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News in Brief

News in Brief:

Arizona: In an uprising at the Lewis prison complex in Florence, on May 7, 2004, 100 prisoners refused to leave the prison yard for two hours and 50 refused to leave the dining hall after a fight between two prisoners in the yard. When guards tried to break up the fight, prisoner bystanders threw rocks and water bottles at them. Guards fired "stinger" rounds to enforce obedience which was unsuccessful. Only when tactical squads of guards appeared did the prisoners return to their cells.

Brazil: On September 23, 2004, seven teen age prisoners were killed and five wounded in a riot at the Sao Francisco Education Center in Piraquara. The prisoners were killed by other prisoners during a riot where they claimed poor treatment and conditions.

California: In June, 2004, a lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles by Kathy Magnuson claimed that Wackenhut employee Anthony McCord, a "booking specialist" at the jail, made sexually suggestive remarks to Magnuson while she was booked into the Redlands jail on shoplifting charges. McCord watched while Magnuson was strip searched by female guards at the San Bernardino county jail. McCord later called her on her cell phone.

California: On December 5, 2004, Riverside county jail guards Joseph Bessette, 42, and John Burns, were charged with numerous counts of rape and sexual battery for having sex with at least eight female prisoners in the Riverside jail. The prisoners told investigators they had been raped, groped and forced to perform sex acts in exchange for clothing and hygiene items. .

Canada: On November 28, 2004, an unidentified guard at the Central North Correctional center in Penetanguishene was charged with drug trafficking and breaching the peace for selling cocaine and marijuana to prisoners inside the regional jail. Called the "super jail" it is run by the Utah based, for profit company Management and Training Corporation.

Connecticut: On December 1, 2004, Mark Brown, 34, a guard at the Juvenile Training School in Hartford was arrested on larceny and worker's compensation fraud charges. While collecting disability benefits from claimed work related injuries, Brown raced motorcycles in New Hampshire. His racing season included at least six crashes.

Egypt: In November, 2004, the Interior Ministry announced it had released almost 700 political prisoners, mostly Islamic militants, as part of an amnesty program.

Florida: On November 17, 2004, Ruth Brodis, 43, a nurse at the Charlotte county jail in Punta Gorda who is employed by Prison Health Services, was arrested on charges she was smuggling prescription drugs into the jail for her fiancé, Tyler Schwartzkopf, 34.

Florida: On November 22, 2004, Richard Rodriguez, a bankruptcy court clerk in Miami, was sentenced to a year and a day in jail after pleading guilty to bribery charges. In exchange for kickbacks, Rodriguez would give creditors advance notice of unclaimed funds.

Florida: On November 27, 2004, Richard Dove Jr. a K-9 unit guard at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institute was shot three times with a shotgun by Brian Baker, 36. Baker was wanted for driving with a suspended license and fled when deputies attempted to serve him with a warrant. Guards from the nearby prison aided local police in the search for Baker in rural fields. Baker was eventually captured and has been charged with attempted murder.

Florida: On November 29, 2004, Gregory Louis, 39, a guard at the Hernando county jail in Brookesville was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 17 year old female prisoner in the jail on two occasions. The jail is operated under contract by Corrections Corporation of America.

Georgia: On November 21, 2004, Haralson county jail prisoners Homer Brown, 18, and Robert Hill, 23, escaped through the jail's ventilation system.

Georgia: On November 23, 2004, Robert B. Ellis, Jr., a former district attorney in Alapaha judicial circuit, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and fined $5,000 after pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents when he denied having a sexual relationship with drug informant Jody Manning. Manning had complained to FBI agents that Ellis has coerced her into having sex with him. The married, but not monogamous, Ellis claimed they had engaged in a consensual affair. Ellis resigned as district attorney shortly before pleading guilty.

Kansas: On August 27, 2004, the Wyandotte county sheriff closed the jail kitchen run by private contractor Aramark due to serious sanitation problems. Joe Connor, the county health director said "They did have a cleanliness problem in the kitchen." Media reports claimed no one suffered food poisoning or illness as a result. Aramark is paid $690,000 a year to feed the jails' prisoners.

Louisiana: In late November, 2004, Tanzanika Ruffin, a New Orleans assistant district attorney was fired after Ruffin threatened to prosecute and arrest Dwayne Anthony if he did not pay $275 to a handyman who had painted Anthony's home. Ruffin made numerous visits to Anthony's home and eventually received $200 from his fiancé. Ruffin then demanded $100 for "processing the money" at the DA's office.

Louisiana: On December 1, 2004, assistant New Orleans city attorney Henry Dillon III, 47, was arrested and charged with raping a 20 year old woman he had lured to his law office to allegedly discuss criminal conduct charges. The victim was charged with lewd conduct after being found partially clothed in a car with her boyfriend in a local park. Dillon was the prosecutor on the case and told her to come to his office to discuss the charges after a court hearing. Once there, Dillon allegedly raped her. The victim promptly reported the assault. Dillon was fired. However, in 1998 Dillon was also charged with raping a former colleague while employed as a prosecutor and he returned to his job after he was fired. The state attorney general declined to prosecute that rape charge holding there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Dillon is very politically well connected both personally and through his family to the city and state's political and legal community which apparently has provided him with impunity from prosecution. Once again this rape case was sent to the state attorney general's office for prosecution as the Orleans Parish DA claimed a conflict of interest. Dillon is free on bail pending disposition of the charges.

Michigan: On November 22, 2004, Dr. Daniel Smalley, 56, a doctor at the Oaks Correctional Facility pleaded guilty in federal court to four counts of tax evasion with a tax liability of $139,794. According to the indictment, between 1997 and 2002, while employed by the state of Michigan, Correctional Medical Services, Wexford Health Services and Geneysis Integrated Group as a prison doctor at various Michigan prisons, Smalley did not pay his taxes.

Mississippi: On November 9, 2004, three prisoners escaped from the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville. The prison is operated by the private, for-profit Corrections Corporation of America. CCA officials contacted the nearby Louisiana State Penitentiary for help recapturing the escapees and LSP staff captured one. The remaining two were caught by local police as they walked alongside a road.

Missouri: On December 1, 2004, the Missouri DOC announced it was banning over 35 Sony PlayStation 2 video games from its prison recreation centers after a reporter informed prison officials that games for the machine include Hitman: Contracts in which players use various weapons to carry out contract slayings in the game. The games and machines are bought by prisoner canteen funds. Dave Dormire, superintendent of the Jefferson City Correctional Center told media "We didn't closely review these. We were told these games had more like cartoon violence." Apparently among those unable to distinguish between fact and fantasy are Seattle University professor Jacqueline Helfgott and Jim Houston, a professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan who both claimed violent movies and video games had a negative effect on prisoners, yet not presumably on the tens of millions of other people who play them. A month later the fovernor ordered all video games banned from state prisons.

Myanmar: The military dictatorship on November 17, 2004, announced it would release 3,937 prisoners that were improperly held or charged by the National Intelligence Bureau.

New York: On November 4, 2004, a man whose identity was not released by media, jumped from a police interrogation room in a lower Manhattan courthouse building in an escape attempt. The man fell 50 feet after managing to elude police when they removed his handcuffs to allow him to put on a jacket while he was taken to a courtroom for booking. The detainee suffered several broken bones and serious injuries but was expected to live. He had been arrested earlier in the day in possession of one kilo of cocaine.

New York: On November 9, 2004, Mona Parris, 32, a guard at the Fishkill Correctional Facility pleaded guilty in Duchess County Supreme Court to felony third degree rape for having sex with a male prisoner at the facility. In exchange for the plea, she was promised a sentence of no more than 6 months in jail.

Sweden: On November 26, 2004, police in Stockholm arrested an unidentified 25 year old man they claimed was shooting cell phones into the recreation yard of a maximum security prison with a bow and arrow. The suspect would tape cell phones and battery chargers to arrows and fire them over the 12 foot walls of the Mariefried prison in Stockholm. Police believe cell phones were used in three recent highly publicized escapes from Swedish prisons. Police said as far as they knew, use of a bow and arrow to get cell phones into prisons was "a first."

Texas: On November 1, 2004, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice enacted physical fitness requirements for its prison guards. All guard applicants must now pass a fitness test that includes doing six push ups and 16 sit ups in one minute and a one mile run or walk in fifteen minutes. The test is not retroactive to current staff nor are employees tested for physical fitness once they are hired. Approximately ten percent of new guard applicants failed this modest requirement that has since gone down to four percent.

Texas: On November 11, 2004, Williamson county jail prisoner Timothy Brown, 46, supposedly fell out of his bunk in the jail infirmary. He died in a hospital three days later. Brown was an alcoholic with various medical problems related to his illness. Brown's stepson Daniel Rice, said he saw Brown at the hospital shortly before his death and he had a cut across his head, a head injury, two black eyes and a bruise on his chest. Brown was unconscious with brain stem injuries until he died. According to jail staff, Brown sustained the fatal injuries by falling two feet off his bunk. An autopsy revealed that Brown was in the end stages of liver disease caused by alcoholism and that when he fell and struck his head he hemorrhaged to death as his blood could not clot.

Texas: On November 22, 2004, death row prisoner Pablo Melendez Jr., 29, attacked fellow death row prisoner Robert Pruett, 25, with a homemade 25 inch spear as Pruett was escorted in handcuffs past Melendez's cell in the Polunsky unit near Livingston. The attack failed though when the spear struck prison guard Bradley Davidson on the head and left him with a two inch wound near his temple which required stitches. He was not seriously injured. Pruett is on death row after being convicted of killing a prison guard at the McConnell Unit in Beesville in 1999. Prison officials were investigating how Melendez made the spear.

Utah: On November 7, 2004, John Gardener, 27, a prisoner at the Utah State Prison in Draper was killed when his head was crushed by his closing cell door. Gardner was serving time for theft and was apparently the first known case of a prisoner being killed in Utah prisons by a cell door.

Washington: On November 10, 2004, Reginald Merchant, 32, a King county jail prisoner, escaped from a jail bus as it moved through Seattle traffic to a court hearing. A local bystander recaptured Merchant who was in jail awaiting trial on first degree attempted robbery charges and a Louisiana parole violation.

Washington: On November 17, 2004, Dennis Smith, 42, was found hanging dead in his cell at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Smith had been serving a sentence of life without parole in the Clark county murder of Carolyn Kiloby. He had been imprisoned since 1996.

West Virginia: On September 12, 2004, Cabell County jail guards Bernis Peeples and Naomi Miller pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges stemming from beating an unidentified prisoner in the jail. Peeples pleaded guilty to assault and Miller to obstructing justice for trying to cover up the attack. Both charges are misdemeanors.

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