Arizona: On June 18, 2009, at approximately 9:00 PM, a guard at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Perryville shot and killed himself while on duty patrolling the outside perimeter of the facility. The guard’s name has not been released. An investigation is underway.
Arkansas: On June 2, 2009, five unnamed guards were placed on unpaid leave following the escape of two prisoners from the maximum security Cummins Unit in Grady. Jeffrey Grinder, 32, and Calvin Adams, 39, walked out of the prison on May 29 wearing guard uniforms made at the facility. Video surveillance shows the men putting on the uniforms in the library and walking out unchallenged. Their absence was noticed during the 10:00 PM headcount. The five guards, who were responsible for monitoring the prison’s entrance and exit points, were later fired. Gov Mike Beebe called the escape inexcusable. “We don’t know whether it was a breakdown at the gate where they left, we don’t know if it’s a breakdown with whoever was watching the cameras, we don’t know whether it was a breakdown within the library. We don’t know how much of it was inside in terms of cooperation,” Beebe said. Grinder and Adams, who drove off in a car left for them by an unknown accomplice, were captured in New York on June 2.
California: On June 21, 2009, a riot between two prison gangs, the Norteños and the Sureños, broke out in the Facility-C Maximum Security general population yard at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility. The altercation involved approximately 75 prisoners, some of whom used shanks or other weapons. Eleven prisoners were transported to area hospitals for medical treatment, but none faced life threatening injuries. Guards used pepper spray and fired both rubber bullets and live rounds to quell the riot. No guards were injured. Prison officials believe the fighting was premeditated because the riot broke out in five different locations at the same time.
Florida: On June 22, 2009, Osceola County Jail prisoner Angel Santiago, 28, drew a pistol from beneath his jail uniform and took a guard hostage. Santiago forced the guard into a medical bay and ordered the man to exchange uniforms with him. According to official reports, the guard said Santiago threatened to “blow my head off.” Santiago, who is serving two life sentences for a robbery and shooting, was confronted by other guards and eventually disarmed. Although no shots were fired, Santiago didn’t go down without a fight. He now faces multiple charges for the incident, including assault, kidnapping and attempted escape. On June 26, jail guard Michelle Hung was charged with 13 felonies for smuggling the gun to Santiago and assisting with the attempted escape. She is being held at the Orange County Jail on $1 million bail.
Georgia: On May 16, 2009, a riot broke out at the Hays State Prison. The disturbance began around noon and continued until approximately 2:30 PM. Guards relinquished control of sections of the prison during the riot. Prisoners caused extensive damage: Various items were burned, cells were flooded, walls were painted, control room windows were shattered and furniture was smashed. No one was killed or injured. Twenty of the prisoners involved in the incident will be transferred to the HiMax facility in Jackson.
Maryland: On May 12, 2009, Kevin Dorsey, 26, and Rodney Lockett, 25, were charged with an armed robbery in which two people were shot and one died. The charges stem from an investigation in which a cell phone was planted by police and guards in Baltimore’s Supermax prison. The cell phone was used to record multiple conversations, including Dorsey and Lockett’s home invasion plot. More charges are likely as a result of the investigation, dubbed “Operation Dial-a-Cell,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. Gov. Martin O’Malley recently asked for permission to test jamming equipment that could make prison cell phones useless, but in the meantime authorities are turning them against prisoners. A seven-month investigation that included wiretaps on illegal prison cell phones recently led to the federal indictment of 24 people believed to be members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang.
Mississippi: On April 30, 2009, William Rogers, 56, and his son Jeffrey, 35, both former Tippah County sheriff’s deputies, were sentenced for depriving a prisoner of his civil rights. The father and son duo arrested Jimmy Hunsucker, Jr. on a DUI charge in June 2007. They shocked him with stun guns in a holding cell until he defecated on himself, because Hunsucker allegedly cursed at and threatened guards during booking. Hunsucker and his lawyer reported the assault to the FBI. Both deputies were indicted on felony civil rights charges in late 2008, but pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in early 2009. The elder Rogers was sentenced to three months in jail and one year supervised release. Jeffrey received a far more lenient sentence—five days in jail with no post-release supervision. Both men are prohibited from ever working in law enforcement again, but Jeffrey was allowed to continue his career in the armed forces. U.S. District Judge Michael Mills, who sentenced the pair in separate hearings, said of the younger Rogers’ sentence, “[Five days] is not as bad as getting tasered till you defecate.”
