10/14/2011

Truth About Youth Campaign

Here at Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents we do our absolute best to ensure that the voices of incarcerated youth and their families get allocated a responsible reform to America's Juvenile Justice.
Our Truth about youth Campaign seeks to hear from youth that have been prosecuted upto the age of 18yrs as an adult, as well as their family and friends, to collect their stories in order to understand their experiences, perspectives and recomendations for change in the Adult criminal Justice System.
Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents will use this information to identify patterns and trends that are worthy of further research that are specific to harmful effects on adolescents in the adult criminal justice system.

In addition, we seek to use your voices to communicate to policy makers and the public the real life impact that the Adult Criminal Justice System has on youth.
For we are endeavoured to bring the stories into brand new and diverse tapestry that paints the true circumstances and embodies the spirit of our approach to Juvenile Justice.
If you are interested in sharing your story please contact us.
Thank You.

ACTION ALERT: Help Preserve Critical Juvenile Justice Funding!

Join State Strategy Calls to Inform Congressional Leaders


To Our Members and Allies in IL, MD, NV, and VA
As members and allies of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign, we urge you to please join strategy calls scheduled for On October 14th and 17th, 2011, to help launch the campaign to restore federal juvenile justice funds. 

Any day now, Congress will make important decisions about funding critical programs that prevent delinquency, protect children from the dangers of adult jails and prisons, and keep communities safe.  Cuts of 60-90% are now being considered.  Deep cuts to federal support that support state and local juvenile justice and delinquency prevention efforts will hurt kids, and families, while also jeopardizing public safety.  Cuts of this magnitude will result in more children in dangerous, costly lock-ups, and disconnection from family, positive support, education and the workforce. 
  
To restore critical protections for children, youth and community safety, Act4JJ is launching a four state campaign to inform Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Obama Administration of our grave concerns. We are urging Congress to reject the House funding levels for juvenile justice and support the President’s revised proposal of $172 million, which is $10 million more than the FY11 appropriation.   For the safety of youth, families and communities, we must not accept anything less than the Senate FY12 proposal of $108 million. 

Maryland Members and Allies – October 14, 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time Zone
Virginia Members and Allies – October 14, 3:30 p.m.  Eastern Time Zone
Nevada Members and Allies – October 17, 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time Zone
Illinois Members and Allies – October 17, 2:00 p.m. Central Time Zone

To participate in your state’s call, please RSVP to andrews@juvjustice.org.  The call-in information is as follows: phone # 866-846-3997 and enter passcode 589997.

Thank you, and please spread the word by sharing this Action Alert with your friends!

For additional information, visit: www.act4jj.org.


Visit us online at www.act4jj.org Act 4 Juvenile Justice care of Coalition for Juvenile Justice
1710 Rhode Island Ave. NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20036
Main: 202-467-0864    Email: info@juvjustice.org
October 12, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Help Preserve Critical Juvenile Justice Funding!

Join State Strategy Calls to Inform Congressional Leaders


To Our Members and Allies in IL, MD, NV, and VA
As members and allies of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign, we urge you to please join strategy calls scheduled for On October 14th and 17th, 2011, to help launch the campaign to restore federal juvenile justice funds. 

Any day now, Congress will make important decisions about funding critical programs that prevent delinquency, protect children from the dangers of adult jails and prisons, and keep communities safe.  Cuts of 60-90% are now being considered.  Deep cuts to federal support that support state and local juvenile justice and delinquency prevention efforts will hurt kids, and families, while also jeopardizing public safety.  Cuts of this magnitude will result in more children in dangerous, costly lock-ups, and disconnection from family, positive support, education and the workforce. 
  
To restore critical protections for children, youth and community safety, Act4JJ is launching a four state campaign to inform Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Obama Administration of our grave concerns. We are urging Congress to reject the House funding levels for juvenile justice and support the President’s revised proposal of $172 million, which is $10 million more than the FY11 appropriation.   For the safety of youth, families and communities, we must not accept anything less than the Senate FY12 proposal of $108 million. 

Maryland Members and Allies – October 14, 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time Zone
Virginia Members and Allies – October 14, 3:30 p.m.  Eastern Time Zone
Nevada Members and Allies – October 17, 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time Zone
Illinois Members and Allies – October 17, 2:00 p.m. Central Time Zone

To participate in your state’s call, please RSVP to andrews@juvjustice.org.  The call-in information is as follows: phone # 866-846-3997 and enter passcode 589997.

