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News in Brief:

California: On March 19, 2009, a rebellion by 38 prisoners at the Kern Valley State Prison left prisoner Oscar Cruz dead and 16 injured. One prisoner was stabbed to death by other prisoners, four prisoners were shot by guards, two were stabbed and the remainder were wounded by “blunt projectiles” fired by guards. The cause of the uprising is “under investigation” by prison officials.

California: On March 5, 2009, David Paradiso, 29, a criminal defendant on trial for stabbing his girlfriend to death, was shot and killed by police when he attacked Judge Cinda Fox with a homemade shank. Paradiso was being cross-examined by a prosecutor who asked why he had killed his girlfriend, and he responded “Because she deserved to die.” This resulted in a commotion in the court and when Judge Fox ordered a recess, Paradiso attacked her. Police detective Eric Bradley shot Paradiso three times; he was pronounced dead at the scene.

China: The National People’s Congress (legislature) has pledged to conduct more frequent inspections of the nation’s prisons and jails to halt the abuse and torture of prisoners by staff and fellow prisoners. A national scandal erupted after the February 12, 2009 beating death of prisoner Li Qiaoming at a jail in Jinning County in Yunnan province. Police initially claimed that Li was “accidentally injured when he ran blindfolded into a wall while playing hide and seek with other inmates.” A subsequent investigation disclosed he had, in fact, been beaten to death by other prisoners. Several jail officials were fired and criminally charged for dereliction of duty and neglect in Li’s death. At least five other detainee deaths have contributed to public scrutiny of the jail and prison systems in China. Government officials have vowed to end the abuse of prisoners; one suggestion was to place the operation of local jails in the hands of another agency because the police forces that currently run them sometimes torture prisoners to induce confessions.

Colorado: For the past several months the Weld County jail has enforced a policy of criminally charging prisoners who fight with felony charges of rioting in a detention facility. Any time more than two prisoners fight, or are present when a fight occurs, they are charged with rioting. Weld County leads the state in such charges, with 19 cases filed since 2006. The effects of the policy remain to be seen as fights continue to occur.

Florida: On March 4, 2009, Shaun Oppe, 29, and two other guards at the Charlotte Correctional Institution were charged with beating a prisoner and then filing a false report to cover up the attack.

Georgia: On February 23, 2009, five guards and a lieutenant at the state prison in Trion were fired, and deputy warden Dale Herndon was suspended, after prisoners Michael Tweedel and Johnny Mack Brown escaped through a hole in the fence and then took a woman hostage and stole her vehicle.

Georgia: On March 20, 2009, Curtis Browne, Jr., 41, a guard at the Fulton County jail in Atlanta, was charged with beating two prisoners, one of whom later died. The civil rights charges were filed in federal district court. He was also charged with making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation.

Guatemala: On March 6, 2009, prisoners at the juvenile Etapa II Reformatory in San Jose Pinula, Guatemala took three teachers and two guards hostage to protest the transfer of 12 prisoners to another facility and a shakedown that led to the confiscation of cell phones and electronic devices. Handicraft instructor Ginter Vidaurre, 28, was among those taken hostage; the prisoners beat him to death, disemboweled him and removed his heart. Riot police and guards then stormed the prison and rescued the remaining hostages.

Illinois: On September 11, 2008, David Nelson was sentenced to nine years in prison for manufacturing methamphetamine. When he had reported to the Shelbyville jail to serve a weekend sentence for a minor traffic offense, he tested positive for methamphetamine; he then promptly confessed to having a meth lab in his home and gave police permission to search the residence.

Massachusetts: On March 12, 2009, prisoners at the Souza Baranowski prison in Shirley rebelled and rioted throughout a cell block, throwing things and destroying a door terminal. The prisoners were protesting plans to double-cell and overcrowd the facility. Guards regained control of the cellblock using tear gas. Prison officials claimed that only seven prisoners were involved, but Steve Kenneway, president of the guard’s union, said dozens of prisoners participated in the uprising and officials were downplaying the incident.

Mexico: On March 5, 2009, a fight between rival drug gangs at the state prison in Ciudad Juarez left 20 prisoners dead and three critically injured. The fight involved members of the Aztecas and Mexicles gangs. Police and army troops regained control of the prison within four hours after storming the facility and using tear gas and batons.

New Jersey: On March 2, 2009, Lon Sainato, 52, a guard at the Morris County jail, was charged with forcing oral sex on a 30-year-old male prisoner he was supervising at a community service program at the Cedar Knolls Fire House. Sainato was charged with sexual assault and official misconduct.

New Jersey: On March 6, 2009, Hudson County family court judge Lawrence DeBello was charged by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct with violating various ethics rules stemming from his torrid romance with one of his law clerks, which included discussing “personal matters” in “offensive language.” He used his judicial e-mail account to carry on the romance even after being told not to do so by the court’s assignment judge. He also tried to get his unidentified paramour a job with the public defender’s office.

New York: On March 4, 2009, Edinson Rosales, 29, a guard at the Rikers Island jail, was charged with agreeing to accept $15,000 from an undercover DEA agent to transport 15 kilos of cocaine to Detroit and another $5,000 to return with $400,000 in drug proceeds.

North Carolina: On March 3, 2009, Tameka Mebane, a guard at the Bertie Correctional Facility, was charged with having a sexual relationship with an unidentified male prisoner and becoming pregnant with the prisoner’s child. Mebane denied the prisoner was the father; when asked who the father might be, she responded “God.” The relationship was discovered when guards found a cell phone on the prisoner and calls were traced to Mebane. The prisoner also had nude and semi-nude photos of Mebane in his cell, which aroused investigators’ suspicions. Mebane said she was not the only guard to have sex with a prisoner at the facility. Windsor police agreed, but said she was the first guard charged because this was the first time they had enough evidence to prosecute someone.

Ohio: On March 6, 2009, an unidentified employee of Correctional Medical Services at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in Stryker, identified as a psychiatrist, had his jail license revoked after he admitted giving money and letters to a female prisoner at the facility. Such conduct violates the jail’s ethics and fraternization policies.

Oklahoma: On March 5, 2009, Tulsa County District Court Judge Jesse Harris was arraigned on indecent exposure charges. Harris has denied the charges, which allege that he exposed his penis to two women outside a hotel in Tulsa. He continues to carry out his judicial duties while the charges are pending.

Philippines: On August 26, 2008, Emilion Culang, Jr., warden of the Manila City Jail, was fired after a riot the preceding weekend left one prisoner dead and another injured. Prior reports had indicated that lax security at the jail was a problem likely to lead to riots or escapes.

Tennessee: On March 15, 2009, Tammy Graves, 42, a juvenile court detention clerk, was charged with statutory rape for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old prisoner by taking him to her home after his release from a juvenile facility, plying him with vodka, and having sex with him. Graves was charged with aggravated statutory rape and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Tennessee: On March 19, 2009, Daniel Whalen, 32, a prisoner at the Turney Center prison in Only, was found stabbed to death near a prison cell.

Tennessee: On March 21, 2009, George Hyatte, 37, pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole, eliminating the possibility of a death sentence.
In 2005, Hyatte escaped from the Kingston County courthouse when his wife, Jennifer, a former prison nurse, used a pistol to shoot prison guard Wayne “Cotton” Morgan and wound guard Larry “Porky” Harris. George and Jennifer fled and were captured 36 hours later. Jennifer pleaded guilty to murder charges in 2007 and was also sentenced to life without parole. A trial date has not yet been set for prison guard Randall Ridenour, who is charged with letting George use a cell phone to call Jennifer to set up the escape. George was a prisoner at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, and had been taken to the courthouse for a hearing when the escape occurred.

Texas: On August 27, 2008, Harris County jail guard Duane Peterson resigned after his brutal and unprovoked beating of jail prisoner Joseph Torres was captured on video and submitted to the Office of the Inspector General.

Washington: Monroe city officials claim to be incensed that the Monroe Correctional Complex buys water at a wholesale rate, half the rate charged to residential customers, and also doesn’t pay taxes on its water use.

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