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Washington Prison Instructors Teach Racism and Brutality

An assessment of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) revealed that instructors were teaching trainees how to abuse prisoners and to treat citizens improperly. So far, three instructors have been terminated, but one alleges his firing was retaliation for reporting the other two.
Amongst the teachings given trainees are:
• If a prisoner is unruly in the back of your patrol car, slam on the brakes so he hits the cage divider, saying you were avoiding an animal.
• If you get in trouble for violating policy, arrange for your suspension to occur during fishing season.
• If you have no options to house a mentally ill person, drive him to a remote area, like a railroad yard, and threaten to shoot him if he doesn’t leave town.

CJTC also teaches the Corrections Officer Academy, which held more than 55 classes for more than 900 students in 2007. It contracts with other agencies to borrow guards to teach its classes. Robert Kerrigan and Richard Scott had been teaching at CJTC when Abdul Mohamed was hired in March, 2007.

From the start, there were problems with chemistry. “He’s a good instructor, but we all have different styles,” said Kerrigan. “He’s very forceful, very authoritarian, and that’s not my style.” Mohamed found his coworkers’ freewheeling, casual style unprofessional. “I let those guys do their own thing, but I kept not everything bad that they did,” Mohamed said.

Eventually, Mohamed complained to superiors. He alleged that Scott made obscene gestures, that Scott sometimes rubbed the shoulders of female recruits and had other physical contact with them, and that profanity was rampant in the classroom.

An investigation by Greg Baxter, human resources director for the training commission, investigated the allegations and found they were unfounded. “Witnesses agree that he over-dramatizes incidents, and is hypercritical of people who disagree with him, criticize him, or question his judgment,” wrote Baxter.

In November, 2007, Mohamed was terminated despite having a contract until 2009. Coincidentally, an assessment was being done of CJTC programs in 2007. In December, 2007, and January, 2008, King County Corrections Sgt. Catey Hicks sat in upon classes conducted by Scott and Kerrigan.

Her report mirrored Mohamed’s allegation. “The [CJTC] academy is in a state of dire condition that is in desperate need of an immediate and dramatic overhaul,” wrote Hicks. She noted widespread profanity that had nothing to do with roleplaying. In addition, she found sexual innuendos that were “obviously inappropriate, uncomfortable, and highly offensive.” One incident had a recruit playing a handcuffed prisoner. Scott stood behind him toying with a soft baton in a way that suggested he would sexually assault the recruit.

Hicks recommended Scott and Kerrigan be fired. By January 28, Scott had been escorted off the CJTC campus and Kerrigan was asked to leave the next day. They acknowledged they may have done wrong, but contend it was done with approval.

“I’m man enough to admit I probably said some things I never should have said,” Kerrigan says. As to his supervisors, he said, “they didn’t take any ownership on what they were allowing us to do.”

Meanwhile, Mohamed remains angry about his termination. “When you complain about it, you are the guy making things up, you are the guy that’s crazy,” he said. Many prisoners who have endured the tactics trained at the CJTC have found themselves in the same dilemma.

Source: Seattle PI.

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