Boys’ mass grave at Florida prison discovered


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Black & White Boys At Dozier Reform School ‘Worst Nightmare’

10 July 2013

An anthropological investigation into abuse and death at the now closed Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for Boys found a record of 98 students died between 1914 and 1973-19 more than what a state probe previously uncovered. Several men who were boys at Dozier Reform School speak out about the abuse they experienced as students at Dozier.

By Jake Dean in the USA:

Fifty-five bodies found at Florida’s former reform school

5 February 2014

An excavation in the makeshift graveyard at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Florida last week uncovered 55 bodies in unmarked graves. These grisly findings are in addition to several other bodies found on the grounds of the campus, once housing 1,400, by an initial investigation carried out in 2009 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

The excavation efforts are led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, an associate professor of forensic anthropology at the University of South Florida, and involve 50 other researchers from nine different agencies in attempting to locate the missing bodies that have been buried there, and to determine the cause of their deaths.

During a press conference, Dr. Kimmerle expressed her motivation for leading this mission: “This project has always been about fulfilling a fundamental human right for families who, like all of us, have a right to know what happened to their loved ones and are entitled to bury their relatives in manner which they deem proper.”

The team used ground-penetrating radar to help find the grave shafts of at least 50 unmarked graves. The actual campus cemetery contains only 13 bodies, marked by pipe crosses to symbolize their death.

During the excavation, the research team found thousands of artifacts, which will help to date and more accurately record the identities of the boys buried. Some of the artifacts include belt buckles, buttons, coffin hardware, and a marble in a boy’s pocket.

Also known as the Florida School for Boys and Florida State Reform School, the juvenile detention center was operated by the state of Florida from 1900 to 2011. Well before the excavation took place, the school was notorious for allegations of physical and sexual assault against the boys incarcerated there. An investigation by the US Justice Department, as well as countless other accusations, led to the institution’s closure on May 26, 2011. Significantly, the official reason given by the state for closing the school was a lack of funds.

The school was intended for boys who committed crimes such as theft and murder. A change in the state’s law, however, lowered the requirement to include minor infractions from “incorrigibility” to “truancy,” leading to an increase in the number of boys who were sent there.

Boys who were sent to the school refer to themselves as the “White House Boys.” The designation refers to the building in the school where abuse took place. Boys as young as five years of age were subjected to beatings and rape, and were hog-tied and locked in isolation, sometimes up to three weeks, in the “White House.”

Students who died at the school were buried in unrecorded locations, and frequently had their deaths cited as “unknown” in the death certificates. School officials on multiple occasions did not report the deaths to the state, and failed to provide a death certificate or conduct any form of investigation. Some of the bodies were burned in the school incinerator, making it impossible to locate all the boys’ bodies in order to determine the cause of death.

As a result of the extensive research conducted by Dr. Kimmerle’s team, it was determined that a minimum of 98 boys died between 1914 and 1973. Many of the victims were young black males, ranging from the ages of 6 to 18. During their research, the team also discovered that 7 died while attempting to escape, and 20 died after having been there less than three months.

It would be no exaggeration, given the number of bodies discovered and the countless anecdotal stories related by those who survived the experience, to assume that many of the deaths did not result from natural causes, but from a range of violent and barbaric acts.

Researchers also suggest that many of the children buried may have been killed. Only further research will establish the cause of their deaths. Five sets of DNA samples have already been sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center to identify some of the bodies.

The University of South Florida was commissioned on August 6th, 2013, to begin the excavation of remains. Florida’s secretary of state, Ken Detzner, had attempted to prevent the investigation by various means, including refusing to authorize the permit for it. The team was forced to appeal to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, when Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet authorized Dr. Kimmerle to begin the excavation.

The first public exposure of the Dozier School took place in October 2008, when five former wards emerged publicly, telling their stories of physical and sexual abuse. The account was published in a Tampa Bay Times series entitled “For Their Own Good.” Since 2008, more than 500 people have come forward with similar stories, all giving similar testimony.

In 2009, a follow-up investigation by the Tampa Bay Times caused the governor to order a state investigation into the accusations. The FDLE, which carried out the investigation, determined in its 18-page report that the deaths of the 31 boys buried at the school were due to a fire that took place in 1914 and a subsequent flu outbreak. The FDLE report only relied on the school’s record to calculate the number of deaths and to map out the cemetery.

The authorities also ruled out allegations that the boys were killed by the guards and buried there. Because of lack of any first-hand information, Florida’s state attorney for the district, Glenn Hess, declined to open any formal criminal investigation.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2011 launched its own investigation into the school, ultimately leading to its termination. The DOJ released its report on December 2, 2011. Among its findings was the failure of Florida’s oversight system to “detect and sufficiently address harmful practices at both the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Jackson Juvenile Offender Center.”

