Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: October, 1999

Issue PDF
Volume 10, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. Insanity, Brutality and Fatality: Florida's X-Wing Marks the End of the Line (p 1)
  2. Death Row Eulogy (p 3)
  3. Worst of the Worst? (p 4)
  4. From the Editor (p 5)
  5. Florida Jail Workers Busted in Bribery Investigation (p 5)
  6. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Discovery) (p 6)
  7. Georgia Court Access Consent Decree Terminated (p 8)
  8. Arizona DOC Settles Sexual Abuse Suit (p 9)
  9. ADOC Settlement Terms (p 9)
  10. FBI Investigates CCA-Run INS Center in New Jersey (p 10)
  11. Pro Se Texas Prisoner Awarded $1.08 Million in Failure to Protect Suit (p 10)
  12. Media Interview Protected Free Speech (p 11)
  13. Florida Jail Guard Found Guilty in Prisoner's Death (p 11)
  14. Tough on Prisoners Florida Sheriff Avoids Prison (p 11)
  15. Supreme Court Holds PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Inapplicable to Work Performed Before Enactment (p 12)
  16. PLRA Attorney Fee Limits Not Retroactive in Second Circuit (p 13)
  17. Utah Jail Settles ADA Suit (p 14)
  18. $90,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Suicide (p 14)
  19. CDC Settles Excessive Force Suit for $1,000 (p 14)
  20. Private Transportation Company Liable Under 42 USC § 1983 (p 15)
  21. Michigan's Female Prisoners Have Educational Parity (p 15)
  22. Go Directly to Jail: At the Academy in Alpharetta, Men Pay Big Bucks to Pretend They're in Prison (p 16)
  23. Concealment of Info Tolls Statute of Limitations (p 19)
  24. Texas Settles with Hanged Prisoner's Family (p 19)
  25. Prison Officials Waive Untimely Asserted Heck Defense (p 20)
  26. Racial Segregation in Double Celling Unconstitutional (p 21)
  27. Georgia Parole Regulation Still Ex Post Facto (p 21)
  28. Feds Not Obligated to Accept State-Ordered Concurrent Sentence (p 22)
  29. CDC Whistleblower Gets $1.7 Million (p 23)
  30. Alabama Prison Officials Held in Contempt Again (p 23)
  31. News in Brief (p 24)
  32. BOP Sentence Reduction Exclusion Based on INS Detainer Upheld (p 25)
  33. Perp Walks Unconstitutional According to New York Federal Court (p 25)

Insanity, Brutality and Fatality: Florida's X-Wing Marks the End of the Line

Upon the ranks of such as we,
They enforce their mastery.
And yet we bleed the same as they,
The tie that binds us day to day.
The public interest uppermost,
So some say while playing host.
But if the public really knew
The kind of hell their prisons brew ...

Death Row Eulogy

By William Van Poyck

On July 17, 1999, my friend and co-defendant, Frank Valdes, was stomped and beaten to death in his X-Wing cell by a large group of Florida State Prison (FSP) guards. As FSP prisoners know only too well, this beating was uncommon only because Frank actually died ...

Worst of the Worst?

Prison officials have attempted to justify the cruel and inhumane conditions of confinement in control units by claiming that only the "worst of the worst" are confined in them. PLN editor Paul Wright has made the rounds of Washington state's control units. At the Intensive Management Unit in Shelton ...

From the Editor

A PLN supporter recently commented that I must find editing PLN incredibly depressing given the content of the July, 1999, issue: medical neglect, rape, extrajudicial murders, brutality, sensory deprivation control units, random shootings, etc.

As an optimist, I see the prison struggle glass as being half full rather than half ...

Florida Jail Workers Busted in Bribery Investigation

On Dec. 4, 1998, fourteen Miami-Dade County jail employees were indicted on state bribery charges and federal marijuana and cocaine trafficking conspiracy charges. Five other jail workers were suspended pending the outcome of internal investigations.

The indictments followed a year-long probe by Miami-Dade police and the FBI that uncovered rampant ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Discovery)

In my last column, I discussed discovery generally and introduced the tools of discovery. In this column I provide more detail on some specific discovery topics: how "mandatory disclosure" rules in effect in many federal district courts can be used to your advantage; how to decide what must be disclosed ...

