Criminal Law Charges In Instances Of Prison Riots

timer Asked: Feb 5th, 2019
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Question Description

For your initial post, consider the scenario below and answer the questions in italics:

“When a riot occurs in prison, the inmates sometimes seize a guard or other prison employee and hold that person during the period of the riot. Not all the inmates will directly participate in seizing or holding the guard, even if they otherwise participate in the riot. When the riot is quelled, what charges can be brought against the inmates? What should the government have to prove to convict an inmate of these charges? See Comm. v. Spearin, 846 N.E.2d 390 (Mass. 2006).”

Review the posts of your fellow learners and respond to at least two. In your response posts, you must do one or more of the following:

  • Ask an analytical question.
  • Offer a suggestion.
  • Elaborate on a particular point.
  • Provide an alternative opinion supported with research.

Be sure to support your initial post and follow-up posts with scholarly examples from the module readings and additional literature where appropriate. You must cite all references according to APA style.

peer post one

When a riot has ended, there are many charges that can be brought against the inmates regarding the riot and what role an inmate has played in it. For instance, in Wilmington Delaware, a riot had occurred where a correctional officer had died. "The 16 defendants were charged with three counts of first-degree murder (intentional murder, felony murder, and recklessly causing death of a correctional officer); two counts of first-degree assault (a count each regarding officers Smith and Wilkinson); four counts of first-degree kidnapping (a count each for Lt. Floyd, officers Smith and Wilkinson and counselor May); one count of riot; and one count of second-degree conspiracy (regarding the riot)" (Inmates indicted: 18 face charges for prison riot; 16 for murder - Delaware State News, 2017). The riot resulted in death, which explains the inmates charges. "In addition, inmates Pedro Chairez and Royal Downs were each charged with four counts of first-degree kidnapping, (a count each for Lt. Floyd, officers Smith and Wilkinson and counselor May); one count of riot; and one count of second-degree conspiracy (for conspiring to commit riot)" (Inmates indicted: 18 face charges for prison riot; 16 for murder - Delaware State News, 2017. Due to the nature and extent of this riot, others were charged with kidnapping, as well as rioting.

A riot had occurred at the Tecumseh State Prison which also resulted in death, and the charges included "assault by a confined person on an officer and a fourth was charged with making terroristic threats against a corrections employee" (Joe Duggan / World-Herald Bureau, 2017). Within this riot, arson was also involved where inmates were charged. After a riot, the inmates that were involved, will be charged with crimes that they were involved with ranging from kidnapping, conspiracy, arson, murder, assault & battery, rioting and destruction of property. In order for the government to convict an inmate of these charges, the government should have proof that the inmates were involved in crimes, such as video footage, forensic evidence, or the testimony of other inmates or staff. Inmates should undergo the same investigation of those who are not incarcerated. Due to an individual being incarcerated, doesn't mean that they should automatically be deemed involved in a riot or crime once incarcerated.

peer post 2

In this particular case, a prison riot occurred at the Bristol County House of Correction where Randall Spearin, Gualter Camara, and other prisoners refused to disburse. A building was damaged, and a guard was injured after being taken hostage.

There are several charges that can be brought. First is the charge of hostage taking, which the following elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt: (a) that the defendant is a prisoner in a penal or reformatory institution; (b) that the defendant seized or detained another person; (c) that the defendant threatened to kill, injure, or continue to detain that person; and (d) that the defendant acted with the purpose and intention of compelling a third person or governmental entity to act in some way, or to refrain from acting in some way. (FindLaw, 2019).

They could also be charged with unlawful assembly, which, under M.G.L. c. 269, s. 1, states “If five or more persons, being armed with clubs or other dangerous weapons, or if ten or more persons, whether armed or not, are unlawfully, riotously or tumultuously assembled in a city or town, the mayor and each of the aldermen of such city, each of the selectmen of such town, every justice of the peace living in any such city or town, any member of the city, town, or state police and the sheriff of the county and his deputies shall go among the persons so assembled, or as near to them as may be with safety, and in the name of the commonwealth command all persons so assembled immediately and peaceably to disperse; and if they do not thereupon immediately and peaceably disperse, each of said magistrates and officers shall command the assistance of all persons there present in suppressing such riot or unlawful assembly and arresting such persons” (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2019, p. 1).

Further charges are building destruction while unlawfully assembled, but due to the fact that the correctional facility is not a city or town owned property, this charge would not apply.

Other charges that come to mind are assault on the correctional officer, which falls under M.G.L. Chapter 265 Section 13A. In order to prove this charge, a person must attempt to use physical force against another party, or demonstrate an intent to use immediate force against another party. The party does not need to cause injury to another person or even make physical contact with the person for assault to be committed. (Geoffrey, N., n.d.).

All correctional facility laws do fall under both federal and state statutes, and depending on where the facility is located, different laws will apply. This particular case and the charges occurred in Massachusetts, so jurisdiction would be under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Tutor Answer

School: Carnegie Mellon University

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