Archive for August, 2008

$2 charge for jail calls put on hold

Posted in Articles on August 31, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska said it will investigate consumer complaints about a proposed $2 fee that an Alaska phone company plans to tack onto each local collect call made by inmates at state prisons, jails and halfway houses.

The agency said it received three complaints regarding the fee, which would be billed to people who accept the calls. General Communications Inc. had planned to start charging the fee Monday.

The RCA said it will allow GCI to begin charging the fee in mid-September. However, the company will have to refund the money if the investigation showed the fee is unjustified.

In an order issued Friday, the RCA commissioners said they have “significant doubt” that the $2 fee is reasonable.

One of the complaints came from Fred’s Bail Bonding in Anchorage, which claimed $2-per-call fee will cost Alaska bail bonding agencies roughly $84,000 a year. The bonding agencies typically receive about seven calls per inmate, and they bail out more than 500 inmates per month, according to the company’s Aug. 5 letter to the RCA.

Also, the fee would be harmful to inmates if private attorneys start declining their collect calls and it would create new costs for inmates’ family members, according to the company’s letter.

The RCA scheduled a 9 a.m. hearing Sept. 11 and will accept public comments about the fee until Sept. 29. The hearing will be in the RCA’s East Hearing Room, in the Conoco Phillips building at 701 West Eighth Ave., Suite 300.



10 charged in beating of Floyd inmate

Posted in Articles on August 30, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

Police have charged 10 Floyd County inmates — including a former social worker — with severely beating an inmate who pleaded guilty early this month to sexually abusing a minor.

Terry Fisher, 44, is unresponsive and bleeding from his brain at Cabell Huntington Hospital in West Virginia, where he has been since the beating more than two weeks ago, said Prestonsburg Police Detective Steve Little, who is investigating the incident.

Jail officials thought Fisher, of Wheelwright, was having a seizure when they found him lying in his cell just after midnight on Aug. 10, Little said. When they went to help him, however, they realized he had been beaten.

Little said inmates attacked Fisher because he was charged with sexual abuse of a minor. Fisher pleaded guilty on Aug. 5 to third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor and third-degree sexual abuse, according to court records. The age of the minor wasn’t immediately available.

Inmates attacked Fisher with their hands and feet, Little said.

Jailer Roger Webb said Fisher was separated from the typical jail population and placed in an area of the jail with inmates who are charged with similar crimes. However, the jail also places informants and other inmates charged with abuse in that area of the jail.

Fisher has a feeding tube and a tracheostomy tube, which creates a direct airway opening through the neck into the windpipe, Little said.

Charged with first-degree assault are: Ivan Gunnels of Floyd County; Matthew Ritchie of Garrett; Stephen Jervis of Endicott; Michael Rolan and Kevin L. Woods of Allen; Larry T. Adkins II of Louisville, and Christopher Newsome of Harold.

Newsome was a social worker in Floyd County before he was arrested for fraudulent use of credit cards, Little said.

First-degree assault is a Class B felony punishable by 10 to 20 years in jail.

Charged with fourth-degree assault are: David L. Johnson of Wayland; Ronald E. Spurlock of Waverly, Ohio, and Kenneth J. Paige of McDowell.

Paige, Woods, Rolan, Jervis, Newsome and Ritchie were arraigned in Floyd District Court Thursday. Paige entered a guilty plea and will be sentenced on Sept. 2. The remaining five pleaded not guilty. A preliminary hearing will be held on Sept. 2 at 1:30 p.m.

Police have not yet arrested Johnson, Spurlock, Gunnels and Adkins. They were released from jail before charges were filed.


Family sues prison chiefs over inmate released to kill

Posted in Articles on August 30, 2008 by cosgoingwrong
THE mother of a woman killed by a prisoner on unsupervised leave has launched a landmark test case against prison bosses, blaming them for her daughter’s death.
Lawyers for Ann Thomson say the action could set a precedent in Scotland and is set to go to the Court of Session – the country’s highest civil court.

Catherine Thomson, 26, died after being stabbed in the neck at her family home by John Campbell, her boy-friend’s brother, in August 2005. The case was highlighted at a fatal accident inquiry when a sheriff ruled that the killing could have been avoided.

The family’s solicitor has now lodged a writ against the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) after receiving a letter in which the prison authorities said they had “no duty of care” towards the murdered woman.

Campbell, who was on unsupervised leave from Castle Huntly open prison, was arrested after the killing, but later plunged to his death from an upper gallery at Barlinnie prison in an apparent suicide.

Following the fatal accident inquiry into Ms Thomson’s death, Sheriff Thomas Millar ruled an assessment of the risk Campbell posed to the community should have been carried out before he was granted leave. The sheriff found that a series of failures led to the killing of Ms Thomson in Moodiesburn, Glasgow.

Cameron Fyfe, the family’s lawyer, raised a court action last week for £30,000 damages. He believes the test case will have implications for future victims of violent crime, setting out the responsibilities of the state.

“There is much at stake for the SPS because, if we win this case, it would allow any victim’s family to claim compensation if they were harmed by a prisoner who was released negligently.”

Claiming the authorities had washed their hands of responsibility over Ms Thomson’s death, he added: “Their solicitors are saying there is no legal duty of care to the public.

“I’m sure this will come as a surprise to many members of the public.

“If, for instance, they were to release a psychopath by mistake and he murdered a whole crowd of schoolchildren, they would not be responsible.

“They’re indicating that no-one is responsible.”

Campbell, 34, was serving an eight-year sentence for two offences of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement when he was granted unsupervised leave.

He was initially placed on a high supervision level when he was sentenced in August 2002. But his supervision level was wrongly reduced to medium at Kilmarnock prison within 12 months of his sentencing.

At a review in December 2004, Campbell’s supervision level was again wrongly reduced to low, making him eligible for unsupervised home leave when he was transferred to Castle Huntly, near Dundee.

When he was granted a four-day leave, he was dropped off in Glasgow city centre by Reliance officers, who had no idea where he was going. Three days later, he murdered Ms Thomson.

Lawyers for the Thomson family insist the case illustrates negligence on the part of the prison service.

Sheriff Millar said officers failed to carry out a fresh risk assessment on Campbell, as they assumed one had been done elsewhere and they were simply “rubber-stamping” it.

In his conclusion, Sheriff Millar stated: “Having regard to Campbell’s record, it was reasonably foreseeable that he would be involved in further violent offending on his release.

“His violent behaviour, which was predictable, was the cause of Catherine Thomson’s death. The reasonable precaution, whereby the death may have been avoided, would have been to carry out (an] assessment regarding risk to the community, and to put in place measures to minimise the potential risk.”

He added: “If no such measures were possible, then Campbell should not have been released.”

The case brings into sharp focus concerns about violent prisoners being moved to open prisons. There were accusations that the jails, which have a more relaxed security regime and allow inmates home leave, were being run as “holiday camps” and as a pressure valve for overcrowded jails.

Examples include that of Robert Foye, who was halfway through a ten-year sentence for attempting to murder a police officer in 2002 when he absconded from Castle Huntly and raped a 16-year-old girl.

He had been sent to the open prison despite being classed as at high risk of reoffending and having previously gone on the run from the jail.

Last night, Clive Fairweather, the former chief inspector of Scotland’s prisons, raised concerns about unsuitable prisoners being eligible for the open prison regime. He said the growing issue of overcrowding and prison numbers – which have exceeded 8,000 for the first time – was having a huge impact.

He said: “There is no question that over the past five years there has been huge pressure to send more and more people into open prisons.

“There is a duty to keep the public safe. The service has a duty to take all reasonable steps to make sure risk to the public is minimised.

“The prison numbers have gone up and the staff numbers have gone down, which means no-one is doing their job properly. The staff are rushing around and so risk assessments are not nailed down.”

The issue of overcrowding is a political minefield for the Scottish Government. The Scottish justice secretary, Kenny Mac-Askill, has pledged to reduce the prison population, but last week prison numbers broke through the 8,000 barrier.

Politicians are walking a fine line between ensuring public safety and tackling burgeoning prison numbers. Critics say the opening of Addiewell prison, due by the end of the year, will do little to ease the pressure.

A recent report revealed that Scotland is third in a European league of prison overcrowding, behind Spain and France.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said the matter was in the hands of lawyers and it would be inappropriate to comment on the case at this stage.

Caroline Thomson, Catherine’s sister, said the family were bringing the case to protect the public.

