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News in Brief

IN: Al Parke, the new warden at the Indiana State Prison has solved his understaffing problems by cutting the number of required staff at the prison. He now has all slots filled simply by decreasing the number of slots.

VA: On June 30, 1995, Virginia's only prison program that treated sex offenders was shut down ostensibly because it "didn't work." Governor Allen, who canceled the $220,000 a year program, said sex offenders will have to "heal themselves."

Australia: On September 24, 1995, guards at 18 out of 26 jails in the state of New South Wales went on a 24 hour strike to protest video surveillance cameras replacing security towers. A spokesperson for the guards union said the strike was called because prison officials had not honored a promise to staff towers until the new equipment was properly working. A week before this two prisoners escaped from a jail, and it was not filmed. Police were brought into the jails to guard the prisoners.

Columbia: On October 3, 1995, the government announced a plan to reduce the prison sentences of kidnappers who keep their victims alive and well fed and stated that ransom payments would be made by the government to assure payment. Family members would be prohibited from making the payments themselves. Kidnappers who are caught and who treated the victims well would be offered a reduced prison sentence. Nearly 100 people a month are kidnapped for ransom in Columbia, one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world.

Germany: On October 6, 1995, 11 prisoners in the Lingen prison escaped by cutting through the fence with bolt cutters, climbing a wall and fleeing on foot. Police recaptured three of the escapees within hours, the remainder were the subject of a manhunt.

Kenya: Almost three prisoners a day died in Kenyan prisons in the first nine months of 1995. Of the 819 prisoners who died, 528 were serving sentences and 291 were detained pending trial. The main causes of death were AIDS, malaria, meningitis and diarrheal diseases. Government officials blamed the high death rate on overcrowding and a lack of money. As of July, 1995, Kenya's 78 prisons, designed to hold 21,000 prisoners, held 37,066. On October 10, 1995, president Daniel Arap Moi freed almost 11,000 prisoners with less than six months remaining on their sentences in order to free up prison space. Lack of money means the situation will continue.

Columbia : On November 8, 1995, guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) attacked the San Isidro prison in the city of Popayan and freed 78 prisoners and killed one guard. The guerrillas used rocket propelled grenades to punch holes in the wall, allowing the prisoners to escape. The prison was almost totally destroyed in the attack. Many of the freed prisoners were captured FARC members.

PA: Allegheny County Jail guard Charles Kainz was reprimanded November 16, 1995, after he was caught using black prisoners' mug shots for target practice. The guard union protested the reprimand. One of the photos used for target practice was that of Harold Cook, who is suing the jail warden for making him and five other prisoners scrub a dining room floor naked after a food fight.

OH: On October 19, l995, former Allen County Correctional Institution guard Elza Ward was sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling marijuana into the prison. Ward was arrested after prison officials discovered a plastic bag full of marijuana in his sock when he reported to work.

MI: In September, 1995, a jury held that a prison guard who was raped by prisoner Eric Davidson should receive $995,093 in damages. The jury held that another guard, Roosevelt Sherrod, prodded Davidson into committing the rape by making sexual jokes with him and placing a bet as to who would be the first person to have sex with the female guard. Davidson won the bet on January 27, 1993, when he grabbed the guard, dragged her into his cell and raped her repeatedly for 90 minutes during a standoff with prison officials. It is unclear who will pay the jury award, Sherrod or the state. Davidson was transferred to a control unit, and two weeks later was "discovered" hung in his cell, an "apparent suicide."

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