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News in Brief

Bolivia: Protesting bad conditions and long sentences, two prisoners at the Palmasola prison in the capital of La Paz were crucified on February 11, 2004. Prisoners Fredy Acosta and Walter Ortiz were nailed to crosses in the prison. The protest was filmed by local television crews where it was aired nationally. Prison officials would not comment on why they allowed the protest to occur, much less be televised. Most of the nation's prisoners have not been convicted of any crime and they frequently languish in prison for years as their cases wind through the courts. This is the latest in a series of hunger strikes and riots and other protests seeking better prison conditions and more efficient processing by the courts.

California: On February 15, 2004, Linda Brock, 43, a guard at the Corcoran State Prison was arrested and charged with soliciting murder, having sex with a prisoner, conspiracy to commit a crime and offering to distribute a controlled substance. Police found a pound of marijuana and seven ounces of heroin in her home during a search. Police allege Brock conspired with the prisoner, with whom she was having sex, to hire someone outside prison to kill her husband. The hit man would have been paid with drugs. Apparently the prisoner, Dayon Lively, 36, cut a deal and turned Brock in and has agreed to testify against her. On March 4, 2004, Brock pleaded guilty to the murder solicitation charge, the most serious charge in exchange for prosecutors dropping the remaining charges. Brock and Lively had admitted to the crimes. Lively was not charged with any crimes but his mother was charged with drug possession.

Colorado: On December 13, 2003, Pamela Dickens, 47, a state prison guard, was arrested in Pueblo by police on charges that she conspired with a prisoner to hire a hit man to murder her husband, who is also a prison guard, in order for her to collect life insurance money. She was arrested after meeting with a detective posing as a hit man. She was apparently having an affair with the prisoner as well.

Florida: In November, 2003, at least 26 prisoners in death row in Raiford became ill with food poisoning , claiming they had been fed rotten food.

Florida: On March 5, 2004, Eddie Mayes, 67, was arrested at his home after he visited his son who is confined at the Avon Park prison. A routine check of the names revealed that Hayes is a fugitive who escaped from a Georgia work detail in 1960 while serving a 35 year sentence for robbery and burglary.

Florida: On November 2, 2003, three men robbed a local restaurant in Okeechobee City. Scottie Montgomery, 22, a guard employed by the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation in Moore Haven, was arrested as one of the robbers. Prior to becoming a prison guard, Montgomery had been employed as a manager at the restaurant.

Indiana: In October, 2003, Tom Adams, 53, a former grounds keeper supervisor at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility was given a new job as a state highway worker. Adams was fired by the DOC after he went to Wal-Mart and bought socks to give to the prisoners on his crew when the DOC refused to replace their tattered socks. Adams eventually obtained the reinstatement with the transportation department after many citizens wrote the governor to complain about his firing. Adams said "I'm convinced I did the right thing. Obviously, I did it the wrong way."

Kentucky: On March 4, 2004, Gregory Goins, and Curtis Martin, guards at the Atwood Prison Camp of the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, were charged with having sex with female prisoners. The charges were filed in federal court.

Massachusetts: On December 10, 2003, Bristol county jail guard Robert Ramos, 44, was arrested by FBI agents after he gave an ex convict posing as a hit man $2,500 to murder his former girlfriend to avoid paying child support for their 3 year old son. The ex con was approached by Ramos about the murder and promptly alerted police. Because Ramos traveled to Rhode Island to meet with the purported killer, it became a federal crime and he was charged in federal court with soliciting murder. Ramos had been a guard at the jail for 13 years before his arrest. Ramos complained to the hit man that his ex girlfriend had five other children with different fathers and collected more money in child support than he earned as a guard. Ramos took out a $2,000 credit union loan as a down payment for the $5,000 he agreed to pay for the murder.

New York: On February 20, 2004, Ivan Jones, 19, escaped from the Vernon Bain Center, an 800 bed floating jail barge in New York City, by slipping out of a handcuff where he was attached to another prisoner, climbing beneath a jail bus, holding onto the undercarriage and later rolling out from under the bus and walking away. Six jail guards and a captain were suspended without pay for 15 days over the escape as numerous procedures were not followed: i.e., the prisoners were not counted, no one checked beneath the bus, etc. Jones was recaptured on March 17 at a friend's house in the Bronx. He had been awaiting trial on robbery and burglary charges. He will now be charged with escape as well.

Ohio: On December 10, 2003, Scott Secord, 23, was pleaded no contest to two felony counts of possessing crack cocaine and smuggling it into the Lucas County jail. Undercover police provided Secord with four ounces of crack cocaine, marijuana and a $100 bill to deliver to a prisoner. He was arrested upon entering the jail.

Ohio: On March 23, 2004, Mary Gatskie, 57, an employee of Prison Health Services at the Summit County jail was arrested and charged with one felony count of theft of dangerous drugs. Acting on a tip, police interviewed her about the theft of drugs at the jail. During the interview, police saw drugs stolen from the jail in her kitchen with someone else's name on the bottle. Gatskie confessed to the theft of mental health drugs from the prison.

Oklahoma: In January, 2004, Steven Williams, 27, a guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing was charged with bringing methamphetamine into the prison and using a telephone to commit a felony. On February 19, 2004, police searched the home of Loy Driver, 33, and recovered two pounds of marijuana, a pound of rock cocaine, $10,000 in cash and several weapons. Police claim the drugs were destined for the prison. Driver had been released from prison in 2001 after serving a sentence for second degree murder, eluding police and possessing a controlled substance.

Oregon: On March 23, 2004, Jeffrey Barcenas and Christopher Randall, employees at the Oregon DOC run Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, were charged in Washington County court with having sex with two female prisoners at the jail. Barcenas, a lieutenant at the prison, was charged with nine misdemeanor counts of first degree official misconduct and Randall, the food manager at the prison, was charged with four counts.

Tennessee: In December, 2003, police found a methamphetamine lab inside a cell block of the Bledsoe County jail in Pikeville. No explanation was given as to how it got there.

Texas: In February, 2004, John Conditt Jr., 53, the former head of the FBI's internal affairs unit at the Office of Professional Responsibility was sentenced to 12 years in prison in Tarrant County court after he admitted molesting the daughters of two FBI agents after he retired in 2001. Conditt had been an FBI agent for more than 30 years before retiring. A retired FBI whistleblower said she had brought allegations of child abuse on Indian reservations to Conditt's attention and the FBI had not aggressively pursued the allegations. She now questions whether having a pedophile in charge of an FBI office would influence how aggressively child abuse charges were investigated.

Texas: In March, 2004, David Jones, a state prisoner and a former YMCA counselor who admitted to molesting more than 40 boys underwent surgical castration. Texas is the only state that allows prisoners to undergo castration. Jones is the second prisoner to be castrated since a 1997 law allowed the practice. Johnson was expected to finish his 15 year sentence for child rape and currently faced potential prosecution for raping a five year old boy in 1990.

Texas: On March 16, 2004, Lou Cindy Ford, 39, a guard employed by Wackenhut at the San Antonio jail, pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving four ounces of methamphetamine from undercover police for delivery to a jail prisoner in exchange for $800.

Texas: On March 17, 2004, Benny Garrett, 26, a former guard at the Civigenics operated McLennan County Detention Center in Waco was sentenced to 4 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to aid and abet an escape. Garrett gave jail prisoner Sherman Fields a key which allowed him to escape from the jail, whereupon Fields killed his girlfriend. Garrett testified against Fields at the latter's murder trial, where he received the death penalty. Rejecting Garrett's plea for leniency, federal judge Walter Smith sentenced him to four years in prison. Garrett's attorney had argued he was not properly trained to deal with hardened prisoners. Judge Smith said "Where we reach a point where someone has to be trained before they know it is wrong to sell drugs for money to prisoners or to give a key to a jail inmate, then our society has reached a point to where it probably can't be helped at all. That suggestion, to me, is somewhat preposterous." Garrett had also admitted to smuggling drugs and cigarettes into the jail.

Virginia: On January 6, 2004, William Martin Jr., a guard at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail was convicted by a judge of felony carnal knowledge for having sex with a female prisoner at the jail.

Virginia: On March 24, 2004, Thomas Smolka, 56, a Richmond lawyer who was convicted of mail and wire fraud charges for charging prisoners and their families for legal services he did not perform, was arrested in Portland, Oregon. After pleading guilty to the federal charges, Smolka became a fugitive and disappeared. He was arrested by U.S. marshals in his condo where he had lived since June under the identity of a man who died in 2000. Smolka was apparently given the deceased's identity papers by a woman who also gave him $30,000. Police said the woman was being treated as a victim and not a suspect. Marshals located Smolka using his credit card use history under the name of the dead man. In pleading guilty, Smolka had agreed to repay 17 victims some $75,000 in restitution. Smolka had previously served time in Florida for the murder of his wife, but later had his conviction reversed on appeal and was not retried.

Washington: On December 5, 2003, Drug Enforcement Agency agents arrested Kristina Landry in Everett and charged her in federal court with sending methamphetamine laced cards to an unidentified prisoner at the federal detention center in SeaTac. DEA and federal prison officials apparently recorded numerous telephone conversations outlining the drug transaction, payment, etc. Prison officials intercepted the drug laced card.

Washington: On February 17, 2004, fifteen Department of Corrections employees were evacuated from the DOC headquarters building in Olympia as State Police investigated a white powder sent in an envelope. Preliminary tests did not reveal any hazardous substances.

Washington: on March 17, 2004, Lonnie Cox, 38, escaped from the Minimum Security Unit of the Monroe Correctional Complex by throwing blankets over a fence. He was recaptured two hours later when Monroe Police spotted him walking alongside the highway at 5 AM. Cox's is the second escape from the MSU in less than six months.

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