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News in Brief:

Arkansas: On July 24, 2008, Joshua Albright, a prisoner in the Johnson county jail, was being transported to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to serve a 40 year sentence for armed robbery. Deputies stopped at the Johnson county jail so Albright could use the bathroom and he escaped from the jail’s bathroom and fled in the jail’s transport van which still had the keys in it. Albright was recaptured the next day in Arkansas.

California: On August 29, 2008, several hundred prisoners in the Lerdo Minimum Security Facility in Bakersfield rioted and fought each other, injuring 24.

California: On July 18, 2008, Jose Rivera, 22, a guard at the United States Penitentiary in Atwater was stabbed to death by two prisoners armed with homemade shanks.

Colorado: On July 24, 2008, Edward Davidson, 31, shot and killed his wife and three year old daughter and then himself after escaping from the minimum security Federal Prison Camp in Florence, Colorado. He also shot a teen age girl, who survived. In April 2008 Davidson had been sentenced to 21 months in prison after he pled guilty to falsifying header information on e mails in order to send spam. He escaped from prison on July 20 when his wife drove him away.

England: On August 23, 2008, British media reported that PA Consulting, a company using prisoner data to track prisoners through the criminal justice system lost the records of 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales. They also lost 33,000 records of arrestees from the national police computer system.

Florida: On August 21, 2008, the Orange county sheriff’s department in Orlando announced no criminal charges would be filed against four jail guards who ran a “fight club” that allowed prisoners to fight against each other, sometimes along racial lines. The sheriff’s department claims no criminal violations occurred and because the prisoners fought voluntarily there was no basis for assault charges. In one case, jail guard Samuel Cruz allowed prisoners out of their cells to fight each other and in one case held a prisoner while another hit the “victim” or loser in the fight. The fights were witnessed by other guards who did nothing to stop them or report them to supervisors.

Florida: On July 24, 2008, Paul Tillis, 43, a guard at the Florida State Prison in Starke was indicted by a federal grand jury in Jacksonville for pouring hot water on a prisoner in 2005, causing serious injury. Earlier in the year Tillis had been fired by the prison system.
Florida: On October 21, 2008, Cedric Webb, 25, was charged with introducing contraband into a detention facility. During a search the 6’ 2”, 290 pound Webb was found to have bags of marijuana and tobacco concealed in his rolls of stomach fat. The arrest report describes his build as “heavy.”

Honduras: On June 4, 2008, 16 policemen and a soldier were found guilty of charges related to the 2003 massacre of 67 prisoners at the La Ceiba prison. A fight between gangs at the prison escalated into a riot and when the prison began to burn prison and police officials did nothing to evacuate prisoners from their burning cells; instead they shot prisoners inside their cells as the fire spread through the prison. Sixteen prisoners in charge of prison security were also convicted on related charges.

Illinois: On July 31, 2008, Elizabeth Hudson, 61, the supervisor of the Cook County Jail S Inmate Trust Department was arrested on charges that she stole more than $370,000 from the trust accounts of jail prisoners between September, 2004 and June, 2008. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office of Finance handled the investigation that led to her arrest.

Maryland: On August 21, 2008, two prisoners at the Jessup Correctional Institution were stabbed during a fight in the prison’s recreation yard.

Maryland: On July 27, 2008, Alfred McMurray Sr., the director of the Prince George’s County Department of Correction was fired after four 9 mm Beretta handguns were reported missing from the jail’s locked armory. Problems earlier in the year included two prisoners with handcuff keys; a jail guard charged with smuggling cell phones into the jail for prisoners to use; a jail guard being arrested on armed robbery charges and two female guards being charged with sexually assaulting male prisoners in the jail. In February, 2008, Rose Merchant, the jail’s deputy director was charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer by Virginia authorities.

Massachusetts: On August 20, 2008, two prisoners in the Worchester county jail were diagnosed with chickenpox and 70 prisoners and six jail employees were quarantined as being susceptible to the disease.

Massachusetts: On July 25, 2008, Dennis Hadley, 52, was convicted of manslaughter for the 2005 beating death of his cellmate Daniel McMullen, when both men were prisoners at the Worchester County Jail and House of Correction. The men argued and fought over a deck of cards that McMullen borrowed and refused to return. At the time of the incident Hadley was awaiting trial on burglary charges and McMullen was in jail for violating his probation from a drunken driving conviction. McMullen died from a ruptured spleen, a medical examiner testified that advanced liver cirrhosis and an enlarged spleen made him more vulnerable to such an injury.

Mexico: On July 24, 2008, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Chihuahua state prison director Salvador Barreno and his bodyguard while he was driving in Ciudad Juarez.
Minnesota: On July 16, 2008, Sarah Despiegelaere, 36, a nurse at the Hennepin county jail, was charged with stealing methadone from the jail medical center. A search of her home also uncovered illegal narcotics. Her husband Steven is employed as a court security officer by the Hennepin county sheriff’s office and he was also arrested but not charged.

Paraguay: On June 20, 2008, prisoners in the Esperanza (Hope) prison in Asuncion rioted for four hours demanding an end to abuse by guards and longer conjugal visits with their girlfriends and spouses. Conjugal visits are allowed during the day, when some prisoners work, and they want the visits extended to evening hours as well. The riot ended when prison officials agreed to investigate the claims of abuse and end strip searches of visitors. No report on extending the conjugal visits was provided.

Pennsylvania: On June 4, 2008, Bedford county public defender Bradley Bingaman, 32, was sentenced to 14-28 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting a 7 year old girl over a four year period.

Vermont: On October 18, 2008, 13 prisoners at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland staged a protest for two hours by knocking on emergency escape doors and refusing to return to their cells. Police and jail guards used pepper spray and stun shields to force the prisoners back to their cells. The protest was in response to a behavioral system implemented in the jail which imposed collective punishment at the whim of guards. A guard told a prisoner to get out of bed and when he refused ordered him to stay in his cell. In handwritten signs held up during the incident prisoners stated they were being mistreated and needed case workers.

West Virginia: On August 5, 2008, Clarissa Johnson, 35, a guard at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex pleaded guilty to assisting prisoner Robert Brady escape from prison by allowing him to pretend to be sick and then escape from the prison’s minimum security work camp. Brady remained at large for two months before being recaptured and was then sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to escape. Johnson was sentenced to an indeterminate 1-5 year sentence for her role in the escape.

Wisconsin: On October 21, 2008, the Oshkosh Correctional Institution in Wisconsin began construction of an electrified “stun fence” as part of a $4 million dollar security upgrade.

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