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Prison Legal News: February, 2000

Issue PDF
Volume 11, Number 2

In this issue:

  1. California Guards Abuse Young Prisoners (p 1)
  2. Georgia Prisoner Wins $60,000 Retaliation Verdict (p 2)
  3. From the Editor (p 3)
  4. Reviews: Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, 7th ed. (p 4)
  5. Reviews: Finding the Right Lawyer (p 4)
  6. Prisoners' Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada: High School, Vocational, Paralegal and College Courses (p 4)
  7. Reviews: Voices From Within the Prison Walls (p 5)
  8. Federal Criminal Defendant's Handbook: Negotiating the Long, Lonely Road from Arrest, to Prison, to Freedom (p 5)
  9. Enemies of the State: A Frank Discussion of Past Political Movements, Victories and Errors and the Current Political Climate for Revolutionary Struggle Within the USA (p 6)
  10. A Matter of Law (p 6)
  11. Amended Arizona Statute of Limitations Not Retroactive (p 7)
  12. Habeas Challenging Transfer to Private Prison Dismissed (p 7)
  13. Abuse of Force at Virginia's Supermax (p 8)
  14. Tenth Circuit Clarifies Three Strikes (p 10)
  15. Wisconsin Release Account Used to Pay Filing Fees (p 10)
  16. Warden Purged of Contempt (p 10)
  17. Litigation Costs Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy (p 10)
  18. PLRA Doesn't Apply to Civil Commitments (p 10)
  19. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A Applies to All Prisoner Suits (p 10)
  20. Filing Fee Refunded in Habeas Case (p 10)
  21. No Filing Fee Required if IFP Denied in DC Circuit (p 10)
  22. Prison Guard Golf Tourney Tees off Town (p 11)
  23. Washington Prison Slavery Runs Competitors Out of Business (p 12)
  24. Water Jet Companies Challenge Washington Slave Labor Laws (p 13)
  25. Sylvia Baraldini Goes Home After Sixteen Years (p 16)
  26. Torture "Aberrational" in U.S. (p 17)
  27. Israeli Supreme Court Limits Torture (p 17)
  28. Michigan DOC Settles DOJ Sexual Abuse Lawsuit (p 18)
  29. Prison Health Services Refuses to Pay (p 18)
  30. Judicial Screening Applies Only to IFP Suits (p 19)
  31. Lack of Evidence Bars Disciplinary Finding of Guilt (p 19)
  32. Delay in Treating Injured Shoulder States Claim (p 20)
  33. America's Toughest Sheriff Settles for $8.25 Million in Wrongful Death Suit (p 20)
  34. Prison Realty Hires PR Firm (p 21)
  35. "Three Strikes" Provision of PLRA Unconstitutional (p 21)
  36. Florida State Prison Halloween Melee (p 21)
  37. Constitutionality of ADA Upheld by Fourth Circuit (p 22)
  38. Cell Feed Status May Give Jailer Actual Notice of Need to Protect Prisoner (p 22)
  39. New Jersey Sex Offender Porn Ban Upheld (p 23)
  40. PLRA Administrative Remedy Exhaustion Requirement Not Retroactive (p 24)
  41. New York Parole Board Commissioner Convicted (p 24)
  42. Nine Florida Guards Injured in Scuffle (p 25)
  43. Whitestone Foundation (p 25)
  44. Oregon DOC Liable for Attacks by Parolees (p 26)
  45. Miscarriage is Serious Medical Condition (p 26)
  46. Indigence is Cause to Retax Costs (p 27)
  47. Notice of Summary Judgment Requirements Mandatory (p 27)
  48. News in Brief (p 28)

California Guards Abuse Young Prisoners

by W. Wisely


In a developing investigation eerily reminiscent of the abuse, corruption, and cover-ups at Corcoran prison, California Youth Authority guards stand accused of beating, and setting up fights between, youthful offenders at Youth Correctional Facility (YCF) in Chino, California. A six-month investigation disclosed that guards slammed handcuffed prisoners ...

Georgia Prisoner Wins $60,000 Retaliation Verdict

On September 30, 1999, U.S. district court judge Orinda Evans awarded Georgia state prisoner Ray Yelverton $60,000 in compensatory and punitive damages in a retaliation suit against prison officials. Yelverton was convicted of child molestation charges in 1990. He was imprisoned at the Ware State Prison in Waycross ...

From the Editor

PLN's fundraiser to pay for the second staff position has raised $5,645 as of January 10, 2000. We need to raise a total of $24,000 above and beyond what we normally bring in so we will be able to pay for a much needed second office person ...

Reviews: Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, 7th ed.

Reviews: Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, 7th ed.

by Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Nolo Press, 392 pages.

