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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: March, 1999

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Volume 10, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. Cheaper Than Lab Rats: Can Prisoners Glow in the Dark? (p 1)
  2. Former 'Guinea Pigs' Protest (p 3)
  3. No Private Rights Under International Treaties (p 5)
  4. Book Review: Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison (p 6)
  5. Book Review: Sensible Justice: Alternatives to Prison (p 6)
  6. From the Editor (p 8)
  7. PLN Sues Utah Jail Over Publication Ban; Suit Settled (p 8)
  8. Wisconsin Resists Out-of-State Transfers (p 9)
  9. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Appointment of Counsel) (p 10)
  10. No Administrative Exhaustion Required for Monetary Claims; No Qualified Immunity for the Malicious Use of Force (p 12)
  11. Administrative Exhaustion Doesn't Include Judicial Remedies (p 12)
  12. PLRA "Three Strikes" Provision Upheld and Discussed (p 13)
  13. Pennsylvania Consent Decrees Terminated Under PLRA (p 13)
  14. Colorado Prisoner Beaten, Not Stabbed (p 14)
  15. Florida Nicotine Addiction Suit Settled (p 15)
  16. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Draws the Line on Jailhouse Snitches (p 15)
  17. Arkansas Sheriff Bent on "Saving" Prisoners (p 16)
  18. "Tough" Florida Sheriff Arrested (p 16)
  19. Eighth Amendment Applies to Escaped Convicts (p 17)
  20. AHCC Bulk Mail Ban in Miniken Settled (p 17)
  21. Full Court Overrules Clarke v. Stalder in Part (p 18)
  22. Lengthy Ad Seg Is Atypical and Significant Hardship (p 18)
  23. Kansas Good Time Rules Violate Ex Post Facto (p 20)
  24. Retroactive Kansas Good Time Recalculation Unlawful (p 20)
  25. South Carolina Grooming Rules Upheld (p 21)
  26. Judicial Sentence of Life in Solitary Upheld (p 21)
  27. Warden May Be Liable for Rape (p 22)
  28. Jail Brutality Verdict Reversed Due to Improper Argument and Jury Instruction (p 23)
  29. Work-Release Prisoners Eligible to Vote on Union Representation (p 23)
  30. News in Brief (p 24)
  31. Retaliatory Beating of Prisoner Is Triable Fact Issue (p 25)

Cheaper Than Lab Rats: Can Prisoners Glow in the Dark?

We get outraged and indignant when we read or hear of atrocities committed by Nazi doctors in the name of medical science. [1]  Yet, if what the Nazis did is what triggers our sense of outrage, then we need not travel so far back in time or cast our gaze across the ocean to become shocked. There are thousands of homegrown examples in this century of the most barbaric medical experiments imaginable that have been conducted on Americans by doctors and researchers. [2]  Some of these experiments are almost too gruesome to be believed. They so horrifically depict the capacity of people in positions of trust and power to engage in inhumane behavior, that they push the needle of believability to the edge of the Twilight Zone .

The Tuskagee Syphilis Study is the most well known of these experiments. [3]  From 1932 to 1972, doctors in Tuskagee, Alabama deliberately misled almost 400 syphilis infected men into thinking they were being provided with free medical care for their disease. Unbeknownst to them, they were getting all the medical care they were paying for. Instead of providing care, the doctors were tracking the progress of the untreated syphilis bacteria eating away at ...

Former 'Guinea Pigs' Protest

Fifty former Pennsylvania state prisoners protested outside the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on a cold December morning in 1998 to draw attention to the pain and suffering they say resulted from medical experiments performed on them in Holmesburg prison

"We are the experimentation survivors," Leodus Jones shouted through a bullhorn to a sizeable crowd of onlookers and ex-prisoners carrying signs and placards.

Doctors working with the university and Holmesburg prison officials conducted medical experiments on thousands of prisoners from 1951 to 1974. The sordid history of these experiments was recently brought to light after the publication of Allen Hornblum's book, Acres of Skin [See review on page 6].

