The agency in charge - the National Offender Management Service - said a "robust recovery plan" was in place.
Pentonville Prison is a Category B jail run by the government.
'Firmer grip needed'
Inspectors recorded 1,264 prisoners being accommodated when they visited in February but highlighted the capacity it should be aiming for was about 909 people.
Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: "The prison needs a firmer grip and a persuasive plan that will ensure immediate deliverable and sustained improvements, as well as a more considered medium-term plan that will determine whether the prison has a future."
The prison was deemed to have been performing badly during an inspection in 2013 and inspectors went back in February this year and found continuing problems.
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service, said the prison was going through a "difficult time" when inspectors visited, as it was short-staffed and its standards of cleanliness were unacceptable.
He said: "Since the inspection a robust recovery plan has been put in place. The prison has an able governor, the management team has been strengthened, staffing numbers have increased, there has been a crack down on the illicit use of drugs and cleanliness has markedly improved."
Exeter Prison "dangerously overcrowded" claims report
EXETER Prison could be sacrificing rehabilitation and support with “dangerously overcrowded” cells and reduced staff, according to a business which provides prisoners with phone access.
By Exeter Express and Echo 29 June, 2015
According to figures released by the Howard League for Penal Reform, Exeter Prison is the fourth most overcrowded prison in the UK – and the number of staff there has been slashed by nearly a third.
Many inmates are sharing cells designed for one person, raising concerns around the safety of prisoners and the number of inmates released early to create space.
In a 2013 inspection, Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said there were “weaknesses and gaps” in the running of Exeter Prison and branded the facility “old and difficult to maintain”.
According to Prison Phone, Exeter Prison’s “dangerously overcrowded” facilities are in urgent need of improvement, and there should be more emphasis on rehabilitation.
A Prison Phone spokesman said: “Overcrowding is not a recent problem at HMP Exeter.
“The building, which was constructed in 1853, has not been significantly updated since then and is not designed to house large numbers of inmates.
“In spite of this, the establishment still continues to perform well as a local prison but it provides a clear example of the problems facing prisons across the country.
“June’s Anti-Austerity march in London illustrates just how much government cuts are affecting the country as a whole.
“The justice sector, much like the NHS, has been subject to considerable cuts since 2010, with Ministry of Justice spending being reduced by £1.3bn.
“These cuts have resulted in reduced staff, less funds to spend on rehabilitation and education, and less support for inmates and their families.”
According to figures taken from the Howard League for Penal Reform in 2014, the number of prison officers working in Exeter Prison has dropped by 32% in the space of two years.
Prison Phone’s spokesman added: “Despite the reduction in staff, the numbers of inmates still remain the same.
“Focusing on rehabilitation and lowering rates of reoffending may be a more successful strategy than simply placing increasing numbers of inmates in prisons such as HMP Exeter.”
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Leeds prisoners hospitalised after taking legal high Spice
“flood” of legal highs sweeping prisons after two inmates from a Leeds jail were taken to hospital.
By Yorkshire Evening Post 25 June, 2015
The men, who are serving sentences at HMP Wealstun near Wetherby, were treated by doctors after suffering a reaction to a cannabis substitute known as Spice. The substance can cause a string of side effects including heart palpitations and acute psychosis
The Prison Service said the two men were released the same day without suffering serious injury.
But Glyn Travis, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said the spread of legal highs in prisons was a real concern.
He said: “The system has not managed to work out how to crack down on them. It’s illegal to bring substances into prison, but the flood of illicit substances is causing us real problems.
“There has been a number of suspected serious illnesses and deaths because of it and levels of violence are on the increase.
“It’s an epidemic.”
He said legal highs were cheap and difficult to detect and the impact on the health of prisoners was proving a drain on the public purse.
West Yorkshire Police’s drugs co-ordinator Bryan Dent said substances like Spice and Black Mamba were a health risk because users never knew what they contained.
“The problem is that, because they are labelled as legal, people have the impression that they are safe. We’re trying to get the message out that this is not the case,” he said.
A Prison Service spokesman said action was being taken following the incident at Wealstun. “We take a zero tolerance approach to drugs in prisons. Those caught with drugs face having time added to their sentence,” he said.
‘London dungeon’: Victorian-era prison still bloodstained and rat-infested
IT’S infested with vermin and cockroaches, walls and bedsheets are left stained with blood and inmates are locked in their cells for 23 hours a day.
