From Shannon Heffernan of WBEZ, the family of the now deceased Larry Earvin are suing the guards at Western Illinois Correctional Center for their role in his death. From the article, “Larry Earvin died after an “altercation” with prison staff last May, according to coroner’s records obtained by WBEZ. Earvin had 15 rib fractures and multiple abrasions and hemorrhages. He died from blunt trauma to the chest and abdomen. The coroner ruled his death a homicide.” The lawsuit alleges that the guards in their beating of Earvin were intending not to restore order, but to inflict a cruel beating on a defenseless human being. The lawsuit also notes that poor treatment of inmates by guards is common and that Earvin’s beating and subsequent death are symptoms of a diseased system. Per Heffernan, a number of the staff involved have been put on leave. “According to documents obtained by WBEZ, four prison staff members were placed on leave following the incident: Sgt. Willie Hedden, Lts. Benjamin Burnett and Blake Haubrich, and Correctional Officer Alex Banta. According to the the Illinois Department of Corrections, they remain on leave.” The FBI claims it’s investigating the incident, which is the excuse the Department of Corrections used when it refused to release video and documents about the case. However, according to Heffernan, “WBEZ appealed to the attorney general’s public access counselor, who determined IDOC was not complying with the Freedom of Information Act when it withheld reports about Earvin’s death.”
I truly hope that Larry Earvin’s family wins this lawsuit against the shameful prison staff of the Western Illinois Correctional Center. Making the whole situation all the more tragic, is the fact that Larry Earvin was a 65 year old human being being held in prison for theft of less than $300! He was due to be let out in a few months. Poor treatment of prisoners is wrong regardless of what those prisoners did, but the context of Earvin’s crime makes it hard not to feel pure sadness and disgust at his murder. Make no mistake, this is a homicide and the people responsible deserve to be in jail. Unfortunately in this country, law enforcement are more likely to get paid leave for murdering someone rather than being forced to face the consequences of their actions. There’s no doubt that many security guards are just decent humans going about their jobs but there is also no doubt that abuse towards inmates is a systemic issue that plagues the whole countries prison system. Inmates are seen by the public as seemingly less than human, like iron bars are the great divider between who is worthy of rights and who isn’t.
Well, Larry Earvin was a human being who loved and was loved, and he deserved much better than 15 fractured ribs and death from the cowards who ganged up on him and ended his life. He deserved better than, and he deserves justice now.
by Jake Morask