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Prison Legal News: December, 1999

Issue PDF
Volume 10, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Wackenhut's Woes: Guard Killed in New Mexico Riot; Prisoners Exiled to Virginia Supermax (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 3)
  3. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Civil Appeals) (p 4)
  4. Beaten Attica Prisoner Awarded $70,000 (p 5)
  5. Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis, by Christian Parenti (Review) (p 6)
  6. Maximum Security University, edited by Tom Quinn (Book and Video Review) (p 8)
  7. CDC Settles Corcoran Shooting Suit for $2.2 Million (p 9)
  8. Notes from the Unrepenitentiary (p 10)
  9. CSC Cancels Florida Juvenile Facility Contract (p 11)
  10. Stanford University Tests Drugs on Imprisoned Juveniles (p 11)
  11. Ninth Circuit Vacates Previous Opinion Ruling PLRA's Provision Unconstitutional (p 12)
  12. Virginia Juvenile Dies of Accidental Heart Attack (p 12)
  13. Tennessee Prison Guard to Pay $50,000 for Stabbing (p 13)
  14. Pelican Bay Guard Indicted in Shooting (p 13)
  15. 1999 Washington State Legislative Roundup (p 14)
  16. Arizona Can't Seize All Prison Labor Back Wages (p 15)
  17. Riots Rock CCA Prison in Oklahoma (p 16)
  18. New Jersey Jail Settles Chemical Burn Suit for $900,000 (p 16)
  19. IFP Plaintiffs Must Have Opportunity to Challenge Reasons for "Bad Faith" Certifications (p 17)
  20. Punitive Shackling Without a Hearing Okay (p 17)
  21. Construction Audit Criticizes Oregon DOC (p 18)
  22. Eleventh Circuit Upholds Constitutionality of PLRA's Automatic Termination Provision (p 18)
  23. South Dakota Eliminates Law Libraries (p 19)
  24. Trial Required in ADA Suit over HIV Medication (p 19)
  25. Fifth Circuit Says Rotting to Death in Prison Okay (p 20)
  26. Many Florida Prison Guards Are Law Breakers (p 21)
  27. Administrative Remedies Exhausted When Response Time Elapses (p 22)
  28. Sandin Does Not Apply to Pretrial Detainees (p 22)
  29. Sleep Deprivation Not Frivolous Claim (p 23)
  30. Washington Court of Appeals Holds Restitution Orders Invalid (p 24)
  31. Illinois Prison Home to Illegal Tire Dump (p 25)
  32. Dismissal of Haircut Suits Reversed (p 25)
  33. Retaliation Verdict Remanded for Damages (p 26)
  34. Prisoner Withstands Summary Judgment on Cell Condition Claim (p 26)
  35. Washington Good Time Ban Unconstitutional (p 27)
  36. News in Brief (p 28)
  37. Satellite Tracks Parolees (p 29)

Wackenhut's Woes: Guard Killed in New Mexico Riot; Prisoners Exiled to Virginia Supermax

Previously, PLN has reported problems at the Lea County Corr. Facility in Hobbs, New Mexico, one of two prisons in the state operated by Wackenhut Corrections Corp. Violent incidents at the Hobbs facility have included at least 9 stabbings, two of them fatal [PLN, June 1999], and an April 6 ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

The August issue of PLN had the last column Laura Whitehorn wrote for us before getting out of prison on August 5, 1999. Laura believed it was important that her column be written by current prisoners, as opposed to a former prisoner.

With this issue of PLN ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Civil Appeals)

If the judge or a jury rules against you, you may want to try to appeal to a higher court.   In this column, I will cover some basic information about what kinds of rulings against you in federal court can be appealed, and how to start an appeal.   In my ...

Beaten Attica Prisoner Awarded $70,000

After a two-week trial during July 1999, a jury ruled in favor of plaintiff Wayne Ford and awarded him $70,000 in a suit against Attica guards for using excessive force.

Wayne, 32, who acted as his own attorney through much of the proceedings, said that Attica guards beat him ...

Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis, by Christian Parenti (Review)

Verso, 290 pages

Review by Paul Wright

The government is by no means a neutral agent dedicated to the welfare of all its citizens. Instead, it stands first and foremost to protect the interests of whatever class happens to hold state power at the time. In the United States at ...

Maximum Security University, edited by Tom Quinn (Book and Video Review)

Video Review by Bob Fischer and Janet Stanton

Maximum Security University is a 48 minute video production by California Prison Focus depicting the deaths of four prisoners shot by guards during the notorious gladiator fights at Corcoran prison in California. The shootings occurred as part of the CDC's deliberate ...

