A Troubled Federal Prison Unit Gets New Life In A Different State

August 21, 2018 | Victoria Law | The Appeal

Instead of changing its conditions and practices, The Bureau of Prisons is simply moving a problem-plagued federal prison unit in Pennsylvania to Illinois.

On Feb. 3, 2011, staff at Pennsylvania federal prison USP Lewisburg’s Special Management Unit told Sebastian Richardson to “cuff up” and accept a new cellmate. Richardson was terrified; the man with whom he was about to share the cell, known as “The Prophet,” had attacked over 20 cellmates. The Prophet had just been released from hard restraints, a combination of metal handcuffs, ankle shackles, and a chain that encircled his chest. He was also, according to Richardson, ”rocking back and forth in agitation as he waited outside” the cell door.

Read more → 

Migrant Women Who Were Sexually Assaulted in ICE Detention Are Telling Their Stories

July 17, 2018 | Prachi Gupta | Jezebel

In 2014, after fleeing from a partner who raped and beat her in Honduras, a woman identified as “E.D.” was sent with her toddler to a family detention center in Pennsylvania where she was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a guard

“I didn’t know how to refuse because he told me that I was going to be deported,” she told the New York Times. “I was at a jail and he was a migration officer. It’s like they order you to do something and you have to do it.”

The officer, Daniel Sharkey, later pled guilty to institutional sexual assault. What’s rare about E.D.’s story is not, unfortunately, that an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Officer abused a woman in detention. It’s rare that he was prosecuted for it.

Read more → 

Sexual Assault Inside ICE Detention: 2 Survivors Tell Their Stories

July 17, 2018 | Emily Kassie | The New York Times

It was an early morning in May when Maria was released from the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center in Texas. She had been granted bond and was permitted to stay with her brother in Washington D.C. while her asylum case was pending.

After gathering her belongings, she was escorted to a loading area fenced with razor wire and placed into a cage inside a van. The driver was a male guard named Donald Dunn. Shortly after leaving Hutto, Dunn pulled off the road.

“He grabbed my breasts … He put his hands in my pants and he touched my private parts,” she said. “He touched me again inside the van, and my hands were tied. And he started masturbating.”

Read more →

Athletes Use Unique Position to Call for Criminal Justice Reform

June 22, 2018 | Angus Love | The Legal Intelligencer

An ancient Chinese philosopher once opined that he wished to live in interesting times, and we certainly have that opportunity. One would think a mature society would look to elder statesmen and women, the professional class, esteemed academicians and leaders of the business community for guidance and wisdom in serious matters impacting our society. Due to a moral vacuum of our leadership, it has been left to athletes to speak up about social unrest. Unfortunately we seem to be an entertainment-driven culture, with a reality television star with a dubious business background (five bankruptcies and numerous litigation failures) to be our leader.

Our 45th president, Donald J. Trump, has created such a moral vacuum. While he brags about molesting young women, paying off porn stars and Playboy Bunnies, fathers five children with three different wives, and is a compulsive liar; he seems to lack a true moral compass. Despair seems rampant as suicides are up 25 percent in recent years and opioid deaths were up 21 percent last year. Thus it is left to those in the entertainment sector to respond to the vacuum. Oddly enough athletes have stepped up to challenge—especially those concerning the criminal justice system. In the area of criminal justice, Trump’s own problems aside; he urges police to rough up suspects, brands immigrants as criminals as his Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls for a return to the failed drug war, marijuana prohibition and harsher prison sentences. All of these measures fall most heavily on people of color and the poor.

Read more →

Philly prison guard gets jail time for assaulting inmate

June 14, 2018 | Samantha Melamed | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Because of the hazards they face from inmates, it’s exceedingly rare for prison guards to be sentenced to time behind bars.

But on Thursday, Common Pleas Court Judge Anne Marie Coyle made an exception for Milton Gibbs, a former Philadelphia correctional officer who a jury found dragged, punched, and kicked inmate Brandon Kulb, knocking him unconscious, and then falsified a report on the June 2016 incident.

The judge sentenced Gibbs to a jail term between 45 days and 23 months, plus four years’ probation, and required he attend anger-management counseling and provide community service. The sentence was to be served on at least 15 consecutive weekends. At Gibbs’ request, the judge allowed him to serve his time in the Bucks County Correctional Facility.

Read more →

Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary 'worst inmates' to transfer out later this year

June 11, 2018 | John Beauge | PennLive

LEWISBURG - The mission of the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary is about to change after nearly a decade of housing the worst of the worst inmates who have created problems in other prisons.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has announced it is transferring the special management unit from Lewisburg to a high-security prison in Thomson, Ill. The first transfers are expected to take place late this year.

Special management inmates are locked in their cells 23 hours a day, eat their meals there and are escorted to recreation pens.

Read more →

As Graterford inmates move to new prison, prospect of sharing cells worries some

May 21, 2018 | Aaron Moselle | WHYY Public Media

SCI Phoenix – the biggest and most expensive state prison in Pennsylvania – is slated to open in Montgomery County next month about a mile from the aged facility it’s replacing.

The $400 million facility, originally scheduled to open in 2015, is considered a major upgrade from Graterford Prison, the Depression-era jail.

But former inmates and advocates continue to be concerned the short move could lead to an uptick in violence if inmates with their own cells at Graterford suddenly have to share at Phoenix — and can’t adjust.

Read more →