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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: January, 2000

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Volume 11, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. A Day at the Prison Fun Park (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 3)
  3. State Police Investigate Illinois Prison Industry (p 4)
  4. Arizona Incarceration Cost Setoff Law Upheld (p 5)
  5. Valdes Murder Witness Exiled, Muzzled (p 5)
  6. Amnesty International Calls for Stun Belt Ban (p 6)
  7. Drug Seizures Pay for Death Celebrations (p 7)
  8. California Governor Vetoes Media Access Bill (p 7)
  9. News in Brief (p 8)
  10. Florida DOC Curtails Use of Stun Belts (p 9)
  11. BOP Can't Keep Prisoner Who Refuses to Pay Fine Indefinitely (p 27)
  12. Washington Municipalities Liable for Attacks by Probationers (p 30)

A Day at the Prison Fun Park

"Have you guys been here before?" a female high schooler asks two young guys in baseball caps and shorts. "We have," she goes on. "We liked it so much we came back a second time." I hear an older man saying to his family, with just a tinge of irony, "This place is just like Disneyland, except the lines are on the left side!" As in Disneyland, people are willing to wait an hour or more for a good ride.

A hundred or so folks, of different classes and races, are squished into a large concrete room ringed with American flags. We've just been informed that this is the receiving room for the new Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) administrative maximum security prison in Youngstown, and that the first shipment will be coming in any day now from the maximum-security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. It's the last day of a four-day media blitz by OSP. A ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, April 9, 1999, was followed by a three day "Open House" - advertised in three states - in which the public was invited on guided tours of the prison.

The open house was a primo PR effort, rallying ...

From the Editor

Welcome to another year of PLN. This issue contains our case and subject index for 1999. In 1995 we decided that indexing PLN would greatly enhance its value as a research tool. All of our back issues are indexed and each January we have published the index to the previous year's worth of PLNs.

This will probably be the last year we publish our annual index as part of PLN. As PLN has grown in size our coverage has expanded and so has the index. PLN is currently publishing 28 or 32 pages each month (compared to 10 when we first started.) If we had the funds we could easily publish 40 or 50 pages per issue. However, if we publish more than 32 pages our printer cannot fold the issue and mailing the magazine flat significantly raises our postage costs, to say nothing of our printing bill being 'higher the more pages we print.

With the index now taking up more than half of the January issue, we will probably either mail the index separately, send it on request or post it on our web site in future years.

As always, we welcome comments, suggestions and feedback on ...

State Police Investigate Illinois Prison Industry

According to a highly critical report by the Illinois Auditor General's office released April 21, 1999, a tire recycling industry at the Downstate Lincoln Corr. Center provided up to $325,000 in free recycling services to private businesses over a 2-year period. It is unclear who benefited from the deals because they were informal barter agreements.

Internal prison auditors discovered problems at the tire recycling industry last year and referred the matter to the state police, which began an investigation. Police and prison officials have declined to name the companies that received free services; they also refused to reveal what was bartered in exchange for the tire recycling.

"Correctional Industries has been a program that is not run very well," said Auditor General William Holland. "And it's not just a single item. It's across the board."

Illinois Correctional Industries (ICI) employs about 1,600 prisoners in a variety of programs that include farming, sewing clothes, baking bread, making furniture and recycling tires. The Dept. of Corrections sells the products to state agencies and private companies. In 1998 ICI made a $3.8 million profit, though auditors have questioned why the agency did not collect $280,000 in ...

Arizona Incarceration Cost Setoff Law Upheld

The Arizona Court of Appeals held that, as applied, the state's incarceration cost setoff law does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the anti-abrogation provisions of the Arizona Constitution.

A jury awarded $15,000 to Felix Duarte and $1,500 to Raymond Sidoma for ...

Valdes Murder Witness Exiled, Muzzled

On the cover of the October 1999 PLN was an article describing the July 9, 1999 beating death of "X-Wing" prisoner Frank Valdes at the hands of Florida State Prison (FSP) guards. The day of the killing Valdes' partner and fellow X-Wing prisoner William Van Poyck wrote a letter to a Florida judge describing the incident in graphic detail.

Van Poyck and several other X-Wing prisoners were transferred to Union Correctional Institution shortly after the killing. State investigators said they wanted to prevent any witness intimidation or retaliation by FSP guards.

About two weeks later, in early August, Florida state DOC head Michael Moore instituted a temporary ban on face-to-face media interviews at the state's two highest security prisons: FSP (where Valdes was killed) and Union Correctional (where Van Poyck and other witnesses were stashed). Moore claimed that the media ban was sparked by the governor's concern for crime victims who are traumatized by criminals gaining celebrity status through TV interviews.

"With criminals committing notorious crimes," Moore wrote in a memo posted on the DOC's web site, "with the media eager to publicize them, and with more attention being given to the plight and rights of victims ...

Amnesty International Calls for Stun Belt Ban

In 1996 Amnesty International called on the United States to "establish a rigorous independent inquiry into the use of stun belts and all other types and variants of electro-shock weapons;" it now calls for the outright banning of stun belts. "The use of the stun belt -- an inherently cruel and degrading device -- when there are effective alternatives should be unacceptable in our society. The stun belt clearly violates international standards, including treaties to which the United States is a party," says AI in its June 1999 report, Cruelty in Control? "The Stun Belt and other Electro-Shock equipment in Law Enforcement."

"The stun belt should be immediately banned and the use of other electro-shock weapons such as stun guns, stun shields and tasers should be suspended pending the outcome of a rigorous, independent and impartial inquiry into the use and the effects of the equipment."

Both the 1996 and the 1999 AI reports detail the use of the Remote Electronically Activated Control Technology (REACT) belt, made by Stun Tech, of Cleveland, Ohio, and the Remote Activated Custody Control (RACC) belt made by Nova Products of Cookville, Tennessee. The belts have been in use at least since 1993 and are now part ...

Drug Seizures Pay for Death Celebrations

In 1998 the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office shelled out $1,291.27 for steak dinners to celebrate three death penalty verdicts. The DA's office used money and other assets seized in drug arrests to bankroll the celebratory dinners at a local steak house.

District Attorney Doug Moreau said the dinners were more recognition for hard work and long hours than reward for obtaining a death verdict.

"We know what it is," said attorney Benn Hamilton, who represented a client who received the death penalty. "It is crude. It is morbid. It is an inappropriate use of public money."

Mike Mitchell, who directs a public defender's office said, "I don't think they go out to dinner on every case. If it's not to celebrate the death penalty, I don't know what it's for."

In fact, the DA's office did not spring for a steak dinner after the one capital case in 1998 in which the defendant escaped the death penalty by one vote.

Source: Associated Press

California Governor Vetoes Media Access Bill

In September, 1999 California Governor Gray Davis vetoed legislation that would have rescinded his predecessor's policy of barring reporters from interviewing state prisoners.

The measure was supported by the California Correctional Peace Officers' Association (CCPOA) which said that barring reporters from prison makes their jobs harder, because it gives the public the perception that they [prison guards] have something to hide.

But victims' rights groups persuaded Gov. Davis that the bill would make media darlings out of violent killers and thugs. In a message posted on his web site, Davis said he vetoed the bill because it was "inconsistent with the national trend to reduce, not expand, rights of prisoners (e.g., prohibiting them from profiting from their crimes by selling their 'stories' via book, television or movie rights)."

The bill would have restored past procedures governing media access to prisoners that worked well for 20 years before they were curtailed.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune

News in Brief

CT: In October, 1999, the state DOC announced it would send 900 prisoners to the Wallens Ridge State Prison in Virginia to relieve overcrowding. Wallens Ridge is a "super-max" prison that has been repeatedly cited for human and civil rights abuses by various human rights organizations.