According to Hornblum's book, the experiments included collecting and preserving skin for medical studies as well as the use of mind-altering drugs and dioxin on prisoners who were not fully informed of the risks.

"These tests were unfair; they were barbaric," said Jones, who was among those subjected to experiments at Holmesberg prison in the 1960s. "We were lied to; we were used and exploited. We were human guinea pigs."

The survivors of the Holmesburg experiments are seeking free follow-up medical treatment, compensation for pain and suffering, and ...

No Private Rights Under International Treaties

Afederal district court in Washington state held that state prisoners do not have an implied right of action for alleged "crimes against humanity," as violations of international law. The court further held that neither the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR), nor the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Torture Convention) is a self-executing treaty giving rise to a private right of action enforceable by the prisoners.

Although the factual basis for this case is not apparent from the court's opinion, several former Washington DOC prisoners sued an assortment of state officials and private individuals and entities because the prisoners had been subjected to non-consensual medical experimentation while in state custody. In actuality, the prisoners were paid $10 per month to take part in a government study, involving irradiation of the prisoners' testicles.

In a multicount complaint, the prisoners sued under an assortment of legal theories. Their thirteenth claim for relief alleged a "crimes against humanity" cause of action based upon the premise that the radiation experiments were conducted without the prisoners' informed consent. This opinion relates exclusively to the defendants' motion to dismiss this count.

The court began its discussion ...

Book Review: Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison

Allen M. Hornblum
Routledge, 297 pgs., $25.00

by Daniel Burton-Rose

The ignominious story of U.S. medical experimentation on prisoners is rarely one that makes the history books. Tests using prisoners as human guinea pigs included World War II efforts against cholera, malaria and smallpox. In the Holmesburg county jail in Philadelphia, the centerpiece of Allen Homblum's impressive Acres of Skin, pharmaceutical tests of the needlessly cruel sort people now protest being committed against non-human animals were a mainstay through the 1950s to the early '70s: shampoo drops in the eyes; grids of skin smeared and seared with different chemical combinations; prisoners' arms dipped in solvents for hours: all just to see what would happen.

The macabre title of Allen's book comes from the recollection of Albert M. Kligman, the dermatologist overseeing most of the experiments, of his thoughts upon entering Holmesburg for the first time: "All I saw before me were acres of skin. It was like a farmer seeing a fertile field for the first time." Kligman was an experimenter bursting with ideas who believed medical ethics didn't apply to genius, just as arrogant American medical science in general didn't believe the Nuremburg ...

Book Review: Sensible Justice: Alternatives to Prison

David C. Anderson The New Press, 182 pgs., $25.00

The programs David C. Anderson lauds in Sensible Justice are everything that alternatives to prison should not be. They stress the punitive over what could reintegrate an offender into society; the individual's culpability over any consideration of the lives the offenders lead; and money saved instead of lives changed for the better.

In each chapter Anderson draws a one-dimensional sketch of a prisoner who is always at least grudgingly in favor of the "alternative" program to illustrate his point about the program. He then gives a quick, shallow and very selective history of such programs, and tromps out statistics from a couple decades of studies debating the standard pro and con arguments about said program.

Deep questioning of these "alternatives" and the state's power to warp and crush people are totally absent. Military boot camps for young offenders where buzz-cut drill instructors beat "discipline" into inner-city kids by forcing them to jog chanting "I used to carry a .38/ But now I'm owned by New York State" provides "dividends (that) are real and substantial" in Anderson's estimation. However, numerous follow-up studies reveal that boot camps do ...

From the Editor

Yesterday evening I was walking down the breezeway. A fellow prisoner waved and said, "Hi Dan, how'ya doing?"

Without pause I answered, "Well, I'm still standing. Still takin' punches. I guess that's something."

That's what being a prisoner involved in The Struggle feels like these days. Like Rocky Balboa in the original Rocky movie. Standing in the ring absorbing punch after staggering punch. When will it be our turn? When will things turn around?

I don't have the answer. All I know is that I'm not gonna give up. I'm not gonna lay down and say, "That's it. I'm beat. You guys win." I'm gonna keep standing here. And I'm gonna keep taking punches. And I'm gonna do what I do, which is to chronicle The Struggle, to do my duty as a journalist, to deliver information.

And I know I'm not standing here alone. Every one of you out there who stand beside me prisoners and non-prisoners alike, you know who you are I thank you. We're still standing. Still taking punches. And little by little things do change.

Last fall the Critical Resistance conference ...

PLN Sues Utah Jail Over Publication Ban; Suit Settled

The Box Elder county jail in Brigham City, Utah, had a policy prohibiting its prisoners from receiving books and magazines from any sources outside the jail. Eric Piper, a Utah state prisoner and PLN subscriber, was transferred to the Jail due to overcrowding in the state prison system and told ...

Wisconsin Resists Out-of-State Transfers

In October, 1996, Wisconsin's legislature granted the Department of Corrections (WDOC) authorization to house 700 prisoners in Texas County Jails. WDOC Secretary Michael Sullivan overcame the opposition to that first prisoner-export proposal by assuring the public that the crossborder option was merely a stop-gap measure to address a temporary shortfall in prison capacity.

In December, 1998, the legislature voted to grant the WDOC funding to raise the number of prisoners Wisconsin houses in other states from 3000 to 3500. Wisconsin now leads the nation in the number of prisoners it houses in other jurisdictions.

The WDOC's prisoner-export business has not only exploded in size over two years, it's also picked up staying power. In a Joint Finance Committee hearing on the December funding request, Sullivan called the rental of prison cells in other states a "permanent fixture" of the Wisconsin Corrections system.

While the WDOC seems to think shipping prisoners to other states is a fine idea, many Wisconsinites disagree. Labor unions object because exporting prisoners also sends jobs out of state by spending part of the WDOC's budget on the salaries of construction workers and prison guards in other states. Friends and relatives of prisoners ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Appointment of Counsel)

If you have a meritorious civil rights claim in federal court, it is obviously a good idea to try to have the claim presented by a lawyer. Most lawyers have specialized, professional knowledge of court procedures, methods, and tactics that few prisoners can match. Lawyers have better access to relevant legal materials than prisoners do. A lawyer is much more able than a prisoner to gather factual information necessary for a successful trial, in part because of training but also because the lawyer is not confined to prison and can move freely to gather facts. Perhaps most important, a good lawyer has the courtroom skills to handle the admission of evidence, examinations and cross- examinations, and objections at trial, especially in front of a jury.

If you are in prison and do not have a lot of money, there are only two ways for you to get a lawyer to represent you in a civil rights case: find a lawyer who will take your case, or persuade the court to appoint a lawyer for you. This column provides some tips on pursuing these two possibilities for obtaining counsel.

1. Trying to get a lawyer to take your case on contingency ...

No Administrative Exhaustion Required for Monetary Claims; No Qualified Immunity for the Malicious Use of Force

Two federal district courts in Illinois held that a state prisoner was not required to exhaust his administrative remedies when filing suit seeking damages if the administrative remedies did not provide for damages. One court also held that prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for beating a prisoner and spraying him with chemical agents.

Richard Jackson, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit claiming prison officials violated his Eighth amendment rights. While in the Statesville Correctional Center segregation unit various guards came to his cell and sprayed him with a chemical agent because other prisoners in the unit were being rebellious. Jackson claimed that when he placed his arms through a chuckhole in his cell door in order to be handcuffed, per the guards' instructions, his arms were twisted. Jackson claims he was then pulled out of his cell by the handcuffs, dragged across a floor and down several flights of stairs while being punched and kicked before being put in a holding cell.

The court noted that whenever prison officials are accused of using excessive force in violation of the Eighth amendment, reviewing courts must determine if force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain order ...

Administrative Exhaustion Doesn't Include Judicial Remedies

The court of appeals for the Third circuit held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) administrative exhaustion requirement does not include judicial exhaustion as well. Hassan Jenkins, a New Jersey state prisoner, filed suit in federal court claiming his due process rights were violated in a prison disciplinary hearing where sanctions were imposed. Jenkins administratively appealed and the sanction period was reduced but the infraction finding remained. Jenkins did not appeal the reduced sanctions to the superior court of the New Jersey Appellate Division as authorized as of right under New Jersey law.

The district court dismissed the suit, holding Jenkins was required to exhaust all administrative remedies under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) before he filed suit. The court interpreted this to include judicial remedies as well. The court of appeals concluded otherwise and reversed and remanded.

The court of appeals noted there is a well established distinction between administrative and judicial remedies. Section 1997e(a) refers only to administrative remedies. "Thus, the exhaustion requirements in section 1997e(a) run counter to the general rule under 42 U.S.C. 1983. [Editor's Note: Only after the PLRA's enactment do 1983 claims filed by prisoners ...

PLRA "Three Strikes" Provision Upheld and Discussed

PLRA "Three Strikes" Provision Upheld and Discussed

The ostensible purpose of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was to curtail frivolous litigation by prisoners. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) was enacted which does not allow In Forma Pauperis (IFP) status for prisoners that have had three or more lawsuits dismissed as frivolous, malicious, for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or suing a defendant for money damages if the defendant is immune from such relief, unless the plaintiff is in imminent danger of serious physical injury.

Since the hallmark of the frivolous litigant is not doing any research whatsoever we won't dwell at length on the topic nor will we cover this aspect of the PLRA in future issues.

While § 1915(g) appeared to be the fee provision of the PLRA most likely to be held unconstitutional because it prevents indigent prisoners from filing suit, the circuit courts have uniformly upheld it. The Sixth, Eighth, Tenth and Eleventh circuits have upheld § 1915(g) against a broad array of constitutional challenges. The courts held the provision does not violate any constitutional rights because frivolous litigants can still file lawsuits, they just have to prepay ...

Pennsylvania Consent Decrees Terminated Under PLRA

In two separate rulings, different federal district courts in Pennsylvania held the consent decree termination provisions of the PLRA to be constitutional and dissolved the decrees at issue.

In the July, 1998, issue of PLN we reported Imprisoned Citizens Union v. Shapp, 977 F. Supp. 335 (ED PA 1996) which clarified a 1978 consent decree that governed conditions at six Pennsylvania state prisons. We noted at the time that the ruling did not implicate the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

The defendants then filed a motion under 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2) of the PLRA to immediately terminate the consent decree in that case. The court granted the motion.

The court rejected numerous challenges to the constitutionality of § 3626(b)(2), which allows for the immediate termination of prison and jail consent decrees. The court held the termination provision did not violate the separation of powers or rule of decision doctrine, or the rights of due process, equal protection and contract. Because it dissolved the decree the court declined to find the defendants in contempt for violating its provisions. The court also declined to transfer the case to state court. See: Imprisoned Citizens Union v. Shapp, 11 F ...

Colorado Prisoner Beaten, Not Stabbed

In the December, 1998, "News In Brief" PLN reported that Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) prisoner Michael Garcia was stabbed to death by two other prisoners. We got our facts from published news accounts, and those facts were wrong.

"The Denver Post printed that false report," a Colorado subscriber and prisoner wrote to PLN . He sent us a copy of a feature-length article about the incident, "The Killing Floor," that was published in the December 10-16, 1998, issue of the Denver Weekly, Westword .

According to Westword , on the morning of September, 24, 1998, Garcia armed himself with a sharpened toothbrush. He wrapped the shiv tightly into his fist with strips torn from a T-shirt so it would be impossible to easily disarm him. Then he went to meet his death.

Garcia, who was serving two life sentences without parole for stabbing to death an elderly couple during a botched burglary, apparently harbored a death wish.

"I tell you I would rather be on death row than doing life," he wrote in a letter requesting a sentencing review, "because doing life is just a long, slow, miserable death."

Garcia was incarcerated in CSP's Progressive Reintegration Opportunity (PRO) unit, a sort of ...

