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Investigation Regarding the Bettina Pruckmayr Matter
January 25, 1999




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On December 16, 1995, Bettina Erika PRUCKMAYR was brutally murdered at 340 Florida Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. Leo Gonzales WRIGHT was subsequently convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is currently serving his sentence at the Lorton Maximum Security Facility.

A year after the murder, on December 13, 1996, the parents of the victim, Gerfried and Gertrude PRUCKMAYR, sued the Government of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Board of Parole, and the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Pruckmayr v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 96-9738. The Pruckmayrs charged wrongful death arising from the murder of their daughter due to the gross negligence of the District Government in failing to exercise reasonable care. The District allegedly failed to follow its own rules, regulations and standards, and to allocate sufficient resources and attention to its duty to detain, monitor, and supervise WRIGHT, a convicted murderer, career criminal, drug abuser, and accused drug dealer known to be a violent and dangerous person.

Before the case proceeded to trial, it was settled on condition that the Inspector General of the District of Columbia conduct an independent and impartial review of the policies, practices, procedures and conduct that contributed to the events leading to Ms. PRUCKMAYR's murder, and issue a Report of his findings.

The investigation was conducted by Inspector General E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., Deputy Inspector General Richard D. Sullivan, and Senior Investigators Shelley J. Elliott and James E. Glymph.

This is the Inspector General's Report.

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Early Years

Leo WRIGHT is a 41-year-old male who, according to a Presentence Report filed in court in 1976, was born in Washington, D.C. on May 16, 1957, the middle child of five children. According to the Presentence Report, WRIGHT and his mother alleged that his father beat him on an almost daily basis. The father was later arrested for assault with a dangerous weapon and ordered to stay away from his family. WRIGHT admitted to smoking marijuana "on the weekends." The Presentence Report stated that psychologists thought he had "poor controls, and it is not surprising that he became involved in criminal activity, although he does not have any addictive problems and is not thought to be psychotic."

[21 lines censored]

During 1974 — the exact dates are not clear — WRIGHT was employed as a maintenance worker at the University of Maryland.

[6 lines censored]

A year and a half later, on January 18, 1976, WRIGHT robbed a convenience store and shot and wounded the storeowner. However, it was not until his next crime, murder, that he was identified as the perpetrator of this convenience store crime.

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The Cabdriver Murder

Exactly two weeks after the convenience store incident, on February 1, 1976, in Washington, D.C., WRIGHT robbed Joseph N. WOODBURY, a cabdriver, and shot him three times, killing him. WRIGHT was arrested but released on bond on condition that he appear at a lineup. He failed to appear, and his release was revoked. He pled guilty on July 27, 1976 in D.C. Superior Court to Armed Robbery and Murder II, and was incarcerated two days later. Following a period of study, the D.C. Board of Parole recommended that WRIGHT be sentenced as an adult.

Prior to that sentencing, a DOC Classification Committee consisting of four members issued a Classification Report on October 14, 1976, which included a character study of WRIGHT.

[27 lines censored]

On November 2, 1976, WRIGHT was sentenced as an adult for the cabdriver murder to 15 to 45 years for Second-Degree Murder and 5 to 15 years for Armed Robbery, which sentences were to run consecutively. He was to serve a minimum of 20 years. The charges for the convenience store crime were dismissed.

Later that year, on November 22, 1976, WRIGHT was assigned to the prison's Academic School, Psychological Services Center, for evaluation and consideration for therapy. He enrolled in a Language Arts class, a Communication Skills class, Trade School classes, and classes in numerous other academic related subjects.

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Wright Begins His Sentence at Lorton

On February 25, 1977, about four months after WRIGHT had been sentenced, [5 lines censored]. He was told to maintain contact with his Classification and Parole Officer, and his progress was to be evaluated regularly by the Classification Committee.

James BRAGG, former Administrator of the Central Detention Facility, told this Office that during WRIGHT's incarceration, "psychotherapy" was theoretically available within the Lorton facilities.1 However, although called psychotherapy, the sessions were actually better described as voluntary counseling. The sessions were not mandatory even for inmates who had committed violent offenses, and most inmates (including WRIGHT) instead chose to attend academic or vocational classes.

A review of WRIGHT's inmate case file revealed numerous Disciplinary Reports during his prison term relating to the possession and use of drugs, possession of shanks (weapons), and assaults on fellow inmates and staff. Because of these reports, WRIGHT spent a great deal of time transferring between Lorton's Maximum Security Facility and its Central Detention Facility for adjustment segregation and isolation. For example:

  • 11/02/76 — Sent to Maximum Security
  • 11/22/76 — Transferred to Central Facility
  • 06/03/81 — Returned to Maximum Security
  • 08/81 — Transferred to Central Facility
  • 03/11/82 — Returned to Maximum Security
  • 11/82 — Transferred to Central Facility
  • 03/08/83 — Returned to Maximum Security (isolation)
  • 07/83 — Transferred to Central Facility
  • 07/83 — Returned to Maximum Security
  • 07/83 — Transferred to Central Facility
  • 02/28/86 — Returned to Maximum Security (lockdown status)
  • 09/17/86 — Returned to General Population in Maximum
  • 10/03/86 — Transferred to Occoquan Facility (isolation)
  • 10/10/86 — Returned to Maximum Security
  • 12/05/86 — Transferred to Central Facility

According to WRIGHT's Classification recommendations, he was transferred to controlled facilities "because of hostile and aggressive behavior". His inmate record indicated continued drug usage, poor institutional adjustment, and lack of program involvement.

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The Unfoldment Program

On March 1, 1990, WRIGHT was placed in Lorton's Unfoldment Substance Abuse Treatment Program (Unfoldment) while assigned to the Central Facility. (Unfoldment was also in operation at Minimum Security and at Halfway Houses.) The program at Central housed approximately 50 to 60 inmates in a separate dorm, which allowed for improved living conditions, including larger cells, better food, and less pressure from institutional staff.

Philippia RILEY was for nine years Chief Case Manager at Lorton's Minimum Security Facility.2 While in that position she was responsible, among other things, for reviewing inmate records and reports which normally led to release of inmates to Halfway Houses, parole, or other specialty programs. RILEY stated that the inmates in Unfoldment appeared to have respect for one another, and they rarely mingled with outside inmates. Kemi MORTEN, Director of Unfoldment, selected the inmates who were accepted into the program. The meetings held in Unfoldment were private ones, allowing only the Director and the inmates inside, and if an inmate misbehaved, the dorm would meet and determine with the Director the type of discipline to be imposed. RILEY recalled WRIGHT being in the Unfoldment program while at Minimum Security, and, in her view, he was an inmate of whom the Director, MORTEN, was proud. In fact, RILEY said that MORTEN termed WRIGHT the model inmate because of how well she thought he was doing in the program despite his past violent behavior.

If Correctional Officers assigned to the Unfoldment dorm wrote a Disciplinary Report on an inmate, the Director could request a review of the inmate record and overrule the report. In fact, as noted above, disciplinary problems were usually handled through discussions between the Director and other Unfoldment inmates.

On March 4, 1991, WRIGHT was recommended for transfer to Minimum Security through the Unfoldment program. [10 lines censored] WRIGHT was transferred to Minimum Security on March 19, 1991, and continued in the Unfoldment program. The only files we have for his experience in Unfoldment show negative drug test results, but as explained elsewhere, it is not clear how often he was tested or how accurate or complete his files were.

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The Work Training Program

On October 13, 1991, after WRIGHT had been at Lorton for almost 15 years, RILEY completed an Institutional Behavioral/Adjustment Report (Progress Report) on him, recommending him for the Work Training Furlough Program. She stated in the report that WRIGHT had received 33 disciplinary reports during his incarceration, but none since October 1988. In fact, however, a review of WRIGHT's inmate case file by this Office revealed not only 33 disciplinary reports prior to October 1988, but also five disciplinary reports after October 1988 - one of which reported a drug overdose on December 19, 1988. The last recorded disciplinary report that we located was dated November 25, 1989. A list of these 38 reports is included as an Appendix to this Report.

The cover sheet to RILEY's Progress Report listed information relating to WRIGHT's charges and sentencing. The body of the report explained his behavior while incarcerated and made several evaluations and recommendations. RILEY could not explain to this Office why she did not include the overdose and other disciplinary problems after October 1988 in her report. All she could say was that at the time of her report, she counted 33 disciplinary reports prior to October 1988; apparently, she simply overlooked the five reports after that date. RILEY's Progress Report and other documentation concerning WRIGHT were forwarded to Warden Paul KRULL for his approval. On January 16, 1992, KRULL approved WRIGHT for the Work Training Furlough Program at a Halfway House. Accordingly, WRIGHT began work in February at the AMVET Thrift Store in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

On May 4, 1992, RILEY issued an Addendum to her Progress Report addressing WRIGHT's eligibility for Early Parole consideration. In that report, RILEY recited that WRIGHT had been approved for the Work Training Furlough Program and characterized his behavior in that program as positive. Based on her review of WRIGHT's inmate record in her 1991 Progress Report, RILEY recommended that he be paroled through Work Release with the Special Condition of continued involvement in Unfoldment. The recommendation was reviewed by Warden KRULL and by Deputy Warden Robert HOLBROOK. Both concurred with RILEY's report and approved her recommendation. There was no mention of any documents missing from WRIGHT's case file.

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Inmate Case Files

In fact, however, as discussed more fully below, a number of documents were almost certainly missing from WRIGHT's case files.

Several of the people we interviewed cited problems with inmate case files. Such files are maintained at each Security Facility in a Records Office. Several memoranda addressing security problems in the maintaining of inmate files were circulated to personnel throughout the institutions by DOC management. E.g., Memorandum dated July 1991, from Paul QUANDER, former Deputy Director, DOC, addressing procedures for granting access to inmate institutional and medical records; Memorandum dated May 8, 1996, from Margaret MOORE, former DOC Director, addressing the security of inmate records; Memorandum Report dated May 20, 1996, from the Records Security Task Force Group appointed by MOORE to investigate Records Security.

This latter Report concluded that many of the problems faced by DOC Record Officers were of long standing: (1) removal of institutional records from the Record Office by staff at all levels, (2) inconsistent sign-out practices for the removal of institutional records, (3) a lack of security of records when transported to court, medical, or inter-institutional destinations, (4) a lack of security in the Record Office, and (5) time consuming clerical duties performed by highly trained Legal Instruments Examiners, diminishing the time available to monitor and supervise the Record Office. After this Report from the Records Security Task Force Group was issued, a memorandum dated November 22, 1996, from Adrienne POTEAT, Acting Deputy Director for Institutions, was circulated expressing the need to reinforce stronger policies and practices related to inmate institutional files.

Linda HAWKINS has been a Legal Instruments Examiner since 1989.3 She is employed at DOC Maximum Security and is responsible for maintaining 650 inmate case file records and processing inmate sentence computations. Her supervisor, James CHAMBERS, Deputy Warden for Programs, has an office located at the Central Security Facility. HAWKINS stated that there is no Records Office Supervisor stationed at the Maximum Security Record Office. Correctional Officers are allowed, at any time, to enter the Record Office to review inmate files. In her view, such a review is usually conducted in the presence of the Legal Instruments Examiner. Inmates can also request to review their own files, but only in the presence of Examiners. Case Managers, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Social Workers are allowed to sign out case files for processing of reports and house reviews. When case files are removed for the purpose of court appearances, inmate release, or parole, the individual requesting the file is required to sign a receipt. During 1989-1990, there was a large backlog of inmate documents that had not been filed into their proper case files. This may well have been due to the overcrowding at the institutions. It took years to update each case file, but currently, according to HAWKINS, all case files are up-to-date, and each case file has a back-up in the event that a file is misplaced.

HAWKINS stated that there are no inmates who work in the Record Office. However, inmates are used to push carts of records to the buses for loading and transportation to court or other facilities. HAWKINS also stated that she has heard of Case Managers, Correctional Officers, Psychologists, and others being paid by inmates to remove documents from inmate files, even though she has never witnessed it. HAWKINS has witnessed inmates themselves trying to remove documents from files while reviewing them.

Claude SULLIVAN has been a Senior Legal Instruments Examiner for DOC Central Security Facility for seven years.4 He, along with two additional Legal Instruments Examiners, Connie CALHOUN and Supervisor Michael CARR, is responsible for securing and maintaining 1,360 inmate files. SULLIVAN stated that Correctional Officers and Case Managers could review inmate files at any time without supervision. Attorneys had to file a release form from the inmate prior to reviewing a case file. Prior to 1994, when Director Margaret MOORE was appointed, Case Managers could sign out inmate files and take them to their offices for review. In many instances, when a file was returned, there were documents misfiled or loose in the case Jacket. (We were told by MOORE that she discontinued permitting Case Managers to remove original files from the Record Office.) Drug test results were also kept in the case files. According to SULLIVAN, it was possible for an inmate reviewing a case file to attempt to remove a drug test report - a particularly tempting endeavor since two positive drug tests by an inmate resulted in a Disciplinary Report. The case files of those inmates chosen for the Unfoldment program were also kept at the Record Office, but during the inmates' time in Unfoldment, SULLIVAN could recall no file reviews conducted or Disciplinary Reports added to those files.

As noted above, a review of WRIGHT's inmate case file revealed that he received numerous Disciplinary Reports for positive drug tests, as well as drug overdoses. However, WRIGHT's Disciplinary Reports for possession of drugs and/or drug paraphernalia not always followed by drug tests. Once WRIGHT was accepted into the Unfoldment program, no more Disciplinary Reports were issued. Our investigation determined that other documents referencing WRIGHT's aggressive behavior were located in the case file; however, the corresponding Disciplinary Reports were missing.

Former Correctional Officer Arthur HOOD was interviewed.5 During the 1980's he was assigned to the Lorton Facility, Maximum Security, and also to a Halfway House in the District. HOOD knew WRIGHT for six years while WRIGHT was in and out of the Maximum Security Facility. According to HOOD, it was typical for WRIGHT to be released from Maximum Security (single cell) and placed in Central Security (dorm setting), until he got into trouble again, whereupon he would be resumed to Maximum. In HOOD's view, WRIGHT was able to have his prison records altered. WRIGHT did not have money, but his brother, Dwight "Buck" WRIGHT, was also in Lorton, for drug trafficking, and Buck had connections in prison and in the community and had plenty of money. Moreover, HOOD confirmed the statements of others about the laxity of record control by pointing out that he had seen inmates arrive for a record review with prison records from the Record Office in their hands.

HOOD recalled reviewing WRIGHT's prison record on many occasions, due to WRIGHT's constant behavioral problems. WRIGHT was involved in several incidents, including stabbing other inmates, assaulting Officers with bricks, and throwing urine and feces on Officers. WRIGHT also had five to six overdoses on drugs while in prison. Each time an inmate received a visitor, a drug test was conducted after the visit. WRIGHT received visitors early in his incarceration but not many thereafter, in all likelihood because of his constant transfers between the various facilities, and visits were restricted in Maximum Security. Nevertheless, according to HOOD, WRIGHT continued to receive drug tests at least two or three times a month because of his history of drug and other problems. An indication of his general reputation as a trouble-maker at this time was HOOD's recollection that WRIGHT was known in the facility as a "Hit-Man" for his brother, Buck — meaning someone who fought for or protected someone else.

HOOD stated that WRIGHT's inmate record must have been manipulated in order for him to be released from Maximum or Central Security. He pointed out that WRIGHT's behavior was such, and he was transferred so often, that he would not have been released from prison if his whole record had been known by the authorities. HOOD's assumption was borne out, according to him, by the fact that when he next saw WRIGHT's inmate record after WRIGHT's release from prison (in the office of Assistant United States Attorney Ken KOHL, the prosecutor in the Pruckmayr case, in 1996), it had been reduced to more than half its original size. HOOD currently believes that many of WRIGHT's inmate records were destroyed, and, as noted above, this is confirmed by our own investigation.

