10 Die in Maximum Security Prison

A fire has destroyed a dormitory at a maximum-security prison in the central Philippines, killing 10 inmates, officials said.

The blaze was the second in two years to hit Leyte Regional Prison in Leyte province, Bureau of Corrections spokesman Roberto Olaguer said.

He added that the fire may have been caused by faulty wiring in the building that was constructed after the earlier fire in 2013.

“This was a maximum-security building and it was padlocked. So maybe when the fire happened suddenly, it may not have been unlocked immediately,” Mr Olaguer said, adding he had no other details and that a senior prison official from Manila was on the way to Leyte to investigate.

Philippine prisons are notoriously overcrowded and have poor facilities. The Bureau of Corrections said the prison has a capacity of 500 inmates but housed 1,895 before the fire, including 1,256 in the maximum-security building.

On its website, the bureau said the prison’s facilities were “often below par” compared with other prisons.

Mr Olaguer said inmates displaced by the fire will be housed in a minimum-security compound.

The 42-year-old prison was also damaged in November 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record to hit the Philippines, he said.

Prison worker caught up in escape fantasy

joyce-mitchell-prison-escapeA prison worker who got “caught up in the fantasy” of escape has told investigators her relationship with the two inmates included sex acts and naked photos.

Joyce Mitchell, an instructor in the tailor shop at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat escape in June.

In documents, Mitchell said once when she was alone with Matt he grabbed her and kissed her.

She admitted performing a sex act with him and fondling him. She took naked photos of herself for Sweat.

Matt was shot and killed by searchers on June 26. Sweat was captured and sent to another prison.

Mitchell faces between two years and four months to seven years in prison under a plea deal.

Her sentencing is set for September 28.

Norwegian mass killer joins Oslo open University

Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik smiles during his trial in room 250 of Oslo's central court on June 21, 2012.  The trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, enters the final stretch with the prosecutors' call for him to be sent either to prison or to a psychiatric ward. Prosecutors Svein Holden and Inga Bejer Engh are to begin presenting their much-awaited closing arguments at 1000 GMT, at the end of which they will reveal whether they want the court to find Breivik responsible or not for his actions. AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX/ROALD BERIT        (Photo credit should read ROALD BERIT/AFP/GettyImages)


The University of Oslo says mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has been admitted to its political science programme, adding that the 36-year-old right-wing extremist would remain in his cell to study – and one UK prisons expert has welcomed his university admission.

Oslo Rector Ole Petter Ottersen said “all inmates in Norwegian prisons are entitled to higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements”.

Two years ago, Breivik’s application was rejected after the university said his qualifications were insufficient. It is unclear why the decision has been reversed.

The submission stirred a debate in Norway over whether someone convicted of such a horrific crime should be considered for higher education.

Breivik is serving a 21-year prison sentence, which can be extended when it expires, for killing 77 people in bomb and gun massacres in 2011.

Norway has a rehabilitation-focused justice system aimed at helping inmates prepare for life after they get out, which includes giving them the right to pursue higher education. Since his 2012 conviction, Breivik has been studying in jail.

“He then didn’t meet the admission requirements. Now his grades live up to what is expected,” university spokeswoman Marina Tofting said.

Breivik will begin the university programme in August. Prison regulations will prevent him from going to the Oslo campus, attending classes, accessing digital learning resources or having any contact with students or university staff, Mr Ottersen said.

“The communication between the university and Breivik will take place via a contact person in prison,” he said, adding penitentiary regulations “entail that he will follow the programme by means of independent study in his prison cell”.

Before the 2011 attacks, Breivik attended high schools in Norway and took an online course in small business management, but he had not completed secondary education, which he has been working on since his 2012 conviction.

“It is important to us that he remains in his cell,” Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland of the victims’ support group told Norwegian news agency NTB.

“To us, it is irrelevant whether he sits there and reads fiction or whether he is studying a book of political science.”

Hours before the attacks, Breivik emailed a 1,500-page, anti-Muslim manifesto, citing counter-jihadist groups who have condemned his actions and dismissed him as a lunatic.

Breivik also claimed to be part of a secretive, non-existent network of Knights Templar.

He set off a car bomb explosion that ripped open buildings in the heart of Norway’s government quarter in Oslo, then went to a summer camp dressed as a police officer and gunned down youths as they ran and swam for their lives.

Mark Leech editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said he saw nothing wrong with the mass killer’s admission.

Mr Leech said: “Quite apart from the fact that in Norway we are dealing with a different culture to that in the UK, one which no doubt would have had David Cameron feeling disingenuously physically sick again had it happened here, Anders was sent to prison as a punishment and not for a punishment.

