March 12, 2012, Testimony

Today, SCDC presented its expert in security and use of force.  Richard L. Stalder is former Louisiana Secretary of Corrections and was once a warden.  

Stalder testified regarding his opinion that SCDC policies are generally reasonable.  He also testified regarding several particular uses of force, which he claimed were reasonable and justified under the circumstances. 

Stalder admitted that he has never been retained as an expert, outside of a lawsuit, to provide consultation to a prison system. He has testified as an expert in two cases involving use of force. 

Stalder testified that he began his evaluation of SCDC in late 2011.  He toured Lee Correctional Institution and Kirkland Correctional Institution, including a walk-through of Camille Graham, Gilliam Psychiatric Hospital, and the maximum security unit.  He spent no more than a couple hours at each location.  He admitted that during these tours, his only substantive conversation was with the warden.  He did not interview any other staff or inmates.

He suggested that MK9 chemical munitions (pepper spray in a size usually reserved for large crowd riot control) are no longer used on individuals by SCDC correctional officers.  He testified that a warden assured him that he could not remember the last time MK9 had been used and that it was not stored in the housing area.  Stalder was shown several examples in which the MK9 was used recently, contradicting the warden's purported assurances.   

When asked whether he made any effort to look back at SCDC's practices preceding his tours, he answered that he was only interested in what was happening "here and now." 

The witness was excused; court adjourned until 9 a.m. Tuesday.