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FIRST COMPLAINT

Thornton threatened Brian on Monday  two different times -   The first comment was "I'll get the last laugh" and the other comment was "do you know the difference between reality and perceived reality" It is so aggravating to be stuck in this situation and not have a clue how to fight the unjust behavior of an egotistical pig with an inferiority complex.  But I'm not bitter, just determined!  =]


INFO FROM FEMALE GUARDS SUING THE DOC FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Thu, 19 Dec 2002 01:07:22 -0600

Kay Lee,

Go ahead and have these ladies contact the Florida Commission of Human Relations.   Their number is (850) 488-7082.  Have as many of them as possible complain about these officers.  Retaliation more than likely will occur to their inmates, but that can be handled too.  Please keep me updated on this situation.  I will do whatever I can to help.  I am begging you to have these women report this.  If after a complaint is filed and their inmate is hurt, etc., then I know that a civil law suit, pro bono, will not be hard to file.   I will even help them out with my lawyer.  This could help our case as well.  Our goal is to clean out the FL Dept of Corrections from having officers behave like this. 


Dec 2002

Kay Lee,

My fiancÚ is housed at Baker CI, and I am there visiting every weekend. Many of the wives out at Baker are terrified of one specific Sgt - and are equally afraid to challenge him out of fear of retaliation against their spouses. The Sgt seems to pick out a different couple every weekend to harass. He picked us this past weekend and it resulted in an incident report being filed.

I have been to this park too many times to count, and I can tell you there are 3 other Sgts (and multiple COs) that respect the situation and, while maintaining complete control, do not make the situation any more stressful than it has to be - the atmosphere is different with this man; everyone is literally sitting in fear the entire day.

I know something has to be done; even at the risk of my fiancÚ being transferred or retaliated against. He has filed formal complaints against the officers already including a statement that he is concerned about retaliation.

I left the Sgt's name off intentionally up to this point because I wanted you to read it before you found out that he is Sgt. Thornton - who IS the brother of  Timothy Thornton, who was on trial for killing the death row inmate, Valdes. I hardly think it is a coincidence that this behavior runs in the family - and I only found out they were brothers *after* what happened to us over the weekend.

I have included a copy of my letter to the warden; please post whatever you like on the site under Baker - perhaps others will see it who I don't know and be inclined to share as well.

PS: I found out (in not so kosher ways) that Thornton currently has an open sexual harassment charge against him as well by a CO - which I believe will help me with a formal complaint.

********* LETTER TO WARDEN*******

Warden Fortner

I am writing this to you out of frustration and concern for the treatment of families and friends within the visiting park by Sgt. Thornton.  Many people have commented on improvements that have been made through contact to you, and your praise is often sung by the wives and families of other inmates.  I know this does not directly involve you, but I truly do not know where to take this issue to obtain a resolution.

I have been a regular visitor to Baker Correctional over the past couple of months, and have come to notice specific issues and problems that only seem to occur when Sgt. Thornton is "running" the visiting park. 

I have much respect for the people who do these jobs - and there are officers that work in the VP who are delightful to work with; including Sgt. Gay and Sgt. Wheeler The atmosphere, however, when Sgt. Thornton is present is more tense.

I am thankful every weekend for the limited time I spend with my fiancÚ, Brian Johnson (DC #205209), and obviously I don't want to jeopardize this time because aside from prayers it is all I have to provide comfort and support to him.  However, there were three separate incidents, two of which directly involved me, that have caused me to question why Sgt. Thornton is still in the VP.

The first of these incidents took place on Sunday 12/8/02 and did not involve me, but Sgt. Thornton acted in an unprofessional manner when he chastised Ms. McCray, one of the officers in the park that day, for something she had done wrong.  While I'm sure he had good reason to do so, her punishment was not something I wanted to be party to, and I am sure the other thirty or forty people within the park felt the same way.  It was highly unprofessional and showed a lack of respect not only for her, but also for the visitors in the park.  The fact he would do it in front of inmates makes it that much worse - as it serves to undermine her authority within the compound.

I was content to hold my tongue about this, however, as it really was none of my business and only disrupted my visiting time for a brief period.

The other two incidents I do not feel I can allow to slide, and I feel that n only was there a misuse of authority, but the handling was unprofessional and bordered on threatening.

On Saturday, 12/14/02, we were scheduled to take a picture - which we have done plenty of times in the past.  As we went to pose, Sgt. Thornton informed us that what we were doing he considered an embrace and that it was in direct violation of the rules.  We modified the pose accordingly and took the photo.  I did mention to him that the previous four photos (which he was present during at least two of them that I can remember) were done in the pose he deemed illegal.  He stated that this was the rule and it was his interpretation that counted.  We complied both Saturday and Sunday with his rule.

Sunday in the VP it was extremely cold as the thermostat seemed to be broken.  We were sitting at a table surrounded by other tables and my arms were crossed with my hands inside my jacket.  I had not noticed the way Brian was sitting, however I was told later that he had his left knee just outside the table leg.  I was facing the coffee machine in the VP and Brian was to my right side.

Ms Jennings, another one of the guards, was standing at the coffee machine (there is a table between us with two people and a small child seated in her direct field of vision).  She caught my eye and began shaking her head no at me, and I assumed it was her thinking my hands were someplace they shouldn't be.  I advised her they were in my jacket and lifted them up to show her how they were.  She did not walk over at any point in time, only continued to shake her head no at me.  I placed my hands back on the table.

A while later count was called and I remained inside while Brian went outside.  He was called over by Sgt. Thornton and told that Ms. Jennings had caught us with "his legs wrapped around me and my hands in his lap" and there would be an incident report filed, which could result in a DR if there were further issues.

When Brian relayed this to me I approached the Sgt. and requested to speak to him - which he allowed.  I told him what had really happened and was very coolly informed that Captain Barton had already been made aware of the situation, as had the Duty Warden, and that there would be an incident report filed no matter what I said.  He also informed me that this report would include both the incident on Sunday as well as the incident with our photo on Saturday.  At that time, I requested to speak to the duty warden.

I was lead into a back office where Captain Barton informed me that Warden Singer [Warden Singer is an assistant - he was the duty warden that day] was not present and then asked me what the problem was.  I advised him of what had happened and his initial response to me was that he would do "whatever necessary to protect himself and his employees."  He claimed that my complaint was 'insignificant' - in other words, it was pointless to even try to give him my side of the story because, no matter what I said or what the truth happened to be, he would believe what they told him.

While I can excuse his 'management skills' in regard to his employees - I cannot appreciate the obtuse attitude in assuming they could not have made a mistake.

There were a total of four other people in the office with us, all of them as "witnesses."  When I asked why he felt the need to have so many in the room, he stated that he always had witnesses when dealing with female officers or civilians.  While I understand the necessity behind this, I still see little need to have four present - especially considering two of them were Ms. Jennings and Sgt. Thornton.  This, to me, was more of an intimidation factor and made me feel as though I was a criminal - which I am not.

Captain Barton told me that, despite what I did, there would be a report filed - and that it would not have escalated to a report had I not approached the Sgt. regarding the issue - which directly contradicts what the Sgt had told me.  In effect, he placed the blame directly on me for any punishment Brian was to receive.

Captain Barton also informed me that he was not going to recommend disciplinary action or my suspension from visitation for this, but that any subsequent offenses would result in termination of the visit at the very least.

The need to document incidents is apparent, however when an incident that did not occur is documented it leads me to believe it will happen again; which obviously will directly affect me. 

There was a gross lack of professionalism on behalf of Ms. Jennings by not taking the initiative to look before she made an assumption, as well as her lack of approach to our table to discuss what she felt was happening in a authoritative manner.  Had she been respectful enough to walk closer, she could have seen what was really happening and not made an assumption that escalated into this problem.

After the incident on Sunday I looked around the VP and counted five people doing exactly what Brian and I were doing that resulted in a report, and it was apparently not an issue to Ms. Jennings or Sgt. Thornton in any other case but ours.  The same problem happened with the photographs.

FORMAL COMPLAINT

I wish to file formal complaints against both Sgt. Thornton and Ms. Jennings for a lack of professionalism, as well as the fabrication of this story.  I do it with a fear that retaliation will follow against myself or Brian.  This matter, however, seems to be getting out of hand and if someone does not do something it will continue to get worse for the other ladies who faithfully visit every weekend. 

In filing this complaint with you, I also want to make you aware of three officers who make the trips out to your institution bearable, officers who, while maintaining their professionalism, still treat visitors with respect - Ms. McCray , Ms. Mitchell, and Ms. Starling. There are many others, but unfortunately I do not have their names to give you.

Something that I have observed on my visits is that the more comfortable the families are in the park, the easier it is for the inmates not to be stressed and simply enjoy the time that they are allotted with family.  This does not occur when Sgt. Thornton is present - instead we all sit in fear, waiting for him to invent a problem to chastise us about.

I do not feel as though I have civil rights when I walk into the VP and Sgt. Thornton is standing there.  I feel as though I have become an inmate and can be subjected to the same lack of rights.

I obey the posted rules - but it is difficult to obey rules that are not made known until after they have been broken; especially when the rules did not apply the weeks preceding the incident.

I understand there are regulations that must be enforced and leniency is not tolerated - however, even in the case of subjective rules, they must be applied uniformly - and they are not.

It is disheartening that certain officers feel they cannot be respectful to those of us who are not incarcerated, and insulting seem to feel that we do not merit the basics of respect as humans who are trying to do the right thing and continue loving and supportive relationships despite mistakes made by our loved ones.

I implore you to affect a change in this regard and I hope you have the empathy for those of us caught in this crossfire that your officers seem to have forgotten.

It is sad that it must come to this, and as I have stated, I write this in great fear there will be retaliation from the guards to Brian or relocation to a facility that is further away for me to drive.

There are many people who turn their heads from what occurs in that park simply because we know if we respond it could mean termination or suspension of the visiting privilege.  I cannot ignore it, however, when a false accusation could do the exact same thing to us; and I sincerely hope you can appreciate my need to voice this complaint and my concern of the continuance of the abuse of power.

As I have stated in the past, Sgt. Gay and Sgt. Wheeler both have run the park, and, while the rules are the same, rudeness is replaced with respect and authority is still enforced in regards to the rules set forth.

Sgt. Thornton however routinely behaves in a manner not befitting a professional, including watching many of the lady visitors' derrieres and "checking them out" in a way that is noticed by them, the inmates, and other visitors.  This behavior, I believe, contributes to some of the unrest in the park when he is present.  I have noticed his 'ogling' of both other ladies as well as myself and have chosen to ignore it as there is little recourse any of us can take in this matter and it would appear to be nothing more than a frivolous complaint on our part, although it may be a pathetic attempt on Sgt. Thornton's part to provoke an inmate.

Please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX before 730am or after 8pm Monday through Thursday, or all day Friday.  I am at the prison on Saturday and Sunday every week unless something else demands my time.  My email address is puddles76@attbi.com and I will respond as soon as physically possible if contacted via email.

Thank you for your time and your understanding in this manner, and God Bless.


Mon, 23 Dec 2002

Thought you might be interested to know how things went this weekend --

I was contacted Friday by Warden Singer (he was the duty warden the weekend of the problem) and he assured me that the "professionalism issue" had been handled with Sgt. Thornton, Capt. Barton, and Ms. Jennings.  I took it as the obligatory politic call and decided to wait and see the atmosphere in the park Sunday when I was there. 

They mostly ignored us, although Thornton made a point of saying good morning to Brian - which was almost comical because it shocked Brian so badly.  They did not so much as come near me or speak to me.  Instead, they selected a different couple to pick on.

I will be out there Wednesday and 5 separate ladies have asked for the information on who to contact and complain - I told them about your site so hopefully they will contact you with their complaints as well (I've encouraged them to do so and promised to bring a contact sheet with me Wednesday for everyone).

There are rumors they are intending to remove Thornton from the park  because of other complaints before mine, but we'll see...

I will let you know as things continue about any other problems I have.  Take care of you!!

Kay Lee's NOTE: Thornton did disappear, giving his victims hope, because they all thought he had been fired or moved as he should be. However, his short absence was due to his father's death. He is no longer on the 4-12 shift, but he is back, apparently with a vengence.


UPDATE:
Sgt Thornton's return
Mon, 24 Feb 2003 12:10:32 -0500

I am ready to scream! =]

Last night Brian called me to let me know he had just been called into the officer's station by Officers Hollingsworth and Bennett. Thornton was waiting inside for him. Thank god Brian didn't get physically hurt - but Thornton made sure and antagonized him properly in a pathetic attempt to get a reaction (which he did not accomplish).

Please post this for me - the story is enough to make you laugh but the motive behind it truly scares me.

Brian, on 10/9/01, posted a penpal ad on the site 'friends beyond the wall' - Thornton produced a copy of this ad from his pocket last night and began a series of questions regarding the legality of the email express service this ad offers as well as the photo that was posted there (it was taken at Madison CI in 1998 - where they still allowed outdoor photos).

Thornton informed Brian he would be going straight to the Inspector at the prison to seek action against him because there were "legal questions" about the ad.

