Since federal inmate Jessie Con-ui is charged with the brutal murder of correctional officer Eric Williams, the question of who provided The Citizen's Voice of Wilkes-Barre with information about the defendant's record 10 months later is irrelevant to the alleged crime. (The Citizen's Voice is owned by the same company that owns The Daily Review.)
But in raising that question and others, Mr. Con-ui's lawyers, James Swetz and Mark Fleming, have raised anew serious questions about safety at the U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan, Wayne County, and other federal prisons.
Officer Williams was alone in a cell block on Feb. 25, 2013, when he allegedly was attacked by Mr. Con-ui. He suffered a fractured skull, other injuries and 129 stab wounds, according to federal prosecutors.
The Citizen's Voice subsequently reported that Mr. Con-ui had committed two serious misconduct violations in the year before the assault.
According to the defense lawyers, Bureau of Prisons "negligence" and lax prison policies "were substantial factors" in the fatal encounter.
Inadequate policies and procedures cannot excuse violent conduct by any inmate. Even if lax procedures provide an opportunity for violent conduct, that doesn't mean that an inmate has no choice but to engage in violent conduct.
The Bureau of Prisons might well have much to answer for in the case, but that answer should go to better future security rather than to the defense of an allegedly violent inmate.