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Tag: prison

Weekend Series on Crime: Mexican Mafia Fights

Former DEA Agent Sentenced to Year in Prison for Witness Tampering

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former DEA agent who demanded cash in connection with a drug trafficker was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a day in prison.

Samuel Murad, 62, was hired to help secure the early release of a marijuana trafficker whom the agent helped send to prison in the 1990s, the Tampa Bay Times reports. 

“I have no excuse for my behavior,” Murad said in court. “I’ve hurt my family. I’ve hurt my friends.”

“You’ve also hurt the DEA,” U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew interjected. “You made law enforcement look bad.”

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Investigates Jail in Virginia Following Numerous Deaths

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has launched an investigation into Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Virginia following numerous deaths and allegations of prisoners being denied medical and mental health care.

Jail officials said they had nothing to hide and welcomed the investigation, CBS News reports. 

The deaths of two inmates in separate incidents prompted the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to request the Justice Department investigation.

Since 2012, 18 inmates have died at the jail, ranging from internal bleeding to suicide.

CBS wrote:

On August 19, 2015, 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell’s body was found inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. He had been arrested in April of that year for stealing $5 worth of food from a convenience store. Mitchell’s family sued after a medical examiner concluded he likely experienced cardiac arrhythmia related to wasting syndrome, a disorder characterized by extreme weight loss.

Mitchell has been diagnosed years earlier with paranoid schizophrenia, but jail officials had said no beds were available at the state mental health facility, Crimesider reported.

In another more recent case, after 60-year-old inmate Henry Stewart died in early August 2016, his family said they recovered an emergency grievance form Stewart had written indicating he had repeatedly begged for medical help.

Georgia Man Who Shot ATF Agent Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

Steven Maurice McKinley

Steven Maurice McKinley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Athens, Ga., man who shot an ATF agent during an undercover investigation more than two years ago was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison on Tuesday.

Steven Maurice McKinley, 23, was convicted of attempting to kill a federal officer and discharging a firearm during a federal crime of violence, the Athens Banner-Herald reports.

The violence broke out in September 2014 when an undercover agent agreed to buy an AK-47 and marijuana from McKinley for $800. But the meeting turned out to be a robbery attempt by McKinney, who shot and wounded the agent.

“Today’s sentence is a direct message to criminals that law enforcement is observant and it will not tolerate violent crime,” said John Schmidt, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF’s Atlanta field office. “ Steven McKinley showed a complete and utter disregard for human life when he attempted to murder a federal agent. As an agency and unified law enforcement community, we will not tolerate armed violent individuals continually terrorizing our neighborhoods and reducing the quality of life.”

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department to Investigate Conditions at Prisons in Alabama

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to investigate conditions at Alabama’s prisons for men following a work strike by guards.

“The investigation will focus on whether prisoners are adequately protected from physical harm and sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners; whether prisoners are adequately protected from use of excessive force and staff sexual abuse by correctional officers; and whether the prisons provide sanitary, secure and safe living conditions,” the DOJ said in its statement.

A week ago, guards at W.C. Holman Correctional Facility staged a work strike to call attention to prison overcrowding and safety issues, the Root reports. http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/10/justice-department-investigates-alabama-prison-conditions/

Robert Council, a 42-year-old serving life without parole at Holman, said prisoners are almost always on lockdown and not allowed out of their cells for months.

“The Constitution requires that prisons provide humane conditions of confinement,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “We hope to work cooperatively with the state of Alabama in conducting our inquiry and ensuring that the state’s facilities keep prisoners safe from harm.”

Mississippi Man Who Tried to Join ISIS Credits FBI for Saving His Life

ISIS flag

ISIS flag

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Mississippi man thanked the FBI for saving his life as he was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for trying to join ISIS.

Muhammad Dakhlalla told a federal judge that he didn’t know at the time what ISIS represented, the Associated Press reports. 

The 22-year-old pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Dakhlalla said he watched Internet videos with his former fiancee, Jaelyn Young, and videos depicted ISIS members helping people in Syria and Iraq. While jailed, he said he learned about ISIS’ violence after watching TV news coverage of the terrorist organization.

“I was completely wrong about what ISIS was,” Dakhlalla told U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock. “I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re really sick and twisted. They twist Islam for their own agenda. I denounce them. I condemn them.”

His former fiancee, Young, was sentenced to 12 years in prison earlier this month.

NYT Editorial: Justice Department Too Slow to Apply Mercy

jail2photoBy Editorial Board
New York Times

President Obama last week commuted the prison terms of 214 federal inmates who were sent to prison under draconian, ’80s-era laws that have since been revised. Among them were 67 people serving life sentences, nearly all of them for nonviolent drug offenses.

Mercy was granted in these cases. But the federal clemency system — which moves far too slowly and is too often blocked by politics in both the Justice Department and the White House — was never intended to manage miscarriages of justice that happen on a vast scale, as was the case when so many Americans were sent to prison under the “tough on crime” policies of the 1980s.

The country needs a variety of mechanisms for reducing unreasonably long sentences. And the Justice Department, which has considerable latitude in these matters, needs to do more within the course of its regular operations to deal with the legacy of sentencing policies that have been recognized as destructively unfair.

The former attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., took an important step: In 2014, he supported the United States Sentencing Commission’s decision to reduce sentences for many nonviolent drug crimes and asked that people in prison be made eligible for the reductions. According to the Justice Department, more than 12,000 people have been released under that effort.

Recently, however, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a Justice Department agency, has come under criticism for not doing enough with the powers it already has to help inmates who deserve to be released. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 authorizes the bureau to ask a federal judge to reduce an inmate’s sentence when there are “extraordinary and compelling” reasons for doing so.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Records: CIA Imprisoned, Interrogated Man Knowing He Was Innocent

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

CIA headquarters

CIA headquarters

New records reveal that the CIA imprisoned and interrogated a man that investigators knew was not a terrorist.

McClathy reports that the CIA realized it imprisoned the wrong man, a German citizen named Khaleed al-Masri, in Afghanistan.

Al-Mari was held in a secret prison with a “small cell with some clothing, bedding and a bucket for his waste,” according to a recently released internal CIA report.

McClathy wrote:

Adding to the sense of injustice: Even though the agency realized early on that al-Masri was the wrong man, it couldn’t figure out how to release him without having to acknowledge its mistake. The agency eventually dumped him unceremoniously in Albania and essentially pretended his arrest and detention had never happened.