On Friday, authorities charged correctional officer Amara Brown from the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, a notorious South Carolina detention center.

The charges allege her involvement in facilitating the delivery of a DoorDash meal to an inmate, with the incident discovered during a routine search of the convict’s cell.

Brown, 27, is also accused of engaging in frequent communication with the inmate through a contraband mobile phone, as disclosed by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

The Messenger reported that the sheriff’s office charged the guard at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center with misconduct in office and furnishing contraband to an incarcerated individual. The charges came after Brown confessed to engaging in multiple conversations with the prisoner since March 2023.

Additionally, Amara Brown admitted to utilizing the DoorDash app to place an order for the inmate’s meal and personally deliver the food.

South Carolina‘s correctional facilities are currently under scrutiny from the federal Department of Justice, which is conducting a civil rights investigation. This investigation stems from numerous accounts of violence, staffing shortages, and fatalities within the state’s jails.

In 2023, at least nine guards faced arrests for a range of offenses, including contraband smuggling and sexual assault.

Last month, an unidentified officer from the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center revealed that conditions for both inmates and staff were deplorable.


Source: https://themessenger.com/news/south-carolina-guard-door-dash-order-inmate-richland-county-jai

A trans woman who self-identifies as Ali Miles, also known as Dylan Miles, is pursuing a legal case against the City of New York, seeking compensation exceeding $22,000,000. This legal action stems from her placement in a male prison despite her transgender status.

Born biologically male, Miles is in the process of transitioning into a woman. During the period of June to July 2022, the inmate was held at the George R. Vierno Center on Rikers Island, awaiting transfer to Arizona to face domestic violence charges.

According to legal documents, the lawsuit contends that Miles was placed in a male detention center. This is contrary to a court order directing her placement in a female unit. Upon realizing the mistake upon entering the facility, Ali Miles experienced shock, panic, and fright.

Miles actively sought accommodation as an LGBTQIA+ individual undergoing gender transition, emphasizing the inappropriateness of being housed in a male-population jail. Despite Miles’ pleas, a staff member callously responded, “We don’t do the trans thing here.”

The legal filing further details instances of discrimination, assault, and human rights violations during Miles’ time in the facility. Notably, upon Miles’ arrival, a male guard conducted a strip search, which is typically a female guard’s responsibility.

Subsequently, in Arizona, Miles faced a trial resulting in convictions for disorderly conduct, harassment, aggravated harassment, false reporting to law enforcement, and threatening or intimidating behavior.

Ali Miles received a 312-day jail sentence and three years of supervised probation.

This lawsuit is part of a series of legal actions initiated by Miles over the years, targeting entities such as a tourism company, a yoga studio, Bagel Point, Planet Fitness, and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

All previous cases alleging gender discrimination were dismissed.

The upcoming hearing for the lawsuit against the City of New York is scheduled for February 22.


Source: https://www.gbnews.com/news/us/trans-woman-sues-new-york-male-prison

Related stories: Washington Strikes Agreement to Improve Transgender Prisoner Conditions, Georgia pressed to fund gender transition for a prisoner

A group of legislators at the Capitol in Pierre endorsed a measure on Friday morning, indicating that the state would cover inmate legal defense fees. This involves incarcerated individuals whose crimes were committed within prison walls.

With a unanimous 13-0 vote, the House State Affairs Committee moved House Bill 1039 to the budget committee for further consideration.

Rep. Ernie Otten, R-Tea, proposed the bill, but due to a family emergency, he couldn’t testify. Fort Pierre House Majority Leader Will Mortenson argued in favor of the bill, asserting that counties should not bear inmate legal defense fees for prison-related crimes. Mortenson emphasized that the state operates prisons, while counties oversee jails, primarily housing defendants awaiting prosecution.

Currently, South Dakota inmates, like all citizens, are constitutionally entitled to legal representation if they can’t afford an attorney. Counties bear the responsibility for these legal bills.

