Ex-Cuyahoga County Jail medical supervisor files whistleblower lawsuit saying he was ousted for speaking out against jail conditions
These scumbag prison officials who so abuse their power MUST be prosecuted! READ
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Cuyahoga County Jail medical supervisor’s whistleblower lawsuit filed late Tuesday against Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish offers the clearest account of what happened at the jail in the days and months before a string of inmate deaths.
It also raises a previously undisclosed allegation that jail officials covered up the violent beating of an inmate at the hands of a corrections officer.
Former Interim Director of Ambulatory Care Gary Brack’s lawsuit says his firing at Budish’s request caused widespread fear of retaliation for anyone who sought to speak up about wrongdoing in the county. He also accuses Budish of allowing former jail director Ken Mills to act with impunity and push a cost-cutting agenda at the jail that fueled deteriorating conditions. His testimony came weeks before the first of eight inmates died in 2018.
The lawsuit centers around a May 22, 2018 Cuyahoga County Council Public Safety Committee meeting where Brack became the first jail employee to levy public criticism over the way the jail was run, and his subsequent firing. The lawsuit also provides a glimpse into what Brack might have told FBI agents and a Cuyahoga County grand jury that has so far handed up 10 indictments related to the jail, including one that accuses Mills of lying during the same meeting and later lying to investigators about his communication with a “high-ranking” county official.
Mills, Budish, MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Butros and Chief of Staff Jane Platten are defendants in the lawsuit, along with Cuyahoga County.
Brack is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages for wrongful termination and conspiracy to deprive him of his First Amendment rights.
Mills pushed a cost-cutting agenda at the jail at Budish’s request that fueled deteriorating conditions and he often bragged at meetings that the jail was underbudget, the lawsuit says. “(Mills’) orders came straight from the top,” the lawsuit says. “He faithfully executed Budish’s mandate to cut costs at any cost and conceal the deadly consequences from the public.”
The understaffing led to an increase of repeated forced lockdowns of inmates, called red-zoning.
That caused between 100 and 200 inmates to live on lockdown under the supervision of only one officer. The lawsuit says Brack complained about the red-zoning to Mills after 30 inmates from the same locked-down cluster of cells reported having chest pains so they could get out of their cells. The inmates were locked down for nearly 24 consecutive hours, the lawsuit says.
In 2017, Mills ordered that jail medical personnel were no longer allowed to join jail officers in conducting rounds of inmates with mental illnesses who were being housed in isolation, according to the lawsuit. Brack told Mills that medical staffing is necessary to help address behavioral issues, but Mills said: “I run the jail,” according to the lawsuit. Mills in February 2018 also helped cover up a violent attack of an inmate by a jail guard, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit does not name the guards, nor the inmate who was attacked, but Chandra confirmed that it’s the same case that became the subject of an April 18 indictment.
Jail officer John Wilson was indicted on a felonious assault charge in the attack more than a year after the incident happened.
Castleberry and Wilson fought over a bologna sandwich. Wilson attacked Joshua Castleberry and knocked out two of his teeth, including one that became lodged in his nasal cavity, the indictment says.
Officers placed Castleberry in a restraint chair and placed a mask over his face in order to hide his injuries, according to the lawsuit. The guards refused to let nurses remove the mask. One nurse asked to do a medical evaluation but a jail officer replied: “He wants to hit one of my officers, he can sit the f–k there for hours,” according to the lawsuit. The nurse called Brack, who called a jail supervisor and demanded nurses have access to treat Castleberry. A half-hour later, the nurses were allowed to see Castleberry, who was rushed to MetroHealth for facial reconstruction surgery, according to the lawsuit.
Mills smiled at then-Warden Eric Ivey, who has since been indicted and accused of unrelated crimes, and told Tallman that he watched the surveillance video and determined the officer’s actions were appropriate. Tallman asked to watch the video, but Mills refused. “I already reviewed it— nothing was done wrong,” Mills replied, the lawsuit says. Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney told Brack that he would examine the incident. When he did, the security and body camera videos had “disappeared,” the lawsuit says.
Pinkney testified in an October 2017 budget hearing in front of County Council about Mills’ plan to privatize nursing at the jail by switching contacts from MetroHealth to an Alabama-based company called NaphCare.
Corruption investigators later sought records relating to NaphCare during a Feb. 14, 2019 raid on Budish’s office, according to a copy of the search warrant previously obtained by cleveland.com. The next day, Budish and his former Chief-of-Staff Earl Leiken drove to MetroHealth, met with Boutros and demanded Brack’s ouster from the jail, according to the lawsuit and records obtained by cleveland.com. “Rather than address (Mills’) conduct at the jail, or any of the serious issues Nurse Brack aired, Budish retaliated for exposing his lieutenant’s malfeasance and embarrassing his administration,” the lawsuit says. Boutros complied, and Brack was removed from his job and placed on administrative leave.
Chandra on June 29, 2018 called MetroHealth and said Brack would have claims of workplace discrimination and other rights violated if they fired him, according to the lawsuit. MetroHealth attorney Laura McBride responded on July 10 that MetroHealth offered Brack two lower-level jobs that would allow him to remain employed with the hospital. Brack refused and was fired Aug. 29, 2018. His ouster caused employees to become “afraid to explain how the jail became one of the worst in the nation because they feared retaliation,” according to the lawsuit.