Margaret MOORE, the Director of DOC from May 1994 until September 1998, stated that after her arrival at DOC, she was concerned about security and its effect on, among other things, inmate files.6 Employees had been hired without background investigations, and some were later found to have had felony charges. MOORE sponsored legislation to require that drug tests and comprehensive background checks be conducted on all new employees. She also found that inmate records were not being properly secured at the Record Office. Contrary to what HAWKINS told us, MOORE said that DOC had inmates working as Clerks in the Record Office as well as handling the transportation of inmate records. MOORE issued a directive prohibiting inmates from having access to the Record Office and working as Clerks. MOORE also issued a memorandum dated May 8, 1996, outlining records security procedures. In the memorandum, MOORE stated that Case Managers were to review inmate records in the Record Office, and original inmate records were not to be removed from the Record Office. She also suggested that a duplicate, or working, file be created that the Case Managers could review and take with them.

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Educational Good Time Credits

MOORE told us that when she arrived at DOC, she found that there had been miscalculations of Educational Good Time (EGT) credits given to inmates. Edmund WALSH, former Assistant Administrator for Case Management Services, issued a memorandum dated May 22, 1996, addressing Records Security Issues and EGT credits. In the memo, WALSH explained how to calculate EGT properly according to District of Columbia regulations. (MOORE was not aware of whether the Unfoldment program made miscalculations of EGT, because Unfoldment was in the process of being terminated at the time of MOORE's arrival at DOC.)

On February 1, 1991, WRIGHT was awarded 180 days - or approximately six months - of EGT credit for completion of 48 weeks of the Unfoldment program. According to 28 D.C. Municipal Regulations, Section 604.5, EGT credits are awarded for Academic Related Programs at a maximum of 18 days for each six months of participation in the program. Unfoldment was considered an "Academic Related Program," and WRIGHT spent 48 weeks in it, which properly should have qualified him for a maximum of 36 days of EGT credit. In fact, as noted, he received 180 days EGT credit. This appears to have resulted in his being eligible for release approximately 144 days earlier than he should have been. (We must emphasize that we were not shown Unfoldment's contract with DOC, because it allegedly was destroyed with other records. However, if that contract provided for an EGT award different than the one we have cited, it would appear to run contrary to the controlling Regulations.)

MOORE stated that at Lorton, Correctional Officers (COB) used their discretion in issuing Disciplinary Reports to inmates. WRIGHT had Disciplinary Reports for minor contraband, but most of his were for major contraband. The purpose of the Disciplinary Report was to correct an inmate's behavior, not to impose punishment. MOORE also pointed out that one of the big problems facing COs is that Lorton is a centralized facility. All offenders from the District are sent to Lorton, and DOC employs predominantly District residents. Therefore, it is very common for a CO to have had prior associations with inmates in the community. It is also possible to have members of Lorton's staff related to Lorton inmates. The DOC requires that all employees disclose relationships with inmates and submit a Disclosure Statement. However, if there is no disclosure, there is no way of knowing whether such a relationship exists. There are times when an inmate may even threaten to harm a CO's family, if the inmate is familiar with the CO. All of this may or may not explain how WRIGHT's file was reduced or altered.

During his incarceration, WRIGHT was awarded Statutory Good Time, Institutional Good Time, and Educational Good Time, which together advanced his potential parole date to November 23, 1992 - 16 years after his incarceration.

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The SFS and PAG

On September 28, 1992, in preparation for a hearing in WRIGHT's case before the D.C. Board of Parole set for September 29, Parole Analyst Linda SMITH conducted a review of his parole packet and computed his Salient Factor Score (SFS). The SFS is used to assign numerical values to the inmate's criminal history before incarceration, based on various parole eligibility criteria set forth in 28 D.C. Municipal Regulations, Section 204. It should be noted that the SFS did not include offenses or misconduct that occurred during incarceration, despite the fact that the test under the statute is whether the inmate should be classified as a risk to public safety, and a record in prison of continued derelictions can be a valuable indicator of dangerousness to society in general. The categories reviewed are prior convictions, prior commitments, length of prior commitments, age at the time of the current offense, violation of parole, and drug dependence. The highest score WRIGHT could have gotten was a 10, which would have made him most eligible for parole; a 0 would have made him ineligible. WRIGHT received a total score of 4, which meant that he was considered a "moderate" candidate for parole release.

SMITH also completed a Parole Determination Record Pre-Release Consideration Report (Parole Report) on WRIGHT. This Report set forth his relevant case history, behavioral patterns, and case analysis — all based on his parole packet. [5 lines censored] SMITH wrote that the Case Managers' progress reports revealed that WRIGHT had overdosed on drugs several times while incarcerated. He had completed the 48-week portion of the Unfoldment program, but this accomplishment was counterbalanced by his continued negative behavior, which had prompted the correctional staff to reassign him to Maximum Security supervision. He had received at least 33 Disciplinary Reports (which was, as noted above, an incomplete figure), including reports for positive urine and assaults on other inmates. According to the Report, he had remained free of Disciplinary Reports for several years, which prompted DOC to transfer him to a Halfway House. SMITH's Parole Report recommended: "Deny early parole".

Enrique RIVERA-TORRES (RIVERA), who would later preside over WRIGHT's Parole Hearing,7 computed a Point Assignment Grid: Initial Parole Consideration (PAG), which is used by the Board to determine Initial Parole Consideration of Adult Offenders based on their SFS category. Offenders are graded on 1) Type of Risk, (2) Negative Institutional Behavior, and (3) Program Achievement. WRIGHT's total PAG score was 3, which signifies, "Parole shall be denied at initial hearing and rehearing scheduled".

However, at the Parole Hearing on September 29, RIVERA determined that "Although [WRIGHT's] PAG score of 3 places him outside Board guidelines for parole, this score is based on convictions which occurred approximately 18 years ago, and which should not be used on the SFS. It also stems from his negative institutional behavior while serving the last 1/2 of his minimum sentence (the past 8 years), but [WRIGHT] has not received any [Disciplinary Reports] in over 4 years". RIVERA also stated that WRIGHT "appears to be a mild-mannered, soft-spoken individual who does not seem like the person described" in the parole supervision packet or the institutional reports. "He's enrolled in the Unfoldment program, and has maintained employment since Feb. 1992". Although his crimes were "violent in nature, he does not appear to present a threat to public safety at this time. Parole is recommended". RIVERA also recommended that parole be granted through work release and supervision as of February 23, 1993. RIVERA issued a special condition of parole, specifying narcotic surveillance and outpatient drug treatment program (Unfoldment).

RIVERA told us that when he arrived at the Board, the SFS and PAG were strictly enforced; however, he routinely found errors in the SFS and had to make corrections. A short time later, Board Members were given authority to make recommendations outside the guidelines. The hearing decisions were largely based on the recommendations of the Board Member who presided over the hearing or the Hearing Examiner. RIVERA based his decision on the inmate's case file and the Case Manager's Progress Report. He said that if WRIGHT had had recent Disciplinary Reports, it would have made a difference in his decision, but in 1995 the Board was under pressure to meet the court's mandate of timely hearings and reduction of overcrowding. RIVERA averaged approximately eight to 10 hearings per day, so there was limited time that could be devoted to each case. As for WRIGHT, he said, Unfoldment was considered a positive accomplishment in recommending parole, although the Board had concerns about the program.

One concern, RIVERA said, was that Unfoldment did not issue Disciplinary Reports because the program Director argued that the reports were not part of the rehabilitation process. (As noted above, RILEY told us that Officers could issue such reports under Unfoldment.) The program Director also believed in counseling problem inmates as a group and/or individually. There was no follow-up program to chart the inmates' progress after parole, nor were audits conducted to calculate the percentage of inmates who violated their parole after completing the program.

RIVERA's point about pressure on the Parole Board to release prisoners was echoed by HOOD, who was in charge of conducting inmate reviews to determine behavior patterns in order to prevent inmates from being placed in threatening surroundings vis-a-vis other inmates. HOOD stated that beginning in 1988, the DOC was receiving pressure from the courts as a result of the overcrowding at Lorton and because there were not enough inmates in the rehabilitation programs. Due to this pressure, the correctional system became more flexible in allowing inmates to pass through more quickly by attending programs and then being released to Halfway Houses and/or the Parole system. The DOC employees responsible for approving this process were Walter RIDLEY (Director of DOC), his wife Barbara RIDLEY (Chief of the Parole Board), and Paul QUANDER (Deputy Director of DOC). According to HOOD, inmates at Lorton knew how to manipulate the correctional system for early release, such as by falsifying applications for Halfway Houses and/or paying their way into an Electronic Bracelet Program or some other such program. He confirmed the fact that those inmates who had money were able to pay others to have their inmate prison records altered.

