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21 June 2006

Bad federal corrections officers! No donut! / or: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? (Juvenal)

John Hall, a senior British prison guard since 1991, was recently jailed for life for a series of rapes in northern England. Among his victims were girls as young as 12. (Photo: West Yorkshire Police, via Reuters.)

Since jail was invented, prisoners have wanted Stuff smuggled into them, and jail guards have smuggled the Stuff in for them, in exchange for Money, and if the prisoners didn't have money, there's barter. The prisoners have Orafices, and the guards want sex, so the prisoners get what they want, the guards get what they want, everybody unhappy.

If you think prisoners get their contraband from family visitors or defense lawyers, you're probably blind or on an LSD hallucination. See a doctor.

Every visitor is subject to thorough searches.

Guards entering the prison aren't searched. They're searched once in a blue moon. They come and go into and out of the prisons and jails every day without scrutiny. What scrutiny there is is the scrutiny of fellow prison guards.

Which delivery service would you choose to get drugs, alcohol or some secret time on a forbidden cell phone?

And yet in informal discussions about The World's Largest Prison System -- that's my nation's, USA Number One!!! More prisoners than Russia! More prisoners than China! -- people can't believe that the most reliable and common conduit for smuggling drugs and other contraband is always the prison guards.

It's called Uniform Denial -- who could suspect a sworn corrections officer in a uniform with a badge? It's unpatriotic. It's unAmerican. I ought to be ashamed of myself.

It's a Growth Industry. First we pass all kinds of laws to fill our prisons with 2,300,000 children, women and men.

Then we hire thousands of new prison guards.

The prison guards form unions which collect $$$$$$ in dues, and go to the state capital and lobby ferociously for -- guess what?

Yes, new laws that will guarantee more prisoners, new prisons, hiring more prison guards, and a lifetime of guaranteed employment.

In California, the most powerful lobby in Sacramento, the lobby that contributes the most to the campaigns of the elected legislators, is the corrections guard union. No politician has a snowball's chance in hell of resisting the wishes, desires and demands of the corrections guard union. If a California politician goes against the corrections guard union, he or she probably won't survive the next election.

The new laws and mandatory minimum felony sentences the prison guards demand, and promptly receive from the legislators they've bought, are mostly drug felonies, from Adult Consentual Non-Violent Transactions. Something is bought, money changes hands, no violence takes place, both Adults walk away happy. About 53 percent of America's prisoners are inside for non-violent acts.

California is just the most egregious example of the power of the corrections guard lobby. Almost every state's corrections union is the most powerful lobby at the statehouse. Those are the states building the new prisons and filling them up with more and more mostly non-violent (and mostly non-white) prisoners.

Incidentally, the law in most US places says that when a male prison guard has sex with a female prisoner, no matter how much she's smiling, or seems to be smiling -- it's Rape. A prison guard is actually charged with rape about as often as a duck sings Lohengrin.

Is America a Safer Place with 2,300,000 human beings locked up?

If most prisoners are there for drug crimes, does Gulag America have less drug use than it had when only a tiny fraction of today's behind-bars population was incarcerated?

Does the Pope shit in the woods? Does a bear wear a red suit?

Anyway, if you want drugs but don't know where to find them, get yourself arrested, then start chatting up your prison guard. If you don't have any money, bend over or get down on your knees.

KLTV-7 (ABC television affiliate, Texas USA)
Wednesday 21 June 2006

Sex-with-Inmates Arrests
Trigger Florida Prison Gunfight

Tallahassee, Florida -- A guard facing charges in a sex-with-inmates probe opened fire on federal agents trying to arrest him Wednesday at a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida.

The shooter and a federal agent were killed in the gunfight, the FBI said. A Bureau of Prisons official was wounded.

Federal agents were serving arrest warrants on six guards when the shooting started, around 7:45 a.m.

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted the six on charges including exchanging contraband for sex with female inmates.

The guards also are accused of attempting to keep the inmates silent through money and intimidation, according to the indictment.

Jeff Westcott, spokesman for the FBI's Jacksonville bureau, said the guard fired on the federal agents as they moved in to arrest him.

Federal agents returned fire, killing the suspect, Westcott said. An agent with the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General died in the shootout, he said.

The grand jury indictment charges six male guards at the women's prison with a single count of conspiracy. Named in the indictment are Bureau of Prisons guards Alfredo Barnes, Gregory Dixon, Ralph Hill, Vincent Johnson, Alan Moore and E. Lavon Spence.

The indictment, the product of a year-long investigation, alleges that from September 2003 until June 2005 the six guards conspired to swap contraband -- drugs, alcohol, money and favors -- for sex with at least 10 female inmates. The details of the scandal are laid out in the indictment's 70 charged overt acts.

Five of the six guards are accused of having sexual contact with inmates in exchange for contraband. The indictment does not allege that guard Johnson had sex with anyone, but does allege that he discouraged an inmate from cooperating with the investigation.

The guards are accused of facilitating the sexual contracts by covering for each other, swapping shifts and paying willing female inmates with cash and other contraband.

The guards also were accused of abusing their authority to keep the scheme going. They allegedly monitored inmates' phone conversations, abused their access to inmates' confidential computer files, and urged them not to cooperate with investigators.

In some cases, the indictment said, they threatened to transfer uncooperative inmates to other prisons father away from their families.

They guards allegedly paid cash and other contraband for some inmates' silence while threatening to transfer other inmates who indicated they would report sexual advances or otherwise expose the alleged scheme.

According to the indictment, at least one federal agent went undercover at the prison. The indictment states that, at Barnes' urging, the undercover agent mailed a $600 money order to purchase contraband.

Barnes allegedly called the undercover agent's cell phone to discuss delivery of the contraband, and Johnson passed on a message to an inmate on Barnes' behalf, the indictment charges.

The Tallahassee facility holds mainly women, but includes an area holding men awaiting trial.

The facility was put on lockdown after the shooting, officials said.

- 30 -

CNN's Patrick Oppmann and Terry Frieden contributed to this report.
Wednesday 21 June 2006 12:18pm USA ET

US agent among 2 dead
in Florida prison gunfight

by Michael Peltier

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) -- A federal agent and a prison guard were shot dead and another worker was injured in a gunfight during an arrest attempt at a federal detention center in north Florida on Wednesday, the FBI said.

Federal agents were trying to arrest six prison guards on corruption charges, including charges that some gave prisoners alcohol and other contraband in exchange for sex and money, an investigator said.

One of the guards targeted for arrest opened fire and was shot dead, FBI spokesman Jeff Westcott said. An agent from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General was also killed, he said.

Another prison worker was also shot and taken to a hospital, where his or her condition was unknown, Westcott said.

Prison spokeswoman Carla Wilson said no prisoners were involved and the facility had been secured.

The six guards were indicted on Tuesday on charges of conspiracy, bribery, witness tampering and mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Tallahassee.

The suspects had conspired for nearly three years to trade contraband for money and other payment, and would face 20 years in prison if convicted, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

The detention center is one of two federal prisons located in the Florida state capital and is used for short-term incarcerations. It is located next to the Federal Correctional Institution, a long-term detention facility.

- 30 -

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really is a stupid blog...

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

but that was a really thoughtful, insightful, anonymous driveby comment. suddenly i feel ashamed at publishing such a stupid blog.


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