Arrangements for burial are in the process of being made at Elmwood Cemetery located at;
824 S. Dudley Street
Memphis, Tennessee 38104
So far, costs are at approximately $ 5,795.00, which includes;
$ 2,995.00 Cemetery Costs; $ 1,200.00 Open/Close, $ 1,500.00 Preparation Fees.
Further information will be made available as it is planned.
Please help our “Freedom Fighter” to be laid to rest in a most appropriate place!
Additionally, Ms. Linda Harrah will need help with legal fee’s, etc.,
Any small amount is most appreciated!
On Sunday, November 3rd, at approximately 7 a.m., TKP Thorne Peters was found deceased in his single person cell, where he had spent 22 hours a day, in “protective custody”, since being committed to the Penal Farm in Memphis Tennessee in 2018.
The Detectives came to Linda Harrah’s home at approximately 2 p.m. and notified her of the situation. I can’t even imagine what she must have felt when she heard those words, (of Thorne’s death) from them. God Bless her.
He was 57 years old and while in prison had been writing a new book which he was going to publish upon his release from prison. “Paper is hard to come by here”, he said to me in a letter.
He always called me “Amore”, which at first I didn’t know what that meant, until I looked it up and found; Amore is the Italian word for “love”. I will always hold that close to my heart. He had written me several letters from prison, and they did not tell of any pleasantry at all.
The following is the last letter that I received from him, just a few days before his death. Because of the circumstances I feel compelled to share it with everyone, especially his followers.
I have been crashed out hard over my latest victory. I make the entire Courthouse shut down, and when the out of town Judge rules that ALL my evidence was on point and ALL 30 of the suspects were connected and therefore would have to take the Stand, they tunneled out of the Court to evade justice yet again. 11 years and the clock is ticking against me.
I had allowed myself a vision that when this trial began on December 9, 2019 and I lined up The Ministerz of Injustice for the big reveal that the evidence of their CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY of PUBLIC CORRUPTION would be so overwhelming in the glare of the WHITE HOT MEDIA SPOTLIGHT that would be forced to cover the story of the highest elected and appointed officials of law enforcement, politics, and the Judiciary taking the Stand to face dead bang, fatal blow evidence that my plight would reach the SAG and onto the Governor who would be forced to get involved and take a stand, and I could be pardoned by XMas.
Now the reality of my situation crashes in upon my head. I am buried under this jail. Instead of detonating a weapon of mass destruction in Court, I am reduced to taking pot shots with my blunderbust from deep within the bowels of the belly of the beast.
I have to remain focused and dedicated. I cannot be disheartened. These victories are not pyrrhic. I’m not playing Chess. This is Chinese GO.
I have to keep accumulating ground. This battle brought me more ammunition to continue. As it was in the Revolutionary War, we won very few battles. The victory was keeping the Troops moving and maneuvering. I had them in my sights. I have to regroup and flank them again.
I am reduced to a HUNGER STRIKE to demand the Authorities investigate this case. The hilarity is that DA AMY (WEIRICH) has to sign off on a case of PUBLIC CORRUPTION in order for TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation), to proceed. ROUND ROBIN.
Had I been brought back to Court to hear the ADA concede, I would have smacked him across his dickhead as I walked out and declared EXTREME EMOTIONAL DISTRESS as a defense. The CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY would be back on point and the DIRTY 30 would be called to the Stand.
So, I deal POT at the Courthouse and they won’t charge me with a FELONY to take to SCOTUS. They ignore that and charge me with MISDEMEANOR POSSESSION OF POT as part of a felony FTA (Failure to appear), that they prosecute across the Courthouse for 18 months, and 7 Courts, until all 10 ditch, (Judges recuse themselves from the Case),
I kicked their asses! I am left here to celebrate alone in my mausoleum with a plate of gruel served on a soapy tray. At least I can use that as an excuse.
I’m NOT crying – my eyes are running from the soapy tray.
October 28, 2019 will mark the longest I’ve ever done, (in prison). January 20, 2020 will be half-way-home-day. I can’t comprehend this time frame. So I put my heart into doing ONE MORE DAY – an hour for every minute…
These words of TKP Thorne Peters will be the last I will ever read or hear from him. It is sad. It is sad that a State (or a Country) can be so corrupt as to let someone die under such horrid conditions in a single cage without any sympathy or concern for them what-so-ever. Unfortunately Thorne is not the first person this has happened to and will not be the last. This is what we have become. A Country that cares not for it’s Citizens, but only for their power and greed and punitive rights. Rights? Yeah, their rights! Not ours.
