Saba family attorney speaks about DOC firings

- The Department of Corrections is taking severe action, firing more than two dozen employees after an investigation found they weren't doing their jobs. The investigation started after the suicides of two inmates. The family of one of those inmates has hired an attorney.

The attorney for Scott Saba's family watched a newly released video showing officers and nurses trying to resuscitate Saba, but the attorney says the video raises more questions than answers because it only shows what happened after guards found Saba unresponsive. The attorney believes that if the guards were properly watching Saba, they could have prevented his death.

Attorney Scott Zwillinger viewed video too graphic for TV. He is representing the family of Scott Saba, the 45-year-old inmate who committed suicide at the Florence Prison.

"Every single minute they couldn't get through that door was critical, we need to know whether when they got there, they went to lifesaving efforts, or were they delayed 5, 10, or 20 minutes because they decided to end their shift early," said Scott Zwillinger.

DOC Director Charles Ryan fired 13 officers after the investigation into prison suicides, among the fired include the officers in charge of watching Saba. The ADC says the officers turned in their radios early and were unable to immediately call for help when they discovered Saba.

"It is disappointing to find some officers are not doing their jobs," said Charles Ryan.

So are Ryan's efforts enough to the Saba family?

"It depends, if this is a case where people didn't do the jobs they were supposed to do then I applaud Director Ryan for taking that step, but if this is a case where these officers were fired and weren't provided the tools they need, then those officers are being made scapegoats to cover up for Director Ryan and his administration," said Zwillinger.

This incident has captured the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union. A court order was issued in 2014 following a lawsuit by the ACLU that the DOC must improve conditions in the prisons by February of 2015. On Monday a motion was filed because the ACLU says improvements have not been made.

"Many of the problems that we see are inadequate attention to mental health, inadequate health care, people not having access to urgent care, or medication in a timely manner are part due to chronic under staffing," said Victoria Lopez with the ACLU.

Lopez says the recent firings are just the tip of the iceberg.

"The prison systems in the state, they have a constitutional obligation to make sure they're taking care of people in their custody and providing standard medical care for these folks and people shouldn't be dying," she said.    

Saba's family doesn't want to see the video, but they still seek answers as to what happened before the suicide.

The ADC says it does not tolerate misconduct, and that is what led to the firings. Zwillinger says the department was negligent for not properly supervising Saba, and the family is gearing up to possibly sue the state.

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