SMART ON CRIME

A CITIZEN LOBBY

CALDER SQUARE

P. O. BOX 11111

STATE COLLEGE, PA 16805—1111

Telephone: 814—238—8054

Fax: 814—234—4317

 

TESTIMONY BEFORE THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIMES AND CORRECTIONS OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

By Julian Heicklen

May 23, 2000

I am Julian Heicklen. I represent Smart on Crime, a citizen lobby organization whose sole aims are to reduce prison populations and reform improper prison practices. During the past five years, I have corresponded with about 200 inmates in the State Correctional Institutions (SCI). Today I will limit my discussion to administrative procedures in the Pennsylvania prisons. I will discuss six aspects of this problem: 1) Grievance Procedures, 2) Misconduct Hearings, 3) Appeal Procedures, 4) Destruction of Legal material, 5) Placement in Administrative Custody (AC), and 6) Veracity of the Department of Corrections (DOC).

1. Alfonso Salley CC—6796 SCI Greene (Received March 26, 2000)

Prison guards have taken all of his cell property. A prisoner smuggled him this paper and pen. Officers called him nigger names, destroyed and stole his property.

2. Darren Scott AS—2630 SCI Rockview (December 9, 1999)

Grievance of November 26, 1999. During a cell search, the COs were reading his legal mail. Some of it was missing after the search.

3. Maurice Kenny CY—2639 SCI Greene (Received November 22, 1999)

During the week of November 8—12, 1999, while coming in from the RHU yard, COs J. Wright, D. A. Thomas, and W. T. Henry were monitoring the metal detector device. They rubbed it over Kenney’s body and stopped for 3—4 seconds at his penis and butt, rubbing this device on it. When asked what they are doing, they replied with a smile: "Security Procedures." Kenny has never known a metal detector device to touch the body or rub on the body. He submitted request slips to the Superintendent, the major, the Lt. for the RHU, and the Unit Manager. He has not received a reply.

4. Robert E. Lassen BV—2703 SCI Rockview (Received June 19, 1999)

Another inmate told Mr. Lassen that he also tested positive for HCV in the early 1990s, but was told only recently. Mr. Lassen has spoken personally with at least 60 inmates that are HCV positive. He has affidavits from 30 of them. Two of the inmates made parole, infected their loved ones and returned. They were not told about the HCV until their return. The disease is spread by homosexual contacts and sharing of needles for intravenous drug use. At a minimum 242 inmates (over 10%) at SCI Rockview are HCV positive. Over half of these inmates were not told when they first tested positive. Now new commitments are informed immediately. No-one is getting the available treatment.

5. Anthony Martin CC—1326 SCI Greene (Received January 26, 1999)

Mr. Martin says that he was physically assaulted by staff members and an inmate on death row. He was threatened by staff members that if he notified any authorities, they would kill him and say it was suicide. He is in tremendous fear for his life. They also read his legal mail.

6. Daniel Giddings CA—4455 SCI Greene (Received June 24, 1998)

Dan Giddings is wondering why he is in the hole for over a year without a write-up or anything to hold him. Giddings says that he is being punished because of his last 7 years before he went home. He came back to state on April 9, 1994, and the state has kept him in the hole at Greene County for 3 years on false charges for which he never received a Misconduct Report. He is in AC status and could have been home in 1996, but he cannot make parole from the hole.

7. Jeffery S. Tenaglio CD—4926 SCI Rockview (Received June 12, 1998)

Mr. Tenaglio tests positive for HIV/ AIDS. Because of his condition he has refused to take a cell mate and has subsequently been placed in the RHU. Tenaglio has had single-cell privilege in the past, but it has been repeatedly taken away from him by the Program Review Committee. Along with this, Deputy Terry Whitman has told the prisoner to simply not reveal his disease status to his cell mate which, according to Mr. Tenaglio puts the other man at risk for contracting the virus.

8. Gregory Wilson AS—3367 SCI Greene (Received May 1998)

Mr. Wilson was transferred from SCI Rockview to SCI Greene on October 15, 1997. He was placed in AC RHU at SCI Greene County, supposedly because his records were not transferred from SCI Rockview. Mr. Wilson also contends that he has not been allowed to place a phone call since his transfer. He cannot obtain his legal papers, his address book, his correspondence, or his property.

On November 9, 1997, I wrote to Commissioner Martin Horn about these matters. I received a reply from Mr. Thomas A. Fulcomer, Deputy Commissioner of the Western Region, on December 19, 1997, stating that Mr. Wilson never requested a telephone call.