We will never know how this Case would have ended, or if the corruption would have been exposed. We only know how it did end, with a great person, and Activist dying in the Shelby County Correctional System – The Penal Farm.
The Book which he was writing will eventually be published and much more information about his days in HELL will be exposed. We may never find out the truth about HOW he ended up dying, alone, in that CAGE, in one night’s time.
Of course an autopsy will be performed – probably already has been, but will we ever really know the truth? Most likely not. It really doesn’t matter what they tell us such as “no foul play is suspected”, because there isn’t a chance in HELL that they will incriminate themselves in this matter.
Thorne was a self proclaimed Atheist, however when I wrote him letters I would always tell him God Bless You. I believe God has/will bless him as he was martyred for his beliefs that humans should be free and have unalienable rights. Everything he did was done to help humanity.
Oddly enough, in another letter from Thorne recently he stated;
I have been in this cell for a year. I have another 26 months to go…so far. If I am convicted at my next trial I will receive 36 more months. I will be in this cell for the duration. The aspect of such a trial and tribulation may drive me to find God…at least until I get outta here!
We had disagreements on how he presented himself to others, such as when he downed people for medical marijuana activism – But in fact he was NOT downing them at all – Just trying to get their attention as to what they were doing – giving their own unalienable rights away to legislation which was, is, and will continue to be the downfall of all Humanity – If we do not stop it.
We are all fighting in the same War! We are all fighting for everyone, not just a few! All humanity deserves the same unalienable rights! We may have differing opinions on how to do this – but we all want the same outcome – FREEDOM!
On November 4th, one day after the fact, the Commercial Appeal published the story of his death;
In their article they wrote the following;
This year the appeals court affirmed his four-year sentence, citing among other things the following Facebook post in which Peters threatened to shoot people who came to take his drugs:
“I was just sitting around hoping some sorry want to be wigger, (expletive) was going to stop by with his partner to rob me of all this weed and money, I’m holding, so I can take target practice on their sorry asses. If you know anybody that wants to try me, let them know, I will be up all night, armed and dangerous.”
I was not there when this was said (written) so I have no way of knowing the actual thoughts behind it at the time, but I would never believe for a minute that he would in fact do such a thing. I am from Kentucky, and many times we have, in general conversation, made similar remarks amongst ourselves, just in jest – but we would never actually do such a thing and I believe it was in extremely bad taste to even print such a quote.
I also do not believe that he had a gun at his disposal – in his home!
Thorne was living what he believed in and did it to the best of his ability – and he was crucified for it. He never hurt anyone.
He believed in Our freedom, and he fought for it until the end.
In closing, I leave you with this,
God Bless Thorne Peters!
Lord, please Bless Ms. Linda Harrah during this most difficult time.
It is a sad day and with a heavy heart I recognize that my Friend in deed Thorne Peters has passed away while being a political prisoner in Tennessee. Thorne fought for everyone’s freedom not only his own. There is no freedom unless everyone is free. The cornerstone of freedom of his Teaching is “No Men’s Rea”….
No Men’s Rea Which is short for the Latin Phrase “Actus Reus No Facit Reum Nisi Men’s Sit Rea”.This translates to English to ” For the act to be guilty, the mind must be guilty., And for the mind to be guilty the act must be criminal with intent to do harm to a person, property or puppy” . In short, no guilty mind, no crime , no time.
We are free to do what we want as long as we don’t hurt anyone. Thorne Peters taught of No Men’s Rea, how legislation enslaves us, Freedom ends where legislation begins and if we go free they go broke, touched many.
Thorne was standing up against to Shelby County law enforcement and judges and the Ministers of Injustice that conspired to deny Thorne his Justice, due process and conspired to frame him for something he didn’t do. Thorne was fighting the system from the inside by using his malicious prosecution and making those whom conspired against him accountable by putting them on trial.