By au news 25 June, 2015
This is what incarceration is like in a Victorian-era London prison that appears stuck in the dark ages.
A shocking report on Pentonville Prison published this week paints a vivid picture of a filthy, overcrowded facility where rubbish is piled outside the wings and dirty showers pose a serious health threat.
“Clearly some areas had not been cleaned for a considerable time and remained dirty for much of the inspection,” read the report. “Prisoners struggled to gain daily access to showers, and to obtain enough clean clothing, cleaning materials and eating utensils.”
The high turnover of the prison, which holds more than 1200 men and admits 100 new prisoners each week, means inmates are forced to share cramped cells designed for one, many of which have broken or missing windows and are covered with graffiti.
Drugs are easily obtainable and violence is rife in Pentonville. Staff veer between “indifferent” and “irresponsible”.
The report is based on an unannounced inspection in February, which came 17 months after chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick questioned whether the prison had a viable future. Yet conditions have only deteriorated further.
Just a quarter of the population was engaged in purposeful activity at any one time, and “acute staff shortages” meant their needs were rarely met. Some were let out of their cells for less than one hour a day, with not even a radio to keep them company
Merseyside's most wanted jailed AGAIN over multi-million pound drugs plot
Last year Ian Stanton was jailed for 12 years over 400kg cocaine plot - today he was sentenced to 16 years over huge cross-border drugs racket.
By John Siddle 25 June, 2015
Merseyside drugs trafficker who was among the lynchpins of a vast £30m conspiracy was today locked up for the second time in little more than a year.
Ian Stanton, 44, was the ringleader of the Liverpool end of a drugs racket which saw huge amounts of super-strength cocaine and amphetamine shipped to the North East.
The former motor trader recruited a network of henchmen to do his dirty work, including his 23-year-old son Shaun, when he fled to Spain to evade capture over a separate £120m cocaine plot.
The fugitive was named as Merseyside’s most wanted before being captured and jailed for 12 years last April.
Today, Stanton was locked up for 16 years. His right-hand-man, Liverpool-based Keith Watson, 38, was handed 15 years and four months.
Both admitted counts of supplying Class A and Class B drugs over a two year period.
Police pulled together evidence from 20 “key dates” - which included seven drugs seizures of high purity cocaine and amphetamine.
An sophisticated amphetamine factory was also uncovered in Hornby Boulevard, Bootle.
Judge Peter Armstrong, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, called the drugs haul a “snapshot” of dealing on a “significant and commercial scale”.
If the amphetamine was sold at street purity of 1% at £10, the total amount would have been worth more than £8m.
But the true scale of other deals likely to have taken place could have seen Teesside immersed with tens of kilos more of drugs, worth many millions of pounds.
National Crime Agency Branch Commander David Norris said: “What we uncovered here was a number of inter-connected organised criminal groups working together to source drugs, sell them, and then launder the profits.
“They were extremely well organised, transporting large quantities of drugs across the country with large sums of cash going in return. Some members of this network had spent virtually their whole lives trying to stay under the radar of law enforcement.
A R C H I V E S
Surrey House of Correction:
Acid bath murderer and Derek Bentley 'let him have it' case among hangings.
By Amani Hughes 25 June, 2015
John George Haigh, who dissolved his victims' bodies in sulphuric acid, and a man who broadcast pro-Nazi propaganda during WWII were among criminals sent to the gallows at the former Surrey House of Correction The Surrey House of Correction was the foreboding original name for HMP Wandsworth when it opened in November 1851.
Deemed until 1889 to be in Surrey as it was south of the River Thames, the prison went on to gain notoriety for the dozens of criminals who were executed there during the 20th century.
They included the 'Acid Murderer', 'Lord Haw-Haw' and Derek Bentley.
Wandsworth only took condemned prisoners from Surrey in the first instance, but with the ending of executions at Lewes after 1914 it began to deal with death sentences from Sussex and then also from Kent when the execution facility at Maidstone was closed down.
There were 37 hangings between January 1939 and December 1945, while a further 31 executions took place in the following 17 years.
In August 1949, John George Haigh was sent to the gallows in Wandsworth for murdering six victims before dissolving their bodies in sulphuric acid.
