Dangerous Understaffing in Prisons
The fatal prison uprising that occurred in February 2017 at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware demonstrates the understaffing issues affecting prisons nationwide. During the incident, prison inmates held six correctional officers and a counselor hostage in an 18-hour standoff, which resulted in the tragic death of one of the officers. After the uprising, about 200 correctional officers and medical staff members resigned or retired from the correctional facility. Attorneys at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. represented the family of the slain correctional officer in their wrongful death suit against several state officials. Ultimately, the state agreed to pay the Plaintiffs a record-setting settlement that topped $7.5 million.
At the time of the incident, only four guards were tasked with supervising more than 125 prisoners. The national average as reported by the Department of Justice is one guard per five inmates. Delaware is one of about 15 states in which officials cite understaffing as a major safety concern in their state facilities. Commonly, prisons address the problem by encouraging officers to work overtime instead of hiring more guards. In Delaware facilities, about 40 percent of the staff work overtime on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this may lead to future revolts that could endanger guards and other prison staff as well as inmates who may not be involved.
If you have been injured or suffered the wrongful death of a loved one due to another’s negligence, the Delaware wrongful death lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have the knowledge and experience to achieve justice. To arrange a free consultation, contact us online or call 302-656-5445. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, we represent individuals and families throughout the state, including those in Dover, Delaware.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Child Sexual Abuse
Victims of child sexual abuse may pursue both criminal charges and civil lawsuits. Whereas criminal cases are brought by the government and may involve jail time as a punishment, civil cases are brought by individuals seeking restitution for a wrongdoing. A civil lawsuit may be filed after a criminal trial is completed regardless of the outcome. Because of the lower standard of proof required, a defendant who was found not guilty in a criminal trial may still be held liable in a civil trial. Civil lawsuits for child sexual abuse can only be brought by certain individuals and typically include multiple causes of action. Victims may be entitled to financial compensation for physical, emotional and psychological harm.
A civil lawsuit for child sexual abuse may be brought on the child’s behalf by the child’s legal guardians or by victims of the abuse themselves. It is common for adult survivors of child sexual abuse to commence a lawsuit after many years of staying silent and suffering with the effects of the abuse. When they finally expose the abusers and hold them accountable, survivors often feel a sense of empowerment and closure.
Because many children do not realize the extent of their injuries until adulthood, many states have extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits. In Delaware, the Child Victim’s Act allows a child sexual abuse cause of action to be filed at any time following the sexual acts constituting abuse.
Causes of Action
A child sexual abuse civil lawsuit may be based on relevant causes of action depending on the facts of the case. For example, causes of action may include assault and battery. While intentional torts such as assault and battery typically require the plaintiff’s non-consent, in the case of child sexual abuse, a defendant may still be held liable even if the child gave consent because the law views children as incapable of giving valid consent to sexual acts.
Other common causes of action are intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress and, for cases in which a child was threatened or confined, false imprisonment. Many cases involve third parties such as daycares, schools or churches that may be held accountable for their failure to prevent or stop the sexual abuse. If an individual is employed without proper screening or monitoring and that employee sexually abuses a child, then the employer may be liable for negligent hiring, retention or supervision.
Federal statute 18 U.S.C. §2255 authorizes victims of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits for the violation of any statutes prohibiting child abuse and exploitation. The statute also states that anyone who suffers personal injury due to such violations will recover no less than $150,000 in damages. Victims may be compensated for any past and future bills and expenses resulting from the crime, such as medical bills and counseling fees. They may also be awarded damages for emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other non-economic damages.
Wilmington Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Represent Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in Civil Cases
If your child was the victim of sexual abuse or you are ready to pursue a civil claim for sexual abuse you suffered as a child, contact a Wilmington sex abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Our lawyers have been successfully litigating child sexual abuse cases for over a decade. We represent clients throughout Delaware from our Wilmington and Georgetown offices. Call us at 302-656-5445, toll-free at 800-355-1818 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation.
