George Carlin mourned as counterculture hero

George Carlin, who died of heart failure Sunday at 71 

May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008

 This is a March 19, 2004 file photo of actor and comedian George Carlin posing in a New York hotel .  A publicist for George Carlin says the legendary comedian has died of heart failure at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., Sunday June 22, 2008.    (AP Photo/Gregory Bull/file)

Requested post.

  • On Saturday,July 26..9am..there will be a Picnic and Reunion for all NYC Correction(retired) Personnel..This is open to all RETIREE’S even from other agencies..All we ask is that you bring something to throw on the grill..bring friends and a positive attitude.

    contact,,Retired NYC Correction Officer 1st grade Andrew Roane @ aroane5051@aol.com

  • Inmates think twice about escaping from here

    This La. prison is surrounded by bears, gators and — and guards

    NEW ORLEANS – The way the warden sees it, the more than 400-pound black bear living in the middle of the sprawling Louisiana State Penitentiary is an extra layer of security.

    “I love that bear being right where it is,” Warden Burl Cain said Monday. “I tell you what, none of our inmates are going to try to get out after dark and wander around when they might run into a big old bear. It’s like having another guard at no cost to the taxpayer.”

    The bear was first seen by an inmate crossing a road in the prison on Friday. It was taking a stroll near the center of the state’s only maximum security prison, which is about 115 miles northwest of New Orleans. Most of the roughly 28-square-mile prison is run as a farm, but about 5 1/2 square miles is mostly untouched piney woods.

    Prison workers measured the bear’s footprints, which were 6 inches in diameter, Cain said.

    “Every inch equals 75 pounds, so that would make it about 450 pounds,” Cain said. “The wildlife people told us they think it’s a big female they’ve been tracking for a while.”

    Up to 10 bears on prison grounds
    Prison officials believe they have eight to 10 bears on the grounds, said Gary Young, head of the executive management office at the prison.

    Maria Davidson, manager of the Large Carnivore Program for the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, doubts there are that many, but marvels that even one was spotted in an area of high activity such as the center of the prison.

    “Bears are actually very shy, their tendency is to run and hide,” Davidson said.

    As for acting as an unpaid prison guard, Davidson doubts that the bear would provide much of a deterrent to a fleeing prisoner.

    “We’ve never had a predatory attack by a black bear in Louisiana, to our knowledge, on pets or livestock,” she said. “As for a bear coming out and rushing an inmate, I don’t see that happening.”

    The prison, known as Angola, is isolated and has plenty of other kinds of dangerous wildlife, including alligators, rattlesnakes and wild pigs, Young said. The last recorded escape was nearly three years ago, and the inmate was quickly recaptured before leaving the grounds.

    source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24472774/

    Prisons go begging for guards

    AUSTIN — The Neal prison in Amarillo has so few guards working these days that Dorothy Barfoot, a correctional officer, often finds herself working alone in a dorm with 80 to 100 male felons.

    Sometimes, she gets so scared that her knees shake.

    “Usually, there should be two (additional correctional officers), at least,” the 13-year veteran said.

    But the prison can’t find enough people to do the job of guarding inmates — in Amarillo or virtually anywhere else.

    The Texas prison system is short more than 4,300 guards; with 17 percent of its full-time security positions unfilled. Nearly one in five of the state’s 106 prisons operates with less than 75 percent of its correctional guards.

    Far-flung Fort Stockton, the worst-staffed unit, operates with 59 percent of its correctional officers. Barfoot’s lockup in Amarillo operates with 76 percent of its allotted guard positions.

    The prison system has 34 percent fewer guards today than when seven Texas inmates pulled off a brazen escape at the Connally Uni t in South Texas in 2000 — when everyone acknowledged the system was in crisis — even though its inmate population has grown 5 percent since then, to 153,000.

    Testifying before a legislative hearing last month, Texas Prison Board Chairman Brad Livingston called the guard shortage critical.

    To deal with the shortage, the prison board March 27 approved a 10 percent emergency raise for all new employees — bringing starting salaries to $25,000 a year — and $1,500 signing bonuses for those taking jobs at the hardest-to-staff units.

    The raises were an attempt to address the fact that Texas prison guards earned the second-lowest guard salaries in the nation, according to the union that represents many state correctional officers, AFSCME-CEC7. The yearly turnover rate for first-year correctional staff is 43 percent.

    The signing bonuses were a recognition that staffing shortages are as much about geography as about pay. Texas prisons were built in some of the most out-of-the-way areas of the state.

    Thirteen of the 15 prisons with the most severe guard shortages are in towns with fewer than 15,000 people. Nine of those places have lost, not gained, residents since 2000, according to population figures.

    Consider the Dalhart Unit, a 1,300-bed facility that operates with 31 percent of its correctional staff unfilled, and is located in a remote Panhandle town of the same name with 7,000 residents.

    Marty Turner, a field representative with the union AFSCME-CEC7 in the region that includes Dalhart, said the prison always is short-staffed because it has a tiny work force to draw from.

    “There’s no help,” he said.

     Skyrocketing gas prices have made it difficult to lure people to commute from distant towns, he said. A shortage of affordable housing keeps them away.

    “Things are absolutely the worst I’ve seen ’em, and I’ve been (working in and around the prisons) since 1990,” Turner said.

    Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat who heads the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, said he blamed the staffing problems squarely on decisions made during the massive prison building boom of the 1990s to put most of the units in far-flung locations.

    “The state built most of its prisons in all the wrong places,” he said. “They used prisons for economic development. The rural counties would give you the land and throw in other incentives. It might have looked like a bargain but we’re paying a huge price for it.”

    Allan Polunsky served on the prison board between 1987 and 2000, when the prison population jumped from 49,000 inmates to 147,000. In an interview last month, Polunsky said he generally was opposed to building prisons in rural areas — but his board colleagues, and the rural lawmakers who wielded power back then, favored it.

    “There certainly was political persuasion that came into place,” Polunsky said.

     He noted rural communities often lobbied as hard to bring prisons into their communities as metropolitan areas lobbied to keep them out.

    The state built most of its correctional facilities for youths in remote places, too, and now faces chronic staffing shortages at many of those units. Whitmire champions closing the Texas Youth Commission altogether and moving its 2,800 juvenile offenders back to the mostly urban communities from which they come.

    Whitmire said he has heard no talk of relocating the 106 prisons that house 153,000 adult inmates across the state.

    “We have no choice,” he said of those facilities. “We’re stuck with them.”

    Union leaders say the recent raises for newly hired guards may do nothing to ease the shortage because the fix largely ignores seasoned officers.

    “They’ve created a big problem with the veterans. They’re raising cane. They’ve been the backbone of this agency,” said Brian Olsen, who heads the correctional officers union.

    Meanwhile, officials in the most understaffed units have resorted to confining inmates in their pods for long stretches at a time, depriving them of work assignments and outdoor recreation.

    Last fall, because of the staffing shortage, officials at the Dalhart Unit closed an entire 300-bed dorm. Michelle Lyons, a prison spokeswoman, said there were no plans to reopen it.

     

     

    source: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/crime/stories/MYSA.043008.1A.prisons.b2d64659.html

    Yorkshire Prison Staff In Walkout

    A protest by prison officers at six Yorkshire jails has ended after senior officials agreed to look again at the suspensions of two staff members, the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) has said.

    Walkout over suspension dispute

    Walkout over suspension dispute

    The walkout centred around a dispute at Lindholme prison and the POA.

    Earlier reports said some 1,000 prison officers were involved in the walkout as it spread from Everthorpe and Moorland prisons to New Hall, Wakefield and Hull.

    But a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “No more than 200 officers from three prisons took industrial action this afternoon which is now over.

    source: http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-1314715,00.html?f=rss

    Lawyers sue again over prison overcrowding in Philadelphia

    PHILADELPHIA – A year after a federal judge issued a scathing order over conditions at Philadelphia‘s crowded jails, the problem has only worsened, civil rights lawyers charge in a lawsuit filed Monday.

    Three people are routinely held in two-bunk cells, leaving the third to sleep in a blue, plastic shell on the floor, inches from the toilet, they said. The overcrowding jeopardizes medical care and other basic needs of the record 9,300 people now in city custody, the lawsuit alleges.

    “Our clients are being detained in unconstitutional conditions, and we think the court’s intervention is necessary to get the problems resolved,” lawyer Jonathan Feinberg said Monday.

    Feinberg works with University of Pennsylvania law professor David Rudovsky, who filed a similar lawsuit last year as well as a 1971 complaint that led to court oversight of Philadelphia jails through 2001.

    The prison census has grown from about 8,800 when U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick issued his order in January 2007.

    New Mayor Michael Nutter wants to explore alternatives to prison for some nonviolent offenders and hopes to reduce recidivism through a program that offers tax breaks to firms that hire ex-offenders.

    Nutter, who took office in January, also has asked his prison commissioner to outline other ways to reduce the prison population, a spokesman said.

    Feinberg acknowledged Nutter’s interest in the problem and said he hopes the two sides can work together.

    In a 76-page opinion last year, Surrick ordered the city to immediately provide prisoners with clean cells, toilets, showers, beds and medical attention. He allowed the use of three-person cells only as a temporary solution.

    But the judge’s temporary injunction expired in the middle of last year. Today, about 2,000 to 3,000 inmates are housed three-to-a-cell, Feinberg said.

    Monday’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 inmates housed at four city jails, but seeks class certification on behalf of all city inmates.

    The lawsuit seeks, as one remedy, a three-judge panel to review the potential release of some nonviolent offenders.

    The city has 60 days to formally respond to the lawsuit.

    source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080429/ap_on_re_us/prison_overcrowding_lawsuit

    Steroids swiped from Bergen detention center

    Four boxes of human growth hormone have gone missing from Bergen County’s juvenile detention center in Paramus, but county officials are saying little about it.

    Employees of the juvenile detention facility reported the steroids — valued at $2,500 — missing last month from a refrigerator inside the lockup.
     
    “We have police investigating the matter,” county spokesman Brian Hague said today. The drugs have not been recovered, Hague said.

    County officials have declined to release the county police report of the incident, despite a public-records request. Officials cited an “ongoing criminal investigation” as the reason, as well as health privacy concerns.

    Hague also declined to say whether the human growth hormone was kept under lock at the East Ridgewood Avenue jail — and, if so, how many employees have access to the keys.

    County police responded to a call of “possible theft” at the juvenile detention facility on the morning of March 28, when employees found the drugs missing, officials said.

    Employees told police that four boxes — about 28 doses — of Humatrope, a brand name injectable human growth hormone, had disappeared. The medication was being used for an inmate’s medical condition.

    Human growth hormone is a natural substance that fuels growth during childhood and helps maintain tissues and organs in adulthood. It is also sold as a prescription drug for short children whose.

    The use of human growth hormone, or HGH, among athletes was a key finding in former Sen. George Mitchell’s report for Major League Baseball, which was released on Dec. 13.

    The report said that players who used it believed it helped them recover from injuries and fatigue. They also believed it made them stronger.

    source: http://www.northjersey.com/news/aroundnj/Steroid_stolen_from_Bergen_detention_center.html

    Pregnant prisoner chained up in hospital 24 hours a day

    Link to this audio
    Alexander McLeish, whose daughter is a pregnant prisoner, is furious she was shackled while in hospital

     

    A prisoner who was admitted to hospital after serious complications during her pregnancy was shackled to a security officer on a metre-long chain while she slept, showered and used the toilet.

    Donna McLeish, 21, an inmate at Cornton Vale, the women’s prison in Stirling, was also placed under 24-hour surveillance by three guards from private security firm Reliance during a separate hospital visit despite the fact she was only able to walk using crutches at the time.

    McLeish, who is seven months pregnant, was sentenced in January to two years in prison for assault following a glass attack on a woman at a nightclub. She told of being handcuffed to the Reliance officer when she was admitted to hospital in March with a blood clot on the placenta.

    Gerard Sweeney, McLeish’s solicitor, yesterday confirmed his client was considering legal action against Reliance and said he feared for her health.

    “When I visited Miss McLeish in hospital she was sitting on the bed and there were two Reliance officers, one male and one female. I was quite surprised to see this. Miss McLeish told me she was chained to one of the officers for a 24-hour period, including when she was showering, when the chain would be passed under the shower curtain. It was a big long chain more than a metre, attached to the officer’s wrist.

    “When she was toileting she was still chained and when she was sleeping she was chained too. Obviously I thought that was just outrageous. I spoke to the officers and they confirmed it. Most startlingly, the security officers were present during clinical examinations male and female officers.”

     

    Link to this audio
    Professor Sheila Kitzinger campaigns to stop the shackling of pregnant prisoners

     

    Reliance, which has been fined in the past for having prisoners escape on its watch, said in a statement yesterday: “We have recently modified our procedures in agreement with the Scottish Prison Service [SPS] to ensure that pregnant female prisoners are not handcuffed at any stage of their transportation to hospital or their stay in hospital.”