After the May 22 meeting, seven inmates died, leading to intense scrutiny of the jail. Budish asked the U.S. Marshals Service to conduct an inspection.
Mills resigned Nov. 14, a week before the marshals released their report that detailed “inhumane” conditions at the jail, including inmates with medical and mental illness didn’t get proper or consistent treatment, excessive use-of-force by guards and myriad of other issues.
The FBI began an investigation into possible civil rights abuses at the jail.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office also pivoted its sprawling investigation into possible corruption in the county’s IT department to include the problems at the jail.
Mills was accused in a criminal indictment of lying during the May 22, 2018 meeting, and later lying to federal and county investigators about his communications with a “high-level Cuyahoga County official.” He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office took over the case, and nine others at the jail have since been indicted, including Ivey. He was accused of ordering officers body cameras shut off during an investigation into an inmate’s death.
The deaths prompted Cleveland Municipal Judge Michael Nelson to request that the county’s jail operate under a consent decree that would dictate mandatory reforms through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the oversight of a federal judge. A civil lawsuit filed in December on behalf of inmates also calls for a similar agreement.
As usual, “follow the money”. It sure won’t happen in my lifetime, but because the Supreme Court did not understand the words : “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” the only solution is to ELIMINATE the 2d Amendment! That day just may come. We can be sure that the youth mobilized by so many school shootings will be out in force in 2020.
Excerpts from the Article:
Weeks after Delaware’s Democrat-controlled legislature opted not to vote on three gun control bills, many are still left wondering what happened.
Senate leadership, in defending their decision, has repeatedly cited a lack of support among Democrats. Some have said that the bills need to be amended before they are given a chance to become law.
But outside Dover, it’s a different story. Many pro-gun residents credit the decision to a multi-pronged attack from gun owners, gun businesses and union members.
It included a growing guns rights group on Facebook flexing its muscles, gun business owners getting more involved, and pro-gun union members threatening to pull campaign dollars from legislators who supported the bills, according to some gun rights advocates and union leaders.
“The union pressure is what finally sealed the deal,” said Mitch Denham, leader of the 20,000-strong Facebook group Delaware Gun Rights. “When you’re trying to get elected, it costs money to get elected. The person that writes the check, you kind of have to take care of sometimes.”
James Maravelias, president of the Delaware Building Construction Trades Council and head of the state AFL-CIO, witnessed the shift in his own ranks. He worries that union members will resist putting money toward upcoming campaigns for certain Democrats following the gun control debacle. Maravelias said he also fears his members will begin siding with Republican candidates in an effort to protect gun rights, even though the GOP is perceived as less friendly to labor.
“We side with the Democratic Party until our union membership says, ‘I don’t want that guy, I want the other guy,'” Maravelias said. “That’s what we’re facing right now.”
“It’s going to be a mess … if these things don’t just go away,” he added.
They probably won’t.
Gun control has been one of the most contentious topics in Dover, where the three gun control measures — a proposed assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine ban and permit-to-purchase mandate — were expected to have a relatively smooth journey to becoming law.
Many gun owners and gun rights advocates credit the bills’ fate to several groups working in concert. “It just snowballed,” said Denham. “And it worked really, really well.”
The mobilization this year was partly a reaction to new bills, which were introduced on top of those that failed last session and were reintroduced. For many gun rights supporters, it seemed like evidence of a long-feared slippery slope that would lead to unconstitutionally strict gun control laws.
At the same time, many firearms dealers felt their business was increasingly threatened.
“One of the problems that gun activism has always had is that gun stores have been non-participatory in the past,” Denham said. “Now, they’re starting to participate.”
This year, that included white cards that were distributed at gun shops across Delaware. One was directed at any resident, and one was specifically directed at union members. The union one, printed in red on white, said, “As a member of local Union (fill in the blank), I will NOT vote for you, if you vote in favor of any of these 3 bills SB68 SB69 SB70.” It was in reference to the three gun control bills. “They had 5,000 cards printed up, and they were out of them in the first couple days,” said Denham. He and others advertised on social media about where to sign the cards.
Some gun shop owners, who know many of their customers to be union members, said that customers were enthusiastic about signing the cards. “I was surprised,” said Jim Beatty, whose gun shop in Bridgeville was one of the venues to hand out the cards. Normally, he said, people are hesitant to sign anything. “But we couldn’t even get them fast enough for people to sign them.”
Signatures weren’t the only ammo. The attack was also built around a tsunami of emails, letters and phone calls. Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore, D-New Castle, who sits on the committee that stalled the three bills, said she knew about the cards but did not receive any after they were signed.
While labor unions push a jobs-focused agenda, the gun bills have started to take over the dialogue among their members, according to Maravelias. He said that union leaders need to pay more attention to their members who have shown an increased focus on gun control measures instead of labor issues.
“Most of the complaints are why we’re not getting involved,” Maravelias said. “I don’t know how we’re going to address it.”
Eighth Circuit Vacates Supervised Release Conditions Prohibiting Alcohol Consumption and Setting Curfew Not Contained in Plea Agreement
A small but meaningful victory for justice. It means that the higher court recognized the injustice and corrected it. NOTE: unfortunately, plea agreements only are enforceable in some Federal courts. In every state, on state charges (88% of the crimes in America) they are meaningless, just a suggestion to the judge. The judge still can sentence the defendant to any penalty up to the maximum allowed by law for the crime to which he/she pled.
