These jackasses must be tried and convicted!
“Bulthouse was arrested for allegedly violating his probation in 2019. He was on suicide watch, and was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes, Nessel said in a news release.” I have seen how this actually works! The guards sleep right through their 8 hour shifts and then awaken and falsify documents, stating that they checked on inmates every 15 minutes! It is totally frucking outrageous!
Excerpts from the Article:
There was another delay in next step for the legal proceedings for five jail workers accused of manslaughter at the Muskegon County Jail.
Paul Bulthouse, 39, died after suffering 22 visible seizures across five and a half hours, April 4, 2019, in jail cell, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said previously.
On April 8, Muskegon County Sheriff Deputies Jeffrey Patterson, Crystal Greve, Jamal Lane — as well as Sgt. David Vanderlaan and former WellPath employee Aubrey Schotts, a registered nurse — were each charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter — failure to perform a legal duty.
Patterson, Greve, Lane, Vanderlaan and Schotts had a probable cause conference April 15 in Muskegon County District Court. The next step, a preliminary examination, has been delayed twice. It was first delayed at the request of defense attorneys.
The second delay was requested Wednesday, June 23, by the Attorney General’s Office. Two of the office’s witnesses would be out of town and unable to attend the examination scheduled for July 7.
The preliminary examination is now scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 21, before Judge Geoffrey Nolan. The hearing will take place in-person.
Bulthouse was arrested for allegedly violating his probation in 2019. He was on suicide watch, and was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes, Nessel said in a news release.
His seizures were visible, Nessel said, yet Patterson, Greve, Lane, Vanderlaan and Schotts failed to check on him or provide any medical care. An autopsy said Bulthouse died of natural causes, due to seizures he experienced in his cell.
Bulthouse died around 5:35 a.m. on April 4, 2019, Nessel said. He was dead in his cell until he was found by deputies around 6:20 a.m. that morning, Assistant Attorney General Melissa Palepu said during a press conference.
Bulthouse’s family filed a lawsuit against the county and agreed to settle the complaint on May 6, court records show. The seizures were triggered by withdrawal of prescription medication, the family’s lawsuit said.
The sheriff’s office did an independent investigation into Bulthouse’s death, which was closed it May 22, 2019. It was reopened June 12, 2019, after reports that a deputy may have witnessed part of a seizure and did nothing. The Michigan Sheriff’s Association was involved in that investigation.
The state Attorney General’s office then started the investigation in August 2019. They reviewed nine hours of video footage, more than 400 pages of medical records and numerous police reports, Nessel said previously.
The four jail workers charged in the case have been reassigned away from direct inmate supervision, Sheriff Michael Poulin said previously. All five defendants were released from jail on personal recognize bonds.
Knowing many probation officers, I sure believe the allegations of misconduct in the lawsuit!
Excerpts from the Article:
In August 2017, a judge weighed sending Kisha Reilly to prison for years, but opted for mercy and a probation sentence that would be one more chance for Reilly to put longtime substance abuse problems behind her.
A year later to that day, Reilly died from a drug overdose.
In that year, her family claims she was coerced into a sexual relationship by one of her probation officers as he turned a blind eye to failed drug tests and helped fund both her drug use and court-ordered rehabilitation, according to a lawsuit filed by her son and widower.
The lawsuit was filed without the representation of an attorney in August 2020. It makes claims of wrongful death and negligence against the probation officer, Dave Turko, as well as the Department of Correction and its probation section. The defendants were only recently served, and, earlier this week, an attorney was appointed to represent Turko, so they have not responded to the allegations of the lawsuit in court.
Because Kisha Reilly is dead and irrefutable text-message evidence is not available, we can’t know the exact nature of Reilly’s relationship with Turko.
But their undeniably unprofessional connection — evidenced by things like hundreds of phone calls back and forth between the two each month — raises questions about the Delaware Department of Correction’s willingness to police its own employees. It also exposes a gap in state law that fails to clearly place consequences on officers who abuse their authority over those getting out of prison or on court-ordered probation.
Armed with phone records, receipts and other evidence pulled from Kisha Reilly’s bedroom months after she died, her family demanded an investigation from the Department of Correction, the state entity that runs probation.
Department policy forbids relationships between probation officers and probationers. Most other states criminally prosecute probation officers for sexual relationships with probationers, regardless of consent. The common thinking is that consent is impossible when a probation officer can instantly strip a person of their freedom.
And while it is a felony in Delaware for a police or correctional officer to have sex with a person in their custody, regardless of consent, neither state prosecutors nor state correction officials say the law applies to such contact between a probationer and their supervising officer.
And so, demands for investigation only led to Turko resigning his job before he could be interviewed by correction’s internal affairs unit, and his oversight of Reilly was never considered by prosecutors.
Turko now works for the Red Clay Consolidated School District at John Dickinson High School in Milltown, according to a school district spokeswoman who would not disclose Turko’s job title. Turko did not return numerous phone calls and attempts to reach him through his ex-wife and the school district. The attorney representing him in the lawsuit filed by Reilly’s family declined to comment on his behalf.
The situation appears to be a failure in accountability.
“It is an interesting question about Delaware law: whether they are reading it right or choosing not to read it to not draw attention,” said Martin Horn, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation and a retired professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The situation leaves her family, particularly her 19-year-old son and her husband, who remains imprisoned for his part in the pawn shop racket that saw Reilly sentenced to probation, grasping for answers and what they see as accountability.
Reilly pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation, theft and drug charges tied to a shoplifting racket run out of the Gold Fever pawn shop she operated with her husband in Middletown. She also pleaded to a DUI she had while out on bail for charges tied to the racket. At her sentencing, prosecutors pointed out her previous 27 arrests in three different states and 14 subsequent violations of probations as reason to lock her up. Her defense attorney pointed out recent efforts and improvement fighting longstanding substance abuse problems.
Evidence seized as part of the investigation into the Gold Fever pawn shop run by Shaun and Kisha Reilly. In court, prosecutors accused the Reillys of participating in a scheme to recruit individuals suffering from drug addiction to shoplift items that would later be sold at the pawn shop. At her sentencing hearing, the judge decided that she was not going to “incarcerate” the “very poor judgement” out of Reilly, “this time, anyway.” She made clear that anything other than “strict compliance” by Reilly with her probation terms would land her in prison.
Her house arrest terms included “zero tolerance” for nonprescribed drugs and alcohol and gave her probation officer the power to arrest her without a warrant, according to the court document.
“You are going to be the best probationer your probation officer has ever met,” said Judge Andrea Rocanelli at the sentencing.
Turko was assigned to oversee her house arrest during her first six months of probation. His job title was senior probation officer with the ability to approve or disapprove progress or violation reports and give “informal guidance” to junior officers, according to corrections officials.
The lawsuit filed by Shaun Reilly, Kisha Reilly’s husband of 16 years, claims that Turko “coerced” an “ongoing, continuous” sexual relationship with Kisha Reilly, enlisting “his authority” to overlook failed drug screens in return.
The lawsuit said this coercion started when he had direct supervision over her probation and continued after she was taken off house arrest and was under the direct supervision of a female officer until Reilly died. That officer did not return phone calls seeking comment.
To back up these claims, Shaun Reilly and his family lean on Kisha Reilly’s conversations with them before she died — conversations echo allegations in the lawsuit. But they also have hard evidence connecting the two: including phone records, receipts and canisters of “law enforcement unit” pepper spray, which they found in her room after she died.
Phone records retrieved by Kisha Reilly’s family after her death show the two began frequent communication in early November 2017, two months after she had been assigned to his authority. Through the end of that month, there were more than 130 calls or voice messages either from or to Turko’s personal phone in addition to a dozen or so involving his work number.
In most months until June, the last month for which the family has phone records, there are either close to or more than 200 phone calls or voicemails involving his work or personal line in addition to a smattering of calls from the Cherry Lane probation officers to Kisha Reilly’s phones.
Kisha Reilly’s family said they have not been able to access text message records.
Her son and her mother-in-law, who shared a home with Reilly, said Turko’s presence was noticed either in phone communication or Turko picking Reilly up to go to work or other places.
She was employed at a local gym as well as Hak’s Sports Bar, a strip club on Wilmington’s south side. The manager of the club – who was also in regular communication with Kisha Reilly, records indicate – declined to comment for this story.
Mason Reilly, Kisha Reilly’s son, said Turko befriended him; would bring food to their home; attended one of his wrestling matches; and communicated with him via text messages, which Delaware Online/The News Journal has reviewed. One time, he and his mother went to a massage and she called Turko to pay for it over the phone, her son said.
