Who would ever imagine that prison inmates, some serving time for violent crimes, would come to the aid of the very prison guard who keeps them in jail? Four inmates at the Orient Road Jail in Tampa, Florida did just that, when they stopped another inmate, who put a deputy guard in a choke hold and was strangling him.
Kenneth Moon, a detention deputy in his 60’s was sitting alone at his desk at the Orient Road Jail in Tampa, as prisoners from Jail Pod-7D were returning to their cells from lunch. Suddenly he was attacked from behind by one of the inmates. Inmate, Douglas Burden, 24, grabbed Deputy Moon, put him in a choke hold, and began strangling him. There was no panic button available for Moon, just a hand held radio which he dropped in the scuffle. Moon, was clearly outnumbered by Burden and the 62 other inmates walking by; but something extraordinary happened.
Four inmates who witnessed the attack rushed to Moon’s aid. The first one, Jerry Dieguez, didn’t hesitate. He ran behind the desk and punched Burden in the face. He was joined by inmates Terrell Carswell, and Hoang Vu, who restrained Burden and aided Moon who had turned purple from lack of air. Inmate David Schofield found Moon’s radio transmitter and called for Emergency help which arrived in 45 seconds. The entire incident was captured on surveillance tape and can be seen all over the internet. The four inmates, whose crimes range from attempted murder, sex crimes, home invasions, assaults and drug trafficking are credited with saving Moon’s life. The video of them rescuing Deputy Moon, has turned these inmates into heroes: the heroes of Jail Pod-7.
National media, including Oprah and the morning shows, all want to interview the four inmates turned heroes. Wearing orange jumpsuits and scruffy beards the four did not look like heroes or future media stars in a recent televised interview from the prison conference room. Asked why they came to the aid of Deputy Moon, the consensus was, “He’s a Good Guy.”
The Tampa jail pod where these inmates reside, has developed a system fostering closer relationships between inmates and deputies. Jail attacks have dropped from 76 in 2006 to 22 in 2009. Inmate Scholfield, who has known Moon since 1994, says, “It’s all about respect. He (Moon) always pulls me aside to see how I’m doing.”
Inmate Carswell said he was thinking, “He (Moon) is someone’s father. No one deserves to die like that.” Inmate Vu said through an interpreter, that he loved Moon because of how kindly he had treated him and wanted to “take care of him.” Inmate Carswell said, “He treats us like a son. He always makes sure we get our medicine.” Burden, Moon’s attacker had been in jail since March on DUI and drug charges. He now faces assault charges on a law enforcement officer.
The Spokesman for the jail said that people from all over the country have been calling to put money in the inmates’ canteen account. Outsiders have offered to put a flat screened TV in the jail’s common area. Letters from jail officials describing the inmates’ good deed have been placed in their files and will definitely be considered at future parole hearings.
There has also been a certain amount of jealousy over all the attention the heroes of Jail Pod-7D are receiving. Some prisoners of the jail are even glad Moon was attacked.
Jail personnel are reviewing the attack to see if changes need to be made to existing security and safety guidelines. The most important safety tool that detention officers have at the jail, is dialogue and communication, they said. “The inmates got to know Moon and he got to know them.”
As for deputy Moon, he was treated and released from the hospital, and left with bruises and scrapes on his neck and face. He declined to speak to reporters about his experience.
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