State investigating inmate's hanging
Investigation into the hanging death of a Marion man serving a life sentence for aggravated murder in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility continues.
Corrections officers Matthew Robbins, Jeramy Osborne and Edwin Koch are on paid administrative leave following the discovery of Bobby Joe Clark, 48, hanged over the weekend in his cell, said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.
Clark was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years on May 14, 1999, after pleading guilty May 12, 1999, in Marion County Common Pleas Court to the murder of Harold "Sleepy" Griffin of Detroit. The crime allegedly occurred at a party in Meeker in 1995. Authorities have not found Griffin's body. Clark began serving his time May 19, 1999.
Clark was pronounced dead at 9:44 a.m. Saturday, Smith said, declining to disclose details of the investigation, such as whether Clark was dead when he was found or what was used in the hanging. He was in a single-occupant cell.
"There is an administrative investigation that is looking to determine if all appropriate policies and procedures were followed," she said.
The investigation, which is being conducted by the staff of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, would be completed within the next few weeks, she estimated.
The last suicide in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville occurred in April 2010 when José Ortez, serving a prison term out of Lorain County for felonious assault, tampering with evidence, having weapons under disability and carrying concealed weapons, was found dead, she said.
Clark admitted to shooting Griffin twice in the head, said Jim Slagle, Marion County prosecutor at the time of the sentencing.
During a taped confession in December 1998, Clark told authorities he killed Griffin for several reasons including that he was on drugs, that he was paid by people with whom he attended the Meeker party, and that Griffin, a black man, was kissing a white woman. Clark, who is white, said he didn't believe in mixing of races.
In the tape, he said he confessed because he had remorse about the murder. He said he didn't want to receive the death penalty and asked he not be sent to the Lucasville prison because he was afraid he might face retribution for his racist tattoos.
Slagle said others were suspected to have been involved in the killing.
Chief Deputy Al Hayden on Thursday said the investigation remains open and encouraged anyone who has information about the incident to call 740-375-8477 tips line or the sheriff's office at 740-382-8244
Convicted murderer dies while on hunger strike in California
A 27-year-old convicted murderer has died while on a hunger strike to protest restrictions on access to health, good food, legal services and other amenities in a segregation unit at a California prison, prison officials said on Friday.
Christian Alexander Gomez died on February 2, six days after he and 31 other inmates in the Corcoran State Prison's administrative segregation unit began refusing food, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
There was no immediate word on the cause of death, and Thornton said the prison had not yet received an autopsy report from the Kings County Coroner, who could not be reached for comment.
Gomez was among thousands of California prisoners who have staged hunger strikes in waves since July, starting with protests against isolation units at Pelican Bay State Prison and rippling throughout the rest of the state corrections system.
The strikes began after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last May that California prison overcrowding was causing "needless suffering and death," and ordered the state to reduce the number of prisoners to 110,000, still well over the maximum capacity, from 140,000.
At least 4,000 prisoners participated in the strikes at their height in October, prison officials have said, although prisoner advocates have put the number higher, at up to 12,000.
The Corcoran strike focused on an administrative segregation unit where prisoners are held while awaiting hearings on infractions they are accused of committing in prison.
Gomez, who was found unresponsive in his cell before he was sent to an outside hospital and pronounced dead, was being held there after being charged with attacking a fellow prisoner, Thornton said. He had been serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and attempted murder.
NEWS OF DEATH FILTERED OUT SLOWLY
Prisoner rights activists said the news of Gomez's death had filtered out slowly. The prison made no public announcement at the time of his death.
Thornton said the prison policy is to report an inmate's death to his next of kin. A public announcement is made when a prisoner's death is being investigated as a possible homicide, the prisoner is on death row or the case has received public interest.
Theresa Cisneros, spokeswoman for Corcoran, said prisoners at the administrative segregation unit where Gomez was held have limited access to an exercise yard, cannot initiate new education programs and do not have radio or television access.
"It's not punishment," she said. "It's just that they are only there temporarily."
But because beds are sometimes not available at the units to which they are being transferred, the inmates in the segregation unit may have to stay there for up to six months, Cisneros said.
A list of complaints attributed to the Corcoran strikers by the website sfbayview.com includes unsanitary food and limited access to legal services, telephones, laundry, health services, television and radio, and rehabilitation and education.
Cisneros said prisoners in the segregation units have access to nurses and doctors "24 hours a day."
Prisoners on hunger strike are weighed and their vital signs are taken every day, and they are not allowed to starve, she said. "I don't think they could," she said. "We have a process to prevent that."
Thornton said the Corcoran hunger strike ended on February 13. But prison activist Isaac Ontiveros of the group Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity denied that.
"As far as I know, there are still prisoners who are striking there," he told Reuters, attributing his information to family members of other prisoners.
Activists have planned nationwide protests for Monday against U.S. prison conditions and California's high incarceration rate.
The state has begun carrying out a plan to ease prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for thousands of inmates and ex-convicts to county authorities.
The state's prison medical system has been in receivership and supervised by the U.S. District Court for Northern California since 2006, when that court found the existing system unconstitutionally inadequate.
so....are we supposed to feel bad for a convicted murderer starving himself to death because of his poor conditions??? I actually thank him, he did what the state won't do, and that is kill himself.......Sorry if i sound cold, but the amount of DR inmates living in a cell with big screen t.v.'s and other items makes me sick.....
It shlound´t be very surprising for him that there´s a little difference between a prison and a 5-star-hotel. I odn´t care much about the complains of the inmates. They should be treated in a proffesional way, the prisons should be modern places (it´s the place where the prison staff works) and for those who will be released there should be trainee programs. That´s it LWOPs and DR inmates shouldn´t get any specials. All their ammenities should be ammentities which keep them calm and let the prison staff do their job without violent inmates.
The Visual Culture of Angola Prison
I wanted to share some PPOTR snapshots with you. Angola Prison (Louisiana State Penitentiary) is the state’s maximum security prison. An 18,000 acre former slave plantation, Angola is the size of Manhattan. At the time of my visit, Angola was “home” to 5,400 men, over 4,500 of whom will die within its razor wire.
Angola is a strange place. Burl Cain, warden since 1994, has blurred the lines between church and state by implementing a regime of “moral rehabilitation”. Of the six interfaith chapels on prison grounds, four have been constructed under his watch.
As well as providing God, Cain also provides as many programmes as possible to keep the prisoners active. From harvesting tonnes of crops (“We never open a can of food in our kitchens,” said prison spokesperson Gary Young), to refurbing wheelchairs for charitable use; from the twice annual rodeo season to the dog-training facility; from the horse breeding programme to the prison hospice; and from the prison newspaper – The Angolite – to the prison’s own TV station, prisoners who tow the line are kept busy.
Of course, on my media tour, I wondered what I didn’t see: the death row, the solitary confinement cells, the staff quarters.
I did see worklines in the fields guarded by armed correctional officers on horseback. I was also provided a meal of beans, rice and fried chicken at the Warden’s Ranch House. I visited shortly after Thanksgiving so the Christmas decorations were going up.
All in all, on that sunny late autumn day, I was driven through what outwardly appeared to be a pastoral idyll. I focused my lens at the signage, the murals, the markings of the regime. I present this little snapshot not in an ironic way, but that it may confound some viewers and we might wonder what lies behind these very surface-level illustrations.
A uniformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
DOJ looking into Alabama prison sex abuse claims
Rape, sexual assault and harassment from male guards are a way of life for prisoners at an Alabama women’s prison, according to inmates past and present, and the Justice Department is looking into the allegations.
Stephanie Hibbett spent a year locked up at the Julia Tutwiler Prison. She said in her time there, men had unrestricted access to the showers and bathrooms and would often make comments about female inmates’ bodies, both to the women and among themselves.
She herself was a victim, she says. A guard kissed her and groped her breasts and buttocks while she was cleaning a trailer, she said. That sort of abuse was common, the 31-year-old said.
"A lot of it goes on in the middle of the night when no one thinks anyone is listening," she said. "I didn’t sleep a lot. You’d see a woman get up and go into the bathroom and a guard go in after her and another one stand watch. Nobody would say anything. A lot were too scared."
The Justice Department investigation comes after legal aid group Equal Justice Initiative filed a complaint on May 22 asking it to look into allegations, based on interviews with more than 50 women incarcerated at the maximum-security prison. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined further comment.
Alabama Prisons Commissioner Kim Thomas told The Associated Press that the department isn’t launching a separate investigation into the recent allegations because it already aggressively pursues any reports of sexual abuse. He said the Justice Department has not yet contacted the state about the claims.
"We’ve been very, very proactive in hunting down and investigating thoroughly any complaint we’ve received," Thomas said. "We’ve taken swift administrative action against any officers or employees who are found to have violated this. The first offense means dismissal."
Equal Justice executive director Bryan Stevenson said women are routinely punished for reporting sexual abuse or trying to speak up about it.
The group’s report claims that women who say something are often placed in segregation where they are deprived of contact with the outside world and do not have access to recreation, programs or work assignments.
An examination of court records show at least six corrections employees have been convicted for sex crimes against inmates since 2003. Of those, five were guards and one a laundry room employee. The charges range from sodomy to harassment. Of the six convicted, only two were sentenced to real time in jail _ a guard received six months for impregnating an inmate, and the laundry room employee received five days for having sex with an inmate.
Some of the sexual encounters were consensual, some weren’t and others were coerced, Hibbett said. Some guards would smuggle in contraband such as alcohol and marijuana in exchange for sexual favors. Other guards would use their authority and threaten to revoke privileges or time off sentences for good behavior if women didn’t perform sex acts.
Consensual or not, sexual contact between inmates and corrections workers has been illegal in Alabama since 2004. It’s a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Hibbett was inside Tutwiler between April 2010 and May 2011. She was first locked up in Jackson County Jail for possession of forging instruments, but was transferred after escaping work release to visit her son in a hospital after he attempted suicide.
"Jackson County (Jail) is a Hilton compared to Tutwiler," Hibbett said.
Tutwiler opened in 1942 in Wetumpka, with a capacity for 400 women. Now, according to the department of corrections, it can hold 950 in nine dormitories and has a death row. It was named after Julia S. Tutwiler, a noted Alabama educator and crusader for inmate education, classification, and improvement of prison conditions.
Thomas said the prison system is making an effort to recruit more female officers and employees to Tutwiler and didn’t know whether it is typical to have so many men working in a women’s prison. He didn’t have a percentage of men vs. women guards but Equal Justice estimated it at 60 percent men.
The guard Hibbett identified as abusing her was fired with a recommendation that he not be re-hired for state employment, records show. His files state that he teased an unnamed inmate, slapped her buttocks and placed his hands on her hips.
A 2007 Justice Department report identified Tutwiler as the women’s prison with the highest incidence of sexual assaults. It ranks 11th overall of all prisons in terms of sexual assaults.
Thomas said the Corrections Department has no part in how criminal sentences are issued, but doesn’t advocate for leniency for officers found guilty of sex abuses.
Stevenson said corrections employees are being under-punished for their crimes.
"Forcible rape and sexual assault of inmates is an outrageous abuse of power," Stevenson said. "We know that they (the U.S. Department of Justice) have talked a lot about this issue, and we just want them to intervene."
Hibbett said she’s talking with lawyers to perhaps sue the prison for the way she was treated. Ultimately Hibbett said she’d like to see an all-female guard staff to prevent the abuse.
"The way I feel is, you’re already stripped away of all your rights. You’re locked up, you’re away from your family, your friends. You have no freedom and then you get in there and they degrade you and beat you," Hibbett said. "When I first got home I didn’t sleep for two weeks because of nightmares of that place."
A uniformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
7 injured in LA jail brawl involving 78 inmates
LOS ANGELES—Authorities say seven inmates were taken to the hospital after being injured in a racially-charged brawl at a downtown Los Angeles jail.
Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott says firefighters responded to reports of a disturbance at Men's Central Jail at around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
County sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker says four inmates began fighting, leading to a brawl that divided 78 inmates in a housing pod along racial lines.
Deputies used pepper spray and sting balls to quell the fight, which lasted about 15 minutes.
The inmates who were taken to the hospital suffered minor to moderate injuries. Some others were treated for exposure to pepper spray.
Parker did not have immediate details on what triggered the fight.
Officials: Prison inmate died of smoke inhalation
Department of Corrections officials have identified a prisoner who died after starting a fire in his cell this weekend.
Julius Parker, 26, died of smoke inhalation Saturday after he apparently started a fire in his cell on the H Unit at OSP, the Department of Corrections said.
He was taken to the prison’s medical unit after he was found about 2:45 p.m. and then reportedly died at a McAlester hospital.
The “H” unit holds the state’s male death row inmate population, but also houses inmates in administrative segregation for disciplinary violations.
Parker was serving time out of Tulsa County for convictions on armed robbery and other charges. He arrived at OSP in April 2006.
A uniformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
5 Georgia inmates charged with killing fellow inmate after allegedly throwing him to his death
(CBS/AP) JACKSON, Ga. - Five inmates at a Georgia state prison have been charged with killing a fellow inmate who was thrown to his death from the second floor of a prison dormitory, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The paper reports that Laderick Cornellius Chappel, 33, died early Friday morning from blunt trauma caused by the fall, according to the Georgia Bureau Crime Lab's autopsy report.
Charged with murder in Chappel's death are William Woodrow Wells, 21; Dante Ray Myles, 27; Niko Lamar Swann, 23; Demarcus D. Crew, 19; and Justin O'Neal Clinkscales, 27.
According to Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Tom Davis, the five men, armed with prison shanks, stole food that Chappel had bought from the prison store. Davis said Chappel then confronted the men, and during the fight that followed, he was thrown to his death.
Chappel was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being convicted of murder in 2010.
Gwendolyn Hogan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said that during certain times, inmates are allowed to move freely about the dormitories. At the time of the killing, one guard was present in the dormitory cells and inmates had not yet been locked down, said Hogan.
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