News in Brief:
Congo: Government officials reported that 114 prisoners escaped from a prison in Tshikapa on Sept. 25, 2011. One prisoner was killed and another was wounded; the prisoners had complained about insufficient food and water before staging the mass escape. Earlier that same month, over 960 prisoners escaped from a facility in the city of Lubumbashi.
Florida: On Sept. 28, 2011, a three-count indictment was unsealed that charged Anthony Mangione, 50, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for South Florida, with receipt, possession and transportation of child pornography. Mangione was arrested by FBI agents and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation. “The government has concerns that given the magnitude of the charges, that he might melt down,” said his defense attorney, David Howard. In October, a federal judge approved Mangione’s release on a $75,000 signature bond.
Florida: The Florida Dept. of Corrections has stopped selling all tobacco products in prison canteens, and as of Sept. 30, 2011, all cigarettes and lighters were considered contraband. Prisoners who smoke were allowed to order nicotine patches for $34.99.
FDOC prisoners spent $19 million on tobacco-related products in 2010. Prison officials cited health-related cost savings as a reason for banning tobacco, but such bans also create a lucrative black market that often results in smuggling by prison staff.
France: The anti-suicide paper pajamas given to suicidal prisoners at the Sante prison in Paris have failed to live up to their name. An unidentified 23-year-old prisoner used the pajamas to kill himself in September 2011 after finding a way to make the garment support his weight. Six months earlier, another prisoner had committed suicide using the anti-suicide pajamas. Over 70 French prisoners kill themselves each year; 96 percent of those deaths result from hanging.
Georgia: DeKalb County jailer Adriara Addison, 20, was herself jailed after being arrested on charges of stealing prisoners’ identities and using them to file fraudulent tax returns and obtain food stamp cards. “We found that there was a scam here in which she was using our computer systems to get information on inmates – their names, date of birth, and Social Security numbers,” said DeKalb County Sgt. Adrion Bell. Addison’s boyfriend, Robbie Sims, a convicted felon, and two other people also were charged in connection with the scheme. Addison was released on $6,000 bond; her mother and stepfather work at the jail, too.
Illinois: Robert Buchanan, 45, a Cook County jail guard, was arrested in Sept. 2011 on charges of sexually assaulting his step-daughter when she was ten years old. The sexual assaults occurred in 1997; Buchanan was questioned at the time but not charged, and DNA evidence taken from the victim went untested for a decade at the Harvey Police Department. In 2007 the state attorney’s office, Illinois State Police and Cook County Sheriff’s Office raided the police department and recovered over 200 untested rape kits. Fourteen defendants, including Buchanan, have been charged since the kits were tested.
Lebanon: On September 23, 2011, a two-hour riot at the Roumieh prison in Beirut resulted in 17 injuries and ten Internal Security Forces members being freed after they were taken hostage by prisoners. Four security employees and 13 prisoners were wounded during the disturbance. “The hostages were freed in a unique operation carried out by an [Internal Security Forces] special Panthers unit and a Rapid Intervention squad,” stated Colonel Amer Zaylaa, Lebanon’s prison commander. The prisoners involved in the riot were members of Fatah al-Islam, a militant Sunni group.
Maryland: According to the Maryland Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services, in September 2011, apples grown by prisoners at the Roxbury Correctional Institution were being sold to the Maryland Food Bank. Prisoners were harvesting 2,000 bushels of apples; some will be served at the prison complex while some are provided to the food bank at $.20 per pound, or around one-tenth their retail value.
New Jersey: On July 8, 2011, Camden County jail prisoner Bernard Jenkins, 26, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for biting a guard. The incident occurred in June 2008, when Jenkins created a disturbance and bit a responding guard in the face, removing a one-inch piece of skin that left a permanent scar.
New Jersey: Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler announced on October 7, 2011, that Sheriff’s deputy Gary Browndorf, 55, had been arrested on charges of perjury, simple assault, false swearing, official oppression and unsworn falsification to authorities. Browndorf is accused of punching an arrestee who was handcuffed behind his back, then filing false criminal charges against the arrestee and his girlfriend, resulting in their imprisonment. Heckler described Browndorf’s actions as “a coward’s crime.”
North Carolina: According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, former Columbus County Sheriff’s Office sergeant Danny Ray Duncan, 63, pleaded guilty on October 6, 2011 to a civil rights charge in connection with an assault on a jail prisoner.
Duncan admitted that he placed the prisoner in a cell with other detainees, knowing that he would likely be assaulted. “When corrections officers knowingly place the people they are charged with protecting at risk of serious harm, they undermine the very fabric of our legal system,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez.
North Dakota: A sex offender who was being transported by TransCor, a private prisoner transport service and a subsidiary of CCA, escaped near Tower City in early October 2011. After being caught, Joeph Megna, 29, said the transport officer was giving him nothing but bread and cheese to eat. “I was starving and that’s why I escaped and fled out into the cornfield,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody.” Megna’s brief escape resulted in a major response from law enforcement, including a SWAT team, thermal imaging devices and a North Dakota Highway Patrol airplane. Barnes County Sheriff Randy McClaflin said he “fully intend[s] to seek reimbursement” from TransCor for the cost of the search.
Ohio: On October 12, 2011, Richland County Sheriff’s Lt. William Franklin, Jr., 49, was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He is accused of falsifying paperwork to reduce a prisoner’s sentence in exchange for jewelry, $2,000 in cash and a car worth around $2,500. Franklin submitted documents that falsely indicated the prisoner should get 66 days credit for time served in the county jail.
Ohio: John Rust, 38, a former Pickaway Correctional Institution payroll clerk, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2011 to at-tempted tampering with records. Rust had padded the pay checks of seven other prison employees in 2009 in an attempt to overpay them a total of $6,011. The prison staff who received the improper pay hikes were not charged or disciplined, as they claimed they were unaware of any wrongdoing. Rust was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but his conviction may be expunged under a three-year intervention program.
South Carolina: On October 10, 2011, Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center guard Kerry King, 50, was fired following his arrest on DUI and cocaine possession charges. “We are officers for the community and we are to carry ourselves to a higher standard than others,” said Willie Bamberg, director of the detention center. King was granted a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.
Tennessee: A CCA guard at the Silverdale Detention Facility in Chattanooga has been charged with smuggling drugs into the jail. Jesse Wedell, 20, was arrested on Sept. 29, 2011; Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department officials said she had hidden around three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana in “her private area.” Wedell was charged with two felonies and jailed on $20,000 bond; she reportedly received $25 to smuggle the drugs to a prisoner.
Texas: In late September 2011, former U.S. probation officer Armando Mora, 38, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from and providing confidential information to a drug-trafficking gang. Mora would run background checks on drug couriers to see if they had any outstanding arrest warrants, before the couriers were hired for smuggling runs. He reportedly told the gang that two potential couriers were actually undercover agents.
Texas: An October 13, 2011 news article reported that the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office was the target of a forgery and bad check scheme, likely orchestrated by a former prisoner who received a check from the sheriff’s account for his remaining funds when he left the county jail. At least 27 checks totaling over $13,000 were forged using the jail’s bank account information; five people were arrested and four others face outstanding warrants. The Ellis County Jail now plans to give released prisoners debit cards instead of checks.
West Virginia: Former state prison guard Joseph F. Roush, Jr., 35, was sentenced on Sept. 19, 2011 to 46 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography. Roush, who previously worked at the Lakin Correctional Center, a women’s facility, had pleaded guilty in May 2011 after an FBI investigation discovered he had over 600 child porn images and videos.