News in Brief
Arkansas: On January 20, 2012, Sgt. Barbara Easter, 47, a guard at the East Arkansas Regional Unit, was killed by a prisoner serving a life sentence. Easter worked as a property officer; she was reportedly stabbed in the side, chest and abdomen when she went to the cell of La Tavius Johnson to check whether he had an unauthorized pair of shoes. Johnson has since been transferred to the supermax Varner facility and is expected to face murder charges.
California: Calipatria State Prison guard David Santos Zamudio was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 15, 2011 on multiple counts of taking bribes from prisoners to smuggle cigarettes and cell phones into the facility. He reportedly received over $33,000 in bribes to deliver the contraband. Zamudio, a medical office technician at the prison, faces charges of honest services wire fraud.
California: A riot occurred at CSP-Sacramento on December 8, 2011 in the recreation yard of a maximum-security area, resulting in nine prisoners being taken to a local hospital with injuries. Around 50 prisoners took part in the disturbance, which lasted around 10 minutes; guards used pepper spray and fired rubber projectiles and live ammunition to put down the riot. The 2,800-bed facility was placed on lockdown.
Another riot involving about 60 prisoners broke out at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran on January 10, 2012. Five prisoners were sent to a hospital with stab wounds as a result of that incident.
Florida: While incarcerated at the Brevard County Jail, Tommy Dixon, 49, sent love letters to a 17-year-old female prisoner who also was being held at the facility. Apparently the letters were persuasive, as the two arranged a meeting in the infirmary, albeit on opposite sides of a cell door. That did not stop them from engaging in a sex act through a small opening in the door, however. Dixon now faces additional charges for having sex with a minor, according to February 2012 news reports.
Illinois: In an effort to save money on food costs, the Massac County Sheriff’s Department is having jail prisoners remove coupons from frozen dinner boxes. “The jail administrator brought it to my attention a few weeks ago,” Sheriff Ted Holder said in a February 2012 interview. “He was looking inside these boxes and there’s a coupon in every one of them. So the trustees started tearing them out as we serve them. Over the last two to three weeks we’ve saved $600-$700.” The jail purchases hundreds of frozen dinners from a local Save-A-Lot for prisoners’ meals.
Kyrgyzstan: Prison officials in this central Asian nation reported in January 2012 that around 6,400 prisoners were on a hunger strike, and over 1,100 had sewn their lips shut using metal staples or thread. The prisoners were protesting their conditions of confinement and demanding to be allowed to visit other prisoners in their cells. “They don’t have medicine, normal food, linen or soap. Their illnesses are not treated because there are not enough doctors,” said Tolekan Ismailova, director of Human Rights Center-Citizens Against Corruption. Two hundred prisoners later requested medical assistance to remove the stitches from their mouths.
Louisiana: In November 2011, Spring-hill Police Department reserve officer Charles Alexander Blanks, 27, was arrested and charged with malfeasance in office for allegedly having a sexual encounter with a prisoner. Blanks reportedly admitted to the incident, which occurred when he transported a female prisoner from the Springhill Jail to the Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center. He was released on $2,000 bond.
Maine: Cumberland County jail guard Nicholas Stein was acquitted of a misdemeanor assault charge following a jury trial on February 22, 2012. He had been accused of dragging and punching jail prisoner Brian Cote in June 2011 after Cote jumped from a second-floor balcony at the facility. Cote said he had jumped because he was not receiving his medication, and claimed Stein assaulted him and denied him medical care.
Massachusetts: Michael Rubino, a bailiff at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston, was arrested on December 16, 2011 and charged with raping two female prisoners. He was released on $2,000 bond the same day. Rubino is accused of fondling one prisoner and forcing her to perform oral sex on him while she was shackled and handcuffed. He also allegedly received oral sex from another prisoner in exchange for cigarettes and cash; he gave her the cigarettes but not the money, according to court documents. Rubino was suspended without pay.
