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News in Brief
Columbia: On January 11, 1998, hundreds of prisoners at the San Isidro prison in Popayan took 567 visitors hostage to protest inhumane conditions at the prison. The prisoners demanded better health care; a mattress for each prisoner; potable drinking water and education facilities. The siege ended on January 13 when the government agreed to meet the prisoners' demands.
GA: On December 27, 1997, private prison guards William Rogers and Matthew Joyner were arrested in Dalton and charged with drunk driving and filing a false report that prisoners in their care had escaped. Employed by Federal Extradition Transportation of Memphis, TN, the guards were escorting nine prisoners from Memphis to Georgia, the guards began drinking and fighting in the van. During the argument Rogers pushed Joyner out of the van. Joyner then told police the prisoners had overpowered the guards and hijacked the van with one guard held hostage. Police found the van, stopped it and took Rogers and the prisoners into custody. Both guards were charged with reckless conduct and furnishing prisoners with alcohol. Dalton sheriff Scott Chitwood said "The prisoners didn't do anything wrong. They were on a trip. They were given a beverage and they partook."
GA: On December 9, 1997, Sam Turner, 75, was released from jail. Turner was recently recaptured after 46 years as a fugitive. Turner escaped from a prison road gang in 1951 while serving an 8 year sentence for manslaughter and burglary. He lead a crime free life ever since. Prison commissioner Wayne Garner ordered Turner released saying his continued incarceration would serve no good purpose.
LA: In October, 1997, the Coushatta Indian tribe announced plans to build a private prison in Calcasieu Parish to house state and federal prisoners. The tribe would own the land and prison while the sheriff's department would operate the facility.
MA: On January 2, 1998, former Sussex Correctional institution guards Mark Murphy, James Burton and Michael Truitt pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges arising from an incident where they took prisoner Wade Blankenship, a rapist, handcuffed him to an air conditioner base, pulled his pants down, beat him on the crotch with a broomstick, tried to put a banana in his mouth and took pictures of the incident which they circulated through the prison. All three guards were sentenced to probation. Truitt had agreed to testify against his former colleagues in exchange for leniency. Burton is a member of the Millsboro town council.
MA: On January 9, 1998, Taunton police captain Richard Pimental was charged with larceny of a firearm; filing false reports; interfering with a witness; obstruction of justice and soliciting bribes. Pimental hosts a local cable TV "Crime Watch" show that gained him national prominence when he referred to criminals as "toilet licking maggots."
MT: On January 1, 1998, the state prison in Deer Lodge announced a ban on smoking and tobacco products applicable to staff and prisoners alike.
OH: A 500 bed minimum security prison is being built in Grafton to house only drunk drivers. A new state law requires drivers with five DUI convictions in six years be incarcerated for 2 to 18 months and undergo substance abuse treatment. Prison officials admitted they didn't know if this prison would be enough, since some 107,000 Ohio drivers already have more than 3 DUI convictions.
OH: On December 6, 1997, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DORC) agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Bonita Haynes. Haynes was a DORC case manager killed by prisoners Robert Lonberger and John Daniels in a bathroom at the Lima Correctional Institution. The family's lawsuit claimed the DORC had failed to warn Haynes of the "extremely dangerous" working conditions and the "violent propensities" of the LCI prisoners.
OK: On December 3, 1997, former Ottawa county jail guard Larry Stogedill was sentenced by federal magistrate Sam Joyner to three days in jail after pleading guilty to stealing and attempting to cash a $179 IRS refund check sent to jail prisoner John Kazimer. In a letter to Joyner, Stogedill attempted to blame another prisoner. He said "I felt compelled to help Crayton [another jail prisoner] try to cash the treasury check since Crayton had been taken by me to one of jail secretary's home for sexual liaisons twice a week when Crayton was supposed to be with me shopping for jail supplies at the grocery store."
VA: In December 1997, the state DOC announced it was terminating Spanish and sign language classes, claiming prisoners were learning to communicate without prison staff understanding what was being said.
VA: On December 18, 1997, Marlo Copeland, an employee of ABL Management Inc., of Baton Rouge, LA, pleaded guilty in Norfolk Circuit Court to embezzling $30,736 from the county jail's inmate trust fund. A city audit report concluded that Copeland, the ex manager of the jail commissary, was allowed to embezzle the money due to a lack of oversight and poor record keeping. The sheriff's office estimated the amount of money stolen or missing from the trust fund at $54,600.
VA: On January 12, 1998, former Rappahannock Regional Jail guard Eric Houchens was sentenced to six months in jail for raping a female prisoner. Houchens pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after prosecutors dropped felony rape and attempted sodomy charges against him.
VA : On October 24, 1997, former Brunswick county prosecutor Larry Jones was convicted to failing to file timely state tax returns. Jones didn't file tax returns between 1985 and 1993. District judge Pam Baskerville said she would dismiss the charges against Jones if he complied with state tax laws by June, 1998.
Venezuela : On November 25, 1997, 16 prisoners died and 32 were injured in a fire at La Sabaneta prison. The fire was caused by electrical wiring in a communal cell that overheated from cables used by prisoners to power stoves, radios and fans. The prison was built in 1952 to house 800 prisoners and held 2,000 at the time of the fire.
WA: In January, 1998, Washington State Penitentiary prisoner Reno Maiava pleaded guilty in Walla Walla superior court to one count of custodial assault, a felony, for kicking and punching guard Gary Pierce during a June 18, 1997, brawl at the prison. Maiava faces 3-8 months additional imprisonment.
WA : On January 13, 1998, Snohomish county chief deputy prosecutor Jim Townsend was charged with drunk driving. Townsend was being provided with deferred prosecution, which means all charges are dropped after two years if he completed counseling and commits no other crimes.
WA: On January 26, 1998, King county (Seattle) officials announced they would pay $83,250 to Jerrimi Olsen to settle a lawsuit he had filed. Olsen was falsely accused of burglary and subsequently branded a fugitive on "Crime Stoppers," a TV program, and in "Crime Report Magazine." The TV show, magazine and ViaCom cable which also broadcast Olsen's picture paid to settle claims against them. ViaCom demanded that Olsen not disclose the amount they paid.
WI: On January 25, 1998, Brown County (Green Bay) jail prisoners Paul Ninham and Richard Joy escaped by breaking through a fence and climbing down a makeshift rope from the jail's third floor. They made the rope from bedsheets and their jumpsuits. The naked escapees were recaptured three blocks from the jail.
WV: On January 11, 1998, Jennifer Lockwood-Kerns escaped from the Marion County jail by punching a hole in the jail roof and rappelling to the ground on a rope made from three sheets. Lockwood-Kern's cellmate, Corey Clayton, helped make the hole and then distracted guards by using strawberry Kool-Aid to feign an ear infection. Lockwood-Kerns was recaptured at a motel four hours later.
WY: On December 7 and 14, 1997, prisoners at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins set fire to their cells. In the December 7 fire three prisoners were accused of setting a blaze that injured no one. The December 14 blaze was set by a prisoner who barricaded himself in his burning cell and suffered third degree burns to his face, hands and ears. Seven guards were treated for mild smoke inhalation.
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