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News in Brief

Alabama: In April 2001, four unnamed guards at the Morgan County jail in Decatur were fired for leaving their posts on April Fools Day to play jokes on each other. The jokes included smearing shaving cream on each other, covering their cars with toilet paper and writing on each other's car windows with soap. Sheriff Steve Crabbe said he took immediate action when he learned of the play and said he would not tolerate employees neglecting their duties.

Brazil: On August 16, 2001, officials negotiated an end to an uprising at the Santo Antonio Leverger public prison in Mato Grasso. The uprising began with prisoners taking two guards hostage and burning mattresses to protest overcrowding. During the uprising rival gangs battled with homemade spears, leaving 9 prisoners dead. The hostages were released when prison officials agreed to resolve overcrowding at the jail (built to hold 80 prisoners, it held 188 at the time of the uprising), install a public telephone and allow more frequent visits by relatives.

California: On August 3, 2001, a contractor working on a nearby street inadvertently turned off all water to two jails in Los Angeles, leaving 10,000 prisoners and guards without water for drinking, bathing or toilet flushing for three days.

California: On July 14, 2001, at least seven prisoners in the North County Correctional Facility of the Los Angeles county jail system became ill after eating rice that had accidentally been laced with a diluted disinfectant cleaning solution by a prisoner server, to "enhance" the rice's texture. The server told deputies as soon as he realized his mistake and they in turn ordered the prisoners to stop eating. Forty nine prisoners in dorm 524 were potentially affected, with only seven prisoners complaining of stomach pains.

California: On July 6, 2001, Kevin Pullman, 30, escaped from the downtown jail in Los Angeles by using a phony identification card with a picture of actor Eddie Murphy on it to walk out of the jail. Pullman escaped hours after being convicted of attempted murder in the 1999 shooting of another man. Representing himself, Pullman was wearing his own clothes at trial and apparently wore them back to the jail under his jail uniform.

Upon arriving back at the jail, Pullman discarded his jail uniform, revealing his civilian clothing, put on his Eddie Murphy ID card and walked out of the jail past numerous security checkpoints. Pullman was recaptured without incident on July 22, 2001, while walking in downtown Los Angeles.

China: On May 18, 2001, 39 convict miners died when a coalmine in Yibin in Sichuan province flooded. The miners were all convicts from a prison near the town. The mine was operated by the prison.

Florida: On August 23, 2001, Everett Rice, sheriff in Largo, fired Marco Bertone, 44, for insubordination after Bartone, on advice of his lawyer, refused to answer questions that he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 1999. Bertone, who worked as a guard at the jail for 12 years, also faces criminal prosecution.

On August 28, 2001, Rice fired deputy Patti Partain for lying to investigators, fraternizing with prisoners and bringing discredit to the jail. Partain had given a female prisoner her home phone number. She also admitted to having a relationship with prisoner Brian Stone, kissing him and giving him tshirts, sodas, cake, candy and cigarrettes. Partain denied having sex with, and giving drugs to Stone.

Georgia: On July 24, 2001, Michael Deal, 54, a former policeman incarcerated at the Chatham county jail in Savannah, was strangled to death by other prisoners in the protective custody unit of the jail. A number of the other seven prisoners in the PC unit were planning to escape by chiselling out of the jail. Deal was killed in order for the plot to continue.

Deal was strangled outside his cell and then dragged inside to make it look like a suicide. Other prisoners apparently informed authorities of the murder and escape plots. Deal was in jail for failing to pay child support. Deal, a former police chief in Thunderbolt, had a lengthy criminal history, including burglary, battery, aggravated assault, reckless conduct, and drug charges. Jail officials said the would-be escapees had succeeded only in chipping the paint off the wall they were attempting to break through.

Maryland: On July 23, 2001, nearly all of the 1,200 prisoners at the House of Correction in Jessup refused to leave their cells in a work strike to protest the poor living conditions, inadequate library access, a recently enacted ban on smoking, the lack of prison programs, and unfair wages for prison jobs.

The prisoners' complete list of 17 demands was not released to media by prison officials (and it is not known why prisoners did not send their demand list to media themselves).

The protesters also demanded that prisoners who are sentenced to life imprisonment should be eligible for parole consideration. (Governor Parris Glendenning did away with parole eligibility for prisoners sentenced to life.) Prison officials said the strike had largely ended by July 26, with prisoners eating in the prison cafeteria and returning to work.

Mexico: On January 19, 2001, Joaquin Guzman, 43, an accused drug lord, escaped from the maximum security Puente Grande prison in Guadalajara. Guzman, who allegedly "ran" the prison, was nonetheless unable to buy his freedom. Guzman escaped by telling guards on his payroll that he needed to smuggle gold out of the prison. Guzman hid in a laundry cart and was wheeled out of the prison into a waiting car. Guzman, who had been serving a 20-year sentence for criminal association and bribery, remains at large. Police have implicated at least 78 people in Guzman's escape, including the prison warden.

Investigators have found that critical security records, including vehicle logs, key passes, surveillance camera footage and computer records relevant to Guzman's escape, are all "missing" or erased. Guzman is wanted in the U.S. for allegedly building a 1,416 foot tunnel underneath the border to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

Missouri: On August 1, 2001, Greene County jail guards Justin Hastings, 21, and Curtis Myers, 26, were charged with four misdemeanor counts of third degree assault for urinating on four prisoners playing basketball in the jail's recreation area. Prisoner Dewayne Zurley said the guards urinated on him and the other three prisoners from a metal grated roof overlooking the recreation area. Both guards have resigned. A number of states make it a felony offense for prisoners to throw bodily waste on prison employees, none apparently make it a felony for prison and jail employees to throw their bodily wastes on prisoners.

Nebraska: On June 29, 2001, the Nebraska Supreme Court ordered the suspension of Madison county judge Richard Krepala for six months without pay. The suspension stemmed from Krepala altering a police report in 1984 to delete a request for a lawyer and statements leading to a confession by Robert Hunt, who was later convicted of murder. Krepala was a county prosecutor at the time. The six month suspension terminates all proceedings against Krepala for his role in altering the evidence against Hunt.

Nebraska: On March 21, 2001, Todd Cook, 24, a prisoner at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, was shot by prison guards while climbing a perimeter fence at the prison and ignoring guards' orders to halt. Cook is serving a life sentence for murder.

Nevada: On September 8, 2001, David Meligan, the warden of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City was killed in a motorcycle accident near Virginia City. Meligan lost control of his motorcycle on a sharp curve, crashed into a guard rail and died at the scene from massive chest injuries.

New Jersey: On July 26, 2001, Johnny Jones, 49, was mistakenly released from the Mercer County Correctional Center in Trenton a day after he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempted murder. Jones was arrested the same afternoon at a cousin's home. Nine month's earlier, Jones had been mistakenly released from the same jail. Dennis Cunningham, the jail warden, attributed the erroneous releases to the similarity of Jones' name to aliases used by other prisoners.

New York: On July 24, 2001, Raymond Perkins, 50; Roy Holzer, 35; Warren M. Churco, 36; and John P. O'Neil, 35; pleaded guilty in Essex county to official misconduct charges, a misdemeanor, for defrauding the state. The men were prison guards at the Adirondack Correctional Facility in Raybrook. Between 199599 the men paid other guards to work their shifts at the prison. Essentially, they worked part time while retaining full time benefits.

As part of the plea agreement, the guards agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation and never work for the state again. As part of the plea agreement, the Attorney General's office agreed to drop felony charges of defrauding the government. Judge Alexander Halloran said he did not intend to impose jail sentences on the men.

New York: On March 30, 2001, former Albion Correctional Facility guard William A. Barnard, Jr., 41, was sentenced to 1 and 2/3 to 5 years in prison for using a child in a sexual performance. Barnard was convicted of having a 14-year-old girl pose for lewd photographs.

North Carolina: On July 25, 2001, Renaldo Metcalf, 19, and Adrian Murray, 27, escaped from the Davidson County Jail in Lexington by threatening jail guard Gary Gallimore with the sharp end of a broken mop handle, handcuffing him, stealing his pepper spray and climbing a fence. Both men were recaptured within 24 hours.

North Carolina: On July 27, 2001, Pamela Pendleton, 37, was arrested on charges that she stole more than 1,000 hydrocodone pills over a four month period while working at the Gaston County Jail in Gastonia. Pendleton was employed as a registered nurse by Prison Health Services of Tennessee which is contracted to provide medical services to prisoners at the jail.

North Carolina: On July 27, 2001, Hoke County jail guard Robert Worthy was charged with two felony counts of sexual misconduct for allegedly having sex with a female jail prisoner. Worthy was fired from his jail job.

Oklahoma: On August 3, 2001, Edwin Vasquez, 47, a guard at the David Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa, was charged in federal court with delivering simulated methamphetamine to a jail prisoner and illegally possessing a .22 caliber "pen gun" intended for the same prisoner. Acting on an informant's tip, undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents approached Vasquez and gave him $40 to deliver one gram of what they claimed was methamphetamine to a prisoner cooperating with the BATF.

Vasquez did so, and when given 10 grams of simulated "crank" he delivered seven to the prisoner. He was then given a .22 caliber pen gun to deliver to the same prisoner. Upon accepting the pen gun Vasquez was arrested. The Tulsa jail is operated by the for profit Corrections Corporation of America. Vasquez is in protective custody awaiting trial.

Pennsylvania: On August 15, 2001, Thernell Hardy, Jr., 33, a guard at the Wackenhut Corrections operated George Hill Correctional Facility in Concord Township was arraigned on charges of aggravated and simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and a weapons offense. Prosecutors claim that Hardy entered the cell of Kareem Bahiy, a detainee awaiting trial on murder charges, and stabbed him in the neck with a knife after Bahiy insulted Hardy and grabbed him through the bars of his cell. Hardy claims he accidentally cut Bahiy with his thumbnail while trying to subdue him.

Pennsylvania: On July 31, 2001, Rebecca A. Paull, 24, a counselor at the Berks County Prison in Reading was charged with having sexual relations with an unidentified male prisoner she was counseling who was serving a 6to-23 month sentence for delivering heroin. Paull, a treatment counselor, admitted to having sex with the prisoner.

Rhode Island : On August 30, 2001, Dunn Beckett, 32, president of the guard's union at the federal Donald Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls, was arrested by Cumberland police and charged with felony possession of anabolic steroids. Beckett heads the Rhode Island Private Correctional Officers Union, which has 57 members. Beckett is employed by the private, for profit, Cornell Corrections, based in Texas.

Rhode Island: On August 8, 2001, a carbon monoxide leak at the Donald Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls injured 12 prisoners and employees in the laundry and kitchen areas of the jail. One prisoner lost conciousness and was treated in a hyperbaric chamber. The other injuries were vomiting, headaches, and a heart attack. The carbon monoxide leak was caused by a failure in the jail's cooling system. The jail is operated on contract for the federal government by Cornell Corrections, a private, for profit company based in Texas. The jail holds federal prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing.

Ukraine: On July 20, 2001, President Leonid Kuchma announced an amnesty whereby 35,000 prisoners would be released by September, 2001, to relieve prison crowding. The amnesty does not cover repeat offenders, murderers, those convicted of crimes against the state or who have been granted amnesty before. Since becoming a nation in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine has granted 10 amnesties to prisoners.

Vermont: On July 17, 2001, a Brattleboro district court judge sentenced Luis Gonzales, 48, a prison official from Bethel, Connecticut, to 1to-3 years of probation and to donate $500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gonzales was convicted of bigamy for marrying Maria Cubero while still married to his wife of 20 years, Dania. Cubero became suspicious because Gonzales would introduce her as a "friend" and wouldn't tell his children he was married to her. Gonzales lived with his first wife and two daughters in Bethel whenever Cubero was out of town.

Washington : On August 28, 2001, James Elledge, 58, was executed after pleading guilty, requesting the death penalty and waiving all appeals in the killing of Eloise Fitzner. Governor Gary Locke denied a clemency petition, opposed by Elledge, filed on his behalf by several anti-death penalty groups, including the ACLU of Washington. Elledge was on parole for a 1975 murder when he killed Fitzner.

The clemency petition pointed out Elledge's many years of faithful service to the state, including his alerting prison officials to an escape attempt by other prisoners in 1977, and in 1987 "risking his life" to save a guard's life during a prison riot. Governor Locke denied clemency.

Wisconsin: In July 2001, federal prisoner Donald Nichols, 30, pleaded guilty in state court to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Housed in the state-run supermax prison in Boscobel for his own safety, Nichols allegedly threw feces at Sgt. Robert Bowdrey on August 18, 2000. Nichols was charged with one felony count of being a prisoner throwing or expelling bodily substances. Nichols agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge only if he was given a meal from McDonalds. Grant county assistant district attorney Tony Pozorski reluctantly agreed. Nichols' public defender, Thomas Kelly, went to a McDonalds in Lancaster and bought Nichols three hamburgers, an order of fries, a milk shake and a cola. Nichols said he had not had a good meal in years and would have taken the case to trial otherwise. Prison guards whined about the plea agreement, claiming prisoners would now throw feces on prison guards in order to get a good meal. Pozorski said, "We didn't have much choice. The defendant claimed he threw food and not feces at the guard. They (the supermax administration) didn't help our case either. They didn't save any of the evidence, including the guard's clothes, the feces and even the videotapes of the incident. All were missing. On top of that, a nurse at the prison said he thought it was sour milk that was thrown." After eating his "happy meal", the Wisconsin DOC returned Nichols to federal custody.

Wisconsin: On August 19, 2001, James E. Taylor, 35, a prison guard at the Kettle Moraine Correctional Center in Plymouth, hanged and killed himself in the Fond du Lac County Jail. Taylor was awaiting trial on charges that he kidnapped, raped and attempted to kill an 8 year-old girl.

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