Friday, 11 January 2019 18:41

Inmate's mom: heat problem 'cruel and unusual punishment' Featured

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CHARLESTON - The heat went out in a portion of the Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston back in the spring, and again when the heater was turned on in December, Commissioner-elect Randall Liberty said Friday.

The second problem was reportedly fixed this week, he said, but it's still cold in places.

“My son is in Charleston corrections and he is freezing,” said Lauri McLaughlin, whose son is a Mountain View inmate.

“He said it was the end of last winter that it went and it hasn't been on since,” she said later. “It's been all winter. He's been complaining about it since December. It wasn't just two weeks ago. It's been all winter.”

Liberty went to Charleston for a tour on Thursday.

“I did see that there were some areas that were coolers than others,” he said in a phone interview. “The department of corrections has placed portable heaters in those areas where it's a little bit cool. We've allowed the residents in the facility to move their bedding to other areas so they could be a little bit more warm, but most of the facility is warm and comfortable but it's a work in progress. We should have it resolved in a few days but there is certainly heat.”

Mclaughlin described the lack of heat as, “cruel and unusual punishment. It's horrible.”

“He can't sleep, he can't get warm,” she said later. “Even the guards are wearing winter coats. They put those little heaters in the common room but they don't warm the cells at all. And if the inmates try to take one to warm up their cell they get threatened with a write-up.”

Although Liberty still awaits Senate confirmation, he's been on the job for 10 days, and wanted to reassure loved ones of inmates that he's doing what he can.

“I do not want anyone to be cold, uncomfortable, hungry -- any of that,” Liberty said. “I want everybody to be humanely treated and adequately housed.”

Mclaughlin said she wanted to invite the commissioner to spend the night in a cell next to her son so he can find out exactly how warm it is.

Nit-Noi Ricker

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Nit-Noi Ricker is an Army brat who grew up on a farm in Winterport. She went to the University of Maine and the University of Northern Texas to learn how to be a journalist and started her career in Arizona at the Williams-Grand Canyon News, ...