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$1 Million for Boiling Prisoner

Vaughn Dortch is a California prisoner held at the Pelican Bay prison control unit. After suffering mental deterioration Dortch covered himself in fecal matter. The administration ordered guards to wash it off and the guards took Dortch to the prison infirmary where they placed him in a steel tub of boiling water. Six guards shoved Dortch into the steaming water where he was held for fifteen minutes and scrubbed with wire brushes. As a result, Dortch suffered third degree burns over the lower half of his body and had to undergo skin graft treatment. No disciplinary action was ever taken against the guards. The prison administration blamed Dortch for the incident. The case was dramatically featured on the TV program 60 Minutes where Dortch was quoted saying "I was cooking" and the prison's chief medical officer at first denied the incident had occurred.

The $1 million award was made in October, 1993, by US District Court Judge Legge, in San Francisco, who ordered the in chamber deal with prison officials to remain secret. For more information contact: Pelican Bay Information Project, 2489 Mission St. Rm. 28, San Francisco, CA. 94110. (415) 821-6545. Reported in Workers World, March 24, 1994.

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