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News in Brief

News in Brief:

Arkansas: In 2001 prison guards used force 12 times to remove prisoners from their cells. By 2005 they did it at least 40 times. Prison officials attribute this to more hardened prisoners and not more brutal guards.

Arkansas: On December 1, 2005, an unidentified prison guard at the Varner Unit super max prison, resigned after confessing to engaging in oral sex with an unidentified 33 year old male prisoner at the facility. The guard claimed the sex was consensual, even though Arkansas outlaws sex between prisoners and staff. The prison claims he was raped and the assaults occurred on more than one occasion. The prisoner reported the assault by calling a special sexual assault hotline installed by the DOC to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Brazil: On December 17, 2005, Henrique Fernandes da Silva, 35, security chief of the Bangu 3 prison complex in Rio de Janeiro, one of the largest in Brazil, was shot and killed in his home in front of his wife and children. Da Silva had received threats after searching the prison to confiscate cell phones, drugs and weapons. He is the fifth official from the prison to be murdered in the past five years. Prison gangs are suspected of the crime.

Brazil: On December 28, 2005, rioting prisoners at the Urso Branco Prison in Porto Velho, a city in the Amazon, released 207 visitors they had taken hostage four days earlier. The rebellion ended and the hostages were released when prison officials agreed to their demand to return one of their leaders, Paula de Souza, from another prison. Authorities did not budge on the demand that they fire the prosecutor who ordered de Souza's transfer. No one was injured in the uprising. The overcrowded prison has been the scene of numerous bloody riots and incidents.

California: On December 13, 2005, Orange County superior court judge Ronald Kline, 65, pleaded guilty to four federal felony charges of possessing child pornography depicting small boys engaged in sex. Klein remains free on bond until he is sentenced in March, 2006.

California: On December 19, 2005, Erika Cerna, 28, a custody assistant at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, was charged with bringing drugs to at least three jail prisoners and also having sex with one of them. Cerna was arrested after a prisoner informant told police of her alleged activities. Cerna was also charged with participating in a criminal street gang as the prisoners she is accused of supplying drugs to are alleged to be members of a street gang.

California: On December 20, 2005, Rosalinda Duran, 29, allegedly beat and strangled her cellmate at the Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, Michelle Yglesias, 30, to death. It is believed to be the first murder in a California women's prison in history. The murder occurred in the prison's Secure Housing Unit. California is one of the few state's to double cell prisoners with behavior or mental health problems in segregation units.

Canada: On December 29, 2005, Shawn Bird, 28, a prisoner at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert was stabbed to death by another prisoner. On December 13, 2005, Michael Merrill, 52, another prisoner at the facility, was found dead with string around his neck, prison officials said it was a suicide. In June, 2005, David Pasqua was killed hours after arriving at the prison which holds less than 500 prisoners.

China: On October 1, 2005, the Beijing Prison Administration opened a TV station for prisoners, the first in the country's history. It is available to all 17,000 prisoners in the 13 jails under the BPA's administration. The news anchors are prison guards and administrators. The station broadcasts a variety of news, sports and rehabilitation programs aimed at helping prisoners reform themselves.

Colorado: In December, 2005, the Colorado Department of Corrections retreated from a proposal to limit servings of beef to state prisoners after ranchers protested. The DOC had planned to reduce beef servings from 5-7 times per week to 2-4 and use turkey instead. The DOC claimed this was necessary to reduce its $11.6 million food budget and slim down prisoners. State senator Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, said I had a lot of cattle producers who were hot as all get out over this, but they are very happy about how this is turning out." Members of the 2,000 members Colorado Cattleman's Association have asked to meet with DOC executive director Joe Ortiz. Kester said he will monitor prison menus to see if turkey begins to appear more often.

Florida: On December 1, 2005, Keith Carter, 35, Marty Finney and Edward Roberson escaped from the Indian River County jail by pulling a shower head out of the wall of their cell block and climbing through the hole, into a maintenance room, out a door and over three 12 foot fences topped with razor wire. Jail officials discovered the escape a few hours later when Carter was stopped on I-95 for reckless driving. Finney and Roberson were captured in Denver on December 14 after police tracked their e mails to a hotel computer.

Florida: On December 15, 2005, Willie Lee Powell, 45, a former guard at the Levy County jail was arrested and charged with having sex with female prisoners at the jail. Powell resigned from the jail that summer after several women prisoners accused Powell of coercing them to have sex with him. Powell was hired by the jail in 2001 after working in the state Department of Corrections. He was suspended without pay by the jail in 2001 after an informant recorded a conversation where Powell directed the informant to purchase illegal drugs. The district attorney did not prosecute the case citing a lack of evidence.

Florida: On December 5, 2005, Blas Duran, 34, Angel Rodriguez, 39; William Ortiz-Ponce, 36 and Antone Jones, 39, prisoners at the Glades Correctional Institution were charged with smuggling a loaded gun and cell phones into the prison. Prosecutors allege the prisoners were going to turn the gun in to prison officials to curry favor with them; the cell phones were used to get the gun into the prison. The plot unraveled in June when an unidentified informant alerted officials to scheme and presumably curried all the favor for himself. The loaded automatic pistol was recovered buried under a sidewalk in the prison.

