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News in Brief:

Alabama: On March 2, 2012, the maximum-security Limestone Correctional Facility was hit by a tornado and suffered damage to several buildings, including the roofs of cell blocks C and D and the canteen. A week later, around 200 prisoners were transferred to other facilities. No injuries were reported at the Limestone prison as a result of the tornado.

Arizona: Martin Batieni Kombate, 44, was arrested for trespassing at the Coconino County jail in January 2012 be-cause he refused to leave after being released on his own recognizance. According to Gerry Blair, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, Kombate said he couldn’t find his wallet and became disorderly in the lobby area. He was then arrested and booked back into the jail he was refusing to leave. He had originally been jailed on an unrelated trespass charge.

Arkansas: In March 2012, Baxter County jail prisoner Henry Nielson was found with a broken arm; he told staff that he had fallen from his bunk and was taken to a local hospital. Apparently, however, Nielson had arranged to have another prisoner, Cody Stradford, intentionally break his arm, which was confirmed when jail staff reviewed video surveillance footage. Both Nielson and Stradford were charged with impairing the operation of a vital public facility and obstructing governmental operations. Stradford also faces a second-degree battery charge.

Australia: Kristen Henderson was worried about her brother, who was held at the Maryborough Correctional Centre, and decided to visit him on December 16, 2011 after she felt a staff member at the facility was being uncooperative. Unfortunately she had the wrong address, tore down a wire fence when she drove into a council reserve area while trying to find the prison, and was confronted by a council ranger. Henderson was charged on February 6, 2012 with willful damage; she pleaded guilty and was fined $500 and ordered to pay $533.50 to repair the fence.

California: On January 6, 2012, a protest by 400-500 people in the immigrant rights community and the Occupy movement shut down two Wells Fargo branches in Santa Rosa. The bank was targeted as part of a national campaign due to its mutual fund investments in private prison companies GEO Group and CCA. The demonstration also challenged the bank’s foreclosure practices in Sonoma County; protestors asked people to move their money from Wells Fargo to other banks or credit unions. Organizations that participated in the event included the Graton Day Labor Center, the DREAM Alliance of Sonoma County, MEChA of Santa Rosa Junior College, the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County and various Occupy groups.

California: San Quentin state prison guard Taurus Collins, 37, was arrested on February 29, 2012 after he used a handgun to threaten employees at West Coast Car Audio in Sacramento during a dispute over a $20 deposit he had placed on a car alarm. Collins was jailed on suspicion of making threats to commit a crime that could result in death or great bodily injury, and for carrying a loaded firearm registered to somebody else. He posted bail, returned to West Coast Car Audio the next morning and again threatened employees at the store, which resulted in a second arrest.

California: A riot involving around 70 prisoners broke out on the main exercise yard at Folsom State Prison on March 6, 2012. Guards responded with pepper spray and fired three warning shots. The medium-security facility was locked down; no serious injuries were reported.

District of Columbia: Former D.C. prison Sgt. Darryl Ellison, a 23-year veteran of the Department of Corrections, pleaded guilty on March 16, 2012 to a charge of simple assault related to abuse of a prisoner. Ellison had kicked a prisoner during a use of force incident, then pepper sprayed him in the face after he was in a prone position and not resisting. Ellison, 51, agreed to perform 150 hours of community service; he also faces up to 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

Florida: On March 18, 2012, state prison Sgt. Ruben Thomas was stabbed to death at the Columbia Correctional Institute annex. Another guard reportedly saw prisoner Richard Franklin chase Thomas and stab him several times in the neck. Franklin, who is serving a life sentence, was also accused of injuring a second guard, William Brewer. Thomas’ death was the second time a Florida prison employee had been killed by a prisoner since June 2008, when Donna Fitzgerald was murdered. [See: PLN, Nov. 2008, p.50].

Idaho: Former Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office correctional officer Brian James Brown, 44, pleaded guilty on April 2, 2012 to fraudulent use of a financial transaction card. The charges resulted from Brown’s use of a county card to purchase $147 worth of gas for his personal vehicle. He was sentenced to five years in prison with two years fixed and three years indeterminate, though he may be eligible for early release on probation if he completes a Correctional Alternative Placement Program, which was recommended by the court.

Illinois: An April 2, 2012 Associated Press article described how Sheriff Tom Dart had introduced a chess program for prisoners at the Cook County jail. “We see it day-in and day-out that people want instant gratification and that often individuals do not think before they act,” Sheriff Dart stated. “Thoughtless actions will hurt you while playing chess and hurt you more on the street.” Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov praised the program. “We started a similar program in Russia 15 years ago, and now we have a [chess] championship in Russia for detainees and for people who are rotting in prison,” he said.

Indiana: LaPorte County Jail prisoner Kevin Coleman, 25, filed suit against a jail employee and a local paper in March 2012, stating that he had not escaped from the jail two months earlier but rather had mistakenly left because he thought he had made bond. According to the lawsuit, a guard called for a “Mr. Coleman” to be released on bond, and Coleman responded. Although it was another prisoner who was supposed to be released, Coleman evidently did not notify jail staff when he was processed out. He was captured at his mother’s house two hours later. “Truthfully, I didn’t escape,” he said. “It was on the end of the county jail personnel.”

Indiana: On March 28, 2012, a nurse employed by Corizon Medical at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City was busted while trying to smuggle marijuana into the facility. Phyllis Ungerank, 41, was charged with possession and attempting to traffic marijuana; she was arrested and booked into the LaPorte County Jail.

Montana: Former public defender Stacy Sampson is speaking out against allowing prisoners at the Yellowstone County Jail to have Playboy and other magazines that depict nudity, according to a March 11, 2012 report in the Billings Gazette. “I can’t think of any legitimate reason that an inmate needs access to any sort of adult pornography,” she said, claiming that such publications may cause security problems. Sheriff’s Capt. Dennis McCave disagreed. “What she is offended by is obviously nudity,” he stated. “Then we would have to ban National Geographic. Nudity by itself is not pornographic.”

New York: On March 13, 2012, former state prison guard David Perry was arrested on a charge of second-degree grand larceny for falsely claiming that he suffered a work-related back injury, which resulted in his receipt of more than $192,000 from the New York State and Local Retirement System since 2005. He had been employed at the Elmira Correctional Facility. Police also want to question Perry in connection with the March 2011 disappearance of his girlfriend, a police cadet, though he has not been charged in that case.

Oregon: Mark W. Samuels, 54, a deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested on March 19, 2012 and charged with one count of sexual abuse 2, six counts of sexual abuse 3, one count of custodial sexual misconduct 1 and six counts of custodial sexual misconduct 2. He is accused of having a sexual relationship with female prisoners at the Marion County Work Center. On April 26, 2012, two prisoners, Amanda Bishop and Teressa Wilson, filed a $3.1 million lawsuit against the county, stating they had been sexually abused by Samuels.

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