Prison Conditions

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Allegheny County Jail officials decided not to tell family members about inmate's assault

August 3, 2017 | Shelley Bradbury | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After 20-year-old Keyshawn Givens was beaten so severely in the Allegheny County Jail that he was sent to a hospital on July 25, jail officials decided not to tell his family about the incident.

No one from the jail alerted the inmate’s listed emergency contact, jail Deputy John Williams said in a statement this week, because officials determined the injuries were not serious or life-threatening, and because of security concerns.

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Federal penitentiary inmates down by 500

February 4, 2017 | Marcia Moore | The Daily Item

Due to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons' plans to limit the time inmates can spend in the SMU program, the Lewisburg Penitentiary now houses about 500 fewer inmates. Dave Sprout, a paralegal with the Lewisburg Prison Project, believes that this change will lower the number of violent incidents that take place due to the amount of cell space this change frees up. 

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Prison Project points to abuse at USP

December 1, 2016 | Matt Farrand | Standard-Journal

Allegations of abuse at USP Lewisburg are still a common occurrence since the new security protocols were instilled in 2009.  The prison uses hard restraints that cut off the inmates' circulation as well as other unnecessary punishments.  David Sprout, a paralegal and member of the Lewisburg Prison Project, believes that some of the actions of the penitentiary can be seen as torture.

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NPR report thrusts Lewisburg Penitentiary into national conversation on prison reform

November 1, 2016 | Marcia Moore | The Daily Item

A joint National Public Radio and Marshall Project report on alleged abuse of inmates inside the U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg is prompting members of an interfaith organization against torture to call on the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to investigate.

“We are gravely concerned about this,” said the Rev. Laura Markle Downton, director of U.S. prisons policy and program at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

The NPR/Marshall Project report, “Inside Lewisburg Prison: A choice between a violent cellmate or shackles” includes claims The Daily Item has written about for years regarding inmate allegations of mistreatment at the federal prison since it was converted in 2009 into a Special Management Unit (SMU).

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