ICE Detention Center Says It’s Not Responsible for Staff’s Sexual Abuse of Detainees – It’s called Failure to Train and Supervise – kra
That is pretty funny. ICE clearly is responsible. It’s called “Failure to Train and Supervise” as a civil rights claim and the also can and should be prosecuted!
ICE “detention centers” are the worst prisons in America. This article reminds us that laws intended to monitor them need TEETH and enforcement.
Below I am seen giving a talk about 3 years ago about the terrors of ICE “detention centers”. It was a real eye opener for the clergy and others in attendance.
Excerpts from the Article:
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government impose criminal liability on correctional facility staff who have sexual contact with people in their custody. These laws recognize that any sexual activity between detainees and detention facility staff, with or without the use of force, is unlawful because of the inherent power imbalance when people are in custody. Yet, one immigration detention center is trying to avoid responsibility for sexual violence within its walls by arguing that the detainee “consented” to sexual abuse.
E.D., an asylum-seeker and domestic violence survivor from Honduras, was sexually assaulted by an employee while she was detained with her 3-year-old child at the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania. At the time of the assault, E.D. was 19 years old. She filed suit against the detention center and its staff for their failure to protect her from sexual violence, even though they were aware of the risk. The record in the case, E.D. v. Sharkey, shows that her assailant coerced and threatened her, including with possible deportation, while the defendants stood by and made jokes.
The ACLU, ACLU of Pennsylvania, and partner organizations filed an amicus brief this week supporting E.D., explaining that officials wield such tremendous control over the lives of those in their custody, including through coercion and exploitation, that consent to sexual contact cannot be freely given in these circumstances. We also discuss how sexual violence in custodial settings is a serious and pervasive issue, including in immigration detention. For many years, the ACLU, various advocacy groups, and immigrants themselves have reported on the unsafe conditions in immigration detention, including sexual violence and the retaliation that detained immigrants face when they decide to come forward with these violations.
A recent investigation into sexual abuse in immigration detention found that there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE between 2012 and March 2018. In 2017 alone, there were 237 allegations of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities.
Other reports include a 2014 complaint documenting widespread allegations of sexual harassment at the Karnes County Residential Center, where more than 500 women were detained with their children. In 2017, advocates filed a complaint on behalf of eight immigrants who recounted their experiences of sexual violence while detained in various ICE detention facilities across the country.
The Government Accountability Office reported in 2013 that officials at immigration prisons and jails failed to report 40 percent of sexual abuse allegations to the ICE headquarters. After looking at 10 different detention centers and analyzing over 70 cases of sexual abuse, researchers found that only 7 percent of 215 allegations of sexual assault in immigration detention facilities from 2009 to 2013 were substantiated, calling into question the thoroughness of investigations as well as reporting and oversight mechanisms.
Sexual violence impacts immigrants across federal agencies that are charged with immigrant detention. Most recently in Arizona, the state’s Department of Health Services, which licenses facilities that are used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement to detain migrant children, moved to revoke the license of Southwest Key, a nonprofit contractor that rakes in about a half a billion dollars to detain migrant children in facilities across the country. The state moved to revoke the group’s license because Southwest Key failed to comply with required employee background checks. At least three former employees have been arrested for sexually abusing migrant children. One was convicted, and one of the facilities was closed down following allegations of staff abusing children.
These are not isolated cases. They clearly show that officials are not doing enough to detect and respond to incidents of sexual abuse in immigration detention. The result is that immigrants are put at serious risk for sexual violence while they are detained.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed by Congress in 2003 to protect against sexual assault in prisons and jails across the country. It took the Department of Homeland Security until 2014 to finalize regulations implementing PREA. Even with those regulations in place, DHS PREA standards do not protect immigrants in all detention facilities because the agency has taken the position that those requirements can only apply when the agency enters into new contracts or renews or modifies old ones.
Rather than meaningfully addressing these endemic problems in immigration detention, the Trump administration continues to aggressively target immigrants and asylum seekers by stripping away legal protections, ramping up enforcement, and expanding immigration detention. E.D.’s case highlights the real need for greater protections against sexual abuse and more robust oversight and accountability measures in immigration detention, not less.
“Health care” in all of our prisons is one of America’s greatest hoaxes! This failure to abide by agreements/settlements is precisely what I say in Delaware D O C. This article features revelations from doctors inside the system, doctors with the courage to tell the TRUTH.
If you are not totally outraged, you are not paying attention!
The specific cases we see here of needless pain, suffering, and death are typical of today’s state of affairs regarding health care in our prisons.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Arizona Department of Corrections contracts with privately-owned correctional health care company Corizon Health to oversee all medical, mental and dental care at 10 state prisons. However, that care has come under scrutiny in federal court.
In 2015, prisoners settled a lawsuit with Arizona over poor health care conditions in state prisons. More than two years later, Arizona and its provider have failed to meet the more than 100 stipulations agreed to in the settlement and a federal judge is threatening to fine the state millions of dollars. [See note at the end of this article; the district court imposed $1.4 million in fines in June 2018 as part of a contempt ruling]. Prisoners have testified in the settlement process to long wait times for medicine, delayed chronic disease care and a lack of access to specialists. The voices in this series confirm those allegations and more, recounting their experiences with the Arizona prison health care system.
Lucinda Jordan hadn’t talked to her father, Walter Jordan, for several years. He was serving time in an Arizona prison and they had lost touch. Then, one day in August 2017, the phone rang. “He has a really strong voice and usually he’s pretty calm about things but I could tell he was really upset,” Lucinda Jordan said. Her father had called to tell her he had cancer. “I asked him how bad and he said it was really bad,” Jordan said. “I asked him what kind of cancer and he told me it was skin cancer.”
Days later, Walter Jordan would file a notice of impending death with the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC). He alleged that his cancer treatment had been delayed and was causing memory loss and pain. He predicted he might not make it another month. And then just weeks later, on September 7, 2017, Walter Jordan died.
Now attorneys for the plaintiff class in the Parsons v. Ryan prison health care settlement are alleging a review of Walter Jordan’s medical records shows a history of delayed and inadequate care.
Dr. Todd Wilcox called Walter Jordan’s case “unfortunate and horrific” after reviewing his medical history at the request of plaintiff attorneys in the case. In his declaration, submitted in federal court, Wilcox says he believes Walter Jordan “suffered excruciating needless pain from cancer that was not appropriately managed in the months prior to his death.” In his review, Wilcox states a dermatologist used improper medical techniques to treat Walter Jordan’s squamous cell carcinomas, including a four-square-inch section of Jordan’s scalp that was “electrically fried” with a process called electrodesiccation.