In any event, the important point here is that at the time of WRIGHT's parole hearing, RIVERA did not view him as a threat to public safety and, therefore, recommended parole on condition that WRIGHT be sent back to the Halfway House for five more months before release. This recommendation was followed.

WRIGHT was paroled on February 23, 1993 after serving 16 years, 6 months and 26 days (including about 3 months of pretrial confinement). If he had served the full 20-year minimum sentence imposed by Judge Bacon, WRIGHT would still have been incarcerated on December 16, 1995, the day he murdered Bettina PRUCKMAYR.

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The Initial Period on Parole

WRIGHT was placed under Maximum Supervision, to reside with his sister, Brenda WRIGHT, and assigned to Parole Officer Anthony HILL on February 25, 1993.8 Maximum Supervision was defined as a satisfactory period of adjustment to include home and job verification, narcotic surveillance, and an outpatient drug treatment program. WRIGHT was instructed to report to parole supervision once a month.

WRIGHT was terminated from his employment with AMVET on February 26, 1994, for reasons which AMVET declined to reveal to us. However, he began working as an employee of Unfoldment. We do not know the last day he worked for Unfoldment, but his last pay stub was for the period June 23 through July 7, 1994.

As noted above, WRIGHT was supposed to report to his Parole Officer every month. However, he failed to report on July 1 and September 23, 1993, and on July 20, August 25, and October 5, 1994. Despite that, he was not required to report at all for the two-month period between October 5 and December 12, 1994, or for the six-month period between December 12, 1994 and June 5, 1995. Nor was he promptly cited to the Parole Board for failure to report. When WRIGHT reported on December 12, 1994, HILL was not available, WRIGHT was referred to another Parole Officer for his appointment, and no drug test was administered.

Parole Board Member Erias HYMAN told us that when a Parole Officer lost contact with a parolee, a warrant was required to be issued.9 HYMAN stated that there was no mandatory time length between the loss of contact and the issuance of a warrant; however, he could not recall a parolee being out of contact for more than 90 days without a warrant being issued. The Board recommended that for a 30-day loss of contact, a warrant automatically be issued — a recommendation that was not followed in WRIGHT's case.

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The Problem of Caseloads

HYMAN concluded by telling us, "WRIGHT's case fell through the cracks by an overworked Parole Officer and lack of attention. I am amazed that more cases didn't go bad". He also stated that since the PRUCKMAYR murder, the Board has been reorganized with the creation of a Young Offender Unit to handle juveniles with serious offenses, which has reduced the workload of the Parole Officers The District of Columbia had the highest parolee-to-Parole Officer ratio in the country, and, as a result, Parole Officers made no job site visits or home visits. When the parolees came in to see their Parole Officers, drug tests were required to be administered, and parolees should have been told to report back in two weeks.

James GREEN, Supervisor Parole Officer for HILL, stated that currently there are 1,178 active parole cases, which is an average of 146 cases per Parole Officer.10 In 1994 and 1995, there was a total of 1,435 cases, averaging 179 cases per Parole Officer.

During that time, GREEN conducted case audits of Parole Officers workloads, and he encouraged Parole Officers to conduct self-audits of their caseloads in order to stay on top of them. He stated that although each Parole Officer had many cases, it was possible, in his opinion, to keep current.

Parolees are issued Special Conditions at the time of their parole release, and WRIGHT's Special Condition included narcotic surveillance, outpatient drug treatment program, and Maximum Supervision. If parolees violate any of their conditions, they are in violation of parole. A parolee under Maximum Supervision should not lose contact with the Parole Officer for more than one month, GREEN said. If a parolee was delinquent in reporting to his or her parole officer, the Parole Officer was required to conduct an investigation, which would consist of attempting to locate the parolee and checking for any arrests. Parole Officers relied on MPD Lock-up Sheets or the MPD Criminal Investigation Division to obtain information in regard to past arrests. GREEN stated that HILL did not handle the WRIGHT case properly: whereas a Parole Officer knows to use the parolee's past criminality to understand the present behavior, HILL apparently neglected to take advantage of all tools available to him to obtain an accurate picture of WRIGHT's propensity to commit crimes.

On April 21, 1994, GREEN completed a random case audit of 25 cases assigned to HILL. GREEN's findings were that all 25 reported cases were in need of additional case management, and nine cases required immediate attention. WRIGHT's case was one of the 25 audited, but was not mentioned as one of the nine. The GREEN audit set forth the following areas of delinquent case management by HILL that were represented in the caseload: ( 1) Addendum Reports of Alleged Violations (RAVs) needed to be updated to reflect either criminal and/or noncriminal violations-of-parole, (2) cases paroled back to 1988 contained no progress reports to the Board or requests for inactive status consideration, (3) there was a lack of follow-up on unemployed clients, (4) there was a lack of home/employment verification via telephone and/or personal home visits, (5) there were non-existent or sporadic follow-ups on Board-ordered Special Conditions, (6) there were cases of parolees residing outside the District of Columbia without the knowledge of interstate authorities, (7) appropriate dates of release, home changes and job changes were not recorded on field sheets, and (8) parolees were out of compliance in reporting with no appropriate follow-up. HILL was instructed to carry out and perform all duties set forth in his position description, as well as the procedural instructions applicable to all those in his unit.11

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Theft I From Auto and Drug Charges

Unbeknownst to HILL, WRIGHT was arrested on May 24, 1995, and charged with Theft I from an automobile. Court records indicate that Police Officers Franklin CREWS and Anthony GREENE made the arrest, although when interviewed in 1998 neither remembered doing so.12 They told us that either the police or Adult Court Pretrial Services should have notified the Parole Board when WRIGHT was arrested. However, that did not happen. The Theft I charge ultimately was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Janice BERGIN, Operations Director for Pretrial Services Agency, stated that Pretrial Services normally notifies the Board when a parolee has been arrested.13 The court issues a Five-Day Hold on the parolee to give the Board time to issue a Parole Violation Warrant. Since WRIGHT's Theft I arrest was dismissed, he was not held, and the Board was not contacted. However, the record of the arrest was placed in a computer system called the Washington Area Law Enforcement System (WALES), to which the Board had access.

HILL stated that he had no knowledge of WRIGHT's Theft I arrest. At that time, he said, he had a caseload of 220-225 parolees, the majority of whom were Unfoldment program participants. Approximately 90 percent of the parolees were referred back to a drug program, and HILL was responsible for conducting their drug tests. If parolees did not complete the program, it was a violation of their parole. While attending the drug program, parolees continued to report to supervision for drug monitoring, and two positive drug tests resulted in a Board review. However, according to HILL, the Board at that time did not believe in revoking parole for drug violations because revocation, in its view, did not correct the problem. The Board would instead recommend continued treatment and counseling. HILL also stated that he was not always notified if a parolee failed to report to drug treatment. In most instances, he would contact the program while the parolee was in his office for confirmation as to whether the parolee was reporting for treatment. HILL stated, "There are hundreds of WRIGHTs in the system".

When WRIGHT reported again on June 5, 1995, HILL was once more not available, and a notation in WRIGHT's case file stated that he was given a notice for a follow-up visit. Later that same day, HILL contacted WRIGHT and scheduled the next appointment for June 7, 1995, for counseling.

WRIGHT reported to HILL on June 7, as instructed. He was told that in the future there would be adverse consequences for not reporting as instructed (Board Rule #10), not maintaining legitimate employment (Board Rule #6), or using heroin (Board Rule #4). HILL referred WRIGHT to the Probation and Parole Resource Center for drug treatment and additional counseling.

HILL told us that when WRIGHT reported for parole supervision on June 7, he knew WRIGHT was using drugs again because several of his teeth were missing, which is characteristic of a heroin addict. WRIGHT thereafter failed to report for drug treatment, and on June 28, 1995, he was arrested for Possession With Intent To Distribute Cocaine.

Assistant United States Attorney Sherri L. BERTHRONG notified the Parole Board on July 3, 1995, that WRIGHT had been rearrested for drugs, and that a preliminary hearing in his case had been scheduled for July 7. The purpose of this notice was to ensure that the Parole Board would issue a Parole Violation Warrant prior to the preliminary hearing date so that at the preliminary hearing, the parolee would not be released. The Parole Board of acknowledged receipt of the notice on July 5, and a copy of the notice was faxed to Supervisor James GREEN on July 6. Parole Officer HILL did not issue the Parole Warrant until July 7, the same day as the preliminary hearing. HILL also did not contact the court to inform it that a warrant to detain WRIGHT was forthcoming. Therefore, at the preliminary hearing, instead of being detained by the court on the Parole Violation Warrant, WRIGHT was released from custody.

Parenthetically, HYMAN told us that he has known parole warrants to be released on the same day as a preliminary hearing and still reach the hearing in time. In addition, the court can be notified by telephone on the same day as the hearing that a warrant has been issued.

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The Preliminary Hearing and the Officers' Failure to Appear

At WRIGHT's preliminary hearing on the drug charge on July 7, the MPD arresting Officers, Michael WIGGINS and Wayne STANCIL, failed to appear. Therefore, the case was dismissed for want of prosecution. As noted above, since a Parole Violation Warrant had not been received in time to detain WRIGHT, he was released. (The drug charge against him was later refiled, and he was reindicted on July 19. See below, infra.)

STANCIL stated that he knew WRIGHT from his childhood, having grown up with him in Northwest Washington.14 STANCIL advised that during the summer of 1995, while working for the Narcotic Squad, he and his partner, Officer WIGGINS, noticed an individual in the 400 block of O Street, N.W. As they approached, someone yelled "Jump-outs", and STANCIL saw the individual tossing items to the ground. WIGGINS apprehended him while STANCIL recovered the items that appeared to be illegal drugs. STANCIL stated that when he walked over to WIGGINS, he recognized the individual with him as WRIGHT. STANCIL then recalled that WRIGHT had murdered a cabdriver and wondered why he was out of prison. He asked WRIGHT why he had killed the cabdriver, and WRIGHT responded, "Because he bucked" (meaning that he resisted). STANCIL told us that he knew at that time that WRIGHT should not have been released from prison. WRIGHT was placed under arrest for Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine.

On June 29, 1995, the following day, STANCIL processed the arrest in court, since WIGGINS was not available. STANCIL recalled informing the Assistant United States Attorney that WRIGHT had a previous homicide conviction for killing a cabdriver who resisted him, and that WRIGHT did not appear to be "right" in the head and should not have been released. STANCIL was informed at that time of WRIGHT's preliminary hearing date, but on July 7, 1995, when the preliminary hearing was held, he failed to appear. He told us that the Preliminary and Grand Jury Hearings were scheduled for the same day, that WIGGINS was attending the Grand Jury Hearing, and that only one Officer could report to court on any one day for a single arrest, even if the arrest was made by two Officers.

However, MPD documents relating to Court Appearance Notification show that only STANCIL was scheduled to appear for WRIGHT's Preliminary Hearing. Moreover, MPD Inspector for Court Liaison Division Tommy MUSGROVE stated that when a Preliminary Hearing and a Grand Jury proceeding are scheduled for the same day, the Preliminary Hearing takes precedence, because it is before a judge.15 He also said disputing STANCIL — that two Officers can report to court on the same day for the same arrest.

Interestingly, MPD documents reveal that both STANCIL and WIGGINS were scheduled for trial in an entirely unrelated case on the same day as the WRIGHT preliminary hearing. STANCIL never cited this as his reason for not fuming up at the WRIGHT hearing — perhaps because he failed to turn up for the trial as well. Moreover, if the system works properly, an officer is notified well in advance of his appearance at a trial, a Preliminary Hearing or a Grand Jury so that he can arrange his schedule accordingly and thus avoid any conflict.

This Office conducted a review of STANCIL's Official Personnel File and determined that on July 30, 1997 — two years after the events in the WRIGHT case — he was placed on administrative leave with pay for "Neglect of Duty", charged with seven failures to make court appearances in 1997. The file also contained copies of Dereliction of Duty reports (PD 750) issued to STANCIL for failure to appear in court on March 22, 1996, July 9, 1996, and, more recently, July 28, 1998. (None of these failures to appear related to WRIGHT.) STANCIL was not returned to full duty status until April 26, 1998, some nine months after he had been relieved of duty.

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Events Leading to the Parole Revocation Hearing

With WRIGHT released, the issue now became whether a Parole Violation Warrant should issue. Two Board members voted in favor of a warrant, which was issued. The third Board Member, Polly NELSON, did not concur and advanced several grounds that HILL had failed to address: (1) HILL had not cited WRIGHT for failure to report in; (2) nor had HILL cited him for positive urine; (3) HILL seemed to be basing his recommendation solely on the drug arrest; and (4) HILL did not issue the Parole Violation Warrant until it was too late, the preliminary hearing had already been held, and therefore WRIGHT had probably already been released.

WRIGHT's Parole Violation Warrant was issued (but not served) on July 10, 1995, and HILL began to prepare his report for the parole revocation hearing. HILL cited three alleged violations by WRIGHT: (1) illegally selling a controlled, dangerous substance (cocaine) on June 28, 1995;16 (2) failing to obey all laws (new arrest); and (3) failing to report his arrest to a Parole Officer. HILL did not cite WRIGHT for violation of the three Board Rules mentioned above (numbers 10, 6 and 4; see p. 28, supra). He also decided not to charge WRIGHT with failure to report to parole supervision for five months, because in most such instances parole was not revoked if no crime had been committed during the five-month period. HILL's report conceded that WRIGHT's adjustment to parole was considered poor. This evaluation was based on WRIGHT's continued drug activity and failure to comply with his conditions of parole. HILL told us that he did not notice the Theft I charge listed under "Additional Charges" on the June 28 police report, nor did he check the WALES for background criminal history.

The U.S. Attorney's Office presented WRIGHT's drug charge to the Grand Jury, and an indictment was resumed on July 19, 1995. WRIGHT was served his Parole Violation Warrant on the same day.

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The Hearing

On July 28, 1995, WRIGHT's case was brought before the Board for a Parole Revocation Hearing, presided over by Board Member HYMAN. As was the usual practice, WRIGHT's Parole Officer, HILL, did not appear. HYMAN concluded that there was "No Finding", or insufficient evidence, for the first two violations - that is, the illegal sale of drugs and the new arrest - and a "Parole Violation Sustained" for the third violation —failing to report his arrest. HYMAN concluded that WRIGHT "does not pose a threat to society at this time. Drug case was dismissed — then Brought Back, it appears. I see no reason to Revoke Parole at this time....Reinstate to P.S. [parole supervision] & no change in conditions". Two other Board Members — RIVERA and Willie HASSON — later concurred with HYMAN's recommendation.

HILL told us that he was disturbed that HYMAN had reinstated WRIGHT's parole. HILL had worked with WRIGHT for two and a half years "without incident." and WRIGHT appeared to be a very mild-mannered individual and did not seem to be involved in violent activity, like several other parolees whom HILL had supervised. HILL nevertheless questioned the reasoning behind HYMAN's decision - that there was not enough evidence to revoke parole and that WRIGHT did not appear to be a threat to the community.

HYMAN stated that the purpose of a Parole Hearing was to determine any behavior modification engaged in by the parolee, for either entry back into the community if behavior had improved or continued incarceration if it had not. A revocation hearing, on the other hand, was simply to determine whether a parole should be revoked. If parole was revoked, the parolee was immediately taken into custody. Charges of drug activity while on parole were not considered serious criminal behavior. HYMAN said that any new arrest of a parolee required Board review and a revocation hearing, and Pretrial Services should notify the Parole Officer immediately by phone or fax and should issue a Parole Violation Warrant prior to the preliminary hearing date, so that the parolee can be held until the parole hearing. If the parolee is released, the Parole Officer should determine whether the offense is serious enough to summon the parolee to the Board by an Order To Appear Request or by a warrant. A Parole Officer can request parolees to report to the office (a) for counseling, (b) for supervised counseling and program enrollment, or (c) for review by the Board and a revocation hearing.

