Category Archives: Prison Abuse and Death

DO PRISONERS HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIFE?


Sonni Quick

Recently I watched a Conservative/Catholic news station on TV.  There was an interview with the executor of a religious political group. I failed to write down the names. There was a video of a meeting he participated in with Trump. This man’s concern was if there was enough protection for the right to life beginning at conception. I understand people are very divided on this issue and each side has their own reasons. This is not about that debate. Although I see validity in each reasoning,  neither side is going to convince the other.
This is my question. Do people – after they are born, have the right to life as well? Who cares about these babies after they are born that were forced to be born, especially to people who don’t want them, don’t give them up for adoption, abuse and neglect them and life gets no better from there. Where are the right to lifers then? What have these people done beyond wanting the babies born? Which of these children have they helped love, feed and protect from harm? Words are cheap and have no value.
Let me carry this a little father. Do prison inmates also have a right to life? If a man who is deathly ill that needs a programmed regiment to stay alive have the right to have that regiment followed in prison, because if it isn’t he will die – and he does, in a very short period of time? Does Corizon, a prison medical corporation have the right to claim they aren’t responsible? It’s not their fault? Really? You will find this article further down.
There are many examples of prisoners who obviously also don’t have the right to life. Their lives don’t matter. Why? They were conceived. They were born. Many are imprisoned by being forced to take a plea. Many are imprisoned longer than they should because of mandatory minimums. Many are innocent, and many are guilty. Many are mentally ill, and many should never get out because they are dangerous, often made that way by inhumane treatment while they are locked up. Isn’t that criminal.
But no matter the reason, many are sick with a variety of diseases. Some were already sick when they were jailed or incarcerated. Some were made sick over time from years of extremely poor quality of food with the lack of good nutrition. Some people became mentally ill because of being of being in prison often from being isolated. Regardless, they don’t get the treatment and medication they need. Anything that costs money, and they can get away with not providing it, they don’t. The bottom line is the lack of caring by people who work in these institutions. Many people commit crimes of all kinds but don’t get caught. These people did get caught or were unfairly locked up, but they are all looked at with disdain and are not treated with compassion even if they are at death’s door, as if it serves them right if they died. 815 people have died in jails since Sandra Bland’s death in 2015. ( See the article below from Prison Legal News.)

My experience is with what Jamie, the man at the center of my writing, has been through with epilepsy. He knows what seizure medication works best in controlling his seizures and they won’t supply it. I tried to intervene and talked with the medical unit to no avail. One separate problem he had diagnosed concerning his heart – pericarditis – wasn’t being treated. When I questioned them about the medication he was supposed to take I was told, what problem? It had been taken out of his file completely. That’s an easy way to get rid of an illness – erase it.

Further down the newsletter are some examples of what the medical corporations get away with, as well as poor medical care in the jails and juvenile detention centers. It’s inexcusable. Where are the right to lifers now? These people started out as babies. Many babies born now will end up in foster care. 80% of prisoners were raised in foster care. That percentage is scary high. The right to life should apply to everyone. It is not just about unborn babies, it’s about human beings. More people need to be aware humans come at all ages. No one should be swept under the carpet.

This is an interview with a half dozen or so inmates talking about the conditions inside prisons. I’ve heard these same stories from inmates everywhere about brown watar coming from the faucets, undercooked food from dirty kitchens, diseases that are prison wide and untreated medical problems. It’s an interesting interview. Also, check out their facebook page


When I started the ITFO newsletter during 2016 it was for a couple reasons. It is important to me to help educate people on issues with the prisons they may not know about.  Sometimes, on the facebook page, JamieLifeInPrison I will get comments that show me the person didn’t understand what was going on. But maybe that person didn’t know anyone who went through the system and relied on what certain media outlets telling people what they wanted them to think. They would write comments like, ” If they don’t to get treated badly, they shouldn’t have committed a crime.” or “If they do the crime they have to do the time.” That means they are unaware of how unfair our justice system is toward non-whites. It doesn’t mean there are no whites inside, but the percentages of the population on the inside should mirror the percentages on the outside – unless they believed the propaganda that black people have a gene that makes them more likely to commit a crime, which is bizarre, unless you were racist and wanted to believe it..
We are learning now, through other things that are happening in our government that it takes people getting mad and standing up, to change the wrongs that are happening. The youth stood up during the Viet Nam war, but for the most part a large segment of society has not fought back against injustice. Now this government wants to make criminals out of protesters because they don’t want people to fight back.  This time, finally, people aren’t laying down and taking it.  Do you remember the movie years ago, I think it was called “Network”? Everyone opened their windows and yelled outside, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  That is how I feel. People in the prisons are being hurt, abused and starved. When the effects of that treatment causes medical problems, or if they entered the prison with illnesses and they get away with not giving them the proper care they deserve as human beings, it makes me angry. I have seen what that inhumanity has done.
I have family and friends who ask me why I spend so many hours of day doing something they think is pointless because what can one person do? But if you go through life with your head in the sand or maybe not doing something because it would take too much effort, I don’t call that living. I feel the only true legacy we leave behind is the effect we have on others. If it helps change someone’s life and they carry it forward then that part of you lives on.
Jamie Cummings has been a part of my life for over a decade.  We came into each other’s lives for a reason.  It hasn’t been one-sided. I have witnessed him growing from a boy to a man, helping to teach him things he didn’t have an opportunity to learn.  I teach him hope.  I teach him it is up to him to create the life he wants and not just let life slap him around. He knows I will be there for him when he gets out. Unfortunately, society is not forgiving of x-felons.  It is like the word ‘felon’ is tattoo’d on the forehead. Even if a sentence is completed they often have to keep paying.
I am doing my best to write a book worth reading, one that will bring benefit into his life – and mine.  Through the sales, and this is book one of 3, it has the possibility of helping him get the education he needs and possibly using the books to get through the doors where he can help others with his experience. There are books written by inmates about the crimes that put them in prison and even how bad they were during the years in prison, but that is not what this is about. It is about the human element and how those children raised in lower income neighbors have been pushed down the pipeline created for them with the end result already written for them, filling a prison bed. This book examines that pipeline from the first breath he takes.
Chapter one takes place sometime in a present year in prison to set the stage of where he ended up.  Chapter two goes back to his birth, which was traumatic because he was having an epileptic seizure coming out of the birth canal and wasn’t expected to live. Book one goes until age 22 when he is sent to prison.  The second book is more detail of prison until he reaches close to getting out. Book three is the process of getting out and what happens after.  Obviously it will take some time before all books are written.  I hope enough interest will be created for people to want to find out how he fares and what he accomplishes. He was first locked up before he turned 17.  He is now 34.  He will be almost 40 when he gets out, so book three will take him into at least his early 40’s.
I need your help.  I’m hoping you will share this with people on your own social media accounts.  I know many of you share blog posts from his blog at mynameisjamie.net.  I need very much to keep increasing my mailing list to reach people who are not already connected to me somehow. Anytime you share a newsletter or a blog post you have my sincere appreciation. When the book is done, those people on the list will be able to get the ebook version for free.

SOURCE LINK

…47 persons have been put to death in Florida under an unconstitutional process


gitmo

 

HHarry Lee Anstead, My View 2:46 p.m. EST November 22, 2016

In January 2016, in a case called Hurst v. Florida, the United States Supreme Court held that Florida’s death penalty scheme was unconstitutional and violated the Sixth Amendment, pursuant to its decision in Ring v. Arizona.

The Court held that Florida’s statutory scheme was flawed because it failed to require the jury, rather than the sentencing judge, to make findings of aggravating circumstances relied upon by the state to justify imposition of the death penalty. Ring first established that principle in 2002.

On remand in Hurst, the Florida Supreme Court followed the Supreme Court’s mandate and further held that to be constitutional under both the federal and state constitutions, the death penalty statutory scheme must require unanimous findings by a jury on aggravators, as well as to a recommendation of death. Because the Florida high court relied upon the Florida Constitution, its decision on unanimity is not reviewable by the U.S. Supreme Court. State high courts have the final say on state constitutions.

What may be overlooked in the aftermath of these decisions is the shocking fact that after the decision in Ring v. Arizona in 2002, some 47 persons have been put to death in Florida under an unconstitutional process. And while many may assess the blame as falling on Florida’s three branches of government for not acting after Ring to correct Florida’s statute, it is apparent that a large share of the blame rests with the discretionary review procedures of the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

Let me explain. Following the decision in Ring, many Florida death row inmates petitioned the Florida courts, including the Florida Supreme Court, to apply Ring and invalidate Florida’s death penalty scheme. However, relying on prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions generally upholding Florida’s scheme, Florida’s high court denied relief.

But many of these disappointed death row inmates sought further relief in the U.S. Supreme Court. Surprisingly, despite the clear holding in Ring, the Court inexplicably rejected these appeals, until finally, the Court accepted review in Hurst and specifically held Florida’s scheme unconstitutional under Ring. These many unexplained denials also sent a false signal that despite Ring, Florida’s scheme might be valid.

Tragically, in the 13 years since Ring, some 47 persons have been executed in Florida under an unconstitutional statute. Had the U.S. Supreme Court accepted review of a Florida case soon after Ring, those executions may arguably not have occurred – at least not until further review for harmless error, waiver or some other possible argument by the state was first evaluated. But none of that took place.

