Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

News in Brief

Ecuador: On January 15, 2004, president Lucio Guitierrez declared the nation's prisons to be in a "state of emergency" and would immediately appropriate funds to be used to upgrade the nation's overcrowded, violent and dilapidated prison system. On January 12, 2004, rioting prisoners at two prisoners released 300 visitors they had taken hostage to protest both their conditions and the slow pace of the judicial system where thousands of prisoners are held for years awaiting trial and even longer awaiting sentencing.

Ecuador: On January 16, 2004, 20 female prisoners at a prison in Guayaquil staged a protest claiming they should be freed after awaiting trial for more than a year. The women forced their way to the roof of the prison, set tires ablaze and stripped off their clothing. During the four hour protest, prison officials allowed reporters to speak with the women, who noted that under Ecuadorian law prisoners cannot be detained for more than one year without trial.

Florida: On January 17, 2004, Cachetta Ann Barnes, 26, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault for stabbing two sisters, one of whom is pregnant, in an argument over a man. Barnes is employed as a guard at the Corrections Corporation of America run Bay Correctional Facility.

Florida: On January 7, 2004, Johnny Staten Jr., 24, escaped from the Putnam County jail by wearing a white kitchen uniform, mixing with the jail's general population and then climbing over a razor wire fence and escaping. Staten had been sentenced two days before to 30 years in prison for carjacking and was awaiting transfer to the state prison system. Two weeks later Paul Dennis, a jail employee assigned to the jail control room who was responsible for monitoring prisoner movement, resigned from the jail. Prisoner Steven Coleman, 18, was charged with aiding Staten's escape after investigator's determined he gave Staten the kitchen uniform used in the escape.

Hawaii: On January 20, 2004, Wyman Chang, a former deputy state sheriff, was sentenced to ten days in jail and one year's probation for assaulting a prisoner in the holding cell in the Honolulu District court in April, 2002. Chang had pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor assault for kicking and punching a prisoner who had asked for toilet paper. When told there was none, the prisoner suggested using Chang's socks which led to the explosive outburst and assault on the hapless prisoner.

Iran: On December 26, 2003, a massive earthquake struck the city of Bam, killing more than 20,000 people. The city's prison collapsed in the earthquake and all 700 prisoners escaped. The judiciary has officially placed the prisoners "on leave."

Kentucky: On January 7, 2004, Knox county jail guard Clarence Wilson, 37, and an unidentified burglar Wilson was transporting to another jail, were charged with drunken driving, impersonating an officer, unlawful imprisonment and official misconduct. While en route to the receiving jail the duo got drunk, went on a 100 mile road trip in the jail car, and began making traffic stops where they would let drivers go in exchange for cash bribes. Knox County Judge Executive Raymond Smith said "I couldn't believe this happened. Next thing you're likely to hear is that we're on the Jerry Springer Show."

Louisiana: In July, 2003, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Shreveport by Baton Rouge based Utopia Entertainment against the Claiborne Parish jail, Lasalle Management, the private for profit company that runs the jail, and sheriff Kenneth Volentine, for copyright violations. The lawsuit claims that the Claiborne parish prison gave prisoners and visitors a list of 330 music CDs that could be purchased from the jail for $3 each. A prisoner working for the jail would then burn a copy of the requested CD. Money from the CD sales allegedly went to the jails "inmate welfare fund." Utopia produces three of the CDs that were illegally copied. Other record companies have expressed interest in joining the suit. The record company has considered asking prisoners to return all the illegal CDs.

Massachusetts: On December 18, 2003, Douglas Morrill, 49, a court officer with the Newburyport District Court was charged with raping a 20 year old female prisoner who had turned herself in to face a probation violation hearing. While handcuffed and shackled Morrill kissed and groped her and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He later returned and repeated the assault. The second assault was videotaped by surveillance cameras and witnessed by a jail employee monitoring the camera. Morrill was fired after the incident came to light. The married father of three small children had been employed by the court system for 25 years. Morrill was charged with four counts of indecent assault and battery and committing unnatural acts.

Michigan: On January 19, 2004, Midland county jail guards Gregory McMahon, Lynnae Parrish, Michael Kriger and Charlotte Glesner, were charged with two felony counts unauthorized access to computers for hacking into the sheriff department's computer system. The guards were released on $50,000 bond pending trial.

New Mexico: On January 22, 2004, a student pilot crashed a small airplane into the Farmington police station, forcing the evacuation of ten prisoners. The pilot, who suffered minor injuries, apparently lost power of his single engine Beechcraft Bonanza before slamming into the roof of the police station. No one else was injured.

South Dakota: On January 22, 2004, former U.S. representative Bill Janklow, 64, was sentenced to 100 days in jail, but he can leave the jail after 30 days for ten hours a day to perform community service, after being convicted of second degree manslaughter, speeding and running a stop sign in a traffic accident that killed motorist Randy Scott, 55, on August 16, 2003. Janklow resigned his congressional seat after being convicted. Janklow has a decades long history of traffic and speeding violations. The former governor and attorney general built his political career bashing prisoners and Native Americans. In yet another case of a "tough on crime" politician faced with doing time, Janklow did not ask for the maximum punishment. There are no mandatory minimums in South Dakota for driving offenses, so while Janklow faced 11 years in prison, he received 100 days.

Tennessee: On January 8, 2004, Melissa Walden and Dayna Ladmirault, prisoners at the Bradley County Justice Center were charged with aggravated rape for allegedly raping another female prisoner in the jail "with an object" on December 17. The victim received medical treatment and reported the assault several days later while receiving additional medical care. Sheriff Dan Gilley said the incident was investigated and "..felony charges were placed against two individuals before the day was out." He said "Although the victim was in custody when the assault occurred we make no distinction regarding the serious nature of the crime. Our sympathy goes out to the victim and her family and we will pursue these cases aggressively on her behalf."

Vermont: In January, 2004, the Department of Corrections announced it was banning smoking and tobacco products from all of its facilities for prisoners, but not staff. In 1992 Vermont had banned tobacco products in its prisons but later rescinded the ban citing increased contraband and crime problems within the prison system as a result.

Washington: On January 14, 2004, Elaina Hood, 43, a prisoner in the Snohomish County jail in Everett gave birth in the jail to a baby boy while awaiting transport to a local hospital. Hood had been imprisoned in the jail for six months on DUI charges and jail officials claim not to have known she was pregnant. Jail staff claim not to have known she was pregnant until she actually went into labor. The baby was born in the female housing unit of the jail and not the jail's medical center. PLN has reported in detail on the mismanagement and neglect that runs rampant in the Snohomish county jail.

Washington: On January 7, 2004, Tami Dee Burnett, 40, hanged herself in her cell in the Pierce county jail in Tacoma a day after entering the jail on drug and domestic violence charges.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login