No new members seen for Geoghan probe panel
By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 9/2/2003
The administration's conflicting statements on the makeup of the panel brought new criticism yesterday from a lawyer for prisoners and from a representative of the prison guards' union.
Geoghan's slaying in a protective custody unit of a maximum-security prison on Aug. 23 led Edward A. Flynn, the state secretary of public safety, to appoint the investigative team two days later. As a member of the Romney cabinet, Flynn oversees the Department of Correction, the State Police, and other state law enforcement agencies.
The panel is chaired by Mark Delaney, a State Police major, and includes Mark Reilly, the Department of Correction chief of investigations, and George Camp, a nationally known corrections specialist whose company has worked in Massachusetts.
"I don't believe the members of this group can answer the legitimate question the public has about what's being done to prevent this from happening again," said Stephen Crawford, spokesman for the 5,000-member Massachusetts Correctional Officers Federated Union. "You've got a veteran cop who reports to Flynn, the head of investigations who reports to the corrections commissioner, and a consultant who works under contract."
Crawford added yesterday that the panel's composition made it "an internal investigation" rather than an outside review.
James R. Pingeon, director of litigation for the Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services, said Reilly is in charge of investigating brutality complaints lodged against guards by inmates.
"Our experience is that corrections give their guards every conceivable benefit of the doubt and resolve all factual disputes in favor of the guards," he said. "So we don't have a lot of confidence in Reilly's operation."
Pingeon said Camp once appeared as an expert witness for the Department of Correction in a court case challenging the use of long-term segregation of inmates. He said the state Supreme Judicial Court eventually ruled against the correction department in holding the practice to be unconstitutional. "It didn't give me a great deal of confidence in Mr. Camp," he said.
Camp did not respond to requests for an interview on Friday. Last night, a call to his home was not returned. Reilly declined to comment last week. Last night, Kelly Nantel, a corrections spokeswoman, said Reilly "does very fair and thorough investigations. Mr. Delaney and the governor have the utmost confidence in his ability."
Delaney said Saturday his 29 years of experience as an investigator would be brought to bear "to separate fact from fiction" in the Geoghan case. Delaney said he has no affiliation with the Department of Correction and would conduct an unbiased investigation.
David Shaw, a Flynn spokesman, said last week in an interview with the Globe that someone independent would be added to the panel. He said Flynn had intended from the very beginning to add an independent member, and cited his conversations with Flynn as well as a statement Flynn made at a news conference on Aug. 25.
"I'm going to announce the members of this team," Flynn said at the press conference. "Other investigators will be assigned as is necessary. But these will be the lead investigators."
Christine M. Cole, Flynn's deputy chief of staff, said the three-member panel was an "outside" group because only Reilly works as a Department of Correction employee. She said Flynn never intended to increase the size of the panel.
"Two of the three panel members are unrelated to the Department of Correction," she said.
She said Delaney "is someone described as a man of professionalism and integrity. I have no reason to believe, nor are there any marching orders, that they may tone down their discoveries." To date, Delaney has named two new members of the team -- both veteran State Police investigators. Cole said those investigators act as staff to the panel, rather than as members of the panel itself.
"It has always been our intention to go wherever the review takes us," Cole said yesterday, "and to bring appropriate individuals in for review of specific information as is warranted."
Crawford said yesterday investigators must question why top corrections officials sent Geoghan to the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski prison in April, even though it meant overruling a recommendation from corrections officials at the medium-security facility in Concord who said Geoghan should remain there.
Sean P. Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org