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Jan-25-2010 23:48printcomments

White Inmate's Shoulder Injury Means 70 Months for Black Prison Guard

There is a strong rumor in Salem that up until the early 1960's, signs stood at each end of town reading, "Welcome to Salem, 99% White". I think it is really a fact, but I have never seen the signs; my understanding is that they still exist.

Black man in prison
Courtesy: impactlab.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - (Update: We have been advised that the individual in this story received a substantially lesser sentence than anticipated, involving only probation.)

Advocates for a former African-American Oregon corrections officer, say a recent court decision in Marion County rings of older times, when racism was practiced openly and at will in Salem. This story involves a black corrections officer who injured an inmate as he defused a racially-motivated fight between convicts in the Oregon State Correctional Institute, where he was employed.

On behalf of an inmate serving prison time, the local court convicted Jamin Dumas, a 60-year old father of eight with a nineteen year record of excellence with Oregon Corrections, of second-degree assault. The minimum sentence means just under five years in prison.

"Mandatory minimums" as they are called, are a method prosecutors exploit to take power away from elected judges. Many people believe the laws border on fascist, and are unfairly used to keep more young black American men in prison, than in college. It's been going on for years, along with the ruling class decimation of the middle class. Racism takes on some strange faces, but just like the constant anti-Obama rhetoric, the disguise does little to skew the true motivations.

The damage inflicted by this officer? I expected to read about an inmate with with his head split open, some type of egregious injury. But instead I learned that one white racist came out of it with a shoulder injury.

According to testimony, this inmate at OSCI was angry because he had to listen to an African/American guard, and because he had to wait to go to the prison yard, so he took a swing at the black officer, and everything spun out of control from there, sort of. Last time I checked, prisons are full of murderers and rapists and violent individuals.

The only thing really spinning out of control, it seems, is the system that this state imposes.

As the Crow Flies

Oregon courts have this inmate's six. Apparently his rights vastly outweigh those of the black officer who he attacked. Jim Crow would be pleased. It may be hard for some to believe, but this state has a deeply rooted history of affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, and many high level state officials in the past were connected. For some it is not hard to believe.

I'm not suggesting that the court officers are hanging out in white hoods on Saturday nights, but a few decades ago they were, and only idiots forget things like that. They should have considered how this seemingly ridiculous case would appear to the fairly decent, somewhat educated residents of this state, and every other state for that matter.

William Coleman is one of Mr. Dumas' advocates who contacted Salem-News about the plight of this man. He says it was almost two years ago, in May of 2008, when this Oregon State Correctional officer with a 19-year exemplary record, had to make a quick decision to stop a racially motivated disturbance among some inmates.

Coleman said, "The inmate was injured because he had to be restrained, due to his attempted assault upon the officer. The officer was immediately placed on administrative leave, pending charges of Assault 2 which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 70 months in prison."

Coleman says many fellow officers, friends and family, as well as experts, rallied to assist, as well as to give testimony at his trial.

"Unfortunately even though most of the evidence, except for the inmate's testimony, pointed toward the officer's innocence, the ruling was that he was guilty of Assault-2 and official misconduct."

It is a fact that Oregon will roll up its corrections officers without much hesitation, whereas street police officers, deputies and troopers almost always evade responsibility for injuries they inflict on suspects[1]. Ironically, they typically overuse the term "officer safety". I gather that officer safety is not a priority at OSCI. Some consistency would be good here.

I find it disturbing that this individual would actually be looking at several years in prison. If a person assaults any police officer on the street, they are instantly looking at years behind bars. State law penalties for assaulting an officer mean police are worth more as human beings, quite literally, than we are. Apparently they're also worth quite a bit more than the uniformed officers in our state prisons. There does not appear to be any type of similar standard in play in this case.

Coleman says the officer's family has been devastated, as well as their friends and those who worked with him.

He says Jamin Dumas did everything within the scope of his employment, and should have been commended for doing a good job in preventing a situation from turning volatile, instead he was punished.

"This man in his 60's, a father of eight, has lost his job and career at an age where an alternative career is doubtful and employment is problematic."

He says Dumas' great reputation, his ability to pay into his retirement fund, his health insurance, and now his freedom itself, are threatened at a time when he should be looking forward to a happy, healthy retirement.

May 21, 2008

Dumas explains that on the day in question, he had just returned from lunch, where he worked in a 120-man housing unit at OSCI, with two lower tiers and two upper tiers.

"There is a left side, bottom and top, and a right side bottom and top tier. The left side of this unit houses most of the inmates that are released from the Disciplinary Segregation Unit," Dumas explained.

