UK: Hewell Prison the worst in Britain – Murder, suicide, blunders and escapes

15 February 2015
Reblogged from: Birmingham Mail
Written by Nick McCarthy

Redditch jail comes in for heavy criticism following catalogue of catastrophe

Campaigners have branded a crisis-hit Midland prison as one of the worst in Britain.
HMP Hewell, on the outskirts of Redditch, has been hit by rocketing death rates and chronic overcrowding.

It is the prison where evil Leo Barnes managed to hang himself last month – in the middle of his trial for the murder of helpless pensioners Cynthia Beamond and Philip Silverstone.

But that was just one of a catalogue of problems at Hewell since it was officially opened on June 25, 2008.

There have been suicides, blunders, escapes – and even a MURDER.

In fact, the Howard League for Penal Reform has recorded one murder and four suicides at Hewell in the last 12 months alone.

And the charity has revealed that Hewell was running at more than 25 per cent above its capacity in November – the same month a scathing report was published following by HM Inspector of Prisons.

The report found that the use of force at the prison was increasing, 40 per cent of cells were overcrowded, and almost one in five prisoners had developed a drug problem whilst behind bars.

Read the rest here.

Ohio places prison physician on paid leave during investigation of inmate’s suicide

Daily Reporter, June 10, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio has placed a prison doctor on paid administrative leave during an investigation into the suicide of an inmate under the doctor’s care.

Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokesman Carlo LoParo said Friday the action taken with Dr. Myron Shank is standard during such investigations.

The state is looking into the June 2 suicide of Gregory Stamper, convicted of a double homicide in 1995, who hanged himself at Allen Correctional Institution in Lima in northwestern Ohio.

Read the rest here.

AZ: Suicide/homicide rates skyrocket at AZ Department of Corrections

From Arizona Prison Watch

I obtained prisoner death records last week from the AZ Department of Corrections, and the stats on suicides and homicides since Brewer took office are mind-boggling: they’re twice the rate as they were when Janet was governor; this fiscal year (beginning July 2010) the suicides are on track for being three times the annual rate.

In no instance of the recent suicides has there been documentation that ADC staff had any culpability – though I’ve had more than one family member tell me that their mentally ill loved one had been taken off of their psychiatric medications in prisons before their suicide or homicide. That sounds to me like a pattern of institutional neglect.

Anthony Lester‘s death remains a mystery to me, by the way – the ADC record detailing his death lists his injuries as self-inflicted (his jugular, his right wrist, and his leg were all cut with a razor) , but a document compiling the deaths for the year calls it a homicide. Tony’s family was told it was a suicide – a “highly preventable” one, which they tried to warn the ADC he was at risk for. They have other information suggesting that he believed he was in imminent danger from a gang, though. Until I get confirmation to the contrary, I’m leaving him in the suicide category.

Tony suffered from schizophrenia, and was sentenced to more than a decade in prison due to two women being slightly injured trying to prevent him from cutting his throat (both required band-aids at the scene) during a psychotic episode. He had to be restored to sanity before he could go on trial, of course. That’s par for Maricopa County’s treatment of people with mental illness who needed psychiatric hospitalization before or at the time of their “crime”. If I could sick the DOJ on every responsible judge and prosecuting attorney, I would, because that’s a violation of the Olmstead Decision, as far as I’m concerned. The Olmstead Decision was a Supreme Court verdict that determined that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires states to deinstitutionalize and place people with disabilities in the least restrictive setting possible.

Arizona, after 20 years of Arnold v. Sarn litigation, is still underserving the seriously mentally ill in the community. Here they’re just criminally prosecuted for the symptoms of their illness and thrown into the most restrictive setting possible – state prison (often maximum security) – largely because the state lacks adequate outpatient and inpatient alternatives for individuals at risk of harming themselves or others (we spend it all on corrections instead. If ADC Director Ryan had any courage, he’d call that what it is and tell the state where to put their money and the courts where to stuff their convictions).

Why else would a judge give a man with schizophrenia three years for climbing a utility tower in a thunderstorm to be closer to God? Why would he even be prosecuted for that in the first place? I think they actually believed they were protecting him from himself. Sadly, Shannon Palmer ended up being murdered by his cellmate two years in.

The deaths by “natural causes” are also extremely young – go to the ADC’s website, under ADC in the News, for death notices. There’s an archive on that page, too. I suspect that it’s complications from the effects of the Hep C virus that’s killing people so young inside. I’ll be analyzing the documents I obtained further to confirm that, and post it when I compile it all.

Here are the links for the APW posts about the more recent suicides:

Special Management Unit: Prisoner suicide at ASPC Eyman (11/4) – James Galloway

Prison suicide and gangs at Florence Central (10/01) – Duron Cunningham, Rosario Rodriguez-Bojorquez

Additionally, I missed a couple of suicides in my compilation that I didn’t have info on until now:

Douglas Nunn 33 (8/29/09) – ASPC-Florence/Central

Patricia Velez 25 (4/28/10) – ASPC-Perryville/Lumley

All 3 of the women who have killed themselves in the past year and a half hung themselves and were housed in Lumley, where the maximum security yard is. All three were in their 20s. I don’t know if Patricia had a mental illness or not: a psychological report was sealed by the court when she was sentenced to 7.5 years for aggravated assault and fleeing a law enforcement vehicle. Geshell and Sasha, the other two women from Lumley who killed themselves, did have evidence of a serious mental illness when sentenced.

Two of the men who killed themselves recently were both from ASPC-Florence/Central. The largest number of male suicides in any one prison have occurred at ASPC-Eyman, however.

Sometime in the next couple of days I’ll break down the suicides and homicides by race and age, and tell you how they compare to stats for the overall prison population, as well as to rates in the general population. It seems to me that if all the violence boiled down to a gang war, the Aryan Brotherhood is winning.

Louisiana Jail Holds Suicidal Prisoners in "Squirrel Cages"

Jul 8th, 2010

Suzanne Ito, ACLU

Mentally ill prisoners deserve more care and consideration while incarcerated, but time and again, the ACLU often finds the exact opposite: they’re treated even worse than the general population. Today, the ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain and Parish President Kevin Davis asking them — horrifyingly enough — to stop treating suicidal prisoners like animals.
St. Tammany Parish officials have a policy of locking suicidal prisoners in 3-by 3-foot metal cages that prison staff call “squirrel cages.” After prisoners are deemed suicidal, they’re stripped half-naked and put in the cages without a bed, blanket, shoes or toilet. Requests to use the bathroom are often ignored by guards, so prisoners urinate in milk cartons, or soil themselves inside the cage. Some prisoners reported being forced to wear bright orange, Daisy Duke-style shorts with the words “HOT STUFF” scrawled across the backside.
To add insult to injury, the cages are placed in the main part of the jail, so the caged prisoners are a spectacle for other prisoners to gawk at.
The ACLU of Louisiana’s letter (PDF) points out:

These conditions are clearly unconstitutional. According to the St. Tammany Parish Code they are also inhumane. St. Tammany Parish Code 4-121.10 states that dogs must be kept in cages at least 6′ wide x 6′ feet deep, with “sufficient space [. . .] to lie down.” Sick prisoners in your care are afforded approximately one quarter of the space required for animals under the Parish Code.

So despite Sheriff Strain’s previous assertion that prisoners “need to be caged like animals,” in Tammany Parish, suicidal prisoners aren’t even afforded the rights of a dog.

Tammany Jail is set to receive $2 million to upgrade its facilities after a prisoner escaped earlier this year. The ACLU urges the sheriff to put some of that money toward more humane treatment of mentally ill and suicidal prisoners. The letter concludes: “St. Tammany is one of the wealthiest parishes in Louisiana; not only can you afford to treat your sick better than this, but the Constitution mandates that you do so.”

Link to Article Here