Netherlands: The Dutch Ministry of Justice recently purchased 40,000 rolls of specialty toilet paper printed with recommendations for good hygiene, safe sex and coping with aggression. Ministry officials hope messages such as “wash your hands” and “always use a condom” will positively affect prisoners’ behaviors. The toilet paper received mocking reviews in the Dutch press. “Boldly printed toilet paper is supposed to keep inmates from jumping one another without protection,” wrote de Telegraaf.
New Jersey: On June 11, 2009, Sgt. Eric Williams of the Union County Jail was permitted to return to work despite being convicted for assaulting a prisoner. Williams pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and signed a statement saying he witnessed guard Alvin White punch prisoner Edwin Reyes and break his jaw on July 15, 2008. Williams also admitted he slapped Reyes and did not notify his supervisors about the altercation. Typically, such convictions prevent guard from ever working in corrections again, but prosecutors waived that provision because Williams agreed to testify against his co-worker. Williams also avoided a mandatory 5-year prison sentence by taking the plea deal. He was suspended for 180 days without pay and demoted from sergeant to line guard. White is still awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault and official misconduct.
North Carolina: On May 11, 2009, prisoner Woody Chavis, 47, died at a prison work farm near the Tillery Corrections Center in Halifax County. Chavis and another prisoner were attempting to hitch a trailer to a tractor when it backed over Chavis. Prison medical staff administered CPR and first aid until paramedics arrived to airlift Chavis to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville, where he died at 11:15 AM. Both the North Carolina DOC and the Halifax County Sheriff’s office are investigating, though no foul play is suspected.
Ohio: On May 26, 2009, a Hamilton County grand jury indicted Cincinnati police officer Julian Steel, 46, on ten criminal charges that included rape, extortion, intimidation and abduction. A woman said Steele made her perform a sex act after her teen son was booked into the county’s juvenile detention center during a robbery investigation. The indictment also alleges that Steele falsely accused and imprisoned the juvenile. Steele has been suspended pending trial. If convicted, he faces a 70-year prison sentence.
Poland: Polish authorities announced in May 2009 that they will begin sending prisoners to the infamous Auschwitz camp, where the German government murdered millions of people during World War II. “Our mission is to teach them the terrible history, which will be an element in their reform program,” said a spokesman for the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum. The prisoners will get a guided tour of the gas chambers and cells, just as thousands of tourists do every year. “It will be shock therapy,” said Major Luiza Salapa, of the prison services program.
Texas: On May 18, 2009, prisoner Joseph Ebron, 30, was sentenced to death for assisting in the murder of fellow prisoner Keith Barnes. This was Ebron’s third murder conviction in the last 15 years. Ebron and Barnes were both confined at the federal prison in Beaumont at the time. Ebron allegedly restrained Barnes while another prisoner, Marwin Mosley, stabbed Barnes in the chest 106 times for reportedly testifying against a mutual associate. Mosley later killed himself in prison. Ebron received a death sentence despite substantial mitigating evidence presented to the jury; prosecutors surmised that Ebron’s past crimes contributed significantly to the jury’s verdict.
Virginia: On May 10, 2009, Navy veteran and former prison guard Brian Cramer was found hanging in his cell at the Henrico Jail East in Richmond. Cramer had been arrested on multiple drug charges, including delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, in March 2009. Jailers claim they checked Cramer’s cell just 20 minutes before his body was discovered. Henrico County officials are investigating.
Wisconsin: On June 25, 2009, John Champion, 40, formerly a guard at the Racine Correctional Institution (RCI) in Sturtevant, pleaded guilty to state charges of conspiracy to deliver illegal articles to a prisoner. Prosecutors alleged that Champion was recruited into the Simon City Royals gang during his employment at the prison. He smuggled pornography, alcohol, tobacco and marijuana into RCI and gave them to Anthony Lubrano, 43, who was allegedly running the gang from inside the facility. Champion was able to smuggle nearly $30,000 worth of contraband to the gang before his activities were revealed by informants. Sixteen Simon City Royals gang members were also charged with various offenses related to this case. Champion will be sentenced on August 3.
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