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News in Brief
CA: In February, 1997, officials at the Corcoran prison announced they had uncovered an organized effort by prisoners in the Protective Housing Unit (PHU) to market Charles Manson memorabilia. Photos and other items were found in nine PHU cells and the prisoners were charged with operating an illegal business. Manson was not accused of knowing participation.
CA: In January, 1997, Los Angeles county opened its $373 million Twin Towers jail after it had sat vacant for 15 months due to a lack of operating funds. The 4,000 bed jail is expected to be full by year's end.
CO: On January 22, 1997, a federal jury in Denver awarded $362,500 in damages to former Ordway state prison guard Sandra Haberman. Haberman claimed male guards taunted her with comments about the size of their penises and requests for sexual favors.
CT: Danbury lawyer Barbara Monsky sued state judge Howard Moraghan in federal court, claiming she suffered emotional distress and was denied access to the courts when Moraghan's golden retriever "aggressively nuzzled" her when she appeared in the judge's courtroom wearing a skirt. Prior to the suit being filed the judge brought his dog to court every day.
DE: Eligibility requirements at a 100 bed Sussex county boot camp are so restrictive only 25 prisoners met the entry criteria when the prison opened in January, 1997.
FL: In March, 1997, Sprint Corporation announced it had been awarded a $65 million contract to provide long distance phone service to prisoners at 53 state prisons.
FL: On December 3, 1996, Anderson Tate died in the St Lucie county jail after swallowing cocaine. A jail surveillance camera captured jail guards on film taunting Tate as he sat chained to a chair pleading for help for three hours. No help was summoned until Tate stopped breathing and went into convulsions. Two guards were fired and five disciplined in the incident.
FL: On March 25, 1997, Pedro Medina's head erupted into flames during his state murder in the electric chair. Attorney Michael Minerva, who witnessed the event, said "It was brutal, terrible. It was a burning alive, literally." Flames shot up from Medina's head and burned for 10 seconds after the first jolt of electricity hit him. In 1990 another prisoner caught on fire while being electrocuted. Florida attorney general Bob Butterworth said Medina's murder would act as a deterrent. "People who wish to commit murder, they better not do it in the state of Florida because we might have a problem with our electric chair."
IL: On January 14, 1997, prominent trial lawyer Robert Holstein was arrested when Chicago police found 13 grams of pot in his briefcase while he entered the Cook county courthouse. Holstein had a pass allowing him to enter the courthouse without going through security but he did not use it. After drug detection devices alerted to the briefcase Holstein still had the option of refusing consent to the search but he allowed the search anyway.
NY: On March 11, 1997, state assemblywoman Susan John was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. John sponsored that state's "zero tolerance" law against teenagers who drink and drive. John plead guilty to the charge with no comments on her hypocrisy.
OH: On January 26, 1997, Southeastern Correctional Facility guard Christopher White was arrested and charged with felony intimidation and retaliation. Police allege White left threatening messages on the voice mail of another prison employee because he was unhappy another guard was disciplined for telling inappropriate jokes.
OR: In December, 1996, career prison snitch Melvin Lee Davis was charged in federal court In Portland with conspiring to shoot into the homes of federal judges, magistrates and court clerks. Prosecutors allege Davis orchestrated the crime from his state prison cell in Massachusetts, after which he promptly turned in Pablo Tee Stalligs as the actual gunman. Davis has a long history of doing the same thing: instigating crimes by others he meets in prison and promptly ratting on them. In 1980 Davis and ex prisoner Robert Lee Johnson joined the Islamic Guerrillas of America and plotted to intimidate federal officials investigating the murder of an Iranian dissident. As part of the plot Davis and Johnson fired shots into the home of then Bureau of Prisons director Norman Carlson and one of his aides. Davis then turned in Johnson, neglecting to mention his own involvement in the shootings. Sentenced to ten years in prison Davis has spent the last 17 years persuading prisoners to commit crimes and then ratting on then when they do. He asks for sentence reductions and prison transfers but in the process has picked up several new prison sentences himself. He has plied his trade across state and federal prisons ever since. See December 16, 1996, Seattle Times for more details.
OR: The state penitentiary in Salem was locked down for several days in December, 1996, when prisoner Jacki Sharp was stabbed to death in the prison's furniture factory. A fire was also set in the factory.
SC: Turbeville prisoners are currently wearing "Prison Blues" jeans stenciled "S.C. Dept. of Corrections" on each leg. The jeans, made by prisoners for the Oregon DOC, retail for $39 a pair. The South Carolina DOC recently banned personal clothes for prisoners in that state. Apparently state taxpayers are flush enough to dress the prisoners in designer jeans.
TX: In October, 1996, governor George Bush Jr. announced a state jail would be named after deceased victim rights advocate Pam Lyncher (yes, that was her name), who founded "Justice for All" in 1993, three years after she was raped. Lyncher died in the July, 1996, crash of TWA flight 800 while en route to Paris.
TX: On February 18, 1997, Republican state senator Drew Nixon was arrested and charged by Austin police for offering $35 to an undercover policewoman posing as a prostitute in exchange for oral sex, and for carrying an unlicensed 9mm pistol in his car. Nixon apparently has a things for guns and hookers. In 1993 he was arrested in East Dallas when police stopped his car and found three known prostitutes and a loaded .357 magnum revolver in the car with him. Nixon's official senate biography states he favors "a strong criminal justice system."
TX: On February 2, 1997, 20 prisoners at the San Angelo jail rioted after Tom Green county sheriff Dan Gray banned jail visits by children under fourteen claiming it was "too dangerous." Gray noted that several children have been run over by patrol cars in the jail parking lot.
TX: On March 4, 1997, Garland city jail guard Shane Goodman was arrested and charged with raping a female prisoner at the jail.
WA: On March 23, 1997, Anthony Williams attempted to escape from Monroe's Washington State Reformatory by climbing over the prison wall at 7:50 PM. A tower guard fired a warning shot and Williams became entangled in razor wire around the wall, allowing guards to capture him.
WA: John Demos, one of the most prolific frivolous prisoner litigants in the country, made the news again when he sued Kellogg's claiming a box of corn flakes was "only partially filled, and the corn flakes were over toasted and stale." He sought $55,000 in damages for mental and emotional suffering. Demos has been banned from every state and federal court in Washington, the ninth circuit and U.S. supreme court, so he filed this suit in federal court in Michigan where judge Douglas Hillman promptly dismissed it as frivolous.
WA: On March 3, 1997, federal prisoners Anatoli Federov, Martin MacCauley and Gerald Zachow escaped from the Kent City Jail after an outside accomplice used a cutting torch to cut through a metal frame in their cell window, which allowed them to escape. In the windowsill police found a Monopoly "get out of jail free" card. All three werre eventually recaptured .
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