Shelby County did their best to silence him. Thornes teaching will never be silenced. For those not familiar and blessed to know Thorne you can go to ThornePeters.com .There you will see his videos, his music and poetry he wrote. . For those who know Thorne please consider going to ThornePeters.com and clicking on the Freedom Fund. Their is still a lot of work to do for freedom, extra costs, dogs to feed and we need to help Linda Harrah to keep those home fires burning.
Thorne just finished writing a book and I believe the title is Fully Free from Jail. I hope it gets published soon as those were his last words to us. .
I want to share a fond memory many of us have of Thorne. Thorne was prosecuted a convicted in a kangaroo court for a crime he didn’t commit. On the day he was to go to court for sentencing Thorne had a surprise. Thorne set up a table and opened up Tennessees first pot dispensary on the court house steps. We thought he would be arrested and charged immediately. Instead, Law enforcement was hiding. News cameras were their. Thorne sold pot on the court house steps without being arrested for about 2 hours. Thorne was never, charged or convicted of it. Proving No Men’s Rea works.
There is a video at ThornePeters.com . As a disciple of Thorne I vow to put forth his Teaching and continue the best I can by his example. The Bible says their is no greater love then a man lay down his life for a friend. Thorne did that for his friends in deed.We were all his “friends in deed”. I can still hear Thorne when he would say ” May you look inward, outward and upward to find Peace Love and Stars”.
I love you my Brother. Your brother and friend in deed!
Edwin Marshall Davidson
DO NOT FORGET TO VISIT THORNEPETERS.COM AND VIEW ALL THE INFORMATION ON THE CORRUPTION. DONATIONS WILL BE MUCH APPRECIATED AS WELL. ARRANGEMENTS HAVE YET TO BE MADE.
By Carl Takei, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality
At the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, where Mississippi sends some of the most seriously mentally ill people in the state prison system, even the most troubled patients are routinely ignored and the worst cases of self-harm are treated with certain neglect. The conditions at EMCF have cost some prisoners their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives.
In 2013, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and prisoner rights attorney Elizabeth Alexander filed a class-action complaint on behalf of all the prisoners held at EMCF. As the case heated up, the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP joined as co-counsel, providing major staffing and support. Despite years of attempts by Mississippi to derail the lawsuit before our clients even saw the inside of the courtroom, the case will finally proceed to trial Monday.
The lawsuit against EMCF describes horrific conditions at the facility: rampant violence, including by staff against prisoners; solitary confinement used to excess, with particular harm to prisoners with mental illnesses; and filthy cells and showers that lack functional toilets or lights. It also sheds light on a dysfunctional medical and mental healthcare delivery system that puts patients at risk of serious injury and has contributed to deaths in custody.
Nowhere was this institutionalized neglect more clear than in the life, and death, of T.H., a patient at EMCF with a history of severe mental illness and self-harm. On Jan. 31, 2016, T.H. stuck glass into his arm. Instead of sending him to the emergency room, a nurse merely cleaned the wound with soap and water. The following day, he broke a light bulb and inserted the shards into his arm. This time he required eight stitches.
Less than two weeks later, he cut himself with a blade hidden in his cell and then tried to hang himself. It was only later that month, after he reopened his arm wound with more glass, that mental health staff finally placed him on special psychiatric observation status.
Yet, because he wasn’t properly monitored, T.H.’s series of self-injury continued unabated until April 4, 2016. Early that afternoon, he stuck his arm, dripping in blood, through a slot in his cell door and asked to see the warden. A lieutenant saw T.H.’s bloodied arm, but, rather than call for emergency assistance, simply left the area. Two hours later, T.H. was observed unresponsive on the floor of his cell.
In response, the prison warden opted to call for a K-9 team to enter the cell with dogs before letting medical professionals examine the patient. By then it was too late — T.H. was dead, having strangled himself with materials from inside his cell. He never once had a proper suicide risk assessment or any treatment to address his self-harm.
The lackadaisical and unconstitutional approach that EMCF staff takes toward prisoner healthcare cost T.H. his life and has caused well-documented suffering among countless other mentally ill prisoners. And it all happens in the context of a prison rife with violence, where security staff often react with excessive force to mental health crises and allow prison gangs to control access to necessities of life, including at times food.
