Inmates sentenced in deadly prison riot
WILMINGTON, Del. – It was a crowded courtroom inside the New Castle County Courthouse as three men, Jarreau Ayers, Dwayne Staats, Royal Downs, learned their fate after being charged and convicted for their involvement in the deadly prison riot.
“Under the circumstances. No sentence will really serve the true interest of justice for the men and women of the department of correction,”said Delaware Department of Corrections Commissioner, Claire DeMatteis.
On Friday, emotions ran high. As Staats, Ayres, and Downs stood before the victims of the James T. Vaughn prison riot and their families. Waiting to learn just how much more time they would spend behind bars for their involvement in the uprising.
“There isn’t a day where every single correctional officer doesn’t live with this,”said DeMatteis.
Up first was Royal Downs. A key witness who took a plea deal with the state in exchange for his testimony against other inmates. Downs was sentenced to three years after he plead guilty to one count of riot, but he will serve out his life sentence in Maryland first. However, not everyone agreed with the judges decision.
“I think the state as usual showed their favoritism to their informants,” said former James T. Vaughn inmate, Roman Shankaras.
As for Staats, who’s already serving a life sentence for a previous crime, he was sentenced to two life sentences in prison plus 153 years for conviction of murder, assault, kidnapping, and conspiracy. But before he learned his fate, he read a letter to the courtroom saying that the uprising had to happen in order for the inmates concerns to be heard about the mistreatment they would receive.
“It’s a system where subliminal torture is going on. There’s blatant torture going on,” said Shankaras.
“Its ridiculous to say that this was the only option. Absolutely ridiculous,” said DeMatteis.
Ayres, who’s also currently serving a life sentence, was sentenced to 123 years after he was found guilty of riot, assault, kidnapping, and conspiracy. But officials tell 47 ABC these life sentences just aren’t enough.
“What we had today is in no way shape or form justice. Somebody who is already doing a life sentence— there must be a deterrent to stop someone from doing an action. Until we have a death penalty that is able to be used properly, it will continue to be a sour taste in the mouth of all Delawareans and everyone else,” said COAD President, Geoff Klopp.
And while hearts are still broken, officials tell 47 ABC they will do everything in their power to make sure something like this never happens again.