Wilcox writes the procedure made Walter Jordan “much worse, and burning a hole in his skull could cause the surrounding bone to die and become at risk of infection.” Dr. Anna Likhacheva is a staff radiation oncologist at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. She says with any kind of cancer, an early diagnosis means the patient will have a better chance at survival. Doctors at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center use radiation therapy to treat invasive skin cancer. “Some cancers that are easily curable at an early stage, if left untreated for years, can take someone’s life,” she said. Likhacheva says invasive squamous cell carcinomas “cannot be treated with just simple, do it at home procedures or in-office procedures. Those need either surgery or they need radiation therapy.” Medical records show after months of seeing a dermatologist, Walter Jordan was finally referred to an oncologist. The referral came after a Corizon Health provider noted his rapidly deteriorating state. After evaluating a large wound on Jordan’s scalp, the provider wrote in all capital letters:
“THE WOUND IS HORRIFIC. PT IS EXPOSED TO THE ENVIRONMENT (DUST, DIRT, HEAT, FLIES) DIRTY HOUSING AND SHOWER FACILITIES…. I CANNOT STRESS HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT WE TAKE SOME SORT OF IMMEDIATE ACTION.”
Wilcox’s report says the medical records show by the time Walter Jordan received radiation therapy, the cancer had already penetrated his skull.
“It is difficult to fathom,” Wilcox writes, “how a squamous cell carcinoma could grow so large and so deep that it breached the skull and reached the brain, if the treating provider and the specialist dermatologist is vigilant and practicing within the standard of care.”
Corene Kendrick, an attorney with the Prison Law Office, had Wilcox review Walter Jordan’s records.
“Mr. Jordan’s care and what happened to him is sadly very emblematic of the deficiencies that we see in the medical care that’s being delivered by ADC and Corizon,” she said, “from the inadequate specialty care to the lack of pain management for somebody with terminal cancer, and also the failure to take basic preventative measures.”
Walter Jordan’s records show he was prescribed SPF 50 sunscreen by a provider. But a nurse reversed the order for sunscreen and suggested Walter Jordan buy his own, lower SPF sunscreen at the prison commissary.
In his review, Wilcox notes that Walter Jordan experienced “extreme pain throughout the last few months of his life. The medical record also documents Corizon provided him only Tylenol with codeine dosed twice per day.”
Wilcox writes this was not an appropriate treatment plan for a patient with cancer pain. “This pain management style with intermittent pain relief from a short-half-life medication is just wrong. It is actually the opposite of how cancer pain should be managed,” he said. “Appropriate management of chronic severe cancer pain should be accomplished using long-half-life opiates of adequate strength to ameliorate the pain.” In his report, Wilcox says there are “many options for adequate pain management,” adding “there is no excuse for therapeutic nihilism (undertreatment) of cancer pain that appears to be the norm in the Arizona prison health care system.”
Arizona is not the only state where Corizon’s health care practices have come under scrutiny. The company has been sued hundreds of times in multiple jurisdictions across the country.
Randall Berg is the executive director of the Florida Justice Institute. His organization has sued Corizon multiple times over claims of malpractice while the company had a contract to treat prisoners in Florida state prisons. Berg says Corizon was “not providing medical care known to be necessary and just generally exalting the profit motive over the provision of medical care.” He says Corizon was reluctant to refer Florida prisoners to outside specialists. “Any time they need to send somebody outside the prison walls, they have to pay for it,” Berg said of Corizon’s obligations under its contract with the state of Florida. He believes the company has a pattern of denying these referrals to save money.
“We have a client who is in severe need of pain medication and we had to consistently sue the department of corrections and Corizon to obtain pain medication for him,” Berg said.
Stephen Swartz was recently released from custody after serving 10 years in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye. He believes delayed care for prisoners with chronic illness is a serious concern in Arizona prisons. He says failures in the state prison health care system prompted him to become a named plaintiff in the Parsons v. Ryan case. “I experienced, personally, the lack of medical care – the inadequate medical care – the wrong medical care – so I wanted to bring about change,” he said. Swartz says he watched his cellmates and countless friends suffer and die from delayed medical care over the years.
Dr. Jan Watson has seen a lot in her career. She’s worked on trauma teams in emergency rooms, practiced internal and occupational medicine. For most of her career she was an OB-GYN. “Yes, I used to deliver babies,” Watson said, beaming with the joy of recalling the families she got to work with. Birth, death and everything in between – after more than 30 years in health care, Watson thought she had seen it all. But then she took a job at an Arizona state prison. “I had never seen anything like that in my life,” she said, her eyes taking on a distant gaze as she recalled her experiences. “I had inmates dropping left and right. It was kind of overwhelming and scary at first, but then, I just – became accustomed to it.”
“I got to attend two days of my training, and then I got pulled to actually start seeing patients,” because she was the only doctor for more than 5,000 prisoners. Watson says the pace was overwhelming. “They would schedule 20 patients for you daily for multiple medical problems.”
Watson says there were also frequent emergencies – called an ICS, which stands for Incident Command System. “I call them inmate down situations, that was easier,” Watson said. She says prisoners would frequently come into her clinic unconscious. “I have no idea what’s going on. Then my nursing staff don’t know what they’re doing, and I’m trying to tell them what to do and assess the patient.” She tried to hold things together the best she could – with ace bandages and splints and a sense of humor: “But it’s just total chaos,” Watson said.
However, emails provided by Watson show that the shortage of providers was significant. In his request for overtime workers, a Corizon employee notes that in October 2017 there were more than 800 outstanding requests for medical treatment.
Watson says getting medicine for prisoners was a constant challenge. “There were several inmates who had cancer and so they were taking morphine,” Watson said. Prescriptions were supposed to be filled by PharmaCorr, a correctional pharmacy provider owned by Corizon Health, but Watson says medications would often run out. “So then I would have to write prescriptions and someone would have to go to Walgreens and get the morphine to tide them over until PharmaCorr could send us some more,” Watson said.
As a provider at the clinic, Watson could refer prisoners to a specialist. When she first started at the prison, she says most of her referrals were going through. But then she says in August 2017, after she accepted an extension to her contract, things changed. “It was just, ‘No, no, no,’ all the time,” Watson said of the denials she would get from Corizon.
“I got an X-ray, he hit his hand, and he had fractured his hand. That should have been a no-brainer,” Watson said. But she says the doctor who reviewed the case wrote back, asking her to find out how much rotation was in the displaced bone. started to v
“I’m thinking, ‘What difference does it make? The man’s hand is fractured. He should go to ortho.’” She says the referral was denied, so she pushed back. “We went round and around about the angulation on this bone. We’re now weeks out after the fracture – I had never heard of such.”
She says another denial of care involved a prisoner who came in with a black eye because he had fallen and hit his head.
“This man would have episodes where he would have over 10 seizures in a row, and we couldn’t control him with all of the anticonvulsants. He was on like three or four.” Watson says she asked for an EEG – a brain scan – and it was denied.
“So we have this man who goes around and periodically has these episodes of multiple seizures and we couldn’t get him to a neurologist.” Finally Watson says she reached out to her medical director and asked why the prisoner couldn’t be sent to the hospital. “It cost too much money,” Watson says was the response. So she asked what the plan was to keep the prisoner from hurting himself.
“‘Oh, well, we’ll order a helmet for him to protect his head,’” Watson says was the suggestion for treatment from the medical director.
But Watson says she kept pushing back on the denials.
“I would go search medical journals to find data to support my side,” she said. “But I’m just thinking, ‘Why do I have to go through this to get care that is so obvious.’”
Watson says she was asked to cancel referrals to an infectious disease specialist for HIV patients because, according to Corizon, they did not have a contracted infectious disease specialist.