Delaware Correction Officer’s Request Ignored Before Fatal Prison Siege
A recently released 159-page report suggests that had a lieutenant’s request to move inmates at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center’s (JTVCC) been acted upon, he might still be alive today. On February 1, 2017, inmates in Building C took 126 people hostage in a siege that lasted 18 hours and left the lieutenant fatally injured. An independent review of the incident was commissioned by Delaware Governor John Carney. The report details years of staffing and security issues which ultimately erupted in the deadly prison revolt.
Hostage Takeover in Building C
In January, 2017, the victim, a correctional officer at JTVCC in Smyrna, Delaware, asked prison administrators to move certain inmates out of Building C. The building had a history of tension between gang members, overworked staff, inconsistent discipline procedures, and allegations of mistreatment of inmates. The facility was brimming with tension that the now-slain officer asked officials to address. The Carney report confirmed the problems in Building C.
The lieutenant’s request was ignored and less than two weeks later, disaster occurred. JTVCC inmates took 126 people hostage, including the lieutenant, who was tortured and locked in a closet throughout the ordeal. After eighteen hours of negotiation, a prison Response Team stormed the building to find the officer unresponsive. Tragically, the 47 year-old husband and father was later pronounced dead.
Vaughn’s History of Problems
Considered one of Delaware’s toughest prisons, many JTVCC inmates and employees say the siege was inevitable. Carney’s report details several issues plaguing the prison, all which went ignored in the years leading up to the officer’s death. Employees report being underpaid and overworked. In 2017, 40 percent of staffing hours were overtime. Some correctional officers reported working 16-hour shifts. At times, inmates outnumbered officers 75 to 1. They also mention a lack of consistent security procedures, leaving many prisoners armed and officers vulnerable.
Inmates claim they were neglected and abused, with no programs or activities for improvement. They cite a lack of any rehabilitative opportunities designed to prepare them for healthy and productive lives outside of prison. Inmates say their requests for access to medical care and education were consistently denied. Inmates staged several peaceful protests before the siege, with no results.
The Fight for Justice
Wilmington civil rights lawyer, Thomas C. Crumplar, is part of a team representing the family of the slain officer and several JTVCC employees in a federal civil lawsuit. The suit alleges that two former Delaware governors and several cabinet officials ignored the lengthy history of problems at the prison.
The suit also alleges that Governor Carney stopped a potential rescue attempt and waited too long to send law enforcement into the building. Crumplar says the siege victims were, “involved in protecting us and they were not given the tools.” Governor Carney has vowed to make changes addressing the problems found in the report. His recent budget proposal called for more correctional officers and higher salaries for prison workers. By seeking justice for the family of the victim and his coworkers at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Mr. Crumplar hopes for changes in Delaware prison system that will ensure the rights and safety of both workers and inmates.
Wilmington Personal Injury Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Pursue Justice and Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases
Wilmington personal injury lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. are committed to helping those who have been injured or suffered the wrongful death of a loved one because of someone else’s negligence. To discuss your case with a Wilmington personal injury lawyer, call 302-656-5445 today to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. Our two conveniently located offices serve clients in upstate and downstate Delaware, including those in Dover, Georgetown, and Wilmington, Delaware.
Correctional Officers File Suit Over Prison Uprising
Today Jacobs & Crumplar and The Neuberger Firm, on behalf of the estate and four survivors of a deceased correctional officer, as well as five fellow officer hostages, who survived torture, death threats and beatings in the inmate uprising in the Delaware prison system on February 1st and 2nd, filed a federal lawsuit against former Governors Jack Markell, Ruth Ann Minner, and others, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and a jury trial. After an exhaustive investigation, the Complaint charges that for 16 years it was the policy of these two Governors not to employ enough officers to safely run Delaware prisons. Instead, they spent up to $23 million a year forcing understaffed officers to work 16 hour overtime shifts, to save money at the expense of risking human lives at the hands of violent criminals, as reported by The News Journal at the attached link.
Thomas Crumplar Interviewed By TNJ On Vaughn Prison Uprising
Jacobs & Crumplar attorney Thomas C. Crumplar discusses in a News Journal article injuries his correctional officer client sustained in the James Vaughn prison uprising and asks those with information to come forward.
Read the article here:
When the Police Are Trigger Happy, No One is Safe
The police who risk their lives everyday are understandably concerned when they get a report about an attempted suicide. People with a gun, especially emotionally distraught ones, can pose a risk to others.
The police need special training to prevent a bad situation from getting worse. Yesterday, again, it appears that rather than “talking down” and stopping a potential suicide, the Wilmington police shot first and ended up killing a man on his front porch.
This recent killing hit home to me. First it reminded me of the September 2015 killing of a young paralyzed wheelchair bound African-American man, Jeremy McDole. My law firm, Jacobs & Crumplar, represented his family in a law suit which recently resulted in the City of Wilmington paying his family 1.5 million dollars to settle their wrongful death suit.
Yesterday’s killing was literally closer to my home. It occurred in the neighborhood where I have lived for over 30 and was inches away from where my son presently lives. My son and I live in a racially diverse neighborhood full of young families and young professionals.
On the very porch where my neighbor was shot, I often chatted with the family that used to live there. Just a year ago they moved out and the new resident, a middle-aged DuPont engineer, was the individual shot and killed.
When the McDole settlement was announced, it was noted that the City of Wilmington was in the process of adopting a new use of force policy. This recent shooting may indicate that it can’t come soon enough.
Police Accountability is Vital to our Democracy –Civil Lawsuits may be One Answer but Voting is the Key
In American unlike many countries the Police have a proud a tradition they are here “To Serve and To Protect “ whereas in many countries there function is to suppress dissent. Sadly in many inner city communities the police are viewed more as more of an occupying force. There is too much distrust between the police and the inner community which more than any other place in America needs a police which will “Serve and Protect”
There are bad actors in every field and we make a mistake because we want to support the police for risking their lives to protect us to give special protection for police misconduct. No group whether they are doctors lawyers or police officers are above the law. This is especially true because when there is police misconduct the consequences are widespread- people die and communities are shattered.
The question then becomes what are the best checks on police misconduct. Criminal prosecution have been tried but almost without exception they have failed . Civil lawsuit in contrast have been relatively successful. Money talks and the threat of large judgments more often than not will force police forces to institute long overdue policy changes in the use of force and improved training.
These lawsuits also bring pubic attention to various shortcomings and may engender more political involvement . Sadly voter participation in inner cities is far below what it is in the suburbs. The police report to elected officials and the elected officials report to the voters. The best way to insure that the victims of police misconduct did not die in vain is to vote.
Defendants Remove McDole Case To Federal Court
See the story published in The News Journal regarding the removal of the McDole case to Federal Court below
Jacobs & Crumplar File Civil Rights Action On Behalf Of McDole Family
Today the grandmother and mother of Jeremy McDole filed a state court civil rights action for the tragic and unnecessary death of Jeremy, a 28 year old young black man, who was not suffering from mental health issues, but who was shot 16 times by allegedly poorly trained and unqualified police officers and killed, while paralyzed from the waist down sitting in a wheelchair.
As shown by a contemporaneous video that went viral, he was unarmed, his hands were on his lap, sitting in broad daylight out in the open with plenty of nearby cover for the police. Jeremy was not combative or physically aggressive, nor did he say anything threatening or verbally taunt the police. Nor was he fleeing from the scene of a felonious crime which involved serious physical injury, or a threat of imminent harm to anyone. Jeremy’s assailants never identified themselves to him verbally as “Police” when they issued him commands before recklessly shooting him excessively. And they also never warned Jeremy that deadly force would be used against him to take his life if their commands were not followed.
The officers involved allegedly violated the Wilmington Police Department “Use of Force” Directive, due either to their poor training or lack of qualifications to be police officers licensed to use deadly force. The general state of such institutional failures within their police department has been highlighted recently in a Delaware judicial dissent. Before using deadly force, Jeremy could have been talked down by a properly trained professional using historic police methods before a cowboy mentality seeped into current day police training and police work. Also, lesser forms of force could have been utilized, such as, for example, a stun gun, a taser, pepper spray, tear gas or other chemical weapon, rubber buckshot or a bean bag shotgun.
Jacobs and Crumplar have filed this lawsuit in order to get answers for a grieving family who have nothing but questions as to how and why their beloved son, grandson, and brother could have been killed by the police when there is a video which shows that this killing was not justified .