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A Judge Said To A Jury, "A Prisoner Who Thinks He's In Danger Has The Right To Carry A Weapon" PDF Print E-mail


        Working in a prison system for almost three-decades, I had many thoughts and opinions when I read this article on a judge’s decision in a death penalty case involving two inmates. I was appalled by her lack of knowledge in prison violence, which has reached an all time high in prison history. When violent inmates commit a crime in prison and end up hurting or killing other inmates and/or prison staff; they should not have their punishment reduced to a lesser charge.                       
        Here we are living in the richest and most educated advanced technological society in the world. And prisons have been in existence for over one-hundred-and-fifty-years, costing taxpayers’ billions of dollars to build, secure and maintain them in a professional fashion at all times. How could these experienced and professional prison bureaucrats keep spending taxpayers’ money without challenging such a horrible and unprofessional decision made by this judge?
        In October of 2006, Judge Pamela L. North from Annapolis Maryland was performing her official duties in a death penalty case, which involved two inmates,  Robert Lee McFarlin, 27, who stabbed to death another inmate Damon Bowie, 33, five-times on the sidelines of a basketball game in the prison with a eight-and-half-inch Smith & Wesson Knife with a three-and-a-half inch blade. This is one of the most dangerous contraband weapons in any prison. I believe that McFarlin had this shank (knife) hidden for many months from prison security at the Maryland House of Corrections.
        On October 2, 2006 McFarlin testified in court that there was a “hit” out on him and he stabbed Bowie in self-defense, because he “believed” that Bowie was going to attack him. This is a very high security and dangerous prison. And like all prisons they have many thugs and gangsters that control prison population and prey on the weak for their pleasure. You must keep in mind, that violent inmates not only attack other inmates, but will think nothing of attacking prison staff and throwing bodily fluids on them for revenge or pleasure.
        Another major point in today’s prisons, we have many administrative leaders who have turned into political followers, who worry more about pleasing their superiors and prisoners’ rights than prison safety.  
        McFarlin was already serving 100 years for heinous crimes and during the trial the judge made an appalling decision and passed it on to the jury,
A Prisoner Who Thinks He’s In Danger Has A Right To Carry A Weapon”  McFarlin escaped the death penalty and got 30 more years on top of the 100 years he’s now already serving. This decision must have sent a lot of those law-enforcement, prison officials, and staff sitting in the courtroom to a stressful boiling point.  
        What keeps going through my mind is that the taxpayers’ have no say in decisions made by judges or any other prison official, but they must keep paying for the approximately 900 criminals coming into our prison systems every week. Forty percent of these criminals have medical problems depending on how sick these new criminals are and with the ones already sick in prisons, it costs taxpayers’ between 35,000 dollars to 70,000 dollars a year to incarcerate one prisoner.
        The remarks made by Assistant Public Defender William M. David, says it all! “There’s a lot of shanks in that prison, and to say that anyone prisoner has to walk around there knowing there’s a hit out on them and arm themselves is kind of silly.”
        Then we have the State’s Attorney Frank R. Weatherbee, who said to the jury, judge, many civilians, and law-enforcement officials sitting quietly in the courtroom, “it makes no sense to give that instruction” (I believe he was talking about the judge’s remark to the jury about inmates carrying weapons to defend themselves). Then Mr. Weatherbee made another remark that went somewhat like this, ‘David McGuinn, a correctional officer who was killed on July of that year at the same Maryland House of Corrections was unarmed as are all guards.’
        The father of the inmate stabbed to death Mr. Bowie, who has seven children, was also disappointed in the judge’s instructions to the jury about inmates’ weapons. He said, “In there, (prisons) you don’t have that right,” and he continued to say, “They’re not just anybody-they’re inmates. They’re in there for a crime.” Then Mr. Bowie’s father indicated that he believes his son was targeted because other inmates believed he was involved in a 2002 killing of an inmate, even though an investigation had clear him, prosecutors didn’t argue a specific motive.
        Can you imagine how the father of inmate Bowie felt when he spoke to the nine jurors, which then indicated, that the prosecutors wanted to convict on first-degree murder. There were three jurors holding out who wanted to convict on manslaughter, so they compromised on second-degree murder.
        Our prisons are breeding grounds for dangerous criminals and no one judge or lawmakers should ever indicate that prisoners, who are out of control and hiding behind their rights, should carry any contraband, including weapons to kill, in any prison system, even to protect themselves. That’s why we have security correctional officers on duty.
        If you have any comment you can e-mail me at
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or   This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it        From time to time you can check my Website to read more posted opinions on prisons and our Judicial System.        
John J. Pecchio