She said: “The Scottish Prison Service was to blame for Catherine’s death and they should be brought to account for that.

“Nothing will bring Catherine back but we need to take a stand because it may prevent another tragedy from happening to someone else.”

How the system failed Catherine Thomson

Aug 2002: John Campbell, left, sentenced to eight years for two offences of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigur-ement. He is placed on HIGH risk level in jail

2003: Supervision level is wrongly reduced to MEDIUM at Kilmarnock Prison, above. This is the FIRST basic error

December 2004: Review again wrongly reduces supervision level, this time to LOW. It makes him eligible for unsupervised home leave on transfer to open prison. This is the SECOND basic error

2005: Now in Castle Huntly open prison, right. Officers fail to carry out a fresh risk inquiry. Home leave is rubber-stamped. This is the THIRD basic error

19 August, 2005: He is dropped off by Reliance officers in Glasgow city centre. Then just three days later …

22 August, 2005: Campbell stabs Catherine Thomson to death at her family home, above


WHILE the bereaved family of Catherine Thomson demand justice for their loss, dozens of inmates continue to sue the authorities.

The European Convention on Human Rights, dubbed the chancer’s charter, has resulted in a number of bizarre challenges from prisoners.

There was a public outcry in October 2000 when a murderer challenged against the Scottish Prison Service, claiming he was entitled to an employment contract for the work he did in jail. Philip Garden demanded the same rights as other workers, including a “proper rate of pay” and benefits such as holidays.

Convicted armed robber Robert Napier, then 25, was awarded £2,450 in compensation in April 2004 after claiming that slopping out breached his human rights.

In March 2007, Stewart Potter, 43, from Glasgow, jailed for 21 years for assault and robbery, won a legal challenge after he claimed a recorded message on phone calls was an invasion of privacy and breached his human rights.

Audit blames Corrections for jail escapes

Posted in Articles on August 29, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

Last September’s Daggett County jailbreak is just one of five escapes that might have been prevented had the Department of Corrections properly managed a prison-sharing contract with county jails.
    That’s according to a new legislative audit that lambastes Corrections for, among other things, learning of security problems at the Daggett County Jail in 2000, but failing to correct them for seven years.
    During that time, five inmates escaped the jail – three in 2004 and two in a 2007 incident in which two convicted murderers walked out of an unlocked door, climbed a fence with no alarm and disappeared for five hours before anyone realized they were gone.
    Those two men were captured by Wyoming authorities after six days on the lam, but not before they bound a man with duct tape at knife point and stole his vehicle.
    Lawmakers on Wednesday morning heard an overview of the 60-page report, which ultimately recommends that Corrections repair its broken contract system, which houses state prisoners at county jails.
    The report points to five jailbreaks and three major operational issues over the past four years, which include an August 2007 Garfield County case in which an inmate convicted of manslaughter escaped by climbing into the storage bins of a school bus that was being washed at the jail.

No action has been taken by Corrections officials to address the improper search and supervision issues at the Garfield jail that led to the escape, according to the audit.
    The legislative audit quotes a Department of Corrections internal audit that acknowledges: “It appears poor contract standards and deficient oversight have become the accepted norm for doing business.”
    Additionally, before the three escapes in late 2007, Corrections had no standards about which inmates were eligible for the jail program.
    Now, first-degree felons are ineligible for the jail-sharing program, as well as inmates who have attempted an escape in the past five years and those who have been convicted of a loss-of-life crime.
    Although language in the audit unmistakably blames the Corrections contract process, House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, defended the state, noting that jail operations are local government functions. He questioned whether counties would appreciate state officials showing up and telling them how to run their jails.
    “Do we need to change the statutes and tell counties how to operate their jails?” Curtis asked auditors.
    One auditor responded that the state could use contractual requirements to boost security at county jails. He said counties do not have to participate in the state’s prisoner-share program, and eight counties – including Salt Lake and Utah counties – are not part of the program.
    But Curtis said that if the state were to pull its prisoners from Beaver County, where 370 of 400 beds are occupied by state prisoners, it could bankrupt the county jail.
    “We would have to step in and either run or buy that facility,” Curtis said.
    Executive Director of Corrections Tom Patterson lauded the audit and said his department has been working to change many of the highlighted issues since he was appointed in January 2007. He said the state can cooperate with county governments without any statutory changes.
    “We’re all shooting for the same goal,” Patterson said. “Jointly, we can set minimum standards that could meet our expectations.”
    Patterson said the negative points brought to light in the report are indicative of transition. The audit indicates many of the problems were inherited by the current administration.
    As far as specific contractual fixes, the report calls on Corrections to implement performance measures and establish a grading criteria for county facilities. It also encourages better monitoring of county compliance and improved follow-up and enforcement strategies.
    A Corrections news release on Wednesday said the department agrees with every recommendation in the audit, and officials expect to complete the majority of the fixes before many of its contracts with various counties expire in 2009.

