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News in Brief
California: A follower of Charles Manson, accused of attempting to smuggle a cell phone to the notorious cult leader, was arrested on March 26, 2013. Craig Hammond, 63, was caught with a wristwatch cell phone while being searched prior to a planned visit with Manson. Hammond, who goes by Gray Wolf, had moved close to Corcoran State Prison to be near Manson and visits him regularly. Manson has twice been caught with contraband cell phones, once in 2009 and again in 2011.
California: On March 14, 2013 a brief riot broke out in the B Facility Yard at Kern Valley State Prison, sending 10 prisoners to hospitals with stab wounds. Three were listed in critical condition. Guards used tear gas and pepper spray to quell the disturbance; according to prison officials, no staff members were injured.
California: San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was the subject of a domestic violence case last year involving his wife. Sentenced to three years probation, he was suspended but the city's Board of Supervisors did not remove him from office and he was reinstated in October 2012. Ironically, Mirkarimi invited the group "Dancing without Borders" to coordinate a Valentine's Day dance in both the men's and women's jails on February 14, 2013 as part of an international campaign against domestic violence.
China: On March 26, 2013, the Zhejiang Provincial Higher People's Court in eastern China reversed the convictions of two men who had spent 10 years in prison for rape. According to the court, "there was new evidence showing the possibility of another suspect" in the 2003 rape of a woman in Hangzhou, and evidence presented during the rape trial of Zhang Hui and Zhang Gaoping was insufficient to support their convictions. The new suspect is reportedly in prison for another crime; his DNA matches samples taken from the rape victim.
Florida: Health inspectors are probing rat infestations at the aging, dilapidated Miami-Dade County Jail. A complaint was sent to the Health Department on March 7, 2013 by civilian administrator Greg Rollins, who said "rats can be seen running rampant" throughout the facility. The problem has extended to stray cats gathering at the jail to eat the rodents. The Health Department oversees only the jail's kitchen but did not spot any rats during a recent visit. Corrections Department Director Tim Ryan said he believes the complaint exaggerates conditions at the facility.
Florida: Jessica Gonzales, 31, was arrested on March 13, 2013 and charged with smuggling contraband into the LaBelle Jail – specifically, ice cream, chicken and pizza. According to Hendry County Sheriff's Office investigators, Gonzales was seen on numerous occasions bringing food for prisoner Lorenzo Brooks, including for Brooks' 40th birthday when Gonzales brought in a tub of ice cream plus four bowls and spoons. Another deputy was invited to join the party but declined. At least seven deputies provided details of Gonzales giving preferential treatment to Brooks; investigators later determined that Gonzales and Brooks were having an affair.
Georgia: A guard at the Macon State Prison died in a 24-gunshot exchange on the front porch of his home on March 10, 2013. Tony Rawls, 50, fired eight shots at officers who were responding to a frantic 911 call from his wife, Michelle, about fifteen minutes before the gun battle. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the dispute between Rawls and his wife began after he read text messages on her cell phone. Michelle Rawls admitted to authorities that she was having an affair. Houston County District Attorney George Hartwig concluded on March 28, 2013 that the responding police officers were justified in shooting Rawls.
Greece: At least 11 prisoners escaped from the Trikala Prison in central Greece on March 22, 2013 after six gunmen with rifles and grenades approached the facility in a pickup truck and van, and opened fire. Simultaneously, prisoners climbed to the facility's roof and fired rounds before escaping. Two guards were wounded during the attack. In February 2013, the Trikala prison was the scene of an unsuccessful attempt by prisoner Panagiotis Vlastos to escape by helicopter, in which over 500 shots were fired and the helicopter was forced to land in the prison's parking lot.
Idaho: On February 20, 2013, prisoner Melvin A. McCabe, a double amputee, filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the lack of shower facilities for the disabled makes the Jerome County Jail unsafe. The complaint states McCabe needs a shower equipped with safety rails, a secure and sanitary fold-down shower chair and a handheld shower head. McCabe claims that he has fallen in the shower facilities in the past and faces the risk of future injuries. "We've got what we've got," said Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall, with respect to accommodations for disabled prisoners at the jail.
Illinois: A federal prisoner was on an "unescorted transfer" between the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion and a halfway house on March 26, 2013 when he carjacked two female motorists at gunpoint in separate incidents. David J. Pederson, 55, was nearing release on his sentence for bank robbery when he committed the crimes. In May 2013 he pleaded guilty to state charges and received 40 years in connection with the carjackings. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said unescorted prisoner transfers are done "on a case by case basis."
Indiana: Trevor Matthew Reynolds, 27, a former St. Joseph County jail guard, appeared in court on April 1, 2013 to face charges of theft, official misconduct and trafficking with an inmate. A recently-released prisoner contacted the warden at the jail after discovering his debit card was missing. Reynolds claimed he had bought the debit card from the prisoner for less than it was worth, but surveillance video, photographs and receipts indicated he had stolen the card, which was loaded with over $500. Reynolds was released from jail after posting a $1,500 bond, and subsequently fired.
Louisiana: Orleans Parish Prison guard Ajay Mallery, 44, was charged with battery and malfeasance in February 2013 for punching a handcuffed prisoner three times in the face on December 25, 2012. Several deputies heard verbal exchanges between Mallery and prisoner James Muse that led up to the physical altercation. Muse admitted to an investigator that he said "fuck you, bitch" to Mallery, who said he felt the need to defend himself and wasn't aware that Muse was handcuffed at the time. Mallery was suspended without pay and released on a $25,000 recognizance bond.
Minnesota: Two multimillion-dollar fraudsters in their 60s escaped from FPC Duluth, a minimum-security federal facility, on March 31, 2013. Michael Krzyzaniak, 64, and Gerald Greenfield, 67, were discovered missing at a "regularly scheduled prisoner count." U.S. Marshals found the pair at a hotel six days later and they were arrested without incident. Krzyzaniak was serving a 12-year sentence for defrauding investors of almost $26 million, while Greenfield was serving over 4 years for conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a $2.5 million mortgage fraud scheme. They both now face federal escape charges.
Missouri: A 73-year-old prisoner being arraigned on a probation violation fell ill and died in a Jackson courtroom on March 4, 2013. The judge was preparing to release Daniel Stroder when Stroder collapsed. Court bailiffs provided medical aid until paramedics arrived and took Stroder to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy found nothing unusual and the death was ruled due to natural causes.
Nebraska: Patrick Howley, 42, was sentenced in March 2013 to 100 to 140 more years in prison for cutting and stabbing his caseworker, Jeffrey Laabs. The April 10, 2011 attack occurred at the Lincoln Correctional Center and resulted in a partial lockdown. Howley said during his sentencing hearing that Laabs had started an argument "and I finished it." Prior to the incident, Howley was serving 16 to 22 years for robbery and driving offenses.
New Mexico: Raw sewage ran into the streets in Grants, New Mexico in January 2013, and a blocked sewer line, stopped up with prisoner uniforms and shoes, was traced back to the Cibola County Correctional Center. The city's general manager, Robert Horacek, noted the uniforms were not the only reason for the sewage spill, saying "The pipes are also aging and there is other debris in there." Councilman Martin Hicks said the facility, which is operated by CCA, needs to filter its waste before it flows into the municipal system. "The prisons are good for the economy but they are not being good neighbors when it comes to our sewage system," he stated.
New York: On March 1, 2013, Billie Jo Ribble, 35, was taken to a hospital in
Pennsylvania complaining of pregnancy-related stomach pains following her arrest on a fugitive-from-justice charge. At the hospital, police said she grabbed a chair or stool and hit a Steuben County jail guard, then jumped out a window to a second-story roof, where she used a ladder to reach the ground. In the hours that followed, Ribble broke into a house, kidnapped a woman and her 6-month-old baby at knifepoint, and forced the woman to drive her to New York. Police were able to track her through a cell phone and she was eventually located and surrendered. She faces federal kidnapping charges.
Nigeria: Police confirmed that 25 people were killed during a March 22, 2013 attack on the Ganye local government area, a border town in Adamawa State. The two-hour assault by heavily armed gunmen targeted the divisional police station as well as the town's beer parlor, bank, library and courts. Among the dead was the deputy comptroller in charge of the Ganye Prison, who was killed when the gunmen attacked the facility and freed 127 prisoners.
Ohio: Lebanon Correctional Institution guard Denna Watts was granted a "last chance" on March 26, 2013 after nearly losing her job for failing to make proper rounds and falsifying records on the night a prisoner committed suicide. Prison officials are reviewing their suicide prevention policies at the facility, which has the second-highest suicide rate among Ohio prisons. Watts was conducting rounds on January 7, 2013 – but not as frequently as required – when prisoner Terry Hupp killed himself. Watts then falsified records to reflect that she had conducted the required rounds.
Pennsylvania: In honor of a ritual initiated by Jesus shortly before his arrest, Catholic practitioners wash people's feet on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday). Pope Francis made headlines in Rome on March 28, 2013 when he washed the feet of 12 juvenile offenders at the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors. In the U.S., Bishop David Zubik, continuing a tradition that Pittsburgh's Catholic bishops have practiced for a quarter-century, washed prisoners' feet at the Allegheny County Jail. "That's part of what happened on Holy Thursday," he said. "Jesus became a prisoner and knew the pain people have in their lives. They need someone to bring hope."
Pennsylvania: A drunken federal prison guard was charged with disorderly conduct and cited for firing a weapon within city limits on March 2, 2013. He also was charged with reckless endangerment for shooting his own finger in an attempt to remove his wedding ring during an argument with his wife. Police say Alfredo Malespini III, 31, was taken to a local hospital for medical and mental health treatment; he was employed at FCI-McKean at the time of the shooting incident, which badly mangled his finger but failed to remove the ring.
