Another case of entirely preventable tragedy, caused by incompetent and/or malicious D O C staff and “health care” workers. Cases like this, in prisons all over America, cost YOU, the taxpayer, BILLIONS of dollars annually!
Excerpts from the Article:
On February 24, 2020, the families of four Alabama state prisoners who committed suicide as they languished in isolation cells in the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against DOC officials, Wexford Health Sources and MHM Correctional Services, the DOC’s contract providers of medical and mental health services. They alleged that a lack of mental health treatment and use of untrained and unsupervised mental health workers in the DOC led to their family members’ deaths.
Billy Lee Thornton, Ryan Rust, Matthew Holmes, and Paul Ford were DOC prisoners suffering from severe mental illness who were incarcerated in segregation cells prior to their suicides. During their incarceration, mental-health care for DOC prisoners was provided by MHM and Wexford (after mid-2018).
Prior to the four suicides, an Alabama federal court issued a remedial order and opinion in a civil rights lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center over conditions of mental health services “simply put … horrendously inadequate” and in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Briggs v. Dunn, 257 F.Supp.3d 1171 (M.D. Ala. June 27, 2017).
… the families of the four prisoners filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the DOC ignored the remedial court order and allowed understaffing, overcrowding, and the use of untrained and unlicensed mental health care providers to effectively deny the prisoners in isolation mental-health care.
“The Alabama corrections officials named as defendants along with the mental healthcare providers even failed to comply with remedial mental health procedures to which they consented and agreed to have memorialized in federal court orders,” McGuire said. “The defendants can no longer rely on excuses such as staffing shortages and poor administrative discipline. They must now be held accountable for the deaths of humans who suffered so greatly from the state’s failure to provide adequate mental health care, that suicide appeared to them to be the only option. Meanwhile, these state defendants effectively stood idle—indifferent to the mental health needs of these desperate inmates—and over and over again, suicide was indeed the tragic result.”
According to court documents, the DOC is overcrowded at 175% of design capacity and understaffed by as much as 68% at some prisons. MHM and Wexford mental health care staff also was understaffed despite the 25% increase in the mental health caseload between 2008 and 2016. Further, DOC officials denied requests to increase the number of approved mental health care positions.
As of September 2016, the DOC had only half of its security positions filled. This resulted in the cancellation of mental health appointments and group activities—especially for segregation prisoners. Further, a lack of proper training led to many prisoners with serious mental illness being improperly classified as not mentally ill during intake, leading to them being segregated and disciplined.
All four prisoners had histories of serious mental illness and multiple suicide attempts. None were given treatment prior to their successful suicide attempts. One can only hope this lawsuit helps prevent further tragedies. See: Head v. Dunn, Case No. 2:20-cv-00132-SMD, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ala.).
Whitey had it coming, but prison guards have a duty to protect everyone. Even a murderous scumbag like Bulger.
Excerpts from the Article:
When the 89-year old, wheelchair-bound Bulger was murdered in federal prison in Hazelton, West Virginia, in 2018, it was a sadly predictable end to a life spent both dueling with law enforcement and also profiting from his association with its dark underbelly in Boston.
Bulger, the acknowledged head of the feared Winter Hill Gang in South Boston in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, sparred with the rival Patirarca crime family for control of the rackets in that city, and was rumored to have cooperated with members of the FBI to undercut those rivals. His two alleged prison assailants had ties to the Patirarca organization, also referred to as the Italian Mafia.
The lawsuit was filed, “pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971), against the Defendants who include the Warden of USP Hazelton and other additional named and unnamed correctional officer employees of the BOP at United States Penitentiary Hazelton (“USP Hazelton”).” It further alleged that, “James Bulger, Jr. was subjected to a risk of certain death or serious bodily injury by the intentional or deliberately indifferent actions of the defendants and was thereby caused to endure a violent death at the hands of another inmate within hours of his arrival at the facility.”
Bulger was first imprisoned in 1959 for armed robbery and truck hijacking, and while at an Atlanta penitentiary claims to have been admitted into a program where federal authorities injected him and other individuals with LSD for psychological mind-control studies apparently in return for a shorter sentence. He was paroled in 1963, and quickly rose to the top of the Boston criminal hierarchy.
While there, it was rumored that Bulger worked out an arrangement with multiple Boston FBI agents to feed information to law enforcement in return for favorable treatment. This arrangement lasted from the early-1970s until 1994, when Bulger was indicted for racketeering, and his cooperation with the government was discovered by defense attorneys representing other defendants. Bulger fled, and was not arrested until 2011. He was indicted in federal court on 32 counts of firearms and racketeering, and in 2013 received two life sentences, plus five years.
Bulger, who at the time of his arrest was 81, was already in declining health, and was transferred to different BOP prison facilities that reflected his medical needs and his long sentence. After spending years at USP Coleman, his medical status was upgraded, despite his declining health, permitting his transfer to Hazelton.
The wrongful-death court filing alleges that he was not a cooperator or “snitch,” and that federal law enforcement officials, embarrassed by the questionable activities of FBI agents in Boston, did their best to blame that misconduct on Bulger. “Years of litigation widely covered by local and national press led to numerous deals between prosecuting authorities and James Bulger, Jr.’s associates, involving lenient sentences for murders in an effort to garner factual support to prosecute and convict FBI Agent John Connolly and promote the narrative that James Bulger, Jr. was a high-level FBI informant who told on friends, associates, and his competition in the Italian mafia.”
The fact that most of the alleged violent crimes perpetrated by Bulger would have in fact been prosecuted as state crimes, over which federal authorities would have no jurisdiction, lend credence to this allegation. However, as the lawsuit claims, testimony in his 2013 trial “included claims that James Bulger, Jr. gave the government information about Frank Salemme, the one-time leader of the New England Mafia, the boss of the Gambino Crime Family, and Raymond Patriarca the longtime boss of the Patriarca crime family, (which) ensured that James Bulger, Jr., was likely to be incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).”
There, the lawsuit alleged, he “would face violence at the hands of any number of deadly criminals, their countless associates, and/or any inmate that might want to make a name for himself inside the BOP.” After a government witness was permitted to testify that Bulger was a pedophile, he was put at even greater risk.
The lawsuit also calls into question the suspicious transfer of Bulger to Hazelton, where understaffing has contributed to its reputation as “misery mountain,” and a “gang-run” prison yard. This is the facility into which the 89-year-old invalid was placed.
The lawsuit further notes that BOP “employees are all aware that Federal law, 18 U.S.C. §4042(a)(2)-(3), requires the BOP to ‘provide for the safekeeping, care, and subsistence of all persons charged with or convicted of offenses against the United States’ and to ‘provide for the protection…of all persons charged with or convicted of offenses against the United States.’” It further alleges that the transfer of a high-profile prisoner like Bulger, who was on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list for many years, would have to be approved by not only officials at his former prison, Coleman, his new prison, Hazelton, but also by high-level supervisors at the BOP Central Office in Washington, D.C.
Bulger’s life has received a lot of media attention based upon his criminal activities in South Boston and the public airing of the unsavory details of his close association with corrupt federal law enforcement. That, coupled with his ability to evade capture for almost two decades, was a double black eye for the FBI and the Department of Justice.
As Bulger discovered, however, federal law enforcement does not take kindly to public embarrassment, and has a long institutional memory. The Department of Justice, despite the public naming of the suspects in Bulger’s murder, has yet to prosecute any of the individuals believed to have been involved. See: Bulger v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, Case No. 3:20-cv-00206-TSK-RWT, U.S.D.C. (N.D. W. Va.).
Nationwide, this problem costs YOU billions of $$$$$$$$$. The problem is the Union contracts. READ: Put Reforms Into State Prison Guards’ Contract and READ: Editorial Submission or Letter to Editor – Reform Police Contracts! – 1/10/16
Excerpts from the Article:
A state prison watchdog says the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been delaying employee investigations that lead to firings and other discipline, driving up the state’s costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Prison employees have kept getting paid for months after they are accused of things like lying to investigators, abusing spouses, driving drunk or engaging in sexual misconduct with prisoners or coworkers, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General.
The delays got worse in the first half of this year, costing the state about $312,000, according to the report. In an 18-month review of cases, the inspector general’s office found discipline delays cost over $850,000. The office reviews the cases every six months.
When prison wardens or other authorities identify wrongdoing by employees, they’re supposed to refer it to the Office of Internal Affairs within 45 days, according to the report. But prison officials increasingly are taking much longer than that — nearly 10 months, in one case — to make the referrals, according to the report.
In one case, a correctional officer allegedly video recorded himself and an office worker engaged in a sexual act and then shared the video with another officer without the office worker’s consent. That officer shared it with other officers. The case wasn’t reported to the Office of Internal Affairs for 192 days, according to the report.
Delays from the time the officer was accused of wrongdoing to when he signed a settlement agreement and resigned cost the state $55,074, according to the report.
From January through June of 2020, the department paid out more than $312,000 in salary and benefits to employees whose dismissal was delayed, according to the report. That was on top of more than $500,00 worth of similar delays in the cases from 2019.
Inspector General Roy Wesley said the department’s performance in handling the investigations had worsened, while acknowledging difficulties associated with the coronavirus, which has spread in prisons.
“Especially against this backdrop, we believe it remains critical that the department appropriately and timely address allegations of employee misconduct and criminal activities,” Wesley said in a letter to state officials accompanying the report.
Reminds me of when I led a successful boycott of prison phones in DE to protest the high rates, about 6 years ago. If you want to know how to do it CALL me at 302-423-4067.
The costs of everything in prison have been onerous. But the high cost of communicating is truly counter productive: all studies show that inmates with regular contact with friends and family are FAR less likely to re offend than others!
Note that the article mentions “the 2.3 million persons imprisoned in the United States”. All the talk about reducing mass incarceration is BS. That was the number 10 years ago! You know why? Because for every 1 person incarcerated, 29 people benefit financially, and they belong to unions which spend BILLIONS of dollars opposing anything that would open prison doors!
