News in Brief
Alabama: Ricky Deangelo Hinkle, 47, began threatening other prisoners and disrupting the lunch meal at the Jefferson County Jail on September 11, 2014. As jailers were placing him in a segregation cell, he allegedly started to fight. A guard then used his Taser on Hinkle, who immediately fell to the ground and was unresponsive. Medical personnel eventually responded along with paramedics, but they were unable to revive him. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Arizona: In January 2015, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper was discovered to have a live-in boyfriend, Michael Kent Krause. While that is not typically a big deal, Krause, a convicted sex offender, was arrested at Cooper’s central Phoenix home on a warrant for being a fugitive from justice. When the judge was contacted for a statement she said, “I was shocked when I learned of the allegations.... I had no knowledge of any of the charges against him. I have no further relationship with Mr. Krause, and he no longer resides at my residence.” Interestingly, though, the attorney who represented Krause at his bail hearing, Phoenix attorney Michael Morrissey, earned his undergraduate and law school degrees from the same university as Judge Cooper, and they have known each other for more than three decades. Despite the prosecutor’s request for a $50,000 cash bond, Krause was released on $5,000 bond.
Arkansas: After years of receiving sandwiches at the Benton County Jail, prisoners are being treated to hot meals. Jail administrator Jeremy Guyll announced on April 5, 2015 that the menu now contains sloppy joes and burgers and fries. “The food is good,” he said. The change was due to revised Arkansas Criminal Detention Facility Standards released in January 2015, which also include mandated training for jailers, including basic CPR training. The jail administrator in Hickman County said giving prisoners hot meals seems to keep them calmer, which results in less work for staff.
Arkansas: There’s no limit to what someone will do to get free. On April 1, 2015, Daroyce Rodgers, 34, was convicted on drug charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He then asked to be allowed to hug his mother over the courtroom railing. As he moved forward to hug her, he jumped over the rail, pushed his mother to the floor and fled, losing a shoe and a Bible on his way out of the building. “I saw it in his eyes, he snapped. A mother knows,” said his mother, Denise Rodgers. The U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies are still searching for Rodgers, who later called into a local TV station to deny allegations he had injured two bailiffs during his escape.
Belgium: In March 2015, Belgium’s government announced that it was scrapping all prison sentences of less than one year. The move came after budget cuts made it more difficult to pay the costs of housing prisoners. However, Koen Geens, an MP for the center-right Christian Democratic and Flemish party, denied that the plan was being pursued solely to save money. Rather, he insisted that “[a] short prison sentence, a try-out in jail, rarely leads to good results. It does not contribute to reintegration, but helps prisoners learn bad habits.”
California: Judge Robert LaForge sentenced Todd Morrow, 44, to a year in jail for recording a 15-year-old relative with hidden cameras in her bedroom and bathroom. Morrow was a guard at a Mendocino County prison camp run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He pleaded no contest in February 2015 to child pornography and peeping charges. The mother of the victim told Morrow, “You’re a complete monster. You’re not a human being. And you have a dead soul.” Morrow avoided eye contact during his sentencing hearing on March 30, 2015, and did not make a statement. He was also sentenced to five years’ probation, ordered to receive counseling and must register as a sex offender.
Canada: Officials at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, Nova Scotia reported on March 25, 2015 that prisoner Camille Strickland-Murphy stuffed paper in her pants legs and, using a match or an electrical outlet, started a blaze and purposely set herself on fire. She suffered second-degree burns. Strickland-Murphy was being held on charges of robbing a St. John’s drugstore. According to reports, she entered the store wearing sunglasses, gloves and a black coat, and handed a note to a pharmacist warning that she had a gun. She demanded all of the register money plus all of the pharmacy’s Percocet and Ritalin. Strickland-Murphy, who had a history of mental health problems, committed suicide at the Nova Institution on July 28, 2015. She was 22 years old.
Connecticut: On April 3, 2015, state police charged a second correctional officer at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic with having an illegal sexual relationship with a prisoner. Matt Gillette, 44, allegedly engaged in sexual acts with a female prisoner under his care. Another guard, Jeff Bromley, 47, was charged in February 2015 with second-degree sexual assault; he is accused of committing sex acts in the facility’s basement and laundry room, which are off-limits to prisoners. A third prison guard, Kareem Dawson, 34, was arrested in June 2015 on one count of second-degree sexual assault. Bromley and Gillette were both fired, while Dawson was placed on administrative leave.
