RICHMOND, Virginia May 17 2013 — Ronnell Glasgow, 26, said he grew up without his father in his life and was repeating that pattern with his own children, daughters ages 7 and 9.
Glasgow is behind bars at the Richmond City Jail, but even when he was out he said he thought giving them material things was enough.
Just weeks into a fatherhood skills training program at the jail, Glasgow said he had reached out to his own emotionally distant father and was communicating more with his daughters, who he said are no longer shy around him.
“I understand the importance of not having a father,” Glasgow said, adding that with his own father he was “building a relationship as a father and a man.”
Glasgow and about a dozen other men incarcerated in the Richmond City Jail “graduated” Tuesday from InsideOut Dad, a three-month program teaching them be better fathers in preparation for when they are released.
First Things First of Greater Richmond, a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening families, presented the course.
“Nobody else can take this from you,” said Dennis Fries, who facilitated the program for First Things First of Greater Richmond. Fries is with AmeriCorps, a federal agency that enlists volunteers and paid employees to work in local communities.
The InsideOut Dad curriculum was created by the National Fatherhood Initiative, an organization that maintains “widespread fatherlessness is the most socially consequential problem of our time.” Studies link father absence to juvenile crime, teen pregnancy and child poverty.
The men in the jail program voluntarily attended weekly sessions on topics such as self-awareness, child development, discipline, spirituality, handling emotions, being a man and relationships with their children’s mothers.
“We went into some deep and dark subjects,” Fries said, thanking the men for sharing their stories with him and each other.
“The goal is to get everybody to communicate with their kids, to relearn some parenting skills you never knew you had,” Fries said. At the completion ceremony Tuesday, the men shared how the program affected them.
One man described having a 15-minute telephone conversation with his daughter, who he rarely spoke to before. Another described overcoming fear of rejection and reaching out to an adult daughter and his surprise at her welcoming response. Another talked about writing to his 6-year-old son and getting a reply.
“Being there for my kids is better than any gift,” said William Jones, 22, father of four children. He said he is in jail on a probation violation and plans to enter an addiction-treatment program when he is released.
“I never had my dad or nobody tell me they were proud of me” until this program, Jones said.
A new 12-week session of InsideOut Dad at the Richmond City jail begins Tuesday.
Source – Richmond Times-Dispatch
Snohomish County WA May 10 2013“This isn’t a ‘who-done-it’. We know who did this crime,” Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Ed Stemler told the jury and a crowded courtroom in Everett Thursday, pointing at defendant Byron Scherf. “He told you himself he’s guilty of aggravated first degree murder.”
After closing arguments from Snohomish County prosecutors and the defense team jurors retired to deliberate. Just 50 minutes later they announced they were ready with a verdict. They found Scherf guilty of killing prison guard Jayme Biendl, who was working at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, where the multiple-rapist was incarcerated.
It has been a wait of more than two years for Biendl’s family, friends and co-workers. She was strangled in the prison chapel with a microphone cord January 29, 2011. Defense attorney Jon Scott acknowledged that Byron Scherf confessed to the killing, but argued the state had failed to prove it was a premeditated crime.
Ultimately the jury sided with prosecutors, finding Scherf guilty of first degree murder with aggravating circumstances.
Deputy Prosecutor Paul Stern said it was clear Scherf knew full well what he was going to do that night.
“Because he had a plan. He knew what he was going to do. He was locked, he was loaded, he was ready, he had a design. He WAS going to kill her,” he said.
The penalty phase of the trial begins on Monday, with Snohomish County prosecutors pushing for the death penalty.
JACKSON, Miss. May 9 2013 (AP) — The family of a guard killed during a prison riot in Mississippi filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday that says inadequate staffing and poor treatment created a dangerous environment at the facility.
Correction officer Catlin Carithers was beaten to death during the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez. It took hours for authorities to control the riot, which grew to involve hundreds of inmates and injured at least 20 people.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Natchez against Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the prison.
In a statement from spokesman Steven Owen, CCA said it “takes the safety and well-being of our staff very seriously, and we work diligently to provide our dedicated correctional officers, chaplains, nurses and teachers the training, security and support systems they need in this very challenging field.”
“In addition to conducting our own thorough review, we have cooperated fully with law enforcement throughout their investigation of the incident, and we support full prosecution of those inmates responsible for this disturbance,” Owen said.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, said CCA “created a dangerous atmosphere for the correction officers by depriving inmates of basic needs and treating them inhumanely,” the lawsuit says.
It also says that prison officials were told by an informant in the days before the riot that the situation was becoming volatile and that the officials failed to warn Carithers that he and other guards were on an inmate “hit list.”
Carithers was off the day of the riot but was called in to help, his family has said.
The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally.
The FBI has said in court records that the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas, who were angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden has said.
Several inmates have been charged with rioting in the case. One of them, Marco Perez-Serrano, has been identified as the first person to attack Carithers when he hit him with a food tray.
