Sunday, 1 March 2009

Sarah Palin's Prisongate

Joe Schmidt

The Alaska Correctional Officers Association gave the state corrections commissioner Joe Schmidt a “no confidence” censure vote on Tue, April 22, 2008. ACOA union members voted 514 to 19 against Schmidt.

The allegations just won't stop coming from disgruntled employees and prison inmates, all directed at the state Department of Corrections.

Overcrowded prisons, a drug-resistant skin infection being passed around the prisoner population and a no-confidence vote for Commissioner Joe Schmidt are among the problems the state agency faces.

Everyone agrees Alaska's jails are filled beyond capacity. But there are differing opinions about whether the state is doing enough to keep the facilities safe and clean.

Anchorage Correctional Complex was built to house 853 inmates but now holds far more. There are more inmates than ever at the complex. Alaska Correctional Officers Association, which represents officers, says the state is reducing the number of guards patrolling the jails.

Schmidt and his deputy commissioners claim the union is playing dirty to get what it wants: more control over the department and its management. "I felt bullied."

Schmidt says he has made a lot of difficult changes since being appointed at the end of 2006 -- reducing overtime, promoting rehabilitation programs, and pushing aggressively for ways to reduce costs and the state's staggering 60 percent of offenders who end up back in jail. .

Governor Sarah Palin has said he has her unconditional support.

Rebecca Bingham

Rebecca Bingham is the Department of Corrections Clinical Director.

MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection, is rampant behind bars in Anchorage. The guards say the administrators are not doing enough to keep them safe in the state's overcrowded prisons. They say the department won't acknowledge dangerous health issues, like constant exposure to MRSA, a difficult-to-treat staph infection.

But corrections officials refute that claim. "Once they are in here, as long as the institution is keeping things relatively clean and the inmates and officers are washing their hands frequently, it really has a much lower level than the outside," said Rebecca Bingham, clinical director for state corrections. Bingham said that although the DOC doesn't track cases of MRSA, she believes there are four unconfirmed cases of the infection.

The state says it is doing its best to keep the jails clean and safe.

A more recent case illustrates Dr Bingham's attitude to prisoners' health.

Joseph Alexie, an Alaska Native, died of tuberculosis on December 9, 2008, on his daughter's 5th birthday, while incarcerated at Red Rock correctional center in Arizona. Red Rock is the facility the Alaska Department of Corrections has a contract with to house Alaskan inmates. Even though Joseph Alexie was in Arizona when he died, he was governed by Alaska Department of Corrections health standards.

"Occasionally villages will have an outbreak of tuberculosis where quite a few people get exposed and go on the INH treatment, but it is pretty rare in the United States for someone to die from it," says Department of Corrections Clinical Director Dr. Rebecca Bingham.

"He kept going and trying to get checked up, but they kept sending him away telling him it was bronchitis, or this or that, and they were just giving him a wrong diagnosis every time, without really giving him any medical attention." Says Myra Colley, Joseph Alexie's cousin.

His family says no matter what his crimes, he should not have died behind bars from a controllable and treatable disease.

Though they are bound by federal laws not to talk about the health of specific inmates, the clinical director for DOC, Dr Rebecca Bingham, said that if they had known an inmate was that sick, they would have treated him. Joseph didn't tell anyone he was feeling bad in time.

Joseph Alexie was set to get out of jail this June.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin has been sued by a prisoner named Berry L Jack, who claimed he was raped for 3 days, treated at a medical facility, and then denied recommended therapy thereafter.

Jack brought the suit against Sarah Palin and Debbie Miller, Correctional Superintendent at the Mat-Su pre-trial facility, Palmer, on March 10, 2008.

Berry Jack's claim and amended claim contain the following passages:

"I was raped and beaten for 3 days while in the custody of the Department of Corrections. The Anchorage Sexual Assault Response Team and the State Troopers told the DOC that I needed extensive therapy. The answer was NO.

One mental health worker said to me: "Everyone needs a bit of a stiff dick stuck inside of them from time to time."

I made many requests for treatment and orders came down from Debbie Miller that the answer was no and for me to deal with it.

I wrote a letter to Governor Palin asking for help and her first letter said she supported Debbie Miller. On December 23 I wrote to the governor again and she turned the State Troopers on me.

On March 12 all my evidence court documents were destroyed by the DOC."

The outcome of Mr Jack's court case, June 2, 2008:


Berry L. Jack, a self-represented prisoner, filed a civil rights complaint, which
this Court screened as required under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A.1 Mr.
Jack then filed an amended complaint, as permitted by the Court, but since that
time, mail sent to him has been returned to the Court, and Mr. Jack has filed no
notice of change of address.

It looks like, having made the effort to file a lawsuit, Berry Jack has gone missing while his case was being dealt with by the Court. It's very unlikely that anybody will go to the trouble of finding out what happened to him. Neither Sarah Palin nor Debbie Miller had to respond to his allegations.

It's interesting to note some similarities in the attitudes of these people in positons of power, as described above.

Joe Schmidt feels victimised and bullied, Dr Rebecca Bingham denies any responsibility for either case and ultimately blames a prisoner for his own death. Sarah Palin famously feels victimised all the time, denies responsibility for anything and is very good at blaming others for her mistakes, ill-judgement and shortcomings.

For people who constantly say that they are all about honesty and accountability, they seem to close ranks and collude to deny wrongdoing, suppress any attempts to verify the truth and are very quick to apportion blame to others.

These are the things that define the ethos of Sarah Palin's office.

UPDATE! I found Mr Jack in the system after June 2nd. For court case details, click here. Navigate through the tabs to find all dates, etc. (Posted by Regina at 23:32)

More on Joe Schmidt on ADN and KTUU (page 1) Joe Schmidt's web page. Previous post on this blog.
Rebecca Bingham on MRSA (page 2 of KTUU report) and Alexie's case
Jack's claim, amended claim and Court case outcome.
Article about assault on Berry Jack on ADN.


midnightcajun said...

I don't know who you are or what you do for a living, Regina, but have you thought of taking all this information you have gathered, expanding it, and turning it into a book? For a model, look at all the anti-Obama and anti-Kerry books that were published before the election. You just need an outline, a few sample chapters (the three first ones).

THis woman needs a REAL biography written about her!

Duncan said...

Thank you Regina, just when it seems like things can't be any worse, they are.

Please do write a book about GINO.

my word is nonstr, should have been monstr, eh?


Floyd M. Orr said...

I suggest that you compose an article about something mentioned in the most recent post at Immoral Minority. The piece from Trailblazer states that Sarah got a call from her doctor 12/4/07 telling her that the baby she was carrying had Downs. I see a whole boatload of questions that need to be asked. These contradict each other from many angles, so only a few or less of them can actually be true. (1) Was this really the doctor saying the baby Bristol was carrying? (2) This apparently is very close to the date Sarah supposedly had a big fight with Bristol and threw her out of the house. (3) This is also the same approximate date that Bristol moved to Anchorage to go to school for one month. (4) How did the author get this exact information if he supposedly just talked to relatives to research the book? (5) Didn't she not tell the relatives about the pregnancy until March 2008? (6) Did she really know about the Downs prior to the birth?

akmuffin said...

I think there is more to this Prisongate/Joe Schmidt story also. I remember seeing Mr. Schmidt at one of her recent press conferences and couldn't understand what his purpose for being there. Maybe he is just part of her "moral entourage".

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

All diseases MRSA, TB the CDC should be contacted. Its a outrage that this man was sexually abused, and now his court papers disappear b/c he is suing GINO? And where is he now?
I bet if you look closer this Debbie person is a friend of GINO's.
GINO'S house (Administration) is so dirty the FEDS need to come and throw a tarp over it like pest control do to peoples houses! Her administration is totally infested!!!!

Anonymous said...

What happened to Berry Jack? Was he found? Did they kill him? This needs to be followed up. Geez, I feel sick. This is horrible, and nobody even commented on him.

Anonymous said...

I am also disturbed by this situation. The DOC MUST know where Berry Jack is. A law school or other public service attorney needs to hear about this and start working on it--hopefully before Mr. Jack is killed or resurfaces with a brain injury.

If the Alaska DOC is in such bad condition that the civil rights of prisoners are being denied, a federal lawsuit would be appropriate to enforce prisoners rights.

Let's put our heads together and see what can be done to improve this situation.


Cany said...

I strongly encourage you to post this (if you have not already) on daily kos (and if you read there, you know how important proving facts ARE... thus including links all the way through).

This is really important information, especially in light of some moves to institute the death penalty in AK.

Has anyone talked to the AK ACLU about these and likely other charges?

Something obviously needs to be done before more die or are harmed both by the system, by the governor, and by Schmidt.

regina said...


I have opened an account at Daily Kos today. But I can't publish diaries for a week... I'm a stickler for links, so that won't be a problem.

Now I'll have to wait until the week is up so I can start posting my findings there.

Thanks for the tip.

teal said...

Sarah is not a good person...PERIOD, this is more evidence of of her trusting her friends to mishandle & and then she agrees...


Helen said...


Prison-gate now added to the list. I really feel for Mr. Jack.

regina said...


The link you posted is where I found all the links I posted here! I just developed the story a bit more and refreshed it.

We have to keep recycling older scandals, bring them forward, make them relevant NOW.

Sarah counts on people having short memories or not being able to connect the dots.

Ha ha! It's not going to happen. We have good memories and don't mind helping others to remember or to find the dirt for the first time...

Thanks for supporting and encouraging me.

regina said...


At least I managed to find him. I was getting really nervous about what might have happened to him. How can a prisoner NOT be found at the prison address he gave to the court or not file a change of address??? It's not like they just decide to move without telling anybody...

Even though he's not missing anymore, the court case dismissal is still a bit dodgy, somebody didn't want the court documents to get to him, so the case was dismissed. Mmmmmm....

akmuffin said...

Just an FYI, State Senator Bill Wielechowski is on the Senate Judiciary Committee. I have emailed him before about an issue and he personally responded. He has been on Rachel Maddow's show and feel he could be an advocate of "truth".

kygirl915 said...

This is awful, really I could cry reading this. What are we going to do. It cannot go on. I don't understand how all this goes on and on, she is heartless.

Lorsta said...

I'll keep an eye out for your diary at the KOS Regina. Use the time before you post it to read others to see what works and what doesn't. They can be a little harsh on diaries that are skimpy on documentation but from the looks of it that won't be a problem with yours.

The other thing that is important is the time you post your diary. Certain times if you post your diary it falls off the list before enough people see it and can recommend it to keep it around. Sometimes though if you diary is good enough it gets rescued and given another chance but still it is something to keep in mind.

Good luck and I hope you get some action from your Blog and KOS Diary. This is a story that needs to get out there.

Anonymous said...

Regina-the dismissal sounds bogus. If he were represented by counsel I doubt it would have happened. I've sent links to this post to a couple of groups; if anyone in Alaska has a contact for a civil rights organization, please ask them to look into this.

(Alaska does have at least one civil rights organization, doesn't it?)