Excerpts from the Article:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and vacated a federal prisoner’s special conditions of supervised release prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and setting a curfew. Under a binding plea agreement, David Bell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The plea agreement waived his appellate and post-conviction rights with exceptions that included the imposition of a sentence other than the one set out in the binding plea agreement. A presentence investigation report (“PSI”) noted that Bell “consumes alcohol occasionally, primarily on weekends” and uses marijuana “regularly.”
The court sentenced Bell to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release, imposing special conditions of supervised release that were not provided for in the binding plea bargain agreement. Those special conditions included a requirement that Bell “not consume or possess alcoholic beverages or beer, including 3.2 percent beer at any time, and [that he] shall not be present in any establishment where alcoholic beverages are the primary items for sale” and that he be at his “place of residence between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., 7 days per week,” except when his work schedule determines otherwise.
In response to Bell’s objection to the special conditions, the judge said he was imposing them because, “I’ve had too many defendants that go out and get to drinking, then they get intoxicated and then they go out and violate their supervised release…. And the same reason I put that curfew on there…. [T]hey violate their probation, they’re out usually past midnight. They’re out on the prowl, and they get into trouble. They get drinking, then they’re out prowling the streets. Now there’s no indication you do that. But I’m going to leave it on there because I’m not even going to give you the chance to be tempted by it.”
Bell appealed the special conditions. The Eighth Circuit first determined that the waiver did not prevent the appeal because Bell was appealing special conditions that were not in the binding plea agreement. Thus, the appeal was of a sentence other than the one set out in the plea agreement.
Reviewing the special conditions for abuse of discretion, the appellate court noted that it had affirmed such special conditions when the defendant’s history and characteristics or crime support them. In this case, however, the trial court made no individualized finding that Bell was dependent on drugs and susceptible to cross-addiction to alcohol. In fact, the trial court stated that there was “no indication” that Bell engaged in excessive drinking or prowling the streets.
The PSI report noted that Bell used marijuana “regularly” but did not specify how often. The appellate court had previously held that drinking a beer or two a month and smoking marijuana once every other month did not constitute drug dependence.
Although hundreds of marijuana plants were found in Bell’s basement, they had only been connected to his intent to make money by distributing marijuana. No evidence of the frequency of his personal use was introduced in court.
The appellate court saw no reasonable probability that the curfew would have been imposed had there been an individualized assessment. Because there was no evidence that Bell was drug dependent or would prowl the streets and the court imposed the special conditions based upon its alleged general experience with other defendants, not findings specific to Bell, the Court vacated the special conditions. See: United States v. Bell, 915 F.3d 574 (8th Cir. 2019).
U.S. opens new mass facility in Texas for migrant children The federal government is opening a huge new facilities for migrant children and is considering housing children on military bases around the country.
More illegal crap from tRump against children. Below, I am seen speaking about the horrors of these detention facilities, 3 years ago! They are the worst prisons in America, and that is saying something!
Excerpts from the Article:
The federal government is opening a new mass facility to hold migrant children in Texas and considering detaining hundreds more youths on three military bases around the country, adding up to 3,000 new beds to the already overtaxed system.
The new emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, will hold as many as 1,600 teens in a complex that once housed oil field workers on government-leased land near the border, said Mark Weber, a spokesman for Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The agency is also weighing using Army and Air Force bases in Georgia, Montana and Oklahoma to house an additional 1,400 kids in the coming weeks, amid the influx of children traveling to the U.S. alone. Most of the children crossed the border without their parents, escaping violence and corruption in Central America, and are held in government custody while authorities determine if they can be released to relatives or family friends.
All the new facilities will be considered temporary emergency shelters, so they won’t be subject to state child welfare licensing requirements, Weber said. In January, the government shut down an unlicensed detention camp in the Texas desert under political pressure, and another unlicensed facility called Homestead remains in operation in the Miami suburbs.
“It is our legal requirement to take care of these children so that they are not in Border Patrol facilities,” Weber said. “They will have the services that ORR always provides, which is food, shelter and water.”
Under fire for the death of two children who went through the agency’s network of shelters and facing lawsuits over the treatment of teens in its care, the agency says it must set up new facilities to accommodate new arrivals or risk running out of beds.
The announcement of the program’s expansion follows the government’s decision to scale back or cut paying for recreation, English-language courses and legal services for the more than 13,200 migrant toddlers, school-age children and teens in its custody.
The Health and Human Services department, which oversees the refugee office, notified shelters around the country last week that it was not going to reimburse them for teachers’ pay, legal services or recreational equipment, saying budget cuts were needed as record numbers of unaccompanied children arrive at the border, largely from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In May, border agents apprehended 11,507 children traveling alone.
Attorneys said the move violates a legal settlement known as the Flores agreement that requires the government to provide education and recreational activities to migrant children in its care. Last week, attorneys filed a motion claiming that the government also was violating the decades-old settlement by keeping kids at Homestead for months in some cases, instead of releasing them within 20 days.