When the incident happened, Dumas was in the 'officers’ area' where the bar box is located, which is the box containing the buttons to open and close the cells.

There were approximately ten inmates who entered the unit, from the corridor, after returning from lunch, he said. Most of these inmates resided on the bottom left side of the unit.

One inmate who is white, walked up to Dumas asking why he couldn't go to the yard, with a spew of profanity underscoring his annoyance.

The officer says he ordered the inmate to proceed to his cell and again the prisoner stated "this is bullsh*t, I don’t know why I have to suffer for these other guys."

Dumas says he told the inmate that he could go to the yard at 1:20 pm which was approximately 30 minutes away.

"He said, while glaring at me in a hostile manner, 'this is bullsh*t I want to go to the yard.' I ordered him to go to his cell. There were other inmates starting to mill around the officers' area and observing this inmate's actions. I told all inmates to go to their cells, 'go to your cells now, gentlemen.' Several of them began to ask me questions regarding different topics. I informed them that I did not have the time, at the moment, to answer any questions."

He says the disruptive inmate proceeded down the tier toward his cell, which was one or two cells from the end of the tier, while saying “this is bullsh*t, that guy is f*cked up, this cop is stupid.” Dumas says the man's anger rose as he continued to lash out verbally at Dumas.

The inmate walked to the cell, where another white inmate was conversing with the disruptive inmate. In Dumas' opinion, this inmate was trying to stir the first, who was already clearly agitated.

Dumas says he tried to reason with the inmate, who then began to say, "I hate all you f*cking niggers. I hate all you nigger bitches."

Dumas says the man continued by saying, "If my granddaddy were around he would take a whip to all of you and beat the skin off your backs," adding that the man said, "I hate all niggers."

About that time, according to Dumas, a group of African/American inmates were beginning to congregate because the white inmate was now expanding his hateful comments to all African/Americans.

Dumas said, "I noticed that an African/American inmate had approached the white disruptive inmate and was angry with him about his racist comments and he had his fists up ready to assault the white inmate. There were at least seven inmates on the tier at the time, with some cell doors still open."

I can only imagine what was going through the mind of Jamil Dumas at this time. He knew that gangs in his unit included Crips, Bloods, Skinheads, Black Gorilla Family, International Peckerwood Syndicate, etc. He says he knew that it could erupt into an all-out racial incident at any time. The state of Oregon is going to make Dumas pay big for what seems like more than reasonable behavior.

"In the back of my mind was the fact that there had been a racial riot at another Oregon prison a few weeks previous. I quickly turned around to head back toward the disruptive inmate’s cell, while ordering the African/American inmate to go to his cell, when I noticed the officer who had relieved me for lunch, had shown up in response to my call for backup."

He says he continued to order the African/American inmate to return to his cell, but he and the disruptive inmate continued to prepare to fight.

"When I had almost reached the two inmates, the African/American inmate stepped back from the white inmate’s cell. When I arrived, I stepped across the threshold of the disruptive inmate’s cell, to stand between the two inmates and also to talk to the disruptive inmate to try to calm him down, in an effort to get him to stop his racial tirade."

The inmate who used the Oregon courts to convict Dumas, reportedly then threw a punch at the officer with his right hand, which Dumas blocked with his upper left arm.

"I immediately reached under his upper right arm with my right arm and placed my right palm in the back of his neck while pulling the left side of his back toward me and placed my left arm under his left arm and put him a full nelson position to restrain him. He continued to struggle and I forced him over the stool and the desk in the cell. I grabbed a hold of his hair with my right hand in order to maintain control. In a matter of seconds, I heard the Corridor Sergeant, who had also arrived in response to my backup call, indicate that he was there and that I could release the inmate to him, which I did, without further incident."

Dumas is the only Oregon Corrections officer I know of that has received very questionable treatment from the state. I am sickened at what is taking place, and cannot imagine how or why this could going on in 2010. Is it an indirect message to black people from the core of Oregon's capitol city? I was astounded to learn by an Internet search that nobody has covered this case, and I am sorry that I am just coming in at the end of this part of it.

Fair?

In a world where police tase people to death fairly often, this person who had to deal with the worst dregs of society as a law enforcement official, has no choice but to watch the system he represented turn on him.

I was not able to determine if any white corrections officers in Oregon have ever been sent up the river without a paddle for assaulting a black inmate; we are looking into it.

Jamil Dumas is set to be sentenced early tomorrow morning.

