Scandals Rock Denver Sheriff’s Department

By Christopher Zoukis In a department that is riddled with scandals, so many that Sheriff Gary Wilson resigned on Monday, July 21, Denver Sheriff’s Department Division Chief Elias Diggins was appointed in his place on a temporary basis. Adding to Denver’s woes, it was later revealed that Diggins has a criminal record. There have been

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Prisoners bearing the brunt of institutional incompetence over escapes

The escapes and ultimate death and capture of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat, respectively, were supposed to have prompted a clean-up in the Clinton Correctional Facility. There were suspensions, leaves, and retirements aplenty as myriad failures in prison protocol were revealed. The FBI also launched an investigation into the facility’s operations over accusations of

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Abuse by Oregon Jail Guard Nets Probation; Defense Attorney Blames Victim

A former Oregon jail guard was sentenced to probation for sexually abusing a female prisoner after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge; his defense attorney blamed the incarcerated victim while the prosecutor defended the light sentence. The guard, Eddie James Miller, 60, was later accused of sexually harassing a co-worker. As previously reported in PLN,

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Videos Show Brutal Treatment of Prisoners with Mental Illness

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Recently, a video was released that reveals relentless brutality in the Denver City jail by correctional officers. The inmate, Mr. Moreno, is mentally-ill, suicidal, and the victim of extreme violence that is unnecessary.

Correctional officers attempt to control Moreno by forcing him to strip down to nothing and placing him in a suicidal garment appropriately named a “turtle suit” that is too small for Moreno. The sardonic purpose of the suit is to protect Moreno from self-harm. Moreno has been evicted of any self-pride or dignity he might have left. He is powerless.     

The 45-minute footage — obtained September of 2013 by The Colorado Independent through an open records request — depicts Moreno sitting on a cold cement bench that doubles as a bed inside an isolation cell not much bigger than a dog kennel. Moreno’s 45-minutes of hell on tape begin with him bewilderedly looking around the cell. Immobilized and stifled from the combination of constricted attire and cramped quarters, Moreno fidgets with his “turtle suit” and mimics a caged animal by pacing back in forth and shifting his body from side to side. His only means for expressing his pent up anger and frustration is to bang his head against the cement cinder-block wall.  

Eight officers assemble outside the cell with a restraint-chair that is supposedly designed to stop Moreno from harming himself. Not knowing what else to do, Moreno resumes hitting his head on the cell wall. After several minutes a correctional officer asks Moreno to stop pounding his head against the wall Moreno’s only possible response to the emotional horror he is going through.  Moreno lets the officer know he doesn’t care about anything and resorts to yelling obscenities.

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Alabama Sheriff Made Party on Counterclaim Alleging Prisoners Subjected to Sexual Abuse

By Prison Legal News

The Alabama Supreme Court has held that a third party to a lawsuit may be made a party when a counterclaim is filed. The Court also held a sheriff named as a defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity on a federal claim in her individual capacity, but was entitled to immunity on a federal official capacity claim and state law claims.

The case involved a lawsuit filed by Scott Cotney, an administrator at the Clay County Jail, against former jail guard Phillip E. Green and prisoners Anthony Haywood and Daniel Hall, alleging defamation, slander, libel, invasion of privacy, negligence and wantonness. The claims resulted from a report filed by Green, Haywood and Hall with the Alabama Department of Corrections, claiming that Cotney had used his position to sexually abuse or assault Haywood and Hall while they were held at the jail.

Haywood and Hall filed a counterclaim against Cotney for violations of their Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. They also filed counterclaims against the Clay County Commission and Sheriff Dorothy “Jean Dot” Alexander, in her official and individual capacities. They alleged Alexander “had knowledge of [Cotney’s] unlawful acts … and permitted the abuse to occur,” and made the same claims against her as those against Cotney in addition to a claim of negligent supervision.

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Two Consecutive Life Sentences Upheld Against Former Sheriff

By Christopher Zoukis

In September 2010, following an eight-day jury trial, former Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin was convicted of 15 criminal counts concerning the distribution of marijuana, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and attempting to have two witnesses killed.  In January 2011, he was sentenced to two life sentences, plus 10 years to be served consecutively in federal prison.

Mr. Martin appealed the sentences to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the sentence was unreasonable.  In August 2012, the court affirmed the convictions, but vacated the sentences due to a sentencing guidelines calculation error.  The case was remanded back to the district court for resentencing.

While awaiting resentencing, Mr. Martin allegedly was caught in possession of, and attempting to smuggle, prescription medications into the Williamson County Jail, where he was being held pending his resentencing.  Evidently, his crime spree was not yet complete.

With the new information at hand concerning the attempted smuggling and possession of prescription medications, a new sentence was imposed in conjunction with the remand from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Mr. Martin was again sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, plus an additional consecutive term of 10 years in prison.  He was further ordered to forfeit $76,090 and his residence.

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