God Bless her, and may she nail them with a large award!
Excerpts from the Article:
A 63-year-old grandmother filed a lawsuit on October 8, 2020 after she was arrested and jailed while having a mental health crisis. While jailed, she was forced into a restraint chair and then placed in a cell without access to water for days, forcing her to drink from a contaminated toilet. No charges were filed against her within 48 hours, so state law required she be released. Instead, she was held for 27 days without access to her medications or mental health treatment.
Tamara Barnicoat was having a psychotic episode on October 10, 2019. Police had twice been called to a business where she was yelling, “I am God.” On a third call, to a car wash where she continued to proclaim her deification and threw a cup of water she thought was poisoned at the car wash attendant, police arrested her and took her to the Gila County Jail.
During booking, it was clear Barnicoat was psychotic and delusional. She gave her name as “God,” but with her correct Social Security number. She continued to yell, “I am God,” and mumble incoherently.
Instead of obtaining mental health services for Barnicoat, deputies forced her to disrobe and placed her in a filthy, windowless concrete holding cell. The next day, she was taken to court for an initial appearance. She was nearly naked and not wearing the shoes, socks, panties, pants, or sweatshirt she had on at the time of her arrest. The only clothing she was wearing was a light blue shirt.
When the deputies came to take Barnicoat to her initial appearance, which was by video link, she did not understand what was happening. She told them, “I’m not going anywhere with you. You’ll have to kill me first. Fuck you.”
Instead of seeking mental health care for Barnicoat or assuring her she would not be harmed, six members of the jail staff gang tackled her and violently forced her into a restraint chair. They placed a blanket over her and wheeled her into the jail’s chapel for her initial appearance.
It was clear to the judge that Barnicoat was suffering from mental illness. She was “yelling” and “making noises” and unresponsive to the judge’s questions. He assigned her counsel and ordered an immediate mental health evaluation. Instead of obeying the judge’s order, deputies wheeled Barnicoat back to the holding cell.
Jail Sgt. Dustin Burdess cut off the water to the cell, rendering it a “dry cell.” The water in a dry cell is supposed to be restored briefly every two hours to allow the prisoner to flush the toilet and drink water. But Burdess never logged that he was making the cell a “dry cell,” so none of the jail staff knew to turn on the water periodically.
Three days later, Deputy Brook Griffin noticed that Barnicoat was still nearly naked in her cell and there was an overpowering smell of urine coming from it. She investigated and discovered that Barnicoat had been without water since her arrest and had been forced to drink from the fouled toilet. Further, she had not been given a jail uniform, an opportunity to shower, hygiene supplies, or a clean towel. Griffin supplied all of those to her, then noted it down in a report. She also noted that her “dry cell” status had not been logged and she had not seen any medical or mental health personnel.
Barnicoat was released 27 days later, as no charges had been filed against her. Arizona law requires a prisoner be immediately released from jail if charges are not filed within 48 hours.
On February 7, 2020, Gila County Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd and Jail Commander Justin Solberg gave an interview to ABC Channel 15 investigative reporter Melissa Blasius during which they admitted Barnicoat’s civil rights had been violated. Five weeks later, a deputy went to Barnicoat’s home and convinced her to sign a “Release of all Claims.” Barnicoat, who has a fourth-grade reading ability, did not understand the form, but was pressured into signing it and accepting a check for $7,500, which she eventually returned.
Represented by Phoenix attorney Robert Campos of Robert J. Campos & Associates and Peoria, Arizona attorney Kevin Garrison of the Garrison Law Firm, Barnicoat filed a Notice of Claim with the Gila County Attorney’s Office on April 3, 2020. On April 29, 2020, that office filed criminal charges against Barnicoat for misdemeanor assault and trespass, and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The office then had the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office take over the case due to conflicts. They promptly dismissed all charges.
The attorneys helped Barnicoat file a state civil action alleging civil rights violations and state statutory violations and torts.
“Most people who are in jail are presumed innocent, they haven’t been convicted of anything. And they’re just starting the process in the criminal justice system. We should expect some basic human rights and civil rights to be protected,” said Campos, who noted that the lawsuit was not about a big payout but about correcting a big injustice. “I have not encountered a case where the inmate who’s presumed innocent and has no charges has to resort to drinking out of a toilet. And I have never encountered a case where the sheriff on television confesses that he did in fact violate the inmate’s rights.”
“I want them to change things at the jail because it was so devastating,” said Barnicoat, who admitted considering suicide because of the severity of the conditions in which she was held. See: Barnicoat v. Gila County, Case No. 2:2020-cv-02260, U.S.D.C. (D. Ariz.).
Virginia is using dogs to ‘terrify and attack’ prisoners, say lawsuits that describe one man as mauled in his cell
More outrageous prison abuse. It will not end until YOU speak out! Who do you think is going to pay for this? YOU are!
Excerpts from the Article:
Curtis Garrett was standing in cell 3C38 on Christmas Day, four months shy of his release date, when the dogs showed up.
The inmate had retreated to his cell and closed the door after fighting with another prisoner who attacked him with a broom handle in the mess hall. When Garrett saw two members of the Patrol Canine Unit with two dogs outside his window, he turned around and put his hands behind his back. He expected the officers to cuff him.
