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News in Brief

California: On May 2, 2003, Gary Culverson, 25, and Van Kopp, 37, were arrested on charges that they assaulted Casey Humphrey, 18, a prisoner at the Monroe Detention Center in Yolo County. Culverson and Kopp were employed as guards at the jail's intake area but the assault occurred in the segregation unit of the facility. According to a citizen's complaint signed and filed by ten jail prisoners who witnessed the assault and which led to the investigation and filing of criminal charges, Culverson and Kopp assaulted Humphrey on April 1, 2003, after he refused to be moved to a different area of the jail. The guards were released on $35,000 bail and are on administrative leave pending resolution of the criminal charges. On April 2 a number of prisoners in the jail segregation unit staged a ten day hunger strike to protest the beating and also flooded their cells. Apparently beatings of prisoners are common in the jail, while investigations and criminal prosecutions are not.

California: On May 22, 2003, Kimberly Lewis, 48, a male guard at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego was sentenced by San Diego county judge Browder Willis to one year in jail after being convicted of sodomizing a gay, male prisoner at the facility on several occasions. (See previous NIB sections for details). Lewis pleaded guilty to one felony count of having sexual contact with a prisoner. The victim saved Lewis' semen after two bouts of oral rape and mailed it to his sister for testing by police. Lewis' lawyer contended the sex was consensual. The victim disagreed. California is among the states that criminalize all sex between staff and prisoners. Lewis also sought leniency by arguing he was his wife's caregiver and his wife suffered from multiple sclerosis. No word from Mrs. Lewis on her views of her husband's escapades.

California: On May 22, 2003, Monica Tyson, 44, a San Francisco jail release evaluator was charged in San Francisco county superior court with soliciting and accepting a bribe from a jail prisoner in exchange for giving the prisoner a favorable jail release evaluation. The unidentified female prisoner, described as a repeat offender, promptly reported to police that Tyson had extorted her for $300 and accepted a $100 payment from her for a favorable recommendation. "She didn't like the idea of being shaken down," said assistant district attorney Bob Ring. Tyson was employed by the San Francisco Pretrial Diversion Project, a non profit organization employed by the local courts to screen and release suitable detainees on bond and electronic monitoring while they await trial.

Florida: On May 29, 2003, Tracy Wright, 31, and Darrell Jenkins, 35, prisoners at the Washington Correctional Institution in Chipley, allegedly attacked five prison guards in the facility's recreation yard. The prisoners used bats and horseshoes to carry out the attack that left one guard in critical condition. Prison officials claim the prisoners carried out the attack in order to be transferred to prisons in South Florida. Instead, they were moved to the Florida State Prison in Starke. Several prisoners who came to the aid of the attacked guards were also transferred to other prisons to protect them from possible retaliation by other prisoners.

Idaho: On May 22, 2003, Dan John, 40, a guard at the North Central Idaho Correctional Institution was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of raping the 16 year old daughter of another prison employee in August, 2002.

Iowa: On April 30, 2003, Shaun Rucker, 34, an Indianola probation and parole officer for 14 years, was arrested during his lunch break on marijuana charges. Rucker's co-workers complained to police that Rucker would frequently return from his lunch breaks smelling of marijuana. An investigation by police concluded Rucker was indeed smoking the demon weed on his lunch breaks. Rucker was arrested in his car and police found marijuana and a pipe to smoke it in.

Michigan: On April 30, 2003, six children at the Wolverine Secure Treatment Center in Township were charged with rioting at the maximum security juvenile prison. Three prison employees were injured in the incident.

Mississippi: On May 20, 2003, Steven Farris and his mother Cheryl Beaty were convicted in Carthage of conspiring to allow Farris to escape from the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in October, 2001, where Farris was serving a life sentence for killing a jail guard.

Puerto Rico: In May, 2003, the territory's prison system announced it was in the process of purchasing an electronic system to detect prisoners' use of cell phones in prison. Prison officials claim that prisoners regularly use cell phones to conduct criminal activities from their prison cells.

South Dakota: On May 6, 2003, Christopher Fonseca, 29, a prisoner at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, pleaded guilty to first degree murder charges for strangling his cellmate, Andrew Young, 23, in July, 2002. In exchange for his plea, Fonseca was promised a single cell by prison officials, presumably for life.

Texas: On May 1, 2003, 15 prisoners were injured in a fight at a Corrections Corporation of America operated Eden Detention Center in Eden. No guards were injured in the thirty minute melee.

Utah: On May 12, 2003, Louis Poleate, 44, a guard at the Utah State Prison in Draper pleaded guilty to one count of custodial sexual relations for raping a 19 year old female prisoner at the prison on September 17, 2002. Poleate had originally been charged with first degree felony rape for attacking the woman. The victim has since been released from prison and has attempted suicide twice.

Washington: On April 25, 2003, Joyce Lingle, 46, an employee at the Mason County Juvenile Detention Center in Shelton was accused by prosecutors of prescription fraud in Mason county superior court. Prosecutors claim Lingle used fraudulent prescriptions to obtain Hydrocodone on 14 occasions from Shelton area pharmacists. Lingle's husband, Jerry, is a sergeant with the Shelton Police Department. Bob Sauerlender, a manager at the juvenile jail, said Lingle "is not coming to work" pending the outcome of the investigation.

Washington: On May 23, 2003, Catherine Wortham, 36, was found dead in her cell at the Spokane jail. Wortham had been booked into the jail on May 18 for investigation of three counts of possessing stolen property and two counts of forgery. The cause of death was not immediately known.

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