After Kisha Reilly died, her family found evidence of other purchases the lawsuit said he made on her behalf. Those included a receipt for a monthly recurring payment of about $80 for Reilly’s court-ordered Breathalyzer with payment information that includes a card bearing his name. They also found Turko’s name on a receipt for court-ordered counseling, a spa receipt and a receipt for a gift card for a clothing store in Bear.
In a series of conversations from Howard R. Young Correctional Institution where he is serving a nine-year sentence for the pawn shop racket and weapons charges, Shaun Reilly described details from his lawsuit, saying he confronted his wife about how much time she spent and communication she had with Turko.
He said she told him Turko was a “friend” giving her “safe passage” through her probationary period. He said she later told him that Turko covered for her “dirty urines.”
“As an addict, if you know there is no consequences to your actions, you just continue down your self-destructive path,” Shaun Reilly said. “With that knowledge, there was nothing more in place to stop her from using drugs.”
Denise Toy, Shaun Reilly’s mother who lived in the same home as Kisha Reilly, said she argued with her daughter-in-law over her closeness with Turko. One time, Kisha Reilly asked Toy if she would allow Turko to move into the home with them, she said.
Another time, Mason Reilly said, toward the end of her life, his mother told him she had to end her relationship with Turko. There was another time Toy received a text message, reviewed by Delaware Online/The News Journal, from Kisha Reilly that was apparently meant for Turko from two months before she died. It addresses him as Dave in the message and discusses sexual contact and what appears to be a fading, romantic relationship.
A separate fight with Toy prompted Kisha Reilly to explain to her that Turko cared about them and had covered for her dirty urines, Toy stated. Another family friend said Kisha Reilly told him the same thing.
Available court records indicate that Turko and the other officer that took over her supervision never reported any failed drug tests to the court. Correction officials said she had never failed a drug test administered by the Department of Correction, but declined to provide relevant records citing the pending litigation.
In Kisha Reilly’s room after her death, her family found personal notes reminding her to urinate a lot and drink lots of water on certain dates.
Her family also found records of four separate drug tests that indicate the presence of nonprescribed medications including Xanax, morphine and other prescription narcotics. The urinalysis screenings were ordered by Wilmington Doctor Pasquale Fucci of Brandywine Medical Associates. It appears they were not part of her court-ordered programming. Erica Mutter, an official for Brandywine, declined to comment on the specific documents.
Mason Reilly said Turko began texting him, asking if he had heard from her and later suggested someone kick down the door to her room. When a family member did later that afternoon, they found her dead. A medical examiner would conclude she died of an overdose involving cocaine, heroin and fentanyl. She was 37 years old.
After Delaware State Police combed the room, Denise Toy showed the text message she believes Kisha Reilly inadvertently sent to her instead of Turko. She told a detective that she believed they were in an inappropriate relationship.
She gave them a memory card from the camera facing their front door, hoping to substantiate their suspicion that Turko was there the night she died. State police also eventually took possession of one of Kisha Reilly’s cellphones, Toy said. The family believes state police still have that and the camera memory card.
State police Senior Cpl. Heather Pepper, a spokeswoman for the department, declined to say whether police took any action over Toy’s concern or the data they received. State police also declined a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records as to the existence of any investigation.
Delaware law gives police cover to hide all records detailing their investigatory work when someone is not arrested.
Toy said they never heard anything from state police about it and eventually she turned to the Department of Correction.
She has a cardboard box she carries to meetings with journalists, attorneys and private investigators. It contains items from Kisha Reilly’s room, phone records, receipts, drug screens, pepper spray and other letters she says are evidence of an inappropriate relationship.
She brought that box to meet with officials in the Department of Correction’s Internal Affairs unit in April 2019 following Kisha Reilly’s death. After laying out her concerns, she was told to give the investigators 30 days and then contact them.
Mason Reilly said before those 30 days were up, he got a message from a family friend that said Turko had resigned. Toy then called one of the investigators, who told her “we were calling him in for questioning, but he resigned,” she recalled.
She said she remembered thinking, “That’s it?”
“It’s not right,” she said. “A woman is dead.”
Correction officials defended their response to Toy’s complaint. They said they have no power to compel a former employee to conduct an interview. They said they investigated the report, even after he resigned, but found “no actionable criminal offense to report to an outside criminal agency.”
They declined to detail what investigative steps they took.
