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Prison News in Brief: France through Mexico

By Prison Legal News

This installment of Prison News in Brief concerns news from France through Mexico and is brought to us by our friends at Prison Legal News.

  • France Prison News

Members of the UFAP-UNSA prison guard union gathered to protest in front of more than 100 jails on June 18, 2013.  The action by the union, whose members are banned from striking, was to bring attention to overcrowding and safety concerns in French prisons.  Protestors set fire to wooden pallets, tires, and other objects, and blocked deliveries to the facilities.  “This is a shot across the bows, to make the powers be aware of the urgency of the situation,” said Union Secretary General Ste’phane Barraut.

  • Hawaii Prison News

John Joseph Kalei Hall was sentenced to thirteen months in prison on June 27, 2013 after receiving an estimated $10,000 to $30,000 in one year for smuggling cartons of cigarettes into Halawa Correctional Facility.  Federal prosecutors said Hall sold the tobacco to the United Samoan Organization, a prison gang, and tipped them off to contraband searches.  U.S. District Court Judge Helen Gillmor said Hall deserved prison time because he promoted criminal activity he was hired to prevent.

  • Honduras Prison News

On August 2, 2013, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a report stating that control at the nation’s 24 prisons had “been ceded into the hands of the prisoners themselves.”  The next day, Honduras President Porfirio Lobo ordered military troops to take control over the National Penitentiary following a violent disturbance that resulted in three deaths and 15 injuries.  Prisons in Honduras are extremely overcrowded and have been cited for poor conditions.

  • Illinois Prison News

Timothy Ware, a 20-year-old veteran guard at the Decatur Correctional Center, was suspended without pay in June 2013 and charged with eight felony counts of official misconduct.  Ware allegedly solicited phone numbers from two female parolees, called them repeatedly to pursue personal or social relationships, and then lied to investigators about obtaining the women’s numbers and the nature of the calls.  DOC regulations prohibit employees from socializing with parolees.  Ware was released from custody after posting a $2,500 cash bond.

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Prison News in Brief: Alabama through Florida

By Prison Legal News

This installment of Prison News in Brief concerns news from Alabama through Florida and is brought to us by our friends at Prison Legal News.

  • Alabama Prison News

On July 29, 2013 there was a break-in at the Draper Correctional Facility.  According to the Department of Corrections, three sections of the prison were burglarized in the early morning hours, and laptop computers and multiple weapons were discovered missing when employees started arriving around 5:00 AM.  The facility’s farm office, radio shop, and dog kennels, which are located apart from the prison population, were reportedly breached.

  • Arizona Prison News

Newly-hired Maricopa County jail guard Rachel Harris, 22, was attacked on June 24, 2013 by prisoner Bobby Ruiz as she entered his cell at the Lower Buckeye Jail, and during the assault Ruiz bit off part of one of her ears.  Two other prisoners rushed in to help Harris, pulling Ruiz off her and restraining him until other guards arrived.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio told reporters that the missing piece of Harris’ ear could not be found and that Ruiz had presumably swallowed it.

  • Arkansas Prison News

Steven Mitchell, 39, died in a crash on July 30, 2013 after leading police on a chase through the state of Missouri.  He had escaped from the Jacksonville County Detention Center in Arkansas two days earlier with another prisoner.  A Nissan Sentra driven by Mitchell’s wife, Jessica, with Mitchell as a passenger, was pulled over.  When the officer asked Jessica to step out of the car, Mitchell jumped into the driver’s seat and sped away.  Sheriff David Lucas told ABC News that “During the pursuit, Mitchell wrecked his vehicle and sustained fatal injuries.”

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Texas Prison Burials

By Prison Legal News

If a Texas state prisoner dies or is executed, relatives or friends can pick up the body. If they don’t, he or she is buried in the largest prison graveyard in the United States – the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas. Such burials occur around 100 times each year.

Named after an assistant warden at the Huntsville Unit who helped clean and restore the 22-acre graveyard in the 1960s, the cemetery is still associated with the prison unit known as “The Walls” for its 19th century brick walls. The warden or assistant warden from the facility attends each funeral.

A prisoner’s body may be unclaimed for a number of reasons. There may be no surviving friends or relatives, but a more likely explanation is that the friends or relatives are too poor to afford the burial expenses.

“I think everyone assumes if you are in a prison cemetery you’re somehow the worst of the worst,” said Indiana State University assistant professor of criminology Franklin T. Wilson, who is writing a book about the Byrd cemetery. “But it’s more of a reflection of your socioeconomic status. This is more of a case of if you’re buried there, you’re poor.”

Although Texas prison officials have only been able to verify 2,100 prisoner burials at the graveyard, Wilson, who recently photographed every headstone in the cemetery, estimated the number was over 3,000.

 

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