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News in Brief:

Arizona: On July 25, 2010, the troubled Corrections Corporation of America-run Saguaro Correctional Center was placed on lockdown after 30 prisoners from Hawaii were involved in a scuffle over an Xbox. During the melee the prison’s “gang intelligence officer” was beaten and suffered a broken nose, broken cheekbones and eye socket damage.

Arkansas: Jessie Lunderby, 21, a detention officer with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, was placed on paid administrative leave in June 2010 after she posed for Playboy. Even though she had reportedly informed her superiors and did the photo shoot on her own time, Lunderby was investigated for “conduct unbecoming an officer.” She was later fired, with Sheriff Tim Helder saying her “nude modeling hobby” had become a “distraction.” It is unlikely that the petite blond bombshell will have difficulty finding another job.

Arkansas: On April 7, 2010, Betsey Wright, 66, a former chief of staff for then-governor Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts related to attempted contraband smuggling. Wright, an anti-death-penalty activist who served as a volunteer counselor, was on her way to visit a death-row prisoner when prison officials found she had a Swiss Army knife, a box cutter and tweezers hidden inside a pen, plus 48 tattoo needles in a bag of Doritos. [See: PLN, April 2010, p.24]. Wright said she had found the Doritos in a vending machine in the prison’s entrance building and had grabbed the tweezers by mistake. She pleaded guilty to possession of the Swiss Army knife and box cutter, and received one year on probation and a $2,200 fine. She was also ordered not to have any further contact with prisoners without prior approval.

California: On August 3, 2010, Peter Felix, 27, a guard at the Los Angeles County jail in Castaic, was sentenced to four years in state prison for possessing 161 grams of heroin, 24 grams of methamphetamine and 51 grams of marijuana while smuggling the drugs into the jail in October, 2008. Felix cooperated with police in the investigation. Terrance Warner, 28, the prisoner who was supposed to receive the drugs, was sentenced to two years in prison. Felix was paid thousands of dollars in bribes for his services.

California: On July 2, 2010, a transport van carrying prisoners from Kings County to Wasco State Prison collided with a tractor-trailer. Ten prisoners suffered minor injuries, while the drivers of the van and tractor-trailer were not hurt. The van was not equipped with seatbelts for the prisoners. Apparently, the deputy driving the vehicle came to a complete stop in the middle of an intersection as the tractor-trailer was approaching.

District of Columbia: On July 27, 2010, Quincy Hayes, 32, a guard at the Corrections Corporation of America-run Correctional Treatment Facility jail in DC was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for accepting a $300 bribe from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for smuggling an iPod into the jail. He also admitted smuggling cigarettes into the jail as well.

Florida: On August 13, 2010, Casey Doll, 31, a guard at the Lake County jail, was arrested on charges of bring oxycodone pills into the jail to sell to prisoners. He had 60 oxycodone pills in his possession when he was arrested at the jail.

Florida: On August 17, 2010, Mark Grobmyer, a prisoner at the Sarasota county jail, was charged with calling in bomb threats to the jail, claiming he had placed 350 pounds of explosives at the jail and would detonate it remotely. Police traced the call back to the jail, which records all calls.

Florida: On July 28, 2010, Bradford Daniels, 24, and Matthew Crawford, 23, both guards at the Graceville Correctional Facility, were arrested and charged with smuggling marijuana and cell phones into the prison in exchange for $1,000 bribes from prisoners. An informant notified the Jackson county sheriff’s office of the scheme.

Georgia: On July 27, 2010, Preston Cooper, 44, a prisoner at a halfway house in Atlanta, printed sexually explicit pictures of children, concealed them inside an Easter card and mailed it to a prisoner at the state prison in Telfair where he had finished serving a 15-year sentence. Prison employees discovered the child pornography and reported it to federal law enforcement officials. Cooper was convicted in federal court and sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

Guatemala: On August 11, 2010, a court issued arrest warrants for former interior minister Carlos Vielmann, prison warden Alejandro Giammattei and former national police director Erwin Sperissen. The men are charged with murder for allegedly ordering the murder of seven prisoners in 2007 after police regained control of the Pavon prison after a riot, and the execution murder of three prisoners who escaped from another prison in 2005. This represents the first time government officials in Guatemala have ever been charged with a crime despite six decades of genocidal abuse by various US supported regimes. Whether anything comes of the charges remains to be seen.

Iowa: On July 29, 2010, prisoners Martin Dahlke, 29, Richard Martin Jr., 34, Jeremy McIntosh, 27 and Rolland Jacobsen, 31, were charged with second degree murder for allegedly beating Alfred Myre, 44, to death in the yard of the Clarinda Correctional Facility. Prison officials claim the attack was gang related and the defendants are members of a gang called The Peckerwoods.

Kansas: On August 12, 2010, Laurie Rowe, 46, a Wyandotte county prisoner being taken to jail to serve a sentence for methamphetamine and forgery convictions, was killed when the jail van she was riding in was rear ended by another car. The guard driving the van was injured as was the driver of the car that struck the van near Kansas City.

Kazakhstan: On August 2, 2010, 80 prisoners at the Akmola prison protesting poor conditions and torture starting out cutting themselves; when that did not elicit an official response they built barricades and threw rocks at prison employees. Eventually they rioted and seized control of the prison for three days. Army soldiers then stormed the prison using batons and stun grenades. Two prisoners were killed and 80 injured, including a prisoner who died after setting himself on fire and jumping off a balcony in the prison. Kazakh prisons hold over 60,000 prisoners and are known for their squalid conditions and brutality.
Mexico: On August 6, 2010, a fight between rival gangs in the prison in Matamoros left 14 prisoners dead before police and army soldiers regained control of the prison. The prisoners used homemade weapons in the battle.

New York: On August 10, 2010, police charged Robert Howard, 25, his father Craig Howard, 47, and a 16-year-old boy with second degree criminal nuisance and third degree falsely reporting an incident. The charges stem from one of the defendants running through a park near the state prison in Cape Vincent wearing an orange jumpsuit while handcuffed and being chased by the other two. A call to 911 led to a manhunt for an escaped prisoner and a lockdown at the state prison while prison officials tried to determine if an escape had in fact occurred. The three were camping when the hoax occurred.

North Dakota: On August 11, 2010, William Demery, 42, a prisoner at the Burleigh county detention center, was charged with taking another prisoner’s eyeglasses and eating them when he was not allowed to speak to the jail chaplain. He ate both the lenses and the frame. Local media had a field day with puns, with lead-ins about Demery “making a spectacle of himself” and the sheriff promising to “look for” the report.

Texas: On August 5, 2010, Allen Ward, 47, a prison guard in Palestine, was arrested by the Texas attorney general’s cyber crimes unit on charges of possessing child pornography.

Texas: On August 7, 2010, Joel De La Rosa, 18, a prisoner in the Edinburg jail, killed himself by swallowing wet toilet paper three hours after entering the jail on drug possession and evading arrest charges. De La Rosa had previously been jailed at the same facility a month earlier and had tried to hang himself but jail guards rescued him that time. He was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

Texas: On July 26, 2010, Lt. Steven Gentry, an 18-year employee, was fired by the Dallas county jail because he was using jail cameras to watch female prisoners shower. Until May 2010, he was the instructor at the sheriff’s training academy for a course called “Ethics in a Correctional Setting.”

Vermont: In early August 2010, Barry Mulcahy, 49, a 27-year employee of the Vermont Department of Corrections, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges stemming from becoming belligerent with Brandon police during a drunk driving stop during which he was tasered into submission. Mulcahy was fired by the DOC from his job as the agency’s top trainer.

Vietnam: On May 30, 2010, 578 prisoners at a Haiphong drug rehabilitation camp overpowered security guards and escaped. The uprising and escape began when a prisoner called on others to flee while they were having dinner. “We were completely overwhelmed,” an official said. “Forty of us were not able to prevent them, many with canes and bricks, from escaping.” Vietnam’s strict drug laws allow the government to order addicts held for up to two years in rehabilitation centers, many of them boot camp-type facilities that include hard labor and communist ideological education. Several major escapes have been reported following a government order to increase the period of mandatory rehabilitation treatment from one to two years.

Virginia: In late June 2010, Grant R. Sleeper, 54, died at a Richmond hospital due to environmental heat exposure he suffered during two days in the city’s jail. The sheriff, C.T. Woody, Jr., admitted that the heat inside the facility likely caused Sleeper’s death. The jail is overcrowded and does not have air conditioning.

Washington: In June 2010, Benton County jail guard Gregory Andre Brown, 38, lost his job; he now faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly having sexual contact with a 29-year-old female prisoner. The woman, whose name was not released, told sheriff’s detectives she was cleaning a rest room during a work crew assignment in January 2009 when Brown stepped into the bathroom and made flattering remarks, culminating in sexual activity. The incident remained unreported until May, when the prisoner revealed details of what had happened in a letter to a friend. The letter was returned and read by jail officials, who discovered the information incriminating Brown. He was placed on leave and then terminated after charges were filed.

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