Corrections has a thorough policy for how sexual contact, regardless of consent, within its prisons and work-release facilities is to be investigated. That policy, based on provisions of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, states that if “an allegation indicates criminal behavior,” DOC will refer it to state police. And when the “quality of evidence appears to support criminal prosecution,” it states that DOC investigators shall force interviews after consulting with prosecutors to make sure such interviews won’t hinder a future criminal case. It also states that allegations of sex abuse will be investigated “thoroughly” until it is determined to be substantiated, unsubstantiated or unfounded and that determination will rest on whether there is a greater than 50% chance the allegation is true.
The policy states that it applies to all DOC “employees” and all offenders under the “custody or supervision” of DOC, but, in a written statement, Jason Miller, Correction Department spokesman, said it applies only to sexual contact involving people actually locked up in one of the state’s prisons or work release facilities.
So it’s unclear what steps they took or evidence they sought beyond Toy’s box.
Other Department of Correction written policies state that they may request investigatory backup from state police “when necessary.” Policy also states that for employees determined to have committed a crime, “resignation in lieu of prosecution shall not be permitted,” unless approved by the commissioner.
Based on the lawsuit, interviews with the family and emails exchanged with the Department of Correction, it appears corrections never enlisted investigatory help from state police despite the police already having potential cellphone evidence turned over by Kisha Reilly’s family when she died.
The Delaware Department of Justice, the state’s criminal prosecutors, said they’d never received a report of this situation from corrections.
Even if investigators put in the work to substantiate that there was, as the lawsuit claims, sexual contact between Kisha Reilly and Turko, corrections officials said they do not see it as a violation of Delaware’s criminal law.
Delaware law lists two separate crimes dealing with law enforcement officers having sex or sexual contact with those under their authority. That includes correctional officers working in local prisons.
While there is no question that probation officers are legally considered law enforcement officers, DOC officials don’t believe the law applies to probation officers. The law states that it is a felony for a “law enforcement officer” to engage in any sexual contact, regardless of consent, with any person in “custody.” The law defines “custody” as “restraint by a public servant pursuant to an arrest, detention or an order of a court.”
Effectively, aspects of a probationer’s life are restrained by the court order placing them on house arrest and probation, but Miller argued that the more appropriate way to legally describe the power a probation officer has over a probationer is “supervision,” not “custody” and thus the law does not apply.
The Delaware Department of Justice, which employs attorneys that interpret criminal law to prosecute crimes, neither agreed nor disagreed with that interpretation.
“Honestly, we can’t say one way or the other — we haven’t been able to find case law or precedent that addresses the question,” wrote Mat Marshall, spokesperson for the DOJ.
Horn, the New York probation official, said most states have criminal laws covering such conduct and questioned whether corrections officials’ interpretation of the law is self-serving. He added that there might have been scope to investigate potential official misconduct — the law that bars public officials from using their government power for personal gain.
“The question is why the state of Delaware does not want to take action,” Horn said.
Beyond potential criminal ramifications, if Turko were to apply to another probation-officer position elsewhere and asked Delaware corrections officials for a recommendation or job history, officials said they could not divulge any information regarding the allegations made by Reilly’s family.
Brian Lovins, incoming president of the American Probation and Parole Association, said there needs to be a more broad, national set of standards for probation officer conduct, something his organization is working on. Lovins noted laws criminalizing inappropriate relationships do not always work as a deterrent, but there needs to be some mechanism to ensure the officer engaged in such conduct can’t assume the same job in another jurisdiction.
“There should be laws, they should be applicable and they should set consequences,” Lovins said.
Toy’s last conversation with corrections internal affairs in April 2019 was the last time her family heard from any law enforcement source on the issue. They wrote letters to state government officials and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. “If this isn’t enough evidence for someone to take a look at this thing, I don’t know what will do,” Shaun Reilly said.
They went to attorneys, who all wanted money to get involved, Toy said. “We don’t have money,” said Toy, whose family was also assessed a civil judgment for the pawn shop racket.
So as the two-year anniversary of Kisha Reilly’s death approached — along with the two-year statute of limitations for seeking civil court damages — Shaun Reilly filed his lawsuit.
“This was the only last and final effort and push I could make,” Shaun Reilly said. “I’m still her husband to this day. In death, it does not change. The love I have for her will not go away.” Through the litigation, the family hopes to compel other evidence proving the exact nature of the relationship.
Beyond the hard evidence they have showing an unprofessional connection, the lawsuit makes more broad allegations, specifically that he funded her drug habit. Shaun Reilly said that is based off hearsay in prison as well as speculation.
They hope to at some point be able to subpoena text messages and other evidence that may show more.
He dismissed the idea of him bringing the litigation as a jealous husband. He said he is “angry” and the idea that Kisha Reilly might have in some ways welcomed the relationship “does not make it right.” “If you take advantage of people, you need to be held to account,” Shaun Reilly said. “No matter if you are a public servant or a civilian.”
And while they don’t have hard records drawing a direct line between her death and Turko right now, Shaun Reilly said he believes if Turko had done his job honestly, his wife would still be alive.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, but Shaun Reilly said that is secondary. He wants what he sees as justice and said Turko deserves to be “in cuffs.” “If the line is not drawn, it will continue to happen.”
The ACLU is a tremendous asset for some who are abused by authorities and cannot afford counsel; I have been a member since law school, decades ago. The problem is they are understaffed and underfunded! SUPPORT THE ACLU; there is a branch near you!
The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware announced Monday it has selected Susan L. Burke, an award-winning attorney and experienced litigator, to be its next legal director.
Ms. Burke has worked in the legal field for 34 years, primarily in federal class and complex litigation, and has won numerous awards.
As lead counsel for Iraqi victims, she achieved an historic win and a legal first by negotiating multi-million dollar settlements with defense contractors involved in government-sactioned torture at Abu Ghraib and with Blackwater, a private mercenary company responsible for the Nissor Square massacre. Prior to that victory, she helped persuade Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court to uphold Philadelphia’s campaign finance reform legislation. She also successfully represented the Dominican Republic in a lawsuit seeking redress for an American corporation’s destruction of pristine beaches.
Her work as lead counsel in a series of lawsuits seeking to reform the military’s deficiencies in prosecuting rape and sexual assault was profiled in the documentary “The Invisible War.”
If only I had a dollar for every time this type of abuse occurs!
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal corrections officer in Alabama agreed to plead guilty to charges that he had sex with a female inmate in a laundry room and asked a co-worker to lie about it, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Eric Todd Ellis was a guard at The Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville when he had intercourse with the inmate in the prison’s laundry room on June 11, 2020, AL.com reported, citing court records made public Wednesday.
Ellis is charged with sex abuse of an adult ward in custody and intimidation or force against a witness, the website reported. The charges and plea agreement were filed simultaneously in the North District of Alabama, AL.com reported.
According to charging documents, Ellis previously admitted the sex act to a co-worker in a recorded call. On Sept. 5, 2020, during an investigation by the Office of Inspector General, authorities alleged Ellis told his co-worker, “Just tell (the OIG agents), ‘Yeah, we’re friends but, I mean, you hadn’t really talked to me about it and when you have, it’s — I’ve just told you nothing happened.’”
A judge still must accept the plea; upon acceptance, a sentencing date will be set, AL.com reported.
Ellis faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the sex abuse charge, and up to 20 years in prison and a fine of no more than $250,000 on the witness intimidation charge, the website reported.
No kidding! NO jail or prison in America has reasonable medical care, which they legally are required to have 3 different ways!
Excerpts from the Article:
A Colorado Springs man filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Larimer County jail officials alleging he was injured by his cellmate and then denied appropriate medical care last year.
Dustin Napier filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court in March. According to court documents, Napier found out he had a years-old warrant out for his arrest for a nonviolent offense during a firearms background check last spring. He was arrested and booked into the Larimer County Jail on March 12, 2020, in connection to a five-year-old misdemeanor case.
The lawsuit alleges two unnamed correctional officers failed to perform a threat assessment on Napier and his cellmate, which resulted in Napier being housed with a violent individual with an extensive criminal record, including several assaults. Court records show Napier’s cellmate has a criminal history including charges of kidnapping, felony and misdemeanor assault and theft.
Napier repeatedly asked to be moved to a different cell because he feared for his safety, according to the lawsuit. His cellmate allegedly “made comments and gestures that made Napier feel as if his life was in danger,” but jail staff ignored his requests, the lawsuit says.
Less than a week after Napier was booked into the jail, his cellmate “brutally attacked Mr. Napier, fracturing his jaw,” according to the lawsuit.
A correctional officer then took Napier to the hospital where a doctor said Napier needed a surgical consult within the following two days. The lawsuit claims that Armor Correctional Health Services — the medical care service provider for the jail — “had an obligation” to get Napier an off-site surgical consult, and/or begin the process to get Napier the recommended consult.
But instead, the jail’s medical staff “knowingly left Mr. Napier in his cell, bleeding from his mouth, in agony, unable to sleep and constantly drinking his own blood for four days,” according to court documents.
Napier wasn’t able to receive the recommended medical care until he posted his bond days later, according to the lawsuit.
Jails have a duty to provide inmates necessary medical care, and the Larimer County Jail and Armor medical services failed to fulfill that duty, facing pressure to lower off-site medical costs for the jail, according to the suit.
The lawsuit was filed against the Larimer County Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Justin Smith, Capt. Timothy Palmer, two unnamed corrections officers, another corrections officer, Armor health services and four of its employees.
The lawsuit claims Napier’s 8th and 14th Amendment rights were violated and alleges the named defendants failed to provide him medical care and failed to adequately monitor the inmates.
Here it is, ten great articles. It has been called “The best overall criminal justice newsletter in America – sensible, witty, and informed”. Check it out and subscribe!
An end to some of the cruelty created by tRump, the worst president EVER! It was the idea of that tRumpster fruckwad, Stephen Miller, to rip small children from their parents, with NO plan for reunification!
Excerpts from the Article:
A detention facility in Georgia where women claim they were subjected to unwanted medical procedures and a Massachusetts jail that has drawn complaints of inhumane conditions will no longer be used to detain immigrants, the Biden administration said Thursday.
The Department of Homeland Security said it would terminate contracts with the local government agency that runs the detention center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and with the private operator of the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a part of DHS, has already significantly reduced the detainee population at both facilities. Any detainees the U.S. believes should remain in custody will be transferred elsewhere, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in announcing the move, which had been sought by immigrant advocates.
“Allow me to state one foundational principle,” Mayorkas said, “We will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.”
Mayorkas said ending the use of the facilities is part of an effort to make “lasting improvements” to a detention system that advocates have long argued detains people for civil immigration offenses for too long and in inappropriately harsh conditions.
It also reflects a broader effort to roll back the anti-immigrant policies that characterized U.S. policy under President Donald Trump.
ICE holds about 19,000 noncitizens for removal at about 200 facilities around the country, down about a quarter from a year earlier. About 73 percent of those in custody have no criminal record and many others have only minor offenses, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data-gathering organization at Syracuse University.
DHS suggested additional detention facilities could close in a statement that noted that it would “review concerns” about other centers.
“Today’s announcements show the Biden administration’s willingness to decisively break from the immigrants’ rights abuses of prior administrations,” said Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, which recently called for the closure of 39 immigration detention centers around the country.
The ACLU has called for an end to the “default incarceration” of immigrants and an end to the agreements with state and local authorities that enable prisoners who are noncitizens to be transferred into ICE custody for deportation upon release.
Mayorkas has led an effort to soften some immigration policies but has insisted that noncitizens who pose a threat to the public and have committed serious crimes should be detained pending their removal from the country.
The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office operated the Massachusetts immigration detention center jail under an agreement with DHS. The Georgia facility was run by a private company under contract with the government.
Members of Congress and advocates have called for the closure of the Georgia facility since last year after women held there told of being forced into unnecessary gynecological procedures amid unsanitary conditions.
“Given its extensively documented history of human rights violations, Irwin should have been shut down long ago,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director for Project South, an advocacy group that has pressed for ICE and the company that runs the facility to compensate any women subjected to unwanted procedures there.
The facility in Ocilla, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Atlanta, has been used to house men and women for ICE as well as inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service and Irwin County. It’s run by the private LaSalle Corrections, a Louisiana company.
ICE declined to say how many people are currently being held at Irwin. It has had an average daily population of just under 300 detainees so far in fiscal year 2021, down from an average of over 500 detainees a day two years ago, according to an ICE spokesman.
Immigrants held at the Massachusetts jail, known formally as the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center, have also complained about a lack of COVID-19 precautions as well as overcrowding and excessive use of force.
The Massachusetts attorney general’s office issued a scathing report in December, determining that officers violated the rights of detainees and used excessive force during a disturbance there earlier in the year.
“Sheriff Hodgson has inflicted grievous harm on vulnerable immigrants in his custody for years,” said Espinoza-Madrigal. “And we enthusiastically applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to put an immediate end to the abuse.”
Great news. They have proven to be disastrous!
