Showing posts with label Jail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jail. Show all posts

November 14, 2016

“Making a Murderer” Sees Light Outside of Jail

On Monday, a judge ordered that Dassey be released immediately while an appeal is pending that seeks to keep him behind bars. Though he'll be freed from prison, the ruling comes with a number of stipulations: Dassey can only travel within the district of Wisconsin's Eastern court, he can't get a passport, and he's not allowed to possess a gun or any controlled substance. He's also been ordered not to have any contact with his uncle, Making a Murderer subject Steven Avery, or the family of Teresa Halbach, the woman he was convicted of helping to kill.
In August, a federal judge made the ruling that Dassey's confession to helping his uncle with the crime was coerced by police. Dassey, who was 16 years old at the time, can be seen on tape recordings on the Netflix series being promised by police that "you don't have to worry about things" and things would be "OK" if he told them about the murder, which the judge says constitutes an unfair promise of leniency.

Wisconsin's attorney general has since appealed the judge's ruling and seeks to overturn it and keep Dassey in prison, where he's been for more than a decade. He says that Dassey voluntarily answered police questions after being informed of his rights and that he supplied details about the murder in response to open-ended questions, which isn't what the documentary shows.

As the appeal works its way through the courts, Dassey has remained in prison, despite his conviction being overturned.

September 6, 2016

Wilton Manors Threatening Gay Hater Caught

Wilton Manors residents can kick back and relax this Labor Day knowing a potential threat to their community has been placed behind bars.

On Saturday, a man accused of making social media threats of violence toward members of Wilton Manors’ gay community was arrested and taken into federal custody on an unrelated charge.

According to police, Florida Highway Patrol troopers took 50-year-old Craig Jungwirth into custody in Osceola County after he was found driving with a suspended license. A Broward County judge had issued an arrest warrant for him for allegedly violating bond in a pending misdemeanor case.

“Mr. Jungwirth has been apprehended. He’s currently in custody,” said Wilton Manors Police Cmdr. Gary Blocker.

Police said Jungwirth lives with his mother in Orlando, which is 200 miles from Wilton Manors, but his Facebook posts rattled the community up until his arrest.

The former Wilton Manors resident’s arrest brought relief to those who live and work in the neighborhood. “I wasn’t going to let him ruin my holiday,” said Wilton Manors resident James Greaves. “So now, since he’s arrested, that makes it so much better.”

“This is a guy with nothing to lose,” said Nick Berry, owner of Rumors Bar and Grill, “and well known to have guns, so it was definitely a credible treat.”

Police said Jungwirth became a top priority after he posted threatening messages on a Facebook account aimed at gay residents in the community, last Tuesday.

However, he has not been charged in connection with those threats.

Multiple nightclub and bar owners, as well as employees told 7News they have had run-ins with Jungwirth in the past.

“We were actually concerned he would show up again,” said Rumors Bar and Grill employee Joshua Weigand. “I absolutely feel relieved. We weren’t really sure what was going to happen.”

Ever since Jungwirth’s threats surfaced online, Rumors Bar and Grill has been taking extra precautions. “We hired extra security. Nick, the owner, actually hired armed guards over the weekend because the fact that it could be a real threat was upsetting.”

One of the epithet-riddled posts in Jungwirth’s Facebook page even references the June 12 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Police said Jungwirth has advertised himself as an area event and party planner. He is accused of writing, “My events are selling out cause you [gay slur] are total patsies. None of you deserve to live. If you losers thought the Pulse nightclub shooting was bad, wait ’till you see what I’m planning for Labor Day.”

Another post read, “You can never catch a genius from MIT, and since you [gay slur] aren’t dying from AIDS anymore, I have a better solution to exterminate you losers.”

A third post reads, “I’m gonna be killing you [gay slur] faster than cops kill [racial slur]. Its time to clean up Wilton Manors from all you AIDS infested losers.”

“That Orlando thing affected all of us all pretty, pretty hard,” said Wilton Manors resident Gareth Chapman.

Blocker said the Wilton Manors Police has been working with the residents. “Immediately we’ve been communicating what we could with members of our community,” he said. “We beefed up patrols, we’ve beefed up Special Operations. We also met on Friday, door-to-door, with our local businesses.”

“[We are doing this] to provide them information on Jungwirth, information about the concerning posts and to let them know that we were going to be out there for them over this holiday weekend,” said Blocker. “We want to thank the members of our community who took the ‘See Something, Say Something’ initiative and reached out to us.”