    Problems revealed by audit
    A Legislative audit blames eight security or operational problems since 2004 on the Department of Corrections’ inadequate management of jail contracts.
    * A state inmate, convicted of rape and kidnapping, escaped from Beaver County Jail in October 2007.
    * Two state inmates convicted of murder escaped from Daggett County Jail in September 2007.
    * A state inmate, convicted of manslaughter, escaped from Garfield County Jail in August 2007.
    * Washington County Jail staff sexually exploited two female state inmates over a five-year period. The violation was discovered in March 2006.
    * Three county inmates escaped from the Daggett County Jail in July 2004. The trio went through an unsecured kitchen door and over an unmonitored perimeter fence. One inmate returned with drugs, resulting in 11 state inmates obtaining and using methamphetamine.
    * A state inmate, convicted of aggravated robbery, escaped from the Duchesne County Jail in July 2004.
    * Multiple fire, life and safety violations in some county jails were repeatedly identified but not corrected.
    * A Corrections-mandated inmate-to-staff ratio was challenged by one county, and the vagueness of the jail contract did not allow Corrections to enforce its staff ratio.
    The Department of Corrections contracts with 21 counties to send 1,200 of its 6,500 state prisoners to community jails.
    The inmate-sharing effort is, in part, intended to free up beds at Utah State Prison facilities.
    Corrections has extra space available at its Draper and Gunnison facilities and is about to expand its capacity. But Corrections continues to participate in inmate sharing, it says, to bolster the financial security of county jails.
    During the 2008 session, legislators gave Corrections $24 million for its 2009 fiscal year.
    The state pays $45 per prisoner each day to house inmates in county facilities, compared with $70 at state prison facilities. That means the state is saving $30,000 per day through the jail contracting program.


Probe into Fulton inmate abuse is expanded

Posted in Articles on August 28, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

Wider investigation comes in wake of beating death

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

FBI has extended its investigation into claims of inmate abuse at the
Fulton County Jail to include an Aug. 9 incident when officers
allegedly beat an inmate who was in handcuffs and leg chains, a
spokesman said Tuesday.

FBI spokesman Steve Emmett declined to give details beyond
confirming the bureau’s investigation of possible inmate abuse had
expanded to include the case of Christopher Trammell, who was injured
in the beating. The FBI already was looking into whether jailers beat
another inmate, Richard Glasco, so badly he died from his injuries last

Spokeswoman Sgt. Nikita Adams-Hightower said the Fulton County
Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, will cooperate with the FBI
investigation and “give them anything they need.” She declined to
release details of the incident because there also is an ongoing
internal investigation.

Riley Taylor, the auditor for a federal judge who has ordered
improvements at the jail, said Trammell, being held on aggravated
battery and car theft charges, punched a lieutenant who tried to
intercede in a dispute between the inmate and a female detention
officer. Trammell, 27, was injured when the lieutenant subdued him.

Several other officers allegedly attacked Trammell in a treatment
room where he was waiting to be taken to the hospital, Taylor said,
answering questions at the behest of Judge Marvin Shoob.

Adams-Hightower said no officers have been disciplined or reassigned.

Macomb jail guards cleared in 2004 death

Posted in Articles on August 28, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

Guards at the Macomb County Jail can not be held liable in the 2004
death of a man who was locked up for failing to pay child support, a
federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The U.S. 6th Circuit
Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by a federal judge in Detroit and
granted qualified immunity to six jail officers in a lawsuit brought by
the family of Charles Kevin Jones.

The appeals court said there
was no evidence the guards were deliberately indifferent to the medical
needs of Jones, who died after suffering a severe asthma attack while
serving a 35-day sentence at the jail.

The federal lawsuit in Detroit can continue against two nurses who worked for a jail contractor, the appeals court ruled.

Police still searching for missing KY inmate

Posted in Escapes on August 27, 2008 by cosgoingwrong

source: 14 WFIE, The Tri-State’s News Leader: Police still searching for missing KY inmate

Police still searching for missing KY inmate

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE)-Update: The manhunt for an escaped Kentucky inmate continues in the Tri-State.

Take a good look at the mug shot to the right of the story, that’s 53-year-old John Alstatt.

Police say he and another inmate escaped from the Frankfort Development Center Monday night.

Alstatt is 6’3 with brown hair and blue eyes.

If you think you’ve seen Alstatt, you are asked to call 911 immediately.

Kentucky Officials say Alstatt has escaped once before, about 10 years ago.

By Liz Nichols – bio | email
Posted by Mike Mardis – email

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) – Nick Maldonado headed out to work like any other morning, but this Tuesday, his day started off far from ordinary.

“I saw four sheriff’s (deputies) and a K-9,” Maldonado said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Maldonado would later find out local authorities apprehended an escaped inmate, 28-year-old Robert Fritz, just a couple blocks from his north Evansville home.

“You would never expect an escaped convict to be running around here,” Maldonado said.

Up the street, Carolyn Brenner stopped in at a northside daycare. She was shocked to find out they were on lock-down.

A deputy sheriff came in and told the owner what was going on and to keep the kids inside.

“You worry a little bit about them coming in here and upsetting the daycare,” Brenner said.

Brenner later adds that the kids seemed more interested in lunch than what was going on outside.

Several school were put on alert Tuesday morning. The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation said, even with the search, they still tried to maintain a normal school day.

“We’re just monitoring who’s coming and going. We’re also keeping the doors locked, but we are not on a lock down,” Gerald Summers, EVSC Security, said.

Authorities are still looking for 53-year-old John Alstatt. He’s about 6’3″ tall, has brown hair and blue eyes. Please contact the police if you have seen him.

Posted by Amanda Lents – email

Update: FRANKFORT, KY (WFIE) – Two minimum-security inmates walked away from the Frankfort Career Development Center Monday night but at least one’s taste of freedom was short lived.

Robert Fritz, 28, and John Alstatt, 53, were reported missing at approximately 10:20 p.m., Monday.

Fritz was apprehended at around 6:45 a.m., Tuesday by Evansville police after crashing a truck that police allege he and Alstatt stole in Frankfort.

Alstatt fled the scene of the crash on foot and police are continuing the search for the inmate.

According to authorities, Fritz and Alstatt stole a truck from a business in the Frankfort area Monday night.

Evansville police located a vehicle matching the description of the stolen truck.

The same vehicle was later involved in a wreck and both of the inmate uniforms were discovered inside.

Fritz was arrested at the time of the crash and lodged in the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville.

Both inmates will face charges in connection with the Frankfort theft in addition to escape when they are returned to Kentucky.

Fritz was serving a 10-year sentence for charges out of Jefferson County for identity theft, fraudulent use of credit cards, criminal possession of a forged instrument, receiving stolen property and persistent felony offender.

His parole eligibility date was May 2009.

Alstatt was serving a seven-year sentence out of Henderson County for theft and persistent felony offender.

He would have served out his sentence in less than two months.

Alstatt is described as a 6’3″ white male with brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information about this inmate is asked to contact Kentucky State Police at the Post 12 in Frankfort at 502-227-2221.

Update: EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) – The following schools will be affected by escapee search: Harwood Middle School, Thompkins Middle School, Stringtown Elementary School and Central High School.

Students and staff are being allowed in but once everyone is there the schools will be secured from the outside as the search for John Alstatt continues.

Previously: EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) – Evansville police have captured one jail escapee from Kentucky and are still looking for one more.

This all happened around 9:30 pm Monday after two men escaped from the Frankfort Career Development Center and headed to Evansville.

Dispatchers say police have been searching for the escapees, 29-year-old Robert Fritz and 53-year-old John Alstatt, throughout the night.

Dispatchers say Fritz was caught on First Avenue near Ivy Tech. Officers are currently searching an area near Harwood Middle School.

EPD Spokesman Steven Green considers the suspect dangerous, and advises residents in the area around Stratford and Sheridan to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.