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Pennsylvania Prison Official Settles Termination Lawsuit For Investigating Beating

Former Pennsylvania county prison official, Lt. Constance Bowers, brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit after being terminated in 2004, two months short of 20 years service to the state. She was allegedly terminated for failure to end an investigation into the beating of a female prisoner. Bowers settled for $30,000 and upgraded pension benefits.

Bowers, a long standing supervisory staff member at the Dauphin County Prison, also investigated allegations of prisoner misconduct. She noticed injuries to a prisoner and took photographs. Major Dennis Stewart allegedly instructed Bowers not to pursue the incident and she was subsequently fired.

The Patriot News reported on seven other prisoner abuse allegations, more in the first half of 2007 than in all of 2006. It appears that none of the 20 abuse allegations lodged from 2004 to 2006 were investigated by district attorney Edward Marisco's office and statistics show that, mysteriously, no Pennsylvania County prison reported any abuse allegations during that time span. County Prison Watch has been formed consisting of several prison reform groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, due to concerns of abuse. Even clergy members stated that cruelty and abuse reports at the prison had increased. Marisco is to work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for a related hearing. Warden Dominick DeRose and Commissioner Jeff Haste (prison board chairman) stated newfound concerns. Source: The Patriot News, "Lawsuit Against Prison Settled," June 7, 2007.

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