“I see nothing wrong with his admission to a political science undergraduate programme, on the contrary his dissertations will provide a unique insight to the mind of a man it is crucial we understand if only to provide us with a greater understanding of how we can understand the motives of and identify such dangerous people in the future.”

Inmate murdered at Cork Prison this evening

Cork Prison, Irish Republic
Cork Prison, Irish Republic

A post-mortem examination will take place tomorrow following the fatal stabbing of an inmate at Cork Prison this evening.

The body of the victim is expected to be removed to the morgue at Cork University Hospital overnight.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out by State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy.

The incident happened at around 5pm this evening in the kitchen of the prison.

Prison sources said that a row may have broken out over a television remote control.

The victim, a man in his early 40s from Bandon, Co Cork, was stabbed in the chest and died a short time later.

He was not known to be a violent inmate.

The scene has been sealed off for forensic examination.

An inmate in his 30s has been isolated.

The Prison Service has said it is to carry out a review at Cork Prison and the Inspector of Prisons will conduct an inquiry but the garda’s criminal investigation will take precedence.

Manhunt after prison officer stabbed and inmate escapes

Derek Brockwell
Derek Brockwell

A manhunt is under way for a notorious prisoner after he allegedly stabbed two prison officers and fled from a hospital in Ireland.

Derek Brockwell, 53, was being taken to Tallaght Hospital in south Dublin from high security Portlaoise Prison for a medical appointment when he made his reportedly violent escape.

One of the prison officers accompanying him was stabbed with a knife in the stomach and is undergoing emergency surgery for his serious injuries, according to a spokesman for the Irish Prison Service.

Another officer was stabbed in the hand and possibly the face or neck during the incident at around 3pm.

A third prison officer was unharmed but left badly shaken.

It is believed Brockwell, a British national who was handed 22 life sentences in the UK for armed robbery and had appeared as a wanted man on BBC’s Crimewatch show, was picked up by an awaiting accomplice on a motorbike or in a car which sped away from the scene.

The serial criminal was two years into a seven-year sentence for armed robbery after he admitted holding up the Bank of Ireland in Blackrock, south Dublin, in October 2012.

He was also convicted of robbing a post office and a bookmakers as well as for firearms offences in the Irish capital.

Brockwell landed in Ireland after failing to return to Kirkham Prison in England, where he was serving life for a series of offences but had been allowed out on day release for a work scheme.

He had carried out armed robberies on betting shops in London’s Marylebone and Paddington areas during September and October 1999.

Described as being 6ft 3in with brown hair and a broad build, it is believed he has links with London, Glasgow and Ireland.

Gardai have launched a city-wide manhunt and said they were “anxious” to locate the prisoner.

A spokeman for the Irish Prison Service said: “A full investigation has commenced into the circumstances of this escape and the Director General of the Irish Prison Service has said that our thoughts are with our staff who have been injured in this serious incident.”

Later, Jim Mitchell, deputy general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said he was deeply concerned by the incident.

“It is vitally important that the Irish Prison Service thoroughly investigate this incident and establish how such a serious assault could have occurred,” he said.

“It is very evident that prisoners, who are known to be dangerous and pose a serious risk, must be accompanied by appropriate levels of security when being escorted outside the prison environment.

“This, and indeed other incidents where our colleagues have been injured in recent years, raises many serious questions which must be tackled by prison management.”

Mr Mitchell said the association’s thoughts were with the injured prison officers.

MoJ under fire for £6m Saudi Jails contract


Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has repeated his criticism of the Government’s decision to bid for a £5.9 million contract to sell its expertise to the prison service in Saudi Arabia.

The Labour frontbencher raised the issue at Deputy Prime Minister’s questions in the Commons, where he was standing in for Harriet Harman.

He clashed with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on the subject last week after reports that the Ministry of Justice’s commercial arm, Just Solutions international, was hoping to win the deal with the Arab state.

Mr Khan said: “You will be aware that the Ministry of Justice wants to enter into a £6 million contractual arrangement with the Saudi Arabian justice system to share ‘best practice’.

“Many people are rightly concerned about the sentence of 1,000 lashes given to Raif Badawi and the regular use of execution by beheading in Saudi Arabia.

“What do you think about the British Government making money out of the Saudi Arabian justice system and what are you going to do about it?”

Deputy PM Nick Clegg confirmed no contract had yet been entered into.

He added: “Clearly I find as you do, as I suspect many members across this House do, some of the practices of what happen in Saudi Arabia absolutely abhorrent and completely in conflict with our values.

“What every government does … is make a judgment whether we completely cut off relations with other governments we disagree with or whether we seek to try and influence them and bring them more into line with our values.

“That is clearly something that your government has done and this coalition is trying to do as well.”

Mr Khan also accused the coalition of betraying the spirit of Magna Carta, which celebrates its 800th anniversary this year.

He told MPs: “The last five years the Deputy Prime Minister’s Government has extended the use of secret courts, curtailed judicial review, radically reduced access to justice by massive cuts to legal aid.

“Can I ask you which of these policies of your Government you think best keep with the spirit of Magna Carta?”

Mr Clegg hit back with a series of criticisms of the last Labour government.

He asked: “Do you not remember what your government did to habeas corpus, that great tradition? Do you not remember your government’s flawed attempt at imposing an ID card database?

“Do you not remember your push to fingerprint innocent children in schools around the country?

“Do you not remember wanting to store the DNA of innocent citizens up and down the country?

“For heaven’s sake, let’s remember your own record and that of your party before you start trying to cast aspersions on this Government.”

Mr Khan reminded Mr Clegg it was his job to answer rather than ask the questions.

The Liberal Democrat leader replied: “It’s not whether you have got the right to ask questions or not, it’s just your absolute amnesia about what your government got up to, from invading Iraq illegally to shredding civil liberties on an industrial scale.”

Prison Officer appeals order he must pay $146,000 to prisoners in sex abuse case


A California prison officer is appealing a federal court’s decision in November forcing him to pay $46,000 to inmates who claimed he molested them while on duty.

Erwin Abanico, an officer, and Benjamin Curry, former warden, were named defendants in a Civil Rights lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California U.S. District Court in May 2007. Plaintiffs included Ivan Cleveland, Demetrius Huff, Desmond Jones, Robert Morris and Kenneth Trask, all inmates at CTF.

Terry Thornton, deputy press secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, confirmed Tuesday that Abanico is still employed by the prison system despite the ongoing litigation.

She declined to comment on the pending appeal, which was filed March 25.

All five plaintiffs claimed, in an amended 2008 complaint, that Abanico, “assigned to a hall post, singled them/each out from the traffic of prisoners, and took them to the side, by the wall, for a ‘clothed body search.’”

Each inmate claimed to be familiar with typical clothed body searches, which consist of the guards’ authority to “cup the genital area” and touch the inner thighs to ensure no weapon is hidden.

However, each alleged Abanico’s searches were different and that he groped, fondled and molested them in the course of his duties.

More than 150 inmates agreed in a petition circulated in 2007, according to the complaint.

On Nov. 8, 2013, a jury agreed and awarded a total $146,000 in damages to the inmates. Abanico was made to pay $46,000 while Curry was ordered to pay $100,000.

An anonymous letter to The Californian earlier this week alleged Abanico’s union was keeping him in the employ of the CDCR.

“This man is now working at the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad with all the duties and power of the other correctional officers,” according to the unsigned letter. “I believe this needs to be made public because if he was not a member of this strong union, he would be incarcerated, not given the opportunity to violate again.”

CTF representatives referred comment to Thornton who didn’t specify whether Abanico is still working at CTF.

All except Jones, who has relocated to Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, and Trask, who has relocated to California State Prison, Solano, are still incarcerated at CTF.

Thornton said the CDCR complies with the Prisoner Rape Elimination Act of 2003 and the Sexual Abuse in Detention Elimination Act to provide prevent sexual abuse and misconduct within the prison’s walls.

Jail Staff Criticised Over Prisoner Killing

Gary Douch
Gary Douch
Former Irish prisoner Gary Douch had consumed “a considerable amount of alcohol” in a cell in Mountjoy jail just before being beaten to death by a prisoner who was displaying psychosis, a report has found.

The two men should never have been placed in the same cell together, the Commission of Investigation into the 2006 killing has concluded.

The report by Grainne McMorrow SC has also found that the dead man, his killer Stephen Egan and five other men they were sharing a basement cell with when the murder occurred were all being accommodated in a manner that breached their human rights.

She also found no spot checks had been carried out on the cell on the night Mr Douch was killed, with his lifeless body not having been discovered until the cell was opened the following morning.

Overcrowding at the jail had “completely undermined” the prison staff’s ability to facilitate Gary Douch’s request to be housed away from the main prison population because he feared for his safety.

It found Egan was a violent, mentally ill and troublesome prisoner who was transferred from Cloverhill Prison to Mountjoy Prisoner in exchange for another inmate just two days before he killed Mr Douch.

