Sources Say Several Prisoners Beaten at Golden Grove

A number of prisoners were taken out of their cells Monday morning, cuffed, placed in a holding cell and beaten in the pre-dawn hours, according to several sources inside the Golden Grove prison on St. Croix.

As of 10:30 p.m., corrections officials had not responded to numerous phone calls and emails sent Tuesday morning and afternoon seeking a response to these allegations. The Source also requested Tuesday that Bureau of Corrections Executive Director Julius Wilson or Warden Diane Prosper confirm on the record the health status and location of the purported victims, but has not yet received a response.

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux said late Tuesday afternoon he was seeking information regarding the alleged incident, in response to the Source’s inquiries, but had not yet been able to contact Wilson.

At 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Bureau of Corrections sent out a press release by email regarding an incident at the prison. None of the Source’s questions were answered or addressed at all. It contained no information on the seven allegedly beaten inmates’ health or status.

The press release says, "Wilson on Tuesday said that an assault and riot took place at the Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility & Detention Center (GGACF/DC) on Monday morning, November 10, 2014 at approximately 9:00 a.m. The incident resulted in an assault on an officer by two detainees."

Wilson said in the release that by around 9:20 a.m. the incident was under control, an investigation is ongoing and the prison is on "a modified lockdown status."

Wilson mentioned only "two detainees" in the release and made no mention of injuries or medical treatment or of anyone being taken to the hospital.

The Source has photographs of beating-type injuries on four prisoners and asked Wilson about the status of seven inmates.

Wilson did not respond to any of the Source’s specific questions.

The press release was sent out by Bureau of Corrections Public Information Officer Juel Anderson, who was emailed the Source’s questions but did not respond. Anderson sent the press release from the same email account to which the Source sent its questions. Anderson also did not respond to voicemail left on her office and cell phones.

Wilson also did not respond to email, did not answer his phone and did not respond to a message left on his cell phone.

According to one source at the prison, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation, guards woke up seven inmates at 5 a.m. Monday, taking them handcuffed and in leg-irons to a holding cell near the entrance to the prison. Once in the cell, guards allegedly then slapped and beat the restrained prisoners. Their belongings were allegedly thrown away during the beating and they were purportedly returned to their cells shirtless.

The seven prisoners allegedly beaten were Pedro Davis, Alley Benjiman, Juan Ilarraza, Shaquan Prentice, Wahilly James, Delroy Tongue and N’Kosi Parris. At least two of the prisoners, Juan Ilarraza and Pedro Davis, allegedly requested medical attention.

Sources at the prison said Davis was taken to Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital for treatment Tuesday.

A hospital official confirmed that a Pedro Davis was brought to the emergency room, treated and taken away Tuesday morning.

Most if not all of the affected prisoners are detainees awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime.

Two of the victims are known to be awaiting trial for first degree murder charges. Ilarraza is awaiting trial in which he is accused of the shooting murder of Wellington Pennyfeather Jr. in Frederiksted earlier this year. Parris is awaiting trial in which he is accused of murdering Munif Awawda, 33, while allegedly robbing Awawda. Parris is also awaiting trial in which he is accused of third degree assault for allegedly stabbing another inmate in May. (See Related Links below)

Sources named nine officers who allegedly participated or watched the beating. The Source will not publish those names at this time because the details of what occurred and who did what could not be verified prior to publication.

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