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Prison Legal News: May, 1999

Issue PDF
Volume 10, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Tainted Plasma Traced to Arkansas Prison: Bill Clinton's Blood Trails (p 1)
  2. Jury Awards $2.3 Million for Slain San Quentin Prisoner, State Settles for $2.5 Milliion (p 3)
  3. No Liberty Interest in Ohio Ad-Seg Rules (p 4)
  4. From the Editor (p 4)
  5. Pennsylvania Ban on Writing by Mumia Abu-Jamal Enjoined (p 5)
  6. A Nation's Gratitude (p 6)
  7. Utah Jail Censorship Suit Settled for $68,682 (p 6)
  8. Illinois KKK Guard Loses Lawsuits, Goes to Prison (p 7)
  9. The Sounding Tree: Voices Along the Razor Wire, by Lee Dickenson (Book Review) (p 8)
  10. Private Prisons in the United States: An Assessment of Current Practice (Review of Report) (p 8)
  11. Behind the Razor Wire: Portrait of a Contemporary American Prison System (Review) (p 9)
  12. Publication Reviews (p 9)
  13. Public Access to Documents Resources (p 9)
  14. California Habeas Handbook: A Practical Guide to Habeas Law for California Prisoners (Review) (p 9)
  15. Individual Legislators May Intervene to Terminate Prison Suits (p 10)
  16. Prisoner Must Show Imminent Danger at Time of IFP Request to Avoid PLRA Three-Strikes Dismissal (p 10)
  17. Suicides Plague Florida Women's Prison (p 11)
  18. White Guard, Black Guard: Racism in Washington Continues (p 12)
  19. Grand Jury Reverses Indictment Against Jailers (p 17)
  20. Guard Raped, Entire Texas Prison System Locked Down (p 17)
  21. New Hampshire Prisoners Gain the Vote (p 18)
  22. Corcoran Shooting Death Suit Settled for $825,000 (p 18)
  23. New Jersey Guard's Killer Gets Life (p 19)
  24. Colorado Prisoner Acquitted of Kidnapping (p 19)
  25. New York Paroles for Sale (p 20)
  26. New Jersey Porn Ban Struck Down (p 21)
  27. News in Brief (p 22)
  28. 180 Days in SHU Not "Atypical and Significant" (p 23)
  29. 5th Circuit Upholds Mississippi Disenfranchisement Law (p 24)
  30. $4,000 Awarded to Paraplegic Prisoners Segregated Under Improper Conditions (p 24)
  31. Consenting to Have Magistrate Conduct Trial Not Waiver to Right to Jury Trial (p 25)
  32. County Bankruptcy Tolls FRCP 4(m) (p 25)
  33. District Court Can't Dismiss Appeal for Failure to Pay Filing Fee (p 25)

Tainted Plasma Traced to Arkansas Prison: Bill Clinton's Blood Trails

by Jeffrey St. Clair

The year Bill Clinton became governor of Arkansas, the Arkansas state prison board awarded a hefty contract to a Little Rock company called Health Management Associates (HMA). The company got $3 million a year to run medical services for the state's awful prison system, which ...

Jury Awards $2.3 Million for Slain San Quentin Prisoner, State Settles for $2.5 Milliion

by W. Wisely

On Monday, November 30, 1999, a federal jury awarded more than $2.3 million in damages to the family of a prisoner shot to death by a San Quentin guard. The ten jurors found Mark Adams, killed March 1994 while fighting with another prisoner on the exercise ...

No Liberty Interest in Ohio Ad-Seg Rules

The court of appeals for the Sixth circuit held that Ohio prisoners have no state created liberty interest in remaining free of administrative segregation (ad-seg). Alvin Jones, an Ohio state prisoner, filed suit claiming that a 2k year placement in ad seg violated his right to due process. The district ...

From the Editor

Welcome to the ninth anniversary issue of PLN . Many people, supporters and detractors alike, are amazed by PLN 's longevity. We're not amazed. We're proud, not to mention weary. It takes an incredible amount of commitment and hard work to keep PLN going.

A lot of the commitment ...

Pennsylvania Ban on Writing by Mumia Abu-Jamal Enjoined

The court of appeals for the Third circuit held that a district court erred when it refused to grant a Preliminary Injunction (PI) to PLN columnist Mumia Abu-Jamal to enjoin a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) rule prohibiting him from writing. Aside from being an important ruling for prisoner writers ...

