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News in Brief

Arizona: Former Cochise County jail chaplain Doug Packer, 63, resigned on March 10, 2019. A volunteer since 2008, Packer had served as a full-time jail chaplain starting in 2012 but was placed on paid leave on January 5, 2019 after he was arrested at home. A female prisoner had reported she was called into the chaplain’s office to watch another prisoner perform oral sex on him, then clean up with tissues. Packer’s underwear, DNA and county issued cell phone were confiscated. Soon other female prisoners came forward. A variety of sexual assaults were described, and a Cochise County grand jury indicted Packer on more than 30 charges of sexual misconduct. One former female prisoner said, “He was weird, because if you asked him to pray for you, he would get uncomfortable.” In May 2019, two former prisoners, named as victims in the criminal indictments, filed notice that they planned to sue the county and the sheriff. Packer was booked into the Santa Cruz County jail with a $550,000 bond.

Arizona: Despite Nurse Destiny Kirk receiving a lifesaving award and Corporal Raymond Rhodes getting a commendation from the Apache County supervisors “for their quick actions that resulted in saving the life of a newborn baby and her mother,” the mother, Jocelyn Crystal Baca, 20, has filed a $10.5 million lawsuit against the county. When Baca was arrested and booked into the Apache County jail in January 2017, she was in her first trimester of pregnancy. By August 1, 2017 she felt she was in labor, but Nurse Kirk said she “was just dehydrated.” Eventually, “jail staff found [Baca] on the floor writhing in pain.” Instead of calling for an ambulance, Rhodes transported her, handcuffed, in a squad car while the nurse followed in another car. The baby was born during the transport and slipped to the floor, and Rhodes pulled over. The baby was not breathing and was airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where “he was diagnosed with a stage 4 brain bleed.” County supervisors met in a closed session on February 5, 2019 to assess their legal options.

Arkansas: Jason Michael Brown, 31, and Geronimo Espericueta, 47, escaped from the Pulaski County Detention Center in Little Rock on May 30, 2019 by crawling through a shower stall ceiling. Brown’s 73-year-old grandmother assisted in the escape by providing a cell phone, and she was later arrested in Arkansas. The U.S. Marshals offered separate cash rewards totaling $3,500. Brown and Espericueta were captured in New Mexico during a traffic stop, one day after they escaped. However, Espericueta, a federal prisoner facing drug charges, was accidentally released from the Doña Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces a few days later. A judge at the Magistrate Court ordered him released because the court had no paperwork on him, as his records had been misdirected to district court.

Brazil: On May 26, 2019, violence erupted at the Anísio Jobim prison complex in Manaus, in the state of Amazonas. “I was coming out of the pavilion when the massacre started and my son pulled me back inside so I didn’t see,” a family member told a local reporter. Fifteen prisoners were killed within 45 minutes, many strangled and others stabbed with sharpened toothbrushes. The next day violence reignited and spread to three other nearby prisons. Another 40 prisoners were strangled in their cells by sheets or brute force. One reporter referenced the 2017 decapitation of 56 prisoners at the Anísio Jobim complex, saying, “What we are seeing ... is yet another day of terror in the Amazonas prison system.” The most recent violence appears to have begun with a feud between two Northern Family mobsters, Zé Roberto da Compensa and João Pinto Carioca. Many drug traffickers run their businesses out of Brazil’s notoriously overcrowded prisons, where up to 20 people are crammed into cells designed for three to five prisoners.

California: Hunger strikes among immigrant detainees are an annual event at the Adelanto Detention Facility, operated by The GEO Group. A strike in March 2019, however, was disputed. “There was no hunger strike,” claimed ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley. ICE defines a hunger strike as missing nine consecutive meals and no visible eating of food within 72 hours. According to Lizbeth Abeln, immigrant detention coordinator for the immigrant rights group Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, at least 100 detainees at Adelanto went without food for more than 72 hours, and some even longer. “They’re trying to highlight the abuses,” she said. “The guards at GEO are not respecting their basic human rights.” The hunger strike was reportedly sparked by medical treatment being withheld after a teenage detainee was beaten by at least one guard. Non-profit legal watchdog Disability Rights California had released a report earlier in March 2019, citing “punitive, prison-like conditions that harm people with disabilities” at the facility. The report also said GEO officials had under-reported suicide attempts and guards used pepper spray on some mentally ill detainees.