France: On December 10, 2005, a helicopter landed in the prison yard at Alton and took off with three prisoners. The helicopter had been hijacked by two armed men who had rented it for a skiing trip in the Alps. The escapees were pretrial detainees awaiting trial on drug and theft charges. The helicopter landed nearby and the men escaped leaving the pilot unharmed.

Hawaii: On December 20, 2005, four prisoners, two of their relatives and a guard, Akoni Sandoval Kapihe, at the federal detention center in Honolulu were indicted on charges they conspired to bring marijuana and methamphetamine to prisoners in the jail.

Illinois: On December 27, 2005, Sangamon county jail guard Charles Ealey, 36, was charged with official misconduct and battery stemming from an alleged assault of prisoner Brian Fifer on September 23. Based on Ealey's false testimony, Fifer had been charged with aggravated battery. When he protested at a preliminary hearing, jail officials examined a video tape of the incident and determined Ealey had battered Fifer, who was telling the truth about the incident. In April, 2005, Ealey had been honored at the sheriff's Correctional Officer of the Year.

Indiana: In December, 2005, the Porter County Attorney, Gwenn Rinkenberger, sent a demand letter to Schenkel Shultz, the firm that designed the county jail, asking that they pay the county $355,000 to repair the jail's ceiling after two prisoners escaped through it on September 6, 2005. The county claims the steel in the ceiling was not thick enough and the light fixtures were improperly designed which allowed the prisoners to escape and this was a design flaw on the architect's part. The design firm said the county's claim had no merit.

Indiana: On December 21, 2005, Tipton county prosecutors charged Ashleigh Brown with one count of drug trafficking. Prosecutors claim Brown brought Xanax, Oxycontin, marijuana and tobacco into the jail for her boyfriend, Joshua Maine, 21. Maine died of drug intoxication in the jail on November 2, 2005. Prosecutors also charged jail guard Thomas Owens with giving Maine Oxycontin after he admitted it to police. Brown says she only gave Brown tobacco products.

Kentucky: On December 13, 2005, Norman Norris, a lieutenant at the Louisville Metro jail was charged with two counts of first degree sodomy, two counts of incest and one count of sexual abuse stemming from his alleged rape of an 8 year old girl. During his 8 ½ years of employment by the jail Norris was commended three times and promoted and also disciplined three time for using excessive force on prisoners.

Mexico: On December 25, 2005, Jose Molina Lopez, 42, a prisoner in the jail in El Porvenir in Chihuahua State who had confessed to killing his wife, was found dead in his cell. Cause of death was a bullet through his mouth. Police were investigating how he acquired the .38 caliber pistol in jail.

New Jersey: On December 16, 2005, state prisoner Thomas Stiles, 38, was sentenced to 17 years in prison after being convicted of trying to hire fellow prisoner Carlos Davila for $5,000 to murder his ex wife Diana. Davila promptly reported the offer to police, along with a hand drawn map Stiles had provided showing him how to get to his ex wife's house. Stiles was already serving an 8 year sentence for attempting to have sex with a 12 year old girl" he met on the internet. The girl" turned out to be an undercover cop.

New York: In December, 2005, Eastern Correctional Facility prisoner Injah Tafari, 41, was charged with assaulting two prison guards on September 17 during a control unit visit when he began throwing composite chairs through the unit windows. One guard suffered a cornea abrasion, the other a two inch cut to his forehead. Three windows in the isolation unit were also damaged. State police were summoned to the prison to assist in controlling Tafari.

Ohio: On December 30, 2005, over 3,000 crime victims were called and falsely told that prisoners convicted of assaulting or killing them or family members were being released from prison. The prison system says the calls were mistakes caused by a computer glitch. No one called the crime victims to tell them the initial calls were in error.

Oklahoma: In December, 2005, Darrin Brewer, 38, a prisoner at the Geo run prison in Lawton, and his wife LaShanda Brewer, 31, were charged in state court with smuggling drugs into the prison where Darrin sold them to other prisoners.

Virginia: In December, 2005, US senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) wrote Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director Harley Lappin to ask for the transfer of BOP guard Hikmat Joe" Mansour, a case manager at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lee County for death threats he has purportedly received from his fellow BOP employees and also some prisoners because he translates Arabic language letters sent to prisoners into English for the political police. Mansour has complained publicly about a lack of Arabic language translators to read prisoners' mail. In 2003 he was assaulted by a co-worker and has received hate e mails at work. He has since been demoted from unit manager to an occupational health and safety specialist.

Washington: On January 1, 2006, a new Pierce county jail rule goes into effect where the county will not pay the cost of all prisoner medical bills but will instead pass the bill to the city that imprisoned the prisoner. The county believes this will save millions it now spends on medical care for prisoners with chronic health conditions or serious injuries. Some cities, such as Orting, are not renewing their jail contracts with Pierce County until the issue is negotiated. Attorney General Rob McKenna issued an opinion in June that if a prisoner cannot afford medical care and there is no agreement with the jail then the agency that made the arrest must bear the cost of care. Some cities are responding by budgeting money for anticipated medical costs.

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