News In Brief
California: On May 20, 2011, a riot at CSP-Sacramento sent six prisoners to outside hospitals. The incident reportedly involved around 150 prisoners who began fighting in a rec yard; the brawl ended after guards used pepper spray and fired a warning shot. At least two prisoners were treated for serious stab wounds, including one who required surgery. There were “dozens” of other injuries according to a prison official. Two days later more than 180 prisoners rioted at San Quentin State Prison, resulting in four being hospitalized with stab or slash wounds. And on June 7, 2011, approximately 50 prisoners at Avenal State Prison were involved in a riot that resulted in five injuries; one prisoner had to be airlifted for medical treatment.
Florida: A Miami-Dade psychiatric patient who was in the custody of GEO Care, a private company under contract with the state, killed himself in June 2011. James Bragman, 50, a patient at the South Florida State Hospital, escaped from GEO Care staff and jumped from the eighth floor of a parking garage. Bergman, a schizophrenic who had previously tried to commit suicide, had been declared mentally unfit to stand trial in an arson case and was sent to the GEO Care-run hospital as a ward of the state. GEO Care is a subsidiary of the nation’s second-largest private prison company, Boca Raton-based GEO Group.
Germany: A four-star hotel, Hotel Stadt Hameln, has been criticized for offering to treat guests like prisoners, including having them dress in black-and-white striped shirts and serving them prison fare while they are watched by pretend guards. This may seem like harmless fun were it not for the hotel’s history – the building was originally built as a jail in 1827 and used by the Nazis to house prisoners in the 1930s. Hundreds of prisoners died at the former jail during World War II, and afterwards it was used as an execution site. Hotel officials acknowledged the controversy but denied any wrongdoing.
Illinois: Emmanuel Chapple, 25, was convicted of aggravated battery in April 2011 for spitting on Urbana jail guard Craig Wakefield while Chapple was awaiting trial on robbery and sexual assault charges. The aggravated battery conviction was Chapple’s third Class 2 felony or more serious offense, and he was therefore classified as a Class X felon. He was sentenced on May 25, 2011 to ten years in prison for the spitting incident.
Iowa: When Iowa Prison Classification Center prisoner Terrence Dunn, 36, sent a letter to the FBI threatening to blow up two federal buildings and harm President Obama, he wasn’t worried because he claimed to “have a master plan” that was “foolproof.” Unfortunately Dunn included his return address on the envelope, leading federal authorities to identify and prosecute him. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison on May 24, 2011.
Louisiana: On May 2, 2011, a St. Tammany Parish court sentenced former sheriff’s deputy James R. Davis, 43, to ten years in prison on a charge of incest involving a teenage girl. Davis was fired after his victim reported the incident to authorities in October 2007. The court noted that Davis had abused his “position of trust” as a law enforcement officer to take advantage of the girl. Davis, an 18-year veteran with the sheriff’s office, had worked in the criminal patrol division.
Maine: State prisoner Lloyd Franklin Millett, 51, died on June 7, 2011 due to injuries he sustained two weeks earlier when he was attacked by another prisoner. The Maine State Police and Attorney General’s office were notified of Millett’s death. He was serving a life sentence.
Maryland: Alicia Simmons, 34, a former prison guard with connections to the Black Guerrilla Family who was accused of smuggling drugs, cell phones and other contraband into a Baltimore facility, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison on June 9, 2011. Simmons also allegedly allowed gang members to fight and attempted to identify police informants. “Prisons are much more secure when the criminals are the people in the cells and the keys are in the hands of law-abiding correctional officers,” stated U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, when Simmons was sentenced. She will also have to serve three years on supervised release.
Maryland: Darren Edward Witmer, 40, was convicted on May 19, 2011 of first-degree murder for killing another prisoner at the Western Correctional Institution in November 2009. According to an autopsy report, Witmer’s cellmate, Jeffrey Scott Kay, 48, died due to asphyxia by strangulation. Witmer received a life sentence on July 26, 2011 for Kay’s murder, in addition to two other life sentences he was already serving.
Nevada: According to a June 1, 2011 news report, Carson City jail prisoner Martin Earl Rushing, 40, tried to escape by digging through the ceiling of his cell. When a deputy heard noises and went to check on Rushing, he found “a large amount of broken drywall and building material on the floor.” Rushing had “several lacerations on his hands and was bleeding. Mixed into the blood on his hands were parts of drywall and plaster.” He was charged with felony attempted escape. Prisoners who try to escape through the ceiling “do a lot of damage but they can’t get out, they just think they can,” said Sheriff Ken Furlong.
New Hampshire: A fight over orange juice at a Dover jail led to one prisoner being hospitalized with serious injuries. The May 9, 2011 juice-fueled brawl left prisoner Stephen Mercier, 44, with broken bones and bleeding in his brain. The sheriff’s department said it was investigating and interviewing witnesses.
New Mexico: On June 3, 2011, a Curry County jail prisoner had part of one of his ears bitten off by another prisoner during an altercation over an MP3 player. Both prisoners face charges stemming from the incident, said Undersheriff Wesley Waller.
North Carolina: Federal prison employee Nathan Prady, 32, employed at a facility in Butner, was sentenced on May 18, 2011 to over six years in prison and four years on supervised release. Prady had pleaded guilty to attempting to possess with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. He was working as a cook supervisor at the prison, asked a prisoner to help him obtain the drugs and was later caught during a sting operation.
Oklahoma: Murray County jail guard John Jim White, 30, was charged in May 2011 with stealing $20,000 from a prisoner by using the prisoner’s bank card to remove funds from his account. The prisoner, Richard Stateler, who had been arrested on drug charges, told White to mail his wallet to his brother. Instead, White used Stateler’s bank card and PIN number to make multiple withdrawals over a three-month period, which were recorded on surveillance video.
Oregon: Multnomah County jail prisoner Scott Hamilton, 37, who had lost the lower part of one of his legs in a motorcycle accident and used a wheelchair, was released on May 23, 2011. Although he had a receipt for his wheelchair, which had been taken when he was booked into the jail for drinking a beer on public property, staff couldn’t find it, leaving Hamilton to crawl out of the facility. The wheelchair was later located at the police property warehouse; county officials are reportedly investigating the incident.
Sri Lanka: Thirty-three prisoners at the Bogambara Prison protested on the roof of the facility in May 2011, while another 195 prisoners went on a hunger strike. Other prisoners at facilities in Welikada and Mahara also participated in protest actions. The prisoners, most serving life terms or facing the death penalty, were seeking sentence reductions.
Texas: Coffield Unit prisoner Robert Anderson, 29, was involved in an accident involving a feed auger on June 2, 2011 that cost him a leg. “I understand that some of it had to be removed at the prison and when they got here they had to amputate more of it,” said Anderson’s mother, Christine. Another prisoner reportedly saved Anderson’s life by tying a tourniquet around his leg to stop the bleeding. Anderson’s father said his son had broken a finger while working on the same machine several weeks earlier, but stayed on the job because he thought it would improve his chances of making parole.
Texas: In June 2011, Richardson resident Iris Barroso was sentenced to seven years in state prison for trying to smuggle 74 cell phones plus tobacco, cigarette lighters, alcohol, cologne, a toothbrush and six pairs of underwear into the Stiles Unit. The contraband was hidden in an air compressor that was shipped to the prison in August 2008; Barroso was charged after investigators learned the compressor had been purchased with her credit card.
Texas: State prison guard Alejandro Smith, 21, who worked at the Eastham Unit in Houston County, was arrested on June 1, 2011 and charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin. Smith was caught in a sting operation after investigators learned that he was smuggling contraband into the prison unit.
Tunisia: Around 300 prisoners escaped from a jail in the Gafsa area on April 29, 2011 after a fire was set at the facility. There were no injuries reported, unlike another fire that broke out in a prison in Monastir, Tunisia in January 2011, which killed at least 42 prisoners. That fire was also part of an escape attempt, and the prisoners died due to burns and asphyxiation, according to a medical official.
Wisconsin: Two police officers implicated in the January 2011 beating of a prisoner at the Dane County Jail were exonerated following an internal investigation. The prisoner, Jeffrey L. Vance, was reportedly assaulted by a sheriff’s deputy who punched him and used elbow strikes after he was placed in a restraint chair. The deputy, who was not identified, was fired on May 25, 2011.
Yemen: On April 15, 2011, ten death row prisoners escaped from a prison in the province of Omran, north of the city of Sanaa. According to news reports the condemned prisoners opened fire on guards at the facility, wounding four and killing three during the break-out. There was no explanation as to how they obtained the firearms used in the escape.