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Former Captain at Louisiana Private Prison Sentenced for Conspiracy to Violate Ban on Cruel and Unusual Punishment

by Bill Barton

Roderick Douglas, 38, of Monroe, Louisiana, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy with five other guards at Richwood Correctional Center (RCC) to violate the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Douglas was sentenced June 5, 2019, by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana, for his actions in the October 2016 incident at RCC, a privately run federal prison near Monroe.

“Correctional officers deserve our respect for the jobs they do, but we must also hold them accountable when they willfully break the law and cover up the abuse of inmates,” U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph said. “The defendant in this case ignored his role as a caretaker for prisoners and violated the rights of those he was sworn to protect. My office is committed to upholding the laws of our land and the rights of all.”

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, who joined Joseph in making the announcement, said, “This blatant abuse of power will not be tolerated by the Department of Justice. Today’s sentencing demonstrates the commitment of the Civil Rights Division to vigorously prosecute those who inflict cruel and unusual punishment against inmates under their care.”

As part of his guilty plea in February, Douglas admitted in a signed statement that he sprayed pepper spray directly into the eyes of two kneeling, handcuffed prisoners, and then handed the can to other guards. Four other guards pleaded guilty to a cover-up: Sergeant Demario Shaffer, 34, of Delhi received 15 months in prison; David Parker, 28, of Tallulah got 21 months, and former Lieutenant Christopher Loring received 46 months. Charges against Quintail Credit were dropped because he died before sentencing.

Douglas’ statement was the major detailed account of the events at RCC “on or about Oct. 30, 2016.” It said guards rounded up five inmates whom they suspected of belonging to gangs. Following extensive questioning, none of the prisoners admitted to gang-related activity. The guards brought them to an area in the RCC that lacked security cameras, put them on their knees facing a wall, and cuffed their hands behind their backs. Holding a can of pepper spray in one hand, Douglas asked one man if he was a gang member, and when the man again said no, Douglas “sprayed the inmate directly in the eyes.” According to the statement, “Co-defendants Demario Shaffer, Quintail Credit, and David Parker each took a turn spraying the remaining inmates in the eyes, while Christopher Loring and another officer, D.R., remained in the room.”

The injured prisoners were taken to have their eyes treated. All five guards filed false reports attempting to hide their complicity.

“Conspiring to cover up physical assault against an inmate is in blatant violation of federal law and the Department of Justice will hold violators accountable,” said Dreiband. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to enforce the laws that prohibit this type of misconduct.” See: United States v. Douglas, U.S.D.C. (W.D. La), Case No. 3:18-cr-00085-01. 

 

Sources: justice.gov, know.cpn, abcnews.go.com, hannapub.com

Related legal case

United States v. Douglas