Even if a referral was approved, Watson says that was still no guarantee the patient would receive care. She says Corizon would ask her to cancel referrals that were approved but had yet to be completed so the company could avoid fines.
Watson says the Utilization Management team at Corizon would suggest what were called alternate treatment plans, which she says often suggested the provider on site handle the request. “I am the provider on site,” Watson said. “I’m the one who wrote for this!” The Arizona Department of Corrections and Corizon Health are being monitored by a federal judge as a part of the Parsons v. Ryan settlement agreement. But Corizon keeps its own numbers. Watson says a woman responsible for the monitoring was open with her disregard for the process. “When we had this provider meeting – she even said at the meeting, ‘Well, let me tell you how to beat the monitor,’” Watson said.
“A gentleman came in with chest pain,” Watson said of a prisoner. “He was known to have heart disease.” His symptoms, combined with an EKG, made Watson think he was having a heart attack, but she couldn’t get approval for him to go to the hospital for hours. After the referral was finally approved, Watson’s fears were confirmed. The prisoner had suffered a heart attack. Watson says her medical director, Dr. Rodney Stewart, reviewed the prisoner’s test results from the hospital and conveyed the treatment plan to her and the prisoner. “He told me that’s what had happened with the patient. He had had a heart attack. None of his arteries could be bypassed and so there was nothing that could be done,” Watson said of her conversation with Stewart.
“I was told if he ever came in with chest pain again to just let him die, keep him comfortable, because there was nothing we could do about it,” Watson said. She says she couldn’t believe what she had heard. Corizon says Dr. Stewart “denies having made such a statement.” Watson stands by her memory of the statement, which she said was made in the presence of others, because it was so alarming. “You know, this wasn’t like a do not resuscitate,” Watson said. “This was, if the man had chest pain – I’m not supposed to treat that? I’m just supposed to let it continue and let him die?”
Watson says she pulled the prisoner’s medical record and looked at the notes from the hospital. She says what she saw conflicted with what the Corizon medical director told her. “It didn’t say none of the arteries could be bypassed,” Watson said. “It only said one couldn’t. One could. And another could benefit either from medical management and/or a stent.”
Watson created a new plan. She prescribed the prisoner nitroglycerine to take the next time he had chest pains. And she told him she wouldn’t let him die. Shortly after she changed the prisoner’s plan, Watson says she was called in to a meeting with Stewart and the area medical director. “I was told I was not doing things ‘The Corizon way,’” Watson said. She says when asked what the “Corizon Way” was, she was given a list of don’ts. “Don’t make so many referrals. Don’t order so many splints. And I had to be faster. Don’t talk so much to the inmates,” Watson said.
Corizon says there is no company policy entitled the Corizon Way, but confirms Dr. Stewart said it. “When Dr. Stewart used this term,” Corizon said, “he was referring to applicable patient care standards. He merely used this phrase as a term of art.” At this point, Watson told her medical director she was going to have to have a talk.
“And he says – ‘Well, you and I?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m going to have to have a talk with myself, because every day you come up with something that prevents me from providing care.”
Watson put in her 30-day notice and left Eyman in early October 2017. During her five months at the prison, she sent multiple emails requesting more resources and asking why her patients were being denied care. She says she never filed a complaint within the company because she didn’t think it would do any good. She believes Corizon Health was too focused on its bottom line. “Corporate-run medicine is really big on numbers, but numbers do not tell you anything about the quality of care,” Watson said. “And if they actually went about it the other way and actually focused on, let’s deliver good health care, the numbers would fall into place.” Watson says she would return to prison health care under different management. She says she misses the prisoners. She liked them. After a while, Watson said she didn’t even think of them as prisoners anymore.
“A patient is a patient,” Watson said. “Doesn’t matter where they are or who they are, I have to treat them the same.”
Ed. Note: Prison Legal News has repeatedly covered poor health care in Arizona prisons. [See: PLN, May 2018, p.28; April 2017, p.48; Feb. 2016, p.56; July 2013, p.1; Sept. 2012, p.34]. The class-action settlement over inadequate medical treatment in Arizona’s prison system remains ongoing. In June 2018, the ADC was held in contempt by the federal district court overseeing the settlement, which found “wide-spread and systemic failures.” The court imposed $1.4 million in fines. Corizon reimbursed the state for the fines, and state prison officials have appealed the contempt finding to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 2, 2018, KTAR.com reported that the attorneys representing prisoners in the case are now seeking $1.6 million in fees and costs, in addition to the $6.1 million they have been awarded since the class-action lawsuit settled. See: Parsons v. Ryan, U.S.D.C. (D. Ariz.), Case No. 2:12-cv-00601-DKD.
Most Americans do not realize that many prisons are built atop of toxic waste dumps or landfills. Here in Delaware, D O C staff is advised to bring in bottled water. Most inmates, of course, cannot afford bottled water.
My friend Steve Hampton is acquiring information needed for a class action lawsuit.
Excerpts from the Article:
In July 2018, former prisoners and their family members in Arkansas raised concerns about a variety of issues at a hearing with state lawmakers, included concerns about the water quality at several prisons. One ex-prisoner said the water at the East Arkansas Unit was not even “fit to take a shower in.”
Water quality problems should always be a red flag when a prison’s water system is operating far beyond its capacity. But the Arkansas Department of Corrections preferred to dodge a thorough investigation rather than address a possible crisis.
Prisoners had been complaining of brown, dirty water at four state prisons, the Tucker, East Arkansas, Cummins and North Central Units and their nearby satellite camps, which use a common water system. Collectively the facilities house around half the state’s almost 18,000 prisoners.
According to news reports, the Tucker Unit, which captured headlines in November 2017 when several prisoners took two guards hostage, has a daily maximum demand of more than 890,000 gallons of water – far above the system’s capacity of 590,000 gallons per day.
Water quality experts said the discoloration was likely due to high levels of iron and manganese, according to reports they reviewed from the Arkansas Department of Health.
Following a public records request by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Health Department released inspection reports that confirmed high levels of iron in the raw well water at the East Arkansas Unit, and iron and manganese at the Tucker Unit. The levels at the Cummins and North Central Units did not raise concerns.
The reports were based on water samples taken in May and June 2018, finding iron levels at the Tucker water treatment plant as high as 2.25 milligrams per liter, well over the federally-established limit of 0.3 milligrams per liter. Measurements of manganese ranged from 0.02 to 0.04 milligrams per liter, above the 0.01 milligram federal limit.
The limits for iron and manganese set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are part of “secondary maximum contaminant levels,” which are not enforceable by the EPA. The agency says on its website that violations of secondary standards may cause people to stop drinking the water due to smell or taste, “even though the water [is] actually safe to drink.” Prisoners, of course, have to use the water available to them.
Along with high levels of iron and manganese in the Tucker Unit’s water system, inspectors noted “sand in the raw well water.”
However, one researcher who analyzed the Health Department’s inspections raised concerns that the reports were not an accurate assessment of prison water quality problems because few of the samples came from the taps that prisoners use, where old and corroded pipes may result in significantly higher levels of contamination.
