Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Feds to Pay 125K To Witness Who Was Beaten

An unidentified man who agrees to testify against a group of people is left in a cell with their friends.

Watch the Video from CBS4

The federal government will pay $125,000 to a witness who was brutally beaten by inmates while security cameras rolled, CBS4 has learned.

The unidentified inmate, who was cooperating in cases against other inmates, had been placed in a cell with their friends, according to the story by CBS 4 reporter Rick Sallinger.

The $125,000 will settle a lawsuit in which the inmate claimed the United States Marshals Service failed to protect him in the incident two years ago.

No one was watching the monitor as the witness was tackled by two friends of the men he was testifying against in a federal court case. The pair then took turns pounding him, the footage shows.

Despite the video, nobody came to help the witness. The inmates delivering the beating were identified as Vernon Templeman and Shawn Shields, who later was recorded on tape telling his mother the pair attacked the man because he was a snitch.

"Mom, in our world, rats are the lowest piece of s---," Shields was recorded saying. "They're free for all; you beat them up every chance you get."

CBS4 obtained an internal report that indicated a deputy marshal was assigned to monitor the cameras, but he was told to go downstairs and meet someone from Douglas County. During the marshal's absence, Templeman stomped on the witness as Shields punched him.

CBS4 played the tape for the victim's mother.

"Put him in with the people he's testifying against, the guards not watching the monitor, that's their job," the victim's mother said.

Despite her son's desperate waves for help, none came until 26 minutes after the beating began.

His mother said her son's problems in prison have not ended because he's been labeled a snitch.

"You know I can understand him dying if he was over in the war fighting," she said. "I can accept that, but I can't accept a bunch of thugs and killers in a prison."

The witness, who suffered brain and liver injuries, is serving time for robbery and has been moved to an out-of-state prison. CBS4 said he is in protective custody because of the possibility that other inmates might attack him.


Rocky Mountain News

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