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News in Brief

Belgium: On July 10, 2000, Bertrand Sassoye, a political prisoner of the Combatant Communist Cells (CCC), was released after serving 14 years in prison. Sassoye had been convicted of participating in dozens of bombings carried out by the CCC against NATO and capitalist targets in Belgium. CCC members Pascale Vandegaarde and Didier Chevolet were released from Belgian prisons last February. Pierre Carette, considered by police to be the leader ofthe CCC, is the sole CCC member who is still imprisoned.

Brazil: On August 7, 2000, Jair Coelho, 68, was jailed on fraud and racketeering charges stemming from his lucrative contract to supply all prison food in Rio de Janeiro state, about 22,000 boxed meals a day. The quality of food supplied by Coelho has been criticized by prisoners and prison officials alike. Coelho has grown extremely wealthy from his prison food monopoly. While in prison awaiting trial he will be eating his company's food. Prison officials placed Coelho in protective custody. "This precaution was taken because there was a risk of retaliation from prisoners who eat the food supplied by his company," said Alvaro Lins, director of the Rio de Janeiro prison where Coelho is confined.

CA: On March 22, 2000, Francisco Gavaldon, 38, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison after being convicted of soliciting to commit murder and conspiracy to file a false police report. At the time of his arrest Gavaldon was employed as a guard at the state prison in Corcoran. Gavaldon had offered his brother-in-law, Dillon Fletcher, 41, $1,000 to kill his ex-wife, Donna Gavaldon. Fletcher cooperated with police to foil the plot. Gavaldon had also asked his then 14 year-old son to hit his 10 year-old sister in the mouth and then blame it on their mother.

CA: On April 24, 2000, race riots, which had ensued for three days at the Pitchess Detention Center of the Los Angeles county jail, left at least one prisoner seriously injured and 80 others injured. Latino prisoners, who outnumber blacks 2-1 in the jail, are fighting with black prisoners. As a result, the sheriffs department has begun to racially segregate the jail. Sheriff Lee Baca claims the riots are being instigated by the Mexican Mafia. The Pitchess jail, which houses prisoners in 60-120 bed dormitories, has had more than 150 major disturbances since 1991. To date, no one has been killed.

CA: On June 8, 2000, U. S. Marshal Peter Hillman, 47, and prisoners Cuahtemoch Ruiz, Rommel Escaonter and Cesar Ramirez died when the van they were traveling in went off the road in Bakersfield. The victims were burned alive when the van burst into flames. The prisoners were shackled throughout the ordeal. The crash occurred when two tractor trailers side swiped each other and caused a chain reaction crash. One other motorist was killed and five others, including U.S. Marshal Mike Delpupo, were injured in the crash.

CO: In early July, 2000, James Rigby, a prison guard at the privately owned Crowley County Corrections Facility, was arrested by local police and charged with impersonating a peace officer. Rigby had showed up at a wedding, in a uniform with a badge and pistol, and ordered the guests to turn down the music. Wedding guests who knew Rigby ordered him off the property and reported his actions to police.

FL: On July 13, 2000, state attorney Harry Lee Coe III, Tampa's prosecutor, shot himself to death alongside a freeway. Coe was being investigated for borrowing $12,000 from two employees he supervised.

Guatemala: On June 29, 2000, Amilcar Cetino Perez and Tomas Cerrate Hernandez were executed by lethal injection for killing Isabel de Botran, a wealthy heiress, during a kidnapping. The men's execution was broadcast live on Guatemalan television.

IN: On July 30, 2000, Roy Miller, 21, a Floyd county prisoner being treated for drug withdrawal and delusions at a local hospital, wrestled with jail guard James Dexter, 29, while being returned to the jail. Miller grabbed Dexter's pistol, shot him twice, ran away and then shot himself to death in an alley. Dexter survived the shooting.

Mexico: On July 9, 2000, guards at the Cheturnal prison in southern Mexico discovered six workers building a six hundred thirty-three foot tunnel into the prison so Colombian drug traffickers could escape.

MI: The Kent county jail in Grand Rapids has a program where jail prisoners can call a toll free number to anonymously report crime tips in exchange for cash rewards.

NJ: On August 2, 2000, state police trooper Timothy Smith, 35, pleaded guilty in Llamuchy Township municipal court to a misdemeanor charge of simple assault stemming from an attack on Justin Mills, a detainee arrested on drug charges on December 27,1999. The attack occurred in the state police building.

NY: The NY Departrnent of Correctional Systems is building 31 observation towers in its 27 medium security prisons. The towers will be used primarily for surveillance purposes. Twenty-seven of the towers will be built by the prison system's prison slave-labor outfit, Corcraft, the remainder will be built by contractors. The projected cost of the towers is $12.5 million.

NY: On May 10, 2000, Michael Carroll, 41, a guard at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility was fired from his job after being administratively charged with lying to FBI and NY Inspector General's Office investigators. Carroll is accused of failing to stop prisoner Sam Hall from assaulting prisoner Justin Eldred Carron also struck Eldred on the head, back, legs and groin with a baton while Eldred was handcuffed and on the ground. For good measure, Carroll planted a 7-inch shank in Eldred's cell, causing Eldred to lose his parole release date. The FBI has also investigated the charges against Carroll but has not yet charged him with any crimes. Carron is administratively appealing his firing.

NY: On July 27, 2000, Millard Lonkey Jr., 47, a guard at the Cape Vincent Correctional Facility, was arrested by the NY State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force on charges of attempted kidnapping and attempting to disseminate indecent materials to a minor. Lonkey was caught in a police sting operation. He thought he was going to meet a 13 year-old girl from Colorado, whom he wanted to have sex with, then raise as his daughter. The "girl" in question turned out to be an undercover policeman.

OH: On April 20, 2000, Youngstown municipal court judge Andrew Polovischak Jr., 48, pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges for conspiring with three criminal defense attorneys to fix cases over which he presided as a judge. The defense lawyers have all pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the FBI.

OH: On June 12, 2000, a state grand jury charged Tamara Welton, 30, with five counts of sexual battery for having sex with Rommell Knox, a convicted murderer. Welton was the Warren Correctional Institution's clothing supply room supervisor and Knox was her assistant. Prosecutors claim the two had sex in a regular basis in the prison clothing room. Welton quit her prison job in the midst of the criminal investigation.

OR: On June 25, 2000, a yard brawl at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem left two prisoners with non-fatal stab wounds and the prison on lockdown. The melee, which involved 100 prisoners, ended after guards fired 17 warning shots. No reason was given for the incident.

TX: On August 8, 2000, Terry Rhodes, 31, escaped from the Wynne unit prison in Huntsville by crashing a tractor trailer rig through a prison fence and then fleeing in a car driven by his wife. Guards fired numerous shots at Rhodes who escaped unharmed. Rhodes worked as a mechanic at the prison and had access to trucks. Rhodes was serving a 45 year sentence for aggravated sexual assault. Rhodes was recaptured a week later.

UT: On July 18, 2000, Utah state prisoner Jason Kirk filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was shot in the groin with a rubber ball by prison guard Robert Grace. Kirk was shot for allegedly refusing to return to his cell on November 11, 1999. As a result of the shooting, doctors had to remove Kirk's left testicle and surgically repair his genitals.

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