disastrous and totally at odds with a modern society's requirements," the council's  Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles wrote.  For complete story, click here.
Waging Peace On The Death Penalty:  At 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning Michael Morales is scheduled to die for the 1982 murder of Terri Winchell, a 17-year old Lodi,  California high school student.  The trial took place in Ventura County, where I live.  This evening, as Michael is strapped to the executioner’s table, Amnesty International  and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions will hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Ventura County Government Center, where Morales was condemned to death. We will call for the abolition of the capital punishment.  Michael Morales has lost his struggle to survive, but eventually we death penalty abolitionists will prevail in the United States as we  have prevailed in 120 other countries, from Angola to Nepal to Venezuela.  Eventually, we as a nation will learn to respect the universal human right to life. We will reject  execution as a form of torture.  For complete story, click here.
John Robert Ballard remains at a state prison:  RAIFORD, Fla. - John Robert Ballard was set free from death row after the state Supreme Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict him of killing two friends but he didn't rush out of prison Friday at the first opportunity to savor his freedom.  Ballard, who was expected to be released Friday afternoon and reportedly had a bus ticket home, remained at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford hours after prison officials said he was free to go.  What was the holdup?  "When people are released from prison, sometimes they have to wait on their ride," Department of Corrections spokesman Robby Cunningham said. "It's very common that there's not someone at the front door the second they walk out." For complete story, click here.
Department of Corrections or Corruption?:  JACKSONVILLE, FL -- It's called the Iron Triangle.  A place where on each side of State Road 16, a handful of prisons meet.  Those who live and work in the Iron Triangle will tell you behind the razor sharp wires is a code, one few are willing to talk about openly.  "Everybody likes to use the phrase good old boys club, that's what it is out there and they protect one another. There is a code of silence," says a former correctional officer we will call Dave.  Dave is breaking the silence along with a few others who are still in the corrections system.  "If it were known who I am, at minimum my career with DOC would be over, at minimum," says a high ranking correctional officer we will call Mark.  The only way Dave and Mark would talk to us is we concealed their faces, distorted their voices and changed their names. "I fear retaliation from the upper echelon at work," says TJ, another correctional officer who would only speak on condition of anonymity.  There is one person who is not afraid to say who he is. "I could sit here until the sun goes down next week," says Ron McAndrew.  McAndrew has been on the inside of Corrections as warden at the Florida State Prison.  "They'll find some way to get even with you and that's well known. The intimidation factor is unbelievable," says McAndrew.  With these former and current correctional workers, we've uncovered documents, pictures and other evidence that is now part of numerous state and federal investigations.  "I would equate it to the mafia, yes," says TJ.  There are steroid probes, sexual harassment lawsuits, claims of inmates being tortured. For complete story, click here.
American Indian activist Leonard Peltier seeks new trial:  ST. LOUIS — “It is my obligation to find errors in the government’s case,” Barry Bachrach, a defense lawyer for Leonard Peltier, told the World outside of the Thomas Eagleton Federal Courthouse here Feb. 13, after a hearing to review Peltier’s conviction and sentencing.  Peltier, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), has spent 30 years in prison for his alleged role in the shooting deaths of two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. However, no one witnessed the shooting, and ballistics tests, which were concealed from the court at the time by the FBI, showed that the bullets could not have been fired from the alleged murder weapon. Peltier has repeatedly denied responsibility.  While Peltier’s defense has been ongoing since his arrest in 1976, Bachrach is taking a different approach. According to Bachrach, “the Federal Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under the statutes upon which Peltier was convicted and sentenced. The laws under which Leonard Peltier was convicted require that the incident take place on a federal enclave, which does not include the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where the incident did take place. In this case, the government therefore lacked jurisdiction.” (Webmaster's Note: Read "The COINTELPRO Papers" for truth about Peltier's case). For complete story, click here.
Inmates Awarded $248,000 For Abuse Conditions Called 'Dehumanizing':  Justice took its time coming to Bernard Brown and the men who suffered with him during those weeks in a filthy cellblock at the D.C. jail.  Almost a decade passed between the time the men were beaten, robbed and deprived of showers, working toilets and eating utensils and the day last month when a jury awarded them $248,000 for the abuse they suffered.  Brown and Vonsauli Smith had finished their prison sentences and rejoined society. The cuts and bruises they and the others were left with after guards beat them had long since faded to soft brown scars.  But Brown says he never will forget the viciousness of the days he spent on South One cellblock, a place described in an unrelated court proceeding as "the most deplorable, unjustifiably restrictive, dehumanizing" prison accommodations one expert had ever seen. For complete story, click here.
Out of Jail, into the Army:  Facing an enlistment crisis, the Army is granting "waivers" to an increasingly high percentage of recruits with criminal records - and trying to hide it.  We're transforming our military. The things I look for are the following: morale, retention, and recruitment. And retention is high, recruitment is meeting goals, and people are feeling strong about the mission. -- George W. Bush, in a Jan. 26 press conference  It was about 10 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2002, when a drug deal was arranged in the parking lot of a mini-mall in Newark, Del. The car with the drugs, driven by a man who would become a recruit for the Delaware Air National Guard, pulled up next to a parked car that was waiting for the exchange.  Everything was going smoothly until the cops arrived.  "I parked and walked over to his car and got in and we were talking,"  the future Air Guardsman later wrote. "He asked if I had any marijuana and I said yes, that I bought some in Wilmington, Del., earlier that day. He said he wanted some." The drug dealer went on to recount in a Jan. 11, 2005, statement written to win admission into the military, "I walked back to my car [and] as soon as I got in my car an officer put his flashlight in the window and arrested me."  For complete story, click here.
Funds: Doing time is money - prisons pay off for fund:  BOSTON For managers of the RS Partners Fund, the second-best performing U.S. small-cap value mutual fund since 2001, only two things are certain this year: jails and education. Andrew Pilara, who oversees the $2.3 billion fund, is bullish on Corrections Corp. of America, the largest operator of jails and prisons in the United States, and Corinthian Colleges, which runs 130 colleges in the United States and Canada.  While most companies will post smaller earnings gains in 2006 as consumer spending weakens, businesses like Corrections and Corinthian Colleges will keep growing, said Pilara, who co-manages the fund with Joe Wolf and David Kelley.  Demand for their services is not dependent on the economy, he said.  "Our caution led us to businesses that aren't economically sensitive," Pilara said in an interview by phone from his office at RS Investments in San Francisco.  Pilara said he expects rising commodities prices to hamper U.S. growth, while economists are forecasting that the first quarter will show the biggest gains in two years.  The RS Partners Fund climbed 14 percent in the past year. Much of the gain came from energy-related companies like Compton Petroleum and Paramount Resources, which increased as oil and natural gas prices rose. For complete story, click here.
Hollywood stars join campaign to close prison:  The campaign to close Guantánamo Bay has secured high-profile support, with Nobel laureates and film stars signing a letter in today's Guardian demanding an end to torture.  Hollywood stars Danny Glover, of Lethal Weapon fame, and film legend Harry Belafonte join writers Harold Pinter, Wole Soyinka, Dario Fo, Nadine Gordimer and Alice Walker among others in demanding the prison's closure.  Recent reports say the Bush administration is thinking of closing the prison, which has attracted global condemnation for the use of torture and the systematic abuse of detainees' human rights. For complete story, click here.
Writing by Suicidal Detainee Reveals Depths of His Despair:  Just before Jumah al-Dossari tried to kill himself by fashioning a makeshift noose and opening a gash in his right arm, the Guantanamo Bay detainee handed his lawyer an envelope containing pages of tidily handwritten Arabic, some stained with dried blood. Dossari had told his lawyer they could discuss the letter at a later time.  "The detainees are suffering from the bitterness of despair, the detention humiliation and the vanquish of slavery and suppression," Dossari wrote, according to a translation. "I hope you will always remember that you met and sat with a 'human being' called 'Jumah' who suffered too much and was abused in his belief, self, dignity and also in his humanity. He was imprisoned, tortured and deprived from his homeland, his family and his young daughter who is in the most need of him for four years . . . with no reason or crime committed." For complete story, click here.
Author embraces technology - launches Internet portal from behind the walls of a maximum security federal prison.  TAMPA, FL– Author, screenwriter George Martorano has assisted in launching the website www.georgemartorano.com.  Martorano, in his 23rd year of a life without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence, has found a world-wide audience for 23 years worth of writings- including 10 novels, 20 short stories and numerous screenplays.  George Martorano is currently serving his 23rd year of an LWP (Life-without Parole) sentence in a maximum security federal prison in Coleman, Florida.  Mr. Martorano plead guilty to drug conspiracy charges in 1983. Despite a plea agreement which intended Martorano to serve 10 years in prison, a federal judge ignored the plea agreement and sentenced George Martorano to serve a life sentence without parole for his first-time, non-violent marijuana offense. The reason given was Mr. Martorano's failure to outline activities about his father's alleged, unrelated illegal business activities that the judge had hoped he knew.  Mr. Martorano is the longest serving first-time, non-violent offender in the history of America. Despite the circumstances surrounding George Martorano's living conditions over the last 23 years, he has overcome, raised above and far exceeded expectations by educating himself, maintaining a healthy positive mental attitude and teaching and counseling hundreds of inmates over the years.
