500 signatures reached
To: Blanche Carney, Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Prisons
Pepper Spraying Women and Trans Folks at Riverside Jail?! Fire Predatory Correctional Officers
Commissioner Blanche Carney must hold each of the correctional officers involved in mocking, harassing and pepper spraying Zack accountable by firing them immediately. Humiliating, harassing, and assaulting incarcerated people should never be tolerated.
Commissioner Carney and the Department of Prisons must conduct an immediate Prison Rape Elimination Act audit of their practices at all city jails, as well as a comprehensive review and overhaul of their use of force policies, including a detailed report to City Council explaining this ugly, offensive abuse of women and trans people in our community.
Why is this important?
A Philadelphia Inquirer investigation recently uncovered a brutal attack that took place at Riverside Correctional Facility, the city women's jail. In 2016, Zack, a transgender inmate at RCF, was mocked, humiliated, and subjected to sexual harassment and assault by jail staff, including improper searches of his gential by correctional officers.
While handcuffed and shackled, he was also pepper-sprayed four times by a correctional officer while others watched. . The officers responsible –Officers Lawrence Wiesenski, Tahira Brew Littlejohn, Monique Jones, and Sgt. Nakia Anderson—are still working at RCF. The article and video of the incident can be found here: https://www.inquirer.com/news/transgender-pepperspray-genital-searches-philadelphia-jails-20191023.html
The story also showed that Riverside Correctional Facility's correctional officers pepper spray inmates, the vast majority of whom are Black and Brown women and queer and trans folks, at over double the rate that they do at men's jails in Philadelphia:
"In 2018, Riverside, which averaged 466 prisoners per day, logged 124 instances in which jail guards used pepper spray on its detainees, according to internal prison reports. At Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia’s largest male jail, which had an average daily population of 2,140, guards used pepper spray 252 times."
We demand that:
Commissioner Blanche Carney hold each of these correctional officers accountable by firing them immediately. Humiliating, harassing, and assaulting incarcerated people should never be tolerated.
Commissioner Carney and the Department of Prisons conduct an immediate Prison Rape Elimination Act audit of their practices at all city jails, as well as a comprehensive review and overhaul of their use of force policies, including a detailed report to City Council explaining this ugly, offensive abuse of women and trans people in our community. We need action now!
Firing these officers and accounting for this abuse should not be a difficult decision for Commissioner Carney, who in 2018, expressed the importance of "ensuring that all staff persons treat inmates with respect and dignity."
Why is this important?
Right now, Officers Wiesenski, Littlejohn, Williams, Jones, and Sgt. Anderson, are still employed by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, being paid by taxpayers. They still interact daily with incarcerated people at RCF. Those incarcerated at RCF are not safe with these officers on staff.
We cannot risk allowing any of these officers to continue to attack, harass, and humiliate incarcerated people at RCF without any accountability. They cannot continue to be compensated after viciously attacking someone from our community.
Our community, our city, the people incarcerated at RCF deserve better. Fire Officers Wiesenski, Littlejohn, Jones, and Sgt. Anderson now, and Commissioner Carney, produce a comprehensive audit report on this detailed abuse of Philly's incarcerated women, trans folks, and all incarcerated people for Council and the public to see, so we can take action to stop it permanently!