The report also stated that the school failed to properly protect the youth from harm, failed to provide any rehabilitation services in violation of due process rights, displayed indifference to the risk of self-injurious or suicidal behaviors, and implemented unconstitutional means of disciplinary confinement.

Despite the findings from the DOJ and the discovery of the bodies, Florida has yet to even open a criminal investigation of those who worked at the school. Another dig is scheduled for Dr. Kimmerle’s investigative team next month in the hope to find more bodies and to discover the truth behind the deaths of the boys.

The horrors being uncovered in Florida, spanning as they do a century of American history, including the likely attempt by the authorities to cover them up, targeting the most vulnerable sections of the working class, testify once more to the bankruptcy of the present social and political system.

Pennsylvania: Kids for Cash: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals: here.

The U.S. Is Locking People Up For Being Poor: here.

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Texas government cheats pharmacists on death penalties


This video from the USA, with music by Steve Earle, is called Huntsville, Texas death-row prison cemetery.

From News Line daily in Britain, Friday, 11 October 2013:

Meanwhile, the Reprieve charity has issued a statement that ‘Pharmacies in the US are demanding that executioners in Texas not use their drugs to carry out lethal injections, claiming that the state “misrepresented” their plans for the drugs, or that they were completely unaware of the intended use.’

Texas is one of a number of states – including Pennsylvania, Colorado and South Dakota – which has attempted to secure the execution drug pentobarbital from compounding pharmacies, after major pharmaceutical companies took steps to block the use of their products in capital punishment.

However, it has emerged that both of the pharmacies from which Texas procured supplies of ‘compounded’ (i.e. made-to-order) pentobarbital have either blocked the order or are demanding the return of the drugs.

One of the suppliers, Pharmacy Innovations, which is headquartered in Jamestown, NY, was according to court documents, ‘completely unaware that the drugs … were purchased with the intent to use them for lethal injections,’ and once informed, ‘cancelled the order before it had been filled’.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) had attempted to purchase under the cover name of the Huntsville Unit Hospital – even though the hospital has not existed since 1983.

The owner of the other supplier, the Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy, wrote this weekend to the TDCJ to ‘demand that TDCJ immediately return the vials of compounded pentobarbital,’ complaining that ‘the State of Texas misrepresented this fact (that the purchase would remain private) because my name and the name of my pharmacy are posted all over the internet.’

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of legal charity Reprieve’s Death Penalty team said: ‘This shows that responsible pharmacies, like responsible drugs companies, do not want to be part of the death penalty system.

Texas’ underhand behaviour – trying to order the drugs through a non-existent hospital to mask their intended use – should come as a warning to pharmacies everywhere to be on their guard. Pharmacists are in the business of healing, not killing – it is high time all those US states desperately seeking new sources of execution drugs realised that.’

British Serco private prison scandal


This video from Australia is called The Biggest Company You’ve Never Heard Of. It is about private prison corporation Serco.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

POA: end shame of Serco jail

Tuesday 14 May 2013

by Paddy McGuffin and Adrian Roberts

Prison officers called today for a privately run London prison to be turned over to the public sector after inspectors exposed horrendous violence and all-day lock-ups.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that Serco-run HMP Thameside, which opened in March 2012, was riven by violence and had “one of the most restrictive regimes” inspectors had ever seen.

There was a high level of assaults and prisoners had little confidence in the inexperienced staff to handle violence or deliquency.

Inspectors found that guards used a high, but reducing, level of force, segregation and harshly limited inmates’ time out of their cells.

Six in 10 inmates were locked up during the working day with some shut up for 23 hours.

There were also far too few activity places to meet prisoners’ needs, inspectors said.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said the first stage in a new jail’s operation was “critical and demanding” and that Thamesmead staff and managers had faced “clearly evident” challenges “in bringing stability to this prison.

“The opening process had been hard work and very tough. There remained some big gaps at the prison and there was much to do before it could be seen as operating at its full potential.”

But prison officers union POA general secretary Steve Gillan said it was all too predictable.

Speaking from the POA conference in Southport, Mr Gillan said: “This is what happens when the government of the day has privatisation of the public sector at the heart of its agenda.

Prisons must not be for-profit and Thameside should be given to the public sector.”

National Offender Management Service chief executive Michael Spurr tried to defend the prison, saying that it was “still in the very early stages of its development.

“Decisive action has already been taken to address the concerns raised.”

But Howard League for Penal Reform campaigns director Andrew Neilson said the government should be embarrassed.

“Less than a week after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling demanded that prisoners work harder to earn privileges, this flagship private prison is revealed to be locking up inmates for 23 hours a day because they don’t have anything constructive to do.

“This is what happens when you hand the justice system over to vast multinational corporations, who put cost-cutting and the interests of their shareholders ahead of concern for public safety.”

The sisters of two men who died in custody on a police-station floor pleaded with trade unionists in Glasgow today to join their fight for justice: here.

Prisoners are being employed to ring people up and quiz them about their insurance details, the Ministry of Justice confirmed today: here.

Georgians demonstrate against sexual abuse scandal


This video is called Torture Tape Rage: Thousands protest Georgian prison horror.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Protesters demand justice in shocking prison abuse scandal

Sunday 23 September 2012

Thousands rallied again on Friday in Georgia to demand the prosecution of ministers fired in a prison abuse scandal.

The protests, sparked by graphic videos showing guards in the Gldani prison in Tbilisi brutally beating prisoners and raping them with truncheons and broom handles, have ratcheted up the pressure on President Mikhail Saakashvili.

He has sought to contain the damage by sacking prison bosses but, despite that, protesters increased their demands as rallies went into a third day.

They inisted that Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaya and others be brought to justice.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered overnight outside Gldani, stopping several prison vans and asking prisoners inside whether they had been abused.

Protesters also gathered outside another prison in the city of Rustavi.

See also here.

Georgian prison sexual abuse


This video from TV9 in Georgia is called Georgian prisoners rape in Tbilisi 2012.

From Human Rights Watch:

Georgia: Investigate Sexual Abuse in Prison

Graphic Video Material Points to Need for Accountability

September 19, 2012

(Berlin) – Video footage broadcast on Georgian television on September 18, 2012, depicts sexual and other abuse of inmates in a notorious prison in Georgia, which should be subject to criminal investigation, Human Rights Watch said today. The government of Georgia should conduct a prompt, thorough, and independent investigation into the abuse, hold those found responsible accountable, and ensure the victims a remedy.

A Georgian corrections official stated publicly that the head of the penitentiary department has been dismissed as a result of the abuse and that several other officials have been arrested. Acts of a criminal nature, such as assault and including sexual assault, should be subject to criminal investigations and prosecutions, and not simply disciplinary sanctions, Human Rights Watch said.

“The abuse captured in this footage is profoundly disturbing,” said Giorgi Gogia, senior Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities need to ensure full accountability—including criminal accountability—for this abuse and take measures to prevent it from ever happening again.”

Human Rights Watch also said that those under suspicion for involvement in the abuse should be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

On September 18, the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying it had opened an investigation into ill-treatment in Gldani Prison No.8 against prisoners by “certain penitentiary department employees.” The statement included a link to video footage allegedly taken by one of the former employees of the prison administration depicting physical assault on prisoners by members of the prison administration.

That evening, a talk show on Maestro television station broadcast further video materials depicting Gldani prison officials beating, insulting, and humiliating newly arrived inmates at Gldani prison No. 8. Shortly afterward, another TV station, TV9, aired further video footage vividly and graphically depicting rape of prisoners by prison staff.

The Interior Ministry statement acknowledged the ill-treatment. However, it claimed that several prison officials video recorded the abuse as part of a “previously elaborated plot” by one of the inmates, who convinced several prison staff to carry it out in exchange for “substantial reimbursement.”

Georgia’s human rights ombudsman has often referred to Gldani Prison No. 8 as one of Georgia’s most problematic prison facilities. In a 2010 report, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture said that former inmates of the Gldani prison alleged that staff had punched, kicked, and struck them with truncheons during the intake process and as punishment for such actions as talking loudly or attempting to communicate with prisoners from other cells. The report also said it found “an uncommon silence” by prisoners the committee met in the prison.

Georgian authorities have an obligation under international human rights law not only to effectively investigate all allegations of ill-treatment and torture, but to enforce criminal sanctions against those identified as criminally responsible, Human Rights Watch said. Victims of the abuse are also entitled to a legally enforceable remedy for their violations, Human Rights Watch said.

“Sexual assault on a detainee constitutes torture,” Gogia said. “The prohibition on torture is absolute, and the government should ensure that the justice is done.”

From the BBC:

Georgia prison abuse film sparks protests

Video footage showing prisoners being abused by guards in Georgia has triggered anti-government protests in the country.

Uniformed officers in Tbilisi’s jail are seen severely beating inmates and sexually assaulting one with a broom.

And, like other regimes facing domestic scandals do by trying to shift attention away from the domestic scandals to foreign “enemies”: Georgia Masses Troops, Equipment, Planes On Abkhazian, South Ossetian Borders.