    “We did have a case in March where a pregnant female prisoner was mistakenly handcuffed when a risk assessment showed that was unnecessary. The cuffs were removed, and an apology was made.”

    McLeish is understood to have detailed her experiences in a letter to the SPS. The SPS said yesterday it was unable to say how long she had been kept in chains but conceded it was a mistake.

    “Absolutely there was a mistake for which we have apologised,” said a spokesman, Tom Fox. “There are procedures for heavily pregnant females which state that they are not to be under the same sort of restraints as other prisoners.”

    Yesterday McLeish’s father Alex told the Guardian he had seen his daughter attached to the chain.

    He said: “I don’t want or expect her to have five-star treatment but I just would like her health and safety to be looked after and for her to have a bit of dignity.”

    source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/apr/28/prisonsandprobation.justice?gusrc=rss&am

    Guantánamo drives prisoners insane, lawyers say

    Next month, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was once a driver for Osama bin Laden, could become the first detainee to be tried for war crimes in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. By now, he should be busily working on his defense.

    But his lawyers say he cannot. They say Hamdan, already the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, has essentially been driven insane by solitary confinement in a tiny cell where he spends at least 22 hours a day, goes to the bathroom and eats all his meals. His defense team says he is suicidal, hears voices, has flashbacks, talks to himself and says the restrictions of Guantánamo “boil his mind.”

    “He will shout at us,” said his military defense lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Brian Mizer. “He will bang his fists on the table.”

    His lawyers have asked a military judge to stop his case until Hamdan is placed in less restrictive conditions at Guantánamo, saying he cannot get a fair trial if he cannot focus on defending himself. The judge is to hear arguments as soon as Monday on whether he has the power to consider the claim.

    Critics have long asserted that Guantánamo’s climate-controlled isolation is a breeding ground for insanity. But turning that into a legal claim marks a new stage for the military commissions at Guantánamo. As military prosecutors push to get trials under way, they are being met with challenges not just to the charges, but to Guantánamo itself.

    Conditions are more isolating than many death rows and maximum-security prisons in the United States, said Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who is an expert on U.S. prison conditions.

    Pentagon officials say that Guantánamo holds dangerous men humanely and that there is no unusual quantity of mental illness there. Guantánamo, a military spokeswoman said, does not have solitary confinement, only “single-occupancy cells.”

    In response to questions, Commander Pauline Storum, the spokeswoman for Guantánamo, asserted that detainees were much healthier psychologically than the population in U.S. prisons. Storum said about 10 percent could be found mentally ill, compared, she said, with data showing that more than half of inmates in U.S. correctional institutions had mental health problems.

    With their filings, Hamdan’s lawyers are setting the stage for similar challenges to the procedures of Guantánamo in some 80 expected war crimes cases, lawyers for other detainees say. “The issue of mistreatment of prisoners, the miserable lives they live in these cells, will come up in every case,” said Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer for 35 detainees.

    The case of Salim Hamdan is already a landmark because the Supreme Court used an earlier case against him to strike down the Bush administration’s first military commission system in 2006. But that case, like most of the legal battles over Guantánamo, did not affect conditions there.

    Lawyers for detainees argue that the effects of intense isolation have gradually turned the prison camp into something of a highly fortified mental ward. Hamdan’s lawyers say his place as one of the best-known detainees has not spared him.

    In more than six years of detention, Hamdan has had two phone calls to his family and no visits. He has been disciplined, legal filings say, for having a Snickers bar that was given to him by his lawyers and for possessing too many socks.

    “Conditions are asphalt, excrement and worse,” he wrote his lawyers in February. “Why, why, why?”

    At Guantánamo, there are no family visits, no televisions and no radios. A new policy will for the first time permit one telephone call a year.

    In the cells where Hamdan and more than 200 of Guantánamo’s 280 detainees are now held, communication with other detainees is generally by shouting through the slit in the door used for the delivery of meals. Mail is late and often censored, lawyers say.

    The military prosecutors declined to comment on the claims about Hamdan’s condition. As is common at Guantánamo, their legal filings were not made public before the scheduled court date. But defense filings released by Hamdan’s lawyers recited some of the prosecution arguments.

    The prosecutors argued that the way that Hamdan was being held did not constitute solitary confinement in part because “detainees can communicate through the walls.” They said that Hamdan had denied having mental problems and that he was no model detainee, spitting at guards, threatening assault and throwing urine.

    Speaking generally, Storum said detainees were enemy combatants held safely. “We are holding the right people,” she asserted, “in the right place, for the right reasons, and doing it the right way.”

    Prosecutors have said Hamdan, now about 39, helped bin Laden elude capture after the 2001 terror attacks. He is charged with transporting weapons for Al Qaeda and being a bin Laden bodyguard and driver.

    In recent weeks, his case has drawn wide notice because the defense asserted that senior Pentagon officials exerted improper influence over military prosecutors and pressed cases for political reasons.

    Hearings on that issue, also scheduled for next week, may expose the internal workings of the military commissions. The former chief Guantánamo prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis, who has become a critic of the way the war crimes system is run, is slated to testify for Hamdan.

    But the claim about Hamdan’s mental health could expose the workings of Guantánamo. According to military statistics, three-quarters of the detainees have been held recently in two “camps” that look much like American prisons. Camp5 and Camp6, heavily guarded concrete buildings, hold men who have yet to face trial. Behind a heavy door, each cell has a handful of sanctioned items including a cup and a Koran.

    Officials concede that the daily two hours of recreation in a chain-link pen is sometimes offered in the dark. From inside their cells, detainees cannot see the outdoors. From the exercise pens they sometimes can see only a sliver of sky.

    Michael Mone Jr., a Boston lawyer, visited a client last month in Camp5, where Hamdan is held. Mone said his client, an Uzbek detainee, asked why he could not be held in a place where he could see the sun.

    This winter, lawyers for Abdulghappar Turkistani, a detainee in Camp6, received a letter describing life there. “Losing any contact with anyone,” he wrote, “also being forbidden from the natural sunlight, natural air, being surrounded with a metal box all around is not suitable for a human being.”

    Reporters are not permitted to interview detainees, and some international groups, like Amnesty International, have been denied access to them. In leaked reports in 2004, investigators for the International Committee of the Red Cross, who do see detainees, said their treatment, including solitary confinement, amounted to torture. But the Red Cross usually keeps its conclusions private.