At WRIGHT's Revocation Hearing, a Parole Officer from the Plans and Revocation Unit other than HILL was present, and HYMAN had HILL's report. HYMAN stated that during 1995, the Board Members were advocating a more lenient attitude toward inmates with drug violations, favoring drug programs and rehabilitation into the community rather than incarceration. Drug use was not perceived as a violent offense or a threat to the community. HYMAN also took into consideration whether the drugs were found on the person or stashed somewhere nearby. His decision in WRIGHT's case was also based on what the court had determined at the preliminary hearing. That is, he looked only to the fact that the charges had been dropped; he did not know either that the charges had been dropped because the arresting officers had failed to appear, or that WRIGHT had been reindicted on the same charges on July 19.

There was another disturbing aspect to the revocation hearing. One of the sections in HILL's report dealt with the parolee's employment — a factor that can be important in some cases. HILL's report, as received by HYMAN, read: "This officer has knowledge of [WRIGHT's] legal means of employment," giving the impression that WRIGHT was gainfully employed. But when we showed this report to HILL, he said that the sentence contained a typographical error; the word "no" should have appeared between the words "has" and "knowledge". He had meant to write that he had no knowledge of whether or not WRIGHT was still employed. In fact, as noted above, WRIGHT had left his last job.

WRIGHT was arraigned for the cocaine charges on August 2, 1995, and pled not guilty, demanding a jury trial. He was ordered to receive drug testing every two weeks and then released. WRIGHT reported to HILL on August 4 and 7, 1995, but then ceased reporting to him. WRIGHT began reporting to a Pretrial Services Drug Testing program on August 9, 1995, and his first drug test was negative. However, thereafter he began receiving positive drug test results, and these continued until he stopped reporting to Pretrial Services on December 8, 1995. In the meantime, on September 20, 1995, HILL sent a Delinquent Notice to WRIGHT's place of residence, requesting him to report to the Board. WRIGHT never reported back to parole supervision. Almost three months elapsed, with no action by HILL or the Parole Board. On December 16, 1995, while out on parole, WRIGHT robbed and murdered Bettina PRUCKMAYR.17

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Treatment of Wright in Prison

The Inspector General wishes he could pinpoint one incident or one decision that led to WRIGHT's release from prison and to the failure to reincarcerate him prior to Bettina PRUCKMAYR's murder. That cannot be done. Unfortunately, the confluence of many events - several inadvertent, some negligent, and a few perhaps deliberate contributed to the extraordinarily sad conclusion to this deplorable story.

  • To begin with, and as an overriding consideration, WRIGHT was a very dangerous man who should have received careful attention and should not have been granted the benefit of the doubt on any occasion. It is true that others have had longer and more serious records. But WRIGHT began early, continued to engage in offenses in an almost uninterrupted sequence, took drugs, and hurt people, with and without guns. Even his prison record, replete as it was with violence and drug abuse, should have alerted authorities to the fact that he was short-tempered and quick to action, with virtually no concept of restraint or responsibility. In fact, Judge Emmet T. SULLIVAN, who sentenced him to life imprisonment in the PRUCKMAYR case, called him "the most violent, dangerous person that I've encountered in my 12 years as a judge on three courts" and promised to make certain that he would "never [again] walk the streets of this country...."18
  • Wright was charged with [a few words censored] robbing a convenience store and wounding the owner, killing a cabdriver, drug use and distribution, theft from an auto, and numerous offenses in prison — all prior to the PRUCKMAYR murder. While not all of these charges resulted in convictions, they should have constituted, in toto, a red flag to authorities who were responsible for supervising him and protecting the public. And yet — just by way of example — [2 lines censored] the convenience store shooting charges were dropped; [5 lines censored]
  • Whether or not it would have helped this troubled man, we have no way of knowing, but the public paid a price for the authorities' apparent assumption that it would have made no difference.
  • It seems quite extraordinary in light of WRIGHT's history at Lorton — and in particular his transfers between facilities, as reflected supra, — that he was moved once again to the Central Facility in March 1990 and placed in the Unfoldment program. Unfoldment was intended for those with drug problems, which certainly included WRIGHT, but it was not intended for dangerous prisoners who were constantly in trouble. If any Disciplinary Reports were written (and there is dispute about this), they could so easily be withdrawn or overruled that no accurate record could be kept of an inmate's activities during his participation in the program (or afterward). While the concept of Unfoldment may have been valid - that inmates with drug problems who were approaching their release dates should be realistically prepared for reentering society — the application of this concept to WRIGHT seems questionable at best, particularly since it did not include a strict regime of psychotherapy.19
  • A serious error was made in the recommendation that WRIGHT be admitted to the Work Training Furlough Program, which in turn helped him obtain early release. The Chief Case Manager overlooked five Disciplinary Reports filed against him after October 1988, including one for a drug overdose. It seems unlikely that WRIGHT would have been admitted to the program if the authorities, including the Warden, had been aware of these recent, additional reports of misbehavior.
  • Inmate case files were in almost total disarray at Lorton. There is little doubt that some of WRIGHT's files were destroyed. How this was done — by him, by his brother, or by a guard or other third party who was friendly, intimidated, or paid —cannot be determined. But the easy access to files at the time, and the fact that former Correctional Officer HOOD personally observed that by 1996 WRIGHT's file was less than half the size it had been in the 1 980's, leave no doubt that those making crucial decisions in regard to parole and reincarceration had no idea of the extent of WRIGHT's derelictions. Since he was a marginal case for release anyway, it seems apparent that if his unadulterated record had been reviewed at several crucial points in his prison history, he would never have been released when he was. We are told that access to inmate files has been tightened since the PRUCKMAYR case became public, but there appear to us to be still too many ways in which files can be tampered with, and we recommend that prison authorities address this problem further.
  • Another serious mistake occurred in the calculation of WRIGHT's EGT credits. Instead of receiving 36 days of credit, WRIGHT was awarded 180, meaning that he was paroled almost five months earlier than he should have been. He still might have committed the PRUCKMAYR murder, but given the uncertainties surrounding his whole life, one cannot be sure. We have no evidence that the EGT miscalculation was anything but an honest, though probably negligent, mistake.
  • The SFS system strikes us as unrealistic. By including only offenses committed prior to the latest incarceration, it gave a wholly distorted picture of the inmate's propensity toward crime — particularly an inmate like WRIGHT who had been in prison for many years. Any unbiased observer looking at WRIGHT's prison record, even after it was trifled with or purged, would conclude that he was a repeat offender and a danger to society. By excluding all consideration of his prison record, the SFS system simply failed to provide an accurate picture.
  • WRIGHT's Parole Analyst, relying on earlier mistaken reports, undercounted WRIGHT's Disciplinary Reports, and this mistake carried over to later case files and was never corrected. Despite this undercount, she recommended against early parole and WRIGHT also flunked the PAG. Yet when he came up for his parole hearing, the opposite result obtained. This was in part because the Parole Board Member misunderstood WRIGHT's record (thinking, for example, that he had received no Disciplinary Reports in over four years), and in part because there was now a good deal of pressure from the courts to move prisoners through the system. WRIGHT's participation in the Unfoldment program was also considered a plus, even though some officials questioned its value and even though there was little check on how participants behaved while in the program or after they got out.

The bottom line insofar as parole was concerned is that WRIGHT should not have been released from prison when he was. As Margaret MOORE told us, he was still a threat to public safety. "I would not have supported his being in the community," she said. "He was not ready."

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Treatment of Wright on Parole

The picture after WRIGHT was released on parole is even more disturbing than when he was in prison. In relatively short order, he was terminated from his private employment, stopped reporting to his Parole Officer regularly, was arrested for theft from an auto, began using drugs again, and was arrested for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Yet he was not promptly placed back behind bars for violation of parole. How could this have happened? The answer involves a series of missteps, failures of communication, and errors.