“If they are going to open the program up in these numbers and they can’t even manage the influx facility that they have in a humane way, then compounding that is going to be disastrous,” said Holly Cooper, an attorney at the Immigration Law Clinic at University of California, Davis who represents detained youth.
Advocates have slammed the move as punitive, saying such services are typically available to adult prisoners.
“ORR’s cancelling of these services will inflict further harm on children, many of whom continue to languish for months without being placed safely and expeditiously into a sponsor’s care. That is not only unacceptable, it could be in violation of the law,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee with oversight on the agency’s budget.
Although racism is rampant in our criminal justice system, 74% of Americans answer NO when asked whether there is racism in the system. This is why we must continue to fight for right and spread the word!
See related articles with many more statistics.
Excerpts from the Article:
A new report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission reveals that the length of a defendant’s prison sentence increasingly depends on the whims of the judge. For example, in Philadelphia, some of the judges ordered sentences 63 percent longer than their colleagues for identical crimes. Doug Berman, a sentencing law expert and professor at The Ohio State University Moritz School of Law, said, “Certain judges are the ‘hang ‘em high’ type, and others are the ‘cry me a river type.’”
The growing discrepancies in sentences follow the landmark decision of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), wherein the Supreme Court struck down laws that required federal district judges to impose sentences within a range of preset guidelines.
The study compared over 140,000 cases from 13 years across 30 U.S. cities. Of the 30 cities studied, 25 saw spreads grow after Booker. The study raises complicated issues. The fact that a prison sentence could vary by decades on what is basically the flip of a coin is anathema in a justice system that claims it is “blind” and offers “equal protection.” Yet many attorneys and criminal-justice reformers say the former system of preset sentence lengths was profoundly unjust, especially when it required long, draconian sentences.
“I think their discretion is good and important and useful because when judges are pigeonholed that takes their power and humanity away,” said NiaLena Caravasos, a Philadelphia-area defense attorney. Yet some judges appear to be lacking in humanity because there is now much racial disparity in sentencing. White men are far more likely to be sentenced to terms below the guidelines, while black men are sentenced according to the guidelines.
These criminal charges are flimsy. I would bet I could get him acquitted at trial. Call him a coward? OK. But the criminal charges probably will not stick. He is a scapegoat.
Excerpts from the Article:
As bullets ricocheted and bodies fell in the hallways and classrooms at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, Deputy Scot Peterson was outside the building. Instead of storming in after the 19-year-old gunman, he retreated to a position of safety.
For more than a year after the February 2018 attack in Parkland, Fla., grieving parents have demanded that Mr. Peterson — along with the gunman who killed 17 and injured 17 — be held accountable in what would prove to be one of the nation’s worst school shootings. On Tuesday, law enforcement responded with a sweeping list of charges that resulted in Mr. Peterson’s arrest. His alleged crime: failing to protect the students.
America’s long history of mass shootings have brought a variety of responses: Calls for tighter gun laws, civil lawsuits against companies that manufacture guns and firearm components, collective mourning. But Tuesday’s charges represented a highly unusual case of a lawman arrested for failing to save lives.
“I have no comment except to say rot in hell,” Fred Guttenberg, who emerged as an outspoken gun control activist after his daughter, Jaime, died in the attack, wrote on Twitter. “You could have saved some of the 17,” Mr. Guttenberg added, addressing Mr. Peterson. “You could have saved my daughter. You did not and then you lied about it and you deserve the misery coming your way.”
Mr. Peterson, 56, who had been suspended in the immediate aftermath of the attack and later resigned, faces 11 charges of neglect of a child, culpable negligence and perjury. He was booked into the Broward County jail with a bond of $102,000. The 15-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that led to the charges, found that the former Broward County sheriff’s deputy, assigned as a school resource officer to Stoneman Douglas High, “did absolutely nothing to mitigate” the shooting, the department’s commissioner, Rick Swearingen, said in a statement. “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives,” he said.
Officials determined that Mr. Peterson, as well as Sgt. Brian Miller, who was terminated on Tuesday but not charged, “neglected their duties.” Mr. Peterson was taken into custody after an administrative discipline hearing.
The charges were an unusual instance of law enforcement officers being held criminally liable for not protecting the public.
Civil lawsuits have become par for the course following mass shootings in the United States. Families of the victims and survivors themselves use litigation to hold institutions, both public and private, responsible for not keeping people safe, as well as to push for policy changes or to collect compensation for emotional and physical trauma or death. But experts say that criminally charging a law enforcement officer for allegedly being negligent in his response to a mass shooting is new ground.
“This is the first time I have seen somebody so charged like this,” said Clinton R. Van Zandt, a former profiler with the F.B.I. and an expert on mass shootings. “I think that every police officer, sheriff and F.B.I. agent understands that you have to go to the threat and stop it and that we are no longer going to wait for SWAT or set up perimeters.”
The Department of Law Enforcement said its inquiry showed that Mr. Peterson did not investigate the source of the gunshots, retreated during the shooting while victims were still under attack and directed other law enforcement officers to remain 500 feet away from the building.
