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News in Brief

Alaska: On April 11, 2002, Cynthia Cooper, the head prosecutor in the state attorney general's office, resigned after being judicially admonished for pursuing felony charges against a public defender who crashed his car into a light pole. Anchorage prosecutors had agreed to a misdemeanor plea bargain with Wally Tetlow, the public defender, when Cooper stepped into the case and demanded a guilty plea to a felony. Judge Jonathan Link found Cooper was motivated by animus against Tetlow because he was a public defender, not because of any crime he may have committed. Federal judge H. Russell Holland had recently found that Cooper made an "untrue statement" in responding to a contempt motion after she refused to abide by a court decision striking down the state's sex offender registration law.

Connecticut: In March 12, 2002, Anthony Tortorella, 41, a guard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully harboring an illegal alien and engaging in sexual acts with female prisoners at the facility. Tortorella admitted to having sex with six different female prisoners while employed at the prison. He also lived for ten months with a former female prisoner who was an illegal alien from Ecuador who reentered the U.S. after being deported upon her release. Tortorella admitted that he knew the woman was a convicted felon (he met her in prison) and an illegal alien and he helped her evade immigration officials when they lived together.

Florida: On May 1, 2002, Deritha Gaskins, 31, a guard at the Cypress Creek Academy, a privately run maximum-security juvenile prison, was charged with having sex with two prisoners at the facility. In one case, Gaskins was caught kneeling on a prisoner's bed with the prisoner behind her, apparently engaging in sexual intercourse, a charge Gaskins and the alleged victim deny. Neither of the victims were juveniles at the time of the incidents. Gaskins was fired by Correctional Services Corporation, the company who operates the prison, shortly after the first incident came to light. Florida criminalizes sexual contact between prison employees and prisoners. In 1999, Ruth Ingleston, a guard at the same prison, was fired and later convicted of having sex with a prisoner twice in November, 1998, having his nickname tattooed over her left breast and giving him a pair of tennis shoes. Ingleston was convicted of sexual misconduct and sentenced to 25-1/2 months in prison.

Maine: In December, 2001, Robert Shepard, 34, and Scott Durgin, 33, prison guards at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, were charged in Cumberland county superior court with gross sexual assault for allegedly having sex with female prisoners at the facility. Both guards resigned after the allegations were made public. Maine criminalizes sex between prison employees and prisoners.

New Hampshire: On April 1, 2002, John Christian Broderick, 30, was charged with beating his sleeping father, John Broderick, 54, so severely with a guitar that most of the bones in his face were broken and state officials could not recognize him. The elder Broderick is a justice on the state supreme court. The assault came after a day of arguing between the two, with the younger Broderick being heavily intoxicated.

New Mexico: on March 9, 2002, prisoners at the Lincoln county jail rioted, tried to light their mattresses on fire and flooded their cells, causing $3,000 worth of damage when the jail canceled its commissary contract with a local vendor as it switched to an out of state vendor. The jail is managed by the for profit company Correctional Systems Incorporated.

Texas: On February 18, 2002, John Roland, 33, a prisoner at the state prison in Abilene escaped by telling prison sergeant Wesley Hurt he had confidential information to tell him. Once in a secluded area of the prison, Roland attacked Hurt, handcuffed him, took his uniform and car keys, walked out of the prison and drove off in Hurt's pick up truck at 5 AM. Hurt was later found by guards and treated for cuts and scrapes. Roland had been serving a life sentence for murder.

Texas: On March 14, 2002, Benny Garrett, 24, a guard at the Mclennan county jail, was arrested and charged with helping jail prisoner Sherman Fields, 27, escape from the Mclennan County detention Center in Waco on November 6, 2001. The same day he escaped, Fields allegedly shot and killed an ex girlfriend.

Texas: On March 28, 2002, Jesse Hernandez, 32, a prisoner at Polunsky unit in Livingston, was stabbed to death at 4:45 AM by three other prisoners. Prisoner Elroy Ruiz was severely beaten by the same attackers and suffered multiple fractures. Guards used pepper spray to subdue the attackers and capture them. Prison officials claim the attack was due to gang rivalries. This is the first prisoner homicide for 2002 in the Texas prison system. In 1997 the Texas prison system had ten murders; in 2001 it had four.

Washington: In March, 2002, between 11 and 55 prisoners and one staff member at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla were reported ill with campylobacter infection, a bacteria found in raw poultry. Turkey had been served at the prison on March 11 and infections peaked on March 15 with 17 prisoners reporting to sick call with flu like symptoms.

Washington: On October 31, 2001, Flora Pallechio, 49, the librarian at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelter pleaded guilty to first degree custodial sexual misconduct in Mason county superior court. Pallechio admitted she had sex with Lowrie Campbell, 33, a convicted rapist employed as a clerk in the prison library. Guards caught the two having sex in a library storeroom. Campbell fully cooperated with police in their investigation of the incident. Washington criminalizes sex between prisoners and staff. To date, only women employees have been prosecuted under the statute in Washington.

Wisconsin: on January 22, 2002, seven guards at the Green Bay Correctional Institution were treated for minor injuries when they were attacked in the prison dining hall by a group of prisoners returning from lunch. None of the guards were seriously injured in the incident. The prison was locked down and searched for weapons for three weeks, no weapons were found. Prison officials claim the uprising occurred because the prisoners were denied one of their two weekly showers due to a broken water boiler.

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