Acquaintances told 7News Jungwirth is openly gay. He has denied writing those posts, even though he didn’t even read them when authorities asked him.

Jeff Scott, a security guard at Rumors Bar and Grill, understands the possibility of a tragedy. “I think he’s really capable of anything, from what I’ve experienced from the past,” he said. “I don’t understand where that comes from because he is gay, but he’s obviously got a lot of anger, hatred.”

The bar has a case pending against Jungwirth who they claim was caught on camera vandalizing the business with spray paint after he was angered over a pulled sponsorship in May of 2016.

The latest arrest warrant also reveals past complaints on file for stalking and harassment as well as incidents of sabotage and trespassing.

The FBI has taken over his case, and according to a federal complaint, he has been reported to the police before. The federal complaint stated, “multiple complaints for stalking and harassing behavior were documented, as well as incidents of sabotage, vandalism, and trespassing.”

The federal complaint goes on to detail an interview with one of the individuals who contacted Wilton Manors Police regarding the Facebook posts. The complainant stated they have filed multiple reports against Jungwirth. One of them resulted in a restraining order against him.

According to the federal complaint, the complainant also told officials in the past several months, Jungwirth sent them thousands of threatening text messages, Facebook messages and phone calls, many times with Jungwirth stating, “I’m going to get you.”

“There is something wrong with him inside,” Berry said.

With Jungwirth’s arrest, Wilton Manors residents felt free to enjoy Labor Day weekend without the added security concerns. “Wilton Manors doesn’t have to be in fear anymore,” said local resident Robin Almodobar.

Although Jungwirth is in custody, the investigation into his posts continues. “The word conclusion is obviously not correct because there is so much more we have to do,” said Wilton Manors Police Department Chief Paul O’Connell.

Jungwirth is expected to appear in federal court in Orlando on Tuesday.


September 21, 2015

GymnasticsAcademy Head Accused of Child Molestation Found Dead in Cell

Marvin Sharp head of Gymnastics Found dead inside his cell

Marvin Sharp, the head of an Indianapolis, Indiana, gymnastics academy who was arrested on charges of child pornography and molestation, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell, authorities told CBS. 

Katie Carlson, a spokeswoman from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said Sharp died on Saturday night and that no foul play was suspected. 

Sharp was being held on four counts of child molestation and three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, according to the Indianapolis Star.

"A follow up investigation is being conducted by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the Marion County coroner's office," Carlson said in a statement, the Star reported. 

Keep up with your favorite celebs in the pages of PEOPLE Magazine by subscribing now.

PEOPLE was unable to reach the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the Marion County Coroner's Office for comment. 

The 49-year-old coached Bridget Sloan and Samantha Peszek, both members of the 2008 silver medal-winning U.S. women's gymnastics Olympic team, and was once named USA Gymnastics 2010 Coach of the Year. 

The investigation began after a female gymnast allegedly complained at Sharp's Gymnastics Academy, and he was later arrested after police searching for child pornography removed computers and other electronics from his home. 

At least one coach and gymnast were defending Sharp before his death, local news station WTTV reported after his August arrest. 

"I stand by Marvin. I have never seen him behave in any way whatsoever other than respectfully toward any gymnast. Gymnastics is a sport where its very nature puts male coaches at risk of false accusations," Michele Callahan, a current coach at Sharp's Gymnastics Academy, wrote in a statement to the news station. 

Sharp's death came on the annual National Gymnastics Day. The event, which is sponsored by USA Gymnastics, was in its 17th year. 

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to  get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

July 17, 2015

He Gets 30.5 yrs for non disclosure}} As a result some will not test but will transmit by saying “Im clean’{{

 Michael Johnson sentenced to 30.5 yrs.

In 2015 some states are still at 1985 as it comes to HIV. It’s hard to believe that this judge will not be knowledgeable about the risks in having unprotected sex and keeping safe and what is the real reason this once promising life is being destroyed and thrown away.  If the judge and District Attorney where looking for a severe sentence, harsher than if he had committed murder they certainly chose the unbalanced non justice choice.

The reason I use the ’no justice word’ is because you can’t have justice when you destroy a life for not disclosing his HIV status. If he would have had any other disease that was not transmitted non sexually but through touching or just close contact  i.e.: Ebola;  He would not been prosecuted at all. 

I have heard of no prosecutions from the Ebola epidemic even when cases were brought to the U.S.
The point Im making is because this case has to do with sex and HIV being a decease connected with a certain community, getting a scape goat to make everyone clean from HIV (like if that was possible!) they destroy a life by giving him a sentence that makes no sense in view of the crime committed. 

