Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Over 12 years in administrative confinment...?

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

Nebraska State Penitentiary inmate Thomas Fleming told a federal judge that his stay in administrative confinement — from August 1991 to January 2004 - constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Fleming, 45, is seeking $1 million in punitive damages as well as unspecified compensatory damages from corrections officials for the more than 12 years of confinement that, he alleged in a 2003 lawsuit, left him psychologically and physically scarred.

Fleming was placed in administrative confinement following an Aug. 31, 1991 assault, in which penitentiary employee Max Fredrickson was stabbed multiple times with a homemade knife, doused with flammable fluid and set on fire by inmates bent on escape. Fredrickson survived the assault and the inmates involved -- including Fleming -- were quickly subdued.

The inmates eventually received extended sentences, including stays in administrative confinement. That's spending 23 hours a day, Monday through Friday, in a cell described by Fleming as 7 by 10 feet. They are allowed one hour on those days in a small yard defined by three high walls and a grate. The inmates are restricted to their cells on Saturdays and Sundays. The cells consist of a concrete slab and thin mattress, sink and toilet. Visitations and shower times are constricted, as is the chance to communicate with other prisoners or staff. On at least one occasion in 1992, Fleming said, he was beaten by staff after he returned from a Lancaster County District Court hearing on the incident. On other occasions, he said, he returned to his cell to find the room torn apart.

Fleming was sentenced in 1987 on three robbery counts. He was paroled in 1990 but was arrested again and sentenced to 15 to 30 years for armed robbery.

I'm sure that Mr. Fleming, if just given one more chance, could mend his ways and become a productive member of society. After all, he didn't mean to stab that CO multiple times and set him on fire - the CO was just at the wrong place at the wrong time! Mr. Fleming has been a model of virtuous behavior since he's been in administrative confinement, I'm sure.

Administrative Confinment is for inmates that choose to assault an officer, whether or not they are successful. Inmates have also been put into AC for special circumstances involving threats towards officers, as well as instances of violent attacks on other inmates. These inmates generally are not what you would consider as "good people." Many are mentally ill.

The administrative confinement housing unit in the facility I work at is set up so that an inmate can get out of AC within 4 to 6 weeks if he behaves himself. For the first week of AC, the inmate is considered in ZERO status. He gets nothing but hygene items, his bedroll (consisting of 2 blankets, a sheet, and a towel), his clothing, and himself. All AC inmates get 5 hours of recreation a week, per Nebraska Jail Standards. When they come out of their cell, they are shackled and belly-chained.

If the inmate gets no write-ups during that week, he will be placed into 8-20 status, which means he can have up to three books in his cell at one time and he can start earning privileges back, such as a radio, extra recreation time, visits and telephone privileges.

If at any time an inmate commits an infraction (which some can't seem to help themelves from doing) the inmate goes allthe way back to ZERO status and has to climb up the ladder from the bottom once more.

Inmates that behave...go back to general population. It's entirely up to the inmate which direction he or she wishes to take. I personally recommend behaving, but we can accomodate you either way.

I have a feeling that Mr. Fleming has a hard time dealing with other people in a humane manner, that he has a hard time viewing other people as something other than as a tool to get him what he wants. Mr. Fleming belongs in AC until he's judged to be safe for both officers and other inmates to be around on a regular basis.