Locked Up in the Tombs: Dangerous-to-Society Women:  Lockup isn't supposed to be fun, but we are innocent until proven guilty. Right?  I was arrested with Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, and Rev. Patti Ackerman last week as we attempted to deliver to the United States Mission a petition with 72,000 signatures of women who say no to war.  Just a few hours before this, the Iraqi Women's Delegation had been received warmly at the UN. We were not received warmly at our publicly owned building, although our group had been told the petition could be delivered to a receptionist. In fact, as we approached, security guards locked the doors.  We moved from the building and were reading the petition when police arrived to arrest us. Cindy, Medea, and Patti locked arms and legs to avoid being hurt. I held tightly to a banner for peace. The police tried to pull it from my grasp but failed. They lifted me, pulled my arms behind my back, and carried me to the paddy wagon. I weigh 104 pounds. Might makes right, eh?  I yelled, "George Bush killed my nephew." I said this over and over.  We four "dangerous-to-society" women were driven to a police station where we were photographed and fingerprinted. The walls and floor of our cell were decorated with feces, blood, and urine. The bathroom was also filthy.  (Webmaster Note:  So, this is how we treat the mothers of American sons who die in Iraq?  This is how we honor freedom and protect democracy?  What in the hell is going on?) For complete story, click here.
Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons:  They are just some of the victims of wholesale torture taking place inside the U.S. prison system that we uncovered during a four-month investigation for BBC Channel 4 . It’s terrible to watch some of the videos and realise that you’re not only seeing torture in action but, in the most extreme cases, you are witnessing young men dying.  The prison guards stand over their captives with electric cattle prods, stun guns, and dogs. Many of the prisoners have been ordered to strip naked. The guards are yelling abuse at them, ordering them to lie on the ground and crawl. ‘Crawl, motherf*****s, crawl.’  If a prisoner doesn’t drop to the ground fast enough, a guard kicks him or stamps on his back. There’s a high-pitched scream from one man as a dog clamps its teeth onto his lower leg.  Another prisoner has a broken ankle. He can’t crawl fast enough so a guard jabs a stun gun onto his buttocks. The jolt of electricity zaps through his naked flesh and genitals. For hours afterwards his whole body shakes.  Lines of men are now slithering across the floor of the cellblock while the guards stand over them shouting, prodding and kicking.  Second by second, their humiliation is captured on a video camera by one of the guards.  The images of abuse and brutality he records are horrifyingly familiar. These were exactly the kind of pictures from inside Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad that shocked the world this time last year.  And they are similar, too, to the images of brutality against Iraqi prisoners that this week led to the conviction of three British soldiers.  But there is a difference. These prisoners are not caught up in a war zone. They are Americans, and the video comes from inside a prison in Texas.  For complete story, click here.
Ex-prisons official pleads guilty in co-worker assaults:  The Texas prison system's former anti-gang chief pleaded guilty Friday to reduced criminal charges in a deal that allows him to avoid going to prison for sexually assaulting co-workers.  Salvador "Sammy" Buentello, an assistant director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice who retired under fire in May 2004, pleaded guilty in a Huntsville state court to a felony charge of unlawful restraint and five counts of official oppression, all misdemeanors.  Three felony sexual assault charges were dismissed.  State District Judge Bill McAdams sentenced Buentello to five years' deferred adjudication on the felony charge and a year's probation on the misdemeanors. He was also fined $7,000.  The felony charge carried a maximum 10-year prison sentence, the misdemeanors a maximum year each in the county jail.  Under the deferred adjudication agreement, if Buentello is not arrested on or convicted of new charges, he will not have a felony conviction on his record, according to prosecutors.  Walker County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Stroud said Buentello must undergo psychiatric counseling and a sexual-therapy evaluation but will not have to register as a sex offender. For complete story, click here.
Prison canteen system nears end of its time:  For years, Oregon convicts shopped at prison canteens, buying everything from shampoo to instant coffee and running shoes.  However, most of these general stores behind prison walls have closed in recent years, vanishing like mom-and-pop grocery stores supplanted by big corporate chains.  Only two of 13 state prisons, the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem and the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, still operate storefront canteens.  Amid a push for consolidation and standardization, the bulk of the convict population no longer shops at the canteen. Instead, the canteen comes to them, arriving once per week in brown paper bags.  Inmate warehouse workers do the heavy lifting for the modernized system, known as "bagged canteen," filling customized orders that are delivered by trucks to thousands of prisoners.  Top-selling items in the convict marketplace, based on sales revenue: envelopes, TVs, instant coffee, noodles, protein powders, compact discs, AA batteries, CD players/radios and refried beans.  Canteens conform with the Department of Corrections' mission to hold inmates accountable, said Perrin Damon, a spokeswoman for the agency.  Most inmates work, earning points that can be used to fund canteen purchases, providing an incentive for them to work hard, Damon said.  "Plus, having responsibility for their own funds, saving and spending -- it mirrors the real world," she said.  Family members can donate money to inmates' accounts. However, convict purchasing power is kept in check by rules that limit monthly spending to between $50 and $75.  (Webmaster Note:  Prisoners are charged at least twice the retail rate on most items, sometimes as much as 10x the retail rate (what we pay at the store on the outside).  They have to use this "allowance" (even if they have more funds in their accounts) to purchase toiletries including toilet paper and sundries.  Who stops the debt peonage slavery in this system?  Who stops the slavery period?  How is it like the "real world" for an adult to be paid in "points" and not at least to be paid minimum wage?  What human and civil rights standards are we using to judge this?  It's flat out garbage!!!)  For complete story, click here.
Jeffco death sentences highest since'76:  Jefferson County judges have condemned seven killers in the last nine months, equaling the county's largest concentration of death sentences since capital sentencing resumed in Alabama in 1976, records show.  The latest was Brandon Washington, who was sentenced to death on March 27 for a robbery and murder. Judges also imposed seven death sentences between June 1997 and March 1998.  Bryan Stevenson, a death penalty critic, said the latest trend shouldn't be a surprise in a state that leads the nation in per-capita death sentences, where jury sentence verdicts can be less than unanimous and judges may override the jury's wish.  "There is no question in my mind," said Stevenson, executive director of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative. "Alabama has one of the most expansive death penalty statutes in the country."  For complete story, click here.
Former inmate: Chino prison officer plotted attacks:  CHINO - An officer at the California Institution for Men solicited attacks against an inmate there for raising too many complaints about the facility's living conditions, the former prisoner said.  Matthew Cramer, 38, who was released on parole in March, said his complaints have spurred an Internal Affairs investigation.  Officials at the prison deny an investigation is under way and said Cramer's charges are bogus. But he's pushing the case forward.  "She went to many inmates and said, `Cramer snitched, Cramer did this, Cramer did that,' " said the former prisoner, who now lives in Visalia. "She tried to entice them to assault me."The officer's last name is Duncan, said Cramer, who said he does not know her first name. Many officers typically do not use their first names inside prison environments.   For complete story, click here.
Prison guards protest over conditions at Nevada State Prison:  CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Up to 200 prison guards plan a rally Friday outside the Nevada State Prison to protest what they see as deteriorating conditions as a result of inmate program cuts and policy changes by a new warden.  Scott MacKenzie, organizing director for the State of Nevada Employees Association, said Thursday that guards working at the medium-security prison now must deal with "a heavy handed management style" that excludes them from involvement in decisions.  MacKenzie added that good communication between prison administrators and guards "is the key to safety, security and respect."  Problems mentioned by guards have included cuts in inmate programs by Warden Bill Donat, along with policy changes in sick leave, time off and various rules that they see as creating a hostile work environment. For complete story, click here.
In police lineups, is the method the suspect?:  CHICAGO AND BOSTON - A police lineup is often the moment of truth in a criminal investigation. It's also, say many experts, highly fallible.  Of the 175 convictions overturned by DNA evidence, 75 percent were convicted largely because of eyewitness testimony that turned out to be mistaken. For complete story, click here.
Prison employees' arrests detailed--From hot checks to murders, prison workers frequently charged:  They're accused of fighting with their families, getting drunk in public, writing hot checks, driving drunk and getting caught with illegal drugs.  Occasionally, they're arrested on accusations of murdering, setting fire, stealing, laundering money, smuggling illegal immigrants, even robbing a bank or impersonating a police officer.  That was the snapshot that emerged Thursday as state prison officials made public a list of Texas corrections employees who have been arrested during the past three years. The list of charges is a cross- section of the criminal code. For complete story, click here.
Democracy Now! Chicago's Abu Ghraib: Tuesday, May 9th, 2006:  For nearly two decades a part of the city’s jails known as Area 2 was the epicenter for what has been described as the systematic torture of dozens of African-American males by Chicago police officers. In total, more than 135 people say they were subjected to abuse including having guns forced into their mouths, bags places over their heads, and electric shocks inflicted to their genitals. Four men have been released from death row after government investigators concluded torture led to their wrongful convictions.  For complete story, click here.
Tyra Banks goes to jail for chat show:  Tyra Banks has spent a day in jail to prepare for the second season of her US chat show.  The former model asked to be treated like any other female prisoner during her stay, and admits that she was shocked by what she experienced.  "It was one of the most shocking, eye-opening and terrifying experiences of my life. I felt violated," Banks is quoted by The Sun as saying.  For complete story, click here.
