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News in Brief

OH: On January 26, 1996, Hugh Smith, a prison guard at the Correctional Medical Center, was arrested and charged with having sex with prisoners. Smith was charged with the sexual battery of three female prisoners, the contacts were believed to have been consensual and occurred between December, 1994 and July, 1995. Smith resigned from his DOC job.

OH: Four state prisoners were indicted in federal court for filing false income tax returns and collecting $11,700 while in prison together. Lee King, Richard Johnson, Charles Clary and William Harvey filed six false tax returns, according to the indictment. The refund checks were cashed by friends and relatives.

Brazil: On January 8, 1996, prisoners at a Sao Paulo prison took three guards hostage during an uprising to demand better prison conditions. Images shown on television included that of a prisoner shouting angrily while holding a guard by the neck and brandishing a large homemade knife.

Kuwait: On January 6, 1996, hundreds of prisoners in the Kuwait Central Prison outside Kuwait City rioted, burning down the jail's hospital, school, library and breaking down doors and doing serious damage to the jail's security systems. Two prisoners were reported injured during the rioting. Interior ministry special forces regained control of the prison three hours after the riot began. The jail holds hundreds of Iraqis and Palestinians convicted of assisting Iraqi forces during the invasion of Kuwait in 1990-91. The riot began when Kuwaiti and Iraqi prisoners, locked in separate units, exchanged gunfire. Another account said the riot began when prisoners were disappointed at not receiving an annual pardon. Reporters toured the prison afterwards but were not allowed to meet any prisoners. The prison has long been criticized for overcrowding and inhumane treatment of its prisoners.

CO: The state legislature has again refused to allot funds that would allow chaplains in prison. The Colorado DOC requested $300,000 to hire nine prison chaplains. The high cost of the program was the reason it was dissolved in 1993. One state representative, Phil Pankey, asked why churches can't support prison chaplains as they do other missionaries.

TX: On February 5, 1996, three New Mexico state prisoners, Russell Nichols, Ralph Hernandez and Michael Contreras, being housed in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas, attempted to escape from the jail by rappelling five stories out of a pod window. The prisoners cut a hole through a security wall and fashioned a rope out of braided sheets. While scaling the rope one of four prisoners left behind in the pod cut it with a razor blade, causing the escapees to plunge to the ground, suffering various injuries. The escapees lay trapped in a courtyard in freezing weather calling for help. Jail officials claimed not to know who had cut the rope. The three escapees were serving life sentences when sent to Texas to relieve overcrowding in New Mexico.

CA: On January 5, 1996, Kenneth Smalls, a prison guard at the Otay Mesa state prison, was charged with using an attorney's credit to charge more than $13,000 worth of goods. Smalls used the identification submitted by an attorney visiting a client at the prison. The fraud was detected when the lawyer was turned down for a credit card he applied for.

CA: On January 15, 1996, James Pitsor, a California Highway Patrol officer was given a burial with full military honors, including a color guard and a fifteen gun salute. He was buried in his CHP uniform. The 1995 Officer of the Year shot himself with a rifle while on bail. He had been indicted for raping a woman in his patrol car after offering her a ride home. Who says sex offenders don't get any respect from law enforcement?

IL: On January 30, 1996, Illinois Supreme Court justice James Heiple, a Republican, was stopped by police in Pekin, IL for speeding. Heiple refused to remain parked, telling police "You are hassling me, and I just want to go home." He was arrested and charge with speeding, failing to yield, resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer. Heiple refused all comments to the media.

AR: On November 7, 1995, John Manning, a Fayetteville county jail prisoner awaiting trial for robbing a Kmart, took a gun away from sheriff Roland Williamson and shot and killed him with it. The incident took place during a doctor visit. Manning, still handcuffed and shackled, fled outside, shot and killed a civilian and took his truck with police in pursuit. A short distance away Manning shot and killed himself.

CO: Jimmie Joe McGee, a woman, was arrested in Denver on prostitution charges. Police and jail guards thought she was a man and placed her in a cell with 60 male prisoners. She spent 15 hours in the cell and had sex with two prisoners while awaiting court hearings. She told guards the sex was consensual and she did not charge the men. McGee wasn't discovered until other prisoners told jail guards. Sheriff's captain Carlos Jackson explained the mix up by saying "We've had very effeminate looking males come into the jail, including transvestites and transsexuals. There was absolutely no indication in this that the staff behaved improperly."

Honduras: On December 29, 1995, 27 prisoners armed with machetes, knives and clubs charged the main door of the Tela jail and escaped. Two guards were injured in the escape. The prisoners timed their breakout to coincide with the end of visits to the jail.

TX: On January 4, 1996, Bexar County sheriff Ralph Lopez fired two court bailiffs accused of sneaking a female prisoner into empty courtroom holding cells and having sex with her. In exchange for sex the bailiffs gave the prisoner cigarettes, candy and cakes.

FL: On January 15, 1996, a federal jury in Tampa granted a $750,000 verdict to Loretta Hartwick, a former prison nurse, who was sexually harassed by former Century Correctional Institution warden Paul Sheffield. In a pretrial stipulation the state, who defended Sheffield free of charge, admitted that Hartwick was sexually harassed and retaliated against for reporting the harassment and that she was left disabled as a result of the stress she suffered. Sheffield would rub his body against Hartwick's, suggest they meet in the parking lot after work, hug her and put his hands under her clothing. Despite reporting the events twice no action was taken against Sheffield who retired in 1991 with full pension benefits after 31 years as a DOC employee. Sheffield denied the accusations at the time but in a pretrial stipulation admitted he had sexually harassed four other women as well as Hartwick.

Argentina: Julio Aparicio, the national under secretary for penal policy, estimates that one third of all Argentine prisoners are HIV Positive. At Buenos Aires' large Caseros prison, half of all prisoners have tested positive for HIV, Aparicio said in a press conference.

WA: On January 4, 1996, prison officials at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe discovered a tunnel four feet wide and 12 feet long leading from a print shop dark room to an area outside the prison wall. Three prisoners were infracted with the attempted escape, they were James Barker, Charles Hawkins and Buddy Longnecker. The tunnel originated in a recently built $5 million industries building located outside the prison's security wall. The prisoners broke through 6 inches of concrete to begin their excavation. The tunnel was on the verge of being completed when it was discovered after the ground began to sag after heavy rains hit the area.

WA: On March 2, 1996, Jack Ramey, a State Patrol trooper, was sentenced to two years in prison with all but six months suspended after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 10 year old boy. Ramey retired from the State Patrol with full benefits shortly after being charged with the crime. Prosecutors stated he would serve the six month sentence for first degree child molestation in the King County jail or in work release.

WA: In February 1996, former Seattle policeman Darryl Stone was sentenced to five months in prison for extorting bribes from drunk drivers he pulled over while serving as a patrolman. The five month sentence was recommended by the prosecutor and is at the low end of the federal guidelines sentencing range for extortion by police. The Seattle Times ran a front page story on Stone's sentencing titled "Corrupt Officer 'a good man.'"

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