“We are unable to say anything about the quality of the water that is consumed by the prisoners since the data sheets do not indicate that any samples were collected at the taps accessed by prisoners,” noted Wendy Heiger-Bernays, a researcher at Boston University who reviewed the water quality reports.
The North Central Unit, located near Calico Rock, Arkansas, was the only facility where water samples were identified as coming from taps in prisoner housing units.
The Arkansas Department of Corrections is reportedly working on a $500,000 project to add a water filtration system at the Tucker Unit.
Delaware prisons boss says system is protecting public, rehabilitating inmates – Balderdash! – With My Email to Reporters – kra
Reading such nonsense is enough to make one puke. I sent this to my list of about 300 reporters:
Hi there, 11/10/18
I just read a front page story where Commissioner Phelps says that Delaware D O C is operating just fine. Hogwash! As a Delaware reporter, you are being played for a fool. So are reporters nationwide! Phelps was the Warden when I was there, and he was a big part of the problem! You think he is suddenly going to do a 180 and tell you the truth?! I heard them say a thousand times: “we stick together”!
YOU should read: Culture of Cover Up – Prison Abuse = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/culture-cover-prison-abuse/
The story about understaffing is also nonsense. Overtime pay is used to reward the guards who commit crimes and those who do not report them to authorities or to the press. New recruits quit in droves when they see all of the crime, other wrongdoing, and cover-up committed by C Os. Not only have I seen all of this, but two guards with whom I am in touch regularly tell me so.
Put a reporter in there undercover, and see for yourselves. Anywhere in Delaware D O C, for 4 to 6 weeks, and YOU will see. Take a trip to SCI, the hotbed for cruelty toward inmates. Be fooled no more.
Ken Abraham, Founder, Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, (CCJ), former Deputy Attorney General, Dover, DE , 302-423-4067
Excerpts from the Article:On the morning Perry Phelps was sworn in as commissioner of Delaware’s prisons, the state Department of Correction experienced what many describe as the worst day in its history. Now, more than a year and a half after the 18-hour prison riot that ended in the death of a correctional officer, the state prison system remains so woefully understaffed that 330 inmates will be shipped to neighboring Pennsylvania facilities.
Also, drones flying over the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna possibly dropped contraband inside prison walls, triggering lockdowns.
And a lawsuit has been filed against the DOC alleging abuse and torture at the hands of correctional officers with the approval of state officials.
Through all that, Phelps said the Delaware prison system is completing its mission to protect public safety and rehabilitate offenders.
“But we don’t want to push it to the limit where that becomes in jeopardy,” Phelps said outside the courtroom Friday where three inmates are standing trial on murder and riot charges as part of the Feb. 1, 2017, uprising.
He said post-traumatic stress from the riot has prompted many retirements and continues to be a problem for prison staff, one that the prison system is trying to address through better pay and recruitment efforts. Phelps, along with members of the DOC’s upper echelon, have attended much of the trial at the New Castle County Courthouse, where the jury and the public have been offered a better glimpse into the 18-hour siege.
Lt. Steven Floyd was killed during the riot while two others were badly beaten, and a counselor was held captive for the entirety of the siege.
Problems continue to the plague the DOC. Phelps, a long-serving employee of the Delaware Department of Correction, said he and his team are actively working to address them.
Though the transfer of 330 inmates to Pennsylvania correctional facilities isn’t ideal for the state, Phelps said it is one way Delaware is able to combat its largely understaffed prisons.
The state announced the transfer from the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center this week – which will cost $40,000 per day – which Phelps hopes will put a severe dent in the large overtime costs.
Between retirements and recruiting difficulties, the DOC is forced to rely on overtime to adequately staff the prison, which has been cited by correctional officers and inmates as one of the causes of the uprising. When the prisons aren’t fully staffed, programming for inmates and visitations are often the first items to be suspended.
“We have a lot of folks who are dealing with some challenges” in the wake of the riot, Phelps said. “And double shifts and forced overtime, that doesn’t help, and it doesn’t help the safety and security of the facility.”
With increased recruiting efforts – which include sending two recruiting officers to other states in search of correctional officers – Phelps hopes the two-year contract (with three one-year extension options) will give the DOC the time it needs to prepare for the return of these inmates.
Prisons have long been criticized for moving inmates to locations that make it difficult for them to see family and friends. The transfer announcement has prompted this same concern locally.
There were no working cameras inside Building C when the siege took place, which meant what happened inside the prison wasn’t captured on surveillance footage.
Stephen Hampton, a Dover attorney, filed a class-action lawsuit last week on behalf of the men house inside Building C during the takeover. The suit argues that inmates were beaten and tortured both by law enforcement during the recovery of Building C and in the weeks and months after the riot.
In the lawsuit, inmates describe ongoing assaults, shakedowns and harassment at the hands of correctional officers. Many say conditions have only worsened since the riot.
“They’ve been beaten and tortured and mistreated horribly since then,” Hampton said. Recently, reports of these assaults have worsened, according to Hampton.
“It’s unfortunate because correctional officers would like better working conditions and would like to be treated well, but in the same way that inmates acting out isn’t going to get them what they want, correctional officers acting out isn’t going to get them what they want either,” the lawyer said.
“If they want a reasonable place to work, they can’t go around beating these guys and mistreating them.”
A 49-year-old inmate, Luis Cabrera, died Thursday morning at Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington. Cabrera was housed in Building C during the uprising and was considered a potential witness to the riot.
Prison officials did not say how he died, other than that it occurred in the infirmary and that no foul play was suspected.
I ask myself daily, when will this crazy mass incarceration shit end!? Then I remember that it took us more than 40 years to make a royal mess of the c j system, and it will take a while to fix it. Oh yes, I remember when it worked well. Nary a pregnant Mom in prison!
Excerpts from the Article:
What’s the worst mistake you’ve made as a mom? Sleeping through a night waking? Driving above the speed limit? There is likely something. But you wouldn’t expect your mistakes to land you in prison. Prison — a system in which 2.3 million people are swept up, 219,00 of them women — is for bad people, we’re told. Those who break the rules. “It appears the system can be avoided with good behavior, wrote Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, her book on the true intent and effect of the justice system. “But herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are sinners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives.” A closer look reveals we are destroying the lives of incarcerated mothers and their children when we ensnare them in the criminal justice system — for no real gains.
Take Nevada mother Leslie Turner, whose child was 4 months old when she was arrested for an outstanding parking ticket, as Nevada Current reported in 2016. She spent a week in jail, unable to afford the $1,500 bail, and was given Tylenol to handle the discomfort from being unable to breastfeed her infant. Or take Debra Harrell of South Carolina, a mother arrested for leaving her 9-year-old daughter at a park while she went to work, per WJBF, and as relayed by Reason. Or the thousands of New Yorkers who are arrested for turnstile jumping — a $2 crime.
Romper spoke with leading advocates for justice reform and found that, along with the young black and brown men whose lives are changed after they’re arrested and imprisoned for low-level offenses, many mothers are swept up into the prison system. And when a mother is incarcerated, her children and wider family suffer the consequences.
PEOPLE ASSUME PRISONS ARE KEEPING THEM SAFE, INSTEAD OF DEVASTATING MOTHERS, FAMILIES, AND ENTIRE COMMUNITIES.
Currently, there are 219,000 incarcerated women in prison, and 80 percent of those women are mothers. A reported 2.7 million children have an incarcerated parent in the United States, and at least 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration in their lifetimes, so the cost of incarceration has undoubtably impacted mothers, and their children, the most.
“Incarceration doesn’t just impact the individual who’s incarcerated,” Amy Fettig, deputy director of the National Prison Project with the ACLU, tells Romper via phone. “It has long-lasting impacts on their families, friends, and their communities.” When you imprison a primary parent, the child can very well be funneled into the foster care system or sent into the care of a distant family member.
The prevailing notion among many Americans is that if individuals didn’t want to “do the time” they shouldn’t have “done the crime.” It is this notion that allows the fear of criminals to sustain and, in many ways fuel, the industrial prison complex. People assume prisons are keeping them safe, instead of devastating mothers, families, and entire communities in the name of political power and private profits.
Michelle Bent, a member of the Moms With Babies pilot program at an Illinois prison that allows incarcerated women to keep their newborn babies with them for up to two years. The program has s a zero percent recidivism rate.
“We know that actually incarceration has no positive impact on public safety beyond a certain point,” Fettig says. “The recidivism rates in most communities are 70, 80, 90 percent, and that’s because prison is a brutalizing experience and people do not receive rehabilitative care. They don’t learn jobs they can use when they return to the community.”
More than half of incarcerated women are in prison for drug and/or property offenses, calling into question just how “rehabilitative” incarceration even is.
“We know across the board that a lot of reasons why women are in prison have to do with issues related to drug abuse, issues related to mental health, and issues related to domestic violence,” Monifa Bandele, Vice President of Maternal Justice Programs at MomsRising, tells Romper via phone. “So many of the women who are in prison don’t actually need to be there; they need to be getting the services and treatments for those things.”
According to Bandele, prisons do not keep communities safe but, instead, establish a false sense of safety. And that smokescreen of protection and security is being paid for by mothers and their children.
“It amazes me how they’re able to push policy through fear that isn’t grounded in anything,” Bandele says.
In 2016, at least 39 percent of incarcerated persons were behind bars with “little public safety rationale,” according to TIME. That’s 576,000 people and $20 billion dollars that could have been saved on housing them in prisons and jails across the country; money that could have been invested into communities by funding public schools, after-school programs, childcare, mental health programs, and drug rehabilitation centers.
A reported 450,000 people are currently being held in detention facilities because they’re either too poor to pay bail, or are being held without bail. Sixty percent of women in jail are there awaiting trial.
“The bail system is set up, frankly, to make money for private contractors,” Fettig says. “And so if people who are poor — and you know, by and large, the people who are poor are women with children — cannot pay even a few hundred dollar fines, we lock them up for very, very minor crimes. So, even if they don’t actually go to prison and they’re not convicted of anything and the charges are dismissed, in the few days or weeks that they spend in jail because they’re too poor to pay to get out they’ve likely lost their jobs, their kids have been placed in someone else’s care, and they’ve essentially lost their lives.”
Here’s what mass incarceration does do, though. It costs around $182 billion dollars a year, and paid private prisons an estimated $639 million dollars in 2014 alone. Counties that house prisons are able to count incarcerated populations in the Census, giving them additional political power (before the rise of mass incarceration, this had only a tiny statistical effect).
That web follows a mom, and her children, for the rest of their lives, according to Bandele. “Even if they’re able to resolve their cases and not end up in prison, there’s a tentacle connected to them in child protective services that they cannot escape. They have to report to a social worker, they get site visits, they come under this extra scrutiny that could easily get their kids sucked into foster care — just because they have an arrest and they didn’t have the money to not be out of jail.”
A case worker holds 8-month-old Skyler, whose mother is in the Moms With Babies pilot program. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
When a child is taken away from their primary caregiver, they experience what is known as an adverse childhood experience (ACEs). As a result, children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to become incarcerated themselves. They’re at a higher risk of developing depression, an increase in aggression, antisocial behavior, psychological problems, and low educational attainment. “Your ACEs impact your academic achievement, impacts your school completion, impacts whether or not you’re going to be part of the school to prison pipeline, and it also impacts your emotional and psychological health,” Bandele says. Incarcerating a parent is an adverse childhood experience for their child; one that is often, overlooked but carries devastating consequences.
As parents we’re told making mistakes is inevitable; that to err is par for the course and, in the end, makes us better parents. But for many moms, predominantly black moms and mothers of color, the prosecution and punishment of minor mistakes in the name of community safety appear to be grievously hurting the very people we claim to protect.
Yes, this is life in America’s prisons. Tell me something I don’t know! ALL of the prison health care contractors suck dog farts – with the big ones and the smaller local ones, because there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY, they withhold care to maximize profits!
Then, when the shit hits the fan in the form of a lawsuit by family members of a dead or one-eyed inmate, they lie like hell to cover up the truth!
Excerpts from the Article:
The woman sitting in a Chino prison cell had screaming fits every 15 minutes for four hours before she finally lay on the floor and ripped out her own eye. Guards rushed in amid blaring alarms, but they were too late. She had swallowed it.
The woman, identified only as Inmate Patient X in federal court documents, had not been given medication despite being listed as “psychotic” while at the California Institution for Women in Chino in 2017.
A report written by Dr. Michael Golding, the chief psychiatrist for the prison system, detailed the gruesome incident in a report made public last week to highlight how the state allegedly has failed to care for some of its most vulnerable inmates. Golding alleges in the 161-page document that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has concealed issues surrounding the adequacy of mental healthcare and staffing in prisons from officials who could mandate changes.
“This group has created a biased and inaccurately positive picture of what is actually a troubled system of care,” Golding wrote.
The report, based on his visits to various state prisons, was filed in federal court as part of a lawsuit against the state that has spanned nearly three decades and asserts that psychiatric care in prison is a constitutional right. The report has come at a precarious time for the state prison system. A federal court determined in 1995 that prisons had failed to provide proper treatment for thousands of mentally ill inmates.
A judge at the time ordered the appointment of a “special master” to oversee psychiatric care reforms and to work with experts to develop improved programs. Headway in recent years has led both sides to anticipate a return to state oversight, but the latest report could throw a wrench in that plan.
Michael Bien, an attorney representing state prisoners receiving mental health treatment in the case, said he was prepared to accept a proposal to reduce psychiatric staff positions by nearly 20% when he received Golding’s report. That agreement has since been called off.
“The bigger impact is we felt we were ticking off the last couple of issues before we could end the case,” Bien said. “Now I have to go back and check all those assumptions. The most serious thing is the allegation that misrepresentations were made to the court. That really forces all of us to question what’s been going on.”
One of the alleged central problems Golding identified in his report is that patients frequently aren’t being seen on time or in spaces that give them the freedom to talk openly with mental health staff.
The report alleges that the state Department of Corrections mischaracterized how frequently inmates are seen by psychiatrists in data provided to the court in 2017 and 2018, which boasts that 90% and 94% of appointments in those years, respectively, were on time. Golding contends that less than 50% of inmates are seen on time by mental health staff.
Patients also aren’t brought to psychiatry appointments in confidential offices, Golding wrote. Instead, the psychiatrist searches the prison yard looking for patients or communicates with them through a crack in a nearly solid metal cell door where conversations can be overheard by others, according to Golding. The system, he wrote, is “by no means conducive to good patient care.”
Sometimes inmates face significant delays between scheduled appointments because they are transferred to new prisons, Golding said. With each transfer, the agency resets the clock on appointment times, so if an inmate is transferred multiple times, he or she can wait up to nine months between psychiatrist appointments, despite the court’s having mandated that patients wait no longer than three months between appointments, the report states.
Mental healthcare inside prisons isn’t a waning issue for the state. A study published by Stanford Law School in 2017 notes that even as the overall state prison population declines, the prevalence and severity of mental illness among those in the state prison system is on the rise. More than 30% of California prisoners currently receive treatment for serious mental disorders, an increase of 150% since 2000, according to the study.
Golding alleges another key problem is that medical decisions, including the drugs inmates need and the type and frequency of care they require, often are assigned to psychologists inside prisons rather than psychiatrists, who are medical doctors. This can lead to discrepancies in decisions that can be problematic for patients, he said.
In the case of the woman who ripped out her eye, the psychologist who evaluated her did not call a psychiatrist to administer drugs, despite doctors later saying the patient had given every indication that she needed medication immediately even if it was given by force.
“The tragedy is that any competent psychiatric physician or general medical physician would have medicated the patient, and likely the patient’s eye would still be in her head had that happened,” Golding wrote in his report.
I deliberately sent myself to prison in Iceland – they didn’t even lock the cell doors there – It Works! – kra
I have many articles about the prisons in Scandinavian countries. Guess what, all of you “lock them up and throw away the key” people, the humane treatment of inmates WORKS!
While not all of them are as lax as this one, many are far, far more humane than prisons here, and in those countries their crime rates are MUCH lower than ours! Legislators and prison officials here should follow their lead! Our current policies of mass incarceration do NOT reduce crime, and cost YOU a fortune!
Excerpts from the Article:
Iceland is a small country tucked away on the edge of Europe. It has a population of only about 340,000 people. Iceland’s prisons are small too. There are only five, altogether housing fewer than 200 prisoners. Of these five, two are open prisons. I had visited them both before, and they left me intrigued. I wanted to get to know them better.
When I asked the prison authorities in Iceland if I could spend a week in each of the two open prisons they were surprisingly receptive. I got the impression that they quite liked the idea: a foreign academic who wanted to get under the skin of these places by assuming the role of a prisoner. They promised to keep a room free for me. I was grateful and excited. I was going to experience both prisons from the inside. While I knew that they were calm and safe, they do house people convicted of some serious violent or sexual offences. How do prisons without walls or fences even work?
Iceland’s open prisons are simply very open. The absence of security features was striking. The first prison I stayed in, Kvíabryggja prison in the west of the country, had little in the way of perimeter security. There is, however, a sign instructing passers by to keep out – mainly aimed at tourists.
I could simply drive up to the small, mostly single-storey building and park up. I then walked in (yes, the doors were open) and said hello. And I was immediately made a dinner by one of the prisoners, who recognised me from a previous visit. I spent the week experiencing daily life as a prisoner.
It was clear from the outset that prisoners and staff do things together. Food is important in prisons and in Kvíabryggja the communal dining room is a central space. It is where prisoners have breakfast, lunch and dinner together with staff. Prisoners cook the food, and with an officer they do the weekly food shop in a nearby village. Food was plentiful and tasty. It is considered bad form not to thank the prisoner chefs for their efforts. And you have to clean up after yourself.
Despite this emphasis on communal living, a prisoner’s room is their own space. And with in-room internet (with obvious restrictions) and a mobile phone, some prisoners, like teenagers, spend a lot of time in there. Prisoners have their own room keys but they leave their doors unlocked, pretty much at all times. This is a potent symbol: life in Kvíabryggja is all about trust. I found that difficult at first, knowing that my passport, rental car keys and research notes were all in my room. In the end I did what prisoners do and even slept with the door unlocked. I slept like a baby. And looking out of my room window every morning I saw sheep, grass and snowy mountain tops.
The outside space in Icelandic prisons is important as well. The iconic and much photographed Kirkjufell mountain loomed large to the east and I was next to the sea, with a nice beach and plenty of grassland. This allows for the prisoner to feel “away” in some sense while still being on the premises. Prisoners, I was told, like to walk up to the entrance gate, where the only barrier to the outside world is a cattle grid. It yields that strange feeling of sensing freedom, just one footstep away.
it was the informality of the interactions that struck me most. We watched football together. Rather than being shy or furtive I saw sex offenders shouting at the screen when Iceland played. Vulnerable prisoners were having banter with drug dealers. I saw problematic drug users chatting and giggling with staff. And I felt I fitted in, both as a researcher and as a person. I got teased a bit of course, as all prison researchers do. But prisoners also shared gossip and many prisoners and staff alike shared very personal, even intimate feelings and stories with me. When Pétur gained his freedom and his dad arrived to pick him up, he hugged many prisoners and staff goodbye, including me. We all got a bit emotional.
Kvíabryggja is of course still a prison. Many prisoners feel frustrated, angry, anxious, struggle with their health and worry about the future. But the environment is safe and the food a delight. There is contact with the outside world, generous visiting arrangements, and there is always a listening ear. As prisons go, this means a lot.
This remote prison and with no more than 20 prisoners, and around three staff around at most at any time, is a tiny community. Prisoners and staff smoke together in the cramped but ever busy smoking room. They need to get on.
Life is defined by these informal interactions. This is not necessarily easy. This prison population is highly mixed. There are female prisoners, foreign nationals and prisoners of pensionable age or with a disability all mixed in together.
As far as I could see the general conviviality is extended even to the sex offenders – a population almost universally reviled in prison and at risk as a result. Sometimes this conviviality is a stretch. But it did seem to work. Despite tensions inherent in any prison, people here got on.
The importance of getting on is a take away message. This is far harder to achieve in large busy prisons where new prisoners arrive and leave every day. But just like community policing works best if most public interactions are friendly, a prison is a more positive place if most interactions are friendly and benign too. Where prisoners and staff share space, stories and a sense of community the chances of prisoners changing for the better are much improved.
The Iceland open prisons are, to a degree, unique. Perhaps it is their size. Perhaps it is their population. Perhaps it is the relaxed nature of the regime. Or perhaps they typify Iceland, a country where historically, you need to rely on each other to survive the harsh climatic conditions of the North Atlantic. Whatever it is, living together, in this calm, remote, tiny prison, in a strange way, made sense.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-11-deliberately-prison-iceland-didnt-cell.html#jCp
Examiner Who Said Rainey’s Burned Body Showed No Trauma Got a Promotion and an Award – OUTRAGEOUS! – kra
Get to work to get her FIRED!
