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News in Brief

AR: On August 11, 1999, a Lafayette Co. jail guard received a 5 year suspended sentence for having forcible sex with the wife of a prisoner as "payment" for letting her have a private visit with her husband. Michael A. Null, 38, pleaded guilty to felony charges of first-degree sexual abuse and bribery.

AR: On October 3, 1999, Kenneth Williams escaped from the maximum security Cummins Unit prison in Varner. Williams had been sentenced to life without parole a month earlier in the kidnapping murder of a female college student. Williams is a suspect in the shooting death of Cecil Boren, whose body was found in his home six miles from the prison shortly after Williams escaped. Boren's truck had been stolen.

CA: An unidentified prisoner died after falling off a 150 foot cliff on July 18, 1999. He was one of 50 state prisoners digging a fire break to stop a 2,000 acre brush fire northwest of Los Angeles.

CA: On Aug. 11, 1999, former federal prison guard Jon Hyson, 38, pleaded guilty to four counts of engaging in illicit sexual acts and one count of making a false statement. He admitted having sex with female prisoners when he was employed at FCI Dublin and lying about the encounters to investigators.

CO: In October, 1999, the Corrections Corporation of America run Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington announced that prisoners "had managed to hack into the prison's accounting system and add some $6,000 to the commissary accounts of numerous prisoners"   which they promptly spent.

CT: On September 1, 1999, 74 prisoners at the Webster Correctional Center in Cheshire were involved a brawl. Prisoners Douglas Davis and Javier Diaz suffered a puncture wound to the back and a slash wound to the face, respectively. An unidentified guard suffered an injured wrist.

DC: Donnell Reed, a prisoner in a wheelchair at the CCA-run Correctional Treatment Facility, died in March 1999 during an escape attempt. Reed apparently had sawed through bars covering an eighth-story window then swung himself out on a rope made from bed sheets. He fell to his death when the sheets gave way.

FL: In September, 1999, Thomas Fortner, a former warden at prisons in Jasper and Madison, was demoted to assistant warden and transferred to a different prison. Fortner was administratively found to have created a hostile work environment due to a pattern of having indiscreet, long running affairs with female subordinates. The demotion cuts his annual salary from $65,560 to $58,000.

Germany: On September 16, 1999, Germany announced it would sue the United States in the World Court in the Hague for the Arizona execution of German citizens Karl and Walter LaGrand earlier this year. The LaGrands were executed despite U.S. violations of the 1963 Vienna convention which gives foreign criminal suspects the right to assistance from their nation's diplomatic mission. Pleas by the German government and the World Court to halt the executions so the claims could be considered were denied.

Jamaica: On October 8, 1999, 23 prisoners escaped from the maximum security Tower Street Adult Corrections Center in Kingston by climbing over a 20 foot wall with ropes and wood. Ten of the escapees were on death row at the time. Four of the escapees were recaptured within hours of the escape.

LA: On July 1, 1999, Orleans Parish (New Orleans) sheriffs deputy Alonzo Butler was arrested on charges that he forced a male prisoner at the jail to perform oral sex on him while he was on duty.

LA: On July 10, 1999, Tindell Murdock, an Orlean Parish (New Orleans) sheriffs deputy was sentenced to five years probation, given a five year suspended sentenced and fined $10,000 after pleading guilty to sexual malfeasance in office. The charges stem from Murdock raping a woman prisoner in a courthouse stairwell. Murdock claimed, over the prisoner's denial, that the sex was consensual. Louisiana law prohibits sex between prisoners and staff.

MA: On July 2, 1999, John Carillo, a 60 year old Rhode Island prisoner serving his life sentence in Massachussets for killing a prison guard 26 years earlier, stabbed Paul DiPaolo in the chest with a shank. DiPaolo is the warden of the Souza-Baranowski prison in Shirley, a prison named after two dead prison guards. DiPaolo only suffered minor injuries in the attack. Massachusetts prison officials had refused to send Carillo to a lower security prison so he could be paroled, this was apparently despite a court order in his favor in this issue. See: Carillo v. Dubois, 23 F. Supp.2d 103 (D MA 1998)[PLN, July, 1999].

Macau: In May, 1999, this Portuguese colony off China's south coast announced it would hire 90 Nepalese Ghurkas as prison guards for the Macau Central Prison. Officials said rising violence at the 600 bed prison were a concern. Ghurkas are considered to be among the toughest soldiers in the world.

MN: Jesse Ventura's prison system appears to be unique in the nation in that it places its prisons on lockdown for holidays claiming budget limitations preclude the hiring of sufficient guards to do otherwise. A memo from the Oak Park Heights which was sent to PLN has the "holiday lockdown schedule" for the year. Prisoners will be locked down for 24 hour periods for Labor day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and News Years.

NM: On May 28, 1999, a .38 caliber handgun was reported missing from a perimeter patrol vehicle at the Wackenhut operated Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, New Mexico. Prison officials aren't sure what happened to the firearm.

NM: The FBI arrested an unidentified San Juan County Detention Center guard in August 1999 and the agency is investigating others in connection with a drug and sex ring. Officials say jail guards coerced female prisoners into performing sex acts in exchange for drugs, cigarettes and other contraband items.

NY: Hit with repeated lawsuits over Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) exposure by prisoners and staff alike, the New York Department of Correctional Services announced in July, 1999, that it would gradually ban all smoking inside prison buildings by January 1, 2001.

NY: In July, 1999, the Second circuit court of appeals affirmed a $300,OOO jury award to Orange County jail guard Armondo Bilancione. Bilancione filed suit after the jail forced him to wear Navy Oxford shoes which were too tight on his feet. The tight shoes caused Bilancione to develop bone growths and nerve damage in his feet. The jail ignored letters from his doctor asking that Bilancione be allowed to wear different shoes. The jury also found that the jail retaliated against Bilancione for complaining about the shoes. Including attorney fees, the jail will wind up paying around $505,692 in this case.

NY: Prison guard Frank Mydlarz, 47, collapsed and died on August 1, 1999 after responding to a fight at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock. The prison was placed on lockdown.

OK: In August, 1999, state fire marshall Gary Hubert ordered the minimum security section of the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite closed. Hubert found that the section was uninhabitable due to overcrowding and crude electrical wiring done by unlicensed prisoner electrical workers. 180 prisoners were moved to other facilities.

PA: On August 20, 1999, Norman Johnston, 48, was captured in Mendenhall. On August 2, 1999, Johnston escaped from the Huntingdon state prison where he was serving a life sentence for four murders in 1978. Due to the highly publicized escape, the entire state prison system was ordered locked down by governor Tom Ridge and more vigorous counting procedures are now used.

TN: Jason Kennedy Frazier was serving 2-1/2 years for bank fraud in 1996 when he allegedly wrote a fictitious letter from a federal prison warden to a U.S. District Judge   recommending a sentence reduction. In July 1999 Frazier was indicted on four new federal charges related to the forged letter. He faces up to ten years if convicted.

TN: Sequatchie County Sheriff Joe May was arrested August 18, 1999 on three counts of official misconduct. May, 64, is accused of using prisoners to move furniture, build a foundation and do landscaping and chores on his personal property.

TX: On August 13, 1999, a grand jury in Lubbock indicted Lubbock jail sergeant Thomas Hendrick and corporal Jerrold Welborn on felony charges of evidence tampering. The charges stem from their efforts to falsify evidence and criminal charges against a jail prisoner.

TX: On August 24, 1999, four prisoners at the Terrell unit in Livingston were wounded in a confrontation between the Crips and Bloods. Five prisoners were Involved in the incident. Of those, three were treated at the prison for puncture wounds and a fourth was hospitalized with multiple stab wounds to his chest.

TX: On August 24, 1999, two unidentified prisoners at the Coffield unit in Tennessee Colony drowned while mapping out where to place a barbed wire fence. One of the prisoners decided to cool off by swimming in a cattle tank. When he started to drown the other prisoner jumped in to save him and he too drowned in the tank.

Venezuela: On June 11, 1999, 26 prisoners escaped from the Barcelona prison by crawling through a sewer pipe that led outside the prison. Inside the prison, another 700 prisoners were on hunger strike protesting lengthy court delays that often mean prisoners serve the maximum sentence allowed before they are ever brought to trial, much less convicted of anything.

WA: On September 22, 1999, Bruce Duncan, a guard at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe was arrested on charges of attempting to smuggle drugs into the prison after five grams of marijuana were found in his lunch box as part of a drug smuggling investigation.

WA: On September 30, 1999, Vicky Howell, a guard at the Twin Rivers unit of the Monroe Correctional Complex was arrested on prison grounds on a warrant from the Kirkland police department charging her with check fraud.

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