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News in Brief

Australia: On May 6, 1996, 30 prisoners in Adelaide's maximum security Yatala prison took 3 guards hostage and threatened to kill them if police stormed the prison. No reason was given for the hostage taking.

Brazil: On May 9, 1996, 53 prisoners escaped from the Carandiru prison by digging a 300 foot tunnel. The prison is the largest in Brazil and houses 6,305 prisoners in downtown Sao Paulo. Police said the tunnel was well made and included electric lights and fans.

CA: The Los Angeles city council passed resolutions to obtain state surplus funds to open an empty 4,000 bed county jail. The $373 million Twin Tower facility is empty because the county does not have the $90 million in annual operating funds to run it.

Central African Republic: In April, 1996, soldiers angry at not being paid, forced their way into the nation's prison in the capital of Bangui and ordered prison guards at gunpoint to open all the cells. The soldiers then freed all the prisoners and allowed them to leave the prison. News reports did not indicate how many prisoners were freed.

Columbia: Alleged drug traffickers ran up a $200,000 phone bill by making calls to 25 countries from a phone number assigned to the chief of the nation's judicial police.

Denmark: As part of an ongoing biker war gunmen stormed the Horseroed jail, 30 miles from Copenhagen, and attacked a jailed member of the Bandidos motorcycle gang with a hand grenade and automatic weapons fire. The prisoner was wounded, but prison officials said his "life was not in danger." The attackers escaped. The prison raid came one week after attackers, assumed to be Bandidos, fired anti-tank missiles at two Hell's Angels' clubhouses in Copenhagen.

Dominican Republic: On May 11, 1996, prisoners at the San Cristobal jail near the nation's capital of Santo Domingo rioted, leaving at least six dead and more than 40 injured. The cause of the riot differed according to the source: prisoners' relatives said it began as a factional dispute between prisoners who started fighting then set fire to the jail; guards said it began after prisoners stabbed and burned alive a prisoner accused of rape and then set fire to their beds. The prisoners seized two wings of the jail and national police were called in to regain control. Most of the dead and injured prisoners had stab wounds.

FL: The Miami Herald reported that on February 17, 1996, the day after losing a major drug case, US Attorney Kendall Coffey went to the Lipstick Adult Entertainment Club, ordered a $900 magnum of champagne and a private dance. During the private session Coffey struggled with the dancer and bit her on the arm. The incident is being investigated by the Department of Justice, while the US attorney's office previously told media the incident "never happened." Coffey later resigned.

GA: On April 30, 1996, the GA DOC fired Columbus State Prison warden Richard Szabo for violating DOC rules by allowing his adult daughter to live in state paid housing. In addition to that he was conducting unspecified personal business and using state employees to do the work on state time.

IA: On May 1, 1996, the state followed AL, AZ and FL in implementing chain gangs at the Iowa men's Reformatory in Anamosa and the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility. Prisoners are not chained together but instead are shackled individually. Three guards supervise about 10 prisoners who work along roads and in parks cleaning brush. IA is using the chain gangs as a disciplinary measure with only prisoners found guilty of rule violations being forced to work on the chain gang.

IN: On March 21, 1996, the state supreme court dismissed Vigo county judge William McClain from the bench and barred him from practicing law for two years. The court found that McClain had sent a used condom to a courthouse secretary in an effort to establish a relationship with her in a letter designed to show her boyfriend was unfaithful to her. A DNA test confirmed the semen was McClain's. The court stated: "These actions constitute willful misconduct and violate the ethical standards respondent was obligated to uphold." McClain denied the allegations claiming the semen belonged to his cousin.

MI: In June, 1987, a MI prisoner was sentenced to 1.5 to 20 years for cocaine possession, along with 1-5 years for possession of a firearm, to run concurrently. Two months after sentencing the judge rendered an amended sentence, reducing the 1.5-20 to 1.5-4 years. The amended sentence was placed in the prisoner's DOC file and forgotten. He spent nine years in five different MI prisons, was seen by the parole board four times, and had his parole denied four times, yet nobody realized the "mistake."

NM: San Juan county commissioners said they would release some prisoners from the overcrowded county jail and charge them with fines in order to reduce the jail population to 315. The jail, designed for 244 prisoners, now holds 344.

Russia: On May 8, 1996, Alexander Maslich, a prisoner who was awaiting execution after being convicted of killing and eating a prisoner in July, 1995, strangled his cellmate with a blanket in the Siberian prison he was held in. Maslich cut out the victim's liver and was in the process of cooking it in his cell over a fire made of rubber piping when prison guards discovered the killing. We won't hazard a guess as to what Maslich wants for his last meal.

WA: Gil Vaughn, former police chief of Castle Rock, was facing trial for the second time on sex charges involving a teenage girl. He claimed the stress was so great he could no longer work. In March, 1996, a Cowlitz County review board agreed and awarded him lifetime disability benefits of $17,982 a year plus health benefits and cost of living adjustments. It seems the only time sex offenders get a break is when they are employed by law enforcement agencies.

WA: In April, 1996, Seattle policeman Daniel Nelson was charged with official misconduct and patronizing a prostitute. He was charged with accepting an unspecified sex act in return for not taking the prostitute to jail on an outstanding arrest warrant.

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