Over Detention Of Inmates May Be Systemic

From: KHON2
Reported by: Andrew Pereira

A local attorney and the Hawaii chapter of the ACLU believe the Department of Public Safety is violating prisoners’ constitutional rights by keeping them jailed longer then their sentences require.

The ACLU has been concerned about over detentions for quite some time,” said Dan Gluck, senior staff attorney for the Hawaii chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
We have some very serious concerns about how the facilities are being run and inmates’ constitutional rights.”
In 2002 the state paid $610,000 to inmates who were jailed past their mandated prison sentences.  The ACLU secured damages after filing a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of nine prisoners.  
After gaining class action status the litigation eventually covered 180 inmates who were paid $1,000 for every extra day they stayed in prison.  Some prisoners also received $3,000 for each strip search they were subjected to when they should have been freed.
On Wednesday State Auditor Marion Higa released a report on the Department of Public safety that showed over detention could be systemic.
According to the audit, 280 out of 985 release date errors were found at the Halawa Correctional Facility while reviewing the August 9, 2010 inmate roster report.
“One of the easiest things to check is whether the release date is correct,” said Higa.  “Well we found in almost 30 percent of the cases the release date is already passed.”
“The audit shows that we are likely wasting large sums of money,” Gluck told Khon2. “The ACLU for years has been talking about the need for greater oversight, transparency and accountability and the audit shows exactly that.”
Meanwhile the state may be forced to payout even more money to inmates who were held in prison longer than what their sentences required.
A federal civil rights lawsuit filed in August of last year is awaiting a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on whether the case can go to trial.  Civil Rights attorney Jack Schweigert represents six of the nine plaintiffs.
“Once I went to court on these guys they were released instantly,” said Schweigert, who believes DPS is acting with indifference to inmates’ constitutional rights.
Schweigert says much of the problem arises from DPS calculating inmate sentences consecutively rather than concurrently.  

For instance, if an inmate is convicted of two separate charges that require two years in jail for each count, judges often allow the prisoner to serve both sentences at once.  Schweigert says DPS often decides erroneously that sentences should be served back-to-back, turning a two year jail sentence into a four year imprisonment.

Read the rest here.

Auditor blasts Hawaii oversight of CCA Prisons

Auditor blasts Hawaii oversight of private prisons
By HERBERT A. SAMPLE – Dec 30, 2010 9:20 AM ET
By The Associated Press, Bloomberg

Via the Real Cost of Prisons blog

HONOLULU (AP) — The state’s auditor on Wednesday blasted the Hawaii Department of Public Safety’s management of a contract to house prisoners in privately owned Arizona prisons.

In a 77-page report, Marion Higa also criticized the financial data about the arrangement the department has provided legislators and the public for using a flawed methodology and containing inaccurate or insufficient figures.
“Without clarified guidance by policymakers, the department has no incentive to perform better and will continue to evade accountability by providing unreliable and inaccurate reporting of incarceration costs,” Higa wrote in the audit’s conclusion.

“In addition, the department has misused its procurement authority to circumvent the process designed with safeguards to protect the state’s interests,” she added.

Interim Public Safety Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata said her agency acknowledges the auditor’s recommendations “and will address the concerns raised in the report. In addition, we will review all administrative rules, practices, and existing policies as it relates to the mainland and federal detention center branch.”

Much of the audit’s findings were critical of actions taken before current Gov. Neil Abercrombie took office earlier this month, succeeding Gov. Linda Lingle. Abercrombie has said he wants to stop exporting inmates to other states but hasn’t specified how that would be accomplished.

Spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said possible solutions include “revisiting ideas of increasing prison capacity in Hawaii and ensuring successful transitions into the community.”

About 2,000 male Hawaii prisoners are housed in the Florence, Red Rock and Saguaro correctional centers owned by the Corrections Corp. of America, according to the audit.

The state in 2006 signed an “intergovernmental agreement” with Eloy, Ariz., where the facilities are located, but deals almost exclusively with CCA, the report contended.

The arrangement allowed agency officials to circumvent and manipulate the state’s competitive procurement process to steer business to CCA, the audit found. The department also treated CCA as a government agent instead of a private vendor operating for a profit, it contended.

