The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

Report: SCC inmates held naked in cells in 2013 case


October 5, 2017 | View PDF

The Alaska state ombudsman ruled Spring Creek Correctional Center officers improperly held 12 inmates in cold cells without proper clothing and paraded them in front of a female staff member while on “dog leashes” in a 2013 incident.

The case involved “very shocking allegations that unfortunately turned out to be true,” said Kate Burkhart, state ombudsman in a report that was released last week.

According to the state ombudsman report, on August 16, 2013, an inmate in the Bravo Module broke off a shower head, resulting in water flooding the module.

According to Spring Creek staff, the other Bravo Mod inmates yelled encouragement and agitated for the inmate to resist officers and destroy the shower. Maintenance staff eventually shut off the water and Department of Corrections staff extracted the inmate from the shower.

Shortly after that inmate was removed, correctional officers removed each of the remaining 12 inmates in Bravo Mod from their cells, ordered them to strip, searched them for contraband, attached them to a cuff retainer restraint, and moved them naked to different cells in Charlie Mod. The inmates were placed in new cells, where they remained, naked, for up to 12 hours. The inmates did not receive a mattress or blanket until the following day.

After a lengthy investigation, the Ombudsman found that these actions were contrary to federal and state law, as well as DOC policy. DOC also failed to follow policies regarding discipline and inmate grievances related to this incident.

According to the report, the inmates felt the action was a form of retaliation for an incident that had occurred earlier.

The Bravo Mod inmates had been involved in a demonstration that involved destruction of the Juliet Mod at Spring Creek about 10 days before this incident. Deposition statements of Spring Creek staff involved in the incident reflect that the orders to strip the inmates, restrain them, and then leave them naked in new cells were meant to punish the inmates for the earlier demonstration. When some Bravo Mod inmates filed grievances about the August 16 incident,

Spring Creek assigned the investigation and resolution of the grievances to the same lieutenant who had ordered the actions that night. DOC policy requires that inmate grievances accepted for investigation must be assigned to “an objective staff member that is not involved in the subject of the grievance to investigate.”


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