The Constitution requires that if the state takes someone into custody, it must also take on the responsibility of providing treatment for their serious medical and mental health needs. This means, among other measures, hiring qualified medical staff to provide necessary care for people with mental health disorders, creating systems for access to care so sick patients can see a mental health or medical clinician, and making sure that medical care is provided without security staff impeding it.
The ACLU and our co-counsel are fighting to ensure that such care is available at EMCF, where the state of Mississippi has continued to lock some of the most vulnerable prisoners in dangerous and filthy conditions and deny them access to constitutionally required mental health and medical care.
I witnessed those conditions firsthand when I visited EMCF in January 2011 with fellow ACLU attorney Gabriel Eber and two medical and mental health experts. At that time, we were horrified to discover that Mississippi’s designated mental health prison was closer to a vision of hell on earth than a therapeutic treatment facility.
When I walked into one of the solitary confinement units, the entire place reeked of smoke from recent fires. I tried to speak to patients about their experiences, but I could barely hear them over the sounds of others moaning and screaming while they slammed their hands into metal cell doors.
Despite repeated warnings from nationally renowned experts brought in to assess conditions at the prisons, a meeting with top Mississippi Department of Corrections officials, and an offer by the ACLU to help MDOC pay to diagnose and fix the problems at EMCF, Mississippi officials permitted these conditions to continue unabated. Rather than take responsibility for fixing this prison, these officials merely switched contractors. In 2012, they swapped out private prison giant GEO Group, Inc. and replaced them with another private prison company, Management & Training Corp., which is perhaps best known for its horrific record of abusing and neglecting immigrant detainees. The state has also switched prison medical contractors multiple times, with little improvement from one to the next.
But the nightmare might soon be over. Over seven years since we first visited the cesspool that is EMCF, our clients will be allowed in court for the first time, asking that their constitutional rights finally be recognized. That recognition won’t undo the great harms they’ve suffered. But by fulfilling the Constitution’s promise of protection, we can stop new harms and horrors at EMCF, of which there have been too many for too long.
GRANT CLEMENCY TO OUR SON EDWIN RUBIS – 40 YEARS FOR MARIJUANA IS NOT JUSTICE
Our son, Edwin Rubis, is serving a federal sentence of 40 years for a non-violent marijuana offense. [www.marijuanaliferproject.org/federal-prisoner-edwin-rubis-is-serving-life-for-marijuana/
At age 29, our son, while battling drug addiction, associated himself with drug couriers, and was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. After his arrest, his court-appointed attorney advised him, along with us, that he needed to provide information on others in the drug trade. Edwin could not provide such information. Therefore, he was quickly deemed “uncooperative”, and the judge gave him a harsh sentence – 40 years.
Edwin has been away from us for the last 19 years.
During the course of time, we have adamantly petitioned, and at times cried, for his early release, at every level of the court system. Sadly to say, we continue to struggle, missing him, with no positive resolution to obtain his freedom. Edwin’s children need him. We need him. Our son is not a terrorist, a rapist, a gang member, nor a violent individual to continually be kept in prison for decades for distributing marijuana. While imprisoned, Edwin has taken diligent steps to better himself. He has achieved numerous rehabilitation programs from the psychology and religious departments. He has graduated from college with a degree in Religious Education; and he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling and Therapist Certification. In addition, he serves as a mentor to others, under the supervision of the head chaplain. He is also working as a G.E.D. and E.S.L. tutor in the education department, at his present institution of confinement, helping others further their education. In addition, Edwin also finished a 2 year dental apprenticeship from The Department of Labor, and worked as a dental assistant for the last 7 years in the medical department.
We love our son, [uncle, father, and brother]. We wish for him to receive another chance at life. But our dream for him to be reunited with us, can not be accomplished without your full support.
Please help us obtain our son’s freedom by signing this petition urging President Donald Trump to grant our son clemency or a pardon.
Edwin is a changed man. He has been fully rehabilitated and deserves a second chance at life.
Sincerely, Maria Roque – and – Family.
Bob Riley, 62, gentle Deadhead serving a life sentence for LSD – The Clemency Report
Bob Riley, a kind soul who "treads lightly in this world," is in the 22nd year of a federal life without parole LSD sentence. The details of his unjust sentence are summarized in this New York Times article. This story is about Bob, the human being.
By Sanjay Talwani – MTN News
The widow of a former medical marijuana provider who died while serving time is suing the operator of Montana’s only private prison.
A federal lawsuit says Corrections Corporations of America failed to give the inmate (Flor) needed medical care while at its Crossroads Correctional Center outside Shelby.
Flor died in August 2012 in a Las Vegas hospital on the way to a federal prison medical facility.
Before that, according to the lawsuit, he endured extreme pain while he awaited an assignment to a federal facility.
His lawyer, Brad Arndorfer, had tried to have him released from prison pending his appeal because of health reasons. And in prison, the lawsuit says, Flor and his family made multiple requests for medical care but did not receive any.
Flor was unable to adequately care for himself or feed himself, and his care was left to other inmates, the lawsuit claims.
Flor was 68 and a co-founder of Montana Cannabis, one of the state’s largest medical marijuana providers. It was shut down in 2011 by federal authorities along with similar operations around the state.
An inquiry to the attorney representing CCA in the case was returned with an email from a CCA spokesman.
Steven Owen, CCA’s managing director of communications, said in the email that CCA could not comment in a particular inmate’s case. But he said staff are firmly committed to the inmates’ health and safety.
He also said CCA meets or exceeds all of the standards of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Montana Department of Corrections, and the American Correctional Association.
"The facility and staff are subject to strong oversight by on-site monitors who regularly inspect and audit our processes for delivering care," he said in the email.
The suit was first filed on May 6 in state District Court in Yellowstone County. It has moved to U.S. District Court in Billings and was re-filed there Monday. CCA, based in Tennessee, has not yet filed a response.
Arndorfer filed the suit on behalf of Flor’s widow, Sherry Flor, and did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.
The Associated Press
Published Monday, June 8, 2015 7:36PM EDT
NEW YORK — New York’s mayor on Monday lamented the suicide of a young man who spent three years as a teenager jailed without a trial for a crime he always denied committing.
Kalief Browder, who was 22 when he hanged himself at his mother’s Bronx home on Saturday, had been arrested as a 16-year-old in 2010 on suspicion of stealing a backpack.
He subsequently spent hundreds of days at the troubled Rikers Island jail facility, where he was kept in solitary confinement and was beaten by other inmates and guards, according to his lawyer. He was released in 2013 and was never tried.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Browder’s story, first detailed last year by The New Yorker magazine, helped inspire his efforts to reform Rikers and the city’s criminal justice system.
"There is no reason he should have gone through this ordeal, and his tragic death is a reminder that we must continue to work each day to provide the mental health services so many New Yorkers need," de Blasio, a Democrat serving his first term as mayor, said in a statement.
Attorney Paul V. Prestia said on The Huffington Post’s livestreaming website, HuffPost Live, on Monday that Browder’s family is deeply saddened by his death.
"It’s shocking. I’m running out of adjectives. And it’s disheartening to be here today," he said. "The extent of the injustice here, it’s a travesty of injustice."
Prison privatization in its current form began in 1984 as a result of the War on Drugs. While crime rates otherwise remained steady dating back to 1925, the number of arrests quickly exploded. While the War on Drugs initially had a small impact on incarceration, it was President Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that kick started the prison boom.
CCA houses over 80,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities across the US.
From 1970 to 2005, the prison population rose 700 percent, while violent crime remained steady or declined. Between 1990 and 2009, the populations of private prisons shot up 1,600 percent. Today, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world – 754 inmates per 100k residents as of 2008. This is roughly 600% that of the rest of the civilized world, with England and Wales having 148, and Australia 126 inmates per 100k residents. As of 2010, private corporations house over 99,000 inmates in 260 facilities nationwide.
Corrections Corp. of America and other private contractors became members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit 501(c)(3) association that advocates “tough on crime” legislation. In their 2010 report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corp. of America discussed how drug policy reform threatens their business model:
The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.
To ensure those pieces of legislation aren’t passed, Corrections Corp. of America spent $970,000 and GEO Group spent $660,000 lobbying Congress in 2010 alone. In Corrections Corp. of America’s Feb 2011 press release, CEO Damon Hininger stated, “…we are pleased our populations have remained strong, in excess of the 80,000 inmate milestone we surpassed late in 2010.” With the 3.2% increase in inmate population over the previous year, Corrections Corp. of America was able to make $511.26M profit, earning their CEO over $3,000,000 in compensation.