Thank you, and please spread the word by sharing this Action Alert with your friends!

For additional information, visit: www.act4jj.org.


act4jjVisit us online at www.act4jj.org Act 4 Juvenile Justice care of Coalition for Juvenile Justice
1710 Rhode Island Ave. NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20036
Main: 202-467-0864    Email: info@juvjustice.org

High risk teen under constant surveillance

Lloyd Macdonald . . . concern to police
Lloyd Macdonald . . . concern to police
AN EASTER ROSS teenager at the centre of a "secret trial" is regarded as so dangerous he has been under 24-hour police surveillance, the Ross-shire Journal can reveal.
We can reveal Lloyd Macdonald was found guilty of a sexualised breach of the peace and on September 2 was sentenced to a period of imprisonment after the trial at Inverness.
No explanation has been given as to why the press were prohibited from attending the trial or accessing details of the case.
It has now emerged Macdonald's round the clock monitoring has been costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds.
Sheriff Margaret Neilson granted a motion by procurator fiscal Andrew Laing to exclude the press from access to the case and this sparked criticism from Scotland's top legal commentators.
The law chief for the Highlands and Islands and Grampian, Sheriff Principal Sir Stephen Young has told the Ross-shire Journal he cannot intervene in the row. The charges Macdonald faced and his sentencing are still under wraps.
Although the sheriff made an order that the trial was to be heard in "closed court" the order unusually meant not only the public were not allowed to attend but the press was not allowed access either.
Exclusion of the press is exceptional and only usually arises in the interests of national security.
No contempt of court order, however, was put in place and the Ross-shire Journal is naming the accused as a matter of public interest. Macdonald, we can reveal is regarded by police as an "extremely dangerous" teenager.
According to a report to a meeting of the Northern Joint Police Board he is classed as posing a risk of serious harm to the public. Although he is not named in the report, investigations by our journalists have confirmed it is Macdonald.
The report before the board stated that Ross-shire police officers have spent a significant amount of time monitoring him.
The round the clock watch on the youngster commenced when he returned to the Highlands after being released from secure accommodation he was sent to as a juvenile. The report stated he had been put back on remand after displaying "very concerning behaviour" during the short periods he was unsupervised.
"Monitoring of a Multi-Agency Public Protection Agency (MAPPA) Level 3 Offender has presented challenges and concerns," says the report. He is described as "an extremely dangerous person" and that monitoring will continue until he turns 18. It is believed he was 18 in August.
It also refers to this person under the Safer Communities section of the report when it explains, "A MAPPA Level 3 Offender was released from secure accommodation and subject to strict supervision requirements. After short periods of unsupervised time the subject was detained and arrested following very concerning behaviour which resulted in him being cautioned and charged with a sexualised Breach of the Peace and thereafter remanded in custody."
In the light of the further information obtained by our investigations, Rosalind MacInnes, author of Scots Law for Journalists, who described the press ban as "extraordinary" and "outlandish" at the time, said the background made the press being allowed to attend even more important.
"I think that the press should be able to report a criminal trial, regardless of whether the accused is considered to be a public danger or not, but obviously if the police have these concerns, this strengthens the public interest in knowing who he is and what happened at his trial." she said.
"Clearly where issues of public safety are considered to arise from a court case it is all the more important that the public should be able to see and be told about the administration in the courts for which they pay."
Scottish Provincial Press, the owners of this newspaper, tried unsuccessfully to have reporting restrictions lifted when the accused was appearing for sentence at Inverness Sheriff Court on Friday, September 2.
The case was heard at summary level the process for less serious offences. No papers were ever released but we have learned Macdonald was found guilty and is due for release later this month.
We were told the only way we could get the reporting ban lifted was to present a petition to the Nobile Officium a legal process involving the High Court of Justiciary or the Court of Session which would cost thousands of pounds. Local MSP David Stewart raised the case in the Scottish Parliament with Solicitor General Lesley Thomson who agreed that court proceedings should be in public so that justice is transparent.
But under common law she said judges can decide in exceptional circumstances to exclude the public and the media.
She said in the Macdonald case she was satisfied the case was exceptional.

Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

Man, teen arrested in high-profile killing of witness

For years, police and prosecutors have said that Troya Sheckles was gunned down in Shelby Park because she had agreed to testify as a key witness in a homicide case against Lloyd Hammond.On Thursday, Lloyd Hammond’s brother, Dejuan Hammond, 32, was indicted and charged with Sheckles‘ murder. He is also charged with retaliating against a participant in the legal process, intimidating a participant in a legal process, unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile and second-offense persistent felony offender.
Also indicted was Steven Pettway, 19, who was a juvenile at the time of the shooting. He was charged as an adult with murder, retaliating against a participant in the legal process and intimidating a participant in a legal process.
Both are being held at Metro Corrections under $1 million cash bonds. They will be arraigned Monday in Jefferson Circuit Court. Each has several pending criminal cases and they were already in custody at the time of Thursday’s indictments.
Sheckles, 31, was killed March 23, 2009, just weeks after she’d appeared in court and promised a judge that she would testify against Lloyd Hammond, who was facing murder charges for the June 2006 deaths of Terrell Cherry and William Sawyers, Sheckles’ boyfriend.
Police and prosecutors have long alleged that Hammond had a family member arrange to have Sheckles murdered so she could not testify. Dejuan Hammond was in the courtroom at the time Sheckles went before the judge, witnessing her pledge to testify against his brother.
When Lloyd Hammond eventually went to trial in 2010, the circuit court judge overseeing the case allowed Sheckles’ statements to police to be entered as evidence in the case, despite the fact that she could not be cross-examined. Statements can be entered in court if there is reason to believe the accused had acted to stop testimony.
Lloyd Hammond was convicted in June 2010 of three murders, that of Cherry, Sawyers and 26-year-old Kerry Williams. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
For years, police and prosecutors have said that Troya Sheckles was gunned down in Shelby Park because she had agreed to testify as a key witness in a homicide case against Lloyd Hammond.
On Thursday, Lloyd Hammond’s brother, Dejuan Hammond, 32, was indicted and charged with Sheckles‘ murder. He is also charged with retaliating against a participant in the legal process, intimidating a participant in a legal process, unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile and second-offense persistent felony offender.
Also indicted was Steven Pettway, 19, who was a juvenile at the time of the shooting. He was charged as an adult with murder, retaliating against a participant in the legal process and intimidating a participant in a legal process.
Both are being held at Metro Corrections under $1 million cash bonds. They will be arraigned Monday in Jefferson Circuit Court. Each has several pending criminal cases and they were already in custody at the time of Thursday’s indictments.
Sheckles, 31, was killed March 23, 2009, just weeks after she’d appeared in court and promised a judge that she would testify against Lloyd Hammond, who was facing murder charges for the June 2006 deaths of Terrell Cherry and William Sawyers, Sheckles’ boyfriend.
Police and prosecutors have long alleged that Hammond had a family member arrange to have Sheckles murdered so she could not testify. Dejuan Hammond was in the courtroom at the time Sheckles went before the judge, witnessing her pledge to testify against his brother.
When Lloyd Hammond eventually went to trial in 2010, the circuit court judge overseeing the case allowed Sheckles’ statements to police to be entered as evidence in the case, despite the fact that she could not be cross-examined. Statements can be entered in court if there is reason to believe the accused had acted to stop testimony.
Lloyd Hammond was convicted in June 2010 of three murders, that of Cherry, Sawyers and 26-year-old Kerry Williams. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

Student charged in principal’s slaying is clueless to situation, defense attorney says

 
Eduardo Marmolejo
Eduardo Marmolejo

A 16-year-old student charged in the August stabbing death of Memphis Junior Academy principal Suzette York has “no clue” about the seriousness of his case, his lawyer said this morning.
Eduardo Marmolejo, an 11th grade student at the Seventh-day Adventist school, made a brief appearance in Criminal Court where a challenge has been filed by his Juvenile Court attorney regarding his competency to be tried as an adult.
Leslie Ballin, who signed on today to handle the case, said he will review the Juvenile Court attorney’s filings and make a decision by next month on whether to adopt the previous attorney’s filing.
He said the case may be difficult to defend on fact issues, since Marmolejo gave police a detailed statement of admission, but Ballin said his client has serious mental issues.
“I just don’t know that the young man can follow a trial,” Ballin said after a brief hearing before Judge John Fowlkes Jr. “This young man, he’s out there. I’m talking as a lay person, but there’s just some weird stuff. ... In my opinion, he has no clue.”
Fowlkes told Ballin and state prosecutor Terre Fratesi that he will hear from them again on Nov. 17 to determine how to proceed.
The case was transferred from Juvenile Court on Sept. 7 after Special Judge Herb Lane found Marmolejo competent to stand trial on first-degree murder charges.
Lane ruled that the teen likely committed the delinquent act of murder, that he is not committable to a mental institution and that the interests of the community require that Marmolejo be put under legal restraint or discipline.
Marmolejo, who remains in the Shelby County Jail without bond, admitted to police that he stabbed York to death on Aug. 10 in a classroom at the East Memphis school at 50 N. Mendenhall and said he spent the previous night sharpening his knife for two hours and studied hand-to-hand combat techniques on the Internet.
© 2011 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