Reviewed by Allan Parmelee


Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a brief and a memorandum of law? Feel intimidated by the "stuff" in a court ...

Reviews: Finding the Right Lawyer

by Jay Isenberg, American Bar Association, 256 pages

Reviewed by Allan Parmelee

Clear and to the point, while easy to understand. In Finding the Right Lawyer, the author presents one of the most concise, detailed and powerful presentations of a checklist of what to look for in a lawyer and ...

Prisoners' Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada: High School, Vocational, Paralegal and College Courses

by Jon Marc Taylor, Audenreed Press, 243 Pages

Reviewed by Paul Wright.

The steady demise of educational programs in prison means that prisoners seeking an education can no longer rely on prisoncrats to provide it. While there are books on the market discussing correspondence courses, they are all aimed at ...

Reviews: Voices From Within the Prison Walls

by D.A. Shelton, News and Letters, 71 pages

Reviewed by Rick Card

"Criminals have become the 'bogeyman' so that corporate America can continue to commit atrocities against the proletariat throughout the nation and around the world," says David Shelton in Voices From Within the Prison Walls. In a book ...

Federal Criminal Defendant's Handbook: Negotiating the Long, Lonely Road from Arrest, to Prison, to Freedom

by Douglas Hill, J.D., Kensington Publishers, 208 pages

Reviewed by Paul Wright.

A common refrain among jailhouse lawyers that have successfully learned how to navigate the legal system while imprisoned is "I wish I knew at the time of my arrest what I know now." Knowledge of how the ...

Enemies of the State: A Frank Discussion of Past Political Movements, Victories and Errors and the Current Political Climate for Revolutionary Struggle Within the USA

By RNB with Marilyn Buck
David Gilbert and Laura
Whitehorn, 84 pages

Review by Paul Wright


The United States government steadfastly denied holding any political prisoners. In reality, it holds over 100 leftist political prisoners imprisoned because of their anti-imperialist activities and beliefs. This booklet contains interviews with three of ...

A Matter of Law

By Mumia Abu-Jamal


Law is simply politics by other means&
- David Kairys, Legal Reasoning


When one looks at public projections of police in the corporate and entertainment media, one thinks of someone who is sworn to follow (as opposed to breaking) the law. Similarly, when one examines the public projections of criminals in the corporate and entertainment media, the reverse image is received: to be one who breaks the law, is to be seen as a base, low individual.

But as many of us have learned over the years, images are not reality; and public media projections often bear little resemblance to the truth.

Consider the case of two Pennsylvania State Troopers (Rodney Smith and Robert Johnson) both of whom were charged with committing crimes, and subsequently dismissed from the force. Once they ...

Amended Arizona Statute of Limitations Not Retroactive

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that an Arizona statutory amendment eliminating the tolling provision for prisoners' suits, did not apply retroactively.

Christian Weaver TwoRivers, an Arizona prisoner, appealed a lower court's dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim under Rule 12(b)(6 ...

Habeas Challenging Transfer to Private Prison Dismissed

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that habeas corpus was not the proper means to challenge a state statute allowing states to confine their prisoners in private prisons in other states. The court also held that a lawsuit challenging prisoners' confinement in private prisons in other states ...

Abuse of Force at Virginia's Supermax

Shoot 'Em if They Step Out of Line

by Dan Pens

Shortly after publication of the July PLN, cover article: "Strip Mining Human Rights in Virginia's Supermax Dungeons", PLN received a letter from a prisoner at Red Onion, one of Virginia's two new "supermax" prisons. "You wouldn't ...

Tenth Circuit Clarifies Three Strikes

The court of appeals for the Tenth circuit held that under 28 U.S.C. 1915(g), which prohibits IFP status for prisoner litigants that have had three or more suits dismissed as frivolous, malicious or for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Habeas petitions ...

Wisconsin Release Account Used to Pay Filing Fees

A federal district court in Wisconsin held that a prisoner's "release account" can be used to pay PLRA filing fees. The Wisconsin DOC takes a percentage of prisoners' money which it places in an account that can only be accessed when the prisoner is released. Frederick Spence filed suit ...

Warden Purged of Contempt

In the August, 1999, issue of PLN we reported Hall v. Stone, 170 F.3d 706 (7th Cir. 1999) in which Bureau of Prisons (BOP) warden John Farello was held in contempt of court for failing to pay a prisoners' PLRA filing fee. In this ruling the appeals court purged ...

Litigation Costs Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

A federal bankruptcy court in Idaho held that the PLRA's modification to the bankruptcy code, 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(7), which exempts from chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge any debt involving filing fees and litigation costs, applies to non prisoners as well as prisoners. The court rejected the ...

