Arizona: Jeffrey Landrigan, 50, who was executed on October 26, 2010, gave a final statement that included what was a cryptic phrase to some: “Boomer Sooner.” Originally from Oklahoma, Landrigan was referring to a football fight slogan for the University of Oklahoma’s Sooners. He had served two decades on death row for a 1989 murder in Phoenix.
California: On November 23, 2010, a truck transporting 12 prisoners who worked on a Los Angeles County fire crew was involved in a serious accident that resulted in two fatalities. The 83-year-old driver of the other vehicle in the accident reportedly drove into oncoming traffic, hitting the truck carrying the prisoners head-on. That driver was killed, as was prisoner Fernando Julio Sanchez, 25. A county firefighter driving the truck was hospitalized; the other 11 prisoners who survived the accident also suffered injuries. The prisoners were part of a work crew that clears brush to prevent fires.
Dubai: A detainee at the Hatta Police Station, identified only as “K.A.,” broke the lights in his cell and ate the glass shards, according to a November 11, 2010 news report. The 30-year-old prisoner reportedly had mental problems and wanted to kill himself when he consumed the broken glass. “He was bleeding profusely from the mouth and said he wanted to end his life,” a police officer stated. In addition to the drug charges that landed K.A. in jail, he now faces a charge of attempted suicide.
El Salvador: A fire that broke out at a youth prison in Ilobasco on November 10, 2010 left 20 people dead. The last prisoner to die, Moises Vasquez, suffered “multiple complications after sustaining second- and third-degree burns,” a hospital spokesman said. At least 18 other prisoners were injured during the fire; three were listed in critical condition. The facility houses prisoners over the age of 18 who committed crimes when they were minors and who cannot be sent to the adult prison system. The fire was reportedly accidental and may have been caused by a short circuit.
Florida: James Poulin, 45, incarcerated at the Brevard County Detention Center, accused the sheriff’s department of torture for showing the same movies over and over. According to a November 16, 2010 news article, Poulin complained that he had “seen ‘Black Hawk Down,’ ‘Pearl Harbor,’ ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Battle Front’ hundreds of times each, sometimes two or three times a day.” Jail administrator Susan Jeter countered that prisoners were not forced to watch the movies. “The jail provides a voluntary, video-programmed educational opportunity for the inmates,” she noted. “This program is available in the dayroom area ... They can go to their cells and read a book if they so choose.”
Florida: Salvatore James Zambuto, 22, incarcerated at the Charlotte County Jail, was found to have marijuana, pills and tobacco hidden in his rectum on November 17, 2010. A jail guard became suspicious when he saw Zambuto “walking awkwardly.” The guard followed him to a bathroom, where Zambuto was found on the floor with latex bags filled with the drugs and tobacco. He was charged with introduction of contraband into a correctional facility and drug possession.
Georgia: On November 19, 2010, more than 70 protestors marched from downtown Lumpkin to the Stewart Detention Center in Stewart County to draw attention to immigration detainees held at the prison, which is run by Corrections Corp. of America. The demonstrators chanted the names of people who had died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and demanded that the facility be closed. The protestors included members of Georgia Detention Watch and the ACLU of Georgia; eight crossed a “do not enter” line in front of the prison and were arrested during the non-violent protest.
Georgia: Former Hall County jail guard Eric Miller, 33, was fired on November 15, 2010 and later arrested on charges of taking bribes from prisoners in exchange for allowing them to use drugs and visit their girlfriends while on work details. Miller had been assigned to oversee prisoners who worked at a recycling center; Sheriff’s officials began investigating him after a bag of marijuana was found in the coat pocket of his uniform.
Haiti: A cholera outbreak in Port-au-Prince has spread to the national prison. The BBC reported on November 19, 2010 that 30 prisoners had been infected and 13 had died. Jean Roland Celestin, the head of Haiti’s prison service, described the situation as “serious,” and the International Committee of the Red Cross was working to contain the spread of the disease at the prison. Nationwide, almost 1,200 people have died due to the cholera outbreak.
Michigan: According to Macomb County Sheriff’s Captain Anthony Wichersham, the Sheriff’s department is looking into allegations that a deputy was texting on a cell phone when he was involved in an accident while transporting prisoners to the county jail. Deputy James Randlett was driving a van carrying 13 prisoners on October 4, 2010 when he rear-ended another vehicle. Seven prisoners were sent to a hospital to be examined. “Right now there is this allegation that he may have been texting. We’re looking into that,” said Wichersham. Randlett denied he was texting while driving, which is against the law in Michigan.
