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News in Brief

Brazil: On May 28, 1998, 22 prisoners were killed by other prisoners at the Barretto Campelo prison. Designed to hold 400 prisoners, the prison held 1,200 at the time of the incident. Police claim the killings occured as a group of prisoners sought to avenge the death of a popular guard. A third of the prison was destroyed in fighting before police retook the prison.

CA: In March, 1998, the CDC announced it would purchase three 43 foot long, armor plated, 38 passenger prisoner transport buses for $450,000 each. The buses are made by Motor Coach Industries, a North Dakota company specializing in prison transport buses. By comparison, regional transit buses that run on natural gas cost $280,000.

CA: On April 2, 1998, Tammy Heptner escaped from the Merced county jail by slipping away from other prisoners, blending in with jail visitors and walking away unnoticed. Heptner had been arrested for failing to appear on drug charges.

CA: On March 10, 1998, 180 immigration detainees at a privately operated INS prison in EL Centro rioted for 12 hours to protest night searches at the facility and lengthy delays in immigration proceedings and appeals. Three unidentified guards who had attempted to conduct a nighttime search were injured by the detainees and two barracks suffered extensive damage.

CA: On May 31, 1998, fourteen prisoners at CSP-Solano in Vacaville were injured, one seriously, in four separate fights at the prison. Sixty prisoners participated in the fights. No reason was given for the fighting.

CA: On May 5, 1998, the Los Angeles county jails settled a lawsuit with convicted child molester John Eric Chambers for $150,000. Chamber's lawsuit claimed jail guards conspired to have him attacked by other jail prisoners and then ignored his cries for help as he was beaten by a dozen prisoners.

CT: On April 12, 1998, DOC guard Gregory Frederick was reinstated to his former job at the Manson Youth Center in Cheshire, with back pay, by the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration. Frederick had been fired by the DOC after he was convicted of calling state senator Alvin Penn and leaving a voice mail message calling the senator a "nigger" and other vulgar names. Convicted of second degree harassment, Frederick received "accelerated rehabilitation" allowing expungement of the conviction after completing probation. Penn denounced the probation and arbitration decisions. "What is the message in terms of tolerance and compassion? Call someone a `nigger' and get your job back?". Penn asked. Frederick had placed the call in question while on duty at the prison.

GA: On April 30, 1998, Stacey Mann and Jesse Hamilton, members of the Georgia DOC's riot squad, resigned in lieu of being fired for exposing their buttocks and belly to Freaknik partygoers. 200 DOC riot guards were on hand in Atlanta in the event of disturbances during Freaknik, a spring break party by students. A DOC supervisor saw them expose themselves and reported the incident. Four other unnamed guards were removed from the tactical squad and suspended for two weeks without pay because "they changed their stories a time or two," according to DOC commissioner Wayne Garner.

IA: On April 10, 1998, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 2989, the largest union representing state workers, picketed outside the Iowa State Penitentiary to protest DOC policies allowing private businesses to employ prisoners.

IN: On May 9, 1998, four prisoners at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City were stabbed in a fight between forty prisoners in cellhouse D. Several guards suffered minor injuries during the fight. No reason was given for the fight.

KY: State prisoners are helping build the Fulton County jail. Architect Jim Woodrum claims the county is paying $775,000 and getting a $1.5 million jail. Prisoners are pouring concrete, doing masonry work, wiring, plumbing and carpentry. The minimum security prisoners are estimated to have done 90% of the work building the jail.

MI: On April 15, 1998, a federal jury awarded $12.9 million to the family of Edward Swans, who died in the Lansing city jail after a struggle with guards.

MS: In May, 1998, Stanley Russell, the DOC's former top doctor was charged with the felony of giving $60 and $40 to two different prisoner patients. No details on the circumstances were provided.

NY: In June, 1998, Roy Thomas, a guard at the federal Metropolitan Corrections Center in Manhattan, was charged in federal court with bribery and conspiring with an unnamed jailed drug dealer to steal 100 kilos of cocaine from a rival drug dealer and then selling the drugs himself. Prosecutors claim Thomas took $1,500 in cash from the jailed drug dealer in exchange for smuggling unspecified contraband into the jail.

NY: On June 6, 1998, former Riker's Island jail guard Darrel Harris was convicted and sentenced to death for killing three people in a social club robbery. Harris is the first person convicted under New York's new death penalty law (which PLN predicts will be found unconstitutional because defendants can avoid the death penalty if they plead guilty). Harris had received awards for bravery while employed as a jail guard.

OR: In May, 1998, the Springfield City police department settled a lawsuit for $2 million with Eric Proctor and Christopher Boots who spent 8 years in prison for a murder they didn't commit.

TX: On January 15, 1998, former Nolan county sheriff Jimmy Buckley pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling $20,000 in money paid to the county to house federal prisoners in its jail.

TX: Steven Jay Russell has been reported in News in Brief more than anyone else. This is his third mention on his third successful escape. On January 16, 1998, Russell was given a special medical parole by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles based on forged medical documents claiming he was dying of AIDS. Russell was paroled to a South Texas nursing home where he was given a two week pass to receive AIDS treatment in Houston. Russell then called the nursing home, posing as a doctor, and told them he had died in treatment. Russell was arrested in Florida on April 9, 1998, after Texas police learned he was alive and visiting an ex lover in the Dallas jail posing as a lawyer and seeking bank loans posing as a millionaire.

UT: On May 29, 1998, misdemeanor battery charges were filed against DOC probation officer Wayne Ashton. Ashton is accused of smashing a bar patron's face into a bar and pool table repeatedly. Ashton continues his DOC employment. If convicted he faces six months in jail.

VA: In May, 1998, the Virginia DOC announced it would house 300 medium security prisoners from Delaware for one year at a daily rate of $60 per day per prisoner. Due to overestimating its own prison growth and a prison building program, the Virginia DOC now has 3,600 empty prison beds it is seeking to rent until 2001, when its own population will catch up.

WA: In late March, 1998, Richard Harrison was charged with two felony counts of assault for going to the King County jail in Seattle on March 18, 1998, where he punched a man standing in the jail entrance, grabbed a woman and dragged her to the security counter, assaulted a female guard and demanded her gun, went up a stairwell and assaulted a guard there. Harrison was eventually subdued. Harrison had been released from state prison earlier that day on a robbery charge.

WA: On May 6, 1998, Special Offender Center guard Bernard Smith was arrested by Pierce County police for shooting an army officer in the foot and stomach in a "road rage" incident. Smith was shot in the arm by the victim during the confrontation.

WA : On October 16, 1997, Kevin Keo, a supervisor at the Indian Ridge Youth Camp in Arlington was charged in Snohomish county superior court with two counts of second degree sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of attempted third degree child molestation. Prosecutors claim Keo fondled, groped, made sexually suggestive comments and had sex with many of the children in his care at the juvenile prison.

WI: On May 6, 1998, several hundred guards held a rally at the state capitol in Madison to protest new DOC rules requiring guards to report any contact with police to their superiors. With no sense of irony, or shame, one guard's sign read: "Kangaroo Court: Land of the DOC." Fox Lake prison sergeant Chad Froh told reporters that a major complaint by guards was that when they infract prisoners, "Supervisors sometimes throw the tickets out." Froh claimed that this undermined guard's authority.

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