  • We have noted WRIGHT's failure to report to his Parole Officer on at least five occasions and the fact that despite this, there were two- and six-month periods thereafter when he was not even scheduled to appear. There is no accounting for why he was not cited to the Parole Board for failure to appear and why he was allowed to go for so long a period without reporting in at all, despite specific Parole Board rules to the contrary.
  • When WRIGHT was arrested for Theft I from an auto on May 24, 1995, the police and Adult Court Pretrial Services should have reported that arrest promptly to the Parole Board. They did not do so. As far as we can tell, this was a simple oversight due to the number of cases they were handling. Normally, a five-day hold order would have been issued, with the result that WRIGHT would have been detained. But in this case, because the Theft I charge was dismissed (for the reasons discussed both above and below), no such order was issued and the Parole Board was not informed. However, the arrest did appear in the WALES computer system, and it also appeared on the police report when WRIGHT was arrested later on drug charges. Unfortunately, his Parole Officer did not consult the WALES system and did not notice the arrest on the police report. The Parole Officer conceded to us that his failure to note the charge of theft was "human error on my part." He said he definitely would have noted it if he had known of it. The net result was that the Parole Board was simply unaware of the arrest when WRIGHT was continued on parole.
  • Even though WRIGHT gave every sign of being back on drugs when he reported on June 7, 1995, and his Parole Officer was in fact convinced that he was on drugs, the Officer failed to report him to the Parole Board. In fact, no report was made until almost a month later, on July 3, 1995, after WRIGHT had been newly arrested for possession with intent to distribute.
  • The failure by the Parole Officer to make certain that a Parole Violation Warrant was in the hands of the court prior to WRIGHT's preliminary hearing, or at least to forewarn the court that such a Warrant was forthcoming, has been laid out in this Report. Blame must be shared by the Parole Board, the Parole Supervisor and the Parole Officer. The result was extremely unfortunate because WRIGHT, instead of being held at the end of the hearing, was released.
  • The Parole Officer's report as it went to the Parole Board gave the impression that WRIGHT was employed. In fact, the Officer had no knowledge of employment, and WRIGHT was not employed. This apparent typographical error — the failure to include the word "no" - may have been an important error, because employment or lack thereof is one of the factors, although one of many, that the Board looks to for a sign of public safety and responsibility.
    In mitigation of these oversights, WRIGHT's Parole Officer correctly pointed out that his caseload at the time — as many as 225 parolees — was vastly in excess of the number recommended as manageable by authoritative sources. In fact, we have been told that the recommended ratio of parolees to Parole Officers is between 35 and 50 to one. At the time of WRIGHT's case, the ratio was over four times that amount. The District of Columbia cannot saddle its Parole Officers with an unreasonably large caseload and then expect them to monitor each and every parolee as if there were only a few of them to look after. Having said that, it is our judgment that a large caseload cannot fully explain all five of the lapses by WRIGHT's Parole Officer his neglecting to cite (a) WRIGHT's failure to report, (b) the theft from an auto, (c) a renewed drug use, (d) the accurate state of his unemployment, and (e) the issuance of a Parole Violation Warrant. The Parole Officer must bear some measure of responsibility for the Parole Board's failure to reincarcerate WRIGHT.
  • As noted above, the charges against WRIGHT for possession of drugs with intent to distribute were dismissed because the two police officers who arrested him failed to appear at his preliminary hearing. Officer STANCIL's version of the applicable rules about two arresting officers being in court on the same day was disputed by the Court Liaison Officer. More importantly, STANCIL has had a record of failing to appear in court, subsequently resulting in his being placed on administrative leave. It is impossible for this Office to determine what lay behind STANCIL's failure to appear in this particular case, noting only that we fervently wish it had not occurred.
  • The attitude of the Parole Board toward parolees who were repeat drug offenders is one that bears revisiting. The theory apparently was that putting the offenders back in prison would not solve their problems. This may be a legitimate consideration, but surely it must be balanced against public safety; parolees who continue their drug activities while on parole are highly likely to commit crimes to support their habits. Thus, members of the Parole Board must bear some responsibility for the failure to take action against WRIGHT earlier than it did.
  • Finally, the decision by the Parole Board at WRIGHT's revocation hearing not to reincarcerate him is exceedingly difficult to justify. WRIGHT's own Parole Officer thought it was a mistake. Even though WRIGHT's files were incomplete and inaccurate, and even though the Parole Officer who knew that WRIGHT was again using serious drugs was not in attendance at the hearing to express his views, there was more than enough evidence of violations to justify a revocation by the Parole Board. For example, even the record before the Board showed that the third alleged violation, failing to report an arrest, was "Sustained." In any event, the Board's more lenient attitude toward inmates with drug problems in general should not have been applied to an inmate who was both violent and a repeat offender. As Margaret MOORE told us, "We [the authorities] have a responsibility to monitor once [a parolee] is out. [WRIGHT] was a threat. He should have been brought back in."

In sum, insofar as parole was concerned, the combination of an overcrowded prison, with its concomitant pressure to move inmates through the system; inaccurate and incomplete reports, brought about at least in part by an overworked Parole Officer; and the lenient attitude by Parole Board members toward parolees who in all likelihood were continuing to break the law, all resulted in a breakdown of the system in regard to Leo WRIGHT.

We are told that even today, as a result of a memorandum dated October 26, 1998, from Shellie STUBBS, Administrator of Community Release Programs, DOC, to Adrienne POTEAT, Deputy Director for Institutions, DOC, inmates are being released from prison prior to serving their proper terms because of a need to make way for still more inmates. This means that other Leo WRIGHTs are or soon will be on the streets. Unfortunately for everyone, but particularly for Bettina PRUCKMAYR, "Leo WRIGHT," as the Parole Board Chair at both his hearings told us, "did not raise a flag. He was no different from a lot of others."20 He was on the street and able to kill when he should have been behind bars. The Nation's Capital deserves better and will need to face up to the true cost of failing to provide sufficient facilities to house those convicted of serious crimes.

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In making the following recommendations, the Inspector General is aware that as the result of congressional legislation, the Lorton facility will be closed, the functions of the D.C. Board of Parole are being transferred to the U.S. Parole Commission, and the current system of parole will be abolished for certain felonies by August 5, 2000. See Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 105-33, §§ 11211, 11231 (adopted Aug. 5, 1997). Although this development will eventually moot some of our recommendations, the Inspector General believes that it is important to take the following steps now in order to reduce the risk of tragedy in the interim. He thus recommends that:

  • DOC establish and maintain tighter controls to protect the security and integrity of inmate record files.
  • DOC tighten controls on the release of inmates for the purpose of alleviating overcrowding, consistent with any court orders, so as to prevent dangerous felons from being returned to the community.
  • Parole Officers be required to attend all parole revocation hearings for parolees assigned to them, or at the very least to submit in writing all information relevant to those parolees.
  • The D.C. Board of Parole reduce the caseloads of Parole Officers to bring them in line with applicable national standards.
  • The D.C. Board of Parole strengthen the standard for revocation, so that parole is automatically revoked after two positive drug tests for serious offenders — and that the standard be enforced.
  • The MPD and Adult Court Pretrial Services establish and maintain improved communication with the D.C. Board of Parole so as to ensure that relevant criminal information is promptly transmitted to the Board, including automatic notification when a parolee is arrested.
  • D.C. Board of Parole warrants be automatically issued after 30 days of the loss of contact with a parolee.
  • Appropriate administrative action be taken against Parole Officer Anthony HILL for failing properly to monitor the actions of Leo WRIGHT; for failure properly to report WRIGHT's parole violations; and for failure to issue a Parole Violations Warrant in time to be considered at the preliminary hearing on July 7, 1995.
  • Appropriate administrative action be taken against Acting Deputy Warden Philippia RILEY for failing properly to report Leo WRIGHT's inmate disciplinary record, which at that time was her responsibility.
  • Appropriate administrative action be taken to determine the reason for MPD Officer Wayne STANCIL's failure to appear at Leo WRIGHT's preliminary hearing, and, if such failure was other than proper, disciplinary action be taken against him.
  • The Mayor and City Council, even in the context of the current shift of prisoners to federal and state facilities elsewhere, reexamine the resources devoted to the housing of prison inmates at Lorton, recognizing that a failure to provide sufficient housing necessarily results in the premature release of dangerous individuals into the community.

