Tulsa County, estate settle lawsuit for $10 million, ending years of litigation over Elliott Williams’ death in the Tulsa County jail – MORE Prison Abuse! – kra
Here is ANOTHER among scores of articles like this; totally preventable tragedy and huge taxpayer (YOUR money!) expense, due to prison abuse!
And these cases which make the news are the tip of the iceberg of the costs caused by America’s Huge Dirty Little Secret: Prison Abuse, which costs YOU hundreds of dollars every year!
Excerpts from the Article:
Officials have agreed to settle a lawsuit over the death of a 37-year-old man, who died in 2011 after lying naked in a Tulsa County, Oklahoma, jail cell for five days with a broken neck. Documents filed in federal court in Tulsa last Thursday said the estate of Elliott Williams and Tulsa County settled and have 20 days to file the agreement, but do not list a settlement amount.
Estate attorney Dan Smolen told the Tulsa World the settlement is for $10 million. Smolen and a county official did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
The settlement would end the county’s appeal of a 2017 civil rights lawsuit in which a federal jury awarded the family $10 million, plus $250,000 from former Sheriff Stanley Glanz, the sheriff at the time of Williams’ death.
Williams had been arrested in the Tulsa suburb of Owasso on a misdemeanor obstruction warrant and, after thrashing, screaming and taking off his clothes, was taken to the Tulsa County jail. He was initially placed in a medical unit before being transferred to a cell.
There, Williams rammed his head against the bars and said he had a broken neck, but a nurse scolded him at one point and told him to stop faking his injuries, according to the lawsuit. A medical examiner determined that Williams died of complications from a broken neck and dehydration.
The Whole Story:
Prison “health care” is a misnomer. Every year hundreds of inmates, yes hundreds, die from extreme medical neglect!. It is a thorough explanation of systemic reasons why so many inmates die at the hands of “medical personnel”. Some practitioners with disciplinary histories bounce from state to state.
I have had to crop the article severely to include it in my newsletter, but it is a must read if you have a loved one in prison. Part of the article chronicles the story of inmate Jerry Armbruster, who lives in pain and is lucky to be alive after the nearly unbelievable medical neglect and screw-ups he endured.
I SAW what goes on in prison for five years, and for eight more years now I have read countless articles about prison “health care”. And every week I get a call from someone whose loved one is seriously ill or dying in prison and nobody is doing a damn thing about it! Fortunately, I know what can be done … it is what I did to save lives when I was in: READ How to Force Proper Health Care in Prison
Excerpts from the Article:
Even after a major class action suit required Illinois to revamp its prison healthcare system, doctors whose alleged neglect resulted in major injury or death still remain on the prison system payroll.
Jerry Armbruster went to the doctor in May 2014, complaining of tingling and numbness in his arms and hands. He told the doctor how pain in his legs was making it hard to walk, too. “I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint it,” Armbruster said. He says he was told by the doctor that he was just dehydrated and if he drank more water he would be OK. Two weeks later, Armbruster was back; the pain and numbness had gotten worse. He now had no grip in his right hand. It took him five minutes to write his name on the paperwork given to him at the appointment. Over the following weeks Armbruster went to the doctor repeatedly, yet at each visit, medical staff would not refer him to a specialist.
Armbruster had no option for changing doctors or getting a second opinion: He could only see the doctor assigned to Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center, a 763-bed prison in East St. Louis, where he was serving a three-year sentence for burglary and aggravated battery.
Doctors with histories of medical errors or misconduct are hired to work in prisons throughout the US. Many continue treating prisoner patients even after red flags have been raised around treatment. When private companies take over healthcare in prisons, their contracts force corrections agencies to cede control of hiring and firing individual physicians, and obscure the lines of responsibility when something goes wrong.
Even when a doctor’s mistake results in a permanent disability, prisoners have limited options to seek better treatment or push for accountability.
Armbruster did not know he had signs of spinal cord compression, a dangerous condition that can cause permanent damage to the spinal cord, especially if not treated early. Though he spent the final five months of his sentence begging for medical staff to help him, relief did not come until after his release. Ten days after leaving prison, Armbruster found himself on the operating table, a surgeon racing to alleviate the pressure on his spinal cord.
Armbruster was only one in a string of patients who allege that they suffered after their prison doctor, Bharat Shah, missed critical symptoms and misdiagnosed common conditions. Just weeks after Armbruster’s emergency surgery, another prisoner arrived at the prison on a strict antibiotic regimen to keep a mild infection under control. Yet for months, the prisoner later told the federal court in Illinois, Shah refused to give the prisoner the medication, resulting in a severe ankle infection that had to be surgically removed. Months later, another prisoner at the same prison suffered nearly identical symptoms as Armbruster; Shah allegedly refused to treat him.
In court filings, Shah denied that he had provided negligent care. Armbruster’s case is still open, but the other two have been dismissed, one because the prisoner failed to complete the prison’s grievance process before filing his suit and the other because the plaintiff missed a court date.
The continued symptoms have forced Armbruster to get creative in his daily life. He started keeping spare cell phones around because his phone repeatedly slipped from his numb fingers and broke on the ground. “I always try to keep my mind on something other than the pain,” Armbruster said.
In the first year after his surgery, when his youngest daughter, then 3, would visit his home, he did his best to keep up with her, but found her too quick. He tied a rope around her waist and around his own, so she wouldn’t get too far away when she ran and played.
Armbruster now lives in an RV near his girlfriend’s house in Cottage Hills, Illinois. With few organizations interested in hiring someone with a felony record and physical limitations, finding work has proved near impossible. He relies on the generosity of his friends and family to keep him afloat. Armbruster can’t draw and can’t work on cars but does his best to keep busy.
“There’s nothing I can do. I’ve just accepted that this is the way it is,” he said. “I know it’s not gonna get better.”
Don’t Ignore Migrant Children’s Suffering As healthcare professionals, we should do what we can, says Niran S. Al-Agba, MD
That’s right, we must not forget the children suffering needlessly every day due to tRump’s innumerable lies about immigrants and his asinine, racist, cruel policies, encouraged by his “adviser” – the Devil incarnate – Stephen Miller!
Here we see the tragic truth of what tRmp is doing to children at the border, through the eyes of a doctor on the front lines!
Raise hell about it! READ this to learn how: Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform of our Criminal Justice System – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
This article also was sent my way by great lawyer, Steve Hampton.
Excerpts from the Article:
Sometimes an image captures the heart of a nation by putting a face on a human crisis. The one of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 2-year-old daughter Valeria lying face down in the Rio Grande after drowning was powerful. Their family had been turned away from crossing the border and decided to take their chances and swim across the river. They were not successful.
Why did this picture seize our attention? Is it because Valeria’s tiny body is tucked inside her father’s shirt and we can vividly see her clinging to him as they drowned? Or is it because we know if they had made it across safely, the two would have been separated anyway? Or is it because every parent understands the desperation it took for a father to swim across a swirling river while carrying his 2-year-old daughter on his back?
After staring at this image long enough, this girl becomes mine. And if circumstances had been different, Valeria could belong to any one of us. Immigrants arriving at the Southern U.S. border have the right to request asylum without being criminalized or separated from their children. And I have lost my patience with those people who are trying to justify treating migrant children like animals. It is intolerable to deprive a child of food, shelter, and sanitation.
Pediatricians and other health personnel must be allowed access to the border facilities holding migrant children. Border patrol officials must be trained to care for ill or injured children while in detention facilities. In addition, we must change the way America looks at those seeking asylum in this country. And, in my opinion, American mothers are the ones to do it.
Language has the power to shape public opinion. Labeling immigrants as “illegals,” serves to dehumanize them and justify holding them in bondage. Propaganda can be very persuasive. The language used in reference to immigration has been weaponized to the extent that our nation has been deaf to the cries of children separated from their mothers.
Our nation has been here before. History is filled with propaganda-driven cruelty against ethnic or racial groups. Slave owners considered slaves to be personal property and thought nothing of tearing apart families. Our nation was indifferent to the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans, some of whom endured family separation as well.
Unfortunately, this time, we are brutalizing children who are unable to protect themselves.
Children are not small adults. They have unique physical, emotional, and medical needs. Children cannot reach their potential living in deplorable conditions. Children need healthy food. Children need soap and toothbrushes. Children need to feel safe, have adequate sleep, and time to play.
Despite the fact that President Trump says the conditions are acceptable, make no mistake, children are being harmed at our southern border. Sara Goza, MD, the current president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently toured two border facilities. She said, “The first thing that hit me when we walked in the door was the smell. It was the smell of sweat, urine, and feces.” She continued, “No amount of time spent in these facilities is safe for children.”
Immigrants are, first and foremost, human beings. Migrant children are no different than our own children. Outbreaks of chickenpox, scabies, and shingles will go on to become measles and meningitis if we do nothing. Teams of pediatricians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other support staff — who have passed background checks — should immediately be given access to examine every child and provide necessary medical care in every single detention center in the country holding children under the age of 18.
Border patrol officials have no training or expertise in caring for young children. They have been providing one lice comb for children to comb through each other’s hair, yet in the absence of hot water or rubbing alcohol to sterilize the comb between uses, combating lice is impossible. As a mother of four children, I cannot tolerate the idea of any child being held in such deplorable conditions.
The government is just as incapable of managing the immigration crisis as they are at fixing our healthcare system. Everyday Americans must do it. Every time we turn away from the preventable suffering of a child, we lose a piece of our humanity.
Do not turn away. The lives of too many children are at stake.
AP Exclusive: DOJ Would Take Halted Executions to High Court – Pray for an end to killings by the Government! – kra
The tRump administration truly is clueless on justice reform! This act by A G Barr, tRump’s “cover up lawyer” is just the latest example. In an age where the system is so fucked up that thousands of men and women are wrongly convicted, that moron, Barr, wants to hurry up and execute people. Consider this: 21 of 367 people who were EXONERATED served time on death row!
From brutalizing innocent immigrant children, to abusing the Pardon power, to now trying to kill people, tRump has it all wrong!
We now know that A G Bill Barr simply cannot be believed, and I suspect that the judge who rejected his arguments about these executions was well aware of that!
We should pray that Barr’s attempts to expedite executions do NOT succeed!
Excerpts from the Article:
Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Thursday that he would take the Trump administration’s bid to restart federal executions after a 16-year hiatus to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Barr’s comments came hours after a district court judge temporarily blocked the administration’s plans to start executions next month. The administration is appealing the decision, and Barr said he would take the case to the high court if Thursday’s ruling stands.
He said the five inmates set to be executed are a small portion of 62 death row inmates. “There are people who would say these kinds of delays are not fair to the victims, so we can move forward with our first group,” Barr said aboard a government plane to Montana, after he met with local and federal law enforcement officials in Cleveland.
The attorney general unexpectedly announced in July that the government would resume executions next month, ending an informal moratorium on federal capital punishment as the issue receded from the public domain.
Some of the chosen inmates challenged the new procedures in court, arguing that the government was circumventing proper methods in order to wrongly execute inmates quickly.
U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan put the cases on ice while the challenge plays out. She said in a Wednesday evening ruling that the public is not served by “short-circuiting” legitimate judicial process.
Her ruling temporarily postpones four of the five scheduled executions beginning next month; the fifth had already been halted. It’s possible the government could win an appeal in time to begin executions Dec. 9, but that would be an unusually fast turnaround.
Still, executions on the federal level have been rare. The government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988, most recently in 2003, when Louis Jones was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young female soldier. In 2014, following a botched state execution in Oklahoma, President Barack Obama directed the Justice Department to conduct a broad review of capital punishment and issues surrounding lethal injection drugs.
Barr said in July that the Obama-era review had been completed, clearing the way for executions to resume. He approved a new procedure for lethal injections that replaces the three-drug combination previously used in federal executions with one drug, pentobarbital. This is similar to the procedure used in several states, including Georgia, Missouri and Texas, but not all.
Chutkan said in her opinion that the inmates’ legal challenge to the procedure was likely to succeed because the Federal Death Penalty Act requires that federal executions employ procedures used by the states in which they are carried out.
On Thursday, Barr defended the protocols, saying the Bureau of Prisons has been testing and conducting practice drills ahead of the first execution. He would not say where the cocktail of drugs would come from. “I was kept advised and reports were given to me, scientific tests, the drills they are running through,” Barr said.
Danny Lee of Yukon, Oklahoma, was the first person scheduled to be executed. Lee was convicted in the 1996 deaths of an Arkansas family as part of a plot to set up a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest.
The death penalty remains legal in 30 states, but only a handful regularly conduct executions. Texas has executed 108 prisoners since 2010, far more than any other state.
Though there hasn’t been a federal execution since 2003, the Justice Department has continued to approve death penalty prosecutions, and federal courts have sentenced defendants to death.
The Whole Story:
I have written about this guy before, acknowledging his road to redemption. But would you accept an offer of $7 million to spend decades in prison? Of course not! We MUST end prosecutor misconduct and we must end wrongful convictions. See many articles on this website on how that can be accomplished, not the least of which is ending the war on drugs!
READ How The War on Drugs Destroyed Justice:
Excerpts from the Article:
Twenty years ago, Derrick Hamilton was at his lowest point: locked in solitary confinement for a murder he insisted he did not commit. Over the next two decades, he slowly crawled his way out of the belly of the beast.
He became a jailhouse lawyer, helping his fellow inmates appeal their convictions. Twenty-three years later, he finally persuaded prosecutors to throw out his own conviction, after an eyewitness recanted her testimony. Once free, he became an activist, toiling to get others he believed were wrongfully convicted out of jail.
Late last week, Mr. Hamilton, 54, took on a new role in the long drama of his fight against injustice: a successful plaintiff. City officials in New York and New Haven, Conn., agreed on Friday to pay him a total of $7 million to settle a lawsuit he had filed against three police officers, accusing them of fabricating evidence against him.
One of those officers, Louis Scarcella, a retired New York detective, has emerged in recent years as symbol of wrongful convictions, as numerous cases he handled have fallen apart. Under the terms of the agreement, reached on the eve of what would have been a trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, Mr. Scarcella admitted no wrongdoing. He had been scheduled, like Mr. Hamilton himself, to testify at the trial.
For Mr. Hamilton, the payout, while substantial, was not the point. “It’ll help my family out financially,” he said. “It doesn’t settle what I went through.” Mr. Hamilton added: “Everyone’s life went on for 20 years. Mine stopped.”
In 1991, when he was 28 and living in New Haven, Mr. Hamilton was arrested by Mr. Scarcella and the local police, accused of having murdered a Brooklyn man, Nathaniel Cash, whom he had known when he lived in the borough. You have 4 free articles remaining. The only eyewitness against him at his trial in State Supreme Court was Mr. Cash’s girlfriend, Jewel Smith, who had given conflicting accounts to the police about Mr. Hamilton’s role in the killing.
Still, the jury convicted him, and Mr. Hamilton was sent away in 1992 to what soon became a series of upstate prisons.
He spent much of the next 23 years performing jailhouse legal work. He pored over trial transcripts, filing motions on behalf of other inmates and occasionally winning their appeals. At one point — in Attica Correctional Facility — he filed papers challenging his long stint in solitary confinement, claiming it was “cruel and unusual punishment.”
In 2007, Ms. Smith went to the authorities and asserted that Mr. Hamilton was innocent. Mr. Scarcella, she said, had coerced her into testifying against him. Eight years later, the Conviction Review Unit of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office asked a judge to toss out Mr. Hamilton’s guilty verdict. Prosecutors noted that Ms. Smith had been “unreliable, untruthful and incredible in her testimony.”
By that point, the district attorney’s office was two years into an expansive investigation of dozens of Mr. Scarcella’s former murder cases, looking into allegations that he had coerced other witnesses and had threatened people to get them to confess. That investigation, which is ongoing, has led to the release of 14 inmates and has resulted in the city and state paying tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits against Mr. Scarcella.
The district attorney’s office has, however, maintained that Mr. Scarcella has not committed any punishable conduct or broken the law. Since becoming a free man, Mr. Hamilton has labored to overturn many convictions linked to Mr. Scarcella. Mr. Hamilton has worked with lawyers as a paralegal to investigate facts and has helped draft lawsuits and motions in support of new trials.
A few years ago, he founded a support group called Friends and Family of the Wrongfully Convicted with another former inmate, Sundhe Moses, who was also arrested by Mr. Scarcella and was ultimately freed. The group met for a while at the Brownstone Bar & Restaurant on Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which Mr. Hamilton operated with Shabaka Shakur, a third man arrested by Mr. Scarcella and later exonerated.
The three former prisoners would sometimes appear at hearings where Mr. Scarcella was on the stand defending his work. They wore hats that said “Wrongfully Convicted.”
More recently, Mr. Hamilton has partnered with the Innocence Project in an effort to persuade the New York Police Department to change the way in which its officers conduct interrogations. He has also undertaken a project to organize former prison inmates to work together as a voting bloc for criminal justice reform.
On Tuesday, he was in court when a Brooklyn judge threw out the conviction of Eliseo Deleon in what was the 15th exoneration linked to Mr. Scarcella’s detective work. Mr. Deleon spent 25 years in prison for a 1996 murder committed during a botched robbery in Clinton Hill. He has long maintained that Mr. Scarcella fabricated his confession.
“I know what it’s like to come home and have nothing — that’s why I’m going,” Mr. Hamilton said before the hearing. “The guy who’s coming home, he needs to know he’s got a friend.”
The Whole Story:
The gist of this article is about increased personnel at the prisons. For all of the talk about reducing mass incarceration, faaaaar too little has changed in the past 10 years. We need to see much more solid, concrete improvements, in inmate training and education programs (the BEST) way to reduce recidivism, and real help for those in reentry!
That chronic liar, Geoff Klopp, head of the prison guards’ union, blames all of the woes (wrongdoing!) in the prison on “under staffing”, as he spins all sorts of lies to cover up the continuing abuses. But the truth is that when new hires see all the wrongdoing, and the entrenched system of covering it up – READ : Culture of Cover Up! – those new hires quit in droves, they are so disgusted. We need much better training for new hires, to make them humane and motivated to report their peers’ wrongdoing! Along those lines, READ Why Only Prosecution Will Stop Prison Abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Delaware Department of Correction hopes to cut its correctional officer vacancies to about 40 by the end of next year, the lowest level in at least a decade. Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis, who was confirmed to the post in June, offered an overview of the agency Thursday in its preliminary budget hearing. Speaking to officials from the Office of Management and Budget, Ms. DeMatteis said the agency is making progress in improving the environment and staffing levels.
The Department of Correction, which has been understaffed for years, entered the spotlight in February 2017 after an inmate uprising at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center left one guard dead. In the aftermath, advocates stumped for higher salaries and better conditions in the state’s prisons, while decision-makers pledged to make changes to prevent another rebellion.
Counting a class of 21 cadets who will graduate today as correctional officers, the agency currently has 145 unfilled positions, Ms. DeMatteis said — a vacancy rate of about 10 percent. According to her, the department has gained 94 rank and file correctional officers since July 1, 2018.
About 200 applications are submitted to the state monthly, she said, although that’s a fraction of what it was just five years ago.
November 2014 saw more than 1,400 applications sent in, with almost 750 coming the following November. One year later — eight months after the riot — it was down to about 300.
Since the uprising, the state has raised starting salaries for COs from about $35,200 to $43,000. The job remains unappealing for some, however, due to long hours and the stress that comes with it.
But many feel steps forward are being made — including Correctional Officers Association of Delaware President Geoff Klopp, who praised state officials Thursday for their work.
The department’s budget for the current year totals about $343 million, up by $48 million from three years ago.
For the fiscal year starting July 1, Ms. DeMatteis requested an additional $9.7 million in operating funds. Those needs, she told budget officials, can largely be classified one of six ways: safety, equipment, technology, offender re-entry support, staffing levels and staff training.
She is also seeking $58.4 million in capital funding, which would represent an increase of more than 400 percent over the current year. Those dollars would primarily go to maintaining or adding to various department facilities, as well as upgrading radios, sprinklers and security cameras.
Ms. DeMatteis was proud to note the state hopes to get Vaughn accredited by the American Correctional Association soon. It is currently the only one of the state’s prisons that does not have that designation.
“It is the gold standard for a correctional facility,” she said of being accredited. “It is the gold standard. It doesn’t give you any money, it doesn’t do anything other than tell the public” the prison has received a sterling grade.
Thursday marked the final day of preliminary budget hearings. Gov. John Carney will unveil his spending recommendations in two months, which lawmakers will use as a base as they craft a plan. The General Assembly, which reconvenes in January, has until the end of June to approve a budget.
My good friend and great attorney, Steve Hampton*, sent me this one. Steve is one of too few attorneys with the skills and the will to SUE prison officials!
At least Pennsylvania did something!
But you cannot trust a word prison officials say. Every day in America prison officials kill an inmate, by brutal violence or by extreme medical neglect, or sometimes both! Yes, every day.
Grady and Hampton LLC
6 North Bradford Street
Dover, DE 19904
Excerpts from the Article:
Thirteen prison staffers at a Pennsylvania prison were suspended without pay on Friday following the death of a 29-year-old inmate, spokeswoman Susan McNaughton of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections told CNN.
The department said they will not release the names of the employees. A department press release said that the medical and security staffers are suspended pending the outcome of any criminal and administrative investigations.
Tyrone Briggs, 29, was involved in an altercation with a fellow inmate on November 11 near their housing unit in State Correctional Institution Mahanoy. While waiting to be processed into the restricted housing unit, Briggs became unresponsive and was taken to the prison’s medical triage for CPR. He was pronounced dead less than two hours later, according to a corrections department press release.
All inmate deaths are investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police, McNaughton said. Several hundred employees work at each state prison, but McNaughton declined to comment on why specifically 13 of the workers at Mahanoy have been suspended. McNaughton declined to comment on whether the suspensions will impact security at the prison, located in Frackville, Pennsylvania.
“Whatever the outcome of this case, we are going to be as transparent as possible, and the DOC will take whatever remedial measures deemed to be necessary,” said Corrections Department Secretary John Wetzel in a press release.
Briggs was admitted to the corrections department in 2008 and was serving a 15-to-30 year sentence.
“The Commonwealth is entrusted with the health and safety of all persons in their custody. Tyrone Briggs may have been an inmate, but he was still a human being with a family just like any of us and deserved their protection,” said Hank Clarke, an attorney representing the Briggs family, in an email to CNN on Saturday. Clarke added that the family is waiting on results from investigations into his death from the Pennsylvania State Police and the Schuylkill County Coroner.
As Epstein died, guards allegedly shopped online and slept – Two guards indicted – Defense is Total BULLSHIT – kra
Why is this total bullshit? The classic comments by the union representing the guards – “we are understaffed” – seeks to draw attention away from the major, serious problem which still exists in every prison in America – state and federal: “Suicide Watch” is a deadly joke! Remember, for five years I SAW what really goes on, and I get calls and emails and letters from inmates’ families daily!
As I wrote months ago: Here is what REALLY happens: the guards sleep through their 8 hour shift, and when they wake they falsify documents by checking off the boxes on the form to indicate that they did check on the inmates every few minutes, as required! I have SEEN them do this.
These were not “safety lapses” … this is what happens every day in America’s prisons! They think nothing of falsifying records and do it all the time – THAT, folks, is a crime! The warden here should really be indicted!
The only thing unusual about this case is that someone is being held accountable! A truly rare event!
Excerpts from the Article:
Two jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself were sleeping and browsing the internet instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday charging the guards with lying on prison records to cover themselves. The grand jury indictment provides a damning glimpse of safety lapses inside a high-security unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where Epstein had been awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
The indictment, leaning in part on images from security cameras on the cell block, also contains new details reinforcing the idea that, for all the intrigue regarding Epstein and his connections to powerful people, his death was a suicide and possibly preventable.
“The defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said. “Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.”
Instead of making required rounds every 30 minutes, guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas sat at their desks just 15 feet from Epstein’s cell, shopped online for furniture and motorcycles, and walked around the unit’s common area, the indictment said. During one two-hour period, it said, both appeared to have been asleep.
Prosecutors said security footage confirmed that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died — evidence that might also dampen conspiracy theories by people who have questioned whether he really took his own life.
A lawyer for Thomas, Montell Figgins, said both guards are being “scapegoated.” “We feel this is a rush to judgment by the U.S. attorney’s office,” he said. “They’re going after the low man on the totem pole here.” Noel’s lawyer, Jason Foy, said he hoped to “reach a reasonable agreement” with the government that could avoid a trial.
Both correctional officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon and were released on $100,000 bond. The defendants, hiding their faces with clothing, left the courthouse in separate cars waiting for them in the shadow of the jail where they had worked and Epstein died. Epstein’s death was a major embarrassment for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The cell where he died was in a high-security unit, famous for having held terrorists and drug cartel kingpins. Epstein’s death, though, revealed the jail was suffering from problems including chronic staffing shortages that lead to mandatory overtime for guards day after day and other staff being pressed into service as correctional officers.
Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after he was found July 23 on the floor of his cell with a strip of bedsheet around his neck, according to the indictment. After 24 hours, he was transferred to the facility’s hospital wing for a psychological observation, where he remained under close watch.
Epstein was moved back to a regular cell July 30 where he was required to have a cellmate, but he was left with none after his cellmate was transferred out of the MCC on Aug. 9, the day before his death, the indictment said.
The indictment said that Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell when the guards went to deliver breakfast. Noel confessed to a supervisor then that they hadn’t done either their 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. rounds, according to the indictment. According to the indictment, Thomas said: “We messed up.” And then added, “I messed up, she’s not to blame, we didn’t do any rounds.”
Prosecutors had wanted the guards to admit they falsified the prison records as part of a plea offer that they rejected, according to people familiar with the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to publicly discuss the investigation.
Marc Fernich, a lawyer for Epstein, said: “It would be a shame if minor scapegoats — classic low-hanging fruit, the softest targets — were made to take the fall for this tragedy on what amounts to a coverup theory. Unless it prompts genuine self-reflection from all major participants and stakeholders in our criminal justice system and those who cover it, Mr. Epstein’s death in federal custody — senseless and sad as it is — will have been entirely for naught.”
The city’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.
Falsification of records has been a problem throughout the federal prison system.
Sawyer, who was named director of the Bureau of Prisons after Epstein’s death, disclosed in an internal memo earlier this month that a review of operations across the agency found some staff members failed to perform required rounds and inmate counts but logged that they had done so anyway. A copy of the memo was obtained by the AP.
This fellow spent 3 more days in isolation than I did. “Thank you, God, for my strong spirit!”
What these articles do NOT tell you is that MOST people in isolation are put there by mean-spirited out of control prison guards as punishment for daring to speak up or trying to contact the outside world about prison abuse, deplorable conditions, or extreme medical neglect! READ What They Did to Me
Either the reporters don’t know, or they don’t want YOU to know!
Excerpts from the Article:
In his own words, Jay Vermillion described his temporary home at the Westville Correctional Facility, inside a unit that housed the “worst of the worst.”
Vermillion spent 23-24 hours a day in a cold “concrete tomb with a solid steel door.” There was no direct contact or interaction with others. No telephone use, work or recreation. Just the smell of mace fumes, the ransacking of cells and “humiliating strip searches,” Vermillion said.
“All of the out-of-control and unmanageable worst-of-the-worst are housed in ‘cold storage’ to induce dormancy,” he stated in a federal complaint.
Vermillion, who’s serving a decadeslong sentence for murder and other offenses, said he didn’t belong there. But starting in 2009, Vermillion remained in the unit for more than four years, he said. All while being denied a clear explanation for why he was there and a chance to explain why he believed he shouldn’t be — a right afforded to him and every inmate under the law, attorney Maggie Filler, of the Chicago-based MacArthur Justice Center, told IndyStar.
Indiana law says the maximum allowable term in solitary is 30 days, after which the department must review the offender to determine whether the inmate should stay segregated. Rather than hold these required reviews, Filler said, the DOC simply tacked on more days to Vermillion’s term.
Vermillion said he served back-to-back disciplinary terms in solitary: 1,513 days to be exact.
Now, after suing the Department of Correction, the state, namely taxpayers, will pay Vermillion roughly $100,000 for each year he spent in isolation, according to Filler. As Vermillion’s case was heading to trial in Indianapolis federal court, his attorneys reached a settlement last month with the state for $425,000, according to a copy of the settlement provided to IndyStar.
The case, Filler said, illustrates the need to protect the rights of prisoners—a population that may not always garner sympathy, but are still linked to society, even behind bars.
“Most people who enter prison are one day going to get out,” Filler, one of Vermillion’s lawyers, said. “And they’re going to be living in free society. So it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that the prison experience is more rehabilitative than it is just purely destructive.”
But even if one is not inclined toward sympathy for prison inmates, there is another reason to be concerned about the state’s actions: It came at a significant cost to taxpayers. Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Dave Bursten told IndyStar that the agency agreed to resolve the case to avoid the “uncertainties” of litigation and the expenses that would be incurred. “We continue to deny any fault, wrongdoing or liability with respect to this litigation,” Bursten said in the statement.
Vermillion was convicted in 1997 of shooting and killing his former girlfriend in 1995, court documents show. He’s currently detained at the Pendleton Correctional Facility and won’t be released until around 2036. In July 2009, he was serving time at Indiana State Prison when three men known to Vermillion escaped from the prison and were later apprehended, according to Vermillion’s complaint. Vermillion said prison officials questioned him, believing he was involved in the escape. Vermillion said he shut down the interview after invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Vermillion received this explanation on a piece of paper, Filler said, but the law requires much more. Because solitary confinement can be so damaging to inmates, Filler said, Indiana prisons must conduct reviews of their solitary terms at the end of the 30-day period. “At every review, he would just get the same piece of paper over and over again,” Filler said. “No indication as to what he needed to do to get out. No consideration of how his behavior has been up to that point.”
Filler told IndyStar that Vermillion’s settlement is one of the largest she’s aware of for a person who is still serving a prison sentence. She compared it to the federal case of Aaron Irby-Israel, an Indiana inmate who said he spent more than 20 years in solitary and won $314,000 after a bench trial earlier this year.
Had his case gone to a jury, Vermillion, 59, could have possibly gotten more than $425,000, according to Jeff Cardella, a criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis. But with a murder conviction, he would have also been rolling the dice.
“Some clients are more sympathetic than others,” Cardella said. “And somebody who is in prison generally falls at the lower end of the sympathy spectrum. It’s not technically something jurors should be considering. But jurors are human. And it’s something they do consciously or unconsciously consider.”
Cardella said $425,000 is not an unreasonable number, given how damaging solitary can be on individuals. The punishment, which has become more controversial over time, can cause severe depression, distortions and hallucinations, nightmares and lower levels of brain function, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.
Cardella said he believes such a punishment should be reserved for cases in which the inmate poses a serious danger to other inmates and prison employees, not used as discipline for bad behavior.
“We want as a society to have punishment for crime,” Cardella said, “and we want to be protected from people who are potentially dangerous. But at the same time, we don’t want the punishment to be sadistic or unnecessarily harsh, merely for the point of harming another individual, even if that individual has done something.”
The Whole Story
You should be concerned about the dysfunction of America’s prisons not only because of all the needless and costly abuse of inmates, but because the same dysfunction allows ESCAPES!
Excerpts from the Article:
Morgan County authorities said 30-year-old John Kaleb Gillespie broke out of the Morgan County Jail two weeks ago. At some point after his escape, he met up with a 16-year-old girl. The two were found Monday near Bessemer.It’s not clear how they knew each other, but now we know the two were communicating while the convicted sex offender was in the Morgan County Jail.
“When it comes to visitation in the jail there’s two things you need to think of. There’s on-site and off-site,” explained Mike Swafford, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. The Morgan County Jail has very specific visitation rules and a set schedule. But there is more than one way to interact with inmates. “For off-site, which is video visitation, similar to FaceTime, it’s not through Facebook, it’s a separate app,” Swafford added.
The Jail Funds app, gives users the option to schedule 15-minute video calls with inmates for about 6 dollars. Registration requires users to enter their birthdate and driver’s license number, and according to a statement from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office on the app, anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“What shouldn’t happen is minors should not be able to interact with sex offenders without other folks knowing,” said Swafford. “Now there’s nothing that keeps a minor from interacting with a sex offender, depending on their case in general.” That’s a requirement for in-person visits as well.
“On-site, we control here. There are stipulations of what can happen, can’t happen. For us, minors have to be accompanied by an adult,” he added. Morgan County jailers are supposed to supervise all video calls and it’s not clear what happened in this case. Now the sheriff’s office says it is working to figure out how to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
The Whole Story and the Video: