Aug 8, 2011

Buju moved

REGGAE star Buju Banton is now being transferred from the Pinellas County Jail in Florida to a correctional facility in Mississippi to begin serving his 10-year sentence.

Banton will be taken to the Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi.

A bed shortage at the Pinellas County Jail in Florida has forced US officials to move Buju Banton to a private corrections facility in Mississippi.

Defence attorney David Oscar Markus, who represented the embattled artiste, in his drug trial, told the Sunday Observer that United States magistrate James Moody recommended that Banton serve his sentence at a facility in Florida, but a shortage of beds caused him to be transferred to the Mississippi-based prison.

"The judge recommended that he serve his time in Florida, but there were no beds in Miami, and the ultimate decision was made by the Bureau of Prisons. We are hopeful that when a bed opens up down here (Florida) that we can get him transferred so that it is easier on his family (and us) to see him," Markus said.

The Adams County Prison has the capacity to house 2,232 male prisoners and is owned by the corrections management provider, CCA.

The company is the fifth-largest corrections system in the US and houses 75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities across that country.

CCA is a private corrections business which specialises in the design, construction, expansion and management of prisons, jails and detention facilities, as well as inmate transportation services.

The artiste was sentenced in the Sam Gibbons US Court in Tampa, Florida in June this year of conspiring to negotiate a drug deal in a police-controlled warehouse in Florida.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was arrested at his home in Tamarac, South Florida after almost a year of surveillance of telephone and live conversations and video recordings that included him tasting cocaine in a Saratoga warehouse.

He has consistently pleaded his innocence and maintained that he was entrapped by government informant Alexander Johnson, who he claims was paid US$50,000 to ensnare him.

The 38-year-old artiste has since signalled his intention to pursue higher education in the form of a master's degree in economics and political science while he is incarcerated.

His attorneys have also indicated that they are planning to appeal his sentence before a three-member panel of judges in an appellate court in Georgia.


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