No answers for family of dead inmate
Members of the prison's citizen's panel did stay after the warden left to console victim's mother and sister.
By Roxanne Stites/Staff Writer
Following an impassioned appearance by family members of an inmate recently slain at a Vacaville prison, the president of the Citizen's Advisory Committee said he will be calling for a special meeting with the warden.Modesto resident Eva Ford and her daughter, Vicki, traveled 90 miles to attend the Wednesday evening meeting, held every other month to discuss various prison issues.
Ford did it, she said, because she has not received one phone call from prison administrators, and has received nearly all of her information about her son's death from the media.CMF officials said they have referred all calls to Deputy District Attorney Jack Harris, though Eva Ford said not once has she gotten through to anybody who told her who to contact."All they had to do was pick up the phone. One phone call," she said. "Even if they can't tell me anything, at least . . . acknowledge me.''
Jeffrey Ray Ford, 36, was found brutally beaten and strangled in his cell June 29. Bloody handprints were reportedly left all over the walls, as were a pentagram symbol and the word ''Help.
"Ford's cellmate of just three days, 25-year-old James Diesso, was detained but has not been charged."It just seems strange that this person hasn't been charged," Eva Ford said. ''There was only one other person in there, and obviously it wasn't a suicide."Warden Ana Ramirez-Palmer refused to answer any questions, and said the District Attorney's Office is the only agency that will give Eva Ford any answers. "We are fully committed to seeing this prosecuted. I'm not going to do anything to (jeopardize that)."
While discussion between Ford's family and the board was minimal during the meeting, several board members excluding Ramirez-Palmer stayed after to get more information and console them.It was then when a teary-eyed Eva Ford listed several questions she fears will never be answered. Why was her son - who is Hispanic and considered effeminate - housed with an inmate who has large tattoos on his neck indicating he is a Nazi Low Rider, which is a white street gang?
If prison personnel reviews inmates' files before housing them together, why would they put him in a cell with an inmate who admitted to stabbing another effeminate inmate 17 times?CMF Sgt. Bea Torres, who is the warden's administrative assistant, met with the family after the meeting. She promised to tell them all she could without harming the case."I think you were heard and I'm sure somebody will be calling you," said Fairfield attorney Hendrick Crowell, who is a board member. ''It (the killing) shouldn't have happened No. 1, but this (lack of communication) just adds insult to injury. I'm not here to stand behind policies that aren't right,'' he added.
Board president C.C. Yin said he plans to put the issue on the agenda for the next meeting - scheduled Sept. 2 - but in the meantime will meet with Ramirez-Palmer to find out what policy is regarding death and investigation notification.Eva Ford said a prison doctor informed her of her son's death, but the doctor said it wasn't his responsibility.''That's no way to treat a human being,'' said board member Valerie Richards.
$2.3 Million Award for San Quentin Inmate Shot Dead
Pamela J. Podger, Chronicle Staff Writer Tuesday, December 1, 1998
SAN QUENTIN -- A federal jury awarded $2.3 million yesterday to the family of a San Quentin inmate who was fatally shot by guards during a fist fight in an exercise yard. In a wrongful death trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the 10-member jury found that correctional officer Timothy Scott Reynolds used excessive force when he shot to death inmate Mark Adams on March 7, 1994.
In awarding the combined compensatory and punitive damages, the jury unanimously denounced prison policies that allow the use of lethal force, calling them ``constitutionally defective.'' The Adams case is the second major jury award in recent months to the family of an inmate slain by state prison guards and follows a recent investigation of the Department of Corrections that found serious flaws in shooting practices at another state prison.
Those practices have allowed California prison guards to use gunfire to break up brawls, rather than tear gas, batons or other nonlethal force used at other prisons in the United States. Since 1989, 34 inmates have been shot to death in California's 33 prisons. Jury foreman Robert Resner, a San Francisco lawyer, said, ``We felt that the Department of Corrections, which was (at) the top of the line, knew there was a problem with their policies and didn't do anything about it.'' Steve Fama of the Prison Law Office in San Rafael called yesterday's verdict ``yet another indicator of the severe problems with the prison's policies regarding use of force.
This should end once and for all the debate about the adequacy or inadequacy of prison policies.'' But Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said, ``We are shocked by the verdict and based on the facts available, we disagree with it.'' Thorton said the department was ``exploring every legal option available'' to the jury's award, including appeals. Prosecutor Frances Grunder referred all queries to the department. Reached at her Modesto home, Adams' mother, Anna Crosby, said no amount of money could replace the tragic and wrongful slaying of her son. ``I've been sitting here bawling ever since the lawyer called me,'' Crosby said. ``Nothing will bring my son back. I'll give them all the money in the world to get my son back. ``I wanted to prove they were wrong about what they did to my son. It was not right. I loved my son with all my heart.''
Crosby, Adams' wife, Elsie Diaz, and Adams' estate were awarded damages from former Corrections Department Director James Gomez, then-San Quentin Warden Arthur Calderon, and Reynolds. Asked why he thought the jury had issued such a high damages award, defense attorney Leroy Lounibos of Petaluma said, ``I think the public is concerned that these guys are slipping through cracks, with the manner of crimes (and) how they are investigated by the department. There is a strange tolerance by the department on shooting deaths for breaking up fist fights.''
During a botched robbery Aug. 17, 1979, Adams, 16, killed a young member of a respected Modesto family with strong ties to law enforcement. Adams approached several teenagers drinking beer in a baseball dugout in Modesto. When Michael Ridenour, a 16-year- old nephew of a Modesto police detective, stood up and told him to scat, Adams killed him. After a 17-month investigation, Adams was arrested in North Carolina, where he had just completed basic training for the U.S. Army.