Inmates face hazards for pennies an hour:  While much of the "e-waste" discarded across the country is "recycled" by brokers who send the old computers, monitors and televisions to "developing" nations without laws regulating the health or safety implications of their processing and disposal, some marginalized communities in the United States also face hazards from dismantling the toxic products.  Prison recycling programs at a number of federal penitentiaries have violated health and safety standards, according to whistleblowers and environmental groups.  Prisoners at the federal maximum-security Atwater prison in California used hammers to break computer terminals down for recycling, which caused the release of heavy-metal particles. The problem was only addressed after Leroy Smith, the safety manager at Atwater, filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and sought whistleblower protections in early 2005.  Seven other federal prisons have electronics recycling plants, including Elkton, Ohio; Fort Dix, New Jersey; and Texarkana, Texas.  "Because the US as a country is not embracing this very significant large volume and hazardous waste problem, what we’re doing is pushing it offshore, [and] we’re pushing it to prisoners," said Sarah Westervelt, e-waste program coordinator with the Basel Action Network, an international environmental organization.  More than a year after Smith’s disclosure, the US Office of Special Counsel finally issued a response last month, faulting the Federal Bureau of Prisons for failing to address inmates’ exposure to toxins like lead and cadmium in the computer recycling operations.  Even Scott Bloch, the head of the US Office of Special Counsel heavily criticized for relative inaction in protecting federal employees’ rights at work, called for a "thorough, independent and impartial investigation into recycling operations at [Bureau of Prisons] institutions."  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), along with Smith’s lawyer, Mary Dryovage, say the Justice Department should open a full investigation into alleged health and safety violations perpetrated by UNICOR, the government-owned corporation that runs industry programs at federal penitentiaries.  Businesses, federal agencies and local governments have contracted UNICOR to recycle their e-waste, resulting in $9 million in sales in 2005. According to its financial reports, UNICOR employs 951 inmates in its recycling plants, paying them between 23 cents and $1.15 per hour. (Webmaster Note:  Not only are prisoners paid way under minimum wage standards, they are expected to pay up to and sometimes over 10x retail prices for necessities, including food and toiletries.  Can you imagine being paid 23 cents an hour and being expected to pay $10 for one aspirin tablet, not a bottle of aspirin, a single pill.  Peonage is debt slavery.  Why do we allow this?  To support prisoners, visit: www.heal-online.org/adopt.htm and learn how now!)  For complete story, click here.
U.S. report: 2.2 million now in prisons, jails: WASHINGTON - Prisons and jails added more than 1,000 inmates each week for a year, putting almost 2.2 million people, or one in every 136 U.S. residents, behind bars by last summer.  The total on June 30, 2005, was 56,428 more than at the same time in 2004, the government reported Sunday. That 2.6 percent increase from mid-2004 to mid-2005 translates into a weekly rise of 1,085 inmates.  Of particular note was the gain of 33,539 inmates in jails, the largest increase since 1997, researcher Allen J. Beck said. That was a 4.7 percent growth rate, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in people held in state and federal prisons.  Prisons accounted for about two-thirds of all inmates, or 1.4 million, while the other third, nearly 750,000, were in local jails, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Beck, the bureau’s chief of corrections statistics, said the increase in the number of people in the 3,365 local jails is due partly to their changing role. Jails often hold inmates for state or federal systems, as well as people who have yet to begin serving a sentence.  “The jail population is increasingly unconvicted,” Beck said. “Judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pretrial.”  The report by the Justice Department agency found that 62 percent of people in jails have not been convicted, meaning many of them are awaiting trial.  For complete story, click here.
Judge Steps In for Poor Inmates Without Justice Since Hurricane:  NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Katrina took his house, his courtroom and, Judge Arthur L. Hunter Jr. says, his faith in the way his city treats poor people facing criminal charges.  Nine months after the storm, more than a thousand jailed defendants  have had no access to lawyers, the judge says, because the public defender system is desperately short of money and staffing, without a computer system or files or even a list of clients.  And so Judge Hunter, 46, a former New Orleans police officer, is moving to let some of the defendants without lawyers out of jail. He has suspended prosecutions in most cases involving public defenders.  And, alone among a dozen criminal court judges, he has granted a petition to free a prisoner facing serious charges without counsel, and is considering others.  For complete story, click here.
Sentencing: US Conference of Mayors Comes Out Against Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences:  The US Conference of Mayors, meeting at its annual convention in Las Vegas this week, passed a resolution opposing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/resolutions/74th_conference/resolutions_adopted_2006.pdf  and called for "fair and effective" sentencing policies. The group represents the 1,183 mayors of cities in the US with populations over 300,000 and is a key voice in setting the urban policy agenda.  For complete story, click here.
Inmates tortured, ACLU says:  Prisoners at the Garfield County Jail are being tortured with PepperBall guns, Tasers and electroshock belts, the American Civil Liberties Union charged in a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court.  For complete story, click here.
Three disciplined in suicide of 18-year-old at youth prison: SACRAMENTO - Three employees at a youth prison in Stockton were disciplined after the suicide last year of an 18-year-old ward who was isolated in his room for two months, the corrections department said Friday in a preliminary response to a public records request from The Associated Press.  In a report that was previously released, the prison system's inspector general blamed poor oversight for Joseph Daniel Maldonado's Aug. 31 suicide at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility.   For complete story, click here.
Torture Tactics Refined In US Prisons, ACLU Says:  (CNSNews.com) - The director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prisoner Project Wednesday accused U.S. governments past and present of honing torture tactics in American prisons before they were allegedly implemented in terrorist detention centers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  "If you look at the iconic pictures from Abu Ghraib," Elizabeth Alexander told reporters at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, "you can match up these photos with the same abuses at American prisons, each one of them."  Alexander said the infamous torture tactics uncovered at Abu Ghraib were first used in American prisons, but without cameras. "The photo from Abu Ghraib showing a mock execution matches events in Sacramento, California, in which guards staged mock executions of prisoners," she said.  The images of dogs being used to intimidate prisoners portray similar events that occurred in a Texas jail, according to Alexander, who added that the sexual humiliation that occurred in Abu Ghraib is similar to sexual abuse in women's prisons in the United States.  For complete story, click here.
16-Year-Old Girl Faces 40 Years in Texas Prison for Drug Offense: The county attorney in El Paso, Texas, is seeking a harsh prison term for a 16-year-old girl caught smuggling cocaine into the U.S. from Mexico, the El Paso Times reported Sept. 24.  County Attorney Jose Rodriguez asked for and received grand-jury clearance for the girl, whose name was withheld, to be prosecuted under Texas' Determinate Sentencing Statute, which allows minors to be punished beyond their 21st birthday and would expose the girl to up to 40 years in juvenile detention and Texas prisons. The girl was caught allegedly trying to smuggle about 50 pounds of cocaine into the U.S.  For complete story, click here.
Inside Jobs - Convict Rehab or Corporate Slavery?:    If you think prison inmates only make license plates, you're behind the times.  As a child Ayana Cole dreamed of becoming a world class fashion designer. Today she is among hundreds of inmates crowded in an Oregon prison factory cranking out designer jeans. For her labor she is paid 45 cents an hour. At a chic Beverly Hills boutique some of the beaded creations carry a $350 price tag. In fact the jeans labeled "Prison Blues" - proved so popular last year that prison factories couldn't keep up with demand. At a San Diego private-run prison factory Donovan Thomas earns 21 cents an hour manufacturing office equipment used in some of LA's plushest office towers. In Chino Gary's prison sewn T-shirts are a fashion hit. Hundreds of prison generated products end up attached to trendy and nationally known labels like No Fear, Lee Jeans, Trinidad Tees, and other well known US companies. After deductions, many prisoners like Cole and Thomas earn about $60 for an entire month of nine-hour days. In short, hiring out prisoners has become big business. And it's booming.  For complete story, click here.
Are Pharmaceutical Tests on Prison Population Another Form of Modern-Day Slavery?:  Around Alabama, South Carolina, and even in New York City, you’ll find statues of J. Marion Sims.  What you won’t find are statues or, for that matter, many mentions of Anarcha.  Back in the mid-to-late 1800s, Sims, a surgeon, performed at least 30 experiments on Anarcha, a slave woman, in a quest for a way to treat a 19th century childbirth complication that caused many women to leak urine from their vaginas after developing connections between it and their bladder.  Eventually, he was successful -- and has been lauded as the father of modern gynecology ever since.  But even though Sims developed a treatment for an embarrassing and painful ailment that still afflicts many Third World women today, there’s no ignoring the fact that he built his legacy off of the pain of slaves like Anarcha. Women like her endured the experiments with no anesthesia. They also endured it amid times in which people like Sims believed that black people’s pain and anonymity were merely part of the landscape of privilege to which whites believed they were entitled.  I got to thinking about Anarcha’s story after reading about how another captive, disproportionately- black population could wind up being reduced to guinea pig status. Recently, a federal panel of medical advisers recommended that the government lighten up on regulations that restrict prison inmates from being used as subjects in pharmaceutical tests.  According to The New York Times, such testing all but ended more than three decades ago, after some prisoners were exposed to dangerous substances such as dioxin. Leodus Jones, a former inmate at Philadelphia’ s Holmesburg prison in the 1960s, told the Times that lotion tests caused him to develop rashes, and his skin to change color.  (We were unable to locate the original story to save it.  However, this story is far too important to just delete for lack of archive.  The original story was written by Tonya Weathersbee.  We've found the story in full and have copied it with the source.  No date is available that we can find.  Click here for more.)
Jailbait: Prison companies profit as Raymondville' s public debt grows: ” How else could Simon Salinas, Willacy County judge for 12 years, react to the promise that his county’s meager and battered budget could more than triple to $15 million within a couple of years? His employees don’t have health insurance, government buildings are falling apart, unemployment is over 10 percent, the county has run through four auditors in as many years, and there’s not even enough money to hire a dogcatcher for this sparse agricultural area in South Texas tucked between the giant Anglo ranches to the north and the booming border region. “I’ve turned over rocks to get industry here,” Salinas says. “Once they see the place, they say, we’ll go to the [Rio Grande].”  With industry taking a pass on Willacy County, one of the poorest in the nation, local officials have turned to more outlandish, or bold, if you prefer, economic gambits. One long-standing idea is to build a spaceport to launch commercial rockets from an offshore barge. Another ill-advised venture involves using eminent domain to seize 1,500 acres on Padre Island owned by the Nature Conservancy with the goal of ferrying tourists to the island on a rickety, 40-year-old amphibious vehicle. Both proposals have stalled, but in the past decade Willacy County has found itself courted by one industry that has practically knocked down doors to come into the area.  “We’re at the point where we’ll grab anything,” says Salinas, an amiable former farmworker with a full head of white hair. “If it’s Prisonville, fine.” Prisonville is what the residents of Raymondville, seat of Willacy County, have taken to calling their community. Their town is home to a privately run, 1,000-bed state prison; a county-run, 96-bed jail with space for federal inmates; a private, 500-bed federal jail; and a recently opened private, 2,000-bed detention center for undocumented immigrants that is a crown jewel in the Bush administration’ s border-enforcement policy. The four facilities are clustered on reclaimed grazing land, a bustling village of razor wire and guard towers across the highway from downtown Raymondville. The 3,600 prisoners—one- third of Raymondville’ s population—who reside in this penal colony represent the heart of the area’s economy. Aside from employing hundreds of locals to guard the prisoners, the jails are supposed to stimulate economic development and provide revenue for the county. But Prisonville seems to have benefited a small group of private, for-profit prison businessmen far more than the town on whose humble aspirations they preyed.  For complete story, click here.
