Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jailhouse corruption

Theo Lacy Jail in Orange County, California

This is an ugly story that the Clarion Content picked up out of the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. At the Theo Lacy Jail in Orange County, California, in October of 2006, inmate John Derek Chamberlain was beaten to death by his fellow prisoners. Chamberlain was in jail on suspicion of possessing child pornography when he was attacked by a group of inmates. According to the LA Times, the inmates mistakenly believed that Chamberlain was charged with child molestation.

Sheriff's Special Officer Phillip Le, granted immunity from prosecution, told a grand jury that, prison deputies would work with inmate "shot-callers" who would help keep other inmates in line with beatings -- called "taxations" -- and would receive special privileges such as sack lunches and new clothes in exchange. He said it was common for officers to watch movies, use their personal laptops and read newspapers and books while on duty.

According to the LA Times he further testified that, "He did not keep an accurate log on the day Chamberlain was killed and that he had made a "command decision" to record over the first seven to 10 minutes of videotape he used to document the scene after guards discovered Chamberlain had been beaten." Le was alerted to the beating when an prisoner climbed on to a table and waved for attention outside the glass-walled guard station.

Ugly. Le and three other officers have left the sheriff's department in the wake of the investigation.

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