Report: Inmates rescue female deputy from another inmate’s chokehold, save her life

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DENVER, CO- According to reports, a Denver sheriff’s deputy jumped by an inmate has other inmates to thank for saving her life.

The inmate who attacked the deputy, since identified as 38-year-old Joseph Maestas, has been booked with second-degree assault on a peace officer. He was originally booked into the downtown detention center on August 31st on a warrant for Failure to Appear on a Burglary charge.

According to court documents, Maestas asked the deputy for a handball. When the deputy turned her back to retrieve the handball from a locker, Maestas allegedly jumped on the female deputy’s back and placed her in a “rear chokehold,” attempting to strangle her.

At that point, several other inmates jumped in to help get Maestas off of the female deputy. Maestas was later transported to Denver Health Medical Center for injuries he received during the altercation. Court documents stated that the entire incident was caught on jail surveillance video. 

In a separate incident, an inmate at Rikers Island attacked a correction officer, sending the officer to the hospital. After the assault, officers re-arrested the inmate on attempted murder charges. DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi said in a statement:

“Any assault on our staff is deplorable and absolutely unacceptable. We will work with the Bronx DA to hold the individual responsible accountable.”

The injured correction officer suffered multiple injuries and was admitted into the hospital for treatment of those injuries. According to Benny Boscio, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, the officer sustained a fractured skull, fractured orbitals and a fractured nose.

According to reports, there is an increase of violence inside the walls of Rikers Island and it’s not just attacks amongst inmates. Assaults against correction officers are up by 23 percent. 

Three officers who say they were assaulted by inmates in recent weeks, who did not want to be identified due to fear for their safety, shared what it is like working at Rikers Island. One officer who has been on the job for five years, said he was jumped by two gang members who cit his face, bit his hand, and punched him. He said:

“I feel scared. Officers are scared to go back to work because they’re out of control.”

Another officer said he was also jumped by two gang members who tried to steal his prison keys. He said:

“He literally was choking me for what felt like forever, while he was on top of me.”

The third officer was rushed to the hospital after he was knocked unconscious by an inmate. He said:

“I’m scared to go back to the job. I’m afraid because I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Over the past year, there has been an increase in inmates, a decrease in staff, and an increase in officer sick calls. Boscio said in a statement:

“We feel like we’re the forgotten souls.”

Reportedly, some officers inside the jail complex are working 25 hours at a time, even sleeping in their cars in the parking lot to get some rest. Boscio said:

“Working that many hours is having a toll on the human body.”

Schiraldi, who was appointed to his position roughly three months ago, said:

“Conditions are really rough both for staff and for people who are incarcerated there.”

Boscio said that with so many resignations and retirements, they need 2,000 new officers to improve the situation. Schiraldi said he is hiring new officers this fall, adding:

“We just bumped it up to 600. I’m supportive of the union and I think they’ve raised the alarm on this. It’s very important for the public to hear, but I think the 2,000 number is made up.”

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Corrections captain at New York’s Rikers Island doused with human feces by inmate

July 20th, 2021

NEW YORK CITY- Some say that working as a corrections officer can be a crappy job, however an incident last week at Rikers Island took that to a whole new level. According to the New York Post, a captain working at the New York jail was attacked by an inmate and smothered in feces, according to law enforcement sources.

Sources say the captain, Nauvella Lacroix was working the night shift around 9:45 p.m. when inmate Arthur Brown started hurling the feces at him from inside his cell, striking the officer in the face and torso area, according to internal records.

Capt. Lacroix has served with the New York City Department of Corrections for about nine years. He was conducting a routine tour of the cells when Brown started the deluge without provocation, the records said.

Images of Capt. Lacroix showed his white uniform shirt nearly entirely covered with feces. It is unknown what the extend of his injuries may have been, but the shirt was turned over for testing for any type of biohazard.

One DOC source was livid about the incident, saying, “The job is really going to shit!” Literally. “This shows the continuing lack of respect the officers get, day in and day out, from the inmates and the higher ups don’t back them.”

This isn’t the first such attack on a corrections officer, according to Patrick Ferraiuolo, president of the Correction Captain’s Association, who told the Post Brown has attacked DOC staff with feces “at least a half dozen times.”

“This should’ve never happened because this is not the first time this inmate has doused an employee with feces,” Ferraiuolo told the outlet by telephone.

“I’ve been personally told that he has exhausted his time in punitive segregation [solitary confinement] so they can’t move him. That’s unacceptable. When an inmate behaves that way and throws feces at uniformed staff, he needs to be isolated, he needs to be put in punitive segregation, there should be no exhausting of time when it comes to an inmate this violent and this dangerous, but they continue to coddle the inmate.”

Apparently if someone is to get solitary confinement, they need to trespass at the Capitol, much more egregious than tossing crap at correctional officers.

Ferraiuolo told the Post that three captains, including Lacroix have been personally attacked with feces by Brown and the staff his union represents needs more support from leadership in the Department of Corrections.

“No one has supported [Lacroix], we literally had to fight with the warden to get him a couple of days off so he could go and just regroup, and you know recover from this tragedy,” the union president said.

“My guy is devastated,” he said of Lacroix.

The city’s Department of Corrections is suffering from the same malady as the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in that a significant number of officers have been resigning.

Some have actually jumped to the NYPD, citing “inhumane treatment,” long tours of duty described as “dangerous,” and unsafe working conditions, according to the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association (COBA) in a radio interview Sunday.

“We’re having the roughest time in my 22-year career ever. Officers are working triple shifts, which includes…in some cases 30 hours straight. It’s a really unsafe situation for us. My corrections are suffering,” said COBA president Benny Boscio.