A complaint filed by an FBI agent says prisoners took food service carts out of the dining hall and kitchen and stacked them on top of each other to climb onto the roof, where Carithers was working.
Carithers joined CCA in 2009.
His cousin, Jason Clark, told The Associated Press in an interview after the riot that Carithers was engaged to be married and excited about a recent promotion that took him off weekend shifts.
He had been trained in recent years as part of the prison’s special response team and was called to work Sunday to help with the uprising, Clark said at the time.
The prison’s special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s SWAT team worked to end the riot while state and area law enforcement officers, some from neighboring Louisiana, helped secure the outside.
13 corrections officers indicted in Md., accused of aiding gang’s drug scheme www.privateofficer.com
Baltimore MD April 24 2013 More than a dozen Maryland state prison guards helped a dangerous national gang operate a drug-trafficking and money-laundering scheme from behind bars that involved cash payments, sex and access to fancy cars, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Thirteen female corrections officers essentially handed over control of a Baltimore jail to gang leaders, prosecutors said. The officers were charged Tuesday in a federal racketeering indictment.
The indictment described a jailhouse seemingly out of control. Four corrections officers became pregnant by one inmate. Two of them got tattoos of the inmate’s first name, Tavon — one on her neck, the other on a wrist.
The guards allegedly helped leaders of the Black Guerilla Family run their criminal enterprise in jail by smuggling cellphones, prescription pills and other contraband in their underwear, shoes and hair. One gang leader allegedly used proceeds to buy luxury cars, including a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW, which he allowed some of the officers to drive.
“The inmates literally took over ‘the asylum,’ and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt, using shorthand for the prison gang’s name.
The indictment, unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, puts the spotlight on the enduring power of gangs in jails and prisons. In particular, prosecutors were highly critical of Maryland’s facilities in Baltimore, with procedures and personnel that were “completely inadequate to prevent smuggling” and lacked “effective punishment.”
The Black Guerilla Family was founded in California in the 1960s but now operates nationwide in prisons and on the streets of major U.S. cities, including Baltimore. It arrived in Maryland’s prison system in the 1990s, according to the Justice Department, and is increasingly involved in narcotics trafficking, robbery, assault and homicides. By 2006, federal authorities say, the BGF had become the dominant gang at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
Gary D. Maynard, head of the Maryland agency that oversees the prisons, appeared at the Baltimore news conference where prosecutors announced the charges, and took responsibility for ongoing problems.
“It’s totally on me. I don’t make any excuses,” said Maynard, who was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2007, when the prison system was experiencing a spate of inmate violence and corrections officers’ complaints of staffing shortages. “We will move up the chain of command, and people will be held accountable.” A spokesman said late Tuesday that all of the officers have been suspended without pay and that the department will recommend that they be fired.
In a statement Tuesday, O’Malley said the indictment arose in part from the efforts of a Maryland prison task force that includes state and federal officials.
It comes at a sensitive time for the Democrat, who is weighing a 2016 presidential bid. Aides have said that part of O’Malley’s political pitch would be his record as a “performance-driven” manager of state government. “We have zero tolerance for corruption among correctional officers, and we will continue striving to make all correctional facilities as secure as they can possibly be,” the governor said.
State Sen. Joseph M. Getty (R-Carroll), a member of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said the revelations, coupled with a recent string of inmate killings at Maryland prisons, were “a pretty harsh indictment” of O’Malley’s prison policies.
“This is frightening to us as legislators — the level of collusion that has existed between the correction officers and inmates,” Getty said
At the center of the investigation was an alleged leader of the Black Guerilla Family, Tavon White, who prosecutors said fathered five children with four of the corrections officers — Jennifer Owens, 31, of Randallstown; Katera Stevenson, 24, of Baltimore; Chania Brooks, 27, of Baltimore; and Tiffany Linder, 27, of Baltimore — since his incarceration on attempted murder charges in 2009.
In one wiretapped cellphone call in January, White, 36, of Baltimore, told an acquaintance: “This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious. I make every final call in this jail.”
The prison guards were among 25 defendants, including inmates and outside suppliers, charged with racketeering and drug conspiracy. Twenty of the defendants are also charged in a money-laundering conspiracy. Defendants made initial appearances in court Tuesday; they face maximum prison time of 20 years on the racketeering and drug conspiracy charges. The online court docket did not list attorneys for the defendants. One of the defendants was killed in a robbery, prosecutors said, in the hours before the April 2 indictment was filed.
Four years ago, federal authorities in Baltimore targeted the BGF gang at the state prison in Baltimore, sending its reputed leader to prison for 12 years. In that case, prosecutors alleged that gang members, along with four prison guards who were also implicated, ordered hits from their cellphones and enjoyed salmon and Grey Goose vodka that had been smuggled in.
