The Vaughn Files: The photo, videos and audio presented at trial. SEE THE EVIDENCE COLLECTED FROM WHAT HAS BEEN CALLED THE “DARKEST DAY” IN THE HISTORY OF DELAWARE’S PRISON SYSTEM
This article was sent to me by my good friend and great attorney, Steve Hampton. He is one of too few attorneys with the guts and the talent to sue D O C personell, and he represents many in their case concerning the beat downs by guards and the subsequent medical neglect.
I have written much about this prison revolt. See related articles under “prison abuse”. Although I did not encounter Floyd when I was in, I met many abusive C Os. His murder was not the answer, but it sure did not surprise me!
Excerpts from the Article:
The audio, video, photographs and documents contained here represent the bulk of what jurors saw over the course of three weeks-long trials for the murder of Lt. Steven Floyd during the Feb. 1, 2017, uprising at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.
Throughout the course of the trials, The News Journal asked the courts to make public the evidence so that the public can review the sights and sounds of C Building on what Gov. John Carney has described as the state prisons’ “darkest day.”
For more than a year, the courts held that the material would not be made public beyond the courtroom where cameras and audio recorders are banned. But eventually, the courts agreed to release the materials months after the state abandoned criminal prosecutions for the uprising.
The material presented is most of the evidence exhibits presented at trial. Some exhibits that were shown to the jury but not entered into evidence remain closed in a vault at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. The court also withheld exhibits depicting injuries to the officers held hostage that day. The News Journal has chosen not to publish some crime scene images depicting Floyd.
The exhibits are categorized by topic as they were presented to The News Journal and are divided by media type.
This is nice, but I can already tell you what the problem is: when they change “health care” providers they hire a new company. That company retains most employees (if not all of them), who go on making the same errors or abuses because there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY!
That one Commissioner is clueless when he says this: “As county commissioners and as the general public, we don’t know what goes on in the jail other than what we’re told,” Hentschel said. “So having an accreditation I think would be very healthy for our public trust.” They will still lie like hell!
Excerpts from the Article:
Grand Traverse County commissioners Wednesday voted to hire an independent firm to evaluate the county jail’s medical and mental health services – a move that follows a rash of public criticism last fall about jail conditions and a number of inmate suicide attempts and deaths in recent years.
Commissioners voted 5-0 – with Betsy Coffia and Gordie LaPointe absent – to hire NCCHC Resources to conduct an independent review of inmate services at the Grand Traverse County Jail. The consulting group is a nonprofit entity of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and works with approximately 500 jails and prisons across the country – including in Michigan – to provide technical assistance and expertise on best practices for jail operations. “We literally write the book, if you will, on what it is to provide correctional healthcare,” said NCCHC Managing Director Dr. Brent Gibson.
The contract’s fixed fee (including all expenses) is $24,640 and will include an evaluation of Grand Traverse County Jail health services compared to NCCHC standards, a review of medical records and interviews with staff and patients, recommended changes for improving healthcare efficiency and effectiveness, and a final comprehensive written report assessing jail conditions. With past Grand Traverse County Jail inmates and family members publicly criticizing medical and mental health treatment services at the facility – resulting in lawsuits and the launch of a Facebook page documenting alleged jail abuses – Commissioner Sonny Wheelock said the cost of the contract was easily justified if it prevented future litigation against the county.
“No matter how well we try to think we’ve got a handle on it, we do not have the expertise to evaluate the services that are in fact being provided in the jail,” Wheelock said. “Therefore, an independent evaluation is appropriate I believe at this time.”
Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley brought forward the contract proposal, saying it would help answer lingering questions about whether jail services are adequate or in need of improvement. The county has outsourced medical care for inmates since 2010 at an average cost of $460,000 annually, according to figures previously provided by Bensley. That contract – with a company called Wellpath – spiked to $555,000 in 2018 and is expected to climb to $615,000 in 2020. The county also contracts with Northern Lakes Community Mental Health (NLCMH) to provide two full-time mental health professionals at the jail at a cost of $163,000 annually. Bensley previously told commissioners that he and other Sheriff’s Office staff aren’t medical experts and don’t necessarily have the skillsets to evaluate the quality of services provided by Wellpath and NLCMH, but that an independent company with relevant expertise could.
“(The evaluation) will do two things,” Bensley said Wednesday. “Number one, it will either indicate that what we’re doing is appropriate and follows all the guidelines and recommendations…or if there are some deficiencies, it will give us an opportunity to improve on those deficiencies for the delivery of healthcare and mental health services in the jail.” The sheriff added that NCCHC Resources is “probably the top resource for prisons and jails in the country. They will provide an independent review and evaluation and report back to the county, and I think that’s a fair way to do this.”
Commission Chair Rob Hentschel said that in addition to the evaluation, he hoped to see the county pursue NCCHC accreditation in the future, a process that would provide additional training to staff and ensure that Grand Traverse County Jail was performing in line with national best practices for inmate care. “As county commissioners and as the general public, we don’t know what goes on in the jail other than what we’re told,” Hentschel said. “So having an accreditation I think would be very healthy for our public trust.”
If a guard was fired – as they should be – every time one did this, there would be damn few left!
Excerpt from the Article:
A former Daviess-DeKalb Regional Jail guard has been criminally charged after an incident in which he pepper-sprayed a detainee who was on suicide watch, court records show. Keven Jaques, 49, is charged with the fourth-degree misdemeanor of assault.
“The deployment of the pepper spray was against orders, and in violation of the jail’s use of force policy and (the victim) was not a threat to himself or anyone else,” Jared Hogan, a law enforcement officer with the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, wrote in a probable cause statement. “Furthermore, Jaques did not immediately notify a supervisor of the use of force.”
The charge, which was filed on April 23, comes after previous News-Press NOW reporting about the abuse allegations. Sarah LaRue, the mother of the detainee who was pepper sprayed, James LaRue, said a misdemeanor charge isn’t punishment enough.
“He was at work collecting a paycheck when he did it. He essentially got paid to harm my child and now he’s getting less charges because he was at work,” Sarah LaRue said. “There shouldn’t be less charges, there should be more, there’s less charges because he’s a cop.”
An initial investigation into Jaques’ conduct was launched days after the incident, according to emails obtained by News-Press NOW from DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Clark, who sits on an oversight board for the jail. Jaques was put on administrative leave, later fired and then criminally charged.
Even with the charge, Sarah LaRue told News-Press NOW she still fears for her son’s safety.
“If anything, I’m more concerned now because James is out of jail and this guard has been fired. And with a delay in pressing charges, what’s stopping the guard from going and finding James?” Sarah LaRue said.
According to Missouri CaseNet records, no bond has been imposed in Jaques’ case, though a summons was issued by mail to his St. Joseph address.
Again, due to abuse, a short sentence (three months) became a death sentence. Now more of YOUR money is wasted on the inevitable litigation.
Excerpts from the Article:
Pennsylvania’s Erie County agreed to pay $1.15 million to settle a civil rights action alleging the county jail had a policy that “required a non-medical person to make a medical decision about what to do with someone suffering from a medical emergency.”
The lawsuit was filed by the estate of prisoner Felix L. Manus, 48, after he died following asthma complications. Manus was serving a three-month sentence for failing to pay $750 in child support; he was assigned to the work-release program at Erie County Prison (ECP), which allowed him to work during the day to earn money to pay his child support.
Along with four other prisoners, Manus was employed at the Erie Hunt and Saddle Club on May 30, 2018, “mowing grass, weed whacking, and painting in the hot sun,” the complaint stated. He asked near the end of the shift to switch from mowing grass to painting as he was having difficulty breathing.
Because he suffered from asthma, Manus carried an inhaler at all times. As he completed his work, Manus told another prisoner his inhaler was empty. When guard Joshua Pietas arrived around 4:15 p.m. to take the prisoners back to ECP, he was informed about Manus’ breathing problems and need for immediate medical attention. Nonetheless, Pietas had the prisoners get into the back of the transport van, which made Manus’ condition worse.
Following policy, Pietas called his supervisor and told Manus, “OK, so here’s the deal. My lieutenant said that if you want need [sic] to go to the hospital, you have to do it from back there, but you’re in luck, so you can have fresher air you’re gonna sit up front with me.” The fresher air was air conditioning, as Pietas refused to allow Manus to roll down the window.
Once back at ECP, medical assistance was not awaiting Manus. Instead, even though he could not stand and had labored breathing, he was taken to a small holding cell with “poor circulation.” About 15 minutes later, an ambulance was called to take him to a hospital. Manus was unconscious and on life support until he passed away from “status asthmaticus” on June 11, 2018.
Represented by attorney John F. Mizner, Manus’ estate filed suit. At mediation on June 21, 2019, the parties reached the $1.15 million settlement. See: Manus v. Erie County, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Penn.), Case No. 1:18-cv-00202-SPB.
THE problem with reports about coronavirus in prisons is that the lie about everything. READ Culture of Cover Up
Excerpts from the Article:
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday the state has not had a “huge spread” of COVID-19 in the prison system, even as corrections officials reported 120 more cases among inmates and a ninth prison with an outbreak.
Corrections officials have reported large clusters of COVID-19 cases among inmates in nine facilities across various parts of the state. Hamilton Correctional Institution became the latest prison to record an outbreak on Wednesday, with 112 confirmed cases, officials reported.
As of Wednesday morning, 843 inmates and 208 corrections workers had tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Nine inmates, whose ages ranged from 65 and 84, have died from complications of COVID-19, according to medical examiner’s reports.
Other prisons with outbreaks include Liberty Correctional Institution, with 191 inmate cases; Tomoka Correctional Institution, with 132 inmate cases; Sumter Correctional Institution, with 101 inmate cases; Homestead Correctional Institution, with 80 inmate cases; and Apalachee Correctional Facility, with 64 inmate cases, department numbers show.
DeSantis, who is trying to slowly reopen the state’s economy, told reporters on Wednesday that people should not conflate what is going in prisons with how the virus is behaving in the broader community. “It’s not that (the prison system) doesn’t matter, but that’s obviously a discrete issue that is not really indicative of a community outbreak,” DeSantis said.
As of Wednesday, corrections and health officials had conducted 6,392 tests for inmates, an increase of more than 5,500 tests in one week. “You will continue to see some cases coming out of prisons because the testing is ramping up,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also said the number of positive COVID-19 cases among prison workers has not been as high as he would have thought.
“In prisons, it has been very small. One or two here, one or two there. I was expecting to see a lot of staff members testing positive, but you just haven’t seen it, and that is something that is very, very important,” he said.
California Publishes Use of Force in Prisons – Full of Omissions, Distortions of Truth, or my name is not Ken Abraham! – kra
For every reported abuse, there was at least another, and in most instances the prison staff did nothing to hold abusers accountable! READ Culture of Cover Up
Excerpts from the Article:
In June 2019, California’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published its annual report, “Monitoring the Use of Force,” for incidents the previous year at all juvenile and adult facilities operated by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The OIG’s office reviewed 6,426 incidents where an allegation of excessive force was made. Inspector General Roy Wesley wrote in an accompanying letter to state lawmakers that “The department’s overall compliance rate remains low, with the Department finding only 55% of incidents in full compliance with its policies and procedures.”
“Whatever training they’re using to reinforce the policy isn’t working,’’ said Don Specter with the Prison Law Office, which stresses that there is very little accountability when violations of policy occur. “The good news is that when they review the use of force they figure out that there were violations of policy. The bad news is, they don’t do anything about it. So there’s no improvement from year-to-year.”
Some notable findings include:
• Approximately a third of the reported incidents occurred at just five of the state’s 33 facilities, all high security facilities like Salinas Valley State Prison.
• Half of all force incidents involved the use of chemical agents such as pepper spray.
• Officers used restraints and holds a third of the time, and rubber bullets, batons, and Tasers in the rest.
• Staff are required to conduct an interview with inmates who allege excessive force within 48 hours of the incident, but prison staff failed 49% of the time to complete timely interviews, record inmate injuries, complete interviews in a confidential setting, and to follow policy requiring officers not involved in the incident to conduct the interview.
• Staff failed to articulate an imminent threat justifying the use of force in 95 incidents, or 1.5%. This was down from 1.8% the previous year, though still deeply troubling because the “negative impact” of such incidents “can be quite significant.”
The most troubling incidents involve what are known as “controlled use-of-force incidents,” which occurred where a prisoner posed a threat while located in an area that can be controlled or isolated, such as a cell. Out of 100 such reported incidents, the OIG identified 65 incidents where violations of policy occurred, though this was marginally better that the previous year’s non-compliance rate of 75%.
Because of such incidents, the OIG strongly recommended that the department “impose a discipline of increasing severity against supervising and participating staff who violated policy when an inmate was in a controlled space, such as a cell.”
Unfortunately, such recommendations are not binding on the department, which has referred to its current policies and training as “adequate” and continues to resist any changes. It is unclear when or how the state will increase accountability for these shortcomings.
While some readers may be shocked by this story, it is not unlike dozens of others I have posted about prison abuse.
NOW SHE IS DEAD! 🙁
Excerpts from the Article:
A 43-YEAR-OLD WOMAN died of coronavirus complications in a New Jersey prison after officials moved her from an area of the prison where she was quarantined for Covid-19 symptoms into solitary confinement even though her symptoms persisted.
Tiffany Mofield died on April 29 at the troubled Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women after begging to be let out of a locked shower, saying “she could not breathe,” a fellow incarcerated woman who witnessed her death told The Intercept. Mofield had spent about two weeks quarantined in an infirmary after becoming ill with symptoms consistent with Covid-19, but she was moved out even though “she was clearly not better, as she was visibly short of breath and extremely lethargic,” said Michelle Angelina, who is housed in the same administrative segregation unit where Mofield died.
“She died right in front of my neighbor’s door and just diagonally from my door, about five feet away,” said Angelina, who declined The Intercept’s offer for anonymity to protect her from retaliation. “Many inmates are frightened for our lives and safety as a result of us witnessing Ms. Mofield die.”
Mofield’s death underscores the devastating impact the coronavirus is having as it spreads through prisons and jails, where the health of incarcerated people was often neglected before the current crisis. Since the beginning of the outbreak, incarcerated people, their families, and advocates have warned that prison conditions would cause scores of preventable deaths. Mofield was one of 37 people to have died so far after contracting Covid-19 in New Jersey prisons — making the state one of the deadliest for incarcerated men and women as corrections facilities nationwide have become epicenters of the pandemic. At least 340 incarcerated people have died so far across the country.
“They are more concerned about ensuring that inmates serve every day of their punishment than they are about inmates’ health and well-being,” said Angelina. “That is why they sent Ms. Mofield back to the unit before she was fully well. Ad-seg is a punitive unit.”
Mofield first passed out in the shower shortly after returning to the unit, said Angelina, who described the shower as a “converted mop closet.” Women are taken to the shower handcuffed to a belly belt and then locked inside, where there is no emergency call button, she said. The night she died, Mofield once again passed out in the shower “after begging for about five minutes to be let out,” said Angelina. “No staff responded in a timely fashion.” When someone finally did come, Mofield was almost unconscious and was carried to a wheelchair where she became unresponsive. Angelina said that several officers “tried their very best” to revive Mofield, following an automated defibrillator’s instructions and performing CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene. Mofield died “just before they got her on the ambulance gurney,” Angelina said.
At the time of her death, Mofield was nearing the end of a five-year sentence for an attempted bank robbery. She was a mother of three and grandmother of four, whom friends remembered on social media as “the life of the party” and a “neighborhood hero.” Her daughter, Shatifia Cooke, wrote to The Intercept that her mother “was very big on family.” “I waited almost 4 years for that woman to get back out here with me,” Cooke also wrote on Facebook. “I couldn’t wait to wake up to her cooking breakfast.”