On January 13, 1998, I wrote to Mr. Fulcomer informing him that Mr. Wilson has requested a telephone call on numerous occasions, and that I have in my possession responses signed by Superintendent Varner and Deputy Superintendent White to two of those requests. Mr. Fulcomer replied on February 27, 1998, stating that permission had been granted to Mr. Wilson to make the telephone call.

On March 16, 1998, I responded that: "As you stated, and as Mr. Wilson agrees, permission has been granted for him to make a telephone call. However according to Mr. Wilson, he has not been permitted to make a call. I would appreciate it if you would send me the dates, times, and places of any telephone calls made by Mr. Wilson. Also please send the telephone numbers and the persons called."

Mr. Fulcomer responded in a letter that I have misplaced stating that Mr. Wilson has made a telephone phone call on a date that was later than that of my last letter.

 

9. George Ricketts BN—5049 SCI Greene (Received May 4, 1998)

On November 11, 1997, Sergeant Guyton refused to give Mr. Ricketts a grievance form to write up the medical nurse Brenda.

10. Dennis Solo McKeithen BB—2253 SCI Greene (Received April 29, 1998)

Dennis Solo McKeithan was sent to SMU twice for charges of which he was found not guilty by juries and a judge. The first time it was learned at court that the incident never happened at all. Five staff and 7 prisoners testified on his behalf. Yet he was sent to SMU three days after being found not guilty and kept locked down for 29 months for something that never happened. He is suffering retribution for all of his complaints, lawsuits, and testifying for the Austin suit. He has been placed in SMU three times. Each time he was placed in SMU in retaliation for his legal action and grievances.

11. Anthony Williams AY—6759 SCI Greene (Received April 15, 1998)

I do not have a copy of the Hearing Examiner's Report. Apparently Inmate Williams was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to 45 days in RHU. From Superintendent Price's letter below, it appears that Inmate Williams was denied the testimony of 3 inmate witnesses that he requested.

Letter from James A. Price, Superintendent of SCI Greene dated December 28, 1998, regarding Appeal of Misconduct #813319. You attempted to assault the team with your typewriter, a very serious situation. The witnesses you requested were either not available of not identifiable. Appeal denied.

12. Bruce Stoudt BC-9886 SCI Rockview (Received April 6, 1998)

Since 5 months ago, when Mr. Stoudt came back to prison on a parole violation, SCI Rockview has failed to treat this condition, even while in possession of all of Stoudt’s medical records. Stoudt has written to both Larry L. Lidgett, Health Care Administrator, and Terry L. Whitman, Acting Deputy Supt./Facilities Management, and has seen Dr. Pereira, Medical Director. All have refused to treat him. Along with this, someone from Harrisburg called to check up on Stoudt’s treatment and was falsely told that he was being treated.

13. Name Withheld on Request SCI Rockview (Received April 4, 1998)

Inmate has submitted 5 different requests for legal material and has only received one response. For this, he has filed a grievance, but has not even received notice that it has been received.

14. Michael Forrest AM—3549 SCI Graterford (Received March 21, 1998)

Inmate witnesses were discouraged from attending Mr. Forrest's hearing. Although the witness sheet only permits 3 witnesses, Mr. Forrest listed several named witnesses. To Mr. Forrest's knowledge, inmates Nearhoof and Whitehead were intimidated and discouraged from testifying at the Misconduct Hearing. Mr. Nearhoof later assured Forrest that he would testify in outside court. Inmate Anderson, who was at court, was refused as a witness at the Misconduct Hearing. The hearing Examiner refused to allow Mr. Forrest to continue the hearing until Mr. Anderson returned. Thus Mr. Forrest was denied witnesses to both Misconducts #535—605 and #535—606.

 

15. Floyd Prince DB—3313 SCI Graterford (Received March 9, 1998)

There is an Inmate Request for Representation and Witnesses DC—141 Part IIA of November 9, 1997. Mr. Prince requests 3 witnesses, of which two of the names are illegible. Presumably these are Lt. Knauer and CO Fisher. The third is CO Majikes, who witnessed CO Schwenk choking Prince. Mr. Prince's request to have witnesses testify at his hearing was denied.

There is a PRC Action on the Misconduct Appeal DC—141 Part III 927544 dated November 18, 1997. "PRC sustains the action taken by the Hearing Examiner. No procedural violations noted. The Misconduct Report in and of itself is considered evidence and will be used against the inmate at the misconduct hearing." Signed Mary Ann Williams, Michael Cappo, and John Henschel.

During all of this Mr. Prince wrote to Sergeant Cox in the property room for his legal material, legal books, and a copy of his property sheet. Sergeant Cox responded that he had no legal material or legal books and only one box of property. Prince submitted an Inmate Grievance to Mary Ann Williams, the Grievance Coordinator. She referred it to Sergeant Cox, who again said the same thing. Mr. Prince appealed that, but as of January 12, 1998, he has had no response.

There is an Inmate Grievance GRA—2979—97 dated December 7, 1997, to Mary Ann Williams, Grievance Coordinator. Mr. Prince says that he placed several requests into Property, Sgt. Cox, asking him to send 3 items from his property concerning legal material. He enumerated the items. On December 5 and 6, 1997, he was sent notices by the property room stating that the property was sent to Mr. Prince, but he still does not have his legal materials. On December 11, 1997, Mary Ann Williams acknowledged receipt of the Inmate Request and says that it will be processed.

There is an Inmate Grievance Response GRA—2979—97 from Sergeant Cox dated December 7, 1997. It says that a copy of the property slip and inhaler was sent to M-block on November 26, 1997. There is only one box of property in storage for you and that box does not contain legal books and legal material. Sergeant Cox suggests that Mr. Prince write the Unit Manager of the cell block on which he was housed before being sent to RHU.

There is an inmate request of December 18, 1998, to Mr. Murphy, Unit Manager of E-block. Mr. Prince was advised by Sergeant Cox to contact Mr. Murphy, because his property is missing. At the beginning of November, his property was packed by CO Overdorf, because Mr. Prince was given RHU time. When Mr. Prince asked for his legal materials and legal books, Sergeant Cox's reply was that there were none and he only has 1 box of property in the property room. When his property was taken from E-block, cell 371, he had 5 full boxes of property and a TV that was inventoried by CO Overdorf. Mr. Prince would like CO Murphy to find his property, because this is not the first time that his property was missing. The response from Mr. Murphy of January 13, 1998, was that he attached the inventory sheets of your property. "The first one has 4 boxes and a TV, which you signed. The second has the other items which were not packed initially. You kept them while in DC section. Both slips were received and signed by the Property Office."

There is a Grievance GRA—2979—97 dated December 20, 1997, to Mary Ann Williams. This was a second request to her to get his property. No response.

There is a letter to Superintendent Vaughn dated January 14, 1998, about Grievance GRA—2979—97. He is asking about his property which he requested on November 17, 1997. He then goes over all of his attempts and requests to get his property. He points out that if an inmate makes a mistake, he is punished, but if a staff member makes a mistake, nothing is done. He threatens a lawsuit against Mary Ann Williams, Sergeant Cox, and Donald Vaughn. No response.

There is a letter from Mr. Prince to Jeffrey Beard dated January 2, 1998. He talks about the incidents of November 9 and December 1, 1997. On December 26, 1997, he was interviewed by Lt. Matslavick. Mr. Prince asked for a copy of the interview but Lt. Matslavick said no. Prince's letter is to request a copy of the interview. No response is given.

16. Darryl Gray DA—3161 SCI Greene (Received February 11, 1998)

Mr. Gray filed numerous Inmate Requests describing the assault by Sergeant Williams and asking for an investigation. Inmate Request of September 17, 1997, to Superintendent Ben Varner received no response.

Inmate Request of September 18, 1997, to Ms. Balestriei informed her of the assault and requested to speak to her as soon as possible. Response from Ms. Balestriei of the same date stated: "Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate staff member."

Inmate Request of September 21, 1997, to Major Duke received no response. Identical Inmate Requests were sent on September 26, 1997, to Captain Sparbanie and Superintendent Ben Varner. Neither request received a response.

17. Arnold King AM—3222 SCI Greene (Received January 15, 1998)

According to Mr. King, it was impossible for him to file a Grievance Report, because SCI Greene does not pass them out. The sergeant or lieutenant must give approval for inmates to receive one. If you do get one, the Grievance Coordinator returns the Grievance into the hands of the guard you filed it against, who claims that the allegation is unfounded. Then the guard gets other guards to retaliate against the inmate, according to Mr. King. Ever since the Commonwealth ruled that inmates have the right to appeal administrative decisions, Misconduct and Grievance appeals, the guards do everything in their power to prevent inmates from filing Grievance Reports.

18. Johnie C. Byrd CV—4469 SCI Houtzdale and Greene (Received January 8, 1998)

Mr. Byrd was placed in Administrative Custody (AC) Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) on August 13, 1997, while he was at SCI Houtzdale, because of a possible misconduct. According to Pennsylvania Department of Corrections regulations, an inmate can be held in AC RHU for 10 days while an investigation proceeds. Then he must be brought to a hearing or be released to general population. The Superintendent has the authority to extend the detention period for an additional 10 days.