[1] Evidence Disputed in Case Against Oregon Corrections Officers - Tim King Salem-News.com

=================================================
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Aaron February 5, 2010 4:58 am (Pacific time)

Wow, that backfired. I hope that does not discourage blacks from wanting to work there, and or protecting themselves.


Tony February 2, 2010 10:32 am (Pacific time)

Jim Crow alive and well in 2010 check out www.africanamericanblackgifts.com


Dallas January 29, 2010 9:41 am (Pacific time)

Editor I am also down with racial bigotry as are all the people I socialize with. It's been around I would imagine ever since people started to interract.


Dallas January 28, 2010 1:20 pm (Pacific time)

I have often read where sociologists, psychologists, and other so-called professionals, so state that when hate organizations, including even just individuals, preach contempt for other races that it can cause some to act out and attack other racial groups. Does this sound possible to anyone out there?

Editor: Life's a bitch when things don't stay under the radar there Dallas, you can try to construe your theories, all I can tell you is that I get really super pissed off about racial bigotry and I have a particular problem with white racists, because I am white, and it sickens me that people can't get past step one in this life.   


Fred Davis January 28, 2010 1:10 am (Pacific time)

I'm pretty sure you can find rumors about TONS of things, such as Elvis being alive, so lets face it, the part of the story with the 99% whites sign is totally irrelevent AND irresponsible. And saying someone's comments who took the time to read the article and give you their opinion are racist is just plain dumb. You are clearly not a journalist, buddy. Youre just an angry dude with a time consuming hobby. Clearly, there is more to this story if a judge found this man guilty and no media organization of any public standing (including local news)seems to be doing a "special investigation". You are just fanning the flames of racial tensions and trying to sensationalize a story. Now, i'm on your side in the thinking that guards have a very difficult job and should be given the benefit of the doubt, but other than that, this article is complete crap.


Stan January 27, 2010 6:56 am (Pacific time)

First off all. Cpl. Dumas was one of the most unprofessional Correctional Officers I have ever worked with. I recall countless interactions where Cpl. Dumas escalated a situation with his racist comments, foul language, and aggressive and hostile behavior. I can recall him cursing at a white Inmate telling him he was going to kick his ass because he was from New York and a Black Panther. Secondly, it takes an act of congress for a DOC Employee to get fired. Considering that there are facts left out of the story that proved Cpl. Dumas did over step his boundary's far outside of his scope of employment that not even the Union could protect him demonstrates that this isn't a racial issue. It is a person of authority abusing his position of power.


JB January 26, 2010 5:54 pm (Pacific time)

Seems like you have two black buddies in law enforcement who got in trouble in Salem and you are going to bat for them. Both these cases had to be indited by the Grand Jury before they went to trial. So to think that 7 members of the coummunity would indite these two because of their race is ubsurd.


Amanda B. January 26, 2010 5:28 pm (Pacific time)

I just recently learned about this story. My heart is deeply saddened for the Dumas Family. Up until this point I have wanted to be a part of the correctional system but to read what little support the system has for their officers leaves me wondering if that might one day be me in the court room fighting for my freedom! I spent four years in college learning ways to keep me safe and ahead of the inmates in there. It is extremely dishearting to see the system remove the protection of their officer that they themselves trained to remain safe and keep order in their prison


Ersun Warncke January 26, 2010 12:37 pm (Pacific time)

Jacob, let me tell you something about the legal system: Prosecutors charge a tiny fraction of the cases they have evidence on. The evidence that the jury hears is entirely dependent on the judge. The decision the jury makes is entirely dependent on the rules given to them by the judge. The rules given only allow one logical (legal) conclusion based on the evidence. The jury is a rubber stamp. Under the trial structure, the jury must act illogically if they are to reach a verdict that is different than the one reached by the judge. Since the judge is telling them exactly what to decide and how to decide it, this almost never happens. The term for this is "show trial." You tell me, what 12 people would you name yourself to judge your life under this legal system? Now think about having 12 people chosen by the lawyers (both prosecution and defense) out of a random pool. Would you want those people judging your life under these rules? I doubt it.


J+ January 26, 2010 12:35 pm (Pacific time)

Mr. Dumas chose to waive a jury trial, and pled his case directly to the Judge, who found ample evidence to convict him of both Assault-2 and Official Misconduct. This all occurs after the Police find probable cause (likely steeper when investigating their own side), and the District Attorney's office decides to pursue charges.  Perhaps you'd like to edit your article to accuse the Judge of being a Grand Dragon of the KKK. Or perhaps you should stop writing such ridiculous, inflammatory one-sided drivel.  Though this is to be expected from a man who counts Sterling Alexander among his friends (unless he was also an innocent victim convicted by the local Racist Justice system)
According to the Author, Mr. Dumas, as a 19-year DOC employee, was himself a part of the racist criminal justice system all these years. He must have got his job under Affermative Action, and not merit, right Tim? Surely a black man couldn't get a job fairly two decades ago if he can't get a fair trial today.  And surely all the White prisoners are guilty, since they had race on their side and still lost the case .. Are all incarcerated minorities innocent, or only the ones who worked in an official capacity (like Dumas and Alexander) before the closet Nazis saw a black man in a uniform in need of oppression?