Michigan: On February 9, 2012, Terry Glenn Doxey, 47, was arrested on a charge of felony indecent exposure for masturbating in a car parked across from the Muskegon County jail. He allegedly engaged in the auto-erotic behavior so his girlfriend, who was incarcerated at the jail, and other female prisoners could watch him. Doxey was released after posting a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. This incident was similar to one in Ohio, when Andrea Musser, 19, was arrested for exposing her breasts while visiting a prisoner at the Erie County jail in April 2011. [See: PLN, Aug. 2011, p.50]. Musser pleaded guilty and received a 10-day suspended jail sentence and a $223 fine.
Minnesota: A prisoner at the St. Louis County jail died on December 27, 2011 due to streptococcus pneumoniae, a common strep infection, according to the medical examiner’s office. Daniel Schlienz, 42, was being held on charges related to a shooting at the Cook County Courthouse; his spleen had been surgically removed several years before, which made him more susceptible to infections. According to Schlienz’s sister, before he died Schlienz was denied an extra blanket and cough medicine at the jail to help him deal with flu-like symptoms.
New Jersey: On February 24, 2012, Hasson “Hass” George, 12, the son of Shaara Green-Simms, a guard at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, was shot and killed with Green-Simms’ semi-automatic service pistol. The accused shooter was Green-Simms’ other son, who was 14 years old. The two children were half-brothers. Hasson’s body was reportedly moved after he was shot inside Green-Simms’ apartment to a sidewalk outside; the incident is under investigation.
New York: Former New York state prison guard Christian Ott, 28, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for first-degree rape on August 25, 2011. He had raped a 25-year-old woman at knifepoint after breaking into her Buffalo-area home. Ott was employed as a guard trainee at the Greene Correctional Facility at the time, and was fired after his arrest.
New York: Nydia Ciancioso, 41, a former case manager with the federal Bureau of Prisons who was employed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, pleaded guilty on January 18, 2012 to smuggling cell phones and drugs into the facility in exchange for bribes. Ciancioso had been arrested in July 2011 after she accepted $2,500 from a prisoner’s relative who was cooperating with federal investigators.
New York: On February 29, 2012, Donald Hughes, a former New York state prison guard, received a 43-year sentence following his conviction on charges of attempted first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree sexual conduct against a child. Hughes had sexually abused two young girls under 11 years old by making them touch his body. He said his actions were “taken out of context.”
Pennsylvania: Former prisoner Craig A. Lewis, Jr., 21, shot prison guard David Whitcomb, 26, outside a bar on January 21, 2012. Lewis had been incarcerated at the York County Prison, where Whitcomb was employed. The two ran into each other at Piazza Romana and got into an altercation which apparently was unrelated to the prison connection. Whitcomb survived the shooting and was listed in satisfactory condition at a local hospital, while Lewis was charged with attempted homicide, simple assault, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault.
Sweden: A prisoner referred to as “Percy” in Swedish news reports was released from prison in January 2012 with a shirt, underwear and socks, but no pants or shoes. After serving two months, Percy apparently had gained weight and was unable to fit into the pants he was wearing when he began his sentence, and his request for money to purchase a new pair of pants was denied by prison officials. While he had 800 kronor in his prison account, he did not want to pay 650 kronor for pants and shoes at the prison’s store, as he feared that would leave him without enough money for food. He purchased shoes and pants at a more reasonable price following his release.
Vermont: Prisoners who work at the print shop for Vermont Correctional Industries apparently have a sense of humor. In early February 2012 it was reported that decals for State Police cruisers had been altered at the print shop around four years ago, with a mark on a picture of a cow in the state seal being changed to the shape of a pig – a derogatory term for police officers. “It is fair to say the quality control will be improved at the Corrections Department and at the Vermont State Police,” said Major William Sheets, the executive officer for the State Police. The altered decals were placed on about 30 police cars before the pig was noticed.