Cases of miscarriage of justice affect us all, more so than HIV. We all have a responsibility to take care of our bodies and take not extraordinary protections but everyday very known and familiar protections when having sex with someone other than your monogamous partner. With the exception of rape, everyone involved made a choice. If he is convicted of any crime but murder, over 30 years is going way overboard. This young guy had everything stocked against him in the criminal system of his state. First he is black, yes black because being white helps you in not getting prosecuted for the same offense and if convicted with some exceptions, is not going to be life. Then he was carrying a disease that in everyday life people accommodate in their life’s because they have learn how is transmitted and more importantly how one can protect one self against it. A disease connected with gays, loose moral values and intravenous drug users. 30 years the judge and prosecuted most’ve thought, who is going to miss him? Im sure if you met the judge he would tell you he was protecting society. Then ask him why he has given 25 years for murder? How miss carriage of justice protects society?

Even if we concede, which we don’t that this sentenced young man got up one day and said Im going to infect some people, one need to take the circumstances into sentencing. Was it a rape?(was not), was this a habitual offender? He had sex with six guys in six months, what are the result of his actions as it applies to the victims? Did they acquire the disease, did they already were positive? Were they also promiscuous? This are just a few samples some of the questions which I don’t know because that would only be on the trial transcripts but it illustrates that a case is not as simple as who shot the victim? What you know is that he did not play ball by  pleading out, he went to trial, so the judge throws the book at him? 30 years is not throwing the book at him but beating him with it to death.

I don’t like guys that go around without being tested so they can plead that they didn’t know they were positive thus avoiding prosecution. The guy in question here knew. That blood test made him a felon trying to commit murder. A blood test instituted for people to know and get meds which if done correctly will make the HIV’er chances of transmitting very, very low (95-99.9%, if undetectable for more than a few months). With cases like this, besides ruining a promising young life of this college kid, it makes others be discourage to know their status based on legal reasoning. Sending this guy with a harsh sentence is not going to deter someone like him to not have sex but what it will make   many guys not want to know their status and thus transmitting the disease to many. They will transmit the disease and not get help which will help them become less likely to transmit and less likely that they will progress and their  HIV will become AIDS.

Members of the medical and legal community joined HIV activists in expressing outrage at the 30½ year sentence imposed on a Black Missour

Members of the medical and legal community joined HIV activists in expressing outrage at the 30½ year sentence imposed on a Black Missouri college student and star wrestler following his conviction under the state law that makes it a felony for people diagnosed with HIV to have sexual contact without documenting they disclosed their HIV status.  Members of the medical and legal community joined HIV activists in expressing outrage at the 30½ year sentence imposed on a Black Missouri college student and star wrestler following his conviction under the state law that makes it a felony for people diagnosed with HIV to have sexual contact without documenting they disclosed their HIV status.  

The student, Michael Johnson, faced complaints lodged by six men who claimed that they had sex with Mr. Johnson and did not know he had HIV. The sentence imposed on Mr. Johnson is equivalent to that issued in a serious homicide case.

St. Charles County Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham, who sentenced Mr. Johnson yesterday, told him he had committed "very severe" crimes. Mr. Johnson was given 30 years on the felony conviction of recklessly transmitting HIV without disclosure, and a total of 30½ years on the four lesser convictions of recklessly exposing another to HIV without disclosure. The judge ordered that the sentences run concurrently, for an effective prison sentence of 30½ years. 


Dr. Jeffrey Birnbaum, a nationally-recognized adolescent HIV expert, and founder and director of the Health and Education Alternatives for Teens (HEAT), a treatment and prevention center for adolescents and young adults, expressed sadness and concern at the outcome of Mr. Johnson’s case. Dr. Birnbaum stressed, “HIV criminal laws have no positive impact on the spread of HIV.  Sentencing people living with HIV to prison for having sex will, based on decades of HIV clinical experience, only drive people away from health centers where they can learn their HIV status and get the medical care they need.”


Kimber Mallet, a former professor of Michael’s, states: “Michael was a kind, hard-working student who overcame a learning disability to enter college and become a promising athlete. His sentence is tragic and likely will cost him his future, with no benefit to Missouri taxpayers who pay for this severe form of punishment. I am hopeful that the appeal of his sentence will produce a more just outcome."


