Alabama: A prisoner’s refusal to surrender a contraband cell phone to guards led to an uprising at the Holman prison in April 2011 that was quelled by the facility’s SORT team. “The inmates did not take over the unit. What actually happened, the supervisor came on the unit, the confrontation escalated and he chose to bring the officers back out of the unit and call for assistance,” said prison supervisor Grantt Culliver. “Guys do not want to give the cell phones up when they are caught with them.”
Australia: A prisoner from the Fulham Correctional Centre was taken off life support on May 16, 2011 after being severely beaten two weeks earlier. The 53-year-old prisoner was not identified; according to news reports, the weapon used in the attack may have been a rolling pin. Police are questioning another prisoner in connection with the incident. The Fulham prison is operated by GEO Group, the second-largest private prison firm in the U.S.
California: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held on May 5, 2011 that sheriff’s officials did not violate a lawyer’s rights when they targeted him in a 2006 drug sting operation. Merced attorney John Garcia, 69, filed suit after sheriff’s officers searched his car and office and handcuffed him in February 2006. He was accused of bringing drugs to a prisoner at the Merced County jail, based on a tip from jailhouse informant Robert Plunkett. The Attorney General’s office declined to pursue charges against Garcia, who was set up when Plunkett gave him methamphetamine hidden in a pouch of tobacco.
Garcia, who was unaware the pouch contained meth, initially refused to accept it and later destroyed the drugs upon finding them.
California: On April 20, 2011, ten prisoners who were members of San Quentin’s fire fighting squad assisted in the rescue of two boaters who had capsized in San Francisco Bay near the facility. The prisoners – including Sean Tiger, Derrick Edgerly and Robert Henderson – lifted the victims over a seawall to safety. One of the boaters, James Laurel, later died at a hospital; the other survived. San Quentin’s 16-member fire fighting squad is comprised of minimum-security prisoners who live outside the facility’s secure perimeter.
California: Sometimes, bad blood between prisoners isn’t confined to prison. Curtis Norris and Edward Dismuke had a disagreement and verbal altercation when they were held at the Santa Rita Jail in 2008, and Norris apparently held a grudge. After both had been released, Norris, 21, saw Dismuke on the street and killed him with a .45 handgun.
On April 29, 2011, Norris was sentenced to 40 years to life for the murder, which was caught on surveillance video. “That somebody can just drive-by and shoot somebody, it just numbs the mind because of how stupid it is,” said Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman.
Canada: One prisoner was killed and two hospitalized with serious injuries following a brawl at the Millhaven Institution on March 20, 2011. Shots were fired by guards to break up the fight, killing one prisoner, Jordan Trudeau, 29, and injuring another. The fight occurred in the gym of the facility’s maximum security unit, and six prisoners were later charged with assault, attempted murder and other offenses. Millhaven guards have fired shots on two other occasions since October 2010, once to stop an assault and another time to break up a protest by over a hundred prisoners at the facility.
Indiana: Adam G. Orr, a prisoner at the federal complex at Terre Haute, when questioned about an assault on another prisoner, lamented that he didn’t stab him enough. The incident, which occurred on March 3, 2010, involved Orr beating and stabbing a fellow prisoner who suffered numerous puncture wounds, a collapsed lung, and rib and facial fractures. Orr said he committed the assault because the other prisoner called him a liar and a snitch. During an FBI interview he was asked how many times he had stabbed the victim, and replied, “apparently not enough.” Orr pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault charge and was sentenced on May 13, 2011 to 20 years, to be served consecutive to his existing federal prison sentence.
Maryland: Stanley Dunham, 33, would have been safer had he stayed in custody. Dunham walked away from a Division of Correction delivery truck, where he was assigned to work, on May 18, 2011. Shortly after absconding, he got into an argument at a shopping center with someone who shot and killed him. Dunham was nearing the end of his 15-year sentence at the time.
Massachusetts: MCI-Norfolk prison guard Ronald P. McGinn, Jr. was charged in federal court in April 2011 with one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute. He is accused of offering to smuggle a pound of heroin plus Oxycontin into the facility in exchange for $7,500, and had brought other contraband into the prison “for the last few years” according to an FBI affidavit. McGinn arranged the smuggling scheme with a prisoner, who turned him in.
Missouri: Carter County Sheriff Tommy Adams, 31, was charged with methamphetamine distribution in April 2011 and jailed with a $250,000 bond. Shortly after Adams was arrested, his chief deputy, Steffanie Kearbey, was charged with burglary and receiving stolen property. Carter County had only two meth lab busts in 2009 and three in 2010 – fewer than any other Missouri county. State and federal investigations are pending.
Morocco: An uprising at a prison in the city of Sale in mid-May 2011 left about 30 prisoners and eight guards and police officers with injuries. The protest was apparently sparked after prison officials decided to prohibit prisoners from accessing phones and the Internet. Tear gas and water cannons were used to disperse the protesting prisoners, most of whom were Islamists.
New York: In a role-reversal, a prisoner stepped in to break up a fight between two guards at the Erie County Correctional Facility on April 21, 2011. The physical alternation was reportedly over a bag of potato chips, and the prisoner who intervened, who was not identified, required medical attention. Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman called the incident an “embarrassment.” The guards involved were Lawrence Mule and James Conlin. Mule was suspended for 60 days without pay and required to complete an anger management program, while Conlin was suspended until his retirement in June.
New York: On May 6, 2011, Daniel McDonnell, 40, who had been arrested the day before following a dispute with a neighbor, was Tased twice in a holding cell at a Suffolk County police station. He experienced “respiratory distress” and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Police officials said he had been “acting irrationally,” which prompted officers to fatally Tase him.
Ohio: Andrea Musser, 19, was arrested in Erie County in April 2011 and charged with public indecency and criminal trespass. Her crime? After visiting a prisoner at the county jail, she lifted her shirt and exposed herself to prisoners in the visitation area. The incident was caught on surveillance video cameras.
Ohio: A former therapist at the Trumbull Correctional Institution was sentenced to one year in prison on April 26, 2011. Christopher Ellis, who had worked as a contract employee, was caught in a drug sting after he conspired with a prisoner to smuggle cocaine into the facility. The prisoner put him in touch with a drug dealer, who was actually an undercover state trooper. Ellis pleaded guilty to charges of possession of cocaine and illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto grounds of a detention facility.
Oklahoma: One prisoner committed suicide and another was recaptured following an escape at the Delaware County jail on May 11, 2011. The prisoners, Devin Craig Martin and Kyle Lee Sutton, overpowered three jail guards, injuring them and placing one in handcuffs. They then escaped the facility and left in a vehicle that belonged to one of the guards, which contained a handgun. After a police chase and exchange of gunfire, Martin shot and killed himself while Sutton surrendered.
Oregon: Former state prison guard Patty Horn, 29, is trying to clear her name after she was fired on February 18, 2010. The superintendent at the prison claimed she was not fit for working at the facility; Horn, however, said she was terminated because she complained about unsanitary conditions when she was trying to pump breast milk for her baby while on the job. According to a May 3, 2011 news report, Horn had previously been fired after reporting sexual harassment by a male employee, and won a settlement in that case. She is now pursuing another complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries over her most recent termination.
Tennessee: Steve Dotson, warden at the Whiteville Correctional Facility, was placed on administrative leave in April 2011 amid an investigation that he let a prisoner have a wedding ceremony outside the secure area of the prison. The facility is operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which declined to comment on the investigation.
Texas: On April 18, 2011, part-time Bowie County sheriff’s deputy Sherri Jones, 54, was killed by a prisoner she was escorting from the county courthouse in New Boston. The prisoner, Tucker Strickland, 21, overpowered her, took her gun and fatally shot her before driving away in the transport van. Strickland was later caught in Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texas officials are seeking a capital murder warrant to have him extradited. Strickland had been at the courthouse for an assault case, and previously had been found incompetent to stand trial.
Texas: Former San Antonio jailer Daniel Melgoza, 54, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison on April 21, 2011. Melgoza was indicted on charges of depriving a prisoner of his constitutional rights and obstruction of justice; he was accused of kicking a prisoner in the head with pointed cowboy boots in December 2004, and then writing false reports in an attempt to cover-up the incident.
Texas: A prisoner at the Nueces County Jail bluffed his way to freedom by posing as another prisoner scheduled for release. Armando Conde, 28, took advantage of a computer crash at the jail which hindered efforts to verify his identity. He gave jail officials the name and birth date of a prisoner who was supposed to go free, and was released. The error was quickly discovered and Conde was arrested about an hour later at his home in Corpus Christi. There have been at least nine other mistaken releases from the jail since 2001.
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