But the scope of corruption in the current case, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, was stunning.
“Correctional officers were in bed with BGF inmates,” he said. “We need to be able to rely on people within law enforcement — to make sure they are on our side.”
Court papers that were made public Tuesday point to a highly organized, profitable smuggling enterprise within the Baltimore City Detention Center and several connected facilities, including the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center.
According to an affidavit for search warrants for the homes of the prison guards, who were arrested Tuesday, gang leaders strategically recruited female officers who they thought had “low self-esteem and insecurities.”
Gang leaders also relied on other inmates, known as “working men,” whose jobs throughout the prison gave them greater flexibility to pick up and deliver contraband. Inmates then paid for the drugs and cellphones using 14-digit numbers from prepaid debit cards that had also been smuggled into the prisons.
Within Maryland’s detention facilities, staff workers are generally free to move within their assigned areas, according to department spokesman Rick Binetti. With identification, they can often move freely outside of their assigned locations.
In one instance, prosecutors described Officer Jasmin Jones allegedly standing guard outside a closet while Officer Kimberly Dennis had sex with inmate Derius Duncan.
Maynard said department policy prohibits such relationships between inmates and correctional officers but added that he was unaware of the specific allegations until the court documents were made public Tuesday.
Corrections officers also allegedly warned inmates about impending searches of cells, according to prosecutors. In January, White spread the word to other inmates in a cellphone call recorded by law enforcement: “I just got a message saying that they was going to pull a shakedown tonight. Let me call all these dudes in my phone and let them know.”
In prison, prosecutors said, White bragged about earning $16,000 during a slow month. Percocet pills that cost $10 outside the prison walls, for instance, went for three times as much behind bars. One-gram bags of marijuana sold for $50, a profit of about $1,000 per ounce, according to court documents.
White is also accused of using the money to buy cars for corrections officers to use.
Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore), who works as a public defender in Baltimore when the legislature is not in session, said the large percentage of female corrections at the detention center contributed to the problem. “A lot of times, they become smitten with the inmates. [The inmates] talk really sweet and say really nice things, and the CO’s fall for them. You need to have a bunch of rough, ugly men.”
But Maynard, the state prison chief, said that the sex of the officers was not the issue. It is not uncommon, he said, for detention centers across the country to employ women. The issue, he said, was this particular group of “bad actors,” who were strategically targeted and were willing to break the law.
Source- Washington Post
Erie County Correctional Facility Deputy Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations Involving an Inmate www.privateofficer.com
BUFFALO, NY April 18 2013—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Josephine Cutolo, 54, of Buffalo, New York, pleaded guilty before Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott to deprivation of rights under color of law. The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, who is handling the case, stated that on August 18, 2012, the defendant, a deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, used chemical spray on an inmate. At the time the incident occurred, the inmate was in handcuffs, subdued, and being escorted by two other deputies. Cutolo aimed the chemical spray a few inches from the victim’s face, which resulted in the spray affecting the victim’s face, chin, and shoulder area. After spraying the victim, the defendant yelled a vulgar obscenity at the inmate.
“Those who serve in law enforcement—including corrections staff—are entrusted with substantial power and authority in order to protect the public or those in their care,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Certainly the vast majority of officers live up to the highest ideals and demands of their chosen vocation. But when an officer abuses his position and hurts one she is sworn to protect, our office will not hesitate to bring the perpetrator to justice, regardless of their title or position.”
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by special agents of the Federal bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 16, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Scott.
“Since I’ve been in office this is only the second time we’ve used them,” said Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade about the special gear.
As the operation began, over the jail intercom, you could hear: “Go to your cell, go to your cell now!”
“The vests our guys are wearing aren’t bullet-proof, but they’re stab-proof,” said Wade.
The Henrico Sheriff’s Office Response Team, also known as “SORT” was working off a tip from a lawyer who had met with his client recently, and told the sheriff that two inmates were planning an escape.
Sheriff Wade said the inmates had already started putting their plan in motion by punching a hole through a window in Cell Block 6 which they tried to disguise as an old maintenance issue, using a jail sticker.
“We have stickers we put on stuff that’s already up for repair,” said Wade. “They created one to make it look like it was already reported damage.”
The SORT crew made a surprise visit to what’s called the day-room before ransacking a cell and searching it thoroughly, with deputies even “wanding” a mattress looking for the tool they suspect the inmates had been using.
Four inmates were taken away in cuffs for questioning, but Wade said there was work still to be done. “We found the hole but no tool,” he said. “So we will continue searching.”
The escape plot was put to bed but the investigators say they won’t be resting anytime soon.
“We are investigating it to see if others on the outside helped,” said Wade. “In fact, we know they’ve had contact with the outside, so they may get charged, too.
Two Former Roxbury Correctional Officers Plead Guilty in Connection with Assault of an Inmate www.privateofficer.com
According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Steele admitted that, during the midnight shift on March 8-9, 2008, he heard RCI officers discuss assaulting the inmate, identified in court documents only as “K.D.,” in retaliation for K.D.’s prior assault of another officer. Steele warned the group that they would get caught if they assaulted the inmate.
Additionally, according to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Harris and other officers met at RCI during the midnight shift and agreed to assault K.D. in retaliation for a prior incident involving the inmate and another officer. Harris admitted that he and three other correctional officers then entered K.D.’s cell in order to assault inmate K.D., while a fourth officer watched. Officers then assaulted K.D. while Steele watched.
Steele admitted that he later learned that officers from the midnight shift were meeting at a McDonald’s restaurant to talk about the assault on inmate K.D. Steele acknowledged meeting Harris and other RCI officers who had been involved in the assault and discussing what they were going to say to investigators. Steele agreed to tell investigators that he did not know about an assault on inmate K.D.
Steele admitted in court that he lied to federal investigators on February 12, 2013, by falsely denying that he had discussed K.D. with other RCI officers from the midnight shift. Steele also acknowledged that he failed to tell federal investigators that he had seen other officers assault K.D.
“Mr. Harris admitted today that, as a supervisor, he conspired with other officers to assault an inmate in order to punish the inmate for hitting an officer. Mr. Steele, meanwhile, has admitted that, after he watched his fellow correctional officers use force to punish the inmate, he then agreed to help those officers cover up their misconduct,” said Roy L. Austin, Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute officers who use their official position to abuse inmates or to cover up crimes committed by other officers.”
Steele faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Harris faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Sentencing for Steele is set for July 9, 2013, and sentencing for Harris is set for August 2, 2013, both before U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar.
The investigation by the Frederick Resident Agency of the FBI is ongoing. The case is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Sanjay Patel of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, with the assistance of Michael Cunningham of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
South Carolina Corrections mistakenly releases man charged with attempted murder www.privateofficer.com
COLUMBIA, SC March 26 2013 Authorities say a mistake at a prison in Columbia has a South Carolina man charged with attempted murder out on the streets.
Trion GA March 18 2013 A cluster of Georgia and Tennessee corrections dignitaries gathered at Hays State Prison in June 2011 to witness a prison under control. Dozens of officers in body armor massed to sweep through the cellblocks to demonstrate how Georgia corrections runs a prison with order and structure.
The showing that day prompted officials to label Hays the “new flagship” of Georgia prisons. But multiple guards and former officials at Hays say the demonstration was a sham. Multiple officers say they were ordered by their supervisors the night before the search to go cell to cell and warn inmates that squads were coming to search for their homemade knives and illicit cellphones. And if the officers didn’t find contraband, inmates were told, they would receive a reward: pizza and fried chicken. An after-action report documenting results of the search shows that tactical squads found just nine weapons in the entire prison.
And the less contraband found behind prison walls, the better those numbers look — numbers that largely determine whether wardens and other prison bureaucrats get promoted, said corrections officials privy to that information. Much like teachers looking only for results on a test, some Hays administrators became consumed with their performance on these reports and not with keeping order and safety, these officials said.
to be documented in a monthly report that is sent to headquarters for review. One official, in a meeting with all the wardens in the Northwest Georgia region, said he recalls being told that these reports determine how wardens are graded at corrections headquarters in Atlanta. “This is your report card. This is how you’re judged,” he remembers being told. But the official pointed out that the wardens have to sign off on the reports before they are sent to headquarters. “They don’t want to get in trouble,” he said. “They’re looking at their own careers.” And so, guards say, decisions up and down the prison hierarchy have been made — to warn inmates, to look the other way as broken locks were left unrepaired and to allow overall security to deteriorate to unacceptable levels. It’s those decisions that officers both retired and current say made them begin to speak out. Greg Hall, a retired lieutenant, remembers how upsetting it was to be ordered to hand pizza to Hays inmates the day after the June 30, 2011, search. As he was putting the pizza onto paper plates, he overheard a jubilant inmate saying, “We get pizza if we have a good shakedown.” It was galling for Hall then, and it’s still galling today, he said. “I spent every day of my life fighting them, and then I’m going to give them pizza for being good?”
COLUMBIA, SC Feb 27 2013
A man booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on a trespassing charge is currently in critical but stable condition at Palmetto Health Richland after investigators say he was assaulted inside the jail by a corrections officer.
Deputies arrested 37-year-old Robin Smith and charged him with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Investigators the incident happened when Smith and other officers entered the unidentified victim’s cell
Officials say the victim refused to follow the officers’ instructions, and Smith kicked the victim repeatedly in the head and put his boot onto the victim’s head and neck while pulling the victim’s arm the opposite direction.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says the staff of the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center is cooperating with investigators.
Smith, meanwhile, has been terminated by the county.
