Private prisons are a failed experiment with ‘perverse and immoral incentives,’ ABA House says in calling for their end
The ABA is a few years “behind the 8 Ball”! We have long known that juvenile detention centers are just breeding grounds for adult criminals, and I have called for the end of private prisons since their inception.
Excerpts from the Article:
The ABA House of Delegates passed a resolution Tuesday opposing private prisons and juvenile detention centers.
Co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section, National Bar Association, and the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Resolution 507 opposes the use of private jails, prison and juvenile detention centers to detain people before they stand trial and after they are convicted. It passed in a 273-33 vote.
Stephen A. Saltzburg of the Criminal Justice Section introduced the resolution Tuesday morning at the ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting. He noted that the ABA had adopted Resolution 115B in 1990 warning governments to proceed with caution before entering into contracts with private prison companies.
“We’ve had 31 years to take a look at private prisons and jails and juvenile detention centers, and what have we learned? We’ve learned that they do more harm than good,” Saltzburg said. “They have a tendency to cut staff, they have a tendency to cut programs, and that probably shouldn’t surprise anybody because that’s how you make a profit.”
GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corp. are among the companies that run prisons in the United States.
In response to a request for an interview, GEO Group referred the ABA Journal to Day 1 Alliance, a trade association representing the three companies. Ahead of the resolution’s passage on Tuesday, Day 1 Alliance spokeswoman Alexandra Wilkes called the resolution “politically motivated” and “ill-informed.”
The private prison industry gained a foothold in the 1980s, ostensibly as a way to ease surging prison populations, the Marshall Project reports. Operators of private prisons say they help ease the burden on taxpayers by reducing public spending on government-run facilities.
But Resolution 507’s report says private prisons have fueled incarceration. The industry lobbies to impose stricter laws and penalties and opposes sentencing reforms, the report says.
“Today, private prison corporations are driven by perverse and immoral incentives whereby an increase in crime and an increase in the number of human beings placed into America’s prisons is good business news for that industry,” the report states.
A March report by The Sentencing Project found that as of 2019, private prisons incarcerated 115,428 people and that the private prison population had increased 32% since 2000.
“However, the private prison population has declined 16% since reaching its peak in 2012 with 137,220 people. Declines in private prisons’ use make these latest overall population numbers the lowest since 2006, when the population was 113,791,” the report states.
President Joe Biden addressed the use of for-profit facilities for federal detainees in a Jan. 26 executive order. The order bars the Justice Department from renewing contracts with private criminal detention facilities.
In 2016, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General found that for-profit detention facilities “do not maintain the same levels of safety and security for people in the federal criminal justice system or for correctional staff. We have a duty to provide these individuals with safe working and living conditions,” the order states.
The Whole Story
PRESS RELEASE – UNIVERSITY STUDY OF REENTRY
Citizens for Criminal Justice, based in Dover, DE, is pleased to announce that its founder and former Deputy Attorney General, Ken Abraham, is participating in a University of Delaware (sociology department) study of reentry and those who assist people in reentry.
One of their points of interest is “what motivates those who assist people in reentry?”. Having counseled thousands of people in reentry through his daily work, and with his vast and varied experience with the criminal justice system (former prosecutor, defense attorney, addict, prisoner, probationer, victim of prison abuse) Mr. Abraham is a wealth of reliable information for the study.
The first Zoom interview was a great success, and more will follow. With about 9,000 people on probation or parole in Delaware, and more than 3 million Americans on probation or parole nationwide, the issues are important to everyone.
Bad sentence. The ONLY way to deter this prison abuse is to give them TIME. This moron should have gotten at least a couple of years.
The article above explains why prison terms are the only viable solution.
Excerpts from the Article:
A former St. Louis police officer has been sentenced to three years of probation for her role in the beating of a Black, undercover police officer during a 2017 protest.
Bailey Colletta was sentenced Thursday in federal court after pleading guilty nearly two years ago to making a false declaration to a grand jury, admitting she lied to the FBI and a federal grand jury in an effort to cover up the attack on Officer Luther Hall.
As part of her sentence, Colletta must serve two consecutive weekends in jail and undertake 200 hours of community service, drug testing and counseling.
Her sentence comes just days after her codefendant, former officer Randy Hays, was sentenced to more than four years in prison for his role in the beating. Prosecutors have said Colletta was only five months out of the police academy and romantically involved with Hays when she ordered Hall to the ground during a September 2017 protest, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Colletta then watched as Hall was then tackled by other officers and beaten so severely that he later required multiple surgeries and was left with permanent damage, prosecutors said. She lied when she told investigators and the grand jury that Hall’s arrest had not been violent, prosecutors said.
Colletta and Hays were among four officers charged in the beating. Prosecutors said the officers mistakenly believed that Hall was participating in the protest that followed the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white officer accused of killing a Black suspect.
Dustin Boone was found guilty in June of aiding and abetting the deprivation of the victim’s civil rights. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15.
Christopher Myers still faces a charge of destruction of evidence related to the arrest. He was tried along with Boone but jurors could not reach a verdict on the charges.
After Reviewing Videos Depicting Attacks By Guards Of Women Prison Inmates, N.J. Civil Rights Lawyers Commit To Legal Action To Hold Those Responsible Fully Accountable
More inexcusable prison brutality.
Excerpts from the Article:
New Jersey civil rights attorneys Shelley L. Stangler, of Shelley L. Stangler, P.C. and Oliver Barry, of Barry, Corrado & Grassi, P.C., who together represent several Edna Mahan Correction Facility For Women inmates that were filmed as they were brutally beaten by corrections officers on January 11, 2021, said that they are committed to legal action to hold those responsible fully accountable. The lawyers, who commended the press for filing the open-records request that led to the state’s disclosure of the 10 deeply disturbing videos, said citizens should keep in mind that the edited videos are the tip of iceberg and that the entirety of the footage should be made public.
Ms. Stangler said, “We are, sadly, not surprised by the videos, including the brazen beatings of inmates during forced-cell extractions, in light of the U.S. Department of Justice’s blistering investigation exposing a problematic culture of civil rights violations at the prison, and more recently, the scathing investigative report issued by independent special counsel Matthew Boxer.” She added, “If there’s truly going to be transparency and a fresh start in how New Jersey’s only women’s prison is operated, then all such documentation should be made public.” The Edna Mahan Inmate Beating Videos can be viewed here.
Rae Rollins, one of the Edna Mahan victims who has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections alleging excessive force and systemic civil rights violations at the prison, said through Mr. Barry, her attorney, she was “glad that the footage had been released because it gives the public a chance to see how she and others were treated at the prison.”
Mr. Barry commended Governor Murphy’s decision to close the prison, but cautioned along with his co-counsel that “while the administration works towards a suitable replacement facility or other replacement plan, the systemic problems that fueled these attacks must be addressed. It is the oversight, training, and culture issues that must be exposed and eradicated in order to fix the prison system.”
Ms. Stangler, who represents inmate and beating victim Desiree DaSilva, added, “We will continue to fight for Ms. DaSilva and the rights of all inmates – past, present, and future – knowing that a new building with a new name will not erase generations of unchecked, barbaric institutional discrimination, harassment, and violence.”
She said her client’s mother and sister told her after seeing the videos, “It’s horrible how they treat women inside of there. We would never have expected anything like that to have occurred and are shocked by it. We fear for the safety of our beloved Desiree.”
Just because they sit on a court of appeals doesn’t mean they have souls. It should surprise nobody that respect for the Courts is at an all time low, with idiots like these on the Bench!
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal appeals court has ruled the Kentucky Department of Corrections can deny a life-saving medication for inmates with hepatitis C because it is expensive — a decision a dissenting judge says will condemn hundreds of prisoners to long-term organ damage and suffering.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said Tuesday the department can deny the treatment, which cures nearly 100% of patients but costs $13,000 to $32,000.
The majority found that denying it to most of Kentucky’s 1,200 inmates with hepatitis C does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
But in a sharply worded dissent, Judge Jane Stranch of Nashville said by “flouting the recognized standard of care,” the Corrections Department “consigns thousands of prisoners with symptomatic, chronic HCV to years of additional suffering and irreversible liver scarring.”
She said by withholding medical treatment until the damage caused by an inmate’s chronic hepatitis C infection has progressed too far to be reversible, Kentucky’s rationing plan “shocks the conscience” and is fundamentally unfair.
Louisville attorney Greg Belzley, who represents prisoners in a class-action lawsuit, called the decision “horrendous” and said they would ask for a rehearing or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
“Basically the majority … ruled that Kentucky prison officials don’t have to do anything to treat an inmate’s infection except sit around and watch it get worse,” he said in an email.
Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Department, said its policy aligns with the practices of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and two courts have found the Kentucky department is not violating the constitutional rights of prisoners.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplantation and serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is a blood-borne disease that can be caused by sharing contaminated needles, using unsterilized tattoo equipment and engaging in risky sexual behavior.