Not only has this new ludicrous rule regarding these ads not been enforced in the DOC - this ad is NOT searchable from the site. I know this because I searched it myself, and then had two other people independently search it for me to make sure it wasn't just my own ineptness.

In order to locate this ad a person MUST search through a search engine (such as google) and type in specifically Brian Johnson #205209 - and two ads will be displayed. The first is this ad, the second is a missing link with nothing.

Hollingsworth and Bennett apparently do not have a brain cell between the two of them if neither of them found this entire situation a little odd - but that is beside the point.

This pathetic attempt by Thornton is alarming because he actually had to intentionally search out Brian - I contacted the penpal site this morning for confirmation Brian's ad should no longer be posted and I am awaiting that response. I intend to forward that along with the date it was removed to the prison as well.

I spoke with the inspector this morning (Inspector Minta) and she assured me she would notify Warden Fortner concerning this matter and look into it accordingly. I have worked with Inspector Minta in the past on an outside problem and found her to be wonderful and professional - she actually cleared Brian of a separate charge in the past that he had been accused of and I have every belief she will handle this situation the same.

Yet I am being pushed to the point that I have considered a civil suit against Sgt. Thornton - but I feel it would be more effective if others would contact me or you and come forward with their problems with the man; as a group we are certainly more powerful and believable.

Thornton's torment of inmates and their loved ones can not be tolerated; even in the most trivial matters. My biggest fear is that if these small things go unnoticed then eventually it will turn into a more severe issue - we don't need a replay of Frank Valdes.

Erin Proctor,  ProctorE@aetna.com
jacksonville dental ACAS

Proposed Routine Mail Rule # 33_210.101 is just that:
A proposed rule that walks all over the first amendment rights of free citizens. 
http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/starke/penfriendban.html


 If you have information about Baker CI contact either Erin or myself:
Kay Lee


NOTICE HAS BEEN SENT TO (among others):

OFFICIALS:

FDOC Louis Vargas, Legal Affairs of DOC Vargas.Louis@mail.dc.state.fl.us
FDOC Complaints complaints@mail.dc.state.fl.us

FDOC Celeste Kemp, Inmate Grievances kemp.celeste@MAIL.DC.STATE.FL.US
FDOC Central Visiting cva@mail.dc.state.fl.us
FDOC Peggy Ball, Communications, Office of Exec Affairs Ball.Peggy@mail.dc.state.fl.us
FDOC Public Affairs publicaffairs@mail.dc.state.fl.us

FL Assistant General Counsel to Gov Wendy Berger BergerW@eog.state.fl.us
FL Insp Gen Marsha Cooke Fl_govig@eog.state.fl.us
FL Leg Sally Heyman heyman.sally@leg.state.fl.us
FL Leg Cindy Lerner lerner.cindy@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Alcee Hastings (D-FL) alcee.pubhastings@mail.house.gov
FL Rep Alex Villalobos villalobos.alex.web@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Burt Saunders saunders.burt.web@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Charlie Justice justice.charlie@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Debbie Schultz schultz.debbie.web@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Frank Peterman peterman.frank@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Frederica S. Wilson wilson.frederica@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Gus Bilirakis bilirakis.gus@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Jim Sebesta sebesta.jim.web@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Lois Frankel frankel.lois@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep Mike Haridopolos haridopolos.mike@leg.state.fl.us
FL Rep. John Mica John.Mica@mail.house.gov
FL Sec State: Katherine Harris secretary@mail.dos.state.fl.us
FL Sen. ROD SMITH smith.rod.web@leg.state.fl.us
FDLE PUBLIC INFO info@fdle.state.fl.us

BAKER CI
P.O. Box 500
U.S. 90
Sanderson, Florida 32087-0500

(386) 719-4500
Suncom: 885-4500
FAX: (386) 758-5759
BAKER WARDEN Thomas Fortner bakerci@mail.dc.state.fl.us

Chaplain's Office
(386) 719-4615

REGION II OFFICES
P. O. Box 718
Lake Butler, Florida 32054-0628

(386) 496-6700
Suncom: 883-6700
FAX: (386) 496-6716

James Crosby  Secretary FL DOC

Brad Carter  Region II Director
Ron D. Jones, Assistant Warden Region II
Gary Gullic, Correctional Services Administrator Region II
Annette Rolling, Correctional Services Administrator Region II

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BAKER CI
SECOND COMPLAINT
MTWT PRISON INDEX