    As a result, much of what is known about current conditions at Guantánamo comes from lawyers, who visit regularly under tight restrictions. Many describe the men as depressed or delusional. Some, they say, show obvious signs of what some of them call “Guantánamo psychosis.”

    Four detainees are believed to have committed suicide in 2006 and 2007, but the military has never released the official details.

    Some of the men are increasingly paranoid and some are losing touch with reality, said Rebecca Dick, a Washington lawyer who visited two Afghan detainees in March. “One client said, ‘I’m talking to the ceiling now,’ ” Dick recalled.

    Six detainees, according to military officials, are now on hunger strikes. They are fed liquid nutrition through tubes inserted in their nostrils daily.

    Stafford Smith said one of his clients, a hunger striker, was fixated on a mathematical formula that he believed proved that he would be the next to die. Another detainee, Stafford Smith said, has smeared feces on his cell walls. “When I asked him why he was doing it, he told me he had no idea,” Stafford Smith said.

    Last month a lawyer for nine detainees who are members of China’s Uighur ethnic minority told a congressional committee that one of them, Huzaifa Parhat, said that life at Guantánamo was like having already died. The lawyer, Sabin Willett, said Parhat asked the lawyers to pass on a message. He told them to tell his wife to remarry.

    Military officials often dismiss such descriptions as accounts by gullible lawyers manipulated by terrorists trained to make false claims of mistreatment.

    Detainees’ lawyers say the military methodically understates the mental illness at Guantánamo for public relations reasons.

    In military commission proceedings in recent weeks, there have been hints that some of the men facing charges may be deteriorating psychologically. A military lawyer for a Sudanese detainee said her client appeared frantic and asked that he be evaluated. When a judge asked a Saudi detainee the name of a lawyer, the detainee’s answer was: “I have been here for six years. Thank God I can even still remember the names of my own family.”

    But Hamdan’s case is the first in the current military commission system to try to air fully the claim that Guantánamo is warping the minds of the men held there.

    Mizer said Hamdan talked unendingly about his desire to be moved to Camp4, the only place at Guantánamo where detainees are permitted to live communally. Camp4 is believed to house 50 or fewer detainees whom officials classify as highly compliant.

    Hamdan blames his lawyers for failing to get him out of Camp5, Mizer said, and will talk only about that. “He refuses to talk about his case,” he said.

    The trial is now set to begin on May 28. But twice in recent months, Mizer said, Hamdan has said he was dismissing Mizer from the case. “He said I don’t ever want to see you again,” Mizer said.

    There is only one subject, he said, that Hamdan discusses: Getting out of his cell in Camp5 at Guantánamo Bay.

    source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/04/26/america/gitmo.php?page=1

    Prison Chaplain Accused Of Choking Wife

    SAN QUENTIN, Calif. — A chaplain at San Quentin State Prison is free on bail after being arrested for allegedly choking his wife with an electrical cord.

     

    Rafeeq Hassan was taken into custody Thursday after prison staff called deputies to report a domestic disturbance in a staff housing area.

     

    Marin County authorities said when deputies arrived, they determined that Hassan had choked his wife with his hands and an electrical cord during an argument.

    Hassan was booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, threatening with a weapon and corporal injury on a spouse.

     

    His wife was treated at the scene by San Rafael firefighters.

     

    Hassan is a longtime Muslim prison chaplain who has lived at San Quentin for seven years.

    source:  http://www.kcra.com/news/15990567/detail.html?rss=sac&psp=news

    U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations

     

    The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

    Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

    Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.

    The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

    China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China’s extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)

    San Marino, with a population of about 30,000, is at the end of the long list of 218 countries compiled by the center. It has a single prisoner.

    The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

    The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.

    The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate.

    There is little question that the high incarceration rate here has helped drive down crime, though there is debate about how much.

    Criminologists and legal experts here and abroad point to a tangle of factors to explain America’s extraordinary incarceration rate: higher levels of violent crime, harsher sentencing laws, a legacy of racial turmoil, a special fervor in combating illegal drugs, the American temperament, and the lack of a social safety net. Even democracy plays a role, as judges — many of whom are elected, another American anomaly — yield to populist demands for tough justice.

    Whatever the reason, the gap between American justice and that of the rest of the world is enormous and growing.

    It used to be that Europeans came to the United States to study its prison systems. They came away impressed.

    “In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States,” Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American penitentiaries in 1831, wrote in “Democracy in America.”

    No more.

    “Far from serving as a model for the world, contemporary America is viewed with horror,” James Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale, wrote last year in Social Research. “Certainly there are no European governments sending delegations to learn from us about how to manage prisons.”

    Prison sentences here have become “vastly harsher than in any other country to which the United States would ordinarily be compared,” Michael Tonry, a leading authority on crime policy, wrote in “The Handbook of Crime and Punishment.”

    Indeed, said Vivien Stern, a research fellow at the prison studies center in London, the American incarceration rate has made the United States “a rogue state, a country that has made a decision not to follow what is a normal Western approach.”

    The spike in American incarceration rates is quite recent. From 1925 to 1975, the rate remained stable, around 110 people in prison per 100,000 people. It shot up with the movement to get tough on crime in the late 1970s. (These numbers exclude people held in jails, as comprehensive information on prisoners held in state and local jails was not collected until relatively recently.)

    The nation’s relatively high violent crime rate, partly driven by the much easier availability of guns here, helps explain the number of people in American prisons.

    “The assault rate in New York and London is not that much different,” said Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group. “But if you look at the murder rate, particularly with firearms, it’s much higher.”

    Despite the recent decline in the murder rate in the United States, it is still about four times that of many nations in Western Europe.

    But that is only a partial explanation. The United States, in fact, has relatively low rates of nonviolent crime. It has lower burglary and robbery rates than Australia, Canada and England.

    People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, Whitman wrote.

    Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

    Those figures have drawn contempt from European critics. “The U.S. pursues the war on drugs with an ignorant fanaticism,” said Stern of King’s College.

    Many American prosecutors, on the other hand, say that locking up people involved in the drug trade is imperative, as it helps thwart demand for illegal drugs and drives down other kinds of crime. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, for instance, has fought hard to prevent the early release of people in federal prison on crack cocaine offenses, saying that many of them “are among the most serious and violent offenders.”

    Still, it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes American prison policy. Indeed, the mere number of sentences imposed here would not place the United States at the top of the incarceration lists. If lists were compiled based on annual admissions to prison per capita, several European countries would outpace the United States. But American prison stays are much longer, so the total incarceration rate is higher.

