Alaska DOC Coverup: The Story of Wesley Shandy’s Death, an Alaskan Inmate at GEO Group’s Hudson CO Prison

Note to whoever screwed around with my blog again, you are being tracked.  Interesting it seemed to happen on the day I sent all of my links and this autopsy report I will be discussing to Senator French's staff. A link I had on my list to send them was also deleted. Piss ant.

Hudson Prison in Colorado
The information below I have sat on for years. This is due to not knowing how the family felt and allowing for grieving time. Right now is the right time to do this considering there is finally a hearing about some deaths of inmates, so here goes. It took considerable effort on my part to get what I could. There is no doubt people will be angry with me for posting this, but what was wrong with the news media of Alaska in 2010 who did not get this information and write articles? I asked them to, just like I tried to tell them my story and got lied to. I apologize to the family, please forgive me the people need to know the truth. The DOC can take their anger and put it where the sun don't shine. I surround myself with your anger and it tells me who I am.

Wesley Shandy an Alaskan inmate died at the GEO/Cornell private Hudson prison in Weld County Colorado in August of 2010. On the day he and his girlfriend announced their engagement he drove an ATV intoxicated into a body of water and she died. He loved her and her family has stated they consider her death an accident and that Wesley was a part of their family. Shandy was sentenced to 16 years for her death. He had a long history of chemical dependency and some of the problems it causes, both behaviorally and health-wise, along with multiple criminal charges. More information here and here.

At first when Wesley was found down and they claimed he died in an ambulance the DOC said they were sending someone to investigate. Then their next statement was it would take about a month to get the toxicology report back (it takes two weeks). That was BS for delaying purposes, they wanted time for the public and news media to forget about his death which worked, nothing was ever written about his death in the news media in Alaska again after about two articles, but I never forgot or stopped caring. I also know to never believe anything anyone at the DOC says due to their pathological lying. The truth is they knew what happened from almost the beginning. It was clear to me something was being covered up.

After making phone calls to ask questions, leaving messages that were not returned and speaking to administrative personnel who were playing games I sent a public information request. These two letters were the result. My public information requests to the DOC were met with their usual roadblocks.

The article in the Alaska Dispatch News today about the cost and the hoops they make people jump through trying to get information about what happened to an inmate who dies is right on the money. This is an excellent article and I love that it was published right as I planned to post this information, good timing. The DOC blocks information with their stonewalling and then make the costs of getting it huge. It's their system of public information suppression. The only thing that can be done in the end is to use the court system, but when one can't afford an attorney it makes the whole process even more difficult. They are expert at the DOC with playing twisted games, but much of that is assisted by the Department of Law. The DOL spends a great deal of time blocking citizens of this state from finding out the truth about real operations in Alaskan government, helping them go after those who would tell the truth and protecting them from litigation because rather than work for the people, they work for the governor, corporate interests and the agencies. 

After the lies and stonewalling of Alaska my next step was public records requests in Colorado which were a partial success. At that time I did not really understand just how Alaska laws allow the government to cover up wrongdoing by keeping information secret that other states have made public to prevent corruption and identify problems. Banana republics hide information that allows the public to understand the truth about their operations. That information helps citizens work to stop wrongdoing because a democracy allows citizens access to information to prevent government corruption. 

Even in the states like Alaska that consider autopsies to be medical information why is there not a committee separate from the DOC that reviews them and medical records of current inmates or receives complaints from inmates and their families about health care issues? WHY? Why can't families communicate their concerns or provide information about their family member's health needs, why can't inmates do this themselves? If they did have such a committee would it just have political appointees who do whatever those in power want? Would they have some radical religious beliefs with a bit of crazy?

When the coroner in Colorado asked me why I wanted the autopsy I told him I was a prison reform activist in Alaska, the only one I knew of working all by myself with resistance on both sides of the political spectrum. He told me his office would never participate in any cover up. Good for them and the people of Colorado for allowing the truth to be told through their good public information laws. Gee, I wish I lived in a state where autopsy reports could be obtained by the public and more importantly journalists so the Department of Corrections/DOL/governor would be forced to stop killing people through medical neglect/abuse and covering it up with BS/lies. It's a dream I have because I know how many are being harmed right now at this very second psychologically, physically and through medical neglect/malpractice. 