California: The Napa County Department of Corrections’ budget will have to cover a $400 loss, due to counterfeit $100 bills. A newly booked Napa County jail prisoner turned over four hundred dollar bills as personal property on March 1, 2019. The bills passed a counterfeit detection machine and a specialty marker used to verify currency. The prisoner was released the next day with a county check for the cash value of his account balance. Two days later the bills were flagged by a different counterfeit detector as fake, but the former prisoner had already cashed the check. A county investigation found no fraud by staff. The jail has installed a new counterfeit detection machine in the booking area, and prisoners will now be released with the same money they had when they were arrested.

California: Former MMA fighter and Santa Cruz County jail guard Marco del Real, 30, pleaded no contest and was sentenced, on March 4, 2019, to two months of electronic supervision and no jail time for having sexual contact with a female prisoner in July 2017. The victim was 25 years old at the time. Superior Court Judge Stephen Siegel dismissed two other charges of having sex with a confined person and sexual penetration by force. Witnesses said the sexual act had been coerced, but not forced. Prosecutors had asked for jail time. Del Real was arrested eight months after the assault, when reporting errors prompted the investigation. Soon after, all guards were assigned mandatory body cameras to be worn in the housing units. Del Real was fired in April 2018 and a protective order was issued for his victim. At that time Sheriff Jim Hart said, “Knowing this occurred in the jail makes me sick. Officers are supposed to protect inmates, not harm them or take advantage of them.”

Colorado: The ICE detention facility run by GEO Group in Aurora is once again struggling with infectious disease quarantines. Over 140 detainees were placed under quarantine after health officials identified one case of mumps, one probable case of mumps and one case of chicken pox as of June 2019. Chicken pox quarantines last up to 21 days while quarantines for mumps can last up to 25 days. During quarantines, all action on detainees’ cases gets delayed, their movements are restricted, there is no access to the recreation yard, no visitation and legal meetings are canceled. According to ICE, all the detainees were given the MMR vaccine. There have been other quarantines at the Aurora facility. In March 2019, more than 350 detainees were “cohorted” – ICE’s term for quarantined – which prompted a hunger strike. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette has called for an end to privatization contracts like the one with GEO Group, after a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General, released on June 6, 2019, documented violations of agency policy and found detainees “were not treated with the care required under ICE detention standards.”

Florida: In February 2019, Jefferson Correctional Institution guard Ishwan K. Spradley failed to file a use of force report after an incident involving several prisoners. Supervisors asked him for the report, but when he submitted it, it did not reflect the actions the supervisors had already witnessed on security camera footage. A prisoner had reported that Spradley beat him on February 2, 2019. Video footage showed a trash bag flying through an open door and glancing off Spradley’s elbow. He then forced two prisoners into a room and shut the door. He pushed the prisoners and hit one of them twice, pushing him against a wall and into a trash barrel. That prisoner sustained a head injury. The prisoners were not combative and did not fight back. A report by the Office of the Inspector General noted, “The touching, pushing and striking actions conducted by Officer Spradley were both unwanted and instilled a sense of fear in both victims.” Spradley turned himself in on February 21, and was charged with malicious battery by a correctional officer and official misconduct.

Florida: The DOC’s Office of the Inspector General was alerted that prison guard Adrian Victor Matthew Puckett, 27, used so much force on a female prisoner at the Lowell Correctional Institution on January 26, 2019 that three of the prisoner’s teeth were knocked out at the root, causing permanent disfigurement, after her face hit a concrete walkway. Inspector Michael Green discovered that another guard, Kurtis Mitchell, had cuffed the prisoner behind her back before passing her on to Puckett, saying that she had “disrespected the captain and needs to fall.” Puckett claimed the prisoner was “physically resisting him” and “not complying with his lawful orders.” Mitchell was charged with principal to aggravated battery, while Puckett was charged with aggravated battery with great bodily harm and falsifying records. Both were fired in February 2019. The charges against Mitchell were dropped at arraignment on April 30, 2019. According to prosecutor Shanae Harris, “Although there was probable cause to arrest, after further investigation into the facts and circumstances the likelihood of a conviction at the criminal jury trial is slight.”

Georgia: “I do make mistakes, but, I would like to keep my job.... I have given my whole life to my community,” Pike County Superior Court Judge Robert M. “Mack” Crawford said on March 22, 2019 at his Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) hearing. Crawford was indicted in October 2018 by a Pike County grand jury for felony theft and violating his oath of office, following a probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation into $15,675 that Crawford told the Superior Court Clerk to pay him from the court’s registry. Crawford’s personal account was overdrawn by $2,000 at the time. The money had been placed in the court registry by Crawford to redeem a client’s property in 2002, before he was a judge. His client died in 2004; the property was never redeemed and the case was dismissed in 2009. JQC Director Ben Easterlin questioned why Crawford waited 13 years to lay claim to the funds. The judge was suspended following his indictment, and on April 18, 2019 the JQC recommended to the Georgia Supreme Court that Crawford be removed from office. The Court delayed his removal in July, after he argued the JQC panel had been improperly constituted.