Tim King: You're damned right I'm a friend of Sterling Alexander's, he's a good person who made a mistake but not at all to the extent that he was charged.  I doubt you really want me to open this one up; there was a great deal of impropriety on both sides of that story.  Anyway, this story reeks of racism and so does your post in many respects.  I'm just going to let it go at that,  I don't think you made any point at all, other than to corroborate several points in my story. 


Anonymous January 26, 2010 11:21 am (Pacific time)

If you want to review the racist past in Oregon, the below link to the Oregon Magazine provides an excellent overview. For some, you may not like that history, but if you want the truth it is an excellent read. http://oregonmag.com/OregonRacismTrib.htm


Jacob January 26, 2010 10:46 am (Pacific time)

An Oregon Corrections Officer is not a law enforcement officer, they have no police powers. This individual received a trial with a jury of his peers, and it was the jury that convicted him. Had there been serious irregularities this would have been on the national radar immediately, just like the Eugene Oregon conviction of an African-American convicted for sucker-punching and killing a caucasian. This is not racism, but when one avoids prosecuting or reporting on certain crimes because of race, then that is arguably something.

Tim King: Well you have faith in a system that I believe sometimes fails to merit that respect.  I presume the case you refer to at the end of your comment is the one involving Darrel Sky Walker?  Well, I have reported on that case multiple times and just one simple fact is that the court convicted him without even trying to locate a key witness.  My friend Sterling Alexander was able to find him on the first try.  I seriously doubt Walker was responsible for that, another incident that began with white racist comments.  


Jacob January 26, 2010 8:14 am (Pacific time)

I've lived in Salem all my life and know that there were never signs like that anywhere going back to the 1950's, nor have any people I know who even worked for DOT before that time heard of anything so absurd. There are a number of organizations here in Oregon that have been researching the history of blacks in Oregon and they have never produced any photographs of such signs, which would certainly exist if it was true. I have never even heard of this before so let's see some evidence rather than incindiary rumor and allegations. The trial results are one thing but to assume we living here would allow such signs is quite insulting and completely irresponsible.

Tim King: Jacob, how can you say the signs don't exist if you haven't heard of them?  Did you not see that I stated it was a rumor?  I did not state that it was fact, but hundreds of people are familiar with the story, so don't try to bust me too hard over that, OK?  I'm a former KATU photojournalist/reporter and people have shared a lot of sizzling information with me over the years.   


Jeff Kaye~ January 26, 2010 8:04 am (Pacific time)

This reeks of a systemic failure (to me), i.e., this black man's own employer turned on him. The racism must exist even (perhaps especially?) within the ranks of the correctional system. There's no way any charges would have been brought against this man, had his superiors backed him up the way they should have. A white man in that situation would've likely been commended for having averted a race riot. Something's rotten in the prison system, and it's not only the inmates. Racism is ugly, especially this type, exercised by a facility's management and a state's legal system. I would be interested in the views of Mr. Dumas' fellow officers, especially if any of them are also non-white. This could be a personal grudge; a one-time incident, or something far worse.


Oregon Reader January 26, 2010 7:23 am (Pacific time)

This presents his side of the story. Is the transcript from the trial available to hear what he was convicted of? I have a hard time believing that there was a conviction without something more happening.

Editor:  This arrived in the eleventh hour, we are continuing to investigate. 


douglas benson January 26, 2010 6:01 am (Pacific time)

He made someone in the system mad and I dont mean an inmate .I have personally seen much worse and the gaurds walk ,the old stair trip ,stop resisting ect . Second I find your comments about inmates offensive .This just shows that anyone can end up on the wrong side of the law .We need to change the assault laws in this state .


D. L. Smith January 26, 2010 12:40 am (Pacific time)

That is completely outrageous, what in the Hell is wrong with Oregon, after all of these years? Utter and total public image failure.


Josh A. January 26, 2010 12:12 am (Pacific time)

Jamil Dumas, would that have happened to a white officer? Very interesting about he 99% whites sign at the beginning. I'm going to see if I can confirm that independently. all I have to do is find some old people.

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