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court has absolute discretion in deciding what cases to review. And ordinarily those decisions cannot be challenged. But, surely the exercise of this discretionary review authority should take into account the fact that lives hang in the balance.

As the high court itself has observed, “death is different.” Or is it?

Harry Lee Antstead is a retired justice and Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court.

CONTINUE READING…

MotherJones.Com "My four months as a private prison guard", by Shane Bauer


Have you ever had a riot?” I ask a recruiter from a prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
“The last riot we had was two years ago,” he says over the phone.
“Yeah, but that was with the Puerto Ricans!” says a woman’s voice, cutting in. “We got rid of them.”
“When can you start?” the man asks.
I tell him I need to think it over.

I take a breath. Am I really going to become a prison guard? Now that it might actually happen, it feels scary and a bit extreme.

Read Why Our Reporter Worked at a Prison

From the editor: Why we sent a reporter to work as a private prison guard

I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison?

 

CONTINUE READING….

What Happened To Gynnya McMillen?


A week after Gynnya McMillen died at the Lincoln Valley Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, police have yet to release a cause of death. The 16-year-old girl was found unresponsive in her holding cell on Monday, January 11th.

McMillen had only been in the detention center for 24 hours following an altercation in her home.

“The child was the perpetrator in the incident and the parent did receive minor injuries,” said Kelly Cable, spokesman for the Shelbyville Police De­partment. “We contacted the court-designated worker. The juvenile was transported to Lincoln Village on a charge of assault fourth-degree – domestic violence with minor injury.”

CONTINUE READING…

Trouble Behind Bars: When Jail Deaths Go Unnoticed


 
By: R.G. Dunlop October 5, 2015
Mugshot of Larry Trent taken after his July 5, 2013 arrest by Hazard Police. Trent was booked into Kentucky River Regional Jail for an outstanding bench warrant and on a charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

HAZARD, Ky.—Larry Trent was just one of the 154 or more inmates who died in a Kentucky jail during the past 6½ years.

Arrested on July 5, 2013, in his car outside a Hazard doughnut shop, the 54-year-old Trent told police he drank “about four beers and mouthwash” before driving to the store with his 10-year-old grandson.

Booked into the Kentucky River Regional Jail, Trent couldn’t post bond, so he remained in custody. Four days later, he was dead, allegedly the victim of a fatal beating by two jail deputies.

Within 48 hours of Trent’s death, jail Administrator Tim Kilburn completed a required report for the state Department of Corrections and classified Trent’s death as a homicide. And a few weeks later, the two deputies were charged with manslaughter, accused of killing Trent by “striking, kicking and restraining” him.

The case is still pending, and a federal civil-rights investigation is ongoing. But Trent’s estate already has received a $2.375 million legal settlement — one of the largest in the state during the past 15 years.

The Department of Corrections doesn’t investigate jail deaths. “That would fall to law enforcement,” said department spokeswoman Lisa Lamb.

The department’s responsibilities do, however, include ensuring the safety of inmates and staff, as well as enforcing jail standards, such as those related to training. But DOC documents provided recently to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting give no indication that the department found anything related to Trent’s death that merited its attention.

For example, the documents list Trent’s cause of death simply as an “altercation” in the jail. An internal DOC memo written after Kilburn’s report says little except that Trent “became combative” and that “use of force was necessary” to subdue him. And although the accused killers served as the jail staff trainers, department records don’t indicate a need for more or better training.

Trent’s is by no means the only in-custody death involving a jail inmate that raises questions about the aggressiveness and thoroughness of Department of Corrections’ oversight.

A months-long investigation by KyCIR found that at least several inmate deaths for which the cause is listed in DOC records as “natural, “unknown” or “autopsy pending” appear to have involved jail staff lapses, misconduct or indifference.

And the Department of Corrections’ own findings and follow-up in those cases were sketchy or nonexistent, despite evidence that the deaths were preventable.

Over the next five days, the “Trouble Behind Bars” series will show numerous Kentucky jail inmates have died or been injured because officials at all levels of government failed to ensure their health and safety.

The causes of more than 40 percent of all Kentucky jail deaths in the past 6½ years are listed ambiguously in department records, with the cause of death variously given as “unknown,” “natural” or “autopsy pending” — even though many of those deaths occurred years ago.

When KyCIR recently asked the department for more current, specific information about the unclear, years-old causes of death, DOC responded that it had none.

The department refused to say whether it followed up on jail deaths, and if not, why not.

“The Department of Corrections has been responding to your questions regarding county jails to the best of our ability for the past 10 months,” a DOC statement read. “We do not have anything further to add on this topic.”