“She had people out here that loved and cared about her and we not stopping until we get answers,” she added. “We going to make a change with this one we gone show these people that these inmates are somebody and their health and lives matter too.”
Oliver Barry, an attorney retained by Mofield’s family, told The Intercept he filed a petition for pre-suit discovery on Monday, “because the family has not been provided really any information regarding the circumstances of Ms. Mofield’s death.” “Right now our biggest push is to just find out how in the world this happened,” he added.
After The Intercept reported last month that less than 200 incarcerated people had been tested in New Jersey despite a mounting death toll, Gov. Phil Murphy promised “universal testing” for all inmates and staff. But as of Friday, only 286 of the state’s nearly 19,000 incarcerated people had been tested, according to official figures. In an effort to fight the spread of the virus inside prisons, Murphy also signed an executive order in early April allowing the temporary release of high-risk inmates and others convicted of nonviolent offenses. But weeks later, less than 3 percent of those eligible had been released. The Department of Corrections did not answer questions about whether Mofield would have been eligible for release under the order.
Mofield is one of two women who have died after contracting the virus at Edna Mahan prison, which can house up to 700 women. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice released the results of a two-year investigation that found rampant sexual assault by guards of women housed at the prison, as well as “systemic failures in Edna Mahan’s policies and practices” that enabled the abuse and violence to fester.
But as Covid-19 has swept through the prison, Angelina noted that systemic failures also impacted other aspects of the lives of the women held there. Angelina, who is a transgender woman and previously spent 18 years in men’s prisons in New Jersey, noted that women in the administrative segregation unit, in particular, were treated “more harshly and more restrictively” than men in similar units.
“She never would have died if she was released from ad-seg and returned to the facilities’ general population,” Angelina said of Mofield. “All of us are at heightened risk of death in ad-seg the way it is operated at this facility. Inmates routinely threaten to commit suicide and are routinely ignored.”
Suit: Mississippi Man Sentenced to Two Days Hangs Himself After Jail Kept Him 52 Days Longer – I am NOT Surprised – kra
I am not surprised. The “records” departments of prisons are as fucked up as all else they do! This is one tragic consequence of their incompetence. I have seen several similar articles … a sentence of less than a month ends in DEATH due to preventable incompetence … records errors, outright brutal assaults by staff, or medical neglect. Here we had 2 out of three!
Excerpts from the Article:
After he lost work and was unable to pay a fine, Robert Wayne Johnson was sentenced to the Keller Neshoba Regional Correctional Facility (KNRCF) in rural Kemper County, Mississippi, on November 16, 2017. The father of five had struggled with mental health problems, including two suicide attempts. Though his sentence was just two days long, he was still in jail 54 days later, when he hanged himself with his shoelaces and died on January 8, 2018.
On September 30, 2019, his widow, LaToya Johnson, filed suit against Kemper County, the Kemper County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), and several correctional officers. Her suit alleges that her husband was unlawfully held past his release date, was not provided with mental health care, and was not properly monitored after he became suicidal.
According to his widow, Johnson — a Meridian resident who had worked at the city library, East Mississippi State Hospital and Tower Automotive — had been institutionalized at least twice. The suit alleges that his mental health issues were ignored by KNRCF employees, in spite of his history and repeated warnings from other prisoners that Johnson had been tying shoelaces around his neck in the days prior to his death. They said he had begun to panic when he wasn’t released and feared he had been mistakenly sentenced on a felony charge.
Hours before he died, Johnson slit his wrists. He was bandaged, but almost immediately got into an altercation with another prisoner who had reported the suicide attempt. He was then allegedly placed in an unmonitored segregation cell, where he hanged himself 14 minutes later.
“This case demonstrates how too many people who need to be receiving community-based mental health services instead wind up in local jails where officers are not adequately trained to provide the care and protection required by law,” said Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, who filed the suit on behalf of Johnson’s widow.
“Jail is not therapy. It is not where they belong,” agreed Kemper County Sheriff James Moore.
Recent statistics show the suicide rate in local jails is 2.5 times the rate in state prisons and over three times the rate in the general population. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, suicide is the leading cause of death in local jails. See LaToya Johnson v. Kemper County Mississippi, et al., U.S.D.C. (S.D. Miss.), Case no. 3:2019-cv-00700.
CINCINNATI VOTERS OUST SHERIFF WHO COOPERATED WITH ICE AND CHAMPIONED A NEW JAIL “The solution to the problem of mass incarceration is certainly not more mass incarceration,” said Charmaine McGuffey, who won this sheriff’s primary. In neighboring Greene County, voters rejected a sales tax increase that was meant to fund the construction of a bigger jail.
Sloooowly … people are starting to see the light, and moving in the right direction! The PEOPLE SPOKE.
Excerpts from the Article:
In two southern Ohio counties, voters signaled on Tuesday that local officials dealing with jail overcrowding should focus on reducing incarceration, rather than championing expensive proposals to build bigger and shinier jails.
In Hamilton County (Cincinnati), Charmaine McGuffey won the Democratic primary for sheriff, ousting incumbent Jim Neil by a resounding margin: 70 percent to 30 percent. The tense campaign centered on Hamilton County’s poor jail conditions, Neil’s ties to ICE, and the circumstances of McGuffey’s departure from Neil’s office in 2017.
“People want to embrace criminal justice reform,” McGuffey told the Appeal: Political Report when asked how she interprets her large win. “People are not embracing any more costs to incarceration. … People understand that now is the time for us to get our fiscal house in order, and, morally, to stop mass incarcerating people.”
When Neil first came into office in 2013, McGuffey, a longtime sheriff’s deputy, was promoted as jail director. She held that position until 2017. During that stretch, the sheriff’s office considerably improved the jail’s dismal compliance with state standards. But overcrowding, poor conditions, and allegations of police brutality remained big issues.
Neil advocates building a new jail as a remedy to the current jail’s overcrowding.
But McGuffey opposed the construction of a new jail. “The solution to the problem of mass incarceration is certainly not more mass incarceration,” she reiterated to the Political Report on Wednesday.
It would enable local officials to look away from over-incarceration, she argues. “If there’s a new jail, [the sheriff doesn’t] have to pay attention to it, because now there’s enough room,” she told the Political Report in a March interview, in March. “And I don’t think that is a way to create reform.”
She has proposed reducing arrests and pretrial detention for lower-level offenses, and said on Wednesday that, as sheriff, she “would continue doing what I was doing [as the jail director], and that means bringing real life opportunities to people who are inside our jails… so that they’re not coming right back to our door the moment we open it and let them out.” She added, “There are other ways for us to enforce laws and move people along to deal with addiction, to deal with mental health issues, to deal with homelessness, and we need to work on providing those services.”
In 2017, McGuffey faced an investigatation for fostering a hostile work environment; she declined a demotion, and was fired. She claimed that the investigation was retaliation because she had raised red flags about use of force in the jail. She filed a lawsuit, and an internal report found that she had indeed recommended that an officer be fired over excessive use of force.
She now says that ensuring accountability for use of force would be “at the top” of her priorities, though she argues that there are many circumstances where use of force is justified. “When we have situations of prisoners or people being seriously injured without the justification for those kinds of injuries,” she said, “we are going to have a process by which we evaluate those things. We’re not going to turn our head, we’re not going to sweep things under the rug.”
If McGuffey wins the general election, she would return to the office from which she was fired, this time as its elected leader.
She will face police Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer, who secured the GOP nomination unopposed, in November. Hamilton County has shifted toward Democrats, but the race could be competitive.
Immigration also loomed large over this sheriff’s primary. Neil has long faced protests against his relationship with ICE. He honors ICE’s warrantless requests (detainers), which enable the agency to continue detaining certain people at the local jail beyond their scheduled release. McGuffey told the Political Report in March that she would no longer honor detainers if elected.
She is the latest in a recent string of sheriff’s candidates who have ousted incumbents on promises to restrict cooperation with the federal agency.
Originally scheduled for March 17, the primary was delayed until April 28 due to concerns over the novel coronavirus.
She added, “It is forcing people to realize exactly what people on the front lines of the reform initiatives have been saying all along.”
“We don’t need to use [a new jail] to warehouse people,” Graham said. “We can’t incarcerate our way out of social services problems.”
Greene County Citizens Against Giant Jail Tax, a local political committee, campaigned against the proposal, objecting to pouring money into carceral policies instead of alternatives. “Opioids, homelessness, family violence — taking our social problems and dumping them into the jail doesn’t work,” Pat Dewees, a member of that group, told the Xenia Daily Gazette in March.
Bomani Moyenda, another organizer, echoes this message. “There are a dozen things they could do to reduce the jail population,” he told the Political Report on Wednesday. “They could come up with some pretrial justice services, diversion programs. They could cite people instead of taking people to jail for minor offenses.”
Ohio also held other elections with stakes for criminal justice reform on Tuesday. Former judge Fanon Rucker won the Democratic nomination to be Hamilton County’s prosecuting attorney; he will face Republican incumbent Joseph Deters in November. Deters is a proponent of the death penalty, while Rucker says he would not seek death sentences. In Ashtabula County, meanwhile, former judge Colleen Mary O’Toole secured the Republican nomination to challenge Prosecuting Attorney Cecilia Cooper, a Democrat. O’Toole told the Political Report in January that the opioid crisis expanded the space for criminal justice reform, and amplified the need to “shift away from incarceration.”
Los Angeles officials planned on building a new jail through a $1.7 billion contract, but faced with local pressure they scrapped the idea in August. Then, in March, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative that directed a local commission to devise a plan to reduce the jail population and reinvest the savings into community services.
Kate Levescont, treasurer of the Greene County Citizens Against Giant Jail Tax, says that a “silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis” may be to jumpstart such conversations in Ohio. “It is perhaps an opportune moment to think about ways to minimize the jail population and make those less expensive investments in diversionary approaches,” she said.
The Whole Story:
Coronavirus: A Nationwide Survey of the Push for Early Release as Pandemic Fears Grow – Comprehensive Authorities for Early Release – kra
READ THIS EXCELLENT AND COMPREHENSIVE ARTICLE TO LEARN OF AUTHORITIES TO CITE TO GET YOUR LOVED ONE OUT OF THE DEADLY PRISON ENVIRONMENT. Complete with breakdown STATE BY STATE. CLICK HERE TO OPEN IT.
Excerpts from the Article:
Between January and August of 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services played a game, a simulation of sorts. The exercise was called Crimson Contagion, and it was designed to help the U.S. prepare for a viral pandemic.
During the simulation, as reported by The New York Times, a group of 35 tourists from the United States, Australia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Thailand, Britain and Spain visited China. While there, they became infected with an unknown virus, flew home, and became their respective countries’ Patient Zeros. The World Health Organization declared a pandemic seven weeks later. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines for social distancing and state governments directed the workforce to stay home. Nonetheless, the simulation predicted, the pandemic would ultimately infect 110 million Americans and kill 586,000.
Coronavirus: The Origins
On December 31, 2019, the Chinese government acknowledged the treatment of citizens in Wuhan, China, for pneumonia. Within a few days, Chinese researchers identified a new virus that had sickened dozens of people in Asia.
On January 11, 2020, Chinese media reported the death of a 61-year-old man who frequented a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan. This was to become known as the first known death from what came to be known as COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
By January 23, 2020, the Chinese government cut off Wuhan, isolating a city of over 11 million people. By this point, “17 people had died, and more than 570 others had been infected,” reports The New York Times. A week later, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. And by March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national state of emergency.
Within a few short months, the worldwide death toll would rise to over 188,000. And the number is rising. As of April 23, 2020, the virus has infected close to 2.7 million people.
Prisons: “Amplifiers of Infectious Diseases”
As the nation reels in response to waves of infections and deaths and the public adopts a new way of living – 6 feet apart – one group is left to fend for themselves: America’s incarcerated class.
The CDC has promulgated guidelines for all Americans. These include social distancing (keeping 6 feet apart), remaining home as much as possible, washing hands often, and using face masks as a barrier to disease. The most important factor remains social distancing because if people can isolate themselves, and thereby not come into contact with others who are infected, they can remain safe.
On March 11, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom recommended the cancellation of gatherings of more than 250 people to slow the spread of the coronavirus. By March 15, the CDC recommended that gatherings of 50 or more be canceled. The following day, the White House recommended gatherings of more than 10 be canceled.
Even local and state governments have issued their own guidelines. As reported by the New York Times, by April 7, 2020, every state except for North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Utah had issued state-wide stay-at-home decrees, correctly viewing social distancing as the best manner of remaining safe.
But for those in American jails and prisons – people typically subjected to substandard nutrition, health care, and access to clean living environments – there is virtually no protection. Cramped in overcrowded dormitories with limited access to vital health-care information and care, many fear illness and death are inevitable.
As stated by Kelsey Kauffman in The Appeal, jails and prisons are “incubators and amplifiers of infectious diseases.” With nowhere to run, American prisoners can do little but hope and pray.
The State of COVID-19 in American Prisons
To combat the iron curtain of information in American jails and prisons, we at Prison Legal News have compiled an exhaustive accounting of the state of COVID-19 in every prison system across the country as we went to press. We are also reporting litigation over conditions of confinement and, where applicable, large-scale prison releases and guidelines to seek such release.
What follows is our analysis of the impact COVID-19 has had on every prison system and the movement to protect America’s incarcerated class through the mechanism of early release.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
On April 22, 2020, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reported 566 prisoners and 342 staff members had tested positive for coronavirus. Additionally, 24 prisoners had died because of the coronavirus.
The hardest-hit prisons include USP Lompoc in California (69 inmate positives, 17 staff positives); FCI Butner Medium I in North Carolina (46 inmate positives, 27 staff positives, four inmate deaths); FCI Danbury in Connecticut (44 inmate positives, 39 staff positives); FCI Oakdale I in Louisiana (37 inmate positives, 26 staff positives, six inmate deaths); and FCI Elkton in Ohio (36 inmate positives, 26 staff positives, four inmate deaths).
On March 26, 2020, Attorney General William Barr issued a memorandum directing the BOP to use the tool of home confinement as a mechanism for reducing the federal prison population. This memorandum presented several factors the BOP should use in determining which prisoners should be considered. These factors include:
• The age and vulnerability of the prisoner to COVID-19, in accordance with the CDC guidelines;
• The security level of the facility currently holding the prisoner, with priority given to prisoners residing in low- and minimum-security facilities;
• The inmate’s conduct in prison, with prisoners who have engaged in violent or gang-related activity or who have incurred a BOP violation within the last year not receiving priority treatment;
• The prisoner’s score under PATTERN, a risk assessment tool for people in BOP prisons, with those who have anything above a minimum score not receiving priority treatment;
• Whether the prisoner has a demonstrated and verifiable re-entry plan that will prevent recidivism and maximize public safety, including verification that the conditions under which the prisoner would be confined upon release would present a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 than the inmate would face in his or her BOP facility;
• The prisoner’s crime of conviction, and assessment of the danger posed by the prisoner to the community. Some offenses, such as sex offenses, render an inmate ineligible for home detention. Other serious offenses weigh more heavily against consideration for home detention.
On April 3, 2020, AG Barr issued a second memorandum, specifically directing the BOP to “immediately maximize appropriate transfers to home confinement of all appropriate inmates …[at] BOP facilities where COVID-19 is materially affecting operations.”
What follows is a compilation of federal cases, and then a state-by-state roundup, including information about how many prisoners have been released and due to what legal developments.
As of mid-April, the BOP had released 1,022 prisoners on home confinement because of these directives.
United States v. Michaels, 8:16-cr-76-JVS, (C.D. Cal. Mar. 26, 2020). The Court granted temporary release for 90 days, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142 (i), which authorizes discretionary temporary release when necessary for a person’s defense or another compelling reason. Judge James Selna held the defendant’s age and medical conditions, which place him in the population most susceptible to COVID-19, and in light of the pandemic, to constitute “another compelling reason” and granted his temporary release.