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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: June, 1999

Issue PDF
Volume 10, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. Federal Judge Rules Texas Prisons Still Unconstitutional, PLRA Unconstitutional (p 1)
  2. Washington Parole Officer Blown Up (p 3)
  3. Prison Madness, by Terry Kupers, MD (Book Review) (p 4)
  4. From the Editor (p 4)
  5. Indictment: The News Media and the Criminal Justice System (Book Review) (p 5)
  6. Notes from the Unrepenitentiary (p 6)
  7. Private Prison Escape Explained (p 6)
  8. Corcoran Prisoner Left Hanging (p 7)
  9. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Discovery) (p 8)
  10. Washington Prisoners Damage Colorado Private Prison (p 10)
  11. Washington Prisoners Brutalized in Colorado Private Prison (p 10)
  12. CCA - Prison Realty Merger Approved (p 11)
  13. They Killed a Man, Not a Number (p 12)
  14. Violence Takes a Toll at New Mexico Wackenhut Prison (p 12)
  15. CMS Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $75,000 (p 13)
  16. Court Screening Applies to Paid Suits Too (p 13)
  17. Failing to Provide Disabled Prisoner Showers for Two Months Cruel and Unusual (p 13)
  18. Judge Throws Out Corcoran Sanctions (p 14)
  19. Juveniles Held Hostage for Profit by CSC in Florida (p 15)
  20. Florida Porn Ban Challenged (p 15)
  21. Mitigation Instruction and Excluding Indemnification Evidence Reversible Error (p 16)
  22. Parole Officials Liable for False Information in Parole Violation Arrest Warrant (p 17)
  23. Pardon Satisfies Heck (p 17)
  24. Federal Prisoners Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies Before Suing (p 18)
  25. Fifth Circuit Upholds PLRA Exhaustion Requirement (p 18)
  26. Imminent Danger Overrides Three Strikes (p 18)
  27. Exhaustion Not Required for Bivens Claim (p 19)
  28. Pennsylvania Brutality Suit Settled for $5,000 (p 19)
  29. The Lucasville Trials (p 20)
  30. Warden's Smoking Ban Violates BOP Rules (p 22)
  31. Weapon Possession in Federal Prison Always Considered a "Violent Offense" (p 23)
  32. Interstate Compact Violations Not Cognizable Under § 1983 (p 23)
  33. News in Brief (p 24)
  34. Felon Possession of Firearm Nonviolent Offense (p 26)
  35. Prisoner May Not File Unsigned Complaint for Another Prisoner (p 26)
  36. Error to Dismiss Rule 41(C) Motion Without Allowing Conversion to Bivens Action (p 26)

Federal Judge Rules Texas Prisons Still Unconstitutional, PLRA Unconstitutional

By Matthew T. Clarke

Following a nineteen-day hearing in the class-action Ruiz lawsuit on prison conditions in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division (TDCJ-ID), which has been pending in his court since 1972, William Wayne Justice, a Texas federal district judge, issued an 167-page opinion and orders detailing ...

Washington Parole Officer Blown Up

On January 26, 1999, Tom Perrine, a Community Corrections Officer (AKA parole officer), for the Washington Department of Corrections, was blown up by a trip wire bomb planted in the carport of his Montesano home. Perrine was leaving for work when he saw a bag on the floor of his ...

Prison Madness, by Terry Kupers, MD (Book Review)

Jossey-Bass, 1999

Reviewed by Dan Pens

Ted Kaczynski is clearly mentally ill. So said six psychiatrists who told the court that the infamous Unabomber is an acutely psychotic paranoid schizophrenic.

In addition to being quite mad, Kaczynski possesses a brilliant intellect; he was a professor of mathematics at UCal Berkeley ...

From the Editor

Since the November, 1996, issue of PLN we have had a Prison Litigation Reform Act News section. Starting with next month's issue we will no longer run a separate PLRA News section in PLN .

When the PLRA was enacted in April, 1996, it was clear it would have an ...

Indictment: The News Media and the Criminal Justice System (Book Review)

Reviewed by Alex Friedmann

Indictment, a report by the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, presents a hard look at the shortcomings of crime coverage by the press. The authors, two experienced journalists, condemn simplistic reporting of complex criminal justice issues that all too often is a mile ...

Notes from the Unrepenitentiary

By Laura Whitehorn

I had thought I'd be gone to a halfway house by now, since I'm only five months from my mandatory release date. But it seems the decision on releasing me has been relegated to "a higher authority." This reminds us, once again, that the u ...

Private Prison Escape Explained

On October 12, 1998, four prisoners escaped from the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) South Central Correctional Center in Wayne County, Tennessee [See: News In Brief, Feb. '99 PLN ]All of the escapees were eventually captured.

On January 15, 1992, CCA warden Kevin Myers appeared before the Tennessee state legislative ...

Corcoran Prisoner Left Hanging

During a 3 a.m. bed check, a Corcoran (Calif.) State Prison guard spotted a prisoner dangling from a noose in a darkened corner of his ad-seg cell. But rather than pop open the cell door and determine whether he was dead or alive, prison guards remained outside for 18 ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Discovery)

In this column, I will talk about the importance of doing discovery in any civil case in which you are involved. I will first describe what discovery is and what it is for, then explain why it is so important for you to use discovery tools in your lawsuit, and ...

Washington Prisoners Damage Colorado Private Prison

Amajor prisoner uprising rolled through a for-profit prison at Olney Springs, Colorado, for six hours, causing extensive damage. State prison SWAT teams were called in from as far as 200 miles away to regain control of the prison.

The incident took place Friday, March 5, 1999, and was the second ...

Washington Prisoners Brutalized in Colorado Private Prison

[Editor's Note: The corporate media in Colorado and Washington alike reported on the uprising by Washington prisoners at the Olney Springs prison. They uniformly parroted the line by prison officials that the prisoners had revolted because they were unhappy at being unable to smoke. As usual, prisoners' grievances are ...

CCA - Prison Realty Merger Approved

A merger between Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) and Prison Realty Trust was approved by shareholders of both companies on Dec. 1, and Dec. 3, 1998, respectively. CCA had spun-off Prison Realty Trust in July 1997, then announced merger plans last April [See: CCA Sells Self; Wackenhut Creates REIT," PLN ...

They Killed a Man, Not a Number

[Editor's Note: South Carolina killed Andy Smith on December 18, 1998. He was the 500th person executed in the U.S. since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Like a thousand other editors, I wanted to cover it. I asked South Carolina death row prisoner David Hill, who ...

Violence Takes a Toll at New Mexico Wackenhut Prison

The 1200-bed Lea County Correctional Facility (LCCF), a New Mexico state prison operated by Florida-based Wackenhut Corrections Corp., has been plagued by nine prisoner stabbings during its first six months of operation, including two that resulted in the deaths of two prisoners.

Jose Montoya, a 44-year-old LCCF prisoner, died December ...

CMS Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $75,000

In 1998 Correctional Medical services (CMS) and the estate of Mark Murphy settled a wrongful death suit for $75,000. CMS is the largest provider of privatized medical care to prisoners and jail detainees.

Mark Murphy was imprisoned at the Delaware Correctional Center (DCC) in Smyrna, Delaware. In June, 1992 ...

Court Screening Applies to Paid Suits Too

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that 28 U.S.C. § 1915A allows district courts to dismiss as frivolous even lawsuits where the filing fee has been prepaid in full. The court also held that challenges to conditions of confinement in a Texas Administrative Segregation (ad seg ...

Failing to Provide Disabled Prisoner Showers for Two Months Cruel and Unusual

The Fifth Circuit court of appeals has held that failing to accommodate a disabled prisoner whose disability and close confinement accommodations prevented him from showering states a claim under the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Mondric Bradley, a Mississippi state prisoner with a disabled leg, filed ...

Judge Throws Out Corcoran Sanctions

by W. Wisely

As state and federal investigations into brutality, corruption, and cover-ups at California's Corcoran prison expand, as the ink on multi-million dollar settlement checks is barely dried, and as the grass grown over the bodies of young men gunned down by guards for entertainment thickens on the ...

Juveniles Held Hostage for Profit by CSC in Florida

According to a consultant hired by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Pahokee Youth Development Center (Juvenile prison) operated by the Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) kept ten juvenile detainees beyond their release dates for no other reason than to beef up corporate profits.

Consultant David Bachman wrote in a ...

Florida Porn Ban Challenged

On December 31, 1998, an amended complaint was filed in the US district court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami challenging the Florida Department of Corrections' ban on sexually explicit material. In 1998 the Florida DOC changed Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 33-3.012 to mandate the censorship of ...

Mitigation Instruction and Excluding Indemnification Evidence Reversible Error

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that a district court erred when it did not allow a jail detainee plaintiff to introduce evidence of a state indemnification statute after the defendants told a jury that a damages verdict would adversely affect them personally. The court also held ...

Parole Officials Liable for False Information in Parole Violation Arrest Warrant

A federal district court in New Jersey has held that parole officials are liable for causing the arrest of a parolee based upon false information.

Robert Friedland, a New Jersey state prisoner, was paroled in August, 1995. Subsequently he was the subject of two revocation actions.

The first revocation action ...

Pardon Satisfies Heck

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that a governor's pardon invalidates a criminal conviction in order to permit a 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim for damages to proceed. Johnny Wilson, a mentally retarded Missourian, pleaded guilty to a murder he did not commit in order ...

Federal Prisoners Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies Before Suing

The court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that federal prisoners must exhaust administrative remedies before filing a Bivens suit against prison officials.

Michael Alexander, a federal prisoner, filed a Bivens suit challenging the constitutionality of prison regulations prohibiting prisoners from receiving certain sexually explicit materials, 28 C ...

Fifth Circuit Upholds PLRA Exhaustion Requirement

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a prisoner's 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing suit as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. However, the claims were dismissed without prejudice ...

Imminent Danger Overrides Three Strikes

The court of appeals for the Third Circuit held that conditions allegedly resulting from a vent emitting particles of dust and lint into a cell constitute a serious physical injury for purposes of circumventing the "three strikes" provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

In August 1996, a Pennsylvania ...

Exhaustion Not Required for Bivens Claim

Exhaustion Not Required for Bivens Claims

The court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that federal prisoners pressing Bivens claims against federal officials for only monetary relief need not exhaust meaningless administrative remedies. The court further held that a party is entitled to narrow its pleading to eliminate non-monetary ...

Pennsylvania Brutality Suit Settled for $5,000

In June, 1998, the Lancaster County prison in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, settled a brutality suit with former prisoner Ruben DeJesus by paying him $5,000 in damages and waiving 4,180 in prison rent and $1,128.23 in medical costs.

DeJesus filed suit after being beaten by prison guard Craig ...

The Lucasville Trials

[Editors' note: The identity of persons who provided information to the author confidentially has been withheld. ]

On April 21, 1993, 407 prisoners who for eleven days had occupied the L cell block at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio, surrendered to authorities. Nine prisoners and one guard ...

Warden's Smoking Ban Violates BOP Rules

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that a warden's ban on smoking in a prison camp violated federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) rules requiring that warden's designate outdoor smoking areas.

The warden of the BOP camp in Sheridan, Oregon banned smoking in the camp even ...

Weapon Possession in Federal Prison Always Considered a "Violent Offense"

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that possession of any weapons in prison constitute a "violent offense" for federal sentencing guidelines purposes. Grant Vahovick, a federal prisoner, stabbed prisoner Jeremy Darin in the head and neck with five sharpened pencils bound together with tape. Vahovick was indicted ...

Interstate Compact Violations Not Cognizable Under § 1983

Interstate Compact Violations Not Cognizable Under § 1983

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that violations of the Interstate Corrections Compact (ICC) cannot be challenged via 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in federal court. Emory Ghana, a New Jersey state prisoner, was transferred to the Oregon prison system ...

News in Brief

News In Brief

Antigua: A fire started by prisoners at the centuries-old Her Majesty's Prison in St. John, capital of the former British colony, sent 17 people to a hospital with minor injuries on Jan. 28, 1999.

AZ : On Feb. 18, 1999 charges against three former prisoners accused of ...

Felon Possession of Firearm Nonviolent Offense

The court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that possesion of a firearm by a previously convicted felon is a "nonviolent offense," and federal prisoners who are otherwise eligible for one-year sentence reductions under the "Comprehensive Drug Abuse Treatment Program" (Program) are entitled to the program's benefits.

This ...

Prisoner May Not File Unsigned Complaint for Another Prisoner

The Fifth Circuit court of appeals has held that the a pro se prisoner's civil rights complaint was time barred even though a prisoner assisting the pro se prisoner filed a timely unsigned complaint.

Raul Gonzales, a Texas state prisoner, wanted to file a federal civil rights suit under ...

Error to Dismiss Rule 41(C) Motion Without Allowing Conversion to Bivens Action

Error to Dismiss Rule 41(c) Motion Without Allowing Conversion to Bivens Action

The Fifth Circuit court of appeals has held that a district court erred when it dismissed a prisoner's motion under Rule 41(c), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, without first giving him an opportunity to amend ...

 

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