Mortenson pointed out that inmates incurring such bills often have minimal ties to the counties where their prisons are situated. Additionally, the state does not contribute to counties’ primary funding sources as it doesn’t pay property taxes on its prison facilities.

To emphasize this, Mortenson argued that the state, which is responsible for prosecuting prison crimes through the Attorney General’s Office, should also bear the burden of defending these inmates.


Counties’ Burden: Defending inmates’ costs

Supporting the measure, Eric Erickson, representing the South Dakota Association of County Officials, testified that the cost of defending prison crimes fluctuates significantly annually, occasionally reaching levels that strain budgets.

Erickson recounted a recent case involving a drug ring at Mike Durfee State Prison in Bon Homme County, estimating possible legal fees between $2 million and $3 million, significantly affecting the county’s $5 million annual budget.

Erickson clarified that the association’s membership provided the potential cost figure, and he remains unaware of the final expenses incurred to defend the inmates.

The Yankton Press & Dakotan reported on the 2018 incident, emphasizing that the initially high cost estimates were expected to decrease, considering not all defendants would proceed to trial.

The report also pointed out that county commissioners had requested then-Department of Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk to cover the expenses for defending the 20 inmates eligible for county-paid attorneys, a request the DOC declined.


County budget challenges and solutions

Although costly multi-defendant cases like this may not occur frequently, the challenge of public defense costs has been a longstanding concern for county commissioners. The concept for HB 1039 originated partly from discussions addressing county budget challenges held during the summer and fall of the previous year.

In response to these discussions and the efforts of an indigent defense task force, the state Unified Judicial System is now advocating for the establishment of a state-level public defender’s office to alleviate the burden of indigent defense on counties.

Mortenson emphasized that the establishment of a new men’s prison in Lincoln County brings increased attention to the issue of counties covering the expenses for defending inmates, noting that Lincoln County is not the sole location with a prison being situated there.

A new prison is also slated for Pennington County, where the state initiated the construction of a new women’s prison last year, adding to the existing minimum-security men’s unit in that county.


Unknown costs and state’s burden

Testifying against the bill, Brittni Skipper from the Department of Corrections argued that shifting costs when their amounts are uncertain would be irresponsible. She pointed out that counties with state prison facilities in Minnehaha, Hughes, Yankton, Pennington, and Bon Homme lack reliable statistics on the expenses incurred for defending inmate defendants.

Skipper also mentioned that the Department of Corrections supports the establishment of a statewide public defender’s office. However, she clarified that this office would handle legal fees for criminal appeals, not cover the defense costs for individuals during the criminal cases that might lead to appeals.

In response, lawmakers decided to forward the bill to the House Appropriations Committee. Mortenson, in reply to Skipper’s testimony, highlighted that the costs are both unknown and “unknowable.” He stated that it is impossible for counties or the state to predict the number and severity of crimes that might occur in prison each year.

Representative Gary Cammack, R-Union Center, proposed sending the bill to appropriators for further study. Cammack argued that shifting these unknowable costs would place the state, with significantly greater financial resources, in the same position counties have been grappling with for a century.


Source: https://www.capjournal.com/news/lawmakers-advance-plan-to-put-prison-legal-defense-costs-on-state-ledger/article_8b3d26a8-b3c4-11ee-8e71-8f23cae4876c.html

On Monday, the Montana Department of Corrections leaders announced their plans to monitor heating equipment at Montana correctional facilities for an additional day.

The facilities are addressing challenges posed by sub-zero temperatures.

Following a boiler malfunction at Montana State Prison (MSP) in Deer Lodge on Friday night, the Department established an “Incident Command System.” Brian Gootkin, the Director of the Department of Corrections (DOC), stated in a press release on Monday that the team had been actively addressing the situation around the clock.

Gootkin reported they were happy that no new major heating issues had affected inmates in the past 24 hours, and they keep addressing issues as they arise.

