Hate crime

Maximum security prison tries to keep the recent murder of a gay inmate as quiet as possible

23-year-old victim, Rodriguez Montez Burks.

A maximum security prison facility in Michigan is trying to keep the recent murder of a gay inmate as quiet as possible.

23-year-old Rodriguez Montez Burks was serving a 2-10 year sentence at the Alger Correctional Facility in Alger County, MI. He was up for parole in nine months when he was killed by his cellmate last week.

Related: Former inmate shares the horrors of being gay in prison

The attack happened on July 20 at around 11:30 in the morning. Speaking to Metro Times, inmate Todd Wentworth said he heard shouting from the men’s shared cell before everything went silent. Minutes later, he heard medics describing puncture wounds to the Burk’s lungs and saw blood trickling across the floor.

Prior to the killing, Wentworth said the cellmates, who had been living together for just two days, were having issues with one another.

“Old boy was like, ‘Hey I am not gonna be locked in here with a fag.’ And the guard was like, ‘It’s not our problem.'”

Wentworth said he heard both men request new bunk assignments, but guards failed to accommodate them. One guard, in particular, was especially unsympathetic.

“She was like, ‘You’re not here for convenience.’ Basically, we’re not moving you ’cause you wanna move — this ain’t the Holiday Inn.”

Another inmate, Edward Spear, corroborated these claims.

Related: The Surprising Reality Of Being Locked Up In America’s Only Gay Prison Wing

“This gentleman told [the guard] very clearly, ‘Look I’m gonna hurt this guy if you don’t move me out this cell,’ Burks also told [another staffer], ‘I can’t lock with this guy; we’re having issues, we can’t do this.'”

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz issued a vague statement saying the prison was looking at “every aspect of the incident” and “if it [is] determined there was a work rule violated, an officer or any staff member could face repercussions.”

Emphasis on the word could.

In other words: the people investigating the situation are the same people being investigated.

Both Wentworth and Spear say they plan to file grievances against the guards who refused to intervene when Burks initially asked for help, though neither of them is confident it will make much difference.

Wentworth also told Metro Times that since Burks was murdered, another gay inmate has become “so scared for his life” that he’s requested to be placed in a protection unit.

Related: What is federal prison like for a gay man? This former inmate shares all the details

h/t: Metro Times