Deputies arrested 37-year-old Robin Smith and charged him with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
Hudson Valley NY Feb 22 2013 Authorities say a female correctional officer has been charged with having sex with a male inmate at a maximum-security state prison in the Hudson Valley.
State police say 39-year-old Tyshinia Love Brewster of Poughkeepsie was arrested at her home Wednesday and charged with rape and official misconduct.
Officials say Brewster had been involved in a sexual relationship with an inmate at Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, where she has worked for the past 7 1/2 years. Police say the two would meet during her shift assignment in the cell block where the inmate was housed.
Authorities say the inmate has been transferred to another prison.
Police say Brewster is about six months pregnant with the inmate’s child.
She’s free on her own recognizance. It couldn’t be determined if she had a lawyer.
Former Oklahoma Detention Officer Indicted for Making False Statements to the FBI www.privateofficer.com
WASHINGTON DC Feb 15 2013 —A federal grand jury in Muskogee, Oklahoma has indicted Dennis Frisbie, Jr., 32, a former detention officer at the Muskogee County Jail (MCJ), on one count of making material false statements to the FBI.
According to the indictment, Frisbie falsely reported to the FBI that he had been shot by an unknown individual on or about July 9, 2011, and that he believed he was shot because he had previously been interviewed and cooperated with the FBI regarding an investigation into matters at the MCJ. The indictment alleges that this statement was false because Frisbie knew at the time of his statement to the FBI that he had not been shot by an unknown individual because of his previous cooperation with the FBI.
Frisbie faces a maximum penalty of five years for making material false statements to the FBI.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Muskogee Resident Agency of the Oklahoma City Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Fara Gold and Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. Feb 10 2013 – Police are investigating a riot and escape at the Crater Juvenile Detention Center, located on Route 460 in Prince George.
Captain Brian Kei with Prince George County Police says they received a panic alarm for a riot just before 9 p.m. Four black juveniles between 14 to 17 years old escaped during the riot and are considered dangerous because of the incident that happened.
Two staff members were injured and were taken to Southside Regional Medical Center. They are currently in stable condition, one with serious cuts to the face.
Six ambulances and a dozen police cars were on scene, including Prince George Police, Fire and Emergency Crew, Petersburg Police, Dinwiddie County Sheriff deputies and Virginia State Police.
Police are using a helicopter and K-9 to track the juveniles. Investigators are still trying to determine what started the riot. The four escapees have ties to Greensville County and Emporia. Those living in the area are asked to use caution and call police if they see anyone suspicious.
NEW YORK Feb 6 2013 AP — A federal prison guard was charged Tuesday with having an illegal affair with an inmate convicted in one of New York’s most notorious police killings, later becoming pregnant with his child.
Nancy Gonzalez, 29, was arrested Tuesday on charges she intentionally engaged in a sex act with Ronell Wilson while working the night shift at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. She became pregnant in June, a few months into the affair, according to court papers. Gonzalez appeared in court Tuesday visibly pregnant and crying, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, and was released on $150,000 bond.
“She’s had a very tragic life,” said her attorney, Anthony Rico. “She has long-term issues that affected her life and judgment.”
Her family didn’t comment as a swarm of photographers and television cameras surrounded them outside federal court. Gonzalez buried her head in Rico’s shoulder while he spoke to reporters.
“These are very serious charges,” he said, adding he wouldn’t say whether Wilson pressured Gonzalez into the affair.
Wilson, 30, was a young gang member on Staten Island when he was convicted in the point-blank shootings of undercover officers James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews in a 2006 illegal gun sting gone awry. The officers were both shot in the back of the head. Wilson was sentenced to death, but the sentence was thrown out in 2010 by an appeals court based on prosecutorial error.
Wilson could still face death; a new jury will decide his fate. But the replay of the trial’s penalty phase has been put off as Wilson’s lawyers seek to convince a judge that he’s ineligible for the death penalty because he’s mentally disabled.
In November, a hearing was held on the claim, and a decision from Judge Nicholas Garaufis is pending, though it’s unclear how Gonzalez’s arrest will affect the motion.
Wilson was moved to solitary confinement in August while the reports of the relationship were investigated.
According to court papers, Gonzalez was seen by other inmates going in and out of Wilson’s cell starting in March, meeting him in a vacant activity room next to his cell when other inmates were supposed to be sleeping.
“I took a chance because I was so vulnerable and wanted to be loved and now I am carrying his child,” Gonzalez said, according to court papers.
She said she “kind of got sucked into his world,” and that she “felt like, well, why not give him a child as far as giving him some kind of hope.”
She confessed her relationship with Wilson to a different boyfriend, another inmate who had been under her supervision at the federal prison but is now housed at a state facility. She said it was over with Wilson, and that she was worried she would get into trouble.
After she became pregnant, Wilson’s mother made contact, requesting a sonogram photo, according to court papers. Gonzalez said she was worried about the calls because she feared authorities would catch her.