Florida Nicotine Addiction Suit Settled

The cover story in the January, 1998, issue of PLN , "Smoking, Lies and Hypocrisy," by Paul Wright, mentioned the case of Thomas Waugh. Waugh, a Florida prisoner, had sued Florida prison officials for failing to provide him with any type of treatment to help him stop smoking. Waugh contended his ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Draws the Line on Jailhouse Snitches

In a highly unusual ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that "luck or happenstance" is the only allowable means for prosecutors to obtain incriminating information through the use of jailhouse snitches.

In a 4-2 decision, the court overturned a murder conviction and ordered a new trial for Chad Franciscus because incriminating statements he made to a fellow prisoner violated his constitutional right to have an attorney present during questioning.

In 1992, Fransicus was put in the maximum-security Chester County Prison pending trial. During that time, prison officials arranged the transfer of prisoner Daniel Krushinski from the prison's general population to a cell near Fransicus in the county lockup.

Krushinski, who had already proven to be a prolific informant in the prison population, befriended Fransiscus, who authorities said confessed the murder to Krushinski. Whether or not such a confession actually occurred, there is no disputing that Franciscus freely conversed with the prosecution plant, but did so without knowing that he was actually being interrogated.

In arguing that Franciscus' rights were violated, the court said of Krushinski, "The fact that the commonwealth intentionally left him there to harvest information from anyone charged with a crime and awaiting trial is the villainy ...

Arkansas Sheriff Bent on "Saving" Prisoners

Arkansas Sheriff Bent on "Saving" Prisoners

They call him "Sheriff Andy," you know, just like the TV show. But if your butt lands in Sheriff Andy Lee's Benton County (Arkansas) jail, you won't think you're stuck in a Mayberry R.F.D. rerun. More like held captive on the Christian cable channel.

Lee and some local ministers have literally turned the county jail into a missionary with bars. More than 150 prisoners, for example, were baptized in a watering trough once used by thirsty farm animals.

The Rev. John Lightsey, who coordinates the jail's ministry program, contracted hepatitis B in June, 1998. Some prisoners had fought before the baptisms, Lightsey said, and blood, dead skin and sweat mixed with the water in the cow trough. Lightsey believes that might have caused his illness.

Although he had to take time off from his jail ministry because of his illness, Lightsey said that a little bout of hepatitis wouldn't stop him from resuming the baptisms when he returned to the jail.

And while Lightsey recovered from his hepatitis, "Sheriff Andy" was trying to recover from a lawsuit. Former county prisoner Jeremy Ashford filed the suit April 22 ...

"Tough" Florida Sheriff Arrested

"Tough" Florida Sheriff Arrested

Admitting he committed a "sinful, wrong and criminal act," Marion County (FL) Sheriff Ken Ergle resigned October 15, 1998, after state officials charged him with grand theft and official misconduct.

Ergle surrendered to Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigators, who allege Ergle stole $170,000 from a fund he controlled which was supposed to be used for paying confidential informants. He was taken to the jail he ran with an iron fist, booked and released after posting a $15,000 bond.

Ergle attracted national media attention for his hard-nosed policies. In 1993 he removed the jail's televisions, and took snacks and coffee away from prisoners. In 1996 he began charging prisoners $1 a day for meals and a $10 co-pay for seeing a doctor or dentist. PLN recently reported that a number of former county prisoners are suing the county because they say Ergle knowingly employed a non-licensed dentist [See: Ex-Prisoner Sues Over Phony Dentist; Dec, '98 PLN ].

Ergle was widely known across the state of Florida as being tough on crime and having "zero tolerance" for anyone who broke the law. He was also one of the first sheriffs in Florida to implement ...

Eighth Amendment Applies to Escaped Convicts

The court of appeals for the Sixth circuit held that escaped convicts are not subject to Fourth Amendment protections simply because they are outside of a facility. Only the Eighth Amendment applies. Since the law in this regard was unsettled, a guard who used deadly force while recapturing an escaped prisoner was accorded qualified immunity.