Mayo Schreiber, Deputy Director of The Center for HIV Law and Policy and a long-time criminal defense attorney, pointed out, “The criminal statute that Michael Johnson was convicted of violating was originally passed in 1988, at a time when HIV was considered a ‘death sentence.’  Today, with proper treatment, HIV is a chronic, manageable disease and those with HIV can expect to live a full, healthy life. Yet violation of the Missouri law is a class A felony, with a sentencing range of 10-30 years or life imprisonment. Other class A felonies include murder or child abandonment resulting in death.  Punishing Michael Johnson as if he is a murderer because state officials have failed to address a severely outdated, irrational criminal law is not only fundamentally unfair, it is barbaric.”


LaTrischa Miles, member of the Missouri AIDS Task Force, founder of GRACE of Greater Kansas City, a faith-based organization for women affected by HIV/AIDS, and Co-Founder of Positive Women’s Network – USA (PWN-USA), stated: "The state of Missouri spends significant resources encouraging its citizens to be tested for HIV. The state then prosecutes people who test positive for HIV and are unable to prove that they disclosed this to their sexual partners. That just doesn’t make sense.” 

Lauren Fanning, an outreach specialist for CHLP’s Positive Justice Project, which seeks to reform HIV criminal laws in the U.S., pointed out, “State and local health officials stood by silently while the prosecutor used ignorance about HIV to persuade a jury that Michael Johnson’s HIV is effectively a deadly weapon. How do you think this double-talk affects people’s comfort with getting tested?”

The Positive Justice Project (PJP), a project of CHLP, is a national coalition of organizations and individuals, including those living with HIV, those accused or prosecuted, medical and public health professionals, law enforcement, community organizers, advocates, attorneys, sex workers, social scientists and others working to end HIV criminalization in the United States. To join or to get more information about PJP, contact Community Outreach Specialist Stephen Williams at

For more information regarding the Missouri AIDS Task Force and local organizing around HIV criminal laws, contact, or contact Lauren Fanning, Senior Community Outreach Specialist for criminal law modernization efforts at

Guidance for People Living with HIV Who Are At Risk of, or Are Facing, Criminal Prosecution for HIV Nondisclosure or Exposure, C, Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions, Vol.1, The Center for HIV Law and Pol, This is How We Win: A Toolkit for Community Advocates, Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A Manual for Advocates,, Guiding Principles for Eliminating Disease-Specific Criminal Laws, Positive Justice Project Steering Committee (2015)

 Catherine Hanssens Founder/Executive Director

June 13, 2015

Why did Prison Worker Help the Escapees? Sex


61215prisoner2.jpgDavid Sweat (left), Joyce Mitchell (center), and Richard Matt (right)
Gov. Cuomo and other state officials are following every lead and tip possible to try to track down the two convicted murderers who escaped from an upstate prison last weekend, but it's becoming clear that they could be anywhere. One thing is for sure: officials are more and more convinced that prison worker Joyce Mitchell was directly involved in aiding Richard Matt and David Sweat's escape from Clinton Correctional in Dannemora.
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told CNN that Mitchell "provided some form of equipment or tools" to the escapees; that included hacksaw blades, drill bits and eyeglasses with lights affixed to them. It is believed that she was going to act as their getaway driver—or perhaps procure a getaway driver for them—but she got cold feet and checked herself into a local hospital for a "panic attack" the day of the escape.
Mitchell has been described by her ex-husband as a sex-crazed homewrecker who cheated on him with his coworker, who she later married. There was apparently an incident in which she allegedly had sex with him on the railroad tracks outside the factory where she worked, which caused much drama and gossip amongst her coworkers.
“She was quiet up to a point, but she would always be the one who would be trying to get people into trouble," former co-worker, Nancy Hewitt told the Daily Mail about "troublemaker" Mitchell. "I know for a fact that a friend of mine who works at the prison told the authorities there not to hire her because she’d cause trouble — but they did, and now look what happened."
State Department of Corrections officials had previously received a complaint about the relationship between her and Matt. After the escape, Mitchell told investigators Matt made her feel "special." Her cell phone was also used to call people connected to Matt. Prosecutors have noted that Mitchell could eventually face felony counts (including accessory to escape and promoting prison contraband), but did say she has been "extremely cooperative."
Sweat, 34, was imprisoned for life for killing a sheriff's deputy in Broome County, and Matt, 48, was serving a 25-year sentence for killing and dismembering an upstate businessman. During their escape, they managed to cut through their cell's steel walls, traverse the catwalks in the prison's infrastructure, hack into a steam pipe that wasn't in use, and finally climb out through a manhole on the other side of the prison walls.
Friends and family aren't shocked that Matt, who has been described as dangerously charismatic, was able to seduce a prison worker: “When [Matt’s] cleaned up, he’s very handsome and, in all frankness, very well-endowed. He gets girlfriends any place he goes,” David Bentley, a retired detective from Tonawanda, told the Daily Beast of him.
Matt's son also wasn't surprised, and talked about his many previous escape attempts. "You know he has escaped before. He has a genius IQ. I can’t believe they let this happen," 23-year-old Nicholas Harris told The Buffalo News. He noted that he has never really spent time with his father, and was raised by his mom and stepfather: “I was mature enough at that age to know I already had a father figure. I decided a relationship would not be healthy.”
Nevertheless, he recalls Matt bragging about attempting to escape from a Mexican prison: "He said he made it up to the roof of the prison and got shot in the shoulder. He pulled down his shirt and showed us the bullet wound. This guy has bullet holes on his body. He’s been shot like nine times. It’s like they can’t kill him. He showed me the scars on his forearms from another time he escaped.”  

June 11, 2015

In Bout with Depression After Violent Incarceration for 2 yrs for Not Pleading-out Kills self


Kalief Browder of the Bronx, who spent three of his late teen years imprisoned on Rikers Island waiting to be tried for a petty robbery charge that was ultimately dismissed, committed suicide on Saturday, at the age of 22. He hung himself with an air conditioner cord at his Bronx home.
060815kalief.jpgBrowder, who suffered from bouts of depression and paranoia in the wake of his release from Rikers in the spring of 2013, was the subject of a harrowing profile in the New Yorker, published last fall. Jennifer Gonnerman, who spent months with Browder and documented the teenager's refusal to plead guilty for a crime he did not commit, described a young man who was unwaveringly committed to his innocence, even when defending it meant more time behind bars. Here he is appearing before a Judge in March 2013, a few months before his release: 
Judge DiMango explained to Browder, “If you go to trial and lose, you could get up to fifteen.” Then she offered him an even more tempting deal: plead guilty to two misdemeanors—the equivalent of sixteen months in jail—and go home now, on the time already served. “If you want that, I will do that today,” DiMango said. “I could sentence you today. . . . It’s up to you.”
“I’m all right,” Browder said. “I did not do it. I’m all right.”
“You are all right?” DiMango said.
“Yes,” he said. “I want to go to trial.”
Twice in 2012, between months-long stretches in solitary confinement for fights with fellow inmates, Browder tried to end his life, first by hanging, and then by cutting his wrists. He attempted again in November 2013, six months after leaving Rikers, prompting a stint in the psychiatric ward at St. Barnabas. He also attended classes at Bronx Community College, where he did especially well this spring, according to Gonnerman. But, recently, she writes, "He was gaunt, restless, and deeply paranoid. He had recently thrown out his brand-new television, he explained, 'because it was watching me.'" On Friday, he told his mother, “Ma, I can’t take it anymore.” 
Browder's time in jail was punctuated with beatings at the hands of correction officers, and fellow inmates—made public after Gonnerman obtained surveillance footage this spring. In her own obituary for Browder, published over the weekend, Gonnerman described Browder's willingness to make the violent footage public: 
I sat next to Kalief while he watched these videos for the first time. Afterward, we discussed whether they should be published on The New Yorker’s Web site. I told him that it was his decision. He said to put them online.
He was driven by the same motive that led him to talk to me for the first time, a year earlier. He wanted the public to know what he had gone through, so that nobody else would have to endure the same ordeals.
Browder's story prompted Mayor de Blasio to vow to speed up the trial process in New York City, fast-tracking cases for inmates who have spent a year or more in prison without a conviction. And last fall, prisoners 18 and under were barred from solitary confinement. But the NY Times summed things up well last week, on the year anniversary of de Blasio's hiring of Joseph Ponte as correction commissioner: 
A little over a year after hiring one of the country’s leading correction professionals to be commissioner, allotting tens of millions of dollars in additional funding and making jail reform a top political priority, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio can say with confidence that its plan to reduce violence at one of the island’s many jails, housing 179 adolescents, has worked. For five months now.
That leaves 13 jails, with 10,000 inmates, to go.
In a phone interview with the LA Times on Monday night, Browder’s attorney said, “I think what caused the suicide was his incarceration and those hundreds and hundreds of nights in solitary confinement, where there were mice crawling up his sheets in that little cell. Being starved, and not being taken to the shower for two weeks at a time … those were direct contributing factors." He added, "That was the pain and sadness that he had to deal with every day, and I think it was too much for him."
UPDATE: Mayor de Blasio issued the following statement: 
Chirlane and I are deeply saddened by the death of Kalief Browder. Yesterday, the Browder family lost a beloved son and brother. Kalief's story helped inspire our efforts on Rikers Island, where we are working to ensure no New Yorkers spend years in jail waiting for their day in court. There is no reason he should have gone through this ordeal, and his tragic death is a reminder that we must continue to work each day to provide the mental health services so many New Yorkers need. On behalf of all New Yorkers, we send our condolences to the Browder family during this difficult time.
Emma Whitford 