Excerpts from the Article:
For those with loved ones in prisons, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the desire for communication to ensure the well-being of the imprisoned. The exorbitant cost of such calls is straining already-stretched budgets.
Most prisons have curtailed visitation, leaving families to communicate via phone calls, video chats, emails, and letters. Because prisons are cramped-quartered Petri dishes, families seek communication more often with their incarcerated loved one. The cost for services to communicate from prison are expensive, and as most prisoners rely on their family for money, those costs are born by their families.
Dominique Jones-Johnson said the cost of communicating with her father has strained her budget to the breaking point. Her father, Charles Brown, Jr., is serving time at Louisiana State Prison. A 15-minute call from the prison costs $3.15. By May 2020, Jones-Johnson had accrued nearly $400 for calls from the prison. The local calls would be free for anyone in the state but prisoners.
Jones-Johnson, who founded the charity Daughters Beyond Incarceration, said “the money stressed me out, but not talking to him stresses me out more.” That stress increased when Brown tested positive for COVID-19 in September 2020, and he was placed in isolation and not allowed to make phone calls.
Options for video chats and emails are an expensive option. In Florida, JPay charges up to $0.39 per email and a 15-minute video visit costs at least $2.95. Jones-Johnson must pay $7.50 for a 30-minute video call with her father. A 2019 report by the Prison Policy Initiative found the average cost of a 15-minute call from local jails was $5.74. The Here Institute in 2017 found that video calls were $12.95, an amount so expensive that 90% of prisoners never even tried to use the service.
Communication is critical for the 2.3 million persons imprisoned in the United States. “People need to be in touch more than ever,” said Bianca Tylek, executive director of the advocacy group Worth Rises, “and they have less money than ever to pay for it.”
A Louisiana Department of Corrections spokesman said the agency “understands the importance of inmates maintaining contact with loved ones.” It said it has offered 30 minutes of free calls during the pandemic. Securus said it had offered “191 million free minutes of phone connections” since the pandemic began. Offering free phone calls, however, is something Securus has fought. In 2019, Securus spent $40,000 to hire lobbyists to oppose Connecticut state Representative Josh Elliott’s legislation. Elliot’s bill would make phone calls from Connecticut’s prisons free. After Securus’s lobbying became public, it reversed course and it promised to not oppose the legislation.
HRDC has been at the forefront of pushing to reduce the cost of prison phone calls. Its lobbying resulted in the Federal Communications Commission lowering the cost of interstate calls. A rule lowering the cost of intrastate calls was reversed by a federal appeals court.
Families of those with loved ones have no choice but to pay the high cost of those calls if they want to speak to their incarcerated loved one. “It’s a constant struggle,” said Jones-Johnson. “But what else can I do?”
We know that what DOC officials say cannot be trusted. We know that some guards, as soon as they are out of camera range, remove their masks! Steve Hampton is a Delaware lawyer with decades of success in suing DOC officials, and we communicate often.
I get phone calls similar to the emails below all week long.
An email from Steve to me recently, also sent to Rep. Sean Lynn at Leg Hall:
From: Stephen Hampton <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2020 11:52 PM
To: Lynn, Sean M (LegHall) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Updated DOC COVID-19 numbers
12/07–466 inmates positive for COVID in DOC prisons, an increase of 92 in the last 6 days.
From the reports coming from inmates the actual numbers probably are probably much higher than the reported numbers. Inmates have reported that people with symptoms of illness are not being tested unless they also have a fever, and men in tiers where men have tested positive are not being tested. All problems made worse when DOC stopped quarantining all new arrivals.
250 inmates positive at JTVCC. 27 positive at BWCI. 185 positive at HRYCI. 3 at SCI. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
12/04–96 total staff positive, up 15 since 12/01.
A big problem has been the inconsistent testing of staff. C/O’s apparently can only be tested if they consent. For some reason these numbers are good only through the 4th, not the 7th.
36 staff positive at JTVCC. 13 positive at BWCI. 24 positive at HRYCI. 8 positive at SCI. 3 positive at the Plummer Center. 3 positive at P&P Hares Corner. 5 positive at P&P Cherry Lane. 2 positive at SCCC. 1 positive at Steven Floyd Academy. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
12/01–374 inmates positive for COVID in DOC prisons, an increase of 83 in the last 4 days.
233 inmates positive at JTVCC. 17 positive at BWCI. 123 positive at HRYCI. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
81 total staff positive, up from 59 on November 24th.
39 staff positive at JTVCC. 18 positive at BWCI. 18 positive at HRYCI. 6 positive at SCI. 3 positive at the Plummer Center. 2 positive at P&P Hares Corner. 5 positive at P&P Cherry Lane. 2 positive at SCCC. 3 positive at Steven Floyd Academy. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
Grady and Hampton LLC
6 N. Bradford St.
Dover, DE 19904
Email from Steve to me 3 days ago, with relevant emails he received from various people inside:
DOC hasn’t mentioned COVID-19 in a press release since 11/24 or updated the number of active COVID-19 numbers since 12/1. No doubt there will be a significant increase in active cases when they do release the numbers again. I continue to get alarming messages concerning DOC’s handling of Covid-19 and you will see some below. The picture is one of chaos and little oversight of the situation.