According to DOC leaders, one of the two boilers at MSP’s Work Reentry Center malfunctioned, resulting in a temperature drop in a building accommodating approximately 180 out of the prison’s 1,500 inmates. Additionally, the DOC shared that a boiler at the Pine Hills Correctional Facility in Miles City on Saturday night, accommodating approximately 80 adult inmates and 30 juveniles, experienced a failure.

In both cases, DOC leaders swiftly fixed the boilers, providing extra blankets to inmates in need and situating portable heaters in common areas.

Gootkin expressed sincere gratitude to members of the Montana Department of Corrections team who not only handled weather-related emergencies in recent days but also carried out their regular duties in these challenging conditions.

Acknowledging the statewide impact of extreme temperatures, Gootkin emphasized the dedication of the staff and community partners in ensuring the safety and security of everyone in Montana correctional facilities.

With an anticipated rise in temperatures above zero on Tuesday, the department outlined plans to conclude the Incident Command System unless unforeseen issues arise.

Several reports reached MTN, a news outlet, from individuals stating that family members at MSP had communicated ongoing heating issues in some areas of the prison post-boiler repair.

A department spokesperson informed the news outlet of a minor heating system issue in one of the higher-security “High Side” units on Monday morning, which was promptly resolved. The department remains vigilant about addressing emerging issues as they arise.


Source: https://www.ktvh.com/news/montana-department-of-corrections-still-monitoring-heating-systems-at-its-facilities

Related story: https://inmate-lookup.org/blog/montana-state-prison-heating-crisis-resolved-after-five-days

Cal State Los Angeles announced on Friday that they had been awarded a $900,000 grant from the Department of Justice to establish a Prison to Careers Equity Pathway program.

The initiative is aimed at assisting formerly incarcerated college graduates in securing employment. Funded as part of the Department of Justice’s $4.4 billion in grants, the program will facilitate connections between graduates and regional employers and community organizations.

According to Taffany Lim, the executive director of the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good, the grant signifies Cal State LA‘s commitment to the transformative power of education.

Additionally, Tiffany stated that the Prison to Careers Equity Pathway program will contribute to breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration by supporting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students in earning college degrees.

According to the university, the Department of Justice is providing $4.4 billion in grants to build community capacity for reducing violence, assisting victims and youth, and achieving fair outcomes through evidence-based criminal and juvenile justice strategies.

The university’s existing Prison B.A. Graduation Initiative, initiated in 2016 with support from President Barack Obama’s Second Chance Pell federal pilot program, serves as the foundation for the new program. This initiative, the first in-person bachelor’s degree completion program for incarcerated students in California, operates at the California State Prison in Lancaster. Students in the program earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus on organizational communication.

Recognizing that higher education is linked to lower recidivism rates, officials stated the importance of addressing unemployment as a significant risk factor for recidivism.

Lim emphasized that the insights gained from incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students show the inadequacy of a bachelor’s degree alone. Even if a Cal State LA alum is released with a summa cum laude bachelor’s degree, the challenges of pursuing a meaningful career that utilizes both lived and academic experiences are significant, according to Lim.

To address this, university officials mentioned that the Prison to Careers Equity Pathway program, funded to provide training, professional development, coaching, mentorship, and career planning, will support students both inside and outside prison.


Source: https://www.dailynews.com/2024/01/12/cal-state-la-snags-funds-to-help-create-jobs-for-ex-jailed-college-grads/

An undisclosed “significant incident” has led to the Los Angeles County Probation Department placing eight probation officers at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall on administrative leave.

The eight probation officers allegedly committed misconduct with multiple juveniles who are detained at the criticized juvenile detention facility in Downey. This incident occurred in December.

The Probation Department, refraining from providing further details, maintained that its internal affairs unit would not handle the investigation to preserve the inquiry’s integrity. Instead, Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa has sought assistance from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for an external investigation.

In a news release on Wednesday, Viera Rosa emphasized the importance of publicly sharing this information as a step toward bringing new leadership, accountability, and transparency to the Probation Department. He expressed his commitment to establishing a safe and secure environment for the youth in their care, offering a clear path to rehabilitation.

Before becoming chief of L.A. County’s Probation Department, state leaders appointed Viera Rosa as the “chief strategist” for the county’s juvenile operations amid intensely critical reviews of facility conditions. Throughout his tenure, he has committed to “wiping the slate clean” and rejuvenating the county’s approach to juvenile detention.

A significant change during his leadership involved relocating hundreds of detained juveniles from aging facilities to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, which had recently undergone renovation. However, challenges persisted, including a riot resulting in one inmate escape, the discovery of a gun within the facility, and another juvenile escape months later.

While details of the recent incident remain unclear, Viera Rosa affirmed his commitment to reforming L.A. County’s juvenile detention system. He stated the department’s active efforts to identify and remove individuals not aligning with standards and core values to eliminate negative influences within the organization.

The Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commission meets every second Thursday of the month, so the next meeting is set for the day after they announced the officers’ suspension.


Source: https://ktla.com/news/local-news/8-probation-officers-placed-on-leave-at-embattled-l-a-county-juvenile-facility/

The inmate dog training program, a collaboration between the Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) and a local humane society, actively aims to facilitate the adoption of dogs while simultaneously equipping inmates with valuable life skills.

Inmates at FCI Terre Haute are presently training five dogs, among them Maya, a two-year-old German Shepherd mix sourced from the Terre Haute Humane Society.

In the training process, the dogs acquire essential commands such as sit, heel, lay down, and social interaction with other dogs.

According to Maggie Wheeler, a volunteer coordinator at the Terra Haute Human Society, the Terre Haute Humane Society retains custody of the dogs until they pass the required test. Prospective adopters must visit “Unlimited Pawsabilities” in Terre Haute for a consultation before undertaking a skills test to assess compatibility with the dog.

The consultation process at “Unlimited Pawsabilities” not only ensures a suitable match between adopters and dogs but also guarantees that the training imparted by the inmates will be reinforced in the new homes. Wheeler added that the program plays a crucial role in aiding shelter dogs by offering them training and making them available for adoption by the general public.

Apart from alleviating the burden on local shelters, the inmate dog training program imparts a sense of purpose to the participating inmates.

Todd Royer, Camp Administrator at FCI Terre Haute, stresses the significance of the program in instilling accountability, teaching leadership, and providing inmates with valuable skills for re-entry into their communities upon release.

Upon successful completion of the training, participating inmates receive a dog trainer certification, opening doors to potential employment opportunities post-release. Royer cites instances of former inmates who, after release, established their own dog-training businesses in the state of Indiana.

Individuals interested in adopting Maya or other dogs from the program can visit or contact “Unlimited Pawsabilities” at 1209 N. Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute, with the phone number 812-241-7249.

Lastly, Wheeler points out that the dogs are special and require committed adopters willing to invest the necessary effort in their ongoing training and care.


Source: https://www.mywabashvalley.com/news/local-news/terre-haute-humane-society-teaming-up-with-federal-prison-to-train-dogs/

Related blog: https://inmate-lookup.org/blog/paws-for-life-k9-rescue-receive-inspire-change-changemaker-award-los-angeles-chargers

On Friday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declared a grant of nearly $5,000 for Alabama correctional officer’s prison body armor to the Department of Corrections.

The grant aimed to facilitate the acquisition of upgraded prison body armor for correctional officers stationed in each of the state’s prisons.

In a released statement, Ivey expressed her satisfaction with allocating these funds, stressing the importance of ensuring that the officers are adequately equipped to execute their duties with increased safety. In addition, she highlighted the considerable responsibilities placed on correctional officers, emphasizing the crucial role they play in maintaining the security of the state’s correctional facilities.

The grant, sourced from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs through the U.S. Department of Justice, marks a commitment to bolstering the safety measures for correctional officers. The newly procured vests are meticulously designed to prevent the risk of injuries, providing resilience against ballistic impacts and sharp objects.

Director Kenneth Boswell of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs affirmed the governor’s recognition of the significance of Alabama’s correctional officers and their contributions.

Lastly, he conveyed the agency’s pleasure in participating in a program that directly aids correctional officers in carrying out their responsibilities, as stated in an official release.

Subsequently, Commissioner John Hamm of the Department of Corrections has been duly informed of the approval of the grant. Further reinforcing the collaborative efforts to enhance safety measures for correctional officers across the state.

The state of Alabama currently operates fifteen prisons.


Source: https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/2024/01/12/alabama-gov-kay-ivey-5000-to-correctional-officers-for-body-armor/72207453007/

Management and staff at the Valley State Prison recently participated in the Special Olympics Northern California Regional Bowling Tournament held at the Bowlero in Clovis, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release.

The purpose of the event was to raise both funds and awareness for the Special Olympics, a cause that Valley State Prison in Chowchilla has consistently supported over the years.

Managers from the prison volunteered their personal time to attend the event, showcasing a commitment that extends beyond the confines of the correctional facility.

The staff displayed their team spirit by seizing the chance to play a friendly game of bowling. What made this event extra remarkable was the staff’s initiative to individually hand out medals to the Special Olympics participants. This formed a clear and significant link between them and the cause they were supporting.

Capt. R. Boozer emphasized the significance of extending support to the Special Olympics community. Witnessing the joy on the faces of the participants during the bowling event was genuinely inspiring. In addition, Capt. R. Boozer expressed a sense of fulfillment for dedicating time to such a worthy cause

Participating in the Special Olympics Northern California Regional Bowling Tournament fundraiser showcases the staff’s continuous dedication to community service.

Valley State Prison’s ongoing charitable efforts serve to reinforce that positive contributions to society are actively pursued, even within the constraints of a prison setting.


Source: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/insidecdcr/2024/01/11/bowling-benefits-special-olympics/

Quandelle Joseph, a former correction officer at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, acknowledged in Brooklyn Federal Court on Thursday that he had accepted bribes for smuggling contraband into the facility.

In Brooklyn Federal Court, Joseph, 33, pleaded guilty to a bribery charge, admitting his involvement in corrupt activities just a few months after commencing his employment at the Sunset Park jail.

Based on federal sentencing guidelines, Joseph might receive a maximum of three years behind bars, even though the charge carries a potential 15-year sentence.

His illegal activities came under scrutiny in December of the year he started working at the Metropolitan Detention Center (May 2020) when authorities discovered contraband, including a cell phone, in a racketeering suspect’s cell emitting a distinct odor of weed.

Video evidence revealed that Quandelle Joseph had made an unauthorized visit to the inmate’s housing unit, deviating from his assigned unit on lockdown. A criminal complaint pointed out that, as he left, he did not have the bedroll he had initially brought in.

Joseph admitted to accepting bribes between January 1 and November 1, 2021, confessing that during that time, he had accepted and agreed to receive money to bring contraband into MDC Brooklyn, according to his statement to Judge Dora Irizarry.

According to federal prosecutors, Joseph received tens of thousands of dollars in total. However, his defense attorney, Robert LaRusso, indicated a potential dispute regarding the prosecution’s ability to prove the bribe amount and whether Joseph qualifies to be categorized as a public official.

The former correction officer also faced accusations of using a burner phone to warn an inmate about impending searches. In a text message, he advised the message recipients to keep phones clean and erase texts and call logs every night, as stated in the complaint.

The Metropolitan Detention Center has faced recurring criticism for its substandard conditions and insufficient staffing in recent years. Just last week, a federal judge in Manhattan expressed the jail’s conditions as “dreadful” and opted not to send a 70-year-old fentanyl dealer there for sentencing.

The facility has housed high-profile defendants, including Jeffrey Epstein, Bernie Madoff, Ghislaine Maxwell, and R. Kelly.

They have not determined a sentencing date for Quandelle Joseph yet.


Source: https://www.nydailynews.com/2024/01/11/former-brooklyn-federal-jail-guard-admits-he-took-bribes-smuggled-contraband/