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Smuggled cellphone use a growing concern for U.S. prisons

By Colleen Jenkins WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - Cellphones smuggled into prisons by corrupt guards, concealed in food containers or hurled over security fences are an increasing worry for law enforcement as prisoners use them to intimidate witnesses, direct drug deals and plan escapes.

Inmate attacks in Ontario jails at five-year high as cellblock violence soars

TORONTO - Ontario's jails are in the midst of a surge of cellblock violence that suggests the province's overcrowded correctional system is simmering with tension, statistics show. Figures obtained by The Canadian Press under freedom of information reveal there were about 3,000 reported prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in 2012-13 — or eight attacks a day — up almost one-third from the 2,300 attacks five years earlier. And the number of times guards used physical force against inmates has almost doubled, reaching some 1,500 incidents from 800 in 2008-09.

Pussy Riot members set up prisoners' rights centre

Released Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina on Thursday launched a centre to defend prisoners' rights in the region where one of the women served her sentence. The women gave a news conference in the city of Saransk in the Mordovia region around 320 miles (510 kilometres) southeast of Moscow, notorious for its high concentration of penal colonies. They are setting up an office within a complex of penal colonies, according to the website of their new centre, www.zonaprava.info.

'Culture of brutality' in Chicago jail charged in lawsuit

By Mary Wisniewski CHICAGO (Reuters) - Prisoners at Cook County Jail in Chicago live in fear due to a "culture of brutality and lawlessness" that subjects them to physical abuse by guards, charged a lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago on Thursday.

California gets two extra years to reduce prison crowding

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California won two additional years to reduce overcrowding in its massive prison system under an order issued on Monday by a panel of federal judges, in the latest twist in a decades-long dispute over prison conditions and medical care for inmates.

Prison fire kills 10 inmates in Colombia

Ten inmates were killed and 38 injured when an inferno ripped through a Colombian jail during the deadliest violence to rock the country's overcrowded prison system in more than decade, officials said Tuesday. The blaze broke out late Monday at a prison in the northern city of Barranquilla after inmates set fire to mattresses during a fight. Of the 38 injured, 12 have already been released from hospital but two remain in critical condition in intensive care, authorities said.

Venezuelan official admits existence of discos in prisons

Caracas, Jan 23 (EFE).- Discotheques have long operated inside Venezuelan penitentiaries, the head of the country's prison service said Thursday in response to a public uproar over the death of a young man after partying at a disco behind bars. "The scandal (regarding) if 'there are discotheques in the prisons.' The discos in the prisons have always existed, at least since the revolution (1999, when leftist Hugo Chavez became president). Regrettably, it's a perversion," Iris Varela told reporters from a prison in the eastern state of Anzoategui.

New death in troubled Brazil jail where three were beheaded

Authorities at a Brazilian prison where three inmates were beheaded last month said Tuesday they have uncovered another death. The individual was found hanging in his cell by a sheet at the notorious Pedrinhas penitentiary in the country's far north, the Maranhao state government indicated in a statement to AFP. Earlier this month a gruesome video emerged showing three prisoners who had been decapitated in December at the prison.

UNHCR urges action on Brazil jail deaths

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep unease Wednesday at the poor state of Brazilian jails and demanded government action, after 60 inmates died in 2013. "We regret having to once again express concern at the dire state of prisons in Brazil and urge the authorities to take immediate action to restore order," the UNHCR office said on its website. The statement followed Tuesday's gruesome publication of video footage showing three decapitated inmates at Pedrinhas prison in the northern state of Maranhao.

Freed Pussy Riot rockers reunite in Siberia

Two freed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot on Tuesday met in Siberia for the first time since their release, discussing plans to set up a new rights group to help Russian prisoners. Maria Alyokhina, who had been serving her sentence at a prison colony in the central city of Nizhny Novgorod, flew into the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk to meet up with bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was released from a prison hospital.
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