The general population of the supermax prison at Pelican Bay, California is on lockdown after a riot where guards opened fire on inmates, killing one and wounding twelve others. The riot between 200 black and Hispanic prisoners broke out about 9:30 Wednesday morning in an exercise yard within the highest-security wing of Pelican Bay State Prison. And this is according to prison authorities. We don’t have a version of what happened from the prisoners. Located twenty miles south of the Oregon border and about 290 miles north of San Francisco, Pelican Bay houses close to 3,500 prisoners. About 1,200 are on permanent lockdown conditions. The fighting sent a total of twenty-eight inmates to local hospitals. Meanwhile, two former guards have been charged with violating the civil rights of Pelican Bay inmates. A federal grand jury indictment made public yesterday accused the men of conspiring to arrange assaults on prisoners, one of them fatal, over a nearly three-year period. Another former Pelican Bay guard, David Lewis, was convicted of civil rights charges February 14th, for shooting a prisoner after a fight in 1994.
Anthony Bryan has been executed in Florida. He was the second death row prisoner to die in Florida in two days. He and Terry Sims were both executed by lethal injection, the first Florida executions in seventy-six years not to use the electric chair. Bryan was convicted of killing a night watchman in 1983. At a news conference this week, he said he couldn’t recall the crime, but said he didn’t think he should die for it. He became a born-again Christian on death row.
Governor George W. Bush, Jeb Bush’s brother — Jeb Bush, the Governor of Florida; George Bush, of course, presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas — will be off the campaign trail and back in Texas today as the state gets set to execute another death row prisoner. Sixty-two-year-old Betty Lou Beets is set to die after 6:00 p.m. Central Time for the 1983 shooting death of her fifth husband. A federal judge in Austin yesterday refused to halt the execution. Her attorneys plan a last-minute appeal. The Texas Parole Board has already refused to commute her sentence, and Bush could grant only a thirty-day delay. Bush says he’ll be studying all the facts and deciding whether the jury heard all the circumstances. Her new lawyer says it didn’t. He says Beets was the victim of severe emotional torment. She would be the second Texas death row prisoner to die in as many days and only the second woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Robert Torricelli, senator of New Jersey, said he will introduce a resolution condemning Bob Jones University, which bans interracial dating and, he said, promotes anti-Catholic teachings. Torricelli said, “There are many of us who are not going to remain silent when the reputation of the Catholic Church and the actions of Catholics are being disparaged.” While Republican presidential candidate George Bush has come under fire for kicking off his South Carolina campaign at the school, Democrats have now criticized Republican Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri, Congress member Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Arkansas Congress member Asa Hutchinson for receiving honorary degrees from the university in May. All three lawmakers say they disagree with the school’s racial and religious policies. Hutchinson attended the school as an undergraduate, along with his brother, Arkansas Senator Tim Hutchinson.
And a group of black Secret Service agents reportedly wants to file a lawsuit against the agency that’s charged with protecting the President. The Washington Post says the agents are asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission permission to file a class action lawsuit. The agents say they were denied promotions and key assignments because of racial discrimination.