FL: In October, 1999, Steven Manning, a guard at the Florida State Prison in Starke, was fired after being caught in a drug sting. An unidentified prisoner implicated Manning in an escape plot after prison officials discovered guard uniforms and weapons inside the prison. Cooperating with investigators, the prisoner gave Manning $300 in marked bills to smuggle marijuana into the prison for him. Manning was arrested as he left the prison and charged with possession of contraband in a correctional facility after the marked bills were found in his possession.

FL: On October 13, 1999, Broward circuit judge James Cohn held assistant state attorney Alberto Milian in contempt of court and fined him $500 and ordered him to pay $2,600 in court costs. Judge Cohn found that in August, 1999, Milian had assaulted criminal defense attorney Ty Terrell in a hallway outside the courtroom where the two men were trying a robbery case ...

Florida DOC Curtails Use of Stun Belts

After several Florida circuit judges ordered the state prison system to stop using stun belts on prisoners, DOC Chief of Operations James Upchurch ordered the routine use of the of the belts temporarily discontinued, the Palm Beach Post reported in its 23 September, 1999, edition.

State officials say they are investigating why a stun belt malfunctioned June 9, 1999, repeatedly shocking a prisoner who was being transported to the state's sexual predator center (civil commitment detention facility) in Martin County.

Richard Hudson, 30, was being transported to the Martin Treatment Center in a state prison van when the remote-control stun belt discharged, delivering 50,000 volts into his body. The transport guards pulled off the road after they "heard Hudson yelling and kicking the security barrier in the van," prison records obtained by the Post state. The guards say they used a key to disable and remove the belt.

"[Hudson] described an intense pain," said Assistant Public Defender Nellie King of West Palm Beach, "and said he thought he blacked out when he was flopping around in the back of the van with 50,000 volts of electricity going through him -- and it went off twice. These things are ...

BOP Can't Keep Prisoner Who Refuses to Pay Fine Indefinitely

A federal district court judge in Virginia held that a prisoner's refusal to sign an agreement to pay a court ordered fine does not allow the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to keep him imprisoned indefinitely. This ruling amply illustrates the vast power and arrogance of the BOP. Its facts are unusual to say the least.

Jabari Zakiya was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for tax evasion and failing to file income tax returns. He was also fined $25,000, given three years supervised release and a $200 special assessment. He self reported to prison on January 5, 1995 and his sentence, with no good time reductions, should have ended on May 5, 1996. His good time release date was February 29, 1996.

Prior to his scheduled good time release date, the BOP gave Zakiya a form to sign whereby he would agree to pay, while on supervised release, the remaining balance of the fine. Zakiya refused to sign the form for political reasons and has languished in prison ever since, years after his sentence expired! The BOP insists that it can keep Zakiya in prison until he dies if he does not sign the form.

Various pro ...

Washington Municipalities Liable for Attacks by Probationers

The Washington state Supreme Court held that municipalities have a duty to protect others from reasonably foreseeable harm resulting from the dangerous propensities of probationers and pretrial releasees under their supervision.

In 1990 Barry Krantz raped a 6 year old little girl while on Seattle Municipal Court probation for a lewd conduct conviction. He was also on pretrial release while awaiting trial on King County charges stemming from a sexually motivated burglary. At that time, he had a long history of sexual deviancy, including convictions in 1980, 1987 and 1989. He admitted to exposing himself to approximately 400 women.

A negligence action was brought on behalf of the girl against both the City of Seattle and King County, alleging negligent supervision of Krantz that proximately caused the rape. Both the City and County moved for summary judgment, arguing they had no duty to protect others from danger posed by Krantz. The trial court denied their motions and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Hertog v. City of Seattle, 943 P.2d 1153 (1997).

The Supreme Court concluded that its analysis was governed by its holding in Taggart v. State, 822 P.2d 243 (1982) where it held that state parole officers ...


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