On June 25, 1987, a state prisoner escaped from a minimum security prison farm at the Pickaway Correctional Institution in Orient, Ohio. Four days later, a group consisting of police and prison guards raided a residence where the prisoner was suspected of hiding. When the prisoner fled out the back door, John Madden, an Ohio DOC guard, killed him with a single gun shot to the back.

As a result, the prisoner's estate administrator brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting that the guard's use of deadly force violated the prisoner's rights under the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. After cross motions for summary judgment were denied by the trial court, Madden immediately appeal the denial of qualified immunity.

In his summary judgment motion Madden testified that although a butcher knife was found under the prisoner's body, he did ...

AHCC Bulk Mail Ban in Miniken Settled

In the February, 1998, issue of PLN we reported Miniken v. Walter, 978 F. Supp. 1356 (ED WA 1997). In that ruling the court held that the Airway Heights Corrections Center's (AHCC) in Washington, ban on third class mail was unconstitutional as applied to Prison Legal News . The court ...

Full Court Overrules Clarke v. Stalder in Part

The court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc, vacated the original panel decision in Clarke v. Stalder, 121 F.3d 222 (5th Cir. 1997), on rehearing. The majority opinion held that a prisoner was precluded from bringing a claim under section 1983, seeking to declare a prison disciplinary regulation facially unconstitutional because he had yet to have the disciplinary conviction overturned, and a favorable declaratory judgment would necessarily imply the conviction was invalid.

The May '98 issue of PLN , which reported the original panel opinion, contains a more extensive exposition of the facts. Basically, the case involves a Louisiana state prisoner, who was found guilty of violating a rule prohibiting "defiance." The charge resulted from the prisoner's alleged threat to file an administrative grievance against a guard. The rule prohibits "threatening [a prison employee] with legal redress during a confrontational situation."

After a trial, a magistrate judge declared the rule facially unconstitutional and ordered the prisoner's forfeited good-time credits restored. Although the appeals court found the legal basis "unclear," the magistrate judge declined to award the prisoner damages.

Relying on Heck v. Humphreys , 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and Edwards v. Balisok , 520 U.S ...

Lengthy Ad Seg Is Atypical and Significant Hardship

Lengthy Ad Seg is Atypical and Significant Hardship

Afederal court in New York has held that uninterrupted confinement in administrative segregation (ad seg) for more than four years is an atypical and significant hardship, implying a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause. It also held that, by regulations, New York has granted its prisoners a protected liberty interest in remaining free of prolonged ad seg.

David McClary, a New York state prisoner, sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his confinement in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) for more than four years was not disciplinary based, but rather was ad seg without meaningful review of the determination, pursuant to N.Y.C.R.R. § 301.4(b), that he would "pose a threat to the safety and security of the facility" if left in general population. This would be a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S, 472 (1995), the Supreme Court held that, regardless of the mandatory wording of state statutes, a prisoner does not have a protected liberty interest in remaining free of liberty deprivations unless they "impose atypical and significant hardship on the ...

Kansas Good Time Rules Violate Ex Post Facto

The Kansas supreme court held that application of new prison rules that allow for the forfeiture of good time credits to prisoners convicted before the rule's implementation violates the ex post facto clause of the U.S. constitution. In a second cae, the court reaffirmed that the change in good time schemes violated the ex post facto clause and held that sex offender therapy which requries an admission of guilt violates the Fifth amendment unless the prisoner is immunized from prosecution.

Raymond Stansbury is a Kansas state prisoner who was convicted of rape in 1991. At the time of his conviction, Kansas prisoners earned 100% of their good time credits, which reduced their parole eligibility dates, by remaining free of disciplinary infractions and through the discretionary grant of good time credits. See: K.A.R. 44-6-124 (1989). The statute was amended in 1994 to allow the total forfeiture of all good time credits if prisoners refused to attend prison programs. Stansbury refused to attend a sex offender treatment program and was deprived of all good time credits as a result. He filed a habeas corpus petition in state district court, which granted relief in part and denied relief in ...

Retroactive Kansas Good Time Recalculation Unlawful

In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals for the State of Kansas held that the changes in the Kansas prison system's regulations interpreting the application of good time credits toward a prisoner's conditional release date could not be applied retroactively to offenses which occurred prior to the new regulations' promulgation.

Mark Steltzlen, a Kansas prisoner, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the trial court after a change in Department of Corrections (DOC) regulations moved his conditional release date (CRD) forward 63 months.

Steltzlen was sentenced to 15 to 20 years. Under Kansas law, K.S.A. 22-3725 (1996 Supp.) his good time credits were subtracted from his minimum sentence to set a parole eligibility date (PED) and subtracted from his maximum sentence to establish a CRD. Under the law in effect at the time of his offense, good time forfeited in disciplinary actions prior to his PED could only be subtracted from his PED. Forfeitures occurring after his PED would be subtracted from his CRD.

Under the rules and law in effect at the time of the offense, CRDs were set at the start of the sentence by presuming a prisoner would receive ...

South Carolina Grooming Rules Upheld

The court of appeals for the Fourth circuit held that South Carolina prison rules requiring that all male prisoners have short hair and remain clean shaven were constitutional. In 1995 the South Carolina Department of Corrections implemented numerous "get tough" measures on prisoners, this included the grooming rules. [ PLN , Nov. 1995] At the time some prisoners who objected to the rules took prison employees hostage and stabbed some guards. [ PLN , July, 1995]

A group of 100 Native American, Muslim and Rastafarian prisoners filed suit claiming the grooming policy violated their free exercise of religion rights under the First amendment's establishment clause. The prisoners claimed that their religious faiths mandate that they have beards or long hair. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants and the court of appeals affirmed.

The appeals court held that the grooming policy promoted important penological interests such as limiting gang activity, making prisoners easier to search and identify and making prisoners submit to prison authority. The court held that prisoners, religious rights were lawfully limited by this policy under the tests enunciated in both O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 107 S.Ct. 2400 (1987) and Employment Division ...

Judicial Sentence of Life in Solitary Upheld

The court of appeals for the Second circuit affirmed a court imposed sentence of life imprisonment in solitary confinement and prohibiting all communication with anyone except the defendant's attorney and close family members after the district court had approved them. The appeals court also extended the "reasonableness" test of Turner v. Safley, 107 S.Ct. 2254 (1987) to judicially imposed conditions of confinement.

Luis Felipe, AKA King Blood, is the founder and leader of the Latin Kings. Felipe was imprisoned in a New York state prison when he founded the group. Over the years the group grew and Felipe directed their activities from his jail cell. This included murder, robbery, drug trafficking and assorted acts of violence. Felipe was indicted and convicted on 18 counts of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering.

Felipe was sentenced to life imprisonment. In addition, judge John Martin imposed "special conditions of confinement." These required that Felipe be kept in solitary confinement and be prohibited from communicating with any codefendants or Latin Kings; be prohibited from corresponding with anyone except his lawyer and close family members approved by the court, with notice to the U.S. Attorney's office and prohibiting ...

Warden May Be Liable for Rape

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that a district court erred when it granted judgement as a matter of law to a defendant prison warden in a rape case. Kendall Spruce, an Arkansas state prisoner, filed suit claiming his Eighth amendment rights were violated when he was repeatedly raped by other prisoners and contracted AIDS as a result.

The case went to trial and the district court granted judgment as a matter of law to Willis Sargent, the prison warden, and Larry Norris, the director of the Arkansas DOC. The jury ruled in favor of the remaining defendant, Donald Tate, the unit captain. The court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for a new trial.

Judgement as a matter of law is reviewed de novo on appeal. "The legal standard provides that (1) all direct factual conflicts must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff; (2) all facts in support of the plaintiff that the evidence tended to prove must be assumed; and (3) the plaintiff must be given the benefit of all 'reasonable inferences.... A grant of judgment as a matter of law is proper only if the evidence viewed according to ...

