Steve does a great job in suing prison officials!
My friend and great attorney Steve Hampton filed this complaint in superior court yesterday, and says: “but I will not be surprised if the defendants remove it to federal court. Paragraph one of the complaint pretty much explains what this case is all about. Given the reports that I keep getting on medical care in the DOC prisons, it doesn’t seem to have improved since this happened.”
1. Julius S. Johnson died at the age of 31, on July 4, 2019 a week after he was admitted to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) infirmary. Julius suffered from paraplegia and a pressure wound on his sacrum when admitted to the infirmary, yet during that week preceding his death he was denied the necessary medical care needed to keep him alive by the medical staff employed by Connections Community Support Programs, Inc. (CCSP). CCSP is a corporation that was contracted with the Department of Correction (DOC) to provide medical services to inmates such as Julius S. Johnson in DOC level 4 and 5 prisons, including JTVCC.
Grady and Hampton LLC
6 N. Bradford St.
Dover, DE 19904
Here is the entire Complaint: http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/wp-admin/post-new.php
I have seen hundreds – yes, hundreds – of articles about an inmate who died because jail intake officials did not do their job in screening the inmate for withdrawal symptoms; I bet that is what happened here.
The Whole Article:
An inmate at the Downtown Spokane County Jail died while being transported to the jail’s medical services division on Monday afternoon.
According to county spokesperson Jared Webley, the inmate became unresponsive while being transported at about noon on Monday. Staff at the jail began treating the inmate before being relieved by Spokane City Fire and AMR, but the inmate was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m., according to Webley.
Two doses of Narcan were administered to the inmate before they died, Webley said. Spokane County Detention Services requested assistance from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which stopped overseeing detention services in 2013, to carry out the investigation, Webley said. Major Crimes detectives and member of the Forensic Unit responded to process the scene and conduct interviews, according to Webley.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office will release the name of the inmate and their cause and manner of death “when appropriate to do so,” Webley said.
At least 10 inmates at the jail have now died since June 2017.
Pray that this order will be enforced. Prison officials routinely ignore Court Orders!
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal judge has ordered that correctional officers wear body cameras and that surveillance cameras be installed at five California prisons, citing repeated abuse of inmates with disabilities.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken’s order was issued Thursday in a disabilities rights case. It requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to place the cameras at L.A. County State Prison in Lancaster; Corcoran State Prison and the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran; the California Institution for Women in Chino; and Kern Valley State Prison in Delano. The judge gave the prisons 21 days to make plans for instituting the cameras and 90 more days to get them operational.
“The Court finds that body cameras are likely to improve investigations of misconduct by staff and to reduce the incidence of violations of disabled inmates’ rights,” Wilken wrote. The judge also mandated reforms related to tracking disabled inmates’ complaints and the use of pepper spray.
The judge made her ruling after reviewing dozens of declarations submitted by prisoner and disability rights lawyers on behalf of inmates.
“Some of the incidents involve the use of force against mentally or physically disabled inmates even though the disabled inmates appear to have posed no imminent threat to the safety of staff or other inmates,” the judge wrote. “The descriptions in these declarations of the behavior of staff toward disabled inmates are remarkably consistent,” she wrote. “Further, the declarants appear to lack any incentive to fabricate the incidents they describe with such great detail.”
The judge also ordered that there be a significant increase in the number of supervisory staff by “posting additional sergeants on all watches on all yards” at the five prisons.
“CDCR has taken steps to improve conditions for people in our care to accommodate for both physical and mental disabilities, including holding staff accountable for behavior that goes against the department’s values,” the department stated.
Michael Bien, whose law firm represents the inmates, said the order “is the beginning of a long process to fix” abuse and violations of inmates with disabilities.
The order comes after officials at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility near San Diego were ordered in September to install cameras amid accusations that disabled inmates were repeatedly abused by guards. Officers there began wearing body cameras in January. Attorneys for inmates with disabilities had asked the judge to require cameras at seven prisons, but the judge found insufficient evidence of abuses at Salinas Valley State Prison and the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi.
In the 71-page ruling, the judge documented several incidents of abuse in justifying the need for cameras and other reforms. The judge noted that some inmates were too afraid to seek help.
At the Lancaster prison, an inmate with bipolar disorder was struck after complaining of hallucinations in June 2019, according to Wilken. “After a mental health evaluation, he was being returned to his cell, while handcuffed, by two officers when the officers and the inmate had a verbal altercation; once they reached his cell, the officers slammed him to the ground face-first and punched him in the head,” the judge wrote.
In December 2019, an inmate experiencing a “manic episode” at the state prison at Lancaster was taken to the ground by several correctional officers and then one officer used an entire can of pepper spray on him and “beat the inmate,” the judge noted.
