06-24-2018  12:28 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

On the hunt in Oregon for a rare Sierra Nevada red fox

BEND, Ore. (AP) — In a dense forest at the base of Mount Bachelor, two wildlife biologists slowly walked toward a small cage trap they hoped would contain a rare red fox species. Jamie Bowles, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife technician in Bend, and Tim Hiller, founder of the...

Lawsuits allege racial profiling in Portland-area businesses

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Several African Americans are suing big-box stores and restaurants in Oregon, claiming employees at those places wrongly accused them of stealing because they were "shopping while black."A Portland law firm has filed five lawsuits alleging racial profiling at businesses in...

Abuse survivor finds new life, success in Pacific Northwest

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Jonathan Dutson long dreamed of moving to the Pacific Northwest, where its lush greenery offered a respite from the scorching Arizona sun he grew up beneath. But Dutson was looking as much for a new home as he was looking for an escape.Dutson was one of 700 who walked...

Alaska city honors Guardsmen killed in crash after '64 quake

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A month after the second most powerful earthquake ever was recorded, the Alaska port community of Valdez remained in ruins.A hulking Alaska National Guard cargo plane's mission April 25, 1964, was to deliver Gov. William Egan to oversee efforts to rebuild the town on...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Lawsuits allege racial profiling in Portland-area businesses

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Several African Americans are suing big-box stores and restaurants in Oregon, claiming employees at those places wrongly accused them of stealing because they were "shopping while black."A Portland law firm has filed five lawsuits alleging racial profiling at businesses in...

Racist tropes in Ramadan TV satires anger black Arabs

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In an attempt to capitalize on what's become a ratings bonanza for Arabic satellite channels during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, two comedies struck the wrong chord with audiences when their lead actors appeared in blackface.Criticism was swift on...

Chaos on the border inflames GOP's split with Latinos

When more than 1,000 Latino officials __ a crop of up-and-coming representatives from a fast-growing demographic __ gathered in Phoenix last week, no one from the Trump administration was there to greet them.It marked the first time a presidential administration skipped the annual conference of the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Han Solo's Blaster from 'Return of the Jedi' tops auction

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Han Solo's Blaster from the "Return of the Jedi" has sold for 0,000 at a Las Vegas auction.Julien's Auctions says Ripley's Believe It or Not bought the item Saturday.The sci-fi weapon was the top-selling item at the Hollywood Legends auction.The blaster was part of a...

Ornate NYC theater, used for years as a gym, to be restored

NEW YORK (AP) — For years, Long Island University's basketball team played in a French Baroque movie palace in downtown Brooklyn.The gilded wall fountains, plastered statuettes and towering, one-of-a-kind Wurlitzer organ pipes of the historic Paramount Theater were preserved by the...

Vinnie Paul, co-founder, drummer of Pantera, dies at 54

Vinnie Paul, co-founder and drummer of metal band Pantera, has died at 54.Pantera's official Facebook page posted a statement early Saturday announcing his death. The label of Hellyeah, his most recent group, confirmed the death but neither statement mentioned Paul's cause of death.His real name...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

In about-face, Iraq's maverick al-Sadr moves closer to Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who emerged as the main winner in Iraq's...

US moves 100 coffins to N. Korean border for war remains

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The U.S. military said it moved 100 wooden coffins to the inter-Korean border to...

New Zealand leader names daughter Neve, leaves hospital

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford...

AP PHOTOS: Germany salvages campaign on Day 10 of World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) — Germany midfielder Toni Kroos scored a dramatic late winner to come from behind and beat...

Beyond World Cup: Advocates call attention to Russian abuses

MOSCOW (AP) — Wrapped in national flags, jubilant fans dance at midnight in the streets of Moscow, smiling,...

In about-face, Iraq's maverick al-Sadr moves closer to Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who emerged as the main winner in Iraq's...