The recommendations that disciplinary action be taken against three working-level employees naturally raise the question as to why more senior officials are not being held to account for the many deficiencies cited in the foregoing Report. It could be argued, for example, that senior officials at the Lorton facility and the Department of Corrections knew, or should have known, that inmates — many of them dangerous — were being pushed through the prison system and into the community, based in part on inmate records that were in total disarray. Similarly, senior officials at the D.C. Board of Parole clearly fostered an excessively permissive attitude toward illegal drug use by parolees and did very little to moderate the unreasonable caseloads being carried by individual Parole Officers..

The reason senior officials are not being cited is essentially threefold:

  1. Our investigation did not reveal that any senior official committed specific, identifiable errors that contributed directly to the death of Ms. PRUCKMAYR.
  2. Only one such official is still employed by the District and would therefore be subject to administrative action.
  3. But most importantly, it would be unfair, in the peculiar and complex circumstances of this case, to stop the blame assessment even at these senior officials who were most directly involved. For example, why was there pressure to move inmates through the prison system? Surely it was at least in part because of perfectly proper rulings by the courts mandating sufficient cell space and other prison facilities to accommodate the growing prison population without violating the Cruel and Unusual Punishments provision of the Eighth Amendment. And why were there not sufficient cells and resources? Did City officials fail to provide them or to seek funds for them, or did Congress fail to respond to their requests? Similarly, why did the Parole Board have a permissive attitude toward parolees on drugs? Even though we believe that this permissiveness was excessive, it would be unrealistic not to recognize that the United States Attorney's Office was reportedly refusing to prosecute many similar cases, and that both its position and the Board's attitude were based in part on the perceived uselessness of sending still more prisoners back into an already overcrowded prison system. Finally, the unreasonably high caseloads assigned to Parole Officers were not a matter of choice but the result of too few officers and too many parolees — again, one more consequence of the decisions of others either not to seek or not to appropriate sufficient funds to accomplish the requisite task.

This is not to say that there was no blame at all levels. Further investigation might well lead to the conclusion that too little attention was paid to these matters and too little effort made to alleviate them. It is to say that once we move above the specific errors and deficiencies outlined in this Report, the blame is more diffused, more multifaceted, and more difficult to assign.

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LOC — Lack of Cooperation
PS — Punitive Segregation
SUSP — Visitation Suspended

12/14/76 Out of place 5 days PS Susp. for 120 days
5/20/77 LOC 5 days PS Susp. for 90 days
6/28/77 MINOR Contraband 11 days PS Susp. for 120 days
3/30/78 Class IV 7-A Disobeying A General Order 5 days PS Susp. for 120 days PS invalid
5/4/78 LOC 5 days PS Susp. 90 days
12/4/78 LOC Major Contraband 7 days PS Susp. for 120 days
1/11/79 LOC Out of Place Reprimand & Warning
12/18/79 LOC Out of Place 5 days PS Susp. for 90 days
1/3/80 LOC Out of Place Reprimand & Warning
2/8/80 Assault Transfer to Maximum21
8/1/80 LOC 5 days PS Susp. 90 days
8/19/80 Abuse of Privileges/Minor Contraband 5 days PS Susp. for 90 days
9/22/80 Out of Place/LOC 5 days PS Susp. for 90 days
10/4/80 Minor Contraband/Disrespect/LOC 7 days PS Susp for 120 days
12/26/80 Minor Contraband 8 days segregation PS/Susp. 120 days
1/1/82 Out of place/LOC Reprimand & Warning
8/2/82 Disrespect & LOC/Out of Place or absent at count/Creating a disturbance
9/3/82 Major Contraband 14 days PS to include 5 days in control cell
2/25/83 Major Contraband
3/16/83 Creating a Health, Safety & Fire Hazard Reprimand & Warning
3/22/83 Destruction of Property/Abuse of Privileges, creating a health, safety or fire hazard
5/30/83 LOC Reprimand & Warning
8/16/83 LOC Reprimand & Warning
12/30/83 LOC/Willful Disobedience Reprimand & Warning
12/11/84 Major Contraband 7 days PS Susp for 90 days
7/29/85 Out of Place 5 days PS Susp for 90 days
8/19/85 Out of Place 5 days PS Susp. for 90 days
11/5/85 Possession of Major Contraband 3 positive drug tests Transfer to Maximum — Susp. 120 days21
4/17/86 Possession of Major Contraband
6/3/86 Possession of Major Contraband Overdose 7 days PS
7/29/86 LOC — Damage or Destruction of Property 7 days PS 60 days Susp.
8/26/87 Possession of Major Contraband 5 positive drug tests
5/26/88 Possession of Major Contraband Positive drug test for PCP — 30 days Susp.
12/19/88 Overdose
3/29/89 Possession of contraband 30 days Susp.
4/4/89 Possession of contraband/LOC /Falsifying Physical Evidence /Lying/Abuse of Privileges 14 days Segregation
8/3/89 Possession of Major Contraband Positive drug test for Amphet. 30 days Susp.
11/25/89 Possession of Contraband 30 days Susp.

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1. BRAGG was interviewed on September 10 and November 30, 1998.

2. RILEY was interviewed on August 13, 1998. She is presently the Acting Deputy Warden in Lorton's Minimum Security Facility, having served in that position for one year. Prior to her stint as Chief Case Manager, she served as Case Manager and Correctional Officer.

3. HAWKINS was interviewed on July 23, 1998.

4. SULLIVAN was interviewed on July 30, 1998.

5. HOOD was interviewed on June 17, 1998. He resigned from DOC in 1988.

6. MOORE was interviewed on November 20, 1998. She currently works as Interim Deputy Chief for the Chief Management Officer, Camille Barnett.

7. Enrique RIVERA-TORRES was interviewed on September 17, 1998. He served as a Parole Board Member from 1987-1996 and is currently employed as an Executive Assistant for MPD Assistant Police Chief Alfred BROADBENT. The Chair of the Parole Board at this time - and at WRIGHT's subsequent Parole Revocation Hearing in 1995 (see p. 32, infra.) — was Margaret E. QUICK, who was interviewed on October 21, 1998.

8. Anthony HILL was interviewed on October 15, 1998. He has been employed in the position of Parole . Officer since October 1988.

9. Erias HYMAN, Parole Board Member from July 1991 to November 1997, was interviewed on September I I and October 6, 1998. The U.S. Department of Commerce currently employs HYMAN as Senior Advisor and Counselor to the Deputy Secretary.

10. James GREEN was interviewed on November 10, 1998.

11. On January 16, 1998, GREEN completed a more recent case file review for HILL. The review determined that there were 188 Active cases, 82 Warrants issued, 13 Warrants executed, and 21 cases inactive. GREEN advised HILL to reduce the number of his Active cases by ( 1 ) regular monthly case audits and the preparation of RAVs for clients with whom he had lost contact, or who had had violations, especially in the area of substance abuse, and (2) preparing requests for inactive supervision of clients who have met time-on-supervision requirements and have no criminal and/or non-criminal violations of parole.

12. MPD Officer Franklin CREWS was interviewed on September 14, 1998. MPD Officer Anthony GREENE was interviewed on September 18, 1998.

13. Janice BERGEN was interviewed on July 10, 1998.

14. MPD Officer Wayne STANCIL was interviewed on October 29, 1998. He has served as an MPD Officer for 15 years.

15. MUSGROVE was interviewed on December 4, 1998.

16. In fact, as noted above, WRIGHT was charged with the crime of possession with intent to distribute, not distribution itself.

17. This Office attempted to interview WRIGHT, but he declined through counsel to be interviewed.

18. Transcript of Plea and Sentencing Proceedings, United States v. Leo Gonzales Wright, CR. No. 9666(EGS), Sept. 9, 1996, at 88, 90.

19. It should be noted that this Office found in 1993 that DOC's internal control procedures for the Unfoldment program were inadequate, and that its accounting records were not adequately maintained. Limited Financial Review, Department of Corrections Therapeutic Drug Treatment Program, Unfoldment, Inc., OIG No. 9125-57B, December 1, 1993.

20. See footnote 7, supra.

21. Note that as reflected above, WRIGHT was not necessarily transferred on these dates, even though he was supposed to have been because of major infractions.

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