Innocent Man Sues For $11 Million After being Inslaved In Brattleboro Vermont Jail And Forced To Work For 25 Cents An Hour – Contracted MSRA Lesion While Forced To Work In Jail’s Laundry

August 21, 2012

BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT – The year was December 2008, and University of Vermont graduate student Finbar McGarry faced a dilemma. An inmate in a Vermont county jail, McGarry was required by correctional authorities to work in the jail laundromat for 25 cents per hour. If he refused to work, McGarry would have been thrown in solitary confinement—otherwise known as “the hole.” Not a pleasant alternative.

There’s plenty of legal and historical precedent for putting convicts to hard work in America. Angola prison in Louisiana is perhaps America’s most notorious work farm—where not only do the inmates farm their own food, they make the prison boatloads of money by putting on an annual rodeo.

The iconographic chain gang lingers in our consciousness, thanks to films like Cool Hand Luke.

Here’s the catch: Paul Newman’s Luke, anti-heroic as he may have been, was a convicted thief. He had a definitive sentence, as do most real-life convicts condemned to hard labor in America.

McGarry had no such sentence. He was certainly facing grievous charges—he had allegedly discharged a gun in his home while threatening to kill his family, then turned his anger on a school official.

But McGarry was still awaiting trial. He had yet to be convicted.

Upward of 1,000 inmates trapped in jail pre-trial posed little to no danger to the public—more than five percent of the county jail population. They were simply being held because they were too poor to pay for bail.

Eventually, McGarry relented and chose to work in the laundry rather than face a prolonged and brutal spell in “the hole.” During the course of his work, McGarry says he contracted a serious MRSA lesion on his neck—a potentially deadly bacterial infection.

McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. In 2009, he pressed a suit against his former captors in Brattleboro, Vermont, federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The Brattleboro judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.

McGarry’s suit brings new life to the issue of pre-trial detention—the incarceration of people who are awaiting trial, yet to be convicted of a crime—which was already mired with debate and controversy.

A recent report by corrections expert Dr. James Austin, examining the jails of Los Angeles County (which suffer from notorious violence and overcrowding), found that upward of 1,000 inmates trapped in jail pre-trial posed little to no danger to the public—more than five percent of the county jail population. They were simply being held because they were too poor to pay for bail.

Extrapolate those numbers to the rest of the country, and many, many thousands of people, potentially, are facing a predicament like McGarry’s.

So could McGarry’s suit help win new rights for pre-trial detainees?

Back in 2009, that prospect seemed distant. Vermont federal magistrate Judge John Conroy threw out McGarry’s case because doing the laundry in jail “was nothing like the slavery that gave rise to the enactment of that [the 13th] amendment.”

However, just last week, upon appeal, Conroy’s original ruling was overturned.

“Contrary to the district court’s conclusion, it is well-settled that the term ‘involuntary servitude’ is not limited to chattel slavery-like conditions,” stated the appeals court’s opinion. “The amendment was intended to prohibit all forms of involuntary labor, not solely to abolish chattel slavery.”

Of course that decision could still be reversed by a higher court. But, for now at least, there’s still a chance that McGarry’s suit can help remind the criminal justice system that the tenet “innocent until proven guilty” should apply to our jails too.

Appeared Here

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9/11 Hysteria: Vermont State Police Bomb Squad Order Evacuation, Street Closures, And Spent 4 Hours Using Robots And X-Ray Cameras To Study Empty Beer Cooler In Essex Junction Parking Lot

August 10, 2012

ESSEX JUNCTION, VERMONT – A suspicious package cleared the parking lot at Prouty Federal Building and shut down surrounding streets in Essex Junction shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday.

“It’s crazy, you know, you never expect it in Essex,” said Lisa Booska, a witness.

And by lunch time, the Vermont State Police Bomb Squad was suited up and on the scene.

“Basically was told there could be a suspicious package underneath a black SUV and you either have to go in the store or you have to go home,” Mark Lucia said.

Lucia watched with binoculars from his yard as officers got to work trying to determine if there was any real threat.

