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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: April, 1999

Issue PDF
Volume 10, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. The Mental Torture of American Prisoners: Cheaper Than Lab Rats, Part 2 (p 1)
  2. Medical Care Unconstitutional in Puerto Rico Prisons (p 3)
  3. From the Editor (p 4)
  4. PLN Sues Michigan DOC over Censorship of The Celling of America (p 4)
  5. Michigan Department of Corrections Fined $300,000 in Contempt Case (p 5)
  6. Former Jail Prisoner Awarded $8,000 for Abuse; PLRA Attorney Fee Limit Inapplicable to Juveniles (p 5)
  7. Jailhouse Journalism: The Fourth Estate Behind Bars by James McGrath (Book Review) (p 6)
  8. Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States (Book Review) (p 7)
  9. PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Not Retroactive (p 8)
  10. PLRA Fee Provisions Apply to All Pending Cases in the Fifth Circuit (p 8)
  11. Eighth Circuit Upholds, Defines IFP Provisions (p 8)
  12. IFP Application Not Required When Suit Filed (p 8)
  13. Physical Injury Requirement Not Retroactive (p 9)
  14. No Leave to Amend Complaint for IFP Litigants (p 9)
  15. PLRA Doesn't Ban Class Actions (p 9)
  16. Trouble in Mind: ADX – The Fourth Year (p 10)
  17. Daring Death Row Escape Shakes up Texas (p 13)
  18. Oregon "Predatory Sex Offender" Label Requires Notice and Hearing (p 14)
  19. De Facto Ban on Live Testimony Unconstitutional (p 14)
  20. South Carolina Parole Elimination Violates Ex Post Facto (p 15)
  21. Illegal Detention Violates Substantive Due Process (p 15)
  22. Jury Awards $8,000 in California Prison Assault (p 16)
  23. New York Prisoners Have Right to Staff Assistance and Witness Testimony (p 16)
  24. Seventh Circuit Defines Court Access Claims Involving Property (p 18)
  25. Failure to Give Summary Judgement Notice is Reversible Error (p 19)
  26. Indiana May Not Deny Pay and Educational Programs to Protective Custody Prisoners (p 20)
  27. No Appeal Allowed in Louisiana Consent Decree Dissolution (p 20)
  28. U.S. District Courts Have No Authority To Grant Or Deny Credit Toward Sentence (p 21)
  29. Denial of Good Time Because of Jury Sentencing Choice Violates Equal Protection (p 21)
  30. $45,000 Award in BOP Tort Claim Medical Neglect Suit (p 22)
  31. Released Sex Offender Not "In Custody" for Habeas (p 22)
  32. New York Jail Brutality Suit Settled for $3,500 (p 23)
  33. Timothy "Little Rock" Reed Released on Parole (p 23)
  34. $1,500 in Disabled Prisoner Work Suit (p 23)
  35. $355,000 Verdict in New York Asthma Death (p 23)
  36. Mauro Vacated for Rehearing (p 24)
  37. Parole Change May Violate Ex Post Facto; Change Can Be Challenged Via § 1983 (p 24)
  38. BOP Violent Offender Notification Policy Overinclusive (p 25)
  39. Twenty-Four Hour Notice of Disciplinary Charges Required (p 25)
  40. Seizure of Trust Account Interest Violates Takings Clause (p 26)
  41. Denial of Handicapped Jail Facilities Set for Trial (p 27)
  42. News in Brief (p 28)
  43. Cane Seizure Can Violate Eighth Amendment (p 29)
  44. $250,000 FTCA Beating Judgment Reversed (p 29)

The Mental Torture of American Prisoners: Cheaper Than Lab Rats, Part 2

The use of prisoners in medical experiments didn't begin or end with the radiation experiments conducted on them from the 1940's to the 1970's. [See: Part I - Can Prisoner's Glow in the Dark? ,PLN , March 1999]. As thinly disguised psychological laboratories, supermax prisons and other forms ...

Medical Care Unconstitutional in Puerto Rico Prisons

Medical Care Unconstitutional In Puerto Rico Prisons

A federal court in Puerto Rico has held that the lack of medical care in the Puerto Rican prison system is unconstitutional.

