Entries in Prisons (6)


Gang Leader Impregnates Four Female Prison Guards

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Four female correction officers were impregnated by the reported leader of a Maryland prison gang, which used a network of female prison guards to help launder money, run drugs and smuggle contraband into state detention facilities, according to a federal indictment.

One of the guards was twice impregnated by Tavon White, identified in court papers as the alleged leader of the Black Guerilla Family.

Two of the female correction officers tattooed "Tavon" on their bodies, one on her neck and another on the wrist, according to the indictment.

In one incident, one guard kept watch over a closet, in which White and another guard had sex, according to authorities.

Thirteen female and two male prison guards are facing federal corruption charges following a months-long investigation into corruption and conspiracy at Maryland's correctional facilities.

The indictment portrays a prison system run by inmates, including members of the Black Guerilla Family gang.

"This is my jail," White, who is awaiting trial for attempted murder, bragged on a tapped phone call from the Baltimore City Detention Center. "I make every final call in this jail."

The FBI spared few words for the leadership of the prisons, in which inmates used smuggled cell phones to arrange drug deals, as well as order assaults and murders outside the jail, according to the indictment.

White "effectively raised the BGF flag over the Baltimore City Detention Center," FBI Special Agent Stephen Vogt said in a statement.

"The inmates literally took over 'the asylum,' and the detention centers became safe havens for BGF," Vogt said.

A total of 15 guards, seven inmates and five gang members were indicted in the conspiracy, according to the FBI.

Inmates bought contraband and gifts for guards, including luxury cars, using reloadable debit cards.

Guards smuggled contraband in their underwear, using entrances where they knew they would not be thoroughly screened, the indictment states.

The Black Guerilla Family began in California in the 1960s but has since spread across the country. Gang members first appeared in Maryland prisons in the 1990s.

"Ninety-nine percent of our correctional officers do their jobs with integrity, honesty, and respect," said Secretary Gary Maynard of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

According to Maynard, 60 percent of all correction officers in Maryland are women.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Texas Executes 10th Inmate in 2012

Texas Department of Criminal Justice(HUNTSVILLE, Texas) -- Convicted murderer Jonathan Green became the 10th Texas inmate to be put to death this year when he was given a lethal injection Wednesday.

Green, 44, was convicted of kidnapping and killing a 12-year-old girl from her home in 2000. He took the girl to his home, strangled and sexually assaulted her, and then buried her in his backyard.

Detectives arrived and questioned him, then left to get a search warrant. During that time he dug up and moved the body inside his house, where detectives found it when they returned. He then denied involvement in the killing, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Wednesday, his legal team made pleas to the 5th District Court of Appeals to stay Green's execution, delaying the time of death from 6 p.m. until close to midnight, when his execution order would have expired. The appeals failed, however, and Green was given the lethal injection around 10:30 p.m.

Green told the warden that he would not have any final words before his death Wednesday night, but soon changed his mind, according to the Houston Chronicle.

"I'm an innocent man. I never killed anyone. Y'all are killing an innocent man," he said, and then looked down at the injection in his arm. "It's hurting me bad."

He was declared dead around 10:45 p.m.

Copyrigh 2012 ABC News Radio


Federal Inmates Up by 50% Since 2000

Kevin Horan/Stone(WASHINGTON) -- The number of Americans locked up in federal prisons across the country has boomed over the past six years, growing nearly 10 percent since 2006, and is expected to keep growing through 2020.

The number of incarcerated federal felons has grown by about 50 percent since the year 2000, according to a new report released this week by the Government Accountability Office.

The rise in the population is attributed to a rise in national crime, tougher sentences for convicted felons, and a lack of parole in the federal system. With more criminals staying in the system for longer periods of time, available space in prisons has dried up, according to David Maurer, a GAO spokesman.

“The problem is going to be that these guys are going to be there for a long time and they’re not building any new prisons for anymore.  That’s why crowding continues to become a problem,” Maurer said.

More than 1.6 million individuals — or 1 in 200 Americans — were incarcerated in America as of December 2010, the most recent time period for which there is data, according to the GAO report.  The federal system addressed in the report houses about 218,000 of the inmates. The rest are located in state prisons.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court: Are Prison Strip Searches Constitutional?

Dick Luria/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- It was bad enough that Albert Florence was hauled to jail by an officer who mistakenly thought there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. But Florence’s shock turned to humiliation at the prison when he was strip searched, transferred to another county jail, strip searched again and held for a total of six days until the matter was cleared up and charges against him were dismissed.

“The strip search was humiliating,” Florence says. “Degrading.”

After his release, Florence sued the two county jails that held him, arguing that his constitutional rights were violated when he was subjected to strip search without a reasonable suspicion that he was bringing contraband into the jail. Florence argued that detainees who are placed in the general prison population for minor offenses should not be subject to such searches.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear Florence’s case and discuss the balance between the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure and the security interests of prison facilities.

Carter G. Phillips, a lawyer representing the county jails, argues that courts should defer to the security interests of the prisons. He says the privacy interest of the incoming prisoner must yield to an “overriding security interest” of the jail to protect inmates and staff.

But Susan Chana Lask, Florence’s lawyer, says that the prisons should not treat those who have committed serious crimes in the same way as those who are there for minor offenses.

“You need to strip search the murderers, criminals and drug dealers,” she says, “those are the ones who are committing crimes.”

Florence’s story dates back to a 1998 conviction for a minor offense. He was late in paying the accompanying fine and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He eventually paid off the fine which should have cancelled the outstanding warrant.

But when his car was stopped for a driving violation in 2005, the officer could find no evidence in his computer that the fine had been paid. He arrested Florence, even though Florence showed him a copy of the paid receipt from the court.

Florence says in prison he was directed to remove all his clothing, then open his mouth and lift his tongue, hold out his arms and turn around, and lift his genitals.

Lower courts have split on whether reasonable suspicion is needed before strip searching an individual entering the prison population.

In 1979 the Supreme Court ruled that in the interest of security, prisons could conduct visual body cavity searches of all detainees after they had contact with outsiders. For years after that ruling, lower courts ruled that the prison had to have a reasonable suspicion that the arrestee was concealing contraband before subjecting him to a strip search upon entering the facility.

But in recent years some courts have begun to allow a blanket policy to strip search all arrestees.

The Obama administration has filed a friend of the court brief in support of the jails involved in Florence’s arrest. In briefs it argued that the need for security in the jails outweighs the individual privacy rights regarding strip searches.

The government points out that the Federal Bureau of Prisons house more than 216,000 pretrial detainees and convicted inmates and subjects them all to visual body-cavity inspections before they can be placed in the general prison population.

“Prisons and jails are unique place[s] fraught with serious security dangers,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. argued in court papers, “where the smuggling of weapons, drugs, and other contraband poses a serious threat to inmate and officer safety and institutional security.”

Florence is excited the Justices will finally hear his case.

“It feels good,” he says, “because it’s been a long road filled with ups and downs, and finally the Court can set it all straight.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Smuggled Cell Phones Prove Latest Problem For Prisons

Stockbyte/ThinkStock(DALLAS) -- Cell phones are causing headaches again for Texas correctional officials.

Two years ago, after a state lawmaker started receiving threats, apparently from a convict, a sweep of the massive Texas prison system turned up over 100 smuggled cell phones, along with accessories like chargers and batteries.  It's now become an issue in county jails, too, after one inmate used his phone to plan his escape and then to go on Facebook once he was out. 

Officials are looking at ways to electronically jam cell signals rather than trying to round up all the smuggled devices.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Overcrowding in California's Prisons Reaches Supreme Court

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lawyers for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will tell the Supreme Court on Tuesday that a federal court order telling the state to reduce its prison population by 40,000 over two years is too drastic, and will endanger public safety.

The controversy arose in 2009 when a panel of three federal judges ruled that crowding in California's prisons violated prisoners' constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.  The panel relied upon the Prison Litigation Reform Act passed by Congress in 1996 that allows federal courts, in certain circumstances, to order caps on prison population to remedy constitutional violations.  With the state appealing, the order has not gone into effect.

California argues to the Supreme Court that the three-judge panel had no jurisdiction to rule on the issue and that it did not give California a reasonable amount of time to comply with previous court orders to remedy the problem.

"The release of these inmates will jeopardize the safety of California residents unless substantial investments in rehabilitation programs for released inmates are made" lawyers for the state argue in court papers.  "There is, however, no guarantee that California, which remains mired in fiscal crisis, has the financial ability to offer those services, or that the political branches would agree to direct available funds to released prisoners rather than other pressing needs."

The case stems from two separate lawsuits that had been wending their way through California courts for years, challenging the health care available in the prison system.

Citing horrific prison conditions, lawyers for the prisoners argue in court briefs that because of overcrowding, the state has failed to meet its obligation "to ensure the safety of guards and prison personnel , the public and the prisoners themselves."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio