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County Mulls Alternative Jail Option

A Ketchum, Idaho, company wants to build a 621-bed jail in Kootenai County in the next two years and lease it to the county to give the sheriff’s office the relief it long has sought from jail crowding and the cost of housing inmates in neighboring counties. The county likely would spend less on jail operations than it does now with a more efficient building and extra cells to rent to other jurisdictions, according to a pitch Facilities Management LLC/Rocky Mountain Corrections made Wednesday to county commissioners. The county will spend around $900,000 this year alone to keep about 65 inmates in jails elsewhere – an expense that will vanish, said J. Walt Femling, company president and the former sheriff of Blaine County in the Sun Valley area. The design also would enable the county to run the new jail with fewer employees and overtime costs, Femling said/Scott Maben, SR. More here. (SR photo: Tyler Tjomsland, of inmates at Kootenai County Jail)

Question: Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. How about you?

A jail near you?

In case you missed it, here's Mike Prager's story today about the sites under consideration for a new Spokane County Jail. One of the proposed locations that apparently is near the top of the list is property the County owns north of Euclid Ave. and east of Tschirley Road. The land is inside the Spokane Valley City limits. Reportedly the County Commissioners are looking at proposed sites again so they can consider a new potential site near the Spokane Airport, but the Spokane Valley spot is still in the mix. There's a public hearing on the issue today at 5:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Public Works Building at 1026 W. Broadway. Read Mike's story for more details.

Firm Pitches Privately Built Jail

Item: Corrections company makes pitch for private jail the county would lease/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: The Kootenai County commissioners were cautiously optimistic on Wednesday after hearing a jail planning company's proposal to build a new, privately-funded jail. "If we could save money and lower costs with the way we're doing things, who wouldn't do that?" said Commissioner Todd Tondee, after Rocky Mountain Corrections gave a presentation to the commissioners and other officials at the county jail. Following up on informal meetings with county officials, RMC President Walt Femling explained to the commissioners how a new jail could be funded by private investors found by RMC. The facility would then be leased and operated by the county.

Question: Do you think this is a good idea?

Man charged for refusing to leave NC jail

WENTWORTH, N.C. (AP) — A man who'd just been released from jail in northern North Carolina was arrested again for refusing to leave the jail after authorities wouldn't give him a ride to a motel.

The News & Record of Greensboro reports (http://bit.ly/OZm7NK) that 37-year-old Rodney Dwayne Valentine was charged with trespassing.

Valentine was released from the Rockingham County jail Saturday morning after being behind bars since May 22. The sheriff's office says he asked them to drive him to a local motel and they refused. Deputies charged Valentine with second-degree trespassing when he had refused to leave the jail by Saturday afternoon.

He's being held on $500 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 9. It was not clear if he has a lawyer.

Letter from prison: Tim DeChristopher

The amazing story of Tim DeChristopher continues. Troubled by the American energy policy and its effects on climate change, on Dec. 19, 2008, he broke the law, some would say. He attended a federal auction in Utah, where energy developers were bidding on parcels of Utah wildland that the Bush administration had made available for oil and gas development. DeChristopher bid aggressively, driving up the price of some parcels and winning 14 of his own —22,000 acres total -  to the amount of $1.8 million. There was a catch: He didn't have the money to pay.



He was recently sentenced to prison and promptly taken into custody. 

In a historical sense, social movement doesn't happen without an act of civil disobedience. For many citizens concerned about climate change — and people who are upset about the lack of action — that time is now as seen by DeChristopher and the Keystone XL protests.

The following text appeared in a handwritten letter from Tim DeChristopher addressed to Grist’s Jennifer Prediger. Check out an excerpt after the jump.


  

Friday Quote: Tim DeChristopher’s statement to the court

Before his sentencing to two years in prison and hit with a $10,000 fine, Tim DeChristopher made this statement to the prosecution and the judge:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court. When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the presentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to "get to know me." He said he had to get to know who I really was and why I did what I did in order to decide what kind of sentence was appropriate. I was struck by the fact that he was the first person in this courthouse to call me by my first name, or even really look me in the eye. I appreciate this opportunity to speak openly to you for the first time. I'm not here asking for your mercy, but I am here asking that you know me.

Mr. Huber has leveled a lot of character attacks at me, many of which are contrary to Mr. Manross's report. While reading Mr. Huber's critiques of my character and my integrity, as well as his assumptions about my motivations, I was reminded that Mr. Huber and I have never had a conversation. Over the two and half years of this prosecution, he has never asked me any of the questions that he makes assumptions about in the government's report. Apparently, Mr. Huber has never considered it his job to get to know me, and yet he is quite willing to disregard the opinions of the one person who does see that as his job.

Tim DeChristopher discusses jail in interview


Another day, another jail story. Another injustice. This is the story of Tim DeChristopher.

Troubled by the American energy policy and its effects on climate change, on Dec. 19, 2008, he broke the law, some would say. He attended a federal auction in Utah, where energy developers were bidding on parcels of Utah wildland that the Bush administration had made available for oil and gas development. DeChristopher bid aggressively, driving up the price of some parcels and winning 14 of his own —22,000 acres total -  to the amount of $1.8 million. There was a catch: He didn't have the money to pay.

On Tuesday, he was sentenced to two years in prison and was promptly taken into custody and he also faces $10,000 in fines. 

Check this video interview from 2010 after the jump where DeChristopher talked about jail. In it, he says activists who have gone to jail for civil disobedience advised him, "When you make a conscious choice that going to prison is worth it, if you go there with a sense of intention, a sense of purpose — if you can hold on to that sense of purpose, you know that it was your choice to be there, and that makes it a lot easier to do the time."

In a historical sense, social movement doesn't happen without an act of civil disobedience. For many citizens concerned about climate change — and people who are upset about the lack of action — that time is now.

Jury: Lawyer stole jail phone services

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A judge has found a Yakima defense lawyer guilty of stealing phone services from the Yakima County Jail.

Visiting Judge Brian Altman found Kimberly Grijalva guilty Monday of second-degree theft, saying he believed the lawyer knew her free phone privileges were being misused by a housemate and friend. The Yakima Herald-Republic says the theft charge is a felony.

The judge noted the volume of calls — more than 900 over a six-week period. He also found the lawyer guilty of a misdemeanor charge of introducing contraband into the jail, saying she let an inmate use her cell phone during a visit.

The lawyer has said she was unaware the private line was being used improperly and thought it was OK for an inmate to use her cell phone during a visit. She left court without comment.

$260k to woman strip-searched in jail

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The city of Olympia has agreed to pay $260,000 to a woman strip-searched and zapped with a stun gun in the city jail.

Cynthia Brown's lawyer Edwin Budge calls the agreement "vindication to some degree."

While settling, the city denies liability. Its outside counsel for the case, Donald Law, says the city accomplished its primary goal, which was to "reach a fair settlement with Cynthia Brown."

Brown had sued the city in September, alleging her civil rights were violated and that the strip search was illegal.

The Olympian says public documents show Brown was arrested and taken to the jail on Aug. 19, 2008, on a misdemeanor trespassing accusation, which was later dismissed. Records show Brown refused an order to strip to her underwear without a female officer present, then was shot with a Taser. She then removed her clothes.

The newspaper says the city changed jail booking procedures related to strip searches as a result of the case.

Bailing out of Christmas

    Driving through town, even though it wasn’t very late, the city was quiet. It was Christmas Eve and most people were already wherever they were going to be for the night.  There was no traffic, the buildings downtown were dark. No one was out walking on the sidewalk.


    As we drove past the courthouse, we stopped at a red light at an intersection and I glanced over at an office that was brightly lit. It stood out in the dark quiet of the rest of the street.


    Through the wide front window, I could see a man sitting behind a desk, a heavyset man in his shirtsleeves, writing on a piece of paper. In front of him was a couple, a middle-aged man and a woman. They were well-dressed, wearing coats, as though they’d hurried in from the cold and forgotten to take them off. There was something about the way they sat, close together, leaning on one another for support, slightly bent, as though they were folding into themselves, that made me take a closer look.


     Their faces were composed but there was an air of sadness around them. A deep weary sadness..
    The scene looked like an Edward Hopper painting; the angular, starkly furnished office, the harsh light pouring from the windows and spilling across the sidewalk, and the people, three people with closed and shuttered faces.


     Maybe it was their age, close to my own, or the sadness that radiated from them, or the way they sat so close together, but something made me think the couple might be parents there to help a child. On a night when everyone else was celebrating, they’d gotten a call and dressed carefully before going down to post bail. On the night when in the past they might have been pulling hidden presents  down from the attic, assembling a bicycle, or building a doll house, they were downtown signing papers and writing a check.


    The light changed and we drove on, but I had a lump in my throat.
Somehow, the fact that it was Christmas Eve made everything worse.


    I don’t really know what was happening in that office, I filled in the blanks with my imagination. But each year I think of that couple and the scene I witnessed. They remind me that in the bright artificiality of the season there is always another side. In spite of the tinsel, the trees, the candles, some struggle, some grieve, some slog through the holiday burdened with real heartache. And some, like the man behind the desk, simply go about their business. Of course, that’s what we’re trying to forget this time of year. We decorate and shop and party, putting reality on hold for as long as we can. But it’s there. It’s always there. 




Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Woman duped in ‘grandparents scam’

Law enforcement is again warning of a swindle known as the grandparents scam after a 79-year-old Spokane Valley woman sent money to a con man claiming to be her grandson.

The woman called Crime Check on Monday and said a man claiming to be her grandson called on Dec. 9 and asked for money to bail out jail in Canada.

The victim believed him and sent a $2,750 money order to a man named "B" in New Jersey, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. She later realized it was scam.

Similar scams were reported last spring and in fall 2009. Anyone with an elderly relative should warn them of the scam.

"Citizens in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s grew up in a more trusting era and are particularly susceptible to this type of fraud," according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. "Suspects can pick their victims from obituaries where the children and grandchildren are occasionally listed by name."

Pancake giveaway earns early release

CINCINNATI (AP) — A judge has granted early release to an inmate who was fired from a jail’s kitchen for handing out too many pancakes — earning himself the nickname Mr. Pancake.

 

Heriberto Rodriquez was fired while serving a 180-day term for stealing money from a concession stand at the Cincinnati Reds’ ballpark. The kitchen job allowed Rodriquez, 44, to get three days credit for each day in jail, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Authorities said Rodriquez was supposed to give inmates two pancakes each but sometimes gave them four, an act the newspaper said helped the judge decide to take pity on him and grant the early release.

“Mr. Rodriquez, you’re just one generous soul, aren’t you?” Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh said in court Wednesday before granting his request to be released after 73 days.

The judge had sentenced Rodriquez after he pleaded guilty to theft Aug. 24. Rodriquez, of Cincinnati, stole a money bag containing $3,000 from a concession stand at the Great American Ball Park after a Reds game and was caught on his way out.

With a grin, the judge told Rodriquez on Wednesday that he could go home.

“Get your big box of Aunt Jemima and eat all you want, Mr. Pancake,” she said.

Each pancake served at the jail costs 6 cents, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Barnett said, meaning Rodriquez cost taxpayers 12 cents each time he gave an inmate four pancakes instead of two.

“He just didn’t do what he was supposed to do,” Barnett said.

Rodriquez, who was fired from the kitchen job Sept. 23, told the judge Wednesday that his shift started at 10 p.m. to help get the food ready for breakfast the next morning. He said when he was doubling up on pancake servings he didn’t think he would be “jeopardizing my job.”

Lindsay Lohan Begins Jail Sentence

Lindsay Lohan, left, is shown in a court with her attorney Shawn Chapman Holley this morning in Beverly Hills, Calif., where Lohan was taken into custody to serve a jail sentence for probation violation. (AP Photo/Al Seib, pool)

Question: What will Lindsay Lohan learn from her time in jail?

Same inmate escapes from Idaho jail via crawl space for second time in a month

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: FORT HALL, Idaho (AP) — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes say a Wyoming man has escaped from the Fort Hall Jail for a second time in the past month, as a new jail sits empty. Tribal officials say Jerome Cerino of Lander, Wyo., and Joseph Deluna of Fort Hall, escaped from a holding cell through a crawl space early Tuesday. Tribal spokeswoman Laverne Beech says Cerino was one of six inmates who escaped from the Fort Hall jail on April 17. They escaped from a different cell, but used the same crawl space to access an emergency exit. That escape happened five days before inmates were to be moved into a new jail. However, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is requiring that all correction officers attend a six-week training course in New Mexico before the inmates are moved. Eight officers from Fort Hall are currently attending the training.