Excerpts from the Article:
Earlier this month, New Times revealed that the Miami-Dade corrections officer who in 2012 locked inmate Darren Rainey in a scalding-hot shower until he died had gone on to become a patrol cop with the Miami Gardens Police Department. The backlash over his employment with MGPD prompted the city to begin the process of firing Clarke. Yet there is another key player in the Rainey drama who has also escaped much public scrutiny: Dr. Emma Lew, the medical examiner who said Rainey’s horrific death wasn’t anyone’s fault.
Four years after the scalding, in 2016, Rainey’s autopsy report was finally released. Although gruesome photos of Rainey’s body show huge portions of his skin peeling off his back, legs, and arms; blistering red skin; and exposed tissue, Lew concluded his death at Dade Correctional Institution was an accident.
Video footage and statements from inmates to investigators revealed that on June 23, 2012, Florida Corrections Officer Roland Clarke locked inmate Rainey in a shower with scalding-hot water as punishment for defecating in his cell. The schizophrenic 50-year-old was serving a two-year sentence for cocaine possession, and inmates interviewed by homicide detectives said he was screaming inside the shower for two hours. By the time Clarke returned to let Rainey out, he was dead. The shower locked from the outside, and the temperature and water controls were also outside the shower.
Lew’s determination on December 30, 2015, that Rainey’s death was an “accident” caused by “complications from schizophrenia, heart disease, and confinement to a shower” were key to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Rundle’s decision not to file criminal charges for Rainey’s cruel death. As reported by the Miami Herald, Lew claimed Rainey’s body had no burns and no trauma.
Now, Lew’s personnel file shows she has since received a promotion, an award (for which Rundle nominated her), and a raise. Through a spokesperson, Lew declined to be interviewed for this story.
Four months after Lew’s autopsy report was completed, Mayor Carlos Gimenez sent a letter to the Board of County Commissioners appointing Lew interim director of the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department following Hyma’s death. Then, on September 13, 2016, Rundle and her second-in-command, chief assistant of the Felony Division, Kathleen Hoague, wrote a letter praising Lew and nominating her for the 2017 In the Company of Women Award for being an “Outstanding Woman in Government.” With that appointment came a 10.4 percent pay raise, Lew’s personnel records show. In October, less than a year after she released an autopsy report stating Rainey’s body showed no burns or trauma, Lew’s biweekly paycheck increased from $9,058 to $10,000 — to about $260,000 per year.
On March 17, 2017, nearly five years after he was killed, Rundle’s office closed the investigation into Rainey’s death. Rundle concluded he was killed in an accident caused by complications of his mental illness and “confinement in a shower.” A memo cited Lew’s autopsy report as a major reason for her decision. That same month, Lew was awarded for being an “Outstanding Woman in Government.”
Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College; and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote Lew letters congratulating her on the award. Lew’s personnel file is filed with certificates of appreciation from the Board of County Commissioners, Miami Dade College, and the Metropolitan Police Institute, which cited her “outstanding support” in internal affairs investigations. In June, 2017, Nova Southeastern University in Broward County offered her an affiliate faculty position with the university’s College of Allopathic Medicine. Her role in the Rainey controversy is not mentioned.
Similarly, the corrections officer who locked Rainey in the shower advanced in his career with little culpability for his role in the brutal death. After being hired by the Miami Gardens Police Department in 2014, he was investigated for everything from pursuing personal relationships with women while on duty to losing evidence sought by homicide detectives after a drowning victim’s death. He even crashed his police cruiser into another car after running a red light. He was nominated for the Dade County Police Benevolent Association’s Officer of the Year Award in 2017.
As reported by the Herald, Alexander Lopez, a paramedic who saw Rainey’s injuries the night of his death, wrote that Rainey was found “with second- and third-degree burns on 30 percent of his body.”
Lew told the Herald in 2017 she was so confident Rainey’s injuries were not burns that she took only one skin sample to check. Two forensic pathologists interviewed by the Herald debunked the autopsy report by pointing out numerous faults in Lew’s work. Both said photos clearly showed evidence of burns covering Rainey’s body. They also questioned Lew’s decision to take only a single tissue sample. Asked by the Herald about where on the body she had removed the sample, Lew did not answer.
The pathologists also noted a bruise on Rainey’s right hand, corroborating inmates’ claims he was banging on the shower door, begging for help. Lew did not mention a bruise in her autopsy report.
On January 26, 2018, the family of Darren Rainey settled a civil lawsuit against the State of Florida, Clarke, and others for $4.5 million.
Those who abuse people over whom they have absolute control are the worst!
Excerpts from the Article:
William F. Lawrence, a former Utah Department of Corrections guard, apparently thought that hiding out in a tropical paradise would spare him from a prison term after he pleaded guilty to forcible sexual abuse in December 2007. Prior to his sentencing hearing, Lawrence fled Utah and resettled on Kauai, Hawaii, where he assumed the identity of “John Phillips” and lived quietly for over a decade.
After a cold case investigation put the U.S. Marshals on Lawrence’s trail, authorities were able to apprehend him as he lunched at a McDonald’s on the island on November 27, 2017. He was jailed in Hawaii pending extradition to Utah.
Both Lawrence’s initial crime and his subsequent flight from justice were influenced by his law enforcement background; he was arrested for using his badge to intimidate and coerce a woman to perform sexual acts with him. According to Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Derryl Spencer, “As a former law enforcement officer, Lawrence knew the strategies used to track down fugitives. He was able to elude law enforcement for years – until now.”
On April 23, 2018, Lawrence faced a judge in a Utah courtroom and was sentenced to zero to five years in prison. Ironically, that was the same sentence he would have received had he accepted his punishment a decade ago.
Inmates’ civil lawsuit adds complexity to Vaughn prison riot trial – It Adds The TRUTH! – kra UPDATED with Letter on 11/6/18
God Bless my friend and great lawyer, Steve Hampton, for having filed this lawsuit and so many on behalf of inmates.
Truer words than these were never spoken: “The DOC hasn’t held themselves accountable in the past, I don’t see why they would this time,” said Mr. Hampton. “The only DOC employees fired or dismissed are the ones that have some sort of disagreement with management — someone seen as a trouble-maker who is going to raise complaints. If you were going to fire people for incompetence or malfeasance, there’s a substantial portion of DOC management that should go right now.”
I have SEEN what an out of control agency is Delaware D O C. It is a state agency run amok.
I don’t see that this lawsuit really complicates the criminal trials, … not at all.
Excerpts from the Article:
The ongoing criminal trial to decide the fate of 18 inmates charged in connection with the 2017 Vaughn prison riot is complicated on its own. But, a new layer of complexity was added Wednesday when Dover attorney Stephen Hampton filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of more than 100 inmates housed in C Building, the site of last year’s riot.
Though none of the inmates indicted with perpetrating the riot are included in the civil suit — two were at first, but were subsequently dropped — many of the witnesses being called to testify in the trial are current plaintiffs.
The 80-page complaint outlines “inhumane conditions” at Vaughn, the state’s maximum security prison near Smyrna, and states that for many years prior to the riot that left Correctional Officer Lt. Steven Floyd dead, prison personnel “illegally abused, mistreated and tortured inmates with virtually nothing being done by their JTVCC (Vaughn prison) or DOC supervisors, to stop them.”
It’s unclear what, if any, conflicts the overlapping cases may create, but concerns about cross-purposes were raised during the criminal trial Thursday.