One student, Arman Borghei, told investigators that during the shooting, he looked out a third-floor window and saw Mr. Peterson standing on the side of the 1200 building “with his gun drawn not really doing anything.” Since he was first interviewed by Broward detectives two days after the killings, Mr. Peterson has said he did respond, by alerting the police, locking the school down and evacuating children in the courtyard. “There wasn’t even time to think,” Mr. Peterson told The Washington Post. “It just happened and I started reacting.”
He said he has run the shooting over and over in his head. “It was my job, and I didn’t find him,” he said of the gunman.
Meanwhile, four officers from the nearby Coral Springs Police Department arrived and entered the building where the shooting was occurring, the investigation showed.
Jeff Bell, the president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, expressed concern about the decision to charge Mr. Peterson, who was not a member of his organization. He argued that prosecutors had adopted a sweeping interpretation of the state’s negligence law that could put other officers at risk of charges in the future.
“I am worried that state attorneys and political officers can start to weaponize criminal charges against law enforcement if you don’t meet their threshold for what you do or should not do,” said Mr. Bell, who said he and others were still disappointed by Mr. Peterson’s response to the shooting.
Mr. Van Zandt said prosecutors appeared to be sending a message to the community that “we hear you are disappointed, and we will let the criminal justice system determine whether he made significant mistakes, whether perhaps he was a coward or not, or whether he acted properly with the information that he had.”
A lawyer for Mr. Peterson, Joseph A. DiRuzzo III, said Tuesday that the former deputy’s team would fight “these spurious charges that lack basis in fact and law.” He complained that the prosecution appeared to be “nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution against Mr. Peterson.”
“Today the individuals who have made this charging decision have taken the easy way out and blamed Mr. Peterson for the actions on February 14, 2018, when there has only ever been one person to blame — Nikolas Cruz,” Mr. DiRuzzo wrote in an open letter to “the South Florida community and the American public.”
Constitutional law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, does not generally give people a right to expect the police to protect them against harm.
States can create obligations for the police under certain circumstances — for example, a crossing guard who is assigned to keep children from getting run over. But those would be civil liabilities, said Darren L. Hutchinson, a professor at the University of Florida School of Law, not criminal ones.
Professor Hutchinson noted that the criminal statutes under which Mr. Peterson was charged for his behavior during the shooting, neglect of a child and culpable negligence, were not specifically drafted for law enforcement officers and are usually applied to parents. “Normally we don’t think of police officers as caregivers for children,” he said.
The culpable negligence charge would require proof of behavior so reckless, like driving down a crowded sidewalk, that it could be inferred that the accused intended harm, Professor Hutchinson said. “Under a civil standard that’s a very tough load, and now they’re turning to the criminal standard, which is somewhat tougher, because they have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.
“It wasn’t his fault,” said Mr. Bishop, who will be a senior in the fall. “Who am I to place blame on anyone besides the one person who should be held accountable?”
The Parkland shooting has become woven into the fabric of Florida politics. Most national attention on the tragedy focused on the movement against gun violence launched by Stoneman Douglas High students. But parents of the dead — and the elected officials who joined forces with them — were a force in the halls of power in Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee, relentlessly seeking answers and accountability, not least from the sheriff’s department.
The state attorney who filed the charges on Tuesday, Michael J. Satz, announced earlier in the day that he would not seek re-election next year. First elected in 1976, Mr. Satz said skipping a campaign for a new term would allow him to focus on the coming death penalty trial of Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the Parkland killings.
Issues raised by the shooting are expected to continue to demand attention in Tallahassee, and not only on matters of gun policy and funding for safer schools. Also pending is how the state might compensate the victims’ families — an issue the families have already taken to court, claiming negligence by the school district and sheriff’s office.
I explain that the reason I have always been so successful – and still am – is preparation. The problem with the P Ds is that they don’ have time to fart, much less be well prepared. Their case loads often are four times the maximum recommended!
Excerpts from the Article:
On May 8, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) elevated the crisis of federal and state governments’ disregard for protecting the right to counsel for people charged with crimes. She did so by introducing the Ensuring Quality Access to Legal Defense Act (EQUAL Defense Act) a bill that uses federal money – $250 million dollars annually for five years – to incentivize pay parity between public defenders and prosecutors, ensure manageable defender caseloads, and reauthorize the student loan repayment program benefitting public defenders. That such a bill is necessary speaks to the deleterious state of public defense in our country, which is underfunded and creates an unlevel playing field for public defenders against prosecutors.
Therefore the EQUAL Defense Act would be a step forward in our nation living up to the Constitution’s principles of fairness and integrity in which the Sixth Amendment’s affirmative guarantee of the right to counsel is rooted. More than 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the importance of ensuring counsel for people accused of crimes regardless of wealth. The Court held that, “in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person [haled] into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for [them].” Twenty years after that, the Court said that not just any counsel would do, but that counsel must be “effective.”
However, people of modest means – disproportionately Black or Brown – are sold short in jurisdictions where public defender systems are chronically underfunded. This failure t leads to crushing caseloads, scarce investigatory and expert resources, and insufficient time to meet with clients, review evidence, file motions, or prepare for trial. Such neglect in turn causes an array of harms, including wrongful conviction and incarceration, needless pretrial detention, coerced pleas, harsh sentences, and lifelong collateral consequences. Without proper resources, public defense is no defense at all.
For example, in Fresno, CA, public defenders were handling a minimum of 418 felony cases and 1,375 misdemeanor cases per year — national standards set maximum felony and misdemeanor caseloads at 150 and 400, respectively, and experts advise that even those are too high and fail to account for the added complexities of today’s expansive punishment system. Because of budget shortages, defenders in parishes in Louisiana, including Orleans Parish, have had to put indigent defendants – including those in pretrial detention – on waiting lists for representation.
The Missouri State Public Defender office fell short of the constitutionally acceptable minimum number of work hours in 97 percent of the 80,000 cases they handled. In Kentucky, half of 1 percent of the state’s budget went to public defender services in 2015, and almost every public defender had caseloads exceeding the national standard.
This constitutional crisis reaches from Oregon to Maine, Alabama to Nevada. But what should be expected when data shows that state and county governments devote to public defense just 2.5% of the approximately $200 billion spent on criminal justice?
But fast forward to the Trump Administration, and the Dept. of Justice shuttered the Access to Justice Office. And while Congress celebrated enactment of the First Step Act, the law did nothing to increase protection of the right to counsel.
For systemic change to be long-lasting, federal and state governments must work in concert. Every state has a constitutional obligation to ensure that low-income people have lawyers in criminal cases, yet many states have been abdicating their responsibilities for years. In response, the ACLU has sued localities, prompting some reform. But to address the failures and harms to people who cannot afford counsel, filing lawsuits is not enough.
States should provide adequate funding for public defense and public defense commissions to create caseload standards, enforce those standards, and ensure adequate training. Where institutional public defenders are absent, states must prohibit the use of flat-fee contracts for defending attorneys and establish proper compensation. Finally, states and Congress should establish Public Defenders General to advocate for public defense resources and administer grant programs for localities seeking to improve public defense.
The urgent need to ensure robust public defense systems extends beyond guaranteeing a fair legal process. America warehouses over two million people behind bars. If low-income people caught in the carceral system do not have zealous advocates, they will continue to be overcriminalized, overincarcerated, and deprived of their rights. Without functioning public defense systems, we cannot meaningfully reduce the staggering number of people held in pretrial detention, wrongful convictions, or abusive prosecutorial practices.
Time will tell whether she can improve a state agency run amok: Delaware D O C.
Excerpts from the Article:
Gov. John Carney said Tuesday he will nominate Claire DeMatteis as commissioner of the Delaware Department of Correction.
If confirmed she will fill the post vacated by Perry Phelps, who announced his retirement last month.
Ms. DeMatteis, a former senior counsel to then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, would be the first woman to be commissioner of the Correction Department. The nomination requires approval by the Delaware Senate, which is expected to consider the governor’s recommendation this month.
Mr. Phelps will officially retire on July 15.
“For much of the last two years, Claire has worked side-by-side with Commissioner Phelps to lead reform efforts at the Department of Correction — to make our facilities safer, to invest in new equipment and training, and to recruit correctional officers to do one of the toughest jobs in state government,” Gov. Carney said in a statement.
“Over three decades of experience in government and the private sector, Claire has worked closely with community leaders, legislators and law enforcement officials and has earned their respect and trust. I have full confidence that Claire’s experience and leadership qualities will serve our state well at the Department of Correction. I look forward to the Senate considering her nomination.”
Not new to DOC administration, Ms. DeMatteis was tasked by Gov. Carney to spearhead reform in the state’s prisons in July 2017 after a deadly riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center brought the department’s understaffing and maligned prison culture issues into focus. In the wake of the Feb. 1 riot, Gov. Carney ordered an independent review to examine conditions at the prison leading up to the incident and make recommendations to address them. The review produced a 159-page report with 41 key recommendations on addressing the DOC’s “systemic” ills.
Spending more than a year pushing the proposed reforms in the DOC, Ms. DeMatteis and DOC administration claimed progress was made on the majority of them with the exception of a reduction in mandatory overtime for an overworked and understaffed team of correctional officers — purported to be the department’s biggest issue. The Governor’s Office said his plan has included a 22 percent increase in starting pay for correctional officers; investments in new technology, equipment and training; the creation of a Labor-Management Committee to recruit more officers and decrease mandatory overtime; and renewed efforts to help inmates successfully re-enter their communities.
Currently, Ms. DeMatteis is serving as special assistant coordinating re-entry initiatives across six state agencies, including the DOC, Education, Labor and Health and Social Services.
From 2008-2016, Ms. DeMatteis served as General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Privacy Officer of two multi-billion dollar corporations. Previously, she spent four years at Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, a Mid-Atlantic law firm with offices in Wilmington. She was partner in charge of the firm’s Delaware office from 2007-2008.
During her decade working as senior counsel for then-Sen. Biden, from 1994-2004, she served as a member of a senior team on issues involving law enforcement, women’s rights, civil rights and constitutional matters. She helped guide campaign strategy, managed constituent communications and drafted legislation.
Ms. DeMatteis earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, and holds a law degree from Widener University Delaware Law School.
Correctional Officers Association of Delaware president Geoff Klopp, who’s worked closely with Ms. DeMatteis during her time as special assistant, thinks she’ll make a “great” commissioner. “There isn’t a more important job right now than DOC commissioner,” he said on Tuesday. “I have complete faith in and support the nomination of Claire DeMatteis. She’s smart, hard working and practical. There is no doubt in my mind that Governor Carney got this one right.”
