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News in Brief

WA: In May, 1994, three former prisoners and two staff members of the Snohomish county jail filed suit in US District Court in Seattle claiming that they contracted tuberculosis at the jail due to its lax testing and screening policies. The plaintiffs' attorney, Ted Spearman, stated that people have told jail workers they had active, infectious TB and they were housed in the jail's general population. The jail lacks adequate ventilation and proper exposure to ultraviolet light which are considered preventive measures.

Brazil: Four people died and 10 were wounded in a thirty hour prison riot in early July, 1994, at the Porto Alegre prison, according to government officials. A police inspector was among the dead and the warden was among the wounded.

Rumania: In a bid to escape forced labor by being placed in hospitals, Rumanian prisoners have taken to hammering nails into their heads. According to prison doctors, since March, through mid August 1994, more than 30 prisoners have hammered nails into their heads by banging their heads against walls to insert the nails. Rumania holds over 45,000 prisoners in harsh, overcrowded conditions. Prison officials said nail hammering prisoners have had their sentences lengthened in an effort to discourage the practice, to no avail.

FL: Seven prisoners escaped from the Hendry Correctional Facility in Irnmokalee, FL, by stabbing a guard and climbing over two razor wire fences. Four of the escapees were captured within 24 hours of their escape.

Philippines: Two Filipinos, jailed in 1974 for protesting the Marco's dictatorship, were compensated $385 after spending 20 years in prison without being charged or convicted of any illegal acts. The supreme court ordered the two released and criticized the government for delaying their release after the case records were allegedly lost in a 1989 fire. The compensation amounted to $19.25 for each year they spent in prison.

CT: On August 9, 1994, two female prisoners escaped from the Niantic Corr. Center and were captured the next day. Two male prisoners from the minimum security prison wing at Somers escaped and were captured a few hours later on that same day.

FL: On August 13, 1994, five prisoners at the Punta Gorda jail escaped by breaking the window out of a dormitory style trailer and climbing over a wall and razor wire. All five were recaptured the next day at a motel near the jail.

MI: On August 21, 1994, ten prisoners serving lengthy sentences escaped from the 1,044 bed Ryan Correctional Facility near Detroit after accomplices tossed them a shotgun and bolt cutters over a fence. One prisoners sprayed guards with gunfire while the others cut holes through the prison's double fence and escaped in two waiting getaway cars. Four of the escapees were recaptured within hours of their escape as the result of a massive manhunt by the FBI, Michigan state police and local police agencies backed by helicopters.

MI: On August 17, 1994, John Cosby, a Michigan prisoner being transported via police helicopter snatched the pilot's gun from its holster and hijacked the chopper. Cosby forced it to land on an athletic field on Detroit's East Side and fled on foot.

TX: American Atheists Inc. (AA) announced that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has agreed to place copies of The Bible Handbook in all of its prison libraries. The Handbook was written in 1899 by two English humanists and includes chapters, relying solely on verbatim quotes, such as: bible contradictions, bible absurdities, bible atrocities, unfulfilled prophecies and broken promises and more. AA provided to the books to the Texas DOC free of charge.

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