Beating on video
Well-run county jails don't draw a
Grand Jury, now do they?
RANTS that there would need to be a Grand Jury investigation over a
witnessed and video-recorded physical assault 8 months ago of a county jail
inmate by a county jail guard. Both area papers report that the March 20
beating and stomping of a shackled and cuffed inmate was witnessed by other
jail staff who testified to the Grand Jury.
County prison meeting minutes from a March 25 meeting make no mention of
this incident, stating an executive session was to reverse a highly publicized,
prior reprimand of a deputy warden. No county prison board meeting minutes
since the March 25 meeting have been published on the county's website to
Reading both papers' account today of the Grand Jury recommending that
criminal charges be brought against the former guard, one has to wonder why
the Grand Jury had to be bothered at all about this matter.
Why did it take a Grand Jury for action? Is the Grand Jury system working these
recent years as an employment training or job coaching agency for the county's
DA? Or, in all fairness to the DA, did the county fail to notify the police of the
RANTS that it took 2 months after the attack for the guard to be fired and that
charges were not filed. When did the prison board become aware of the March
beating? When did the other guards report this beating? Did guards cooperate
in reporting and the warden ignore the complaints? Did jail authorities ignore it?
Did jail authorities stall or were the witnessing guards also negligent by not
reporting or delaying? Why wasn't the guard fired until May 27?
In early June, sources outside the courthouse reported being told by
Commissioner Vince Zapotosky that a guard was fired for punching a cuffed
inmate in the stomach. He, reportedly, was very angry over the matter and didn't
appear to have been aware of it previously. That said, the DA, another prison
board member, possibly might not have been aware until late May when the
guard was fired.
If so, why not?
Regardless of whatever the answer is to whichever option, RANTS that the
county jail administration and county needs a frigging Grand Jury to recommend
charges. This wasn't a beating in the middle of the night on Heroin Alley, where
witnesses might be intimidated or running from the law themselves and opt to
This beating of a cuffed and shackled pain in the butt inmate inside the county
jail in March and delay in termination of the guard to late May is bad enough for
prison administration. Given that 2 prison administrators during that period just
had suspensions and reprimands for other things reversed, the Grand Jury
probe into the matter should have the prison board convening a special
That criminal charges were not pursued without a Grand Jury recommendation
is quite troublesome. A Grand Jury investigation should be the very last thing
that a well-run, small jail system should need.
RANTS that Fayette's old county jail is not run well.
Fayette's warden should know what goes on in his jail and should take
immediate action when something so horrible happens.
Video of the beating was shown to the Grand Jury prior to criminal charge
recommendation being made. Surely, jail administrators must have pulled the
video immediately upon learning of the beating to review what happened.
RANTS that guards testifying to a Grand Jury usually means that administrators
were properly informed of staff abuse and failed to act.
While the previous and unrelated suspensions of the warden and deputy
warden were reversed last spring, the warden's reprimand on May 28, 2014, for
failing to report serious incidents from April 5, 2014, was not reversed. (5 Nov
RAVES to the warden of
the Fayette County
Prison for saying again
that he is hesitant to
implement a work
program in the community
for incarcerated inmates.
No, seriously, please stay
with us here. These
RAVES are genuinely
Though work programs
are said to decrease
inmate recidivism rates,
build self-esteem and
inmate morale, RAVES to
the warden for having
legitimate concerns that
leaving the jail under
supervision to work
during periods of
will smuggle contraband
-- more specifically, fatal
doses of heroin -- back
into the jail.
At one point in the past,
it was said that an inmate
work program should be
on hold until a sally port
and new industrial jail
were built. No exact
reason for that reasoning
was ever given, however,
leading us to imagine that
the cheerleaders for a
new industrial prison
surely planned on a sally
port being an ideal spot
for strip searches or pat
downs for contraband
upon returning from
closely supervised work
That all said, RAVES of
the most sincere kind to
the warden for knowing
his true limitations as a
leader in the area of
Some six months ago,
even with 10 or so extra
full-time staff than he had
the previous year, the
warden appeared in the
local paper with pictured
galore that inmates,
somehow, while fully
supervised by jail staff,
got smuggled into the jail
or had ample free time,
during full supervision, to
craft contraband tools or
undetected until a sweep
of the cells was made.
RAVES to the warden for
sensing that it's too much
of a task for him to take
on, to coordinate
supervised work groups
to go into the community
with staff, who will
inmates working, so that
nobody brings back fatal
heroin into the jail.
RANTS to any prison
board who allows the
incompetents to rule. (31
Grand jury wasn't 1st time true stories
Citizens concerns blown off
come back to bite the
county with another Grand
In light of a grand jury recently recommending
criminal charges be filed against a fired county
jail for a severe physical assault of
an inmate, RANTS that the county prison
board didn't seem to react appropriately to
and take concerns seriously enough,
expressed multiple times over recent years,
from jail advocates Kathryn and Bill Jones of
Their son, Jonathan Jones, who ran for
county commissioner as a write-in candidate,
also has focused on inmate treatment at the
county jail during public comment at meetings.
RANTS, also, that former inmate Charles B.,
seems to have wasted his time and effort
trying to plead a few years at public meetings
with county jail officials and commissioners to
improve inmate treatment and care.
Why were their concerns essentially ignored?
We mean, why were their concerns ignored?
Except for those unfortunate realities, we
mean, why didn't heads roll a few years
sooner and why didn't the prison board take
the Jones' concerns seriously and investigate
to ensure that these people were just
troublemakers before dismissing them?
The Jones family, ends up, seems to have
much correct, accurate information about jail
problems that they have addressed to
officials. These are people who took their
concerns to proper officials and clearly stated
problems and offered assistance to resolve
issues at times.
Could a Grand Jury have been avoided if the
county officials stepped up to investigate the
RANTS that we don't know how many more
indictments will result or how high up the
chain of commands indictments may unfold.
Have we heard the extent of indictments or
charges? If so, was the jury dismissed too
RAVES to advocates for reform and hopes
that they continue to monitor activity at the
county lock up. At times, they appear to be the
only ones doing so. (9 Nov 15)
Wise inmate sums
up the man-made jail
Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note of
amazing coincidence today that toilets
were disgustingly clogged, water pipes
and sinks were leaking into an incredible
mess and doors would not open, just as
the union top guns and cameras toured
the county jail and declared it to be a
safety and health hazard.
Summing it up nicely and wisely was an
inmate, who on video filmed by
heraldstandard.com stated that the water
from a clogged sink in the next cell "just
runs on the floor all day.
"Maintenance still hasn't fixed it... I've
been here 3 weeks. It has been like that."
Like or unlike the unnamed source who
definitely brings in deadly contraband
narcotics into the jail -- i.e., walked in,
and not passed magically through the thick
stone walls, either -- it's all just another
day of big mystery -- or not -- why
maintenance has not fixed the clogs and
As previously shown here with a photo
sent our way, even a 10-year-old
neglected, high tech jail cell with rust and
peeled paint in Beaver County looks
almost as bad as cells do in Fayette's
127-year-old neglected lock up.
Heads should roll in both places for
allowing county and public-owned property
to deteriorate without upkeep. Period. (2
Who pays for public
neglected water leaks?
RANTS, too, that today's email inbox is full
from readers and taxpayers who
experienced traumatic shock from having
undetected water pipe leaks until bills
doubled or tripled, showing unusually high
water consumption. None checking in
can realistically imagine deliberately
allowing water to run unchecked as it is
running onto floors and down walls in the
county lock up.
RANTS, as well, that email is full from
readers, who have had to shell out beau
coup dollars for water leak-related
structural damages in their homes, rentals
and businesses. Those of us in these 2
category groups are outraged that
taxpayers are left to foot the bill for wasted
water leaks at the jail that should have
been repaired pronto and then the
repair of damages to walls, floors, ceilings
or even roofs from neglected repair needs.
All that said, this column stands firmly
behind last night's opinion that heads
should roll at the jail for wastefully
allowing leaks to deteriorate public-owned
property. RANTS that salaries aren't
garnished for the waste and
unnecessary cost to taxpayers.
Yesterday's tour and doom and gloom
opinion only further reinforces this
column's belief that the county must
upgrade, repair and maintain the building,
as historical status of it does not allow the
site to be torn down until it actually starts
to cave in and fall down.
That dismal prediction cannot be allowed
to happen, with or without inmates
and staff inside it. (3 Dec 15)
Why didn't Crabtree et
al screeeeam in 2013 to
RANTS that so much structural foundation
deterioration is said to have occurred at
the Fayette County Prison just since the
2013 Crabtree study and other studies
assessed the site's feasibility for upgrade.
Given that 2013 private back room
meetings with Al Ambrosini and a handful
of even other professional consulting firms
(as documented in previous Right to Know
requests to obtain jail ad hoc work group
committee reports) drew no red flags or
outcry to abandon ship for fear of a
crumbling jail building foundation or other
at risk exterior walls, one is left puzzled
today to phantom how so much structural
doom and gloom could be predicted by a
tour of elected officials and union reps -- or
to account for why so much structural
outer support wall and foundation stone is
now shifted or crumbling.
One would think -- don't you think? -- that
2013 professional opinion then should
have been unanimous, across the board,
to abandon the building pronto. That
Crabtree did not note these structural
problems is remarkable.
That Crabtree and none of the firms used
through back room meetings or formal
assessment requests noted significant,
dangerous risks of collapse, however, is
noted here. (3 Dec 15)