CDC Settles Corcoran Shooting Suit for $2.2 Million

In May, 1999, the California Department of Corrections (CDC), announced it would pay $2.2 million to settle a shooting lawsuit by former prisoner Vincent Tulumis. Earlier this year the CDC settled the Corcoran shooting death lawsuit by the estate of Preston Tate for $825,000 [PLN, May, 1999] and ...

Notes from the Unrepenitentiary

They call themselves POWs because Puerto Rico has been fighting a war for independence since 1898, when the U.S. first invaded the island. Puerto Rico is one of the few colonies left in the world. The U.S. military and transnational corporations want to keep it that way. U ...

CSC Cancels Florida Juvenile Facility Contract

Correctional Services Corp. (CSC) announced Aug. 23, 1999 that it was withdrawing from an $8.7 million-a-year contract to operate the Pahokee Youth Development Center, a 350 bed Florida juvenile facility, 8 months before the contract is due to expire.

The announcement came six weeks after the Pahokee facility failed ...

Stanford University Tests Drugs on Imprisoned Juveniles

During 1997 researchers from Stanford University were allowed to conduct drug trials on 61 teenagers imprisoned at the California Youth Facility (CYA) in Stockton. According to the Associated Press, state officials have indicated that those tests may have violated a state law banning medical research on prisoners.

The juveniles, aged ...

Ninth Circuit Vacates Previous Opinion Ruling PLRA's Provision Unconstitutional

Rules Taylor Not a Consent Decree


In 1972, Eddie W. Taylor and George Yanich, Jr., Arizona state prisoners, filed class action suits under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging Arizona's prisoner behavior and discipline rules and deprivation of "two-for-one good behavior time." The ...

Virginia Juvenile Dies of Accidental Heart Attack

The state police were phoned and asked to send a trooper to formally charge Dandridge with assault. Meanwhile, Oak Ridge officials say, the youth was observed every five minutes through his cell door window. Nobody went into the cell to check on him because he appeared to have calmed down ...

Tennessee Prison Guard to Pay $50,000 for Stabbing

A former Tennessee Dept. of Correction guard has been ordered to pay $50,000 to a prisoner who was attacked and stabbed after he resisted the extortion demands of other prisoners.

U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell ruled on August 7, 1999 that former guard Xavier Waters had been deliberately ...

Pelican Bay Guard Indicted in Shooting

by W. Wisely

For the second time in less than two years, a California prison has become the target of a U.S. Justice department investigation. In part of what is expected to be a wider civil rights prosecution, a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted fired Pelican Bay ...

1999 Washington State Legislative Roundup

The 1999 Washington legislature created or amended far too many statutes of interest to our readers to adequately summarize, but here are some highlights:

Custodial Misconduct makes it a class C felony for an employee or contract personnel of a correctional agency [or] law enforcement officer to have sexual intercourse ...

Arizona Can't Seize All Prison Labor Back Wages

The Arizona court of appeals held that the state of Arizona can only seize thirty percent of a successful prisoner litigants back wages award.

In 1983 and 1984 Richard Ford, an Arizona state prisoner, worked for Cutter Industries, a private company that operated a blood plasma center mining prisoners blood ...

Riots Rock CCA Prison in Oklahoma

In Nov. 1998 Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) opened the Diamondback Corr. Facility in Watonga, OK and filled it with prisoners from Indiana and Hawaii. According to a prisoner housed at the facility there was a great deal of tension between the two groups, which resulted in numerous fights.

CCA ...

New Jersey Jail Settles Chemical Burn Suit for $900,000

On April 20, 1999, Atlantic County, New Jersey, paid $900,000 to settle a lawsuit involving extensive chemical burns suffered by a prisoner forced to do calisthenics in a pit filled with caustic chemicals. David Zamot was a non violent offender sentenced to the Gerald Gormley Justice Facility (GGJF) boot ...

IFP Plaintiffs Must Have Opportunity to Challenge Reasons for "Bad Faith" Certifications

The U.S. court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that prisoners, who proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) before a district court, are entitled to an opportunity to give reasons justifying an appeal, whenever a district court determines that an appeal is taken in bad faith.

This opinion involves ...

Punitive Shackling Without a Hearing Okay

The court of appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that it does not violate the Eighth or Fourteenth amendment to chain and shackle a prisoner in his cell for 24 hours without first providing for a hearing or an opportunity to be heard. This case illustrates that all to frequently ...

Construction Audit Criticizes Oregon DOC

A report by Oregon state auditors released March 18, 1999, cited over $4 million in questionable expenses paid to contractors during a 2,348 bed expansion at the Snake River Corr. Institution in Ontario.

The secretary of state's Audit Division recommended that the Dept. of Corrections recover $465,000 ...

