California: Avenal State Prison guard Randy Motl was sentenced to three years on June 13, 2011 for felony bribery charges. Motl was convicted of accepting money and electronics equipment from prisoners and their families in exchange for smuggling cell phones and other contraband into the facility. The offenses occurred between December 2008 and August 2009, and Motl received over $10,000 in cash and electronics during that time period – including a DVD player, a laptop and toys for his children.
California: A report by the State Controller’s office released in July 2011 revealed that more than 500 state employees earned over $240,000 in 2010. At least nine employees made over $500,000, mostly prison doctors. The top earner was an unidentified surgeon at the High Desert State Prison, who made $777,423 last year. The earnings cited in the report included salaries, bonuses, “back pay adjustments” and retirement payouts for accumulated paid time off. California is currently experiencing a budget deficit of around $10 billion.
Colorado: In June 2011, following a federal trial in Denver, four prisoners were convicted of beating another prisoner to death at FCC Florence. Jose Augustin Pluma, Juan Martin Ruelas, Mark Rosalez and Justin Hernandez were convicted of murdering Pablo Zuniga-Garcia, 33, allegedly due to a “disrespect” issue involving the Surenos gang. The four assailants were members of the prison gang. They were sentenced in August 2011; Hernandez received a 40-year prison term, Rosalez received 25 years, Pluma was sentenced to 35 years and Ruelas received 20 years.
Colorado: A June 2011 four-count indictment charged prison guard Chris Turner, 29, a member of the SORT team at the federal supermax prison in Florence, with stealing equipment from the facility’s armory to sell on the black market. Turner is accused of removing flash-bang grenades from the prison between August 2009 and December 2010, and then selling them. “A trusted member of the Bureau of Prison’s elite Special Operations Response Team has violated the public trust by stealing these destructive devices,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
Florida: Cross City Correctional Institution sergeant James Leslie Cassidy, 47, was fired on June 9, 2011, hours after being arrested for battery, criminal mischief, disorderly intoxication and corruption. Cassidy was accused of being thrown out of the Dawg House bar, twice, for fondling two women; he also reportedly slashed tires on cars in the bar’s parking lot (which was caught on surveillance video) and threatened to kill a deputy’s family while being transported to jail, where he was placed in a restraint chair. Cassidy had worked for the Florida Dept. of Corrections for almost 24 years.
Florida: According to a July 1, 2011 news report, two Hall County jail employees were suspended following a December 2010 uprising at the facility. Captain Mark Bandy was suspended for one day for unbecoming conduct, and jail guard Dustin Charlton received a 5-day suspension for conduct unbecoming an officer and unnecessary use of force. Charlton was accused of striking a restrained prisoner in the face while Bandy had “tapped” several prisoners on the head with his foot, according to surveillance footage.
The suspensions were not publicly reported and only came to light after a local newspaper filed an open records request.
Florida: Due to changes in state law, a free GED program at the Volusia County Branch Jail will likely be discontinued, county officials said in June 2011. Under new state requirements, students must pay tuition fees and the school must verify their residency status – which was not previously required. Most prisoners are unable to pay tuition or the cost of taking the GED test.
Georgia: A June 2011 shooting at the Fulton County Jail left one prisoner with a gunshot wound to the hand. Kortez Hurt reportedly broke out of his cell on a maximum-security floor of the facility, went to the cell of another prisoner, Curtis Glanton, and fired multiple shots at him through a slot in the cell door. Jail officials were later informed that the incident was staged, with a potential negligence lawsuit filed by Glanton being the motivation for the shooting. Not explained was how Hurt managed to get a gun into the jail or how he got out of his cell.
Illinois: Shaun M. Smith, 21, already convicted of six financial crimes, was charged in June 2011with stealing around $4,500 from a Special Inmate Fund at the DuPage County Jail, where he had been incarcerated. Smith received a check from the jail for his remaining funds after he was transferred to prison; upon his release, he used the account numbers on the check to raid the jail account. As a result, he now faces prosecution for another financial crime that carries up to a 10-year prison sentence.
Illinois: A federal prison guard and a prisoner at FCI Greenville were indicted in June 2011 in connection with a smuggling scheme. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, guard Druex Perkins is accused of lying to the FBI when he denied smuggling cigarettes into the facility, while prisoner Khalat Kalama was charged with bribery of a federal official and conspiracy to bribe a federal official.
India: A doctor was killed by prisoners at a jail in north Bihar’s Gopalganj district on May 30, 2011. The physician, Buddhadev Singh, was at the facility to treat a prisoner with chicken pox when he was confronted and fatally assaulted by a group of prisoners serving life terms. According to prison officials, Dr. Singh was attacked because he had refused to issue fake medical certificates that would have allowed the prisoners to be moved out of the jail. Other doctors in Gopalganj went on a one-day strike in protest following Dr. Singh’s death, and lawmakers announced they would move forward with a bill to protect doctors from violence.
Kansas: Officials at the El Dorado Correctional Facility are notifying visitors that they have to be fingerprinted before leaving the prison, using a print scanner. The practice is to ensure that prisoners do not manage to sneak out pretending they are visitors, though some visitors have complained about the practice. Presumably, people who are visiting criminals do not want to be treated like criminals themselves.
Massachusetts: Deacon William Emerson, 66, who served as a ch
aplain at the Middlesex County House of Correction in Billerica, was removed from that position on March 3, 2011 after being accused of smuggling drugs into the facility. He faces three charges related to the drug smuggling but failed to show up in court at his arraignment. Emerson was also suspended from his position as a deacon at a church in Tewksbury, “in light of concerns that have come to our attention regarding his ministry as a prison chaplain,” a church official stated.
Mexico: When Maria del Mar Arjona, 19, left a prison in Chetumal following a conjugal visit with her incarcerated boyfriend, guards noticed that she was nervous and pulling a large, bulky wheeled suitcase. Upon closer inspection her boyfriend, Juan Ramirez Tijerina, was found curled up inside the luggage. Arjona was arrested for trying to help Tijerina escape.
New York: According to a policy that took effect in March 2011, visitors to New York City jails who wear scanty clothing or clothes that are torn or display expletives will have to wear XXL bright green T-shirts to cover up their offending garments. Jail officials purchased 800 of the T-shirts at a cost of $5,000. The visitation dress code also forbids gang symbols, swimwear, low-cut tops and short skirts.
South Carolina: State prison Lt. Esther Quattlebaum, employed at the Kirkland Correctional Facility, was charged in June 2011 with 16 counts of fraudulent acquisition of food stamps, 15 counts of financial transaction card fraud and forgery, and two counts of official misconduct. She was placed on administrative suspension; no other details were made available.
Texas: On June 7, 2011, former Texas state prison guard Albert James Turner, Jr., 46, was sentenced to death after being convicted of killing his wife and mother-in-law. He reportedly cut the victims’ throats in front of two of his children. Turner went on the run in late December 2009 while being sought in connection with the double homicide; he was captured in a shopping mall in Concord, North Carolina on March 5, 2010 and returned to Texas.
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