Inmate dies at Polk County jail; autopsy pending

FROSTPROOF, Fla. -- Authorities are investigating the death of an inmate in a central Florida jail.

Polk County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Carrie Eleazer says other inmates yelled out to deputies Friday evening that Stephen Harry Grimm was not breathing.

Eleazer says deputies and then paramedics attempted to revive Grimm. The 53-year-old Eaton Park man was pronounced dead at the Frostproof jail.

An autopsy will be conducted. Eleazer says no foul play is suspected and there was no trauma to Grimm's body.

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Kentucky inmate, fiancee suing to marry

Twenty years after meeting as teenagers, Jeremy Devers and Patricia Locke realized what they describe as the "enduring nature of their near lifelong love and affection for one another" earlier this year and decided to marry.

But two days before their scheduled wedding on April 26, they had to call off the ceremony when Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney revoked the marriage license they had obtained a month earlier.

The reason, Mooney said, is that Devers is incarcerated at Kentucky State Reformatory, and state law has been interpreted to require the future husband and wife to both appear in person at the clerk's office to apply for a marriage license.  Full Article

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DC Jail helps inmates vote, a rarity nationwide

WASHINGTON (AP) — The voters at this southeast Washington polling place were all dressed alike: orange jumpsuit, white shoes. And when they finished voting, they went back to their cell block, not back to work.

Still, voting inside the D.C. Jail looked a lot like voting at precincts around the country.

"What's your name, sir?" poll worker Arlin Budoo said as an inmate sat down at a table in front of him last month during one of two voting days.

The man gave his name and precinct. Budoo flipped through a stack of absentee ballots, found the man's and handed it over. He explained how to darken circles on the ballot to record a vote.

"Remember to vote both sides of the ballot," Budoo said.

While it seemed ordinary, the voting that went on at the D.C. Jail and a facility where women are housed next door is unique. Most states and the District of Columbia bar prisoners serving time on a felony conviction from voting. But inmates awaiting trial or serving a sentence for a misdemeanor, an estimated 700,000 people nationwide, are allowed to vote as long as they aren't barred by a past felony conviction. Full Article

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Family of deceased inmate, feds settle for $975K

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Timothy U. Bell knew something wasn't right with the sore, swollen spot near his right armpit. Then he spent more than 18 months trying to get the attention of the administration of the Big Sandy federal prison in eastern Kentucky to arrange an appointment with a doctor.

"I still don't know what it is and it's getting bigger, it's starting to hurt more, its more irritating than ever, it keeps me up throughout the night (because I can't sleep with the pain), and I'm scared," Bell wrote to warden J.C. Zuercher in July 2009.

The growth proved to be non-Hodgkin lymphoma — a cancer spread through the body via the lymph nodes. Bell didn't get a CT scan on the mass in his arm until the cancer was in the late stages. He died in 2010, a year after being released from prison. Now, his family in Michigan and the federal government have reached a $975,000 settlement over negligence claims related to the case.

"He deserved better," said Bell's attorney, Sheila Hiestand of Louisville. "By the time he died, he was just a small, skeletal thing."  More

Prison disturbance at Bibb County facility sends eight inmates to Jefferson County

A disturbance at the Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent sent eight state inmates to another prison in Jefferson County, authorities said today.

The inmates were transferred to Donaldson Correctional Facility Monday night after an altercation broke out in the mess hall, and then carried over into their dorm. The Alabama Department of Corrections' emergency response team was dispatched to the Bibb County facility, but prison spokesman Brian Corbett said it was as a precaution and the prison staff was able to control the disturbance.

One corrections officer was treated for a cut lip and other scrapes and bruises, but Corbett said all of the injuries were minor. All of the inmates identified as being involved were assigned to the Behavior Modification Dorm for inmates with disciplinary issues. More

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Wakefield Prison nurse 'had sex with rapist'

A prison nurse had sex with a convicted rapist at a top security jail, a court has been told.

Karen Cosford exchanged intimate text messages on a smuggled mobile phone during her relationship with lifer Brian McBride, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Mrs Cosford, 47, of Normanton, who worked at Wakefield Prison, denies misconduct, claiming McBride raped her and then bribed her to not report it.

The prosecution said the married prison worker's actions compromised security.

Mrs Cosford is charged along with three other medical centre colleagues at Wakefield Prison with misconduct in a public office. More

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Inmate convicted, faces life term in Arizona stabbing death

PHOENIX – An Arizona prison inmate has been convicted in the stabbing death of a fellow prisoner.