Excerpts from the Article:
Washington Governor Jay Inslee in April 2021 signed House Bill 1090, which bans private, for-profit detention facilities in the state. According to the text of the bill, this includes “any facility in which persons are incarcerated or otherwise involuntarily confined for purposes including prior to trial or sentencing, fulfilling the terms of a sentence imposed by a court, or for other judicial or administrative processes or proceedings,” according to an April 14, 2021 story by the Tacoma-based immigrant rights group La Resistencia. Notably, the bill exempts some private facilities and cases of involuntary detention — such as in-patient treatment centers or public health quarantines.
Currently, there is only one private, for-profit detention camp in the state, the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma. The facility is operated by the GEO Group on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As a result of the new law, it will close when the GEO Group’s contract comes to an end in 2025. Crucially, the law will also prevent any other private facilities from opening in the future.
There were a few major objections to the law — mainly from Republicans — about whether the government had the authority to take the action. Some suggested that a better approach would simply be more oversight. But one critique of HB1090 is compelling: is it hypocritical for the state to enact such a bill, given the countless problems and abuses in its own prisons?
It is a fair point — especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no such thing as safe or fair incarceration.
But as the text of the law notes, those confined in private prisons usually face particularly unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Private companies have been known to cut corners in order to maximize their profits. “The United States Department of Justice office of the Inspector General found in 2016 that privately operated prisons ‘incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than 5 comparable BOP [Federal Bureau of Prisons] institutions,” the law states. Private companies also operate with far less oversight and fewer resources.
According to a March 31, 2021 article in the Seattle Times, the NWDC is known for maggots in the food, a complete lack of medical care, and extended use of solitary confinement, with an average of 70 days in isolation. Those detained in the facility have coordinated countless hunger strikes, and are still organizing closely with La Resistencia.
House Bill 1090 was largely an instrumental move, aimed at closing a particular detention center in a way that was legislatively feasible. It’s far easier to convince a state legislature to close private prisons and detention centers, as at least 22 other states have already done to some extent, than to prohibit contracts with ICE.
In light of widespread calls to abolish prisons outright this past summer, the state legislature was more willing to pass this legislation than in years prior. Just last year, a similar bill was pushed to the legislature by La Resistencia and other advocacy groups, but only passed after significant amendments were added that largely checked the bill’s intended impact.
Importantly, those held at the NWDC are being civilly detained — meaning it is a matter of their immigration status, rather than any criminal charges or sentencing. So La Resistencia, which has been organizing to close the facility since 2014, is pivoting to focus on the transition period between now and 2025. They are calling for Governor Inslee to stop any Washington Department of Corrections transfers, and instead free prisoners to return to their homes and communities as soon as possible.
Three Inmates Killed in Less Than a Week in Alabama Prisons The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state last year, charging that its Department of Corrections did not provide adequate protections for inmates.
My good friend and great lawyer, Steve Hampton, sent me this article. It seems that prison officials in Alabama have never heard of their primary duty: to protect the inmates. The situations we see here generates lawsuits for “failure to protect”, costing you, the taxpayers, millions of dollars.
Excerpts from the Article:
Three Alabama prison inmates died in less than a week this month from injuries that resulted from encounters with other inmates as the state faces continued scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department over its prison conditions.
The men died in separate episodes at different prisons in five days, Kristi Simpson, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Department of Corrections, said in a statement on Tuesday. The deaths were results of apparent inmate-on-inmate assaults, she said, and are being investigated by Department’s Law Enforcement Services Division.
Ms. Simpson said that the “exact causes of each of these deaths are all pending full autopsies.”
The Department of Corrections identified the three inmates who were killed as: Ian Rettig, 23, who died on May 4 and was an inmate at Fountain Correctional Facility, serving an 18-month sentence for multiple convictions; Jody Potts, 58, who died on May 6 and was an inmate at the Limestone Correctional Facility, serving a life sentence for murder; and Regial Ingram, 32, who died on May 8 and was an inmate at Bullock Correctional Facility, serving a 21-year sentence for second-degree robbery.
Mr. Rettig was scheduled to be released from prison the day after his death, according to The Associated Press.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the actions that the perpetrators have taken against these victims,” Ms. Simpson said in her statement. “Each of these incidents are being investigated thoroughly, and appropriate enforcement action — to include referring the perpetrators in question for prosecution — will be taken upon the completion of our investigative process.”
Alabama has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, and its prison system has long been under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, which cited overcrowding and understaffing as major problems in a scathing report released in 2019. The report found that the state was “deliberately indifferent” to the risks inmates face and that “deplorable conditions within Alabama’s prisons lead to heightened tensions among prisoners.”
