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News in Brief

CA : On January 8, 1998, Lancaster state prison guard Elizabeth Begaren was shot and killed by four men while driving on a freeway. The assailants chased Bergaren's vehicle and forced it to stop on an on ramp in Anaheim where she was shot in front of her husband and 10 year old daughter.

CA: Richard Fritch was arrested in January 22, 1998, and charged with possession of stolen property Fritch was arrested in French Camp while wearing a jacket stenciled "Property San Joaquin Co. Jail." The jackets are only for prisoners. After being booked into the jail Fritch was duly given another jacket.

CA: The Los Angeles Times reported on January 21, 1998, that almost 700 prisoners were held an average of 6.9 days past their release dates in Los Angeles county jails. One prisoner was held 260 days past his release date, two others were held over 90 days past their release dates. The sheriffs office has paid 548 prisoners held a total of 3,694 days past their release dates almost $200,000 if they agreed not to sue. Defense attorney John Burton has filed a class action lawsuit against the sheriff's department claiming prisoners rights are violated when they are routinely held past their release dates. Burton estimates that as many as 50,000 of the 200,000 prisoners held in the jail each year are held past their release dates.

Canada: In the early 1960's 23 women prisoners at a federal prison in Kingston, Ontario, were given LSD as part of a psychology experiment with full knowledge of prison and government officials. A commission has recommended that the Canadian government offer the drugged prisoners a full apology and a settlement package.

FL: On February 20, 1998, Collier County sheriff's investigators announced they would seek perjury charges against former Hendry Correctional Institution guard Michael Allison. Allison is currently serving a sentence for manslaughter after strangling his ex wife to death in front of their young daughter. The perjury charges stem from claims Allison made at a parental rights hearing where he denied depleting a joint bank account and trying to get money from prison co workers by telling them his oldest son had leukemia, which he did not.

Mexico: On March 3, 1998, prisoners at the Santa Maria Ixcotel prison in Oaxaca rioted to protest poor living conditions, frequent shakedowns and corruption among staff. The riot began at 6 a.m. when 740 of 1,200 prisoners refused to go outside for the daily headcount. The prisoners then attacked guards with metal poles and stones and threatened to blow up tanks of cooking gas. One guard was killed, 6 wounded and 16 were taken hostage during the uprising. The rebellion ended later that day when Oaxaca state attorney general Roberto Martinez agreed to fire prison warden Alfredo Martinez for corruption and abuse of authority. The released hostages said they were well treated by the prisoners. Twenty prisoners were injured during the riot. Outside the prison, relatives of the prisoners had thrown stones at police and protested in support of the rebelling prisoners.

MI: On January 12, 1998, former Genesee county jail guard Jacqueline Burns-Epps was fined $260 and given two years of unsupervised probation for stealing and cashing a $2,700 winning lottery ticket belonging to jail prisoner Jimmie Humphries. Burns-Epps pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of larceny under $100. Burns-Epps is now a school teacher at the Buell elementary school.

NH: On February 2, 1998, former Brentwood prosecutor William McCallum was sentenced to 2 years in jail after being found guilty of 65 counts of possessing stolen property. McCallum unsuccessfully claimed that a bipolar disorder caused him to steal art, books and computers from schools, libraries and museums across New England.

NJ : On January 2, 1998, the DOC prohibited prisoners from receiving clothing from outside the prison system. Beginning May 1, 1998, all prisoners will be required to wear khaki prison uniforms. Acting Corrections Commissioner Gary Hilton said the move to only prison issued clothing was to "promote orderliness" and "control excess costs." Hilton did not explain how spending millions to buy clothes for all prisoners would "control costs."

NY: On February 10, 1998, Louis Soto and Damon Glover, prison guards at the Sing Sing prison in Ossining, were arrested and charged with rape and robbery. Assigned to the prison's escaped prisoner unit, Glover and Soto were both on duty when they went to the Bronx posing as New York City policemen and robbed a brothel. They robbed several of the prostitutes and raped one. When police arrived Glover and Soto were loitering on the premises. The NY DOCS had no comments on the arrests.

OH: The Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DORC) announced new rules which prohibit condemned prisoners from personally making last statements before they are executed. Under the new prison policy condemned prisoners will be given an opportunity to write a last statement six hours before being killed. The prison warden can then alter, summarize, release in its entirety or not release the statement at all. The reason given for the policy is allegedly to spare the friends and relatives of victims from spiteful, profane or abusive comments by the condemned. There is no provision for any type of review of the warden's decision or to preserve the statements for later study by scholars or journalists.

TN: The January 4, 1998, death of prisoner Douglas Mattes was ruled accidental by pathologists. Imprisoned at the South Central Correctional Center in Clifton, a private prison run by Corrections Corporation of America, Mattes was found hanging in his cell with his hands tied behind his back. The cause of death was listed as "auto erotic death syndrome."

WA: On March 10, 1998, a fight between 150 white and Hispanic prisoners took place in the big yard of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Guards fired 11 warning shots before the incident ended 15 minutes later. Prison staff claimed not to know the reason behind the incident.

WA: On March 12, 1998, former King County (Seattle) jail guard Jeffrey Jones was sentenced to 9 years in state prison after pleading guilty to selling cocaine on three occasions to FBI agents and selling criminal history information from county computers to FBI agents.

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