Private prison proponents claim that private corporations are able to provide the same service more efficiently than the government. However, according to the Department of Justice’s “Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons” report, private prisons offer at best a 1% cost savings over their government operated counterparts, while at the same time having 49% more assaults on staff and 65% more assaults on other inmates.
Phoning in Profit
Corporations owning correctional facilities is not the only way that prisons and the War on Drugs have been used as a source of income. For instance, even in government-ran facilities, inmates and their families are regularly subject to price gouging by phone carriers. While the average cost of a phone call in the United States is 3 cents per minute, inmates and their families end up paying between 16 cents and $5.00 per minute. The profits are then split between the carrier and the government body who awarded the contract. In fact, it is not uncommon for the government body to receive a signing bonus from the carrier, like $17M in the case of Los Angeles County. Unlike the public, the Federal Communications Commission has no safeguards against price gouging when it applies to those behind bars.
In the federal prison system, all able-bodied inmates who are not a security risk are forced to work for UNICOR or another prison job. UNICOR, also known as Federal Prison Industries, is a government-created corporation that provides many products and services, including clothing, electronics, furniture, data entry and military hardware. UNICOR enjoys a “mandatory source clause” that according to US laws & regulations, forces all federal agencies with the exception of the Department of Defense to purchase products offered by UNICOR instead of the private sector. However, despite the Department of Defense not being required to purchase its products, many defense contractors take advantage of the cheap labor offered by prisons. For example, inmates make as little as 23 cents an hour manufacturing components used in Patriot missiles, which then sell for $5.9 million apiece. Prisoners also made helmets for the military, until 44,000 defective units were recalled due to their inability to stop bullets. Despite its shortcomings, UNICOR generated $854.3M in sales for fiscal year 2008 – of which 4% went to inmate salaries. Much of this money later ends up in the hands of the local government, as the inmates use their salary to pay for phone calls home. In New York, inmates refusing work assignments have been known to be placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day until work is resumed. At the same time, it is illegal to import products made using prison labor into the United States.
- Wikipedia: Incarceration in the United States
- Raw Story: US prison population to add 200,000 convicts by 2011: study
- Salon: How private prisons game the system
- Wikipedia: Private prisons in the United States
- NPR: Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law
- Thomson Reuters: Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-K (CCA)
- OpenSecrets: Lobbying Spending Database – Corrections Corp of America, 2010
- OpenSecrets: Lobbying Spending Database – GEO Group, 2010
- Corrections Corp. of America Press Release: 2010 fourth quarter and full-year financial results
- Forbes: Damon T. Hininger – President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Corrections Corporation of America
- US Dept of Justice: Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons
- Detroit Free Press: Hike in prisoner phone rates will cut off many family ties
- The Guardian: The cynical world of America’s private prisons
- USA Today: Inmate families paying high phone rates in California jails
- NationMaster: Media Statistics > Average cost of local call (most recent) by country
- Wikipedia: Federal Prison Industries
- Congressional Research Service: Federal Prison Industries
- Wired: Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles
- ArmyTimes: Inmate labor used to make recalled helmets
- Businessweek: There’s Prison Labor In America, Too
- US Government Printing Office: 19 U.S.C. 1307 – Convict-made goods; importation prohibited
- The Guardian: This revolting trade in human lives is an incentive to lock people up
By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
updated 1:14 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
(CNN) — One prisoner died of alcohol withdrawal. Constipation killed another. A third succumbed to gangrene.
The deaths sound like they come from the logs of a Civil War POW encampment, but all three are alleged to have befallen detainees at the Madison County Jail in Huntsville, Alabama, while they were awaiting trial.
"What connects them all is that all of these people were in the medical-watch area, supposedly under the care of nurses," said Florence-based civil rights attorney Hank Sherrod, who in the past six weeks has filed federal lawsuits on behalf of the families of the alleged victims.
The suits target the county, jail and Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc., the company paid to provide medical services to county inmates. The suits allege that the county and ACH reached a "deliberately indifferent" agreement to delay or deny care as a cost-saving measure.
With county consent, the suits allege, ACH "staffed the Madison County Jail inadequately, hired substandard medical personnel willing to put cost over inmate health and safety, denied inmates medications and delayed or denied medically necessary referrals to outside providers."
