Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 24, 2013

County jail warden addresses criticisms

SAEGERTOWN — These are the comments Warden Tim Lewis of the Crawford County Correctional Facility made Thursday at the county prison board meeting with regard to allegations of prison mistreatment by corrections officers either on inmates or during inmate-on-inmate assaults. The three Crawford County commissioners, who are members of the seven-member prison board, asked Lewis to review allegations raised in the last few years by Sam Byrd Jr. of Meadville, a local prisoner advocate.

Ferguson and Boyer

Pennsylvania State Police called because of the nature of the attack on Mr. Harry Boyer. Mr. Michael Ferguson went completely out of his way to attack Mr. Boyer causing bodily injuries to Mr. Boyer. This was an incident that needed to be handled and investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police.

Robert Lee

Now you state that Mr. Robert Lee was allegedly assaulted twice by several of my staff and Pennsylvania State Police not called. Let me set the record straight!! Mr. Lee’s mental condition while incarcerated here, I believed not to be in the best of condition. However, I’m no mental health expert. But just the same Mr. Lee was treated probably better than most of any of the other inmates that were incarcerated at the time of his stay here. Mr. Lee was permitted to have his wife visit him each day so she too could see his conditions. At that time Mrs. Lee was very thankful and quite appreciative of those visits. As far as being assaulted, that’s the furthest from the truth. On occasions Mr. Lee did need to be restrained for his safety as well as my staffs. For example: an officer was handing out medications to Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee became agitated and grabbed the entire package of meds from my staff’s hand and what the officer thought, threw the meds all through his cell. And then at the very same time had a cup of liquid type substance and threw it all over my staff’s face and chest area. Now we can all pretty much assume what that liquid substance was!! At that point a team of officers was assembled under the direction of the on duty shift lieutenant to extract Mr. Lee from his cell with the minimal amount of force needed to retrieve the medications and clean up the liquid substance. As this team entered Mr. Lee’s cell verbal commands were given to Mr. Lee. Instead of Mr. Lee obeying the direct commands, he chose to charge towards the officers in a manner to where his fist were closed, arms flailing to the point he meant to cause bodily harm to my staff. My staff is trained on how to deal with these types of situations and what needs done using the proper equipment and techniques. Mr. Lee while thrashing about grabbed my shift lieutenant’s eye glasses from his face and began smashing them and grinding the glass into his own hands to point that Mr. Lee received multiple cuts on his hands. At this point something needed to be done!! The order was given to use the take down technique in order to place Mr. Lee in handcuffs and leg cuffs. While this was being done, Mr. Lee was not only very combative and abusive, but saw it fit to bite my shift lieutenant’s arm causing injury to my shift lieutenant causing this lieutenant to be taken to the hospital and not to mention all aftercare required from a human bite. Or the time when Mr. Lee played dead in his cell just in order to get a staff to enter his cell and assault them once inside beside him. And when the staff entered his cell to help him or make sure he was breathing because they thought Mr. Lee was in some sort of distress, MR. Lee chose to smack my staff member directly in the face sending this staff member to the hospital with multiple facial injuries. I’m here to inform you and others, Mr. Lee was NOT assaulted by anyone of my staff here at this institution. It’s just the opposite of that. Mr. Lee was the one doing all the assaulting, but that information never surfaced.

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