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News in Brief

CA: Former L.A. Rams cornerback Darryl Henley and Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) guard Rodney Anderson were indicted in June, 1996, on charges of conspiring to kill federal judge Gary Taylor and former Rams cheerleader Tracy Donoho. The indictment states that Anderson smuggled a cellular phone into Ronley's jail cell so Henley could negotiate a large drug deal. Henley was awaiting trial on drug charges at the time. Henley wanted to raise $1 million to pay for the murderer. Unfortunately for Anderson and Henley, the drug "buyers" and "hitmen" were all cops. Anderson van later arrested with 5.6 kilos of heroin.

CA: On September 13, 1996, a state appeals court dismissed the libel suit of Pelican Pay prison guard John Snyder. In 1992 Snyder posed for photos taken by the California Department of Corrections (CDC) which showed him dressed as a prisoner. He was told the photos would be used for training purposes and would not be distributed to the public. However, at least one of the photos later appeared in a CDC brochure distributed to the media and public. Later, another photo appeared in Prison Life magazine with the caption "Inmates may have radios and televisions inside their cells." Snyder sued various state agencies claiming that publication of the photos was libelous, damaged his reputation and subjected him to "shame, mortification and hurt feelings." Snyder also filed a workman's compensation claim for which he received benefits. The appeals court dismissed the suit saying Snyder posed for the photos voluntarily and had not specifically placed any restrictions on the photos' use. No comments were made that Prison Life , the self described voice of the convict uses photos of guards dressed up as prisoners instead of the real thing.

China: On October 6, 1996, Yao Wenyuan, 65, was released from prison after serving a 20 year sentence. Yao, a former journalist, was convicted of "persecution" for is role as the main propagandist of the "gang of four" during the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976. Yao worked primarily in the media. One of his other co-defendants, Chiang Ching, Mao Tse Tung's widow, died in jail in the 1980s. Yao was notably absent from the lists of political prisoners flaunted by the US over the years.

FL: On October 5, 1996, Donald McDougall, a convicted child killer on the verge of release, was bludgeoned to death at the Avon Park Correctional Institution 8 hours after being released from protective custody. McDougall had been placed in PC after a caller to an Orlando local talk show on WTKS-FM placed a $1,000 bounty on his head. After the killing, callers to the station wanted to know where they could send money to Arba Barr, the alleged killer. Radio station owners denied they were in any way responsible for the killing. "Anti-crime" posturers had repeatedly used McDougall as their main example in efforts to eliminate the early release of prisoners through earned time or gain time. So it appears they will need to find a new poster boy now.

ID: On September 9, 1996, governor Phil Batt scolded DOC director James Spalding for punishing prisoner Mark Tapp after Tapp wrote to a newspaper and complained about sexual advances made to him by prison guard Roy Redifer. Both the DOC and the FBI were investigating Tapp's claim. The DOC denied retaliating against Tapp, stating he was being punished for refusing to cooperate in their investigation.

LA: On September 26, 1996, a Lafayette jury awarded James Sibley, a former jail prisoner, $1.05 million in damages after Sibley gouged his own eyes out while shackled to a bed in an isolation cell. Expert witnesses testified that jail guards should have been trained to recognize mental illness.

OH: On September 12, 1996, former Mansfield Correctional Institution guard Robert Snow was sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to charges of wire fraud and distributing marijuana and cocaine. Snow accepted a $1,100 bribe from a prisoner in order to pay for a Caribbean cruise.

TX: On August 12, 1996, former Nueces County jail guard Kevin Morrow pleaded guilty to one count of Official Oppression after raping a female prisoner. Morrow was initially indicted on sexual assault charges, a felony, after forcing the prisoner to perform oral sex on him. Official oppression is a misdemeanor charge with a maximum sentence of one year In jail.

TX: On July 30, 1996, three prison employees, Gwendolyn Spears, Carolyn Gregory and Yvette Dahlberg, pleaded guilty in federal court to using prison computers to obtain the names and social security numbers of prisoners which they then used to file false income tax returns in the prisoners' names. The IRS said the DOC employees netted $140,000 after preparing false income tax returns in 1993 for about 40 prisoners. All the defendants worked in Huntsville. Spears was a guard at the prison, Dahlberg a nurse at Huntsville Memorial Hospital and Gregory worked for Associated Contract Employment Services and two other companies with prison contracts.

TX: On September 4, 1996, Wynne Unit (Huntsville) prison guard Ron Cooper refused to give prisoner Dwight Sullivan clean sheets. Cooper became abusive and ordered Sullivan back to his cell. Sullivan then beat and kicked Cooper into critical condition.

VA: On September 23, 1996, Carol Austin and Barbara Mize, prisoners at the Brunswick Correctional Center, were killed while cutting grass alongside a highway fenceline. The prisoners were struck by a car that came over a hill. The driver, who was not identified, was not charged in the double killing. There were no signs cautioning drivers of the ground work.

Venezuela: on October 22, 1996, 26 prisoners in a 12' by 12' cell in the La Planta jail in downtown Caracas were burned to death after guards set their cell on fire. Jose Mejias, a prisoner who escaped the blaze, said guards locked prisoners into their cell at 6 AM that day, then fired tear gas canisters into the cells, after which "everything caught fire." This is only the latest in an almost daily series of massacres, riots and mayhem afflicting the Venezuelan prison system.

WA: The Washington DOC announced it would open a $5.4 million minimum security prison for disabled prisoners by July, 1997. The prison in Yakima is designed to handle 90 male and 30 female prisoners who suffer from significant vision loss and paralysis. Some 800 Washington prisoners are disabled.

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