Officers at the American Correctional Association

Betty Adams Green, ACA President

Mrs. Green, who is also a judge in Tennessee, was responsible for assigning experts to review the Suffolk County jail. She took this responsibility due to the fact that ACA Executive Director James Gondles had ties to county sheriff Richard J. Rouse and believed there would appear to be a "conflict of interest" if he was associated with the investigation.1 Green chose Harold W. Clark, head of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, to lead the investigation, despite the fact that a correctional department in Nebraska is under review by state officials because it failed to meet health care requirements.2 She selected a Nashville county sheriff, a Florida jail director, and a New York state specialist on programs for women offenders to assist Clark.3

The ACA gave the Suffolk county jail a glowing report, rating it among the highest jails in the country, along with accreditation late last year. However, after the discovery of multiple incidents of abuse by guards and mismanagement, and the subsequent indictment of seven guards, the ACA was criticized once again for giving accreditation freely, without caution or research.4 Thus, Green took charge of setting up this second investigation, which heavily criticized the jail, reneging on its previous high marks. ACA monitors stated that "there is an absence of even the most rudimentary logging, tracking, and status to record and track [inmate] grievances." However, they did not call for a rejection of the accreditation.5

James A. Gondles, ACA Executive Director

Gondles, after serving as the sheriff of Arlington, Virginia, became the Executive Director of the ACA in 1990. In 1988, while he was still sheriff, The Citizens for Law and Constitution alleged that Gondles performed "acts of abuse and power" as a sheriff. The acts included bullying his top aides and bragging about having sex with female deputies.6 Earlier in the same year, he settled out of court for 25,000 dollars and publicly apologized after his deputy Debora Mulvey accused him of sexual harassment.7

Colonel David M. Parrish, ACA Treasurer

Parrish, while at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida in 1998, introduced steel framed restraining chairs to the juvenile facilities in his county. Many have criticized the chairs as being barbaric. For example, Loren Warboys, a lawyer with the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, said that use of the chairs, which cost over 1,000 dollars each, is substituting punishment for rehabilitation.8

In February of 1999, 14 inmates filed a civil rights complaint at Tampa’s U.S. district court alleging that they have been subjected to beatings, meager meals and inadequate medical care at the Morgan Street Jail in Parrish’s district.9 On top of this, there have been constant problems of overcrowding in the jails in Hillsborough County, which Parrish has been supervising for over 16 years.

Richard L. Stalder, Immediate Past President

"Louisiana incarcerates a higher proportion of our citizens than almost any other state. Yet we continue to be frustrated by the reality that many violent and dangerous people who should be locked up are not."10

Stalder, the Louisiana State Corrections Secretary, made this statement in 1995, despite the fact that hundreds of prisoners in Louisiana have sued Stalder for various forms of mistreatment (see attached sheet) since he began his work there. He first took heat in 1993 for his attempt to completely cancel spending on psychiatric counseling for troubled teens so he could give $2.7 million dollars worth of raises to his staff.11 By 1995, the ACA had accredited all twelve prisons in Louisiana, passing the last two with a hundred percent scores.12 That year, over 125 prisoners sued Stalder for mistreatment within the prisons. Meanwhile, a month after Angola prison of Louisiana was accredited, it was reported that around 32 million dollars were needed for repairs, so the prison could meet the safety requirements.13

Later that year, a doctor and a nurse reported after investigation severe problems with medical treatment at Angola. Prisoners with fractures were splinted, and then not seen for months, leading to bone deformities. Air from a tuberculosis ward was drawn into the main infirmary. Michael Pusis, the investigating doctor found a 116 pulse for an inmate who had complained of shortness of breath, and the paramedic at the prison, who had found an 84 pulse rate, said that the prisoner was probably manipulating his pulse. Also, a Justice Department report found the prison’s medical records to be in terrible shape. These problems are a few of many found at Angola. Stalder rejected all the claims, stating that he and his staff "deserve a pat on the back."14

In June of 1995, Judge Frank Polozola heavily criticized Stalder for his efforts to hold more inmates in the parish and private prisons of Louisiana, suggesting that Stalder was doing so in order to receive more money from the state government, which pays the sheriffs 21 dollars per day for each inmate in a private or parish prison. Polozola accused Stalder of bowing down to the sheriffs by refusing to allow state prisoners, who were supposed to be in the private prisons temporarily, to return to the state prisons they belonged in.15 Just months later, Stalder got himself in more trouble, when he allowed a can relabeling plant to open illegally at the Angola Prison, and was fined about 500 dollars.16 Inmate William Kissinger then sued Stalder for 600,000 dollars after he reported the relabeling plant to authorities and was consequently removed from Angola prison and put on a prison farm. Kissinger had been a legal advisor to other inmates at Angola.v The prison at Angola, meanwhile, received the same score from the ACA in 1996 as it did when it was first accredited in 1993.