    Burglars in the United States serve an average of 16 months in prison, according to Mauer, compared with 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.

    Many specialists dismissed race as an important distinguishing factor in the American prison rate. It is true that blacks are much more likely to be imprisoned than other groups in the United States, but that is not a particularly distinctive phenomenon. Minorities in Canada, Britain and Australia are also disproportionately represented in those nation’s prisons, and the ratios are similar to or larger than those in the United States.

    Some scholars have found that English-speaking nations have higher prison rates.

    “Although it is not at all clear what it is about Anglo-Saxon culture that makes predominantly English-speaking countries especially punitive, they are,” Tonry wrote last year in “Crime, Punishment and Politics in Comparative Perspective.”

    “It could be related to economies that are more capitalistic and political cultures that are less social democratic than those of most European countries,” Tonry wrote. “Or it could have something to do with the Protestant religions with strong Calvinist overtones that were long influential.”

    The American character — self-reliant, independent, judgmental — also plays a role.

    “America is a comparatively tough place, which puts a strong emphasis on individual responsibility,” Whitman of Yale wrote. “That attitude has shown up in the American criminal justice of the last 30 years.”

    French-speaking countries, by contrast, have “comparatively mild penal policies,” Tonry wrote.

    Of course, sentencing policies within the United States are not monolithic, and national comparisons can be misleading.

    “Minnesota looks more like Sweden than like Texas,” said Mauer of the Sentencing Project. (Sweden imprisons about 80 people per 100,000 of population; Minnesota, about 300; and Texas, almost 1,000. Maine has the lowest incarceration rate in the United States, at 273; and Louisiana the highest, at 1,138.)

    Whatever the reasons, there is little dispute that America’s exceptional incarceration rate has had an impact on crime.

    “As one might expect, a good case can be made that fewer Americans are now being victimized” thanks to the tougher crime policies, Paul Cassell, an authority on sentencing and a former federal judge, wrote in The Stanford Law Review.

    From 1981 to 1996, according to Justice Department statistics, the risk of punishment rose in the United States and fell in England. The crime rates predictably moved in the opposite directions, falling in the United States and rising in England.

    These figures,” Cassell wrote, “should give one pause before too quickly concluding that European sentences are appropriate.”

    Other commentators were more definitive. “The simple truth is that imprisonment works,” wrote Kent Scheidegger and Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in The Stanford Law and Policy Review. “Locking up criminals for longer periods reduces the level of crime. The benefits of doing so far offset the costs.”

    There is a counterexample, however, to the north. “Rises and falls in Canada’s crime rate have closely paralleled America’s for 40 years,” Tonry wrote last year. “But its imprisonment rate has remained stable.”

    Several specialists here and abroad pointed to a surprising explanation for the high incarceration rate in the United States: democracy.

    Most state court judges and prosecutors in the United States are elected and are therefore sensitive to a public that is, according to opinion polls, generally in favor of tough crime policies. In the rest of the world, criminal justice professionals tend to be civil servants who are insulated from popular demands for tough sentencing.

    Whitman, who has studied Tocqueville’s work on American penitentiaries, was asked what accounted for America’s booming prison population.

    “Unfortunately, a lot of the answer is democracy — just what Tocqueville was talking about,” he said. “We have a highly politicized criminal justice system.”

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    SOURCE: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/04/23/america/23prison.php

    Guards fired every round during prison riot

    The state lawmaker who represents Florence said guards in three towers at the maximum-security prison fired every round of lethal and nonlethal ammunition at their disposal Sunday to quell the melee that erupted when a white-supremacist prison gang taunted African-American inmates on Adolf Hitler’s birthday.

    Two inmates who died were shot by guards, said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West.

    McFadyen said she had been told by corrections officers that the riot at the United States Penitentiary in Florence erupted at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday when the white supremacists began yelling slurs toward African-Americans and a fight ensued.

    The two inmates who were killed were shot after refusing to follow repeated orders from correctional officers and were fired upon only as a last resort, said McFadyen.

    The spokesperson for the Florence prison, Leann LaRiva, confirmed in a release today that the guards did fire on inmates, and she identified the two inmates killed as Brian Scott Kubik and Phillip Lee Hooker.

    Kubik, 40, was serving a 15-year sentence after being convicted in federal court in Oregon as an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. Hooker, 41, was serving a 25-year sentence for armed robbery on charges out of Milwaukee. Kubik was white, and Hooker was black.

    LaRiva said the riot, involving 150 to 200 inmates, was racially motivated. She said inmates were armed with homemade weapons, including rocks, sharpened metal, plastic and wood.

    McFadyen said that the corrections officers repeatedly fired what are called “no man” rounds — warning shots into the yard away from human targets. The intent is to scare and warn, not to hit a target, she said.

    LaRiva said the guards verbally warned the inmates to settle down, then fired “tactical distraction rounds” before using lethal force.

    “The quick and effective response by staff prevented further loss of life,” she said in the new release.

    Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, said the FBI’s Denver-based “evidence-response team” is currently going through the recreation yard where the riot erupted, collecting evidence.

    He said the FBI is working with U.S. Bureau of Prisons investigators to determine what happened.

    LaRiva said the prison is still on lockdown.

    In a statement released last night, LaRiva said five inmates were taken to local hospitals for treatment. There was no further word on their condition.

    McFadyen said that at the height of the riot, the total federal prison campus was on lockdown, with officers from the other three prisons on the four-prison campus being called into quell the riot.

    The other three prisons include the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, or “Supermax”; the medium security Federal Correctional Institution; and a minimum security camp.

    McFadyen has repeatedly warned that the U.S. Penitentiary, where the riot occurred, was about to blow.

    Early last year, Ken Shatto, the guard union leader, and McFadyen held a news conference warning of the danger.

    Shatto said that in February 2007, tower guards were forced to fire lethal and nonlethal rounds to stop inmates from killing one another.

    “Today, I’m trying to head off full-blown riots,” Shatto said then. “That’s where I think we are headed.”

    McFadyen said today that although Supermax receives more publicity, the U.S. penitentiary is extremely dangerous because of the “domestic gangs” there.

    She said the gangs, such as the white-supremacist gang, are “very organized” and that many of their members are “doing life without any opportunity for parole.”

    source: http://origin.denverpost.com/news/ci_9003398

    Ariz. deportation policy a model, feds say

    The nation’s top immigration officials want other states to copy an Arizona program that releases non-violent, illegal-immigrant inmates from state prisons and deports them.

