Study on solitary confinement makes a tragic case for restricting it in the U.S. People held in solitary confinement were 127 percent more likely to die from opioid overdose.
I was placed in isolation cells for 1,510 days. I saw many men go mad. “Thank you,God, for my strong spirit”! YOU should read: It’s not about What They Did to Me – Prison Abuse
What these studies don’t tell you is that the isolation cells are used improperly and illegally very often by mean-spirited guards to shut up or punish inmates who try to complain about prison abuse or medical neglect, or try to contact the outside world about the same.
Excerpts from the Article:
In the United States, thousands of prisoners are put in “the hole” for years, and while it’s established the practice of isolating people results in trauma while they are in prison, new research shows solitary confinement is linked with massive costs once prisoners are released.
Scientists reported Friday that people who spent any time in what’s officially known as “restrictive housing” during their incarceration at a North Carolina state prison were “significantly more likely to die of all causes in the first year after release than those who did not.” Furthermore, spending more than 14 days in solitary confinement was linked with a higher risk of death and reincarceration after release from prison.
Their work was published the journal JAMA Open Network, and it examined those prisoners between 2000 to 2015. The data was provided to the team by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, which has expressed interest in reforming how the state approaches solitary confinement.
First author Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, tells Inverse that previous research has shown that solitary confinement can be detrimental to health, but “traditionally it has been very hard to obtain administrative data on time in solitary confinement during incarceration.”
Similarly, it’s been difficult for researchers to establish how many Americans have been placed in solitary confinement. A 2016 study by Yale Law School found that about 66,000 prisoners were in solitary confinement, based on data from 73 percent of the country’s prison population. The study also estimates that if all data was available, that number would rise to 80,000 people.
In the case of this new study, Brinkley-Rubinstein and colleagues were able to use data provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, then matched that data to mortality records. The cohort study included 229,297 people, some who had been placed in restrictive housing and others who had not.
Certain patterns emerged: People who spent any time in restrictive housing were 24 percent more likely to die in the first year of their release. Within this group, 78 percent died from suicide while roughly 54 percent from homicide. These individuals were also 127 percent more likely to die from an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after their release. This was especially true for white individuals.
These individuals were also 127 percent more likely to die from an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after their release.”
While this study shows that exposure to restrictive housing “may be a contributing factor” to risk of death during community reentry, it can’t establish exactly why.
“We know that being incarcerated increases the risk of adverse health outcomes post-release but, what is understudied, is what are the ‘mechanisms of incarceration’ that heighten this risk above and beyond what we already know,” Brinkley-Rubinstein explains.
But testaments of prisoners and psychiatrists point to the mechanisms that are likely at play. To be in restrictive housing means to be within a cell about the size of a king-sized bed for 22 to 24-hours a day. These settings mean social isolation, sensory deprivation, and intense physical idleness. Interviews with prisoners in solitary show indicate that time spent there can induce paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, and suicidal intentions among other repercussions. They can lose their ability to interact with other people and to know who they are.
Currently, there is a lawsuit filed against the Virginia Department of Corrections for holding a man named Tyquine Lee in solitary confinement at Red Onion State Prison for more than 600 days. Lee has lost over 30 pounds, as well as his ability to speak and remember his name.
There are movements to reform restrictive housing rules in the United States, but various agencies and advocacy groups differ on when it should be applied. Some consider it torture and advocate for its complete restriction, while others argue for more gradual efforts or alternatives.
In 2016, the Department of Justice argued that in certain occasions “correctional officials have no choice but to segregate inmates from the general population” but “we believe strongly this practice should be used rarely, applied fairly, and subjected to reasonable constraints.” Meanwhile, the nonprofit the Vera Institutes argues it should only be used as a “last resort” and “for the shortest time possible.” While federally there are no restrictions on solitary confinement, as of July 2019 there are eight states that have legislation that limits the use of restrictive housing.
In turn, the authors of this new study argue that their results can be used to “identify people for linkage to trauma-nformed, community-based substance use and mental health treatment, overdose prevention and harm reduction, and wraparound care and services. To Brinkley-Rubinstein, the goal is that the data can ignite change: “I hope that jails and prisons reconsider the use of solitary confinement and restrict its use.”
In 2015, the United Nations instituted the “Mandela Rules,” which state that no one should be put in solitary confinement for more than 15 days. However, the US doesn’t follow those rules.
Conclusions and relevance: This study suggests that exposure to restrictive housing is associated with an increased risk of death during community reentry. These findings are important in the context of ongoing debates about the harms of restrictive housing, indicating a need to find alternatives to its use and flagging restrictive housing as an important risk factor during community reentry.
