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Inmate who attacked two at Green Bay Correctional sentenced to more prison time

James Luke attacked doctor, CO
Posted at 2:50 PM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-03 23:27:02-04

A Green Bay Correctional Institution inmate was sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison, and 9 years supervision Monday for allegedly attacking a psychologist and Corrections Officer in 2015.

James Luke was charged with battery by a prisoner, strangulation, and false imprisonment.

He is accused of attacking a psychologist in GBCI as she turned to read her computer screen.

Dr. Martha Breen-Smith started her career as a prison psychologist in 2004, recognizing the need for prisoners to have access to mental health services. 

"When I started in 2004, I don't think I fully appreciated how much need there was," says Dr. Breen-Smith. "There's a significant need, and not everybody wants to do it, or can do it." 

"Your first couple years there," adds 27-year corrections officer veteran Denis O'Neill, "you keep asking yourself 'why am I doing this? Can I do this?'
 
Both Breen-Smith and O'Neill say they answered that call every day for years, hoping to change lives for the better.
 
On September 8th, 2015, it was Breen-Smith and O'Neill's lives that changed. 

"It deeply, deeply affected my life, and continues to do so," says Dr. Breen-Smith. "It changed my job, it changed my ability to be employed, it changed many things."

During the attack, O'Neill says he heard what he called an "eerie sound." 

"It was soft-nothing like I've ever heard on the floor before," recalls O'Neill. "Then, I just took off running.. got to an office, and saw Dr. Breen being hit by Luke." 

Luke had covered her mouth and grabbed her neck, according to court records.

O'Neill wrestled Luke away from her, receiving a concussion in the struggle, and was forced into medical retirement.

Since the attack 19 months ago, both Breen-Smith and O'Neill say it's been a long recovery that still isn't over. But Monday's sentence is helping both move forward.

"Today was all about closure for me," says O'Neill.

 "I'm glad you saved my life," adds Breen-Smith, laughing tears away, and resting her head momentarily on O'Neill's shoulder, "because he did." 

James Luke has an extensive criminal history, dating back more than 12 years.

Records show he has been repeatedly convicted of battery, and throwing bodily fluids in several Wisconsin prisons.