“I know what’s to come. I know what is going to be said about me,” she said, according to court papers. “How am I going to explain this to this little boy? Mommy was in the military … Mommy was a C.O., Mommy got wrapped up … And then the opposite end is with a person who took lives. So how do you explain that?”
Thirteen Former West Texas Prison Employees Indicted for Accepting Bribes in Exchange for Smuggling Contraband into Federal Detention Facility www.privateofficer.com
U.S. Attorney’s Office
El Paso TX Feb 1 2013 Federal authorities arrested 12 former Ector County Correctional Center (ECCC) guards and one former ECCC employee this morning for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for smuggling contraband to inmates inside the federal detention facility announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan, El Paso Division.
The defendants are individually named in 13 federal grand jury indictments returned on January 23, 2013, and unsealed today. The indictments allege that during 2011 and 2012, the correctional officers, as well as Barbara Garrett, a food service worker, smuggled in contraband to inmates, including cell phones, chargers, tobacco, and marijuana, in exchange for cash in knowing violation of their official duties. Those indicted and arrested include:
Jovanna Marie Olivarez, age 21, of Odessa
Matthew Ryan Williams, age 20, of Odessa
Dennis Earl Newsome, age 63, of Austin, Texas
Charlette Smith, age 46, of Odessa
Nancy Torres Morales, age 36, of Odessa
Valerie Ann Arenivas, age 22, of Odessa
Gabriel Angel Navarette, age 23, of Odessa
Jennifer Armida Lopez, age 25, of Odessa
Jessica Lucia Smith, age 33, of Monahans, Texas
Jazmine Desiree Cruz, age 19, of Odessa
Jonathon Wayne Meza, age 29, of Odessa
Barbara Jean Garrett, age 52, of Andrews, Texas
Ashley Dawn Clark, age 29, of Crane, Texas
Each defendant is charged with one count of accepting a bribe. Upon conviction, each defendant faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by agents with Federal Bureau of Investigation, together with investigators from the Odessa Police Department and the Ector County Sheriff’s Office along with cooperation from the United States Marshals Service and ECCC. Assistant United States Attorney John Klassen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. Jan 17 2013(AP) – A former Alabama corrections officer has pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and obstruction of justice.
Officials say Matthew E. Davidson pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery to two counts of violating the civil rights of former inmate at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton. Davidson also pleaded guilty to conspiring with other corrections officers to try covering the incident up.
The charges stem from a 2010 incident involving 24-year-old Rocrast Mack, an inmate who was severely beaten and later died.
Authorities say Davidson assaulted Mack before delivering him to another area of the prison where he knew the man would be beaten again. Davidson and his accomplices have said a supervisor continued beating Mack and instructed them to lie about the incident in later reports.
Brownwood TX Jan 8 2013
At age 13, Jacqueline firmly tells Simply, a dachshund-Chihuahua mix, to heel, stay, then pray. The tan-colored little hound follows each command, then gives her young trainer a “high five.”
Simply gets a treat.
Jacqueline gets a lesson about life.
“She’s taught me how not to give up on myself,” said the girl, serving time for manslaughter. She has served 15 months and is to be out by May. “Simply’s taught me how to set goals, how to achieve goals.”
Dog and girl are part of a little-known pet adoption program that celebrates its third anniversary this month. PAWS, or Pairing Achievement with Service, operates entirely within the tall security fences at the Ron Jackson Juvenile Corrections Complex in this West Texas city.
Officials say the program, the only one like it in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s six lockups, so far has helped turn around the lives of 41 lawbreaking teen girls and saved 67 dogs from a likely fate of being euthanized.
In all, eight offenders of the 97 at the state’s only lockup for girls participate in the 12-week therapeutic program that April Jameson, the facility’s interim superintendent, said has the lowest rates for misbehavior of any type. “We really don’t have any problems in the PAWS dorm,” she said.
Holli Fenton, a dog lover (she has six) who is the dorm supervisor and overseer of the program, said both the girls and the dogs are carefully screened for compatibility before they can participate. The dogs live in cages in each girl’s cell-like room, and the girls are responsible for feeding, grooming, exercising and training the canines for adoption. They even do a “re-entry” plan for their dog, Fenton said.
If the girls successfully complete the initial training program, they can ask to stay on as mentors to other girls.
“We’re able to use a canine as an example for the girls,” she said. “They have to have teamwork to accomplish things with the dog. They learn patience when they train it. They learn how to organize and redirect themselves.”
The girls have to chart everything: when the dogs are fed, watered and trained as well as when they receive treats and are exercised. The dogs come from a local animal shelter. Costs are covered through donations, officials said.
Full names of the girls are kept secret by state law because they are minors. Details of their crimes aren’t available for the same reason.
On a recent afternoon, in a day room adorned with youth paintings of dogs that have come through the program, Jacqueline and two other girls put their dogs through the paces, showing assorted tricks and skills they have learned.
