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News in Brief:
Florida: State prisoner Michael L. Parker, 38, died at the Charlotte Correctional Institution after being stabbed multi-ple times by another prisoner on June 24, 2010. The prison has a suspect in the stabbing but won’t release his name until the investigation is complete. Parker was serving a 30-year sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping.
France: French prisoner Nicolas Cocaign, perhaps tired of prison food, killed fellow prisoner Thierry Baudry in Janu-ary 2007 and tried to eat his heart. Baudry was beaten, stabbed with scissors and suffocated; Cocaign then cut open his chest with a razor blade. After removing an organ, Cocaign allegedly eat part of it raw and cooked the rest on a makeshift burner in his cell at the Rouen prison. However, he had cut out the wrong organ – instead of Baudry’s heart, it was actu-ally his lung. Cocaign went to trial on murder charges in June 2010; he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years.
Georgia: On June 6, 2010, Willie Lamar Porter, 39, set fire to the back seat of a Bibb County sheriff’s van while being transported from a prison medical center to a local hospital for a mental evaluation. Deputy Scott Rickert injured his hand on the burning plastic seat when he extinguished the fire, and was taken to an area hospital for treatment. Porter was charged with arson and making terroristic threats after Rickert and another deputy took him to the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center.
Great Britain: Adders, Britain’s only venomous snake, have been found scaling the walls of Her Majesty’s Prison The Verne in southwestern England to soak up some recent sunshine. Officials posted signs warning the 600 prisoners at the facility that snakes “are falling from the ramparts into the prison.” A prison insider joked to a local paper, “There’s enough snakes in here without them falling from the walls.” One prisoner was bitten and rushed to the hospital for emergency care, but was not seriously injured. Adder bites are not fatal for healthy adults but require immediate, painful treatment.
Indiana: In the early morning hours of July 14, 2010, Morris Ramey, 24, was apprehended while trying to smuggle drugs to prisoners at the Plainfield Correctional Facility. Guards caught him tossing marijuana, tobacco and cell phones over the prison fence. They chased him into a nearby field, where he was arrested. Ramey had been released from the same facility just a week before after serving 18 months for cocaine possession. Authorities are trying to determine who was planning to pick up the contraband.
Mexico: On June 14, 2010, 29 prisoners were killed as rival gangs clashed inside a prison in the cartel-plagued Mexi-can state of Sinaloa. Inside the prison in Mazatlán, 20 prisoners were shot to death when a group of gang members opened fire on a rival gang. Hours later, eight more prisoners were stabbed to death by other prisoners. Also, gunmen killed 15 federal police officers in separate attacks; twelve officers died in an ambush near a high school in the western state of Michoacán, while assailants killed three officers in the northern city of Chihuahua.
Minnesota: In June 2010, Sean Quincy Carlberg, 26, a guard at the Minnesota Correctional Facility, was accused of sexually touching a prisoner. Carlberg allegedly asked a female prisoner to clean a building during her off-hours, then made sexual advances when she entered a room without a security camera. The unidentified prisoner told police that Carlberg helped her up when she tripped and then kissed her and put his hand under her shirt to touch her. A special investigator re-ported that Carlberg had been flirting and interacting with other prisoners inappropriately.
Montana: Frank Dryman was 20 years old when he shot and killed Clarence Pellett in Shelby, Montana in 1951. He nar-rowly avoided the death penalty, served about twenty years in prison, was released on parole and then absconded. Dryman remained free for the next 40 years; he changed his name to Victor Houston and moved to Arizona, where he operated a chapel. “They just forgot about me,” he said. Dryman, now 79, was eventually tracked down by his victim’s grandson, Clem Pellett, who hired a private investigator to find him. Following his capture in March 2010, Dryman was returned to prison to resume serving his life sentence.
New Hampshire: Concord State Prison guard Kevin Valenti, 36, was indicted in May 2010 and charged with felony drug possession. He was reportedly caught with Clomiphene and testosterone, controlled substances used by body build-ers. Previously, in September 2009, Valenti and prison Sgt. Michael Erdmark were found liable in a lawsuit filed by pris-oner Shawn Cheever, who alleged they had used excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Cheever won a federal jury verdict of $80,000, and the court awarded almost $30,000 in attorney’s fees and costs. [See: PLN, March 2010, p.31].
New Jersey: On July 1, 2010, Paul Kerth, an alarm systems contractor, was sentenced to 364 days in jail and 5 years’ probation for rigging bids to obtain contracts with the Department of Corrections. A DOC administrator, Frederick Armstrong, was sentenced to 3 years in prison for his part in the fraudulent scheme.
New York: Female prisoners at the Rikers Island jail participated in a cooking competition in May 2010; the judges in-cluded Alain Sailhac, former dean of the French Culinary Institute, and Melba Wilson, owner of Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem. The prisoners, who were taking culinary arts classes at Rikers, whipped up dishes that included corn chowder, oven-barbequed salmon, sautéed tilapia with lemon caper sauce, and apple strudel. Two teams competed in the cook-off; the team composed of younger prisoners won in the appetizer category, while the team of older prisoners took the prize for dessert. There was a tie for the main course.
Ohio: Gary Sawyer, 44, was arrested on July 13, 2010 outside of a state prison while awaiting word that his brother, William Garner, had been executed for a 1992 arson that killed five children. Sawyer, a convicted sex offender, was taken into custody by state police immediately following his brother’s execution; he was charged with failing to register his address in violation of Ohio’s version of Megan’s Law.
Ohio: On May 31, 2010, a lightning strike at Belmont Correctional Institution killed one prisoner and injured five others who were on the recreation yard when a thunderstorm hit at 6:30 p.m. The prisoner who died, Dalin Anderson, 33, was serving time on drug possession charges.
Scotland: Officials at Addiewell Prison, a privately-operated facility in West Lothian, have banned ceramic mugs after prisoners used them as weapons. An unnamed source at the prison said the mugs “make an instant weapon and smash on contact with someone’s head – they are quite effective at causing damage.” The ceramic mugs have been replaced with plastic cups.
Texas: Prisoners in Dormitory B of the Eden Detention Center rioted on April 11, 2010. The facility was placed on lockdown for several days following the disturbance. Eden is a BOP detention center operated by Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), and houses illegal immigrants convicted of federal offenses.
Texas: In June 2010, Williamson County officials launched an investigation into possible sexual misconduct involving a guard at the T. Don Hutto Detention Facility, a CCA-operated prison that holds detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The incident reportedly involved sexual groping; the CCA guard, who was fired, was not identified. “We’re not going to put up with anything like that,” said Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis. “ICE and CCA need to get their act straightened up.” ICE ordered CCA officials to “implement a variety of reforms immediately.”
Utah: For the first time, an execution in the United States has been “tweeted” using a popular “microblogging” service called Twitter. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff tweeted around midnight on June 18, 2010 that he had given “the go ahead” for the execution of death row prisoner Ronnie Gardner, who was killed by a five-man firing squad moments later. “May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims,” Shurtleff tweeted. The Attorney General also conducted a live stream-ing press conference on his state website following the execution, thus bringing the death penalty into the digital age.
Venezuela: A riot erupted on May 4, 2010 after rival gangs fought for control of cell blocks at the Santa Ana Prison in the western state of Tachira. Eight prisoners were killed and three were injured. Violence is common in Venezuela’s over-crowded prison system – in 2009 alone, 366 prisoners were killed and 635 wounded. A non-governmental group called the Venezuelan Prison Observer said about 32,624 prisoners are currently held in the nation’s jails, which have a capacity of only 12,000.
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