An estimated 71 million people are affected worldwide. Kentucky has the highest infection rate in the United States.
She also said the treatment saves money in the long run because it reduces the costs of caring for illnesses caused by hepatitis C, including liver disease, lymphoma and diabetes.
Dr. Jens Rosenau, acting director of hepatology at UK HealthCare, said treatment is potentially beneficial for almost any infected individual and recommended by liver and infectious disease society guidelines.
In her dissent, Stranch said “there is ample evidence that defendants were well aware of the long-term harm caused by delaying treatment and the universal medical recommendation that all individuals with chronic HCV should be prescribed DAAs,” Stranch wrote.
“Yet according to defendants themselves, they chose not to administer DAAs to all inmates because of the cost of the drugs, a decision that exposed inmates to ongoing suffering and long-term organ damage.”
Belzley said in an email the department doesn’t treat any infected inmates until their liver has already become cirrhotic, and while hepatitis C is curable, cirrhosis is not.
He said as of August 2019, the most recently available figures, the department has identified 1,670 prisoners as HCV-positive. Only 159 had received any treatment.
The majority held that “an inmate’s disagreement with the testing and treatment he has received” does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Senior Judge Alice Batchelder and Judge Richard Allen Griffin upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. VanTatenhove of Lexington, who found the department’s monitoring of inmates with hepatitis C constituted “treatment” and the department’s treatment plan was adequate.
Belzley said what was particularly irritating about the majority decision was the plaintiffs presented “undisputed evidence” it would cost taxpayers less to treat infected inmates in prison than to wait until they are released. Meanwhile, they would infect others before finally receiving treatment.
“This is a decision that makes no sense in logic, under the law, or for Kentucky taxpayers,” he said.
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Belzley said lawyers have made “enormous progress in securing effective treatment for the obviously serious medical needs of inmates in Kentucky jails and prisons, which is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
“This is a huge, and alarming, step back,” he said. “Unless reversed, this decision will be used to justify jail and prison officials’ deliberate indifference to the serious medical conditions of the Kentuckians in their care and custody.”
Another account of how out of control America’s prisons are, costing YOU billions of dollars every year!
Excerpts from the Article:
A man who was thrown in jail in Shelby County for stealing two boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups — then savagely beaten by other inmates on orders of a jail guard because he had previously dated the guard’s wife — has been awarded more than $2.1 million in damages.
A federal court jury returned the verdict for Joshua Reece, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures in the attack, against former officer William Anthony Carey.
Carey, who was fired from the Shelby County Detention Center, pleaded guilty in state court to official misconduct and aiding and abetting the assault.
After the FBI read The Courier Journal’s story in 2016 about Reece’s lawsuit, Carey was charged and prosecuted for violating Reece’s civil rights, according to Garry Adams, one of his lawyers.
Carey was sentenced to four years in prison and is still serving that sentence at a federal prison in New Jersey.
Adams said Reece felt vindicated by the verdict, which was returned after a four-day trial before U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove.
Although Adams said Reece suffers from retrograde amnesia and doesn’t remember much of the attack, he was able to testify at the trials. Carey testified remotely from prison and pled the Fifth Amendment, Adams said.
Carol Petitt, one of Carey’s lawyers, said Shelby County had been dismissed from the lawsuit, but Adams said it will have to pay for the damages because Carey was acting in the scope of his employment.
After deliberating for about 3½ hours, the jury returned a verdict totaling $2,184,000, including $400,000 in punitive damages.
Adams, who tried the case with David Ward, said the defense admitted liability and the only issue was damages.
According to the lawsuit, when Reece, then 31, was admitted to the jail in November 2015 after being charged with shoplifting at a Dollar Store in Simpsonville, Carey recognized him, then conspired with another deputy to place him in “Cell 317,” a “max cell” reserved for inmates charged with violent behavior.
The complaint says Carey and others approached those inmates and “directed that they beat him.” It alleged Reece was awakened by 10 to 12 inmates who on Carey’s instruction beat him for several hours, until he lost consciousness, and that when he came to, he was again being beaten in the shower.
Court records show Carey was charged in Shelby District Court with official misconduct and fourth-degree assault — minor felonies, and he pleaded guilty to the first charge and an amended charge of complicity to misdemeanor assault.
He was given a 90-day jail term that was conditionally discharged.
Adams said Reece was not consulted about the plea agreement.
The beating left Reece with permanent scarring, disfigurement, headaches, blurred vision, memory loss, post-concussion syndrome and brain trauma, according to the lawsuit.
Seven inmates were charged.
Adams said Reece had dated Carey’s wife years earlier.
“It is amazing that in modern America that such a savage beating could take place in a jail or other institution, where an individual is helpless, especially when you find out that the beating was directed by one of the people who is supposed to keep that individual safe,” Adams said when the suit was filed.
Our idiot legislators screw things up again! Failing to release of some 700 prisoners nearing the end of their sentences accomplished nothing except costing YOU, the taxpayers millions of dollars.
Because D O C opposed this Bill (naturally, it is “job preservation” for them to keep prisoners as long as possible!), legislators were afraid to do the right thing and pass it for fear of losing donations from the guards’ union!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware prisoners will receive no credit off their sentence for enduring the pandemic behind bars. Legislation introduced earlier this year aimed at providing prisoners time off their sentences, known as good time, died without a vote as Democratic legislators, who control both chambers of the General Assembly, sat on the proposal through the end of this year’s lawmaking session.
“Sadly, it is dead,” said state Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, who sponsored the legislation.
The most expansive of two such proposals would have given some prisoners about 240 days off their sentences leading to the release of some 700 prisoners nearing the end of their sentences.
Minor-Brown and supporters argued that those in lockup deserved some consideration for the particular harshness of the pandemic behind bars where social distancing is more difficult.
More than 2,000 prisoners across the state tested positive for the virus and 13 died, according to the Delaware Department of Correction. The virus also saw more than 700 correction staff infected. When recently checked, there were only three known cases of the virus among those held by DOC.
During the height of the pandemic, prisoners were disproportionately infected compared with Delaware’s population; went months unable to see their loved ones in weekly, in-person visits; lost potential for good time through in-prison employment; and saw less opportunity for rehabilitative programming.
Prison officials opposed the legislative push, stating it was unnecessary, infeasible for their staff and that releasing prisoners would endanger the public. Gov. John Carney previously said he didn’t support early releases for prisoners due to the pandemic.
This comes during a legislative session where officials said the state was abnormally flush with revenue.
Lawmakers recently used those unplanned dollars to pass a $221 million supplemental spending bill that pays for disability services, a statewide police body-worn camera program, funding for disadvantaged students and mental health services to students, among a litany of other programs.
“It feels like a complete failure, although it is out of our hands,” Minor-Brown said of the prison legislation.
He pointed to legislation that passed both chambers that he said will open up greater opportunities for prisoners to work inside DOC facilities and earn good time in lieu of payment. The legislation also allows for good time for completion of certain prison programs and increases the total number of good-time days an inmate can earn in a year from 160 to 180.
Fabian Cesar, a man imprisoned at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, called the failure of the larger pandemic-credit legislation unsurprising from the “Delaware Way.”
“Justice, true equal protection under the law for all citizens regardless of their status, and progress comes at a snails pace,” he said via an email Thursday.
These jackasses must be tried and convicted!
“Bulthouse was arrested for allegedly violating his probation in 2019. He was on suicide watch, and was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes, Nessel said in a news release.” I have seen how this actually works! The guards sleep right through their 8 hour shifts and then awaken and falsify documents, stating that they checked on inmates every 15 minutes! It is totally frucking outrageous!
Excerpts from the Article:
There was another delay in next step for the legal proceedings for five jail workers accused of manslaughter at the Muskegon County Jail.
Paul Bulthouse, 39, died after suffering 22 visible seizures across five and a half hours, April 4, 2019, in jail cell, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said previously.
On April 8, Muskegon County Sheriff Deputies Jeffrey Patterson, Crystal Greve, Jamal Lane — as well as Sgt. David Vanderlaan and former WellPath employee Aubrey Schotts, a registered nurse — were each charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter — failure to perform a legal duty.
Patterson, Greve, Lane, Vanderlaan and Schotts had a probable cause conference April 15 in Muskegon County District Court. The next step, a preliminary examination, has been delayed twice. It was first delayed at the request of defense attorneys.
The second delay was requested Wednesday, June 23, by the Attorney General’s Office. Two of the office’s witnesses would be out of town and unable to attend the examination scheduled for July 7.
The preliminary examination is now scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 21, before Judge Geoffrey Nolan. The hearing will take place in-person.
Bulthouse was arrested for allegedly violating his probation in 2019. He was on suicide watch, and was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes, Nessel said in a news release.
His seizures were visible, Nessel said, yet Patterson, Greve, Lane, Vanderlaan and Schotts failed to check on him or provide any medical care. An autopsy said Bulthouse died of natural causes, due to seizures he experienced in his cell.
Bulthouse died around 5:35 a.m. on April 4, 2019, Nessel said. He was dead in his cell until he was found by deputies around 6:20 a.m. that morning, Assistant Attorney General Melissa Palepu said during a press conference.
Bulthouse’s family filed a lawsuit against the county and agreed to settle the complaint on May 6, court records show. The seizures were triggered by withdrawal of prescription medication, the family’s lawsuit said.
The sheriff’s office did an independent investigation into Bulthouse’s death, which was closed it May 22, 2019. It was reopened June 12, 2019, after reports that a deputy may have witnessed part of a seizure and did nothing. The Michigan Sheriff’s Association was involved in that investigation.
The state Attorney General’s office then started the investigation in August 2019. They reviewed nine hours of video footage, more than 400 pages of medical records and numerous police reports, Nessel said previously.
The four jail workers charged in the case have been reassigned away from direct inmate supervision, Sheriff Michael Poulin said previously. All five defendants were released from jail on personal recognize bonds.
Knowing many probation officers, I sure believe the allegations of misconduct in the lawsuit!
Excerpts from the Article:
In August 2017, a judge weighed sending Kisha Reilly to prison for years, but opted for mercy and a probation sentence that would be one more chance for Reilly to put longtime substance abuse problems behind her.
A year later to that day, Reilly died from a drug overdose.
In that year, her family claims she was coerced into a sexual relationship by one of her probation officers as he turned a blind eye to failed drug tests and helped fund both her drug use and court-ordered rehabilitation, according to a lawsuit filed by her son and widower.
The lawsuit was filed without the representation of an attorney in August 2020. It makes claims of wrongful death and negligence against the probation officer, Dave Turko, as well as the Department of Correction and its probation section. The defendants were only recently served, and, earlier this week, an attorney was appointed to represent Turko, so they have not responded to the allegations of the lawsuit in court.
Because Kisha Reilly is dead and irrefutable text-message evidence is not available, we can’t know the exact nature of Reilly’s relationship with Turko.
But their undeniably unprofessional connection — evidenced by things like hundreds of phone calls back and forth between the two each month — raises questions about the Delaware Department of Correction’s willingness to police its own employees. It also exposes a gap in state law that fails to clearly place consequences on officers who abuse their authority over those getting out of prison or on court-ordered probation.
Armed with phone records, receipts and other evidence pulled from Kisha Reilly’s bedroom months after she died, her family demanded an investigation from the Department of Correction, the state entity that runs probation.
Department policy forbids relationships between probation officers and probationers. Most other states criminally prosecute probation officers for sexual relationships with probationers, regardless of consent. The common thinking is that consent is impossible when a probation officer can instantly strip a person of their freedom.
And while it is a felony in Delaware for a police or correctional officer to have sex with a person in their custody, regardless of consent, neither state prosecutors nor state correction officials say the law applies to such contact between a probationer and their supervising officer.
And so, demands for investigation only led to Turko resigning his job before he could be interviewed by correction’s internal affairs unit, and his oversight of Reilly was never considered by prosecutors.
Turko now works for the Red Clay Consolidated School District at John Dickinson High School in Milltown, according to a school district spokeswoman who would not disclose Turko’s job title. Turko did not return numerous phone calls and attempts to reach him through his ex-wife and the school district. The attorney representing him in the lawsuit filed by Reilly’s family declined to comment on his behalf.
The situation appears to be a failure in accountability.
“It is an interesting question about Delaware law: whether they are reading it right or choosing not to read it to not draw attention,” said Martin Horn, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation and a retired professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The situation leaves her family, particularly her 19-year-old son and her husband, who remains imprisoned for his part in the pawn shop racket that saw Reilly sentenced to probation, grasping for answers and what they see as accountability.
Reilly pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation, theft and drug charges tied to a shoplifting racket run out of the Gold Fever pawn shop she operated with her husband in Middletown. She also pleaded to a DUI she had while out on bail for charges tied to the racket. At her sentencing, prosecutors pointed out her previous 27 arrests in three different states and 14 subsequent violations of probations as reason to lock her up. Her defense attorney pointed out recent efforts and improvement fighting longstanding substance abuse problems.
Evidence seized as part of the investigation into the Gold Fever pawn shop run by Shaun and Kisha Reilly. In court, prosecutors accused the Reillys of participating in a scheme to recruit individuals suffering from drug addiction to shoplift items that would later be sold at the pawn shop. At her sentencing hearing, the judge decided that she was not going to “incarcerate” the “very poor judgement” out of Reilly, “this time, anyway.” She made clear that anything other than “strict compliance” by Reilly with her probation terms would land her in prison.
Her house arrest terms included “zero tolerance” for nonprescribed drugs and alcohol and gave her probation officer the power to arrest her without a warrant, according to the court document.
“You are going to be the best probationer your probation officer has ever met,” said Judge Andrea Rocanelli at the sentencing.
Turko was assigned to oversee her house arrest during her first six months of probation. His job title was senior probation officer with the ability to approve or disapprove progress or violation reports and give “informal guidance” to junior officers, according to corrections officials.
The lawsuit filed by Shaun Reilly, Kisha Reilly’s husband of 16 years, claims that Turko “coerced” an “ongoing, continuous” sexual relationship with Kisha Reilly, enlisting “his authority” to overlook failed drug screens in return.
The lawsuit said this coercion started when he had direct supervision over her probation and continued after she was taken off house arrest and was under the direct supervision of a female officer until Reilly died. That officer did not return phone calls seeking comment.
To back up these claims, Shaun Reilly and his family lean on Kisha Reilly’s conversations with them before she died — conversations echo allegations in the lawsuit. But they also have hard evidence connecting the two: including phone records, receipts and canisters of “law enforcement unit” pepper spray, which they found in her room after she died.
Phone records retrieved by Kisha Reilly’s family after her death show the two began frequent communication in early November 2017, two months after she had been assigned to his authority. Through the end of that month, there were more than 130 calls or voice messages either from or to Turko’s personal phone in addition to a dozen or so involving his work number.
In most months until June, the last month for which the family has phone records, there are either close to or more than 200 phone calls or voicemails involving his work or personal line in addition to a smattering of calls from the Cherry Lane probation officers to Kisha Reilly’s phones.
Kisha Reilly’s family said they have not been able to access text message records.
Her son and her mother-in-law, who shared a home with Reilly, said Turko’s presence was noticed either in phone communication or Turko picking Reilly up to go to work or other places.
She was employed at a local gym as well as Hak’s Sports Bar, a strip club on Wilmington’s south side. The manager of the club – who was also in regular communication with Kisha Reilly, records indicate – declined to comment for this story.
Mason Reilly, Kisha Reilly’s son, said Turko befriended him; would bring food to their home; attended one of his wrestling matches; and communicated with him via text messages, which Delaware Online/The News Journal has reviewed. One time, he and his mother went to a massage and she called Turko to pay for it over the phone, her son said.
After Kisha Reilly died, her family found evidence of other purchases the lawsuit said he made on her behalf. Those included a receipt for a monthly recurring payment of about $80 for Reilly’s court-ordered Breathalyzer with payment information that includes a card bearing his name. They also found Turko’s name on a receipt for court-ordered counseling, a spa receipt and a receipt for a gift card for a clothing store in Bear.
In a series of conversations from Howard R. Young Correctional Institution where he is serving a nine-year sentence for the pawn shop racket and weapons charges, Shaun Reilly described details from his lawsuit, saying he confronted his wife about how much time she spent and communication she had with Turko.
He said she told him Turko was a “friend” giving her “safe passage” through her probationary period. He said she later told him that Turko covered for her “dirty urines.”
“As an addict, if you know there is no consequences to your actions, you just continue down your self-destructive path,” Shaun Reilly said. “With that knowledge, there was nothing more in place to stop her from using drugs.”
Denise Toy, Shaun Reilly’s mother who lived in the same home as Kisha Reilly, said she argued with her daughter-in-law over her closeness with Turko. One time, Kisha Reilly asked Toy if she would allow Turko to move into the home with them, she said.
Another time, Mason Reilly said, toward the end of her life, his mother told him she had to end her relationship with Turko. There was another time Toy received a text message, reviewed by Delaware Online/The News Journal, from Kisha Reilly that was apparently meant for Turko from two months before she died. It addresses him as Dave in the message and discusses sexual contact and what appears to be a fading, romantic relationship.
A separate fight with Toy prompted Kisha Reilly to explain to her that Turko cared about them and had covered for her dirty urines, Toy stated. Another family friend said Kisha Reilly told him the same thing.
Available court records indicate that Turko and the other officer that took over her supervision never reported any failed drug tests to the court. Correction officials said she had never failed a drug test administered by the Department of Correction, but declined to provide relevant records citing the pending litigation.
In Kisha Reilly’s room after her death, her family found personal notes reminding her to urinate a lot and drink lots of water on certain dates.
Her family also found records of four separate drug tests that indicate the presence of nonprescribed medications including Xanax, morphine and other prescription narcotics. The urinalysis screenings were ordered by Wilmington Doctor Pasquale Fucci of Brandywine Medical Associates. It appears they were not part of her court-ordered programming. Erica Mutter, an official for Brandywine, declined to comment on the specific documents.
Mason Reilly said Turko began texting him, asking if he had heard from her and later suggested someone kick down the door to her room. When a family member did later that afternoon, they found her dead. A medical examiner would conclude she died of an overdose involving cocaine, heroin and fentanyl. She was 37 years old.
After Delaware State Police combed the room, Denise Toy showed the text message she believes Kisha Reilly inadvertently sent to her instead of Turko. She told a detective that she believed they were in an inappropriate relationship.
She gave them a memory card from the camera facing their front door, hoping to substantiate their suspicion that Turko was there the night she died. State police also eventually took possession of one of Kisha Reilly’s cellphones, Toy said. The family believes state police still have that and the camera memory card.
State police Senior Cpl. Heather Pepper, a spokeswoman for the department, declined to say whether police took any action over Toy’s concern or the data they received. State police also declined a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records as to the existence of any investigation.
Delaware law gives police cover to hide all records detailing their investigatory work when someone is not arrested.
Toy said they never heard anything from state police about it and eventually she turned to the Department of Correction.
She has a cardboard box she carries to meetings with journalists, attorneys and private investigators. It contains items from Kisha Reilly’s room, phone records, receipts, drug screens, pepper spray and other letters she says are evidence of an inappropriate relationship.
She brought that box to meet with officials in the Department of Correction’s Internal Affairs unit in April 2019 following Kisha Reilly’s death. After laying out her concerns, she was told to give the investigators 30 days and then contact them.
Mason Reilly said before those 30 days were up, he got a message from a family friend that said Turko had resigned. Toy then called one of the investigators, who told her “we were calling him in for questioning, but he resigned,” she recalled.
She said she remembered thinking, “That’s it?”
“It’s not right,” she said. “A woman is dead.”
Correction officials defended their response to Toy’s complaint. They said they have no power to compel a former employee to conduct an interview. They said they investigated the report, even after he resigned, but found “no actionable criminal offense to report to an outside criminal agency.”
They declined to detail what investigative steps they took.
Corrections has a thorough policy for how sexual contact, regardless of consent, within its prisons and work-release facilities is to be investigated. That policy, based on provisions of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, states that if “an allegation indicates criminal behavior,” DOC will refer it to state police. And when the “quality of evidence appears to support criminal prosecution,” it states that DOC investigators shall force interviews after consulting with prosecutors to make sure such interviews won’t hinder a future criminal case. It also states that allegations of sex abuse will be investigated “thoroughly” until it is determined to be substantiated, unsubstantiated or unfounded and that determination will rest on whether there is a greater than 50% chance the allegation is true.
The policy states that it applies to all DOC “employees” and all offenders under the “custody or supervision” of DOC, but, in a written statement, Jason Miller, Correction Department spokesman, said it applies only to sexual contact involving people actually locked up in one of the state’s prisons or work release facilities.
So it’s unclear what steps they took or evidence they sought beyond Toy’s box.
Other Department of Correction written policies state that they may request investigatory backup from state police “when necessary.” Policy also states that for employees determined to have committed a crime, “resignation in lieu of prosecution shall not be permitted,” unless approved by the commissioner.
Based on the lawsuit, interviews with the family and emails exchanged with the Department of Correction, it appears corrections never enlisted investigatory help from state police despite the police already having potential cellphone evidence turned over by Kisha Reilly’s family when she died.
The Delaware Department of Justice, the state’s criminal prosecutors, said they’d never received a report of this situation from corrections.
Even if investigators put in the work to substantiate that there was, as the lawsuit claims, sexual contact between Kisha Reilly and Turko, corrections officials said they do not see it as a violation of Delaware’s criminal law.
Delaware law lists two separate crimes dealing with law enforcement officers having sex or sexual contact with those under their authority. That includes correctional officers working in local prisons.
While there is no question that probation officers are legally considered law enforcement officers, DOC officials don’t believe the law applies to probation officers. The law states that it is a felony for a “law enforcement officer” to engage in any sexual contact, regardless of consent, with any person in “custody.” The law defines “custody” as “restraint by a public servant pursuant to an arrest, detention or an order of a court.”
Effectively, aspects of a probationer’s life are restrained by the court order placing them on house arrest and probation, but Miller argued that the more appropriate way to legally describe the power a probation officer has over a probationer is “supervision,” not “custody” and thus the law does not apply.
The Delaware Department of Justice, which employs attorneys that interpret criminal law to prosecute crimes, neither agreed nor disagreed with that interpretation.
“Honestly, we can’t say one way or the other — we haven’t been able to find case law or precedent that addresses the question,” wrote Mat Marshall, spokesperson for the DOJ.
Horn, the New York probation official, said most states have criminal laws covering such conduct and questioned whether corrections officials’ interpretation of the law is self-serving. He added that there might have been scope to investigate potential official misconduct — the law that bars public officials from using their government power for personal gain.
“The question is why the state of Delaware does not want to take action,” Horn said.
Beyond potential criminal ramifications, if Turko were to apply to another probation-officer position elsewhere and asked Delaware corrections officials for a recommendation or job history, officials said they could not divulge any information regarding the allegations made by Reilly’s family.
Brian Lovins, incoming president of the American Probation and Parole Association, said there needs to be a more broad, national set of standards for probation officer conduct, something his organization is working on. Lovins noted laws criminalizing inappropriate relationships do not always work as a deterrent, but there needs to be some mechanism to ensure the officer engaged in such conduct can’t assume the same job in another jurisdiction.
“There should be laws, they should be applicable and they should set consequences,” Lovins said.
Toy’s last conversation with corrections internal affairs in April 2019 was the last time her family heard from any law enforcement source on the issue. They wrote letters to state government officials and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. “If this isn’t enough evidence for someone to take a look at this thing, I don’t know what will do,” Shaun Reilly said.
They went to attorneys, who all wanted money to get involved, Toy said. “We don’t have money,” said Toy, whose family was also assessed a civil judgment for the pawn shop racket.
So as the two-year anniversary of Kisha Reilly’s death approached — along with the two-year statute of limitations for seeking civil court damages — Shaun Reilly filed his lawsuit.
“This was the only last and final effort and push I could make,” Shaun Reilly said. “I’m still her husband to this day. In death, it does not change. The love I have for her will not go away.” Through the litigation, the family hopes to compel other evidence proving the exact nature of the relationship.
Beyond the hard evidence they have showing an unprofessional connection, the lawsuit makes more broad allegations, specifically that he funded her drug habit. Shaun Reilly said that is based off hearsay in prison as well as speculation.
They hope to at some point be able to subpoena text messages and other evidence that may show more.
He dismissed the idea of him bringing the litigation as a jealous husband. He said he is “angry” and the idea that Kisha Reilly might have in some ways welcomed the relationship “does not make it right.” “If you take advantage of people, you need to be held to account,” Shaun Reilly said. “No matter if you are a public servant or a civilian.”
And while they don’t have hard records drawing a direct line between her death and Turko right now, Shaun Reilly said he believes if Turko had done his job honestly, his wife would still be alive.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, but Shaun Reilly said that is secondary. He wants what he sees as justice and said Turko deserves to be “in cuffs.” “If the line is not drawn, it will continue to happen.”
The ACLU is a tremendous asset for some who are abused by authorities and cannot afford counsel; I have been a member since law school, decades ago. The problem is they are understaffed and underfunded! SUPPORT THE ACLU; there is a branch near you!
The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware announced Monday it has selected Susan L. Burke, an award-winning attorney and experienced litigator, to be its next legal director.
Ms. Burke has worked in the legal field for 34 years, primarily in federal class and complex litigation, and has won numerous awards.
As lead counsel for Iraqi victims, she achieved an historic win and a legal first by negotiating multi-million dollar settlements with defense contractors involved in government-sactioned torture at Abu Ghraib and with Blackwater, a private mercenary company responsible for the Nissor Square massacre. Prior to that victory, she helped persuade Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court to uphold Philadelphia’s campaign finance reform legislation. She also successfully represented the Dominican Republic in a lawsuit seeking redress for an American corporation’s destruction of pristine beaches.
Her work as lead counsel in a series of lawsuits seeking to reform the military’s deficiencies in prosecuting rape and sexual assault was profiled in the documentary “The Invisible War.”