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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Matthew Clarke

Record Number of Texas Prison Guards Arrested

by Matthew T. Clarke

It has often been said that it?s hard to tell the cops from the crooks. In Texas this may be true for prison guards as well. In April 2006, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) released information indicating that record numbers of guards have been arrested in recent years.

The statistical data was obtained following a public records request by the Austin American-Statesman. Although the data did not indicate how many of the arrests were for felonies, some were for crimes as serious as capital murder of a child, murder, negligent homicide, arson, theft, bank robbery, promotion of child pornography, indecent exposure, impersonating a police officer, smuggling illegal aliens and possession of illegal drugs.

Lesser offenses included public intoxication, floating hot checks, bigamy, passing counterfeit money and interfering with a 911 call.

Notably missing from the information released by the TDCJ was the high-profile July 2004 arrest of Salvador ?Sammy? Buentello, Chairman of the State Classification Committee and assistant director of TDCJ?s Security Threat Group Management office, on multiple felony sexual assault charges. [PLN, June 2005]. Buentello pleaded guilty on March 31, 2006 to five Class A misdemeanors and one felony; he received ...

$143,774.55 Attorney Fee and Costs Award in New York EMSA Suit

by Matthew T. Clarke

On May 16, 2006, a New York federal district court magistrate recommended awarding $143,774.55 in attorney fees and costs to the attorneys who represented a prisoner in a civil rights action.

Byron Lake was a prisoner in the Schenectady County (New York) Jail. Due ...

Registration Requirements Expanded to Non-Sex Crimes and Unconvicted Offenses

by Matthew T. Clarke

Ohio and Illinois have recently expanded the scope of persons required to register with the state as sex offenders to include persons who have never been charged with or convicted of a sex crime.

In Ohio, the law was intended to register persons suspected of having committed a sex crime for which the statute of limitations has expired in the Ohio Attorney General?s Internet Civil Registry. To do this, the person requesting the registration requirement must only convince a judge that it is more likely than not that the crime occurred. The judge considers testimony and other evidence from both sides. No other state is considering such a registry.

The test case for the Ohio registry will likely be that of David Kelley, a Catholic priest from Mount Airy, Ohio, who is currently on administrative leave from the archdiocese of Cincinnati. Kelley is suspected of sexually abusing an elementary school student at the church?s school in the 1990s.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) lobbied for a bill to retroactively extend the two-year statute of limitations and allow hundreds of people who as children were abused by priests to file lawsuits or ...

Two Registered Sex Offenders Murdered in Maine

by Matthew T. Clarke

A violent criminal predator used Maine's sex offender registry web site to identify two sex offenders so he could murder them.

Stephen A. Marshall, 20, of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, used his laptop to methodically research the information posted on 34 registered sex offenders in Maine. He typed in his name to receive additional information, including the street addresses of the sex offenders. He used the addresses to locate William Elliot, 24, of Corinth, Maine, and Joseph Gray, 57, residing in Milo, Maine, whom he then murdered in their homes.

Elliot was nineteen when he was convicted in 2002 of having sex with his girlfriend, who was about to turn sixteen. Gray was convicted of sexually assaulting a child under fourteen. Had Marshall used an alias, police might never have discovered how he obtained the men's information.

On April 11, 2006, Marshall arrived at his 61-year-old father's home in Houlton, Maine. Two nights later he disappeared, along with his father's truck and three guns.

At 3:00 a.m. on April 14, 2006, Gray's wife, investigating why their dogs were barking, saw a man in a dark jacket outside their ...

Early Release Debacle Prompts Nevada Prison Director’s Resignation

Early Release Debacle Prompts Nevada Prison Director's Resignation

by Matthew T. Clarke

Jackie Crawford, director of the Nevada state prison system since May 2000, announced her resignation from the $116,000-a-year position on September 15, 2005. The announcement cited health issues -- a worsening back problem -- as the reason for stepping down. However, her resignation came amid controversy surrounding Crawford's approval of 98 early prisoner releases. Crawford was the first woman to head Nevada's prison system; she was replaced by Glen Whorton, the former deputy director of the Nevada DOC, who had retired in January 2005.

State government officials had praised Crawford as an innovative prison director who originated new programs benefiting both prisoners and the public. She was lauded for changing the way female prisoner and their children were treated, through parenting classes and other programs. The union that represents 800 of Nevada's prison guards, the State of Nevada Employee's Association (SNEA), however, was not as pleased with Crawford's performance. Both SNEA and the Nevada Corrections Association (NCA), which represents 450 state prison guards, criticized her for being soft on prisoners.

"This soft policy has made it progressively more dangerous for officers as inmates ...

U.S. Spends Record $185 Billion on Justice System is 2003

by Matthew T. Clarke

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Justice?s Bureau of Justice Statistics in April, 2006, the U.S. spent a record $185 billion for police protection, detention, and judicial and legal activities in 2003. This represented a 418% unadjusted increase over 1982 justice expenditures. Adjusting for inflation, real justice expenditures almost tripled.

Local governments funded 50% of the $185 billion while state governments accounted for another 33% of the expenditures. This means that state and local governments spent four times more on justice than on education and twice as much as they spent on public welfare. Justice expenditures equaled hospital and health care expenditures at the local and state level.

The justice system employed almost 2.4 million people in March 2003--58% of them at the local level and 31% at the state level. That month?s justice employee payroll was about $9 billion.

Justice expenditures increased as follows per U.S. citizen between 1982 and 2003: Overall-418%; detention-423%; police-241%; justice and legal expenditures-321%.

Federal intergovernmental justice expenditures increased from $189 million is 1982 to over $5.1 billion in 2003. This was driven by the creation of multiple large law ...

Vienna Convention Creates Individually Enforceable Rights

by Matthew T. Clarke

In a ground-breaking decision the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Vienna Convention) created individual rights to consular notification that may be enforced in a civil action. Thus, the Seventh Circuit allowed a former state prisoner who had not been afforded his Vienna Convention right to consular notification to sue, in federal court, the state officials who denied him those rights.

Tejpaul S. Jogi, a citizen of India and former Illinois state prisoner, was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm in Champaign County, Illinois. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve years in prison, but was removed to India after having served six of the twelve years.
During his incarceration, Jogi learned of his Vienna Convention right to consular notification. Because no state official had ever notified him of his Vienna Convention rights, he filed a lawsuit against various police and prosecution officials in federal court under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350. The ATS establishes jurisdiction for federal district court in cases where a tort is committed against an alien in violation of a treaty of the United States. The ...

Federal Judge Suspends Some Georgia Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

by Matthew T. Clarke

On June 29, 2006, e federal judge in Georgia granted class-action status and a temporary restraining order (TRO) suspending enforcement of some provisions of Georgias sex offender residency law (SORL), Ga.Code.Ann. § 42-15.

The SORL was passed in 2006 and included provisions prohibiting registered sex offenders (RSO) from living, working, or loitering within 1,000 feet of any area where minors congregate. This includes any public or private school bus stop. The effect of the law is to banish most sex offenders from their housing while prohibiting RSOs from living in, the vast majority of Georgia residences.

The law affects all Georgia RSOs. This is seen by many as draconian because some RSO are low-risk, non-violent offenders. For instance, Wendy Whitaker, 26, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the school bus stop provision, was convicted of having consensual sex with her 15-year-old boyfriend whey she was 17. She was sentenced to 5 years of probation, which she completed without incident. She also had no further charges following her probation. Despite her exemplary record, Whitaker was required to move from the 106-year-old bungalow she and her husband recently acquired in the tiny north Georgia village ...

Colorado Expands Private Prisons While Fining CCA for Understaffing

by Matthew T. Clarke

On June 28, 2006, Colorado assessed $126,000 in fines against Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for persistently understaffing two Colorado private prisons. The Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) also awarded contracts for new private prisons and the expansion of current private prisons to CCA and other private prison companies.

The fines were prompted by a state auditors report which blasted the private prison companies and recommended fines. [PLN, Apr. 2006, p. 18].
CCAs Kit Carson County Correctional Facility (KCCCF) in Burlington was fined $103,743 for short shifting 701 times during the ten-week period ending January 10, 2006. This meant that the prison was short about ten employees per day every day spread out among three shifts. The supervisor was missing for five shifts while the assistant supervisor was absent for 44 shifts. In October 2005, the DOC waived $46,000 in fines for KCCCF because it said it was unfair to strictly enforce a contract that was only a month old at the time.

CCAs Crowley County Correctional Facility (CCCF) in Olney Springs was fined close to $23,000 for short shifting 157 times during the ten weeks. CCCF had been previously granted a ...

Private Geo Prison in Texas Rocked By Prisoner Abuse, Disturbance and Escape

by Matthew T. Clarke

Recently, the Newton County Correctional Center (NCCC), a private prison in Newton, Texas run by the Boca Raton, Florida-based Geo Group, has experienced several incidents involving the out-of-state Idaho prisoners housed there. These incidents included a non-violent protest involving 85 prisoners, an escape, and the resignation of a deputy warden. Additionally, allegations of prisoner abuse were substantiated; Idaho prisoners have since been removed from the facility.

Idaho incarcerates 449 of its prisoners in out-of-state private prisons. Of those, 30 are incarcerated at a CCA prison in Minnesota and 419 are held at NCCC, one of 53 prisons nationwide operated by Geo Group, formerly known as Wackenhut.

Initially, Idahos out-of-state transfers were voluntary and had few problems. In October 2005, Idaho transferred 302 prisoner volunteers to Minnesota. However, overcrowding led Minnesotas prison system to exercise its primacy option on the bunk space in that states private prisons. Thus, 270 of the 302 Idaho prisoners were transferred hundreds of miles away to NCCC in Texas, something they neither volunteered for nor desired.

When they arrived at NCCC, Idaho prisoners discovered hotter temperatures and an austere prison life without many of the luxuries and privileges they were accustomed to ...

 

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