Tag Archive: abuse

Record 346 inmates die, dozens of guards fired in Florida prisons

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

Jerry Washington (left); Latandra Ellington (middle); Randall Jordan-Aparo (right). All died in prisons at the hands of guards in the most unjust ways imaginable.

From Daily Kos

The United States has a prison crisis of epic proportions. With just five percent of the world population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the United States has, far and away, the highest incarceration rate, the largest number of prisoners, and the largest percentage of citizens with a criminal record of any country in the world.The highly respected Prison Policy Initiative breaks it down:

The U.S. incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents, more than any other country. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more than five times higher than most of the countries in the world. Although our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an incarceration rate far higher than any other country.Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half, tops the list.

If we compare the incarceration rates of individual U.S. states and territories with that of other nations, for example, we see that 36 states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher than that of Cuba, which is the nation with the second highest incarceration rate in the world.

Now, what we are learning is that the United States is not just imprisoning people at an outrageous pace, but that men and women are dying in these prisons at all-time highs, often at the hands of guards, in the most awful and brutal ways imaginable. The state of Florida, it appears, is ground zero for the deaths of prisoners, and the crisis is so deeply corrupt and out of hand that it needs immediate national intervention.In 2014, Florida recorded at least 346 deaths inside of their prison system, an all-time high for the state in spite of the fact that its overall prison population has hovered around 100,000 people for the five previous years. Hundreds of these deaths from 2014 and from previous years are now under investigation by the DOJ because of the almost unimaginable role law enforcement officers are playing in them.

Below the fold I will highlight some of the most egregious stories.


Prison captain fired over inmate death wants job back

kerrFrom WRAL

A corrections captain fired earlier this year after a mentally ill inmate died of thirst appeared in court this week to fight for his job.

Shawn Blackburn, formerly a captain at Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, N.C., was dismissed for “grossly inefficient” job performance in April amid an investigation into the death of inmate Michael Anthony Kerr. Correction officials found Kerr dead in the back of a van March 12 after the inmate was transferred from Alexander to Central Prison in Raleigh. The state medical examiner later found Kerr died of dehydration.

The former captain is one of at least nine Alexander employees fired in the wake of Kerr’s death. At least two others resigned, and the N.C. Department of Public Safety says close to 30 people have been disciplined or demoted in some form. Like Blackburn, many are appealing their dismissals.

Although the hearing is a quasi-judicial process that takes place in a courtroom environment, it is not a trial. Rather, Blackburn was making the case he should not have been fired for Kerr’s death. Others investigating the matter for possible criminal conduct include a federal grand jury and the State Bureau of Investigation, which is overseen by the same administrative department as the prison system.

Corrections officials say Blackburn violated policy and demonstrated poor judgment when he left Kerr, who suffered from schizoaffective disorder, confined in handcuffs for five days in solitary confinement, where the inmate had been segregated for more than a month.

“Yes he was an inmate, but he was a human being,” Assistant Attorney General Tamika Henderson, arguing for the state, said. “It comes down to fact that while in control of the Department of Public Safety, a man died after being handcuffed for five days in a segregation cell sitting in his own urine and feces.” (more…)

Prisoner-Plaintiff Responds to Retaliation with Hunger Strike

“They want to be free to pursue the maintenance of the SHU torture units and the expansion of the prison industrial complex (and the ever-growing portion of the public’s tax dollars) without the prospect of legitimate criticism and the voice of opposition.” -Prisoner in Corcoran State Prison SHU

In the summer of 2012, a prisoner who had been repeatedly beaten with impunity by guards at Central Prison’s notorious Unit One began a lawsuit against the prison and against NC DPS.

This lawsuit soon expanded to become a class action with seven other prisoners who had had similar experiences at the same segregation unit. In particular, guards were known for taking prisoners to “the desert,” a camera-less area of the facility, to beat them. Serious injuries occurred.

Now, one of those prisoners, Stanley Corbett, Jr., has reported to us by letter that he is being retaliated against by the guards at Warren CI in Manson, NC, to which he was transferred after beginning the lawsuit.

Retaliation has included censorship of mail, denial of medical treatment, and urine in his food.

Corbett has announced that on Monday, August 25th, he will begin a hunger strike until such retaliation ends.

Supporters are encouraged to contact the NC DPS director as well as the administration at Warren CI to express their concern and anger that a prisoner is being retaliated against for exposing guards’ brutality.

Contact information for relevant officials can be found here.

Corbett also recently published a book of poetry entitled, “The Heart and Soul of a Poet” under the name Knowledge G. A sample can be downloaded at prisonfoundation.org

Connecticut Accused of Lying Over Transgender Teen Held in Solitary Confinement

solitary_confinement_cell_auschwitz_1-300x300From Vice

A transgender teen with a horrific history as a victim of rape, abuse, and trafficking is being held in solitary confinement at an adult prison in Connecticut, yet has still not been formally charged. Still, the state not only failed to protect her, but may have even lied about its mistakes.

VICE News has obtained court documents that show Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Joette Katz may have intentionally mislead the public last month.

In November, the 16-year-old transgender girl known as Jane Doe was deemed a delinquent because of her history of violently fighting with other girls and staff at the facilities where she’d been housed since being taken into DCF custody at the age of 12. In April, after an alleged assault on a staff member, she was transferred at the request of DCF to York Correctional Institution, the adult women’s prison in Niantic. (more…)