Wrongly Convicted, They Had to Choose: Freedom or Restitution Prosecutors are adopting strategies to keep from having to pay for mistakes. – With Letter to the Editor – kra
This bullshit is really OUTRAGEOUS. I was a prosecutor, and when I had ANY doubt about a defendant’s guilt, I dropped the charges. READ THIS, AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO SOME OF THE THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE IN PRISON IN AMERICA. Prosecutors tell innocent defendants that they will be freed if they plead guilty to a lesser charge; if they do not they will be retried, which could mean many more years of prison.
Some prosecutors say these types of offers are inherently coercive when the alternative is staying in prison. “It flies in the face of our most basic concepts of an accurate and just system: Simply put, I think the whole thing is despicable,” Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney and a former defense lawyer, said when asked to comment on Mr. Dennis’s case and another similar deal arranged by his predecessor.
Excerpts from the Article:
Outside of Jimmy Dennis’s house, on a quiet block, it was one of those perfect summer days. But Mr. Dennis preferred to stay inside, behind drawn shades, where there was little risk anyone would misinterpret what he was up to. Twenty-five years on death row can do that to a man.
Since being arrested for a 1991 murder in Philadelphia, Mr. Dennis has maintained his alibi — that he was on a bus — and his innocence. But not until 2016 did a federal appeals court tell the state to start a new trial or release Mr. Dennis. Neither happened. Instead, prosecutors offered Mr. Dennis a deal: sign a plea of no contest to third-degree murder and he could leave prison instantly. If he declined, a new trial would most likely take years.
The deal gave the city a potential out. Without an affirmative finding that he was innocent, the city would later argue, Mr. Dennis should not be able to bring a civil suit seeking payment for his years in prison.
“The whole thing was they didn’t want me to sue,” Mr. Dennis said. “That’s what it all comes down to.”
Mr. Dennis’s deal is one of several nationally that federal judges are taking a close look at, weighing their fairness and whether they stand up under legal precedent. The deals suggest an emerging strategy in potentially costly wrongful conviction cases: Set people free, but pay them nothing.
Governments are fielding huge bills as the number of overturned convictions mounts. Since 1989, municipalities have paid $2.5 billion to exonerees, who can seek money under compensation statutes in more than 30 states or via civil lawsuits, according to research from Jeffrey S. Gutman, a law professor at George Washington University.
Some jurisdictions are having trouble paying. Michigan this year had to pass legislation to replenish its wrongful conviction claim funds after it almost ran out of money, while tiny Gage County, Neb., which has been ordered to pay $28 million to six exonerees, has considered raising property taxes and declaring bankruptcy.
In Beatrice, Neb., where a 1985 murder sent six people to prison. More than 30 years later, those wrongful convictions have saddled the county with a $28 million legal bill.
In order to bring a civil rights claim, defendants must have a favorable termination of their criminal case, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1994 decision Heck v. Humphrey.
In the prevailing interpretation of that ruling, favorable termination means an affirmative finding of innocence. But such findings are rare. If a conviction is vacated, the defendant is typically granted a new trial rather than declared innocent outright.
Prosecutors may then retry the case, or they may drop it — either because so much time has passed that the case would be too difficult to retry, or as a de facto acknowledgment that the person probably did not commit the crime. Or, as in Mr. Dennis’s case, they may strike a deal requiring the defendant to forgo seeking civil damages.
Some prosecutors say these types of offers are inherently coercive when the alternative is staying in prison.
“It flies in the face of our most basic concepts of an accurate and just system: Simply put, I think the whole thing is despicable,” Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney and a former defense lawyer, said when asked to comment on Mr. Dennis’s case and another similar deal arranged by his predecessor.
When Mr. Dennis was offered the deal, his mother was sick and his father had already died. His daughters, one born after he was jailed, were in their 20s. “When your mother doesn’t ask you for anything your entire life and she says, ‘You’ve proven your innocence, and what else do you need to prove?’” He trailed off, his voice cracking. “To this day, sometimes I hate the fact that I let these people off the hook,” he said.
In a 1997 Alaska case, four defendants — all Native Americans or Native Alaskans — were convicted of the murder of a white 15-year-old named John Hartman. As problems with the case against them came to light, supporters began to call them the Fairbanks Four.
At a hearing in 2015, the four presented exculpatory evidence — including some that pointed to lapses by law enforcement. Prosecutors began shaping a deal that would free the men if they agreed not to pursue a lawsuit.
But there was a hitch: One defendant, Marvin Roberts, had received a lighter sentence and was already out on parole. He would not have to choose between incarceration and taking the deal.
Marvin Roberts had already left prison on parole when prosecutors began shaping a deal that would let his three co-defendants go free if all four agreed not to sue. One former prosecutor wrote in an email that Mr. Roberts “may be convinced if it means the release of the other three.” Otherwise, he warned, the state could “face exposure of tens of millions of dollars.”