    Only New York has a similar program, in which eligible inmates are turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for immediate deportation.

    Arizona has referred 1,443 state prisoners to ICE, saving $18.6 million, since the program began in 2005, said Dora Schriro, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections. On average, inmates were released 210 days early.

    Also, 28 were caught after slipping back across the border and were convicted of new crimes in Arizona. Three of them received initial sentences ranging from 2½ to 3½ years. Their crimes included aggravated assault, domestic violence and burglary.

    Eligible inmates typically were convicted of crimes from drunken driving to lower-level drug charges. Early this month, the state turned over three inmates for deportation. Two were convicted of drug charges, one for driving a stolen car.

    Schriro said Arizona was the first state to team up with ICE under the Rapid Repatriation program to help state prison officials identify illegal immigrants when they are booked.

    “It’s a great program. It keeps criminals off the streets of Arizona. It saves the state lots of money,” ICE spokesman Vincent Picard said.

    Deportation figures

    Statewide, ICE deported 42,449 immigrants in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Of those, 12,455, or 29 percent, had criminal records. Through mid-March of this fiscal year, ICE had deported 21,355 people, including 5,649 criminals.

    Julie Myers, assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE, said that those inmates do not include violent criminals. Rapists and murderers do not qualify for early deportation, and only those who could be paroled are considered.

    “People who are eligible for this program do not have significant criminal histories in Mexico or any other country,” Myers said. “For the worst of the worst, it’s absolutely imperative to keep them off any streets.”

    Among Arizona’s 38,300 prison inmates, about 5,400 are designated criminal aliens, meaning they are in the country illegally or have valid visas but broke a law. Of those, 1,600 inmates, or 4 percent, of the prison population, are eligible for early deportation.

    A Corrections Department review last fall reported that 40 percent of illegal immigrants were convicted of violent assaults and ineligible. Among those who could be released early, 37 percent were convicted of drug or alcohol charges and 18 percent committed property crimes.

    An Arizona law passed in 1996 allows the state to turn over illegal immigrants to ICE for deportation before they complete their sentences and sets conditions for doing so. Inmates must serve at least half of their sentences, not be convicted of a violent or sexual offense, and agree not to fight their removal from the country.

    If the deportee returns to the United States and is caught, the immigrant will serve the remainder of the original sentence and face up to 20 years in prison on charges of illegally re-entering the United States.

    Myers said the government has stepped up enforcement on re-entry cases.

    The enforcement idea gained prominence in Los Angeles, where ICE and federal prosecutors teamed up to imprison serious criminals under the nation’s re-entry laws. The government prosecuted 678 cases in 2007, up from 173 in 2006. Immigration cases outnumber all other types of prosecutions, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

    In the federal fiscal year ending Oct. 31, the government prosecuted 74 people on felony re-entry charges in Arizona, up from 12 the year before, Picard said.

    Reduced backlog

    The number of Arizona’s early releases was small until 2005. That’s when ICE and the Department of Corrections struck an agreement to train corrections officers on immigration procedures and ICE transferred responsibility of deporting inmates to a division with more staff.

    That allowed the agencies to begin reducing a backlog of inmates awaiting deportation. Schriro said the state projects 928 early releases this year and 249 in 2009.

    Myers said the federal government has approached all the other states and is close to inking agreements with “a handful” in the next few months. She said populous border states with overcrowded prisons are a priority.

    One Florida state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill to bring the program to the Sunshine State.

    “These people are going to be deported when they get done anyhow,” Florida state Sen. Mike Bennett said. “Why not speed the process and get them out of here?”

    In Arizona, the political climate is tilting toward tougher enforcement, which could spur resistance to releasing immigrants early. At the same time early releases are picking up, the Border Patrol is locking up more first-time border-crossers for 15 days typically.

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says early release is a bad idea.

    “Why are we giving these guys breaks? Why don’t they do the full time, just like a U.S. citizen?” he asked. “If they are worried about money, if they don’t have the room, I have a tent city. I’ll take as many as you want.”

    “Everybody knows they come right back (to the country),” Arpaio added.

    Illegal immigrants serving sentences in county jails aren’t eligible for the early-release program.

    Around the country, jailers don’t know the immigration status of their inmates unless they know to call ICE to ask. Arizona is rare exception because the prison system and Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies have access to ICE’s immigration databases.

    Elsewhere, only 10 percent of the 3,100 local jails have access to immigration databases.

    For now, local jailors call ICE’s support center in Vermont to find out if an inmate also is an illegal immigrant. The center handled a record 728,000 queries in the past fiscal year.
    source: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0415deport0414.html

    Gunmen attack Brazil prison, use helicopter, in failed bid to free inmates

    SAO PAULO, Brazil: Armed men firing from pickup trucks and flying in a helicopter attacked a maximum-security prison holding some of Brazil’s highest-profile inmates but were repelled by guards, authorities said Monday. No inmates escaped.

    The federal prison attacked late Sunday houses Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia and Brazilian gang leader Luiz Fernando da Costa — and authorities were investigating whether the gunmen were trying to free either of the men.

    “The prison was attacked by gunmen wielding heavy caliber weapons,” Wilson Damasio, the director of Brazil’s Federal Penitentiary System, told reporters. “The idea was obviously to free inmates. There is no other reason for attacking a penitentiary.”

    The helicopter flew over the prison during the attack but never landed, according to justice ministry spokesman who declined to give his name in keeping with department policy.

    Shots were fired at the control towers of the prison, and guards counterattacked with their own gunfire and by lobbing grenades, Brazil’s Globo TV reported.

    All of the attackers got away and no one was injured at the prison, located in the Mato Grosso do Sul state capital of Campo Grande in southwestern Brazil.

    Ramirez Abadia — nicknamed “Chupeta,” or “Lollipop” — is accused of leading the powerful Norte del Valle cartel, which emerged as Colombia’s most powerful drug gang in the mid-1990s. A Brazilian judge found him guilty of money laundering, corruption, conspiracy and use of false documents.

    Ramirez Abadia’s gang laundered drug profits from Mexico and Spain, moving money through Uruguay to Brazil and funneling it into hotels, mansions, businesses and cars in Brazil.

    Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled last month that Ramirez Abadia could also be extradited to the United States to face racketeering charges — a decision that is up to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Silva has not indicated whether he will approve the extradition.

