Inmate who is suing DOC officials is demanding $65K

An inmate at the Department of Corrections is demanding compensation of $100 a day—for a total of $65,000—for the period he was allegedly subjected to solitary confinement and not given adequate mental health treatment.

Jerry Ray, through counsel Jeanne H. Rayphand, said he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment from June 19, 2016, to May 7, 2018.

Ray has been a DOC prisoner since 2012.

Rayphand, of the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc., asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to declare that the segregation, isolation, solitary confinement, and the step-down process to which Ray was subjected to at DOC is cruel and unusual punishment—a constitutional violation.

Ray is suing DOC Commissioner Vincent S. Attao and other DOC officials in federal court.

The other defendants in the lawsuit are Division of Corrections director Gregory Castro, then-acting commissioner Georgia M. Cabrera, pre-trial operations captain Pius P. Yaroitemal, operation commander David Deleon Guerrero, and classification officer Cynthia B. Santos.

Last week, Rayphand and the Office of the Attorney General, which is counsel for the defendants, filed a stipulation to dismiss Yaroitemal and Deleon Guerrero from the lawsuit.

In Ray’s motion for summary judgment also filed last week, Rayphand asked the court to declare that the denial of mental healthcare and treatment for Ray constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The lawyer asked the court to order DOC to develop and implement a program that would give prisoners adequate mental healthcare.

Rayphand also noted that the injunctive relief in Ray’s complaint is now moot because he is now housed in “open bay” and is receiving regular mental healthcare from a Commonwealth Health Center psychiatrist.

Last Dec. 31, the federal court issued a decision, concluding that Ray exhausted his administrative remedies with respect to his grievances but not with respect to sanctions.

Attao and co-defendants, through the OAG, have denied Ray’s allegations that he was subjected to “solitary confinement” at DOC.

The OAG revealed that DOC lacks the facilities to actually put an inmate in “solitary confinement.”

In the defendants’ answer to the lawsuit, the OAG disclosed that Ray was sanctioned by DOC on Feb. 5, 2018, and Feb. 12, 2017, but that he did not challenge these sanctions.

The OAG said Ray was caught with contraband and given notice of his possible sanctions, but he did not appeal this sanction.

Ray, a habitual offender, has been an inmate of DOC since 2012 after he was convicted of burglary.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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