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News in Brief
Arizona: In April, 2004, Department of Corrections employee Paul Lamprill was fired after using his state supplied DOC computer to send more than 8,000 e mails to campaign on behalf of former Arizona DOC director Terry Stewart who was running for president of the American Correctional Association, a private lobbying group of prison officials. Lamprill had worked in the DOC's information technology department and also used DOC computers to set up a website for Stewart's efforts. Stewart headed the Arizona prison system from 1995-2000 before leaving in controversy and has since gone on to work for private prison companies and set up the Iraqi and Haitian prison systems.
California: On August 9, 2004, Jacqueline Maristela, 29, a guard at the Elmwood Correctional Center for Women in Milpitas, was arrested on charges she sexually assaulted Linda Thi Vo, 22, a prisoner at the facility. Prosecutors noted that the assault was in fact "consensual" but California, like most states, criminalizes sexual activity between prisoners and employees. Guards Jennifer Daniel, 32, and Muoaz Ismeal, 39, were arrested on charges they knew of the relationship and concealed it. Police found letters and taped phone calls between Maristela and Vo.
California: On July 24, 2004, four prisoners who escaped from the Eureka Recovery Center, a substance abuse treatment program run for prisoners, were arrested in Eureka after they attacked three teenagers in a park, leaving one with a stab wound in his neck. The prisoners were identified as Arthur Bright, 31, Freddy Arroyo, 24, Vincente Perez-Martinez, 20 and Javier Zamaorano Jr., 21. The California Department of Corrections removed the remaining 15 prisoners from the program and returned them to prison as well.
Colorado: An early November, 2004, search of Weld county jail prisoner Alfred Loader's cell revealed a list of social security numbers, salaries and other personal information on a thousand Weld county employees, including the sheriff. The FBI is investigating how Loader obtained the information. The sheriff claims Loader obtained it using computers in the jail library. Affiliated Computer Services, a Dallas company that maintains the county's computer system commented "It is obvious something was going on that we were not aware of."
Colorado: On August 3, 2004, Joseph Bellville, 33, a federal prisoner being held on probation violation charges, escaped from a US marshals prison van in Denver while being transported back to prison after a court hearing. Bellville discarded his clothes and made off in his underwear and socks, the socks were later recovered. Bellville evaded police until August 5 when a US marshal found him hiding behind a fence and he pulled a knife and escaped. Bellville then flagged down a pick up truck, stabbed the 61 year old male driver in the leg and took the vehicle. After a 30 minute high speed chase Bellville was captured after police spiked a road, slowing his vehicle and US marshals rammed it head first to halt it.
Colorado: On July 23, 2004, Kenny Boss, Sr., 42, and Justin Ames, 19, prisoners in the Custer County jail in Westcliffe escaped by cutting their way through a cell wall with a metal bolt and then leaving through the window in the sheriff's office. Sheriff Fred Jobe said "They were nice about it. They opened the window& and the little doodads on the (window) shelf, they set them on my desk." Boss was awaiting trial on drug charges and Ames had vehicle theft and drunken driving charges pending against him.
District of Columbia: On November 16, 2004, at the senate nomination hearing of Thomas B. Griffith, president Bush's nominee for a seat on the District of Columbia appeals court, it was disclosed that Griffith lied to Utah bar officials about his legal licensing. Griffith lied to the Utah bar that his law license had never been suspended when in fact it had been suspended from 1998 to 2001. He told the Bar he relied on his District of Columbia law license to practice law in Utah but he told the Senate committee, which consisted solely of his friend, Utah senator Orrin Hatch (R), that he relied on associations with other local lawyers to practice. Griffith's DC law license had been suspended when he failed to pay his Bar dues. He applied to take the Utah bar in January, 2004, but never did. Griffith claimed he did not believe he needed a license to practice law in Utah because he was general counsel for Brigham Young University.
Florida: Fifty immigration detainees at the Manatee County jail in Port Manatee staged a two day hunger strike on July 12-14, 2004, to protest the poor quality of food in the jail. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials investigating the detainees' claims found that the food at the jail was indeed foul and rotten. Jail officials said they would investigate the claims. ICE pays Manatee county $10 million a year to house the detainees.
Georgia: In July, 2004, Ronney and Patricia Finney filed suit against Crawford county sheriff Kerry Dunaway seeking damages to compensate for the cost of raising their granddaughter Adrianna, who was conceived in the county jail while her parents were in the jail awaiting trial for robbing a convenience store. Latonya Finney and her boyfriend Adrian Howard were in the jail from September, 2002, until January, 2003. Medical records show LaTonya became pregnant in November, 2002. The sheriff claims Howard picked the locks of two doors to enter the women's section of the jail and have sex with LaTonya. The couple claims that in exchange for unspecified information the sheriff allowed them to have a 45 minute private visit. County attorney David Mincey Jr. told media: "I just think it's a very, very bizarre social conscience these people have that their daughter conceives a child and they think the sheriff is responsible."
Georgia: In July, 2004, three employees of the Fulton County Public Defender's office were suspended for 10 days, without pay, for viewing pornography on county computers. County commissioners purported outrage over the punishment and seek to make it a fireable offense for employees who use county equipment to view pornography. The employees had over 500 nude photos downloaded onto their computers.
Georgia: On August 6, 2004, Victor Whitlock, 29, a guard at the Cook County jail in Adel was charged with two felony counts of having sex with two female prisoners and two counts of violating his oath of office.
Indiana: In November, 2004, the Hammond police department announced it had suspended detective Rudy Grasha, with pay, for videotaping a female prisoner in the local jail being strip searched. Police were also attempting to learn if Grasha had copied and distributed the tape. The local police are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for committing and covering up felonies, including drunken driving, perjury and witness coercion. In September, 2004, a city policewoman resigned when federal officials began investigating whether she had brought a cell phone to a male prisoner in the local jail.
Iraq: On November 2, 2004, Jeffrey Serrett, 43, a Virginia medic working for Halliburton at the Abu Ghraib torture center and prison was shot and killed by local guerrillas who knocked on the door of the prison clinic and shot Serrett when he opened it.
Maine: In July, 2004, Rodney Williams, 29, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty in Bangor to feigning illness while being transported back to prison in 2002 after a court hearing and disarming prison transport guard David Drever and getting into shoot out with local and state police in downtown Ellsworth. Amazingly, no one was injured in the shoot out. Williams will be deported to his native Liberia upon completion of his sentence. Williams apologized to Drever in court saying "I was having some problems, and I just totally lost it."
Massachusetts: On September 13, 2004, Christine Callahan, 36, a former guard at the Norfolk County House of Corrections in Dedham pleaded guilty to smuggling heroin in to the jail and to manslaughter when the prisoner she gave the heroin to, Anthony Marchetti, 34, died of an overdose in May, 2002. Callahan was sentenced to one year and three months in prison on both charges.
Minnesota: On August 3, 2004, a guard at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater was assaulted by two prisoners in the B-West unit. He suffered minor injuries. The unit had been locked down for seventeen days prior to the incident and was locked down again afterwards. Prison officials attributed the assault and unrest on the fact that the prisoners are being double celled in 60 square foot cells designed for one prisoner.
Minnesota: On September 6, 2004, 72 prisoners in the Olmsted county jail seized control of a housing unit in the jail after they were told they would have to be double celled due to jail overcrowding. The prisoners broke tables and vending machines and damaged the cell block. A county SWAT team stormed the cell block several hours later and the prisoners did not resist and returned to their cells.
New Jersey: On July 22, 2004, Donnel Salters, a guard at the Hudson County jail, was arrested and charged with possession of heroin and marijuana which he intended to deliver to a prisoner at the jail. He was also charged with official misconduct and possession of a firearm during a drug felony. Salters was arrested after buying the drugs from undercover police at a gas station while on his way to work at the jail.
New Jersey: On May 10, 2004, eleven people were injured in a fight between rival gang members at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark. One prisoner was stabbed and seriously injured, five others suffered minor injuries. Five guards who responded to the fight suffered minor injuries as well.
New York: On December 5, 2004, Robert Ross, 39, a guard at the Rikers Island jail was shot and killed at a party held in the Sheraton hotel in Queens. According to the New York Post: "The lurid party was a monthly neighborhood event hosted by a woman who rents out a hotel room, fills it with strippers and booze and then charges between $10 and $20 a person to enter." Ross was shot in the groin and died at the scene. Ross had been on sick leave in recent weeks due to asthma and breathing problems caused by his weight of 400 pounds. Alas, he was not too sick to party.
New York: On September 20, 2004, Anthony Phillips, a Manhattan jail guard, pleaded guilty to receiving oral sex from an 18 year old male to female transsexual prisoner in the Central Booking area of the jail while the prisoner was awaiting arraignment on theft charges. The prisoner reported the assault to police and had Phillips' semen on her sweater and told police Phillip's had a ring piercing in his penis.
New York: On September 23, 2004, Bruce Stucko, 46, a guard at the Rikers Island jail was charged with stealing more than $25,000 in sick pay after investigators discovered Stucko had forged 38 doctor's notes to avoid coming to work while being paid. Stucko had been earning $54,000 a year as a guard.
Tennessee: On November 12, 2004, James L. Kirk, 45, a prisoner at the Corrections Corporation of America run Whiteville Correctional Facility hanged himself in his cell. Kirk had been convicted in August of killing his step father and was sentenced to life in prison.
Texas: On November 3, 2004, Juan Ortiz, 40, a guard at the Central Texas Parole Violators Facility, a jail in San Antonio, was charged by a federal grand jury with planning to smuggle heroin into the facility at the behest of a police informant. The facility is run by Geo Group, formerly known as Wackenhut. Within the past year three other guards at the facility have been convicted of smuggling drugs into the facility.
Virginia: On August 14, 2004, four prisoners in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail took two guards hostage in an incident lasting 4 hours. One of the guards, who was 70 years old, was released after an hour for medical reasons. The other guard was released when six unidentified prisoners in an adjoining cell block attacked the hostage takers and held one down allowing the other guard to escape.
Virginia: On November 1, 2004, Tierre McGinnis, 25, a guard at the Roanoke jail, was charged in state court with smuggling cocaine into the jail for delivery to prisoners. Police made the arrest after receiving tips from prisoner informants that McGinnis was bringing drugs into the jail on a regular basis. Because he was in uniform and armed when arrested with a quantity of cocaine in his lunchbox he was charged with felony drug possession and being armed while in said possession.
Washington: On November 1, 2004, the Department of Corrections banned smoking in its prisons by prisoners and staff. This contrasts with the DOC's prior history of giving tobacco free of charge to prisoners until 1990 and defending lawsuits by prisoners exposed to second hand tobacco smoke by claiming such exposure was harmless.
Washington: On November 3, 2004, a Skagit county jury acquitted Snohomish county jail guard Ralph Yarborough, 38, of child abuse charges for using leg irons and handcuffs to restrain his 13 year old son. Prosecutors had argued that Yarborough "&assaulted and imprisoned his son with the tools that should have been at work, for work, not at home." Defense lawyer Kelli Armstrong convinced the jury that the child had only been subjected to "transitory pain" and the actions were a last resort to deal with a child that had temper tantrums and repeatedly ran away from home [readers can speculate on why the child would want to leave his household]. Yarbrough was fired from his job as a jail guard and is currently appealing the dismissal.
Washington: On November 5, 2004, former district court judge Jeffrey Day, 48, was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted by a Pierce county jury of first degree child molestation stemming from fondling an 11 year old buy he had initially represented pro bono when the child was charged with arson. Day also faces disbarment for the conviction.
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