Delaware: Officials at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington announced the opening of a new $26 million kitchen on August 29, 2014. The facility was originally designed to hold 360 prisoners, but the average population currently stands at 1,700. One major problem with the overcrowding was food service, as the rest of the prison had expanded but the kitchen had not. Statewide, prisoner meals cost the state $15 million a year, or an average of $1.66 per meal.
Florida: Jason Adams escaped from a Pasco County work crew in September 2014, and a resulting investigation exposed the role of the work crew’s supervisor, Henry R. Blackwelder, 45, in a scheme to provide prisoners with access to malt liquor, cigarettes and conjugal visits in the woods with strippers. According to a report issued after Adams’ escape, detectives found that Blackwelder would assign him to leave the work site and acquire booze, smokes and synthetic marijuana to bring back to prisoners to use at the work site and smuggle into the Pasco County Jail. Blackwelder resigned immediately after the escape and was arrested on official misconduct and contraband charges on January 13, 2015. Also charged were Stacey Ann Petty and Jessica Hope, who participated in the smuggling scheme. “Prison is supposed to be tough and something you don’t want to go to, [but Blackwelder] was allowing it to be basically a party out there for them,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Florida: Bright green rugs with a bold yellow sheriff’s emblem were rolled out at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office administration building and greeted visitors for several weeks before ABC Action News reported on January 14, 2015 that they had been rolled back up and removed. The $500 carpets were discovered to have a major typo: Arched within the crest of the sheriff’s logo were the words “In Dog We Trust.” The manufacturer, American Floor Mats, agreed to replace the rugs.
Florida: Doing time in the Gadsden County jail used to be pretty good, but it’s now a little tougher. Sheriff Morris Young was allegedly letting prisoners – including violent felons – leave the facility on furlough without court permission, to visit with their families or even with their girlfriends in motel rooms. State Attorney Willie Meggs petitioned a state court judge in September 2014 to find Young in contempt for allowing prisoners to be furloughed before they posted bond or finished their sentences. Sheriff Young, who did not deny the furloughs occurred, claimed that Meggs was trying to sabotage him politically due to his race. Young was elected in 2004 as the first black sheriff in Florida’s only county that has a majority black population. The court refused to dismiss the contempt charges and held a hearing that concluded on August 18, 2015. A decision is expected in September.
Georgia: On February 25, 2015, the Georgia Department of Corrections announced that, due to weather, the lethal injection scheduled for Kelly Renee Gissendaner had been postponed. Gissendaner, 47, was convicted and sentenced to death for a 1997 murder plot that targeted her husband. A new date was set for March 2, 2015, but that execution was again postponed because the lethal injection drugs were found to be “cloudy.” Attorneys for Gissendaner subsequently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection as an execution method; no new execution date has been scheduled.
Georgia: U.S. Marshals and local law enforcement officers apprehended Sean Killion, 42, on February 11, 2015. Killion had escaped from a private prison van as he was being transported from Florida to Indiana on federal drug charges. He overpowered a female guard during a rest break at a Pizza Hut and fled near the town of Cartersville, about 40 miles northwest of Atlanta. He managed to evade authorities for six days before being caught.
Georgia: On January 30, 2015, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Ippolito and ATF Special Agent Lou Valoze were banned from professional appearances in any federal district court in the Southern District of Georgia. The pair, who are each married to other individuals, had been carrying on an affair for “years,” and accusations surfaced that they had tampered with trials in at least four criminal cases. U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver stated that “by disclosing the facts of the affair, the government does not intend to concede that a new trial or sentencing is necessary in any of these cases.” However, a federal court has since ordered new trials in two cases in which Ippolito and Valoze were involved, and another defendant serving 21 years was resentenced and released on time served.
Hawaii: Daniel Skelton escaped through an opening in the ceiling of a bathroom at the Oahu Community Correctional Center on June 15, 2014, prompting a three-day manhunt and exposing numerous problems at the facility. In findings released in August 2014, Department of Public Safety officials said Skelton was able to leave through an open perimeter gate right under a guard tower. One of the more glaring problems with his escape was that he was not noticed for almost seven hours, despite two head counts. Skelton was captured two days later after being spotted running between homes in Nuuanu; while on the run he had dyed his hair orange and painted his face black.