Inmate freed from jail without a ride perished in the cold:  To the workers at the concrete plant who found his body, the frail man looked as though he had gone to sleep among the stacks of lumber. Snow cloaked everything but his lower legs and feet.  "That's all you could really see, were his socks and his ankles," Bill Einhorn said.  His ankles were so skinny, the men weren't sure they were looking at a person.  Einhorn and his co-workers would say later that the discovery was unexpectedly serene, as though the man simply decided to take a nap in their desolate company yard.  The family of 63-year-old James R. Smith Jr. would like to think he died napping. Not cold, disoriented, frightened. Not wandering aimlessly until he sat down and his heart stopped.  The evidence makes the latter scenario far more likely.  Smith was found dead on the South Side on Jan. 23, five days after he was let out of Franklin County's Jackson Pike jail.  Records show that he was freed at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18, a Thursday. His body was found about 2 miles north of the jail at ALD Concrete & Grading Co., 1600 Haul Rd.  Relatives said Smith was released without a call to them and despite a request by his case manager to hold him until she could pick him up the next morning.  For complete story, click here.
Inmates vs. Animals: U.S. Fails the Test of Civilization:  Legend has it that in the fifth century the Asian monk Telemachus ran into a Roman arena to stop the brutality of the gladitorial games.  For his interruption, the indignant crowd stoned him to death, but his actions impressed Emperor Honorius enough to put an end to the fights.  The past millenium and a half has arguably witnessed a general improvement in the cultural level of society, in particular many countries having preserved and extended their intolerance of sports that brutally exploit the disadvantaged. Today even cock fighting and pitting canines against each other are illegal in most industrialized nations.  Remnants of gladitorial combat nevertheless persist, notably at two prison rodeos in Angola, La., and McAlester, Okla., where Americans buy tickets to watch inmates wrestle bulls and participate in crowd favorites like "Convict Poker." Also called "Mexican Sweat," the poker game consists of four prisoners who sit expectantly around a red card table. A 1,500-pound bull is unleashed, and the last convict to remain sitting wins. Especially thrilling for the audience is the chaotic finale "Money the Hard Way" in which more than a dozen inmates scramble to snatch a poker chip dangling from the horns of another raging bull.  Unlike prisoners of ancient Rome, convicts at the annual Angola and Oklahoma State rodeos aren't physically forced to compete in the games, or even executed after their performance. Instead, they're paid handsomely -- upwards of $200 for winning "Convict Poker," or $100 for successfully grabbing the chip in "Money the Hard Way." A tour guide clarifies the basic economics: "Since $100 is worth about four months' pay to these hardened criminals, be ready for one hell of a scrap for that c-note."  For complete story, click here.
Corrections Officer Charged With Rape:  May  2nd, 2007--LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A Louisville Metro Corrections officer found himself on the other side of the bars, Tuesday, to await trial on a rape charge.  Sgt. Richard Johnson, 39, was indicted by a grand jury and is charged with one count of second-degree rape and one count of second-degree sodomy.  According to court records, there were two different victims.  Johnson has been an employee at Metro Corrections for 16 years and was promoted to sergeant about seven years ago.  For complete story, click here.
Prisoners had to lick toilets:  May 9th, 2007--TALLAHASSEE -- Prosecutors issued arrest warrants Tuesday for eight former prison employees accused of abusing inmates, including forcing some to clean toilets with their tongues.  The eight were among 13 prison employees who had already been fired from the 605-inmate medium and minimum security at the Hendry Correctional Institution in the Everglades.  The previous warden and an assistant warden resigned, and three others were reassigned after an inmate was beaten and choked by guards in March.  State prisons chief Jim McDonough said the warrants include charges of battery and failing to report inmate abuse against former guards William Thiessen, Phillip Barger, Randy Hazen, Gabriel Cotilla, Kevin Filipowicz, Ruben Ibarra and Stephen Whitney.  Fired guard James Brown was charged with grand theft.  ''These former employees were involved in a series of dehumanizing and degrading behaviors,'' McDonough said, noting that some inmates were given choices of eating their food off the floor or providing sexual favors to guards.   For complete story, click here.
California Investigates a Mother-and-Child Prison Center:  July 6th, 2007--LOS ANGELES, July 5 — The authorities in California are investigating accusations that poor health care at a center where mothers serve prison terms with their young children led to the stillbirth of a 7-month-old fetus and endangered the lives of several children.  Staff logs, statements by prisoners and interviews with investigators, staff members and prisoners’ families depict a facility where inmates and their children were denied hospital visits and medications, and where no one kept adequate records of accidents involving injuries that included a skull fracture and a broken collarbone.  The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, one of several agencies investigating, is expected to decide this month whether to continue licensing the center, which houses nonviolent offenders, most convicted of drug crimes.  The problems at the center coincide with continuing intense scrutiny of health care delivery in California’s prisons. A court-appointed receiver was handed control of prison medical services more than a year ago after a federal court found widespread neglect and malpractice.  The 40-bed facility, located in San Diego and offered as an alternative to serving time in the customary penitentiary setting, has dormitory-style rooms for inmate and child adjoining shared living areas. It is run under the banner of the Family Foundations Program by a nonprofit contractor, Center Point Inc., which did not return calls seeking comment.  For complete story, click here.
Pa. inmate sues county prison, saying she was forced to have baby alone in her cell: July 27th, 2007-- Pennsylvania inmate Shakira Staten says she was left alone screaming in her cell for four hours while she went into labor and gave birth to her daughter.  Despite her constant pleas, Staten said it wasn't until she gave birth, the baby fell on the cell floor and she held her child up to the cell bars that she finally got the attention of a guard, who cut the umbilical cord with her fingernails.  Staten, 22, filed a civil rights lawsuit Monday claiming she and her newborn baby were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment when the staff at the Lackawanna County Prison left her alone in her cell without providing medical care or transporting her to a hospital. The suit names Lackawanna County, Lackawanna County Prison, Warden Janine Donate, three unnamed guards, and an unnamed nurse. Dr. Edward Zaloga and Correction Care Inc., which provide the medical care at the jail, were also named.  Late on July 9, Staten began to feel pain and told correctional officers she thought she was going into labor, according to the suit.  She was taken to the medical ward of the prison, where she was examined for an hour by nurses who said her contractions weren't "consistent enough."  Staten was then placed in a cell with a camera early July 10 so guards could monitor her. That's when Staten said the pain became excruciating.  She pleaded to be taken to the hospital, she claims, but her cries weren't answered.  When the guards would not come to her cell, Staten wadded up toilet paper and threw it on the camera lens, according to the suit.  For complete story, click here.
California's Parole System Abuses Battered Women: August 1st, 2007:  WOMENSENEWS) --Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is scheduled to make another decision on the parole of Flozelle Woodmore Aug. 10.  Let's all encourage him to do the right thing.  California has been groundbreaking in its defense of battered women. It is one of the few states where an abused woman on trial for killing a domestic partner is allowed to present expert testimony about battery and its effects during the trial.  More importantly, it is the only state that has a "habeas project," which allows an incarcerated battered woman who was not allowed to present testimony on the effects of battery in her initial trial (it only became allowable under law in 1992) to petition for a retrial and bring in the evidence that was banned. In the five years since the California Habeas Project was created, 19 incarcerated battered women have been released from prison.  But sadly, the state remains in the Stone Age when it comes to paroling the survivors of domestic violence.  Numerous battered women have served the term of their original sentences, have been found suitable for parole (often more than once) yet remain imprisoned at the whim of the governor.  In California, when someone convicted of first-degree or second-degree murder is recommended for parole, the governor has the opportunity to reverse the decision of the parole board. Woodmore's plight shows why this can be such a bad system.  Over 20 years ago, then 18-year-old Woodmore killed her long-time abusive boyfriend Clifton Morrow.  For the five years they were together, Woodmore stated he beat her in public, in private and even when she was pregnant.  For complete story, click here.
2 New York prisoners sue to get their banned religious books back--August 22nd, 2007--NEW YORK: Two New York inmates challenging a ban on some religious books in chapel libraries at U.S. prisons are trying to take the fight nationwide, asking that their lawsuit be given class action status so it can benefit thousands of others behind bars.  Moshe Milstein, an Orthodox Jew, and John J. Okon, a Protestant, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. They withdrew a similar lawsuit two months ago after a judge said they needed to register complaints with the prison system first.  The men accused the government of the "indiscriminate dismantling of religious libraries" at federal prisons nationwide.  Prison libraries limited the number of books for each religion to between 100 and 150 under new rules created after a 2004 U.S. Department of Justice review of how prisons choose Muslim religious services providers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Feldman said.  Feldman said the study was done out of a concern that prisons "had been radicalized by inmates who were practicing or espousing various extreme forms of religion, specifically Islam, which exposed security risks to the prisons and beyond the prisons to the public at large."  The lawsuit says hundreds and perhaps thousands of religious books and media used by inmates have been banned and removed from prisons across the United States since February without any effort to learn if they are inflammatory or extremist.  "This purge is an unnecessary, unconstitutional and unlawful restriction of the ability of federal inmates nationwide to practice and learn about their religion and has substantially burdened their ability to exercise their religion," the lawsuit says.  For complete story, click here.
