Panel meets to discuss Hillsbourough jail

04/16/08 Jamie Kidder
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The independent review commission of the Hillsborough County Jails met last night across from the Falkenberg Road Jail in Tampa.

Col. David Parrish stood before the Review Committee and spoke about the new Standard Operating Procedures for handling inmates, things such as new inmate medical and mental health screenings and more thorough tests for drugs and alcohol, wheelchair accessible inmate transportation.

Not surprisingly, much of the focus of the new procedures was on how to deal with disabled inmates. The review commission was established after a video came to light of Brian Sterner, a quadriplegic, being dumped from a wheelchair and searched.

Parrish spoke about the new procedures in place to make sure that everyone is doing their job correctly, and to hold those who aren’t accountable.

There were many other inmates aside from Sterner who filed complaints of abuse at the hands of jail employees. One inmate claimed a deputy had broken her arm, one claimed to have been beaten to the point of receiving brain damage, and earlier this year, the Sherriff’s Office released footage of Benjamin Rayburn, a paraplegic who was left on the floor of his cell for over an hour after his wheelchair was confiscated by deputies.

Members of the public were invited to comment but only one person, Stanley Weaver, did. His brother, Bryan Weaver, filed a grievance about an altercation with a fellow inmate that took place on May 26, 2006. According to Stanley Weaver, a detention officer took Weaver and the other inmate into a secluded part of the recreation yard at 5:30 in the morning and looked the other way as the two fought while all other inmates were still in their cells.

After the confrontation, Weaver complained of severe pain in his eye. According to his brother, they put him in solitary confinement until the next day where he was sent to the hospital. While he was in the hospital, according to Weaver, he was tried in absentia and found guilty of all charges relating to the fight.

The next review commission meeting is at 10 a.m. at the Tampa Port Authority on April 25.

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