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News in Brief

News In Brief

Australia: On August 28, 2000, 100 Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers rioted at the Woomera detention center and set fire to four buildings. The detainees are seeking political asylum after arriving illegally in the country. News services did not report the causes of the uprising.

Brazil: On August 17, 2000, a clash between rival gang members in a maximum security prison in the nation's capital of Brasilia left 11 dead and 2 wounded. On August 13, 2000, a suspected drug dealer was killed and his fellow gang members decided to avenge his death. According to Cicero Antonio de Araujo, the prison's security director, rioting prisoners seized the prison yard, killing 11 prisoners, stacked the bodies in a bathroom and set them on fire using old mattresses as kindling. De Araujo noted that some of the "dead" may have been burned alive. Several hundred riot police later stormed the prison and restored order.

CA:On August 28, 2000, Lee Beck, a San Quentin prison guard was jailed on assorted drug charges stemming from his smuggling of drugs into the prison. Beck's arrest was the result of a California Department of Corrections internal affairs investigation. Beck is the vice president of the San Quentin chapter of the powerful California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the union which represents prison guards. Asked for comment, CCPOA spokesman Lance Corcoran simply said Beck was presumed innocent and had been a loyal CCPOA advocate in the past. The CCPOA has successfully opposed CDC plans to search guards for contraband on a regular basis.

CT: On August 3, 2000, John Barletta, a prisoner at the Northern Correctional Institutions control unit slashed prison warden Lawrence J. Myers and major Michael LaJoie with a razor shank. Prison guards Frederick Hanning, Peter Kuhlmann and Jerry Wawrzyk received cuts and bruises while struggling with Barletta. Myers was cut on the face and LaJoie was cut on the arm and fingers. Barletta was in the prison's control unit after he strangled his cellmate at the Garner Correctional Institution on March 17, 1999, Kenneth Briggaman, 28. Briggaman had decided to use the toilet in their cell while Barletta was eating a soup. Barletta killed Briggaman and then told guards to "get this dead motherfucker out of my cell." Barletta was convicted of Briggaman's murder. Asked by state police why he had attacked Myers, Barletta said it was because guards had confiscated a white supremacist bible from him and Myers refused to return it. Barletta was also upset that he was not allowed to have a TV while prisoners on death row in the unit were. Interviewed on video by state police Barletta said "I got the motherfucker" and showed his middle finger to the interviewer.

El Salvador: On August 21, 2000, six prisoners were seriously injured after being attacked by a group of prisoners at the Usulutan prison. The victims were attacked by armed prisoners in retaliation for insulting prison visitors and demanding money from them. The injured prisoners were later placed in protective custody.

FL: On August 14, 2000, Abelardo Silva, 45, a prisoner at the South Florida Reception Center, refused to go to breakfast. When prison guard Mario Rodriguez tried to force Silva to go, Silva broke his wrist. Rodriguez suffered cuts to his face, head and chest. Another guard, Mario Corrales, also suffered minor injuries. Silva had recently been convicted of battery on a law enforcement official.

FL: On September 5, 2000, a federal grand jury indicted Gerald Timms, 39, a Martin Correctional Institution prisoner on three counts of receiving child pornography by mail. Timms wrote to U.S. postal inspectors posing as pornographers and ordered photos of children engaged in sex acts. The photos were duly delivered to Timms in April, 2000, by prison officials cooperating in the investigation. Timms, serving a sentence for rape and second degree murder was scheduled for release from state prison on October 22, 2000.

KS: On August 14, 2000, Billy Holler, 33, a guard at the Corrections Corporation of America prison in Leavenworth, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of attempting to possess cocaine with intent to deliver. Holler had told a policeman posing as a drug dealer that he was willing to deliver crack cocaine to prisoners at the CCA facility and had done so before.

Kenya: On September 5, 2000, 6 naked death row prisoners were shot and killed while attempting to escape from the King'ong'o maximum security prison in Nyeri. The prisoners had used their prison uniforms to make a rope which they used to scale the prison's 25 foot wall at 2:00 AM. Two prisoners successfully escaped. All 8 prisoners had been sentenced to death for armed robbery. Kenya has 2,000 prisoners sentenced to death but has not carried out any executions since 1985. Prison officials are investigating the escape itself as well as whether guards used excessive force.

NV: On July 23, 2000, rap singer Ice T performed a concert at the 1,500 bed medium security Southern Desert Correctional Center. Ed Flagg, president of the Nevada Corrections Association, denounced the concert, claiming "It shows a complete lack of respect for the officers who work in the prisons on a daily basis with these inmates." Ice T was the subject of controversy in the early 1990's for releasing a song called "Cop Killer." Under police pressure, Ice T withdrew the song from his albums. With no sense of irony, Ice T has made his movie career by favorably portraying policemen.

NY: On August 13, 2000, Arthur Alalouf, 47, shot four New York city policemen and was later killed by police after he bought a shotgun and assault rifle and told his parents he would kill the first policeman he saw. Alalouf had been employed as a jail guard on Rikers Island during the years 1982 through 1984. He had a history of mental illness and had not been employed since leaving the jail guard position.

NY: On August 21, 2000, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn indicted George Gallego and Hamed Elbarki, prisoners at the Federal Correctional Institution in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, on charges of defrauding their fellow prisoners. Also charged was James Gallego, George's brother and a New York city policeman. Prosecutors claim that George and Elbarki told other prisoners they knew a corrupt Drug Enforcement Agency Agent who could get them out of prison early by arranging a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors where the prisoner would agree to inform on criminal activity in exchange for early release. One prisoner's family gave James $15,000 in cash, another gave him $10,000. James gave some of the money to Elbarki's family and kept the rest for himself and his brother. George Gallego is himself the beneficiary of such a "cooperation agreement" and had his sentence reduced by informing on his criminal colleagues. The federal criminal justice system must be truly overwhelmed by informants when prisoners are willing to pay thousands of dollars to become snitches.

OH: On May 27, 2000, Naomi Sutton, 31, was charged with two felony counts of conveying drugs into a prison. Sutton was arrested after attempting to smuggle five marijuana filled balloons into the Southeastern Correctional Institution in Lancaster. News reports did not indicate if Sutton was a prison employee or a visitor.

OH: On June 14, 2000, Antonio and Antione Gray were sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of theft in Hamilton county common pleas court. Over a two year period the brothers placed 4,989 collect calls from the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon. The calls were routed through the Hamilton county Department of Human Services by two employees who knew the brothers. Taxpayers paid for the $21,000 cost of the calls. Both men are serving lengthy sentences for murder.

OH: On August 14, 2000, summit county (Akron) jail guards John Koehler, 34, and Karl Schmidt, 37, were fired for assaulting jail prisoner D'Jhon Mitchell on August 8. Mitchell was not seriously injured.

OH: The Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville opened in 1994. The prison is sinking into the ground. As a result, one 270 bed dormitory has already closed due to cracks in walls and floors sloping so badly that doors would no longer close. The prison is built on land that was strip mined for coal in the 1970's. Nancy Raeder, head of a local activist group that opposes building on reclaimed land, said: "This is landslide country. It's a common sense issue. If you've lived around it, you know you can't build on it." Ohio prison officials have hired consultants to study the problem.

Saudi Arabia: On August 14, 2000, Abdel Moati Mohammed, 37, had his left eye surgically removed in his country's first eye for an eye punishment in 40 years. Mohammed was convicted of throwing acid in the face of Shihata Ajami Mahmoud in an argument over money in 1996. Mahmoud has undergone over 30 reconstructive surgeries and remains disfigured. In addition to the removal of his eye, Mohammed was fined $68,800 and ordered to serve an undisclosed prison term. Mahmoud turned down an offer by Mohammed to pay him $213,000 in exchange for foregoing the surgical punishment.

SC: On August 25, 2000, Richland county jail guard Kenneth Goins, 38, was arrested and charged with assaulting jail prisoner Richard Middleton. Police claim Goins hit Middleton on the forehead with handcuffs, threw him to the ground and jumped on top of him. Goins was placed in the jail's segregation unit after his arrest.

TX: On July 17, 2000, Terrell Unit (Livingston) prisoner James Wilson was found strangled to death with a shoestring.

TX: In August, 2000, Coryell county prosecutors filed charged against county jail prisoners Wyse McMullen, Nicholas Mejias and Anthony Thompson. The men were charged with stealing weapons and ammunition from the jail's "secure storage" facility and planning to escape from the jail.

VA:On August 1, 2000, a Wise county circuit court jury acquitted former Red Onion State Prison guard Scott Yates, 21, of assault. Yates had been charged with beating shackled prisoner Timothy Grimes on October 16, 1999, at the prison. The beating was videotaped and the video was shown to the jury. Yates claimed he beat Grimes to "regain control of a dangerous situation." The Virginia DOC fired Grimes after the incident.

WA:Effective June 30, 2000, Cowlitz county superior court judge Randolph Furman resigned as part of a deal with the state judicial conduct commission. Furman was found to be using court computers to surf sexually explicit websites on the internet as well as online auction, personal finance, shopping and travel sites, all in violation of state law and judicial canons.

WA:The Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane suffers from a roof design flaw that causes prison buildings to leak. The Department of Corrections claims to have fixed most of the leaks by modifying overhangs at the prison. The state is now suing Phoenix, Arizona based Kitchell Contractors, the company that built the prison in 1993--1994. Kitchell is suing Spokane companies Lydig Construction, Graco Construction and Spilker Masonry for their substandard work. Lydig Construction is also suing three manufacturers who supplied building materials for the prison: Layrite Products Co., Johnson Masonry and W.R. Grace. The leaking roofs come in addition to having had to replace the prison's water cooling and heating system a few years due to faulty design problems.

WA:An unidentified jail guard at the King County Regional Justice Center in Kent was suspended for a month without pay after placing itching powder in the bed of four jail prisoners as a prank.< style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Two other jail guards involved in the incident have resigned. One of the prisoner victims, Steven Ostrander, 27, said one of the guards who resigned brought the itching powder to the jail after a verbal confrontation with him.

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