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Articles by David Reutter

Florida DOC’s Policy Prohibiting Release of Sex Offenders Without Address Unconstitutional

Florida DOC's Policy Prohibiting Release of Sex Offenders Without Address Unconstitutional

by David M. Reutter

In October, 2005, a Florida Circuit Court has held that a Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) policy that requires a sex offender to provide a physical address or face indefinite imprisonment is unconstitutional.

Christopher A. Daughtry was convicted on June 23, 2000, of lewd or lascivious assault upon a child. He was sentenced to a split sentence of seven years imprisonment to be followed by five years of sex offender probation. Daughtry reached the end of his term of imprisonment on August 6, 2005. Before he was physically released, the FDOC performed a warrantless arrest for a purported violation of probation. The stated basis for the arrest was Daughtry's failure to provide an address where he would reside when released to probation.

Under Florida law, sex offenders with a victim under eighteen years of age are prohibited from "living within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, park, playground, or other place" where children regularly congregate. Florida law also requires FDOC to report information concerning sex offenders, including an offender's intended residence if known, to the Florida Department of Law ...

Florida's Department of Corruption

Florida's Department of Corruption

by David M. Reutter

An underlying principle of our penal system is to instill respect for the laws and rules that govern our society. As such, those charged with running our nations jails and prisons have an ethical obligation to set an example for all citizens, including employees under their watch and prisoners in their custody. Investigations of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), however, have revealed that more often FDOCS leaders are seeking to emulate the criminal acts of prisoners.

Where you follow, so shall you go. Prisoners, by their lot, are unemployed and confined in jails or prisons. As of August 2006, more than 50 key upper-level FDOC staff members have been fired or forced to retire. An additional 21, including former FDOC Secretary James V. Crosby, have been arrested and indicted. They are being transformed from the watchers to the watched.

To those familiar with FDOCs inner workings, the revelations come as no surprise. Everybody likes to use the phrase good ole boys club, thats what it is out there and they protect one another. There is a code of silence, says a former guard identified by First Coast News as Dave ...

Florida Prison Canteen Operators Offices Raided

Florida Prison Canteen Operators Offices Raided

by David M. Reutter

Agents from the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement raided the office of American Institutional Services (AIS) on June 7, 2006 and seized the companys business records. AIS ran weekend visiting park canteens within the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), and following the raid AIS was banned from further operations at FDOC facilities.

AIS was a subcontractor of St. Louis-based Keefe Commissary Network, which has operated all FDOC prison canteens since winning a no-bid contract in October 2003. [See: PLN, February 2006, p.22]. In 2004, Keefe took over operations of visiting park canteens and subcontracted with AIS to manage that part of its prison operations. Keefe has since taken over full operations of the visiting park canteens. We readily agreed to assume those duties, said Keefe spokesman Pat Farrell. Considering how prisoners and their families are being price-gouged, its understandable why Keefe was so eager to capitalize on that captive market.

A preliminary report indicated that FDOC was losing money on the visiting park canteen operations, but no explanation of how much money was being lost or how that occurred was given.

AIS is owned by Gainesville businessman ...

Floridas Civil Commitment Center Under Funded and Out-of-Control

Floridas Civil Commitment Center Under Funded and Out-of-Control

by David M. Reutter

When first created in 1999, Floridas Civil Commitment Center (FCCC) was hyped as a place to house sexually violent predators for protection of the public while providing sex offender treatment after completion of criminal sanctions.

Instead, FCCC has turned into a facility that treats less than one-third of its residents while releasing those who receive no treatment. To date, not one resident has completed the treatment regimen, but over 200 formerly-incarcerated sex offenders have been released from FCCC. A state audit found that FCCC failed to provide a therapeutic atmosphere; drug and alcohol use was routine, sex between staff and residents was not uncommon, pornography was available, and a racially-charged tension existed.

FCCC was created due to a 1998 law commonly referred to as the Jimmy Ryce Act, in memory of a 9-year-old Miami-Dade County boy who was kidnapped at gunpoint, sexually assaulted, murdered and buried inside several large planters by a handyman. The law allows for persons deemed sexually violent predators to be confined indefinitely beyond the expiration of their criminal sentence.

Initially, FCCC was located within a former drug treatment center adjacent to Martin Correctional Institution ...

Minnesota Court Invalidates Some Evidence Standard in Disciplinary Hearings for Fact-Finding

Minnesota Court Invalidates Some Evidence Standard in Disciplinary Hearings for Fact-Finding

by David M. Reutter

The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that a Minnesota Department of Corrections disciplinary hearing fact-finder must find by a preponderance of the evidence that a prisoner has violated a disciplinary rule before the Commissioner of Corrections can extend the prisoners date of supervised release for the rule violation. In so holding, the court held the some evidence standard of proof is inappropriate at the fact-finding level.

Before the Court was an appeal of a writ of habeas denial by the Washington County District Court, which was brought by Richard Carillo, a prisoner at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault (MCFF). Carillos petition alleged that on May 24, 2002, a fight broke out at MCFF while Carillo was on the prison baseball field with several other prisoners.

The fight caused guards to order prisoners to return to their living quarters. Lieutenant Susan Williams saw another prisoner fall in front of Carillo. She was about 50 yards away, and she radioed guards to intercept the next white person [who] comes in ****, [and] grab his ID. Williams then wrote Carillo a charge for disorderly conduct and assault of ...

Delaware Law: Punishing Prisoners for Reporting Sexual Abuse by Guards

by David M. Reutter

In July 1980, the state of Delaware criminalized all sex in its prisons. Critics cry that the law requires a prisoner to be convicted even when the sex is non-consensual, preventing prisoners from reporting sexual abuse by guards.

Delawares law prohibits sexual intercourse and deviate sexual intercourse, but does not apply to oral sex. A conviction can merit up to two years in prison. Only two guards have been convicted since the laws enactment.

One of those is ex-guard Rudolph Hawkins, who in 1996 pled no contest to having sex with Valerie Stewart. When Stewart, who was serving time for robbery, became pregnant, she named Hawkins as the father. DNA supported that claim. The baby was taken by the state and put up for adoption.

Hawkins not only lost his job as a guard, but also faced a civil suit filed by Stewart. A jury ordered Hawkins to pay Stewart $25,000 in compensation and $100,000 in punitive damages. I felt empty-like I didnt have a soul-like the walking dead, Stewart told the jury. According to her lawyer, she only has an IQ of 80 and the mental capacity of a 14-year-old.

Womens rights advocates ...

Years Long Pattern of Medical Neglect Defeats Summary Judgment

by David M. Reutter

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a prisoners claim showing years of failure to adequately treat a medical problem is sufficient to defeat summary judgment. This civil rights action was filed by Wisconsin prisoner Donald F. Greeno, over the alleged failure of prison employees to adequately respond to his vomiting and severe heartburn, symptoms that appeared in 1994 and became progressively worse until he was eventually treated in 1997 for an esophageal ulcer.

The district court initially dismissed Greenos suit for failure to state a claim. In an unpublished opinion, the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that Greenos complaint stated a claim for deliberate indifference to an objectively severe medical condition. On remand, the district court granted the prison employees summary judgment and denied Greenos motion for appointment of counsel.

Greeno alleged that he first began experiencing severe heartburn in the summer of 1994 at Racine Correctional Institution. He was given antacid and instructed to avoid spicy foods. By the time of his July 1995 transfer to Fox Lake Correctional Institution, Greenos condition included severe heartburn and vomiting. He was given Maalox. Despite advising Dr. José Lloren that his family had a ...

Florida DOC Cuts Prisoner Collect Call Costs by 30%

by David M. Reutter

For over 10 years, the family and friends of Florida prisoners have paid exorbitant costs to communicate with their imprisoned loved one. I dont think thats right, said interim secretary of Floridas Department of Corrections, James McDonough, upon hearing of those costs. Why are (the families of prisoners) being punished? In April 2006, McDonough took action to reduce those phone costs by 30%.

McDonough knows what it is like to be separated; he has three sons in the military overseas. He said he pays 3 cents a minute to make international calls.

In contrast, a collect call from a Florida prisoner to an in-state party costs $1.50 when you pick up the phone and 26 cents a minute after that. Calls out-of-state are upwards of $20 for a 15 minute call.

FDOCs contract with its phone vendor: Verizon/MCI requires that FDOC receive 53 percent of all call revenue. In fiscal year 2004-2005, FDOC netted $17.6 million in phone revenue. The reduction of 30 percent will reduce that take by about $10 million. Verizon/MCIs revenue will not be affected.

Although this action may in fact cause a decrease in the return to the ...

Floridas Felon Disenfranchisement Law Upheld

Floridas Felon Disenfranchisement Law Upheld

by David M. Reutter

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, has held that Floridas felon disenfranchisement law does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Voting Rights Act. Before the Court was the appeal filed on behalf of all Florida citizens who have been convicted of a felony and have completed all terms of their incarceration, probation, and parole, but who are barred from voting under the Florida Constitutions disenfranchisement law. That appeal came after a Florida federal district court granted summary judgment for the state.

The plaintiffs alleged that racial animus motivated adoption of the disenfranchisement law in 1868, and that an animus remains legally operative today, notwithstanding the fact that Florida altered and reenacted the provision in 1968.

The Eleventh Circuit, turning to the Equal Protection claim, said that a states decision to permanently disenfranchise convicted felons does not, in itself, constitute an Equal Protection violation. The plaintiffs were required to plead facts to show that Floridas current disenfranchisement law intentionally discriminates on the basis of race.

The Court held the plaintiffs failed to make such a showing. Throughout history, criminal disenfranchisement provisions have existed ...

Delaware Legislature Rejects Bill Upgrading Prison Health Care

by David M. Reutter

After a public outcry condemned the health care services provided to prisoners held by the
Delaware Department of Corrections, (DDOC) the Delaware Legislature has passed a bill that
provides an inflation adjustment for services and created three oversight positions. PLN
reported upon the lack of health care provided DDOC prisoners. See: PLN, December 2005,
cover.

The legislature rejected a larger bill that would have required all prisoners entering DDOC to be
tested for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. Guards would be trained as medical caregivers
and the medical vendor, Correctional Medical Services, (CMS) would be required to send prisoner
grievances to DDOC for resolution and provide records of prisoner deaths for review within three
days.

The bill would have required special care provisions for pregnant prisoners, which seems to be a
particularly lacking area. In March 2005, a female prisoner gave birth to premature twins in a
bathroom stall at the Baylor Womens Correctional Institution. She complained afterwards that a
CMS nurse ignored her complaints that she was experiencing labor contractions, which started
24 hours prior to the births.

The legislative bill would have required guards to be advised when a prisoner is pregnant and all ...

 

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