Posts Tagged ‘jail’

Pakistan: Political interference in official matters sparks outcry

September 29, 2018

Another case of political interference in official matters surfaced after Punjab Minister for Prisons Zawar Hussain visited the Kot Lakhpat Jail on Thursday and allegedly unlocked high security barracks.

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The minister, along with ‘six suspected civilians’, allegedly held a secret meeting with the militants of banned terror outfits involved in suicide attacks in Lahore and under-trial sectarian inmates. Through his visit to the high-profile prisoners, he created a risk of security lapse as he allegedly unlocked the barracks, housing 109 dangerous terrorists in sheer violation of Pakistan Prisons Rules 1978.

Presently, the jail houses 3,700 convicts and other inmates, including 300 death row prisoners, 45 foreigners, 70 high-profile/sectarian prisoners and those convicted by army courts, besides 2,200 other dangerous convicted inmates.

Minister Zawar Hussain allegedly forced his entry into the jail in the wee hours and stopped the jail superintendent and other senior officials from accompanying him as he went to meet the prisoners, says a detailed report dispatched to the home secretary by the prisons department.

Holds ‘secret meeting’ with terrorists, accompanied by six civilians; report of six-hour long visit sent to home secretary

It says the minister allegedly forced all the jail officials to leave the premises and made them wait outside it. He directed the officials not to enter the jail until he completes his ‘work’ as he seized the keys to the cells/barracks of the high-risk prisoners, unlocked the cells and met and interviewed the prisoners in violation of rules.

On resistance, he locked the official guards of the high-security blocks of the dangerous prisoners in a cell for ‘not cooperating with him’.

In his meeting with the under-trial militants of the banned terrorist outfits involved in suicide attacks in Lahore, he was accompanied by six civilians. The minister remained in the prison for six hours.

Superintendent of the Kot Lakhpat Jail Ijaz Asghar made these stunning revelations in his detailed report, available with Dawn, sent to Punjab Inspector General of Prisons Mirza Shahid Saleem Baig.

Mr Baig brought the matter to the knowledge of the secretary interior who ordered high-level investigation into the issue.

Earlier, incidents of political interference in the official affairs involving the PTI parliamentarians surfaced in Pakpattan and Chakwal, causing embarrassment for the party that had a slogans against political interference in official matters.

In the fresh scam, the superintendent of the jail, in his report, mentioned serious violations of the prisons rules and the ‘mysterious activities’ of the minister and his six civilian companions. He took help of the CCTV cameras in the jail to prepare the report.

“According to the prisons rules 1978, the prisons guard is the custodian of the keys of jail corridor and it happened for the first time that the minister snatched keys from him and handed them over to a suspected civilian who was accompanying him,”the report says.

The six civilians who came with the minister took into custody the official walkie-talkie sets from all the deputed jail employees, it alleges.

According to the section 924 of the prisons rules, no one is allowed to enter the jail after it is locked at the specified time but the minister violated the laws and entered the premises without prior intimation. The minister violated the section 925 of the rules, got the barracks unlocked and met high-profile prisoners along the civilian men, it says. He violated the section 725 of the rules by locking the night officer and security guards, unlocking the Barrack 4 of the high value targets (prisoners), creating a serious risk for their escape.

According to the section 963 (ii) of the rules, no visitor is allowed to enter the jail without the assistance of the authorised prison officials.

“The minister stopped the superintendent of the jail to accompany him and also disallowed him to enter the jail,” says the report.

IG Prisons Punjab Shahid Baig refused to comment on the issue.

The spokesperson for the prisons minister denied the allegations of violation of rules by the minister.

Talking to Dawn, the spokesperson said the minister had paid a surprise visit to the Kot Lakhpat Jail for routine inspection and he had received many complaints against the jail officials from the prisoners who told him that the jail officials took bribe from them to facilitate them.

“The mobile phones service was also working. During the inspection, the minister found some prisoners of routine cases locked with the dangerous inmates.”

The spokesperson added that the prisoners told the minister that they were being served low-quality food and medicines were not available while 40 inmates were found asleep out of 69.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2018



Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails end hunger strike

May 27, 2017


© AFP/File | Palestinian women hold portraits of relatives imprisoned in Israeli jails during a protest in front of the Red Cross offices in east Jerusalem, on May 25, 2017


Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17 have ended their protest, Palestinian and Israeli sources said on Saturday.

Palestinian Prisoners Club chief Qaddura Fares said an agreement had been reached between the strikers and Israeli authorities on improving their conditions.

An Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman confirmed the hunger strike was over.

Israeli authorities conceded to one of the prisoners’ main demands — that they should have two family visits a month instead of the one they were entitled to before the strike, the spokeswoman said.

The resolution of the strike came hours before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A number of the strikers had been in sharply declining health.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had urged US counterpart Donald Trump to raise the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the region earlier this week.

Demonstrations in support of the prisoners had been held across the occupied West Bank leading to repeated bloody clashes with Israeli security forces.

© AFP/File / by Hossam Ezzedine | The leader of hundreds of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, Marwan Barghouti, who has received his first Red Cross visit since the strike began, flashes the victory sign after a court hearing in 2003

Cairo court sentences 51 people to two years in prison for taking part in Red Sea islands protests

May 14, 2016

The Associated Press

An anti-government protester holds a placard near tear gas fired by policemen during a protest in Cairo, Egypt, 25 April 2016.

Policeman fired tear gas at people protesting against the islands handover in April. EPA photo

CAIRO — Egyptian officials say a Cairo court has sentenced 51 people to two years in prison for taking part in protests last month.

They were convicted Saturday of breaking a 2013 law that effectively bans protests. Nearly 300 people have been arrested and charged for taking part in the April demonstrations against Egypt’s decision to transfer two small islands to Saudi Arabia.

The officials say 18 of the 51 were sentenced in absentia. Thirteen minors were referred to juvenile court over the protests.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

April’s protests were the largest since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s 2014 election.


This story has been corrected to show that 51 people were sentenced, not 64. The other 13 were minors referred to juvenile court.


© AFP/File | A protester sits in front of riot policemen during a demonstration on April 15, 2016 outside the Journalists’ Syndicate in central Cairo against a controversial deal to hand two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia


An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 51 people to two years in prison for protests against the handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, judicial officials and lawyers said.

Parents and friends of the defendants burst into tears and cried out in shock after learning of the verdict outside the Cairo courthouse.


Defence lawyers Hossam al-Khadrawy and Ahmed Abdel-Latif confirmed the verdict, which they said can be appealed.

Thirty-three defendants were present in the court, while the rest had been released on bail.

Police had quickly dispersed protests against the islands deal on April 25 and arrested dozens of people. Prosecutors charged them with participation in illegal rallies.

The deal to hand over the islands in the Straits of Tiran had galvanised dissidents who oppose President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In the leadup to the protests, police already made dozens of arrests to discourage a repeat of a large rally on April 15 at which demonstrators chanted for the “fall of the regime”.

The government says the islands had always belonged to Saudi Arabia and that Egypt had merely administered them while on lease since the 1950s.

Critics accuse Sisi of “selling” the islands in return for Saudi investments.

Sisi, a former army chief who was elected president after overthrowing his Islamist predecessor in 2013, has been accused by activists of installing a heavy-handed regime that tolerates no dissent.

After president Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow, a police crackdown killed hundreds of Islamist protesters, while hundreds of policemen and soldiers have died in a jihadist insurgency.

The crackdown has extended to secular and liberal dissidents over the past two years.

Sisi had initially been feted by millions of Egyptians who opposed Morsi’s rule and welcomed a firm leader at the helm to revive the economy.

But he faces growing discontent with his rule, with the islands controversy seen as another example. The government announced the deal a day after it was signed during a visit by Saudi King Salman.

Chinese Nobel Laureate Sends Message From Jail — Forgives His Tormentors

December 12, 2014


Imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo

The Associated Press

Imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has told an overseas friend that he is relatively healthy and wants the world to pay more attention to other Chinese activists, in a rare message smuggled out of prison.

“The aura around me is enough already. I hope the world can pay more attention to other victims who are not well known, or not known at all,” said a message sent by Liu to dissident writer Liao Yiwu, who lives in exile in Berlin.

Liao, who posted the message Thursday on Facebook, did not say how he received it from Liu, who is serving an 11-year sentence on charges of inciting state subversion, but Liu’s friends have said the message is genuine.

While in prison, Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his calls for political reforms. The Nobel committee held Liu’s award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, with an empty chair on stage to mark his absence. Beijing condemned the award and put his wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest.  

The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo  stands in Oslo City Hall

The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo stands in Oslo City Hall Photo: 2010 AFP

Liu Xia still can visit her husband in prison, although their meetings are under tight watch. Because she is kept largely incommunicado, it is rare for the public to hear from the Nobel laureate. The message to Liao is possibly the first of its kind.

Liao said it was the first time he had heard from Liu in more than six years.

“My eyes are suddenly moist,” Liao said on Facebook.

In the message, Liu said he was doing well and had been reading and thinking.

“Through studies, I have become even more convinced that I have no personal enemies,” Liu said, repeating a statement from his trial five years ago that he held no grudge against those who prosecuted him.

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping took power two years ago, the stifling of dissent has been on the rise, with authorities hauling away human rights lawyers, social activists, journalists, writers, scholars and artists, most of whom are largely unknown to the outside world.


Photo: Chinese people wear face masks with “No to Kunming PX,” paraxylene, written, chant slogans as they hold protest against a planned refinery project in downtown Kunming in southwest China’s Yunnan province Saturday, May 4, 2013. After word spread about an environmental protest that was planned for Saturday in the central Chinese city of Chengdu, drugstores and printing shops were ordered to report anyone making certain purchases. Microbloggers say government fliers urged people not to demonstrate, and schools were told to stay open to keep students on campus. Meanwhile, hundreds of people – many wearing mouth masks – gathered in Kunming to protest a planned refinery project in the area. The demonstrators demanded information transparency and that public health be safeguarded. (AP Photo)

Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli died after falling critically ill in police detention in China

Officials in eastern China must abandon plans to demolish churches and crosses and stop their

Parishioners line up outside the Sanjiang church in Wenzhou hoping to save it from demolition by the Chinese Communist government Photo: Tom

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University on March 22, 2014 in Beijing, China

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama on her way to deliver a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University on March 22, 2014 in Beijing, China Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Beijing's No 1 detention centre

Outside Beijing’s No 1 detention centre. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

China’s Xi Jinping

Former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s extended family has controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion, the New York Times reported, citing corporate and regulatory records and unidentified people familiar with the family’s investments.