“Whenever you have a federal building, there have just been too many instances in the country. It’s underneath the car; it’s underneath the gas tank, the position of it. It was just something to be cautious with. You’re better off to be cautious,” Essex Police Lt. Robin Hollwedel said.

It took police nearly four hours at the scene with robots and X-ray cameras before they determined the cooler was empty.

“I want to take in the whole scene, make sure there are not any other dangers to me as I go down and deal with the suspicious package, and make sure that there is not any collateral damage” said David Petersen of the Vt. State Police Bomb Squad.

While folks surrounding the area were relieved to find out they weren’t in danger, some questioned the response time of the bomb squad. The crew assigned to the scene came all the way from St. Johnsbury.

“We do try to make as expedited responses as possible, obviously. Due to the scenario today, it just played out that it was going to be me coming out from the other side of the state,” Petersen said.

Some at the site laughed that the incident was an overreaction and much ado about nothing, but police say they’d rather be safe than sorry.

“There may have been a time when we didn’t look at these things seriously, but every one of these instances is taken seriously now,” Hollwedel said.

Thursday afternoon police reported their investigation into the cooler was complete. Police say there was no note or evidence of intent to do harm in or around the cooler.

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Payback: Angry Farmer Uses Massive Tractor To Destroy Half Of Orleans County Vermont Sheriff’s Department Patrol Vehicles – Officers Didn’t Have A Clue Until Their Neighbor Called 911

August 3, 2012

NEWPORT, VERMONT – A farmer angry over a recent arrest surprised police in Vermont on Thursday by driving his tractor over seven parked police cars before driving away.

Roger Pion, 34, had been arrested last month for resisting arrest and marijuana possession before rolling his farm tractor across their vehicles, demolishing five marked cruisers, one unmarked car and a transport van, police said.

‘We had nothing to pursue him with,’ said Newport Chief Deputy Philip Brooks, who went outside to see seven of his fleet’s 11 vehicles destroyed.

Working with their windows closed and air conditioners humming, Orleans County sheriff’s deputies said it was a neighbour’s call to 911 that alerted them to what had happened outside.

By the time officers were outside, the tractor was down the driveway and out onto the road.

‘It was a massive tractor. It has four six-foot tandem wheels on the back. It was red. It must be at least a 15-ton tractor,’ witness Ken Wells told the Burlington Free Press.

‘It’s pretty much the biggest tractor you can get,’ Police Chief Seth DiSanto told the paper.

All emotion: Roger Pion, 34, was angry over an arrest last month for resisting arrest and marijuana possession, prompting him to cause the damage estimated more than $300,000

Without a vehicle to pursue the tractor Brooks said he ran to a nearby service station where one of their cruisers was being worked on.

By the time he reached, however, Pion had been stopped about two miles up the road by city police in Newport.

No one was injured. At least two deputies had gone inside a few moments before after washing their vehicles, officials said.

‘Nobody was hurt. That’s the thing everybody’s got to cherish,’ said Sheriff Kirk Martin.

Pion is faces seven counts of felony unlawful mischief and one misdemeanor count of unlawful mischief on suspicion of damaging the cars, state police Detective Trooper Lyle Decker told the Free Press.

He said Pion was being held by the Vermont State Police at their barracks in nearby Derby. A dispatcher there referred questions to the sheriff’s department.

Sheriffs said they did not know if Pion had a lawyer. A phone number for him could not be located.

Martin estimated damage to the vehicles at more than $300,000. Not only were their roofs and hoods caved in, ‘the radios are ruined, the radar detectors, the cages in the cars… We’re going to have to get the jaws of life up here to pry the trunks open and see about the rifles and shotguns,’ Martin said.

Brooks said the vehicles destroyed constituted more than half the fleet of sheriff’s cruisers in the rural county on the Canadian border. Others were out on patrol at the time of the incident.

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Thoughtful Vermont State Police Prevent Innocent Unarmed Man’s Possible Future Suicide Attempt By Killing Him With A Taser Weapon As He Returned Home – Family Told Trooper Not To Use Taser Due To His Medical Problems – Manufacturer Warns Against Chest Shots Due To Deaths

June 23, 2012

THETFORD, VERMONT – The medical examiner needs more time to determine exactly what caused a Thetford man’s death minutes after being tased by a Vermont State Trooper.

Police were called to the home of Macadam Mason, 39, Wednesday after he made comments about suicide and threatened to hurt others. The father of three died minutes after he was tased in the chest. Police say Mason was not complying with orders to get down, and then went after a trooper.

There are questions surrounding the safety of tasing someone in the chest. The Vermont State police do not prohibit it, although the manufacturer warns against it because of possible controversy surrounding its effect on the heart.

In Vermont, the American Civil Liberties Union wants Tasers removed from troopers’ belts until the medical examiner makes a ruling on the cause of death.

“So I think everybody in the profession should be thinking maybe we have to step back for a moment and make sure we are using these things accurately, correctly, appropriately because we don’t want another person to died in this way,” said Allen Gilbert of the Vermont ACLU.

State police officials say they are now reviewing their policy on the use of Tasers.

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Vermont State Police Dispatcher Michelle Bachand Busted With Marijuana While Training At Vermont Police Academy – Dumbass

May 6, 2012

PITTSFORD, VERMONT

A Vermont State police dispatcher has found herself on the wrong side of the law.

Police say Michelle Bachand, 26, of Lyndonville, was found with marijuana at a training session Friday at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford.

Bachand was a temporary civilian dispatcher for the Derby Barracks. Because of the arrest, police say she is no longer employed as a dispatcher.

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Vermont Voting Officials Handing Out Ballots To Anyone Showing Up With No ID And Using Dead Residents Names

March 13, 2012

VERMONT – James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has released a new video exposing just how easy it is to commit voter fraud in Vermont.

The video, a sequel to O’Keefe’s “Primary of the Living Dead” in New Hampshire, shows a Veritas agent entering various voting places around the state of Vermont, giving a different name each time. Each time, he is given a ballot without showing an ID, to his disbelief.

In the video, the agent repeatedly requests (but does not take) a Republican primary ballot. As he explained to Breitbart.com: “We wanted to remind viewers this is not a partisan issue. This is a situation wherein anyone — Republican or Democrat — can exploit the system.”

The new video follows in the wake of a highly-politicized media attack on Mr. O’Keefe after his exposure of voter fraud in New Hampshire. Those videos resulted in calls from the left for O’Keefe’s arrest. However, the videos soon resulted in the New Hampshire State Senate passing a new bill requiring voter ID.

O’Keefe’s new video from Vermont could not be more timely, coming the day after the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division blocked a Texas photo ID requirement for voters–to the applause of the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed that the law was “discriminatory” against “Latinos, African-Americans, elderly citizens, and others.”

As the Project Veritas video shows, the current system in Vermont discriminates against actual legal voters, who must face the prospect of disenfranchisement by those who would vote in their stead illegally, or have their votes cancelled out by those voting illegally in place of deceased voters who have yet to be removed from the rolls. If it is not discriminatory for Vermont citizens to be required to show ID to get married or buy alcohol, it is certainly not discriminatory to make them show ID to vote.

“It is a national disgrace that ballots can be given out in the names of dead people,” O’Keefe told Breitbart.com. “Threats of government intimidation will not stop us from protecting the integrity of the ballot box. If any state has a system which encourages ballots to be given out to the wrong person, dead or alive, we will come to your state, we will film your poll workers, and Project Veritas will put the videos on YouTube. States like Vermont and New Hampshire have to take dead people off voter registration forms and clean up their act, once and for all.”

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Legislation Would Make Selling Fake Maple Syrup A FEDERAL OFFENSE

October 11, 2011

MONTPELIER, VERMONT – U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says he’s planning to introduce legislation to make it a federal crime for people to mislabel products as containing maple syrup.

Leahy said Tuesday the legislation is needed to protect Vermont’s maple crop from fraud.

The move came in the aftermath of a recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation that found a man who had been selling fake Vermont “maple” syrup, when the product contained no syrup.

Leahy’s proposal would create a new federal felony offense and increase the sentences that prosecutors can seek for people who defraud consumers and farmers by intentionally mislabeling maple products.

Leahy, a Democrat, announced his plan at the same time he was announcing the state had received a $70,000 federal grant to help market Vermont maple syrup.

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