In another case, the DOC list of deaths shows that Valerie Jones, a disabled veteran, died of “heart disease” after being jailed in LaRue County in September 2009. But a lawsuit filed by Jones’ family alleged that she was not properly treated for severe pain, and that she was left in her cell when she desperately needed medical attention.

More than five years later, DOC records still list the autopsy in her case as “pending.” The lawsuit was settled in 2011 for $92,859.

Danny Burden in the summer of 2012, less than a year before his death.

family photo

Danny Burden in the summer of 2012, less than a year before his death.

The death of Danny Burden isn’t listed at all in the department’s compilation of jail deaths. Burden was discovered unconscious in the Grant County jail in March 2013 and later died at an area hospital. A civil suit filed by his family and alleging neglect is pending. A state police inquiry found that Burden, a diabetic, badly needed insulin but did not receive it.

The Department of Corrections, however, found nothing to warrant concern — or action. The department would not comment on the omission of Burden’s death from their list of jail deaths.

A KyCIR examination of the Grant County jail, one of the state’s most troubled and the focus of a U.S. Justice Department investigation for more than a decade, shows lax government oversight and little action following Burden’s death and at least two others that seemingly could have been prevented by jail staff.

During the past 6½ years, a Kentucky jail inmate has died an average of about once every 15 days. But in-jail deaths generally are not of interest or concern to the public at large, said Louisville attorney Greg Belzley, who has filed several dozen lawsuits over the past 15 years alleging wrongdoing in connection with inmate deaths.

No lawsuit often means no accountability, Belzley said. When a jail inmate dies, “People may look it and say ‘s—, another one gone, thinning the herd,’” Belzley said. “There is no question that some deaths that aren’t litigated involve wrongdoing that never gets exposed.”

About three-fourths of the state’s jails have incurred at least one inmate death since 2009. Oldham County Jailer Mike Simpson said no one had died in his jail since the 1990s. And while he didn’t think that fatality could have been prevented, he said, “when something like that happens, we all have a little bit of ownership.”

Incomplete Accounting of Deaths

In Kentucky, the DOC’s incomplete death data show that at least 33 of the 154 deaths have been suicides. Suicide is the single-most frequent cause of deaths in jails across the country, and it has been for at least the past 15 years.

That’s at least partly because large numbers of people housed in jails have significant emotional problems, because jail staff often aren’t trained to deal with them, and because jail conditions can exacerbate or trigger those mental-health issues, said Preston Elrod, a professor in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University.

Among the deaths reviewed by KyCIR were two suicides that occurred in 2010 at Grant County’s jail. The Justice Department has asserted in a document obtained by KyCIR that the two suicides there resulted from “serious breakdowns in jail medical care.”

Grant County Detention Center

R.G. Dunlop / KyCIR

Grant County Detention Center

Carl Lewis hanged himself in the jail on April 11, 2010. He had been placed in a cell by himself with a bed sheet, despite the fact that he was deemed a suicide risk and had what the Justice Department later called a “history of suicidal ideation.”

Justice Department documents show Lewis was given antidepressant medication in a quantity “that was likely too low to be effective.” He received no other mental-health treatment in jail, DOJ found.

The jail’s own inquiry into Lewis’ death, by contrast, concluded that “all operational procedures, medical procedures … were followed professionally and correct.” Nor did the state police or the Department of Corrections find any fault with the jail in connection with Lewis’ death, or that of the other Grant County jail suicide in 2010, involving Derrick Rose.

“Any time you have a fatality in a jail, there should be a very careful investigation and assessment of what went wrong, what happened,” said Elrod, the EKU professor. “Unfortunately, in so many instances, the only way you’re probably going to get closer to an understanding of what happened is if there’s a lawsuit where the parties become compelled to produce evidence.”

Judge Raises Questions

That’s what appeared to have happened in the case of Shannon Finn: minimal if any probing by the Department of Corrections, yet significant revelations come out in court.

On March 17, 2009, Finn was arrested and booked into the Warren County Regional Jail for a probation violation. The following day, he began to shake, sweat and act erratically. He was put on a “detox protocol” and given medication for alcohol and drug withdrawal.

Three days later, a deputy found the 34-year-old Finn lying in a puddle of blood and yellow liquid in his isolation cell. Soon after, he was pronounced dead.

(Listen to the radio version of this story on 89.3 WFPL News)

The family filed a civil suit, and a jury exonerated jail staffers at trial. However, U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley concluded in a pretrial opinion that there was ample evidence of questionable conduct.

Among other things, McKinley noted that a jail deputy did not intervene after discovering Finn on his knees, shaking and mumbling. And a nurse neither contacted the jail’s medical director nor sent Finn to the emergency room, McKinley wrote.

Despite jail policy that characterized alcohol withdrawal as a medical emergency, deputies had received no training regarding its symptoms and dangers, according to the judge.

The department’s listing of jail deaths says only this about Finn: "Found unresponsive–KSP (Kentucky State Police) investigating."

Reporter R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533.

CONTINUE READING…

Regarding kendra sams – "lodged" at laurel county corrections" in kentucky…


 

Ms. Kendra Sams,  29  years old, was being lodged at the Laurel County Corrections.

According to Facebook posts she suffered a seizure on July 12th which caused her to fall from the top bunk in her cell and land on the floor.  She was not given medical attention at that time.

At some point she was transferred to Casey County Corrections where her illness became acute.  Her Mother was apparently contacted and she was then transported to the Hospital.

Facebook Timeline Posts:

Roger Hoskins

August 18 at 12:18pm · Garrard, KY ·

 

I’m waking up to some heart breaking news out of the family and asking for all who can please pray

Roger Hoskins

August 18 at 3:10pm · Edited ·

 

Please be praying for Kendra Sams she’s going into surgery right now … This young lady didn’t deserve any of this and I’m confident that the story will be told soon…. Please now all the family ask is to be praying

Roger Hoskins added 2 new photos.

August 18 at 7:15pm · Garrard, KY ·

 

These picture are of Kendra Sams and this is not even the Justice this young lady has suffered .. She’s has much more going I inside her… And is in critical condition at UK hospital … She’s in bad shape according to family who is with her when I am updated on her condition I will pass it along .. The family ask for prayers and this should have never ever happen to anyone else

Roger Hoskins

August 18 at 7:49pm · Garrard, KY ·

 

Update on Kendra they have 3 drain tubes in her and not sure one will work right but already pulled 2 ounces of infection out of her back but keeping her sedated until tomorrow to do more test … No one is allowed to see her till tomorrow so please keep praying

Roger Hoskins

Yesterday at 3:36am · Garrard, KY ·

 

They have started a feeding tube on Kendra and a temp of 102 … Doctors said that the next 72 hour will be very critical… So keep prayers coming and I have had a lot ask what happened… Right now the families focus is on Kendra … All they need is prayers but I promise this story will be told .. Thank for all the praying that’s going on and as always it’s in Gods hands ..

Roger Hoskins

Yesterday at 1:37pm · Garrard, KY ·

 

The story is coming out …. Please pray for Kendra the doctors are hoping she last throughout the day

Roger Hoskins added 4 new photos.

Yesterday at 3:19pm · Edited ·

 

This all started at Lcdc and she was sent to Casey county jail with the out come being her fighting for her life …. On July 12th she had a seizure a few weeks later she was sent to Casey county detention center will little or no medicinal help … Her mother was called to come get her and this is now her daughter returned home to her …. Don’t know if she will see tomorrow… Please pray….

Roger Hoskins

17 hrs · Edited ·

 

So thankful for Facebook this night as my post for Kendra has brought some light on all this but most of all I wanna thank the people who are brave and step up in behalf of Kendra … That is why Facebook is a valuable tool … As of 2 am there is no changes in her … I wanna thank each person who has shared this and by all means please continue to do so … This family deserves answers ! This could be your family member……………I will not disclose their name but here is a tid bit of information ……………..

My sister was in the cell with this girl in Casey co jail! She needed medical attention from day 1 this could be anyone’s family member please share this lets raise awareness

Michelle Jackson

11 hrs ·

 

Update on Kendra!!!!!!
She is still in critical condition they are having trouble keeping her BP up still and now they’re having to give her blood (1pint) so far… Please keep prayers coming.. TIA

— with Roger Hoskins and 8 others at UK ICU.

Michelle Jackson

3 hrs ·

 

Look what the Lord has done…. GLORY GLORY GLORY I PRAISE YOUR HOLY NAME THANK YOU SWEET JESUS!!!! SHE MOVED HER MOUTH AND TOLD HER MOMMY SHE LOVED HER!!!!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!!!!! KING JESUS I KNOW YOU HEAR ME WHEN I PRAY

— with Roger Hoskins and 9 others at UK ICU.

Michelle Jackson's photo.

Roger Hoskins

2 hrs ·

 

Please keep sharing my post maybe someone seen something and will step forward for Kendra Sams … This needs media attention to get to the bottom of this

Roger Hoskins

6 hrs · Edited ·

 

The family knows she is not perfect but to see this after being in 2 jails and her mother was called to come get her only to go into uk hospital is sad this is Kendra Sams if anyone was in her cell with her in laurel or Casey county please get ahold of this family … We are looking for answers to what happened .. This is truly sad … We have tried to contact all media but no help as yet so family has no choice but turn to social media .. Any information is appreciated …please share

***

It is currently 8/20/15 at 10:30pm and I am awaiting a call from Roger Hoskins who is willing to fill in the gaps in this atrocity which has happened under the watch of  “Kentucky Corrections “.

We can only hope and pray that Kendra Sams receives the justice that the State of Kentucky owes her because of this horrific ordeal.  She is not out of ICU yet.   She is currently still fighting for her life.

It never should have happened.

ANYONE who is incarcerated is entitled to receive healthcare under the Justice Department.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=401505606710487&set=pcb.401506100043771&type=1&theater

https://www.facebook.com/roger.hoskins2

Prison operator sued in death of former marijuana provider


By Sanjay Talwani – MTN News

Connect

Lawsuit (MTN News photo)

 

Prison photo (MTN News photo)

 

HELENA –

The widow of a former medical marijuana provider who died while serving time is suing the operator of Montana’s only private prison.

A federal lawsuit says Corrections Corporations of America failed to give the inmate (Flor) needed medical care while at its Crossroads Correctional Center outside Shelby.

Flor died in August 2012 in a Las Vegas hospital on the way to a federal prison medical facility.

Before that, according to the lawsuit, he endured extreme pain while he awaited an assignment to a federal facility.

His lawyer, Brad Arndorfer, had tried to have him released from prison pending his appeal because of health reasons. And in prison, the lawsuit says, Flor and his family made multiple requests for medical care but did not receive any.

Flor was unable to adequately care for himself or feed himself, and his care was left to other inmates, the lawsuit claims.

Flor was 68 and a co-founder of Montana Cannabis, one of the state’s largest medical marijuana providers. It was shut down in 2011 by federal authorities along with similar operations around the state.

An inquiry to the attorney representing CCA in the case was returned with an email from a CCA spokesman.

Steven Owen, CCA’s managing director of communications, said in the email that CCA could not comment in a particular inmate’s case. But he said staff are firmly committed to the inmates’ health and safety.

He also said CCA meets or exceeds all of the standards of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Montana Department of Corrections, and the American Correctional Association.

"The facility and staff are subject to strong oversight by on-site monitors who regularly inspect and audit our processes for delivering care," he said in the email.

The suit was first filed on May 6 in state District Court in Yellowstone County. It has moved to U.S. District Court in Billings and was re-filed there Monday. CCA, based in Tennessee, has not yet filed a response.

Arndorfer filed the suit on behalf of Flor’s widow, Sherry Flor, and did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

CONTINUE READING…

La. prisoner released after 43 years in solitary confinement. How can he cope?


A federal judge ordered the unconditional release of Albert Woodfox on Monday, finding ‘no valid conviction holding him in prison, let alone solitary confinement.’

By Cristina Maza, Staff writer June 9, 2015

 

On Monday, a federal judge in Louisiana ordered the release of an inmate who has been in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. The situation raises questions about how prisoners cope and transition back into society after long incarceration in such extreme conditions.

Albert Woodfox was charged with the 1972 murder of a prison guard and convicted twice, but both convictions have since been overturned. State prosecutors said they hoped to try Mr. Woodfox a third time, but the judge opted to bar that option, citing a lack of confidence in the state’s ability to provide a fair trial.

Woodfox, who was originally convicted of armed robbery, organized a chapter of the Black Panthers, a black rights movement, in prison. He and two other African-American inmates, Robert King and Herman Wallace, mobilized other black prisoners in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., against the harsh conditions inside the jail. After a prison riot resulted in the death of a guard and an inmate, all three men were thrown in solitary confinement, where they were kept for decades. The men, known as the Angola Three, maintained their innocence and said they were kept in solitary confinement as retribution for their political organizing.

Recommended: Cover Story After 39 years in prison, an epic tale of innocence found and bitterness lost

Mr. Wallace was released from prison in 2013, but died of illness just a few days later.

Mr. King, who was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary, has been living outside of prison and actively campaigning for prisoners’ rights, making frequent media appearances. His case provides an important insight into what the future may look like for Woodfox, and what difficulties prisoners face while reintegrating into society after years behind bars.

“I get confused as to where I am, where I should be,” King told CNN in 2014, describing his difficulty mastering geographical orientation after his release from jail.

In other interviews, King said that time in solitary confinement makes people “old and infirm before their time.”

Experts agree that solitary confinement can severely impact a prisoner’s mental health.

"There are instances of people who literally go insane in solitary confinement – I’ve seen it happen," Craig Haney, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studied the impact of solitary confinement, told the BBC. "That’s an extreme case of somebody’s identity becoming so badly damaged and essentially destroyed that it is impossible for them to reconstruct it."

Psychologists have identified tactics that prisoners can use to survive the situation.

Cleaning your living quarters, talking or singing to yourself, and finding activities that maintain a sense of physical and psychological identity, and a sense of order and structure, are among the activities psychologists recommend.

Despite the difficulties he faces readjusting to outside life, King is an example of a person who maintained his mental health throughout almost three decades of solitary confinement.

In an interview with the BBC, King said that he had remained strong, but that it was “scary” to see others crumble from a lack of human contact. Reading books by Richard Wright, Frederick Douglass, and George Jackson, kept his mind active, he later told Amnesty International.

Woodfox, meanwhile, has been confined for 23 hours a day since 1972 and has been permitted just one hour a day outside of his cell to “walk along the tier on which his cell is located,” according to court documents from a case that challenged his prison conditions. Amnesty International has monitored the case of the Angola Three for years and characterized the use of solitary confinement in this case as a violation of human rights.

On Monday, United States District Judge James Brady ordered the unconditional release of Woodfox from state custody. "There is no valid conviction holding him in prison, let alone solitary confinement,” Judge Brady wrote. "There was an abundance of physical evidence available at the crime scene in 1972, but not one piece of physical evidence incriminated Mr. Woodfox."

Speaking in the 2010 documentary "In the Land of the Free," which examines the case of the Angola Three, Teenie Verret, the widow of the murdered prison guard, also expressed a belief in the men’s innocence.

"If they did not do this, and I believe that they didn’t, they have been living a nightmare,” Ms. Verret said.

Human rights activists say they are anxiously awaiting Woodfox’s release. Tory Pegram of the International Coalition to Free the Angola Three told the BBC that she spoke with Woodfox on Monday night and that he was "excited and nervous."

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U.S. man jailed for years without trial dies by suicide


Rikers Island

The Associated Press
Published Monday, June 8, 2015 7:36PM EDT

NEW YORK — New York’s mayor on Monday lamented the suicide of a young man who spent three years as a teenager jailed without a trial for a crime he always denied committing.

Kalief Browder, who was 22 when he hanged himself at his mother’s Bronx home on Saturday, had been arrested as a 16-year-old in 2010 on suspicion of stealing a backpack.

He subsequently spent hundreds of days at the troubled Rikers Island jail facility, where he was kept in solitary confinement and was beaten by other inmates and guards, according to his lawyer. He was released in 2013 and was never tried.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Browder’s story, first detailed last year by The New Yorker magazine, helped inspire his efforts to reform Rikers and the city’s criminal justice system.

"There is no reason he should have gone through this ordeal, and his tragic death is a reminder that we must continue to work each day to provide the mental health services so many New Yorkers need," de Blasio, a Democrat serving his first term as mayor, said in a statement.

Attorney Paul V. Prestia said on The Huffington Post’s livestreaming website, HuffPost Live, on Monday that Browder’s family is deeply saddened by his death.

"It’s shocking. I’m running out of adjectives. And it’s disheartening to be here today," he said. "The extent of the injustice here, it’s a travesty of injustice."

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The U.S. Supreme Court is about to re-evaluate how some states carry out lethal injections.


Next month, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case which challenges Oklahoma’s use of “liquid fire” in executions. The drug – potassium chloride – is one of a cocktail of drugs currently used in some states to carry out death sentences, a cocktail that has led to botched executions. Nancy E. Millar comments on the upcoming case, which challenges the drug’s use under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. She writes that while it is impossible to predict what the Court will decide, its previous decisions and statements might provide some indication of how the justices are leaning.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari (review) on an important case that will force it to re-examine, and perhaps reconfigure, the troubled lethal injection landscape. The case, Glossip v. Gross, challenges Oklahoma’s use of a three-drug protocol to carry out its executions and follows a recent spate of botched executions.

In April last year Oklahoma used midazolam as the first drug in its three-drug sequence for the first time. That execution, of Clayton Lockett, has been called a “bloody mess” and widely condemned as one of a series of badly botched executions to be carried out in several states over the past year. In the words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, during the Lockett execution, he “awoke and writhed on the execution table for some time after the drugs had been injected and officials confirmed him to be unconscious. He was overheard to say, “‘Something is wrong,’” and, “‘The drugs aren’t working.’” . . . Eventually, some 40 minutes after the lethal injection drugs were administered, Lockett died.”

Oklahoma planned to execute Charles F. Warner via the same three-drug method shortly after executing Lockett, but postponed the Warner execution in light of the problems. This gave the lawyers for Mr. Warner and three other prisoners time to ask the Court to stay their scheduled executions—but the Court declined to do so. Consequently, in January, Oklahoma executed Mr. Warner using the same three-drug protocol that had caused an uproar in Lockett’s death. Less than two weeks later, the Court granted certiorari in Glossip in order to review the constitutionality of that protocol. The Court subsequently stayed the three other prisoners’ scheduled executions.

The petitioners in Glossip—death-sentenced prisoners awaiting execution in Oklahoma—argue to the Court in their brief, filed on March 9, that the use of the three-drug protocol violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Because midazolam does not produce a “deep, comalike unconsciousness,” they argue, it leaves prisoners vulnerable to experiencing “constitutionally intolerable” pain and suffering. Potassium chloride, the third drug in the protocol, feels like “liquid fire” when injected into a person who has not been already rendered deeply unconscious, the petitioners claim, and “injecting a prisoner with liquid fire is just as unconstitutional as lighting him afire.”

The Supreme Court has not addressed the constitutionality of a lethal injection protocol since Baze v. Rees in 2008. In Baze, the Court ruled that the three-drug cocktail at issue in that case—the sedative sodium thiopental, the paralytic pancuronium bromide, and heart-stopping potassium chloride—did not violate the Eighth Amendment. However, the Court found it uncontested that, “failing a proper dose of sodium thiopental that would render the prisoner unconscious, there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of suffocation from the administration of pancuronium bromide and pain from the injection of potassium chloride.”

Seven years later, in Glossip, the Court faces just such a scenario: Because midazolam now has failed to render at least two prisoners unconscious, in the Wood and Lockett executions, the Court must squarely confront the situation it deemed “constitutionally unacceptable” in Baze.

Credit: Partha S. Sahana (Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

Credit: Partha S. Sahana (Flickr, CC-BY-2.0)

While it is impossible to predict precisely what the Court will decide, it is instructive to look to previous decisions and other indications of the justices’ leanings to date.

Baze was a split decision with only three justices signing on to the majority’s reasoning, but seven total justices agreeing with the judgment. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion in Baze, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. Baze established that, to prevail on an Eighth Amendment claim, a prisoner must demonstrate a “‘substantial risk of serious harm,’ an ‘objectively intolerable risk of harm’ that prevents prison officials from pleading that they were ‘subjectively blameless for purposes of the Eighth Amendment.’” Ruling on the narrow issues presented in Baze, the majority held that the petitioners did not show that the risk of an inadequate dose of the first drug in Kentucky’s three-drug cocktail was substantial and rejected the argument that the Eighth Amendment required Kentucky to adopt alternative procedures identified by petitioners.

Justice John Paul Stevens concurred in the judgment, but warned that the majority opinion would “generate debate not only about the constitutionality of the three-drug protocol, and specifically about the justification for the use of the paralytic agent, pancuronium bromide, but also about the justification for the death penalty itself.” He noted that pancuronium bromide was so widely recognized as causing extreme pain in a conscious patient that several states had enacted legislation prohibiting its use in animal euthanasia.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote his own concurring opinion, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, disagreeing with the majority’s statement of the governing Eighth Amendment standard but agreeing with the judgment. Under Justice Thomas’s interpretation of the Constitution, “a method of execution violates the Eighth Amendment only if it is deliberately designed to inflict pain.”

Justice Breyer also concurred, agreeing with the judgment only and approving of the standard suggested by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent: To determine the constitutionality of an execution procedure, a court should examine “whether the method creates an untoward, readily avoidable risk of inflicting severe and unnecessary suffering.” Under this proposed test, the Court would examine three factors: the “degree of risk,” the “magnitude of pain,” and the “availability of alternatives.” Justice David H. Souter joined Justice Ginsburg’s dissent.

Justices Stevens and Souter are no longer on the Court, replaced by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. Both new justices, along with Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, would have stayed the executions of Warner and the others when they filed their application in mid-January. (Notably, five votes are required to stay an execution, while four votes are sufficient to grant certiorari; thus, Oklahoma executed Warner even though the Court decided to review the state’s protocol.)

It is clear that Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg will side with the petitioners in Glossip, while Justices Thomas and Scalia will not. Given Justice Breyer’s agreement with delaying the Warner and Gross’s executions, and his approval of the standard announced by Justice Ginsburg in Baze, he is expected to agree with the petitioners’ arguments against the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s protocol. Justices Roberts, Kennedy, and Alito—the only three Justices who supported Baze’s judgment and reasoning—stand somewhere in the middle.

Last year, in Wood v. Ryan, a First Amendment challenge to Arizona’s secrecy about the drugs that were to be used in Mr. Wood’s then-scheduled execution, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski dissented from that Court’s denial of rehearing en banc, noting that:

Whatever happens to Wood, the attacks [on lethal injection] will not stop and for a simple reason: The enterprise is flawed. Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful—like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.

Next month, the Supreme Court will squarely confront yet another attack on the U.S. lethal injection landscape, following a series of executions where the brutality and savagery of the method were on full display.

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Note:  This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USApp– American Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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