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News in Brief

AK: In October, 1997, Alaska state police announced they were searching for Virginia parolee Wil Adams, AKA Skip Adams Taylor, on felony gun charges. Adams served 16 years in Virginia prisons for murdering a young woman. Paroled in 1995 Adams moved to Barrow and was hired as a clerk in the local probation office to monitor Alaska felons. Adams' past was discovered when he wrote a local newspaper criticizing an Eskimo seal hunt. Eskimo leaders claimed Adams wrote the letter on his state computer. A background check then discovered his felony conviction and Adams went on the run. The state DOC announced they would conduct background checks before hiring probation and parole clerks.

CA: In July, 1997, Wackenhut Corrections Corp. was awarded the largest ever privatization contract for a prison-a 2,048 bed minimum security prison in Taft. The contract is expected to generate some $300 million in revenues over the next ten years.

CA: On July 23, 1997, Castroville jail prisoner Gregory Lucas had his legs severed when a speeding car crashed into a jail truck being loaded with litter by prisoners. The car driver and two other prisoners were injured.

CO: In July, 1997, the small farming town of Wiggins voted 194 to 155 to reject a proposal by Wackenhut Corrections Corporation to build a 1,000 bed medium security prison in the town.

DE: Former DOC Lt. Dennis Loebe pleaded guilty to four counts of offensive touching involving the sexual assault of a nine year old girl. On September 5, 1997, he was sentenced to four years probation and an $800 fine.

GA: On August 30, 1997, three DOC employees at the Autry state prison in Pelham, including warden Carl Bass, were fired for pushing, shoving and hitting prisoners who refused to participate in an unspecified prison program.

Honduras: In August 1997, prisoners at seven prisons rioted for a week to protest lengthy delays in trials and sentencing. More than 700 prisoners escaped during the riots. Most Honduran prisons are over 100 years old and severely overcrowded. Less than 10% of the nation's 10,000 prisoners have actually been convicted of anything. The rest are on trial or awaiting trial. At least two prisoners were killed in the riots.

IN: On August 1, 1997, the state banned smoking in all 32 of its prison facilities. The ban affects 16,000 prisoners and 4,000 staff.

Iran: On June 8, 1997, revolutionary political prisoners began a hungerstrike to protest inhumane prison conditions and efforts by prison officials to force them to vote in recent presidential elections. Within a month five prisoners had died and seven had been executed by the government.

MA: In September, 1997, former Sussex Correctional Institution guards Mark Murphy, James Burton and Michael Truitt were charged with coercion, offensive touching, second degree unlawful imprisonment, third degree conspiracy and official misconduct, all misdemeanors. The charges stem from an attack on prisoner Wade Blankenship, serving a life sentence for rape and burglary, who claimed the guards handcuffed him to an air conditioner, pulled down his pants, beat him in the groin with a broom stick and forced a banana into his mouth, took pictures of the attack which they then circulated around the prison. Blankenship paid the guards soda pops to destroy the photos but they did not. The three guards were fired by the prison.

Morocco: On September 6, 1997, 28 prisoners died in a fire at the Casablanca prison complex at Oukacha, which holds about 8,000 prisoners. No cause was given for the fire.

MS: On June 16, 1997, prisoners at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs, a 1,000 bed prison operated by the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, spent at least two days on lockdown after four guards were injured in a fight involving several prisoners. That incident occurred the same day prisoner kitchen workers staged a work stoppage. A week prior to the disturbance a home made pipe bomb was discovered in the ceiling of a vocational classroom at the prison. State senator Robert Smith cited lax security at the prison for the incidents. After the June 16 incident 65 prisoners were transferred to the State Penitentiary at Parchman.

NM: On August 18, 1997, six prisoners escaped from the Bernalillo county jail by cutting an 18 inch hole in a thin metal wall. Jail guards and other prisoners were apparently busy watching "Baywatch."

NY: In April, 1997, Catholic Charities awarded Onandaga county prosecutor William Fitzpatrick its lifetime achievement award. The award sparked outrage among many Catholics because Fitzpatrick is an outspoken advocate of the death penalty, which the Catholic church nominally opposes. Fitzpatrick, a Catholic, said he does not believe state murder violates his faith. He received the award anyway.

NY: On August 12, 1997, Ulster County jail guard Chris Closi was indicted on charges of third degree assault, a misdemeanor, for attacking jail prisoner Joel Rivera, 17. Rivera suffered a broken nose and thumb and an eye injury. Closi was suspended without pay and also charged with misconduct by the sheriff's department. If convicted Closi faces up to one year in jail.

NY: On August 14, 1997, Comstock prisoner Detroy Livingston was sentenced to 18 years to life, consecutive to his current life sentence, after being convicted of first degree Promoting Prison Contraband. The contraband in question was a razor blade guards claim to have found in Livingston's legal papers while taking him to a court hearing involving a lawsuit against prison officials. Livingston claimed he did not know the razor blade was in his papers.

NY: On October 1, 1997, John Walsh, a former Orleans county jail guard was convicted of violating the civil rights of Norvin Fowlks, a jail prisoner. On three separate occasions Walsh ordered Fowlks to display his penis and then stepped on it. Prosecutors proved that Walsh, who weighs 395 pounds, twice told Fowlks to place his penis on his cell bars where Walsh stepped on it and on another occasion Walsh stepped on Fowlk's penis as he lay on a cell floor.

PA: On August 29, 1997, the U.S. Penitentiary at Lewisburg was locked down after prisoners Abdul Salaam and Frank Joyner, both of Washington D.C., were stabbed to death during a fight that left four other prisoners injured. No comment was made on the cause of the fight.

RY: On June 4, 1997, a Jefferson Circuit Court jury awarded former LaGrange prison dentist Maritza Jenkins $335,000 under the state's whistleblower law. The jury found Jenkins was retaliated against by prison officials for complaining of numerous ethical, safety and medical violations in the prison hospital. Eventually Jenkins resigned.

TX: In May, 1997, Michael Unit prisoner Tyrone Hall was convicted of possessing a weapon in prison, a sharpened spoon, and sentenced to 15 years in prison, consecutive to his sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a child. Guards testified Hall emerged from his cell with the spoon and attempted to stab them.

TX: On July 17, 1997, Wichita Falls prison guard Cynthia Pearson was jailed and charged with solicitation of capital murder. Pearson sought to have her husband, also a guard at the Allred unit, killed.

TX: On September 3, 1997, Houston homicide detectives arrested Lt. Byron Blue, a supervisor at the Harris county juvenile boot camp program on charges that he tampered with logbooks showing how often supervisors checked on youths at the facility. An unnamed youth hanged himself in his cell on September 2, 1997. Blue was supposed to check on the youth every 15 minutes and didn't. After the death Blue attempted to alter the logbooks to cover up his neglect.

WA: On August 15, 1997, Mercer Island police Lt. Richard Smith was charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor, stemming from charge he had sex with a woman traffic offender in the city's electronic monitoring program which Smith supervised.

WA: On July 25, 1997, Manuel Luiz and Stephen Luiz were sentenced to 37 and 18 months, respectively, in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiring with Donald Lorig to assist in the escape of three federal prisoners from the Kent jail by cutting through bars in a cell window with a torch. Lorig was sentenced to five years probation and the three escapees were eventually recaptured.

WA: On October 8, 1997, unidentified vandals used an excavator to smash eight pieces of heavy construction equipment at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, causing at least $500,000 in damages. Construction at the prison, a 2,000 bed prison complex, will be delayed for several weeks as a result. A construction shack was also burglarized and construction plans and records for the prison were taken.

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