- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two former inmates and a former guard at the Jackson County jail, which is the focus of a federal investigation over excessive force allegations, claim abusive practices have been long-standing.

The county announced last month that it and the FBI are investigating allegations that corrections officers at the Jackson County Detention Center used excessive force against four restrained inmates. The injuries ranged from bruises and stitches to a broken neck.

Joe Piccinini, acting director of county corrections, has said none of the employees involved still work for the county.

County officials have declined to discuss the specifics of the allegations that led to the FBI’s involvement or those from the inmates and guard who spoke with The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/1EZ07DC ).

Former guard Young C. Isinwa, 45, has been accused of kicking a prisoner in the head four years ago. He claims he was defending himself and is innocent of the federal charge against him. He said it was common for other guards to use excessive force on prisoners who posed no danger.

“When they want to deal with an inmate, they take them off camera and they beat them like animals,” he told The Star. “They get them down and tie them up for hours.”

Isinwa faces up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted of an alleged civil rights violation.

Another former guard, Jeffrey Beaber, who worked at the detention center from 2012 to 2014, said jail supervisors did not condone excessive force.

Patrick Ericksen, 45, of Kansas City, said guards beat him last winter for making a rude comment when he was an inmate at the facility. Shantaa Barnes, 26, also from Kansas City, said a guard dislocated her arm by yanking on it too hard.

A citizens’ task force the county appointed last month to investigate jail conditions separately from the county and federal investigations also met Thursday to hear from corrections officials about conditions at the facility.

Brian Johnson, executive liaison for the county, said the jail has not had accreditation from the American Correctional Association since 1996 largely because of the costs involved. The facility does, however, have practices in line with accreditation, Johnson said.

Johnson also told the task force that the department has received 14 to 20 inmate grievance reports this year, but he said he didn’t have “full confidence in those numbers.” He said an audit is being conducted to determine a more accurate number of grievances.

Corrections Lt. Ron Bearce also said staffing shortages and turnover among corrections officers have been a problem.

“It does hurt us that our turnover is so high and so few of our officers have experience,” he said.

The task force plans to hold public hearings before turning in its report on Nov. 2.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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