But they didn’t, at least not immediately, that day in Sussex I State Prison, according to a recently filed lawsuit against Virginia and employees of the state’s Department of Corrections. It lays out the details above and describes a violent scene moments later when “without warning or provocation” the dogs were unleashed and ordered to attack.
“The two canines bit Mr. Garrett’s left arm and right leg while the two Officers punched and kicked Mr. Garrett repeatedly,” the lawsuit reads. “Mr. Garrett collapsed to the ground under the force of the Patrol Canine Unit’s attack.”
The officers, it says, then pulled him up, without ordering the dogs to release their hold.
“The canines sank their teeth deeper into Mr. Garrett’s arm and leg when he was pulled up into the air, causing them to hang in the air, still attached to Mr. Garrett by their teeth as he was lifted,” it reads. “While the canines’ jaws clenched down on Mr. Garrett’s left arm and right leg, [the officers] slammed Mr. Garrett’s body against the wall of his cell. The Officers proceeded to cuff Mr. Garrett’s hands behind him.”
Using dogs as weapons against prisoners has been prohibited by many states and even the U.S. military. Revised regulations from 2019 for the Military Working Dog Program state that canines “will not guard detainees, U.S. military prisoners, or dislocated civilians. Units will not use MWD teams to harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce detainees for interrogation purposes.”
And yet, two recently filed lawsuits and numerous letters from inmates sent to a human rights organization describe Virginia’s maximum-security prisons as regularly using “unmuzzled canines to terrify and attack prisoners.”
More than that, they depict officers as ordering dogs to bite inmates who were already lying on the ground or alone in cells, and then failing to provide adequate medical treatment for their injuries.
After reading through the lawsuits and letters, I sent a request for comment to the Virginia Department of Corrections. On Friday, spokeswoman Lisa Kinney said the department could not comment on the newly pending litigation and had not yet filed a response to the legal complaints.
The urge to dismiss convicted criminals as unreliable sources is understandable, and we should view these claims with skepticism. What we shouldn’t do is ignore them. Even if we give the department the benefit of the doubt and assume that the dogs are used only in extreme circumstances against the unruliest inmates, the lawsuits and letters raise concerning questions about what is happening inside institutions charged with rehabilitating people.
‘I’m angry & rageful & sad’: A Virginia inmate’s letters show why solitary confinement should concern us all. They also pose important questions for us as a society: Is this who we are? Are we okay with a state’s prison system maintaining a practice that has roots in the most shameful moments of our country’s history and that other places have already determined is not acceptable?
The lawsuits, which were filed in amended form in January, come at a time when many prisons have put in place programs that allow inmates to train dogs and have moved away from ones that rely on inmates fearing dogs.
Kelly Jo Popkin of Rights Behind Bars, which, along with D.C.-based firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer is representing the two men, describes Virginia as an “outlier state” when it comes to using dogs as weapons in prisons.
She also points to the historical context that makes the practice especially disturbing given the disproportionate rates of Black Americans who are incarcerated.
“Dogs have been used by law enforcement to terrorize, threaten, and subordinate African Americans since the birth of this country, and the use of these dogs against incarcerated individuals in Virginia state prisons is just one example of many,” she says. “The symbolism of this is not lost on our clients and their families.”
One inmate’s mother, she says, at one point compared her son’s wounds to those caused by whips.
Opinion: Don’t overlook one of the most brutal and unnecessary parts of policing: Police dogs
Before Rights Behind Bars got involved in the recent cases, Popkin says more than a dozen other legal complaints had been filed in Virginia related to dog attacks against inmates. Inmates were representing themselves in those cases, and the challenges of doing so eventually resulted in those cases not moving forward, she says.
“Ultimately, Virginia lawmakers are the ones who need to recognize the use of canine attack dogs as a systemic concern and act accordingly to ban the practice of using attack dogs against prisoners,” Popkin says. “There’s something about these stories that show how the use of dogs against prisoners is so degrading, and completely dehumanizing.”
A statement provided by a representative of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer reads: “The correct course is clear: The VADOC policies permitting the use of dogs to attack people in custody must be changed.”
Gay Gardner of the Virginia-based organization Interfaith Action for Human Rights says she has received letters over the last several years from inmates at the state’s maximum-security prisons that describe dog attacks. In many of them, she says, inmates describe the dogs being brought in when an altercation or another event alarms the staff — and the attacks as occurring after the situation has already calmed down.
Garrett, in his lawsuit, is described as being unable to write or clutch anything with his dominant left hand, and as having a “dead leg” that is almost completely numb and pain that radiates up his leg if he puts weight on his right foot.
He was taken to the hospital after the incident on Christmas in 2018, the lawsuit says, but when he returned, he was placed in solitary confinement for about five weeks “with almost no medical care.” He received medical attention, it says, only after his wounds grew infected and he pretended to be dead in his cell.
This may seem a distant concern, affecting people locked behind walls, but one part of the lawsuit illustrates too clearly why what happens within prisons affects those outside of them. Many inmates eventually get released, and the hope is that they leave prison in a better position to contribute to society than when then entered it.
Garrett’s release date came in May 2019. The lawsuit describes his mental health as having substantially deteriorated since that day.
