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News in Brief:
Alabama: On August 17, 2010, Steven Giardini, a former Mobile County assistant district attorney who specialized in prosecuting sex crimes involving children, was arrested on enticement and solicitation charges. Giardini is accused of trying to sexually entice what he thought was a 15-year-old girl over the Internet, but he was actually in touch with an agent from the FBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children division. Giardini had resigned from the prosecutor’s office in April 2009 after his home was searched by FBI agents; the search warrant was sealed, so it is unknown what that investigation entailed. He was released on $250,000 bond on the enticement charges.
Bangladesh: In August 2010 government officials freed 1,000 prisoners serving life sentences (calculated at 30 years in Bangladesh), in order to reduce overcrowding in the nation’s prisons. Bangladesh has around 77,000 prisoners housed in 67 facilities designed to hold 28,000. The released prisoners included those who had served 20 years on their sentences. “A man who commits an offence, if they’ve been inside for 20 years, this is enough,” said Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder.
California: Two people visiting a prisoner at the Lerdo Detention Center near Bakersfield ended up behind bars themselves. Donelle Flores, 29, was arrested after jail staff learned she had outstanding felony warrants; she was also found to have three syringes, suspected methamphetamine and marijuana, a small knife and a handcuff key. Her companion, Billy Evans, 24, was arrested for being a felon on jail grounds and for receiving stolen property. Flores and Evans were booked into the Kern County Jail.
California: The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the union that represents the state’s 30,000 prison guards and parole officers, announced on Sept. 20, 2010 that it was endorsing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. The CCPOA, a major player in California politics, has had a contentious relationship with current Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Simply building more prisons is not the solution,” said CCPOA president Mike Jimenez. “We need a governor that understands the nuances and is willing to bring all of the stakeholders to the table in a concerted effort to collectively resolve this ongoing problem.”
California: In September 2010 it was reported that 16 condom machines had been installed at the San Francisco County Jail’s San Bruno facility. “It may be controversial,” stated Sheriff Michael Hennessey, “but I think the larger health education message is important.” Kate Monico Klein, with the city’s Public Health Department, agreed. “If [providing condoms to prisoners] saves one or two lives, it’s worth it,” she said.
Colorado: On September 17, 2010, Donald Denney, 56, was arrested at the federal prison complex in Florence, Colorado, where he was trying to smuggle a package of black tar heroin to his son, who is incarcerated at the facility. Denney and his son, also named Donald, coordinated the smuggling scheme through phone calls from the prison which, of course, were monitored and recorded. When Denney arrived at the facility with the heroin concealed in his rectum he was met by FBI agents with a warrant for a body search. Denney had planned to transfer the drugs to his son via a mouth-to-mouth kiss during a visit.
Florida: Hernando County Jail prisoner Brandon Markey lost a bet when he wagered on the NFL Saints v. 49ers game on Sept. 20, 2010. The next day he tried to pay off his debt to fellow prisoner Ricardo Cleveland Sellers, in the form of bear claws from the jail’s commissary. However, he reportedly failed to pay an additional “four honey buns” that were owed as part of the wager, and the absence of honey buns led Sellers to punch Markey in the face, according to a report by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
Florida: On August 23, 2010, Psalmai Thompson lost custody of her three children after leaving them in a hot car outside the Orange County Jail while she visited for over an hour with her boyfriend, who was incarcerated at the facility. The children, ranging in age from two months to five years old, were placed in the custody of their grandmother. Rescue workers estimated the temperature in the car was as high as 125 degrees, though the back windows were cracked open.
Florida: Officials at the Marion County Jail said they saw a bag containing pills fall from the “genital area” of prisoner Elizabeth Athenia Progris, 22, after she showered at the facility on August 13. The bag was found to contain generic Xanax, and Progris was charged with possession of a controlled substance and introduction of a controlled substance.
Indiana: Over a dozen staff members at the Pendleton Correctional Facility were suspended during a crackdown on contraband smuggling and drug use, according to a Sept. 1, 2010 news report. Twelve prison employees have been accused of personal drug use, one faces termination for trying to smuggle a cell phone and 38 other staff members failed drug tests. Visitation at Pendleton was suspended during a lengthy lockdown while prison officials searched for contraband.
Italy: According to an August 23, 2010 news report, a senior former prosecutor alleged that jailed Mafia bosses were receiving coded messages through an Italian soccer program on TV. The Quelli del Calcio (“That’s What Football is About”) show invites viewers to send in text messages that are displayed in a ticker tape along the bottom of the screen. Investigator Vincenzo Macri said some of the messages were intended for Mafia bosses, and that an intercepted letter sent to an imprisoned mafioso told him to watch the TV show to “learn about something which was dear to his heart.” Officials at RAI, the station that airs the program, said they were unaware that some of the text messages may be intended for prisoners.
Massachusetts: The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department announced on Sept. 21, 2010 that the Plymouth County Correctional Facility had been placed on lockdown after an officer felt a burning sensation and became light-headed after being exposed to a white powdery substance in the jail’s property room. Five staff members and two prisoners were exposed to the substance, which was later determined by hazmat officials to be mercury and a “known nonhazardous organic material.”
Nevada: State lawmakers expressed frustration during a Sept. 9, 2010 hearing because $500,000 was spent to design a medical unit at the High Desert State Prison, though the building project had to be cancelled. Assemblyman Tom Grady told Nevada Corrections Director Howard Skolnik that the prison system “needs to get its act together. We can’t keep throwing away money.” Skolnik said they would be unable to staff the unit due to state budget cuts, and the $7.8 million project was shelved.
North Carolina: On Sept. 10, 2010, Maria Elliot Davis, 18, left a Bible for a prisoner at the Halifax County Jail. Employees checked the book and found it contained some loose cigarettes and matches. Davis was charged with providing tobacco products to a prisoner and jailed with a $1,000 bond.
Pennsylvania: Prison officials at SCI Albion are facing a slippery situation that involves goose excrement. Apparently, a large amount of goose droppings are causing sanitation problems at the facility and in the parking lot outside. Prisoners have been cleaning up the goose waste but the U.S. Department of Agriculture was called in to help. A USDA official said they would use non-lethal methods to keep geese away from the facility, such as pyrotechnics, propane cannons and trained dogs.
Tennessee: Memphis police officers Jennifer Kinnard and Latonia White were transporting a suspect on Sept. 11, 2010 when their squad car crashed into a utility pole. The officers were not seriously injured, though the suspect was hospitalized in critical condition. Kinnard received a traffic citation for failing to pay attention while driving; the Inspectional Service Bureau is investigating the incident.
Texas: On July 29, 2010, Miles McFadden, 30, a guard in the juvenile section of the Bexar County Jail, was arrested on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors claim that for the past five years McFadden had been raping a now-16-year-old boy, and had drugged the child and given him a sexually transmitted disease. Jail officials said there had been no complaints regarding McFadden’s work performance in the juvenile unit.
Washington: The G Unit at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla was locked down on August 30 after a guard was attacked. A week later the E Unit at the facility was placed on lockdown following a fight that involved four prisoners. The units house suspected gang members.
Wisconsin: Taycheedah Corr. Institution (TCI) prisoner Kristine Flynn, 51, was charged with three counts of forgery in August 2010 for forging the name of a Fond du Lac County judge on child custody papers. Flynn was allegedly trying to gain custody of another prisoner’s disabled son, and requested $250,000 from the boy’s bank account to care for him. Previously, Flynn had pleaded guilty to five counts of tax credit fraud for filing false statements to obtain homestead tax credits while she was incarcerated. Three other TCI prisoners were charged with tax fraud in connection with the scheme: Wendy Nelson, Amy Prelwitz and Nicole Ousley.
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