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News in Brief

News in Brief:

Brazil: On October 31, 2001, police negotiated an end to an uprising at the Carumbe prison in Cuiaba. Sixty of the prison's 380 prisoners killed a prisoner, then seized two guards as hostages. The prisoners demanded a review of their sentences, that the warden be fired, a refrigerator in every cell, plus fans, barbeque grills, cotton swabs, shampoo, conditioner, and four pounds of fresh meat per prisoner each week. Police did not disclose which demands had been met.

Brazil: On January 2, 2002, between 30 to 40 prisoners at the Urso Banco prison in Porto Velho near Bolivia were killed in clashes between rival gangs. After members of one gang failed in an escape attempt, they were placed in a section of the prison with rival gang members, which led to fighting between the groups with metal bars, knives and guns.

California: In October 2001, Governor Gray Davis vetoed legislation that would have eliminated the $5 medical co pay charged to state prisoners who seek medical care. He also vetoed a bill that would have allowed mothers to have overnight visits with their children.

California: On December 16, 2001, Robert Gillett died at a Fresno hospital after he was removed from life support systems. Gillett was a prisoner at Corcoran who was severely beaten by his cellmate (unidentified in media reports) on December 8, 2001, in the prison's Security Housing Unit. Gillett had previously requested a move to a different cell, which prison officials denied. Gillett was the third prisoner to be killed by his cellmate in 2001 at Corcoran. California and New York are among the few states who double cell prisoners in control units.

California: In early January 2002, the Lassen section of the California Correctional Center in Susanville was quarantined and the entire 4,200 bed prison was placed in semi-quarantine status after an outbreak of chickenpox infected at least 13 prisoners and one staff member. Chickenpox is an airborne virus that causes fever and skin lesions and can be fatal for people with immune deficiencies. It also causes serious complications, including pneumonia, for 3% of its victims. North Kern State Prison also recently had a chickenpox outbreak.

California: On January 9, 2002, 25 prisoners at the drug treatment prison in Corcoran were involved in an attack on a prisoner and a subsequent attack on prison guards who attempted to clear the prison yard with pepper spray and rubber bullets. Ten guards required medical attention though none were seriously injured. Media reports only mentioned one injury among the prisoners :the initial attack victim who suffered large cuts on his face and neck.

California: On January 15, 2002, Anthony Lunnon, 43, a guard at the prison in Lancaster, was sentenced to 2_1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to smuggling marijuana into the prison in a sting operation set up by local police. After his arrest Lunnon admitted he regularly smuggled drugs into the prison for another prisoner.

Colombia: On November 2, 2001, a gun battle between paramilitary prisoners at the Modelo prison in Bogota left five prisoners dead. The gun battle ended only after heavily armed riot police stormed the overcrowded prison. Built to hold 1,800 prisoners, it currently houses 5,300.

Colombia: On January 29, 2002, two guards were killed and two injured during a riot at the Villa Hermosa prison in Cali. The cause of the riot was not stated in media reports.

Florida: On December 7, 2001, Bay county jail guard Wilmer Thursbay was arrested and charged with giving 15 hacksaw blades to prisoner David Sheffield in an effort to help Sheffield and two other prisoners escape. Sheffield was awaiting trial on charges of killing his wife. Part of his cell window had been cut away.

Florida: On January 31, 2002, Leginia Williams, 26, a guard at the Pinellas county jail, was arrested at work on charges she helped prisoner Tyrone Latron Smith, 20, attempt to escape from the jail in December 2001. Prosecutors claim Williams gave a handcuff key to Smith, who was awaiting trial on bank robbery charges. A prisoner informant told guards that Smith had the key and Williams had given it to him. Smith, charged with possessing the handcuff key and introducing contraband into the jail, denied that Williams had given him the key.

Georgia: In January 2002, Zandra Williams, 38, a captain at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta was convicted of taking $3,100 from a jail prisoner to help him get bond set on armed robbery charges.

Georgia: On December 15, 2001, prisoners at the Autry State Prison in Pelham rebelled and damaged cells and cellblocks. Prison officials claimed the uprising was sparked by a prisoner angry that his chicken was undercooked.

Mexico: On January 12, 2002, 1,000 prisoners at a Tuxtla Gutierrez prison in Chiapas rioted to demand the resignation of the prison warden and an end to myriad human rights abuses at the prison.

Missouri: On December 6, 2001, John Collins, 36, escaped from the St. Louis jail's custody after getting kidney dialysis at a local hospital. Collins bolted and ran from a guard escorting him to the hospital. Collins was awaiting trial on charges of firing shots at his wife and her supervisor at her workplace. Since Collins needs dialysis three times a week to live, he wasn't expected to remain at large for long.

New Jersey: Republican senate president John Bennett was acting governor for 3_1/2 days when, on January 11, 2002, he pardoned longtime friend Hugh Gallagher, 58. Gallagher had served time in prison for carrying a concealed weapon, bookmaking and possession of stolen property.

New York: On December 5, 2001, Lev Lysniak, 36, hanged and killed himself in the Nassau County Jail while his mother was posting his bail. Lysniak had been arrested on second-degree assault charges for hitting his aunt on the head with a vacuum cleaner.

New York: On January 3, 2002, Yale Frank, 41, a guard at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility was charged with third degree bribery, promoting prison contraband and receiving reward for official misconduct. Frank is accused of giving an ounce of marijuana to an unidentified prisoner to have a person outside the prison assaulted. Prison officials were duly informed and set up Frank as he brought the drugs into the prison.

New York: On January 10, 2002, Westchester County Jail guard Alfred Varian, 32, was charged with bribery for accepting $100 to deliver cigarettes and vodka to an unidentified prisoner on two occasions. The prisoner, who was not identified in media reports and who is cooperating with police, has not been charged. Varian had been employed as a guard for 12 years.

New York: On January 14, 2002, Westchester County prosecutor Richard Portale, 31, resigned his $72,131 a year job with the district attorney's Youth Violence-Gang Unit. On December 8, 2001, Portale had been arrested in Florida on charges he and another man, Arlen Gennitson, physically restrained and assaulted two female professional escorts in their Tampa motel room. The women allegedly rejected a sexual advance by Portale.

New York: On February 10, 2002, Jack Henry Abbott, 58, the notorious informant (he once filed suit to be placed in the federal witness protection program because he had informed on so many prisoners he would not be safe in any prison in America) was found hanging from a bed sheet and a shoelace in his cell at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden. His death has been classified a suicide. Abbott's book, In the Belly of the Beast , consisting of letters he sent Norman Mailer, became a 1981 bestseller. Six weeks after being released from prison with Mailer's help, Abbott stabbed to death Richard Adan, a New York City waiter. Abbott was subsequently convicted of manslaughter and returned to prison.

Ohio: In November 2001, Donald Williams, 37, a guard at the Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, was charged with felonious assault and released on $5,000 bond. Williams is accused of beating an unidentified prisoner so severely the prisoner suffered head injuries and lost four teeth in the attack. That same month, Ronnie Walker, 38, a guard at the Lorain Correctional Institution, was charged with misdemeanor assault for attacking a prisoner at that facility. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Andrea Dean said that the state police thoroughly investigate charges of prisoner abuse and bring criminal charges when appropriate.

Ohio: On November 21, 2001, legislation was enacted eliminating electrocution as a means of execution in the state. Lethal injection is now the sole means of execution in Ohio. Only Nebraska and Alabama use electrocution as the sole means of execution.

Ohio: On December 5, 2001, a jury in Lebanon sentenced Timothy Hancock, 31, to death after convicting him of aggravated murder for killing his prison cellmate, Jason Wagner. Both men were in the protective custody unit of the Warren Correctional Institution when Hancock strangled and killed Wagner. Hancock claimed he "snapped" when Wagner made a sexual advance towards him. Hancock was already serving a sentence of 24 years to life for killing a female friend in 1989. Wagner had been serving a 44-year sentence for kidnapping and attempting to kill a three-year-old girl.

Oklahoma: On December 27, 2001, Chris Pembrook, 21, a guard at the Wackenhut operated prison in Watonga, was charged with plotting to rob and kill a wealthy local doctor. Pembrook and three associates were charged with attempting to steal an automated teller machine on December 17, 2001, to finance the home invasion and robbery of Enid doctor Ross Vanhoosen. The plot failed when an informant told police of the scheme and the conspirators were arrested while trying to steal the teller machine.

Oklahoma: On January 3, 2002, Rex Sumner, 31, was charged with raping two girls, ages 12 and 15, who attended the River of Life Church in Stillwater where he was a youth leader. Sumner faces 10 counts involving the assaults on both girls, including oral sodomy, lewd molestation and second-degree rape. Before becoming a youth minister, Sumner had been a guard at the privately run Cimarron Correctional Facility. He was fired after being arrested for smuggling a pound of marijuana into the prison in February 2001. Prosecutor Jack Bowyer noted the courtroom was packed with Sumner's church supporters when he was sentenced to seven years probation on the drug charges.

Paraguay: On December 15, 2002, five hundred prisoners at a prison in Ciudad del Este rioted after an escape attempt led to a prisoner attacking a guard with a knife. The guard shot and killed the prisoner. Other prisoners then rioted, setting their mattresses on fire. Smoke and fire killed 25 prisoners and injured 200 others.

Sudan: On January 5, 2002, two policemen and five prisoners were killed when rioting prisoners attempted to gain control of the Coper prison in Khartoum. The prisoners somehow armed themselves with rifles, authorities were not sure how. Fifty seven policemen and 23 prisoners were injured.

Tennessee: On January 17, 2002, Delbert Steed, 57, a counselor at the Corrections Corporation of America operated Hardeman County Correctional Facility in Whiteville, was stabbed to death by Steven Hugueley, 34. A CCA spokesman said Steed's death was the first death of an employee (prisoners haven't been so lucky) in the company's 19-year history. Hugueley was serving two life sentences for murder and 25 years for attempted murder. His release date had been 2057.

Texas: On November 29, 2001, John Frump, 44, committed suicide by jumping off the second tier of a housing unit in the Travis County Jail in Austin and landing on his head. Frump was awaiting trial on sexual assault charges.

United States: The war film Black Hawk Down , depicting the U.S. invasion of Somalia in 1993, has been a box office hit. Pentagon officials pressured Ridley Scott, the movie's director, to change the name of John Stebbins, a ranger clerk who was awarded the Silver Star for bravery during the massacre of Somalis. Stebbins character was duly changed to John Grimes, played by Ewan McGregor.

Apparently the Pentagon found it embarrassing that in 2001 Stebbins was convicted of sodomy with a child under 12 and rape and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Mark Bowden, the screenwriter and author of the book by the same name, said, "As it happened, Stebbins got in trouble with the law, the army asked us to change his name." Apparently there is no room for heroic child molesters when history is being rewritten.

Vermont: On December 7, 2001, Mark Delude, 39, a prisoner at the St. Johnsbury work camp was arrested by police while breaking back into the camp with a case of Budweiser beer. Delude (his real name) had already drunk a 40 ounce bottle of beer on his way back. Delude bought the beer at a convenience store 12 miles away from the camp after crawling under the fence.

Washington: On January 9, 2002, Tannie Tomlin, 51, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of aiding and abetting a felon to possess a firearm after she mailed two pistols to former prisoner Marcos Ranjel. Ranjel used the guns to kill Carmel Sanger, a hair salon owner in San Francisco in 1997. Sanger's husband, Robert, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years in prison for paying Ranjel $100,000 to kill Carmel so he could collect on an insurance policy. Tomlin, a guard at the King County Jail in Seattle for ten years, met Ranjel when the latter was serving time in the jail. Ranjel is now serving a life sentence in California for Sanger's murder.

Washington: On January 27, 2002, Abdul Ali, 21, a prisoner at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla was shot and killed by prison guard Richard Tate. Ali was shot during an alleged assault on his cellmate, Bryant Milo, 37, as they were going to breakfast. Ali had ignored a warning shot and orders to stop fighting from guard Keith Burns when he was shot. Prison officials stated it was the first time in at least 30 years that a prisoner had been shot by guards at the prison.

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