“He self-isolates in his room and at times panics because he thinks he hears dogs barking outside his door,” it reads. “Mr. Garrett was institutionalized at Tucker Mental Institution on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 for a mental breakdown caused by trauma associated with the canine attack and its aftermath.”
NY Federal Court Denies Summary Judgment on Claims of Improper Medication Seizure, Evidence Fabrication, Improper Frisk During Prison Visit
This is good news not just for Ms. Bobbit; ten years ago nearly every judge would not have let her proceed, because they had no idea what really goes on in our prisons. They are starting to see the light.
Excerpts from the Article:
On September 21, 2020, a New York federal court issued an order denying the state summary judgment on some claims arising from a woman’s visit to a prison that resulted in her prosecution for bringing her seizure and pain medications into the prison.
Lisa Bobbit arrived at Green Haven Correctional Facility, a maximum-security New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) prison, to visit a prisoner in 2015. She was carrying Lamotrigine pills and a small vial of Tramadol, which was wrapped together with a small piece of bread in plastic wrap. She did not declare the medications at the gate when she was issued a visitor’s pass.
DOCCS guard Monica Marzan claimed she noticed a bulge in Bobbit’s sock while performing a scan of her and asked her to remove it, revealing the medications. Bobbit said she removed it from her pocket. Marzan detained Bobbit and reported the incident to her supervisor who called the New York State Patrol (NYSP).
NYSP Trooper Robert Murtha arrested Bobbit and frisked her. She was eventually released from custody and given desk appearance tickets for violating N.Y. Penal Law § 205.20 and N.Y. Public Health Law § 3345.
Based in part on Mazan’s version, the prosecutor pressed charges. Bobbit had to appear in court at least three times before her defense attorney could explain her version and supporting documents to the prosecutor. This resulted in an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal requiring the charges to be dismissed if Bobbit stayed out of trouble for a year.
Bobbit filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging, among other claims, that Marzan fabricated evidence by creating false information, Murtha excessively groped her breasts during the frisk search, and the DOCCS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act (RA) by denying her a reasonable accommodation when she explained she needed the medication because she suffers from epileptic seizures, which she treated with Lamotrigine, and severe sciatic pain, which she treated with Tramadol.
Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted with respect to all of the other claims and defendants except those outlined above. The court noted that, whereas DOCCS policy requires that medication be declared at the gate and securely stored by DOCCS personnel until needed, it also contains an accommodation for visitors who inadvertently bring medication into a prison and does not require that law enforcement be notified in such cases.
Bobbit allegedly informed DOCCS staff of her need for the medication and offered to take them immediately, but this was not allowed. As a result, she felt lightheaded and nauseous, her legs started twitching, and the symptoms lasted until she was able to return home and take medication. She also alleged one DOCCS official mocked her and made light of her epilepsy, saying it was not a serious condition.
Much of the prosecutor’s initial attitude toward Bobbit was colored by Marzan’s claim that the medication was hidden in a sock. Thus, although she could not claim the false statements led to her arrest, she could maintain a claim they caused additional deprivations of liberty, such as the three court appearances, related to her prosecution.
Material issues of fact precluded summary judgment on the above claims, including the claim that Murtha groped Bobbit during the frisk search. Those claims remained for trial and all other claims were dismissed. See: Bobbit v. Marzan, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172422 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 21, 2020).
N.J. man brutally beaten by correctional officers, left in own feces, lawsuit alleges. He died days later. Abuse, Neglect, Cover Up – kra
If I had just $5.00 for every similar case I have seen, I would be wealthy! YOU should be outraged, because, in every state, YOU are paying for all of this preventable abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
The last time Elizabeth McNair spoke to her younger brother in August 2019, she said he relayed a haunting threat from a correctional officer at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel.
“You are gonna die up in here,” his sister said one of the officers told him.
Over the next few days, McNair didn’t hear from her brother. It was odd, she said, because they typically spoke five or six times a week.
Later she would find out why. Darrell Smith was in near comatose state after he was allegedly attacked twice by a group of correctional officers in “gang-style” assaults at the facility, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in late January.
“Mr. Smith was tortured, beaten, kicked, punched, stomped, placed in an illegal chokehold, slammed to the ground, and had his head slammed into a glass door,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit claims he was was “denied prompt and critical medical care” after the first alleged attack. When he was allegedly attacked a second time within a day or two of the first incident, he suffered “catastrophic injuries that left him in an unresponsive and catatonic state” in a prison cell covered in his own feces, urine and vomit, according to the lawsuit.
On Aug. 26, four days after the initial attack, Smith, 50, was transported to a hospital where he arrived unresponsive. Even so, his leg was cuffed to the bed, McNair said. He was placed on life support and was declared brain dead.
He died two days later.
In a recent interview, McNair detailed how her family first learned of Smith’s injuries, as well as how more than a dozen residents at the facility reached out in the aftermath to provide first-hand accounts of the alleged attack and the lack of medical care Smith received.
Smith’s family claim they were left in the dark by prison officials, and is still searching for answers surrounding his death. McNair said more than a year later, no one from the Department of Corrections (DOC) has contacted the family about the what happened to Smith.
Smith served more than 23 years in state prison on kidnapping charges and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. In 2016, he was civilly committed to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center, the facility that provides treatment to sex offenders after he served a lengthy state prison sentence after being convicted of kidnapping, according to the DOC.
Smith’s death “is being investigated by the Department of Criminal Justice and is currently pending grand jury,” said Liz Velez, a DOC spokeswoman. The individuals involved were “removed from their stations and reassigned” pending the investigation, she said. “The Department does not comment on active investigations or pending lawsuits,” Velez added.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a violent attack at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, in which state prosecutors allege a group of officers beat multiple women and then lied about it to cover it up.
Smith had recently been promoted to cook at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center.
Around 7 a.m. on Aug. 23, 2019, Smith wrapped up his shift serving food in the kitchen at the facility, according to the lawsuit, when he asked another resident to bring some leftover peanut butter and bananas to his room while Smith finished cleaning the kitchen. A female officer allegedly stopped the man from bringing the leftovers to Smith’s room, the lawsuit alleges. She then reportedly went into Smith’s room and took other items out. When Smith left the kitchen to retrieve trays on the officer’s desk, she allegedly began to “verbally assault” Smith, calling him a “thief.”
As he walked back to his room after returning the trays to the kitchen, Smith reportedly told the officer and another officer that they couldn’t go in his room and just take items, according to the lawsuit, and he was bombarded with derogatory language from both officers.
Smith had told his sister over the last six months, he became a constant target of harassment by correctional officers. He told a therapist at the facility, according to the lawsuit, that one officer allegedly threatened to kill him.
As Smith continued to walk to his room, the lawsuit alleges “multiple witnesses” saw the male officer track Smith down before pressing him against the wall, slamming his head into a thick glass door and tackling him to the ground.
The officer summoned backup and a group of officers allegedly arrived and put Smith in an illegal chokehold and “repeatedly stomped, punched, and kicked Mr. Smith in his back, head, face, legs, ribs, and sides, as he lay prone and helpless on the ground,” according to the lawsuit.
After suffering injuries in the first reported attack that went untreated, Smith was again allegedly assaulted a day or two later by a group of officers, according to the lawsuit.
Details of the alleged second attack are scarce, but the lawsuit claims the attack left him with “catastrophic injuries that left him in an unresponsive and catatonic state,” causing Smith to defecate on himself.
Even so, Smith was left in the cell in the suicide watch wing of the facility and allegedly “denied access to the medication, water, and medical care that he needed to survive,” according to the lawsuit.
After the alleged attacks, according to the lawsuit, Smith reportedly could no longer speak or respond to verbal commands. He couldn’t even stand, the lawsuit says.
On Aug. 25, correctional and medical staff allegedly did not offer Smith medical assistance. Instead, according to the lawsuit, they “shook him violently, attempted to lift his arm up which just flopped back to his side, and snatched his shoes off his feet.” The lawsuit says witnesses reported that nurses were called in. They allegedly fanned their faces and covered their noses because of the stench before walking away, according to the lawsuit.
Correctional and medical staff “essentially stood by and watched as he languished, deteriorated,” the lawsuit alleges.
It wasn’t until Aug. 26 — nearly four days after he was first allegedly attacked — that outside medical personnel was brought in. When emergency medical services workers arrived at 5:27 p.m., Smith was unconscious, unresponsive, seizing, and still unable to stand or walk without assistance, according to the lawsuit.
McNair said a social worker called to tell her Smith was rushed out of the prison and she was told McNair had “stroke-like” symptoms.
When Smith arrived at JFK Medical Center he was placed on a ventilator, but “by that time, nothing could be done to save his life,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims after Smith’s death, the officers who allegedly attacked Smith “engaged in a cover up in which lies, and false accounts” were used to identify Smith as the aggressor who attacked first. The lawsuit says that assertion is a “blatant lie” based on multiple witness accounts.
The DOC declined to comment on specifics of the lawsuit. “I honestly think that they just don’t care and they are going to do whatever they are going to do,” McNair said.
According to the lawsuit, Smith’s “autopsy report was significantly delayed” due to state and DOC investigators allegedly failing to “to provide the medical examiner with the investigative file, including reports, videos, and other material related to the beatings that killed Mr. Smith despite multiple requests from the (medical examiner’s) office.”
The family waited nearly a year before they were provided with some details surrounding his death. The autopsy report still has not been publicly released, according to the lawsuit.
But from information the family has received from medical records, according to the lawsuit, Smith “sustained a severe catastrophic brain injury” as a result “of the brutal beatings.”
This article was sent to my by my good friend and excellent attorney, Steve Hampton, Esq.
Excerpts from the Article:
Health experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that keeping people from coming in close contact with one another through social distancing is the most reliable method to stop the spread of COVID-19. So is the need to quarantine positive cases from the uninfected.
However, the layout and general overcrowding of correctional facilities renders separation of prisoners a virtual impossibility. As a result, prisoners, many of whom come to jail with serious preexisting conditions, are four times more likely to contract the virus than those on the outside, and that ratio is likely to grow.
Initially, several states and counties released many non-violent offenders and some prisoners with little time left on their sentences to drop population counts, often after prodding by state courts to do so. Nationwide, jail populations decreased from 738,400 in December 2018 to 575,952 in July 2020. However, recently, the welcome trend of decarceration appears to have stalled.
The progression of COVID-19 has laid bare deficiencies in jail and prison health care, exposing its lack of availability and poor quality. It is no surprise that these deficiencies have taken, and will continue to take, a heavy toll on prisoner populations.
In early December, U.S. jails and prisons had 276,235 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a month-old figure that probably constitutes a significant undercount. At least one in five U.S. prisoners has fallen ill, and 1,738 have died.
Prison officials appear unable to stem the rising tide of illness and death.
Of course, public health officials were caught unaware when the virus struck in early 2020, but by March and April, the scope of the prison problem became painfully apparent, and much of what was done to flatten the tide was insufficient and inadequate. Hundreds of federal prisoners fell ill and dozens died at Elkton, Oakdale, Terminal Island, and Lompoc, among others, prompting then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Barr to direct federal Bureau of Prisons officials to begin releasing older and medically vulnerable prisoners under the CARES Act. Federal prisons decreased their populations by less than 20,000, from 175,000 in March of 2020 to 157,000 five months later, but that process, too, had begun to slow.
Unfortunately for the BOP, the hardest-hit facilities are those that house the most medically vulnerable, specifically, the federal medical centers of Butner, Devens, Carswell, Rochester, and Springfield, with dozens of prisoners ending up losing their lives, and even those who the BOP classifies as “recovered” suffering continuing symptoms with little medical intervention to ease their suffering.
Prisoners in all facilities have struggled with lack of personal protective equipment, inadequate cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and the inability of depleted medical staffs to respond in a timely fashion to sick calls or provide even simple medications to ease the suffering. Most outside medical visits have been canceled, which means that seriously ill individuals with medical appointments with outside specialists are not transported to receive treatment.
The U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General has cited every federal prison that has experienced a serious outbreak for failure to properly prepare and execute proper procedures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has also taken a serious toll on correctional officials. The resulting absences and resignations have only contributed to miserable conditions in jails and prisons, as prisoners struggle to deal with mental health issues from prison conditions, and the cancellation of family visitations. Overcrowded facilities mean that it is difficult to separate the sick from the healthy, except by housing them in gyms, special housing units, or in neighboring institutions that may have a high security level.
Even when the institution has identified individuals who are ill, help often falls short in providing meaningful medical treatment. That is, until the individual is so ill that he or she must be transferred to an outside hospital on an emergency basis, generally to be intubated.
The case of federal prisoner James Velez, imprisoned at Milan prison in Michigan, is all too typical. Velez, 61, who had several preexisting conditions, was ill for weeks, without any medical treatment, before he died.
Survivors can feel hopeless in the face of such loss. They are unable to properly grieve the loss of their friends when they fear for their own lives. Indiana state prisoner Sarah Jo Parker spoke for many when she said: “Some of us wear masks even in our beds, but it feels futile. There is little to do except watch the infection spread and wait my turn to suffer.” She later tested positive for the virus as did hundreds of her fellow prisoners.
Jails and prisons, especially those with high prisoner turnover, are sources of disease spread in their communities. Cook County, Illinois Jail, with almost 400 infections at one time, was blamed for a rapid spread of the disease in its neighborhood, as guards who worked at the facility brought it back home. According to the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), prisons and jails added more than 500,000 new COVID cases, 13 percent of cases nationwide. Nearly every prison system in the country has seen infection rates significantly higher than the communities around them.
Although some states have successfully moved people out of prison by early releases, paroles and furloughs, there is a fear that growing prisoner counts in many states will allow COVID-19 to continue its march. November and December both showed significant increases infection levels in several states. As the pandemic continues into its second year, and people grow numb at rising infection and death levels, increases in prisoner counts are becoming more common. And as the threat of COVID transmission becomes a normalized reality, incarceration reductions are reversing. According to PPI, in the period from March to July of 2020, the majority of 514 jails had reduced the number of people behind bars by an average of 26 percent, but since July, however, 77 percent of these same jails saw increases. Even Cook County, Illinois, saw a higher prisoner count.
A female prisoner at the Rockville state prison in Indiana perhaps summed up the feelings of many, saying, “The prison has essentially thrown up their hands and walked away from the problem for the moment. I am sure that they are working on a better solution (at least, we hope so),” she said. “But in the meantime, we see our neighbor get sick and we start worrying. Then they test positive, and we literally become trapped in the room with them. It’s like something out of a horror movie. In the beginning, I used to flippantly say that when the COVID finally comes here, the prison will just let us all get sick and die. I thought that I was just being dramatic, but it might have been more prescient than I know.”
No shit. Prison officials routinely lie like hell and ignore court orders! Lawmakers should insert more accountability and enforce it!
Excerpts from the Article:
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation promised to improve how it handles inmate reports of staff abuse and misconduct but delivered a bureaucratic mess instead.
California prison officials sat before a panel of lawmakers in Sacramento two years ago and promised to overhaul the way prisons handle inmates’ complaints of staff misconduct. They asked for, and got, $9.8 million to start a new staff investigative unit called the Allegation Inquiry Management Section (AIMS).
At the time, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz assured legislators that wardens would be removed from the staff complaint process and that independent inquiries would be made outside the prison setting. These promises were not fulfilled, and on Monday, California lawmakers grilled Diaz’s successor Kathleen Allison as to why.