This is a class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 brought by Puerto Rican prisoners seeking to have unconstitutional conditions ...

From the Editor

In January the Washington prison system implemented new mail censorship rules. This is in line with the national trend by prisons and jails who seek to cut off the flow of information to prisoners and also keep outsiders as ignorant as possible of what is happening behind prison walls.

Among ...

PLN Sues Michigan DOC over Censorship of The Celling of America

On February 8, 1999, PLN sued the Michigan Department of Corrections in U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In April, 1998, prison officials at the Huron Valley Men's Facility censored a copy of PLN 's critically acclaimed book The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the ...

Michigan Department of Corrections Fined $300,000 in Contempt Case

On July 23, 1998, a federal court in Michigan imposed contempt sanctions against the Michigan Department of Corrections for its failure to comply with previous court orders. This is the latest installment in the decades long suit filed by women prisoners in Michigan seeking treatment equal to that given male ...

Former Jail Prisoner Awarded $8,000 for Abuse; PLRA Attorney Fee Limit Inapplicable to Juveniles

The court of appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that there was sufficient evidence that the county's policies regarding the housing of juvenile detainees, resulted in overcrowding, which led to a juvenile being beaten, raped and otherwise tortured by other pretrial detainees. The court further held that because the ...

Jailhouse Journalism: The Fourth Estate Behind Bars by James McGrath (Book Review)

Reviewed By Paul Wright

Little has been written about the prison press. Jailhouse Journalism is a first step in chronicling the history of prison publications. The book is organized largely in chronological order combined with biographical information about various prison editors. In the book's introduction Morris outlines the frequent ...

Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States (Book Review)

Review by Alex Friedmann

"The expansion of suffrage toall sectors of the population is one of the United States' most important political triumphs .... Today, all mentally competent adults have the right to vote with only one exception: convicted criminal offenders." So begins Losing the Vote, a collaborative report by The ...

PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Not Retroactive

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that the administrative remedies exhaustion provision of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), as amended by the PLRA, does not apply retroactively to prisoner actions filed prior to its enactment date of April 26, 1996. The court also held that the ...

PLRA Fee Provisions Apply to All Pending Cases in the Fifth Circuit

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), which requires that prisoners ultimately pay all filing fee costs, applies retroactively to cases filed before the PLRA's enactment, if they are still pending. In Strickland v. Rankin County Corr. Facility, 105 F ...

Eighth Circuit Upholds, Defines IFP Provisions

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit, in two separate rulings, has upheld and defined the In Forma Pauperis (IFP) provisions of the PLRA.

Kenneth Murray filed a petition under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, claiming a court clerk had violated his rights by refusing ...

IFP Application Not Required When Suit Filed

The court of appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the PLRA does not require the filing of a trust fund account statement and an In Forma Pauperis (IFP) application at the same time the complaint is filed. Walter Garret, a Missouri state prisoner, mailed a lawsuit and IFP application ...

Physical Injury Requirement Not Retroactive

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) does not apply retroactively to suits filed before the Prison Litigation Reform Act's April 26, 1996, enactment. Byron Swan, a California state prisoner, filed suit in 1994 claiming a guard had announced over ...

No Leave to Amend Complaint for IFP Litigants

In an important procedural ruling, the court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) had overruled prior circuit rulings requiring that In Forma Pauperis (IFP) litigants be given an opportunity to amend their complaints before the suit Is dismissed for failing to state ...

PLRA Doesn't Ban Class Actions

A federal district court in Georgia held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) does not ban class action suits by prisoners. In the October, 1998, issue of PLN we reported the Georgia DOC's settlement of a class action suit involving the beating and brutalization of Georgia prisoners during ...

Trouble in Mind: ADX – The Fourth Year

for Skip Martin

"I will hold the candle, til it burns down my arm, I'll keep taking punches until their will grows tired, I will watch the sundown until my eyes go blind, oh I will make my way through one more day." Pearl Jam

I've been locked ...

