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Contempt Ruling Against LA Prisoncrats

U.S. district judge Frank Polozola ruled that Louisiana Secretary of Corrections Richard Stalder and Angola Warden Burl Cain be held in contempt. He ordered them each to contribute $1,000 to a victim compensation fund. Stalder, Cain, other wardens, assistant wardens and assorted prisoncrats were all ordered by judge Polozola to take a "refresher course" on the U.S. Constitution, particularly the First Amendment right to free speech.

The contempt ruling resulted from LA state prison officials failing to produce documents the court requested and for violating an order not to harass a prisoner. The prisoner, William Kissinger, had been employed in a private prison industry job at an Angola prison relabeling plant. Kissinger wrote a letter to federal health officials that cans of evaporated milk and tomato paste with old expiration dates were being relabeled and shipped out of the prison. "The bottom line is that Kissinger, a two-time murderer, was taking actions to protect the public," judge Polozola said. "The DOC was taking actions that would hurt the public and protect the contract of friends."

After Kissinger wrote two letters to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in which he said the can relabeling operation was "shrouded in secrecy" and "stinks of impropriety," he was retaliated against by prisoncrats. Kissinger was transferred to a farm laborer job in a distant corner of the 18,000 acre Angola prison complex. He had been serving in the main prison as a legal advisor to other prisoners. Prison officials seized the computer Kissinger had used to assist other prisoners and to write the letters to the FDA. "Clearly this was retaliation," said Kissinger's attorney. "The inmate was transferred because of bad words. There is not an iron curtain between inmates and the First Amendment."

Polozola agreed that transferring the prisoner and seizing his computer amounted to harassment, in violation of an earlier order he had issued to prevent officials from retaliating against Kissinger.

Source: Corrections Digest

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