D.C. mugger turns out to be a hugger--July 13th, 2007--WASHINGTON — A grand feast of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp was winding down, and a group of friends was sitting on the back patio of a Capitol Hill home, sipping red wine. Suddenly, a hooded man slid in through an open gate and put the barrel of a handgun to the head of a 14-year-old girl.  "Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he demanded, according to Washington, D.C., police and witness accounts.  The five other guests, including the girl's parents, froze — and then one spoke.  "We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, blurted out. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"  The intruder took a sip of their Château Malescot St.-Exupéry and said, "Damn, that's good wine."  The girl's father, Michael Rabdau, 51, who described the harrowing evening in an interview, told the intruder to take the whole glass. Rowan offered him the bottle. The would-be robber, his hood now down, took another sip and had a bite of Camembert cheese that was on the table.  Then he tucked the gun into the pocket of his nylon sweatpants.  "I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said, looking around the patio.  "I'm sorry," he told the group. "Can I get a hug?"  Rowan, who lives in Falls Church, Va., and works part time at her children's school, stood up and wrapped her arms around him. Then it was Rabdau's turn. Then his wife's. The other two guests complied.  "That's really good wine," the man said, taking another sip.  He had a final request: "Can we have a group hug?"  The five adults surrounded him, arms out.  With that, the man walked out with a crystal wine glass in hand, filled with Château Malescot. No one was hurt, and nothing was stolen.  For complete story, click here.
Inmate shocked by cattle prod wins appeal of case against guard--September 12th, 2007--AUSTIN — A federal appeals court has reinstated a former inmate's lawsuit against a southeast Texas corrections officer over abuse he claims was racially motivated.  Dale Payne, who was paroled six months ago, says he was shocked with a cattle prod and threatened with a knife while doing time for robbery at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville.  "I was tired of the racism," Payne said. "It went on for months and months."  In a decision issued Friday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has reinstated Payne's lawsuit against the corrections officer, Jimmy Parnell.  Payne served as his own attorney.  "I just had enough, so I studied books and took my time," said Payne, who filed his lawsuit four years ago, handwritten on notebook paper.  "They don't like people filing suits, but I decided I had to do it for me and everybody else who is being beaten and tortured and called racist names."  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.chron.com Date: September 12, 2007)
Officers Strangled Man Who Died In Cell, Suit Claims--September 17th, 2007--A man who died in police custody last year was strangled by police, a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court Monday claims.  Jaime Galvan was arrested about 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2006. About two hours after his arrest, Galvan was taken from the Austin Police District to a holding cell at Harrison Area headquarters at 3340 W. Fillmore St., according to the suit.  At approximately 11:59 p.m., Galvan was found "unresponsive and deceased in his holding cell, with his body handcuffed to the prisoner rail," the suit says. According to the suit, "autopsy reports reveal that Jaime Galvan's body contained injuries and marks consistent with having been strangled."  The suit claims "sometime between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2006, unknown city of Chicago police officers strangled and/or exerted excessive physical force upon Jaime Galvan, while in police custody, without proper cause or justification. " Additionally, the suit claims officers did not intervene during the assault.  The suit , filed by Yadira Galvan, whose relation to Jaime Galvan is not specified, says whatever force used on Jaime Galvan was excessive, since he was "restrained by handcuffs [and] presented no threat of imminent harm to defendants or others."  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.topix.net Date: September 17, 2007)
Oregon prison guards get Tasers--Civil rights activists object, fearing abuses--SALEM, Ore. -- High-tech Tasers equipped with digital cameras are being distributed to prison guards to help control an inmate population that has reached about 13,500.  But inmates and civil rights activists say they are concerned the Tasers could be used to punish inmates, including mentally ill prisoners.  Nearly 100 corrections officers across the state are being trained on how and when to use the shock-inducing weapons, intended to help prevent injuries to both guards and inmates. "The officers are able to quickly subdue the (inmate) versus wrestling with him for some time," said Paula Allen, Department of Corrections chief of security.  Under proposed department rules, approval for Taser use would have to come from a supervising officer in charge, along with the prison superintendent. Trained officers and commanders will make judgment calls on when to employ the weapons, Allen said.  More than 70 people, including inmates, civil rights activists and other concerned citizens, recently filed written objections in response to the proposed rule changes that govern prison use of Tasers.  "Prisons already have plenty of means to control inmates, and this is an unnecessary, deadly and expensive weapon," wrote Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene.  Taser shocks, if administered to mentally ill convicts, would amount to cruel and unusual punishment, Regan added.  For complete story, click here.
Too young to drive, but old enough for life in prison--Oct. 19th 2007--WASHINGTON (AFP) — More than 70 inmates in US prisons were 13 or 14 years old when they committed their crimes -- too young to drive or watch a scary movie but old enough to spend the rest of their lives in jail, according to a report.  This situation does not exist anywhere else in the world, according to the report by the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative.  Over the course of a year lawyers with the group, which specializes on defending the poorest citizens, pored over legal files across the country to uncover the number of young teens tried and convicted as adults.  At least 2,225 juveniles aged 17 or younger have been sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, a punishment forbidden by the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, which the United States has not ratified.  Among those juveniles, 73 were under the age of 15 when they committed the crime. And half of them are African-American, hardly representative of a society where 12 percent of the population is black.  The teens have all been incarcerated with adults, where they face the same risk of beatings, rape and abuse as their elders. Some have attempted suicide.  "This is an unintended and disastrous consequence of prosecuting children as adults: children too young to drive, or even see a scary movie by themselves, are being sentenced to die in adult prisons," said EJI director Bryan Stevenson.  For complete story, click here.
Private Prisons and the Thirteenth Amendment--February 11th, 2007--For every action, there is an opposite and greater reaction. This law applies to white supremacy's response to the liberation struggle.  This was seen in Jena, LA., as sixty thousand persons marched in Jena on September 20 to protest the railroading of six Black youths in adult court for an alleged attack on a white youth, Justin Barkin, in December 2006.  In June 2006, an all-white jury in adult court convicted Mychal Bell of aggravated assault and battery and conspiracy to commit a battery.  Before the march, an appeals court threw out the remaining conviction for lack of jurisdiction. Jena officials have chosen to try Bell again in juvenile court.  After the march, Bell's probation was wrongfully violated on another charge. He was given 18 months in prison and is awaiting trial on the December 2006 charge despite double jeopardy. His parents were ordered to pay for his current confinement.  Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them. Among other things, in the past, Blacks secured the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Open Housing Act of 1968. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia and Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.  While we were pumping our fists and beating our chests, the forces of evil were at work. Because we failed to respect or support watchdogs, we never knew what hit us in 1968. In the meantime, white lawyers were reviewing the Thirteenth Amendment. To them, there is a loophole. This is our future.  Congress has the authority to prohibit private racial discrimination as a badge of slavery. This is the rule in the Thirteenth Amendment and it was made clear in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. Thus, Congress has the authority to ban private prisons. Penology is also a public function.  Between 1970 and today, there has been more than a 700% increase in the prison population. This occurred not because of an increase in crime but because of the enactment of harsher sentencing laws. Without watchdogs, voting has allowed Blacks to endorse their own oppression.  In 1970, the state and federal prison population was under 190,000.  Today, the same population is more than two million without counting persons on parole and probation. The total count is more than seven million persons in the criminal justice system alone.  The United States takes the gold for incarcerating people. China takes the silver, but you must consider its population. The United States also takes the gold for incarceration rates and Russia replaces China for the silver. This country is still a penal colony.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.amsterdamnews.com  Date: February 11, 2007)
Red Cross monitors barred from Guantánamo--November 15th, 2007--A confidential 2003 manual for operating the Guantánamo detention center shows that military officials had a policy of denying detainees access to independent monitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross.  The manual said one goal was to "exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee," by denying access to the Koran and by preventing visits with Red Cross representatives, who have a long history of monitoring the conditions under which prisoners in international conflicts are held. The document said that even after their initial weeks at Guantánamo, some detainees would not be permitted to see representatives of the International Red Cross, known as the ICRC.  It was permissible, the document said, for some long-term detainees to have "No access. No contact of any kind with the ICRC."  Some legal experts and advocates for detainees said Thursday that the policy might have violated international law, which provides for such monitoring to assure humanitarian treatment and to limit the ability of governments to hold detainees secretly.  For complete story, click here.
Use of gas on mentally ill prisoners must end--November 18th, 2007--Last week, Florida Chief Justice Fred Lewis brought forward the report by a court committee addressing the very substantial issues of mental illness and the criminal justice system.  This impressive report made by Judge Steven Leifman reminded us that the use of jails and prisons to deal with mentally ill citizens is not only morally wrong, it is fiscally stupid.  Lewis observed, "The increasing numbers of people with mental illness appearing in criminal courts, and the frequency with which these people cycle through our prisons and jails have become a crisis in Florida."  The committee report recommended that Florida's prisons cease serving as expensive warehouses for Florida's mentally ill residents.  While state officials deal with the overall system problem, Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough needs to look closely at the way mentally ill prisoners are being treated.  The Florida Department of Corrections currently houses over 90,000 inmates, yet has only about 500 beds specifically designed to provide treatment to mentally ill inmates.  The Department of Corrections recognizes in its budget submission that there is "a shortage of mental health inpatient beds, expected to be exacerbated by projected inmate growth over the next few years."  Ideally, Florida would house its mentally ill prisoners separate from the rest of the prisoner population, so that they can receive treatment.  Until that is done, these inmates will be kept in general population prisons without the mental health treatment they need.  A major problem created by housing mentally ill inmates in prisons not designed for them relates to discipline of prisoners.  Mentally ill inmates often do not behave appropriately - they yell and bang on their cell doors, they sing loudly and repeat words and phrases over and over. The guards' response often has been to gas unruly prisoners with chemical agents simply for these manifestations of their illnesses, even though the prisoners are alone in 9-by-7 cells and can not hurt anyone.  The guards open a food flap or use a crack in the door.  Every year, the Department of Corrections permits the gassing of hundreds of mentally ill inmates as a means to "control" inmates. When they are housed in prisons designed to hold mentally ill prisoners staffed with competent personnel, inmates receive counseling and other treatment for the same physical manifestations.  Numerous mentally ill inmates have been gassed more than 20 times in Florida's prisons, transferred in and out of inpatient care to address the mental health destabilization that occurs each time they are gassed. The Department of Corrections knows about this problem, and refers to these inmates as "frequent fliers," yet it has not provided the mental health counseling nor adopted regulations to provide alternatives to the brutal gassing of sick prisoners.  For complete story, click here.
Justice Department report blasts King County jail conditions--Medical bungling by the health-care staff at the King County jail likely contributed to the recent death of an inmate, the U.S. Department of Justice says in a strongly worded report that maintains the downtown Seattle jail falls short of legal standards for medical treatment, suicide prevention and safeguards against physical and sexual abuse of prisoners by jailers.  For complete story, click here.
DU takes case of Supermax inmate held in 'solitary" for 24 years--November 28th, 2007--DENVER — A lawsuit filed Wednesday challenges the status of a prisoner housed at Supermax,  alleging that a "no human contact" order that placed him in solitary confinement for 24 years amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.  Thomas Edward Silverstein, 55, has been segregated from others since Oct. 22, 1983, after his conviction in the slaying of prison guard Merle Clutts, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. Silverstein also has been convicted in the slayings of three inmates, but one of those convictions was overturned and he wasn't retried.  Silverstein was housed at U.S. Bureau of Prisons facilities in Marion, Ill., Atlanta, and Leavenworth, Kan., before being transferred in 2005 to the Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colo., also known as Supermax. He is due to be released in 2095.  Supermax holds some of the nation's most violent and disruptive inmates. Figures on how many other inmates are under "no human contact" orders were not immediately available Wednesday evening.  Warden Ron Wiley, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to an e-mail. A prison spokeswoman declined comment.  The lawsuit states: "deliberate indifference has resulted in Plaintiff suffering deprivations that cause mental harm that goes beyond the boundaries of what most human beings can psychologically tolerate."  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://ap.dodgeglobe.com  Date: November 28, 2007)
CO: DOC expands program of using prisoners to pick farmers crops--November 30th, 2007--A pilot program to use inmates from the Department of Corrections as farm workers opened a new chapter Thursday when DOC officials said they would expand the program to assist five additional farms in Pueblo County.  At a meeting organized by state Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo, state prison officials called last summer's pilot program a great success and agreed to provide work crews to five additional farmers who attended the meeting.  Steve Smith, the acting director of DOC's Correctional Industries, said the additional farm crews would be male inmates, but the department would organize new crews to help the farmers who attended Thursday's meeting at the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce.  "Frankly, we were concerned there would be an even bigger turnout with even larger number of farms wanting work crews," Smith said.  He said the program would benefit from slower expansion. "It takes us 13 or 14 hours of work to provide you a work crew for an eight-hour day," Smith said.  Even so, Karl Spiecker, DOC's chief financial officer, said the department considered last summer's program to be a huge success for the state, as well as for farmers. At the peak of the season, the DOC provided five work crews of 15 female inmates to work on Pueblo County farms. The women inmates were needed to harvest watermelons, squash, onions, pumpkins and other crops.  The farmers who came to Thursday's meeting said they would need crews starting in April and running through next January. The reason is that few migrant workers came to the region this summer as result of stricter immigration controls, leaving farmers, in some cases, wondering how to harvest their crops. Butcher said state lawmakers would help the DOC expand the program as much as possible. (Webmaster Note:  A current legally-protected practice of slavery exists in the US, in our prisons.  Stop this abuse!)  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.chieftain.com  Date: November 30, 2008)
Prison inmate in 1960s recounts 'guinea pig' tests--December 2nd, 2007--...Tests ranged from relatively innocuous (perfume, eye wash, hair dye, baby shampoo) to nightmarish (dioxin, hallucinogens, chemical warfare agents, radioactive isotopes).  Kligman, 91, emeritus professor of dermatology at Penn, "is retired and no longer gives interviews," the university said. He has staunchly defended his experiments at Holmesburg and maintained that they should not have been halted.  Penn bioethics professor Art Caplan disagrees.  "What took place in Holmesburg would not take place today," he said. "We've all come a long way from saying we should experiment on marginal people with or without their consent."  But research entities like universities and the military are loath to acknowledge wrongdoing for many reasons, including fear of lawsuits, a desire to not revisit a shameful past and a "circle-the- wagons culture" among doctors, he said.  "Should we all apologize for the abuses? Yes, we should," he said.  But Caplan said more would be accomplished by expanding bioethics programs in medical schools.  New York dermatologist A. Bernard Ackerman conducted tests in 1966 and 1967 under Kligman at Holmesburg as a second-year dermatology resident. Virtually alone in the medical community for his outspoken criticism of Kligman and Penn, Ackerman said incomplete and missing documentation makes it impossible to ascertain today what was tested on whom.  "You ask, 'How could this happen?' The answer is money," he said in an interview.  "The experiments made Kligman and Penn millions and millions from cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies," he said. "It became a business. No regulations can prevent that from happening again." Anthony, who was in and out of prison from 1964 to 1983 for drug-related crimes, said the Institute of Medicine report's suggestions of external review boards and other safeguards are well-intentioned but won't work behind prison walls.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.centredaily.com  Date: December 2, 2007)
Almost $800,000 Collected from State Prisoners--December 31st, 2007--The State of Missouri is making money back from some of its prison inmates, the 2007 total coming in at just under $800,000. (Webmaster Note:  Slavery has always been a road to wealth.)  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.topix.net  Date: December 31, 2007)
Inmate says complaint led to more prison guard abuse--January 5th, 2008--A state inmate whose pending lawsuit claims a prison guard beat him four years ago in retaliation for filing a complaint told a judge yesterday he was assaulted again as part of a pattern of harassment by officers for pursuing the case.  Inmate Michael Kounelis, whose lawsuit had been set for trial next week, testified in U.S. District Court that Senior Corrections Officer Luther Thompson struck him in the face Dec. 18 during a inspection of cells at Northern State Prison in Newark.  "He grabbed me very firmly and he told me to follow him," Kounelis told Judge Dickinson Debevoise. "He shut the door behind us while he was still holding my arm. As the door closed, he pushed me to the wall and he started hitting me with his right arm to the face and I fell to the ground."  Kounelis, who is serving 20 years for robbery, suffered bruises to the face, back, legs and arm. He was treated and then transferred to New Jersey's maximum-security prison in Trenton.  Following the altercation, Kounelis testified, he requested and passed a lie detector test over whether "he put his hands on" on the officer. In addition, two fellow inmates corroborated his version of events during testimony.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source:  www.nj.com  Date: January 5, 2008)
In Mexican prison, kids serve time with Mommy--Mexican law dictates that children born in prison must stay with their mothers until they turn 6, rather than being turned over to relatives or placed in foster care.--January 5th, 2008--Beyond the high concrete walls and menacing guard towers of the Santa Martha Acatitla Prison, past the barbed wire, past the iron gates, past the armed guards in black commando garb, sits a nursery school with brightly painted walls, piles of toys and a jungle gym.  Fifty-three children under the age of 6 live inside the prison with their mothers, who are serving sentences for crimes from drug dealing to kidnapping to homicide. Mothers dressed in prison blue, many with tattoos, carry babies on their hips around the exercise yard. Others lead toddlers and kindergartners by the hand, play with them in the dust or bounce them on their knees on prison benches.  Karina Rendon, a 23-year-old serving time for drug dealing, said her 2-year-old daughter considered the 144-square-foot cell she shared with two other mothers and their children as home.  "She doesn't know it is a prison," she said. "She thinks it's her house."  While a prison may seem an unhealthy place for a child, in the early 1990s, the Mexico City government decided it was better for children born in prison to stay with their mothers until they were 6 rather than to be turned over to relatives or foster parents. The children are allowed to leave on weekends and holidays to visit relatives.  A debate continues among Mexican academics over whether spending one's early years in a jail causes mental problems later in life, but for the moment the law says babies must stay with their mothers. So the prison has a school with three teachers.  The warden, Margarita Malo, said the children had a calming effect on the rest of the inmates. The presence of children also inspires the mothers to learn skills or, in many cases, to kick the drug habits that landed them in trouble in the first place.  And even though the prison is full of women capable of violence, the children walk safely among them, as if protected by an invisible shield. It is as though they tap the collective maternal instinct of the 1,680 women locked up here.  "The minors are highly respected by the population," Malo said. "The fact we have children here creates a mind-set of solidarity. I have never seen aggression on the part of the inmates toward the children. Everyone acts as if they could be their children, and they don't want anything to happen to them."  For complete story, click here.
