IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
INDIA CHISLEY, Individually, and as
Personal Representative of the Estate
of Bryson Chisley, Sr.,
v. Civil Action No. 98ca007014
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION Judge Joan Zeldon
OF AMERICA, et al.,
John Thomas states as follows for his Affidavit regarding his knowledge of the events transpired between December 1996 and 14 1998, relating to the prisoners (the "Prisoners") sent by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections to the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, and the events that transpired subsequent To the transfer of the Prisoners.
1. I am over the age of eighteen years. I have personal knowledge of the facts set forth herein and am competent to testify as to the facts stated below.
2. I am currently the Warden for the Baker Community Correctional Facility, in Baker, California.
3. During the period of time between December 1996 and July 1998, I was the Deputy Director for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections ("DOC"). My immediate superior for the entire period was Margaret Moore, the Director of the DOC.
4. In or about December, 1996, in order to reduce the violence at the Lorton facilities, and to relieve the substantial political and judicial pressure associated with it, the DOC sought to enter into a contract with Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA") to house DOC inmates at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center ("NOCC") (the "Contract").
5. The terms of the Contract were negotiated solely by representatives of the DOC and representatives of CCA. Neither the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("FBOP") nor any other arm of the federal government was involved in such negotiations, though FBOP was required to authorize the use of NOCC as a contract facility, and did authorize its use as a facility to house medium security inmates.
6. In January 1997, shortly after DOC had begun negotiations with CCA for the beds at NOCC, the Occoquan Facility was experiencing unprecedented violence and security breaches. By way of example, at that time, DOC received credible information that inmates at the Occoquan Facility were planning to take hostages.
7. In response to this information, DOC removed 175 inmates from the Occoquan Facility and transferred them to four short-term facilities, to await execution of the Contract, to then be among the first DOC Prisoners to be sent to the NOCC.
8. It was DOCís strategy to remove inmates from throughout its entire system, and to transfer them to the NOCC, in order to reduce the violence in the DOC facilities.
9. I suggested to Director Moore, that the DOC send approximately 200 protective custody inmates held at the Maximum Facility to the CCA Florence, Arizona Facility, and then backfill these 200 high security cells with the most dangerous and violent prisoners at the DOC facilities. Director Moore rejected this proposal.
10. Ed Walsh was in charge of case management for DOC. Its team was in charge of reviewing the selected inmate files to make determination if the inmates selected by the various facilities fit the criteria for NOCC. I am not aware of any federal government representative who was involved in designating prisoners for transfer to NOCC.
11. Prior to both homicides, Director Moore acknowledged to me, on more than one occasion, that DOCís responsibility for the safety and well being of the Prisoners did not cease when they were transferred in NOCC. At no time did Director Moore ever say or suggest, nor did I otherwise understand from any other source, nor would I have accepted the notion, that the federal government had any responsibility for the safety and well being of the prisoners at NOCC, prior to the formal assumption of that responsibility by the FBOP which had not occurred with respect to the Prisoners sent to NOCC.
12. I specifically requested that Director Moore send me to the NOCC to review its policies and procedures and to assure that the NOCC staff had been adequately trained, and that the physical plant was secure and complete, all of which was to assure that all of the necessary steps had been taken to protect the Prisoners, and to ensure public safety. Director Moore did not authorize this request.
13. Although Director Moore designated me as the Contract Administrator, she did not allow me to have any meaningful involvement in the oversight of the Contract. This lasted until March 25, 1998, subsequent to the murder of Bryson Chisley, Sr., when Director Moore directed me, in writing, to become involved with the actual monitoring of Contract compliance.
14. In May 1997, shortly after NOCC was opened, widespread violence and disturbances began.
15. As a result of the widespread violence, disturbances, and Prisoner safety concerns, in July 1997, a class action was filed by the Prisoners against CCA and the DOC.
16. Moreover, it November 1997, David Bogard entered into a contract with the DOC to act as an independent monitor of the Contract. Starting at around the end of December 1997, Mr. Bogard was personally informing myself, Director Moore, Ed Walsh, Elwood York, Adrienne Poteat, and other high ranking officials of DOC and CCA, that severe security issues existed at NOCC.
17. More specifically, on or about January 8, 1998, at a meeting at DOCs office in the District of Columbia (the "1/8 Meeting"), which was attended by myself, Director Moore, Ed Walsh, Adrienne Poteat, Elwood York and David Bogard, Mr. Bogard informed all of us that the security issues at NOCC were alarming. He informed us that a volatile mix of maximum, medium and minimum custody inmates were being housed together, in double cells, at NOCC. It was clearly understood and discussed by all of us at the 1/8 Meeting, that the prisoner custody levels being discussed by Mr. Bogard were custody levels as defined by the DOC Classification Instrument. He additionally informed us that NOCC had no classification policy, no movement policy, no separation policy and no stratification policy in place, These policies (classification, movement, separation and stratification) are critical policies relating to prisoner safety. Mr. Bogard made it very clear that the situation was disturbing and that immediate attention was necessary to rectify all of the security issues. No representative of the federal government was present at this meeting.
