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News in Brief

Florida: When Jack Bates Rider III signed up for a training class to become a corrections officer, he likely didn’t expect to be arrested. He should have, though, as he was wanted in connection with the 2007 strangulation death of a woman in Arizona. The U.S. Marshals Service said Rider, 32, was taken into custody on a fugitive warrant after leaving the training class. He was booked into the Escambia County Jail on October 30, 2012.

Ireland: A Northern Ireland Prison Service guard was ambushed and killed on November 1, 2012 in County Armagh. David Black, who was close to retirement after serving more than 30 years in Ireland’s prison system, was shot to death as he drove to the Maghaberry jail, where several prominent republican prisoners are held. According to unconfirmed witness reports, his assailant used an automatic weapon in the drive-by shooting. “Prison officers and police officers alike are aware of the deadly threat from dissident terrorists who won’t face up to the fact that Northern Ireland has moved on and will not go back to its awful past. We must all be totally vigilant about our personal safety,” said Terry Spence, who chairs the Police Federation of Northern Ireland.

Kentucky: Senior Judge Martin McDonald, 54, was removed from a death penalty case on October 24, 2012 by order of Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr. McDonald had threatened to strangle Assistant Public Advocate David Barron, and called Barron’s case “ridiculous,” “disgusting” and a “huge waste of time.” The case involved an appeal by death row prisoner Roger Dale Epperson based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Judge McDonald, a former deputy sheriff, referred to Epperson as a “carcass.” McDonald had been removed from an unrelated civil case in September 2012 after he reportedly demonstrated bias and did not disclose a conflict of interest.

Louisiana: Jason Cantrell, 43, a part-time New Orleans city attorney, was more than embarrassed when a joint fell out of his pocket in October 2012. While he was in court. In front of police officers. He was cited for simple possession of marijuana, and suspended without pay. Cantrell handled cases in traffic court; his wife, who was running for city council, said he should seek “professional help.” He resigned following the joint-dropping incident.

Nebraska: Twelve people at the Lancaster County jail, including prisoners, were taken to a hospital on October 21, 2012 after they began vomiting and said they felt light-headed. According to Lincoln Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Leo Benes, the jail’s cafeteria was contaminated with carbon monoxide due to an equipment malfunction. No serious injuries were reported.

Pennsylvania: On October 24, 2012, former Colwyn police officer Trevor Parham, 40, was found not guilty of using a Taser on a juvenile offender who was handcuffed and shackled in a cell. Parham admitted that he had Tasered Da’Qwan Jackson, 17, who had been arrested for disorderly conduct, after Jackson became agitated and began cursing. Parham also admitted that he sent a text message to his girlfriend, another officer, which said Jackson “got tased in the cell. lol.” He did not file a use of force report regarding the incident. Nevertheless, he was acquitted of simple assault and official oppression charges following a bench trial. “I’m not a bad officer; I’ve never been accused of being a bad officer,” said Parham. “It was just some bad political circumstances.” He said he would appeal his job termination.

Pennsylvania: Bedford County prison guard Ryan Scott Clapper was fired in September 2012 after being accused of putting handcuffs and leg shackles in a freezer before placing them on a female prisoner. He was issued a non-criminal citation for the incident, which was described as “harassment” in a state police report. There was no reported explanation for Clapper’s sadistic use of the frozen shackles.

Rhode Island: On Sept. 7, 2012, Kevin R. Allard, 38, a guard at the privately-operated Wyatt Detention Center, pleaded guilty to child molestation charges involving a 12-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 25 years with 13 suspended, and will have to register as a sex offender after his release.

Scotland: According to an October 2, 2012 news report in the Daily Record, Scots prisoners were receiving free, taxpayer-funded Viagra to use during home visits. Prison officials reportedly confirmed a “limited number” of prisoners had been prescribed the drug. “The SPS policy was to only make it available under prescription, following clinical assessment, for prisoners undertaking periods of home leave,” said Tom Fox, head of corporate affairs for the Scottish Prison Service.

South Africa: Three prisoners were killed and 14 injured in October 2012 when an explosion damaged a police transport van en route to Johannesburg Central Prison. “There was an explosion in one of our vehicles at the traffic light in front of the facility,” said police spokesman Neville Malila. Two prisoners attempted to escape following the blast; one was shot and both were captured. “We believe the explosion was the result of an escape attempt,” stated Cluster Commander Major General Oswald Reddy. Officials think prisoners in the van used a bomb or a grenade.

South Dakota: On October 15, 2012, state prisoner Eric Robert, 50, was executed by lethal injection for killing a prison guard during an unsuccessful April 2011 escape attempt. Robert assaulted guard Ronald “RJ” Johnson, 63, with a pipe, then covered his head in plastic wrap while trying to escape from the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls with fellow prisoner Rodney Berget, 50. [See: PLN, Dec. 2011, p.50; July 2011, p.50]. Robert had asked to be sentenced to death and waived his appeals. Berget, who also received a death sentence, remains on death row while another prisoner, Michael Nordman, 47, was sentenced to life for providing items used in Johnson’s murder.

Tennessee: Former state court judge James F. Taylor pleaded guilty to felony theft charges on September 20, 2012. He was accused of forging records seeking payment for legal work he did not perform. [See: PLN, Sept. 2012, p.50]. Taylor received a 3-year prison sentence plus 10 years on probation, and was ordered to repay $33,000 to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Texas: On September 10, 2012, six employees at the Rio Grande Detention Center, which is operated by private prison company GEO Group, pleaded guilty to federal firearms-related charges. Abel Robles, Hugo Enrique De La Rosa, Ramiro Adolfo Rodriguez III, Hugo Ubaldo Castillo, Jr. and Leticia Adriana Zamora were charged with acting as “straw buyers” to obtain firearms for other people, including defendant Angel Chavez. They have not yet been sentenced.

Utah: In October 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a several-weeks-old baked potato was the cause of a botulism outbreak at the Draper Prison in Salt Lake County a year before. The potato was used to make a batch of pruno, or homemade alcohol, and the resulting outbreak made 13 prisoners sick – including 8 who were diagnosed with botulism. Some are still experiencing symptoms. Botulism can cause double vision, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness and paralysis, and can sometimes be fatal. Following the outbreak at Draper, which cost the state almost $500,000 in hospital bills, prison officials posted flyers to inform prisoners about the dangers of botulism and its link to pruno.

Washington: Two members of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) at the Monroe Correctional Complex – Lt. Jerry Long and guard Rodney Hopf – are under investigation in connection with an October 2012 fight outside a Seahawks game. The fight was videotaped; Long and Hopf were suspended while prison officials determine if they violated any policies. Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said ERT members are held to a higher standard of conduct.

Washington: On September 18, 2012, Patrick Drum, 34, was sentenced to life without parole for murdering two registered sex offenders. Drum killed his roommate, Gary Blanton, 28, on June 2, 2012; the next day he murdered Jerry Ray. When questioned by a detective, Drum said he killed the men “because they were sex offenders.” Blanton was convicted of rape when he was a teenager, while Ray had pleaded guilty to raping two young children. Drum reportedly said he would have killed more sex offenders had he not been caught.

West Virginia: Four prisoners at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville were criminally charged in September 2012 for forcibly tattooing another prisoner. Bradrick A. Napier, 38; Stacy C. Hatten, 35; Frank R. Floyd, 27 and Matthew G. Haynes face charges of malicious wounding as a result of the incident; they are accused of threatening and restraining the victim, and tattooing a picture of a penis and a phrase on his back. The phrase was not identified in news reports but most likely was not flattering.

West Virginia: On October 28, 2012, the Charleston Gazette reported that William Roy Wilson, 29, a former guard at the Southern Regional Jail, collected $3,100 in severance pay while incarcerated at the same facility for allegedly sexually abusing three female prisoners. State law requires that employees receive their severance pay within 15 days after they are terminated. The state police, which investigated Wilson, said he gave the prisoners cigarettes in exchange for sex. He is being held on a $75,000 bond and has not yet gone to trial.

Wisconsin: Jerry Friedl, 27, a former Monroe County jail guard charged with four felony counts of sexual assault for having a sexual relationship with a 33-year-old female prisoner, pleaded no contest to a reduced charge and was sentenced on October 29, 2012 to six months in jail and four years of probation. He will also have to register as a sex offender. Friedl wrote letters to the prisoner, kissed and fondled her in areas outside the view of security cameras, and gave her candy. “That’s not just inappropriate behavior,” said Assistant Attorney General Karie Cattanach. “It’s criminal. It’s exploitative. And it’s wrong.”

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