Florida considering a ban on latest Esquire over story about guard

Friday, August 27th 1999, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Prisoners in Florida will be allowed to
read about a California guard "who did some very bad things" to
inmates despite concern that the Esquire magazine article is
"dangerously inflammatory."

A three-member Department of Corrections panel decided late
Thursday that prisoners should have access to the magazine, which
tells the story of Roscoe "Bonecrusher" Pondexter, a guard at
Corcoran State Prison in California.

The September issue appears at the same time Florida prisons are
dealing with the recent death of an inmate and an investigation
into whether guards killed him.

magazine describes "how a nice guy, Roscoe Pondexter,
became a brutal guard."

Officials at the North Florida Reception Center prison in Lake
Butler intercepted an inmate's copy of the magazine after reading
"The Making of Bonecrusher" by Richard Stratton.

They passed the story to the corrections department's literature
review committee, which decided the magazine should be allowed,
corrections spokesman C.J. Drake said today.

He said committee members felt the story had no direct bearing
on Florida's prison system and wasn't particularly inflammatory

"The article appeared to be stating the facts as opposed to an
article that would have advocated any course of action," Drake

The story contains Pondexter's account of how he and other
Corcoran guards abused inmates, including forcing them to fight
"like gladiators."

"Bonecrusher was part of this gang of guards that was said to
wager on these fights, part of this gang that shot and killed seven
of the gladiators when the fights didn't go as planned, or shot and
killed them just for sport," the story says.

David Granger, Esquire's editor in chief, said before the
committee's decision he was "struck that they would find our piece
so powerful it could cause problems."

At Corcoran, eight officers were indicted for allegedly staging
gladiator-style fights between inmates. An independent panel found
last fall that deadly force was not justified in 24 of 31 inmate
shootings at Corcoran from 1989 to 1995; guards shot some inmates
engaged in fistfights, killing seven of them. Five others were
charged with sexually assaulting an inmate.

Pondexter was never charged and has been granted immunity in
exchange for his testimony against other guards. He was fired for
beating up a prisoner.


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