FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 2, 2004
Schumer Reveals Fourth Corrections Official With Checkered Record In Power Position At Iraqi Prisons
Former head of Arizona prisons turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of female prisoners by male guards including rape, sodomy and assault
Evidence mounts: Fourth civilian with shocking record of tolerating prisoner abuse hand picked to oversee reconstruction and running of Iraqi prisons
Schumer calls on DOJ Inspector General to investigate how such tainted individuals were all
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed evidence that a fourth civilian who served in a position of power in the Iraqi prison system had a troubling history of tolerating and defending prisoner abuse while serving as a corrections administrator in the United States. Senator Schumer also called upon the Department of Justice's Inspector General to investigate how so many US prison officials with checkered records were selected by the DOJ to oversee the sensitive and important project of reconstituting the Iraqi prison system.
Schumer revealed that Terry Stewart, one of a handful of former prison officials recruited by the Department of Justice to help rebuild Iraq's prison system, came under scrutiny for numerous incidents involving the mistreatment of inmates while serving as the head of the Arizona Department of Corrections from 1995-2002. In 1997, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division named Stewart in a suit brought against the Arizona Department of Corrections concerning a pattern of sexual assault against female prisoners by male prison guards. Stewart was charged with knowingly turning a blind eye to repeated incidents of sexual abuse by guards against female prisoners ranging from sexual assault, rape and sodomy to watching female prisoners undress and use the restroom. The suit was eventually settled after the Arizona Department of Corrections agreed to make major changes in numerous prison policies.
Under Stewart's watch prisoners at Arizona facilities were also made to stand outside in the summer for up to four days in the summer and for up to 17 hours in the winter without sanitation, adequate drinking water, changes of clothing, proper food or protection from the elements. In a third questionable incident a class action suit was brought against the Arizona Department of Corrections during Stewart's tenure charging that the prison system had failed to properly use protective custody to shield certain at-risk inmates from harm.
“How four individuals with such checkered pasts could be placed in positions of power in Iraq's prison system defies reason and demands explanation,” Schumer said. "The fact that Terry Stewart turned a blind eye to sexual assault perpetrated by guards under his watch is appalling. Every revelation leads to further questions, and to further silence from the Department of Justice. I wish Attorney General Ashcroft would at a minimum explain what kind of vetting system, if any, was in place for such high level appointments to such sensitive posts."
Stewart joins John Armstrong of Connecticut and Lane McCotter and Gary DeLand of Utah as members of a growing list of civilians with checkered records who were placed in positions of power overseeing the reconstitution and running of Iraq's prison system. While serving in Iraq McCotter and Stewart even dubbed themselves the "Baghdad Duo" while traveling the country in their roles working for the Department of Justice.
Schumer's revelations concerning Stewart come on the heels of his discoveries concerning John Armstrong, who was forced from his post as the head of Connecticut’s corrections department for defending abuses of prisoners before eventually serving in a high-ranking management position overseeing the Iraqi prison system. While running Connecticut’s prison system, Armstrong made a practice of shipping even low-level offenders to a supermax facility in Virginia which was notorious for its use of excessive force - ranging from unjustified use of stun guns shooting 50,000 volts through prisoners to locking inmates in five-point restraints for such lengthy periods that they were routinely forced to defecate on themselves.
Armstrong resigned under a cloud of credible allegations that he tolerated and personally engaged in the sexual harassment of female employees under his command.
Lane McCotter, who had a similarly disturbing history of defending inmate abuses, was also tapped to be one of four individuals sent by the Department of Justice to redevelop Iraq’s prison system. McCotter was forced out of the top spot in Utah's Department of Corrections when a schizophrenic prisoner died after being strapped to a chair naked for sixteen hours. His record was further tainted when the DOJ investigated a New Mexico prison that was run by a private corrections firm that employed McCotter for failing to provide inmates with a safe environment and adequate medical facilities.
Gary DeLand served in the same position later held by McCotter, as head of Utah's Department of Corrections, in the late 1980's. According to Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Deland was well known for the "sadistic" manner in which he ran the state's penal institutions. DeLand was also recruited to help reconstitute Iraq's prison system, including Abu Ghraib.
"A pattern like this just doesn't happen spontaneously," said Schumer. "It is time for the Department of Justice to explain how lightening managed to strike four times in the same place. This why I am calling on the Inspector General to investigate how the United States government manage to send four individuals with histories of involvement in prisoner abuse cases to oversee a prison system that is now notorious for prisoner abuse. Given the far reaching impact of the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib it is vital that we answer this fundamental question, and we must answer it soon."
Letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine Attached