My son…who is on the compound said that a number of people were removed from his building (not tier) yesterday, and that they’re continuing to allow them to have rec even with people that have symptoms…..As of Tuesday they were still using a broken thermometer to take people’s temps…..From the rumor mill the previous healthcare provider destroyed a bunch of equipment when their contract ended, and this new company hasn’t replaced it.
It has gotten so much worse in my son’s building. Six more men were removed last night. All were kitchen workers who were replacing kitchen workers who tested positive…. men who were tested but results not yet in, were allowed to work, and were moved to other areas. After moving them and allowing them to work, then the results came back positive. Rather than test, quarantine until results came in, they were moving people everywhere. Meantime, they now infected other men. It is out of control.
Temps are being taken twice a day NOW – useless, if the IR thermometer is not calibrated correctly!… All range from 96 to 98 degrees…. One would think that one person would be at least 98.6, although I suspect many are running higher temperatures.
The masks they received weeks ago (perhaps a month ago now) are dangerous at this point. A doctor on GMA today addressing safety with masks and cold temperatures stated that if masks hold moisture, get wet (breathing), droplets will stick to the masks. He said that if cloth, masks should be washed immediately. If disposable, throw them out – don’t wear them again. The inmates have never had a way to clean their masks and have had to wear them way too long….
Another person was removed from the tier last night. Temperatures are being taken twice a day, but still range from 96-98 degrees…. One would think that when 11 men have been removed because of a positive result for Covid, it warrants a proactive approach by testing everyone on a tier/building to try and contain it. They are testing only when one gets so sick it is obvious there is a problem. And while so sick and awaiting test results, these men have continued working and going to other buildings. No doubt the positive numbers would be much higher than reported and more testing done if IR thermometers were calibrated properly.
Well, sadly, the State is allowing the spread by moving men all over the place. One more was removed off the tier yesterday. They took his temperature, which was below normal, and the nurse apparently commented to him that he was fine. He came back at the nurse that he has been sick for the past two weeks, so he was not fine! They removed him. He never came back, so he must have tested positive. Had he not spoken up, they would have left him. Most people are asymptomatic so whether one has a temp is not sufficient in determining whether he has Covid. They did temp checks once yesterday. Today, none have been done so far.
Meals are delivered to the top of the tier and all the men file into the hallway to get their food to take to their cell – can’t social distance in a hallway crammed with men. The men still have the same masks they have worn for a month, at least, so that isn’t protecting them any longer. The State allows them out for rec time together, so, again, the State is doing nothing proactively or effectively to stop the spread…
Inmate.. overheard C/O Amaro tell some inmates on the tier that administration told the C/Os and guards that if they have tested positive but are asymptomatic they must come to work or be fired. Mr Amaro works on the grounds crew. They are not testing all of the inmates even though several of them have been moved off of her tier because they were covid positive and also on C tier in building 21 they have moved six people out of there that were tested positive. I have a friend in there, … …who told me that there are quite a few on his tier(C) are sick and have not been tested or had their temperatures taken.
Grady and Hampton LLC
6 N. Bradford St.
Dover, DE 19904
Email to me from Steve on 12/8/20:
12/08 382 inmates positive for COVID in DOC prisons, an apparent decrease of 84 since yesterday.
154 inmates positive at JTVCC. 31 positive at BWCI. 192 positive at HRYCI. 4 at SCI. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
HOWEVER, this decrease is all based on the number of positives going down at JTVCC from 250 to 154 overnight. I have been told that perhaps this apparent drop is simply based on the way DOC is counting positive tests.
If they took a large number from a specific date, and then using the new criteria Delaware Public Health adopted today, regarding stay home times, count 7 days if no symptoms and a clear test at day 5 …or 10 days . However those early “recovery” dates put out by the CDC a week or 2 ago- were drafted for people where there was an economic hardship, or frontline people that are hard to replace like physicians / nurses working in COVID units and such .
Even if using counting criteria designed for frontline workers and people with hardships is part of the reason for the decline, it does not explain how the symptomatic offenders dropped from 26 to 13 overnight at JTVCC and doesn’t explain how the numbers at HRYCI, BWCI and SCI all went up overnight. It also doesn’t explain how the number of positive staff increased by 12 since 12/04.
12/07 108 total staff positive, up 12 since 12/04..
36 staff positive at JTVCC. 8 positive at BWCI. 33 positive at HRYCI. 9 positive at SCI. 6 positive at the Plummer Center. 3 positive at P&P Hares Corner. 3 positive at P&P Cherry Lane. 3 positive at SCCC. 2 positive at Steven Floyd Academy. 2 at Hazel Plant facility. 1 positive at Court and Trans. 1 positive at DOC admin bldg.