Looney, a blue tick heeler mix, demonstrated how to stay, speak and “gimme some skin” — a doggie version of a high-five. Junior, a border collie mix, falls down and rolls over at a “bang” command. Simply performed “heel” and other commands on a leash, including a short-legged high-five.
Jacqueline has trained three dogs.
Sierra, 17, who has been at Brownwood seven months, has trained five dogs so far. She is serving an indeterminate sentence for violating her probation for making a terroristic threat.
“I was very skittish when I first came in,” she explained. “This program has showed me how hard I have to work to accomplish a goal. … Now, I want to become a Marine MP and work with canines.”
Holly, 14, who has been here more than a year and a half for a crime she declines to discuss, has trained 12 canines.
The program, said Holly, has taught her “how to cope with my frustrations. It has taught me patience.” When she gets out, Holly wants to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
“This is a program where the girls can learn life skills through training these dogs,” said Mike Griffiths, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. “It’s a small program that pays big dividends — for the girls and the dogs.”
The dividends include allowing the dogs to be trained to erase their bad habits, or to at least teach them how to manage their problems and keep their actions in check, so they might be adopted into new homes, he said.
And for the girls? “It’s much the same,” Griffiths said.
He points to a hand-painted sign on one wall, next to the dogs, that reads: “Growing Great Girls.”
Iowa corrections officer files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, discrimination www.privateofficer.com
IOWA CITY, Iowa Jan 8 2013 (AP) — Administrators let offenders at one of Iowa’s most dangerous prison units watch violent and sexually explicit movies and TV shows for years, despite repeated complaints from a female officer who said it encouraged inmates to sexually harass her.
Murderers, sexual predators and other men housed at a unit for mentally ill inmates at the maximum-security state prison in Fort Madison were allowed to watch movies such as “Deranged,” a horror film that includes a scene in which a woman is beaten, raped, hung upside down and skinned. Among other movies inmates watched were “Delta of Venus,” an erotic film; “Coffey,” which shows sadism and attempted rape; and “Cruel Intentions,” records show.
Despite correctional officer Kristine Sink’s complaints, administrators told her not to turn off the movies or shows. When she did, they accused her of insubordination, according to department records that Sink provided to The Associated Press. One warden blamed Sink for causing problems by complaining, and another supervisor suggested her outfits — a standard-issue uniform — were enticing inmates.
Sink said she has fought a lonely battle under four wardens against movies that caused inmates to become sexually aggressive — through “10 years of misery.” She filed a lawsuit Nov. 30 against prison officials alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace retaliation, seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
“It’s inconceivable. If I had not lived through it myself, I wouldn’t believe this,” she said.
Sink, who started at the prison in 2003 after the factory where she had been working shut down, said the movies played multiple times a day for a week on a television in a common area where 45 inmates could watch. Some inmates would openly masturbate and make sexually harassing comments to her.
Sink said that when prison officials finally acted on her complaints in September 2011 by largely barring movies with sexually explicit content, inmates blamed her and subjected her to a torrent of insults and threats to beat or even kill her. One threw urine on her. Despite the threats, Sink said her supervisors refused to move her to a job where she wouldn’t be in contact with inmates for more than a year. She was finally moved to a desk job last month, after she filed her lawsuit.
Sink’s attorney, Brooke Timmer, said the lawsuit is aimed at forcing changes to allow employees to file complaints without retaliation and be free from sexual harassment by inmates.
“No private employer could get away with this,” she said.
Sink said she began complaining about the practice of allowing inmates to rent or purchase graphic movies to be shown to the unit soon after she went to work there. She filed a formal complaint with in 2007 after the showing of “Deranged.”
“What are we saying to the sex offenders that are already convicted of these crimes and then we provide them visual viewing to fantasize about or to act upon,” Sink wrote to then-Warden John Ault. She told him she has been waiting for management “to fix this wrong and make it right for over four years.”
Sink told Ault, who retired in 2010, that inmates were accusing her of trying to eliminate their movies and suggested a supervisor had let them know she complained.
Ault responded that he took “umbrage” with her claim that management identified her, and said “you, and you alone, have put yourself out there” by turning off movies and complaining. He said it was her who got upset and filed the complaint, even though steps were being taken to select more appropriate movies.
“I question who here has created a ‘more hostile environment to work in’ or an ‘unsecured environment to work in’, as you call it,” Ault wrote. “I cannot disagree with you that some of the scenes in movies have shown sexual violence, especially those involving females, and should not have been shown, and we believe we have tightened up the process to lessen the likelihood of such movies being shown. We must remember, however, that we are an institution of adult males, and much of what we show can be seen on general television broadcasts.”
Sink claims a male supervisor then told her the department had received a complaint from an inmate that her clothes were too tight. Sink says she was humiliated when she was directed to turn around so the supervisor could inspect her uniform.