On August 23, 1997, Mr. Byrd wrote to Major Kyler asking for his hearing or release. He was notified that the Superintendent had authorized the additional 10 days extension. After that 10 days passed, Mr. Byrd again asked for a hearing or his release to general population. There was no change in status. Mr. Byrd was transferred to SCI Greene County on October 30, 1997, where he was continued to be held in AC RHU. Mr Byrd repeatedly requested to be released to general population. As of January 8, 1998, Mr. Byrd was still in AC RHU. He has been held for at least 148 days in AC RHU without formal charges or a hearing. He is allowed only 5 minutes to eat his meals, though the federal guidelines require 20 minutes.

When an inmate is transferred from one prison to another on AC status, he is supposed to be permitted to make a telephone call to either his family or lawyer. Mr. Byrd has been at SCI Greene County since October 30, 1997. He has requested 5 times to call his wife. Permission has been granted on at least 2 occasions. In an Inmate Request of October 20, 1997, to the Program Review Committee (PRC), he requested a call to his wife who just had an operation and is very sick. He was granted one phone call at Lt. Stitts' convenience. So far, it has not been convenient for Lt. Stitts to allow the telephone call. He saw the PRC on November 24, 1997, and Deputy Superintendent White gave him permission for a telephone call. However, he still has not been allowed to make any telephone call. He is particularly eager to contact his sick wife, who just had an operation. His mother-in-law died on December 29, 1997. As of January 8, 1998, he had not spoken to his family in 120 days.

At the time of his transfer from SCI Houtzdale to SCI Greene County, Mr. Byrd's personal belongings and TV were removed from his possession. Mr. Byrd repeatedly has requested to have these items returned to him, as he is entitled in AC RHU. As of January 8, 1998, this had not been done.

19. Milton Brockington CU—4938 SCI Rockview (Received December 3, 1997)

On September 29, 1997, Mr. Brockington was in the infirmary to see Dr. Solomon. Doctor Everhart, the Medical Director, came into the room and said to him "Nigger boy, get up and walk, don't fuck with me. You are trying to suite us. We will kill you first, nigger." , Nurse Miller came into his room at about 7:00 AM asked why he was fucking with the nurse and doctor. We are going to kill you nigger if you keep fucking with us. She and Dr. Everhart left the room and said take away his medication and let him die. Nurse Miller said: "Fuck your Mother. Now try to call her you nigger." Brockington alleges that the nurse took all of Dr. Solomon's notes out of his medical record.

Mr. Brockington wrote a Grievance which claimed that On October 10, 1997, the nurse reports that Dr. Solomon's notes are missing from the file. At some point Mr. Brockington claims she said: "So write Judge Williamson. We don't care about a judge's order. Go to the hole nigger. You are trying to take our job. We will let you suffer first." Nurse Miller said that no judge can help you get out of here, you're going to die here if you keep fucking with me, Mr. Brockington. Several times Nurse Steve said we are going to kill you, Mr. Brockington. Nurse Jane said that Nurse Miller is going to change all of Dr. Solomon's notes in the morning. There was no response reported to the Grievance.

There is response from Sam Mazzotta, Grievance Coordinator, on November 7, 1997, to Grievance ROC 0619—97 dated October 25, 1997. He reviewed the Grievance with Ms. Ferguson, Nurse Supervisor, who reviewed his medical record. She claims that he was given proper medical care. The physician made the rounds, but Brockington did not offer any complaint. On the next 3 days, Brockington refused the offer of medical services and his medication on 2 of those 3 days. Mazzotta concludes: "You really should rethink your position and be more cooperative with the medical staff as they are working for your best interest."

Sam Mazzotta reviewed Grievance ROC 0656—97 of November 3, 1997. Mr. Mazzotta replied that Nurse Supervisor Ms. Ferguson, says that Brockington is still on cardiac medications. Brockington is advised to be more cooperative with Medical Services as they are working for his good health.

Mr. Brockington sent a request of November 10, 1997, to the Medical Services sick line. He requested to see a doctor about neck pain, back pain, and medication. Also he needs his blood pressure taken every day for his chest pain. He needs his walking cane to get to the shower. He needs to see a doctor about blackouts from time to time. The response was to sign up for sick line when the nurse makes the rounds.

A 7-page grievance of November 24, 1997, to Mr. Mazzotta was returned without action because it was not brief.

