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Whitewash in Greene County

"There's an atmosphere created by (prison officials) in which this kind of thing has been going on for years. The attitude is, 'you're in Greene County now, boy.'"
-- Randy Gauger, PA Prison Society, Eayette-Greene Chapter, ( PGH Post-Gazette , 4/26/98)

Ahandcuffed man is bludgeoned, and a nightstick is jammed into his mouth, knocking out a tooth. Into the bloody spittle, a state prison guard dips his finger and traces the letters "KKK." Welcome to Greene County's State Correctional Institution at Waynesburg, Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The above account is taken from news articles on a lawsuit filed by Antonio Noguerol about a beating he sustained in 1996.

Attorney Rita Murillo wrote, of that, and other beatings sustained by her client, that this was not a case of self-defense, but "they were calculated, systemic and sadistic assaults, administered for the purpose of summarily punishing Mr. Noguerol for perceived insolence, and were done to make an example of a 'problem' inmate in order to maintain discipline.` ( PGH Post-Gazette , 4/26/98)

Anticipating the release of a series of articles exposing a campaign of brutality and torture at Greene, the DOC beat the pack announcing an "investigation" of an estimated forty guards at the high-tech hell, using select videotapes to see if any prisoners were improperly treated. Not surprisingly, the brutal abuse of Noguerol was not among the taped cases. Indeed, the DOC rushed to announce to a compliant media that the tapes only showed bumps, shoves, and pushes. Not to worry.

According to locally published reports, several former [SCI Greene] staffers, who dared question beatings and false institutional misconduct filings, were ushered out of the joint and fired. Linda Welling, a former unit manager of the prison, and Bob DeBord, a former counselor, charged they were threatened with violence for daring to question the repressive status quo. After their charges hit the airwaves, Greene's warden was demoted and transferred to a smaller, medium-security prison.

Under set theory, if one determines the perimeters of a set (or the elements which it will include), one can determine the outcome. The State "Corrections" Department, by virtually ignoring the most serious cases of brutality, has already determined the outcome of the "investigation." Oh, there will be a few sacrifices, a few transfers, a few examples of departmental discipline, but nothing substantive will change, or if it changes, it will be for the worse.

The prison will remain a place of approved brutality, and staffers, terrified of the loss of jobs and pensions (not to mention threats of violence), will see and not see, hear and not hear, and engage in the chilling crime of silent acquiescence.

For Greene was, and is, a creation of the state's political will, with terrorism merely a tool of state policy. Here, judges dare not rule against the repressive status quo, for judges, too, must bow to the dictates of state policy.

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