Although the Louisiana state juvenile facilities received a lot of attention during 1997 for reports of abuse from guards at the facilities, Stalder himself was not in the spotlight until a private investigator found evidence that Stalder had allowed a priest, Gilbert Gauthe, who had been imprisoned for child molestation, to receive special treatment at Wade correctional facility while Stalder was a warden there. Stalder furthered suspicion when he revealed that Henry Politz, a friend of his and a chief justice, was close friends with Gauthe.18 Around the same time, The Advocate, the major paper in Baton Rouge, revealed that the prison at Angola was changing their phone numbers, refusing to take questions on tours in order to avoid the press, and shipping out particularly vocal inmates to other facilities, including a boxer who told the press that he enjoyed boxing because it kept away homosexual inmates and was sent to Wade Correctional Facility almost immediately.19 Meanwhile, the Tallulah juvenile facility in Louisiana, a private facility, continued to receive pressure after numerous reports of abuse from guards and imprisonment of very violent teens and mentally ill teens in the same areas, as well as a lack of sufficient food and clothing. Shannon Robshaw, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Louisiana, said, "They’ve been dragging their feet for a year. Louisiana typifies the worst of the worst."20

A year later, a new Louisiana juvenile facility, The Jena Juvenile Justice Center, was criticized for numerous problems, including a near-riot, bad teaching, poor security, and physical abuse. Keith Nordyke, an attorney for juvenile offenders, called Jena, which is also a private facility, "a Tallulah-in-waiting."21 Tallulah itself was taken under state control in September of 1999 after 5 years of private ownership. State Representative Jerry Luke LeBlanc criticized Stalder, now president of the ACA as well as Corrections Secretary of Louisiana, because Stalder had given Tallulah a very positive report just six months earlier.22 Stalder also had good things to say about Jena: "As of December 29, things were coming around pretty well." However, in a report finished December 9, prison expert John Whitley called Jena "a disaster waiting to happen."23 Then, a report filed by the U.S. Justice Department after investigation found that the Jena facility was "unsafe, violent, and inhumane."24 This instance is one of many in which an ACA official has praised a correctional facility that others have harshly criticized. "I don’t think we’ll ever solve the problems in corrections as long as Richard Stalder is secretary," said Senator Donald Cravins.25

By the end of April, Jena was under state control, and the state was considering turning Jena into an adult facility. At this time, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans printed an article in which experts claimed that Jena was doomed from the start. The said the reason it was doomed was simply because it was private, and profit became an issue for Wackenhut, the company that had owned the prison. The guards, who were accused of paying inmates to fight one another, laughing at inmates who tried to commit suicide, and depriving inmates of the basic necessities, were essentially the only ones willing to accept 15,600 dollars a year with no stable benefits, because Wackenhut was trying to save money and was willing to pay only that much. Furthermore, as stated by Shannan Wilber of the Youth Law Center, "In order to make money, they’re going to do everything they can to save on medical care." Because Jena’s goal was to meet the accreditation standards, The ACA was also criticized in the article., said to be "not highly respected…they will judge a facility on whether they have policies and procedures in written form."26

In November of 2000, Stalder began campaigning for alternatives to prison, unafraid to contradict the statement he made five years earlier that more people needed to be locked up and ignore his previous pleas for funding to open new prison facilities.

Endnotes:
1. Francie Latour and Thomas Farragher. "Two Quit Review of Sheriff’s Office, Say Ties to Rouse Might Pose Conflict." The Boston Globe, 6-7-01
2. Francie Latour. " Suffolk Jail Audit Group is Faulted; Critics to Demand New Review Panel." The Boston Globe, 6-20-01
3. Thomas Farragher and Francie Latour. "Veteran Correction Chief to Lead Suffolk Jail Review." The Boston Globe, 6-9-01
4. Thomas Farragher and Francie Latour. "Rouse Enlists Group to Review Department." The Boston Globe, 6-1-01
5. Francie Latour. "Report Blasts Operation of Suffolk Sheriff’s Office." The Boston Globe, 7-19-01
6. Dana Priest. "Recall Effort Started Against Sheriff Gondles." The Washington Post, 10-28-88
7. Dana Priest. "Sheriff Gondles Settles Suit On Harassment for $25,000." The Washington Post, 4-28-01
8. Jason Wolfe. "Chairs criticized as overused, hailed as humane restraint." The Portland Press Herald, 10-4-98
9. Sarah Huntley. "Irate Inmates Take Jail to Court." Tampa Tribune, 2-6-99
10. Richard L. Stalder. "State Details Policy on Prison Beds and Inmates." The Times-Picayune, 8-2-95
11. Jack Wardlaw. "Reprieve Granted Troubled Children." The Times-Picayune, 7-1-93
12. James Minton. "National Group OKs Accreditation for Office, Prisons." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 1-24-94
13. James Minton. "Penitentiary Repairs May Hit $32 Million." The Adovcate (Baton Rouge, La.), 2-20-94
14. Fred Kalmbach. "Dispute Over Angola Medical Care Headed to Court." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 8-22-94
15. James Minton. "Judge’s Jails Order Draws Challenge." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 7-22-95
16. James Minton and Peter Shinkle. "Federal Judge Finds Stalder, Cain in Contempt of Court." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 10-20-95
17. Peter Shinkle. "Inmate Files Suit Against La. Officials." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 1-6-96
18. James Minton. "Stalder Denies Influencing Gauthe Case." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 1-24-98
19. James Minton. "Flow of Information From Angola Limited." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 1-28-98
20. Alan Clendenning. "Feds: La. Teen Inmates Often Beaten." AP Online, 6-28-98
21. Vicki Ferstel. "State Helps Prison Operator." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 7-5-99
22. Vicki Ferstel. "Explanations Sought on Corrections Center." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 10-12-99
23. Vicki Ferstel. "Official Disputes Report on Jena Juvenile Center." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 12-31-99
24. "Report Rips Jena Juvenile Center." Associated Press, 1-15-00
25. Vicki Ferstel. "Cravins Apt to Remain Thorn in Stalder’s Side." The Advocate, (Baton Rouge, La.), 2-11-00
26. Steve Ritea. "Jena Jail Doomed From Start, Experts Say." The Times-Picayune, 4-30-00