Maricopa County prosecutors say 35-year-old Marlon C. McCowan was found guilty Monday. He faces a possible life prison term when he's sentenced Sept. 27.

McCowan's accomplice -- 32-year-old Richard A. Johnson -- agreed to plead guilty to solicitation to commit second-degree murder. Prosecutors say he will remain incarcerated for an additional five years following his current prison term.

McCowan and Johnson were inmates of the Lewis Prison Complex in Buckeye at the time of the stabbing on June 16, 2010.  More

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Texas man freed from prison after more than 2 decades after DNA clears him in teen’s rape

FORT WORTH, Texas — A man who spent more than two decades behind bars was freed Friday after DNA evidence cleared him in the rape of a 14-year-old Fort Worth girl.

David Lee Wiggins was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1989, although neither of the two fingerprints found at the scene matched his. The girl, whose face was covered during most of the attack, picked Wiggins out of a photo lineup and then a live lineup, saying he looked familiar.

But DNA testing earlier this month excluded Wiggins as the person who committed the crime. Tarrant County prosecutors said DNA evidence demonstrated his innocence.

State District Judge Louis Sturns in Fort Worth freed Wiggins on a personal bond after approving a motion to overturn his conviction. Before the crime is officially cleared from his record, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must accept the judge’s recommendation or the governor must grant a pardon. Either step is considered a formality after the judge’s ruling.  More

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Michigan inmate who was nearly released from life sentence challenges governor’s authority

LANSING, Mich. — Three days before Christmas 2010, a Michigan inmate got a remarkable gift: Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she would commute his life sentence for first-degree murder, ensuring his release after two decades in prison for setting up a robbery that led to the fatal stabbing of a co-worker.

But Matthew Makowski’s dream of freedom was dashed within 48 hours. The governor, who was just days from leaving office, got cold feet and rescinded her own order after the victim’s family protested. A warden delivered the stunning news to Makowski. Instead of going home, he would remain behind bars as inmate No. 198702.

Nearly two years later, Granholm’s reversal has touched off an extraordinary legal challenge from a professor and students at the University of Michigan law school. They argue that the governor’s decision to commute the sentence was final as soon as she signed and filed the document.  More

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Public intoxication inmate hanged in Houston jail

HOUSTON -- An autopsy has been ordered after a woman arrested for public intoxication at a Houston airport apparently hanged herself in jail.

Houston police say the death of 29-year-old Shawna Rene Huebner has prompted an internal affairs investigation. Officials will also review jail surveillance video.

Authorities on Thursday said Huebner apparently used a cord from a pay telephone to hang herself while alone in a holding cell. Jailers who discovered her body Wednesday night were unable to revive the woman. More

Inmate mails own severed finger to French minister

(Reuters) - An inmate in a French jail has mailed part of his own severed finger to the justice minister hoping the desperate gesture would help his plea to be moved to another prison, officials said on Thursday.

An envelope containing the chunk of finger was delivered on Thursday to the offices of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, accompanied by a letter arguing for a transfer to a jail nearer to the inmate's family, a police official said.

A Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed a piece of finger had been delivered. "It's a sad affair, there are many inmates asking for transfers," said spokesman Olivier Pedro-Jose.

French jails are plagued by overcrowding, with the prison population hitting a record 67,000 this year compared to around 50,000 a decade ago, according to Justice Ministry figures. More

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624-year sentence for rapist; plus other eye-popping jail terms

An Alabama man has received a 624-year prison sentence for kidnapping, rape and sodomy.

It's not the first time an Alabama judge has handed down a sentence longer than a human's life expectancy.

The longest jail sentence in the U.S. for a single count was issued in Alabama in 1981 when Dudley Wayne Kyzer of Tuscaloosa received 10,000 years for killing his wife, according to the Alabama state website.

He also killed his mother-in-law and a college student, for which he received two additional life sentences.

In Tuesday's sentencing, 25-year-old Mark Anthony Beecham was given 99 years each for six counts -- first-degree kidnapping, two counts of first-degree rape and three counts of first-degree sodomy -- plus 20 years for felony first-degree theft of property and 10 more for felony first-degree bail jumping.

According to the Dothan Eagle newspaper, Beecham testified at the sentencing hearing and said he didn't believe he had received a fair trial. More

Jailer fired for sending Facebook friend request to Georgia inmate

Authorities in northeast Georgia say a jail deputy was fired and another resigned after they sent Facebook friend requests to an inmate while she was locked up in the county jail.

Oconee County Jail Deputy Dewayne Powers was fired and Deputy Andrea Rogers resigned following an internal investigation that revealed both men had “inappropriate communications” with a 23-year-old female inmate.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Lee Weems said Monday the men sent Facebook friend requests to the woman while she was incarcerated in the jail, and Powers also sent a text message to the inmate’s phone. Additionally, both deputies engaged in face-to-face conversations of a sexual nature with the inmate, according to Weems.  More

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Prisoner Pen Pals

Find free pictures of prisoners. Some are on death row and many in for serious crimes such as murder, rape and armed robbery.

Many tell their stories as to how they wound up in prison.

Most prisoners listed on this prison pen pal site have done years in prison without a pen pal, visits, or phone calls to the outside world, and they are desperately hoping this prison pen pal site will give them a chance to form a lasting friendship with someone willing to take the time to write a letter or two a week to let them know they have not been forgotten by the world they left behind. Must be at least 18-years-old.
Prison Pen Pals – Free pictures and stories     

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NH inmate found dead in jail cell

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — An autopsy is planned for a 43-year-old inmate at a New Hampshire jail who was found unconscious in his cell.

Mark John Amsden of Nashua had been at the Manchester Department of Corrections facility since July 27. He had been arrested on charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault.

The Telegraph of Nashua reports (http://bit.ly/R86nzJ) Superintendent David Dionne said Amsden was alone in his cell when he was found Sunday afternoon. Emergency medical personnel were unable to revive him.

His death is under investigation by Manchester police and corrections officials.  More

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Inmates captured after taking on in patrol car

FAYETTE, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri county jail inmate was captured after taking off in a deputy's patrol vehicle.

Authorities say a Pettis County deputy was driving two males and a female to state prisons in Fulton and Vandalia Thursday when inmate Ronald W. Greer of Sedalia convinced him to stop at a rest stop in Cooper County. Greer allegedly assaulted the deputy, took keys and a weapon and fled.

Howard County Sheriff Charlie Polson says the two other inmates stayed in the vehicle and had no role in the assault.  More

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In-Person Visits Fade as Jails Set Up Video Units for Inmates and Families

WASHINGTON — Shatterproof glass used to separate inmates at the District of Columbia jail from the visitors sitting across from them. Now, they sit in separate buildings, at computers equipped with Web cameras.

The District of Columbia made the switch on July 25 to video visitation, a growing trend in the corrections field.

To proponents, the video systems provide a more convenient, safer, thriftier alternative to in-person visits.

Some jurisdictions even make money, by charging for the video visits. 

Critics, including prisoner advocates and corrections officers concerned with how prisoners fare once they are released, fear that the video visits allow less meaningful contact with family and could hurt inmates’ morale.  More

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Inmates Take Over Jail Pod

RAYMOND--After a disturbance at the Hinds County Correctional Facility, law enforcement officers took more than 12 hours to take back and fully secure the facility.

Inmates created a disturbance in Pod C at HCCF around 2:30 a.m. Monday. One inmate, Kendall Johnson, started the disturbance by flooding the Pod and holding off guards with a fire hose, and then letting other inmates out of their cells, Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis said. In all, 183 inmates populated the pod, and they quickly flooded the jail and took over at least one housing unit.

The county sheriff's department, with the help of several other law-enforcement agencies, secured most of the Hinds County Correctional Facility by mid-day Monday. Around 2 p.m., Lewis told the media that officers had entered the jail at 12:27 p.m. and had secured two of the four units in Pod C. Inmates offered no resistance in either housing unit, Lewis said. Each Pod is made up of four housing units.

"We have what we call several different S.W.A.T. teams in place. They have tactical experience, and they were able to use their tactical experience and training to get in without harming themselves or harming anyone else," Lewis said.  More

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Mother of inmate strangled at supermax Virginia prison sues, claiming guards helped killer

RICHMOND, Va. — Guards and security officials at Virginia’s most secure prison conspired with an inmate to give him the opportunity to kill another prisoner, the slain man’s mother claims in a lawsuit.

Aaron Cooper, 26, was killed on July 28, 2010, when Robert Gleason strangled him through a separate cage on the recreation yard at the supermax Red Onion State Prison. Gleason, who was serving a life sentence for a 2007 slaying and had killed his cellmate in 2009, had vowed before Cooper’s death to keep killing unless he was sentenced to death. Gleason received the death sentence last year.

Kim Strickland claims in a federal lawsuit filed late Friday that Gleason traded favors with prison guards in order to arrange her son’s slaying. It accuses prison guards and security officers of not doing required searches, of allowing Gleason to determine which inmates were allowed out that day and where they were positioned, and of arranging for in-person and video monitoring stations to be abandoned.  More

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Death row inmate: Execute me. Governor: No. So: Judge to decide

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon death row inmate and the state's governor are at the center of an unusual legal battle — the governor has granted the twice-convicted murderer a reprieve, even though the inmate did not ask for it and does not want it.
Gov. John Kitzhaber blocked Gary Haugen's scheduled execution last fall, saying no executions would be carried out on his watch.

Haugen has sought to reject the governor's clemency. He's voluntarily waived legal appeals that could delay his execution for years and has fought to speed his punishment in protest of a criminal justice system that he says is broken.

Their dispute was heard in court on Tuesday.

Oregon voters reinstated the death penalty in 1984, and the state has executed two people since then. Both occurred while Kitzhaber served as governor between 1995 and 2003. Both inmates had volunteered for execution, waiving their appeals.

After Kitzhaber was again elected in 2010, he announced he wouldn't allow any more executions while he was in office, saying he was haunted by the previous two. The governor has said he has no sympathy for Haugen but opposes capital punishment and believes Oregon's death penalty laws are "compromised and inequitable."  More

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Georgia inmate gets stay hours before scheduled execution

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday granted a stay of execution to a two-time murderer hours before he was due to become the state's first inmate to undergo lethal injection using one drug instead of three.

The court said it would decide whether the recent decision by the Department of Corrections, switching the lethal injection process from three drugs to one, violated the state's Administrative Procedures Act.

The act requires a 30-day public comment period before a change in procedure is allowed.

Warren Lee Hill, 52, was sentenced to death for fatally beating another inmate in 1990 while serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend by shooting her 11 times.

Hill was due to be executed last week but the state delayed it until Monday after announcing the switch from a three-drug cocktail that included pentobarbital to pentobarbital alone. The drug is sometimes used to euthanize animals.  More

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California prisons object to expanding media access to inmates

California prison officials are opposing legislation that would increase media access to inmates, saying it would cost too much money to facilitate interviews.

In a letter dated Thursday, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the bill would "create significant new costs and increase workload."

Emily Harris of Californians United for a Responsible Budget, which opposes heavy prison spending, said officials are overstating the costs in hopes of persuading budget-cutting lawmakers to scuttle the legislation.

"This is a last-minute effort to quash the bill," she said.

The bill has already passed the Assembly 47 to 22, and it was approved by a Senate committee last month.

Reporters are able to tour prisons and interview inmates during their visits, but they are not allowed to request interviews with specific inmates unless they arrange to meet them during visiting hours. That means high-profile criminals like Charles Manson and newsmakers like the inmates who organized a hunger strike to protest prison conditions are often beyond the reach of the media.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), would change that, requiring officials to process interview requests within 48 hours. Officials would also need to notify the inmates' victims that an interview was taking place.  More

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Ex-inmates claim deputies made them 'ride the lightning' before they could join work crew

VERNAL — Uintah County Sheriff Jeff Merrell has requested an independent investigation into claims that two of his corrections deputies forced inmates to endure electrical shocks if they wanted to join an inmate work crew.

"I've already contacted an outside agency (to investigate)," Merrell told the Deseret News. "If there were practices going on that we did not know about, we want those practices ceased."

"Not to say that there were any of these practices taking place, because I don't know," he added. "I just heard about this this morning."

The sheriff's comments came Friday, one day after attorneys for Qaiyim A. Hill and Richard Anthony Uribe filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The suit names the state of Utah, the Utah Department of Corrections, two of Merrell's deputies and a number of "John Does" as defendants.

In their complaint, Hill and Uribe claim two deputies told them they had to "ride the lightning" as an initiation before they could go out as part of a six-man crew on work details around the county.

"Apparently 'riding the lightning' meant that each inmate would have to grab a metal hook in each hand, which were fashioned to look like horns, and these horns in turn were attached to what appeared to be a car battery," the lawsuit states.  More

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Texas inmate set to die after appeals rejected

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Condemned prisoner Yokamon Hearn is headed to the Texas death chamber after having his appeals rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 33-year-old Hearn will be the first inmate in the nation's busiest death penalty state executed by injection with a single lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital.

The justices refused Hearn's appeals about 3 1/2 hours before he was scheduled for execution Wednesday evening for the 1998 murder of Frank Meziere. The stockbroker was carjacked at a Dallas car wash, then shot.

Texas prison officials last week announced they were modifying the three-drug procedure used since 1982.  More

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