18. At the 1/8 Meeting, it was openly discussed that an immediate plan was needed to assure the safety of the Prisoners and staff. Accordingly, Director Moore directed David Bogard to come up with a plan that would enable the Prisoners to be safely housed.
19. At the 1/8 Meeting, Mr., Klein, DOCís attorney, requested that Mr. Bogard control his emotions and statements, and that he not include any of the security issues in his monthly deficiency reports, since these actions could result in liability against the DOC in the pending class action.
20. Mr. Bogard did subsequently generate a memorandum dated January 15, 1998, which outlined a course of action which he believed would adequately protect the safety of the Prisoners (the "Bogard Plan"). The Bogard Plan was distributed at a follow-up January 22, 1998 meeting (the "1/22 Meeting") which took place at the DOC offices in Washington DC. The 1/22 Meeting was attended by Director Moore, Ms. Poteat, Mr. Walsh, Mr. York, Paul Klein, Esq., Mr. Bogard, and myself, on behalf of DOC. On behalf of NOCC and CCA, Linda Cooper, Esq., Warden Gibson, Charles Blanchette, Melody Turner, and CCAís counsel, were present. The 1/22 Meeting was essentially a negotiation session with each set of representatives sitting on opposite sides of a conference table. No representative of the federal government was present.
21. At the 1/22 Meeting, all of the same issues and details discussed at the 1/8 Meeting were addressed. Additionally, the Bogard Plan was given to everyone present for their review and comment.
22. The Bogard Plan presupposed that all of the high security (maximum custody) inmates would be removed. Subsequent to the removal of all of the high security inmates, and utilizing an objective classification instrument, which Mr. Bogard had created for determining a high medium custody inmate, all of the medium and high medium inmates would be stratified into different living areas. NOCC staff would receive extra training on how to deal with the high medium inmates, and movement and separation policies would be implemented for both the medium and high medium inmates, as well as for the segregation units.
23. I agreed with the Bogard Plan. Unfortunately, at a follow-up meeting which took place at DOCís office on February 4, 1998 (the "2/4 Meeting"), which was attended by all of the same persons that attended the 1/22 Meeting, and after full acknowledgment by both CCA and DOC that all of the issues raised by Mr. Bogard were well founded, an agreement could not be reached relating to the implementation of the Bogard Plan, thus, the Bogard Plan was not implemented.
24. At all three meetings, plus during numerous discussions which took place prior to the Davis and Chisley homicides, Mr. Bogard orally expressed his extreme concern that the wrong mix of prisoners were present at NOCC, and that no classification, movement, stratification or separation policies were in place. Mr. Bogard informed all of the attendees that he believed that the Prisoners were in danger.
25. In December, 1997, prior to a December 30, 1997 hearing in the United States District Court in Akron, Ohio, I met with Paul Klein, Esq., Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia, at which time it was openly discussed that at least sixty maximum custody level inmates were inappropriately being housed at NOCC. Mr. Klein referenced one particular inmate who should not have been there by name, his name was Richard Johnson. Mr. Johnson was subsequently involved in both the Davis and Chisley homicides. Earlier that year, in July 1997, Mr. Johnson stabbed inmate, Anthony Coleman at NOCC.
26. Following the meetings described above, and subsequent to telephone and in-person conversations that I had with Mr. Bogard, I met with Director Moore, and specifically addressed the fact that I was the Contract Administrator and given the sequence of events and the seemingly desperate situation that existed at NOCC, I wanted her authority to become involved in the administration of the Contract. Director Moore rejected my requests.
27. My requests to become involved continued as a result of the events that were transpiring, plus oral and written deficiency reports that were being submitted by Mr. Bogard.
28. I continuously informed Director Moore about the security issues being raised by Mr. Bogard and the need to remove Warden Gibson. Notwithstanding all of this, no appropriate action was taken to protect the Prisoners.
29. After I learned of the murder of Derrick Davis, I again requested that I be allowed to become involved in the administration and oversight of the Contract, and again, Director Moore refused my request.
30. On March 11, 1998, I recall being advised that Bryson Chisley had been brutally murdered. I again requested to be allowed to go to NOCC and play a more active role in the administration of the Contract.
31. Finally, after numerous incidents of violence, injuries and two murders, Director Moore authorized me to become actively involved.
32. I regret that I was not allowed by to become involved in administering the Contract at an earlier date. I believe that if I was involved, I would have continuously raised these issues at a higher level and perhaps prevented two deaths.
I DECLARE UNDER PENALTIES OF PERJURY THAT THE FOREGOING IS TRUE TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, INFORMATION AND BELIEF.
John H. Thomas
Subscribe and sworn before me this 20th day of August 1999.
Notary Public - California
San Bernardino County
My Commission expires: 10/01/99