For example, there were too many exclusions for what counts as misconduct. Definitions of certain terms were also confusing and led to fewer cases being forwarded by wardens to AIMS.
The Office of the Inspector General was brought in two years ago to review inmate allegations of staff misconduct at Salinas Valley State prison, one of 35 operated by the CDCR. “We found a system that was utterly and completely broken,” Inspector General Roy Wesley said. “The inquiries conducted at Salinas Valley were rife with botched interviews, officer bias and no semblance of fairness.”
While the CDCR professed to agree with the Inspector Generals’ findings, a report released last month by the Office of Inspector General revealed serious weaknesses persist. The AIMS unit specifically established to solve the problem had failed.
“Wardens undermined the purpose of AIMS by not referring cases and keeping inquiries in the institution,” Wesley said, adding that wardens had likely grossly undercounted instances of staff misconduct by recategorizing them. They also exonerated their staff more than 98% of the time.
From April 1, 2020, to Aug. 31, 2020, the unit accepted 428 inquiries “or about one-fifth of what it was supposed to handle,” Wesley said. Wardens also chose to refer only 541 of the 2,339 (23%) of grievances alleging staff misconduct to AIMS.
Lawmakers said the department’s failings are part of a long history that resurfaces every budget season.
“Discussing the shortfalls of the CDCR is nothing new. It’s a topic we have revisited year after year after year,” Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said at Monday’s hearing for the committee that oversees the budget for prisons and law enforcement. “It is clear we need additional tools to bring about more accountability to our corrections system.”
In September, a federal judge overseeing a decades-long civil rights case brought by disabled prisoners ordered guards to wear body cameras at R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, where civil rights attorneys have documented correctional officers punching, kicking, and using excessive pepper spray on disabled inmates.
Now the department wants $13.5 million this year, $10.1 million next year, and $7 million in 2022-23 to deploy those body cameras, along with an audio surveillance system, and to expand AIMS to comply with the judge’s order.
But the low numbers infuriated lawmakers, who said they were not sure they should throw more money at the problem.
“It looks like the money we gave you has been misspent,” Assemblymember Mark Stone, a Scotts Valley Democrat said. He was a member of the committee two years ago.
“With all due respect, you have a significant credibility problem on this issue given what we were told two years ago when we approved this money. It seems like the system was set up with too many gates to ensure that complaints never got to the unit. And now you’re actually asking us for more money to provide oversight for a system that was supposed to be oversight. I’m not sure this committee should allow more money to fix a problem that should not have arisen in the first place.”
Budget chair Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, was even more incensed. “Would you agree that Secretary Diaz stood here a year ago promising to have a completely independent process?” he asked Allison, who said she recalled Diaz’s comments but could not speak to her predecessor’s intent. She took over the job after Diaz retired on Oct. 1, 2020.
She also could not explain why the wardens were inserted into what was supposed to be an independent process.
Ting continued to pepper her with questions. “Why did the department complicate the process? You’ve been with the department for how many years now? You act like you’re a new employee.”
Allison said she had been with the department for 33 or 34 years, but said she was not responsible for overseeing AIMS. She vowed to have “constant oversight” of the process.
“Every allegation will be immediately forwarded to the outside unit. They will no longer go through a screening at the local level,” she said. “That is the first and foremost correction that needs to be done.”
Jones-Sawyer said in addition to misconduct reporting, the department is also failing at discipline. He pointed to a December report from the Inspector General on the department’s delays in processing employee discipline cases. From January through June last year, the department’s discipline delays cost taxpayers approximately $312,584. The department also settled cases despite the Inspector General recommending higher penalties.
Jones-Sawyer said he will push for the Inspector Generals’ office to receive $11 million to fund its continued oversight of the department.
“It is entirely unacceptable that in an already limited budget, CDCR has wasted over $312,000 in just six months because of delayed discipline,” he said. “But even more important, we should not be allowing individuals to get way with gross attacks on vulnerable, incarcerated populations.”
The Whole Story:
This affects YOU! All of this preventable litigation in every state is paid for by YOU!
Excerpts from the Article:
A former inmate has sued the Tippecanoe County Jail as well as leaders of the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Department after the jail allegedly failed to administer required medications to him and protect inmates from COVID-19.
Marcel Brown, 25, was booked into the jail Sept. 5 on charges of armed robbery and theft, and was released on Dec. 29. Brown’s wife, Carmen, who is representing him in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, says he was denied access to medication for seizures while he was in jail.
“He informed them that he did have underlying health conditions that required medication (and) they said they would have to outsource, of course,” Carmen Brown said.
Because this was Marcel Brown’s first time being arrested, and stress often triggers his seizures, Carmen Brown said it was urgent that Marcel Brown receive the medication.
Eventually, officials at the jail allegedly told Carmen Brown she could bring the medication directly to the jail.
“They had me come in and deliver the medication, they just never physically administered it,” she said.
Marcel Brown filed the lawsuit against the Tippecanoe County Jail, Jail Commander Thomas Lehman, Sheriff Robert Goldsmith and Chief Deputy Terry Ruley for alleged breach of duty and failure to exercise reasonable care.
Because Marcel Brown is unable to recall seizures he experiences, Carmen Brown said she is unsure if he suffered from any seizures during his time in jail.