A Nation's Gratitude

Many governments have been founded on principles of subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race... [Such] were, and are, in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's laws. With us, all the white race, however high or low, rich ...

Utah Jail Censorship Suit Settled for $68,682

On October 28, 1998, a class action suit challenging various censorship rules at the Davis County Jail in Utah was settled for $11,682 in damages and $57,000 In attorney's fees. In 1995 the Davis County Jail enacted policies banning books, newspaper clippings and sexually explicit materials. The ...

Illinois KKK Guard Loses Lawsuits, Goes to Prison

On December 4, 1998, former Illinois prison sergeant Wallace Scott Weicherding (64) was sentenced to 5 years, 10 months in federal prison after being convicted on conspiracy and weapons charges. Weicherding was arrested with five other men who called themselves The New Order. The original Order was a neo Nazi ...

The Sounding Tree: Voices Along the Razor Wire, by Lee Dickenson (Book Review)

Reviewed by Daniel Burton-Rose

Lee Dickenson writes in the voice of an embittered veteran. For more than a decade and a half he manned a war zone, where the monotonous routine was sharply punctuated by life or death crises. He believed in his work and gave his heart to it ...

Private Prisons in the United States: An Assessment of Current Practice (Review of Report)

Reviewed by Alex Friedmann

In 1997 Congress instructed the Attorney General's office to undertake a study of prison privatization, to include a review of legal issues and existing research regarding cost effectiveness. The study was conducted by Abt Associates, Inc. through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of ...

Behind the Razor Wire: Portrait of a Contemporary American Prison System (Review)

by Michael Jacobson Hardy.

136 pp, 50 BW photos. New York University Press

Reviewed by Paul Wright

"Prisons do their dirtiest work in the dark. The evil they perpetrate depends on a kind of willed ignorance on the part of the public. To prevent the worst abuses and realign our ...

Publication Reviews

Voices Behind the Walls is a bi-monthly newsletter published by Pennsylvania prisoners. Each issue covers news and events in the PA prison system as well as commentaries on the criminal justice system. Subscriptions are $10 for prisoners and $20 for everyone else. Contact: VBTW, P.O. Box 474, Harrisville, PA ...

Public Access to Documents Resources

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is a trade organization of journalists. The Committee publishes a number of very reasonably priced, authoritative and comprehensive publication that are invaluable to journalists, muckrakers, those seeking access to government information and those litigating information access issues.

Available materials include a booklet ...

California Habeas Handbook: A Practical Guide to Habeas Law for California Prisoners (Review)

This 37 page booklet by attorney Kent Russell is designed for pro se California prisoners to understand the time limits and filing requirements of the federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AFDPA). Russell uses easy to understand language to concisely and accurately explain AEDPA and the exhaustion of state ...

Individual Legislators May Intervene to Terminate Prison Suits

Individual Legislators May Intervene To Terminate Prison Suits

by Matthew Clarke

The court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that, under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), individual state legislators could intervene in prison release litigation.

In 1972, David Ruiz, and other Texas state prisoners initiated class-action civil rights ...

Prisoner Must Show Imminent Danger at Time of IFP Request to Avoid PLRA Three-Strikes Dismissal

The court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held that a prisoner who is subject to the three-strikes provision in the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) must show that he is under imminent danger of serious physical injury at the time he seeks to file in forma pauperis (lFP ...

Suicides Plague Florida Women's Prison

Florence Krell, a 40-year-old mother of two serving an 18-month sentence for grand theft after she failed to return her boyfriend's rental car, hanged herself from her cell door at the Jefferson Corr. Institution on October 11, 1998. She had been at Jefferson, an all-female prison located about 30 ...

White Guard, Black Guard: Racism in Washington Continues

Charles Jackson and Collins Bailey, two of only a handful of African-American prison guards working at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center about 40 miles west of Port Angeles, were lost. They'd been on the way to an outdoor barbecue when the sun went down, turning the winding country roads ...

Grand Jury Reverses Indictment Against Jailers

A Galveston, Texas, grand jury decided to take back an indictment it had issued against four Galveston County sheriff's deputies after three of the four agreed to surrender their peace-officer licenses. The reversal left some law experts scratching their heads.

"I've never heard of that before," said University ...

Guard Raped, Entire Texas Prison System Locked Down

A female Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) prison guard was dragged into a cell, held hostage for two hours and sexually assaulted by a prisoner armed with an 8-inch piece of sharpened metal, according to several published news accounts.

The French Robertson Unit guard was conducting bed checks at 2 ...

New Hampshire Prisoners Gain the Vote

ANew Hampshire Superior Court ruled that state laws prohibiting all incarcerated felons from voting violate the state constitution.

On September 4, 1998, state prisoner David J. Fischer sent a letter to the Rochester City Clerk to request "that you register me to vote in the next election and also that ...

Corcoran Shooting Death Suit Settled for $825,000

On November 10, 1998, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) settled a lawsuit involving the 1994 shooting death of prisoner Preston Tate for $825,000. Tate, a black gang member, was in the Corcoran prisons Security Housing Unit (SHU) when guards placed him in an exercise yard with rival Latino ...

New Jersey Guard's Killer Gets Life

Steven Beverly was convicted for the 1997 killing of a Bayside State Prison (New Jersey) guard. But two days later, November 11, 1998, the jury of seven men and five women said they were deadlocked on whether he should be executed. Under state law that means the judge could impose ...

Colorado Prisoner Acquitted of Kidnapping

Colorado state prisoner William Sojka may have had a "fool for an attorney" (he represented himself at trial). But a jury did acquit him of kidnapping, attempted murder and assault charges for allegedly taking guard Mary Henderson hostage, shocking her with an electrical cord and threatening to kill her at ...

New York Paroles for Sale

In January 1997 the parents of a young Korean prisoner walked into the Brooklyn offices of federal prosecutor Zachary Carter to report that a volunteer fund raiser for Republican Governor Pataki said he would use his influence to win parole for their son if they contributed to the Governor's ...

New Jersey Porn Ban Struck Down

In two separate rulings a federal court in New Jersey held that a New Jersey statute prohibiting imprisoned sex offenders from receiving or possessing sexually oriented materials was unconstitutional. The two rulings consist of a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction enjoining the statute.

The New Jersey legislature unanimously enacted ...

News in Brief

AR : On October 13, 1999, Mark Lucas escaped from the Miller County jail in Texarkana by sawing through a cell lock and running through open fire escape doors. Lucas, awaiting trial on murder charges, was later recaptured.

CA : In December, 1998, Sacramento sheriff's deputy Sandy Larson was killed and ...

180 Days in SHU Not "Atypical and Significant"

180 Days in SHU Not "Atypical and Significant"

A federal district court in New York held that 180 days in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) , along with loss of package, commissary and telephone privileges, does not give rise to a liberty interest sufficient to support a prisoner's due process ...

5th Circuit Upholds Mississippi Disenfranchisement Law

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court's denial of a Mississippi state prisoner's claim that he is improperly being denied the right to vote.

The Mississippi Constitution denies the right to vote to any person "convicted of murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining ...

$4,000 Awarded to Paraplegic Prisoners Segregated Under Improper Conditions

The Eighth Circuit court of appeals held that the administrative segregation prison conditions two paraplegic prisoners were subjected to were unconstitutional and upheld a total award of $4,000 in compensatory damages.

Bobby Franklin Simmons and Ricky Lee Marshall (plaintiffs), two paraplegic Arkansas state prisoners, sued officials of the Arkansas ...

Consenting to Have Magistrate Conduct Trial Not Waiver to Right to Jury Trial

The Fifth Circuit court of appeals held that a pro se prisoner who signed a consent to have a magistrate judge conduct his trial did not knowingly waive his right to a jury trial.

Kevin Jennings, a Texas state prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging excessive ...

County Bankruptcy Tolls FRCP 4(m)

The court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a county's bankruptcy proceedings tolled Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 4(m) which gives plaintiffs 120 days in which to serve defendants with the lawsuit. In 1995 Gordon De Tie sued Orange County, California, and numerous employees claiming ...

District Court Can't Dismiss Appeal for Failure to Pay Filing Fee

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that district courts lack the statutory authority to dismiss appeals due to a party's failure to pay the filing fee. Earl Sperow, an Illinois state prisoner, filed a lawsuit which was dismissed for failure to state a claim. Sperow filed ...