Nearly four years later, a case sparked outrage when Derek Bentley was hanged in January 1953 for the murder of PC Sidney Miles.
Bentley, who had a serious learning disability, was convicted of murder despite not actually firing the gun that killed the police officer.
His conviction was quashed in 1998, seven years after Christopher Eccleston portrayed him in the film, Let Him Have It.
Wandsworth was also the site of executions for treason and spying during the two world wars, including William Joyce, better known as 'Lord Haw-Haw', who broadcast pro-Nazi propaganda on the radio during World War II.
Earlier in 1905, brothers Alfred and Albert Stratton were hanged at the prison for the murders of shopkeepers Thomas Farrow and his wife Ann in Deptford, south London.
MP Gordon Henderson says Sheppey's prisons are a "penal powder keg"
The MP raised concerns over an increase in intimidation and violence, greater use of illicitly brewed alcohol, drugs and legal highs, and a more prevalent gang culture in the Island’s jails during a Commons debate at Westminster Hall.
By Lewis Dyson 23 Jun, 2015
he said morale was low among prison officers and staffing levels were down due to difficulties in retaining and recruiting personnel at sites such as HMP Swaleside, where he said 153 officers were in post despite there being a target number of 178.
He called for a “long-term solution” and pointed out the Swaleside canteen was operated by a private company, DHL, which pays its staff a better salary than a newly recruited prison officer.
Mr Henderson called for a review of working conditions, the pay structure and retirement-age policy.
He said: “It is simply unfair that police officers and firefighters can retire at 60, whereas prison officers are expected to work until they are 68, despite their work being just as physically demanding.”
The Tory also said inmates often escaped punishment for attacks on staff and other prisoners, and called for those found guilty of such crimes to be treated as harshly as if they had been committed on the outside, and for sentences to be added to whatever culprits were already serving.
He added: “What goes on in our prisons is rarely something that resonates with the public, so the prison service never receives from the government the priority that it deserves
“It is the Cinderella service and prison officers are the forgotten public servants. In many ways, they are as much a captive of their penal environment as the inmates.”
Parliamentary under-secretary of state for justice Andrew Selous responded to Mr Henderson by acknowledging staff numbers fell over last year, and confirmed that by the end of March this year there were 70 officer vacancies across the Sheppey cluster.
He said staff had been offered additional working hours at higher rates of pay, and workers had been deployed from other parts of the country to plug gaps.
Mr Selous added: “We are aware that certain establishments are having difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, and a review is now being undertaken of the pay offered in the relevant areas. That includes the Sheppey Cluster.”
He said the government would consider information submitted to it about retirement age.
Mr Selous also said Elmley and Swaleside were among 24 establishments in the country that were piloting the use of body-worn cameras for prison staff.
Bankers Appreciation Society Join our Society today, we respect and marvel at our wonderful hard working, honest bankers!
2015 Bankers Hall of Fame
Congratulate a banker on a job well done today
2014 Hero Bankers of 2014
What a colossal year for British bankers was 2014
2013 Bankers Roll of Honour
Honesty, Integrity, Honour these are the bankers' bywords in 2013
2012 Very Proud indeed to be a banker
Read it, read it all and be very proud of our marvellous bankers
Read our banker pages that range across 2012 - 2015 and what do you see? Well what can we make of the bankers and their last 4 years?
Can we be very proud of our banks and their bankers? Honesty? Integrity? Honour? are these the words that come to mind when you think of A BANKER?? well are they?
NYPD will hire 800 recruits and move 415 cops off desk duty under neighborhood policing plan
The NYPD will hire an extra 800 recruits in the next three months and spring 415 cops from desk duty as part of a neighborhood policing plan rolled out Thursday.
By Rocco Parascandola 25 June, 2015
Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced the accelerated hiring program just three days after City Hall agreed to add 1,297 new cops in next year’s budget.
When the full number of new officers are on the job, 358 veteran officers will transfer into counterterrorism and the remaining 800-plus will work as neighborhood coordination officers.
Those cops are key to the new plan, with Bratton hopeful they will spend more than two hours per shift out of their patrol cars and mingling with local residents like the beat cops of yore.
“Everything old is new again,” said Bratton at a news conference in Washington Heights’ 34th Precinct stationhouse, home to a pilot program for the new approach.
