This judge “gets it”!
Thank God we are starting to see some prosecutors act in an area where they are sorely needed: the “organized crime” rampant among prison officials. And if you don’t think it is organized crime, you just don’t know the FACTS!
Excerpts from the Article:
Three former correctional officers convicted of fatally beating a mentally ill inmate were each sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in state prison, concluding a case that sparked community outrage and exposed Santa Clara County’s wholesale neglect of its jails. Relatives and friends of former guards Jereh Lubrin, Matt Farris and Rafael Rodriguez sobbed in the packed courtroom as Judge David A. Cena sentenced the men for the second-degree murder of bipolar inmate Michael Tyree. Despite dozens of heartfelt letters from the men’s families, pastors and in Farris’ case several retired police officers, the judge declined to grant their request of no more than a year in county jail.
Lubrin, 30, and Rodriguez and Farris, both 29, must serve the full 15 years in prison under the current rules before they can apply for parole.
The stiff sentence in a case involving excessive force by law enforcement officers was relatively unusual. But the judge had little choice once he ruled that the other two sentences at his disposal — up to a year in county jail or no jail at all — were “inappropriate.” He was then compelled under state law to sentence them to the mandatory term for second-degree murder: 15 years to life in prison.
The former guards, who had been on the job for three years or less, were convicted in June after the jury rejected the defense argument that Tyree’s injuries — including to his spleen, small bowel, liver, face, skull and the front and back side of his body — were the result of an accidental fall or suicide.
Some advocates of criminal justice reform expressed hope that the sentence would deter other jail guards from using excessive force.
Attorney Paula Canny, who helped represent the Tyrees in their lawsuit against the county, said the significance of the denouement is much more far-reaching. “It’s a wake-up call for everyone, not just for the guards,” she said. “You just can’t put mentally ill people in jail. It’s insane. Michael’s illness pales next to the systemic illness of the criminal justice system.”
Tyree’s death sparked a close review of the jails run by Sheriff Laurie Smith, including by a special civilian-led commission. The county has implemented some reforms, including installing cameras in most locations in the jails and beefing up spending on mental health services. But critics continue to call for more changes and for replacing Smith, who faces a re-election battle for her sixth term against two opponents in the June primary. In September, the county settled a lawsuit filed by Tyree’s family for $3.6 million.
During the two-month trial, the evidence presented by prosecutor Braker against the former guards included texts, sent primarily by Farris, that referred to inmates being ”twisted up,” “sprayed,” “kicked,” “locked down,” “slapped” and “beaten the (expletive) down.”
Braker contended that the texts indicated that the guards enjoyed causing prisoners — particularly mentally ill inmates — discomfort and pain.