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News in Brief

CA : On October 1, 1998, about 100 prisoners at the privately run Victor Valley Community Correctional Facility were involved in a fight. Three prisoners required hospital treatment for minor injuries. The prison is run by Maranatha Private Corrections.

CA : On September 19, 1998, the Sonoma county jail held a hostage training exercise. Alas, not all the participants knew it was an exercise. Jail guard Shawn Davidson spent 10 minutes handcuffed and begging for his life from a masked, gun toting jail guard. The drill also took place during visiting hours and two visitors cowered in a booth as the shackled Davidson was held "hostage" by the "intruder." Assistant sheriff Sean McDermott, who runs the jail, acknowledged serious mistakes were made and promised a full investigation. Both Davidson and the "hostage taker" guard have been too traumatized to return to work. The visitors and a prisoner have already filed suit over the incident

D.C. : On September 28, 1998, the Agriculture Department announced a recall of 2 million pounds of beef, pork and chicken patties shipped by Zartic Inc. of Cedartown, GA. The patties were sold exclusively to prisons, hospitals and schools and may be contaminated with salmonella.

D.C. : The Washington Times reported on October 1, 1998, that 18 D.C. Department of Corrections officials were responsible for paying $13,000 in unpaid parking tickets on take home vehicles owned by the prison system. Some of the tickets date to 1994. D.C. employees are responsible for the tickets they receive while operating government vehicles even though some traffic laws do not apply to such vehicles. Among the offenders are: John Thomas, deputy director of operations; Adrienne Poteat, deputy director for institutions; Michelle Elzie, deputy director for management reform; Mark Levitt, deputy director for administration and wardens James Riddick, Patricia Jackson and Arnold Golden. Nothing was said about what would happen if the tickets weren't paid. The D.C. DOC enjoys a national reputation as a cesspool of corruption, which has led congress to close the DOC's Lorton prison complex by 2001.

Dominican Republic: In November, 1998, 70 women prisoners at the Rafey prison in Santo Domingo launched a protest by banging objects against the bars of their cells. The women are demanding the right to have sex with their partners. Under Dominican law prisoners are entitled to sexual relations with their partners. Male prisoners freely exercise this right but, to date, the judiciary has rejected similar demands by women prisoners, claiming it would turn prisons into maternity homes. Prisoner Janet Altagracia Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the protesters, told a reporter. "We want sex; that's our main demand, and we're going to fight for it because we are human beings just as men are." The Dominican Commission for Human Rights is supporting the women's demand.

FL : On November 10, 1998, Palm Beach county sheriffs deputies (jail guards) James Smith and Thomas Lupo were arrested and charged with smuggling food, drugs and alcohol to federal bank robbery detainee Steven Raines. Raines told investigators he paid Lupo $200 for rum and soda pop and $700 for Burger King Whoppers and deli sandwiches. Smith charged Raines $1,242.76 for three grams of cocaine. The deputies would charge Raines up to 100 times the retail cost of legal goods.

NJ : On November 16, 1998, prisoner Steven Beverly was convicted of killing prison guard Fred Baker at the Bayside State Prison. The jury declined to impose the death penalty and sentenced Beverly to life in prison.

NY : On November 24, 1998, Betty Tyson settled a wrongful imprisonment suit against the city of Rochester for $1.25 million. Tyson, a former prostitute, was wrongly convicted of murdering a businessman and spent 25 years in prison before being exonerated.

NY : On October 15, 1998, rabbi Eli Gottesman (73) was arraigned In federal court on charges of attempting to smuggle cocaine and marijuana into the federal prison at Raybrook. Gottesman, voted rabbi of the year in 1987, claimed he was tricked into smuggling the drugs when a prisoner's sister gave him a bottle of shampoo to take her brother at the prison. Federal prosecutors say Gottesman's arrest was the result of a months long investigation by the FBI, NY State Police and the federal Inspector General's office. Gottesman, who is employed as a rabbi by the New York state prison system, has lost his state and federal prison visiting privileges.

OH : On November 16, 1998, prison guard Maurice Morris was charged in Mansfield Municipal court with bribery for delivering "undisclosed items" to prisoners in exchange for money on at least two occasions.

OH : On September 1, 1998, Carroll county probation officer and deputy sheriff Larry Burke was indicted on four counts of bribery and one count of gross sexual imposition. Burke would offer female probationers favorable treatment on parole violations in exchange for sexual favors. He also offered a witness money and legal counsel if she refused to cooperate with investigators.

OK : On October 23, 1998, Oklahoma City district judge Nancy Coats sentenced Charles Knost to two days in jail for contempt of court. Knost was playing with a yoyo in court, which offended the judge.

RI : On November 14: 1998, Scott Hansen walked out of the state prison posing as a federal marshal and convincing a prison employee to sign forged discharge papers. Hansen then robbed a bank.

TN : On October 12, 1998, Tennessee state prisoners Donald Wallace, William Caldbeck, Charles Hayes and Benjamin Underwood cut through a fence and escaped from the South Central Correctional Center in Clifton. The medium security prison is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. The escape did not receive the national publicity an earlier escape from the CCA run prison in Youngstown, Ohio garnered.

TX : On September 25, 1998, Denton county jail guard Floyd Fangman surrendered to police to face charges of aggravated sexual contact stemming from the rape of a male jail prisoner. Texas Ranger Lee Young said Fangman had ordered the prisoner victim into the jail's recreation yard at 3 AM on August 2, 1998, where the rape took place. Fangman threatened to kill the victim if the attack was reported. Young stated DNA tests found Fangman's semen on the victim's underwear and t-shirt. The jail fired Fangman, who was released on bail pending trial.

UT : On September 2, 1998, Salt Lake City sheriff's sergeant William Bills was charged with misdemeanor falsification charges for filing a false police report. Bills claimed jail prisoner Sara Jane Padilla had escaped from his custody while he was taking her to a video arraignment by wiggling out of handcuffs, a belly chain and leaving his police car. According to prosecutors, Bills freed Padilla in exchange for unspecified sexual favors. For a year prior to the escape Bills gave Padilla food, soda pop and unsupervised visits to relatives' homes in exchange for sex. Bills had been a jailer for 28 years before resigning when questioned by police about Padilla.

VA : On November 10, 1998, York County sheriff Preston Williams was convicted of committing five misdemeanor sexual batteries against a female sheriffs' employee. The crimes consisted of Williams groping and fondling the victim's genitals. Williams was fined $2,000 and given an eight month suspended jail sentence. Williams cannot be removed as sheriff due to the convictions and has declined to resign.

WA : On October 24, 1998, Rogelio Vasquez escaped while being transported from the Skagit county jail to the Island county jail. Vasquez slipped out of his handcuffs, took a deputy's gun, pistol whipped him and then fled, assaulted an elderly woman and hijacked a car. Vasquez was recaptured after a fifteen minute car chase. No one was seriously injured.

WV : In July, 1998, former judge Joseph Troisi was ordered to serve six months in jail for violating the terms of his probation. As previously reported in PLN , Troisi was convicted of biting a defendant on the nose. Troisi violated his probation by confronting a court official that had testified against him in the nose biting trial and accusing him of being a liar and bumping his chest.

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