    Da Costa is Brazil’s most notorious drug trafficker. Better known as “Fernandinho Beira-Mar” — Portuguese for “Seaside Freddy” — da Costa was captured in 2001 in the Colombian jungle and accused of giving cash and weapons to leftist rebels in exchange for cocaine.

    source: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/04/14/america/LA-GEN-Brazil-Prison-Attack.php

    Man is fatally shot by corrections officer outside Irvington bar

    An off-duty Essex County corrections officer shot and killed a man early today outside an Irvington go-go bar after the victim fired a handgun during a dispute that had spilled onto the sidewalk, police said.

    Clarence Harris, 36, of Newark, was killed at about 1:40 a.m. on Lyons Avenue during a fight with two other men, police said. The corrections officer, who has not been identified, told investigators he fired several shots after Harris refused to drop his weapon, police said.

    Harris was taken to University Hospital. The corrections officer surrendered his weapon to investigators when they arrived at the scene, police said.

    The dispute started inside Florian and Bob’s Doll House, where Harris and his brother — Kaseem Sutton, 29, of Newark — clashed with a 29-year-old Irvington man, police said. Security guards forced them onto the sidewalk, and Harris drew his gun, firing at the Irvington man, police said.

    The corrections officer identified himself, drew his own weapon and fired after Harris refused to drop his gun, police said.

    Sutton was charged with assault.
    source: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/04/man_fatally_shot_by_correction.html

    Warden’s wife charged in ’94 prison escape

    The wife of an Oklahoma deputy warden charged with helping a murderer break out of prison said she lived with the man for years because she was afraid for her life, a Texas rancher who hired the couple said Tuesday.

    “She was just scared of him because he done told her he was going to kill all her family” if she revealed who they were, said rancher Kenneth Rash of Center, Texas.

    The woman, Bobbi Parker, has been charged with assisting the escape of Randolph Dial from Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, Jackson County District Attorney John Wampler said Tuesday. The indictment comes three years after a tip from America’s Most Wanted led law officers to Parker and Dial.

    Now 45, Parker could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Dial died last year at age 62 in prison, where he was returned in 2005.

    Dial told police he kidnapped Parker from the prison in 1994 and forced her to live with him. A court affidavit alleges the two were lovers and that Parker helped Dial escape by hiding him in her car.

    At the time of Dial’s escape, Parker left behind her husband, Randy, who was deputy warden at the prison, and two daughters, then ages 8 and 10. She was reunited with the girls and her husband after she was found on Rash’s ranch in East Texas, where she and Dial had been raising chickens for five years.

    Rash said there was “something strange” about the couple from the start, when they moved into a trailer on his ranch. He knew them as Richard and Samantha Deahl.

    “She was just nervous all the time. She didn’t want to get out of his sight,” Rash said. “When she’d say something when we’d talk to her on the chicken farm, you could tell it made him mad.”

    Parker did occasionally leave the ranch to shop in town, Rash said. And Dial went into town to get his teeth fixed and was treated in a hospital for a heart attack.

    Charles Sasser, a former detective who wrote a book about Dial, said the fugitive called him a few years before his capture and put Parker on the phone.

    “I asked her if she was doing OK, and she said, ‘Yes, I’m fine. I’m happy,’ ” Sasser said Monday. “I asked her if she should talk to her children, and she said, ‘No, maybe it’s better that they think I’m dead.’ ”

    After Dial was taken away, Rash said Parker stayed on at the ranch for a while. He asked her why she did not run from Dial.

    “She told us that (he said) if she ran away or if she called somebody on him (that) if he didn’t do it, he’d have somebody else kill her kids because he was in the Mafia or something.”

    source: http://www.wbir.com/news/national/story.aspx?storyid=56515&provider=rss

     

    ACLU Seeks Sanctions Against New Jersey DOC For Witness Tampering And Retaliation

    Witnesses Describe Beating Of Female Prisoner For Exposing Corruption

    TRENTON – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Jersey filed court papers today requesting that the New Jersey Superior Court impose sanctions against the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) for witness tampering, official misconduct and violations of court rules. The ACLU’s motion for sanctions charges that the DOC obtained false and misleading statements from women prisoners about conditions in the prison in an attempt to defend the prison against claims of inhumane treatment. A female prisoner who exposed the DOC’s misconduct reports being beaten as a result.

    “Witness tampering is a serious criminal act,” said Ed Barocas, ACLU of New Jersey Legal Director. “The Mercer County Prosecutor should immediately investigate the allegations of abuse of power by DOC personnel and attempted fraud on the court.”

    The ACLU asserts that James Drumm, Assistant Administrator of the New Jersey State Prison, offered female prisoners reductions in their disciplinary sentences in exchange for making false statements describing women’s prison conditions in the New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) – a men’s supermax prison – as better than they were. The statements were obtained from women prisoners held in NJSP’s women’s disciplinary segregation unit but described conditions in a different part of the prison where these women did not even reside. DOC officials then introduced the women’s statements in court. After one prisoner, Kareema Thomas, disclosed what had occurred to the ACLU, she was beaten by a prison guard, according to the sworn statements of Thomas and three other women prisoners.

    This is the latest chapter in Jones v Hayman, an ACLU class action lawsuit against the DOC challenging the improper transfer of a group of women to the men’s prison and subjecting them to inhumane and virtual lock-down conditions. On February 8, 2008, the Department of Corrections offered into evidence in that case a letter written by Thomas as proof that conditions for the transferred women prisoners were adequate, even though she had never seen the unit in which the transferred women are held.

    Although most women prisoners in New Jersey are confined in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, women subject to “disciplinary segregation” have for years been held in a section of New Jersey State Prison known as unit “1FF.” The ACLU clients who were transferred to the men’s prison, however, are being held in a separate unit called “1EE.” Furthermore, none of the women in 1EE were transferred for violating prison rules – the usual criteria for disciplinary segregation – but were transferred arbitrarily to the men’s prison without justification.

    “Mr. Drumm made it sound like if I wrote him a letter saying certain things, my time in segregation would be cut,” Thomas said in her sworn statement. Thomas’ account was corroborated by another woman prisoner to whom Drumm made the same offer.

    Thomas alleges she was brutally beaten by a prison guard the day after she met with ACLU attorneys to tell her story, raising questions about whether the beating was retaliatory. Thomas says that during the beating, the guard said, “You have a big mouth” and called her a “nigger with no home training.” Thomas also alleges that, following the beating, Drumm told her, “You’re causing problems in my institution,” and that she should “stop causing trouble.”