Bradley Ballard
Jake Pearson, Associated Press

This 1990 photo provided by Curtis Griffin of his step-son Bradley Ballard shows Ballard in Houston when he was 16. In September of 2013, 39-year-old Ballard, who was mentally ill and an inmate at the Rikers Island jail in New York, died there after being locked alone in his cell for seven days. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Ballard was checked on dozens of times in his cell before he was rushed to a hospital, where he died hours later. Ballard, found naked, covered in feces with a rubber band tied around his badly infected genitals, was jailed in a similar mental health unit at Rikers Island where another mentally ill inmate died in a 101-degree cell in February. (AP Photo/Curtis Griffin)

NEW YORK (AP) — The grisly deaths of two inmates — one who "baked to death" in his overheated cell, another who sexually mutilated himself while locked up alone for seven days — have raised new questions about the New York City jail system's ability to deal with a burgeoning number of mentally ill people.

The two cases — both exposed by The Associated Press — have prompted a city lawmaker to schedule oversight hearings next month.

"No inmate should be treated that way, especially those with mental health needs. The city has to do more to protect them," City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said Thursday. "A lot of people who are in Rikers Island should be in a hospital, in a clinical setting, not in a jail."

Bradley Ballard, a 39-year-old inmate who family members said had been diagnosed as schizophrenic, died in September after he was confined to his cell in a mental observation unit at Rikers for seven days for making a lewd gesture at a female guard, according to interviews and documents obtained by the AP.

Denied some of his medication, the agitated inmate tied a rubber band tightly around his genitals. During that period, guards repeatedly peered through the window in his cell but didn't venture inside until it was too late, according to corrections officials' account.

Ballard was found naked and unresponsive on the floor, covered in feces, his genitals swollen and badly infected. He died at a hospital of what officials said appeared to be sepsis, an infection that has spread through the body.

In the other case, Jerome Murdough, 56, a former Marine who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, died in February after a heating system malfunction caused the temperature in his cell to rise to 101 degrees. He, too, was in a special unit for the mentally ill.

He was taking psychiatric medication that experts say can make people more sensitive to heat.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to reform the 12,000-inmate Rikers Island jail, amid criticism for months about violence and erratic behavior among inmates, mostly the mentally ill, who make up 40 percent of the population.

As a first step, de Blasio has appointed a corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte, who has a track record of reducing jail violence and the use of solitary confinement in Maine.

Also, mental health and jail officials have started shift-by-shift briefings on the most troubled inmates, and they are moving to make sure the officers who work with the mentally ill are steadily assigned to the task.

Jerome-Murdough-webPHOTO: In this March 12, 2014, file photo, a picture of Jerome Murdough is held by his mother and sister in the Queens borough of New York. Murdough, a 56-year-old mentally ill inmate at Rikers Island jail, "baked" to death in his overheated cell during one of the coldest recorded winters in city history. According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, jail officials were aware of malfunctioning heating equipment and requested repairs the last day Murdough was seen alive, but the needed work didn't happen until it was too late because of a long holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)

The Correction Department has also opened up two units where mentally ill inmates who have broken jailhouse rules get more intensive clinical attention, rather than being put in solitary confinement.

"I share Mayor de Blasio's belief that we must do better by inmates who suffer from mental health issues," Ponte said in a statement, "and by taking steps like improving coordination and information sharing between security staff and mental health staff, we will."

Following Ballard's death, Health Department officials said an investigation found workers missed multiple opportunities to treat him. The unit chief was transferred out, and staffers were retrained on how to do rounds.

Experts said some of these approaches don't address the real problem.

"Correctional institutions are such a poor substitute for mental hospitals, which is what they're basically functioning as in our society," said Dr. Bandy Lee, a Yale psychiatrist who once worked at Rikers. "The problem is the correction setting is not fit to deliver the proper care, and in fact many of the settings exacerbate their symptoms."

Nick Freudenberg, a professor of public health at City University of New York who ran programs at Rikers for 15 years, said the two graphic deaths highlighted various ways in which the city's criminal justice system fails the seriously mentally ill: by not having special courts for them, by not training police well enough on how to deal with them, and by not having better communication between jail guards and mental health professionals.

"The one level is who did what on what particular day in this facility for this particular inmate who died," he said. "Another level is the sorry state of mental health services in our society."

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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