Alaska’s attorney general’s office formalized its offer, agreeing to drop charges and release the remaining three men if they relinquished any claim of wrongdoing by the police or the state. If any of the four refused to sign, the deal was off. “In the end, for going through what I went through, I would not get any compensation whatsoever,” Mr. Roberts said. “I spent over 18 years in hell, in a nightmare.”
He had already experienced the financial impact of so many years in prison: Though he had been a high school valedictorian, the only job he could initially get was property maintenance, with duties like shoveling snow.
“But my three friends, my brothers, they were still in jail,” he said. “So I was going to be out for Christmas and they weren’t — if I didn’t make the deal.” He signed.
The corner of Ninth Avenue and Barnette Street in Fairbanks, Alaska, near where John Hartman, 15, was killed in 1997. There was no physical evidence connecting the four defendants to the murder.
Alaska’s former attorney generl, Craig Richards, who approved the settlement, declined requests for comment, as did the current attorney general.
In 2017, the four men filed a lawsuit citing police misconduct and civil rights violations in the original case. They argued that the prosecutors’ dismissal of the charges counted as favorable termination.
Last year a federal judge ruled against them on the grounds that the signed agreements specifically said the parties had not reached an agreement on guilt or innocence. The four are appealing.
Mr. Roberts, left, joined Kevin Pease, Eugene Vent and George Frese in Fairbanks in December 2015 after they were freed from prison. “Once there’s compelling evidence that there’s serious misconduct in obtaining the conviction, why should prosecutors have the power to stop a civil rights suit?” said Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, a lawyer for two of the men. Among other things, officials had failed to disclose inconsistent statements by a key witness.
It can be difficult to understand why a person would sign away the right to sue, even if doing so means freedom. At one hearing, Sean Kelly, a brother of the victim, said the bargain underscored his belief that the four were guilty. If they were innocent, he asked, “would they accept a deal that basically gives them nothing?”
Shaurn Thomas walked out of prison in 2017. Philadelphia’s conviction integrity unit, a division of its district attorney’s office that re-examined old cases, had vacated his decades-old murder conviction, deciding there was evidence that could have shown that Mr. Thomas was not guilty. But at the time, the city was being sued by another exonerated man, who would ultimately win a record $10 million. His name was Anthony Wright.
“Would be nice to avoid a second Anthony Wright-type case and get a nolo contendere” — a plea of no contest — a city lawyer wrote to a colleague.
But Mr. Thomas refused to sign a deal saying he would not pursue a lawsuit. “You are going to bankrupt the city,” the acting district attorney told one of Mr. Thomas’s lawyers, according to a court filing.
In the end, prosecutors used a “nolle prosequi” — translation: “to be unwilling to pursue” — to dismiss the charges. The city argues that a nolle prosequi does not count as a favorable termination.
A wrongful conviction does not necessarily mean the defendant’s rights were violated. A conviction can be vacated for many reasons, including exculpatory DNA evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, errors during the trial, new witnesses, new evidence or, as in Mr. Thomas’s case, a prosecutorial review.
If there is no evidence the police or prosecutors acted improperly, the defendant cannot sue.
The considerations for overturning a conviction and for determining a city’s civil liability are different, Mike Dunn, a spokesman for the City of Philadelphia, wrote in an email: “They are not interchangeable. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to consider and avail the city of all available defenses.”
Mr. Thomas argues that there were civil rights violations against him. The Philadelphia police pressured a participant in the crime to name Mr. Thomas, he said in a federal lawsuit, and ignored evidence that he was at a youth study center at the time of the crime.
In August, Judge Gene E.K. Pratter of Federal District Court decided the suit could go forward. The city’s “nol pros decision is indicative of the plaintiff’s innocence” and indicates “favorable termination,” she wrote.
“See how gorgeous he is?” said Corby Johnson, Jimmy Dennis’s fiancée, showing pictures of Mr. Dennis just after they first met as children, at an elite choir for Philadelphia public school students.
When a teenage girl was shot and killed in 1991 near a transit stop, Mr. Dennis was miles away on a bus en route to singing practice, he said.
After decades of appeals, a judge found that prosecutors had suppressed statements and evidence that backed up Mr. Dennis’s alibi and pointed to another perpetrator. Mr. Dennis “was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to die for a crime in all probability he did not commit,” the federal judge, Anita B. Brody, wrote in a 2013 decision. Mr. Dennis still carries his copy of it, worn and water-stained, almost all the time.
Life has resumed some regular rhythms since he has left prison. He moved in with Ms. Johnson; he has been writing and recording songs. But he is not normal, and he knows that. He keeps his phone locator on at all times so Ms. Johnson can track him. He panics if she so much as double parks, worried it will attract the police. When he travels, he insists on hotels lined with cameras. “What was taken away from me so easily could easily be taken away from me again,” he said.
He has nightmares about his trial, with the judge and police officers looming cartoonishly above him.
“This side of the bed is dry but my side of the bed — ” he said. “Soaking wet,” Ms. Johnson finished.
In May, Mr. Dennis got some good news. A federal judge, Eduardo C. Robreno, had found a novel way to let his lawsuit against Philadelphia proceed even though he had entered the plea deal in 2016.
Judge Robreno determined that the deal was the second of two separate convictions, and said that Mr. Dennis was entitled to sue based on the first one, which had been declared invalid by a federal judge.
If Judge Robreno’s decision is upheld by higher courts, it could present a new way forward for the wrongfully convicted.
Mr. Dennis, for now, is trying to figure out each day. “I’m sitting here a semblance, trying to get back to me,” he said.
He rose to shake hands, and then stopped at the threshold of his house, not willing, for now, to go any further.
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission – Cheating Exonerees Out of Fair Compensation! – 10/6/19
We can never know the precise number of innocent people in prison, but, depending upon which study one reads, it is between 10,000 and 100,000. The justice system is such a train wreck that thousands of innocent people are imprisoned and convicted, for various reasons. For the lucky ones, the truth eventually comes out. But prosecutors are now scheming to cheat them out of fair compensation for their years behind bars.
Consider this: governments are facing huge bills as the number of overturned convictions mounts. Since 1989, municipalities have paid $2.5 billion to exonerees, who can seek money under compensation statutes in more than 30 states or via civil lawsuits. $2.5 Billion!
Now there is a new, dangerous, unfair, and insidious practice afoot by prosecutors, to try to avoid liability and having to pay for government wrongdoing. In order to bring a civil rights lawsuit, the mechanism for the exonerated to get compensated, defendants must have a favorable termination of their criminal case, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1994 decision Heck v. Humphrey. “In the prevailing interpretation of that ruling, favorable termination means an affirmative finding of innocence. But such findings are rare. If a conviction is vacated, the defendant is typically granted a new trial rather than declared innocent outright.Prosecutors may then retry the case, or they may drop it.” Or, as in some cases, they may strike a deal requiring the defendant to forgo seeking civil damages.
Prosecutors tell innocent defendants that they will be freed if they plead guilty to a lesser charge; if they do not they will be retried, which could mean many more years in prison.
Some prosecutors say these types of offers are inherently coercive when the alternative is staying in prison. “It flies in the face of our most basic concepts of an accurate and just system: Simply put, I think the whole thing is despicable,” Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney and a former defense lawyer, said when asked to comment on such cases.
You can read more about this problem in this article from Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE: Wrongly Convicted, They Had to Choose: Freedom or Restitution. Prosecutors are adopting strategies to keep from having to pay for mistakes. – With Letter to the Editor – kra = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/wrongly-convicted-they-had-to-choose-freedom-or-restitution-prosecutors-are-adopting-strategies-to-keep-from-having-to-pay-for-mistakes-with-letter-to-the-editor-kra/
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 ekke, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! firstname.lastname@example.org .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
This former top notch federal prosecutor says what I have been saying for months; 1. tRump is sure to have a prison cell as hid next residence if he is gone by 2021, 2. this realization is fueling his rage and his current barrage of lies and misinformation on social media, by direct mail, and with T V ads, 3. there are numerous crimes quite obvious in tRump’s conduct, and he in increasingly desperate to avoid accountability.
Excerpts from the Article:
The thing about being president is that your every move, past and present, is subject to microscopic examination. That can be a problem if your closet is filled with skeletons …or decomposing bodies.
In Donald Trump’s case, his skeletons often include legal jeopardy. The most recent example of his legal exposure is the whistleblower complaint that detailed Trump’s efforts to persuade the president of Ukraine to produce dirt on political rival Joe Biden, possibly in exchange for the release of U.S. financial aid. Trump’s solicitation could well be a violation of federal campaign contribution laws.
While the whistleblower allegations are at the center of the newly official congressional impeachment inquiry, the president’s latest legal breach is preceded by a long line of similar activities. Who could forget the New York U.S. Attorney’s “porngate” indictment in which Trump is named as an unindicted co-conspirator, “Individual 1,” alongside his former personal attorney? Or the multiple examples of criminal obstruction set forth in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report?
While it appears to many Americans that Trump is above the law, this status is only conferred on him as long as he remains president. An Office of Legal Counsel opinion forbids the indictment of a sitting president but offers no protection to a former president. Once he leaves office, Trump can be indicted for past crimes, including those he committed as president.
At that point, his only legal protection will be the statute of limitations — the time limit for charging a crime. The federal statute of limitations for most crimes, including campaign finance and obstruction violations, is five years.
Any crimes Trump might have committed early in his campaign will not be chargeable if he leaves office in 2021. But paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, firing FBI Director James Comey, and ordering the White House counsel to fire Mueller are all fair game for indictment if Trump does not win a second term.
This sobering recognition on Trump’s part could be fueling what appears to be his escalating desperation to ensure that he secures another four years in the White House. The cards, as Trump has played them, leave him in a predicament. If he loses the 2020 election, he will be red meat for a Democratic president and attorney general eager to hold him accountable for his flagrant abuses of power. To avoid being fed to the Democrats, Trump’s best bet is to follow the tried-and-true playbook that secured his 2016 win. This means illegally soliciting foreign assistance in the upcoming election.
If time and experience have shown us anything about Trump, it is that he is willing to burn the house down to secure his own advantage. How else to explain his recent effort with Ukraine? It is essentially the same crime that put him in Mueller’s sights for nearly two years.
And it accomplished what Mueller could not. The former special counsel’s 448-page report showed a sprawling pattern of corruption. The call between Trump and the Ukrainian president is a discrete nugget of corruption that has a beginning and an end, and it’s easily understood. It’s perfectly geared to the many Americans who view politics like a TV sitcom — 23 minutes of attention and done.
At the moment, impeachment is the best bet for Democrats. Unlike a criminal prosecution, impeachment does not require strict adherence to a criminal statute. And unlike a criminal trial, one MAGA juror cannot derail the train.
Reelection is Trump’s only protection. Assuming the House votes in favor of articles of impeachment, it looks unlikely at this point that there will be enough straight-spined Republicans to convict and remove Trump in a Senate trial. Even so, impeachment in the House will have its own rewards, including a rallying cry to flip the Senate.
And the tide might be turning on Trump. Even the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, is conducting an “inquiry” into the whistleblower complaint. But even if the critical mass of Trump’s apparent effort to trade U.S. money for dirt on a political rival reaches hurricane proportions, Trump will not go quietly. To the contrary. Think feral cat cornered in a back alley. Trump has already floated the idea of executing those involved in blowing the whistle on his under-the-table deal with Ukraine.
Punishing treason the old-fashioned way: Trump’s new impeachable offense is threatening the life of a CIA officer
In order to maximize the political punch that comes with impeachment proceedings, Democrats must abandon the “when they go low, we go high” platitude. With all due respect to former first lady Michelle Obama, those days are long gone. If House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his congressional backup singers are not willing to fight in the mud, Democrats will be forever eating Republican dust.
In 2016, Trump’s run for the presidency was motivated by narcissism and greed. In 2020, Trump needs the protection that comes with reelection. Don’t expect him to go from a solid gold toilet to an industrial prison urinal without a fight.
No measures are too extreme to bring criminals to justice nor too extreme to hunt down terrorists. Eichmann and Entebbe – kra
No, I am not Jewish, but we must never forget that no measures are too extreme to bring criminals to justice nor too extreme to hunt down terrorists.
The Israelis did a masterful job at both in Operation Eichmann (I was only 14 when they caught Eichmann and put him on trial … too young to grasp its real significance), and in the raid on Entebbe. I was 29, and just as astonished and impressed as the rest of the world when the Israelis swept into Entebbe, killing the hijackers and freeing all of the hostages, while losing only one commando!
Operation Eichmann =
The Raid on Entebbe = https://lnkd.in/eEUa_fh
My friend and great lawyer, Steve Hampton, has what it takes to kick the bad guys’ asses. This article relates an all too familiar story about a young man incarcerated with MH issues. I have NO doubt that all of Steve’s allegations are true, and I KNOW that this one is true: “When Darius was being victimized at JTVCC or MCCC his plight was common knowledge at all levels of authority, including the warden.”
Young Mr. Sarro was serving a one-year sentence for a violation of probation on a fourth-degree rape charge. READ Letter to Editor or Editorial Submission – What a Monster we Have Created! Probation and Parole 2/19/19 =
Excerpts from the Article:
The family of an inmate who died after being found hanging two years ago has filed a lawsuit citing the alleged disregard of mental health, abuse and safety concerns during a two-year period.
Darius Sarro was supposedly subjected to constant “terror and torture” before dying while being held at Morris Community Corrections Center in Dover in 2017, according to the 45-page Superior Court action filed action filed on Tuesday. He was also incarcerated at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna during the stretch.
Connections Community Support Programs Inc. and Delaware Department of Correction officials were named as defendants.
The plaintiff’s attorney Stephen Hampton described the case as “tragic … but probably will not be the last if DOC and CCSP continue like they have been.”
Also, the attorney said, “We get contacted by phone, mail, or email upwards of 30 times a week with complaints by inmates or their families about prison conditions. Almost all involve the failure to get healthcare, or bullying by correctional officers.
“Conditions for inmates seem to be as bad as they have ever been, except in the year after the (inmate) revolt (that included the death of a correctional officer at JTVCC).”
Delaware Department of Correction spokesman Paul Shavack said, “We are in the process of reviewing the details of the filing, but due to pending litigation we will not discuss the specifics of the case.”
Attempts to reach CCSP for comment were unsuccessful.
According to the lawsuit, Sarro hung himself in a bathroom sometime overnight on Oct. 10, 2017. DOC records and reports showed that he “was unaccounted for during the 30 to 45 minutes before he was discovered.”
The complaint indicated that Sarro was classified as a Seriously Mentally Ill inmate by CCSP “who required frequent and daily mentoring, monitoring, and medication.
“He had long hair and was slight in stature, standing (5-foot-2, weighing around 120 pounds.) His appearance was youthful, childlike even, and it made him a target of larger inmates who sexually abused him, raped him, bullied him, stole his property, extorted money from him and threatened him during the two years preceding his death.”
Sarro, 23, was pronounced dead on Oct. 14, 2017 after transport to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover. He was serving a one-year sentence for a violation of probation on a fourth-degree rape charge.
The lawsuit claimed that “CCSP employees failed to provide Darius with the mental health treatment necessary for a suicidal rape victim. Instead, employees ignored his plight and failed to take steps to prevent Darius from being victimized by these inmates. “They also failed to monitor him even when they knew he was suicidal, out of sight, and wearing a belt.”
According to the action, Sarro had supposedly been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (noted in an initial psychiatric evaluation in December 2014 following incarceration), depression and attention deficit disorder and had been admitted to Dover Behavioral Health and Rockford Center five times, with a most recent suicide attempt in 2012.
Also, the action noted multiple mental health sick call requests, supposed bullying and sexual assaults that were allegedly mishandled or ignored.
DOC employees allegedly failed to follow Prison Rape Elimination Act guidelines and failed to interview Sarro and failed to “take any actions against his attackers other than to move them to another tier.
“When Darius was being victimized at JTVCC or MCCC his plight was common knowledge at all levels of authority, including the warden.”
M. Jane Brady,now head of Delaware’s Republican party, wrote an op ed in The Delaware State News. Here it is:
I responded appropriately, with the email below which I sent to the paper. I know Jane fairly well (we were about two feet apart in offices in the Attorney General’s office for many months, when we both were “young pups”… and she is a mediocre lawyer at best!), and she never was “the brightest bulb in the room”. She was elected A G only because she is female and there was a yearning for more women in power at that time. And she was a judge because she is Republican. In Delaware, although the U S Supreme Court may soon change this fact, politics is a consideration in appointing judges.
Speak OUT – What a load of BALONEY! – 10/4/19
I could type two full pages pointing out the misleading and just plain wrong statements made by Ms. M. Jane Brady in her recent “Commentary” about the impeachment of our criminal president. But I have much other work to do. It is maddening enough that she refers to “the unprecedented transparency” of Trump … a worn out talking point for his pathetic supporters. I too am a former prosecutor, and … Wow! You call lying like hell at every turn, refusing to answer questions, and hiding his tax returns (THAT will be some indictments when they are seen!) “transparent”?! I am, again, “’boutapuke”! Sad to say that Ms. Brady is just another political hack.
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
Slain man’s brother hugs Dallas cop after she gets 10 years – We need to see more such wise youngsters!
This wise young man had great parents! Great mentors or teachers of some sort, for him to act as he did!
I wish more folks had such magnanimity!
I do believe that he agrees with my assessment of this sad case: it was a horrible ACCIDENT. No, not an accident as if “she didn’t know the gun was loaded”, but an accident in that the officer had NO racial malice in her heart when she shot. This was NOT a “Black Lives Matter” situation.
The grieving mother certainly had a good point when she said: “If Amber Guyger was trained not to shoot in the heart, my son would be alive today….”
I have long called for more non lethal force where force is needed … bean bag guns, shoot in the leg, taser, etc.
Excerpts from the Article:
The brother of a black man who was shot dead by a white Dallas police officer who said she mistook the victim’s apartment for her own forgave and embraced her Wednesday as she sobbed after being sentenced to a decade in prison.
As people outside of the courtroom reacted angrily to the 10-year sentence given to Amber Guyger for killing Botham Jean in his apartment, believing it was too lenient, his brother was allowed to address her directly from the witness stand.
Brandt Jean told Guyger that he thinks his brother would have wanted her to turn her life over to Christ, and that if she can ask God for forgiveness, she will get it.
“I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you,” he said to the 31-year-old Guyger, before adding, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?”
The judge said he could, and Brandt and Guyger stood up, met in front of the bench and embraced while Guyger cried.
Jurors could have sentenced the former officer to up to life in prison or as little as two years, but prosecutors asked them to send her to prison for 28 years, which is how old Botham Jean would have been if he was still alive.
The 10-year sentence, which will make Guyger eligible for parole after five years, was met with boos and jeers by the crowd outside of the packed courtroom, with one woman saying, “It’s a slap in the face.”
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, criticized the investigation into her son’s death, saying “the corruption that we saw during this process must stop” and that it’s up to the people of Dallas to bring about change. She also criticized Guyger and the police training to shoot to kill.
“If Amber Guyger was trained not to shoot in the heart, my son would be alive today. He was no threat to her. He had no reason to be a threat to her, because he was in his own apartment,” Allison Jean said.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, a former trial judge, called Brandt Jean’s embrace of Guyger was an “an amazing act of healing and forgiveness that is rare in today’s society … especially for many of our leaders.”
“If your 18-year-old brother can heal and express healing in that fashion, in his words and in his deeds, I would hope that the greater community, not just Dallas but all of Texas and all of the United States, could gain a message from that,” he told reporters.
Mike Mata, who heads the Dallas Police Association, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
The basic facts of the unusual shooting were not in dispute throughout the trial. Guyger, returning from a long shift that September 2018 night, entered Jean’s fourth-floor apartment and shot him. He had been eating a bowl of ice cream before she fired.
Guyger said she parked on the wrong floor and mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was directly below his, and mistook him for a burglar. In the frantic 911 call played repeatedly during the trial, Guyger said “I thought it was my apartment” nearly 20 times. Her lawyers argued that the identical physical appearance of the apartment complex from floor to floor frequently led to tenants going to the wrong apartments.
But prosecutors questioned how Guyger could have missed numerous signs that she was in the wrong place. They also asked why she didn’t call for backup instead of walking into the apartment if she thought she was being burglarized and suggested she was distracted by sexually explicit phone messages she had been exchanging with her police partner, who was also her lover.
The shooting drew widespread attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.
One of the Jean family lawyers hailed the verdict as “a victory for black people in America” after it was handed down Tuesday.
The jury was largely made up of women and people of color.
This humane treatment of inmates works better than you might think in reducing crime. Working with animals started with programs where inmates train dogs, and those programs are hugely successful. Those who take such programs are FAR less likely to re offend. This article was sent to me by J. Frederico Martin from LinkedIn.
Excerpts from the Article:
IT STARTED WITH A SMALL FROG in big trouble. Oregon spotted frogs once flourished from British Columbia to Northern California, but habitat loss and invasive predators have driven these marsh dwellers from more than 90 percent of their historic range. In 2009, incarcerated men at Washington State’s Cedar Creek Corrections Center stepped up to help.
Advised by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife scientist Marc Hayes—and with training from corrections staff and environmental science graduate students at nearby Evergreen State College—13 prisoners worked as conservation technicians during six seasons, nurturing tadpoles to robust adulthood so the animals could join and bolster wild populations.
Hayes admits he was concerned at first, uncertain the men could master demanding wildlife-handling protocols. But he shed those reservations after seeing the program’s first-year results. “Cedar Creek did consistently better than other breeding programs,” he says, “producing higher survival rates and larger mature animals.” From 2009 to 2015, the inmates, staff and graduate students raised 879 healthy frogs and released them into wetlands along Puget Sound. “We learned a lot about rearing Oregon spotted frogs,” Hayes says. “I’m proud to have worked with so many dedicated folk.”
Cedar Creek’s frog work was part of the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), a collaboration between Evergreen State College and Washington’s Department of Corrections. It was the first prison-based wildlife-recovery effort in the nation, according to SPP co-director Kelli Bush, and served as a springboard for similar programs powered by the work of hundreds of incarcerated men and women.
One major focus of their work: pollinators. In 11 of 12 state prisons, inmates and staff nurture some 60 thriving honey-bee hives along with native plants in pollinator-friendly landscaping and garden plots. And at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW), inmates are working to save the highly endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. Destruction of its native grasslands had reduced the species to a handful of small, isolated groups. But since 2011, more than 18,000 MCCCW-reared caterpillars and butterflies have been released into protected habitats in Washington, helping launch new populations. Checkerspots also are more likely to find the food and shelter plants they need because nurseries at three other state prisons cultivate seeds and plugs of native plants for prairie restoration.
Program participants benefit along with wildlife. Carolina Landa, now an Evergreen State College graduate student, says rearing endangered butterflies while incarcerated at MCCCW was transformative. “Doing something good for the environment … gave me a sense of worth,” she says, “and a base for being successful after release.”