The Importance of Evidenced-Based Research in Establishing Juvenile Justice Policy

Over the last few decades politicians have advocated for stricter sentencing guidelines and for trying more juveniles as adults. These decisions have been largely driven by public fear and a desire by elected officials to be seen as “tough on crime.”
They do not rely on evidence-based research, one of the least used methods for determining juvenile justice policy.
Some of these attitudes seem to be changing though. Over the last few years, research has generated data that are beginning to be acknowledged by policy makers. One such study is Pathways to Desistance, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in partnership with many other groups interested in effective juvenile justice practices. The study followed 1,354 serious juvenile offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 for seven years following their conviction.
Several interesting conclusions have been drawn from the study, as outlined in an OJJDP fact sheet prepared by Edward P. Mulvey, the lead researcher. According to the fact sheet, “Most youth who commit felonies greatly reduce their offending over time, regardless of the intervention.” This seems to point to the idea that as people mature they tend to make better decisions. This applies even to those who commit terrible crimes.
Another conclusion of the study is that longer stays in juvenile facilities do not lower the risk of reoffending when compared to placing the youths on probation. In fact, the group with the lowest level of offending actually tended to increase their criminality the longer they were kept in confinement. A better approach was community based supervision, which increased participation in school and work, and which led to lower rates of involvement with the juvenile system. Increasing the time that the juvenile spent in community based supervision led to even lower rates of reoffending.
The study also supports the efficacy of substance-abuse treatment. Even when taking into account the types of offenses, race and socioeconomic status, treatment that included strong family involvement led to a decrease in criminal behavior. One finding of the study is that the prevalence of drug use among juvenile offenders is three to four times higher than in the general population. Thirty seven percent of the males had been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder. Dr. Mulvey suggests that joining substance abuse treatment with community-based supervision may lead to greater reduction in offending over the short and long term.
The OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book says that in 2007 (the last year listed) 86,927 juveniles were in detention. According to Models for Change, a website devoted to juvenile justice reform, seventy percent of these are held in state-run facilities, at an average cost of $240.99 a day to house. States are looking for ways to save money, and evidenced-based policies can help meet that goal. They are certainly a better choice than programs that are ineffective and that may actually increase crime.
I hope that studies like this will be taken into account when new policies are being decided. Juvenile life without parole, automatically trying juveniles as adults, and imposition of mandatory minimums on young offenders should all be revisited in light of studies such as Pathways to Desistance. Along with the latest research in adolescent brain development these real world studies point to a new way of approaching juvenile crime. Perhaps we can begin to salvage these kids instead of throwing them away.
Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

Christopher Terrance Middleton was 14 when he committed several serious crimes in the course of one event in 1997, including kidnapping, aggravated assault, armed robbery and theft by taking. He was sentenced to serve a total of 30 years without the possibility of parole. According to his attorney, McNeil Stokes, Christopher had agreed to plead guilty to a 20-year sentence, but during the sentencing phase the victim testified she would be afraid if he got out before he was 45. Both Stokes and Middleton’s mother have written about his case on JJIE. His mother advocates for the repeal of mandatory sentencing laws for juveniles, and Stokes has filed an appeal challenging the constitutionality of such sentences.

John Last 1The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released a report this month that discusses juvenile transfers to adult court and the problem of gathering reliable information about this practice. The authors give a brief history of the practice of transferring youth, and an overview of the wide variety of laws and practices that states use when trying kids as adults. Several of their conclusions stand out.
The practice of transferring youth to criminal court through anything other than a case-by-case court order grew nationally from the mid-1980s until the mid 1990s. Laws allowing for judicial transfer have existed since nearly the beginning of the separation of juvenile and adult cases in the 19th century.  Before 1970, only two states, Florida and Georgia, had prosecutorial discretion. Automatic transfers were rare as well, and usually applied to capital cases. Only eight states had such laws before 1970. Now both types of transfer are common, and judicial review is used in far fewer cases. “Only 15 states now rely solely on traditional hearing-based, judicially controlled forms of transfer,” states the report. These are the only cases that are consistently and reliably reported, and for which a decent set of data exists.
Perhaps most important for policy makers and others interested in juvenile justice is the fact that no set of data exists that “tracks cases that bypass juvenile courts.” Cases that first go to juvenile court and are then transferred are reported to the National Juvenile Court Data Archive, and are thus easy to analyze. The problem is that this form of transfer has become the least common nationally. Most transfers come from statutory exclusion, prosecutorial exception and jurisdictional age laws. Technically, the application of jurisdictional age laws is not a transfer at all, since it classifies the person charged as an adult. According to the authors these laws may account for sending an additional 175,000 youth to criminal court.
Many of these laws were developed in response to a perceived rise in violent crime by juveniles starting in the mid ‘80S, and were passed in an effort to protect the public and deter crime in juveniles. Even though violent crime committed by youth peaked in the mid ‘90S, little has been done to change the transfer laws since 2000.
It is unclear whether or not the laws have worked. Most studies seem to indicate that transferring cases has little impact on deterrence. Opponents of trying kids as adults point to these studies, while those who support the laws continue to believe in their effectiveness. The real problem is there is no direct way to analyze the results of these legislative solutions. Without a good data set it is difficult to draw any objective conclusions. As the authors say, “The scarcity of information on cases involving youth prosecuted under exclusion and prosecutorial discretion laws presents a serious problem for those wishing to assess the workings, effectiveness, and overall impact of these laws.” Until something is done to address this issue the debate will be based on anecdote and partial information. These do not make a good basis for policy making.
Congress can address this issue by tying federal funding for state juvenile justice systems to mandatory reporting. This reporting should include the number of cases, types of crimes and statistical information about the offenders. With this information in hand the approaches to reducing juvenile crime can be examined and compared.
Is it necessary that states be mandated to do this? Of course the states will be quick to maintain their rights. This is clearly seen from their wildly divergent practices. The fact that the same person can legally be an adult in one state and a minor in another points out the arbitrary nature of legally classifying kids. How do we know what really works? Without the data, whether provided willingly or not, it is impossible to know. States certainly want the money the federal government gives them, so why aren’t they willing to cooperate in something that will benefit them and others?
There are as many strategies for dealing with juvenile offenders as there are states. Some of them are bound to be more effective than others. The gathering of solid data is something that should garner bipartisan support. Instead of pointing to how proud they are of getting tough on kids perhaps lawmakers can actually do some good.
The political expediency of “get tough” policies has given way to new concerns over limited budgets. The economic crisis has effected more change in the last few years than during the nearly 20 years of relative prosperity. This is a sad statement about our politicians, whatever their stripe.
Maybe now, with their backs against the wall, they will finally act based on the needs of the people instead of their own need to be reelected. One can hope.
Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

Sentenced to 30 Years at Age 14

Christopher Terrance Middleton was 14 when he committed several serious crimes in the course of one event in 1997, including kidnapping, aggravated assault, armed robbery and theft by taking. He was sentenced to serve a total of 30 years without the possibility of parole.
According to his attorney, McNeil Stokes, Christopher had agreed to plead guilty to a 20-year sentence, but during the sentencing phase the victim testified she would be afraid if he got out before he was 45. Both Stokes and Middleton’s mother have written about his case on JJIE. His mother advocates for the repeal of mandatory sentencing laws for juveniles, and Stokes has filed an appeal challenging the constitutionality of such sentences.
When Christopher was sentenced, he was sent to Alto, the same youth prison I went to in 1985. I know from my own experience the kind of things that went on there, and Christopher suffered the worst of it. In a recent letter, he wrote, “I’ve been degraded and humiliated sexually, physically, and mentally…” Eventually, he wrote, he slit his wrists in a suicide attempt. “I felt that death was better than serving a 30 year sentence in a living hell.”
His twin brother did succeed in killing himself, due in part to the strain that Christopher’s incarceration put on the whole family.
No one is arguing that Christopher is innocent, least of all himself. He readily has expressed his guilt from the beginning, and agrees that he deserved punishment. He also acknowledges that his victim, although unharmed, was terrified by the experience.
He seems to be trying to live his life productively. At 28, he has taken full advantage of the programs offered by the prison system. He has gotten a GED and finished three trade programs to prepare him for his release. He has also finished the counseling programs available to him, programs that purportedly help to rehabilitate offenders.
What is it all for, though?
What, exactly, is the point of putting a 14-year-old in prison for 30 years, subjecting him to all of the horrors of prison life, and essentially throwing him away like garbage, then spending the money to educate and rehabilitate him so that he can be a well adjusted and productive citizen? His most productive years will be gone, he will have no savings, and he will have no practical experience living as an adult in open society. His chances of getting out at age 44 and making a meaningful contribution to the world will be very low, and could continue to be a burden on society.
It may be that the purpose of these types of laws is deterrence, or perhaps punishment. Deterrence of other youth is unlikely, since most kids have very little idea of the consequences they face. Punishment usually has the purpose of correction. Thirty years in prison is not going to “correct” him any more than the 14 years he has already done.
In a way, the boy who committed the crimes is gone, replaced by a young man who has endured a living hell, who has suffered far out of proportion to the pain that he caused the world, and has struggled to grow and change into a responsible person. Christopher writes, “What is the use of making me do 16 more years when I have become rehabilitated and made the necessary changes in my life?”
This is an excellent question. Where do we want people like Christopher to be?
I believe society is better served with him in the world, working and contributing, than rotting behind bars for a crime he committed as a child.
John Lash

John Lash

John Lash served nearly 25 years in Georgia prisons. He was released in December 2009. While in, he began to practice Zen meditation and other approaches to studying consciousness. He later became interested in interpersonal communication and group processes. He studied and taught nonviolent communication and restorative practices in prison where he also got his BS in human resources management from Mercer University. He is a participant in Compassionate Leadership, a non-violent communication training program, and is a student in the Master of Conflict Management program at Kennesaw State University.

Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

L.A. County deputy says he was forced to beat mentally ill inmate

The rookie, top recruit in his class, resigned after the incident, which he said was covered up. The deputy's supervisor was allegedly threatened by the young man's uncle, a sheriff's detective.

    Jail
    The Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles is where a rookie deputy said he was made to beat an inmate. (Phil McCarten / Reuters / June 9, 2007)

    A Los Angeles County sheriff's rookie who graduated at the top of his recruit class resigned after only a few weeks on the job, alleging that a supervisor made him beat up a mentally ill jail inmate, according to interviews and law enforcement records.

    The deputy, Joshua Sather, said that shortly before the inmate's beating his supervisor said, "We're gonna go in and teach this guy a lesson," according to the records. The attack, Sather said, was then covered up.

    Law enforcement records reveal that the incident caused tensions in the Sheriff's Department. Sather's uncle, a veteran sheriff's detective, angrily confronted the supervisor about making his nephew "beat up 'dings,' " slang for the mentally disabled. He then allegedly threatened to "put a bullet" in the supervisor's head.

    Sather's case was pieced together by The Times from department sources as well as district attorney's documents in which Sather's uncle revealed his nephew's allegations to investigators.

    Sheriff's officials launched an investigation and determined that an uncooperative inmate had been subdued by force, but concluded that no misconduct had occurred. They also asked the district attorney to review the uncle's alleged threat, but prosecutors declined to file charges.

    Sather's allegation is among several first-hand accounts of unwarranted deputy violence against inmates in the nation's largest jail system. Last week, two chaplains and a movie producer released sworn statements that they witnessed deputies abusing inmates. But Sather's allegations are unusual because they come from within the department's own ranks, from the point of view of a deputy.
    The FBI is now investigating several allegations of deputy abuse and misconduct in the jails.

    Sather, a Long Beach native, had followed in his uncle's footsteps, earning a spot in the Sheriff's Academy and becoming his class' sole "Honor Recruit" for his leadership, athleticism and other abilities. As with virtually all rookies, his first assignment was jail duty.

    The jails are a place where inexperienced deputies learn how to handle potentially violent and manipulative criminals, while under constant supervision. For Sather, the experience quickly became disturbing.