Russia: Two officials with Selinvest, a subsidiary of Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service (FCIN), were detained in March 2013 for their involvement in fraudulent deals related to sugar purchases. The schemes involved buying sugar for the prison system at inflated prices, and are estimated to have cost the FCIN over 100 million rubles ($3.2 million). The sugar scandal falls on the heels of another financial scam in which the FCIN paid inflated prices for electronic monitoring bracelets that did not link to Russia's satellite system and were therefore effectively useless. That scheme cost the prison system an estimated $32 million.
South Africa: In a project partly funded by the European Union, developers announced on March 13, 2013 that gaming fans will soon be able to see typical scenes of Nelson Mandela's South African apartheid prison on Robben Island in a new computer game. The multi-media project was dubbed "Mandela 27" in reference to the number of years Mandela spent at the prison prior to his release in 1990, and will be an educational tool for learning about cultural events that occurred while he was incarcerated.
Tennessee: Testimony during a February 2013 trial on federal drug and weapon conspiracy charges revealed that government agents had recorded more than 100 phone calls between Leonard "Hype" Baugh, 34, serving a 30-year sentence, and gang "kingpin" Jamal Shakir, serving 16 consecutive life sentences. The calls were facilitated by an outside contact who would accept calls from Shakir, who was in jail awaiting trial, then place three-way calls to Baugh, who had a contraband cell phone at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Unsurprisingly, the calls revealed gang activity.
Texas: Joseph Thornhill, 30, was arrested on February 21, 2013 on charges of official oppression after several prisoners at the Tarrant County Jail accused the former guard of mistreatment. A pending federal lawsuit alleges that Thornhill threw a bag of laundry detergent into the face of one prisoner, sprayed disinfectant at prisoners' genitals, faces or other body parts and shot paper wads at prisoners, causing an eye injury in one case, among other abuses. The prisoners are seeking $20,000 in damages plus attorney fees and costs.
Thailand: On March 17, 2013, a riot briefly erupted at a prison in Samut Sakhon after prisoners became angry that their pleas for help for a gravely ill fellow prisoner were ignored by guards. Somchai Pheeranuwat, 25, complained of chest pains but prison staff disregarded protocols for medical emergencies and left him in his cell for four hours. Around 50 prisoners used clothing to cover and hide their faces before destroying surveillance cameras and a door; 400 guards and police officers responded to quell the disturbance. Pheeranuwat died due to an apparent heart attack.
United Kingdom: Police Constable Danny Dance was supposed to be watching Karl Chapman, an informant, at the Millgarth police station in Leeds, West Yorkshire, but Dance became so drunk that he fell off a desk and Chapman put him to bed in a cell. Dance was not disciplined for the incident. Two former prisoners, Gary Ford and Danny Mansell, have filed damage claims against the West Yorkshire police for failing to disclose special treatment that Chapman received for providing evidence in their criminal cases. According to a February 12, 2013 report in the Daily Mail, Chapman was "given alcohol, allowed to use cannabis and heroin, go to pubs and visit a brothel" while acting as an informant. Mansell and Ford had their murder convictions dismissed because police had concealed the perks that Chapman received in exchange for his testimony.
United Kingdom: In March 2013, a sympathetic judge sentenced John Cadby, 45, to only an additional six months in prison following his dramatic escape from HMS Sudbury to visit his cancer-stricken 22-month-old grandson. Cadby had requested home leave to visit the child, but was denied. His grandson's family was considering sending the toddler to the United States for treatment and Cadby feared he would never see him again. Judge Stuart Rafferty deemed the case to be "exceptional" when imposing the lenient sentence for Cadby's escape.
Venezuela: Prisoners at a facility on Margarita Island hosted an opening of their own night club in March 2013, complete with strippers and musical performances. The party was attended by friends and family members of the prisoners, who maintain virtual control in the country's prisons through bribery and intimidation. The Margarita Island facility also has a cockfighting arena and billiards room. Prisoners reportedly openly use marijuana, drink alcohol and possess machine guns.
Washington: An unnamed 22-year-old woman, identified only as "C.D.," told police officers that Snohomish County jail guard Abner Canda, 58, had given her chocolate chip cookies in return for consensual sex acts while she was incarcerated in November 2012. The sex acts included kissing, touching the woman's breasts, oral sex and digital penetration of the woman's vagina. Canda, who is married, was charged with felony custodial sexual misconduct on March 5, 2013. The Smoking Gun website described the incident as a "cookie for nookie scheme."
Wisconsin: The family of Alfredo Villarreal, 18, plans to take legal action against the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department after he was fatally shot by a deputy while attempting to escape from a hospital room on January 21, 2013. According to witness accounts, Villarreal, who was transported to the hospital after being found unconscious in his jail cell, had been unshackled to go to the bathroom. He fought back when Deputy Richard Lagle tried to re-shackle him, breaking Lagle's nose. Villarreal reportedly said "I'm not going back to jail" and charged at Lagle with a chair, resulting in Lagle firing five rounds. District Attorney Daniel Necci issued a letter in March 2013 clearing Lagle of any wrongdoing in the shooting.
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