"What's known about safety failures and abuse; violence and uses of force"

April 19-20, 2005, Tampa, FL 


The Commission's first hearing opened with testimony from invited witnesses about safety failures and abuses from individuals with direct experience of prison life as inmates, corrections officers, or other staff. Following their personal accounts, and questions by Commissioners, witnesses throughout the afternoon provided an overview of what's known about the most serious problems in America's prisons and jails, the sources of this information, and significant gaps in our knowledge and data. 

The second day of testimony focused on violence and uses of force. Invited witnesses addressed the scope of the problem in its various forms: violence among prisoners, excessive use of force and other violent acts by corrections officers against inmates, and the violent victimization of officers by inmates. The day also included discussion of specific issues, including gang violence and sexual violence.


A transcript of the complete proceedings of Hearing 1 can be downloaded in PDF format here. Alternatively, you can download transcripts of each witness panel as separate PDFs below. 

When & Where
Tuesday, April 19 and Wednesday, April 20, 2005 
1300 North Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33607

"What We Know, How We Know It, and Gaps in Our Knowledge"

April 19, 2005

Opening Statements

Commission Co-Chairs Nicholas Katzenbach and John Gibbons 
Col. David Parrish, Commander of the Hillborough County [Tampa] Jails 

Accounts of Prison Life
(Download transcript)

Ron McAndrew—A 23-year-old corrections veteran, who rose through the ranks to become warden of a maximum security prison in Florida, describing battling abuse "tooth and nail" and events leading to the death of one inmate. 

Garrett Cunningham—Former Texas inmate, who described being sexually harassed by a corrections officer, eventually raped, and then intimidated into silence. 

Judith Haney—Lead plaintiff in a recently settled class action law suit involving thousands of women in Miami-Dade County who were strip-searched at the jail. 

Scott Hornoff—Former Rhode Island police detective, who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for six and a half years and testified about daily acts of degradation and the destructive environment of the segregation unit. 

"What We Know, How We Know It, and Gaps in Our Knowledge"

Laying a common foundation about what's known about safety and abuse in prisons and jails, the basis for that information, and significant gaps in our knowledge. The first panel addressed these issues from the perspective of those who run and oversee corrections systems; the second by those who seek access to information from outside the system. 

Witness Panel 1: System "Insiders"
(Download transcript)

Jack Crowley—Former warden, Oklahoma Department of Corrections, currently involved in faith-based reentry programming. 

Glenn A. Fine—Inspector General overseeing all federal prisons. 

Mike Gennaco—Lead attorney for the Office of Independent Review, which oversees the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office and charged with developing a system of oversight for the entire California prison system. 

Witness Panel 2: System "Outsiders"
(Download transcript)

Alan Elsner—Reporter and author of Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons. 

Barbara Owen—Professor, California State University, Fresno, and an ethnographic researcher with expertise in women's prisons.

Margaret Winter—Associate Director, ACLU-National Prison Project, and lead counsel in a case involving sex slavery in a Texas Prison.

April 20, 2005

Violence and Excessive Use of Force by Officers
A discussion of the various forms of violence in prisons and jails—inmate-on-inmate, inmate-on-officer, and officer-on-inmate—through the testimony of a broad range of experienced voices. 

Witness Panel 1
(Download transcript)

Don Cabana—Former warden of a maximum security, death row prison in Parchman, Mississippi. 

Steve J. Martin—Former corrections officer, now a national expert on excessive use of force by corrections. officers.

Don Specter—National expert on violence in prison and Director of the California-based Prison Law Office.

Witness Panel 2, Roundtable Discussion
 (Download transcript)

Kenneth Adams—Professor, University of Central Florida, and an expert on the culture of violence in prison, especially as it relates to inmates with mental illness or mental retardation. 

John Boston—Director of the Prisoners' Rights Project of the New York City Legal Aid Society. 

Anadora Moss—Consultant with expertise in the work of corrections officers and staff sexual misconduct. 

Douglas Thompkins—Former gang leader and inmate, now a "convict criminologist" who specializes in the sociology of incarceration.

Margo Schlanger (moderator)—Washington University law professor, former trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and member of the Commission.