Only part of the autopsy report is being included here, there were over ten pages, most of it was the Toxicology report that those who are not familiar with them won't understand. In fact after decades of reading tox. screens I misinterpreted something. I will paraphrase some of it for better understanding. Wesley Shandy had Hepatitis C, renal disease and of course a history of chemical dependency. He had acute bronchopneumonia and pulmonary edema which appears to have been secondary to aspirating gastric contents when he became unconscious, at least that is what I assume. He had some blunt force injuries which perhaps were from falling upon becoming unconscious, possible seizure activity, CPR, intubation, etc. It is hard to say without pictures or a body map of where they all are what all of the contusions were from, but none were determined to be contributory to his death.

What did contribute to his death were drugs, an amazingly large amount of narcotics obtained while he was incarcerated. I saw no indication of antivirals for the Hepatitis C which is a very common health problem in prisons. They of course have limited access to syringes and share them for drug use. Hep C is only transferred blood to blood.
Getting information from law enforcement in Colorado about the report from their investigation of the scene was not possible and they played games similar to what Alaska law enforcement agencies do when they get public records request. There is however something from the autopsy report which is different than what the news in Alaska described. Shandy was said to be found down in his cell and they always stated he had a cellmate in the news. I don't know which version is correct, but the coroner had the Colorado law enforcement reports of the incident, "For further details, please see the investigative record."

Shandy was pronounced dead in an ambulance at 1:30 AM, but would have been found down or passed out not too long before that and was in someone else's cell. Note the coroner who had access to the police reports does not say he died in the ambulance, he was found dead in the cell which is not quite the story the Alaska DOC told. Why is an inmate in another inmate's cell so late at night? Perhaps he was in a low risk section of the prison where it is more like a dorm. Those other individuals who bring drugs into prisons are generally corrections officers, but can be other staff. All this time I assumed the lack of information meant that was just what happened.

Today while doing research I was trying to find old Anchorage Daily News articles which BTW I mostly did not find. I assume this is due to the merger of ADN and Alaska Dispatch. This interesting
Don't know the route he used.
article published on December 17th 2010 in Colorado explains what caused Shandy's death. Wesley Shandy’s cellmate James Stanley was accused of giving him the Heroin that killed him. Jessica Rehn was apparently receiving it by mail and then carried it into the prison in her bra giving it to James Stanley her boyfriend. If this was published in Alaska I do not see how I would have missed it.
Oh, but wait, that is not the whole story about the drugs he had on board.

This is the first page of the report with a summary of what was found and a conclusion:

Most likely type of cocaine, but don't know.
The morphine was metabolized by his body from Heroin. Shandy also had a bindle of Heroin found in his sock. Benzoylecgonine is a metabolite of cocaine. The urine tox. screen shows cannabinoids as positive, but the blood tox. screen shows it as negative (more accurate), either way it had nothing to do with his death of course. The lab results below show Oxycodone which is the main ingredient in Percoset or the more likely Oxycontin. The opiates that are positive are simply the narcotics.

This is the blood tox. screen which shows much of the same as the urine tox. screen with the addition of Codeine.

So the tally is Cocaine, Heroin, Codeine and Oxycodone. The above article about the drugs being carried in did not mention any other drugs than the two balloons of Heroin smuggled into the prison and then when they searched her car they found more Heroin, no Codeine, no Oxycontin, no Cocaine. Those corrections officers are not off the hook and this may well be why this information was covered up in Alaska. Hah!

There was no testing for other medications which might have been given by the prison system, but they should have the records of that. I am puzzled that the coroner did not have any of that information included in the autopsy report. Was Wesley Shandy getting meds for Hepatitis C? There are generally two or three they take. Like the Alaska prison system do they not even bother to do basic blood work on inmates so they don't know their health problems?