May 27, 2015

The Only Man Serving Life for Pot offense Can Now Be Released on Parole

 Already served 20 yrs

JEFFERSON CITY, A Missouri man sentenced to life without parole for marijuana-related offenses is suddenly eligible for parole immediately after Gov. Jay Nixon commuted his sentence Friday.
Sixty-two-year-old Jeff Mizanskey has served more than two decades in prison after being convicted and sentenced as a persistent drug offender under a Missouri law that's since been changed.
His son, 37-year-old Chris Mizanskey, said he was in awe at the news and planned to go see his father in the morning. 
"It's amazing," Mizanskey said. "To be able to talk to him, to be able to sit here and have a conversation with him. To have my son sit on his lap, for him to be a part of his grandkid's life, our lives, my whole family. I mean really words can't even describe it."
Jeff Mizanskey had two previous felony convictions for marijuana-related offenses when he was sentenced in 1996 to life without parole for a third felony offense. At the time, the law allowed a sentence of life without parole for people with three felony drug convictions. 
Police said Mizanskey conspired to sell 6 pounds of pot to a dealer connected to Mexican drug cartels. Gov. Nixon, a Democrat, said in a statement that none of the offenses were violent or involved selling to children.
"My action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole," Nixon said.
Mizanskey's previous felonies were for possession and sale of marijuana in 1984 and possession in 1991. Family members, lawmakers and advocates for marijuana legalization have campaigned for the Missouri man's freedom. Mizanskey was the only person in Missouri serving a life sentence without any possibility for parole for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.
Nixon also on Friday pardoned five nonviolent offenders he said had completed their sentences and demonstrated an ability to turn their lives around.
Nixon pardoned Michael Derrington, a substance abuse counselor who had a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction; Nicole Lowe, a loan officer who was convicted of misdemeanor stealing; Bill Holt, a former school bus driver convicted of misdemeanor non-support; Doris Atchison, who was convicted of misdemeanor stealing; and Earl Wolf, who was convicted of misdemeanor burglary and larceny.

April 26, 2015

Finding Love Behind Jail Bars

Bonnie Lanz wakes up every morning at 5, puts on a pot of coffee and sits down to write a letter. Six hours north, her boyfriend follows a similar routine. The only difference? He’s locked in a cell at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. 
Lanz, the business manager at a Harley-Davidson shop in Vacaville, California, was 47 the first time she wrote to an inmate. She’d been married once and raised three kids, had no intention of getting involved romantically and was writing for altruistic reasons. Yet a year and a half later, she’s making the 368-mile drive every Friday night so she can spend the weekend with her sweetie, even if it’s just playing Scrabble in a cold, crowded prison visiting room.

It’s no secret that more and more people are hooking up and getting married through dating sites. But it’s turning out that people behind bars — and those outside them — are using prison pen pal sites, featuring thousands of photos of tattooed inmates, to connect. And the farther you get from the U.S., where prisons are less than receptive to the concept, the hotter the trend. In Denmark, for instance, a prison recently allowed inmates to launch their own dating site, on the theory that it’ll help men adjust more easily when they get out, while co-ed prisons in Spain permit both populations to date and have weekly conjugal visits, which studies have shown can improve the mental health of prisoners.

Many people, from prison officials to legislators, object to the idea of promoting romance behind bars because it makes incarceration less punitive and too much like normal life. And some advocacy groups worry that the partners on the outside are being lured into the prison world at a vulnerable or potentially damaging period in their lives. But a growing body of experts says that the stigma surrounding this world is off-kilter, and that prison relationships can be deeper than a so-called bad-boy syndrome.  

In fact, mounting evidence suggests these affairs can actually be remedial. A federal study released in 2009 showed that prisoners in serious relationships are half as likely as their single counterparts or those in casual commitments to report committing a new crime or using drugs once they’re out. The Minnesota Department of Corrections has also revealed that inmates whom are visited regularly are 13 percent less likely to re-offend after release. “When you have something to lose, you’re going to be more likely to protect that,” says Rodrigo González, a professor who’s studied Spain’s approach to inmate relationships.

