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News in Brief

AL: On June 11, 1997, former state governor Guy Hunt was pardoned by the state parole board of his 1993 convictions for looting his tax exempt 1987 inaugural fund of $200,000 which he used to buy cattle and pay personal expenses. Hunt had been sentenced to five years probation, 1,000 hours of community service and a $212,000 fine, which he hasn't paid. Two of the three parole board members were appointed by Hunt to their $66,000 a year jobs. The third owned buildings he leased to state liquor stores under Hunt's administration.

AR: In March, 1997, governor Mike Huckabee signed a law authorizing high voltage electric fences around all medium and maximum security prisons in the state. The fences are supposed to reduce escapes and lower tower staffing costs.

CA: In March, 1997, Santa Clara County prosecutors charged Thomas Mozeliak with failing to register as a convicted sex offender. If convicted Mozeliak faces a life sentences as a '3 strikes" offender.

CA: Film actor Robert Downey paid several hundred thousand dollars in premiums for "incarceration insurance" to allow him to star in the big budget film "U.S. Marshalls" following his recent convictions on heroin, cocaine and gun possession charges. Studios would not hire Downey unless he had such insurance.

CA: Pelican Bay State Prison officials announced they were investigating the strangulation murders of prisoners Richard Hagler and William LaFromboise, on February 28 and March 10, 1997, in their Security Housing Unit cells, apparently by their respective cellmates Leroy Lowery and Robert Johnson. No motive was cited for the alleged murders.

DE: On March 10, 1997, a federal jury awarded Dorothy Carrigan, a state prisoner, $10,000 in punitive damages against prison guard Peter Davis, for having sex with her. Davis claimed the sex was consentual but the court ruled that Carrigan could not validly consent to sex because she was a prisoner under Davis's control.

IL: In March, 1997, state prison guards Adrian Glenn, James Hand and Adrian Selby were indicted in state court for having sex with female prisoners at the Dwight state prison.

LA: Earlier this year prisoner Wilbert Rideau won two awards in the Excellence in Legal Journalism contest sponsored by the Louisiana State Bar Association. When the Bar tried to contact Rideau they were told the prison warden, Burl Cain, would accept the award. An assistant warden accepted the award at a dinner, but no one told Rideau about it until a local newspaper contacted him to ask about it. Cain said no one intentionally refused to tell Rideau of the awards, saying he didn't know Rideau had entered the contest. "We got a granite clock and a plaque," Cain said. "They're sitting on my desk."

MI: In April, 1997, a federal jury awarded former Thumb Correctional Facility guard James Legrow $975,000 in damages finding he had been fired in retaliation for telling prison warden David Trippett that other guards were drinking alcohol with a recently paroled prisoner. The drinking guards were never reprimanded for their actions.

MI: On April 25, 1997, Genessee county jail guard Jacqueline Burns-Epps was arraigned on felony charges for stealing a winning $2,700 lottery ticket from jail prisoner Jimmy Humphries. Humphries planned to use the money to pay the $1,500 in back child support he was jailed for not having paid. Sheriffs investigators learned Burns-Epps had cashed the ticket when Humphries complained the ticket was missing from his jail property. While Humphries languished in jail for not paying $1,500 in child support, Burns-Epps was released on $1,000 bail pending resolution of the charges that she stole $2,700.

MO: In March, 1997, Karen Sanders, former head bookkeeper at the Jefferson City Corrections Center pleaded guilty to stealing more than $23,000 from prisoners being released from prison over a five year period. The state provides money to released prisoners for bus or train tickets home, when prisoners provided their own transportation Sanders would pocket the money. She also stole money from visiting room photos.

NY: On March 24, 1997, a federal jury awarded Westchester jail sergeant Joseph Mascetta $770,000 in damages, finding that jail officials fabricated a prisoner beating case against him In retaliation for his criticism of jail security procedures.

NY: On May 15, 1997, jail guards at Rikers Island began testing electric "stun shields" to subdue prisoners. The shield delivers more than 40,000 volts of electricity. In the April, 1996, issue of PLN we reported that Texas prison guard Harry Landis died of heart failure while "testing" one of these shields.

OH: In 1996 water supplies at the Lebanon and Warren Correctional Institutions had the highest levels of lead in their water supplies, 158 parts per billion, in the state. Fifteen parts per billion is considered the maximum safe level of lead in water. In the December, 1993, issue of PLN we reported the dangers of lead in prison water supplies, copies are available for $5 each.

OH: On May 15, 1997, federal judge John Holschuh pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges in Upper Arlington's Mayor's court. Prosecutors dropped charges of failure to control and leaving the scene of an accident in exchange for the plea. Holschuh was fined $300 and had a 60 day jail term suspended pending completion of an alcohol treatment program.

OK: On April 22, 1997, governor Frank Keating signed legislation abolishing early release and pre-parole programs, requiring prisoners serve 85% of their sentences. This effectively nullifies Young v. Harper, 117 S.Ct. 1148 (1997). As reported in the May, 1997, issue of PLN, the supreme court held that OK prisoners had a due process liberty interest in remaining in such programs, by abolishing the program any liberty interest is probably eliminated as well.

TX: In April, 1997, federal judge Sam Sparks affirmed a jury verdict awarding Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employee Laverne Bragg $109,000 in damages and $39,000 in attorney fees after she won a sexual harassment suit against various prison officials. The jury found Joseph Hodge kissed, groped and harassed Bragg against her will and when she complained to her supervisors they retaliated against her. Judge Sparks stated: "The verdict evinces a deep disgust felt by a jury made to watch three days of an astonishingly arrogant string of contradictions, inconsistencies, misrepresentations, equivocations, prevarications and outright lies spun by various levels of supervisors at the TDCJ." Hodge had previously been fired by the state liquor agency for sexually harassing female employees there. Taxpayers will pick up the tab in this case.

TX: On April 28, 1997, Coffield Unit prisoner Rigoberto Mendoza was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of possessing a deadly weapon in prison. Mendoza used an 8 inch shank to stab a handcuffed prisoner eight times.

TX: On May 6, 1997, three death row prisoners, Arnold Johnson, Leopoldo Narvaiz and Miguel Richardson, tried to escape from a prison van while returning from a San Antonio court hearing. The trio somehow removed their leg irons and handcuffs and attempted to overpower a guard and take his gun during a rest room stop. Prison spokesman David Nunnelee said the attempt failed when: "The other officer was able to beat them off with his baton." The prisoners were returned to death row at Huntsville without further incident.

WA: In June, 1997, Heather Wells a prisoner at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, filed a $3.5 million claim against the state after she was impregnated by a prison guard who raped her.

WA: In March, 1997, former state Bar Association president Lowell Halverson was accused by independent counsel Andrea Darvas of having sex with six female clients he represented in divorce actions over a 20 year period. Darvas said Halverson's conduct made him unfit to practice law and recommended he be disbarred.

WA: On June 19, 1997, seven prisoners and three guards were injured in a fight that broke out in the yard at the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla. The most seriously injured, according to news reports, was prison guard Gary Pierce who suffered facial injuries and a broken ankle while trying to break up a fight between 11 prisoners. Four warning shots were fired by tower guards.

WA: Seattle municipal court judge Stephen Schaefer avoided criminal charges after he was caught shoplifting cologne and neckties at a Nordstrom department store by paying the store $200. Schaefer had been charged with third degree theft, a misdemeanor. News reports said Schaefer used a "little known law" called "compromise of misdemeanors." Perhaps the law is "little known" because only wealthy defendants get to use it? Schaefer makes $81,300 a year as a judge.

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