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News in Brief

AL : In September, 1998, Madison county (Huntsville) prisoners Rodney Baker, Antonio Davidson, Steven Dillard and Nara Lemons, were charged with murder for allegedly beating prisoner Robert Sevigny to death.

AL : Mario Centobe (32) is the Mississippi prisoner who escaped from a prison van when he and fellow prisoner Jeremy Granberry overpowered a guard taking them to a court hearing. Centobie was recaptured and was awaiting trial in the Etowa county jail on charges of shooting one policeman and killing another who had tried to recapture him. On October 10, 1998, Centobie escaped the jail by walking out with the help of Donna Hawkins, a jail employee.

CA : In October, 1998, Santa Clara county began using an interactive kiosk to allow detainees to post bail using their credit cards. The kiosk is like an ATM machine, except instead of dispensing cash it offers release from jail, if the detainee can afford it. Defendants get the basic bail amount back once the case is resolved. If they use a bail bond agent or the kiosk the defendant must pay a non refundable "fee" of $500.

CA : On September 29, 1998, a brawl between 30-50 black and white prisoners broke out in the yard of the United States Penitentiary at Lompoc. The fight started after a football game between prisoners.

CA : On September 30, 1998, 150 prisoners at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran were involved in a fist fight in the prison yard. No serious injuries were reported. The fighting ended after guards fired warning shots.

FL : On October 8, 1998, Robert Hollinger (69) was arrested on escape charges after he applied for social security benefits. Hollinger escaped from an Alabama work camp in 1956 where he had served two years of a 15 year sentence for stealing 15 pigs. Hollinger had remained free and out of trouble for the past 42 years. He was being returned to Alabama for a parole board hearing to determine if he would be returned to prison. Prison systems routinely give the Social Security Administration computerized lists of escapees.

ID : Beginning November 1, 1998, the DOC began charging its prisoners $3 to access medical care and $2 for each prescription.

KS : On November 7, 1998, six prisoners escaped from the maximum security section of the Wyandotte County Correction Center in Kansas City. Jail officials said the men escaped by picking the locks of their cells.

MN : On September 8, 1998, prisoner Matthew Conroy died after being beaten by other prisoners in a fight at the state prison in Moose Lake.

NJ : Immigration detainees at the Corrections Corporation of America run INS detention center in Elizabeth staged a three day hunger strike. The detainees were protesting expensive phone calls, poor food quality and the slow pace with which asylum applications are processed. The facility has been fraught with brutality, corruption and mismanagement for years, as previously reported in PLN .

OH : On October 26, 1998, Diane Johnson, a former nurse at the Orient Correctional Institution (OCI) was charged in Pickaway county court with smuggling marijuana into the prison. OCI prisoners John Barnes and Walter Hunt were charged with extortion, theft and impersonating a police officer as part of a telephone scam to extort money from the elderly in order to buy drugs for Johnson to smuggle into the prison. Carolyn Novack and Cindy Funk were arrested in Michigan as accomplices to the scheme.

OH : On October 8, 1998, Kenneth Reed, a cook at the London Correctional Institution, was arrested after accepting 20 grams of marijuana and advance payment to smuggle the drugs into the prison. Reed was set up in a sting operation after prison officials learned he planned to smuggle drugs into the prison.

OR : In October, 1998, prisoner Mark Davis was stabbed to death in the yard of the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.

OR : On October 5, 1998, Clackamas county district attorney Terry Gustafson was indicted on two felony counts of perjury by a state grand jury. Gustafson had been ordered to destroy the criminal records of a juvenile defendant who had been acquitted of sex abuse charges. Gustafson kept the records and then lied about it to a judge and a state bar trial panel investigating her conduct in the matter.

PA : In September, 1998, 50 prisoners at SCI-Coal Township fought each other with baseball bats and other recreational equipment. Several prisoners and three guards were injured and the prison was locked down.

South Africa : On July 20, 1998, president Nelson Mandela cut six months from the sentences of all of the nation's 148,000 prisoners. The sentence reduction was to celebrate Mandela's 80th birthday.

Turkmenistan : On October 6, 1998, President Saparmurad Niyazou granted amnesty to 8,000 prisoners on the 50th anniversary of a deadly earthquake that killed 160,000. The amnesty applies to all prisoners that are women, children, invalids, veterans, men over 50 and patients with cancer or TB.

TX : On October 1, 1998, Edward Rosas, a guard at the Montford unit state prison in Lubbock pleaded guilty in federal court to the armed robbery of a Loraine bank. Rosas stole $8,551 and spent the money on drugs, alcohol and partying.

VA : Henrico county jail guard Duane Carter was charged with grand larceny, marijuana possession and selling a firearm to a felon on September 28, 1998. Carter was accused of stealing a Glock 9mm pistol from the sheriff's department and then selling it to a convicted felon. Police learned of the theft from the unidentified felon.

Vietnam: On August 27, 1998, president Tran Duc Luong signed a general amnesty releasing 5,219 prisoners to celebrate National Day on September 2, 1998. To qualify for amnesty prisoners must have served at least one third of their sentence or 12 years for life sentences. Like most countries in the world Viet-Nam periodically grants prisoners amnesty.

Vietnam : In its second major prisoner amnesty in as many months, the government announced on October 23, 1998, that it was releasing 2,630 prisoners as part of a presidential amnesty.

WA: On August 12, 1998, Washington State Penitentiary prisoners Randy Capps and Steven Rice attempted to escape by assaulting a prison guard and hijacking a garbage truck. The attempt failed when the truck became entangled in a chain link fence after the escapee's tried to crash through it. This is at least the fourth unsuccessful escape attempt involving trucks crashing through fences at the prison in the last 15 years.

WA: On July 13, 1998, Clallam Bay Corrections Center prisoner William Caietti III was charged with second degree assault in Clallam County superior court. Prosecutors claim Caietti threw scalding water into an unidentified guard's face and then punched him several times. The guard suffered second degree burns and a fractured nose.

WA: On July 7, 1998, the state DOC settled a lawsuit with Martha van Wijk (53) for $1.9 million. Van Wijk was shot and paralyzed in 1993 by Robert Ballarin. Ballarin was a former boyfriend who had been convicted of attempting to rape and assault Van Wijk. Van Wijk filed suit claiming the DOC was negligent in supervising Ballarin because she had told his parole officer he was stalking her and no action was taken. The settlement includes provisions for Van Wijk to receive $3,000 a month for the rest of her life from the state of Washington.

WA : On August 21, 1998, Vern Ballew, a Washington State Penitentiary prisoner, received the DOC's gold star award for saving the life of prison truck driver Curtis Jent. Jent was driving a truckload of goods for the WSP warehouse with Ballew along to unload the truck. Jent suffered a heart attack while driving. Ballew was able to stop the truck, restart Jent's heart and summon help. Ballew received no sentence reduction for his good deed and will serve out the remaining 9 months of his 42 month sentence for assault.

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