He was convicted of murder and robbery in 1982. On June 10, 1986, Adams made a bold escape from San Quentin and hid in the San Rafael home of his wife-to-be, Diaz, whom he had met taking computer classes at the prison. Because he had escaped from the prison before, Adams was placed in the administrative segregation unit, where problem inmates are held. Testimony during the 12-day trial indicated that Adams had arguments the night before his death with Paul Green, a Black Guerrilla Family dropout, who had been moved to an adjacent cell and allegedly had a history of mental problems.
Death row inmates kept in the same quarters heard the two men promise
to ``settle the score on the yard.'' The next morning, Adams followed Green
into the exercise yard, and the two men began a brawl in a corner. Reynolds
blew his whistle and screamed at Adams to stop. When Adams continued fighting,
Reynold fired three shots from a distance of about 25 feet. One of the
bullets hit Adams in the back of the head and killed him. Green suffered
For Immediate Release
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS SETTLES CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUIT
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has settled a civil rights
lawsuit brought by the family of an inmate who was fatally shot by a correctional
officer during a yard disturbance in 1994. The estate of Mark Adams, Adams’
widow and mother, and their attorney John Houston Scott will share the
$2.5 million settlement award.
"The two Corrections officials who received punitive damage awards were
holding tough jobs," said CDC Director C.A. Terhune. "Very few, if any,
employees of other organizations face such difficult situations. These
punitive damages have a profound effect on attracting and retaining high-caliber
and high-talented corrections individuals. Unfortunately, appeals and other
legal attempts to vindicate the honor of the Corrections officials named
as defendants will only cost the taxpayers more money over several more
years of litigation—for an uncertain result. Since two of them faced personal
liability for punitive damages, we and the Office of the Attorney General
also felt that a settlement was in the best interests of the state and
November 22, 2001
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County Called Negligent in Inmate's Death; Probe: Report says
Sheriff's Department allowed mentally ill man to die in its custody in
1999. Unnecessary restraints and delayed CPR are cited.
Words in Document: 1473
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1954-2001 By Daffodil Altan
Unless you include the two prison guards who stood outside her locked door, Charisse Shumate died alone Aug. 4. Shumate, who was an inmate at the Central California Women's Facility (CCWF), was a lead plaintiff in a landmark class action suit against the Department of Corrections charging that women prisoners receive shoddy, sometimes abusive medical treatment (see "Cancer in the Cells," 2/24/99). The suit was settled in 1997.
Shumate, 46, died of complications due to sickle-cell anemia, cancer, and hepatitis C. The Board of Prison Terms and the CDC recommended June 12 that she be released under the Compassionate Release Statute, which permits terminally ill prisoners to spend their last days with their loved ones. But Shumate remained locked up because Gov. Gray Davis did not sign the petition for her release, the final step for discharge under the statute.
"He denied her the opportunity to spend the last few days with her family," said Cassandra Shaylor, one of the attorneys working on her case. Davis spokesperson Byron Tucker said that the governor was still "in the process of conducting a thorough review for commutation of release" at the time of her death.
In her 15 years at the facility (she was convicted of committing two murders, one being the murder of her abusive lover), Shumate cofounded the Battered Women's Therapy Group, served on the Women's Advisory Counsel, and cofounded the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. She also wrote a column for The Fire Inside, published by the CCWP.
As lead plaintiff in the class action suit, Shumate v. Wilson, Shumate
represented other women in the first significant step in improving medical
care for women prisoners. The settlement requires that California women's
prisons remedy 57 major flaws in the penal health care system. However,
critics say, improvements have been unsatisfactory: the CCWF failed its
first audit in 1998. At the end of 2000 nine women died in a span of eight
weeks as a result of medical negligence. Lawyers say they will take the
case back to trial if the prisons continue to violate the conditions of
Published on October 5, 2001,
Fresno Bee, The (CA)
Inmate death lawsuit settled
The parents of a Corcoran State Prison inmate who was beaten to death
in an exercise yard by another prisoner who had been taken off "walk alone"
status have won a $525,000 settlement from the state.The settlement in
the death of James Kevin Mahoney Jr. is one of the largest involving a
death at the prison, ranking with the $825,000 paid to end a civil lawsuit
brought by the family of inmate Preston Tate, killed by a guard in 1994.Carolyn
Phillips, one of the lawyers who. .
Published on September 28, 2000,
The Sacramento Bee
State will pay dying inmate $350,000
Woman alleged doctor ignored breast cancer signsThe state has agreed to pay a dying inmate $350,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming she went untreated because a prison physician ignored signs of breast cancer for years.
Sherrie Chapman claims in the suit that she "has suffered from metastasized breast cancer" and, as a result of the actions of Dr. James Herrick, she "has lost both her breasts to the disease."
California Department of Corrections (CDC) spokesman Russ Heimerich
said Wednesday there will be no comment. . .
Published on September 27, 1998,
Daily News of Los Angeles (CA)
REPORTS OF BEATINGS PUT FOCUS ON TWIN TOWERS
Nancy Canzoneri drove to the sleek, new jail on the edge of downtown one Monday morning to visit her boyfriend, Danny Ray Smith, a convicted drug addict who was awaiting a court hearing for carrying a gun.
When Canzoneri approached the front desk at the imposing Twin Towers Correctional Facility, she was told Smith had died in a brawl with deputies two days earlier. Shocked by his death and angry they weren't told about it, Canzoneri and the inmate's family hired a lawyer to get. . .