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News in Brief

Bolivia: On March 27, 2002, prosecutor Alex Alipaz, was stabbed four times by two prisoners while walking through a prison corridor in the San Pedro prison. Alipaz was seriously injured in the attack but survived. Alipaz said he had no idea why he was attacked, and the prisoners weren't commenting.

Brazil: On February 13, 2002, five people were seriously injured when a bomb exploded at the headquarters of the state prison system in Sao Paulo. A note attached to the bomb protested the treatment of prisoners in the Sao Paulo prison system.

Brazil: On January 17, 2002, a helicopter flew into the yard of the Jose Parada Neto penitentiary in Sao Paulo and flew away with two prisoners who escaped.

Brazil: On November 26, 2001, 108 prisoners escaped through a tunnel dug into the Sao Paulo Penitentiary, the largest one in the state. The tunnel opened in a prison workshop. Within a day 18 of the escapees had been recaptured.

Brazil: On November 26, 2001, a prisoner at the Barreto Campelo prison on Itamaraca island caught another prisoner spying on his wife while she was using the bathroom during a visit to the prison. The two men began to fight and the fight spread through the prison and ultimately left 9 prisoners dead from stabbings and clubbings.

Brazil: To commemorate the first anniversary of the biggest prison uprisings in Brazilian history, on February 19, 2002, riots in 9 prisons in Sao Paulo state left 17 prisoners dead. The uprisings, as well as the 2001 rebellion were reportedly organized by the First Commando of the Capital (PCC), a prison gang.

California: On February 12, 2002, Willie Murphy, 33, was beaten to death by his cellmate Josef Jensen, 22, at the California State Prison in Folsom. Jensen, already serving a life sentence for murder, was charged with murder in Murphy's death.

California: On February 5, 2002, an unidentified prisoner at the High Desert State prison in Susanville died after being stabbed twice in the back in a fight with two other prisoners in the exercise yard.

California: On January 4, 2002, three guards at the California State Prison in Folsom were injured when 11 prisoners attacked them with knives in the prison dining hall while one prisoner was being searched. Two guards were roughed up and a third, unidentified guard, was stabbed six times in the back, neck and stomach, suffering 2 punctured lungs. Other guards responded with pepper spray and rubber bullets. Prison officials claim the prisoner assailants were members of the Sureños prison gang and the attack was planned. Two knives were recovered at the scene.

California: On March 11, 2002, Kevin Gilliam, 17, escaped from the juvenile hall in Sylmar by breaking a window and climbing a razor wire fence and fleeing in a getaway car. Gilliam was due to be sentenced as an adult two days later for three counts of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

California: On March 25, 2002, David Maldonado, 47, was found dead in his segregation cell at the Calipatria State prison, hanging from a makeshift rope. Maldonado, serving a life sentence, apparently killed himself.

California: On March 30, 2002, Ronald Donaldson, 26, escaped from the Rialto jail by slamming himself against a steel jail door until it broke. He then ran out of the jail and carjacked a van with three teenage girls in it. Donaldson surrendered to police after a 3 and a half hour chase.

Georgia: On December 26, 2001, Diana Person, 51, the second in command of the Brunswick Regional office of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole, was charged with felony theft for shoplifting $477 in merchandise from Sears. Person was suspended with pay pending the outcome of the charges.

Illinois: On March 14, 2002, Decatur Correctional Institution warden Billie Green was removed from her position after sending emails to other DOC employees soliciting aid for attorney general Jim Ryan's gubernatorial campaign. State law prohibits the use of state resources for political campaigns.

Illinois: On March 15, 2002, the Menard Correctional Institution was placed on lockdown after an unidentified prisoner punched the prison's assistant warden, Alan Frentzel, 50, in the face. Frentzel was watching prisoners go to yard when the attack occurred. Frentzel fell, hit his head and briefly lost consciousness but was not otherwise injured. No word on how the prisoner fared after being "subdued" by guards.

Kentucky: On February 7, 2002, state supreme court justice Martin Johnstone, 52, pleaded guilty to drunk driving, a day after being arrested. Johnstone paid a $400 fine, will take an alcohol education class and had his license suspended for 30 days.

Missouri: on December 22, 2001, 53 prisoners at the St. Louis workhouse (jail) rioted and seized control of their medium security pod for about 30 minutes before a jail tactical squad used mace to attack the prisoners and regain control. No staff were injured while 10 prisoners reportedly suffered minor injuries. Media accounts gave no reason for the uprising and no prisoners were interviewed. Jail director Dora Schriro attributed the rebellion to the prisoners "anti-social outlook."

Missouri: On March 31, 2002, Timothy Tanner tried to escape from the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific by climbing a razor wire fence. He climbed down after a guard fired a warning shot.

Missouri: On October 7, 2001, Thomas Ingrassia, 45, escaped from the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center in Farmington, the state's civil commitment unit run by the department of mental health. Ingrassia was the first person convicted at trial, shortly before his escape, under the state's sex predator law despite having been free and law abiding after his 1996 release from prison on rape charges. Center officials were unsure how he had escaped.

New Jersey: On March 28, 2002, the state DOC suspended Northern State Prison guards Mark Jones and David Jones after their arrest the previous week in a Newark brothel. Police raided the brothel and arrested 31 people, including 16 women accused of being prostitutes. The two guards have been criminally charged with promoting prostitution and promoting underage prostitution since at least one of the alleged prostitutes was 16 year old girl.

New York: On February 19, 2002, Peter Grebinger, 35, a prisoner at the Nassau county jail, pleaded guilty to first degree attempted sexual abuse for forcing a 17 year old prisoner to perform oral sex on him. The attack occurred in the victim's cell in the protective custody section of the jail. Before the plea bargain a jury had deadlocked on more serious charges of first degree sodomy. Grebinger was later sentenced to 18 months to 3 years in prison.

New York: On January 31, 2002, Dwayne Cloud, 33, a prison guard at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility was charged with assault, criminal trespassing and resisting arrest after interrupting governor George Pataki at a high school ceremony in Yonkers. While standing some 65 feet away from Pataki, Cloud yelled "excuse me, Governor Pataki! Governor Pataki!" which sent the forces of law and order into action as Pataki ignored him and security forces dragged Cloud outside and arrested him. Apparently Cloud wanted to complain about a supervisor at the prison.

Ohio: In February, 2002, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DORC) issued rules allowing guards to buy their own American flag patches to wear on their uniforms. Many guards had refused to wear the state issued patches, claiming the stars "pointed in the wrong direction."

Ohio: On February 6, 2002, the state supreme court reversed the death penalty conviction of James Were, a prisoner convicted of the murder of prison guard Robert Valladingham in the 1993 Lucasville prison uprising. Prosecutors complain it will be difficult to locate the 70 informants and prisoner witnesses who originally testified against Were. The court held that the trial judge erred in not holding a competency hearing for Were, as there was substantial evidence Were was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Oklahoma: In February, 2002, Tulsa police investigated the theft of $17,570.62 from the "inmate account" at the Corrections Corporation of America run Tulsa jail. Police believe the money was withdrawn using either phone lines or the Internet. The account contains money sent to prisoners to make commissary purchases. The account was closed and a CCA spokesman said the prisoners would receive whatever money they were owed.

Oklahoma: On August 15, 2001, Mariano Absun, 27, a prisoner at the Conner Correctional Center in Hominy, attempted to escape from the prison by hiding in a garbage truck. Absun's body was found crushed to death in the trash tray of the garbage truck two hours after he was noticed missing. Absun was serving a 3 year sentence for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Oklahoma: On March 22, 2002, the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority voted to fine Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the county jail on contract, $5,625 for erroneously releasing three prisoners in the preceding month. The prisoners were released despite having detainers from other jurisdictions for pending charges. CCA attributed two releases to a records clerk not entering the detainers into the jail computer and the third to computer error. The county had already paid CCA some $2.6 million to operate the jail between January and March, 2002.

Texas: On April 4, 2002, Wayne Scott, the former head of the Texas Department of Correctional Justice resigned from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and announced he would accept an unspecified job with Utah based Management and Training Corporation, a private, for profit prison company with facilities in the US (including Texas), Canada, Australia and Costa Rica.

Texas: On January 24, 2002, Mercedes municipal court judge Ernesto Flores turned himself into federal marshals after being indicted on four counts of sexual misconduct by a federal grand jury. Prosecutors claim that Flores extorted sexual favors from the female relatives of criminal defendants whose bond Flores was responsible for setting. The indictment claimed Flores would kiss, fondle and grope defendants' family members in exchange for reducing defendants' bond or ordering their release from jail. Flores is charged with violating the women's' civil rights.

Utah: On February 28, 2002, criminal charges were dismissed against Utah county jail guard Melissa Sprague on grounds that she was entrapped. Undercover police gave Sprague methamphetamine to deliver to a prisoner she was romantically involved with. Police told Sprague that the drug was a body building supplement.

Vermont: On March 15, 2002, Mark Delude, 40, was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to felony escape. Delude was caught breaking back into the St. Johnsbury work camp with a case of beer and a carton of cigarettes. Delude had crawled under the prison's fence, walked to a nearby convenience store, made his purchases and returned to prison.

Virginia: On February 25, 2002, Nora Freeman, 26, pleaded guilty to the escape charges for escaping from the 7th floor of the Norfolk county jail on December 26, 2001, by climbing out of a window and using a rope made from bed sheets to reach the ground. Freeman successfully escaped but was recaptured the next day. His cellmate Steve Hodges, 45, wasn't so lucky. Hodges fell to his death when the bed sheet rope broke. Freeman was sentenced to four years in prison for the escape, he was already serving a 121 year sentence for robbery.

Washington: In March, 2002, Mercer Island Republican Ida Ballasiotes announced she was retiring from the legislature and would not seek reelection, this comes after Republicans first lost control of the state House and then lost a tie in the House. Ballasiotes had chaired and later cochaired the house corrections committee. Ballasiotes' daughter Diane was murdered in 1988 by Gene Kane, a sex offender at work release. Ballasiotes was elected to the legislature in 1992 and spent the next decade doing the DOC's bidding and making life even more miserable for the state's prisoners.

Washington: On April 12, 2002, Tannie Tomlin, 51, a guard at the king county jail in Seattle was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting a felon to posses a firearm. Tomlin gave ex-jail prisoner and former police officer turned hitman Marcos Ranjel a pistol which Ranjel used to murder Carmel Sanger, a San Francisco hair salon owner. Ranjel murdered Sanger after being paid $100,000 by her ex husband, Robert Sanger. Ranjel is serving a life sentence for the murder while Robert Sanger pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Washington: On January 11, 2002, Dennis Howard, 55, resigned his position as Snohomish county court administrator when it became known that in 1991 he had pleaded guilty in Colorado to fondling a 12 year old boy. At the time of his Colorado conviction he was the court administrator for Jefferson county in that state. Howard's supervisor in Washington became aware of the conviction when an anonymous party sent her newspaper clippings of the incident.

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