For her part, Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle, the new chairperson of the House Corrections Committee, says she’s looking forward to working with Ms. DeMatteis if she’s confirmed. “It’s good to see that she has some experience working in the DOC specifically with addressing some of the systemic issues,” she said. “But it’s also great that she’s coming from outside the department and can offer a fresh voice with fresh ideas and new perspective. She’ll have to learning everything about the department from the bottom us which will be great — I think she’ll do a really good job.”
The most pressing issues Ms. DeMatteis will face going into the department are persistent safety concerns and providing crucial services, said Rep. Minor-Brown.
“We need to make sure we’re abiding by Delaware DOC’s mission,” she added. “We need to ensure that we have a safe environment, for both the inmates and prison staff, and make sure that we’re delivering quality healthcare in our prisons. There is also a lot we have to do to make sure our correctional system keeps its focus on rehabilitation — these are all priorities.”
My email to her:
Dear Ms. DeMatteis, 6/6/19
Congratulations on your appointment.
Having seen D O C from the inside for five years, and now receiving calls and emails from inmates and there loved ones daily for the past 7 years, I can tell you that you have your work cut out for you. Many “officers” will flat out lie to your face.
You should read:
It’s Delaware D.O.C., where cover-up is the name of the game,
It’s Delaware D.O.C., where “criminal” and “officer” are one and the same,
Some are clearly misfits, mal-adjusted, mean-spirited little men,
Sadists, bullies, ignorant bigots surface again and again,
And when any C.O. commits crime, i.e., beats and kicks a helpless, handcuffed man,
The entire rank and file will deny it any way they can,
They lie, file FALSE “affidavits,” scheme to keep the upper hand,
Having absolutely ZERO regard for the law of the land*,
The scale of it, if you have not witnessed it, surely is hard to believe,
But it may as well be D.O.C. written policy: “Lie like Hell and Deceive!”
They abuse their authority, willfully break the law,
On a scale so MASSIVE, it will stick in your craw!
A galling gallimaufry of lies follows each criminal act,
With “officers” proclaiming, “We stick together,” and “I’ve got your back,”
They lie like crazy to the judge, take the court for a ride,
With the Attorney General, no less, stubbornly at their side!
They’re never punished, no matter how heinous their conduct may be,
For their victims, routinely abused, are “only prisoners,” you see,
Never mind that statutes, courts, and the Constitution say they’re protected,
In Delaware D.O.C., such a notion is soundly rejected,
They say, “screw the law; we’ll do whatever we want to do”,
Why? How can this be? Because NOBODY holds ‘em accountable, says “shame on you!”
They’ve gotten away with it so many times, it’s the norm, my friend,
And they’ll do it repeatedly, ‘till someone in authority says “This disgrace must end!”
And if nobody acts, things will stay the same…
It’s Delaware D.O.C., where cover-up is the name of the game.
KRA Winter of 2009.
COs commit crimes daily. Theft (including stealing legal documents), perjury, physical assault, FALSE reports to cover-up crimes.
Especially in SVOP in Georgetown, DE, where inmates are regularly assaulted and beaten by COs without cause.
See my case, # 07-593, U.S. District Court, and numerous others, such as, Curtis Collins, case won in March 2009.
They think nothing of filing false affidavits in court and do so regularly. See my cases # 08-311 and #11-033. Dist. Ct.
False reports, false affidavits; lying is common place to cover up their crimes.
*The first words out the mouth of “lieutenant” Patrick Smith, when I said “you’ll never get away with this…I’ll see you in court” were: “Ain’t no little cocksucker in a robe gonna tell me what to do.” THIS SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT THEIR ATTITUDE. See case # 08-311
I’ve heard them say this many times: “You will get nowhere…we stick together.” To me and to others.
Because DOC is a state agency the Attorney General represents these fools, when he should be prosecuting them!
See #6 above. Also, Warden Phelps told officers at a staff meeting that he will do “whatever he wants to do.”
… an excerpt from: http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/culture-cover-prison-abuse/ = A Culture of Cover Up!
More prisoners are exonerated from Florida’s death row than anywhere else in America – How bad is this?! A dramatic example of how royally screwed up the system is! – kra
How bad is this?! A dramatic example of how royally screwed up the system is!
Excerpts from the Article:
Florida has more exonerations of death row inmates than any other state in the country – in fact, there’s been one exoneration of a death row prisoner for every three Florida executions over the past four decades. Many people working in the criminal justice arena say that stark fact shows the system deserves a serious review.
In March, for example, the state released Clifford Williams Jr., who was sentenced to death and spent 42 years behind bars for a crime prosecutors now say he didn’t commit. His nephew was also exonerated.
After his release, the 76-year-old Williams earned a new ranking: He is the 29th person to be exonerated from Florida’s death row since the 1970s.
“Getting it right needs to be more important than just getting it done,” says Mark Elliott, executive director with Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “It’s a failed, broken system. And for me, if I supported the death penalty and there’s one innocent person on death row, that would end my support right there.”
In other states that have ended the death penalty, governors expressed concern about the state killing someone who may be proven innocent, especially with advances in DNA evidence.
