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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: May, 1990

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Volume 1, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. One Day School Boycott at Monroe (p 1)
  2. Parole Board's 0.100 Abuses (p 2)
  3. The Terror (p 2)
  4. Study Finds 23% of Young Black Men Under Criminal Sanctions (p 3)
  5. New Prison Spending Jumps by 73% (p 3)
  6. Did DOC Employees Murder Michael Franke? (p 3)
  7. Ex - Con Charged in Francke Murder (p 4)
  8. Most Punished for Exercising Right to Jury Trial (p 4)
  9. Guard Charged With Aiding Escape (p 4)
  10. Only Five States Not Under Court Order, Study Says (p 4)
  11. Prisoner Gets $500 in Records Suit (p 5)
  12. Filthy Cell Violates Eighth Amendment (p 5)
  13. $241,000 Damages Upheld in Beating (p 5)
  14. Requirement of Buzz Words on Envelope of Incoming Legal Mail Killed (p 6)
  15. Walla Walla Installs Fourth Bunk (p 6)
  16. Witnesses at Disciplinary Hearings (p 6)
  17. Who Are We (p 7)
  18. SRA Offenders Get Good Time Off Term (p 7)
  19. Prison Revolt in England (p 8)
  20. Hungerstrike in Spain (p 8)
  21. Political Prisoners Beaten (p 9)
  22. "The Other Face of Europe" (p 9)
  23. Mark LaRue Gets 14 More Years (p 10)

One Day School Boycott at Monroe


The statewide practice for enforcing attendance at prison schools is simple: three unexcused absences and they drop you. Well, some prisoncrat decided that inmate attendance at the Reformatory was not up to par with those at other facilities. Rather than merely enforce the standard three absence drop rule, however, some mental giant got the idea of infracting any prisoner who was late for class and did not possess one of the narrow justifications approved by the administration. According to this new rule, it made no difference if you had not missed a single class in years, if you were late just once without a proper excuse you'd be written up for a violation of WAC 104.

The response of Monroe prisoners was not unpredictable. Many prisoners quit the school on the spot, others dropped nonessential classes, and a little under a third of the remaining students registered their displeasure with a boycott of all classes. The boycott was for one day.

The end result of this punishment approach to education is that the school has far fewer students now than it would have had officials maintained attendance the same way it is done ...

Parole Board's 0.100 Abuses

M.H., Walla Walla

People should start giving some consideration to how the Parole Board is conducting the 0.100 paroleability hearings. The Myers, Addleman, and other cases, as well as the so-called 1400 Bill, all tell the Board to restructure our minimum terms in a manner reasonably consistent with the SRA.

So the Board spent years and about a million dollars restructuring our minimum terms reasonably consistent with the SRA and the applicable court rulings.

But now when we get to the end of that restructured minimum term the Board sees us, deems us unfit for parole, gives us no written reasons and adds anywhere from 12 months to the end of your maximum term to your minimum.

Now excuse me, but I believe legislative intent when they enacted the SRA was to slowly phase out the old guidelines people, and to decrease Board membership according to workload.

It seems to me the Board has conspired with one another to undermine legislative intent and the rulings of the Supreme Court.

But how do we prove this? Well, we need to get all of us old guidelines people who have gone before the Board for 0.100 hearings and got ...

The Terror


The still air of my prison cell, thick with smoke, swallows my brooding thoughts, spitting them back at me stinking of loneliness.

I stare at tobacco stained fingers, wondering at how I can bemoan the years taken from me, and yet steal some more.

And somewhere still, in an endless night, I am a woman's nightmare. Never a day gone by without testimony of her fright.

The years tumble onward, over an over one another.

Over and over she floods her mind, hoping to wash away the stubborn terror that wears my face.

D.P. (A social prisoner convicted of rape.)

Study Finds 23% of Young Black Men Under Criminal Sanctions

Nearly one out of every four black men between the ages of 20 and 29 nationwide is in prison or jail or on probation or parole on a given day, according to a new study based on records of the Justice Department and the Bureau of the Census. The 23.0% "criminal justice control rate" for young black men compared to 6.2% for white males and 10.4% for Hispanic males in the same age bracket.

The findings of the study actually understate the impact of the problem. If all of the offenders who were processed through the system at any one time were counted, the proportion of black males subjected to criminal sanctions would be even higher.

The situation is expected to get worse as a result of the "war on drugs" launched by the Bush administration. In Florida, for example, blacks make up 73% of all drug offenders, but they make up only 54% of prison admissions for other types of offenses.

To get a copy of the report: "Young Black Men and the Criminal Justice System: A Growing National Problem," write to:

The Sentencing Project
918 F Street NW, Suite 501
Washington, DC 20004

New Prison Spending Jumps by 73%


Federal and state corrections' systems will spend more than 6.7 billion on new prison construction in the period 1989-90, an increase of 73% compared to 1987-88, according to Corrections Compendium, a corrections research and information service.

The prison systems in all 50 states and the federal government participated in the study. The cost per bed ranged from $995 at a minimum-security facility in Alabama to $132,000 in the case of a medium/maximum security prison in Hawaii. The average cost per bed was $52,000, up 28% since 1987-88.

California led the states in prison construction spending, with $1.29 billion allocated to build 15,030 new prison beds. The survey also found that eight states have contracts with private firms to build and operate correctional facilities.

Did DOC Employees Murder Michael Franke?

On the evening of January 17, 1989, Oregon Department of Corrections Director Michael Francke left his office at the Dome Building in Salem. He never made it out of the parking lot. Someone had stabbed him in the heart. He died on his office building's side porch.

The initial investigation of Francke's death centered on parolees in the area and prisoners in the state penitentiary who may have held a grudge of some sort. Then, about a month after the murder, rumors and reports began to surface about corruption within the Oregon Department of Corrections, and the agency's possible link to Francke's death.

Many of the allegations were first made in a Portland newspaper, The Oregonian, where a columnist started asking a lot of questions about the police investigation of the murder. The first article quoted Patrick Francke, Michael's brother: "You want to know what I think? I think he discovered something within the (Oregon) system ... something that he was getting ready to turn over."

In the next year the columnist published 50 articles dealing with Francke's murder and the Department of Corrections. Other papers, like the Salem Stateman Journal and Willamette Week, also ...

Ex - Con Charged in Francke Murder

Frank E. Gable has been charged with murder in connection with the killing of Oregon DOC Director Michael Francke. The ex-con Gable said: "I don't know how I first got implicated, but I'm real scared it's going to end in me getting (convicted) for something I ain't did."

Gable came to the attention of Portland police after a county jail inmate serving time with the ex-con said Gable had confessed to him. Gable was in the county jail for assaulting his wife, and was to be released in two more days. Francke was allegedly killed during a car burglary.

Most Punished for Exercising Right to Jury Trial


In 89% of the estimated 583,000 felony convictions in state courts during 1986, the defendant pleaded guilty instead of standing trial before a judge or jury, the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said on February 25th. The Bureau said that a jury convicted 8% and a judge convicted 3% following a bench trial.

Larceny convictions had the highest percentage of guilty pleas (92%) while murder had the lowest (58%). Some of the conclusions of the report verified what most prisoners already know:

An estimated 71% of the felons convicted by a jury received a prison sentence, compared to 50% of those convicted by a judge and 44% of those who pleaded guilty.

Prison sentences were on the average twice as long for felons convicted by a jury (159 months) as for felons who pleaded guilty (72 months). The average sentence for a felon convicted by a judge at a bench trial was 103 months.

An estimated 47% of the people convicted by a jury of manslaughter or murder were sentenced to life in prison or to death, compared to 12% tried by a judge and 15% of ...

Guard Charged With Aiding Escape


An Illinois correctional officer was arrested in mid-February for allegedly providing inmates with hacksaw blades to aid in their escape from Joliet Prison.

According to Nic Howell, the public information officer for Illinois DOC, the 13 year veteran guard, William Smith, was charged with two counts of aiding an escape and other charges after six prisoners broke out of the maximum security facility.

One of the prisoners has not yet been captured.

Only Five States Not Under Court Order, Study Says


Only five states (Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, N. Dakota and Vermont) are not currently involved in major litigation over prison conditions, says a newly released report from the ACLU's National Prison Project. Another finding of the seven page document, "Status Report: The Courts and the Prisons," is that 41 states are operating under court orders to reduce crowding and/or correct unconstitutional conditions. This annual report on prison litigation is available for $3 from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Prisoner Gets $500 in Records Suit


A prisoner in Michigan State sent a letter to DOC stating he'd received a major misconduct infraction and was found guilty. He then requested copies of the misconduct report, all statements and documents submitted at the hearing, the hearing investigation report and the ...

Filthy Cell Violates Eighth Amendment


A prisoner brought a civil rights action against the supervisory officers at the facility at which he was confined, claiming a violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. A federal appeals court found in favor of the prisoner.

The evidence showed that the inmate was confined for two years in a cell covered with filth and human wastes and that he was denied access to proper cleaning supplies, laundry service, and barber privileges. His mattress was torn and stained with urine and human waste, as were the walls, door, and food slot.

The appeals court upheld the thousands of dollars in damages awarded to the prisoner. It also noted that "proof of actual knowledge of constitutional violations is not" an absolute prerequisite for imposing supervisory liability. Reckless disregard will also suffice. The continued violations over a two-year period, despite repeated requests were sufficient to hold the defendants liable.

The court rejected the defendants' claim of qualified immunity. It noted that the complaint did not allege that the prison system itself had mistreated him through improper policies, but rather that the defendants had ignored applicable prison policies. They were "not authorized to ...

$241,000 Damages Upheld in Beating


A prisoner riot broke out when thirty prisoners forced their way into an area where they fought guards who were trying to remove a drunken prisoner. During the fight, one guard was fatally stabbed and several others wounded. When the disturbance quieted down, prison ...

Requirement of Buzz Words on Envelope of Incoming Legal Mail Killed

A prisoner brought a suit challenging a Bureau of Prisons policy (P.S. 5265.8) mandating that letters from law firms, the courts, or any other communication which is considered privileged, be marked with special buzz words on the outside of the envelope. If the words "Legal/Special Mail - Open Only in Presence of Inmate" are not on the envelope, then the letter would not be recognized as legal and guards would read the letter.

The U.S. District Court ruled that the Bureau of Prisons "is hereby enjoined from opening outside of the plaintiff's presence or reading any incoming mail to him bearing an apparently genuine return address of an attorney, law firm, any court official or any government official, whether or not there are any particular markings on the envelope." The BOP is appealing the case. Stotts v. Meese, Case No. 86-813-CRT-DE, U.S.D.C. Raleigh, NC. The attorney for the prisoner was Marvin Sparrow, P.O. Box 27611, and Raleigh, NC 27611.

Walla Walla Installs Fourth Bunk


by M. H.

We here at the Walls are also experiencing the governor's state of emergency. Our captors have shut down 8-Wing for remodeling. In 6-Wing they have just installed the 4th bunk on A and B tiers, and on the rest of the tiers they've just put in the 3rd bunk. So they are getting ready to pack us in like sardines. On would think the governor would invoke the law allowing some of us to get out earlier, but then he would not be able to build more prisons.

Also the police have gotten super petty here. You can't even loan your neighbor a stinger without getting a minor tag. Yet convicts are going to take care of their brothers, a book, a magazine, a pack of smokes, couple of shots of coffee, a stinger. That's just being human. Pretty soon breaking the law will mean nothing to us since we have to do it every day.

Witnesses at Disciplinary Hearings

The plaintiff prisoner was confined in a special housing unit following an alleged assault upon a guard who was attempting to break up a fight between two inmates. At his disciplinary hearing, he requested that the two inmates be called as witnesses. The hearing officer declined to call either of ...

Who Are We

Welcome to the first issue of Prisoners' Legal News. Your editors are Paul Wright and Ed Mead.

While we have no "party line," this newsletter will tend to reflect our class orientation. If you do not want to be on the mailing list, just write to our outside address and say so. We will drop you. If you want to continue receiving the newsletter, on the other hand, we will expect you to support us with donations of stamps or similar assistance.

The last publication I worked on was The Abolitionist, which started out to support the struggle against the digital rectal probes in the Intensive Management Units. That battle was ultimately won, and soon thereafter the newsletter fell in on itself. This time we have a new name for our paper, and a new issue as well. We are interested in getting the legislature, and/or the courts, to require that all indeterminate sentence cases be released from prison as soon as they have completed the amount of time they would have served if sentenced under the SRA. And that those individuals who have already served more than would have been imposed under the SRA be released immediately.

We ...

SRA Offenders Get Good Time Off Term


On March 29, 1990, in the case of In re Mota (Case No. 56284-9), the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Corrections must give good time credit for pre-sentence confinement (jail time) to defendants who committed crimes after July 1, 1984, the effective date of the SRA. To do otherwise violates the equal protection clause.

In so ruling, the court noted that rehabilitation was no longer a substantial state interest under the SRA, and administrative inconvenience involved in computing such credits was not a substantial state interest. The court reasoned that because the very purpose of the SRA was punishment, rehabilitation could no longer be a consideration (this was contrary to their ruling in State v. Phelan, 100 Wn.2d 508, for pre-SRA offenders.)

It would appear now that a "sharp" jailhouse lawyer could argue that to be "reasonably consistent" with the SRA, pre-SRA offenders must also be given good time credit off their jail time.

Prison Revolt in England

Prisoners in the horribly overcrowded Strangeways prison in Manchester, England rose in revolt on 1 April, 1990 protesting the conditions that had 1,660 men in a prison built in 1868 for 970 men. The prison does not have plumbing in the cells and the prisoners live in squalor. They are rarely allowed out of their cells except for weekly showers, eating and one hour's exercise a day in a dirty, crowded yard.

Prisoners took control of the prison, holding demonstrations on the prison's roof for several days. It was several days before prison officials, backed by riot police, were able to retake the prison. Damage is estimated in the millions of pounds and the prison will not be able to be re-opened for some time. There were unconfirmed reports that several sex offenders had been killed. The prisoners had not made any demands during the riot.

Hungerstrike in Spain

Since November 30, 1989, 42 political prisoners in Spain, mainly members of GRAPO (October 1st Revolutionary Anti-Fascist Groups) have been on hunger strikes demanding their release from isolation and control units and an end to the campaign of repression against them, which includes dispersion through the Spanish State, beatings, psychological torture, etc. 30 of the prisoners are now in critical condition because of the strike and their lives are in danger.

GRAPO prisoners are in prison for acts of armed resistance to the so-called social democratic state and the preceding Franco dictatorship. Inside prison these guerrillas have maintained a collective life, gained through a 1981 hunger strike that left one GRAPO member dead. The Spanish State has been slowly taking away these gains with transfers and isolation tactics. Last fall the GRAPO prisoners responded with a hunger strike to which the government quickly gave in to. After the recent elections in Spain however, they reneged on their agreement and started their campaign of harassment and isolation over again. The hunger strike resumed.

As a result of the serious health conditions of the prisoners the state has responded by force-feeding the prisoners. However they aren't being fed enough to keep ...

Political Prisoners Beaten

Novara, Italy On January 30, 1990, 20 political prisoners (members of the Red Brigades) held a sit-in, in the political prison to protest the continued solitary confinement of a fellow prisoner based on a guard's trumped up allegations. After 30 minutes of refusing to return to their cells, the prison warden led 80 guards armed with fire hoses, clubs and shields to clear the yard. Many prisoners suffered broken hands and serious head injuries, some were beaten on the way to the prison dispensary.

The beating of the political prisoners is part of the Italian government's pacification campaign to force its political prisoners to renounce their political ideals and identities. Another attempt to crush its internal opposition.

"The Other Face of Europe"

"The Other Face of Europe"

This is the title of a book printed by the atalan Solidarity Committee in Barcelona. The book deals with the huge number of political prisoners being held throughout Western European prisons and jails because of their political beliefs and activities. The book contains sections in English, Spanish, French, German and Catalan. It has essays and articles written by political prisoners in Ireland, France, West Germany and Spain.

The book has a lot of information in it about the actual situation of the prisoners in Europe. The book concentrates on the special repressive conditions meted out ot these political prisoners. It goes a long way to exposing the contradictory claim by many countries, including this one, that claim to have no political prisoners, yet hose who claim to be politically motivated are singled out for harsher sentencing and extremely repressive conditions once they arrive in prison.

The book costs $5.00 for "free" people, it's free to prisoners. Available from:

Apdo. De Correos 2192
08010 Barcelona Spain

Mark LaRue Gets 14 More Years


After spending more than five years in Walla Walla's segregation unit as a result of his political work on the inside, Mark LaRue was subjected to an involuntary out-of-state transfer. He was then bounced from one jurisdiction to another for nearly ten more years. Finally, while housed in segregation unit at the Joliet prison in Illinois, Mark took several prison employees hostage in an effort to secure his return to Washington. The incident ended after Mark secured interviews with the news media, and after he was promised that he would be leaving Illinois as soon as his trial for hostage taking was over.

The legal proceedings are now completed, resulting in Mark receiving an additional 14 years, to be served after his Washington State time is done. Mark is now awaiting transfer to another jurisdiction, hopefully back to Washington.


Federal Prison Handbook



Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual



Federal Prison Handbook




Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual