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Murderer Fired From Prison Job

By Paul Wright

Massachusetts is currently being ruled by the Republican Weld administration. Governor Weld was elected to office on a "tough on crime" platform. Weld is himself a former federal prosecutor. Among his more interesting campaign promises were those to restore the death penalty in Massachusetts and to remove color TV sets from every state prison (presumably the black and whites will go too).

Even the Weld administration is a bit embarrassed by the news that it hired Gerry Dale for the $621 a week job monitoring whether or not state prisons and jails were adhering to state regulations governing the security and treatment of prisoners. What is unusual about Dale is that he himself is a convicted felon, whose employment in a correctional job is prohibited by state law.

Dale is a former federal prison guard. He served three years in prison for murdering a prisoner. While transporting a busload of prisoners in North Carolina he ordered an ace bandage and duct tape wrapped around the face of bank robber Vinson Harris. Harris suffocated to death and Dale was charged with violating Harris' civil rights. Facing life in prison, Dale pleaded guilty to assault with intent to injure and was sentenced to nine years. What is quite ironic is that Weld was the head of the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division at the time and he authorized Dale's prosecution. After reading about Dale's past in the Boston Globe Weld ordered his suspension.

Massachusetts DOC commissioner Larry Dubois would not comment on the matter, but in a previous interview had described Dale as a "shining star" in the department. Dale was still on parole when the DOC hired him for his job. DuBois had earlier said that he hired Dale after former federal prison director Michael Quinlan lobbied on Dale's behalf. Quinlan had earlier suspended Dale while the Justice Department prosecuted him.

All too often prisoners see guards get away with misconduct and violations of state and federal law with impunity, and ask what does it take for a prison official to be held accountable. In this case a guard is actually convicted of killing a prisoner, goes to prison himself (likely one of the plush "country clubs" we hear so much about), and while on parole is hired to monitor a DOC's treatment of prisoners. This would be like appointing a Nazi concentration camp commandant to the post of United Nations Human Rights Commissioner. What is telling about this case is that Dale was hired and employed by the DOC without any type of question until the Boston Globe and public outcry made this an issue.

Boston Globe , July 10, 1993

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