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News in Brief

AZ : In November, 1997, the state DOC announced that the construction of a 4,150-bed prison complex at Gila Bend, a 200-bed juvenile prison at the same location and an 800-bed addition to a Yuma prison was $19 million over budget. The combined projects were supposed to cost $190.5 million but cost overruns have already added at least 10% to the initial estimate.

Brazil : On December 27, 1997, police shot and killed 9 unarmed prisoners that had surrendered after a botched hostage-taking escape attempt at the prison of Fortaleza.

Brazil : On December 30, 1997, prisoners at the Sorocaba prison seized 699 visitors as hostages after a botched escape attempt led to a shoot-out. The hostage-taking began when 15 prisoners dressed as women attempted to leave with visitors. Guards recognized the disguised prisoners and opened fire, killing an escapee and a woman visitor. The remaining escapees then took 699 visitors and 17 guards hostage. On January 1, 1998, the hostage-taking ended when riot police stormed the prison, injuring 4 policemen and 10 prisoners. Designed to hold 500 prisoners, Sorocaba held 900 at the time of the incident.

CA : On December 2, 1997, Mark Philyaw, a security guard jailed for outstanding traffic warrants was beat to death by jail guards in the Los Angeles county jail after he refused to bend over for a strip search. Philyaw's family hired the law firm of Johnnie Cochran to represent them. Carl Douglas, a lawyer with the firm, said he wanted to know how a naked, unarmed man could die in custody.

CA : On September 26, 1997, Nevada county sheriff's deputy Bobby Rutledge pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of rape, attempted rape and conducting unlawful strip searches. Six female jail prisoners were Rutledge's victims. As a jail guard Rutledge lacked legal authority to strip search female prisoners.

IA : Former Urbandale police officer James Trimble was sentenced to two years probation, a $1,000 fine and 100 hours of community service after being convicted of stealing seven ounces of methamphetamine from the police department's evidence locker. Prior to his arrest Trimble headed the city's Drug Abuse and Resistance program and acted as a liaison between police and school officials. Trimble was arrested after being pulled over at 4 AM, a search of his vehicle revealed methamphetamines, marijuana, LSD, cocaine and sexually explicit videos and photos. Police said Trimble "had a battery operated sexual device inserted in his body" when arrested. As part of his community service Trimble was ordered to tell schoolchildren about the dangers of drugs. Apparently the judge did not consider whether anyone would want Trimble speaking to their children, about anything.

MI : A rising prison population and legislative refusal to fund new prison construction led DOC director Kenneth McGinnis to announce on November 14, 1997, that the state would send up to 2,000 prisoners out of the state until new prisons are built. The first batch of 50 state prisoners were sent to federal prisons in December.

MT : Freeman militants held in the Billings jail since they ended their 81 day standoff with the FBI in 1996 have encouraged other jail prisoners to represent themselves in criminal proceedings, relying on a bizarre rambling of legal "theories." District judge Diana Barz said "They're contaminating our good criminals."

Northern Ireland : On December 27, 1997, Loyalist Volunteer Force death squad leader Billy Wright was shot and killed in the Maze prison by three prisoner members of the socialist Irish National Liberation Army.

NY : On December 16, 1997, prison guard David Jemmott was sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to kidnapping his three children from their mother as part of a custody dispute.

NY : On November 6, 1997, Attica prisoner Frank Guilloty was shot in the hand by prison guards after he allegedly attacked another prisoners with a homemade knife.

OH : On October 22, 1997, Mansfield Correctional Institution prisoner Augusta Cassana was questioned in the stabbing death of his cellmate, Walter Hardy, in their cell the day before.

OH : On October 31, 1997, a state jury refused to award damages to prisoner Claude E. Smith III, who mistakenly had his healthy prostate removed. Smith's medical records were confused with those of prisoner Claude A. Smith who had prostate cancer. Smith III claimed that after his surgery he lost bladder control and the ability to maintain an erection. The jury ruled in favor of Dr. Jeffrey York, who carried out the surgery, finding that while he was negligent he was not responsible for Smith III's injury. Smith III settled his claims against the Ohio DOC for $30,000 and the Ohio State University Medical Center for $20,000.

Rwanda : On December 3, 1997, 400 Hutu rebels attacked a prison in Rwerere and freed 103 prisoners awaiting trial for their role in the 1994 slaughter of 500,000 people.

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