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News in Brief

Arizona: “The debt one pays to society for having engaged in criminal activity does not include being subjected to sexual assault by prison staff,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. Two prisoners at FCI Phoenix were subjected to such sexual assaults, and on June 18, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted former prison employee Jose “Joe” Martinez, 48, on five counts of aggravated sexual abuse and eight counts of sexual abuse of a ward. He was found guilty by a federal jury of six counts of sexual abuse of a ward on May 28, 2013 and awaits sentencing.

California: In March 2013, California parole officials caught up with a parolee who had eluded them for over three decades. Richard Bradford had been living under the name of James Edward Heard when he was finally captured; a search of his home uncovered evidence of both names. Bradford had been sentenced to life for first-degree murder in 1971, was paroled in 1978 and absconded from parole supervision in 1980. He was on the run for 32 years, and owned a drug rehab facility and other properties in the Pasadena area at the time of his arrest.

California: Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, confirmed that guards had fired hard rubber “sting balls” and pepper spray to stop a racially-charged brawl that erupted at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility on April 2, 2013. The altercation between Hispanic and black prisoners was “something that does occur throughout our jail system from time to time,” Whitmore said. The underlying cause of the fight was under investigation.

California: On January 16, 2013, a former prison guard at the California Institution for Women was sentenced to two years in the county jail for sexually abusing and impregnating a prisoner. Prosecutors alleged that Gary Swatzell abused the prisoner over a six-month period beginning in July 2010 and tried to cover up the pregnancy. The prisoner’s child was delivered by emergency C-section in August 2011, and she has filed a federal lawsuit against Swatzell and the state.

District of Columbia: Jonathan Womble was arrested in April 2013 after a drug-sniffing dog detected marijuana inside his employee locker at the Central Detention Facility. Recorded phone conversations revealed that Womble was smuggling pot and other drugs to a prisoner known as “Freaky,” who then resold them. An accomplice outside the jail packaged the drugs and gave them to Womble, who handed them off in the shower area of the facility where there were no video cameras.

Florida: Glenn Routhier, 54, was arrested on April 2, 2013 following an investigation into an incident at the Lake County Detention Center. Routhier, who had been employed by the sheriff’s office since April 2005, was charged with battery against a prisoner and suspended pending a disciplinary review. Witnesses said they saw Routhier repeatedly pushing the prisoner, Joshua Hiebler, against a wall and slamming his head against a glass window.

Georgia: Two Cobb County Sheriff’s deputies were arrested within a two-week period for unrelated incidents involving sexual abuse of a prisoner. Sgt. Alvin Sutherland was arrested on January 18, 2013 and charged with four felonies, including aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, sexual assault by a member of law enforcement and violation of oath of public office. Sgt. Kristopher Travitz was arrested on February 1, 2013 on nearly identical charges. Both deputies had worked for the sheriff’s office for more than 10 years.

Georgia: Jerry Byrd, 42, a former lieutenant with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, allegedly used a fuel card to make gasoline purchases in exchange for cocaine, according to state officials. He also used the card to buy gas for a private vehicle and for drug dealers. Byrd pleaded guilty to theft-by-taking charges and was sentenced in April 2013 to five years probation, 200 hours of community service, substance abuse treatment and $1,000 in restitution to the state.

Indiana: Around 4:30 a.m. on April 16, 2013, Franklin Rice, 27, escaped from the St. Joseph County Jail by commandeering a bread truck that had the keys left in the ignition. Rice drove the truck through the jail gates to a waiting car, then fled with two female accomplices. His prison uniform was found in the street. Police arrested Rice later the same day, along with his girlfriend, Phetsamone Kaviyakone, 27. Priscilla Minjarez, 21, was brought in for questioning and admitted her involvement in the incident. All three were charged with escape; additional charges may follow.

Illinois: A former Illinois Department of Corrections guard was sentenced to more than 43 years in federal prison on August 28, 2013 after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and child pornography-related charges. Steven L. Carson, 46, admitted that in January 2000 he engaged in sexually explicit conduct with a child, which he videotaped. He also admitted responsibility for having over 2,300 images and 40 videos of child porn involving pre-adolescent boys on his home computers.

Maryland: On April 4, 2013, former state prison guard Walter Steele pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges stemming from the beating of a prisoner at the medium-security Roxbury Correctional Institution in March 2008. In total, fifteen guards were charged after prisoner Kenneth J. Davis was brutally beaten in retaliation for scuffling with an officer during a routine cell check. [See: PLN, Aug. 2009, p.20]. Davis was hospitalized for four days following the assault for injuries that included a broken nose and fractures in his back and ribs. He was serving a 19-year sentence for robbery at the time of the assault and has since been released from prison.

Michigan: Alesia Ann Wisniewski, 54, a guard at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department Residential Re-entry Program, was responsible for overseeing prisoners who had violated parole and been assigned to the program. The Michigan State Police opened an investigation into Wisniewski after allegations arose that she had been involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with a male prisoner. She was charged with two felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and arraigned on April 17, 2013.

Mississippi: Kenny McLaughlin, 35, was sentenced on June 26, 2013 to one year in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $6,000 for violating a prisoner’s civil rights. The former guard at the Stone County Regional Correctional Facility had pleaded guilty to arranging the beating of a prisoner by two other prisoners in the shower area at the facility. According to court documents, McLaughlin was aware of the assault as it was happening but did not notify other guards or medical staff. The victim suffered cuts to his face, bruises to his chest and fractured ribs. Gregory K. Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, said McLaughlin’s actions were “inexcusable.”

New Jersey: A guard at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton was arrested on March 21, 2013 for allegedly tricking prostitutes into giving him free sex by impersonating a police officer. Juan R. Stevens, 50, would typically arrange sexual encounters with escorts, then flash a badge and speak into a cell phone that resembled a police radio, simulating a police sting. On at least four occasions, Stevens coerced the women into having sex by carrying out the ruse and promising not to arrest them if they complied. He was charged with second-degree sexual assault and third-degree criminal restraint.

New Mexico: Poor treatment was the reason behind a “peaceful” protest at the privately-operated Cibola County Correctional Center, which lasted over 12 hours on March 27, 2013 and involved about 250 to 500 prisoners who refused to return from the recreation yard. This was not the first protest at the CCA-run facility, which houses immigration detainees. In April 2001, around 700 prisoners at the Cibola County Correctional Center held a similar day-long protest in the recreation yard, which ended after guards dispersed tear gas.

New York: Convicted sex offender Matthew Matagrano pleaded guilty on July 27, 2013 to impersonating a jail employee and sneaking into the Manhattan Detention Complex in February 2013, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Matagrano, 36, was accused of sexually assaulting a prisoner, stealing a $2,500 walkie-talkie and handing out cigarettes during his 7-hour visit at the jail. The New York Post reported that Matagrano said the people inside were “nice” and made him “feel important.” City authorities said he had tried to get into other lockups, including Rikers Island. Matagrano had been convicted in 2004 for posing as a New York City Board of Education official, entering two public schools and inspecting confidential student files.

New York: Christopher J. Ley, 52, a guard at the Lakeview Correctional Facility in Brocton, was arrested on April 18, 2013 on a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct as a result of his involvement in a cigarette exchange scheme with prisoners at the facility. Ley was under investigation by the State Police and Chautauqua County District Attorney’s office for two months prior to his arrest.

Ohio: On May 6, 2013, two prisoners, Siddique Abdullah Hasan (formerly Carlos Sanders) and Gregory Curry, ended a hunger strike protesting the state’s refusal to allow them on-camera interviews with the media. Hasan was sentenced to death and Curry sentenced to life for their roles in the murder of guard Robert Vallandingham during the infamous April 1993 Lucasville prison riot. Their hunger strike, led by members of the “Lucasville Five,” began on the 20th anniversary of the riot. Hasan said the protest drew media attention and Warden David Bobby had bargained in good faith, but top Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials maintained that such interviews violated departmental policy. A dozen staff members were taken hostage during the 11-day riot, which resulted in 10 deaths – including Vallandingham, who was strangled.

Ohio: A threatening Facebook post directed at the governor of Ohio cost Jessie Hubbard his job as a guard at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in January 2012, but an arbitrator ruled in March 2013 that he should be reinstated. Hubbard had been a prison guard for 14 years and was twice named corrections officer of the month – until he posted a comment on his Facebook page that said, “OK we got Bin Laden ... let’s get [Governor] Kasich next ... who is with me?” Hubbard’s termination sparked a debate about free speech and social media in the workplace. Although he won back his job he will not receive back pay, which he estimated at $60,000.

Oregon: On April 8, 2013, a 55-year-old wheelchair-bound transient, Terry Lee Barnes, slashed his throat in front of the judge who had just sentenced him to 180 days in jail for theft. Barnes had managed to sneak a small piece of razor blade past courthouse security. He had been arrested 19 times since 1991 on charges that included failure to register as a sex offender. A new conviction would revoke Barnes’ probation and he would face a prison sentence as long as 7½ years. When Judge Michael C. Wetzel handed down the sentence, Barnes turned to him and said, “You just killed me, judge,” then cut his own throat. He was taken to a local hospital and listed in fair condition.

Pennsylvania: Two prisoners at FCI McKean were charged on March 27, 2013 with orchestrating the sale of a large quantity of methamphetamine. Federal prosecutors say Jose Cardenas-Covarrubias and Donaciano Contreras-Monje schemed to deliver 13 pounds of meth to undercover officers posing as drug dealers, with the assistance of outside accomplices. Cardenas-Covarrubias, Contreras-Monje and two accomplices were charged with conspiracy and drug-related offenses.