    Sather's beating allegation and the drama that followed his decision to resign are documented in a seven-page district attorney's memo reviewed by The Times. The following account is based on that report:

    On March 22, 2010, Sather was working on the sixth floor mental health ward of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown L.A. At some point during his shift, he, his supervisor and other deputies used force on the mentally ill inmate.

    Soon afterward, Sather, a muscled, tattooed 23-year-old, called his uncle, Steven Sather, crying and distraught, records show. The young man apparently told his uncle that the beating was unwarranted and then had been covered up. The elder Sather told his nephew to do the "right thing" and be honest about what occurred.

    The next day, worried that the rookie might be planning to quit, Steven Sather drove to Twin Towers intent on saving his nephew's career. The uncle and his partner parked behind the jail and left their guns in the trunk. In the watch commander's office, Steven Sather asked to see his nephew. But he was told the young man had resigned, citing "family issues" as his only reason.

    Outside, Steven Sather and his partner had a colleague radio for Joshua Sather's supervisor, Bryan Brunsting.

    When Brunsting saw the two gang detectives waiting for him, he asked what was going on.

    "Do you know who I am?" Steven Sather asked.

    Brunsting peered at the name embroidered on the detective's green-and-gold sheriff's raid jacket. He realized he was talking to his trainee's uncle. The rookie had failed to show up for a morning briefing, and Brunsting had just learned he'd quit.

    Steven Sather led Brunsting away for a private conversation. Deputies nearby recalled that the exchange was heated.

    "If you don't stop [messing] with my nephew, I'm gonna kick your ass. Stop [messing] with my nephew," Steven Sather shouted. "You know what this is about, getting him into situations that he shouldn't have got into. He's a … honor recruit and you put him into situations that you shouldn't have put him in."
     Brunsting said afterward that the detective threatened him, saying, "If my nephew doesn't decide to come back to the department, I'm gonna find you and put a bullet in your head."
    At some point Steven Sather's partner walked over, saying, "That's enough, Steve."
    The detectives returned to their truck and headed for the younger Sather's home, apparently in a last-ditch effort to change his mind.

    They were unsuccessful. Joshua Sather's resignation became official four days later. He eventually moved to Colorado, where he works in the oil fields.

    Months after the resignation, Brunsting reported to his superiors that Steven Sather had threatened his life. Sheriff's investigators interviewed the deputies involved and those who may have witnessed the heated exchange. Prosecutors ultimately declined to press charges.

    When Steven Sather was interviewed, he accused Brunsting of brutalizing mentally disabled inmates, then having the nerve to come after him. The "whole ... thing" was over the fact Brunsting was making his nephew beat up "dings," Sather told investigators.

    "Honestly … I can't believe this is even happening.... I can't believe this guy," he told investigators. "First of all [he] gets away with … this stuff. And now he's … coming after me criminally?"

    Steven Sather did not respond to requests from The Times for an interview. Brunsting declined to comment. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said that an internal investigation was conducted into the incident that preceded Sather's resignation and that "the allegations proved to be unfounded."

    The investigation apparently broke down, at least in part, because the inmate told a different story than Joshua Sather, before quickly becoming uncooperative, an official said. The other deputies involved also disputed the rookie's account. And a nurse's notes listed no detectable injuries on the inmate, only that he'd been pepper sprayed and had redness on his face, the official added.

    When Joshua Sather chose to resign, he wasn't facing any potential criminal or administrative action, Whitmore said.

    Joshua Sather declined repeatedly to be interviewed by The Times. "I appreciate your interest, but I will have no comment," he said in one text message.

    Then by phone, the onetime honor recruit stood firm, explaining his reluctance this way:

    "A wise man cries more often than he speaks," he said. Then he hung up.

    robert.faturechi@latimes.com

    Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

    Parents dead, teen charged

    Sibling: Mom, dad coddled brother



    Sumner County Couple Murdered: A 17-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of parents.

    Dwight Vinson had a bad feeling about his son’s new friend from the first moment they were introduced.
    “On his second or third visit, I told my son that he needed to stay away from him, that there was something wrong with him,” said Vinson, 65, of Cross Plains. “Every time the subject of his mom and dad came up, he would shut down. It was like he didn’t want to go home. You could tell that they didn’t get along in some way.”
    Vinson’s son, Chase, 21, and his friend, a 17-year-old from Cottontown, are now charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of the teenager’s parents, Gary Moore, 54, and his wife, Tammy, 51. Investigators say the couple was killed inside their home off Highway 25 in Sumner County sometime Monday.
    A photo of the crime scene taken from Highway 25 near Cottontown in Sumner County shows crime tape surrounding the front of the home of the couple who was killed Monday. / Shelley Mays / The Tennessean

    “Between the two, they had shot the parents and taken off with jewelry, guns and prescription medication,” said Maj. Don Linzy of the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department. “Then, they tried to set the bedroom, where the deaths were, on fire, and they had stolen the white pickup truck off the property.”
    The teen was found inside a vehicle at a Robertson County gas station around 4:30 p.m. on Monday after an unidentified person called the sheriff’s office there and reported he was unconscious.
    He was taken to NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield, said Lt. Richard Head with the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office.
    “Once he was at the hospital, we found identification on him and contacted Sumner County Sheriff’s Office to find the parents,” Head said.
    Sumner deputies went to the family’s home and discovered the couple’s bodies.
    Police took the 17-year-old into custody Monday night and arrested Vinson at his Cross Plains address at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. A third suspect could be charged, Linzy said.
    On Tuesday, Justin Moore, 27, the eldest son of Gary and Tammy Moore, was on his way to Tennessee from his home in Maryland.
    He said he hopes his brother is transferred to adult court. The Tennessean does not identify criminal suspects under 18 unless they are charged in adult court.
    “Mom and dad always protected him, even when he did stupid things. They protected us all,” Justin Moore said. “But he shot our parents, and tried burning them. I don’t know if I can ever forgive him. My biggest thing is how does someone do that to his own parents?”
    Justin Moore, who works in security and networking with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said he and his siblings grew up in a loving home — much of the time in Scottsville, Ky. The family has lived in Tennessee for about a year and a half. In addition to the 17-year-old, Justin Moore has a 26-year-old sister and a 21-year-old brother.
    Gary and Tammy Moore moved to Tennessee to be closer to Gary Moore’s work. He was a truck driver and his wife was a stay-at-home mother.
    Justin Moore said his parents began having problems when his youngest brother became a teenager and started hanging out with the wrong crowd.
    “The last couple of years, he’s been staying in trouble,” he added. “My parents tried the best they could with him, but it wasn’t enough.”
    Linzy said police had responded to calls from the Moores’ Sumner County home on previous occasions, but he declined to discuss the nature of the calls.
    In Kentucky, detective Chad Keen with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office said officers there also had responded to calls from the Moores’ home, which was about five miles outside the city limits of Scottsville.
    On Feb. 14, 2009, police were called to the home to investigate a missing person’s case. Tammy Moore reported that her 14-year-old son had taken $5,000 from a lock box and run away, records show.
    Sumner County officials say the home the Moores rented near Cottontown was the same home that Chase Vinson lived in at one point. Detectives think it’s how the teenager met Vinson.
    Dwight Vinson said he and Chase had lived in Sumner County for about six years and then moved to Robertson County about three years ago. He wasn’t sure how his son met the 17-year-old, but they had been friends for only a few months. They often played mixed martial arts video games, Vinson said.
    Chase Vinson, a 2008 graduate of East Robertson High School, had been trying to find a job but had not had much success. Family members said he was thinking about enrolling at Western Kentucky University.
    “He was so smart, that boy,” Dwight Vinson said. “He graduated in the Beta club.”
    Chase Vinson’s grandmother Sheila Raines, of Orlinda, said her grandson wouldn’t hurt anyone.
    “In school he was known as the gentle giant,” she said. “From what we have been told by the police, they know that Chase didn’t do it. This kid asked Chase if he would kill his parents and Chase said ‘No.’ As Chase was going out to the car, he heard shots and went back to see that this kid did shoot the parents. Rather than leave him, he didn’t.”
    In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, Chase Vinson and the 17-year-old are also charged with aggravated arson and theft exceeding $10,000.
    Both are scheduled to appear in court today for bond hearings. Vinson is on the general sessions docket and the 17-year-old is on the juvenile docket in Sumner County.
    Tennessean staff writer Andy Humbles and Gannett Tennessee staff writer Dessislava Yankova contributed to this report. Contact Nicole Young at 615-259-8091 or nyoung@tennessean.com.



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