George Mallinckrodt seeking swift, sane FL DoC/OIG reform re #ScaldedToDeath

Getting Away With Murder - Final

From George Mallinckrodt’s blog …

February 12, 2015

An Informal Look at Florida State Senate Proposed Prison Reform Bill – SPB 7020

I focused on key provisions in the areas of the treatment of the mentally ill and inmate abuse. For a look at SPB 7020 in its entirety, go to: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2015/7020

For a link to the Criminal Justice Committee hearing on Febuary 2nd, go to: http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/2215-senate-criminal-justice-committee/

Contents
  • A few thoughts regarding the 2/2 Criminal Justice Committee hearing and recent developments
  • Notes on positive provisions in SPB 7020
  • Concerns regarding implementation and other issues
  • News articles from Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post
A Few Thoughts
I wanted to share my thoughts on SPB 7020 and concerns regarding its potential implementation. It is imperative to have accountability and transparency in the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). I found it disturbing that newly appointed DOC Secretary Julie Jones would require investigators to sign what amounts to a gag order after she spoke about implementing strategies “so that our department is both transparent and accountable” in her remarks to the Criminal Justice Committee on February 2nd.
I doubt Julie Jones came up with a confidentiality agreement on her own. One only need look to those who would gain from continued secrecy, less accountability, and lack of transparency for the source behind this blatant attempt to avoid answering charges. I would go so far as to say Jones is being manipulated at the highest levels of the DOC and OIG. Instead of pulling off the festering band-aid one painful hair at a time, why not yank it off completely – sooner rather than later. Open the books and let the wrongdoers suffer the consequences.
Julie Jones’s many assurances of improvements in the DOC sounded a bit hollow in contrast to the anecdotal accounts from numerous relatives who have loved ones on the inside. I’m being updated on a weekly basis regarding all manner of abuse, beatings, and possible homicides occurring throughout Florida prisons. Just this week for example, inmate Richard J. Wilson, #705776, was reportedly set up by a guard to be brutally beaten by other inmates. The person who told me this got the account from their loved one in Suwannee CI and requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation. They tried to find out if Wilson was in a Jacksonville hospital, to no avail.
Regarding chemical agents, both Julie Jones and Inspector General Jeff Beasley made assurances detailing a series of checks and balances to prohibit the unauthorized gassing of inmates. Beasley implied there could be little unauthorized use of chemical agents due to all the “internal controls.” He mentioned a “conspiracy” of many as a way to undermine these controls. I submit that not only are there “conspiracies,” but the widespread falsification of reports regarding the punitive use of chemical agents. In my unit, guards regularly backed up their criminal actions with outright fiction.
I hear about punitive gassing of inmates practically every week. I suspect thorough investigations would reveal startling malfeasance regarding this widespread abuse. Please refer to news articles: After Florida inmate’s lethal gassing, claims of cover-up and Inmate’s gassing death detailed in Florida DOC whistle-blower complaint. Beasley on 2/2 said that involved officers were either disciplined or resigned with regard to the gassing that resulted in Jordan-Aparo’s death. Why were these officers not charged with a crime? Where was any real accountability? Transparency?
What does it say about the OIG and the DOC that the only people doing any serious investigations are the newspapers? Despite all the heavily redacted documents, we’ve learned about numerous suspicious deaths. There is no dispute Darren Rainey was put into a scalding hot shower by COs to die – begging for his life. Over two and a half years later, no officer has been charged with a crime. Upper level officers and administrators who covered up Rainey’s killing have not been charged either. Accountability? Consequences? Transparency?
Notes
            Florida Senate SPB 7020
Key Positive Proposals affecting FL DOC and Office of the Inspector General:
  1. 60 days gain time credits as educational incentive
  2. Reporting Sexual Abuse and Harassment
  3. Review Inmate Grievance procedures
  4. Crisis Intervention Training for COs who work in psychiatric settings
  5. Monitor ‘use of force’ episodes, follow up care for involved inmates
  6. Annual ‘use of force’ statistics
  7. Use of force documentation signed under oath
  8. Prohibiting guards with inappropriate use of force episodes from working with mentally ill inmates
  9. Protections for inmates and employees from retaliation
  10. Establishing officer staffing requirements in mental health treatment facilities
  11. Identification of blind spots or areas where staff or inmates may be isolated and the deployment of video monitoring systems and other monitoring technologies in such areas
  12. Assess safety and security technology, make recommendations to update video systems
Provisions for private healthcare providers:
1.      Felony offenses for medical neglect of an inmate
2.      Anonymous reporting of inmate abuse directly to the Office of the Inspector General
3.      Consequences for not reporting abuse of inmates by COs
Concerns
  1. My primary concern is that 7020 calls for current DOC and OIG personnel to carry out the new directives. These are the same high level command staff, administrators, and inspectors who bungled investigations and covered up crimes. 7020 depends on the same line officers who abused, tormented, beat, and in some cases tortured and killed inmates. The DOC is failing in a number of critical areas. Might the solution be to enlarge the scope of Senator Bradley’s Oversight Committee (BOC) to take over some of these functions? For a look at Senator Bradley’s bill proposing an Oversight Committee, go to: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2015/0212
  2. The OIG, FDLE, and DOC have botched investigations in the past. How would the same personnel be compelled to do first rate investigations that result in prosecutions? Clearly, personnel within the FL DOC have conspired to cover up the killing of inmates by correctional officers. Not to mention unlawful beatings and punitive use of chemical agents (gassings). How deep into the hierarchies of the DOC will investigations be conducted to hold those accountable who have protected guards and covered up their crimes? Who will investigate? Perhaps BOC.
  3. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. I don’t trust the OIG, the FDLE, or the FL DOC to conduct impartial investigations. The only investigators, so far, that can be trusted are the four whistleblowers who uncovered the truth about Randall Jordan-Aparo. I suggest a meeting with inspectors Aubrey Land, David Clark, Doug Glisson and John Ulm to get their insights into the inner workings of the DOC and OIG. For details into their investigation of Jordan-Aparo, please read below: After Florida inmate’s lethal gassing, claims of cover-up and Inmate’s gassing death detailed in Florida DOC whistle-blower complaint.
  4. With regard to sexual abuse and rape investigations, will rape kits be made available along with the timely testing of them? In the civilian world, women are made to wait months and even years in some cases due to the lack of funding to test rape kits. In fact, women who have been raped ended up paying for the testing themselves.
  5. A toll-free anonymous hotline, unmonitored by DOC personnel, to report sexual abuse, harassment, staff neglect, beatings, and a whole host of unlawful conduct could be accessible through inmates’ payphones. Guards would be required to stay out of earshot.
  6. Mental health treatment: Requiring officers to have Crisis Intervention Training to work with the mentally ill is a great first step. Prohibiting those with two or more use of force notations from working in a psych setting compliments the CIT. It makes sense to include psychological testing for these specific guards as well. My overall concern is how the mentally ill are tracked and provided for starting in our county jails. One solution is to collaborate with jails to identify and begin treatment at the county level. Continuity must be carried over to prison. Once incarcerated in state prisons, the chronically mentally ill must be separated from the general population. A stand alone reception center for them would seem a logical first step.  By the way, how long would an officer have to be free of use of force notations to work in a psychiatric setting? A year might by appropriate depending on the severity of the use of force in a CO’s file.
  7. Treatment of the mentally ill: There should be a provision in 7020 prohibiting the placement of the mentally ill in solitary confinement. A growing number of studies are finding long-term negative affects for relatively healthy inmates. For the mentally ill, the aftereffects of solitary can be catastrophic and permanent. In addition, treating the mentally ill who are locked down for 23 hours a day would be problematic.  http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/05/solitary.aspx
  8. Regarding the grievance process review: How will grievances be collected, analyzed, and acted upon? Historically, DOC personnel and guards have minimized, discounted, and destroyed grievances. Aggrieved inmates were taunted and retaliated against. Inmates are the eyes and ears about what happens inside FL prisons. Their formal and informal grievances must be taken seriously. In my experience, inmates in my unit accurately reported the abuse of men in cells adjacent to them. The inmate Harold Hempstead filed 90 grievances regarding the scalding death of Darren Rainey. They were ignored or no action taken. It wasn’t until the Miami Herald reported the brutal killing that anything was done. The DOC cannot be trusted. I suggest Bradley’s Oversight Committee take over the grievance process until such time the DOC is rid of abusers and the personnel who support them. A similar function the BOC could assume is the handling of legal mail. I received a letter this week from an inmate who suggested his legal mail was unsealed at his prison. Two pages were missing in a court filing.
  9. Regarding use of force investigations: Most, if not all, of the use of force incidents in my unit were written up in a way to justify guards’ unlawful behavior. The system as it stands now is riddled with loopholes whereby creative guards can cover up their crimes in writing. Again, I do not trust the DOC or the OIG to investigate use of force incidents in any meaningful way. Again, perhaps Bradley’s Oversight Committee could be tasked with this as well.
  10. With regard to private health providers: The penalties for withholding medical treatment are substantial and will hopefully compel nurses and doctors to treat inmates humanely in the future. However, concerning past maltreatment, how far up the hierarchies of Corizon and Wexford will investigations proceed to hold accountable those who conceived profit driven strategies that end up in de facto torture of inmates with painful, severe medical issues. Throwing a few doctors and nurses to the wolves will not solve the problem. Despite assurances from Corizon and Wexford they offer the finest medical care for inmates, the opposite is true. Many in my unit filed numerous sick calls that were not addressed in a timely manner or at all. One man on my caseload suspected he had an abdominal tumor – his solution – swallow batteries and razor blades so an operation had to be done. Surgeons found the tumor, by the way. Please read the Palm Beach Post articles regarding the horrors and pain inflicted on inmates.
  11. Currently, private providers of medical and mental health services to Florida prisons have no training for employees to recognize and report inmate abuse. Future contracts must have provisions included to address this glaring omission – with updates made immediately to current contracts if possible. In a sense, private employees are the checks and balances in the area of inmate abuse. For years, I overlooked many abuses under the rationale that prison was a bad place to be and bad things happened. The problem was that I didn’t know what constituted abuse – both Corizon and the DOC had no trainings. Aside from the obvious beating, torture, and killing of inmates, I was in the dark.
  12. With regard to cameras: Having all blind spots covered and overlapped by multiple cameras is a good start. However, depending on the DOC to monitor, maintain, and preserve footage would be problematic. In my unit, Darren Rainey was shown being put in the shower and then the video tape or CD mysteriously malfunctioned. There was no mystery there – guards or DOC personnel sabotaged surveillance footage. While DOC personnel may monitor cameras in their respective prisons, I would suggest an offsite (Bradley’s Oversight Committee) facility independent of the DOC and IG’s office to simultaneously monitor and store footage from all prisons in Florida. There should be maintenance teams in all three regions ready to repair cameras on a moments notice to prohibit guards from taking inmates to temporary blind spots for abuse.

 

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About Susan Chandler

Now-disabled interior/exterior designer dragged into battling conviction corruption from its periphery in a third personal battle with civil public corruption.
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4 Responses to George Mallinckrodt seeking swift, sane FL DoC/OIG reform re #ScaldedToDeath

  1. helpmybrotherharoldhempstead says:

    I am Harold Hempsteads sister and I wanted to say thankyou from the bottom of my heart for writing this article not only does it help to keep my brother safe but it spreads the word about what is actually going on within the Fl. D.O.C. Darren Rainey and all of the other victims deserves justice!

    • I’m humbled by Harold’s bravery and persistence, I’m definitely a fan! The public would be surprised to know how often inmates protect other inmates … one recent, tense situation that I know of was just resolved by inmates stepping up when corrections officers refused to. My best to your both.

      • helpmybrotherharoldhempstead says:

        Apparently I created a blog now I have to create an actual website.TThanks for all the advise

  2. It’s me that owes you thanks … I learned a lot tonight! Please keep the free WordPress blog and do a website separately if you think you need one. If you switch to a WordPress website only, no one will be able to “reblog” your posts, and I doubt you’ll be able to reblog mine or any of our other friends that on WordPress. Thanks again for all your help.

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