Defense attorney Ben Gifford, who’s representing inmate Deric Forney, sought permission from Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. to quiz inmate witnesses about their beliefs related to their pending civil suit. Though he doubted that the suit created an actual bias, Mr. Gifford said he was concerned that certain inmates may believe they have a “pecuniary interest” in the criminal trial’s verdict.
“I’d like to ask them: do you believe the outcome of this trial is important to your civil complaint,” Mr. Gifford said to the judge.
Prosecutors objected, saying they didn’t see a substantial connection.
Judge Carpenter provisionally sustained the objection — admitting to have not yet reviewed the complaint himself.
“I’m not sure where the bias is,” he said.
However, to some degree, it’s already affected protocol. Larry Sartin, an inmate who’s both an eyewitness to the riot and a plaintiff in the civil suit, arrived to testify with state-appointed counsel in the court room on Thursday. The judge explained to Sartin that if any questions made him feel uncomfortable, he would be afforded the ability to speak immediately to his attorney — which up until Thursday had apparently not been a concern for the several other inmates who testified.
Concerning any logistical or legal concerns created by the recently filed civil suit, the state gave a resounding “no comment.”
The state’s Department of Justice, Office of Defense Services, Governor’s office and Department of Correction all declined to comment on the inmates’ lawsuit.
For his part, Mr. Hampton said he feels that inmates being called as witnesses in the criminal trial are unlikely to exhibit a bias.
“I can’t imagine that the outcome of the trial will make any difference in a lawsuit about how they were treated after the riot,” he said. “If anything, their appearances as witnesses could potentially hurt them if they testify with no immunity and the state decides to charge them with conspiracy or prosecutors think they lied and decide to charge them with perjury.”
As far as any logistical burden is concerned, Mr. Hampton said he suspects that if the civil complaint gets the jury trial it demands, the criminal cases for the 18 inmates will likely have already been completed. The 18 inmates are scheduled to stand trail in five separate groups with the last one set to start in February.
Mr. Hampton said he’s hoping for an outcome that sees his clients compensated for the “criminal assault” he claims they suffered and, ideally, DOC held accountable to the point where the department undergoes serious reform.
“Ideally the end result is that DOC reforms itself and doesn’t allow such a lackadaisical shop where everyone does as they please,” he said. “There’s no accounting or oversight as far I can tell.”
Delaware Gov. John Carney and ex-DOC Commissioner Robert Coupe were among the defendants named in the lawsuit, along with current commissioner Perry Phelps, several wardens and a host of other DOC staff from a major to correctional officers.
Aware of Gov. Carney’s Independent Review of prison conditions leading up to the riot and subsequent initiatives rolled out by DOC administrators to address systemic ills, Mr. Hampton said he believes very little has been accomplished. Worse, Mr. Hampton says, is the DOC appears to have made no effort to examine the actions of its staff leading up to, during and after the riot.
“The DOC hasn’t held themselves accountable in the past, I don’t see why they would this time,” said Mr. Hampton. “The only DOC employees fired or dismissed are the ones that have some sort of disagreement with management — someone seen as a trouble-maker who is going to raise complaints. If you were going to fire people for incompetence or malfeasance, there’s a substantial portion of DOC management that should go right now.”
Opaque on their own examination of the riot, the DOC claimed an internal affairs investigation into the matter was “ongoing” last year. In October, DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell declined to comment on the status of that investigation.
Mr. Hampton said he hopes to force the DOC into transparency regarding the issue.
“The first thing that’s going to happen with this lawsuit is that we’re going to be asking the state for an awful lot of paper discovery,” he said. “They have to have paper records on everything that’s happened or there will be the extremely good question: ‘You guys did all this and you don’t even have any documentation?’ Every time there is a use of force, incident, disciplinary issue, medical visit or grievance filed they have to file reports on it. There’s going to be a mountain of paper that will have to be produced and gone through before we really get to talking about depositions. It’ll take awhile.”
The Whole Story:
Letter to the Editor or Editorial Submission – Now is the Time for Accountability! – 11/6/18
A recent headline suggested that the class action lawsuit recently filed by Dover attorney, Stephen Hampton, added “complexity” to the ongoing criminal trials of several inmates concerning the death of corrections employee, Mr. Steven Floyd.
We write to explain that this lawsuit, a massive case detailing many outrageous abuses against more than 100 inmates, seeking to hold accountable dozens of state official, adds the TRUTH to the situation! And I, Ken Abraham, a criminal trial attorney with hundreds of trials under my belt, see no real “complexity” added to the criminal cases … none at all.
We have been all too aware of ongoing abuses in our prisons for years, and we have frequently called the problems to the attention of officials who could DO something about it. It is long past time that somebody does, before more prison staff and/or inmates die due to preventable violence.
The massive indifference to the situation harms YOU, every reader. Read this to understand how: Prison Abuse – Why Massive Indifference is a Massive Mistake – kra = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/prison-abuse-massive-indifference-massive-mistake/
This comment by Mr. Hampton is perhaps the understatement of the decade. Truer words were never spoken: “The DOC hasn’t held themselves accountable in the past, I don’t see why they would this time,” said Mr. Hampton. “The only DOC employees fired or dismissed are the ones that have some sort of disagreement with management — someone seen as a trouble-maker who is going to raise complaints. If you were going to fire people for incompetence or malfeasance, there’s a substantial portion of DOC management that should go right now.”
Clearly, the killing of a corrections officer is wrong… but the public should know why Mr. Floyd died. He died because of decades of inmate abuse. Everything from spitting into their food, to constantly taunting and insulting them, to assaults and beatings for no reason, to murder (See the case of Ron Shoupe, where the coroner said “homicide by D O C staff”!). The abuse must end.
Equally frustrating and cruel to inmates is the abominable “health care”: deliberate neglect of serious illnesses and injuries, and the total lack of effective mental health treatment. Regarding mental health, inmates are given a piece of paper telling them how to breathe and relax. That’s it!
As the complaint points out, many men at JTVCC have been punched, kicked, and pepper sprayed while they were restrained and fully compliant with all of the instructions given them.
All of us should care that DOC has such disregard for the law and the inmates under its supervision. Our state government has taken a “business as usual” approach to the atrocious things happening in our prisons, probably sensing that there are not many votes to be had through real prison reform. As it is now, anyone employed at DOC who points out the real problems, gets demoted or fired. Our hope for this lawsuit is that it inspires someone with governmental authority to have the political will to acknowledge the problems at DOC and address them head-on.
We would be remiss if we did not also remind all readers that more prison jobs, more education and rehabilitative programs, and better pre-release programs would benefit all of us. 96% of all prisoners will be released. The better prepared they are to reenter society, the less recidivism – future crime – we will see.
We come together to write this because so many of these problems clearly are illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral.
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General and founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
Reverend Christopher Bullock, Founder and Pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, former President of the New Castle County Council, former Chairman of the Delaware Black Caucus, New Castle, DE 302-654-8818
Ms. Lori Alberts, President of Link of Love, a support group for inmates’ families, and Chairman of the Kent County Partnership for Reentry, Smyrna, DE 302- 659-5633
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 weeks, 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.