ALSO, a reliable source sent me this morning:
As of 12/7: Bldg 22 and 23 are full. Over flow of ~20 are in the infirmary. A decision is being made whether to make a third building, Covid exclusive. (I think that they are hoping some of the current inmates will test negative, to prevent the need for a third building)
There are inmates hospitalized.
91 CO’s are positive.
Again, they have not stopped the movement of CO’s in their work assignments from contaminated areas to non contaminated areas. Pods, desks, chairs, computers, walkie-talkies, phones, bathroom flushing handles, doorknobs-all should be decontaminated And mandatory masks, goes without saying.
Conveniently it seems that the numbers went down overnight at JTVCC and DOC won’t have to open up another building for COVID. That is one of the reasons I remain highly suspicious of DOC’s numbers and suspect they are undercounting inmate cases.
I also received this message from yesterday written by an inmate at JTVCC.
We are in a mental health unit and they have been using this building to house people from P.A. and people from Gander Hill. They put us all at risk. This was the only building that did not have Covid cases but as soon as they put people here from other facilities it hit this building hard.
DOC has not put out a press release since 11/24 that even mentions COVID-19 cases.
Quite predictable. NO prison in America has effective mental health treatment programs! They often put mentally ill inmates in isolation, and all to often the result is suicide.
With my incarceration, it struck me immediately that humans are social animals, and the stripping away of contacts is a real punishment which many inmates are not conscious of. You ARE conscious of it when thrown into an isolation cell, and I saw many men fall apart.
READ It’s not about What they Did to Me. READ IT!
Excerpts from the Article:
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has been challenged regarding care for its mentally ill prisoners for decades. Rather than improve under a class action lawsuit dating back to 1990 (now Plata v. Newsom) and seeking constitutionally acceptable mental health care for prisoners, conditions continue to slide, exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Mental health problems are especially egregious at CDCR’s California Institute for Women (CIW) in Chino. This is a 1,398-bed prison, currently operating at a slight overcapacity with 1,500 prisoners. Although females currently make up only 4 percent of CDCR’s population, they represent a disproportionate 11 percent of the suicide rate.
Prior to COVID-19, a group of CIW prisoners receiving mental health treatment had dayroom access 23 hours a day. By mid-March, the women found themselves confined to their cells for 23 hours a day, sometimes longer. They stated that prison staff told them nothing about lockdown procedures, when they would be allowed recreation and phone calls to family members or even when they would be allowed to shower.
On April 6, 2020 three major events occurred at CIW. Staff there began wearing masks, the prison received its first positive result on a COVID-19 test and housing wings were quarantined as a result. No information about or reasons for these measures were shared with the prisoners.
Sudden deviations from routine operations are unsettling for prisoners not experiencing mental health problems. They can be, and frequently are, terrifying for prisoners suffering from mental illness. Newly isolated mental health patients responded with screaming and banging on doors for many hours before prison staff explained that the changes to their routines and circumstances were because of COVID-19.
Michael Bien is the lead attorney in the ongoing 30-year-old mental health class action lawsuit against CDCR. He acknowledged that because of COVID-19, “Rather than treat[ing] their mental health,” the pandemic has led the prison health care industry “to basically just [try] to keep people alive.”
As onerous as isolation is to a mentally healthy prisoner, it is exponentially worse for someone suffering mental illness. Once a prisoner becomes symptomatic with or tests positive for COVID-19 and remains asymptomatic, isolation is the next step. Once the infected person is removed from the housing area, the individual remains on medical restriction for 14 to 30 days.
Many CIW residents are refusing COVID-19 tests to avoid the specter of isolation. “People aren’t scared of COVID-19,” stated prisoner April Harris in a communique to The Washington Post. “They are scared of the treatment of isolation,” she added.
Suicide attempts appeared nearly immediately after the first COVID-19 case at CIW. The first was not successful. Another attempt followed soon after. During May 2020, a transgender man was isolated with COVID-19. He asked to see a mental health care provider. He tried to slit his wrist, then set his room on fire.
Counselor Bien with co-counsel are pushing the state through their lawsuit to reduce CDCR’s mentally ill prisoner population with an overall prisoner reduction.
State to pay inmate $105,000 over beating by prison guards – Another of hundreds of such incidents every year! – kra
All of this mayhem in our prisons costs YOU millions of dollars … with litigation, settlements, etc.
THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR BEATING SOMEONE LIKE THIS. The guards should have gotten years of prison time!
Excerpts from the Article:
The state of Wisconsin has agreed to pay a prison inmate $105,000 to settle his federal civil rights lawsuit over a beating that led to the convictions of two guards.
Kuan Barnett, 20, is serving a seven-year sentence for armed robbery. In 2018, he was assigned to the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage. On Oct. 25 that year he was beaten in retaliation for spitting water on two guards, one earlier in the day and one the day before.
Barnett, who now resides at a different Wisconsin prison, sued in April.
“This was an especially vicious and premeditated assault,” said his attorney, Ben Elson of People’s Law Office. “We commend the Attorney General for recognizing it as such by fairly compensating Mr. Barnett for his injuries.”
Elson said the settlement “provides some measure of justice and sends a message that brutality by prison guards will not be tolerated.”
The Department of Justice did not return a message seeking comment about the settlement, which has not yet been finalized in court.
Barnett’s suit brought claims of conspiracy, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
It named as defendants the two guards who attacked him — Russell Goldsmith and Michael Thompson — and four others the suit claimed either aided or failed to intervene in the assault. Goldsmith and Thompson reported they saw Barnett trying to hang himself with a sheet, and when they entered his cell they realized he had been only trying to lure them in. The guards also said Barnett took a fighting stance and they responded in self-defense.
They later admitted that was a lie. Goldsmith resigned and Thompson was fired after the completion of an internal investigation. Both were later charged with crimes
Goldsmith, 65, of Westfield, pleaded no contest to battery and false swearing, each misdemeanors, and was sentenced in October 2019 to 18 months probation. Thompson, 48, of Reedsburg, was charged with felony misconduct in public office, but pleaded no contest to reduced misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and resisting or obstructing an officer and was sentenced to a year of probation.
Barnett appeared by telephone at both men’s sentencings, and described the physical injuries he suffered, and the ongoing mental issues. He asked that each defendant be made to make a written apology.
Columbia County Circuit Judge Andrew Voigt noted the possibility of a civil suit, and didn’t want Thompson to have admitted liability before that.
“So I’m not going to require that at this time,” Voigt said. “Although, certainly if the civil matter gets sorted out in short order, that’s not the worst idea in the history of mankind either.”
Elson, Barnett’s attorney, called the outcomes for each guard “a slap on the wrist, sweet heart plea deals.”
The ACLU urges many changes in DOC, for human decency. I have just a couple of comments to accompany this news: 1) the virus is out of control BECAUSE guards pay as little attention to policy as they do to the law, and 2) one cannot believe a word coming out of the mouth of that lying “scumbag with a title” – “Correctional Officers of Delaware President Geoff Klopp”! He lies like hell regularly.
Some of us know what really goes on in the prison system and dare to speak out!
Excerpts from the Article:
Active coronavirus cases have jumped rapidly among inmates and Delaware Department of Correction staff and contractors, according to recent public updates. There were 374 active inmate cases (more than 90% asymptomatic, according to the DOC) reported Tuesday, up from 81 on Nov. 20.
Staff and medical contractor cases throughout all DOC facilities went from 39 reported on Nov. 20 to 109 Wednesday. The data included prisons, probation and parole offices, community correction centers, among others.
Delaware’s two largest prisons – James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna and Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington – were particularly hard hit recently. From Nov. 20 to Tuesday, combined offender cases at the penal institutions went from 47 to 356.
JTVCC and HRYCI had inmate populations of 1,809 and 1,233, respectively, as of Nov. 30, the DOC said.
As of Tuesday, there were 17 active coronavirus cases among Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution’s roughly 205 inmate population. There were 32 cases at the New Castle-based facility reported on Nov. 20.
No positive inmate cases were reported at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, which held 921 prisoners.
DOC commissioner Claire DeMatteis attributed the quickened pace in cases to the “significant spike in community spread outside of DOC facilities. “Additionally, we know the virus has mutated and it spreads more quickly.” While DOC expressed confidence that comprehensive health and safety measures were being taken prior to the recent spike, “The COVID-19 virus that we’re seeing now seems to spread more easily but with milder symptoms,” Commissioner DeMatteis said. “We are fully confident that we will eliminate the current infections from our facilities and move our inmate patients to recovery. Our facilities know that COVID is now an everyday part of prison operations and we will remain vigilant in continuing to operate our prevention, screening, testing, treatment, cleaning and mitigation protocols to eradicate the threat of COVID-19 in our correctional system.”
On Wednesday, ACLU of Delaware and the First State Chapter of the National Medical Association sent a letter to Gov. John Carney and Commissioner DeMatteis that included policy recommendations:
• Ensuring that incarcerated individuals have access to personal hygiene items at no cost;
• Continuing the sending and receiving of mail and phone calls free of charge;
•Implementing consistent widespread testing for all incarcerated individuals and DOC staff;
• Downsizing the footprint of the prison population and minimizing new admissions; and
• Working with community stakeholders to ensure that people who are released from prison have a safe, accessible place to live, a livable income, and access to health care.
“Tuesday’s announcement (of 471 positive DOC-related cases) paints a somber picture for Delaware’s incarcerated population, as well as for those who work for the Department of Correction,” said Mike Brickner, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware, in a statement.
“We are already among the highest rates in the nation for COVID deaths of incarcerated people. Our leaders must act immediately to ensure that we don’t become the leaders of that list.”
Also, Dr. Shauna McIntosh, president of the First State Chapter of the National Medical Association, said “Governor Carney and Commissioner DeMatteis must work together to act on the public health recommendations they’ve been receiving since the start of the pandemic. “There is no time to waste in enacting these measures to mitigate the impact of the current outbreak and attempt to control any future spread of the virus for the duration of the pandemic.” Policy Advocate Javonne Rich represented the ACLU of Delaware in the letter.