Iowa: Iowa Prison Industries plans to be part of the solution to the rural housing crisis, starting at the Newton Correctional Facility. “It’s just a win-win for Iowa to build really good, quality homes for citizens and communities that need them, and at the same time give our guys skills to make them successful when they get out,” said acting warden Jeremy Larson. The 1,200-square-foot open floor plan homes built by prisoners will be energy efficient, with three bedrooms and two baths. As of May 28, 2019, prisoners were converting a barn into office and classroom space in preparation to begin construction. The first four homes will be for Marshalltown, site of a 2018 tornado, then 18 homes are planned for 2020 and 36 the following year. Families must earn less than $73,100 annually to qualify for the $125,000 homes. Prisoners will be paid about $1 an hour, which troubled Angela Hanks, a former director at the Center for American Progress. “We should be able to ensure that low-income people have housing and ensure that people who are incarcerated aren’t exploited,” she said.

Kentucky: A former LaRue County Detention Center guard entered a plea deal on October 11, 2019. Jerome Perry, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree rape and three counts of third-degree sodomy. In February 2019, nine current and former prisoners filed a lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Perry, who was arrested in September 2018 amid accusations that he raped and sodomized prisoners at the jail. Perry admitted to intercourse with one prisoner and sex acts with two others. The plea deal required a 10 year sentence with eight probated for five years if he serves at least two years, completes a sex offender treatment program, follows all sex offender registry requirements and has no contact with his victims. The lawsuit claims Perry used the prisoners’ personal records to contact them after their release, and alleges he traded alcohol and e-cigarette fluid in exchange for sexual favors. Former LaRue County jail guard Johnny Cottrill and seven other guards were also named as defendants in the suit.

Louisiana: Rapper Mystikal, born Michael Lawrence Tyler and known for his song “Shake It Fast,”rejected a plea deal in his rape case on March 3, 2019. Prosecutors were offering to reduce the rape charge to simple third-degree rape and drop a kidnapping charge. Mystikal contends the alleged victim is lying about the Shreveport casino incident at the center of his August 2017 charges. He had turned himself in and remained in jail until he was able to post a $3 million bond in February 2019. The cash was raised through a recording advance and the efforts of family members and supporters. “It’s a test of faith, you know, walk of faith,” he said after he was released. On May 7, 2019, prosecutors told a judge that the victim did not plan to appear at any hearings or the trial. Mystikal was granted permission to cross state lines while on electronic monitoring; his trial date has been moved several times and is currently scheduled for April 20, 2020.

Maine: Zachary Titus, Dana Bartlett, Robert Payzant and Joshua Welch all shared a cell at the Bolduc Correctional Facility, often referred to as the “prison farm,” in Warren. On June 24, 2018, Titus went to a guard, saying that Bartlett needed medical help. The guard performed CPR and administered Narcan. EMS personnel were unable to revive Bartlett. His cellmates were strip searched and their clothing seized. An autopsy determined Bartlett died of strangulation. Bartlett’s DNA was only found on Titus’ wristwatch and shirt. He was charged with the murder in January 2019 and moved to the Maine State Prison. His trial was set for May 2020 after prosecutors said their trial schedules were full. Titus’ attorneys went to court on May 28, 2019 to push for an earlier date, and indicated they may argue self-defense at trial. Police said Titus believed Bartlett had stolen cigarettes from another cellmate, leading to the murder.

Missouri: Amy Murray, 40, a former Corizon Health nurse at the Jefferson City Correctional Center, told prisoner Eugene Claypool that she didn’t want to be around her husband, Joshua, and wanted a divorce. The conversation was on a recorded prison phone line. Claypool, serving life for second-degree murder, was the object of Murray’s affections. Her husband’s partially charred body was found by Iberia Fire District first responders on December 11, 2018. With her husband “out of the picture,” Murray and Claypool could have a life together. An autopsy revealed that Joshua had died due to ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning before the fire. Murray told investigators she was with her 11-year-old son and two dogs at a McDonald’s at the time of the fire. When they returned, the smoke kept them away from the house. On February 11, 2019, Miller County prosecutors added second-degree arson and tampering with physical evidence charges to her first-degree murder and armed criminal action charges. Murray waived her arraignment in favor of a case review on May 22, 2019. She has been released on $750,000 bond.

North Carolina: Between May 10, 2012 and August 18, 2016, Arlina Hendrix Lee, 47, a guard at the Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, received $7,350 in wire transfers from prisoners’ families and friends. The facility is operated by a private prison contractor, The GEO Group. Investigators began looking into Lee after they found a contraband cell phone used by a prisoner to arrange cigarette and drug smuggling. Phone records indicated the prisoner had contacted Lee 53 times over six months on one phone and five more times on another. Lee was charged with accepting bribes from prisoners in exchange for smuggling contraband, and in March 2019 was sentenced to a year and one day in prison, followed by one year of supervised release.

Ohio: On July 16, 2018, Cuyahoga County jail guards Idris-Farid Clark and Robert Marsh were involved in an altercation, captured on surveillance video, while placing a handcuffed prisoner, Chantelle Glass, into a restraint chair. Marsh punched Glass in the face after she kicked him, while Clark pulled on her hair and pepper-sprayed her in the face. In September 2019, Marsh pleaded guilty to undisclosed charges; it was unclear whether his plea included having to testify against Clark, his co-defendant. Clark was charged with extortion and intimidation in August 2019 after it came to light that he had bootleg copies of surveillance videos that he was using to threaten witnesses. “I have videos available to me that could incriminate you if released,” he told a co-worker. Clark received a new $100,000 bond. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has been investigating the jail and has charged 10 former employees. The U.S. Marshals issued a report in November 2018 that described Cuyahoga County’s jail system as “one of the worst in the country.” [See: PLN, Mar. 2019, p.12].

Ohio: In a plea deal on September 10, 2019, Daniel Garvey, 28, pleaded guilty to trafficking in drugs, a third-degree felony. His other two third-degree felony charges of illegal conveyance of drugs and possession of drugs were dismissed by the Butler County prosecutor. Garvey was hired by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in April 2015. He had been placed on “no call-no show status” since his arrest at a northbound Interstate 75 rest stop on February 15, 2019. Garvey was on his way to work at the Warren Correctional Institution at the time of his arrest, and was in possession of 100 Suboxone strips. He was busted following a joint investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Pennsylvania: Carl English, 47, was booked into the Allegheny County jail in June 2016. Despite having diabetes, leg lymphoma and neuropathy, his repeated sick call requests were ignored; he didn’t receive a medical exam until August. In November 2017, English’s insulin treatment was changed without telling him, causing erratic blood sugar levels. He was taken to Allegheny General Hospital after a guard noticed his condition, and had to have a toe amputated due to deep tissue infection and a severe diabetic foot abscess. Registered nurse Roberta Wagner lasted only six weeks at the jail, which has a history of poor medical care. “No one was saying, ‘Yes, we want you to see these medically fragile people,’” she said. “There wasn’t a medical director.... They didn’t want to listen to medical staff because we’re women.” English filed a lawsuit in May 2018 against Allegheny County and jail employees for denial of care, a pattern of denying adequate care, and violations of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. The district court granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motion to dismiss on April 30, 2019, and the case remains pending.

South Carolina: Just one hour after his release from the York County jail on February 1, 2019, Brandon Tyre Steele stole a Chevy Malibu from a nearby used car lot and headed home to Charlotte, North Carolina. Steele had pleaded guilty to larceny and shoplifting, and served 30 days at the jail. Deputies near Rock Hill saw the stolen Chevy and gave chase until the car exited I-77 in Charlotte. Special investigations unit deputies found the vehicle, and picked up Steele on February 3, 2019. He was extradited back to York County five days later.

South Dakota: Koreena Schultes, 23, a former Lawrence County jail guard, was sentenced to 20 days in jail and four years of supervised probation on April 4, 2019. She had been arrested in August 2018 on one count of conspiracy to commit escape for slipping a handcuff key to prisoner Tyler Statler, 24, in a letter. Statler planned to fake an attempted suicide then use the key during transport to escape. He was in the jail awaiting trial on methamphetamine charges. Statler was sentenced to five years on a conspiracy charge. The state prosecutor wanted a lengthy sentence and probation for Schultes, since she had “violated the trust and security of the jail system.” The judge agreed, but pointed out that Schultes did not have a criminal record and was “naive and inexperienced.”

Tennessee: Jessica Lyn Fear led Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputies on a two-day chase that ended on July 2, 2019. It started with a car chase into a cornfield. The abandoned car had drug paraphernalia inside. Fear’s passenger, Richard Starling, surrendered in the middle of the cornfield in a dramatic takedown and arrest, but Fear managed to elude the deputies. She was finally found in a house the next day. Fear has a long rap sheet of meth charges. In August 2018, while in the Maury County jail, Fear and two other prisoners put meth, which she had smuggled into the facility, in honey buns from the jail’s commissary to celebrate a birthday. Guards noticed erratic behavior, and 20 prisoners tested positive for methamphetamine; not all of them knew about the drugs when consuming the honey buns. “Many of these individuals are battling an addiction and trying to make positive steps,” said Sheriff Bucky Rowland.

Texas: At 1 a.m. on February 11, 2019, a 70-year-old prison guard was found dead, shot with his service weapon at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. The motive behind the suicide was unknown. Prison spokesman Jeremy Desel said the guard had no disciplinary history and was not under investigation. In 2017, a 40-year-old guard committed a similar suicide at the Ferguson Unit. There are no statistics on suicides by prison guards, but suicide rates among prisoners have remained consistently high. The Sandra Bland Act, which was passed in 2017, requires law enforcement officers to undergo mental health training. In January 2019, state Senator John Whitmire proposed that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) take over the Harris County jail, after Tracy Whited hanged herself in her cell at that facility; it was the fifth suicide there in five years. Critics contend that the TDCJ’s track record on suicide is no better.

Utah: In July 2019, former Weber County Sheriff’s Corporal Jeremy Miller, 41, pleaded no contest to a single charge of custodial sexual relations. Prosecutors dropped four additional counts in exchange for his plea. Miller had supervised female prisoners at the Kiesel Facility from August to November 2018. In the county attorney’s investigation report, one female prisoner said she had consensual sex with Miller at least ten times, another only one time. The two were state prisoners housed at the jail. Prosecutors had not sought jail time, but at a September 3, 2019 sentencing hearing, Judge Reuben Renstrom ordered that Miller spend seven days in the Davis County jail before he is eligible for the balance of 53 days of work release. “It bothers the court that I have yet to have a real admission as to what happened in that jail cell,” Renstrom said. Miller was also ordered to pay a $600 fine; he is no longer employed by the sheriff’s office.

Virginia: After a U.S. Department of Justice report was released in late 2018, concluding that conditions at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail violate the Constitution, prisoner Skyler Peacock’s allegations that he was assaulted by guard Dale P. Barnes, 50, were picked up by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Barnes was indicted in January 2019 for the videotaped incident, which occurred a year earlier, and charged with strangulation and malicious wounding. He resigned a week after the incident. On July 2, 2019, a judge rejected the malicious wounding charge and a jury found Barnes not guilty of strangulation.

Washington: Roy David Farber, a former prison guard at the Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Oregon, pleaded guilty in December 2018 to five felony sex crimes involving a 13-year-old girl. [See: PLN, Sept. 2018, p.63]. Sentencing guidelines suggested a six-year sentence if he were considered a good candidate for sex offender treatment, but community corrections officer Katti Foltz expressed concerns based on his presentencing interview. “The [Department of Corrections] considers Farber an extremely high risk to re-offend based on: the circumstances of the current crimes; his admittance he still wants to be man and wife with the victim; and his own concerns with being around minors.” Foltz recommended the maximum ten-year sentence, which is what Farber, 32, received in May 2019. His wife, Kimberlee Ann Farber, 29, formerly employed at Chinook Middle School, was accused of facilitating her husband’s relationship with the teenager by passing notes and a secret cell phone to the girl at school. Kimberlee pleaded guilty and was sentenced in September 2019 to 30 days in jail and required to register as a sex offender.

Wisconsin: April Paulsen, 39, had been employed at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution less than two months before an informant tipped off authorities that she was having a sexual relationship with a prisoner she worked with in the kitchen. Paulsen was fired and Oshkosh police and prison officials began investigating on May 11, 2018. Of the 50 calls the prisoner made to Paulsen’s phone, prison staff transcribed several that were “sexual in nature.” They found sexual letters and photos. A distinct mole that appeared in the nude and scantily clad lingerie photos was used to identify Paulsen as the subject. She was arrested on July 18, 2018, charged with second-degree sexual assault by correctional staff and two counts of delivering illegal articles to a prisoner (the photographs). Paulsen pleaded guilty on April 1, 2019 to two counts of delivering illegal articles to a prisoner, and received two years of probation. 

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