Rough day already! Carpe Diem! 10/2/19 … I did not sleep well when my friend, X, told me what happened in court yesterday.
A guy I was helping by phone and email got screwed yesterday. Long story short: He was on trial in MO for the past two days and he had a PD who did NOTHING. He is, in fact innocent, yet was convicted of all 3 charges. He clutched on the stand and did not say what I had advised him to say, and his PD was useless. He was convicted of 1. possession of meth with intent to deliver, 2. poss of pot, 3. poss of paraphernalia – rolling papers.
He was sentenced to 10 years!! TEN YEARS! 🙁
NICE GUY, AGE 32, NO PRIOR RECORD (a couple of pot charges from 4 and 9 years ago, respectively).
I spent at least 10 hours talking with him on the phone and he IS innocent. He was stopped for a traffic charge, the cop saw a joint in the ashtray, and searched the car. He found a scale with meth residue.
Now, X had the scale because he needs it to weigh ingredients for a medicine which he takes. He has never used meth, much less sold it. He had the instructions for the medicine, showing the need for the scale, and he did get that into evidence… over the objection of his idiot PD!
He had lent the scale to a friend the day b4 the stop, and, obviously, that guy used it for meth and did not clean it b4 returning it.
1. What the fuck does it achieve by locking him up for TEN YEARS!?
2. I am going to email the prosecutor this weekend to tell him he’s and asshole. Oh, yes I am! X called me several times yesterday during breaks in the trial, telling me his PD did not believe him, was doing nothing, and the jackass prosecutor objected to nearly every word X said as he tried to tell the truth to the jury. Clearly one of those asshole, idiot, dangerous prosecutors who thinks it’s a numbers game …. how many people can I lock up?!
HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?
- The PD waltzed in on the morning of trial, had never met X nor talked with him b4, and, when X told him why the scale had meth on it, the PD said “Well, I don’t believe that story”! Shoot that asshole! I have interviewed thousands of people charged with crimes, and I can tell when they are lying. THAT’S MY JOB! I spent many, many hours talking with X over the past several months, because he has been so worried about these charges, and, I “cross-examined” him early on… there is no doubt about the real reason he had the scale.
- The arresting officer takes the stand, bedecked in his uniform, and says something like: “I am Sgt. Bozo, with the MO State Police, and I am assigned to the drug unit. I have been there for 15 years, made x thousand drug arrests for all kinds of drugs, … blah blah blah. In my extensive experience (“when I could have been doing some good solving our backlog of unsolved rapes and murders, but, oh shit, that takes real wok!”) if someone has a scale with a drug residue on it they are selling that drug. Never mind that he never saw anyone sell anything, and neither did anyone else. Never mind that X had offered to take a polygraph exam about why he had the scale (they did not give him one and he could not afford a private one … they cost about $600.00). You see, the cop is an “expert” so he can say what he said, and voila!, X, an innocent man, is convicted. This happens EVERY DAY IN OUR FUCKED UP CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM!
Trump’s tweet threatening ‘civil war’ is a ‘basis for impeachment’: Harvard Law professor – Of course it is! – kra
Of course it is! Threatening war because Congress is doing its duty?! Absurd.
And, as for the prospect of actual violence when tRump is impeached … Ain’t gonna happen! Like tRump himself, his followers are all talk and damn near NO action. IF any are dumb enough to get violent they will be arrested, and State governors will activate the National Guard if needed. His ignoramus tRumpsters are not THAT stupid. tRump tries to conjure visions of violence because he knows his base loves chaos, and because HE IS A CORNERED RAT! And I dare predict tRump’s next residence will be a prison cell!
Excerpts from the Article:
President Donald Trump is experiencing a backlash in response to repeating a far-right evangelical pastor’s threat that impeachment could lead to civil war in the United States. And a Harvard Law School professor is asserting that repeating the pastor’s comment is, in itself, a “basis for impeachment.”
Over the weekend, Trump supporter Robert Jeffress — far-right pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and a prominent figure on the Christian Right — appeared on “Fox and Friends” and railed against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for coming out in favor of an impeachment inquiry. Jeffress, during a Sunday appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” angrily defended Trump and told co-hosts Pete Hegseth and Jedediah Bila, “I do want to make this prediction this morning: if the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal.”
Trump took to Twitter and repeated Jeffress’ “civil war” threat, and John Coates — a law professor at Harvard University — saw Trump’s tweet and responded, “This tweet is itself an independent basis for impeachment: a sitting president threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power.”
Trump’s tweet has also been condemned by Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a military veteran who tweeted that having “visited nations ravaged by civil war,” he found the tweet “beyond repugnant.” Kinzginer served in the U.S. Air Force during the Iraq War.