The CCA contract is set to expire on June 30. But the report concluded the state as of early October had no plan to address that looming deadline.
Without such a plan, “the department is shirking its responsibility to provide for the safety of the public through correctional management, and leaves the operational staff ill-prepared to contract for private prison beds and services,” the audit stated.

The report also aimed at the department’s reporting to the Legislature. It asserted that agency officials reported “artificial cost figures” that were derived from a calculation that itself was “based on a flawed methodology.”
“Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information,” the audit said. “As a result, true costs are unknown.”

In addition to improving its financial and program data, and its monitoring of operations at the CCA prisons, the auditor called on the state’s chief procurement officer to suspend the public safety department’s contracting authority for private prisons until its practices and policies are changed and staff have been better trained.

Hunger strike of the Lucasville Uprising prisoners – starting Monday, Jan. 3

Posted on December 25, 2010 by Denverabc

Dear family members, friends and supporters of the Lucasville uprising prisoners,

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar), Jason Robb and Namir Mateen (James Were) will start a hunger strike on Monday Jan. 3 to protest their 23-hour a day lock down for nearly 18 years. These four death-sentenced prisoners have been single-celled (in solitary) in conditions of confinement significantly more severe than the conditions experienced by the approximately 125 other death-sentenced prisoners at the supermax prison, Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. They are completely isolated from any direct human contact, even during “recreation”. They are restricted from certain kinds of good ordering including gold weather items for the almost unbearably cold conditions in the cells. They are denied access to computer databases they need in order to prepare their appeals. It has been made clear to them that the outcome of their annual “security level reviews” is predetermined, as one reads, “…regardless of your behavior while confined at OSP.”
Prisoners whose death sentences were for heinous crimes are able to win privileges based on good behavior, but not the death-sentenced Lucasville uprising prisoners.

Meanwhile out in the world, the U.S. Supreme Court has granted additional due process rights to some of the Gauantanamo prisoners, some death-sentenced prisoners have been exonerated or had their sentences commuted, an evidentiary hearing was ordered for Troy Anthony Davis, and prisoners in Georgia are engaging in a non-violent strike for improvements in a wide range of conditions. So the four death-sentenced Lucasville uprising prisoners have decided that being punished by the worst conditions allowable under the law has gone far enough, especially since their convictions were based on perjured testimony. They are innocent! They were wrongfully convicted! They are political prisoners. This farce has gone on far too long and their executions loom in the not too distant future. These brave men are ready to take another stand. We ask that you get ready to support them.

The hunger strike will proceed in an organized manner, with one prisoner, probably Bomani Shakur starting on Jan.3. The hunger strike becomes official after he has refused 9 meals. Therefore the plan is that 3 days later, Siddiquie Abdullah Hasan will start his hunger strike and 3 days later, Jason Robb will follow. Namir Mateen has a great willingness to participate and plans to take part to the extent that his diabetes will allow.

On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Saturday, Jan. 15, we will be holding a press conference about the hunger strike and other issues pertaining to Ohio State Penitentiary. Details of time and location are being worked out. There will very likely be a brief rally near the gates of OSP, as we have in previous years to honor Dr. King, to protest the death penalty and to protest the farce of the Lucasville uprising convictions. There will probably be one or more vans and/or a car caravan to OSP for the event. Stay tuned for more information.

Please forward this email to other people you think would be interested, here in Ohio, around the country and around the world.

the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network

Hunger Strike At Ohio State Penitentiary

By Staughton Lynd

Source: OhioCURE
Friday, December 31, 2010
As this is written on Christmas Eve, a small group of death-sentenced prisoners at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) have declared their intention to begin a “rolling hunger strike” on Monday, January 3.

Who are they? What are their objectives? What is this all about?

The four hunger strikers are Siddique Abdullah Hasan, formerly known as Carlos Sanders; Keith LaMar; Jason Robb; and Namir Abdul Mateen, also known as James Were. (A fifth member of the group, George Skatzes, was transferred out of OSP in 2000.)

All these men were sentenced to death in trials conducted in 1995-1996 for their alleged roles in the 11-day rebellion at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio in April 1993. See my book Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (Temple University Press: 2004), to be re-issued in 2011 by PM Press, Oakland, CA, with a Foreword by Mumia Abu Jamal.

Hasan and Robb were two of the three men who negotiated a peaceful surrender. Tragically there were ten deaths during the disturbance (nine prisoners and one hostage officer). But thanks to the way the “Lucasville riot” ended, there were far fewer fatalities than at Attica, New York in 1971, where more than forty persons died.

At the request of Ohio authorities, Attorney Niki Schwartz of Cleveland helped to negotiate the surrender. During a forum on the Lucasville events held at Cleveland State University in November 2010, Attorney Schwartz asked, in effect: If we seek the death penalty against men who helped to bring a bloody riot to a peaceful end, what will happen the next time?

Persistent Discrimination Against Death-Sentenced Lucasville Defendants

Judge James Gwin of federal district court noted with amazement during the trial of the prisoners’ class action, Austin v. Wilkinson, that death-sentenced prisoners at the highest security level in the Ohio State Penitentiary wanted to be returned to Death Row!

The fundamental reason offered by the Lucasville defendants for a hunger strike is that throughout their more than seventeen years of solitary confinement, they have been subjected to harsher conditions of confinement than the more than 150 other men sentenced to death in Ohio. The conditions under which the death-sentenced Lucasville prisoners are confined prevent them from ever being in the same space as another prisoner.

At the time of the 1993 uprising Ohio’s Death Row, as well as its execution chamber, was located at Lucasville. In the mid-1990s, the execution chamber remained at SOCF but death-sentenced prisoners were transferred to the Mansfield Correctional Institution (ManCI) north of Columbus. One reason for the transfer, it seems, is that correctional officers at SOCF came to recognize death-sentenced prisoners as human beings and found it distressing to be part of execution teams.

The Lucasville capital defendants consider that from the beginning their conditions of confinement have been harsher than the circumstances of confinement for other death-sentenced prisoners. They have launched several previous hunger strikes. Skatzes wrote to the authorities about one such strike at ManCI: “All we want is . . . being placed on our proper ‘security’ level.” LaMar drafted the group’s demands during another hunger strike. One of their group needed immediate medical attention, LaMar wrote, and: “Surely he is entitled to the same attention that is accorded to everyone else.”

The frustration expressed in the Mansfield hunger strikes came to a climax on September 5, 1997. Prisoners in DR-4, the living area at ManCI in which the Five along with a much larger number of other death-sentenced prisoners were being held, occupied the “pod” for approximately six hours. The correctional officers on duty were overpowered and then released unharmed. There was some prisoner-on-prisoner violence against Wilford Berry, who had given up his appeals and volunteered for execution. When a SWAT team of officers assembled from all over Ohio stormed DR-4 late in the evening, the prisoners had returned to their cells. An investigating committee consisting wholly of prison administrators found that the SWAT team had used excessive violence. Jason Robb, apparently singled out because of his alleged role in the riot four years earlier, was beaten especially badly, had his skull fractured, and almost lost an eye. 

Unequal treatment continued when the death-sentenced Lucasville defendants were transferred to OSP in Youngstown. Judge Gwin found that OSP was constructed “in reaction to the April 1993 riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville.” Consistently with this conclusion, the five alleged leaders of the 1993 occupation were transferred to OSP within two weeks of its opening in May 1998. At OSP they are housed, not in the less restrictive conditions experienced by other death-sentenced prisoners, but in the high maximum conditions specific to the highest level of security in Ohio, so-called Level 5.

Professor Denis O’Hearn, director of graduate studies in sociology at the State University of New York (Binghamton), regularly visits LaMar and Robb. As described by Professor O’Hearn:

  — They are “in 23-hour lockup in a hermetically sealed environment where they have almost no contact with other living beings — human, animal, or plant.” When released from their cells for short periods of “recreation” they continue to be isolated from other prisoners.

During occasional visits, “a wall of bullet-proof glass separates the prisoner from the visitor. A few booths away, a condemned man from death row sits in a cubicle where a small hole is cut from the security glass between him and his visitors. He can hold his mother’s hand. With a little effort, despite the shackles he must wear on a visit, he can kiss a niece or a grandchild. He does not have to shout to hold a conversation.”

Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were experience “security reviews” annually but the outcome of these reviews is predetermined. The Lucasville defendants have been told by the authorities, in writing:

“You were admitted to OSP in May of 1998. We are of the opinion that your placement offense is so severe that you should remain at the OSP permanently or for many years regardless of your behavior while confined at the OSP” (emphasis added).

The emphasized words violate the explicit instruction of the Supreme Court of the United States. In its opinion specifically concerning conditions of confinement at OSP, the high court held that due process required that a prisoner might be placed at OSP only on the basis of “a short statement of reasons,” and that in subsequent classification review that statement “serves as a guide for future behavior.”

But Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were have been told that they will remain in the conditions of confinement decreed by State administrators regardless of their “future behavior,” that is, their behavior while at OSP.

Other prisoners sentenced to death for alleged crimes comparable to those for which Hasan, LaMar, Robb, and Were were found guilty have been moved off Level 5: to Death Row at OSP, to Level 4 at OSP, and out of OSP entirely to ManCI. One of the four Lucasville defendants asks, Must I have a mental breakdown in order to get off Level 5?

For Whom The Van Leaves

Another apparent reason that these men are desperately opting for the life-threatening practice of a hunger strike is the State of Ohio’s present practice of seeking to execute one man every month.

The 17th century British poet John Donne commented on the practice of ringing church bells when a person died. No one should ask for whom the bell tolls, the poet observed, because “it tolls for thee.”

In the Youngstown diocese, Catholic churches continue the practice of ringing their bells when an execution occurs. At OSP, prisoners know when the van is about to leave OSP to take a man to Lucasville to be killed. A person whom they have known as a friend, alive and well, is suddenly gone and dead. This works a psychological hardship on survivors. The remaining death-sentenced prisoners, some with a specific “date,” know that sooner or later the van will come for themselves.

Incredibly, Ohio was the only one of the fifty states to execute more prisoners in 2010 than in 2009. In 2010 Ohio executed more prisoners than any other state except Texas. Of the 46 executions in the entire country, Texas executed seventeen and Ohio eight, or 17 percent of the total number of executions nationwide.

And Besides, We’re Not Guilty

There is strong evidence that the Lucasville capital defendants have been singled out because of their supposed leadership roles in the 1993 rebellion, not because they killed anyone.

Two prisoners very badly injured by other prisoners during the riot were visited in the SOCF infirmary by officers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Johnny Fryman had almost been killed by other prisoners at the beginning of the rebellion. He states under oath that in May 1993 he was taken to the SOCF infirmary and interviewed by two members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol:

“They made it clear that they wanted the leaders. They wanted to prosecute Hasan, George Skatzes, Lavelle, Jason Robb, and another Muslim whose name I don’t remember. They had not yet begun their investigation but they knew they wanted those leaders. I joked with them and said, ‘You basically don’t care what I say as long as it’s against these guys.’ They said, ‘Yeah, that’s it.'”

The State of Ohio still does not know who actually killed hostage officer Robert Vallandingham. In various court pleadings, the Special Prosecutor has offered different lists of the hands-on killers. None of the men sentenced to death appear on any of these lists.


Professor O’Hearn ends his comment by saying: “If deprivation of human contact is what led these men into lives where they committed horrific deeds, why do we punish them by continuing and even intensifying that deprivation? Why not give them the one thing that could have brought them from the brink in the first place: a little bit of loving, human contact? A clasp of a loving hand from time to time. The chance to show that they can be better men than they were. None of us can be hurt by this small mercy.”

Staughton Lynd

H.D.S.P. Update

On Wednesday 12/15/2010, officer Mingo while working Unit 3-B, got into a verbal argument with an inmate housed in 3-B-#27 named Timothy Sanders #1035382. She then went and got a spray bottle that contained bleach and sprayed this inmate in the face and eyes to try to attack him.
The inmate had to be treated by medical staff. Lt Bruce Strand had a camera brought down, and some staff were observed laughing over the incident. Several prisoners wrote Affidavits to their witnessing this assault by officer Mingo.
Inmate killed in Level 4
On 12-16-2010, the yard was closed for an Inmate to Inmate killing in the new Level 4 housing area in Unit 7.
The Hispanic prisoner killed his celly, we´re not sure why, but the prisoner who killed his celly has a history of assaults and mental issues that the prison clearly has failed to address.
How many more people have to die, or be assaulted by staff before someone in our society will take notice of the Nevada Prison System´s failure to provide a proper structure in its facilities?
The wardens who run these prisons need to be held accountable for their lack of leadership and the abuses they allow to flourish under their reign.
This was sent with authorization for reprint by
James Gator Wardell
H.D.S.P., 12/17/2010
Received by mail on Dec 28th, 2010

Early resolution plan in works to move criminal justice system along

From: Deseret News

By Emiley Morgan, Dec 22nd 2010

SALT LAKE CITY — An ambitious plan to streamline the criminal justice process by eliminating as many as 50 percent of felony cases within the first 30 days after they are filed is set to launch in February.

The “aggressive” initiative known as Early Case Resolution is meant to not only streamline the court process and lead to quicker resolutions but also free up more jail space and lower recidivism rates.

“We need something concrete,” 3rd District Presiding Judge Robert Hilder said. “We need something that will really make a difference.”

Hilder — one of two judges who have been working to implement the system for close to two years — said that now it is not uncommon to sit in a hearing for as many as three hours only to have the hearing continued to a later date. Roll call hearings, scheduling and status conferences can be continued several times.
“We have a long history of those things happening not just once or twice, but five, 10, 15 times with no movement forward,” he said.

It was frustration with this process that led current District Attorney Lohra Miler and the Salt Lake City Council to consider this model, Hilder said.

“We’re trying to avoid hearings that do not advance a case,” Hilder said. “We want hearings that are meaningful. This will free up more time management for more complex cases.”

For that to happen, there has to be cooperation from those at all levels, Salt Lake City prosecutor Sim Gill said. Gill will take over as district attorney in January. In addition to prosecutors, he said law enforcement agencies, defense attorneys, probation and parole officers and those in the Salt Lake County 3rd District Court are on-board.

“This is a collaborative effort of multiple stakeholders who are being brought together under a common model, because they all have a role to play in it,” Gill said. “This model works on the premise that everybody, every stakeholder, has something to gain.”

Gill said the project targets those defendants who attempt to “fatigue” the system in hopes of getting a better deal and aims to eliminate the bottleneck that is created by numerous continuations of hearings. It should also make interactions with defendants more valuable.

“This is not just about an efficient process,” Hilder said. “It’s a very different way of doing business. It’s about early resolutions where people take responsibility. It’s about their performance on probation, a sentence that is tailored … lesser jail or no jail and probation. … People are more likely to succeed.”

He said similar models are currently in place in Florida, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and California, but Salt Lake County would be the largest criminal court in the country to undertake the task. The closest in size, in Sonoma County, Calif., has seen noticeable results, Hilder said.

Read the rest here.

Man found dead in jail cell

More sad news from Nevada´s prisons…

Man found dead in jail cell | NevadaAppeal.com

By F.T. Norton, Dec 23rd 2010

A man awaiting trial on sexual assault charges was found dead in his jail cell on Wednesday night.

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said Rodrigo Enrique Romero, 20, who pleaded not guilty earlier this week to sexual assault, kidnapping, destruction of property and battery with intent to commit sexual assault, was found in a segregated cell about 7:30 p.m. unconscious with part of a sheet around his neck. The other end of the sheet was attached to the bed, said Furlong.

Jail staff and paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive Romero.

Furlong said according to the preliminary investigation, Romero was last seen alive by detention staff some 15 minutes before he was found unresponsive.

He said Romero had been having issues with other inmates which was why he was in a segregated cell.

Read the rest here.

Ohio second only to Texas in executions for 2010

From: Marion Star

BY DAN HORN • The Cinncinati Enquirer • December 24, 2010

MARION — Ohio executed more inmates in 2010 than in any year since the state returned to capital punishment almost three decades ago, and four death penalty cases are pending in Marion County courts.
The state’s eight executions ranked Ohio second in the nation – behind only the 17 carried out in Texas – and bucked a trend that has seen the number of executions in the United States fall by about 60 percent since the 1990s.
State officials say the resolution of court cases that had held up many executions in Ohio is the main reason the numbers increased this year. Those cases, which challenged lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment, delayed several cases and led to a temporary execution moratorium.
With most of those cases resolved, Ohio’s executions occurred at a faster pace than usual in 2010.
“Those cases have finally run their course through the courts, so they can start scheduling those execution dates,” said Brian Niceswanger, a Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokesman.
Ohio, which executed five people last year, was the only state to see an increase this year. The jump pushed the state ahead of Alabama for the second most executions in the nation.

Texas once again was the leader by a wide margin, but executions there fell from 24 to 17.

Read the rest here.