PLRA Doesn't Apply to Civil Commitments

A federal district court in Massachusetts held that the PLRA does not apply to sexually dangerous people who are civilly committed, even when the facility they are housed in is in fact a prison administered by the state prison system. In 1975 a consent decree was entered regarding conditions at ...

28 U.S.C. § 1915A Applies to All Prisoner Suits

28 U.S.C. § 1915A Applies to All Prisoner Suits

The court of appeals for the Second circuit held that 28 U.S.C. § 1915A applies to all suits filed by prisoners. Section 1915A requires district courts to screen civil suits filed by prisoners against government officials/entities and dismiss ...

Filing Fee Refunded in Habeas Case

A federal district court in Massachusetts held that a habeas petitioner had incorrectly been required to pay the appellate filing fee. Because the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) filing fee requirements do not apply to habeas petitions the court ordered the filing fee refunded to the prisoner. See: Austin ...

No Filing Fee Required if IFP Denied in DC Circuit

No Filing Fee Required if IFP Denied in DC Circuit:

Reflecting a widening split between the circuits on this issue, the court of appeals for District of Columbia circuit held that when prisoner plaintiffs are denied In Forma Pauperis (IFP) status under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)(the 3 ...

Prison Guard Golf Tourney Tees off Town

Officials of the upstate New York town of Canton will no longer play host to a golf tournament for prison guards after the last event turned into a "drunk fest."

During the August 13, 1999 event, New York prison guards urinated in public view, damaged the greens with golf carts ...

Washington Prison Slavery Runs Competitors Out of Business

PLN has extensively reported that, contrary to the claims of its supporters, prison slave labor has historically cost free world workers their jobs and eliminated businesses who are unable to compete with prison slave wages. Prison slave labor also drives down wages and ill serves prisoners in terms of providing ...

Water Jet Companies Challenge Washington Slave Labor Laws

On August 31, 1999, the Washington Waterjet Workers Association (WWWA) filed suit in King county (Seattle) superior court in Washington, challenging the state Department of Corrections (DOC) practice of allowing private businesses to employ prisoner labor. The defendants are Howard Yarbrough, administrator of the DOC's Division of Correctional Industries ...

Sylvia Baraldini Goes Home After Sixteen Years

Sylvia Baraldini Goes Home after Sixteen Years

by Julia Lutsky

On August 25, 1999, after more than a decade of battle to return to her homeland, Sylvia Baraldini was transferred from the federal prison at Danbury, Connecticut to the Rebibbia prison in Rome, Italy. She traveled in a private jet ...

Torture "Aberrational" in U.S.

On October 15, 1999 the Clinton administration submitted a report to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, admitting abuses in the United States but calling them rare.

"We fully acknowledge in this report there continue to be areas of concern, contention and criticism," said Assistant Secretary of State Harold Koh ...

Israeli Supreme Court Limits Torture

In a Sept. 1999 ruling, Israel's Supreme Court outlawed the systemic torture of Palestinian detainees by the country's security forces.

Israeli authorities had long claimed that "moderate physical pressure" during interrogations was necessary to combat terrorism. Palestinian prisoners, many detained without being charged, were subjected to violent shakings ...

Michigan DOC Settles DOJ Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

This past May, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) which alleged a pattern and practice of sexual misconduct and invasions of privacy at the women's prisons in Michigan. The DOJ filed its suit in 1997 ...

Prison Health Services Refuses to Pay

The U.S. court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a forum selection clause in an indemnity agreement between the Sheriff of Polk Co., Florida and Prison Health Services (PHS), which allowed contract disputes to be brought in the state circuit court, was mandatory rather than permissive.

This ...

Judicial Screening Applies Only to IFP Suits

The court of appeals for the Sixth circuit held that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which requires judicial screening of lawsuits and dismissal under certain conditions, applies only to suits filed in forma pauperis (IFP), or without the pre-payment of the filing fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 ...

Lack of Evidence Bars Disciplinary Finding of Guilt

Lack of Evidence Bars Disciplinary Finding of Guilt Regardless of Punishment Imposed

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that it violates due process to find a prisoner "guilty" of violating a prison disciplinary rule when absolutely no evidence supports the finding. The court held it is immaterial ...

Delay in Treating Injured Shoulder States Claim

A federal district court in Pennsylvania held that prison officials delaying treatment for a prisoner's dislocated shoulder states a claim under the Eighth amendment.

On July 30, 1997, Daniel Petrichko, a Pennsylvania state prisoner, dislocated his shoulder when another prisoner pushed him into a pole. Petrichko immediately sought medical ...

America's Toughest Sheriff Settles for $8.25 Million in Wrongful Death Suit

In 1996 Scott Norberg was arrested for assaulting a Mesa, Arizona police officer and booked into the Maricopa County Jail, which is run by "America's Toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio. The next day Norberg, 35, was choked to death by deputies while strapped in a metal restraint chair. The county ...

