Prison News in Brief: France through Mexico

Prison News in Brief: France through Mexico

This installment of Prison News in Brief concerns news from France through Mexico and is brought to us by our friends at Prison Legal News.

  • France Prison News

Members of the UFAP-UNSA prison guard union gathered to protest in front of more than 100 jails on June 18, 2013.  The action by the union, whose members are banned from striking, was to bring attention to overcrowding and safety concerns in French prisons.  Protestors set fire to wooden pallets, tires, and other objects, and blocked deliveries to the facilities.  “This is a shot across the bows, to make the powers be aware of the urgency of the situation,” said Union Secretary General Ste’phane Barraut.

John Joseph Kalei Hall was sentenced to thirteen months in prison on June 27, 2013 after receiving an estimated $10,000 to $30,000 in one year for smuggling cartons of cigarettes into Halawa Correctional Facility.  Federal prosecutors said Hall sold the tobacco to the United Samoan Organization, a prison gang, and tipped them off to contraband searches.  U.S. District Court Judge Helen Gillmor said Hall deserved prison time because he promoted criminal activity he was hired to prevent.

  • Honduras Prison News

On August 2, 2013, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a report stating that control at the nation’s 24 prisons had “been ceded into the hands of the prisoners themselves.”  The next day, Honduras President Porfirio Lobo ordered military troops to take control over the National Penitentiary following a violent disturbance that resulted in three deaths and 15 injuries.  Prisons in Honduras are extremely overcrowded and have been cited for poor conditions.

Timothy Ware, a 20-year-old veteran guard at the Decatur Correctional Center, was suspended without pay in June 2013 and charged with eight felony counts of official misconduct.  Ware allegedly solicited phone numbers from two female parolees, called them repeatedly to pursue personal or social relationships, and then lied to investigators about obtaining the women’s numbers and the nature of the calls.  DOC regulations prohibit employees from socializing with parolees.  Ware was released from custody after posting a $2,500 cash bond.

Marion County Chief Deputy Eva Talley-Sanders said overcrowding may have played a role in the alleged July 24, 2013 rape of a female prisoner by a male prisoner at the Marion County Jail.  A deputy returned the male prisoner to a cell block following a court appearance, unaware that a female prisoner had previously been moved to the same block.  The female prisoner claimed she was raped but the male prisoner said they had consensual sex.  There was no video of the incident.  The deputies involved will likely face disciplinary action.

  • Libya Prison News

Wissam Ismail Smeida, the head of Al-Ruiymi prison in Ain Zara, was assassinated on June 25, 2013; it is thought his killers are linked to prisoners at the facility.  A month later the assassination of a prominent political activist triggered protests and a riot broke out inside the al-Kwafiya prison, leading to the escape of more than 1,000 prisoners.  The AFP news agency quoted a security official who said there had been unrest at the facility prior to the mass breakout.

  • Louisiana Prison News

Governor Bobby Jindal issued a commutation to prisoner Shelby Arabie on July 12, 2013, reducing Arabie’s life sentence to 45 years and making him immediately eligible for parole.  The rare grant of clemency was one of only a few issued by Jindal; Arabie had been recommended for clemency by Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain.  Arabie had been sentenced to life in 1984 for shooting and killing Benny Posey, who robbed him during a drug deal.  Arabie still must meet the parole board and receive a favorable parole decision before he is released.

On August 2, 2013, the Associated Press reported that officials at the Santa Marta Acatitla prison had thwarted an attempt to smuggle a cell phone into the facility in a coffin.  Prisoners in Mexico have the right to have the casket of a deceased parent or child delivered to the facility so they can say their farewells.  The cell phone was found in the casket of a prisoner’s mother, and city correctional spokesman Emilio Castelazo said criminal charges had been filed.

(Reprinted with permission from Prison Legal News)