Why did the DOC not want us to know how Wesley Shandy died? Because the investigation shows a typical GEO Group animal house prison with drugs being delivered in large quantities from more than one source and there had already been huge problems before this happened at Hudson. Remember the riot due to the doors opening at 1:30 AM. They are covering their own incompetence and protecting the state government along with protecting their buddies at Cornell/GEO who BTW have crappy half-way houses in Alaska. Cornell merged into GEO, you know how corporations keep morphing when they get a bad rep. Whatever the Cornell/Geo Corp. wants to call themselves they have shown us who they are a long time ago including when they were Wackenhut.  

Check this out for GEO Group history. There is much information about their prison operations including this unbelievable story of abuse and rapes of youths in a prison that was run by GEO:

Federal Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that the youth prison "has allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk."

BenzoylecgonineIn the past I misinterpreted the results to mean he had Tricyclics and Phenothiazines on board. I realize now he dis not. What I would be very interested in is what medications they were giving him for his health problems, but an autopsy is only concerned with the cause of death.
It is certainly not unusual to find drugs in a prison, but the number of different types found in Shandy’s tox screens is indicative of a massively mismanaged prison. Anyone who knows anything about Cornell/GEO knows they pay their staff poorly and give them little training. They are a private prison corporation whose agenda is making money, not rehabilitation, chemical dependency treatment, healthy food, inmate safety, inmate health, or doing what is in the interest of the public as a whole. But, then that is no different than the prison system in Alaska. The making money part in Alaska comes in when funds are not put in the budget to run the prison system properly and meet the needs of the human beings housed there, but tax breaks are given to oil companies.

It is interesting to note how our country pushes their war on drugs, even giving the president of Mexico lots of tax dollars to encourage him to send his federal police out to brutalize citizens and stir up the drug cartels. The Mexican police who sometimes work as hit men against the Mexican citizens are now at war with the federal police which results in more people being killed. Some of our corporations have been hired to assist them. They do all of this which does not work and then do next to nothing to keep drugs out of prisons. It is mind boggling. They know the drugs are mostly brought in by corrections officers, but there are others who also bring them in. Why do they allow this? They limit medications which they feel could be used to get high or sedated while saying this is to prevent addiction, but why bother when the prison is apparently as full of drugs as an opium den in China in the 19th century? The reason this goes on is some are making a lot of money, some are getting sexual favors and some are getting paid to look the other way.

It is easy to act as a drug dealer for inmates, after all they have captive consumers with many who are already addicts and are living in hell possibly with an untreated mental health problem or physical health problem, looking for a way to ease the pain, self medication. When people have used drugs and alcohol a long time, especially if they started in their youth they need a period of time protected from them to detox or a gradual weaning off of them. During this period of time they should get healthy food, appropriate health care, exercise and education about what being healthy actually is. 

There is no compassion or recognition that inmates are human beings by the DOC, the government of Alaska and a large percentage of the population. Many who end up in the prison system have had difficult childhoods, trauma, mental illnesses or long term addiction issues. It seems obvious to me that helping them to become the best they can be rather than destroying them would be the top priority. Instead the system makes people sicker through different types of torture and neglect. It could be you imprisoned (as I found out it can happen wrongfully), your child, your friend would you want them treated this way or would you like to give them a chance at life. The addicted and mentally ill should not be in prisons to begin with unless a violent crime is committed and even then medication can change that behavior. When we help others we help ourselves. 

People are imprisoned for using drugs, but then can get more in prison than they could ever get on the street. The right wingers scream about protecting the border waving their guns around and our country is fighting the crazy war on drugs which results in many people in another country either dying or having their lives destroyed, yet they can’t even keep drugs from getting into a well protected building so the people housed there can heal and grow. It is a system of insanity.


Unknown said...

I was there when wes died . it was gross. It took 30 minutes of pounding on the door and screaming to even get a CO in the mod then he didn't want to open the door and stated he didn't know how to give cpr. I'd say about an hour till medical got there. He didn't have to die. He was my friend .

Celia Harrison said...

If you are for real this is why the AK DOC, GEO and law enforcement in Colorado were very evasive and failed to respond to FOIA requests. I would love to have more information if you would like to talk about what happened let me know.

tracy boyd said...

Hi Celia and 1st Responder,
Thank you for looking after Wesley, your research and dedication to writing the articles, your efforts mean a lot to me, more than words could describe.
I grew up with Wesley when we were kids, I am 9 month older than Wes. I remember when we were little kids and up to teenagers, long time ago, back then in a faraway place called Kapowsin. A small town just 30 miles SW of Mt Rainier, with a big lake, several resorts, a general store, fire station, laundry mat, a town grange and a tavern, just below Eatonville, WA. Wes and I went to grade school and lived about ½ mile apart. I remember Wesley very well, he was a good person, full of life, adventurous, caring and thoughtful. Wes cared for his friends, actually to be more accurate, he care for all people in general, it’s who he was and wanted to be. He was brave and would protect the more defenseless and younger kids at school and on the school bus when bully’s pushed little kids around. He was not always recognized as a protector by the school staff…cause the bullies were good at hiding their torturous behaviors…Wesley would just get blamed for bad behavior, when actually he was merely defending others in every account I can recall. He would stand up to wrong doing, his timing was not always the best…I remember watching a 6th grade school teacher (6’2” grown man) slam Wesley’s head “Full on” into a desk top, very sad… seemed like nobody was watching out for Wes, certainly needed a medic that day, yet was put on the school bus to go home, 45 min ride, swollen blue with forehead injury. Wes didn’t have a lot financially growing up and those times were not easy. He had chores, fire wood, feed the farm animal and clean things, then he could go work on his bicycle or run around with us to the nearby little Kapowsin store. We had a lot of fun, for years, riding bikes and dirt bikes, Wes was an avid off road motorcycle rider since we were kids. However, I’m not sure what happened to Wes in those days…he just up and moved away one day.
I just wanted to say I know his instinctive nature from a child was not to hurt people but to care for them, I don’t know what happen in 1988 pertaining to the story line in Redmond where he was sentenced for killing a drug dealer, but somehow I want to believe it was circumstances for someone else’s problem...Wes was probably trying to help, IDK. I find a heart wrenching story turn into a horrible situation with his fiancé, Roxanne Herndon passing. The circumstances just not good for their family, and hear in time of grieving, Wesley convicted of intent to hurt her…especially during the celebration of life’s engagement? So sad, super sad, the Judge and Prosecutor have difficult jobs to do…maybe hardened hearts over the years IDK, but the instinctive child inside that I had known as Wesley Shandy…would have been a hero for trying to save her from the river after an accident happened.
I can only imagine, how many people in prison have a shit deal, don’t have a fair shake at actually being known for their good inside and person they are and have done for others. Then it’s the depression, remorse, the sad sickening invitation to self-medicate in lock-up with street drugs. Ya the ring leaders (prison staff) want to circulate this poison for power trips, few bucks and wagering bets for mind control throughout an animal house of horror. While neglecting and squandering real potentials to help those who feel for their losses, people like Wesley who would step up to help them if the tables were turned and they were victims of being bullied.
I am sad to hear my ole’ friend from a child, Wesley Shandy’s fate, His lovey fiancé’ Roxanne terrible celebration crash, with a court system whom ignores families pleading for lenience in the difficult time of loss…to end up serving under a bunch of liars and cheats at the Department of Corrections,
Is there any good news or good happenings about Wesley and his family you can share with me?

Celia Harrison said...

tracy boyd, Thank you for the information about Wes's past. I have no new information. I made sure all of this information got to a state senator who had an non-committee hearing about the problems with the DOC in Alaska. I lived in WA for over twenty years and wish to go back so familiar with the area you discussed somewhat, mostly lived in Pierce County. Wes's girlfriend's family stated they loved Wes and knew it was an accident. There is little justice in Alaska and a lot of players who are corrupt. The problem was the multiple issues he had already when sentenced. In Alaska people don't get help when they need it eventually ending up in the abusive prison system which destroys them. A large number of them in Alaska are Native. Yes the staff at the DOC were very corrupt and incompetent. The new commissioner has still no fired someone who was a huge problem and people are continuing to die.