    In addition to seeking sanctions against the Department of Corrections for witness tampering and retaliation, the ACLU also charges that prison officials violated court rules by conducting psychiatric examinations of the women the ACLU represents without first notifying their attorneys, and under the guise of the examinations, extracted information from the women about the case. The ACLU’s request for sanctions also presents evidence of prison officials regularly reading confidential attorney-client correspondence and listening in on prisoners’ phone calls to lawyers.

    “The Department of Corrections is taking a scorched earth approach to the civil rights lawsuit brought by these women prisoners,” said Mie Lewis, the ACLU’s lead counsel in the case. “The women deserve a fair hearing of their claims, and that means the Department has to obey the law and court rules.”

    Sanctions sought by the ACLU include striking from the record all of the unlawfully obtained evidence; reassignment of the guard who allegedly beat Thomas; a ban on further evidence-gathering by James Drumm; and permission for the ACLU to further investigate the Department’s misconduct.

    A hearing in the New Jersey Superior Court is scheduled for April 11, 2008.

    Attorneys on the case are Lewis and Lenora Lapidus from the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and Barocas from the ACLU of New Jersey.

    The sanctions brief is available at:
    www.aclu.org/womensrights/nj_prison/34659lgl20080326.html

    More information on the case is available online at:
    www.aclu.org/womensrights/nj_prison/index.html

    source: http://www.aclu.org/womensrights/gen/34654prs20080326.html

    Ex-fed agent pleads guilty in sex-assault case

    A fired immigration agent pleaded guilty Thursday to having sex with a Jamaican woman at his home while he was transferring her from a detention facility in Miami-Dade to another center in Broward.

    Wilfredo Vazquez, 35, of Tamarac, also pleaded guilty to ”placing the woman in fear” during the sexual encounter.

    Vazquez cut a plea deal on the eve of trial this week, avoiding prosecution on the more serious charge of aggravated sexual assault. That’s the equivalent of sexual battery, or rape, in the state criminal court.

    The plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office entailed dismissing two of the counts and recommending a little over seven years in prison to U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas. Had Vazquez gone to trial and been convicted for sexual assault, he could have faced about 30 years in prison.

    ”He now understands and regrets that this woman was in fear during the sexual act,” said Vazquez’s attorney, Joel DeFabio. “As the government stated in court, he never threatened her, struck her or used any physical force against her.

    “He feels very remorseful for the victim and his family.”

    Vazquez, a decorated Iraq war veteran who had served in the Air Force for 16 years, was fired by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after the woman alleged she was raped at his home in September. He had worked as an ICE agent for less than a year.

    Vazquez was transporting her from the Krome Detention Center in West Miami-Dade to the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach on Sept. 21, the date of the incident.

    She was being moved after serving a few months at the Miami Federal Detention Center in connection with a false claim to U.S. citizenship. Immigration officials planned to put her in deportation proceedings after having lived in the United States for 12 years. She has a daughter and son.

    The woman’s immigration lawyer, who brought the case to the attention of U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta, said the victim was prepared to testify at trial but was relieved to put the ordeal behind her.

    ”She told me that she didn’t want this former officer to have the opportunity to sexually abuse anyone else,” said Miami attorney Cheryl Little, head of the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center.

    ”This is not a slap on the wrist. I do believe that justice has been served,” Little said. “Hopefully, this will send a serious message to other officers who abuse detainees — that they will pay a very high price for this type of misconduct.”

    After the victim filed her complaint, immigration authorities granted the woman parole.

    Little said her organization is helping the woman obtain a visa that could lead to her establishing legal residency.

    ”We’re certainly trying to get her a U visa because she has fully cooperated with law enforcement officials,” Little said, expressing her gratitude to prosecutors for making the case and writing a letter of certification supporting her visa.

    When federal agents initially confronted the ICE agent about the woman’s complaint, Vazquez repeatedly denied he ever stopped at his home with the detainee, according to a Department of Homeland Security arrest affidavit.

    But records from Florida’s Turnpike SunPass system showed Vazquez’s official vehicle left the highway at a Commercial Boulevard ramp near his home, according to the affidavit. The victim also described the interior of his home and neighborhood to investigators — along with the sexual encounter.

    The sexual assault prosecution was the first such case since 2000, when officials at the Krome detention center opened an investigation into sexual misconduct by guards and officers at the west Miami-Dade detention facility.

    At least one officer and one contract employee were convicted. The scandal prompted immigration authorities to remove female detainees from Krome. Most women are now housed at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, though some are first processed at Krome.

    The Broward Sheriff’s Office first opened the investigation in late September after the victim disclosed the episode to authorities. The U.S. attorney’s office then developed the case under prosecutor Daniel Rashbaum.

    source: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking_dade/story/481729.html

    Maryland Prison Brutality Probe Angers Unions, Cheers Inmate Advocates

    State Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary Maynard says the cases are the first substantial allegations of excessive force by prison staff since he assumed his job more than a year ago.

    Union representatives have questioned the agency’s willingness to publicize allegations that haven’t yet been thoroughly investigated.

    Union officials argue that inmates fabricate stories for attention.

    But Stephen Meehan, the principal counsel for the Prison Rights Information System of Maryland, is applauding Maynard for taking swift action to remove the bad apples.

    Nine officers at the medium-security Roxbury Correctional Institution near Hagerstown were fired Friday for the alleged beating of an inmate last month.
    source: http://www.wusa9.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=70374

    Indiana County prison teacher accused of sex acts with inmates

    A special education teacher at a state prison in Indiana County has been accused of having sexual contact with three inmates.Shannon R. Warsicki, 37, of 334 Georgetowne Village, Indiana, was charged with two counts of institutional sexual assault and three counts of official oppression for allegedly performing sex acts on two inmates and exposing herself to a third at SCI-Pine Grove, in White Township.

    The incidents allegedly occurred between early 2004 and September 2006.

    She was released on $10,000 unsecured bail and faces a preliminary hearing Thursday before District Judge George Thachik of Clymer.

    Warsicki, a teacher for nearly eight years at the maximum security prison for young male offenders, has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the court proceedings, according to spokesman Douglas Russell, superintendent’s assistant.

    “Department of Corrections employees are held to a code of ethics, which they read and sign upon taking a job with the DOC,” he said.

    SCI-Pine Grove opened in January 2001 and houses 700 inmates, including 300 juveniles who have been adjudicated as adults. The prison operates similar to a school district, employing five teachers, four special education teachers and 14 administrators, Russell said.

    source: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_560620.html?source=rss&feed=7