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)

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  • 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 @

  • 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.


    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.




    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.


    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.


    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.