News in Brief
Alabama: On January 10, 2006, Ronald Hammonds, 35, a guard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega was arrested in a Taco Bell parking lot by FBI agents on charges of supplying prisoners with marijuana.
Arizona: On December 31, 2005, Vincent Cannon, 23, a guard at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis was stabbed to death at a New Year's party after an argument with Jeremiah Sturmer, 26, escalated. Sturmer, described as a former prisoner, has been charged with first degree murder. Three other people were stabbed in the incident but they survived.
District of Columbia: On January 31, 2006, Simmie Bellamy, 27, attempted to escape from the D.C. jail as he was brought to attend a status conference at the courthouse on driving a stolen vehicle charge, by climbing underneath a different jail transport bus. He successfully evaded guards, climbed under the bus as the vehicle left the courthouse. A block from the courthouse he fell off the undercarriage of the bus and was run over by an airport van following close behind. He died instantly and caused a massive traffic jam.
Florida: On January 26, 2006, Jeffrey McCann, 30, a Pinellas county jail guard, was sentenced to two years in prison and an 8 year suspended sentence for choking, punching, stalking, and threatening to kill a female jail information specialist at a local restaurant. At the time he was carrying a Glock pistol, two knives and a retractable night stick. After being released from jail on that arrest, he went to the woman's home, showed her a knife and threatened her not to testify against him. He was arrested a third time for calling, stalking and threatening the woman again. McCann pleaded no contest to charges of aggravated stalking, burglary, witness tampering and battery.
Florida: On January 29, 2006, the CBS program Sixty Minutes reported that state prisoner Richard Paey, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison, for prescription drug abuse after he purchased 18,000 pain pills in a two year period to control severe pain caused by multiple sclerosisand various injuries. Paey denies selling his pain medication and turned down a plea deal that would have resulted in probation. Ironically, the Department of Corrections now has a morphine pump hooked directly into his spine which supplies him with larger amounts of opiate pain killers than he was taking at the time of his conviction.
Honduras: On January 5, 2006, a shoot out between prisoners in the National Penitentiary near the capital of Tegucigalpa left 13 prisoners dead and 30 wounded. Prison officials were investigating how the prisoners obtained guns.
India: On January 1, 2006 the warden of the Bhagalpur jail received a letter from the area commander of Maoist Communist Center, a guerrilla group seeking to end feudalism and capitalism in India, demanding that jail officials deliver money to the group or the rebels would raid the jail and blow it up. Jail officials expressed concern over the demand. No word on whether they paid.
Massachusetts: On December 29, 2005, an unidentified prisoner at MCI Gardner attacked a female mental health therapist in a counseling and activities building at the prison. The therapist fought off the attack and was not seriously injured.
Massachusetts: On January 10, 2006, Robert Mulligan chief justice for administration and justice in the state court system imposed a ban in all 113 state court houses on the Stop Snitching" t shirts that have become popular among minority communities and also banned cell phones. Mulligan claimed the ban is to deter witness intimidation. Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer said the t shirts are a political statement. The informant system, as it has evolved in Boston and all over the country, has produced such a large number of false convictions that it's a perfectly appropriate political point of view to say that the snitch system has to be reformed or abolished," he said. The more effective witness intimidation systems of police and prison guards was not addressed by the judge's purported concerns.
Mexico: The Mexican government has bought $400,000 worth of biometrics equipment from Australian company Argus Solutions and San Diego based ImageWare. The fingerprint, iris and face recognition software will purportedly be used to increase security in Mexican prisons.
Michigan: In January, 2006, an arbitrator ruled that the state Department of Corrections erred when it fired parole officer Thomas DeLeon in 2004 for spending four hours a day on his DOC work computer cruising the internet, including porn sites. The arbitrator said DeLeon should only have been suspended one day. It ordered him reinstated to his job and awarded him $45,000 in back pay, noting at least ten other DOC employees had committed the same infraction and none were fired.
Mississippi: In December, 2005, East Mississippi Correctional Facility guard Tomeka Brown was fired for transporting escaped prisoners Gregory Malone, 26, and Christopher Roy, 24, from the state line to Tuscaloosa. The prisoners escaped by sawing through their cell bars on October 17, 2005. Brown was also charged with abetting the escape. Another guard, Lakeisha Gowdy, was fired for not physically counting the prisoners to ensure they were in their cells. Sergeant Cheryl Thornton resigned over the escape as well. The prison is run by private, for profit Geo Group Corp. The escapees were recaptured 24 hours later in a hotel in Northport. On January 31, 2006, Roy and Malone attempted to escape from a state DOC prison van that had brought them to the courthouse in Meridian to face escape charges. Roy used a homemade handcuff key to unlock his handcuffs and leg shackles and run away, leading guards on a three block chase before being recaptured without incident. Malone attempted to unlock his shackles but could not. Roy now faces additional charges. Both men are serving life sentences for capital murder.
Missouri: On December 22, 2005, an unnamed jail guard at the Pulaski county jail was fired after he allowed an unidentified prisoner to have sex with his girlfriend in a jail office as a favor.
Missouri: On January 10, 2006, Lisa Peery, 41, a nurse for Correctional Medical Services at the Potosi Correctional Center was arraigned on one misdemeanor count of stealing prescription medications and medical supplies from the prison. She stole drugs prescribed to prisoners including Vistaril, an anxiety drug, and Congentin, which is used to treat Parkinson's disease.
Missouri: On January 9, 2006, Roderick Nunley, a death row prisoner at the Potosi Correctional Center, stabbed an unidentified guard three times in the head, critically injuring him and stabbed two other guards. An ice pick like shank was used in the attack. Nunley is awaiting execution after being convicted of the rape murder of a 15 year old girl.
Montana: On January 3, 2006, Michael Short, 50, a guard at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge was charged with attempting to distribute a half pound of marijuana, a half ounce of methamphetamine and 2 grams of heroin as well as being a drug user in possession of a firearm.
New York: On December 28, 2005, the state Commission on Judicial conduct issued a censure of Kingston City judge James Gilpatric who appeared drunk in court on September 1, 2004, both as a lawyer and later that day as a judge. He was unable to preside in court and had to be relieved of his duties. Gilpatric is an alcoholic who had a relapse. The Commission said the public is entitled to a judge that does not come into court under the influence of alcohol and litigants should not have to wonder whether a judge has fallen off the wagon on a particular court date.
New York: On December 7, 2005, former Oneida county jail prisoner Jonathan Castro, 20, got into an argument with two unidentified guards from the same jail in a local bar and allegedly fired one shot from a .22 caliber pistol at them. Police did not state what led to the altercation. Castro was charged with attempted second degree murder. No one was injured during the incident.
New York: On January 12, 2006, Matthew Smith, 43, a former Clinton County jail guard, pleaded guilty to first degree attempted criminal sexual act, first degree attempted rape, third degree attempted sexual act and two counts of forcible touching. He was initially charged with 14 counts of raping four jail prisoners and a co worker. He pleaded guilty as jury selection in his trial was scheduled to begin.
North Carolina: An unidentified male prisoner who was locked for two hours in a Cumberland County courthouse holding cell with 13 female prisoners on January 17, 2006, claims he was sexually assaulted by at least one of the female prisoners. The male prisoner, who is 6' 6" and weighs 200 lbs. was handcuffed and shackled while the female prisoners were not. Sheriff Moose Butler said the incident occurred due to an oversight by a cleaning crew that left a cell door open.
North Carolina: On January 2, 2006, Wilkes county jail guard Brian McGuire, 30, was fired and also charged in court with causing injury to a prisoner by burning two jail prisoners with a krypton bulb flashlight. McGuire told the prisoners he would give them a cigarette if they could hold the flashlight against their skin for five minutes. Two prisoners, Boyd Cleary, 27, and Tony Oliver, 36, took McGuire up on the offer and later complained when they developed blisters on their chest and arm, respectively. McGuire had been a part time jail guard for 22 days before he was fired.
Ohio: On December 27, 2005, five members of the Aryan Brotherhood attacked six other prisoners at the Pickaway Correctional Institution with belts and sharpened broomsticks after Brian Rozell drew a swastika on the forehead of sleeping Aryan Brotherhood member Christopher Radcliff with a marker. Rozell was not injured but Radcliff, seven other prisoners and two guards were, none seriously.
Oklahoma: On December 23, 2005, Suzanne Putnam, 41, was sentenced to five year's probation after pleading guilty to drug possession charges. While visiting a prisoner at the Cimarron Correctional Facility a drug detection dog detected marijuana on her hands, she confessed to smoking the weed and consented to a search of her car which revealed marijuana and a pipe. She also had six pills of Diazepam and Xanax in her pocket which she was introducing into the prison.
Oklahoma: On January 5, 2006, Muskogee county jail guard Stacy Gray, 26, was sentenced to an 18 month deferred sentence and fined $200 for arranging to have 4 jail prisoners beat up prisoner Alicia Mackey because she had allowed her husband to sexually abuse two children. The prisoners had earlier pleaded guilty to committing the assault and were given 90 day suspended sentences.
South Carolina: On December 8, 2005, Charles Martin, 26, a prisoner at the Perry Correctional Institution in Pelzer was strangled to death on the floor of a common area in the prison. He was due to be released the following month after serving a five year sentence for assault and battery and trespassing.
South Carolina: On January 8, 2006, Albert Bellamy, 42, a Horry county jail guard, was arrested and charged with providing cigarettes and three ounces of marijuana to jail prisoners. He was fired the same day.
Texas: On December 15, 2005, Michael Mitchell, a guard, and Schwneequa Lee, a nurse, at the Stiles Unit in Beaumont, were criminally charged with bribery for allegedly giving tobacco to prisoners. Prosecutors claim Mitchell sold a prisoner 16 packages of Bugler brand tobacco for $150 (they retail for about $1.25 each). Lee is accused of accepting more than $1,200 from a prisoner in exchange for tobacco and three cell phones.
Venezuela: Humberto Prado, the director of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory holds a weekly news conference to announce the death toll in Venezuelan prisons and jails. For the month of November, 2005, 37 prisoners were killed and 39 injured. In early December, 2005, three prisoners at the prison in La Pica were dismembered with the head of convicted robber Raul de Jesus Vera Mendoza, 26, being thrown into the main entrance of the prison. Those deaths brought to total prisoner deaths at that facility to 53 for the year. Venezuela holds 18,787 prisoners, half of whom have not been convicted of a crime.
Virginia: On January 26, 2006, twelve prisoners and two guards from the Loudoun county sheriff's office were injured when the van they were traveling in struck a logging truck. No one suffered life threatening injuries.
Virginia: On January 5, 2006, Bobby Brown, 55, a former lieutenant with the Virginia Department of Corrections, pleaded guilty to having sex with and impregnating prisoner Sheron Monterey, 30. Virginia, like most states, criminalizes sex between prisoners and staff.
Washington: On January 26, 2006, Lance Gauthun, 20, escaped from the minimum security Thurston county jail annex where he was ten days into a 20 day jail sentence. After escaping he ran or fell down an embankment behind the jail and began yelling for help. Police rescued him from temperatures in the low 30's. He was placed in the main jail and now faces escape charges.