The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Cops, courts and fires

May 27, 2012

Handicapped murder convict alleges prison discrimination

Pendleton facility passes inspections, official says

PENDLETON, Ind. — Donald Lock, 66, is serving a life sentence at the Pendleton Correctional Facility for murder.

Though he became eligible for parole in 1994, Lock is resigned to the fact he will never again live as a free man.

“I’m gonna live here, and I’m gonna die here,” Lock said, “but I would like to live here for Donald Lock.”

Over his 39 years as an inmate, Lock has filed complaints with the department’s Internal Affairs division alleging, among other things, that he is being discriminated against because he is handicapped.

Since October 2006, Lock has been confined to a wheel chair because of a degenerative bone disease.  He has spent time at correctional facilities throughout the state, but it wasn’t until he was transferred to Pendleton earlier this year that he said he felt his disability was ignored.

According to Lock, upon arriving at the facility on March 2, he was placed in a cell that was not handicap-accessible. Lock said the unit had no handrails to assist him getting into bed, use the toilet, or get into the shower. In addition, Lock said he was not allowed to have contact with the outside, or with other inmates.

Lock was able to use the amenities, but not without a lot of pain.

Two weeks later on March 15, Lock was placed in a handicapped dorm with 14 other inmates. He considered it a major improvement.

“I’ve got to hand it to (the facility). It’s one of the best handicapped places I’ve seen,” Lock said.

The toilets were the right height, complete with handrails and lockers.

However, outside the dorm, the facility is not handicap-friendly, he said.

Areas such as the library, the barbershop, and the deputy’s office are not accessible by wheel chair. Instead, Lock said he has to be assisted by a staff member up sets of steep staircases, which he said causes him a lot of pain.

Lock also alleges that he and the other handicapped inmates are served last during meal times, and as a result receive smaller portions.

Lock was convicted of stabbing a 30-year-old woman 10 times in the chest with a pair of scissors.

He’s aware his complaints might seem silly to some but said he doesn’t care. State law puts requirements on how prisoners should be treated, and Lock wants them to be followed.

Neil Potter, administrative assistant at the prison, said the facility has routinely passed inspection by the American Correctional Association, which he said is the “premier organization in the nation relative to establishing professional standards” for correctional facilities.

Potter said when Lock was transferred to the facility, all handicapped cells were occupied. However, he said the cell Lock was temporarily held in, was wheelchair accessible, had guard rails, and was in close proximity to medical staff.

In the days after Lock’s arrival, Potter said prison staff worked diligently to find him a more appropriate cell. According to Pendleton Correctional Facility Superintendent Keith Butts, Lock has earned a reputation as a complainer. Lock agreed.

“Most definitely. If I believe rules and policies are not being followed, yeah, I’m a complainer,” Lock said.

Butts said all of Lock’s allegations have been dismissed but the inmate continues to look for things to complain about.

“It’s just sad. This is what he wants: attention. I’m not going to let this guy tear down what my staff has worked so hard to build,” Butts said.

Potter said the age and configuration of the facility, which was built in 1923, creates challenges for housing disabled inmates.

“This facility remains committed to housing these offenders in a manner that affords them dignity and respect,” Potter said.

Find Sam Brattain on Facebook and @SamBrattain on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

1
Text Only
Cops, courts and fires
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide