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News in Brief

Argentina: In May, 2004, army Lt. Colonel Guillermo Bruno Laborda, 50, was arrested after he complained about not being promoted to full colonel. In his letter of complaint, Laborda gave details of personally murdering political prisoners on orders from his superiors and setting their bodies on fire, including shooting a woman a day after she gave birth. Laborda said that during the U.S. backed military dictatorship of the 1970's and 80's these "were considered true and unavoidable acts of service" and it should be taken into account in promoting him after 28 years of faithful military service. Instead, he was arrested and charged with murder. Laborda noted that other officers who carried out the genocide were duly promoted. He claimed the killings traumatized him. "The continuous weeping, the very odor of adrenaline that comes from those who can feel their end coming, their desperate cries begging us that if we were really Christians we would swear we weren't going to kill them, was the most pathetic, agonizing and saddest thing I ever felt in my life and I will never forget it," he said. He also noted that a priest had absolved of the crimes and told him he would be "rewarded for destroying the enemies of Christ." Apparently letters such as this were common for officers seeking promotions in the Argentine military but this is the first time one was made public and where the military pressed charges against one of its own.

Arizona: Among the groups sponsoring America's Night Out Against Crime in Eloy is Corrections Corporation of America. The anti crime effort touts crime prevention through neighborhood camaraderie, police-community relations and visits by police. The August 3, 2004, event will have a portable jail provided by CCA, a private, for profit prison company routinely linked to human and civil rights abuses. Eloy police sergeant Michelle Tarango wrote in a local newspaper: "&and CCA is bringing their jail so you can have your neighbors booked and make them pay to get out." Apparently that is the best night time entertainment police and prison officials can come up with.

Colorado: On April 26, 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it would pay Claude Appel, 51, a state district court judge, $100,000 to settle his lawsuit that they wrongfully disclosed the results of their investigation that Appel was a cocaine user while sitting as a judge in the Third Judicial District. While rumors claimed drug use by Appel, the FBI was unable to substantiate the rumors. The state judicial commission had also cleared Appel of any wrongdoing.

Colorado: On June 25, 2004, the $350,000 Castle Rock home where convicted sex offender Wayne Glasser, 37,and his wife were living, burned to the ground in an arson attack. Glasser had been previously convicted in 1998 of sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl and a 21 year old woman with Down syndrome. The Glassers noted they had repeatedly been harassed by neighbors who had distributed flyers noting Wayne's conviction.

Connecticut: On June 23, 2004, Richard Brown, 38, was sentenced to six months in jail for contempt of court for yelling obscenities at Milford superior court judge Patrick Carroll and mooning the judge in court. The outburst occurred during a plea hearing where Brown was pleading guilty to armed robbery charges and was asked to address the judge as "sir." After the incident, the state withdrew the plea offer.

Ecuador: On June 28, 2004, three prisoners and a guard were killed as police tried to stop an armed breakout from the Garcia Moreno prison in Quito. Another five prisoners were wounded. At least 33 prisoners escaped; 11 were later recaptured.

Florida: On July 1, 2004, David Stewart, 38, a guard employed by Corrections Corporation of America at the Bay County jail, was arrested by Kentucky police on charges that he would impersonate a police officer, call fast food businesses such as Burger King, Wendy's, McDonald's, Taco Bell, etc. and con managers into strip searching their employees. Police identified Stewart through Wal Mart surveillance photos showing him buying the phone cards used in the hoax calls while wearing his jail guard uniform.

Maine: In July, 2004, April Archer, 37, and Bethany Bondenheim, 30, employees of Correctional Medical Services at the Maine Correctional Center in Brewer, were charged with gross sexual assault for allegedly having sexual relationships with prisoners in the facility.

Michigan: On June 30, 2004, Patrick Wynne, a guard with the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch, was charged with stealing over $200,000 from federal immigration detainees over a 4 year period. Wynne was employed at the jail in Monroe. U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins said "Wynne has been charged with stealing cash from numerous aliens and immigration detainees who were held in the custody of the United States. This type of criminal activity by a law enforcement officer is outrageous and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Collins offered no explanation on why it took authorities four years to detect and prosecute the thefts.

Oklahoma: On June 18, 2004, Mark Burleson, 22, escaped from the Riverside Intermediate Sanctions Facility in Tulsa. The facility is run by the for profit Avalon Correctional Services. Avalon did not notice that Burleson had escaped until the next day.

Pennsylvania: On April 23, 2004, Eric Holley, 45, a Philadelphia jail inmate who had been taken to the Frankford Hospital for treatment of an undisclosed medical condition, took a .357 revolver away from jail guard Alice Govozdean and fired three shots before being subdued by hospital staff. Holley had been unshackled to use the bathroom when the incident occurred. No one was injured in the shooting. Prisons Commissioner Leon King said that Govozdean and another guard who was supposed to be supervising Holley had been suspended pending an investigation. King said that a preliminary investigation showed that jail policy on restraints was not followed. Holley was awaiting trial on illegal gun possession charges. After the hospital incident he was charged with simple and aggravated assault and robbery.

Pennsylvania: On July 6, 2004, Lebanon county prison guard Bonita Kirby was charged with escape, criminal conspiracy, hindering apprehension and other offenses. Prosecutors claim Kirby allowed jail prisoner Tina Proudfoot, 21, to escape from a jail vehicle on June 29, 2004, when she was being transported back to the jail from a hospital visit. Kirby, a 14 year jail guard, stopped the vehicle at an intersection and gave Proudfoot the keys to her handcuffs and shackles and opened the door. Proudfoot allegedly told Kirby she missed her husband. Proudfoot was recaptured shortly thereafter.

Pennsylvania: On July 11, 2004, Geary Turner, 56, a prisoner at the Joseph Coleman Center, a 300 bed halfway house in Philadelphia, was found shot to death in his room at the Center. News reports state that while billed as a halfway house, the Center "looks like a medium security prison" and "is surrounded by high chain link fences and barbed wire." The facility is operated by the Roseland, New Jersey, based Community Education Centers.

Pennsylvania: On June 10, 2004, John Owens, 62, a lieutenant at the Centre County Prison in Bellefonte was convicted by a state court jury of simple assault and official oppression for yelling and punching Joseph Ellis, an inebriated detainee, on September 12, 2003. Jeremy Woodring, a jail guard who resigned his job after testing positive for marijuana use, testified that he saw Owens hold Ellis against a wall and punch him in the face. Owens testified in his defense that he merely pushed Ellis who then slipped "on the floor and fell against the wall." On June 24, 2004, Owens was fired by the county, retroactive to the day of his conviction.

Texas: In June, 2004, Sharon Durbin, 30, was arrested on charges of identity theft for allegedly writing 21 checks totaling over $9,000 on the personal bank account of Harris County district attorney Chuck Rosenthal, portraying herself as "Cathy Rosenthal." Rosenthal shut down his bank account and said "It's been a huge hassle. I've spent way too much time trying to get things straight with all these banks." Durbon has a lengthy criminal history of forgery, prostitution, check and credit card fraud.

Texas: On July 2, 2004, 135 prisoners at the Carrizalez-Rucker Detention Center in Brownsville rioted with each other leaving one prisoner stabbed in the neck and 11 others with varying injuries. Steel shanks and other homemade weapons were used in the riot. No jail employees were injured. Jail guards subdued the rioters in ten minutes.

Texas: On July 2, 2004, Elizabeth Salinas, 43, an accountant with the Galveston county pretrial services program was arrested and charged with stealing funds from the program. The theft of funds was discovered after a routine audit.

Texas: On July 3, 2004, Richard Hancock, 53, overpowered two armed guards and hijacked a jail transport van transporting them and 9 other prisoners from jails in Bowie county to the Kaufman county jail. Using .357 revolvers from the guards, Hancock took prisoner Ronald Lee, 37, hostage and eventually hijacked two more vehicles and took a total of three more people hostage before being recaptured by police later that day. No one was injured in the incident.

Texas: On June 28, 2004, Nathan Campbell, 30, was summoned for jury duty in Houston. Campbell had previously been found to be insane by a Houston jury when, in 1997, he gouged his girlfriend's eyes with a steak knife, blinding her in one eye and seriously damaging the other. Campbell claimed he thought her eyes were demons after she rejected his marriage proposal. He was released from a state mental hospital in 2003. Campbell's lawyer, Jim Leitner, said Campbell is qualified to serve on a jury "but his selection is unlikely."

Texas: On June 30, 2004, David Ray Harris, 43, was executed by the state of Texas for the 1985 murder of a homeowner during a burglary. Harris gained fame in the 1988 movie The Thin Blue Line where he testified against Randall Adams, a man who spent 12 years in prison and came within three days of being executed for the murder of a Dallas policeman. Adams was exonerated and freed from prison in 1980 after Harris recanted his informant testimony against him.

Washington: On July 2, 2004, Devon Daniels, 31, was released from the Clallam Bay Corrections Center a year before his release date. Prison officials noticed their mistake and took Daniels back into custody a few hours later.

Washington: On June 18, 2004, the Commission on Judicial Conduct censored King County District Court judge Mary Ann Ottinger for a years long practice of refusing to tell defendants they had a right to counsel. This included a 19 year old woman charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol who Ottinger sentenced to a year in jail when the woman failed to appear in court. The same day, the Commission reprimanded Auburn Municipal Court judge Patrick Burns for his practice of writing "NTG" on hundreds of defendants' court documents. Investigators believe the notation stood for "Nail This Guy" and indicated a bias against the defendants.

West Virginia: In June, 2004, Robert Hill, 25, was sentenced by Kanawha County circuit judge Irene Berger to 10-18 years in prison for second degree robbery as part of a plea deal that dropped escape charges. In January, 2004, Hill attempted to escape from the South Central Regional Jail by greasing himself and trying to squeeze through six inch wide cell window. He got stuck and spent four hours in the window before being rescued by jail guards. Hill was also ordered to pay $3,500 for damages to the jail window.

West Virginia: On July 7, 2004, Kayla LaSala, 14, escaped from house arrest after cutting off an electronic monitoring device and gluing it to a cat. LaSala was awaiting trial on charges of murdering her father in February. Police said the alarm sounded as soon as she cut the device and they were not fooled by the cat gluing.

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