A man in Mississippi will spend an additional two months behind bars because, according to his attorney, the only available Spanish translator in the area has died.
Yoany Oriel Serrano-Bejarano is one of three men so far indicted for taking part in a May prison riot at a privately-run federal prison in Natchez, Miss. The riot left a 24-year-old prison guard dead. Inmates told the press that they were protesting abusive conditions including a lack of medical care.
Mr. Serrano-Bejarano pleaded not guilty before federal Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball late last month and jury trial was initially scheduled for December 3. But the case was continued, court documents read, because “the current shortage of interpreters has prevented counsel from communicating with Mr. Serrano-Bejarano in a timely fashion.”
“Mr. Serrano does not speak one lick of English and I don’t speak one lick of Spanish,” the defendant’s appointed public defender, Clarence T. Guthrie, told Colorlines.com. “The main interpreter that I use passed away this year.”
Mr. Guthrie added that unemployed people fluent in English and Spanish might consider coming to Mississippi.
The federal government’s complaint against Mr. Serrano-Bejarano said he “willfully instigated … and conspired to cause a mutiny and riot at the Adams County Correction Center.” Previous court filings say he attacked a guard and helped other inmates climb onto the roof of a prison building.
The Adams County facility, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, is one of over a dozen privately run federal prisons used to hold non-citizens convicted of crimes.