That exchange was “sweetened” by Cloverhill having agreed to take a group of prisoners from Mountjoy to ease overcrowding there.

However, the staff in Mountjoy who agreed to take in Egan were unaware the authorities at Mountjoy had refused to take him in when he had been released from the Central Mental Hospital just two weeks earlier.

Despite being a violent prisoner and having just previously been acutely psychotic when taken from the prison system to the Central Mental Hospital, there was no medical consultation around his transfer between the two jails.

His medical files did not travel with him and nor did his medication, meaning he was not in receipt of his medication in the days leading up to the murder in the early hours of August 1st, 2006.

When he began to verbally display the same signs of psychosis and hallucinations in Mountjoy as he had had done in the Central Mental Hospital, this apparently went unrecognised and meant he was locked in a communal cell, where he murdered Mr Douch.

“In particular, Mr Egan displayed the same delusional preoccupations with “the Beast” and “rapes” as well as other symptoms of psychosis in holding cell 2 on the 31st July/1st August that he had displayed previously when unwell,” the commission notes.

It also concludes that attacks which Egan was involved in within the prison service – such as setting fire to a padded cell and trying to strangle a prison officer during a transfer – were never fully investigated with a view to shaping better treatment for him.

The report also reveals that the prison service was so keen to continually transfer the troublesome, violent and mentally ill Egan that no one group of staff or facility ever took ownership of his care.

The commission also concludes that, given the seriousness of his mental health issues, Egan should never have been transferred from the Central Mental Hospital on July 14th, 2006, back into the prison system, just nine days after admission to the hospital.

It says the transfer to Cloverhill occurred despite the Central Mental Hospital knowing that once Egan was back in the prison system, it would lose any influence over his care.

After just two weeks in Cloverhill he was transferred to Mountjoy, and within 72 hours he had killed Mr Douch in a basement holding cell.

Staff at Cloverhill are excoriated in the new report for having sought to offload Egan from their care because he was so difficult, and for placing him in the overcrowded environment of Mountjoy that they knew was not well placed to care for him.

“The management at Cloverhill Prison exhibited what this commission regards as a reckless disregard for the health and safety of Stephen Egan in transferring him to Mountjoy Prison without any consultation with his doctors or with the psychiatric in-reach service,” the report states.

It continues: “In selecting Stephen Egan for transfer, Cloverhill also exhibited a reckless disregard for the health and safety of staff and prisoners at Mountjoy Prison, which they knew was under severe pressure from overcrowding.

“He was wholly unsuitable for transfer, given that he was a prisoner with known violent history, still under psychiatric care and on anti-psychotic medication, recently discharged from the Central Mental Hospital.

“The transfer also involved moving Stephen Egan from the safety of a high observation single cell on Cloverhill’s D2 wing to Mountjoy, when they knew, or could reasonably be expected to have known, that he would not be accommodated in anything approximating the facilities available in D2.”

Deadly gas blast at prison kills two and injures over 100


At least two people have been killed and more than 100 injured in an apparent gas explosion in a Florida prison, local officials say.

Part of the prison in Pensacola collapsed after the blast late on Wednesday, forcing an evacuation.

About 600 people – inmates and corrections officials – were believed to be in the building at the time.

Officials are now investigating whether a recent flooding could have caused the explosion.

The blast happened shortly after 23:00 local time on Wednesday (05:00 GMT Thursday).

“There was an apparent gas explosion in the central booking area of the Escambia County jail,” local spokeswoman Kathleen Dough-Castro said.

“We had approximately 600 prisoners in the facility at the time. Injured prisoners are being transported under guard to area hospitals. Uninjured prisoners are being transported to other detention facilities.”

Parts of Florida – including Escambia County – have been recently hit by heavy flooding caused by a storm system in the region.

A number of roads have been badly damaged.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in the affected areas.

Notorious Abu Ghraib Prison Closed


Iraqi authorities have closed down a notorious prison west of Baghdad over security concerns, the justice minister said.

Hassan al-Shimmari said that 2,400 inmates have been transferred from Abu Ghraib to other prisons in safer areas of the country.

He said it was a precautionary measure because the Abu Ghraib facility is located in “a restive area”.

The prison is at the edge of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, which has been engulfed in clashes between an al Qaida splinter group and government forces.

Last July, militants attacked Abu Ghraib and another prison, setting free hundreds of inmates, including many militants. Dozens of other inmates and security personnel were killed in the attack.

Under US troops, Abu Ghraib was at the centre of a 2004 scandal over detainee abuse.