Russian prison threatens to force feed hunger-striking Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny: allies

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

April 12, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Staff at the Russian prison holding hunger-striking Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny are threatening to force feed him, his allies said on Monday, warning he had lost 15 kg since he arrived at the facility last month.

Navalny, 44, a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, announced a hunger strike at the end of March in protest at what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to treat him properly for acute back and leg pain.

They say they have offered him proper treatment, but that he has refused it, insisting that he wants to be treated by a doctor of his choice from outside the facility, a request they have declined.

Navalny, whom the West says has been wrongly jailed and should be freed, was moved to a prison clinic earlier this month after complaining of a high temperature and a bad cough.

On Monday, his Twitter account, which his allies use to provide updates based on information from his lawyers who regularly visit him, said he had been discharged from the prison’s medical facility.

“Given the severity of the hunger strike, the (prison)administration is threatening on a daily basis to start force-feeding,” the account said.

There was no immediate comment from the state prison service. The regional prison service did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Navalny’s weight has fallen to 77 kg, a drop of 15 kg since he arrived at the prison facility 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Moscow, his allies said.

Navalny had already lost 8 kg in the facility before beginning his hunger strike, his allies said on April 1, something they blamed on guards deliberately depriving him of sleep.

Prison authorities deny depriving him of sleep and have said previously that Navalny’s condition was satisfactory and that he has been provided with all necessary treatment.

Navalny’s allies want an outside doctor of his choice to be able to check his condition.

His Twitter account said on Monday that a doctor had still not been allowed in to see him. It said his pulse was averaging 106 beats per minute, a reading that is higher than normal. His blood pressure was at 94/76, it said.

Navalny returned to Russia in January after recovering from what German doctors say was a nerve agent poisoning. He was jailed in February on charges he said were trumped up for two and a half years. Russia has said it has yet to see evidence he was poisoned

(Reporting by Anton Zverev and Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Adelaide Remand Centre prison escapee Jason Burdon left carjacking victim shattered, court hears

An Adelaide court has heard a man who escaped from the Adelaide Remand Centre by using clothes as a makeshift rope to scale down the building has a “very lengthy criminal history”.

Jason Gregory Burdon, 33, was found guilty in the District Court earlier this year of robbery following a violent carjacking in Clarence Gardens in May 2019 that the court heard fractured several bones in the victim’s face.

Burdon was arrested after a roof-top standoff with police.

It was this crime he was in custody for when he escaped from the Adelaide Remand Centre in December.

During sentencing submissions for the robbery, Judge Simon Stretton said some of Burdon’s offences “could only be categorised as a crime spree”.

“There has just been relentless continual offending … constantly breaking into places, constantly stealing, constantly breaching bonds,” he said.

“There comes a point, unfortunately, when a person is a serious repeat offender that the law… says, ‘well enough is enough, you can’t expect to receive a short non-parole period because the community simply has to be protected.'”

Clothing Jason Burdon used to escape the Adelaide Remand Centre.(

ABC News: Michael Clements


Victim’s ‘shock, fear and grief’

Prosecutor Karen Ingleton asked for Burdon to be sentenced as a serious repeat offender as he had “a very lengthy criminal history”.

In a victim impact statement Ms Ingleton read to the court, the victim said he had struggled to feel happy since the robbery.

“I used to go out of my way to help people who was [sic] in need and feel really good about myself after I had helped them.

“Since the bashing, all of that has changed — my friends tell me not to stop and help strangers.”

The electronics repairman told the court his work had suffered as he experienced regular headaches as a result of the fractures he sustained between his eyes and cheekbones.

Burdon has also pleaded guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court to his 30-hour escape from the Adelaide Remand Centre in December but not guilty to resisting arrest.

Burdon’s lawyer, Greg Tonkin, told the court Burdon had been in solitary confinement since the escape and it had been difficult to get instructions from him.

Sentencing submissions will continue later this month and Burdon will be sentenced at a later date.

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Gunmen free more than 1,800 inmates in attack on Nigerian prison

Burnt vehicles are seen outside the Nigeria police force Imo state command headquaters after gunmen attacked and set properties ablaze in Imo State
Burnt vehicles are seen outside the Nigeria police force Imo state command headquaters after gunmen attacked and set properties ablaze in Imo State, Nigeria April 5, 2021. Picture taken April 5, 2021. David Dosunmu/Handout via REUTERS

April 6, 2021

By Tife Owolabi

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – More than 1,800 prisoners are on the run in southeast Nigeria after escaping when heavily armed gunmen attacked their prison using explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, the authorities said.

Nigerian police said it believed a banned separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was behind the attack in the city of Owerri, but a spokesman for the group denied involvement.

The secessionist movement in the southeast is one of several serious security challenges facing President Muhammadu Buhari, including a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, a spate of school kidnappings in the northwest and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Buhari said the attack, in a city near the oil-rich Niger Delta region that is the mainstay of Africa’s top crude exporter and biggest economy, was an “act of terrorism”. He ordered security forces to apprehend the fleeing prisoners.

The attackers stormed the facility at around 2:15 a.m. (0115 GMT) on Monday, according to the Nigerian Correctional Service said.

“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo state has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody,” its spokesman said in a statement late on Monday.

The police said attackers used explosives to blast the administrative block of the prison and entered the prison yard.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers… are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB),” said Frank Mba, a spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force.

IPOB wants independence for a region in southeast Nigeria it calls Biafra. One million people died in a 1967-70 civil war between the Nigerian government and secessionists there.

In recent months security in the region has deteriorated. Several police stations have been attacked since January, with large amounts of ammunition stolen and reports of the IPOB’s paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), clashing with the military.

But an IPOB spokesman told Reuters the group did not carry out the prison raid.

“IPOB and ESN were not involved in the attack in Owerri, Imo state. It is not our mandate to attack security personnel or prison facilities,” the IPOB spokesman said in a phone call.

(Reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa and Anamesere Igboeroteonwu in Onitsha; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by Tom Hogue and Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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A most violent end. How a design firm executive was found dead and tortured in prison after being charged with defrauding the Russian military

In early 2018, police officers in St. Petersburg charged three suspects with fraud, claiming that their I.T. firm overcharged for the development of 3D models for Russia’s Project 636 “Varshavyanka” submarine. State officials say the design experts pocketed roughly 100 million rubles ($1.3 million) in a 400-million-ruble ($5.3-million) deal. A year later, one of the suspects, “Novit Pro” founder Valery Pshenichny, was found in his remand prison cell, dead, mutilated, and apparently raped. The authorities ruled it a suicide. In a special report, Mediazona correspondent Lena Vladykina spoke to family members and attorneys to learn how dubious fraud allegations led to such violent ends. Meduza summarizes the story here.

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Goulburn prison officers agree to talks with Corrective Services | Goulburn Post

news, local-news, Goulburn, Prison officers, strike, jail, Prison Officers Vocational Branch, Jason Charlton

Some 200 officers at Goulburn Correctional Centre have returned to work following a near 70-hour strike. The move came after 8am Monday when the Prison Officers Vocational Branch’s (POVB) state executive met onsite with members. However they remain angry about safety and security issues and what they say is a breakdown in relations with the facility’s governor. READ MORE: Prison officers picket and defy Commission’s return to work order Correctional officers union ‘won’t give up until safety is addressed’ Goulburn prison officers strike over ‘nonchalant attitude’ to safety POVB chair Jason Charlton said about 100 members attended the meeting and voted to return. They walked off the job at noon Friday, citing safety, staffing and other concerns. The strike triggered a prisoner lock down over the weekend and forced management to run the facility. The Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) ruled on Friday that officers had to return to work. However, they refused and many joined in a protest outside the correctional centre over the weekend. Mr Charlton said Monday’s breakthrough came after Corrective Services assistant commissioner Kevin Corcoran and southern region deputy director, John Harrison agreed to meet with the union on Tuesday. It will also include local delegates and Public Service Association industrial officers. They will discuss the centre’s security in light of a staff restructure and deletion of a mid-tier, front line management level. Workers claimed it had compromised their safety and ability to respond to inmate uprisings. They are also angry about prisoner attacks on officers, courts’ responses to these, and workers compensation arrangements. Matters also came to a head in recent weeks following a visit by the inspector of custodial services to the prison. Staff claimed the governor had dismissed their concerns about the inspector’s “impromptu” request to tour a yard. The union said officers were busy in another yard at the time and didn’t believe the request could be safely managed. ALSO READ: Wind farm ‘umpire’ adds transmission lines to his role All of these points were be tabled to the IRC on Monday. Mr Charlton said while local issues were at play, staff at other NSW correctional centres also walked off the job on Friday in support of Goulburn. They returned to work over the weekend but Goulburn officers refused. “It’s good the (Goulburn) staff are back at work today and good that the department is meeting with us for further consultation to help resolve the situation,” he told The Post. “POVB members are angry about a whole range of issues. There have been serious incidents including hostage situations (up north) and security issues during inmate medical escorts.” The union met with the Commissioner Peter Severin and Corrective Services Minister Anthony Roberts about the matters two weeks ago. While these talks were “fruitful,” Mr Charlton said the strike action emerged out of “a lot of frustration” from workers. At the same time, they and the union are grappling with the State’s prison bed capacity reforms. These aim to address the shortfall in inmate beds. ALSO READ: Watch out: Don’t let mice squeeze into your homes this winter On Friday, Goulburn POVB members voted unanimously against a confidence motion in the jail’s governor. It concluded that his relationship with staff was “untenable.” Mr Charlton said he had not realised how much the relationship had deteriorated until Monday’s meeting. “The group was quite emotional about it,” he said. “…Our role is to ensure we have respectful relations and articulate the issues to management rather than concentrate on personalities. They are angry with the governor but that happens in any industry where people can get upset with the boss.” POVB Goulburn branch chair Owen O’Neill said members extensively discussed their concerns with the union’s state executive on Sunday. “At 11am a group of over 30 staff gathered at the front of the prison,” he said. ALSO READ: Two local auctioneers to compete against the best at the Sydney Royal Easter Show “Central to their reasoning for withdrawing their labour was the safety of all staff, visitors and inmates. They have maintained their stance on their deep concern and disappointment with their general manager’s performance.” Many officers joined a protest outside the jail from 9am Saturday to Sunday afternoon that was “upbeat and friendly.” Mr O’Neill said it was not a picket and staff didn’t hinder management, individuals or vehicles entering the facility. “I’m proud of my workmates who have dug in their heels and stuck with their convictions,” he said. “We don’t undertake this type of action lightly. Many of us have lost close to three days’ wages which include weekend penalty rates.” He said Corrective Services had signalled disciplinary action for their failure to return to work. This could include monetary fines, demotion or suspension. Mr Charlton said the union would fight any such move and argue it was part of collective action. In a statement over the weekend, a Corrective Services spokesman said the strike had not compromised jail security and the department was always willing to engage with officers about improvements. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:


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Goulburn prison officers strike over ‘nonchalant attitude’ to safety | Goulburn Post

news, local-news, jail, Goulburn, correctional, union, strike, prison, NSW

More than 200 corrective services officers from Goulburn jail and Goulburn Court House went on strike at 12pm today in response to safety and management concerns. A Goulburn Corrective Services officer spoke out with allegations of bullying, a “nonchalant attitude” to safety, and staff shortages. READ ALSO: “We’ve had enough, someone is going to get hurt,” the officer said. “They expect us to do the same work with less staff. “We have to put up with bullying from management and the constant threat of shutting down the jail.” The strike occurred in response to recent hostage situations in jails across the state and the acquittal of an inmate on assault charges at Goulburn District Court earlier this year. The prison officer told the Goulburn Post that staffing levels were so poor inmates were being locked in their cells all day. They said the jail did not have enough full-time officers, which forced them to lock prisoners in their cells an average of four out of six days. Inmates were usually allocated six hours of yard time a day with proper staffing levels. The officer argued the containment was dangerous for staff and visitors to the jail. “It’s such a dangerous job to start with,” they said. “We had one time recently where inmates set fire to their cells while locked in. “This nonchalant attitude to safety is going to get people hurt.” A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said public security had not been compromised as a result of the strike. “The Industrial Relations Commission has ordered correctional officers to return to work after they took unauthorised industrial action,” she said. “Staff at some of the state’s prisons walked off the job this afternoon, following Goulburn’s decision to engage in strike action this morning. Goulburn officers raised issues about the management of the Inspector of Custodial Services’ visit to the prison yesterday.” We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.



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Jack Watts backs Port’s prison bars

Former Port Adelaide star Jack Watts responds to Eddie McGuire’s objection to the Power’s prison bars jumper

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Former UCLA soccer coach gets 8 months in prison in U.S. college scandal

FILE PHOTO: Jorge Salcedo, the former men’s soccer head coach at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme, arrives at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

March 22, 2021

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) – A former men’s soccer coach at the University of California, Los Angeles was sentenced on Friday to eight months in prison after admitting he accepted $200,000 in bribes to facilitate the admission of two students as fake athletic recruits.

Jorge Salcedo, 48, is among several sports coaches at top universities, including Yale and Georgetown, who federal prosecutors in Boston have brought charges against related to the U.S. college admissions scandal.

He is one of 57 people charged over a scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to fraudulently secure their children’s college admissions.

Salcedo pleaded guilty last year. Defense attorney Susan Winkler told U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani that the Los Angeles resident broke the law to keep up with mortgage payments at a home that became a “financial albatross.”

“I made foolish decisions from a place of desperation,” Salcedo said.

Talwani said Salcedo had decided to wrongly “take what appeared to be a simple path to resolve that financial issue.” She also ordered Salcedo to forfeit $200,000.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of students to colleges as fake athletic recruits.

Prosecutors said that in 2016, Salcedo worked with Singer to help the daughter of a California couple, Davina and Bruce Isackson, gain admission to UCLA as a purported soccer recruit in exchange for $100,000 of the $250,000 they paid Singer.

He later in 2018 agreed to “recruit” the son of another of Singer’s clients, Xiaoning Sui, to the UCLA men’s soccer team, even though he did not play the sport competitively, in exchange for $100,000, prosecutors said.