Will Obama Talk Seriously About Human Rights, China’s Dissidents To Xi Jinping?

November 10, 2014


By David McKenzie

(CNN) — Nine prominent human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have called on President Obama to make an “unequivocal” statement on human rights in China.

The President left Sunday for an eight-day trip that will include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

While the gleaming towers of China’s capital is an image the ruling Communist Party wants to show off, there is another hidden side that’s east of Beijing.

In an apartment complex called Freedom City, there is evidence of the party’s latest crackdown on human rights.

One of China’s most prominent dissidents lives in this compound, but plainclothes state security is everywhere here, sometimes 20 at a time, extraordinary measures for just one man.

Hu Jia is a human rights icon in China, an agitator for reform and democracy. He’s been under house arrest for more than 40 days.

“They have posted state security agents outside my door for 10 year, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he said through a Skype connection. “Their work is to preserve the Communist Party, not to preserve the safety of the people or even government, but the Party.”

Human rights groups say that China’s government is engaged in the worst crackdown on dissidents in decades. Activists, professors and journalists have all been detained this year alone.

Hu says China’s president Xi Jinping has “declared war on human rights” and he has a message for President Obama.

“I think he should bring up the human rights crackdown with President Xi,” Hu said. “If he doesn’t, it will be a huge loss for himself, for China, and for American values.”

Hu shows a present he bought for his young daughter’s upcoming birthday. “When she came to visit me in prison, she used to carry a toy like this. I saw hope in this toy. It became a symbol of my fight that my daughter will have more freedom and happiness.”

Hu says they won’t let him see her this year, but despite years of jail, house arrest and harassment, he says he won’t give up his fight for a different kind of China.

Includes video:

Photo above: Hu Jia after he was beaten by Beijing security forces last July.

Vietnamese Americans agitate for human rights in their homeland — seeking political change in the communist country

July 27, 2013

Vietnamese refugees in the United States and a reform party press for political change in the communist country.

By Anh Do
The Los Angels Times

Until Communist captors locked his dad in a 9-by-9-foot jail cell, Khoa Nguyen did not fully appreciate the battle his father was fighting.

As a boy, he remembered him talking about the struggles in his homeland, the basic human rights he believed his countrymen in Vietnam had been denied.

His parent’s activity with a pro-democracy group finally drew his father from the family’s comfortable Garden Grove home to Vietnam, where he hoped to train residents to use nonviolent methods in lobbying for reforms. Instead, he was charged with subversion and arrested.

“I did not completely understand his passion until he went to prison,” Nguyen said. “Then it became important. It became urgent.”

Nguyen Quoc Quan of Viet Tan, the Vietnam Reform Party, was imprisoned for nine months after returning to Vietnam to help his countrymen advocate for change. (Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times)

From UC Davis where he studies chemistry, the 20-year-old monitored his father’s nine-month captivity, which ended suddenly — and unexpectedly — in January when officials allowed Nguyen Quoc Quan to return to the U.S., where he received a hero’s welcome in the Vietnamese American community.

Now, at a time when Vietnam’s top leaders make their first visit to the U.S. since 1995, when the two nations resumed diplomatic relations, Khoa Nguyen is among those pushing for improved human rights and free speech in a country that many Vietnamese Americans haven’t seen since the fall of Saigon.

Tiến sĩ Nguyễn Quốc Quân, Đảng Việt Tân

Ahead of President Truong Tan Sang’s meeting with President Obama on Thursday, Vietnamese American activists branded Vietnam “the new Myanmar in terms of repression,” blasting its government’s history of detaining dissidents, censoring the Internet and stifling the “development of civil society.”

The group Viet Tan, also known as the Vietnam Reform Party, is one of the strongest voices in the effort to bring political change to Vietnam. Regarded by the United Nations as a “peaceful” organization, it is seen as an enemy of the state in Vietnam, where it is banned.

In Vietnamese American communities, such as Orange County’s bustling Little Saigon, Viet Tan is a source of both news and inspiration to some.

“I’ve been reading Viet Tan news and catching up on the names behind the news,” said Mary Tran, who researched the party for a term paper at UCLA. “Every Vietnamese newspaper covers the human rights abuses that they highlight and the ongoing arrests of dissidents. That they document this is fascinating because their purpose is a purpose I believe in.”

Ha Nguyen, eating lunch at Pho Quang Trung in Little Saigon, spent part of the week in the Vietnamese enclave passing out fliers that urged Obama to “push for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience” in Vietnam — as a condition of an expanded U.S.-Vietnam partnership. The Anaheim retiree said he supports Viet Tan’s campaign.

“I like how they work behind the scenes to try and inspire change,” he said. “It must start with improving social welfare and restoring civil rights.”

Viet Tan pushed hard for the release of Nguyen Quoc Quan, a former math teacher and longtime member who helps mobilize young people to join the cause.

Like his father, Khoa Nguyen has now applied to join the party. Founded in 1982 as the National United Front for the Freedom of Vietnam, the group operated underground for more than two decades. Potential members still must find sponsors within the party and enroll in training, learning about history, political strategy and social media, especially how to use video to spread messages.

Viet Tan leaders work to roll back restrictions against basic rights in Vietnam, promoting freedom of the press, boosting grass-roots movements and engaging in international advocacy, said Dung Tran, the group’s Southern California spokesman. “We selectively recruit those with energy and passion and a deep understanding of what it means to bring democracy to our country,” he says.

“I am proud that others know of the party’s work and my father’s work,” said Khoa Nguyen, who has attended training sessions in Canada. “Him being jailed unjustly is the first time I felt this is real. We’re doing something other people might not like, and if needed, we can go to jail as a family. My dad was always talking to me about fighting to give power back to the people — to empower people.”

Now back in Orange County, Nguyen Quoc Quan said he never considered his jailing as something “heroic.

We carry out our mission quietly,” he said. The real heroes, he said, are the “brave political prisoners” who remain in Vietnam.

Nguyen Quoc Quan said last year, when he went to the place he and other refugees still call Saigon (it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the war), it was to conduct “nonviolent training.”

But according to the Vietnamese consulate in San Francisco, he flew to his homeland in April 2012 using an alias, “Richard Nguyen.” He “acknowledged to authorities that he planned to cause social turmoil and disturb public events in Vietnam through Viet Tan agents inside Vietnam,” officials said.

“In reality, they don’t have any proof” to bolster their accusations, Nguyen Quoc Quan responds.

Someday, he expects to return to Vietnam to resume his mission. “There will be a time when I need to come back because we value life and bringing good to people’s lives.

“I am simply doing social work.”

President Barack Obama meets with President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam in the Oval Office on July 25, 2013 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)


Stolen Vietnam Land Makes Communist Government Officials Rich When Farms or Protected Forests Converted for Rubber

May 13, 2013

Vietnam’s Communist Officials, Banks, Rubber Companies Force Evictions of Rightful Owners For Huge Pay-Offs

AFP – Vietnamese rubber firms bankrolled by an arm of the World Bank and Germany’s Deutsche Bank are driving a land-grabbing crisis in Southeast Asia, activists said Monday.

Indigenous ethnic minorities are bearing the brunt of the seizures, which have affected tens of thousands of villagers and led to the clearance of swathes of protected forests, according to campaign group Global Witness.

Vietnam, the world’s third-largest rubber producer, is keen to tap surging demand for the commodity in particular from China, which is hungry for car tyres and other rubber goods as its economy booms.

Global Witness accused two firm, Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), of driving forced evictions via subsidiaries linked to government cronies in impoverished — and notoriously corrupt — Cambodia and Laos.

According to the report, Deutsche Bank has multi-million dollar holdings in both companies, while the International Finance Corp. (IFC) — the World Bank’s private lending arm — invests in HAGL through financial intermediaries.

More than 1.2 million hectares (2.96 million acres) of land in Cambodia alone have been leased for rubber plantations, Global Witness said, with some 400,000 people affected by land grabs for rubber and other uses since 2003.

“The governments in Cambodia and Laos are allocating large areas of land and ignoring laws designed to protect human rights and the environment,” according to the report.

“Often the first people know about either company being given their land is when the bulldozers arrive,” it said.

Global Witness urged Cambodia and Laos to suspend all dealings with the two firms and their subsidiaries.

It called on Deutsche Bank and the IFC to withdraw their multi-million dollar funding if the two companies fail to take steps to comply with human rights and environmental standards within the next six months.

In response, Deutsche Bank said an “intensive due diligence process” was conducted before the shares were bought on behalf of its investors.

The IFC declined to comment ahead of the report’s release, saying Global Witness had not shared its full findings in advance.

The two Vietnamese companies denied any illegal activities.

“We contribute to the development of the local economy by paying necessary taxes… creating jobs for tens of thousands of local residents, and contributing to local communities,” HAGL said in a statement.

Doan Van Vuon (C) stands with policemen in front of the dock at a court during a verdict session in Hai Phong, 100 km (62 miles) east of Hanoi, April 5, 2013, in this picture provided by the Vietnam News Agency. Doan Van Vuon and his younger brother Doan Van Quy were sentenced to five years in prison each for attempted murder. They refused to leave their land when evicted by corrupt government officials and then tried to defend it. Now a court has jailed the man that ordered Vietnamese government officials to move Doan Van Vuon off his land.  (VNA). REUTERS/Doan Tan/VNA


Defendants in court Photo: Nguyen Van Nhat/REUTERS

Farmers who refuse to hand over their land to a construction project in northen Hai Phong City’s Tien Lang District as they do not accept the extremely low compensation rate have been assaulted by unknown men

A Vietnamese policewoman stops reporters outside the People's Court House in Hai Phong, on April 2, 2013

A Vietnamese policewoman stops an AFP reporter from taking pictures outside a local People’s Court House in Hai Phong, on April 2, 2013. (AFP)


Undated handout image taken in 2013 and received on May 13, 2013 from environmental group Global Witness shows villagers walking through recently cleared forest purportedly inside a HAGL rubber plantation in Cambodia. Vietnamese rubber firms bankrolled by an arm of the World Bank and Germany's Deutsche Bank are driving a land-grabbing crisis in Southeast Asia, activists said Monday.

 Undated handout image taken in 2013 and received on May 13, 2013 from environmental group Global Witness shows villagers walking through recently cleared forest purportedly inside a HAGL rubber plantation in Cambodia. Vietnamese rubber firms bankrolled by an arm of the World Bank and Germany’s Deutsche Bank are driving a land-grabbing crisis in Southeast Asia, activists said Monday.
Undated handout image taken in 2013 and received on May 13, 2013 from environmental group Global Witness shows a woman and her son walking through community rice fields that they lost to a rubber plantation in Laos. Vietnamese rubber firms bankrolled by an arm of the World Bank and Germany's Deutsche Bank are driving a land-grabbing crisis in Southeast Asia, activists said Monday.

    Undated handout image taken in 2013 and received on May 13, 2013 from environmental group Global Witness shows a woman and her son walking through community rice fields that they lost to a rubber plantation in Laos. Vietnamese rubber firms bankrolled by an arm of the World Bank and Germany’s Deutsche Bank are driving a land-grabbing crisis in Southeast Asia, activists said Monday.

Baltimore jail case depicts a corrupt culture driven by drugs, money and sex

May 5, 2013

(Michael S. Williamson/ The Washington Post ) - The Baltimore City Detention Center is the site where scores of crimes allegedly were committed by a prison gang and correctional officers.

The Baltimore City Detention Center is the site where scores of crimes allegedly were committed by a prison gang and correctional officers. Photo: Michael S. Williamson/ The Washington Post

By , and ,

May 04, 2013 11:12 PM EDT

The Washington Post

Inside a gray brick fortress, past a barbed-wire fence, two women in prison guard uniforms traded words about their pregnancies.

“Did he tell you we was having a son?” Tiffany Linder asked, according to court documents recounting the conversation. “Did you know about our baby?”

Chania Brooks said she didn’t care about that baby. That was their child, not hers.

“We having one, too,” she said. “So what?”

The two 27-year-old corrections officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center were sparring over an inmate who prosecutors said left both women with a permanent reminder of their allegiance to him.

To investigators, Tavon White is a thug who has been in and out of jail since he was 18, most recently on charges that he shot a fellow drug dealer four times. He is allegedly a high-ranking “bushman” in the Black Guerilla Family, a gang with a reputation for not just killing its enemies but also burning down their homes.

But during his three years at the state-run detention center, White, 36, was allegedly a figure who commanded respect, not only from fellow inmates in jumpsuits but also from many of the women in blue collared shirts and pressed slacks guarding him. Thirteen of them allegedly smuggled cellphones and drugs inside their hair, lunches and underwear for the man they called “Bulldog” or “Tay.” One tattooed his name on her neck, another on her wrist. Four have carried his children.

Through court documents, an affidavit from an FBI agent that contains transcripts of wiretapped conversations, and interviews with people familiar with White, the 13 officers indicted in April and the jail, a portrait emerges of a place where sex and drugs were swapped with stunning casualness, where thousands of dollars flowed in and out each week, and where one man’s power was, by all accounts, no match for a badge.

Just weeks before the two pregnant guards talked about the children they were expecting, a third allegedly pondered possible names for her son.

“What if I name the baby King?” Katera Stevenson, 24, asked in a wiretapped call to her sister recounted in the affidavit. “I like the name King. King Tavon White.”

‘A city within a city’

The Baltimore City Detention Center takes up most of a city block in East Baltimore, a little more than a mile from the Inner Harbor. The warren of seven buildings houses 2,000 or more prisoners awaiting trial for everything from writing bad checks to rape and murder.

It is a miserable place, with some parts more than 150 years old and conditions that state and local officials have been trying to fix for the past four decades. Its well-documented shortcomings have included rodent-infested cells, a lack of medical care for inmates and extreme temperatures.

In the winter, everyone shivers, former inmates say. In the summer, the heat can become unbearable in the parts of the facility that lack air conditioning. One former prisoner blogged about running a T-shirt under cold water, putting it on for a bit of relief, then within 15 minutes having to do it again.

In 1991, the state took over the detention center. In 2002, the Justice Department concluded that conditions there violated the constitutional rights of inmates.

“I hate going over there to visit clients, because it is so depressing,” said defense lawyer Warren A. Brown. The ventilation inside is so bad, he said, that past clients have told him what they appreciate most upon their release “is not their mama’s cooking but fresh air.”

The inmates vastly outnumber the 625 guards, who make a base salary of $35,000 to $45,000 a year but can earn considerably more through overtime. They receive five to six weeks of training before entering — without any weapons to protect themselves — what one former guard calls “a city within a city.”

“It has its own government. It has its own rules. It has its own understanding,” said James McEachin, a former detention center corrections officer turned pastor. As a guard, he said, “once you go behind that door, it closes for you, too.”

It was here, in this troubled place, that White seized an opportunity. He used the jail’s lax security, its female guards and his unusually long three-year stay at the facility to build what prosecutors described as a lucrative drug-trafficking and money-laundering operation, complete with a “minister of finance.”

Some of the guards who allegedly conspired with White said they were in it solely for the cash.

“I am just about my money,” 25-year-old corrections officer Adrena Rice told White during a wiretapped call Feb. 10. She had no interest in relationships with inmates, who would want a cut of what she was earning by working for him. “Nah. I love money, Tay. I want my own money.”

The corruption extends far beyond the 13 women charged, the affidavit suggested, with one inmate estimating that as many as 70 percent of the corrections officers were compromised.

Gang members have long manipulated guards at Maryland’s prisons. Since 2010, 89 officers across the state, including five at the Baltimore detention center, have been terminated or forced to resign for fraternization or contraband, said state corrections spokesman Rick Binetti.

Gary D. Maynard, who was appointed head of the state’s troubled prison system by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in 2007, acknowledged how deeply rooted the problems at the jail are. “The collusion, corruption, riots were part of this system for a long, long time,” he said. “We have exposed it now.”

What investigators found at the Baltimore jail astounded law enforcement officials across the country, who described it as “bizarre” and “unbelievable.”

“In all my years, and I’ve been in the business since 1960, I have never heard of this level of complicity,” said Arnett Gaston, the former commanding officer of New York City’s Rikers Island detention facilities and a retired University of Maryland criminal justice professor.

With the ease of ordering takeout, White used a smuggled cellphone to arrange exchanges between outside drug dealers and corrections officers, who brought the contraband to him to be sold inside the jail at huge markups, the affidavit alleged. Percocet went for $30 a pill; one-gram bags of marijuana sold for $50. The gang’s control was so complete that any non-member who tried to get in on the action had to pay a tax or risk physical harm.

In one taped conversation, White boasted that he made $15,800 that month, less than normal. “This is my jail. You understand that?” he said to a friend. “I’m dead serious. . . . I make every final call in this jail. . . . Everything come to me.”

‘A hustle game’

Chania Brooks’s hands were shaking. She had just seen an inmate get attacked by a fellow gang member, blood spilling from his head, the affidavit said.

She needed advice, so she went to get it. Not from a supervisor. From White.

“I abandoned my post,” Brooks said in an intercepted call between her and White. “I said, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ I thought he was going to have to go 911.”

Brooks has denied the charges against her, including the allegation that White fathered her child. When a reporter went to her home after the indictment was unsealed, she peeked out a partially open door and said, “I don’t have a story to tell.”

Calls to the other women were not returned, and attorneys for some of them declined to comment. Among the guards, only Linder has entered a plea. She told a judge last week that she is not guilty.

Documents that investigators recovered from the Black Guerrilla Family detail how its new members are taught to target specific officers. Look for women, they are told, with “low self-esteem, insecurities, and certain physical attributes.”

The manipulation of young female officers often starts with a smile or a brief conversation, said a former inmate very familiar with the gang’s tactics. Then the inmate slips the guard a few hundred bucks in exchange for bringing him a pack of cigarettes.

“Once that door is open, you find your way in,” said the former inmate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of safety concerns. “It’s a hustle game.”

The gang also recruits relatives, girlfriends and fellow gang members without criminal records to apply for positions as corrections officers to establish a network of operatives within the prison walls, he said.

As many as 80 percent of corrections-officer applicants in the central region, which includes Baltimore, do not make it through the background investigation, said Binetti, the corrections spokesman.

Among those who do, women seem to dominate. More than 60 percent of the corrections officers in Baltimore’s jails are women, Maryland officials estimate. By comparison, women make up 37 percent of the guards in the District, a D.C. Corrections Department spokesman said.

Regardless of the jurisdiction, officials say, all guards receive training on how to deal with the con games they will encounter inside prisons. They are warned how easily a compliment can turn into a favor, which can turn into an obligation.

Jon Galley, a top Maryland corrections official, said he likes to show trainees a copy of a how-to guide, confiscated from an inmate’s cell, that lays out how to win over guards. The two pages of tips include dropping a “kite,” or love note, confessing to the officer that the inmate “felt a connection to her, that she was beautiful.”

James Gondles, executive director of the American Correctional Association, said he has little sympathy for the officers who ignored their training. They knew better.

“If they danced to the fiddler, they’ve got to pay the price,” he said. “And they danced to the fiddler.”

‘He’s a hunk’

They danced, prosecutors said, to Tavon White.

Soon after White was born, court records show, his father began serving a life sentence for murder, and his mother struggled with drugs. He was raised largely by his grandparents and lived for a time in McCulloh Homes, a bleak public housing project in West Baltimore, said one family member.

His own troubles began early, court records show. He was expelled from middle school in eighth grade. By 19, he was a convicted murderer who would spend seven years behind bars.

It isn’t clear when his alleged gang ties began. His most recent charge — attempted murder — stems from a fight with one of his “boys” over a cocaine sale in 2009, according to court documents. White was charged with firing four bullets at close range into the man’s ankle, thighs and buttocks.

White, prosecutors said during his trial in December, wanted to make sure there was no doubt about who was in charge.

“Lesson learned: One shot at Tavon White’s ego gets you four in the body,” Assistant State’s Attorney Katie O’Hara told a Baltimore jury as White watched calmly from the defense table.

But White’s attorney, Melissa Phinn, raised doubts about the credibility and consistency of testimony from key witnesses, and the jury deadlocked on the attempted-murder charge. They had done the same in an earlier trial.

Now White is awaiting a third trial, scheduled for June, at the maximum-security North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland. Last week, he pleaded not guilty in federal court to racketeering, money-laundering and drug-dealing charges.

What his criminal history doesn’t reveal, a family member said, is the loyal grandson and doting father who attended PTA meetings, accompanied his children to church and took them to Six Flags and Sesame Place. (In January, White called his grandmother Bessie Timmons from the detention center to tick off the due dates of the guards he had impregnated, according to the affidavit.)

In jail, he played chess and read novels, court records show. Between prison stints, he cleaned swimming pools and packed boxes for a moving company. That is what he was doing when he met Danielle Hall at a Wendy’s down the street from McCulloh Homes. The two moved in together and had a daughter, who is now 7.

“Tavon will always be a good guy in my book,” said Hall’s mother, who asked not to be identified by name, because of safety concerns. She said she was floored by the allegations that White was a gang leader at the detention center but not by his appeal to so many of the female corrections officers.

“He’s a hunk,” she said. “He’s got a mean-looking body, a body that’s all that, that says, ‘Catch me if you can.’ ”

‘I’m dirty’

Jennifer Owens had her diamond ring and her flashy cars and the name of the man who had provided them tattooed on her neck, according to the indictment. The 31-year-old corrections officer, who lives in Randallstown, drove around in two ­Mercedes-Benzes — one black and one white — allegedly financed by the gang leader.

In return, she gave him two children in two years.

“Like really, who the [expletive] does that?” Owens said in an intercepted call to an unidentified woman in October. She called herself dumb but also said, “I don’t regret it.”

Several former detention center guards said White could not have run such a large criminal enterprise without the help of higher-ups, tacit or explicit. But none have been implicated.

Maynard, the prison system chief, said that may change. State corrections officials are interviewing everyone to “cleanse” the detention center’s officer ranks. Some people will be polygraphed.

“They need to dig deep” to hold jail managers accountable, said Patrick Moran, president of Maryland Council 3 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents the corrections officers.

The challenge will be changing the culture of a place where, according to the affidavit, the names of 14 female guards were scrawled on a wall along with the price they allegedly charged for sexual favors: $150.

It is an environment, former corrections officers said, where it is hard to know whom to trust among the keepers and the kept.

When corrections officers report to work, they have to pass through a metal detector and receive a pat-down from a colleague, the affidavit noted. But they could simply wait for a friendly face before bringing in contraband.

At the detention center, corrections officers also had little fear of losing their jobs if they were caught smuggling. In one wiretapped call, an officer told an inmate about getting transferred from the jail to the intake center next door: “It ain’t nothing new. I got moved over there basically because I’m dirty.”

At least one of the 13 officers charged had been accused of gang ties at the detention center before. In 2008, inmate Tashma McFadden sued officer Antonia Allison, 27, for allegedly allowing a group of inmates who belonged to the Bloods to attack him in his cell. McFadden was stabbed 32 times; Allison, who denied having gang ties, remained on the job. Allison could not be reached for comment.

“We let her get a second chance. Why?” asked McFadden, who is no longer incarcerated and settled his suit with Allison. “The average guy in there, we’re not giving him a chance.”

Investigators were told that White and other gang leaders had informal agreements with jail officials: They would reduce violence inside the detention center and, in exchange, officials would “turn a blind eye to contraband smuggling and actively protect White and the [Black Guerilla Family] by warning them of investigations,” according to the affidavit.

One such warning allegedly came from Tiffany Linder, who had worked at Wal-Mart and Panera, her uncle said, before she was hired to be a guard three years ago. Investigators say the pregnant guard alerted White in January that cells were going to be searched.

“I just got a message saying they going to pull a shake-down tonight,” White said in a phone call afterward. “Let me call all these dudes in my phone and let them know.”

He quickly passed along the news to men with nicknames such as Hammer, Fatboy, Ack and Flatline.

An inmate’s legacy

In February, White was transferred out of the detention center. Last week, Maynard moved his office into the warden’s conference room.

On Friday, the prison chief arrived at the detention center at 6:30 a.m. so he could watch the morning shift report to work and go through security. Then Maynard went off to meetings with a leather folder tucked under his arm. Inside were business cards and important papers, including one sheet titled, “Why did this happen?” He said he intends to find out.

“If you have an issue and you fire somebody here or there and move on, you haven’t really solved the problem,” Maynard said. “Exposing ourselves to an internal investigation is risky and difficult, but it was the only way to get at the core problem.”

All 13 corrections officers who are awaiting trial have been suspended without pay. The case against them could take two months to lay out for a jury, prosecutors say.

No matter what happens in court or at the jail in the months to come, one fact remains indisputable: Tavon White ensured his legacy.

Tiffany Linder is due any day.


Peter Hermann and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

Today We Got A Message From Our Friend the Cath-a-holic

May 2, 2013

Nolte was arrested September 11, 2002, after a California Highway Patrol officer saw his Mercedes-Benz driving erratically. The actor was cited and released on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Nick Nolte was arrested September 11, 2002, after a California Highway Patrol officer saw his Mercedes-Benz swerving erratically. The actor was cited and released on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. God Bless you Nick!

When I first came into AA I was a very screwed up puppy.

Like many AA’s, I thought God had given me a very bad hand of cards in life and I responded by fleeing into alcohol and drugs (not to mention food and sex and all the “character defects”).

I had no idea God would grade me on how well I played my cards in life, and that he dealt them, and that he would never give me more than I could handle.

Even after I came into AA, I tried to kill myself, got arrested and ended up locked in the Psych Ward of the hospital – and not all on the same day!

My sponsor in AA said there were only a few outcome on the road I had chosen: death, jail, the Psych Ward and sobriety.

Having already experienced jail and the Psych Ward and seen alcoholic deaths (Sandra and Martin and Maria) I decided, before death, maybe I had better give life ONE LAST TRY.

I basically put myself into a self imposed rehab by starting the day at 0600 with a meeting at the Unity Club and then staying for every meeting and lots of walks and discussions in between until at least 3 PM each day.

Father George said I should “Go, listen to the spoken word and consume the Bread of Life.”

Of course, I knew that wouldn’t work.

A friend in AA started to phone me each and every day and I would listen as he read the Third Step Prayer.

It goes like this:

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love,
and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

After several months, I stopped in at the Catholic Church.  I didn’t even know that when I went in it was the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Much to my amazement, the pastor gave a sermon that went something like this:

“Tomorrow we start Lent. Lent is a time in our lives each year that allows us to straighten out our lives. Now, there are people doing this all the time and everywhere. One doesn’t have to be Catholic to get their life messed up and one doesn’t have to be catholic to suggest a system, a methodology for putting our once-derailed life back on the tacks. Some of the people who do this all the time are called alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous….”

Then he went though all twelve steps in one of the better 10 minute descriptions ever heard.

I took his advice and went back to the Unity Club to give AA another chance.

Maybe that day I decided to give myself another chance too.

I continued on my multi-AA meeting days for at least six more months and started to do the steps with a sponsor.

I also started to go to the 0830 Mass each day.

After about six months, I found just one Mass and one meeting a day, plus about three miles of walking and some step work was adequate to take me to a good night’s sleep each night.

I started to read the “Doctors of the Catholic Church” with St. Augustine being the first.

He wrote, “Pick up and read!”

I was amazed for once I was already doing what someone suggested.

Augustine tells the story of living in his Mom’s basement with his pregnant stripper-girlfriend while he prayed “God, I know I have to clean up my life but NOT YET!”

Augustine and I have the NOT YET PRAYER in common!

After that I basically read everything in the Catholic Book Store marked “Spirituality.”

A Jewish woman actually asked me for my booklist and I typed into my computer the complete bibliography and emailed it to her.

She sent back: “Congratulations. You have completed the entire course of instruction at every Catholic Seminary ever to graduate a priest. And by the looks of you, you paid better attention than most of those ultimately ordained.”

People started to say, “What has happened to you?”

Now I do a daily maintenance program of one meeting (sometimes two in stressful times like during the Christmas holidays) plus Mass, spiritual reading and prayer (all the saints tell us to do so) walking and service work.

I do service work every day.

The very best book I read during this big reading adventure was Edward Leen’s “Holy Spirit.”

Father Leen says if we follow God’s plan the Holy Spirit comes into us. He calls this the “Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

Once this begins, Father Leen says, you still have your free will and can commit any sin you want — but you no longer want to!

So I did a little experiment: I committed a mortal sin.

The door the Holy Spirit used to come into me slammed shut out —  while he was leaving.

I had to start again. I was desperate to find what I had lost.

Now many people stay sober all sorts of different ways — but this is how it has been working for me.

Now I just giggle when some AA says “I prayed my balls off in Catholic Church BUT NOTHING HAPPENED TO ME.”

If you get to A.A., a million prayer were answered.

Something did happen to me that answered a million prayers. It was Catholic and it was AA.

I am a Cath-a-holic!

Photo for illustration only. I was way worse….



Of course your results may vary…..

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Visit us on Facebook:

“John is on a spiritual path but he’s no saint….”

Experts say it matters little what we follow while seeking  God — as long as we keep seeking Him and His will for us…..

“Obviously,” Doctor Phil says, “I’ll always have work.”


May nothing disturb you.

May nothing astonish you.

Everything passes.

God does not go away.


can attain anything.

He who has God within,

does not lack anything.

God is everything!*

Above prayer by St. Teresa of Avila is usually called “Nade de Turbe”



We recommend the book “Holy Spirit” By Edward Leen. It changed my life. It can change yours too.

“Pain and suffering are the touchstones of spiritual growth.”

– Henri Nouwen

Priest saying mass at Notre Dame (rose window)

“Turns out I needed the Church a lot more than the Church needed me.”

Fr. George, left, recommended, “Go, eat the Body of Christ, and listen to the Word.”

My Vietnamese Father, Peter said, “Be a beacon. You have to be a beacon.”

Pope to Hold Major Holy Week Service in Youth Jail; Will “Wash The Feet of Those in Prison”

March 21, 2013

A youth offender in the  Casal del Marmo jail for minors on Rome’s outskirts

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis will hold a major ceremony next week in the chapel of a youth prison instead of in the Vatican or a Rome basilica where it has been held before, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Francis will conduct the Holy Thursday afternoon service at the Casal del Marmo jail for minors on Rome’s outskirts.

During the service, the pope washes and kisses the feet of 12 people to commemorate Jesus’s gesture of humility towards his apostles on the night before he died.

All previous popes in living memory held the service either in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican or in the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, which is the pope’s cathedral church in his capacity as bishop of Rome.

Vatican spokesmen said they could not recall an occasion when the service was held anywhere else.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio often celebrated the Holy Thursday service in a jail, a hospital, a home for the elderly or with poor people.

A pope is also bishop of Rome and the decision by Francis to hold the service in the prison was another indication that he intends to take that role seriously.

The Holy Thursday service is one of several during Holy Week, which for Catholics this year begins on March 24 with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday on March 31.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

Inside Casal del Marmo jail for minors on Rome’s outskirts

Then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina washes and kisses the feet of patients at the Hogar de Cristo shelter for drug users, during a Holy Thursday Mass in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 20, 2008.

 Then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina washes and kisses the feet of patients at the Hogar de Cristo shelter for drug users, during a Holy Thursday Mass in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 20, 2008. (Photo: Reuters/Enrique Garcia Medina)
Jesus washes the feet of the disciples