Marcel Brown tested positive for COVID-19 the day before he posted bond, meaning that upon release he had to spend another two weeks away from his wife while in quarantine. Carmen Brown said Marcel Brown was not given a mask in jail until the final week of his stay, and was not tested for COVID-19 until his final day.
“They tested people that were symptomatic, not asymptomatic,” she said. “By then it’s already too late.”
Goldsmith, who said he was unaware of the lawsuit when The Exponent first reached him on Tuesday, declined to comment on the lawsuit itself and on the jail’s general COVID-19 protocols and guidelines regarding inmates’ medical needs.
“COVID-19 has been an issue since March of last year and I have done several interviews about it since the pandemic began,” Goldsmith said in an email. “We didn’t have our first positive case until November and as of last week we have zero cases.”
The jail saw 99 confirmed cases and 44 quarantined inmates as of Jan. 27, according to previous reporting by WLFI News 18.
Carmen Brown said that according to Marcel Brown, the jail would allow all inmates who tested positive into the day rooms for one hour, then allow all those who were not sick into the day rooms immediately afterward without first sanitizing the room.
At one point during Marcel Brown’s time in jail, Carmen Brown said another inmate who had tested positive was allowed to come into Marcel Brown’s cell, without any safety measures in place.
Marcel Brown is suing for $1 million in damages, and is demanding an injunction obligation including “COVID-19 testing, cleaning of all cells/area and exercise of more reasonable care of any/all inmates,” according to the lawsuit documents.
Jail Lockup Tied to Early Death in U.S. Counties A new analysis suggests jail incarceration rates may help drive causes of death like infectious disease and suicide among county residents.
This should surprise nobody. Given that one’s physical health is tied to one’s mental health it stands to reason that those who see and experience all of the abuse, despair, and horrible health care in our jails, will be more ill and even commit suicide. By the way, there is NO effective mental health treatment in America’s jails or prisons, and this is part of that story. The despair and the contagion do not vanish when men and women walk out of the jail, as millions of Americans do each year… they infest the communities.
Barriers to reentry no doubt also play a role in the despondency leading to suicide. There are more than 25,000 such barriers in our states! Ex offenders face scores of barriers to housing, employment, and education, in every state.
Excerpts from the Article:
INCREASES IN A COUNTY’S jail incarceration rate are associated with upticks in premature deaths caused by issues like infectious disease, substance use and suicide among a county’s broader population, according to a new study.
The study, published Tuesday by The Lancet Public Health, comes as prison reform advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union have called on states to release inmates in order to protect them from COVID-19 and ward off spread of the novel coronavirus that causes it. Amid the ongoing pandemic, researchers say their findings “highlight the immediate need to account for jails as drivers of infectious disease spread in the community.”
“These findings suggest that interventions to reduce incarceration might result in broader community mortality benefits,” according to the study, conducted by researchers from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Wayne State University.
For their long-term analysis, researchers examined jail incarceration rates from 1987 to 2017 across 1,094 mostly larger, non-rural counties, pairing that data with rates of certain causes of death across three decades for county residents younger than 75. The median increase in incarceration rate during the study period was 1.9 per 1,000 population, although some counties saw an increase of more than 20 per 1,000 population.
The study estimates that a 1 per 1,000 population increase in a county’s jail incarceration rate was associated with an increased death rate for a number of conditions in the county population aged 75 and younger after one year, including a 6.5% increase in the rate of death from infectious diseases and a 4.9% increase in the rate of death from chronic lower respiratory disease. The study also found a 2.6% increase in substance use mortality and a 2.5% increase in the rate of death by suicide, as well as smaller increases in county death rates tied to heart disease, unintentional injury, cancer and diabetes.
In their analysis, researchers accounted for the effects of county-level factors such as crime, poverty, racial demographics and unemployment. Over time, researchers said, the associations between incarceration and causes of death weakened. Infectious disease and suicide mortality in counties declined by 5% and 2.5%, respectively, over 10 years, for example. Declines were less pronounced for causes of death such as heart disease and cancer.
Researchers said they conducted the study amid the “growing body of evidence concerning the public health consequences of mass incarceration,” and that their findings offer evidence suggesting that curbing incarceration could improve public health.
“With U.S. correctional facilities reporting some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the nation, the pandemic highlights the immediate need for decarceral strategies to massively reduce the number of people held in our nation’s jails and prisons to protect the lives of incarcerated people and control infectious disease spread in the community,” researcher and study co-author Sandhya Kajeepta said in a statement.
In the study, researchers also say jail incarceration in the U.S. is “an institutional product of structural racism that disproportionately affects Black Americans,” and that high incarceration rates may compound existing racial health disparities in communities. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and Black people are nearly four times more likely to be incarcerated in local jails than white people, the study says.
“Responses to the most pressing public health challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid epidemic, require public health to reckon with mass criminalisation and mass incarceration,” study co-author Dr. Seth J. Prins said in a statement.
I have read at least 100 similar reports from jails and prisons nationwide. She should have been in a maternity ward, and YOU should not tolerate such abuse.
READ Why only PROSECUTION and IMPRISONMENT Will Stop Prison Abuse and Police Abuse! Demand It!! How to Avoid the Deaths of More Prison Guards! NOTE: the great project with judge Posner, referenced here, never came to fruition, because he became senile.