The letter was copied to multiple state leaders and elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and Delaware Supreme Court Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr.
The ACLU also called for expedited release of certain inmates, with public safety and their success factored in:
• Anyone identified by the CDC as particularly vulnerable (over the age of 60 and individuals with immune deficiencies, chronically ill, infirmed) whose sentence would end in the next two years
•● Anyone whose sentence would end in the next six months
• Anyone being held pre-trial for inability to post bail
• Anyone incarcerated on a probation revocation based on a technical violation.
“These measures also include ensuring the efficient operation of the Board of Parole, which just had their first meeting in October 2020 after not functioning for at least eight months,” said the ACLU in a statement.
The ACLU of Delaware pointed to tracking by the Marshall Project reporting that the First State had the third-highest rate of inmate deaths in the nation.
There have been 11 related offender deaths – 10 from serious chronic diseases and one from COVID-19 complications, the DOC said. Seven fatal cases were from JTVCC and four from SCI. A total of 659 offenders and 228 staff have recovered from COVID-19, the DOC said.
The full letter is posted online at aclude.org.
To meet the challenge of responding to the surge of positive cases, the Bureau of Prisons and DOC’s contract health care provider have adjusted work shifts to 12-hour shifts for security staff and medical contractors who work in the COVID-19 Treatment Centers, spokesman Jason Miller said.
Shifts for other staff members are unchanged, according to the DOC.
“DOC’s use of overtime is increasing to cover shifts of staff who are in quarantine but we are not having issues covering shifts,” Commissioner DeMatteis said.
The DOC said that staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19 can’t work until being fever free for 72 hours and at least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms or seven days have passed since they tested positive for COVID-19 (whichever is earlier).
Staff who were hospitalized with COVID-19 are excluded until they have attained 20 days from when symptoms began plus they have been fever free for 72 hours, the DOC said. Individuals who required hospitalization for COVID-19 need a doctor’s clearance prior to return to work.
According to the DOC, it implemented a “comprehensive screening, cleaning, monitoring, testing, tracing, quarantine and treatment protocols before COVID-19 reached Delaware.
“These protocols have continued uninterrupted for more than eight months.”
As COVID-19 grew elsewhere before its arrival here, the DOC said a “comprehensive” protocol for initial screening, cleaning, testing, contract testing and treatment was established. The confined nature of a prison creates its own challenges, the DOC acknowledged.
“In terms of making use of space, DOC has taken advantage of empty and underused housing units to spread out inmates, particularly vulnerable inmates with chronic conditions, and to establish standalone COVID-19 Treatment Centers, designed to hospital standards, to provide excellent round-the-clock treatment to inmates who test positive for COVID-19,” Commissioner DeMatteis said.
“Additionally, the DOC has acted proactively over the past eight months to limit the movement of staff, visitors and inmates into and within DOC facilities where necessary to reduce the risk of transmission.
“Most programming was transitioned from in-person instruction, where inmates co-mingled in programming buildings, to virtual programming where inmates participate virtually from mobile education stations established in housing units.”
Among other precautions and responses to COVID-19, the DOC said it had:
• Urged staff to get tested regularly and has utilized dozens of COVID-19 testing sessions for staff across all DOC facilities.
• Provided all officers and staff with daily access to free COVID-19 test kits at all facility locations.
• This week, DOC medical staff have been handing out test kits to staff in every facility.
• The DOC said it has strongly encouraged staff and their families to receive testing at community testing locations provided by state and local government.
• Some security and medical staff, especially those who are working with COVID-positive inmates, are also wearing additional PPE, including medical gowns and face shields, the DOC said. According to the DOC, the additional step is being taken as a precautionary extra layer of protection for inmates to guard against the transmission of this illness.
The DOC said it continues to work with DPH to acquire rapid COVID test kits and with DPH on pending plans to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.
Also, the DOC said it maintains its own ample supply of PPE, and has access to more through state agencies, including the Delaware Emergency Management Agency if unanticipated need arise
“DOC and its contract medical provider work seamlessly together to meet the testing and treatment needs of our inmates, and we have excellent relationships with outside medical facilities when inmates require specialized treatment or hospitalization outside our facilities,” Commissioner DeMatteis said.
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Hard to believe that federal prosecutors are doing this. ALL communications between lawyer and client should be protected! There are many good reasons why most of them are, and there should not exist this exception, carved out for inmates.
Excerpts from the Article:
Communication between attorneys and their clients has long been protected by federal law. Technology, however, has changed the way people in the legal field communicate in the span of a generation — a pace that has left legal protections behind.
“It’s common attorney sense, a bedrock of American law: when your attorney communicates with you, that’s supposed to be privileged,” said Jumana Musa, director of the Fourth Amendment Center at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
Common sense or not, that principle has not stopped federal prosecutors from prying into electronic communications to pursue convictions. The practice dates to at least 2011 when an incarcerated former Pennsylvania state senator’s emails to his attorneys were used as evidence to lengthen his sentence.
An assistant U.S. attorney in New York’s Eastern District warned defense lawyers in June 2014 that such communications were fair game, writing that “emails between inmates and their attorneys … are not privileged, and thus the office intends to review all emails.”
A bipartisan bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 21, 2020, seeks to end this practice by barring emails from prisoners to their lawyers from being monitored.
The Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act, co-sponsored by Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins and New York Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, drew praise from the American Bar Association, as well as the NACDL and civil rights advocates.
Jeffries has proposed similar bills before but hopes his persistence will be rewarded by the growing momentum of the criminal reform movement.
“Email is the most efficient way for an attorney to communicate with an incarcerated client and should enjoy the same protection as telephone calls and other forms of private communication,” Jeffries said.
The Bureau of Prisons had previously claimed its system lacked the complexity to sort emails to or from specific email addresses. An update in technology by October 2017 prompted then-Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde to inform the Federal Defenders of New York of the change in policy.
“The government now agrees to request that the BOP exclude from most productions communications between a defendant and his or her attorneys and other legal assistants and paralegals on their staff,” Rohde stated.
Several unanswered Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the NACDL led the group to file a FOIA lawsuit in October 2018 to discover to what extent prison emails were being filtered. Proponents of the new bill agree that it would allay fears of government intrusion into attorney-client communications to rest.
No surprise, when guards remove their masks as soon as they are off camera range! What a bunch of dangerous idiots!
Excerpts from the Article:
Positive COVID-19 cases at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center skyrocketed from 45 to 174 in a recent five-day span, according to an update Tuesday. The Delaware Department of Corrction reported that 155 COVID-19-positive inmates at Vaughn were asymptomatic as of Tuesday morning and 19 were experiencing symptoms. The numbers were 21 and 24, respectively, on Friday.
Correctional staff and contractor cases at Vaughn increased from 11 to 20 during the same time, with 19 personnel currently asymptomatic.
The DOC said the additional cases at the Vaughn prison, near Smyrna, were detected in four housing buildings.
The number of positive inmate cases at Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in New Castle increased from 32 to 36 in five days, according to the DOC. Staff and contractor cases went from 12 to 16, with 13 being asymptomatic.
Inmate COVID-19 cases at Howard R. Young Correctional Center in Wilmington rose from two to eight over the same time period. The seven positive staff and contractor cases remained the same; six of those were asymptomatic.
The DOC said inmate COVID-19 testing is ongoing, and approximately 250 inmate results remained pending Tuesday, including 120 at HRYCI, 100 at JTVCC and 30 at BWCI.
“For the first time since COVID-19 reached Delaware, we have active inmate COVID cases at three separate facilities,” DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said in a news release.
“More than 86% of the inmates who have tested positive have no symptoms and those with symptoms are mild. We are staying ahead of these clusters by identifying them proactively, quarantining inmates in COVID treatment centers at JTVCC, HRYCI and BWCI, and providing quality care to get the individuals better.”
All but five of the inmates who tested positive are receiving round-the-clock treatment in DOC’s COVID-19 Treatment Centers at JTVCC, HRYCI and BWCI, the news release said.
Three COVID-19-positive inmates are being housed in the JTVCC infirmary for observation, one is being held in quarantine at HRYCI, and one with underlying health conditions is receiving treatment in stable condition at an area hospital, the DOC said.
Two positive inmates were showing symptoms at Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility in New Castle on Tuesday, and one was present at Sussex Community Corrections Center in Georgetown, according to the DOC.
No current inmate cases were present at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, though asymptomatic staff and contractors rose from one to five from Friday to Tuesday.
Morris and Plummer community correction centers currently have no positive cases among offenders, according to the DOC. Two staff members at the Steven Floyd Training Academy in Dover tested positive and were asymptomatic, the DOC said Tuesday. On Nov. 16, the DOC announced that proactive screening measures and rapid COVID-19 testing identified a cluster of positive cases in one housing building at the Vaughn prison. Days later, the first inmate at Baylor tested positive.
Over the past 10 days, the DOC said it and its health care provider have administered 624 COVID-19 tests of inmates who have either exhibited COVID-like symptoms, have come into sustained contact with COVID-positive inmates or are assigned to housing units where positive COVID-19 test results have been returned.
According to the DOC, 221 of these tests have been returned positive and more than 150 tests have been returned negative.
The DOC said that 86% (191) of the inmates with active COVID-19 infection have no symptoms of illness and 14% (30) are exhibiting only minor symptoms.
The DOC said that more than 1,750 inmates across its facilities are receiving daily symptom checks by medical professionals, including temperature and pulse oxygen level checks, on top of existing prevention, screening, testing and cleaning efforts.
As community spread outside DOC facilities intensified this month, DOC temporarily suspended in-person visitation statewide Nov. 12 and temporarily suspended work-release programs statewide Nov. 18 to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission from the community into DOC facilities.
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