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News in Brief

Arkansas: On March 25, 2003, Fulton county jail prisoners Bobby Woodrum and Brian Shanckle, both 19, escaped from the jail by handcuffing a female jail guard to a chair, stealing guns and ammunition and running off in the jail's jeep. They were recaptured without incident ten hours later.

Brazil: On February 17, 2003, 400 prisoners at the Agostinho de Oliviera Junior Penitentiary in Unai took two guards hostage and killed four prisoners who opposed the rebellion. After 33 hours the hostages were released when prison officials agreed to meet their demands of reviewing certain sentences, transferring some prisoners to other prisons and to allow more conjugal visits between prisoners and visitors during carnival, a pre Lenten festival.

California: On march 14, 2003, Lancaster prison guard Dwayne Brewton was arrested on conspiracy charges after prison investigators, acting on an informant's tip, searched a drug pick up point Brewton was using and recovered 39 grams of marijuana, a gram of heroin and 3.5 grams of crack. On February 26, 2003, an unidentified guard who worked in the prison's property room, was suspended when he approved delivery of a package containing 7.8 pounds of marijuana to a prisoner. Investigators believe this may have been deliberate. Another Lancaster guard, Michael Colino, 32, was arrested by San Fernando police after a traffic stop disclosed a small amount of marijuana in his vehicle. All three guards were placed on administrative leave while investigations continue.

Canada: In March, 2003, staff at the Regina jail were prohibited from watching television or playing video games while on duty after five prisoners dug through a jail ceiling and climbed out of the jail using bed sheets on March 16, 2003.

Connecticut: In February, 2003, Raul Laffitte, 48, a food service supervisor at the Janet York Correctional Institution was placed on leave after being investigated for sexually assaulting a female prisoner at the facility. The unidentified prisoner claims Laffitte assaulted her in a food preparation area. She suffered bruises in the attack.

Florida: In March, 2003, Hardee county jail guard Pedro Pesquera, 41, pleaded no contest to introducing contraband into a correctional facility and was sentenced to 18 months probation, 18 months house arrest and $500 in court costs. In exchange for cash bribes from prisoners, Pesquera would bring tobacco, pot, crank and crack into the jail for prisoners.

Florida: On April 9, 2003, Manatee county jail guard Jesse Penaloza was arrested on charges of smuggling Easter candy, soda pop and cigarettes into the jail.

France: On April 14, 203, a hijacked helicopter flew into the yard of the Luynes prison in Aix En Provence, lowered a rope ladder and escaped with three prisoners. The helicopter landed in a nearby soccer stadium where the prisoners fled in a car and the pilot was released unharmed.

Georgia: On April 13, 2003, Stephon McClendon, 34, died after falling 80 feet while trying to escape from the Dekalb county jail in Decatur. McClendon was awaiting trial on murder charges when he used bed sheets to lower himself to the ground. The sheets ripped in the attempt.

Honduras: On April 4, 2003, a riot at the El Porvenir prison in La Ceiba left 86 prisoners dead and dozens of prisoners and guards wounded. The majority of deaths occurred when prisoners set their mattresses and furniture on fire and detonated hand grenades. An unknown number of prisoners also escaped in the commotion. Most of the dead belonged to a gang, Mara 18, who tried to take over the prison and attacked prisoners who were not gang members. The attacked prisoners defended themselves.

Kansas: On March 17, 2003, the Department of Corrections banned smoking in all state prisons. Kansas joined 18 other state prison systems that have banned smoking in prisons.

Louisiana: On March 31, 2003, Ronald Bodenheimer, 50, a former prosecutor turned Jefferson Parish judge, pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting bribes, drug conspiracy and mail fraud conspiracy charges. Bodenheimer lowered bail for defendants before him in criminal cases in exchange for meals, trips, campaign contributions, home improvements and outright cash. Bodenheimer was also accused of trying to frame an informant on drug charges. Bodenheimer agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating corruption in the Parish judiciary.