Weeks later, Ault dismissed Sink’s complaint, saying officials determined the movies didn’t violate the state’s violence-free workplace policy. “As always, we encourage you to continue to report any inappropriate behaviors you may encounter while performing your job duties,” he wrote.
Months later, Sink wrote that she turned off another movie after it showed sexual violence and she found one inmate masturbating in his cell. Another inmate said, “No offense but some women like it that way,” she wrote to superiors. She said such movies jeopardized staff security and hurt the goals of sex offender treatment.
Department spokesman Fred Scaletta said he couldn’t comment on Sink’s allegations. He said the agency prohibits the showing of NC-17 films and requires any R-rated videos to have a “redeeming value.” Unrated shows must be reviewed to ensure they are appropriate, he said.
In 2009, Ault adopted guidelines that allowed movies to be shown in inmates’ cells after 9 p.m., not in the common area. But Sink said Ault’s successor, Nick Ludwick, loosened the restriction at the urging of inmates. Ault and Ludwick declined interview requests.
In 2011, inmates were allowed to watch the Showtime series, “Californication.” Sink said she objected to sex scenes that “whipped up” inmates and turned off the show despite an order not to do so. Sink said she was investigated for insubordination and later learned she received a disciplinary letter, which has since been removed from her file.
COLUMBIA, SC Jan 8 2013 (AP) – A fire has destroyed two buildings at a prison near Columbia.
No one was hurt.
The fire was reported around 7 p.m. Sunday at Walden Correctional Institution. One building contained farm equipment. The other was a one-story office.
Columbia-Richland Fire Department spokesman Brick Lewis says the State Law Enforcement Division will investigate the fire.
More than 30 firefighters and eight fire engines from Columbia and Irmo responded to the fire..
Walden is a minimum security prison at a large prison complex on Broad River Road.
CHICAGO IL Dec 19 2012 — Two convicted bank robbers used a knotted rope or bed sheets to escape from a federal prison window high above downtown Chicago early Tuesday, a week after one of them made a courtroom vow of retribution.
The escape occurred sometime between 5 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. when the inmates were discovered missing, Chicago Police Sgt. Mark Lazarro said. Hours later, what appeared to be a rope, knotted at six-foot intervals, could be seen dangling into an alley from a window of the Metropolitan Correctional Center approximately 20 stories above the ground.
Jose Banks, 37, and Kenneth Conley, 38, had been wearing prison-issue orange jumpsuits, but now might be wearing white t-shirts, gray sweat pants and white gym shoes, Lazarro said.
The FBI said in a statement that the men were last seen together in the Tinley Park area, about 25 miles southwest of Chicago, and that they should be considered armed and dangerous. Police SWAT teams stormed a Tinley Park home early in the afternoon, but it was not immediately clear what they found.
Banks is described as a Black man, 5-feet-8, weighing 160 pounds. Conley is described as white, 6 feet tall, weighing 185 pounds.
The men apparently descended from a thin window on the flat south side of the prison into the alley below. The specially designed cell windows are barely half-a-foot wide.
Crowds of people gathered outside the building where the ropes still blew in the breeze, shaking their heads in disbelief that someone could have escaped from a lockup in the heart of downtown Chicago, just a block or two from key federal court and office buildings.
The owners of several small shops across the street from the wall said they didn’t see any police activity until around 8:30 a.m., when a dozen or more police cars and SWAT teams rushed into the area. Some police officers sprinted for a nearby subway entrance.
“It was clearly already too late. They were long gone,” said Randy Cohen, owner of the Royal Jewelry and Loans store 10 or 20 yards from where the inmates scaled down the rope.
Homeland Security and U.S. Marshal’s Service agents questioned him later in the morning and asked if security cameras on his building could have captured the escape or the men fleeing, Cohen said. He said he didn’t think the cameras would have been pointed in the right direction.
Liquor store owner, Baljit Singh, has a clear view of the side of the prison where the men escaped. She said there was no indication anything was amiss when she arrived at work at 7 a.m.
Banks, known as the Second-Hand Bandit because he wore used clothes during his heists, was convicted last week of robbing two banks and attempting to rob two others. Authorities say he stole almost $600,000, but most of that is still missing.
Banks was convicted by a federal jury last week after a trial at which he had to be restrained because he threatened to walk out of the courtroom. He acted as his own attorney and verbally sparred with the judge.
After U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer convicted him, he said he would “be seeking retribution as well as damages,” the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported.
When the judge asked how long he needed to submit a filing, Banks replied, “No motion will be filed, but you’ll hear from me,” the newspapers reported.
Conley pleaded guilty last October to robbing a Homewood Bank last year of nearly $4,000.
The arrest came after an internal investigation by the Georgia Department of Corrections. The investigator reported that the officer had allegedly brought tobacco across the guard line and taken money for it.