Prisoners of panic--January 6th, 2008--How much more folly, absurdity, fiscal irresponsibility and human tragedy will we endure before we stop tolerating the political pandering that has dictated our criminal justice law and policy over the last two decades?  The pattern has become all too clear. Our politicians, fearful of being labeled "soft on crime," react to sensationalistic coverage of a crime with knee-jerk, quick-fix answers. Only years later do the mistakes, false assumptions and unexpected consequences begin to emerge, and then the criminal justice system is forced to deal with the mess created by the bad lawmaking.  For example, remember the great crack scare of the 1980s? When basketball superstar Len Bias, who'd been drafted by the Boston Celtics as a franchise player, died of a crack overdose, the media went wild in covering it. Alarmed by the sudden increase in crack use and fearful that the drug was highly addictive and disposed users to commit violence, Congress mandated tough minimum sentences for crack-related crimes. A defendant convicted of possessing a small amount of crack could receive the same sentence as one possessing 100 times that amount of powder cocaine. Because crack users were disproportionately African American (and powder cocaine users were disproportionately white), 85% of those receiving dealer-like sentences for possession or sale of small amounts of crack were black -- an outcome that helped to fuel widespread perceptions among blacks that there was a double standard of justice in the U.S.  In December, the overly harsh and misguided sentencing policy concocted during the "war on drugs" in the 1980s was finally modified. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges were no longer bound by the strict sentencing guidelines, freeing the jurists to craft punishment that best fits the crime and the background of the defendant.  The 1990s produced its own racially tinged crime panics. Led by John J. Dilulio Jr., a political scientist at Princeton University, and William J. Bennett, a former secretary of Education in the Reagan Cabinet, law-and-order proponents declared that the U.S. was being overrun by a new generation of remorseless "super-predators" spawned by crack-head mothers in violence-infested ghettos. Stories of kids committing heinous crimes were common in the media. One of the most sensational occurred in Chicago in October 1994. Two boys, one 10 years old, the other 11, dropped 5-year-old Eric Morse from the 14th floor of a housing project, killing him, because he refused to steal candy for them.  In response to such crimes, politicians across the country passed anti-super-predator laws. In many states, including California, the age kids could be tried as adults was lowered to 14, and in 48 states, the decision to try juveniles as adults was taken away from judges and given to prosecutors. As a result, the number of people under 18 tried as adults rose dramatically through the 1990s, and a small percentage of them were even sentenced to prison. Ironically, the predicted crime explosion caused by super-predators never materialized. Juvenile arrests declined by more than 45% from 1994 to 2004, according to FBI statistics.  But the ultimate example of media hype meeting irresponsible politicians to produce bad public policy is California's three-strikes law. It was chiefly written by Fresno photographer Mike Reynolds after the murder of his daughter, Kimber, in 1992.  Introduced in the Legislature, the bill languished until the rape and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas in 1993. A network of right-wing talk-radio hosts reacted to the killing by fiercely promoting Reynolds' measure, which had provisions like no other three-strikes bill in that virtually any crime, no matter how petty, could be prosecuted as a third strike.  In 1994, the Legislature unanimously put the measure on the November ballot, and Proposition 184 passed easily. The law would eventually send thousands of Californians to prison for 25 years to life, some for such third-strike crimes as attempting to steal a bottle of vitamins from a drug store, buying a macadamia nut disguised as a $5 rock of cocaine from an undercover cop and shoplifting $2.69 worth of AA batteries.  Today, Californians are still paying the price for that folly and other like-minded laws, not just in the ruined and wasted lives of people sentenced under these laws, but in other ways. There are now tens of thousands of inmates in California convicted of nonviolent crimes and serving out long second- and third-strike sentences, as well as thousands more behind bars because minor crimes were turned into felonies with mandatory minimum sentences.  All these laws have contributed to severe overcrowding in the state's prisons -- as high as 200% of capacity -- that has produced conditions of such "extreme peril" for prisoners and guards that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced to declare a systemwide state of emergency in 2006. Since 2003, the inmate population has grown 8%, to about 173,000. But the budget of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has skyrocketed 79%, to $8.5 billion, becoming the fastest-growing category in the state budget and a factor in opening up a $14-billion budget deficit.  The get-tough-on- crime laws also have helped create a crisis in California's prison healthcare system, where spending has risen to $1.9 billion a year, up 263% since 2000. A large part of the problem is that the prison population is aging because inmates are serving the longer sentences approved by lawmakers, and with aging comes more medical problems. The system became so understaffed and dysfunctional that a federal judge ruled that it was causing at least one avoidable death a week through sheer neglect and ineptitude. He has seized the entire prison medical system and placed it under his direct supervision.  Faced with the huge budget deficit and judicial threats to cap the state's prison population, Schwarzenegger' s office has been floating the idea of early release for about 22,000 inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes. That 13% cut in prisoners, however, would require legislative approval, something that is by no means certain. The story of crime and punishment in California  -- and the country -- since the 1980s, after all, has been quick-fix answers fueled by media hype. Let's hope that such proposals as releasing nonviolent inmates receive serious attention rather than panicky headlines that lead to bad criminal justice laws.  For complete story, click here.
Supreme Court case exposes cruelty and illogic of three-drug lethal injection.--January 7th, 2008--The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case that raises constitutional issues and basic questions of humanity. At least the latter problem requires not a Supreme Court judge, but common sense.  Both the U.S. Constitution and the rules of civilization prohibit unneeded cruelty during punishment. Kentucky's protocol fails both standards, yet a simple alternative meets them — and should go into use right away.  The justices are weighing two Kentucky cases contending that the state's three-drug execution "cocktail" is unconstitutional: performed too often by unskilled workers and wrongly risking excruciating pain from errors.  Central to the arguments was a question that had the judges struggling for reference points: How should trial courts assess legal challenges to states' lethal injection techniques?  The other question (which the judges might not address) was narrower: whether Kentucky's three-drug death "cocktail" unacceptably violates the court's standard on cruel and unusual punishment and thus violates the Eighth Amendment.  The answer to this is clearly yes, based on evidence from physicians and ethicists, frequent reports of bungled executions and the history of how the three-drug cocktail came to be.  Like Texas, Kentucky uses one drug to make the condemned prisoner lose consciousness, another to paralyze him and a third to cause fatal heart failure. Thirty-five of 36 states that execute use this procedure.  If the drug mix is not correctly administered and monitored, evidence shows the inmate will feel excruciating pain. A sense of suffocation and awareness that one is paralyzed are other reported sensations when the cocktail goes wrong.  Nor are these injections performed at top competence by skilled, trained professionals. This inadequate standard means the state runs an unacceptably high risk of a bungled execution causing extreme pain.  Indeed, many states have this problem, evidenced by grotesque mistakes: an inmate's head bursting into flames, execution teams carving at prisoner's arms in futile search of usable veins.  But the strongest argument that the triple-drug cocktail is unconstitutionally cruel is that it is simply unnecessary. The protocol was devised in 1977, in Oklahoma, one year after the death penalty was revived nationally, according to The New York Times.  It was billed as an alternative to the even more unreliable and violent electric chair. But even then, there was a safer, more certain technique: a single barbiturate overdose, used for years to humanely euthanize pets.  But in Texas, as elsewhere, the medical director of the state corrections department rejected this simpler, saner alternative. "He said it was a great idea," a veterinarian recalled, "except that people would think we are treating people the same way that we're treating animals."  For no rational reason, Kentucky, Texas and the other executing states to this day kill inmates instead with the complex, fallible potentially torturous three-drug mix.  In Kentucky it is actually illegal to kill an animal this way.  Somehow, across the United States, the decision to punish has for years now fused with willingness to take unusually high risks of inflicting extreme physical pain.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.chron.com  Date: January 7, 2008)
Georgia: Attorney claims massive prisoner torture--Class action filed against Valdosta State Prison officials -- cites routine torture of restrained inmates and conspiratorial cover-up--January 8th, 2008--Atlanta attorney McNeil Stokes today filed a class action suit against guards and officials from Valdosta State Prison and the Georgia Department of Corrections. The suit names twenty-five prison guards, officers, supervisors, wardens, medical personnel and corrections officials in the routine beatings and torture of restrained inmates and subsequent cover-up of the abuse.  The complaint details gruesome attacks in which prisoners are bound and restrained while guards and members of the special Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) kick them with hard-toe combat boots, beat them with gloves especially designed for assaults known as "beating gloves," and choke them with night sticks. Two young men have been beaten to death since these series of cases were initially filed.  Abuses in other Georgia prison systems include guards inflicting torture methods known as the "Georgia Motorcycle" whereby an inmate is stripped of clothing and strapped in four or five point restraints to an iron bed or chair for as much as 48 hours without food, water or bathroom facilities; and a method known as the "Georgia G-string" whereby inmates are stripped and a chain is cinched around their testicles for hours at a time, leaving them in excruciating pain.  A former guard from Rogers State Prison has described these beatings as a "sport" throughout the correctional system. Inmates listed as Level IV mental health prisoners are often targeted because of the behavior caused by their mental disabilities. Medical treatment is either denied to the victims or, if administered, is not reported to prevent an official record of the abuse.  Stokes, who recently won a case against Rogers State Prison in Georgia, thereby ending inmate abuse at that facility, is determined to protect prisoners' rights throughout the state. "These beatings are a blood-sport among the correctional officers involved," explains Stokes. "The victims (men and women) are shackled with their hands behind their backs or otherwise restrained while the CERT officers inflict the most horrendous torture. The Georgia correctional system, including Internal Affairs and the Attorney General, think they can continue covering this up, but it is going to stop. It must stop. It's that simple."  For complete story, click here.
Prisoners 'to be chipped like dogs'--January 13th, 2008--Ministers are planning to implant "machine-readable" microchips under the skin of thousands of offenders as part of an expansion of the electronic tagging scheme that would create more space in British jails.  Amid concerns about the security of existing tagging systems and prison overcrowding, the Ministry of Justice is investigating the use of satellite and radio-wave technology to monitor criminals.  But, instead of being contained in bracelets worn around the ankle,  the tiny chips would be surgically inserted under the skin of offenders in the community, to help enforce home curfews. The radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, as long as two grains of rice, are able to carry scanable personal information about individuals, including their identities, address and offending record.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: http://news.independent.co.uk  Date: January 13, 2008)
Ex-guard found in Texas faces jail-sex charge--February 9th, 2008--A former prison guard accused of having sex with an inmate was brought back to Rankin County last week after allegedly dodging police in San Antonio for more than a year.  A U.S. Marshals Service task force arrested Jennifer Danielle Readus, 22, last month in San Antonio.  "Acting on a tip, we were able to provide U.S. marshals in Texas with an address, which helped develop our investigation," said supervisory Deputy Marshal Richard Griffin.  The indictment alleges Readus, then an officer at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, had sex in May 2006 with 28-year-old inmate Zachariah Combs.  On Nov. 9, 2006, a warrant was issued for Readus' arrest after she failed to appear in Rankin County Circuit Court to answer the indictment.  Before U.S. marshals took the case last month, the Mississippi Department of Corrections was investigating.  "We got the case on Jan. 18 and picked her up on Jan. 25," he said. Multiple phone calls to the MDOC were not returned Friday.  Griffin was unable to provide details of Readus' arrest. A San Antonio Express-News Web site reported Readus had been living on San Antonio's west side, working as a telemarketer. She was arrested at her office without incident.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.clarionledger.com  Date: February 9, 2008)
Fla. deputy seen dumping paralyzed man onto jail floor turns herself in--February 16th, 2008--A deputy who was videotaped dumping a paralyzed man out of his wheelchair onto a Tampa jailhouse floor turned herself in.  Jail records show Charlette Marshall-Jones was booked into the Orient Road Jail early this morning.  It is the same jail where Marshall-Jones worked. She is accused of tipping 32-year-old Brian Sterner out of his wheelchair. A videotape of the incident has been widely circulated.  The Hillsborough County deputy was charged with one count of felony abuse of a disabled person and released after posting $3,500 bail. An attorney for Marshall-Jones listed in jail records did not immediately return a phone message.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.latimes.com  Date: February 16, 2008)
Bad meat at CCC recalled--March 4th, 2008--The largest recall of beef products in U.S. History has touched the California Correctional Center in Susanville.  According to a press release from CCC, the California Prison Industry Authority received a recall notification letter from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Company in Chino, Calif.  According to the recall letter, the United States Department of Agriculture classified raw and frozen meat from the company as a Class II product recall. The recall covered all the beef products processed by the company since Feb. 1, 2006.  A Class II product recall is defined as being, “A health hazard situation where there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from the use of this product.”  According to the release from CCC, the institution “complied to the recall and returned 3,866 pounds of breakfast links, soy/beef patties, soy/beef bulk, and Salisbury patties.”  Correctional Lt. Scott Porter, an administrative assistant at CCC, said the institution investigated its food inventories once the recall letter was received, and the food was removed from the prison.  “When we discovered we had food on the recall list, we immediately sent it back,” Porter said. According to a Feb. 18, story in the New York Times, Westland/Hallmark recalled 143 million pounds of beef products, including some that were used in school lunch programs.  The investigation into the plant’s food-processing practices began when an undercover video surfaced on Jan. 30, showing workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts to force them to walk.  For complete story, click here.
Federal probe of Harris County jail inmate deaths and questionable sanitary conditions is justified.--March 11th, 2008--For more than two years, news stories by Chronicle reporters have raised troubling questions concerning the mortality rate among prisoners held at the Harris County Jail. At least 138 deaths occurred between 2001 and the end of 2007. In January, three more county jail inmates died.  Now that the Department of Justice's civil rights division has opened an investigation, perhaps Houstonians will get some much-needed answers. Although a government spokesman did not explain the reason for opening the probe, it is likely that the prisoner deaths and numerous complaints of jail overcrowding, staff shortages and unsanitary conditions sparked it. The aim of the probe is to determine whether jail conditions systemically violate inmates' constitutional rights.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.chron.com  Date: March 11, 2008)
It's being called 'America's New Slavery'--March 31st, 2008--(Special to the NNPA from the Final Cal)-A new American slave trade is booming, warn prison activists, following the release of a report that again outlines outrageous numbers of young Black men in prison and increasing numbers of adults undergoing incarceration. That slave trade is connected to money states spend to keep people locked up, profits made through cheap prison labor and for-profit prisons, excessive charges inmates and families may pay for everything from tube socks to phone calls, and lucrative cross country shipping of inmates to relieve overcrowding and rent cells in faraway states and counties.  Advocates note that the constitution's 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exception-in cases where persons have been "duly convicted" in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be re-imposed as a punishment, they add. The majority of prisoners are Black and Latino, though they are minorities in terms of their numbers in the population.  According to "One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008," published by the Pew Center on the States, one in nine Black men between the ages of 20-34 are incarcerated compared to one in 30 other men of the same age. Like the overall adult ratio, one in 100 Black women in their mid-to-late 30s is imprisoned.  "Everyone is feeding off of our down-trodden condition to feed their capitalism, greed and lust for money. They are buying prison stock on the market and this is why they want to silence the restorative voice of Minister Louis Farrakhan, because he is repairing those who fill and would support the prison system as slaves," said Student Minister Abdullah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam Prison Ministry.  (Unable to locate story at time of archiving.  Source: www.louisianaweekly.com  Date: March 31, 2008)
Rehabilitation or Torture?--May 23rd, 2008--Men would riot here. – SAFPF inmate   What's worse than prison? According to some former and current inmates, the state's Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facilities. Funded by the Texas Department of  Criminal Justice and staffed by Texas Department of Corrections officers and personnel employed by nonprofit operator Gateway Foundation of Chicago, the SAFPFs (referred to colloquially as "Safe- Ps") in theory provide rehabilitation to nonviolent offenders incarcerated for felony drug and alcohol convictions. Persons charged with violating the terms of their probation or parole can be sent to SAFPFs for treatment of their drug or alcohol addictions within the TDCJ system, as a means of avoiding harsher punishment. On the Gateway website, the foundation trumpets the low recidivism rates of  inmates who complete its corrections-based program and summarizes its  services: "Gateway operates nearly 25 corrections-based programs and  provides treatment to over 15,000 men, women, adolescents and dually  diagnosed substance abusers every year. Gateway treatment sites  utilize Therapeutic Community paradigms, and are supplemented by  Cognitive Self-Change methods."  But judging from more than a dozen narratives written by female SAFPF  inmates and recently provided to Austin attorney Derek Howard, such  facilities – which in Texas currently house 900 female inmates – in  reality may be employing unconstitutionally cruel and unusual  punishment. Some women incarcerated and assigned to SAFPF programs  say they have been routinely deprived, humiliated, and degraded.  Among other allegations, the women have charged they must often sit  silently, rigidly, face-forward, in plastic chairs for long hours or  days, occasionally through periods of weeks on end, sometimes as an  individual punishment, at other times in collective punishment they  fear and loathe as "the dreaded tighthouse."  To Howard's knowledge, no official Gateway/TDCJ therapeutic or  disciplinary protocol recommends or allows a treatment so extreme as  a "tighthouse." To the contrary, a Gateway official described  tighthouse as a limited and carefully monitored therapeutic practice, but the inmates' descriptions of tighthouse (or "the chairs"), as a  form of arbitrary and often harsh punishment, are starkly different  from the official description. Women write, "It just is," and is "a  big secret."  Considering the women's accounts, Howard is concerned the state of  Texas may be funding, wittingly or unwittingly, what amounts to torture. "Torture is defined as 'the infliction of intense pain.'  Forcing someone to sit in a hard chair for 16 hours a day constitutes  torture, by anyone's standards," Howard argues. "We are now  considering suing Gateway for violating the Eighth Amendment, which  prohibits cruel and unusual punishment."  The inmate complaints have prompted an ongoing investigation by the  state Office of Inspector General, whose investigators have been  interviewing inmates on-site since January in the Halbert Unit in  Burnet County and perhaps at other sites. According to Inspector  General John Moriarty, the agency plans to conclude its inquiry soon;  in late April he provided his "courtesy preliminary conclusion" to the Chronicle: that not one of the inmate allegations of abuse has  been confirmed. (TDCJ officials, citing the open inspector general  investigation, have declined to answer questions about SAFPFs.)  Moriarty added that investigators found such "a preponderance of  evidence" refuting the allegations that polygraphs (presumably of  inmates only) were deemed unnecessary. Howard, interpreting  Moriarty's suggestion as tantamount to an accusation of inmate  collusion, countered, "It's ridiculously unlikely that the women got  together and fabricated the allegations." Howard promised that  whatever the inspector general's response, his own investigation  would proceed.  For complete story, click here.
New Criminal Record: 7.2 Million--June 12th, 2008--The number of people under supervision in the nation's criminal justice system  rose to 7.2 million in 2006, the highest ever, costing states tens of billions of dollars to house and monitor offenders as they go in and out of jails and prisons.  According to a recently released report released by the Bureau of  Justice Statistics, more than 2 million offenders were either in jail or prison in 2006, the most recent year studied in an annual survey.  Another 4.2 million were on probation, and nearly 800,000 were on parole.  The cost to taxpayers, about $45 billion, is causing states such as California to reconsider harsh criminal penalties. In an attempt to relieve overcrowding, California is now exporting some of its 170,000 inmates to privately run corrections facilities as far away as Tennessee.  For complete story, click here.
Ex-Black Panther's murder conviction overturned--July 9th, 2008--BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (AP) -- A federal judge on Tuesday overturned the conviction of a former Black Panther in the 1972 stabbing death of a Louisiana prison guard.  Albert Woodfox, who was held in solitary confinement for over