Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

News in Brief

California: On April 1, 2002, 30 prisoners at the Pelican Bay State Prison were involved in a riot. Eight Asian and Native American prisoners attacked 20 white prisoners. One prisoner suffered a superficial stab wound and other participants received minor injuries. The riot was halted by guards using pepper spray and tear gas. The prison was locked down for eight days after the incident.

California: On June 21, 2002, a Riverside jury convicted Russell McAllister of threatening to kill Riverside Supervising Deputy District Attorney John Davis. Davis had previously prosecuted McAllister for attempted murder, robbery and other charges to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 16-1/2 years in prison. Once in prison at the Centinela State Prison in Imperial, McAllister decided he got a bad deal and began writing Davis, threatening to kill him. The conviction was McAllister's third strike offense.

California: The Jailhouse inn is a bed and breakfast housed in the former Sierra Madre jail, and was used as a jail for 50 years before closing. The Inn is owned by former California deputy attorney general Noreen Berra, now in private practice in the city. The old jail was originally Berra's office until she needed more space and decided to convert it into a one guest room, $120 a night inn. Berra says many of the "inmates" are lawyers. "It's a crime not to come here," Berra says.

District of Columbia: An investigation by NASA's Inspector General concluded that for years the Agency has been defrauded by employees and contractors alike for millions of dollars -. One case involved a NASA contract employee who pleaded guilty to accepting $27,000 worth of collect calls from prisoners at work, which her company then billed to the Hubble Telescope program.

Florida: In August, 2002, the Florida Department of Corrections returned money to 41 prisoners whose money was erroneously taken by the DOC. Starting in January, 2000, a computer error at the Florida State Prison in Starke, Union Correctional Institution in Raiford and Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown, resulted in 186 prisoners having hundreds of thousands of dollars placed on their trust accounts where it was swiftly spent on commissary items. The error came to light when 41 prisoners whose money was wrongly taken from them complained. Prison officials claimed the error occurred "due to a radio frequency malfunction." The state is in the process of recouping the money it wrongly gave the 186 prisoners, many of whom are on death row. To date, they have recouped $20,000.

Florida: On April 5, 2002, four Seminole county jail workers were reprimanded for mistakenly releasing Gilberto Roman on February 14, 2002. Roman was awaiting trial on charges of trying to kill his wife. The employees' administrative services chief Penny Fleming, intake release clerk Valerie Cambridge, quality control supervisor Kelly Scheiderer, sergeant Mark nelson and Lieutenant Mark Metts, all received reprimands. Roman was released due to incorrect data entry in the jail computer.

Florida: On July 17, 2002, Deritha Earth, a former guard at the Cypress Creek Academy, a maximum security juvenile prison, was sentenced to four years probation after pleading guilty to having sex with three juvenile prisoners. Barth was originally discovered kneeling on a prisoner's bed with the prisoner behind her, apparently engaged in sexual intercourse. At her sentencing, Citrus County circuit court judge Ric Howard asked Barth: "What were you thinking? Were you thinking [the prisoners] weren't going to runt heir mouths about their sexual goings on with you? They must have been lining up in South Florida when they heard about you." The prison is run by Correctional Services Corporation, a private for profit company.

Georgia: In June, 2002, seven jail guards at the Dougherty county jail in Albany resigned or were fired for having sex with each other while on duty. The guards are: Stanley Washington, Eddie Anderson, Earl Gilbert, Lillie Green, Avis Jones and Luis Perez.

Japan: In September, 2002, communist law maker Satoshi Inoue held a hearing in the nation's parliament over special meals provided to the 20 American military prisoners convicted of crimes in Japan. They are held in the Yokosuka Prison near Tokyo. The U.S. military provides the prisoners' meals which include steaks, potatoes and cake, while Japanese prisoners are fed rice, boiled fish and miso soup. The American prisoners receive around twice the caloric intake as Japanese prisoners. "It's unfair. All inmates should get fed the same food and the same portions," Inoue said. A Justice Ministry spokesman agreed saying special meals should be eliminated. A prison spokesman commented, "I've seen what the Americans eat. I prefer the Japanese food. It looks much tastier. He also said the food was not so much better as culturally different. In 1997 another communist legislator, Yasuo Ogata had complained that American prisoners had 10 PM curfews, heated cells and daily showers while Japanese prisoners received two weekly baths, had a 9 PM curfew and slept in cold, dank cells. Prison officials responded by revoking the privileges of the American prisoners so everyone was treated equally bad.

Morocco: On November 1, 2002, a fire swept through the Sidi Moussa Prison in El Jadida and killed at least 49 prisoners and injured 90 prisoners and two guards. Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inhalation and asphyxiation but many of the victims were also trampled as prisoners tried to flee the flames. Prison officials said the cause of the fire is unknown but suspect electrical wiring may have caused the fire. Built in 1994 to house 1,000 prisoners, the prison housed 1,313 on the day of the fire.

New York: On July 1, 2002, five guards at the Onondaga county jail in Syracuse were disciplined for horseplaying with each other. Lieutenant Walter Rys was demoted to sergeant, and sergeants James Barrella, Timothy Quinn and Francis Walker were demoted to deputy. Deputy Alan Griffo accidentally broke a ceiling sprinkler with a mop handle on May 25, 2002. When prisoners break sprinklers they are attacked by guards, apparently as a matter of policy. Rys decided that Griffo should be treated like a prisoner and accordingly Griffo was tackled, forcibly placed face down on the floor, handcuffed and placed in an "emergency restraint belt." Griffo suffered an undisclosed injury as a result. Another guard videotaped the incident. Sheriff Kevin Walsh said such behavior by jail employees was unacceptable.

North Carolina: On June 19, 2002, Northampton county jail guard Keith Williams was fired and criminally charged with accepting a $20,000 bribe to allow prisoner Darnell Mason, 34, to escape from custody. Mason, a former Gaston police officer serving a 12 month jail sentence for extortion, gave Williams a $20,000 check to allow him to escape. On June 18 Williams had escorted Mason to a local hospital for treatment and Mason duly escaped when Williams released him. Williams filed a false report claiming three men in dark suits had forced him to release mason at gunpoint. In an ironic note, the $20,000 bribe check bounced.

Ohio: On July 30, 2002, 12 prisoners were moved from the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton, which is operated by the Utah based, for profit company Management Training Corporation, to a state run prison for refusing to wear proper uniforms. On July 27, 2002, 24 prisoners at NCCTF were transferred to state prisons after refusing to return to their cells. No reasons for the protests were disclosed by the corporate media. The guards union whined that private prisons, which are non union, are dumping their disciplinary problems on state prisons.

Ohio: On May 19, 2002, Margo Freshwater, 53, was arrested in Columbus on charges that she escaped from a Tennessee prison in 1970 after serving 18 months of a 99 year sentence for murdering a Memphis liquor store clerk. In 1966, Freshwater, then 18, had gone to Memphis to visit her boyfriend in prison. She had an affair with the boyfriend's lawyer, Glenn Nash, and the two went on a three week tri-state crime spree that left at least three people dead. Nash was found incompetent to stand trial. Freshwater was arrested using the name Tonya McCartor and had no criminal record since her prison escape. She worked with her husband as a truck driver.

Rhode Island: On May 30, 2002, police in Providence raided the home of Lenard Gibson, 26, and seized 65 bags of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Gibson was serving a sentence of home confinement after being convicted of selling drugs before. Police also found Kevin McCray, 43, a guard at the Adult Correctional Institution in Gibson's home during the raid.

Tennessee: On may 6, 2002, Gary Brown, 40, was shot and killed by Brentwood police shortly -after using an assault rifle to rob a Nashville bank. Brown was killed after shooting at police. Browns last known employment was as a guard for the California Department of Corrections.

Texas: On August 24, 2002, ex prisoner, activist and Independent media Center journalist Christopher Plummer attended a conference at Sam Houston University organized by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) called Public Awareness Corrections Today. Prison officials had claimed they would afford an opportunity for prisoner family members and concerned individuals to sit down and discuss common areas of concern one on one with prison officials. At the conference, attendees had to write down their questions and TDCJ officials then decided which questions to answer. Plummer arrived late and verbally asked a question about the prison grievance procedure, which TDCJ officials refused to answer. Plummer eventually received a response from the presenter in a hallway. Jerry bell, a member of the Office of the Inspector General confronted Plummer and demanded that the identify himself. Plummer, wearing press credentials from the IMC, did so. In a videotape of the incident taken by Plummer's wife, Bell says "I'm a police officer and I have a badge." Bell arrested Plummer for "failing to identify himself" which is not an arrestable offense in Texas. OIG and TDCJ officials told Plummer they would unarrest him if he left the event, which he reluctantly agreed to do. "If these weren't the same people who control my parole, I wouldn't have left," Plummer said. Plummer served 8 years in prison before his release in January, 2002.

Texas: On June 3, 2002, Sylvester Hayes, 24, died of a heart attack while strapped into a restraining chair at the Arlington jail. Hayes had been placed in the restraint chair after becoming violent.

Texas: On May 26, 2002, Robert Moore, a prisoner at the Corrections Corporation of America run Mineral Wells Pre parole Transfer Facility, got into an argument with other prisoners because he disliked the television show they had voted to watch in the prison's television room. The argument ended in fisticuffs where Moore was hit, fell to the ground and hit the back of his head on the concrete floor. The fight went unnoticed by staff and informants alike. The next day, Moore sought medical treatment from CCA staff saying he had fallen and hurt his head. He was given unspecified pain medication and sent back to his cell. The next day, on May 28, Moore was taken to a local hospital after becoming incoherent. That day he died of the head injury and his death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. The CCA operated prison houses 2,100 prisoners on contract for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Washington: On August 31, 2002, police shot and killed Dalton Culp, 32, in Everett. Culp had been expelled from a state prison guard training program at the Monroe Correctional Complex in nearby Monroe. Police were responding to a call from the home of Culp's 32 year old girlfriend, an unidentified guard at the MCC, where a man was heard threatening her. Culp emerged from the house with two pistols and pointed them at police when gunshots were exchanged. Culp died at the scene, but no one else was injured.

Washington: On January 18, 2002, a federal lawsuit against the North Central Washington Narcotics Taskforce was settled for $37,500. John Shearer, 50, sued Okanogan county for allowing him to have unprotected sex three times with an HIV positive prostitute that the Taskforce used as an informant. The informant traded sex for drugs with Shearer and ten other men who were charged with drug offenses. It is not known if any of the defendants contracted AIDS or other illnesses as a result of the police sting operation.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login