People behind bars —
and those outside them — are using prison pen pal sites, featuring thousands of photos of tattooed 
inmates, to connect.
Still, the U.S. has a long way to go before giving its blessing to this type of love story. Many prisons restrict inmate access to the Internet, forcing friends and relatives to create their profiles and send all correspondence through snail mail. And just four states currently allow a conjugal rendezvous, a sharp drop from 10 years ago, and more are phasing out face-to-face visits — reducing communication to spotty or delayed video chats.

In Lanz’s case, she used to find Gregg Farris, 46, who had been in prison for almost two decades for three nonviolent felonies, including a bank robbery, committed in his 20s. Back when they first started talking, he’d been sent to solitary confinement and their only encounters took place on opposite sides of a thick slab of glass. But looking forward to their visits now, when they’re free to touch and hug, has been Farris’ motivation to keep out of trouble, according to Lanz.

As stories like theirs circulate through Facebook groups and reality TV shows (Lifetime’s Prison Wives Club, for one, which debuted in October), the list of pen pal websites has sprouted from a handful to upward of 30. With names like, Friends Beyond the Wall and Inmate-Connection, these platforms — which typically charge $35 to $50 a year — post inmates’ bios and photos, and outsiders search using qualifiers like race, age and even death row status.

Sites differ primarily by the number of profiles they boast. (the second-most popular after Meet-an-Inmate, according to Alexa’s traffic rankings) reports 5,000 visitors a day and was among the very first when Adam Lovell started it 15 years ago. “It was never set up to be a dating service,” he says, “but it’s changed as more and more people are finding romance on it now.”

Like any love story, though, it’s not all sweet. Male inmates tend to target women showing signs of low self-esteem or emotional damage, and “are very manipulative and prey on weakness,” warns Michael Alexander, a management professor at Colorado Tech and retired corrections exec who studies prisoner relationships. In other cases, a woman may have a need to play the nurturer or gravitate toward emotionally abusive relationships (without the worry of physical torment).

Lanz says that being forced to build intimacy through communication alone — no sex, in other words — has “given me something I’ve never had.” And while Farris is serving a life sentence, that could change if California restructures its penal system to do away with the three strikes law. But for now, each night after coming home from work, she’ll check the mailbox



November 5, 2014

More Than 1000 Agencies asks States to Update the Criminal Law that Puts HIV’rs in Jail for Sex


More than 1000 Agencies and Individuals Ask States to
Modernize Criminal Law Treatment of HIV and Other Infectious Diseases
New York, NY – Today, the Positive Justice Project (PJP), a national coalition working to end HIV-specific felony laws in the United States, announced that more than 1,000 organizations and individuals across the country have endorsed a National Consensus Statement on the Criminalization of HIV in the United States calling for the end of such laws. HIV-specific felony laws are based on outdated beliefs about HIV, how it is transmitted, and the consequences of living with HIV. The laws single out individuals who, following public health messages, get tested for HIV. The PJP Consensus Statement outlines ways that laws and practices could be modernized to reflect current science and knowledge about HIV.
Currently, 32 states have HIV-related criminal laws that target low-risk or otherwise legal behavior of people who test positive for HIV for exposing or failing to disclose their HIV status to others. 
Recent developments such as the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS’ (PACHA) Resolution on Ending Federal and State HIV-Specific Criminal Laws, Prosecutions, and Civil Commitments, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s guidance to states on HIV-related criminal laws, titled “Best Practices Guide to Reform HIV-Specific Criminal Laws to Align with Scientifically-Supported Factors,” reflect a growing consensus on the need to reform criminal law treatment of HIV and other infectious diseases.
National medical and public health organizations have endorsed the PJP Consensus Statement. The  American Medical Association (AMA), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) have also issued their own policy statements against HIV-related criminal laws.
PJP is releasing a Spanish version of the Consensus Statement, titled “Declaración de Consenso Sobre la Criminalización del VIH,” to engage a broader range of organizations and community members in fact-based policy discussions about the nature and consequences of HIV-related criminal laws on individuals and their communities. For more information or to endorse the PJP Consensus Statement, please contact

See the one of the abuses by clicking here also you can see above on page 10

25+ years in jail for having sex with consenting partner

September 4, 2014

DNA Clears Two Men of Raping Child and Murder, after 31 yrs in jail

 Henry Lee McCollum had barely slept in days, terrified that his dream of 31 years — being released from North Carolina’s death row — might not come true.
But finally on Wednesday morning, after one more night of delays, he was driven out of the concertina-wire gates of the central prison in Raleigh and to the waiting arms of his parents.
“I just thank God I’m out of this place,” Mr. McCollum, 50, said. “Now I want to eat, I want to sleep, and I want to wake up tomorrow and see that this is real.”

Despite a judge’s order on Tuesday overturning their conviction in the 1983 rape and murder of a child, Mr. McCollum and his half brother, Leon Brown, remained in custody overnight as officials processed the paperwork for their release. Mr. McCollum finally left the prison around 9:42 a.m. on Wednesday. Mr. Brown, 46, who was serving a life sentence, was released from prison around 1 p.m. He walked out of the prison gates in Maury, N.C., 80 miles east of Raleigh, and was embraced by family members. “God is good all the time,” he said.


Henry Lee McCollum, with his back to the camera, and his father, James McCollum, after being released from Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday.CreditJonathan M. Katz for The New York Times

When Mr. McCollum was finally released here, his father and stepmother, James and Priscilla McCollum, began to cry and shout for joy as the son they call Buddy stepped out in a houndstooth jacket, khaki pants and slate blue tie he had been given by the lawyers who helped secure his release. The legal team, from the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, began weeping and hugging as well. Standing a free man in fresh air for the first time in his adult life, Mr. McCollum swatted away gnats as he faced a phalanx of television cameras. He told the reporters that his faith in God had sustained him through years of fear that the legal system that had wrongly incarcerated him would also wrongly take his life.
Mr. McCollum also spoke of the 152 men still on death row in the state prison, whom he called his family.
“You’ve still got innocent people on North Carolina death row,” he said. “Also you’ve got some guys who should not have gotten the death penalty. That’s wrong. You got to do something about those guys.”
Finally free, Mr. McCollum, who like Mr. Brown is mentally disabled — Mr. Brown’s I.Q. in tests has registered as low as 51 — faces the challenge of his life: learning to live in a world he has not experienced since he was a teenager three decades ago. On death row, Mr. McCollum was never allowed to open a door, turn on the light switch or use a zipper. He never had a cellphone and until last week had not used the Internet. (He excitedly told his stepmother about his first use of Google Maps days ago, when he saw pictures of her house.)
When he got into the family car, a navy Dodge Journey, he sheepishly slipped the beige shoulder belt around his neck and let it hang, unsure of how to use it.


Mr. McCollum sat in court on Tuesday. CreditChuck Liddy/The News & Observer, via Associated Press

Mr. McCollum will also have to get used to life in a state he hardly knows. Though two-thirds of his life have been spent behind North Carolina plexiglass and bars, he grew up in Jersey City and had only been visiting his mother and relatives for a short time when he and his half brother were arrested in 1983. (The family is still spread out across North Carolina and New Jersey; several relatives came down from New Jersey to attend the hearing and be present when the men were released.) Far from the New York metropolitan area of his youth, Mr. McCollum will now be adjusting to life in a North Carolina town with a smaller population than the death row he just left behind. The lawyers with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation said that there was no formal compensation or assistance to help exonerated prisoners reintegrate into society.
“It’s not like being on probation or parole. It’s just — good luck,” said Gerda Stein, the center’s director of public information. She added that the legal team’s own social worker was coordinating with prison social workers and psychologists to help find services for the men in the towns they are returning to.
The lawyers are also considering asking for a “pardon of innocence” — a declaration affirming that a person was erroneously convicted and imprisoned — from Gov. Pat McCrory. If granted, it would allow both men to seek compensation from the state. The family, which had been focused on securing the men’s release, did not immediately have plans to seek redress from the government, Ms. Stein said.
Last December, Mr. McCrory granted a pardon of innocence to LaMonte Burton Armstrong of Chapel Hill after a newly examined palm print from the crime scene showed he had been wrongly convicted of the 1988 murder of a North Carolina A&T professor. Mr. Armstrong had been released from prison in March 2013 and requested the pardon that following June, according to the governor’s office.
For now Mr. McCollum’s father, James, said he wanted to get his son back home to the small town of Bolivia, near Cape Fear.
“We’re going to go home to Bolivia, take a shower,” he said. “Then I’m going to say: ‘Do you want to go fishing? I’m going to teach you how to fish.’ ” As he got into the driver’s seat to leave, James McCollum put on a hat that said “Jesus Is My Boss.”

New york Times

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