“This is neighborhood policing, more intimate, neighborhood by neighborhood . . . Twenty years from now, we’ll look back at this time as a watershed event in the history of this department and the city.”
Bratton noted this was the NYPD’s first “plan of action” since 1994 — the first year of his first tour as commissioner under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
To put more cops on the street, the NYPD is also in the process of converting 415 positions currently held by cops into civilian jobs.
“The best change, the best reform happens at the grass roots,” said de Blasio. “Instead of a top-down approach where everything started when there was a problem . . . we are now doing a bottom-up approach where the officer knows the community, the community knows the officer.
“We stop the problem in many cases before it even happens,” the mayor said. “It’s neighborhood policing. It’s preventative policing.”
Aston drug dealers ploughed car into a tree during crack and heroin run
Harees Mahmood, 18, and Mohammed Ismaeel, 20 were on drug run when car ploughed into tree in Erdington.
By Matt Lloyd 23 June, 2015
a drug dealer and his driver have been jailed after their car ploughed into a tree while on a run.
Police found heroin and crack cocaine in the vehicle when Harees Mahmood and Mohammed Ismaeel crashed on Gypsy Lane in Erdington.
Dealer Mahmood was left needing hospital treatment while Ismaeel fled the scene at 3.15pm on September 19.
In the wreck of the car police found 29 wraps of heroin worth £290 and 38 wraps of crack cocaine worth £380.
Too ill to be arrested and interviewed, Mahmood was treated in hospital and released.
But when police called at his Emscote Road home in Aston on October 2 they found a further 20 wraps of crack cocaine and 14 wraps of heroin.
A pair of digital scales and two wads of cash, one of £1,335 and another of £265 were also found.
Mahmood, who has previous convictions for possession of crack and heroin, pleaded guilty to four charges of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
Described as playing a significant role, he was sent to a young offenders institution for 30 months.
Ismaeel, of Albert Road, Aston, who was arrested later in October, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of Class A with intent.
However he has since been jailed for three-years-ten-months after being convicted of wounding and dangerous driving.
He was ordered to serve an extra 12 months on top of that sentence.
Jailing the pair at Birmingham Crown Court, His Honour Judge Paul Farrer QC said: “Mahmood you were released from hospital and went home, not having been arrested.
“A couple of weeks after police came to your family address to arrest you and found further drugs in your possession.
“You were not on bail but this second finding shows a real degree of persistence and is a substantial aggravating feature.
“I accept you are immature and have problems in your background, suffer from ADHD and had a difficult upbringing.
“That said, these offences are so serious they can only be met with a sentence of immediate detention.”
Ismaeel was told he played a lesser role, that of a driver, and that his sentence must be seen in relation to the three years-and-ten months he was already serving.
Tarlowchan Dubb, defending Mahmood, said a pre-sentence report on the teen made appalling reading.
Gateshead heroin gang rammed police cars and ran over detective during drugs bust
Members of a gang led by recently released cocaine kingpin David Charlton are today behind bars after a dramatic drugs bust in a West Denton car park
By Rob Kennedy 11 June, 2015
a drugs boss was caught running a heroin racket weeks after being released from prison for a cocaine plot - despite a dramatic bid for freedom when his gang rammed police cars and ran over a detective.
David Charlton was locked up for eight years in 2009 after operating a cocaine factory with his dad from their bathroom.
But after being let out of prison after serving half his sentence, Charlton was straight back to his old ways, this time with the help of his brother.
He was the kingpin in a Gateshead gang who were importing large amounts of high purity heroin into the North East from Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire.
Police were onto them and closed in to bust the gang as they met to do a deal in the car park at West Denton Retail Park, in Newcastle, near McDonalds and Go Outdoors.
But one of Charlton’s henchman rammed through police cars which had blocked them in, dragging another member of the gang along then flinging him to the ground as he desperately tried to get in the passenger door of the speeding car.
The driver for the Huddersfield group then followed through the blockade and ran over a detective, carrying him on the bonnet then throwing him to the ground.
Both cars were then involved in high speed crashes and police recovered a kilo of heroin and £32,930 in cash.
Now Charlton has been jailed for eight years and eight months as the gang were locked up for a total of more than 30 years after admitting the heroin conspiracy at Newcastle Crown Court.
Sentencing them, Judge Robert Adams told Charlton: “It’s fairly clear you were undeterred by the previous sentence and speedily returned to your criminal activities almost as soon as you could after your release.
Newbiggin burglar with 176 previous convictions targeted golf club steward as she slept
Nigel Gaffney has been jailed for breaking into the home of a woman at a golf club in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea leaving his victim terrified.
By Rob Kennedy 4 June, 2015
A golf club steward was burgled in the dead of night by a serial offender who has 176 previous convictions spanning four decades.
The woman was alone in her bed on the grounds of the Northumberland golf course when Nigel Gaffney broke in.
Gaffney lives just 400m from the club in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and keeps horses in a nearby field, a court heard.
He stood on a bucket to climb through a window of the woman’s home and stole her car and house keys as she slept.
The woman was woken by the sound of Gaffney’s waterproofs rustling in her house then heard him starting up her Renault Clio.
The 47-year-old burglar, who started offending at the age of 11, was caught after leaving behind fingerprints on the living room window.
As Gaffney was jailed, the woman told how the break-in has left her terrified.
She told Newcastle Crown Court: “It’s really scared me and even made me think about leaving my job.
“I’m very afraid to stay in the premises alone because I was sleeping alone in bed when he broke in.
“I don’t know what may have happened if he had come into the bedroom.”
The woman had fallen asleep around 1am on April 26 and around an hour later became aware of the sound of a waterproof jacket sliding on walls.
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw said: “She became aware her bedroom door was open and could see a window was open in the living room.
“The defendant had placed a bucket under the window and opened it fully and gained access.
“She was then aware of her car being taken from outside. As the car started up, her CD player began to play.”
The victim reported the burglary to police, who spotted the stolen Renault near Lynemouth at 5.45am.
Gaffney abandoned the car behind a skip at Alcan and fled.
He was arrested later and initially denied responsibility until he was confronted with the fingerprint evidence.
The 47-year-old, of Front Street, Newbiggin, who was already on a suspended prison sentence for a burglary in 2013, was jailed for two years after admitting the latest break-in and breaching the earlier sentence.
Mr Recorder Preston told him: “People feel violated and that their security is put in jeopardy when they know someone has invaded their home.
“They feel insecure and vulnerable for months, sometimes years, to follow.
“To have been woken during the burglary, as this lady was, must have been particularly terrifying.”
The court heard Gaffney’s 176 previous convictions go back as far as 1980.
David Comb, defending, said: “He first appeared before the courts at the age of 11, not long after his father left and his mother died shortly afterwards.
“He has been addicted to opiates since his late 20s and at the time of this offence he was quite severely in the grip of heroin addiction.
Prisoner progress affected by staff shortages at HMP High Down
The prison has since employed 15 new officers following the report that criticised the its reliance on duty staff.
By Charlotte Talbot 4 June, 2015
Staff shortages at HMP High Down seriously impeded progress of prisoners, a damning report has claimed.
The findings were published by chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick, following an unannounced inspection of the prison based outside Banstead.
The report, released on Thursday, said that since its last inspection in July 2011, outcomes for prisoners had deteriorated significantly.
It added that although improvements were now being made, progress was seriously impeded by serious staff shortages and a reliance on detached duty staff temporarily redeployed from other prisons.
Vacancies, a high number of bed watches and a lack of consistent staffing adversely affected many areas of the prison, which held about 1,100 men at the time of the inspection.
Other concerns included insufficient activity places, almost a third of prisoners were unemployed, and unemployed prisoners were locked in their cells for about 22 hours a day.
Mr Hardwick said: “There remained a number of areas of serious concern at HMP High Down. The prison management was aware of most of these, and despite serious staffing shortages, credible plans for improvement were being implemented.
“We saw impressive work by some individual staff.
“However, there was still a big job to do. It is essential now that vacancies are filled, more activity places are provided and that managers ensure greater consistency in the quality of work done across all areas of the prison.”
The report added management and oversight of the use of force was ‘inadequate’, record keeping was ‘poor’ and some incidents were not recorded. Also, there were no nationally accredited offender behaviour programmes offered, meaning some sex offenders were released without having their attitudes, thinking and behaviour addressed.
However, the inspectors noted despite the pressures it was under, the prison was focused on keeping prisoners safe, and that the number of self-harm incidents was low and staff provided ‘very compassionate and professional care’.
