Thursday, March 08, 2001

Judge won't act on man's claims




By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A judge refused to intervene Wednesday on behalf of a Lebanon inmate who claims he is mistreated and denied privileges while he awaits trial in the Nov. 13 slaying of his cellmate.

        Officials at Lebanon Correctional Institution (LCI) have denied abusing Timothy Hancock, who claims he has been refused recreation, visitors, medical treatment and some reading materials.

Hancock
Hancock
        Mr. Hancock, in a motion asking the judge to order officials to treat him fairly or have him moved to Warren County Jail, also says guards are harassing him by frequently searching his cell.

        Judge Neal Bronson told lawyers in the case he had already decided to deny the request, even before hearing arguments Wednesday.

        “The court is not going to take over as the warden of the institution,” Judge Bronson said. He advised Mr. Hancock to file a civil suit in Warren County or in federal court if he thinks his rights are being violated.

        Mr. Hancock, shackled, handcuffed and dressed in an orange jumpsuit indicative of a high security prisoner, sat silently during the brief hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court. He talked to his attorneys at length afterward.

        Defense lawyer Don Oda was unsure whether he would file a civil lawsuit. Mr. Hancock thinks guards are harassing him in an attempt to “provoke a confrontation between him and the staff so they can move him out (of LCI),” he said. Last month, over the objection of prison officials who wanted Mr. Hancock moved to a more secure prison, Judge Bronson ordered LCI to keep Mr. Hancock so he could consult with his attorneys in preparation for his defense.

        Mr. Hancock, who faces the death penalty in the strangulation death of convicted child molester Jason Wagner at Warren Correctional Institution, was moved to LCI after the slaying.

        Andrea Dean, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Corrections, said Mr. Hancock was placed in a restricted status after the slaying because he had threatened other inmates.

        She said he is not permitted to have books. However, he is allowed five showers a week and five hours of recreation — which Ms. Dean said he has refused — and monthly visits from family members whose names appear on a list he filed with the prison.

        “No one has come to the prison to see him, and no one has been turned away,” she said.

       



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