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News in Brief:

Canada: On August 26, 2008, six prisoners escaped from the Regina Provincial Correctional Center. The men had been awaiting trial on serious charges, mostly murder. Jail officials would not tell the media how the escape occurred.

Colorado: On March 23, 2008, 40-50 prisoners at the Larimer county Detention Center became ill with gastrointestinal problems after eating a batch of chili.

Connecticut: In May, 2008, prisoners at the Brooklyn Correctional Institution donated $3,000 to the United Services Domestic Violence Program to buy domestic violence investigation kits for the Plainfield and Putnam Police Departments. Putnam Police Chief Rick Hayes said that the kits would assist patrol officers investigate, document and prosecute domestic violence cases better.

Delaware: On May 15, 2008, Sye Newton, 23,a prisoner at the Young correctional Institution took another unidentified prisoner hostage for 5 and a half hours. The hostage was released after negotiations with prison officials with the reverend Derrick Johnson mediating.

Florida: In 1975 Russell Trawick escaped from a Florida state prison where was serving a ten year sentence for stealing $150 worth of money orders. In March, 2008, he was arrested in Missouri where he had married and lived uneventfully until his arrest. He has been returned to Florida to serve the remaining nine years of his sentence and has petitioned for clemency from governor Crist.

Georgia: On March 6, 2008, Rome police found Antonio Watkins, 23, a trusty at the Gwinnett county jail, in a public park bathroom with Julia Sindanova, 21, and a blanket and Chick Fil-A sandwich. Sidanova was arrested and charged with giving objects to an inmate, a felony. Watson was returned to prison for disciplinary charges.

Idaho: In April, 2007, Keith Judd, 49, a federal prisoner serving time in Texas was placed on the democratic presidential primary ticket ballot after he paid the $1,000 fee. Idaho voters were able to choose between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Judd in the primary. Judd is serving a 14 year sentence for making threats at the University of New Mexico. In a telling comment about the reality of American electoral politics, Ben Ysursa said that because convention delegates were chosen at party caucuses the ballot itself is meaningless. “The good thing is the Democratic presidential primary has absolutely no legal significance,” said Ysursa. Judd also managed to get on the presidential ballot, as a write in candidate, in Kentucky, Florida, California and Indiana. Democrats were upset with Ysursa, a Republican, who had kept Democrat state senate candidate Matt Yost off the ballot because Yost was registered to vote in a district different from the one he was running for office.

Illinois: On May 13, 2008, a gang fight between 40 prisoners at the Cook county jail in Chicago left 11 jail guards and seven prisoners injured, none seriously.

Ivory Coast: In May, 2008, the Abidjan International Film Festival held a showing inside the nation’s only prison in Abidjan, the capital. The film festival showed five films from across Africa to the prisoners and select guests from outside the prison. Festival organizers said they wanted to reach out to people who would not have access to the festival.

Nevada: In May, 2008, state district court judge Elizabeth Halverson, 50, was locked out of her Las Vegas courtroom on a variety of misconduct charges that included making her bailiff put on her shoes and massage her feet, cover her with a blanket and fill her oxygen tank as she is obese and uses a scooter to move. She hired her own security detail, claiming to distrust government provided security guards. She is also accused of tainting juries by meeting with them and falling asleep during trials. The judicial commission hearing which started in August, 2008, was suspended after Halverson became ill.

North Carolina: On January 23, 2008, Frederick Beaujeu-Dufour pleaded guilty to careless and reckless driving and was sentenced to a 30 day suspended jail sentence, a $250 fine and 50 hours community service. The sentence was imposed for Beaujeu-Dufour striking and killing Charles Wilson, 31, a prisoner at the Wake Correctional Center on a work crew picking up litter on July 10, 2007. Beaujeu-Dufour had settled a lawsuit with Wilson’s family over his death and the family was considering a lawsuit against the state as there were no signs warning drivers that prison work crews were near the highway.

Oklahoma: On April 7, 2008, federal prisoners Dean Landers, 56, was sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison while prisoners Barry Bischof, 60, and Clayton Albers, 61, were sentenced to an additional 14 years in prison. The men were convicted by a jury of conspiracy and mailing threatening communications with the intention of extortion for claiming to have copyrighted their names and trying to seek money from prison officials for the use of their “copyrighted” names.

Pakistan: On August 28, 2008, a car bomb exploded in the town of Bannu in the Northwest Frontier Province as a prison van was passing. The blast killed six police officers and a civilian on the van. No prisoners were on the bus which was on its way to a local prison to pick up prisoners and transport them to court hearings. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pennsylvania: On April 1, 2008, Michelle Johnson, 40, a nurse employed by Prison Health Services at the Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility, was charged with manslaughter, homicide by vehicle and similar offenses, for running a red light in her car and striking Mary Otto, a pedestrian, who died at a hospital shortly after the incident. Johnson promptly fled the scene and was arrested after a police investigation.

Tennessee: On August 23, 2008, Hamblen County Commissioner Tommy Massey apologized for statements he made the preceding week where he proposed solving overcrowding at the local jail by saying he would “line them up and kill them,” referring to jail prisoners. After a discussion on the number of meals served at the jail Massey responded a solution was “starve them”.

Texas: On March 10, 2008, prisoner Gary Bernard, 36, escaped from an Oklahoma state prison in Waurika with the assistance of Vera Ellen Pierce, 57, a drug counselor at the prison. The two were arrested at a Parks Inn motel in Bowie, Texas. On March 11, 2008, state police arrested Bradley Taylor, 34, who escaped from the appropriately named Love county jail in Oklahoma, with the assistance of Tina Marie Smith, a jail guard. Police said the captures appeared unrelated and were merely coincidental.

Texas: On March 22, 2008, Jose Ybarra, 20, a guard at the Val Verde Correctional Facility, was arrested on charges of smuggling an ounce of marijuana into the jail in exchange for a $200 bribe.

Virginia: On August 28, 2008, Harold Douglas Jr., 30, a guard at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center was sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted of receiving a $2,000 bribe from prisoner David Davis, 39, to not report him for possessing marijuana in the prison. Davis claimed that Douglas extorted the money from him and started the investigation by showing prison officials the canceled cashiers check he sent to Douglas.
Prosecutors still charged Davis with bribery and he was convicted and sentenced to three additional years in prison. The court rejected Davis’s lawyers’ plea for leniency and a comparable sentence to Douglas. The prison is run by Geo Corporation, a private for profit prison company.

Washington: On May 14, 2008, Daniel Perez, 21, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a jury convicted him of second degree murder for murdering Cory Garzina, 24, his cellmate at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe. Garzina, serving a sentence of theft and trafficking in stolen property was a month from his release date. The jury rejected Perez’s claim that he was mentally ill, in a psychotic state and suffering a mental health crisis.

Washington: On May 16, 2008, Roxanna Brown, 62, the director of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum in Bangkok, Thailand, died of peritonitis while imprisoned at the Federal Detention Center in Seatac. Brown had been arrested on charges that she allowed collectors to overvalue tax deductible donations of art to various California museums. Brown had been charged with one count of wire fraud.

West Virginia: The reelection bid of state supreme court chief justice Elliott Maynard ended when photos showing him vacationing in 2006 on the French Riviera and in Monaco with coal company executive Don Blankenship were published. At the time, Blankenship’s company, Massey Energy Company, had cases pending before the high court.

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