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Prison Legal News: March, 1999

Issue PDF
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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

"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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...