“There are a number of issues and problems in Florida,” says Stephen Harper, a professor at Florida International University who runs a legal clinic for death penalty cases. “One is that prosecutors have pretty much unfettered discretion as to when to seek death and when not to seek death. And the defense lawyering in Florida is not what it should be.”
These days, Florida finds itself among a handful of states still using the death penalty. Last year, for example, Florida was one of only eight states that executed a death row inmate. So far this year, Florida is one of only five states to do so. (The others are Alabama, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia). That’s despite the fact that the majority of states (29) still have the death penalty on their books.
Last week, New Hampshire became the 21st state to repeal capital punishment. Analysts say that in reality, the death penalty only really exists now in the deep South and parts of the Midwest.
The number of executions has dropped by 75 percent in the U.S. since 1999, according to Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “
Florida has 340 people on death row – the second highest in the country. Only California has more.
And the legal fate of many Florida death row inmates is now in question. Criminal sentences for more than 100 of Florida’s death row inmates are up for review after major court decisions about the state’s capital sentencing statute in both the U.S. Supreme and Florida Supreme Courts (more on that later).
“I oppose it because we often get it wrong,” King wrote the Phoenix in an email. “I oppose it because it is disproportionately used against minority communities. I oppose it because it has not proven to be a deterrent to violent crime. I oppose it because our state spends tens of millions of dollars in pursuing the death penalty through the legal system that could be better used in meaningful criminal justice reform. I oppose it because I believe the stronger punishment to heinous crimes is life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis and many members of the Republican-led Legislature are supporters.
“It would seem to me that if something’s unconstitutional, then it’s unconstitutional,” says Mark Elliott, executive director with Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “To be executing people who were sentenced to death under a method that’s now found to be unconstitutional is disturbing. It should be alarming to everyone.”
The Whole Story
I have written many articles on this. All studies show that inmates in touch with friends and family via phone and/or visits are faaaaaar less likely to re-offend upon release! REDUCE CRIME = FREE PHONE CALLS.
Excerpts from the article:
Families of prisoners pay far too much for phone calls. My family spent approximately $9,000 during the six-plus years I spent at York Correctional Institution just to talk to me, to plan what needed to be done for upcoming court appearances, to allow me to wish my father well as he headed into open heart surgery.
To reduce this burden on Connecticut residents, Representative Josh Elliot introduced HB 6714 — An Act Concerning the Cost of Telecommunications Services in Correctional Facilities — which passed out of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary last month and might pass before the close of this legislative session. It would make Connecticut the first state to provide free phone calls to prisoners — if it has Gov. Ned Lamont’s support.
So far, Lamont has wavered on this bill, and his hesitation is a bad idea. It signals support for the “commission model” of contracting for prison phone services that harms incarcerated people and their families.
The way prison phone companies do business opposes every sound business principle. They negotiate exclusive contracts with state prison systems and, in exchange, they can charge whatever price they want. Normally, in a competitive bidding process, the state might contract with a company that offers the lowest rates. Instead, under the commission model, the state contracts with the company that charges the most because built into the price is a “commission,” a highly sanitized word for a kickback.
And it’s not a small portion of the call that gets funneled back to the state from the company; it’s sometimes more than the company makes off the call. Connecticut takes away 68 percent of every call sale, so it has an incentive to do business with companies that will fleece customers, which is exactly what happens here. Families of inmates in the Constitution State pay $4.87 for a call under 15 minutes —the most per phone call of any state except for Arkansas, according to the advocacy group Worth Rises.
Under the commission model, the state of Connecticut will never get the best deal for Connecticut families. In other states that continue to embrace commissions, families are paying millions more than they should be.
Lamont doesn’t have many opponents on this. Securus, the company that supplies Connecticut’s inmate phone service, just dropped its opposition to Rep. Elliot’s bill last week. The company is even willing to work with Lamont in implementing the program if the bill passes.
Free prison phone calls are not a cushy perk for inmates. This is a political issue that extends outside of prisons. In a study released last November by FWD.us, an advocacy and research organization, half of all adults in the United States have a family member who is or was incarcerated. These people pay the phone bills, and they’re not disenfranchised by incarceration — they can and do vote.
The likelihood that these families went into debt in Connecticut, the second-highest charging state for prison calls, is high. A 2015 study conducted by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights found that the “high cost of maintaining contact with incarcerated family members led more than one in three families (34 percent) into debt to pay for phone calls and visits.”
The state has made money on prison phone calls — up to $7.7 million — leaving Lamont and others wondering how that revenue can be replaced. hey’ll have two years to figure it out, since Rep. Elliot recently amended the bill so that it won’t be implemented until 2021.
Long-term, though, the money replaces itself with the reduced recidivism that comes with facilitating family contact. For instance, when the state of Maryland reduced its prison population by 800 inmates, it saved $30 million. If phone contact kept more people from returning to prison, the savings will be larger than the state was ever pulling in off prison phone lines. And, since Connecticut’s success in reducing recidivism is “modest” at best, the free phone calls hold promise in an area where our Department of Corrections seems stuck.
A bill that saves money in the long run, protects constituents by keeping them out of debt and promotes public safety is far from a liability. I don’t see any downside to Lamont’s supporting free phone calls for inmates.
If the bill doesn’t pass this session, it’s because the state has too much of a stake in ripping off Connecticut families.