The Justice Department also found that prisoner-to-prisoner violence and sexual abuse were common within the system and that prisoner-to-prisoner violence was much higher “compared to other similar systems,” according to the report.
Another report, released in July 2020 by the Justice Department, found that correctional officers often used excessive force on inmates, infringing on their Eighth Amendment rights, which protect them from cruel and unusual punishment.
In December 2020, the Justice Department sued Alabama, charging that it violates inmates’ constitutional rights and “fails to provide adequate protection from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, fails to provide safe and sanitary conditions, and subjects prisoners to excessive force at the hands of prison staff.”
Wanda Bertram, a communications strategist for the Prison Policy Initiative, said in an interview on Tuesday that it was necessary for the federal government to step in when state prison agencies continue to have major issues and atrocities within their system.
“Oversight is a critical mechanism for improving conditions behind bars, and it’s also, you know, a mechanism that’s used less today than it has been before,” Ms. Bertram said.
Andrea Armstrong, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans whose expertise includes criminal justice and incarceration, said that violence accounted for a low percentage of deaths in prisons and jails, according to national data, making the recent deaths in Alabama “atypical.”
“By and large the leading causes of death are first, medical-related issues, particularly in prisons where you’re dealing with older populations on average,” said Professor Armstrong, who also cited suicide and drug overdose as other leading causes of death in prisons.
From 2001 to 2018, the annual mortality rate for inmates in Alabama state prisons who were killed by someone else was 10 inmates per 100,000 prisoners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The death rate is higher with causes like heart disease, respiratory illness, cancer and liver disease.
Alabama currently has over 24,000 inmates in its Department of Corrections facilities, according to the department’s website.
Chris England, an Alabama state representative and Democrat, said the conditions within the state’s prisons were “horrendous,” and he has called for Jeff Dunn, commissioner of the state’s Department of Corrections since 2015, to step down.
The Department of Corrections did not immediately respond on Tuesday to a request for comment about the call for him to step down.
“Our system is rotten to the core,” Mr. England said on Tuesday, discussing deaths within the state’s prison system.
Mr. England recently sponsored legislation that would require the Department of Corrections to send quarterly reports to the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Prison Oversight Committee that would include details on officer retention and data on inmate deaths and causes.
The Whole Story:
Every jail and prison in America is woefully failing on mental health care!
Excerpts from the Article:
A two-year federal investigation into the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC) found that prisoners’ constitutional rights had been violated in regard to mental health care.
Investigators cited hundreds of instances of MDOC employees failing to prevent suicide or other self-harm among prisoners who had been designated for mental health watch. The more grievous examples involved staff purposefully ignoring signs of potential harm, and the report highlighted a general absence of “clear and uniform training” inside the department.
The investigation was conducted by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. In a statement released in November 17, 2020, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said, “The conditions at MDOC facilities show how systemic deficiencies in prison facilities can compound each other and amount to constitutional violations.”
Federal charges were not announced, but the MDOC was given seven weeks to implement required minimal changes to the department’s operations. These included improved training, reducing isolation of the prisoners to a minimum, keeping implements out of their possession that could be used for self-harm while on mental health watch, and employing enough clinicians that out-of-cell mental health assessments could be conducted daily.
A lawsuit could be brought against the state by the U.S. Attorney General if these requirements were not fulfilled. MDOC was working with the investigators to institute some of the necessary reforms, and at the time the report was released a spokesperson for the department, Jason Dobsom, said “significant progress” had already been made.
Both critics and Congressmen have disputed those claims. “As far as we can see through interviews with our clients, I don’t know that any significant changes have actually been implemented yet,” Elizabeth Matos of the watchdog group Prisoner’s Legal Services said.
Senator Cindy Friedman also expressed doubt that MDOC had made substantive reforms.
“And if you’re telling me that the thing you did was take a razor away from somebody who was seriously ill or suicidal, that’s what you think is providing people with good care. You’ve got to be kidding,” she said.
One of the reforms yet to be addressed was the hiring of additional mental health clinicians, an issue likely tied to a shortage of available funds. Governor Charlie Baker had asked for $730 million for MDOC’s 2020 budget but received less than $688 million. With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking even further havoc in 2021, Massachusetts is but another on the lengthy list of states with prison systems too bloated to benefit the public or those it incarcerates.