Prison Realty Hires PR Firm

Nashville-based Prison Realty Trust, the parent company of Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), has hired a leading public relations firm to improve its image.

In Sept. 1999 Prison Realty retained Los Angeles-based Sitrick & Co., which specializes in crisis management. Sitrick will handle Prison Realty's media relations and communications with ...

"Three Strikes" Provision of PLRA Unconstitutional

A federal district court in Arkansas held that a prisoner had standing to challenge the "three strikes" provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) on equal protection grounds, and that "strict scrutiny" analysis applied. As a result, the provision was declared unconstitutional.

In April 1997, Arkansas state prisoner Wendell ...

Florida State Prison Halloween Melee

According to a report in The Orlando Sentinel, six Florida State Prison guards were injured during a Halloween incident at Florida State Prison.

The disturbance began when FSP prisoner William Stiles set his mattress on fire. Other prisoners complained of respiratory problems because of the smoke and guards began evacuating ...

Constitutionality of ADA Upheld by Fourth Circuit

In the September, 1998, issue of PLN we reported Amos v. Maryland Department of Public Safety, 126 F.3d 589 (4th Cir. 1997) in which the court held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131-12165 and the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. § 794 ...

Cell Feed Status May Give Jailer Actual Notice of Need to Protect Prisoner

The First Circuit has held that the fact a jail supervisor knew a prisoner was on cell feed status may have given him actual notice of the prisoner's protective custody status when he placed the prisoner in a holding cell where he was assaulted by another prisoner.

Shawn Giroux ...

New Jersey Sex Offender Porn Ban Upheld

In the May, 1999, issue of PLN we reported Waterman v. Verniero, 12 F. Supp. 364 (D NJ 1998) where a federal district court preliminarily enjoined a New Jersey law banning sexually oriented material from a sex offender treatment prison. The same article also reported Waterman v. Verniero, 12 F ...

PLRA Administrative Remedy Exhaustion Requirement Not Retroactive

The Second Circuit has held that the Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), does not apply to suits pending prior to the PLRA's enactment.

Abdullah Y. Salahuddin, a New York state prisoner, filed a civil rights suit ...

New York Parole Board Commissioner Convicted

Federal Inquiry Continues

by Julia Lutsky

In April of 1996 John Kim walked out of prison on parole; he had been sentenced four years earlier to four to twelve years for armed robbery. His father, Nam Soo Kim, pastor of one of New York City's largest Korean congregations, had ...

Nine Florida Guards Injured in Scuffle

Heightened tensions between prisoners and guards stemming from the July beating death of Frank Valdes at the hands of Florida State Prison guards may have contributed to a September clash between prisoners and guards at the Union Correctional Center in Raiford.

According to prison officials, six guards were handcuffing Lamar ...

Whitestone Foundation

Whitestone Foundation Focusing on New Post-Sentence Civil Commitment Laws

Whitestone Foundation exposes programs designed to warehouse sex offenders. Since organizing in 1998, Whitestone has gained national attention. Our missions: 1) provide critical analysis of civil commitment programs designed to re-incarcerate criminals in indefinite confinement (touted as mental health treatment), and ...

Oregon DOC Liable for Attacks by Parolees

The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a trial court judgment against the Department of Corrections (DOC), concluding that violent crimes committed by a parolee were a reasonably foreseeable consequence of inadequate parole supervision.

In 1984, Cal Brown was convicted of assaulting an Oregon woman. At that time, he had an ...

Miscarriage is Serious Medical Condition

A federal district court in Maine held that a miscarriage is a serious medical condition, but dismissed a state law medical negligence claim for failure to comply with the pre-suit screening requirements of the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTC).

On June 13, 1996, Melissa Ferris was booked into the Kennebec ...

Indigence is Cause to Retax Costs

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that a district court abused its discretion in denying a motion to retax costs when the losing plaintiff was indigent and the effect of taxing costs against the plaintiff would chill future civil rights claimants.

This non prison case arose when ...

Notice of Summary Judgment Requirements Mandatory

The U.S. court of appeals for the Second Circuit held that it is inappropriate to enter summary judgment against a pro se litigant if there is no indication that the litigant understands the requirements for summary judgment.

In 1995, Stanley McPherson was a state prisoner confined to the Orleans ...

News in Brief

Brazil: More than 40 prisoners escaped from a jail in Sao Paulo on August 15, 1999 after twenty men overpowered, beat and tied up the guards and unlocked the cell doors. A shoot-out with police left one of the jailhouse liberators dead.

CA: A July 10, 1999 brawl at the ...