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News in Brief

AL: Citing "loyalty problems," on June 19, 2000, prison commissioner Mike Haley removed deputy commissioner John Shaver from his $71,000 a year job as head of the DOC's treatment programs. Shaver was transferred to a post as administrative services officer at a state prison, with a $20,000 a year pay cut. No details were given for the demotion.

AR: On July 12, 2000, former Washington County Detention Center guard Earl Guillory Jr., 38, of Fayetteville, admitted he performed oral sex on two girls under the age of 17 who were imprisoned at the jail. Guillory had already pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree violation of a minor and had been sentenced to six years probation. Guillory violated the terms of his probation by writing hot checks, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison. Apparently writing bad checks is deemed a more serious offense than raping imprisoned children. At the sentencing, judge William Storey told Guillory , "You've gotten a huge break in these cases. I hope you'll take advantage of it."

Brazil: On July 12, 2000, 800 prisoners at the Ahu provisional prison in Curitaba seized control of the prison to protest overcrowding as the prison was designed to hold 300 prisoners. The prisoners seized 17 prison employees as hostages and burned the prison's main building.

Canada: On May 17, 2000, at least 70 prisoners in Toronto's West Detention Center went on hunger-strike to protest jail cutbacks in tobacco sales and smoking. The jail's goal is to become smokefree by the end of the year.

CO: On May 17, 2000, 30 prisoners at the Luna County Detention Center protested poor food quality at the jail by barricading themselves in a cell and setting a mattress on fire. Guards seized control of the cellblock after 30 minutes. No injuries were reported.

CT: On May 16, 2000, state prison guard Anthony Maldonado, 32, was charged with second degree assault, first degree reckless endangerment, theft of a firearm and two counts of threatening. Maldonado is accused of finding his ex-wife in her boyfriend's car, smashing the car's window, pistol whipping the boyfriend and then threatening to kill his ex-wife. Maldonado was arrested at home where police confiscated numerous firearms.

KY: On June 30, 2000, Tom Dreher, warden of the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, resigned from the state DOC. On May 18, 2000, Dreher was drunk when he crashed a prison vehicle into a highway guard rail.

MS: On June 14, 2000, a fight broke out in Unit 29 of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman after a church service. Fourteen prisoners were injured, including two who were stabbed. Some 80 prisoners were involved in the ruckus. No reason was given for its cause in media.

NJ: On May 17, 2000, Kershaw county jail guard Michael Wach was charged with brining cigarettes into the jail for two unidentified prisoners (and charging them $10 a pack to do so), and then helping them attempt to escape. Wach was being held in the Camden county jail for his own protection.

NJ: On April 25, 2000, New Jersey Training School for Boys guards Richard Ousley, 47, and Roberto Medina, 47, were charged in state court with official misconduct, child cruelty and witness tampering. In 1999, seven high school students touring the juvenile prison were separated from their classmates, lured into a cell where juvenile prisoners offered a closer look at prison life by shoving and punching them. Two of the prisoners involved in the incident have already been convicted and sentenced to 5 and 3 years in prison, respectively. Two more await trial. The guards' charges stemming from their role in allowing the incident to occur and then trying to cover up the attack.

NY: On July 3, 2000, Pablo Rodriguez, 44, a guard at the Rikers Island jail in New York City, was arrested and charged with raping a 34 year old female jail prisoner.

OH: On June 6, 2000, Harry Adkins, 53, was arrested by state police while breaking into the London Correctional Institution's cattle field area to hide 3.5 ounces of marijuana and 50 prescription pills. Cathleen Pennington, 29, was arrested when she returned to the prison to pick up Adkins. Both were charged with conveying drugs into a prison. Apparently breaking into a prison is not a crime.

OR: On June 28, 2000, a tear gas canister on the vest of a guard at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem exploded accidentally, forcing the evacuation of a cellblock and the prison visiting room. Prison officials said they would contact the grenade's unnamed manufacturer.

TX: On June 10, 2000, Norman Saxer, 31, a guard at the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice's Byrd Diagnostic Unit in Huntsville was arrested on charges of strangling and shooting his neighbor, Emily Thorson, 18, in Conroe. Thorson had helped Saxer's wife move out of their apartment when the couple separated on May 26. Saxer had threatened to kill anyone who helped his wife leave him.

TX: On July 13, 2000, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct reprimanded Houston district judge Lon Harper for disassembling and cleaning two Colt revolvers during jury selection in the 1999 capital murder trial of Anthony Haynes, who was sentenced to death for killing a policeman. Harper told media, "I guess I won't do anymore handgun repair on the bench."

Turkey: On July 5, 2000, military police stormed Istanbul's Bayrampasa prison to retake it from protesting prisoners. Five hundred political prisoners took 11 guards hostage, seized the prison and burned large parts of it to the ground. The prisoners were protesting the removal by military police of a political prisoner accused of rioting at the prison a month before. Turkish prisoners are frequently subjected to savage torture by the Turkish military and police. On the same day, leftist prisoners at the prison in Burdur barricaded themselves in their cells to prevent 11 prisoners from being taken to court. Police claimed only one guard was injured by flying glass when both prisons were stormed and retaken.

USA: On July 10, 2000, president Bill Clinton commuted the prison sentences of Louise House, Shawndra Mills, Amy Pofahl, Serena Nunn and Alain Orozco. All five were serving sentences for drug offenses. White house spokesman Jake Siewert said Clinton commuted the women's sentences because, "The president felt they had served a disproportionate amount of time. They received much more severe sentences than their husbands and boyfriends."

UT: On March 22, 2000, Allen Russell, 30, was charged with manslaughter in the heroin overdose death of Dustin Robertson. Both men were prisoners at the Utah State Prison in Draper in June, 1999, when Russell injected Robertson with heroin. Robertson later died of an overdose.

UT: On June 6, 2000, former Utah State Prison sergeant Jerry Kessler was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to one count of attempted forcible sexual abuse and misdemeanor sodomy. Kessler admitted to forcing at least two male prisoners to perform oral sex on him as well as anally raping one of the victims. One of the victims spit Kessler's semen into a rubber glove after oral sex and gave it to his girlfriend during a visit. The girlfriend gave the semen, and reported the crime, to local police who matched the semen to Kessler with DNA testing. Kessler had threatened to have the prisoners beaten or killed by other prisoners if they did not submit to his sexual demands.

VA: On May 12, 2000, Wallens Ridge State Prison warden Stanley Young filed a defamation and libel suit in local federal court against The New Haven Advocate, The Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Post newspapers; Connecticut state legislators Alvin Penn and Michael Lawlor, and Carolyn Nah, president of the Connecticut NAACP. Young claims the newspapers and legislators have defamed him by accusing him of being a racist and encouraging his almost all white prison staff to abuse the mostly black and Hispanic prisoners sent to Wallens Ridge by the state of Connecticut. Young's display of "civil war memorabilia" in his office has raised hackles in Connecticut. The suit claims the defendants have conveyed the impression that Young is a racist, a member of the KKK, a liar, and tolerates abuse of his staff. A defense to libel and defamation suit is whether the claim is true or not.

WA: On June 16, 2000, some 45 Hispanic prisoners at the Washington State penitentiary at Walla Walla were involved in a fistfight that left prisoner Miguel Cortes, 22, with serious head injuries. Guards fired 10 warning shots to quell the melee. The prison was locked down until June 19, 2000, as prison officials purported to investigate the cause of the fight.

WI: On June 23, 2000, sergeant Jason Sorenson broke into a locked cabinet at the Racine Youthful Offenders Correction Facility, took a shotgun, barricaded himself in a bathroom and shot himself to death. Two months earlier, Nick Sheller, another guard at the prison and a friend of Sorenson, committed suicide with Sorenson's pistol. No reason was given for either death.

WI: On July 10, 2000, Emily Lewandowski, 30, a DOC probation officer, was charged in Milwaukee circuit court with one count of misconduct in public office. Lewandowski is accused of forging the signature of probationer Andrew Elem to documents extending his probation. Elem later had his probation revoked and spent six months in prison. No motive has been given for the forgery.

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