University of Pittsburgh

David Harris on Reliability of Inmate Testimony in Corrections Officer Abuse Trial

Publish Date/Time: 
December 17, 2012

Professor David Harris commented on the prosecution’s use of inmate testimony in the case against one of the officers accused in 2010 of abusing inmates at the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh. The defendant, Tory Kelly, is one of eight corrections officers—seven of whom were criminally charged—who were fired as a result of allegations by inmates that they had been sexually abused and hazed while being housed on F Block. Several inmates and a former colleague are expected to testify against Kelly. “The difficulty, of course, for anybody presenting inmates as their witnesses … is that they are seen as having something to gain by testifying,” Harris said. “The unusual twist here is that there is a member of the guards” likely to testify against a colleague. “That tends to make the inmate's testimony somewhat more believable, assuming it matches up.”

See the full story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.  

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