News in Brief
CA : On April 15, 1998, Michael Cherveny escaped from the Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy by hiding in a laundry truck. Cherveny was serving a life sentence as a three strikes offender. Prisoner clothing is transported from Deuel to a nearby women's prison to be washed. Cherveny worked in the prison laundry room. The escape was discovered when guards at the women's prison noticed an 18" hole in the roof of the laundry truck.
CA : Since 1993 when the CDC enclosed 25 of its 33 prisons with high voltage electrical fences, the prison system claims to have eliminated 700 positions for tower guards. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the fences have also eliminated more than 3,000 migrating birds, including several types of endangered and protected species. The birds are electrocuted when they touch the fences. The CDC recently installed $3.5 million worth of netting which has reduced the avian death toll by 93% according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The fences have yet to claim a human victim.
CT : Carl Robinson Correctional Institution guards Karl Anderson and Joseph Blair were convicted on charges of 3rd degree assault and 1st degree unlawful restraint stemming from their March 29, 1997, attack on fellow guard David Provencher. Provencher had cooperated in an internal investigation. In retaliation, Anderson and Blair pushed Provencher into a closet, sprayed disinfectant near his face; became aggressive when he tried to leave; poked him with a broomstick and slammed him against a wall. Anderson filed a motion requesting "accelerated rehabilitation," a form of probation that allows for dismissal of the charges and arrest records.
CT : On March 25, 1998, Bridgeport Correctional Center guard Kevin Moore was showing off his prowess with firearms to some friends when he shot himself dead by pointing an automatic pistol to his head and pulling the trigger. Moore had removed the clip from the pistol but left a bullet in the chamber.
DC : The District of Columbia's Lorton Correctional Complex is scheduled to close in three years. But that didn't stop the federal government from appropriating $7.1 million in April, 1998, for capital improvements in lighting, plumbing, electrical upgrades and a security wall. DC DOC director Margaret Moore defended the expenditure, saying "We still have a responsibility for public safety even though Lorton will be closed by 2001."
DE : On April 20, 1998, a law was enacted requiring that all sex offenders have a special note on their driver's license stating they were convicted of a sex offense. The stated purpose of the law is to alert other states to a sex offender's status should they seek a driver's license in another state. Whether the law can be foiled by claiming to have lost the license when applying for a new one remains to be seen.
DE : On April 28, 1998, Rudolph Hawkins, a former guard at Baylor Women's Institution, pleaded no contest to having sex with prisoner Valerie Daniels. Hawkins resigned as a guard in 1996, after Daniels gave birth and named him as the father.
FL : On April 11, 1998, Jay Sigler escaped from the Everglades Correctional Institution when an accomplice rammed a semitruck through four security fences at the prison and emerged firing a shot gun. Sigler and accomplice Christopher Michelson were arrested the next day, trying to elude police. Their car crashed into another car, killing the driver. Michelson has been charged with first degree murder in the driver's death.
FL : On April 21, 1998, a Palm Beach county jury found Hector Rivas not guilty by reason of insanity for tunneling out of the Glades Correctional Institution in 1995. Rivas escaped with five other prisoners while serving a life sentence for murder. Rivas fired his court appointed lawyer, after first punching him in the face a few times, and represented himself pro se, claiming he fled the prison to escape death threats. Rivas' courtroom behavior included shouting obscenities, smearing himself with feces, shaving his head into a patchwork of tufts and answering judge Harold Cohen's questions with closed eyes and loud snores. Local media described the acquittal as a "stunning courtroom upset."
FL : On April 30, 1998, Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee were each awarded $500,000 for spending 12 years in prison, nine of them on death row, for the murder of two gas station attendants in 1963. Both men were pardoned in 1975 by the governor Reuben Askew, who cited substantial doubts about their guilt after another man confessed to the killings.
MT : The Montana State Prison at Deer Lodge announced on April 3, 198, that it was implementing use of the BodySearch back scatter x-ray imaging system which is designed to detect metallic and organic materials such as drugs or weapons concealed on the human body. Montana is the first prison system to use the device on prisoners, CA is using similar technology on visitors. Little is known about the long term health hazards of repeated, ongoing exposure to the low level radiation used in this technology.
New Zealand : On March 26, 1998, 25 prisoners at the Auckland Prison in Paremoremo took over their cellblock and set fires to protest new prison policies on cell searches. The takeover ended peacefully that same day after negotiations.
NH : On March 24, 1998, Martin Mullen, a guard at the state's prison for women in Goffstown, was charged with sexually assaulting a woman prisoner. The indictment claims that on April 30, 1996, Mullen grabbed the victim's breasts, forced her to put his genitals into her mouth and tried to otherwise rape her. The victim reported the attack after being released from prison. Mullen is on paid leave from the DOC as he awaits trial, free in the community.
NY : On May 1, 1998, Erie County (Buffalo) jail guard Juan Roman shot his wife to death at their children's elementary school.
TN : On April 10, 1998, a prison transport van operated by Transcor America, a subsidiary of private prison business Corrections Corporation of America, crashed on U.S. 64 near Savannah, injuring 10 prisoners and two guards. Driver Jennifer Goins lost control of the van on a curve. Neither Goins nor any of the prisoners, who were handcuffed, shackled and manacled, were wearing seatbelts.
TX : In October, 1997, Travis county jail dentist Bradley Hagen was charged in state court with sexually assaulting a woman prisoner at the jail. The prisoner claimed she was seeking treatment for a sore tooth when Hagen exposed himself and tried to force her to perform an unspecified sex act. Another female prisoner complained that Hagen had fondled her. Sheriff's deputies then placed video cameras in Hagen's office and filmed him make sexual advances to a third female prisoner, after which he was arrested. Hagen had worked at the jail for ten years.
TX : On February 26, 1998, French Robertson unit guards Mike Helm and Victor Bowen were indicted by a Jones County grand jury on misdemeanor charges of violating the civil rights of prisoner Martin Pulido by hitting him and knowing the conduct was illegal. Helm was previously indicted on manslaughter charges in the beating death of prisoner Gary Crenshaw. That charge is still pending. Helm remains employed at the prison, Bowen has quit.
TX : On March 10, 1998, a Liberty County grand jury began hearings to determine if Lucile Plane State Jail security chief Major Jonathan Swint had sex with four female prisoners at the jail. Swint resigned a week before the hearing.
Turkey: On January 14, 1998, 260 political prisoners, members of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKR), ended a 55 day hungerstrike at the Erzurum Special Type Prison. The prisoners demanded an end to isolation and permission to take part in recreational activity. Hundreds of prisoners in other prisons in Turkey took part in solidarity fasts to support the PKR prisoners. The strike ended when the government agreed to the prisoners' demands.
VA : On October 13, 1997, police shot and killed Desmond Vaughn, a masked gunman who bungled the armed robbery of a Stafford Food Lion grocery store. Vaughn, 31, had been employed for six months as a guard at the Greensville Corrections Center in Jarratt. Vaughn's father is a retired police captain. His brother Joel, 29, was wounded in the shootout and faces numerous charges for his role in the robbery.
WA : Beginning in late March, 1998, the Pierce county (Tacoma) jail released 35 prisoners early to reduce overcrowding. Jail chief George Wigen said no violent offenders would be released early.
WA : In February, 1998, an arbitration judge fined the attorney general's office $417,500 for concealing documents requested in discovery by lawyers for children who were sexually abused while in a state run group home in Olympia. Attorney general Christine Gregoire apologized for being caught withholding the documents. Despite having paid out more than $8.5 million to settle lawsuits by victims in the case, in addition to the fine, the AG's office has yet to successfully prosecute a single perpetrator.
WA : On April 8, 1998, Lakewood Municipal court judge Ralph Baldwin announced he would resign after it became known that while presiding over a drunk driving trial he entered the courtroom with a 12 pack of beer and asked jurors to join him for a drink while deliberating. He then drove away from the courthouse with an open, partly consumed can of beer.
WA : On October 13, 1997, King County (Seattle) jail prisoner Diane Powell, 53, escaped from the jail by slipping out of her handcuffs, following a municipal court officer and walking through four security doors to freedom. Powell was dressed in civilian clothes after returning to the jail from a hospital visit. She was recaptured a few minutes later by jail guards and county police, ordering coffee in a restaurant three blocks from the jail.