Haroon Ahmed: Criminal has been arrested, police say
Mr Ahmed had escaped HMP Dovegate prison by walking out with visitors.
By Chris Green 1 June, 2015
A robber who escaped from a high-security prison run by the outsourcing giant Serco by walking out with his visitors has been re-arrested, police have said.
Haroon Ahmed said he was escorted out of HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire last week after jokingly asking a prison officer: “Is it OK for me to go home?” The 26-year-old had been in jail since 2008, after being convicted of robbing a garage armed with a knife.
Over the weekend he claimed to have fled to Marbella on the Costa del Sol, where he sought legal advice. But on Monday morning he was arrested at an address in Nottingham – raising doubts over whether he had ever left the country at all.
Before he was arrested, Ahmed told reporters that he had “wanted to test out the security” of the Category B prison and that his brazen escape had not been planned. “I thought ‘I’ll give it a go’– and walked out of the door. That’s how easy it was. I just kept on walking,” he told the Sunday Mirror.
“I just got up when the visit was ending. I said to a prison officer ‘Is it OK for me to go home?’ as a joke. I just walked off with all the visitors and went through the security procedures. A prison officer escorted me to the gate,” he added in a separate interview with Sky News.
Ahmed is being held in a police station in Burton upon Trent. It is understood that he will not be returned to Dovegate but will instead be “upgraded” to a Category A prison, where only the most serious offenders who pose an immediate threat to the public are held.
Staffordshire Police said in a statement: “Haroon Ahmed, 26, who is from the Derby area, was arrested this morning in the Nottingham area and has been taken into custody. Detectives have been searching for Ahmed since his escape from HMP Dovegate prison last Wednesday where he was serving a sentence for robbery.
“We would like to thank the public and media for their help in sharing our appeals to find Ahmed. Our social media posts reached just under 300,000 people.”
Sources close to the prison, which has been run by the private company Serco since it opened in 2001, said Ahmed had managed to get away unnoticed during visiting hours despite being on the prison’s “watch list”. The jail currently houses more than 900 male inmates, most
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the manner of Ahmed’s escape was “bizarre” but may be explained by Dovegate’s high staff turnover, which often caused confusion.
“This is why you need ‘jailcraft’ – knowing how things work,” she said. “You do need experience and expertise. I’ve never heard of anybody just walking out. I’ve heard of helicopters and people tunnelling, but just walking out of a closed prison is extraordinary.”
His escape came just hours before the publication of a report by the Government’s prisons watchdog which raised concerns about “very tight” staffing levels at Dovegate. Inspectors said that, on some occasions, entire wings of the prison had been left unstaffed while inmates were out of their cells.
On Thursday police arrested his brother, Majeed Ahmed, 25, of Derby, and have charged him with assisting a prisoner in escaping from prison. He has been released on bail to appear before magistrates on 25 June.
A Serco spokesman said it was in the process of investigating the incident and would not be commenting further. Michael Guy, the firm’s director at HMP Dovegate, previously said the escape was being treated “extremely seriously”.
Jenny Chapman, Labour’s shadow Minister for Prisons, said: “The escape of this prisoner was farcical. If it featured in an episode of Porridge we'd be calling it far-fetched. Sadly, this episode is not funny, and has exposed serious failings in security. A violent man has made a laughing stock of our prison system.”
N E W Y O R K
Silk Road founder jailed for life and ordered to forfeit £120 million
The man who created the underground drug-selling website Silk Road has been jailed for life.
By Jimmy Nsubuga 30 May, 2015
Ross Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced in New York yesterday for orchestrating a scheme that enabled more than $200 million (£130m) of anonymous online drug sales using the digital currency bitcoin. A federal jury in February found him guilty of charges including distributing drugs through the Internet and conspiring to commit computer hacking and money laundering.
During sentencing US District Judge Katherine Forrest cited six deaths from drugs bought on Ross Ulbricht’s site and five people he tried to have killed.
‘It was a carefully planned life’s work. It was your opus,’ she said.
‘You are no better a person than any other drug dealer.’
The sentence also included an order to forfeit the $183.9m (£120m) fortune Ulbricht had amassed.
Ulbricht’s 2013 arrest shut down what prosecutors described as an unprecedented one-stop online shopping mall where the supply of drugs was virtually limitless. Outside of court Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel promised an appeal, calling the sentence unreasonable, unjust and unfair.
Ross Ulbricht, the man behind illegal online drug emporium Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday by Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan’s US district court for the southern district of New York.
by Sam Thielman on 29 May, 2015
Before the sentencing the parents of the victims of drug overdoses addressed the court. Ulbricht broke down in tears. “I never wanted that to happen,” he said. “I wish I could go back and convince myself to take a different path.”
The 31-year-old physics graduate and former boy scout was handed five sentences: one for 20 years, one for 15 years, one for five and two for life. All are to be served concurrently with no chance of parole.
The judge handed out the most severe sentence available to the man US authorities identified as “Dread Pirate Roberts”, pseudonymous founder of an Amazon-like online market for illegal goods.
“The stated purpose [of Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws,” Forrest told Ulbricht as she read the sentence.
Ulbrict had begged the judge to “leave a light at the end of the tunnel” ahead of his sentence. “I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age,” he wrote to Forrest this week. Prosecutors wrote Forrest a 16-page letter requesting the opposite: “[A] lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum is appropriate in this case.”
“I’ve changed. I’m not the man I was when I created Silk Road. I’m a little wiser. A little more mature and much more humble,” Ulbricht pled in court.
Forrest rejected arguments that Silk Road had reduced harm among drug users by taking illegal activities off the street. “No drug dealer from the Bronx has ever made this argument to the court. It’s a privileged argument and it’s an argument made by one of the privileged,” she said.
Silk Road was once the largest “dark web” marketplace for illegal drugs and other services. In March 2013 the secret site listed 10,000 items for sale, 7,000 of which were drugs including cannabis, MDMA and heroin. Prosecutors said Silk Road had generated nearly $213.9m (£140m) in sales and $13.2m in commissions before police shut it down.
Ulbricht was convicted in February after a four-week trial on all seven counts, from selling narcotics and money laundering to maintaining an “ongoing criminal enterprise”, a charge usually reserved for mob kingpins. Prosecutors said that he had gone so far as to solicit six murders for hire, although no charges were ever brought.
Throughout the trial, the defense suggested that Ulbricht was the victim of a complex hacking attack that left him looking like the fall guy. Given the evidence presented against Ulbricht, the pitch proved a hard sell to the jury.
Shelter boss says homeless need compassion not jail after murder of Cardiff beggar in prison
Huggard Centre boss Richard Edwards calls for support for those on the streets after the sentencing of Colin Capp for the murder of Darren Thomas
By Darren Devine 17 May, 2015
The head of a homelessness shelter says beggars need help rather than punishment after a man was killed in jail while serving time for pleading for handouts in Cardiff.
Head of the Huggard homelessness centre Richard Edwards made the comments in the wake of Colin Capp’s life sentence for murdering Darren Thomas.
Capp used a ballpoint pen to stab Thomas in the neck 100 times while he slept in their cell in Cardiff Prison in March 2014.
Thomas, 45, was inside for begging – he had breached an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) preventing him going into Cardiff city centre to plead for handouts
Edwards said: “I don’t feel it’s appropriate (to jail the homeless). I think we need to be looking first at the levels of support we can offer people who are engaging in street culture activity.”
Before Thomas was earlier jailed in 2011 a court hearing was told he would approach people “at random”. But police said he targeted lone women on their way to work in the morning, who felt intimidated.
He had stayed at Cardiff’s Huggard shelter for the homeless between May and August of 2012.
a news report from I R E L A N D
Prison service chief stresses import of rehabilitation
Prison officers’ conference told a ‘humane service’ is about rebuilding broken people.
By Conor Lally 9 May, 2015
The role of the prison system is to “build up” and “bring back” criminals by treating them with humanity, the head of the Irish Prison Service has said.
Michael Donnellan said while some luxuries extended to prisoners might seem too liberal, the prison service must try to get through to “angry” criminals, including those with a violent record in prison.
“To crush people more, in my experience, doesn’t really work. It makes people more angry. What you’ve got to try to do is build people up so we can have a safer society.”
He said the courts sentenced criminals to imprisonment as a punishment for their crimes. The prison service had no role in further punishing them.
“A humane prison service is about trying to take people who are broken and build them back up again,” he said.
“[But] no level of violence is tolerable. I’m very clear about that . . . we take all necessary steps including criminal convictions.”
Mr Donnellan made his comments in the closing session of the Prison Officers’ Association annual conference in Dromoland, Co Clare, after his management style had been strongly criticised by officers.
They have said violent prisoners, some who had attacked staff more than 100 times, had continued to enjoy rewards, days after stabbing officers.
The association said one prisoner who stabbed two officers in the head in Mountjoy last month was given €65 for his birthday nine days later and bought cake and fizzy drinks to mark the day. They claimed another inmate involved in over 200 disciplinary incidents, including attacks on staff, had been supplied with a fish tank to pacify him and plans were being considered for a small garden he could use. This was despite his record in prison being so violent that staff dealing with him were dressing in riot gear.
Channings Wood prisoner assaulted officer after she found his cell phone, court hears
PRISONER at HMP Channings Wood assaulted a female guard after she found him carrying a mobile phone.
By HEPaul Greaves 29 April, 2015
Adam Minton, 25, tried to throw the phone out of the window and run from his cell after staff made the discovery during a routine search.
He charged into the female prisoner officer pushing her into a hard metal door and injuring her chest.
Minton, from Wales, was inside serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence for robbery at the time of the incident in June 2013.
He said he was holding the phone for somebody else.
The defendant admitted causing actual bodily harm.
Prosecutor Angela Eagles said the female guard and a male colleague were carrying out a property check in Minton's cell when they found a phone in the prisoner's waist band.
As officers tried to search him Minton became aggressive and threw the phone towards the window.
"The assault occurred because two male prison officers tried to prevent the defendant leaving," said Ms Eagles.
The victim was standing in the way, she added.
"She is a slightly built woman in her mid-50s. The defendant charged towards her and towards the door with his arms raised and as he barged past her he pushed her into the hard metal door.
"As a result she was found later to have a trauma to her chest."
The woman needed some medical treatment and described the pain as 'excruciating'.
"It wasn't just the physical pain it was also psychological," said the prosecutor.
"This is the first time in 20 years that she had been assaulted and it came as quite a shock to her."
Ms Eagles said there was no evidence about what Minton was using the phone for.
"Somebody might want a phone to contact their nearest and dearest," she said.
"But it is also behind many of the problems prisons experience. Phones could be used in drug dealing, contacting witnesses and it is an undesirable item for somebody to have without permission."
Minton was eventually restrained by prison officers. During the scuffle he also kicked out at a second female prison guard, causing minor injuries.
He also pleaded guilty to assault by beatin
Staffing cuts blamed for violent attack on officer at Leicester prison
An inmate who seriously injured a prison officer had the opportunity to attack him because of national staffing cuts, a court heard.
By Suzy Gibson 20 Apr, 2015
The victim suffered facial fractures, a gashed head and bleeding in his eye when Jai Mitchell gained access to an upper landing where only two officers were on duty – guarding 105 prisoners.
Mitchell repeatedly punched the "completely defenceless" officer as he was sitting working at a computer in an office at HMP Leicester.
The second officer on the landing and an inmate, Dale Wright, intervened to stop the attack, Leicester Crown Court was told.
Mitchell (31), of Duke Street, off Regent Road, in the city centre, was jailed for four years for the attack.
He pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on August 11, while he was being held on remand for a crime of which he was later acquitted.
Stuart Lody, prosecuting at Leicester Crown Court, said inmates were not allowed to move between landings at that time, and there would normally have been an officer to stop it happening.
However, on the day of the attack Mitchell was able to gain access to an upper landing from a lower landing.
"Due to staffing cuts there were only two prison officers on landing duty, with 56 cells and 105 prisoners," said Mr Lody.
Before the cuts, there would have been four officers on duty.
The attack happened during one of the busiest parts of the day, when they had just opened up the cells.
Mr Lody said: "Mitchell was completely calm and collected when he went into the office and the victim was struck very hard, with five to eight blows to the same area of the face."
He said other prisoners joined Dale Wright and the second officer in protecting the victim from Mitchell's attack, while another inmate set off an alarm to get assistance.
"Mitchell was overpowered, but not without a real struggle," said Mr Lody.
Although Mitchell had a "shank", crafted from a pencil, it was not used.
The victim did not need surgery, but is still under the care of an eye specialist.