New Hampshire: Prisoners at the Northern NH Correctional Facility turned cranky on November 17, 2010 after there was delay in delivering coffee to the prison due to the Veterans Day holiday. An altercation involving minimum-security prisoners and prison staff resulted in one employee being treated for a minor injury.
New York: Monroe County Sheriff’s Captain Catherine McLaughlin, 53, was arraigned on charges of rape and official misconduct on November 18, 2010. She is accused of having sex with a male prisoner at least three times at the county jail in Rochester. McLaughlin, a 23-year veteran with the sheriff’s department, was suspended without pay in September pending an investigation. Following her arrest she was released on her own recognizance.
Ohio: In September 2010, nurses at a jail in Cincinnati who examined pregnant prisoner January Newport, 24, found more than a baby. Newport, who was being prepared for a Cesarean section, had 15 anxiety pills concealed in her vagina. She had been arrested on a theft charge, and later pleaded guilty to theft and illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse.
Ohio: Ronald McCloud, while held at the Loraine County Justice Center in Elyria, managed to slip out of his handcuffs and assault another prisoner in a holding cell. McCloud removed his restraints and punched Kevin Kimbrough in the face after Kimbrough called him a snitch. Kimbrough’s hands were shackled to his belt at the time. Both men are facing unrelated murder charges, and a separation order should have kept them apart. “How they ended up in the same room, I don’t know,” said Ken Lieux, Kimbrough’s attorney. “This certainly should have never happened. The transporting officers had a duty to keep them apart.”
Oklahoma: David Bryan Crawford was accused of driving a stolen SUV to the Oklahoma County Jail when he reported to serve time on municipal violations. The SUV, belonging to an attorney, was stolen on October 10, 2010. The vehicle was parked at the jail when the attorney noticed it on October 18 when he visited the facility to see a client. Paperwork left in the vehicle belonged to Crawford, and keys to the SUV were found in the personal property he had checked in at the jail. He was charged with grand larceny of a vehicle.
Oklahoma: Rowdy Offield, 39, escaped from the Cleveland County Jail on October 18, 2010 by pretending to be his cellmate. Offield, serving a 30-year sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping, reportedly shaved his head and facial hair and drew tattoos on his face and arms with a pencil or marker to look like his cellmate. He then threatened his cellmate, who had made bond, to keep quiet. “Basically when the time for release came, and the door was opened, and this inmate’s name was spoken and was supposed to be released, Mr. Offield got up and walked out and said it’s me,” said Undersheriff Rhett Burnett.
Oregon: A warning shot from a tower guard stopped a brawl that broke out between two death row prisoners at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. The prisoners, who were not identified, were in a recreation yard when they began fighting on November 19, 2010. Both suffered minor injuries and received medical treatment.
Pennsylvania: The November 15, 2010 death of Crawford County Correctional Facility guard Gary M. Chaplin, 49, has been ruled a homicide. Chapin was attacked by prisoner Gregory G. Brown on October 13; according to an autopsy, Chapin died “due to complications from blunt force trauma to the head.” Coroner Patrick McHenry said it appeared that Chapin was seriously injured when he was “lifted up and pile driven into the floor” during a fight. He was transported to a hospital and did not regain consciousness before he died. Brown was charged in connection with the assault, and may face additional charges following Chaplin’s death.
Tennessee: In November 2010, Hamilton County jail prisoner Charles Douglas Mundy reported he was a victim of rape. Detectives with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation, including interviews with Mundy and several witnesses. They concluded that Mundy had made up the allegation because he didn’t like his cell assignment and wanted to be moved. He was charged with filing a false report.
Washington: The Department of Corrections announced on November 19, 2010 that the McNeil Island Corrections Center in Pierce County would close by April 2011. The closure of the island prison, which was originally opened in 1875, was reportedly due to $53 million in budget cuts. Prisoners and staff at the facility will be transferred elsewhere. “It is a decision we have weighed and gone back and forth on,” said Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail. “It seemed inevitable.” The Special Commitment Center, which houses civilly-committed sex offenders, will remain open on the island, thus shifting the costs of operation entirely to the Department of Social and Health Services. McNeil Island is the third, and by far the largest, state prison to close – the minimum-security Athanum View Corrections Center and Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women were shut down earlier this year.
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