The Denver Post
Department of Corrections officials will meet in Sterling today to try to understand why four inmates have been killed at the prison there in the past two years.
DOC executive director Tom Clements said he is meeting with Sterling Correctional Facility warden Kevin Milyard to be debriefed on each of the cases.
"We're looking at cell assignment protocols," Clements said. "We want to see if there are any common denominators. It's got my attention."
The focus is on Sterling because all other prisons in DOC have a total of just three murders in roughly the same time frame.
The most recent Sterling case was Lyle Brent White, a convicted child killer who had told his sister he feared for his life before he was beaten to death.
"He's been threatened ever since he's been in there," said White's sister Elizabeth. "This totally could have been prevented."
An inmate who beat White to death Dec. 1 at Sterling told investigators the "cho-mo" — or child molester — got what he deserved, his sister said.
White had not been convicted of a sex crime but was behind bars for the murder of an 11-year-old boy.
Five days earlier, convicted sex offender Mark Frederick Hanson, who was serving a two-year prison term for repeatedly failing to register as a sex offender, also was beaten to death at Sterling. Three of the four inmates killed there in the past 21 months were behind bars for either sex offenses or crimes against children.
The rash of prison murders is extraordinary in a county that will go years without a single homicide, Logan County District Attorney Robert Watson said.
Watson said that errors in prison classifications or placements may have contributed to the deaths.
DOC spokeswoman Kath erine Sanguinetti said Sterling has more than 2,500 convicted felons, or more than 10 percent of the state's prisoners, and violent confrontations do occur.
"Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to protect them, sometimes this kind of thing happens," she said.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
The Denver Post