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California and Connecticut Reinstate Jobs of Fired Guards

In a process fabled for reinstating 6070% of the jobs of fired prison guards, a unanimous California State Personnel Board (SPB) ordered the positions of six previously dismissed Youth Authority guards restored with full back pay. And in a strikingly similar case, Connecticut did the same for one guard.

California guards Delwin Brown, Marcel Berry, Linda Bridges, Steve Chiu, Danny Torrez and Robert Dutra had been fired from their jobs at the N.A. Chadjerian Youth Correctional Facility after an internal investigation there revealed that they had used excessive force in subduing wards. In a much publicized video recording of the January 20, 2004 incident wherein Brown was depicted sitting atop one of the wards and flailing him with a series of lefts and rights to the head," the guards were dismissed. (See: PLN, April, 2005) Voicing approval of the dismissal were State Senator Gloria Romero and Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman. According to guards' union (CCPOA) spokesman Lance Corcoran, the guards had acted in self-defense from the wards' assault on them that began before the video coverage started.

Although an administrative law judge overruled the dismissals upon finding the guards' witnesses more credible than the State's (findings upheld by the SPB), Secretary Hickman strongly disagree[d] with this decision" and will review our options ... where staff are allegedly abusive or dishonest," including taking the matter to Superior Court. Senator Romero was outraged, but not completely surprised." She supported Hickman's continuing prosecution of the case to crack this code of silence and send a message that we're serious about reform ... [and] won't tolerate this.
In an unrelated use-of-force incident, Superintendent Steve Kruse (Chadjerian's ninth Superintendent in five years), was himself fired on August 10, 2005. (See: PLN, December, 2005)
The state has halted admissions to Chadjerian while it considers public pressure to close the facility.

Mirroring the above scenario, the Connecticut Department of Corrections (CDOC) reinstated a guard with $20,000 in back pay on September 16, 2005, one year after firing him for savagely beating a disruptive prisoner. Guard Patrick Maia, aided by his union, convinced a mediator to reduce his punishment to a 30 day suspension, transfer and remedial training. CDOC spokesman Ed Ramsey nonetheless admitted this was an extremely serious incident involving conduct that the [CDOC] does not tolerate.

The 49 page CDOC report on the Somers Northern Correctional Institution incident showed that after prisoner Robert Joslyn broke a sprinkler head and flooded his cell, guards beat him in the head, leaving him with lumps on his head, lacerations on his nose and his right eye swollen shut. Denial of culpability for the beating was impeached by a CDOC video tape leaked to a local TV station. It showed Maia and three other guards using excessive force on Joslyn in his cell, from which the report concluded that Maia was less than truthful when asked how Joslyn sustained those injuries." The other three guards were also suspended.

Joslyn claimed he was the target of guards in retaliation for his earlier grievances. Originally incarcerated in 1992 for burglary, Joslyn amassed 92 disciplinary reports, including assaults on staff. His current four-year term is for possession of a weapon in prison.

Joslyn's attorney vowed to sue in federal court against all of the involved guards, noting a culture of abuse and neglect that pervades CDOC."

Source: Associated Press, Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times, Journal Inquirer of Manchester;

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