Georgia Court Access Consent Decree Terminated

After being in effect less than a decade, a consent decree stemming from a class action lawsuit and providing for a mixed system of court access for Georgia state prisoners was dissolved on November 11, 1998, as U.S. District judge Anthony Alaimo vacated his previous orders of 1988-89 and ...

Arizona DOC Settles Sexual Abuse Suit

On March 11, 1999 the Arizona Dept. of Corrections (ADOC) agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) which alleged that state prison officials failed to protect female prisoners from systemic sexual abuse, misconduct and harassment by guards.

Federal authorities began investigating the Arizona ...

ADOC Settlement Terms

-Additional staff training on sexual misconduct and prisoner privacy issues.

-Implementation of a program to inform the state's 1,810 female prisoners about their rights.

-Requiring all male prison employees who may be alone with a female prisoner to notify a supervisor.

-Providing two 15-minute periods a day at ...

FBI Investigates CCA-Run INS Center in New Jersey

A Corrections Corporation of America operated immigrant detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey is under investigation due to alleged misconduct by company employees. Federal officials confirmed on April 13, 1999 that the U.S. Dept. of Justice had requested the probe, which is being conducted by the FBI. The Elizabeth ...

Pro Se Texas Prisoner Awarded $1.08 Million in Failure to Protect Suit

In May, 1999, a federal jury in San Antonio, Texas, awarded Texas prisoner William Wallace Campbell $80,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages in a failure to protect lawsuit. Campbell represented himself pro se throughout the action. This is the highest damage award to a pro ...

Media Interview Protected Free Speech

A federal district court in Pennsylvania held that the transfer of a prisoner for his participation in a pre-authorized media interview and his subsequent correspondence with the newspaper reporter violated the prisoner's constitutional rights. Prison officials were denied qualified immunity and the prisoner was awarded damages, but the court ...

Florida Jail Guard Found Guilty in Prisoner's Death

On December 22, 1998, former Osceola County, Florida jail guard Greg Wilson was convicted of manslaughter in connection with the March 1997 death of prisoner Daniel B. Sagers.

Wilson and several other guards, including Wilson Santiago and Gail Edwards, were trying to place Sagers in a restraining chair after he ...

Tough on Prisoners Florida Sheriff Avoids Prison

In the March, 1999, issue of PLN we reported the arrest of Marion County, Florida, sheriff Ken Ergle, on corruption charges. Ergle had previously gained notoriety for housing county jail prisoners in tents under draconian conditions and charging them "rent" and a $10 "fee" in order to seek medical attention ...

Supreme Court Holds PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Inapplicable to Work Performed Before Enactment

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Supreme Court has held that the attorney fee cap contained within the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. §1997e(d), (PLRA) does not apply to attorney fees for work performed prior to the enactment of the PLRA.

This case involves two class-action lawsuits ...

PLRA Attorney Fee Limits Not Retroactive in Second Circuit

The court of appeals for the Second Circuit held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) attorney fee provisions do not apply to fee awards made after the law's enactment when representation began before the PLRA's enactment.

Donovan Blissett, a New York state prisoner, filed suit in ...

Utah Jail Settles ADA Suit

On May 6, 1999, Salt Lake County, Utah, settled a lawsuit by paying $2,000 in damages, $4,000 in attorney fees and agreeing to modify its jail for the handicapped. Robert Earls, a former jail detainee, is missing a leg and must use a prosthesis. The prosthetic leg must ...

$90,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Suicide

On May 28, 1999, Salt Lake county, Utah, paid $90,000 to the family of a detainee who committed suicide in the county jail.

Henry Delgado was arrested on Jul 16, 1997, on charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon. While held in the ...

CDC Settles Excessive Force Suit for $1,000

On October 26, 1998, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) paid $1,000 to settle an excessive force suit filed by pro se prisoner John Gann against nine named prison officials.

On January 7, 1994, Gann, Alex Bermudez and Carlos Ramirez were housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at ...

Private Transportation Company Liable Under 42 USC § 1983

Private Transportation Company Liable Under 42 USC § 1983

A federal district court in Colorado held that alleged sexual assaults committed by an employee of a private transportation company, under contract with the state Department of Corrections, were committed under color of state law and stated a claim under 42 U ...

Michigan's Female Prisoners Have Educational Parity

A federal district court in Michigan held that the educational, vocational, and apprenticeship opportunities provided to male and female prisoners in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) are now sufficiently comparable for equal protection purposes to require termination of the court's 20 year supervision over the case.

In 1977 ...

Go Directly to Jail: At the Academy in Alpharetta, Men Pay Big Bucks to Pretend They're in Prison

By Dan Savage

Alpharetta, Georgia- I'm naked, and I'm not happy. In just under an hour, I've been subjected to two of three punishments I'd specifically asked to be spared from. On forms I filled out weeks ago, I ticked the "quiet menace" box over the ...

Concealment of Info Tolls Statute of Limitations

A federal district court in New York held that a prisoner could amend his complaint to add new defendants, and that the amendment relates back to the original complaint, overcoming an otherwise time-barred amendment. The court further held that official concealment of guard identities equitably tolled the statute of limitations ...

Texas Settles with Hanged Prisoner's Family

The state of Texas agreed in June 1999 to pay $215,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Rodney Hulin, a 17-year-old Texas state prisoner who was found hanging in his cell in 1996.

About 30 days after arriving at the Clements unit in Brazoria, Texas, Hulin ...

Prison Officials Waive Untimely Asserted Heck Defense

The Seventh Circuit court of appeals has held that prison officials' untimely assertion of the Heck defense waived the defense.

Richard Carr, a middle-aged minimum- security Illinois prisoner was 96 days from release in 1989 when young gang members on his unit rioted. The gang members threatened anyone who tried ...

Racial Segregation in Double Celling Unconstitutional

A federal district court in Pennsylvania held that the creation of racial segregation for double-cell assignment may be unconstitutional even if the classification policy specifically forbids such segregation in cell assignments.

Seifuddin M. A. Simpson, a Pennsylvania state prisoner, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Pennsylvania Department ...

Georgia Parole Regulation Still Ex Post Facto

The U.S. court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the retroactive application of an amendment to the Georgia parole regulations, changing the frequency of required parole reconsideration hearings, continues to violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the federal constitution.

Robert Jones, a Georgia state prisoner was ...

Feds Not Obligated to Accept State-Ordered Concurrent Sentence

By Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that a California state court's designation of a prisoner's sentence as concurrent with his prior federal sentence created no obligation on the U.S. Attorney General to provide the prisoner with credit for time served in ...

CDC Whistleblower Gets $1.7 Million

A former California Department of Corrections (CDC) guard who reported the Corcoran State Prison "gladiator fight" shootings to the FBI, resulting in the indictment of eight other Corcoran guards, has been paid $1.7 million by the state.

Richard Caruso, 35, sued the CDC in 1997 alleging that it unfairly ...

Alabama Prison Officials Held in Contempt Again

A federal district court held Alabama prison officials in contempt for violating a 12-year-old Consent Decree. The court also awarded attorney's fees against the state and dissolved the decree pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, (PLRA).

In 1983, prisoners in an Alabama jail filed suit challenging, among other ...

News in Brief

Brazil: A riot involving 320 prisoners erupted at a facility in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina state, on May 7, 1999. One prisoner was killed and 4 injured during the disturbance, in which rioters chased away the guards and set fire to mattresses and tires.

Brazil: Three hundred and forty-five prisoners escaped ...

BOP Sentence Reduction Exclusion Based on INS Detainer Upheld

By Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that the Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) regulation conditioning a sentence on completion of a community-based treatment program was a reasonable and permissible construction of the statute that allows sentence reduction for prisoners who have completed a residential substance ...

Perp Walks Unconstitutional According to New York Federal Court

A federal district court in New York has ruled that "perp walks" staged by the police at the behest of the media are unconstitutional.

John Lauro, Jr. was the doorman at a building In Manhattan. Matthew Eberhart was a building tenant. Eberhart asked Lauro to water his plants and bring ...