Daring Death Row Escape Shakes up Texas

It was a Thanksgiving that will long be remembered by Texas prisoners and guards alike. The first escape of a Texas death row prisoner since Raymond Hamilton, a member of the Bonnie and Clyde gang, busted out in 1934.

Shortly after midnight on November 27, 1998, seven men awaiting execution ...

Oregon "Predatory Sex Offender" Label Requires Notice and Hearing

Oregon "Predatory Sex Offender" Label Requires Notice and Hearing

The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that due process requires that Oregon sex offenders receive notice and an evidentiary hearing before the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision (Board) may designate them as "predatory sex offenders."

In 1993 the Oregon Legislature enacted ...

De Facto Ban on Live Testimony Unconstitutional

The court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the Stateville (Illinois) Correctional Center policy of denying virtually all live witness testimony at prison disciplinary hearings, which could result in revocation of good-time credits, violates due process. However, the court vacated the district court order requiring prison officials to ...

South Carolina Parole Elimination Violates Ex Post Facto

The South Carolina supreme court held that the retroactive statutory elimination of parole eligibility for violent offenders violates the ex post facto clause provisions of the United States and South Carolina constitutions.

Ronnie Phillips, a South Carolina state prisoner, pled guilty in 1987 to four counts of first degree burglary ...

Illegal Detention Violates Substantive Due Process

The court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the detention of an individual for 57 days in a county jail on a civil contempt warrant "shocks the conscience" and violates substantive due process. The court further held that this right was clearly established, and the defendants were not ...

Jury Awards $8,000 in California Prison Assault

On November 23, 1998, a federal jury in Sacramento, California, awarded state prisoner Johnny Garcia $8,000 in damages stemming from a prison assault. On January 3, 1994, Garcia (a member of the Northern Mexican prison gang, AKA Norteño) was placed in administrative segregation (ad seg) at New Folsom on ...

New York Prisoners Have Right to Staff Assistance and Witness Testimony

The court of appeals for the Second Circuit held that New York state prisoners have a right under the Due Process Clause to have disciplinary hearing officers provide staff assistance and to obtain requested documentary evidence and witness testimony. The court further held that these rights were clearly established in ...

Seventh Circuit Defines Court Access Claims Involving Property

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that prisoners cannot base court access claims on the loss of property unless that loss results in an ongoing hindrance or actual injury to an underlying claim. The court also discussed pleading standards in civil rights cases.

Fred Nance, an Illinois ...

Failure to Give Summary Judgement Notice is Reversible Error

The court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit, en banc, reaffirmed that pro se prisoner litigants are entitled to fair notice of the requirements of the summary judgment opposition rule. The court also held that the notice requirement may be met by the other party rather than just the district ...

Indiana May Not Deny Pay and Educational Programs to Protective Custody Prisoners

The Court of Appeals of Indiana has held that the Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) violated state law, Title 11, Section 11-10-5-1 when it denied all education programs to prisoners in protective custody. The court held that the DOC must pay prisoners voluntarily placed in the Protective Custody Unit (PCU ...

No Appeal Allowed in Louisiana Consent Decree Dissolution

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear an appeal to a district court ruling that dissolved virtually all consent decrees governing prisons and jails in the state of Louisiana because the plaintiffs did not file a notice of appeal in a timely ...

U.S. District Courts Have No Authority To Grant Or Deny Credit Toward Sentence

The court of appeals for the Second circuit held that district courts do not have the authority to order the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to either grant or deny credit or to disregard the BOP's sentence calculation.

A federal prisoner, Peter Thomas Whaley, was convicted of a drug ...

Denial of Good Time Because of Jury Sentencing Choice Violates Equal Protection

The Fifth Circuit court of appeals held that a sheriff violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when he promulgated a policy of granting good time to county prisoners sentenced by a judge and denying it to prisoners who elected to have a jury sentence them.

Jeffery "Zeal ...

$45,000 Award in BOP Tort Claim Medical Neglect Suit

Afederal district court in Texas has awarded a pro se federal prisoner $45,000 under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-2680, for medical neglect by the United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in failing to transfer him to a medical. facility.

Wali Muhammed, a federal ...

Released Sex Offender Not "In Custody" for Habeas

Released Sex Offender Not "In Custody" for Habeas

In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit ruled that a sex offender who has completed his sentence, but who must register under a so-called "Megan's Law," is not "in custody" for purposes of federal habeas corpus.

In 1990, Elbert ...

New York Jail Brutality Suit Settled for $3,500

On September 25, 1998, the City of New York settled a brutality suit for $3,500. Edward Massey, a prisoner at the Anna M. Kross Center In East Elmhurst, New York, was attacked by several jail guards after he protested the beating of another prisoner. Massey suffered bruises and lacerations ...

Timothy "Little Rock" Reed Released on Parole

Timothy "Little Rock" Reed Released on Parole

On December 17, 1998, Timothy "Little Rock" Reed was reinstated to his Ohio parole following a five year extradition battle. Reed, a former prison activist, fled Ohio In 1993 when he was accused of violating his parole conditions six weeks before his parole ...

$1,500 in Disabled Prisoner Work Suit

The Eighth Circuit court of appeals has upheld the award of $1,500 against prison officials who forced a prisoner to perform manual labor which violated his medical work restrictions and resulted in injury.

German Williams, an Arkansas state prisoner, was assigned a medical classification of M-2P (no prolonged stooping ...

$355,000 Verdict in New York Asthma Death

On November 23, 1998, New York court of claims judge Nicholas Midley Jr. awarded the family of Peter Farace $350,000 in damages for Farace's death and $50,000 in interest.

Farace, 25, died of an asthma attack on February 9, 1986 at the Auburn Correctional Facility in New ...

Mauro Vacated for Rehearing

In the February, 1999, issue of PLN we reported Mauro v. Arpaio, 147 F.3d 1137 (9th Cir. 1998) which struck down as unconstitutional an Arizona jail's ban on sexually explicit material. The Ninth circuit has ordered that opinion withdrawn because a panel of 11 judges will rehear the ...

Parole Change May Violate Ex Post Facto; Change Can Be Challenged Via § 1983

Parole Change May Violate Ex Post Facto; Change Can Be Challenged Via § 1983

In two separate rulings the court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit held that changes to parole eligibility schemes may violate the ex post facto clause and such changes can be challenged via 42 U ...

BOP Violent Offender Notification Policy Overinclusive

The court of appeals for the Third Circuit held that a conviction for simple possession of a weapon by a convicted felon is not a "crime of violence" within the scope of 18 U.S.C. section 4042(b), a law which requires federal prison officials to notify local authorities ...

Twenty-Four Hour Notice of Disciplinary Charges Required

Afederal district court in Indiana held that a prisoner's right to due process was violated when he was not provided with 24 hour notice of the disciplinary charges against him. Darnell Evans, an Indiana state prisoner, was infracted on charges of "giving anything of value." On the day of ...

Seizure of Trust Account Interest Violates Takings Clause

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that prisoners possess a constitutionally protected property interest in the interest earned on prisoner trust accounts.

The California Department of Corrections, (CDC), has established two separate types of trust accounts that prisoners may place their funds into during incarceration. The first ...

Denial of Handicapped Jail Facilities Set for Trial

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that a handicapped detainee was entitled to a trial to prove jail conditions were unconstitutional in light of his disability. On remand, the lower court was instructed to consider whether the plaintiff was involuntarily given anti-psychotic medications. The court also held ...

News in Brief

Azerbaijan : On January 8, 1999, 11 prisoners at the Gobustan prison camp rioted and took 28 guards hostage. Government officials agreed to the prisoners' demand of being flown out of the country. When the prisoners and their hostages boarded a bus they believed was going to take them to an ...

Cane Seizure Can Violate Eighth Amendment

Afederal district court in New York held that the seizure of a prisoner's medically prescribed cane by a guard can give rise to an Eighth Amendment violation. Because the guard's subjective intentions for seizing the cane were at issue, the court denied summary judgment on this point.

In ...

$250,000 FTCA Beating Judgment Reversed

The court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) shields the United States from liability for injuries sustained by a federal prisoner, as a result of an attack by another prisoner. A $250,000 judgment against the government ...

 

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