location: publications / books / Justice Behind the Walls / Sector 3 / Chapter 3 The Disciplinary Process at Kent / August and September 1994: The Hanlon, Belluz and Binford Cases -- Involuntary Transfers, Administrative Segregation and Punitive Segregation: A Case of Cumulative Punishment

Mr. Binford, when asked if he had any questions, stated that the officer’s evidence was not accurate. Mr. Abdul had been taken out of the cell right away and, given that he was now in a cell by himself, he could not understand why the staff thought it necessary to have him removed as well. That was the reason he was asking why he had to leave. He went on to say that he was given no explanation, because after Mr. Abdul was taken out, five or six guards just piled in and took him down. Mr. Binford’s defence essentially was that he was never given an order to leave, and was neither provided with an explanation as to why it was necessary for him to leave the cell, nor given an opportunity to leave voluntarily.

There was a clear conflict of evidence between the Officer Tyler and Mr. Binford. Based upon my previous observations of Mr. Fox he would have likely preferred the evidence of Mr. Tyler, which was given in a confident and forthright way. Mr. Fox asked, however, whether there were any other witnesses to this incident and was told that Officer Wren was standing close by during this period. Officer Wren was called and her evidence was that prior to the door in the Binford/Abdul cell being opened, the prisoners had been shouting to the staff, "Come and get me." When the door was opened Mr. Abdul was almost immediately taken out of the cell, because he was sitting on his bunk, was closest to the door and was not offering any resistance. She said that he looked like he was glad to be taken out. At this point Mr. Binford was in the back of the cell and adopted an aggressive stance. It was at this point that a number of officers went in and took him down. Mr. Fox asked Officer Wren whether she recalled anything being said to Mr. Binford in the form of an order that he leave his cell. She replied that she could not recall. Mr. Fox gave Officer Tyler an opportunity to ask Ms. Wren any questions and he asked her specifically whether she remembered what he had said to Mr. Binford before Mr. Abdul was removed from the cell. She said that she could not.

Mr. Fox ruled that in light of the fact that there was some discrepancy between the two officers’ evidence, he was going to give Mr. Binford the benefit of the doubt and found him not guilty. He went on to say that he was not casting any aspersions on the officers’ evidence because in a situation like this, where there are a lot of things going on, it may be difficult to recall exactly what was said, particularly when there were prisoners shouting and there was a lot of movement.

What this case suggested was that Mr. Binford’s recollection of what happened, that events moved very quickly, that he was never given an actual order, nor an explanation or opportunity to leave the cell without force, was a reasonable one and consistent with Officer Wren’s own recollection. Absent Officer Wren’s evidence, however, Mr. Binford would almost certainly have been convicted of this offence and would likely have received a sentence of 30 days segregation.

Mr. Binford, therefore, ended up being found not guilty of both of the charges he faced. For whatever reason, he was not charged with the same offence as the other two prisoners -- that of creating or participating in a disturbance -- and therefore had no disciplinary convictions flowing from this incident. However, he had already spent four weeks in segregation in a maximum-security institution, and would spend several weeks more awaiting bed space before being released.

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