Maryland: On April 23, 2003, Richard Delgaudio, 50, a prominent Republican fund raiser, pleaded guilty to producing child pornography in Baltimore circuit court. Delgaudio was sentenced to two years probation after admitting he took lewd photographs of a sixteen year old girl. In some photos he is seen having sex with the girl. Why he was not charged with child rape or molestation was not divulged by media. Delgaudio is president of the Legal Affairs Council, a group which has help bankroll the defense of Republican criminals such as Oliver North and Caspar Weinberger. Delgaudio had previously referred to President Clinton as "a lawbreaker and a terrible example to our nation's young people."

Michigan: On February 17, 2003, Steven Tierney, 41, was arraigned on two counts of murder in Marquette county superior court. Police claimed that on February 15, 2003, Tierney shot and killed Sally Paajanen, 34, and Craig Fleck, 31. All three were employed as guards at the Alger Maximum Security Facility in Munising.

Missouri: On March 18, 2003, Clark county sheriff Doug Jones, 38, resigned as sheriff as part of a plea bargain where he admitted to lying to a federal agent. Jones confessed that he lied to an FBI agent when he claimed he had not had sex with a female prisoner at the jail.

Nebraska: In February, 2003, Richard Larsen, 28, was sentenced to 65 years in prison after being convicted by a Lancaster county jury of attempting to escape from the Nebraska State Penitentiary on April 25, 2001. Together with prisoners Michael McGuire, 53, Mohamed El Tabach, 45 and Vasile Hurbenca, 52, Larsen used homemade knives to tie up a prison plumber and the chaplain. The prisoners used the doors from the prison chapel's bathroom to climb the prison fences. Guards caught three of the prisoners between the perimeter fences. McGuire was outside of it. Larsen was already serving two life sentences for a double murder he committed in 1995. The others, who pleaded guilty to the escape charges, were also serving lengthy sentences.

New York: On March 4, 2003, Deborah Aiken, 35, held a press conference where she announced the filing of a gender discrimination suit against the Rikers Island jail where she had been employed as a guard. Aiken alleged that on March 1, 2002, she noticed she had a rip in the back of her uniform pants, from the crotch to the waistband, which exposed her thong bikini underwear. Assistant deputy warden Stanley Lett was informed of the incident and insisted on seeing her buttocks. Aiken stated that Lett forcibly detained her in his office and bent her over his desk. She also claimed he attempted to force her to rub his crotch. "When he knew my pants were ripped he started playing round explicitly with my pants and pulling on my long jacket covering the rip. He clamed he was going to get a needle and thread so I could repair my pants but when he came back he was grabbing on my jacket trying to pull it up and started talking explicitly letting me know how he wanted some," Aiken said. Aiken stated she filed the lawsuit after the jail refused to investigate her complaint about Lett. Lett continues employed by the jail. Aiken broke down crying during the press conference and sobbed "I want to see him arrested."

North Carolina: On March 3, 2003, Wake county jail guard Theodore Frederick, 40, was arrested on felony fraud charges for allegedly showing homes to his jail co-workers, accepting down payments for the houses and then not delivering the houses. Prosecutors claim Frederick had no standing or right to sign contracts for the properties.

North Carolina: On March 5, 2003, Richard Mears, 44, was sentenced by Caswell county superior court judge W. Osmond Smith to refund $331,504 to 21 people that Mears defrauded by promising, for a $15,000 fee, to obtain pardons, sentence commutations and other early release for prisoners, usually serving life sentences. Mears, an ex con who served 11 years in federal prison for fraud in the 1980's and 1990s, set up a paralegal business in North Carolina purporting to do legal research for prisoners. He later drew up money back contracts guaranteeing the release of prisoners within 6-8 months of receiving the money. Mears would tell prisoners he would give two thirds of the money to a local politician who would then secure their release from prison. Judge Smith called Mears "contracts" "unethical, unscrupulous and profoundly injurious to the people who signed them." Smith said he expected the amount of restitution ordered to increase as more of Mears' victims came forward.

Ohio: On February 14, 2003, assistant Cuyahoga county prosecutor Aaron Phillips, 37, was charged with bribery and obstruction of justice in state court. Phillips is accused of taking two $1,000 payments from a domestic violence defendant in exchange for helping him stay out of jail.

Ohio: On March 15, 2003, Michael Haas, 26, climbed off of a 95 foot tower in the recreation yard of the Mansfield Correctional Institution. Haas, a prisoner at the facility, stayed on the antenna for 14 hours before climbing down at 4:30 AM. Prison officials claimed not to know why Haas climbed the tower nor how he did so unobserved by staff. In 1999 Haas climbed onto a tower at the Southeastern Correctional Institution and stayed in it for an hour.

Tennessee: On March 13, 2003, Eric Haynes, 26, killed himself by hanging in the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning. On March 14, 2003, death row prisoner John Terry, 58, also hanged himself at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. Terry's body was found in the bathroom of the data entry work section of the prison where he worked as a janitor.

Texas: In October, 2002, a dead bird infected with the West Nile virus was found in a trailer park near the Mountainview Unit prison in Gatesville. Local officials claim prisoners are at no risk of the sometimes fatal disease.

Texas: On February 10, 2003, Demetrius Holloway, 22, was arrested in Dallas on capital murder charges. On February 9, 2003, Holloway, a trusty at the Ferguson Unit in Madison county, escaped from the prison and broke into the Madisonville home of Farmer Pearson, 57, a local plumber. Pearson was found beaten to death by his wife. Holloway was arrested when he drove Pearson's truck to his girlfriend's home in Dallas where police were waiting for him. Holloway faces the death penalty if convicted.

Texas: On January 28, 2003, Michael Hernandez, 25, a Bexar county jail guard in San Antonio was suspended after being accused of selling drugs to prisoners in the jail.

Texas: On March 17, 2003, Layton Mowrey, 74, died when the van he was driving for Correctional Services Corporation flipped three times, ejecting him to his death. Mowrey, a CSC employee, was the sole passenger. It is unknown why he lost control on I-10 near the Trico Marana road exit.

Venezuela: On April 18, 2003, a fight between prisoners at the Yare II prison in Caracas left 11 prisoners dead, including one who was decapitated, and 40 wounded. The prisoners were apparently involved in a gang dispute over territory within the prison and decided to use knives and machetes to resolve the dispute.

Virginia: In March, 2003, former York county sheriff Press Williams, 75, became a fugitive after failing to report to court to be arraigned on charges of aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration, indecent exposure and assault and battery stemming from a September 10, 2002, incident involving a woman. In 1997 Williams pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a Sheriff's department employee while he was still sheriff. Williams was given a $4,000 fine and a twelve month suspended sentence in that case.

Virginia: On March 11, 2003, Russell Smith, 38, a guard at the Prince William County jail pleaded guilty to four charges of raping a ten year old girl over a two year period. Smith claims the rapes occurred as part of a satanic ritual and he claims to be a Satanist. Smith will undergo a mental evaluation before being sentenced.

Washington: On April 15, 2003, Gail Hill, 54, was charged in King County superior court in Seattle with second degree assault and aiding an escape attempt. Hill tried to free George M. Anderson, 49, (AKA Sonny Cappello and Michael Roe) while he was undergoing medical treatment at the Harborview Medical Center while incarcerated in the Seattle jail. Hill attacked jail guard David Kirk, 38, with an electric stun gun, zapping him three times in an effort to free Anderson. Kirk was able to draw his pistol and subdue Hill until police and hospital security staff arrived. Anderson had falsely told Hill he faced a life sentence on racketeering charges unless she freed him. Instead, the convicted child molester was in jail on charges of failing to register as a level 3 sex offender and on possible fraud charges. Jail and hospital officials said they were reviewing security procedures.

Washington: On April 18, 2003, Jeffrey Thornton, 35, was charged in Pierce County Superior Court with possessing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Prosecutors claim he had a video of an 11 year old girl where Thornton instructs her to remove her top and fondles her breasts. Thornton was employed as a Residential Rehabilitation counselor at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil island which houses the state's "sexually violent predators." Thornton's duties consisted mostly of escorting visitors to and from the ferry dock to the Center and supervising visits. Prosecutors believe the assaults depicted in the video actually occurred in New Jersey and have referred the matter to police in that state. Thornton was suspended without pay after his arrest. "He's not ever coming back," said Center director Mark Seling. Thornton has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

West Virginia: While excavating the foundation for a new regional jail in Elkins, coal was discovered. The jail plans to sell 30,000 tons of coal to raise $300,000 to offset the jail's construction costs.

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