Archive for July, 2008

Inmate forgotten in hot van; TDOC says it was unfortunate accident

Posted in Articles on July 19, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

A state inmate was left alone inside a van outside a Metro courthouse on Thursday for several hours with the windows rolled up, a Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman said.

A Metro police officer who was passing by the vehicle on Gay Street noticed Darrell Davis, 41, sitting inside the transport van alone and notified the correction agency, TDOC spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said. He was taken downtown along with seven other inmates who were scheduled for court appearances in the A.A. Birch Building, and Carter said they don’t know how he was left behind.

We believe it was definitely an accident,” Carter said. “The officer (who left him behind) has been questioned. He feels really bad, as we do, about what’s happened.”

The inmate, serving a two-year sentence for an attempted robbery conviction, was in the hot van for about two and a half hours as temperatures climbed into the high 80s and low 90s. He was taken to the hospital and released, Carter said.

She said the agency will take disciplinary action against the responsible officer if it’s warranted once their investigation is complete, but at this point they do believe it was accidental.

Davis has been less than a model inmate. With several robbery and drug-related convictions, he has been in state prison several times since 1989. In that time frame, he’s had 56 disciplinaries, Carter said.

His most recent offense was sexual harassment of a female guard. He’s also been in trouble recently for assaulting guards and possessing contraband, Carter said.



Prison guard stabbed in face

Posted in Prison assaults on July 19, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

A Paremoremo prison guard was hospitalised yesterday with serious injuries after being stabbed repeatedly by an inmate upset over being denied a phone call.

The Fijian-Indian officer, who is understood to be in his mid-40s, was set upon and stabbed in the face and chest with an aluminium shard by two inmates shortly after 10.30am.

The attack, which comes a fortnight after the vicious beating of a Rimutaka prison officer, is likely to spark renewed calls for guards to be armed with Tasers.

Yesterday’s attack took place in Paremoremo’s B block, a maximum and high to medium security area that houses some of the country’s most dangerous inmates, including convicted murderer Graeme Burton.

It is understood the guard was attacked after an inmate became extremely agitated when he was unable to make a telephone call.

According to an eyewitness, the man, aided by another inmate, grabbed the guard and stabbed him several times.

“There was total commotion, blood everywhere, all over the walls and floor. You wouldn’t have believed what a mess it was,” the witness said, adding that the guard was saved only by the quick intervention of two other guards. The guard was rushed to hospital and was last night believed to be in a serious but stable condition.

Corrections and police have launched separate inquiries into the incident and it is likely criminal charges will follow.

Another Paremoremo inmate spoken to after the attack said it had left guards at the prison “on edge”.

He said a worrying new culture of violence was beginning to show at Paremoremo and Corrections seemed powerless to stamp it out.

Corrections spokeswoman Jeanette Burns said it was taking the attack seriously.

“One assault is one too many. Unfortunately, custodial staff work in a volatile environment and they [attacks such as yesterday’s] do occur on occasion,” she said.

“Many prisoners have long histories of antisocial behaviour and react to situations of frustration or anger using violence with little warning.”


Many Ills Found at Nation’s Biggest Jail

Posted in Articles on July 19, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

Federal investigation finds serious problems at Chicago jail, the nation’s largest.

Cook County Jail

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

A Feb. 12, 2006 file photo shows a pedestrian walking past an entrance to the Cook County Jail in Chicago.
Officials on Thursday, July 17, 2008, said that after a 17-month federal investigation, the nation’s largest single-site county jail has uncovered serious sanitation and medical care problems as well as violence directed against prisoners who clashed with guards or failed to follow commands, officials said Thursday.

A federal investigation of the nation’s largest single-site county jail has uncovered serious sanitation and medical care problems, as well as violence against prisoners who clashed with guards or failed to follow commands, officials said.

Among the problems cited in the 98-page report: Old or mentally ill inmates struck by guards for dressing too slowly; inmates burning milk cartons to heat food in their cells; and prisoners rigging a dumbwaiter to move homemade weapons.

Three Cook County Jail inmates committed suicide in the first four months of 2008 alone, and others have died because of inadequate medical care, according to the report, prepared by the civil rights division of the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney’s office after a 17-month investigation.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald on Thursday praised county officials for cooperating by providing investigators with unfettered access to the jail.

The report said violence against prisoners sometimes begins as soon as they arrive at the sprawling complex on Chicago’s west side, where nearly 10,000 inmates are housed while awaiting trials.

“Many inmates report that those who are old, mentally ill or do not understand English are struck by officers for undressing or dressing too slowly,” the report said. One prisoner who had trouble complying with orders from guards complained that they used his head as “a bongo drum.”

Overcrowding has resulted in “hot bunking,” in which prisoners use beds in eight-hour shifts. The report said that while each inmate uses his or her own bedding, the practice could still cause “sanitation and infection control problems.” Skin infections have not been adequately controlled, he said.

Fitzgerald told reporters that the jail has only one dentist for 9,800 prisoners and that 25 percent of tooth extractions result in infection.

Inmate-on-inmate violence has been a persistent problem, according to the report, including prisoners stabbed, one fatally, with knifelike shanks, and another strangled by a cellmate.

“Due to the dilapidated condition of scores of cells, shower areas and various dayroom features, inmates have ample material for fabricating weapons,” the report said.

In one instance, inmates had rigged a dumbwaiter that may have been used to move weapons from tier to tier, it said.

Investigators also said it is common for prisoners to start fires in their cells to warm food, using empty milk cartons and other debris for fuel and light fixtures for ignition.


Disturbance forces lockdown of 60 inmates at New Brunswick prison

Posted in Distubances on July 19, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

RENOUS, N.B. – Sixty inmates at a maximum-security prison in northeast New Brunswick were in lockdown Friday as the result of a disturbance that began Thursday night.

Natalie Arsenault, a spokeswoman with the Correctional Service of Canada, said the disturbance involved inmates in Unit 1 at the Atlantic Institution in Renous.

She said no one was injured during the disturbance that lasted seven hours.

“It started at approximately 10:30 p.m., when they refused to lock up,” she said.

Arsenault wouldn’t say what sparked the disturbance or if the inmates made any demands.

“It’s still under investigation,” she said. “There were some lights damaged and cell door windows … but they’re still assessing the damages.”

The prison’s incident response team was sent to the unit and all inmates were back in their cells by 5:30 a.m. Friday.

Officials said the lockdown was aimed at ensuring the safety of the public, staff and inmates.

The Atlantic Institution houses 230 inmates.


US: Prison Numbers Hit New High

Posted in Articles on July 19, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

Blacks Hardest Hit by Incarceration Policy

(Washington, DC, June 6, 2008) – New figures showing that US incarceration rates are climbing even higher, with racial minorities greatly overrepresented in prisons and jails, highlight the need to adopt alternative criminal justice policies, Human Rights Watch said today.

Statistics released today by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a branch of the US Department of Justice, show that as of June 30, 2007, approximately 2.3 million persons were incarcerated in US prisons and jails, an all-time high. This represents an incarceration rate of 762 per 100,000 US residents, the highest such rate in the world. By contrast, the United Kingdom’s incarceration rate is 152 per 100,000 residents; the rate in Canada is 108; and in France it is 91.  
“The new incarceration figures confirm the United States as the world’s leading jailer,” said David Fathi, US Program director at Human Rights Watch. “Americans should ask why the US locks up so many more people than do Canada, Britain, and other democracies.”  
The new statistics also show large racial disparities, with black males incarcerated at a per capita rate six times that of white males. Nearly 11 percent of all black men ages 30 to 34 were behind bars as of June 30, 2007.  
In May 2008, Human Rights Watch released its report, “Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States,” in which it documented racial disparities in US drug law enforcement, with black men 11.8 times more likely than white men to enter prison on drug charges, despite the fact that blacks and whites use illegal drugs at similar rates. Although whites, being more numerous, constitute the large majority of drug users, blacks constitute 54 percent of all persons entering state prisons with a new drug offense conviction.  
“Decisions about drug law enforcement play a major role in creating the staggering racial disparities we see in US prisons,” said Fathi. “The ‘war on drugs’ has become a war on black Americans.”  
The US has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a treaty that requires the US to guarantee, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, “[t]he right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice.” In May 2008, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which monitors compliance with ICERD, expressed its “concern with regard to the persistent racial disparities in the criminal justice system of [the United States], including the disproportionate number of persons belonging to racial, ethnic and national minorities in the prison population.” The committee called on the United States to undertake “further studies to determine the nature and scope of the problem, and the implementation of national strategies or plans of action aimed at the elimination of structural racial discrimination.”  
Human Rights Watch urges public officials in the United States to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offenses and to adopt community-based sanctions and other alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders. Human Rights Watch further calls on the United States to enact legislation that, in accordance with ICERD, prohibits policies or practices in the criminal justice system that have the purpose or effect of restricting the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

Corrections Officer Fatally Stabbed at Federal Prison

Posted in Prison assaults on July 19, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

ATWATER, Calif. — A federal correctional officer at U.S. Penitentiary Atwater is dead after being stabbed by inmates at the facility Friday, according to Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin.

Although details are still sketchy, Pazin said the officer, identified as Jose Rivera, 22, of Chowchilla, was transported to Mercy Medical Center Merced after the stabbing. The FBI is conducting the investigation into the attack and Pazin said his office will conduct the autopsy.

Rivera was taken to the hospital at 3:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m., Pazin said.

Pazin said Rivera’s death underscores the dangers that correctional officers face every day.

“Our hearts go out to our fellow officers at the federal prison,” Pazin said. “Any time you lose an officer, it’s always traumatic.”

A statement from the prison said Rivera was assaulted by two inmates with “homemade weapons” in a housing unit. The inmates were restrained by staff and placed into administrative detention, the statement said.

Jesse Gonzalez, a spokesman for the prison, declined further comment. The inmates have not been publicly identified.

Rivera’s death is not the first violent incident to happen at the prison.

In November, a correctional officer at the prison was held hostage in a housing unit for nearly two hours by two inmates. He was later released unharmed. Bureau of Prisons hostage negotiators worked to quickly resolve the situation.

There have also been tensions at the prison between officers and inmates.

A former corrections lieutenant who worked the prison was indicted in May by a federal grand jury for allegedly beating an inmate with a flashlight.

Eric McEachern, 33, was indicted on charges of violating the civil rights of an inmate, obstruction of justice and falsifying records in a federal investigation, according to Lauren Horwood, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to a complaint filed earlier this year, McEachern and two other lieutenants assaulted inmate Maximiliano Monclova-Chavez, 41, on April 7, 2007, while he was lying on the floor, fully restrained in handcuffs and leg shackles.

McEachern is also accused of falsely telling a superior in a memo that Monclova-Chavez slammed his own head into a wall. If convicted, McEachern faces a maximum of 30 years behind bars.

Monclova-Chavez also filed a civil suit because of the alleged assault, Horwood said.

Since opening in 2001, the prison has previously had problems with staffing.


Guards Claim Suicide In Jailhouse “Homicide

Posted in Articles on July 19, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WUSA) — Sources familiar with the accounts of Prince George’s County Corrections officers closest to Ronnie White are claiming the maximum security inmate committed suicide inside his jail cell.

The State Medical Examiner issued preliminary findings June 30th that White’s death was a homicide due to strangulation. Since then rumors concerning suicide have abounded. But on Wednesday, informed sources confirmed to 9 News Now the officers do in fact contend White committed suicide by hanging himself inside his jail cell.

Attorney Clothilda Harvey who represents the Corrections Officers Association, refused to discuss the individual officer accounts. However, Ms. Harvey does tell 9NEWS NOW she is “confident” the on going police investigation will confirm there was “no wrong doing by any of those officers. No wrong doing.”

Furthermore, Ms. Harvey says all officers now are represented by attorneys. She adds, without discussing what their claims are, each of the primary officers in the vicinity of White’s cell, are consistent with each other in terms of what happened the morning of June 29th.

She also accuses county officials of a “rush to judgement” concerning White’s death. The night of the Medical Examiner’s preliminary findings, an angry County Executive Jack Johnson held a press conference and said “if we have vigilante justice our society will fall apart.” However he also pointed out the investigation was just getting underway by Maryland State Police.

The Medical Examiner’s Office is still working on its final autopsy report on the death of Ronnie White whose death happened less than 2 days after he had been charged with the slaying of Police Cpl. Richard Findley.