Both Madison County and ACH officials declined to be interviewed for this story because of the pending litigation. They instead provided CNN with brief statements.
Defendants just watched Listau deteriorate and eventually die.
Lawsuit filed by Nikki Listau’s estate
"Advanced Correctional Healthcare is pleased to have the opportunity to deliver a high standard of health care for Madison County Jail patients while partnering with Madison County to address the need to provide quality healthcare within its budget. ACH will not try its cases in the (media)," read a statement from ACH spokesman JD Dalfonso.
Madison County Attorney Jeff Rich said in an email he had a longstanding policy of not commenting on lawsuits.
"Although the almost instantaneous and continual flow of information arguably calls for a more substantive response, I believe it remains wise to reserve comment and let the litigation process run its course," he wrote.
‘They just watched him … totally indifferent’
The allegations surrounding the August 2013 death of Deundrez Woods of Huntsville are the most disturbing.
Arrested in June 2013 on shoplifting and third-degree assault charges, the 19-year-old behaved normally for several weeks until "jail records show that by August 6, Woods was confused, hallucinating and unable to communicate with correction and medical personnel," according to one of the lawsuits. He was then moved to the jail’s medical unit.
"They just watched him," Sherrod said. "They were happy to let him lie there … totally indifferent to what was really going on."
Fifteen days later, he died of a blood clot originating in his gangrenous foot, the lawsuit states, further alleging he was treated as a problem prisoner rather than a man suffering from a life-threatening infection.
Woods was stunned with a Taser on August 6, 9 and 14, according to the lawsuit, and no one took his vital signs from August 7 to August 19.
On August 17, the odor emanating from his foot was so foul that guards "dragged Woods from his cell to the shower, sprayed him with water and then placed him, still naked, in a different cell," the suit states.
"Jail records affirmatively show Woods did not eat from August 14-19 and that as of August 12, Woods’ water supply was cut off," the lawsuit states. "Jail records also show Woods was naked during this period."
According to the lawsuit, after August 14, no ACH nurse entered Woods’ cell until August 19, the day he died.
The report that Woods wasn’t eating left his mother incredulous. A high school football player and heavyweight wrestler, the young man would eat anything but beans, his mother said.
"He was a big boy. He liked to eat," said Tanyatta Woods, adding that when she needs her spirits lifted, she goes to the restaurant where she and Deundrez shared their last meal and he put down "$50 worth of Mexican food."
Jefferson took another turn for the worse. She started sweating and started having difficulty breathing.
Lawsuit filed by Tanisha Jefferson’s estate
The night before her phone interview with CNN, Tanyatta Woods was up all night crying over Deundrez’s death, she said. She couldn’t sleep, and her other son had to comfort her.
She recalled for CNN on Monday how she saw Deundrez a few days before he died. He was brought into court August 15 in a wheelchair, she said.
She asked court and jail officials why he was in a wheelchair, and they cited patient privacy laws, she said. One official told her Deundrez was suffering from mental problems, but having a nursing and pharmaceutical license, she realized something else was wrong with her son, she said.
"I told them my son didn’t have any mental problems," she said. "They couldn’t explain to me why he was in a wheelchair."
He seemed confused and unresponsive, she said. His lips were discolored, he was having trouble seeing and he didn’t seem to remember much, other than the name of his 2-year-old son, Jalen, his mother said.
"I begged them to take him to the hospital," she said. "They refused."
The next time she saw Deundrez was in the hospital August 19. He was on life support. She’d have him taken off two days later.
Other deaths in the same jail
Woods’ case came about five months after Nikki Listau died and about two months before Tanisha Jefferson died, after serving time in the same jail.
Listau, 60, was arrested at her home and charged with harassing communications on March 10, 2013. She couldn’t walk and had to be booked into the jail in a wheelchair, another lawsuit states.
The delirium tremens, or DTs, from her alcohol withdrawal was so severe that she suffered seizures and broke her left femur and fractured multiple ribs "as a result of falling off of her bunk while in a medical watch cell," according to the lawsuit.
When a guard found her naked on the cell floor, "rambling incoherently," her March 11 video court appearance was canceled.
Two hours later, Listau was found unresponsive in her cell, the lawsuit says. She was pronounced dead the following day.
"Despite her condition, Listau received no treatment; defendants just watched Listau deteriorate and eventually die," the lawsuit states.
I still keep a house full of his football (teammates). … All the kids still come by and check on me.
Tanyatta Woods, mother of Deundrez Woods
Unlike Listau, Jefferson, 30, was apparently cognizant that something was wrong with her, according to the lawsuit filed by her mother.
Arrested on a harassment charge October 14, 2013, she began complaining of rectal and abdominal pain on October 19. She also told jail officials she was unable to have a bowel movement, a third lawsuit states.
On October 25, the mother of three filed a medical grievance saying she had been sick for at least 10 days, and in an October 28 request to see a doctor, Jefferson asserted she feared for her life and warned that jail and medical staff would be responsible "if something happened to her," the lawsuit states.
Sherrod elaborated, saying Jefferson wrote a note that read, "If I die, it’s on y’all."
Jefferson saw a doctor the following day and was prescribed laxatives and sent back to her cell, where she told fellow inmates and jail staff she hadn’t had a bowel movement in 13 days and "she thought she would explode, that she was so weak and in pain she could hardly walk," the lawsuit states.
"On October 30, 2013, Jefferson took another turn for the worse. She started sweating and started having difficulty breathing," according to the lawsuit, and ACH medical staff were told of Jefferson’s condition, "yet did nothing."
She saw another nurse the next day and was sent back to her cell again, the lawsuit states.
That evening, at about 8:40 p.m., she passed out in her cell after "complaining of even more extreme abdominal pain," according to the lawsuit.
Even then, Jefferson was not sent to the hospital. Instead, she was taken by wheelchair to the medical department for observation. An ambulance was not called until Jefferson became nonresponsive around 9:09 p.m.
By that time, it was too late.
She died on Halloween "as a result of complications related to a bowel obstruction most likely caused by an extended period of constipation," the lawsuit says.
Lawsuits allege a money-saving motive
All three lawsuits allege that, in each case, the conditions were so severe that even a layperson would have realized they were life-threatening, but ACH ignored each inmate’s symptoms to save money.
"ACH’s business model, reflected in the agreement, succeeds by underbidding the competition and implementing severe cost control measures, the necessary result of which is unnecessary inmate suffering and liability claims (dealt with through liability insurance)," the suits say.
They wait and wait and wait and hope it goes away. That’s a formula for killing people.
Attorney Hank Sherrod
Even in the months after the three deaths, Sherrod noted, jail administrator Steve Morrison spoke at length of the financial burden of providing health care to inmates.
In an April story published several months before any of the lawsuits were filed, CNN affiliate WAFF-TV reported the county was seeking state or federal coverage for certain health care expenses. Morrison told the station, "Constitutionally we’re supposed to provide medical care. … It doesn’t say we have to pay for it."
The jail has $800,000 earmarked for outside care, Morrison said, but the funds can be depleted with just a few hospitalizations.
"We had an inmate that had some type of illness from all the psychotropic drugs that he’d been taking throughout his lifetime. He was in a coma for a long time, and it was almost $300,000 for him. Now when you get just one of those out of a thousand inmates, that can really cripple your budget," Morrison told the station.
The jail referred all of CNN’s questions to the county attorney, who issued only the aforementioned statement.
Sherrod hopes jail and ACH staff aren’t intentionally letting people die to save money, but they’ve demonstrated a willingness to "roll the dice with people’s lives," he said.
"They wait and wait and wait and hope it goes away. That’s a formula for killing people," he said.
The lawsuits ask for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and legal fees, and while that may provide some relief to the loved ones of those who died, Tanyatta Woods is more interested in answers: Namely, why would jail staff ignore her son’s suffering for days, even after he became unresponsive?
She’s not the only one wanting answers, she said. Her son was a "lovable" fellow with many family members and friends. Deundrez even kept in touch with his middle school coaches and teachers, and they, too, were shocked by his death, she said.
Until she gets her answers, she’ll lean on her other son as well as Deundrez’s old pals from his football and wrestling teams. They love her shrimp Alfredo, and she’s more than happy to whip up a barbecue or fish fry for them.
"I still keep a house full of his football (teammates)," she said. "All the kids still come by and check on me."
CNN’s Devon M. Sayers contributed to this report.