Illinois: OnJuly 5, 2014, an unidentified Chicago man wanted to visit his son, Frank Polk, at the Cook County Jail. His son had been recently moved to an area of the facility his father was not familiar with. The guards who processed him told him “to go down the hall and stay to the right.” After following the directions, the man ended up in a visiting room for a different unit, according to Cara Smith, executive director of the jail. When the door shut behind him, it locked. Several hours later the man realized that no one was coming to get him. After being trapped in the room for almost 31 hours, the man “[b]rilliantly ... broke the sprinkler head off which alerted the fire department so they were able to identify where it was coming from and they went in and found him,” Smith informed the Chicago Tribune.
Illinois: Cook County jailer Daniel Murry, 39, was charged in August 2014 with one felony count of bringing contraband into a penal institution. A lengthy investigation found that Murry was smuggling alcohol to prisoners in exchange for bribes; further, while being arrested, he was accused of committing aggravated battery against one of the investigators. Murry had been employed by the sheriff’s office for over nine years. He was released on a $100,000 signature bond.
India: In March 2015, Syed Farid Khan, 35, was arrested for raping a 19-year-old student. Instead of letting justice take its course, hundreds of people stormed the Dimapur Central Jail where Kahn was held, and stripped and beat him before lynching him. His body was then tied to a clock tower. Local authorities were forced to impose a curfew to restore order. Khan’s family claimed that the police had falsely implicated him in the rape. Eighteen people were arrested in connection with Kahn’s death; his lynching followed an outpouring of anger in India over violence against women, including gang rapes.
India: Prisons in Haryana announced on April 3, 2015 that they are going digital. The prison system will now have cashless canteens and biometric machines. Interestingly, it was prisoners who prepared the computer program. Software engineer Satender, who is facing a dowry death case, developed the system over the last year. Trial dates, financial transactions inside the jails, prisoners’ medical histories and criminal records can now be tracked online by police officials. When family members visit the jail, they can easily add money to a prisoner’s commissary account. The new system replaces a generations-old coupon system that had been in use since British times. Prison officials said the coupon system was a major source of corruption.
Maine: Officials at the York County Sheriff’s Office announced on September 5, 2014 that seven former and current jail guards had been indicted. The indictment stemmed from a Facebook photo of a prisoner posing with razor wire visible behind him. Following an internal investigation, the guards were indicted on criminal charges related to smuggling contraband, including drugs, cigarettes and the cell phone the prisoner used to take the photo. One of the guards, Connor Bogan, said he had been “manipulated” by the prisoner to bring a small quantity of drugs – marijuana and Suboxone – into the facility. The other indicted jailers include Steven Thomas, Jay Bondar, Anthony Klingensmith, Richard Lane, Christopher Langlais and Nathan Watson. The prisoner, Chace Bellefountaine, who had since been released, along with another former prisoner, Gregory Daniel Morin, also face charges.
Nevada: A group of prisoners at Nevada’s maximum-security facility in Ely refused food for two days to call attention to claims that they were not getting enough to eat. Twenty-six prisoners refused meals in March 2015 “as a result of their interpretation of reduced food portions.” Seventeen prisoners continued the protest into the next day. Two days after the strike began, all the prisoners were accepting food. No one was injured, taken to a medical facility or force-fed, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections.
New Mexico: On August 28, 2014, jail guards Virgil Eaton, 38, Miguel Herrera, 22, and Joshua Corley, 23, were charged with using the Sierra County Detention Center as their personal sex service. “A lot of prisoners have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against them ... being forced to do sexual acts that they didn’t want to do. They’ve tried to tell guards in the past about it, and nobody would do anything,” said jailer William White, who blew the whistle on the alleged misconduct. Eaton is accused of threatening several female prisoners and trying to bribe them for sex. In one case he is accused of telling a prisoner he would arrange to have her charges dismissed if she had sex with him; in another, he tried to receive oral sex in exchange for prescription pills.
New York: According to August 2014 news reports,being in the Big Apple’s most notorious jail has its perks. Prisoners held at Rikers Island have received free shows from LL Cool J, Treach from Naughty by Nature and even magician David Blaine. Rikers officials claim that the shows are to enforce “good behavior” and help prisoners “take their mind off other things.” The celebrities put on the shows for free; according to an unnamed source, one young prisoner accompanied LL Cool J during a song. “The Department of Correction uses positive reinforcement as one of many strategies to reduce inmate idleness and improve facility safety,” a jail spokesman stated. Presumably, Blaine’s magic show did not include an escape act.
Ohio: Brandi Sunderhaus, 26, was charged on March 23, 2015 with engaging in sexual misconduct with a prisoner at the Warren Correctional Institution. Sunderhaus, who worked in the food services department, was escorted off the prison property after the alleged incidents were discovered. According to the indictment, she had sex with a prisoner between October 1, 2014 and December 30, 2014. She was charged with two counts of sexual battery, a third-degree felony.
Ohio: There any many times when it is appropriate to call the cops. And many times when you shouldn’t. On March 11, 2015, Robert Collins called 911 to report that his wife had stolen his cocaine. He first explained to the dispatcher that his “lady” had taken the drugs that he purchased earlier. Later that day, he followed up his 911 call with a “profanity-laced tirade” directed at his “lady.” When police responded, Collins was charged with improper use of the 911 system and possession of drug paraphernalia. Although it was unclear from police reports, the cocaine was apparently still missing when Collins was arrested.
Ohio: On April 8, 2015, police were conducting a drug investigation when they allegedly saw Timothy R. Winters, 27, trying to hide a “one pot” methamphetamine lab. After obtaining a search warrant, two other individuals, Brandon D. Inghram, 24, and Sarah B. Stafford, 27, were arrested after police discovered four “one pot” meth labs. Winters and Stafford were employed as guards at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, which is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America.
Oklahoma: The newest residents at the Tulsa jail do not need supervision. In fact, if you leave them alone they do exactly what they’re supposed to do: provide lawn care. Major Shannon Clark announced on September 4, 2014 that the jail had obtained goats to control overgrown grass at the facility. “They never stop, they are constant eating machines,” she said. What began as a joke about how someone should just get “a couple [of] goats” to make quick work of the lawn turned into a genuine idea. Health Administrator Kathy Loehr added that research shows animals have a calming effect on the mentally ill, and the area where the goats can be seen at work is outside the mental health unit. The Broken Arrow’s Future Farmers of America donated two retired show goats to provide lawn care at the jail.
Oregon: On March 16, 2015, a former jail worker, Jill Curry, 39, was sentenced to more than double the time recommended by prosecutors. She cried to Judge Charles Bailey, explaining that the convicted rapist she was having sex with at the jail had seduced her. Curry and prisoner Jang-Li Delgado-Galban had sexual contact at least 13 times in a supply closet. Judge Bailey was less than convinced that Curry had been seduced by the 25-year-old gang member and rapist, and sentenced her to four years and two months in prison despite a recommendation by prosecutors that she serve less than two years. Delgado-Galban also had sex with jail guard Brett Robinson, 33, who was sentenced in June 2015 to three years in prison.
Pennsylvania: A man was shot by police outside the Adams County Prison on April 9, 2015. Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Robert Hicks said officers shot Jess Leipold, 31, after he entered the facility brandishing a pistol and fired several rounds. Leipold had no criminal record and no connection to prison employees or prisoners; there was no apparent motive as to why he entered the prison and started shooting. When police confronted him, he was armed with a pistol, an assault rifle and a knife; he was shot after a standoff and died the next day. On April 29, 2015, the district attorney’s office held the shooting was justified.
Pennsylvania: In February 2015, Robin Barclay, incarcerated at the Lancaster County Prison, was sentenced to 15 to 30 months after his girlfriend, Nikki Bowman, was caught trying to smuggle Suboxone to him to ease his heroin withdrawal. Bowman, 21, who had recently started using heroin herself, was caught when guards observed a “suspicious hug” between the couple during a visit. She told Judge Joseph Madenspacher, “I know I messed up. It’s all because of being an addict.” She received a six to 23-month sentence plus two years of probation for her part in the smuggling scheme.
South Carolina: On April 10, 2015, prisoners Darrian James Roberson, Tore Michael Dove, Antonio Blakely, Christian Roman and William Wallace were charged with participating in a riot; three were also charged with more serious crimes, including attempted murder. They had allegedly attacked seven guards at the Lee Correctional Institution in February 2015, which triggered a standoff that lasted nearly nine hours. Prison emergency teams finally secured the maximum-security facility; officials said no guards were taken hostage.
Tennessee: Anderson County jail nurse Billy Joe Brockman, 49, was arrested on March 10, 2015 and charged with falsifying log sheets in connection with a prisoner’s death. Christopher Sullivan was booked into the jail on charges of drug possession, public intoxication and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was able to walk, talk and write during the booking process. Brockman claimed that he had checked Sullivan’s vital signs when in fact he had not. Sullivan was found unresponsive three hours later; an autopsy determined his death was due to alcohol and morphine intoxication. In July 2015, a wrongful death suit was filed against Brockman, co-worker Jeremiah Wood, Advanced Correctional Healthcare and Anderson County on behalf of Sullivan’s two minor children.
Texas: Former Texas state district court judge Angus Kelly McGinty, 51, pleaded guilty on April 13, 2015 to federal charges of soliciting and accepting bribes intended to influence judicial decisions. “Independent and impartial judges are essential to the proper administration of justice,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez. “The Department of Justice is committed to rooting out corruption and maintaining confidence in public institutions.” McGinty handled criminal cases while on the bench; he was originally charged with extortion based upon his practice of soliciting bribes, including car repairs, according to the indictment. A plea agreement will require him to serve 24 months in federal prison.
United Kingdom: On March 28, 2015, it was reported that Neil Moore had decided he really did not feel like being in HM Prison Wandsworth. Since it is typically against policy to just let prisoners out, Moore devised another plan. He obtained a cell phone, set up a fake e-mail account for a court clerk, and e-mailed bail instructions from the account. The court actually fell for it, though the deception was discovered soon after Moore was released. He turned himself in three days later. According to the prison staff, the scheme was “well planned out and very convincing.” Not surprisingly, Moore was being held on fraud charges.
United Kingdom: Life-sentenced prisoners Mikhail Gallatinov, 40, and Marc Goodwin, 31, were wed on March 27, 2015 in what is believed to be the U.K.’s first same-sex marriage between prisoners. According to a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman, the ceremony was performed at no cost to taxpayers and the prisoners were entitled by law to marry. Although they were legally wed, the spokeswoman made it clear there was no possibility that the couple would be allowed to share a cell. “If you find love you have to go for it – even if it is in prison,” said Gallatinov’s father. “Everyone deserves to be happy.”
Virginia: A former supervisor at the Piedmont Regional Jail was sentenced to 50 months in federal prison on September 10, 2014 for his role in a tax fraud scheme that netted more than $1 million. William Coles, Jr., 49, and his wife, Sybil Marshall Coles, 43, were convicted after being found guilty of defrauding the federal government, assisting in the preparation of filing false tax returns and bank fraud. During William Coles’ trial, several jail co-workers testified that he had claimed his wife knew secret “tax law loopholes” to get larger refunds. The couple would collect fees in exchange for preparing tax returns and deposit the money in an account in their daughter’s name. Sybil Coles, who pleaded guilty, received a five-year sentence.
Washington: An employee with a company called Touch Pay used money stolen from the Pierce County Jail to gamble. In March 2015, it was announced that David Vicknair, 32, had been charged with theft after concocting an idea to take money from the jail to gamble at local casinos, then use his winnings to pay his debts and replace the stolen cash. He lost all the money he gambled, however, leaving him out of luck. Police found several bags with thousands of dollars in Vicknair’s car; one bag was empty but had a receipt for $2,614. He was responsible for picking up money from the jail and delivering it to a bank.
West Virginia: In April 2015, federal prisoner Patrick Andrews, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of murder by a federal prisoner serving a life sentence and one count of second-degree murder for his role in the October 2007 death of fellow prisoner Jesse Harris. He was sentenced to life on both counts. According to his plea agreement, Andrews and another prisoner, Kevin M. Bellinger, stabbed Harris to death with homemade knives in an orchestrated attack. Bellinger had previously received a life sentence, too. [See: PLN, April 2015, p.63].
Wisconsin: A faith-based coalition of prison reform advocates held a series of demonstrations on August 22, 2014, September 24, 2014 and May 28, 2015 to bring attention to its goals of reducing the state’s prison population, reforming solitary confinement and denouncing prison budget increases. The group, known as WISDOM, is the founder of Wisconsin’s 11x15 Campaign for Justice. The campaign seeks to reduce the state’s prison population from over 22,400 to 11,000 by the end of 2015.
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