Pennsylvania: An adult basic education teacher at SCI Houtzdale was charged on February 15, 2013 with having a “personal and romantic relationship” with a male prisoner. Rebecca J. Williams, 55, faces two counts of institutional sexual assault and two counts of official oppression. The sexual encounters, which occurred in a classroom, included Williams touching and kissing the prisoner’s penis. Williams also sent the prisoner notes with sexual content, as well as partially nude pictures of herself.

Puerto Rico: The FBI is investigating the third death of a detainee this year in ICE custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Guaynabo. Glaston Smith, 51, was “awaiting removal from the United States” at the MDC, a Bureau of Prisons facility, when he was stabbed multiple times in the back and head by other prisoners on April 6, 2013. “Smith was evaluated by the institution medical staff and was transported by ambulance to the Puerto Rico medical center, where he was pronounced dead,” an ICE spokesperson stated.

South Carolina: A guard at the Broad River Correctional Institution was arrested on March 17, 2013 on charges of criminal domestic violence, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. James David Morgan, 38, allegedly restrained his wife by the neck and threw her onto a couch during an argument about her whereabouts after she returned home late; two children were home at the time and witnessed the incident. Morgan was jailed at the Lexington County Detention Center on $5,000 bond.

South Carolina: On March 27, 2013, Tyson Maurice Milhouse, 37, was arrested and charged with giving contraband to a prisoner and misconduct in office. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted and was suspended from his job as a state Probation, Parole and Pardon Services agent. Milhouse is accused of furnishing a cell phone to a prisoner at the Barnwell County Detention Center. Pete O’Boyle, a spokesman for the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, said Milhouse’s future employment with the agency will depend on the outcome of their investigation.

South Dakota: Slick roads reportedly contributed to a rollover accident on March 18, 2013 that injured a guard and six prisoners. The officer was transporting the prisoners from the Rapid City Minimum Unit to a work site when the Chevy Suburban slid into a ditch and rolled. One prisoner used the vehicle’s radio to report the accident and all of the prisoners remained on the scene until officers arrived. The guard was transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released. One prisoner was airlifted to Rapid City Regional Hospital, while the others were treated for minor injuries. The accident is being investigated by the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

Tennessee: A search warrant for the home of Dexter Lavon Mason and his wife Mary, both 66, revealed computers that contained more than 100 images of prepubescent children engaged in sexual or simulated sexual activities. Mason was charged with 21 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of tampering with evidence and four counts of aggravated sexual battery; his wife was charged with one count of tampering with evidence. Both were indicted in February 2013. Dexter Mason had recently retired as a state probation and parole manager.

Texas: Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg issued a statement after she was released from jail on April 13, 2013 following a drunken driving arrest. “I am truly sorry to have let the citizens of Travis County down,” the statement said. “I deeply regret my actions and take full responsibility. As I continue to carry out my responsibilities as district attorney, I hope that the community will forgive my mistake.” Lehmberg is not the first Texas district attorney to face DUI charges. Three years ago, former Kaufman County District Attorney Rick Harrison was sentenced to 12 months probation following a drunken driving arrest; also, Tim Cole, the District Attorney for Montague, Clay and Archer counties, resigned after pleading guilty to DUI charges in Oklahoma in 2006.

United Kingdom: Prisoners are on waiting lists to get a copy of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey from prison libraries. The bestseller, known as “mommy porn,” has become extremely popular among female prisoners, and the interest in the book is seen by some as a positive development. “A huge number of prisoners struggle
with reading. Better they read this than nothing at all,” a spokesperson for the Prison Service was quoted as saying in an April 3, 2013 news report.

Washington: A woman charged with vehicular homicide faces additional charges of promoting prostitution while in the Kitsap County Jail. Lorena Llamas, 29, also known as Angelica Lorena Dibella-Lira, was charged on April 16, 2013 with allegedly grooming fellow prisoners to become prostitutes and having her former boyfriend, Anthony Dewayne Parker, bail them out. Parker then put money that the women earned into Llamas’ jail account. Parker was charged with human trafficking after police learned he had bailed a woman out, held her against her will and forced her into prostitution.

West Virginia: On February 22, 2013, a former guard at the James “Tiger” Morton Juvenile Detention Center avoided prison time when she was sentenced to 18 months probation and 20 hours of community service for writing sexually explicit letters to a 15-year-old male resident at the facility. Latersha Allen, 30, pleaded guilty to use of obscene matter to seduce a minor. Investigators found about eight letters written by Allen to the teenager; four were described as obscene and explicit.

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