20. Robert Robinson AM—8713 SCI Somerset (Received November 19, 1997)

Captain Tom Papuga and Captain Daniel Walker at SCI Somerset had two threatening letters they were investigating, one to Governor Ridge and one to Ms. Reid.. This was the last week of January or the first week of February 1997. Robinson was interviewed by State Trooper Arnold in Papuga's office. Captain Papuga was present during the interview. Mr. Robinson was asked about a threatening letter to Governor Ridge sent under the name of G. Brown AM—7448. Robinson told Trooper Arnold everything that he knew about the letter and who was responsible for it. He was then handed the letter, which was typed, and the envelope by Trooper Arnold so that he could examine it and read it. He then returned the letter to Trooper Arnold. Captain Papuga then questioned him about the letter.

On February 27, 1997, Captain Papuga alleged in two Misconduct Reports that crime lab tests were done on the letter and envelope and Mr. Robinson's finger prints were on them.

At the hearing, Robinson asked the hearing examiner to produce both threatening letters, because Robinson had never seen the second one. He also asked to see the laboratory test report. The hearing examiner did not have either the letters or the lab test report. Robinson repeatedly announced that he was not prepared to proceed, but the hearing continued anyway. Robinson attempted to give his side of the story with inmate version form DC—141 part 11C. The hearing examiner stated that he did not want to hear Robinson's side of the story, because he had already made up his mind about both Misconduct Reports. He just took the inmate version form from him. Robinson pleaded not guilty to both charges. However, he was found guilty and sentenced to 180 days punitive segregation from March 17 to September 11, 1997.

In regard to the letters, the only evidence is the fingerprints on one letter, which Robinson explains happened when he was given the letter to read. The only date we have for that incident is the last week in January or the first week in February. No date is given for the laboratory tests, which were not even produced at the hearing. Apparently it did not occur to anyone that if the laboratory report with the fingerprint evidence was made prior to the meeting with Arnold and Papuga, the evidence is valid, but that if the laboratory report was made after the interview, the evidence is worthless. Both Mr. Robinson and I (Julian Heicklen) wrote to the State Police Bureau of Forensics and Criminal Identification to get a copy of the report, but we were denied the report. I called the Bureau to find out the date of the report, but could not get that information. Mr. Robinson claims that he has never seen the laboratory report or the letter to Ms Reid, which does not have his fingerprints.

21. Kenneth Charles CD—1697 SCI Rockview (Received November 1996)

Mr. Charles was charged with assaulting Glenn Porter, another inmate, with a screwdriver on May 22, 1996. Mr. Charles claimed that he did not even know Mr. Porter, and that he wished to question him at the Misconduct Hearing. Mr. Porter was not present at the hearing. Mr. Charles was told at the hearing that Mr. Porter had identified him from a photograph. He was sentenced to 90 days in DC RHU. Because of this discipline, Mr. Charles was refused parole.

On August 15, 1996, while Mr. Charles was in RHU, he learned from a guard that the state police had filed a report that the screwdriver was on another individual. The report also stated that the three assailants were wearing hoods, and that Mr. Porter could not identify the other two assailants. The report was not presented at the hearing. I checked with the state police trooper (Trooper Sally Brown) that filed the police report, and she confirmed that the assailants were masked. This raises two questions: 1) How could Mr. Porter have identified Mr. Charles from a photo identification? 2) Why was Mr. Charles not provided with this information, and why was it withheld from the hearing proceedings?

22. Duane Ferguson CL—9301 SCI Rockview (Received October 1996)

Mr. Ferguson was charged with 9 offenses relating to the SCI Coal Township riot of August 14, 1995. Three of these charges were dismissed. However the DOC does not care if a charge is dismissed. It just rewrites it and submits it again. Three of the charges were rewritten because earlier charges were dismissed.

Mr. Ferguson was convicted of 6 offenses. Two of these were duplicates. Ferguson was sentenced to 90 days for each offense or a total of 540 days. Ferguson wrote repeatedly to prison officials that he was convicted of only four offenses, but they would not listen. Finally I wrote to Superintendent Mazurkiewicz at SCI Rockview. I received a nasty reply from Deputy Superintendent Terry Whitman informing me that I was wrong and was nothing but a troublemaker.

I have a letter from Kandis Dascani, Corrections Superintendent's Assistant at SCI Coal Township, that states that Mr. Ferguson was charged with only 4 offenses. I sent a copy to Mr. Whitman. As a result Mr. Ferguson was released from RHU after 13.5 months, rather than serving the 18 months that he was sentenced. The 13.5 months was still 1.5 months longer than deserved even if Mr. Ferguson was guilty of all charges.