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News in Brief

Alabama: On October 3, 2001, Teresa Wheeler, 24, collapsed and died while taking a physical training course to become a Department of Corrections guard. Wheeler had previously failed the physical exam but was trying to pass it again.

Brazil: On November 26, 2001, over 100 prisoners at the Carandiru prison in Sao Paulo escaped from the prison by digging a tunnel through the prison's sewers. The prison is the biggest in Latin America, holding over 8,000 prisoners. It has escapes, riots, uprisings and massacres on a regular basis.

California: On October 10, 2001, Timothy Handel, 56, was convicted by a jury in Kern County Superior Court of trafficking heroin to give to prisoners at the Wasco State Prison where he worked as a teacher. Handel received felt tip pens in the mail from prisoners' relatives, which were filled with heroin; he then delivered the pens to the prisoners. Handel claimed he did not know the pens contained drugs, except he did expect to be paid $1,200 for his services.

California: On October 16, 2001, a fight between 135 black and Latino prisoners at the privately run Victor Valley Medium Community Correctional Facility in Adelanto, left 8 prisoners and 2 female sergeants injured. One of the employees was struck on the head with a microwave oven and required 14 stitches; the other was struck in the face. One of the prisoners suffered broken ribs, the others had minor injuries. The state prison houses mostly parole violators and "non violent offenders." It is run by the for profit Maranatha Corrections, LLC, company. CDC spokesman Russ Heimrich said the fight, between 100 Hispanic and 35 black prisoners was caused during the midday meal when someone bumped someone else.

Connecticut: On October 20, 2001, state prison guard Dennis Rivera, 29, was shot to death on a highway exit ramp while riding in a car.

England: In September 2001, Anil Chambore, a prisoner at the Wormwood Scrubs prison complained about his cellmate's foul body odor. The guard to whom he complained responded by breaking his nose. The guard was charged with assault.

Haiti: On November 15, 2001, Max Ambroise, a prisoner at the National Penitentiary in Port Au Prince struck a guard. Ostensibly while putting him into an isolation cell, Ambroise died of still unexplained causes. Prisoners who witnessed his treatment were outraged and started a fire in the kitchen and armed themselves with bottles, rocks and kitchen utensils to protest his treatment. Prison officials responded by sealing off the neighborhood and sending in SWAT teams and police, who used tear gas and bullets to quell the uprising. Four prisoners were killed in the process. The prison, built in 1926 to hold 800 prisoners, currently holds over 2,000 _ and of that number, less than 200 have actually been convicted of a crime.

Illinois: In November 2001, Governor George Ryan announced the 143-year-old Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet would be closed as part of an effort to balance the state budget. Ryan claimed closing the fortress like prison (best known for its appearance in the movie, The Blues Brothers ) will save $4 million a year.

Kenya: On October 3, 2001, six police officers in Thika were charged with criminal negligence for allowing six prisoners in their care to be beat to death by other prisoners in an overcrowded cell. The policemen are accused of ignoring screams for help from the victims.

New Jersey: Joseph Clark, the former baseball bat wielding principle of Eastside High School who was portrayed in the movie Lean on Me , is now the director of the Essex County Youth House in Trenton. A report issued by the state's Juvenile Justice Commission strongly criticized Clark for ordering children at the facility to be left in straight jackets for 2_11 days, and others to be locked in their cells for 37 consecutive days. Media reports did not indicate if anyone was surprised that Clark would impose such measures on children.

Nevada: On November 1, 2001, former youth prison counselors Jennifer Burkley, 22, and Gloria Kim, 24, were sentenced to two years probation and a $500 fine. The women had previously pleaded guilty to having sex with juvenile male prisoners at the facility.

New York: In November the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) suspended Muslim prison chaplain Aminah Akbar after she reportedly praised Osama Bin Laden at a prayer meeting with 120 prisoners at the Albion Correctional Center. She also referred to Bin Laden as a "soldier of Allah." Akbar denies the accusation.

New York: In November 2001, officials at the Onondaga county jail in Syracuse admitted that an unidentified husband and wife, imprisoned at the jail since June, 2001, had sex with each other on at least six occasions while in the jail. Officials noticed when the woman informed them she was three months pregnant, after being in jail five months.

Pennsylvania: In November 2001, former Philadelphia probation officer Gary Robinson pleaded guilty in federal court to taking bribes from convicted drunk drivers so they could avoid court ordered alcohol treatment classes. The bribes ranged from $60 to $100.

Pennsylvania: On October 24, 2001, former Bucks County prison captain William McMullen, 45, pleaded guilty in Bucks County court to institutional sexual assault for having a sexual relationship with a female prisoner at the jail where he had worked for 23 years before retiring.

Russia: In a move to cater to the wealthy, the city of Kursk is offering luxury prison cells with televisions, refrigerators, etc. Rather than suffer the squalid, overcrowded conditions of regular prisons, wealthy prisoners can literally buy a single cell for themselves with amenities. A prison official said, "There are rich people who would like to be kept in custody in better conditions. Since such an opportunity has presented itself, why not?" Local media reported no shortage of customers.

Texas: On October 8, 2001, prisoners Rocky Janes II, 21, and Patrick Potson, 36, escaped from the Anderson County jail in Palestine by climbing a wall in the recreation area.

Texas: On September 11, 2001, Felix Bell, 45, was found dead in his cell at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston. Terry Clark, 34, Bell's cellmate, told prison staff he had earlier had a fight with Bell. Prison officials are treating the death as a homicide with Clark as the lead suspect.

Virginia: On October 20, 2001, Virginia Parole Board member Kent Smith, 39, was arrested and charged with public intoxication at the Virginia Union University in Richmond. Smith, an appointee of Republican governor Jim Gilmore, was supposedly removing campaign signs for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner, when he was arrested.

Smith issued a statement saying, "I just wish none of this had taken place. This is not indicative of the type of person I am, it is not indicative of the parole board, and it is not indicative of the administration I serve." It sounds almost like what someone would say at a parole hearing.

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