An Indiana woman who gave birth alone in a Kentucky jail will receive $200,000 settlement after arguing that correction staffers were deliberately indifferent to her medical needs, according to a news report.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove approved the settlement amount earlier this week.
Kelsey Love, 32, had filed a lawsuit in 2018 alleging that Franklin County Regional Jail ignored her while she screamed in pain during her labor in May 2017. Love was eight months pregnant when officers arrested her in Kentucky for suspected impaired driving.
Under the settlement, the Franklin County jail and the jail employees named in the legal challenge did not admit fault. The county maintains that there was no evidence to suggest Love was in labor.
According to court records, Love began screaming for help two days after being placed in the jail. A female deputy jailer checked in on Love, who was naked and on the floor holding her stomach, who then contacted the jail’s on-call nurse. Court records say the nurse said she would observe Love and eventually check on her later. When the nurse arrived at Love’s cell roughly three hours later, they found a large amount of blood on the floor.
Love’s attorney, Aaron J. Bentley, says she gave birth, ripped open her mattress and crawled inside it with the baby. Bentley says Love chewed off the umbilical cord.
“You can imagine it was pretty traumatic,” Bentley said. Bentley added that Love still has nightmares surrounding her labor, but has been sober for two years after completing drug treatment. She’s currently working to gain custody of her children.
There are hundreds of reasons we should be thankful that the Con Man in Chief is gone. This is one of them.
I have spoken against the death penalty for many years. READ Death Penalty Letter – Worth Publishing again in 2019, with some now calling for more death penalty statutes! – kra
Excerpts from the Article:
Executioners who put 13 inmates to death in the last months of the Trump administration likened the process of dying by lethal injection to falling asleep and called gurneys “beds” and final breaths “snores.”
But those tranquil accounts are at odds with reports by The Associated Press and other media witnesses of how prisoners’ stomachs rolled, shook and shuddered as the pentobarbital took effect inside the U.S. penitentiary death chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana. The AP witnessed every execution.
The sworn accounts by executioners, which government filings cited as evidence the lethal injections were going smoothly, raise questions about whether officials misled courts to ensure the executions scheduled from July to mid-January were done before death penalty opponent Joe Biden became president.
Secrecy surrounded all aspects of the executions. Courts relied on those carrying them out to volunteer information about glitches. None of the executioners mentioned any.
Questions about whether inmates’ midsections trembled as media witnesses described were a focus of litigation throughout the run of executions. Inmates’ lawyers argued it proved pentobarbital caused flash pulmonary edema, in which fluid rushes through quickly disintegrating membranes into lungs and airways, causing pain akin to being suffocated or drowned. The U.S. Constitution prohibits execution methods that are “cruel and unusual.”
The discrepancies could increase pressure on Biden to declare his administration won’t execute any of the roughly 50 federal inmates still on death row. Activists want him to go further by backing a bill abolishing the federal death penalty. Biden hasn’t spoken about any specific action.
During the Sept. 22 execution of William LeCroy, convicted of killing Georgia nurse Joann Lee Tiesler in 2001, the 50-year-old’s stomach area heaved uncontrollably immediately after the pentobarbital injection. It lasted about a minute, according to the AP and other reports.
Executioner Eric Williams stood next to LeCroy as he died. But Williams made only cursory reference to “the rise and fall” of LeCroy’s abdomen in his account. Shortly after serving in five of the recent executions, Williams was named the interim warden of the high-profile New York City lockup where Jeffrey Epstein died in 2019.
“During the entirety of the execution, LeCroy did not appear to be in any sort of distress, discomfort, or pain,” Williams wrote. “A short time after he took a deep breath and snored, it appeared to me that LeCroy was in a deep, comfortable sleep.”
The distinctive jerking and jolting was visible in at least half the executions, according to the AP and other media accounts. Among multiple executioner accounts, none described any such movements. All employed the same sleep metaphors.
When Donald Trump’s Justice Department announced in 2019 it’d resume executions after a 17-year hiatus, it said it would use pentobarbital alone. Manufacturers were no longer willing to supply the combination of drugs used in three federal executions from 2001 to 2003, explaining they didn’t want drugs meant to save lives to be used for killing.
One point of contention during the litigation was whether, even if pulmonary edema did occur, inmates could feel it after they appeared to be knocked out. Experts for the prisoners said the drug paralyzes the body, masking the pain prisoners could feel as they died.
Full Coverage: Executions
None of those executed appeared to writhe in pain. But audio from the death chamber to the media viewing room was switched off just prior to the injections, so journalists couldn’t hear if inmates groaned or complained of pain.
William Breeden, a spiritual adviser in the chamber when 52-year-old Corey Johnson was executed on Jan. 14 after his 1992 conviction of killing seven people, said in a filing the next day that “Corey said his hands and mouth were burning” after the injection. Federal Bureau of Prisons attorney Rick Winter said in response that neither he nor anyone in a government witness room heard that.
Some pain doesn’t necessarily mean an execution method violates prohibitions against “cruel and unusual” punishment, the Supreme Court ruled in 2019. The Constitution, the 5-4 majority opinion said, “does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death — something that, of course, isn’t guaranteed to many people.”
Government lawyers, eager to carry on and avoid any potential delays, sought to discredit the journalists’ accounts.