“We filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections and the Department of Labor. We’re trying to force the Department of Labor to provide a safe and healthy working environment for the DOC…it’s terrible for us.

They’re not providing time for female officers [who are recent mothers] to be able to go to a separate location to pump their breast milk for their babies…it’s deplorable for them to be treating us this way.”

Boscio called the latest spate of officer resignations “a tragedy” while noting the DOC hasn’t been able to hire a new correctional officer in nearly three years.

‘The deplorable conditions have forced corrections officers to leave their job…over 1000 resignations since January 2019. We’re dealing with broken cell doors. They are housing inmates by gang affiliation…it’s truly a shame.”

Boscio said the officers of the DOC “answered the call during COVID” and complained the union shouldn’t have to sue in order to get better working conditions.

“We came to work every day. We are essential workers. We are first responders, and this is how we’re being treated by the city…it’s truly a shame,” Boscio said.

He also expressed concern about a new mayor taking office this coming fall.

“When the new mayor takes office, and they talk about cleaning up the City of New York, well, guess where everybody is going to be sent? Rikers Island. And we need two thousand corrections officers to help us to be able to [handle] that population. The city has gone to shame!” Boscio finished.

Believe it or not, in the revolving door that is the New York City criminal justice system, Brown has actually been locked up since May 2019 on convictions of felony assault and jumping bail. The felony assault charges stem from assaulting to NYPD police officers.

The Post also reported that Brown has twice tried to escape from Rikers, having tried twice last June, Ferraiuolo said. During the first attempt, Brown made it as far as the East River before he was captured. The second attempt Brown scaled a fence and up to the roof where he sat for a half-hour while engaged in a stare-down with prison officers before he was eventually captured.

 

Brown is now in the unit where he attacked Lacroix, a special oversight unit which is being used in an attempt to phase out solitary confinement.

The latest incident involving Brown points to a failure of the system in New York City. He has a long and (not so) storied history of attacking law enforcement officials and would seem to be an ideal candidate for 23-1/2 hours a day by himself. Unfortunately in the new liberal criminal justice world, that no longer appears to be possible.

The DOC didn’t return a request for comment to the Post.

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Law Enforcement Today recently reported on the spate of officers leaving corrections, not only in New York City but across the country. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

There are endless articles and media reports suggesting that cops are leaving the job. Police recruitment is down by 63% per the Police Executive Research Forum, Cops Leaving. No one knows for sure as to the exact numbers or percentages or precisely what it means for staffing.

Some cities (i.e., Minneapolis) have to bring in outside police officers and others have extended wait times for a police response. Violent crime is up considerably, US Crime Rates.

But what about correctional officers? Search “correctional officers quitting/leaving” and you will see articles from the Wall Street Journal and lots of additional publications.

What Correctional Officers Do

Most Americans don’t have a clue as to what cops do. The same applies to correctional officers.

When I was the director of public information for the Maryland Department of Public Safety, we had three separate correctional divisions along with two law enforcement agencies.

I spent time with correctional officers in facilities and, by and large, they were good. There was approximately one officer to twenty inmates. They lived by their wits. They were not armed. They had to deal with a mostly violent population with serious criminal histories. They treated inmates firmly but fairly.

Some readers may not know that inmates literally ran prisons. They did the maintenance, cooked the meals, ran libraries and just about everything else beyond security and medical.

Their rules were more important than ours. Misbehaving inmates could cause a lockdown or cancel visits and privileges. Either you could eat well or be locked in and eat sandwiches for a week.

But breaking our rules might get you solitary. Breaking their rules would get you hurt or worse.

Correctional officers lived in a world where fairness and firmness got you cooperation and respect. You never knew when the place would explode thus officers had to be judicious.

The job is far more complicated than most realize (i.e., running a 1,000-bed facility and being aware of the enemy’s list to keep the peace).

The loss of experienced correctional officers places facilities in jeopardy. It takes skill and extraordinary people skills to maintain safe facilities.

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The Crime Report: Federal Correctional Officers Leaving (minor edits for readability)

Nearly one-third of federal correctional officer jobs in the United States are vacant, forcing prisons to use cooks, teachers, nurses and other workers to guard inmates, reports the Associated Press. The Justice Department budgeted for 20,446 full-time correctional officer positions in 2020, but the agency that runs federal prisons said it currently employs 13,762 officers.

The Bureau of Prisons insists that many of its facilities still have a full complement of officers who focus solely on maintaining order.

Overworked employees are burning out quickly and violent encounters are being reported on a near-daily basis.

The expanded use of that practice, known as augmentation, is raising questions about whether the agency can carry out its required duties to ensure the safety of prisoners and staff members while also putting in place programs and classes such as those under the First Step Act, a criminal justice overhaul that received wide bipartisan support in Congress.

The bureau insists everyone working at its facilities is a trained, sworn correctional worker, regardless of position or job title. All 35,000 employees are told when they are hired that they should expect to perform law enforcement functions, the agency said, even if they are signing on as counselors or teachers.

The situation could become even more dire as federal prisons brace for an influx of inmates. Right now there are 152,376 prisoners in 122 facilities.

Lacking Corrections Officers, U.S. Prisons Use Staff Cooks, Nurses as Guards

Conclusions

There are reports that correctional officers are leaving the job. Fifty-eight percent of state male inmates are serving time for violent crimes. When you count criminal history, the percentage is much higher. Gangs make prisons odious.

COVID took a huge toll. Overtime is mandatory and is especially onerous considering that all posts must be covered. There are correctional officers routinely working sixteen-hour shifts.

Experienced officers are leaving and newbies take years of seasoning to obtain the tacit necessary to enforce the rules.

The focus is currently on recruiting and retaining police officers but few realize that staffing is more difficult in corrections.

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