----- Original Message -----
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney
To: PATRICK Crusade
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2003 10:35 PM
Subject: Fw: Ill. Gov.'s Pick for Prison Chief on Hold
Alabama's new prison commissioner needs to see this article and so does the new governor. I recommend that others in their states do the same with their officials. Let's get the word out that abuse inside the prisons is a criminal offense - and that there is no longer any political gain for abusing prisoners. Prisoner abuse is not in Vogue any more. "Punishment" is being replaced with "Corrections".
People Aligned To Replace Injustice & Cruelty with Knowledge
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2003 12:29 PM
Subject: Ill. Gov.'s Pick for Prison Chief on Hold
Ill. Gov.'s Pick for Prison Chief on Hold
Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked Thursday that confirmation proceedings be halted for his pick for corrections department head after a newspaper reported inmates were beaten at the jail the nominee ran.
The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that Cook County Jail officers beat and terrorized inmates in a maximum-security unit in 1999, while Ernesto Velasco was the jail's executive director. The officers filed false paperwork to cover up the alleged rampage, the paper said.
"We are alarmed and troubled," Blagojevich said of the reports. "We're simply not going to proceed until we feel we have enough information."
On Feb. 4, Blagojevich named Velasco, who retired from Cook County last month, to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections. At the governor's request, Senate President Emil Jones agreed Thursday to halt confirmation proceedings for Velasco, who is now heading the department in an acting capacity.
Addressing the Senate's executive appointment committee Thursday in Springfield, Velasco said he did nothing wrong. He said he handed over the investigation to the sheriff's office as soon as he heard the allegations.
The Tribune report, citing county documents and interviews with inmates and sheriff's sources, said an elite squad of 40 officers took over the jail unit Feb. 24, 1999, in response to a gang-related stabbing days earlier.
Corrections officers clad in riot gear and accompanied by four guard dogs without muzzles ransacked inmates' cells, the paper said. The officers then allegedly ordered about 400 prisoners to strip and had them line up against jail walls.
Prisoners were struck with batons for moving too slow or for looking away from the wall, the newspaper said, adding that at least 49 inmates told investigators they were beaten.
"It was scary," said Leroy Orange, an inmate at the time. "The dogs were barking and the officers were just beating ... everybody."
The newspaper said an internal sheriff's department report indicates officers denied injured prisoners immediate medical attention and filed false reports to cover up their actions.
The report found 29 violations against Richard Remus, commander of the Special Operations Response Team for the sheriff's department, which runs the jail. The report also found other violations, including that former Superintendent James Edwards filed false reports.
Remus and Edwards denied wrongdoing.
"I'm not in there torturing inmates. I'm not there beating inmates," Remus said. "And my guys don't do that." Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan, said no evidence of brutality was found, and that the internal affairs report "does not reflect the final outcome or the final determination" on the incident. The jail's acting executive director, John Maul, has yet to make a recommendation on discipline in the case. The Sheriff's department's inspector general and the undersheriff must approve any decision.