Wilken said she found the dozens of declarations submitted from the prisons by inmates credible.
Under the judge’s order surveillance cameras are required to be installed in housing units, exercise yards, gyms, dining areas and other areas. Video must be kept for 90 days. Wilken wrote that without surveillance cameras, mistreatment of disabled inmates is “likely to continue.”
Covered in feces, man died of dehydration in Georgia jail ‘that looks like a friggin horse stall’ After spending eight days in a padded room, a deputy found Reginald Wilson not breathing and covered in his own feces. No mental health care was provided.
Who do you think pays for all of this horrific abuse? YOU, the taxpayers, do!
Excerpts from the Article:
A Reveal investigation has uncovered new details of a man who died at the Cobb County Detention Center in 2018. The evidence was kept secret until 11Alive filed a lawsuit against former Sheriff Neil Warren last year to obtain the records.
A familiar face at the Cobb County Detention Center, 54-year-old Reginald Wilson spent more than 1,300 days in and out of jail since 1997 for charges often related to his fragile mental health.
His last detainment happened in December 2018 following an arrest for a probation violation. When the Cobb County police officer arrived, Wilson was having a mental health crisis.
While at the detention center, Wilson’s mental health appeared worse than normal to some deputies. After he was placed in a padded room to help calm him down, he smeared his own feces on the wall. “He never slept. He was constantly just up, doing almost like gymnastics when you watched the video,” one jail employee said during an interview with investigators after his death.
According to jail records, Wilson stopped eating, drinking and refused to take medication. Despite spiraling into psychosis, records show the jail’s psychiatrist never saw Wilson. Infirmary staff never sent him to the hospital, either. During that time, deputies tased him at least two times.
After spending eight days in padded rooms, a deputy found Wilson not breathing. He had been covered in his own feces for 18 hours.
According to the medical examiner, Wilson died from “Dehydration due to Bipolar Disorder.”
In a recorded interrogation, an investigator appeared frustrated over Wilson’s treatment.
“This guy lay in s*** and trash for three days…you know. I don’t understand why he wasn’t given food…and the end of all this, he died in his cell that looks like a friggin horse stall,” the investigator said.
Jeriene Grimes is the president of the Cobb County NAACP. She’s a long-time critic of the jail and the healthcare provided to inmates. “It was a heinous way for someone to have to die,” Grimes said. “He was somebody’s family member, and no one deserves to depart the earth in that type of distress and harm.”
Since 2004, more than 217 people have died in metro Atlanta jails. Most of those deaths were investigated by the same sheriff’s offices sometimes accused of mistreating the inmate.
State Representative David Wilkerson wants to change that. In February, he filed a bill titled the, “Inmate Mental Health Act.”
It would mandate jails perform mental health evaluations within 12 hours of detaining an inmate and provide 24-hour access to a mental health professional. It would require the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate all future jail fatalities. “By having someone else look at it who are trained investigators, it gives us the public reassurance, plus it allows the jail to make corrections if things need to be corrected,” Wilkerson said.
The legislation is mirrored after a 2017 Texas law named for Sandra Bland who committed suicide inside a jail following a controversial traffic stop that sparked national outrage. Michelle Deitch helped write the Texas legislation. She’s a researcher at the University of Texas who has studied jail policy for more than 30 years.
She points out that Georgia is among about half the states in the country that does not have a state-wide oversight body regulating jails.
“[That] means it’s really up to every single jail to determine for itself what standards it will comply with, if any at all. It means, there is a lack uniformity and a much higher risk of liability on the part of every one of those counties,” Deitch said.
While Wilkerson’s bill does not include the creation of state-oversight body, Grimes supports the proposed legislation. “We need to do better. We should have done better,” Grimes explained.
Wilkerson said he filed his legislation in response to a series of Reveal investigations last year which uncovered the death of another Cobb County inmate who died begging for medical help.
Cobb County’s newly-elected sheriff supports Wilkerson’s bill and now plans to ask GBI to investigate all future jail fatalities.
Wilson’s family has filed a lawsuit against the jail’s former medical provider. That litigation is still pending.
According to the lawsuit, multiple medical staff members failed to inform a psychiatrist about Wilson’s condition or formulate a proper diagnosis or treatment plan.
The lawsuit also claims a nurse wrote in her notes that she heard Wilson making noises and moving his fingers before he died. She did not provide him medication because he was “unable to take medication.” The lawsuit alleges the nurse also did not attempt to notify the psychiatrist after Wilson refused to accept prescribed medication.
According to his medical records, the lawsuit claimed Wilson received only one pill during his time in the detention center.
Wilson’s family declined interview requests for this story.
The never ending abuse of prisoners continues! Will we see officials arrested for the abuses mentioned here?
Excerpts from the Article:
Without delving into medical histories, it would appear that the death of a 38-year-old woman booked in a littering case could – and probably should – have been prevented. Ditto a 35-year-old man arrested on a drunken driving charge and a 48-year-old man locked up on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
Yes, people do die every day. And most folks booked into jail are unlikely spokespeople for healthy living, physical fitness or eschewing drugs and alcohol. But no one should die a preventable death on the public’s watch. And unfortunately it looks like this woman, two men and up to six other individuals may have.
It’s the job of jail health officials – and the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque is large enough to have them – to protect those jailed. Yet, a Journal deep dive into deaths at MDC found nine people died over the past year while in custody of the state’s largest jail – eight during a five-month period from August 2020 to January 2021 – and none of COVID-19. For context, before 2020 there were a total of just 10 in-custody deaths at MDC in the previous four years, and zero in 2018.
Albuquerque attorney Peter Cubra says the recent spike in deaths is unprecedented. He should know. The longtime advocate for MDC inmates says he’s been working around the jail since 1984.
Autopsy and incident reports show the causes of death of the nine inmates who died in the past year vary from a heart attack to chronic ethanol abuse. Some may have been unavoidable, but six of the nine deaths appear to have occurred while inmates were detoxing from drugs or alcohol or in medical units, all while under the care of a medical contractor.
And all while taxpayers were shelling out between $105 and $174 per day to house each inmate.
Bernalillo County manager Julie Morgas Baca says the county is taking the deaths very seriously. She noted one death is too many. Good for her. The easy go-to would have been to attribute the deaths as part of booking 1,500 inmates a month, as the jail did in August.
Morgas Baca says she’s working with St. Louis-based Centurion – which the Bernalillo County Commission awarded a four-year, $53 million contract in 2018 to provide a wide array of medical services at MDC – to improve medical operations. MDC spokeswoman Julia Rivera says the jail and Centurion have developed an in-depth corrective action plan to address the spike in deaths. That’s an important step in rebuilding public confidence. They also need to provide some answers.
Because this county jail is no stranger to harsh criticism for the conditions its inmates live in. It’s under a decades-long federal settlement agreement that lays out more than 200 requirements for reform.
Some of the jail deaths have led to discipline – including a probationary corrections officer who was fired for sleeping on the job while an inmate hanged himself and a corrections officer who was put on notice for termination after an inmate died while detoxing from alcohol. Those who neglect their duties must be held accountable. The stakes are too high not to.
The spike in deaths also raises fundamental questions about who is being locked up and why. The 38-year-old woman booked in the littering case kicked over a cup and bowl in front of an officer in April and refused to pick up the cup. The officer issued her a summons for littering, but she failed to show up in court and was arrested. She was found unconscious and not breathing the next day in the jail’s detox unit. A night in lockup should not imperil one’s life.
Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur of the Law Offices of the Public Defender is correct that the legal system has to be more deliberate about who’s being jailed. The Journal has long argued that violent and repeat offenders, not misdemeanants with smart mouths, should be locked up at taxpayer expense. And the disturbing indicators that people are dying while detoxing should have city and county officials asking if jail is really the most appropriate and cost-effective place to take inebriates.
In this life, some deaths are inevitable – but at least on the surface several of these don’t look that way. There are a lot of questions at this point, and the families of inmates who have died in MDC custody, as well as the taxpayers who should have confidence they are funding a safe lockup, deserve the answers.
Prison officials search visitors and inmates regularly, when they should search the guards! Anyone who know what really goes on knows it is they who smuggle in contraband!
Prison sentences are the only deterrent.
Excerpts from the Article:
A former federal prison corruption investigator was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months behind bars for taking $15,000 in bribes to smuggle methamphetamine, cellphones and other contraband into a California lockup.
Paul James Hayes II, 52, of Victorville, was sentenced by a federal judge more than a year after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and accepting a bribe, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Hayes worked at the Federal Correctional Complex, Victorville, which is in the Mojave Desert. Before retiring in 2019, Hayes was a lieutenant with a federal prison unit that investigates illegal activity by correctional officers and inmates, according to the statement.
In 2018, Hayes took several cash bribes from a woman in return for smuggling at least four packages of contraband into the high-security penitentiary at the Victorville prison complex, authorities said.
He passed the goods to inmates who distributed them to other prisoners, authorities said.
A co-defendant, Angel Marie Wagner, 44, of Buena Park, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and bribery. She was sentenced in February to two years of probation.
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.”