Jail Brutality Verdict Reversed Due to Improper Argument and Jury Instruction

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit reversed a jury verdict in favor of jail guards because their lawyer argued the detainee-plaintiff's attorney did not believe his client. The court also held that a jury instruction on subjective good faith was not supported by the evidence in this brutality suit where the defendants flatly denied attacking the plaintiff.

Allen Spicer, a detainee in the Cook County (Chicago) Jail in Illinois, filed suit claiming jail guards kicked him in the head while he lay handcuffed on the floor. The incident arose in the context of Spicer and other prisoners refusing to be go to the jail's segregation unit. Spicer suffered a fractured cheek bone in the attack. The case went to trial and the defendants claimed they did not injure Spicer nor see who did. In his closing argument, Spicer's lawyer told the jury that not everything about what happened on the day of the attack would ever be known.

Counsel for the jail guards seized upon that comment to tell the jury, repeatedly, that Spicer's own attorney did not believe his client. Spicer's lawyer vigorously objected and was overruled by the district court. The ...

Work-Release Prisoners Eligible to Vote on Union Representation

Apanel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), upon reconsideration of its original determination, has held that four work-release employees share a sufficient "community of interest" with the regular "free-world" unit employees, so they are eligible to vote in union representation elections.

This matter arose in May 1991, when the United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC (Union) filed a petition seeking a representation election for a unit composed of all production and maintenance employees at the Speedrack Products Group (Speedrack), Hamilton, Alabama manufacturing facility. At the time, four of the unit employees were on work-release from the Alabama Department of Corrections.

An election was held on July 21, 1991, but the Union challenged eight ballots, including the four ballots cast by the work-release prisoners. Without the challenged ballots, the tally was 56 for and 51 against the Union. On October 31, 1991, a NLRB hearing officer issued a report finding that rejected the Union's ballot challenges. The hearing officer found the work-release employees were eligible to vote in the election, but the Union filed exceptions to these conclusions.

On December 29, 1995, the NLRB reversed the hearing officer regarding the work-release employees by holding that these employees did not share ...

News in Brief

Costa Rica : On December 3, 1998, 500 prisoners at La Reforma prison in San Jose rioted to protest the shooting death of one prisoner and wounding of six others who had attempted to escape. The escapees had dug a tunnel outside the prison. Waiting guards gunned them down as they emerged from the tunnel and tried to run. No figures were given on the number of dead or injured in the riot, which was quickly suppressed by riot police using tear gas and clubs.

FL: In the last six months of 1998 the Border Patrol in Miami began Operation Child Care, targetting immigrants convicted of sex offenses for deportation. Under a 1996 law, non citizens convicted of any felony can be deported. In 1998 the Border Patrol deported 200 immigrant sex offenders and plans to deport at least 500 in 1999. South Florida is, so far, the only location the Border Patrol has launched this type of operation. The Patrol is relying on Florida's Internet listing of sex offenders to target those who are also immigrants.

FL : On November 19, 1998, the state announced it was exchanging 30 prisoners convicted of state crimes, mainly murder, who came to the ...

Retaliatory Beating of Prisoner Is Triable Fact Issue

Afederal district court in New York has held that a prisoner who alleged he was beaten by guards in retaliation for filing grievances against the guards presented a disputed material fact issue precluding summary judgment for the guards.

Ramel Mahotep, a New York state prisoner, filed suit under § 1983 alleging several Attica prison guards beat him severely in retaliation for his filing grievances against some of the guards. Mahotep also challenged the due process of disciplinary hearings on infractions resulting from the incident.

Mahotep alleged he was beaten about a week after he filed grievances against three of the four guards who beat him. Mahtoep claimed guards held him down and spread his legs, kicking him in the testicles. He also claimed they covered his mouth and nose. The beatings allegedly resulted in hospitalization for fifty days due to a ruptured testicle, pinched ankle nerve, severe back pain, headaches and a severe asthma attack. The guards claimed they used no more force than was necessary and the hospital stay was for an asthma attack unrelated to the incident. The court held that Mahotep had stated an Eighth Amendment claim and the widely disparate versions of the incident presented a material ...


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