Inmate says sentence extended over false charge of stealing cigs, beer

Kelly Holleran Aug. 12, 2009, 1:36pm

A Western Illinois Correctional Center inmate who allegedly broke into several houses and stole alcohol and cigarettes while participating in a work crew is seeking $6 million after he says he was wrongfully charged with multiple offenses and is being forced to serve a longer sentence.

Kareem Abul Harris filed a lawsuit Aug. 3 in Madison County Circuit Court against Roger E. Walker Jr., Michael P. Randle, Jackie Miller, J.R. Walls, Joseph V. Mathy, Marcus Hardy, Kevin L. Bloomfield, Lt. Ashcraft, Forrest Ashby, Richard K. Davis, the employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections, L. Sims and James Cunningham.

Harris -- who was charged with theft, impending or interfering with an investigation, contraband and unauthorized property, unauthorized movement and damage or misuse of property -- contends the charges against him are wrong.

According to a summary report issued by the Illinois Department of Corrections, the charges were brought against Harris after a confidential informant came forward and said Clayton Work Camp inmates had broken into several cabins in Adams County while on work crews.

The Illinois D.O.C. began to investigate the informant's allegations and found that six cabins had indeed been broken into and damaged. Damages included cut window screens and kicked-in doors, the report states.

"Informant #1 stated in an interview that he had been with the work camp crew on the levee on the day in question and that he observed five inmates come out of the cabins along the levee," the report says. "CI #1 further stated that he observed inmates Polluck and Keller enter the first cabin, and then inmates Harris and Hill forced entry into another cabin by ripping the screen off a window."

Harris also kicked the door in to one of the cabins, but while doing so, Harris cut his finger and was forced to retreat to another cabin so he could get a Band-aid, the confidential informant told officers. He apparently cut himself a second time and was forced to re-enter the house to clean up his bloody mess, the report says.

After breaking into the houses, the five inmates drank alcohol and emerged with chips and Minute Maid, the report states.

"CI #2 stated in a separate interview that he observed Harris, Feldpausch, Keller and two other inmates going through houses, with Harris and Feldpausch being 'the worst ones," the report says.

In addition to the damages, officers found beer and whiskey missing from several of the cabins, according to the report.

When approached by officers, Harris initially said only that he heard there was beer on the other side of the levee, but knew nothing more about the incident, according to the report. Later, however, he changed his story to admit that he kicked down on of the doors to the cabin and had entered it to be nosy. He also admitted to drinking some beer, the report says.

Harris pled and was found guilty on all charges brought against him, but argues Davis and Walls made a false criminal proceeding, trial and sentencing.

"My argument is how can Western Illinois C.C. charge me with anything when two of the inmates out of the original five inmates that was in this investigation are at home now," Harris wrote in a grievance he filed.

His grievance was denied, and Harris was sentenced to one year CGrade, one year segregation, revoke GCC or SGT one year and a disciplinary transfer.

Because of the allegedly false proceedings, Harris argues he should not have to serve in prison for longer than his original release date of Sept. 12.

"No federal state or county court judge has given no such court orders against the plaintiff Kareem Abul Harris at the W.I.C.C. Clayton Work Camp at Mt. Sterling," Harris wrote in his complaint. "All proceeding are done in the courts and by the courts not I.D.O.C. employees."

In addition to the $6 million in punitive and monetary damages, Harris is seeking court costs and attorney's fees, even though he is representing himself.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-809.

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Illinois Department of Corrections
1301 Concordia Ct
Springfield, IL 62702

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