Eleventh Circuit Upholds Constitutionality of PLRA's Automatic Termination Provision

The Eleventh Circuit court of appeals has upheld the constitutionality of the immediate termination provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2).

Alabama women state prisoners filed a class-action civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging their conditions of confinement ...

South Dakota Eliminates Law Libraries

On May 17, 1999, the South Dakota Department of Corrections settled a lawsuit that eliminates law libraries in the state's prisons and replaces them with limited assistance from a legal contractor.

Under the terms of the settlement, South Dakota's four main prisons will maintain a collection of about ...

Trial Required in ADA Suit over HIV Medication

In the July, 1999, issue of PLN we reported McNally v. Prison Health Services, 28 F. Supp.2d 671 (D ME 1999) in which the court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. The case involves David McNally, an HIV positive arrestee who, while detained for three days in the Cumberland ...

Fifth Circuit Says Rotting to Death in Prison Okay

How often have you heard it said of prisoners, "Let them rot in prison?" Probably more times than you care to remember. In the case of Mississippi prisoner Eugene Stewart, such a hellish and cruel death as literally having the skin rot off of his bones was visited upon him ...

Many Florida Prison Guards Are Law Breakers

After a review of state records, two Florida newspapers have revealed that state and county prison guards are twice as likely to be disciplined for violations of standards than police officers and that nearly ten percent of Florida state prison guards have criminal records.

The Orlando Sentinel reviewed records from ...

Administrative Remedies Exhausted When Response Time Elapses

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that prison administrative remedies are deemed exhausted when the time period for the prison's response elapses, regardless of whether or not the prison has responded.

42 U.S.C. § 1997e requires that prisoners exhaust available administrative remedies before they can ...

Sandin Does Not Apply to Pretrial Detainees

The Seventh Circuit court of appeals has held that a pretrial detainee may not be punished for his crime prior to conviction and that Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995), does not apply to suits by pretrial detainees.

Ricky Joe Rapier was a pretrial detainee awaiting trial at ...

Sleep Deprivation Not Frivolous Claim

by Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that a prisoner's claim based on custodial classification was frivolous, and the prisoner's Eighth Amendment claim was frivolous insofar as it sought damages for emotional suffering. The court also held that the prisoner stated a non-frivolous ...

Washington Court of Appeals Holds Restitution Orders Invalid

The Washington state Court of Appeals held that restitution orders entered under the pre-1995 version of RCW 9.94A.142 are invalid if entered more than 60 days after sentencing and entered: (1) as an ex parte order, if the defendant objected, regardless of when the objection was made; or ...

Illinois Prison Home to Illegal Tire Dump

What do you do with 17,000 tons of scrap truck tire casings? The administration of Illinois's Logan Correctional Center has to figure that one out, says the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Lincoln Fire Department.

The veritable mountain of tire casings, equivalent to more than one million ...

Dismissal of Haircut Suits Reversed

In two brief, separate rulings, the court of appeals for the Eighth circuit reversed and remanded the dismissal of lawsuits challenging prison haircut rules by Rastafarian prisoners. In one case, the court held the district court had improperly concluded the plaintiff had not exhausted his administrative remedies.

Dwight Cofer, a ...

Retaliation Verdict Remanded for Damages

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that a district court abused its discretion when it only awarded nominal damages to a prisoner who won a grievance retaliation claim against a jail guard. The court also notes cases on damage awards for wrongful segregation claims that will be ...

Prisoner Withstands Summary Judgment on Cell Condition Claim

A federal district court in Virginia held that a genuine issue of material fact as to whether a prisoner's cell was adequately heated, had bedding and was maintained in a sanitary condition, precluded summary judgment.

Virginia Department of Corrections prisoner Robb Harksen brought suit against prison officials alleging repeated ...

Washington Good Time Ban Unconstitutional

In a ruling with far reaching implications, a Washington state court of appeals held that a "three strikes" ballot initiative that eliminated good time and early release credits for first time offenders convicted of first degree murder, first degree rape and assault and assault of a child, violates the single ...

News in Brief

AR: On August 11, 1999, a Lafayette Co. jail guard received a 5 year suspended sentence for having forcible sex with the wife of a prisoner as "payment" for letting her have a private visit with her husband. Michael A. Null, 38, pleaded guilty to felony charges of first-degree sexual ...

Satellite Tracks Parolees

by W. Wisely

Defense Department satellites designed to help guide nuclear missiles hang in geosynchronous orbit 12,500 miles above. The network of 24 military satellites hasn't been used much raining thermonuclear destruction on godless communists since the end of the Cold War. So, the Pentagon started leasing satellite ...