Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Homicide at San Quentin Raises Questions about Prison Safety

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Last week, Edward Schaefer, who was about two weeks into a 24-to-life sentence for killing 9-year-old Melody Osheroff in a motorcycle DUI, was fatally stabbed by another inmate in the yard at California’s San Quentin prison. The suspect is Frank Anthony Souza, who is serving a 60-year sentence for beating and strangling a San Jose homeless man. The state Inspector General’s Office has suggested that it may investigate the killing, particularly whether Schaefer should have been kept in the general population. (Inmates whose crimes involved killing a child may be vulnerable to retaliation by other inmates and are sometimes held in solitary or protective custody for that reason.) From the Marin Independent-Journal:

Lt. Sam Robinson, a spokesman for San Quentin, said that when Schaefer arrived at the prison, he initially was kept in administrative segregation, a cell by himself away from the general prison population. Inmates typically are placed in administrative segregation, often referred to as isolation or “the hole,” for disciplinary reasons.

Robinson said administrative segregation differs from the prison’s security needs yard, where inmates such as gang dropouts and snitches are placed for protective custody.

Robinson said Schaefer initially was placed in administrative segregation, not because prison officials believed him to be at risk of attack but because he had been in administrative segregation when he was paroled from Soledad Prison in 2007.

On July 21, Schaefer was moved after consultation with prison officials, Robinson said. “He felt comfortable with moving on to the general population here in our reception center,” Robinson said. “He expressed no reservations about living in our general population.”

And from the Independent-Journal‘s editorial board:

Some say Schaefer got what he deserved.

But that’s not the justice our legal system meted out. … Aaron, Melody’s father, wanted Schaefer to spend his time behind bars reflecting on what he had done. He says Schaefer got off too easy.

Written by sara

August 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

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