The Isacksons and Sui have pleaded guilty. Thirty parents in total have pleaded guilty including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman and “Full House” star Lori Loughlin.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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Connecticut Legislature Offers Up Bill That Would Make Prison Phone Calls Free

from the let’s-get-this-trending! dept

A lot of rights just vanish into the ether once you’re incarcerated. Some of this makes sense. You have almost no privacy rights when being housed by the state. Your cell can be searched and your First Amendment right to freedom of association can be curtailed in order to prevent criminal conspiracies from being implemented behind bars.

But rights don’t disappear completely. The government has an obligation to make sure you’re cared for and fed properly — something that rarely seems to matter to jailers.

Treating people as property has negative outcomes. Not only are “good” prisoners expected to work for pennies a day, but their families are expected to absorb outlandish expenses just to remain in contact with their incarcerated loved ones. The government loves its paywalls and it starts with prison phone services.

Cellphone adoption changed the math for service providers. After a certain point, customers were unwilling to pay per text message. And long distance providers realized they could do almost nothing to continue to screw over phone users who called people outside of their area codes. Some equity was achieved once providers realized “long distance” was only a figure of profitable speech and text messages were something people expected to be free, rather than a service that paid phone companies per character typed.

But if you’re in prison, it’s still 1997. The real world is completely different but your world is controlled by companies that know how to leverage communications into a profitable commodity. As much as we, the people, apparently hate the accused and incarcerated, they’re super useful when it comes to funding local spending. Caged people are still considered “taxpayers,” even when they can’t generate income or vote in elections.

So, for years, we’ve chosen to additionally punish inmates by turning basic communication options into high priced commodities. And we’ve decided they don’t have any right to complain, even when the fees are astronomical or prison contractors are either helping law enforcement listen in to conversations with their legal reps or making it so prohibitively expensive only the richest of us can support an incarcerated person’s desire to remain connected to their loved ones.

Connecticut legislators have had enough. Whether it will be enough to flip the status quo table remains to be seen. But, for now, a bill proposed by the Connecticut House aims to strip the profit from for-profit service providers, as well as the for-profit prisons that pad their budgets with kickbacks from prison phone service providers. (h/t Kathy Morse)

Connecticut holds the dismal distinction of being the state with the most expensive prison phone calls in the country. But a new bill in the state legislature may soon make Connecticut the first state to make prison phone calls free.

Senate Bill 520 would require Connecticut state prisons to offer telephone or other communication to incarcerated people free of charge, at a minimum of 90 minutes per day. The state could not collect any revenue from operating these services.

Seems like a reasonable response. 90 minutes per day should make most calls from prisons free for all but the most talkative. And I hope those profiting from these services socked some money away for a legislative rainy day. They’ve certainly had the opportunity. As this report notes, prison call services raked in over $13 million in fees in 2018 alone. There’s no reason to believe this amount declined in 2019 or 2020, especially when 2020 gave people millions of reasons to avoid in-person visits with anyone.

The bill [PDF] is short and sweet — somewhat of a surprise considering it was crafted by public servants who often seem to believe they’re being paid by the word. Here it is in its entirety:


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That title 18 of the general statutes be amended to require the Department of Correction to provide voice or other telecommunication services to incarcerated persons free of cost for a minimum of ninety minutes per day.

Statement of Purpose: To provide certain cost-free telecommunication services for incarcerated persons.

As it says on the tin, the purpose of the legislation is to provide prisoners with free phone calls, rather than allow them to be subjected to per-minute fees last viewed as “reasonable” sometime in the early 1990s. (And only viewed as “reasonable” by long distance providers, not the captive market they provided service to. [And “captive” means people who have few options in terms of service providers, not just those locked behind physical bars.])

Expect significant pushback. And it won’t just be coming from prison phone service providers like Securus. It will also come from local law enforcement agencies which receive a percentage of these fees — something most people would call a kickback, even if law enforcement continues to argue that it isn’t.

If this passes, this will be the first successful effort that covers a whole state. Pockets of prison phone fee resistance have been found elsewhere prior to this (New York City, San Francisco) but it has yet to be implemented at state level. This bill would be the first to make it illegal to charge for prison phone calls across an entire state.

This is the sort of legislation that should be adopted across the nation. Prisons — for better or worse — are a public service. They shouldn’t be subject to the predatory behavior of private companies. Making it prohibitively expensive to talk to loved ones should be considered “cruel,” if not “unusual.” It serves no deterrent effect. All it does is enforce the unspoken fact that people in prisons are no longer considered “people.” That’s not how our justice system is supposed to work.


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Filed Under: connecticut, prison, prison phone calls

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‘Horrific’ dead devil sparks cries for prison relocation

THOSE opposing the construction of a prison near Westbury say the discovery of a dead Tasmanian devil on the road opposite the site earmarked for the state’s second jail confirms concerns extra traffic will endanger local wildlife populations.

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