Tag Archive: Prison

FOLSOM, Calif.  — Thermal imaging cameras recorded a parolee sneaking back into New Folsom State Prison at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, prison officials said.

“We quickly determined we did not have an escape. We found the suspect hiding in bushes near the Prison Industry Authority area,” prison spokesman Tony Quinn said.

Marvin Lane Ussery, 48, was arrested on suspicion of being a felon on prison grounds.Hoof it over to Facebook to join the weird news herd.

Ussery served time behind bars at New Folsom Prison, also known as California State Prison Sacramento, for robbery before he was granted parole in June 2009.

The prison houses mostly maximum-security inmates serving long sentences, or inmates who have been difficult to control at lower-security institutions.

Ussery’s bicycle was parked near where he hopped the prison fence, prison officials said. Thirty corrections officers combed the prison yard for hidden contraband that the ex-inmate may have been trying to sneak in.

“We don’t have any evidence of this in this case, but we have had incidents where former prisoners have snuck back onto the property to hide backpacks filled with drugs, alcohol or phones,” Quinn said.

Minimum-security prisoners then find those backpacks and try to smuggle the contraband into the prison,” he said. Officers had not found smuggled contraband by Thursday afternoon.

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.

They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

Incarceration Nation

It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars. That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.

According to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also substantially higher than our own longstanding history. The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about 100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people. After 1980, the inmate population began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.

The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.

Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow that more black men are in jail, on probation, or on parole than were enslaved in 1850. Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates.

Incentivizing Incarceration

Clearly, the US prison system is riddled with racism and classism, but it gets worse. As it turns out, private companies have a cheap, easy labor market, and it isn’t in China, Indonesia, Haiti, or Mexico. It’s right here in the land of the free, where large corporations increasingly employ prisoners as a source of cheap and sometimes free labor.

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit. By dipping into the prison labor pool, companies have their pick of workers who are not only cheap but easily controlled. Companies are free to avoid providing benefits like health insurance or sick days, while simultaneously paying little to no wages. They don’t need to worry about unions or demands for vacation time or raises. Inmate workers are full-time and never late or absent because of family problems.

TACOMA, Wash. — When Weldon Marc Gilbert was a wealthy jet pilot, prosecutors say, he spent much of his time and money manipulating young boys. He used his high-priced toys, including a sea plane, a helicopter and a boat, to lure them, they say, then molested them and beat them. He captured much of the sexually explicit action with his video camera.

Mr. Gilbert created more than 100 videos of the boys, sometimes turning the camera on himself. In 2009, he pled guilty in federal court to 31 counts of producing child pornography involving 17 victims and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

While Mr. Gilbert sits in jail here, he is preparing for another trial next month, this time on state charges of rape and molestation. In this case, he is acting as his own lawyer. And as such, he is allowed to review the evidence against him — including the pornographic videos — and watch them as often as he likes. Restricting his access could result in a mistrial.

Local law enforcement officials are furious, but there is not much they can do about it.

“It’s absurd and maddening,” said Mark Lindquist, the prosecutor for Pierce County, which includes Tacoma, where the state trial is to begin Sept. 19. While defendants normally can view evidence against them, Mr. Lindquist said, they are not usually allowed to possess it, particularly when it is contraband like pornography.

Defense attorneys typically ask to see some portion of the pornography that will be used as evidence, review a nominal amount of it and leave,” Mr. Lindquist said. “I have never had a case where a defense attorney wanted to possess the pornography. We don’t turn cocaine over to defendants for them to personally check out.”

After a local television station, KOMO, reported the situation last month, there was a public protest at the jail here where Mr. Gilbert is being held. Many state legislators have vowed to change the law but they cannot do so in time to affect Mr. Gilbert’s case. Mr. Lindquist said his office would draft language that would “pass constitutional muster,” though he expects challenges from defense lawyers concerned about the rights of defendants.

Unlike most inmates, who follow their lawyers’ advice not to discuss their cases with the news media, Mr. Gilbert, 50, who flew for U.P.S., is speaking out from behind bars.

He sent a four-page handwritten letter to Mr. Lindquist early last month, denouncing him and others for stirring up the outcry against him. He blamed officials for giving the public the impression that he was reviewing the tapes for his own prurient interests and noted that this was “ludicrous” since he had to look at them in a separate room monitored by corrections officers and with his private investigator present.

He told Mr. Lindquist to drop the charges because he was not guilty. He also suggested that Mr. Lindquist was pursuing the case for his own political advantage.

“Who, beside yourself, benefits from the second round of prosecution?” Mr. Gilbert asked.

In response, Mr. Lindquist said he did not give “a free pass” to criminals just because they were already serving time.

Then last week, Mr. Gilbert gave a jailhouse interview to KOMO, demonstrating, perhaps, why most lawyers tell their clients to stay silent.

“This whole issue should have never happened,” Mr. Gilbert told KOMO. “I caused it. I’m guilty of it. I truly wish I could have taken it back. What I saw is a lot of fun, reliving the teenage years, absolutely loving my time around these young men.”

But, he added, “wrong behavior, shameful behavior is not necessarily the same as illegal behavior that deserves a life prison sentence.”

Federal prosecutors have described Mr. Gilbert, who lived in an expensive house in Lake Tapps, just east of Tacoma, as a “master manipulator” who would groom his victims to gain their trust before abusing them.

“Gilbert saw each of the dozens of boys that he sexually abused as sex objects he could obtain by giving them things,” federal prosecutors wrote a few years ago. He gave them money, cellphones, flying lessons, trips overseas, strippers and alcohol, they said — even help with their homework.

“His sexual sadism and his fascination with boys was the center of his life,” they wrote.

John Henry Browne, a lawyer from Seattle who represented Mr. Gilbert on the federal charges and helped arrange the deal under which Mr. Gilbert pleaded guilty, is acting as standby counsel in the state case. He said in an interview that Mr. Gilbert was exercising his constitutional rights and that they should be protected.

Mr. Browne also said that he — and Mr. Gilbert — had watched the videos a few years ago in preparing for the federal case. He said 90 percent of them were “silly” and described them as “birthday spankings.” The remaining 10 percent, he said, were “problematic.”

A Pierce County Superior Court judge has ruled that in any pretrial interviews Mr. Gilbert cannot directly ask questions of the young men involved, some of whom were under 16, the age of consent, at the time of the episodes, which began in 2001. Mr. Lindquist is asking that during the trial Mr. Gilbert be barred from directly cross-examining them on the witness stand.

But Mr. Gilbert argued in his television interview that he would be more sensitive in his questioning than anyone else because he knew the young men.

“The last thing I want to do is embarrass and humiliate them,” he said.

Pasquale Condello is led away by Italian police

Rita Barbera, the new governor of Ucciardone jail in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, has said the practise of prisoners wearing Gucci, Armani and other designer clothes, as well as flashy jewellery, must stop.

Unlike many countries, prisoners in Italian jails are not required to wear uniforms.

Lax conditions at the 19th century prison, where one mafia godfather is reported to have celebrated his birthday with Champagne and lobster, have earned it the nickname ‘The Grand Hotel’.

The relaxed regime prompted comparisons with the Hollywood film Goodfellas, starring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, whose characters lived the high life even when they were behind bars.

Mrs Barbera said she will no longer tolerate prisoners, many of them members of the Cosa Nostra mafia, showing off their status with Louis Vuitton jackets, Valentino silk shirts and adidas and Nike trainers.

Til’ the law do us part?

Til’ the law do us part?

Perhaps because you only get to wear a wedding dress on your wedding day, Tammy Lee Hinton elected not to change out of her gown and veil when police took her mugshot last Saturday, just a few moments after she said, “I do.”

Following the ceremony at City of Zion Ministries church in Michigan, Hinton, 50, was arrested by Blackman-Leoni Township cops on a two-year-old felony warrant accusing her of identity theft, according to police reports obtained by The Smoking Gun.

Authorities reportedly received an anonymous tip that Hinton would be in town for the wedding. The police report listed a Port Richey, Fla., P.O. box as Hinton’s home address.

As if literally being an old ball and chain wasn’t enough, Hinton is also doing her best as a runaway bride. The Detroit Free Press reports that after paying her bond and being released from county jail, Hinton failed to appear for her scheduled Monday appearance in Jackson County District Court.

Ca Prison

Inmates in a third of California‘s prisons are conducting a hunger strike in protest of solitary confinement policy. Recent reports show that many inmates, who are in their third week of the strike, have shown dramatic weight loss and are collapsing from starvation, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The protesting inmates, who are most active at Pelican Bay State Prison, Corcoran State Prison, and the California Correctional Institute at Tehachapi, have been refusing meals since July 1, according to KPCC radio. Many of the protesters are in solitary confinement, otherwise known as security housing units (SHU).

They have five core demands (via Prisons.org):

1. “Eliminate group punishments” and instead enforce individual accountability.

2. Abolish debriefing policies, which dictate that inmates in SHU can only be released into the regular prison population if they provide information on gang activity.

3. Make prisons comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) to end longterm solitary confinement.

4. “Provide adequate food” and sanitary conditions in solitary confinement.

5. Have the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation expand and provide education programs and other privileges for SHU inmates.

Estimates about the number of striking prisoners vary. The LA Times places the number of protesters at about 400, while the New York Times reports that about 2,000 California inmates are under medical watch. The Huffington Post reports that nearly 1,500 prisoners are involved. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told SolitaryWatch.com that at least 6,600 inmates have refused meals.

One of the protesting Pelican Bay inmates, Todd Ashker, told the New York Times, “we believe our only option of ever trying to make some kind of positive change here is through this hunger strike… there is a core group of us who are committed to taking this all the way to the death if necessary.”

The protest comes after a May Supreme Court decision that ordered California to reduce its prison population by over 30,000 inmates, but it is not related to overcrowding.

Prison spokeswoman Terry Thorton told the New York Times that gang members are leading the hunger strike, which reinforces the need to isolate them. Both the LA Times and KPCC requested to visit the SHU at Pelican Bay. Officials refused.

Prison advocates have started a blog to keep the public updated on the hunger strike movement.

Casey Anthony a free woman

iol pic casey anthony

Casey Anthony walked out of jail a free woman under heavy guard early on Sunday, facing shouts of “baby killer” only days after the US watched with rapt attention as she was acquitted of murder in the death of her two-year-old daughter.

The 25-year-old woman, who had spent years in the spotlight’s glare including two months of nationally televised trial proceedings, swiftly boarded an SUV and rode out of public view, her destination unknown as new questions unfolded as to what her future would hold.

Wearing a snug pink Polo T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, Anthony walked briskly from the Orlando area jail at 12.14am local time (04.14 GMT) with her attorney, Jose Baez, at her side.

Her hair in a bun, a sombre-looking Anthony quietly said “thank you” to a deputy sheriff waiting to escort her outside, and then strode with Baez to the vehicle as two deputies armed with semiautomatic rifles walked behind. Baez held the back door, she climbed in and the SUV drove off amid camera light flashes.

As Anthony’s SUV left the jail’s parking lot, the crowd of more than 100 people surged against the orange plastic police barricades. Some yelled, “You suck!” Mounted patrolman and police cruisers blocked the street outside the jail so Anthony’s vehicle could drive onto a nearby highway ramp unobstructed.

“A baby killer was just set free!” Bree Thornton, 39, shouted at the passing SUV.

When Anthony was acquitted July 5 of murder in the death of her toddler, hundreds of thousands of people captivated by the case – and doubtful of her credibility – poured their rage into postings on Facebook and the micro-blogging site Twitter. Those and other social media sites provided a platform and a vast audience for a decibel level of vitriol seldom seen before.

Since her acquittal on murder charges, Anthony had been finishing her four-year sentence for telling investigators several lies, including an early claim that her daughter Caylee was kidnapped by a nonexistent nanny. With credit for the nearly three years she’d spent in jail since August 2008 and good behaviour, she had only days remaining when she was sentenced July 7.

Early Sunday, news helicopters followed the SUV to a covered parking garage at an Orlando office building where one of her attorneys, Cheney Mason, has offices. The SUV didn’t re-emerge, and it could not been seen in the darkness if Anthony was in any of the cars that appeared in the area.

After three years behind bars, Anthony was given $537.68 in cash from her jail account to begin her new life.

For nearly two months, the murder trial of Casey Anthony was a living entity. It breathed daily across the nation’s television airwaves, then was reinforced nightly on cable TV programs that dissected every word uttered in the courtroom and fuelled speculation on her fate.

Baez, in a brief statement to reporters, signaled a new chapter was opening in the Casey Anthony case.

“It is my hope that Casey Anthony can receive the counselling and treatment she needs to move forward with the rest of her life,” Baez said in the statement.

Certainly, she still faces anger and ire around the nation that brought tight security for Sunday’s release.

“This release had an unusual amount of security so, therefore, in that sense, it would not be a normal release,” Orange County Jail spokesman Allen Moore said. “We have made every effort to not provide any special treatment for her. She’s been treated like every other inmate.”

Moore said there were no known threats received at the jail. Yet officials had a number of contingency plans in place, including plans in case shots were fired as she was being released.

More than a dozen corrections officers, most wearing bullet proof vests, patrolled the outside of the jail before Anthony’s release. Half-dozen officers wearing riot helmets were mounted on horses, and some corrections officials carried semiautomatic weapons.

The crowd included about a half-dozen, sign-carrying protesters who had gathered despite a drenching thunderstorm Saturday night. Onlookers had varied reactions to her release.

“She is safer in jail than she is out here,” said Mike Quiroz, who drove from Miami to spend his 22nd birthday outside the jail. “She better watch her butt. She is known all over the world.”

Lamar Jordan said he felt a pit in his stomach when he saw Anthony walking free.

“The fact that she is being let out, the fact that it is her child and she didn’t say what happened, made me sick,” Jordan said.

Not all of those who gathered condemned the 25-year-old.

“I’m for Casey,” said Kizzy Smith, of Orlando. “She was proven innocent. At the end of the day, Caylee is at peace. We’re the ones who are in an uproar.”

Many still speculate about what really happened to Caylee, whose remains were found in December 2008 near the home Casey Anthony shared with her parents: Was she suffocated with duct tape by her mother, as prosecutors argued? Or did she drown in an accident that snowballed out of control, as defense attorneys contended?

Now that she is free, it’s not clear where Anthony will stay or what she will do next.

Her relationship with her parents, George and Cindy, has been strained since defense attorneys accused George Anthony of molesting Casey when she was young. Baez argued during trial that the alleged abuse resulted in psychological issues that caused her to lie and act without apparent remorse after Caylee’s death.

Defense attorneys also said George Anthony made Caylee’s death look like a homicide after the girl accidentally drowned in the family pool. But defense attorneys never called witnesses to support their claims.

George Anthony has adamantly denied covering up his granddaughter’s death or molesting Casey Anthony when she was a child.

Prosecutors alleged that Anthony suffocated her daughter with duct tape because motherhood interfered with her desire for a carefree life of partying with friends and spending time with her boyfriend. However, some jurors have told various media outlets that the state didn’t prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt as required for a conviction – though some have said they believe she bears some responsibility in the case. – Sapa-AP

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