Four prisoners were injured. One prisoner was shot through the arm and chest, two were shot in the leg, and another was shot in a shoulder, said D.C. Fire Department spokesman Alan Etter.
The small caliber handgun believed to have been used in the shooting was found in a cellblock trash can. However, officials had no idea how the weapon got inside the jail or who fired it.
Pamela Chase, chairwoman of the Department of Corrections unit of the Fraternal Order of Police, blamed the shooting on insufficient staffing. Currently 638 jailers supervise more than 2,200 prisoners.
"This is a prime example of what is needed in that institution to deal with that level of population," said Chase. Chase noted that 324 jailers were cut in March 2001 and that the city council has refused requests for more. All four prisoners were expected to survive.
On April 7, 2004, Shawn Gray, 32, was indicted on charges of smuggling the pistol into the jail and using it to shoot himself and Frederick Robinson, 40, Leonard Johnson, 27, and Jamal Jefferson, 23. Robinson and Johnson were also indicted. Jefferson apparently changed his mind but was shot anyway.
Prosecutors claim the shootings were part of a plan by the prisoners to sue the jail for failing to protect them. Regardless of the motive jail officials have yet to explain how the pistol was smuggled into the jail.
Sources: www.washingtonpost.com, Associated Press
NOTE: A follow-up to this article, in the July 2006 issue of PLN, included a factual error. In that article we reported that Johnson and Jefferson had testified against their co-defendants. That was incorrect; according to the Washington Post, Jefferson and Robinson cooperated with prosecutors in this case. PLN regrets the error and wants to set the record straight.
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login