Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: March, 2000

Issue PDF
Volume 11, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. Youngstown Case Reveals New Legal Issues for Prisoner Advocates, State Correctional Agencies and Private Prison Companies (p 1)
  2. $1.5 Million Settlement in CA Jail Suicide Attempt (p 7)
  3. From the Editor (p 8)
  4. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (p 9)
  5. Hearing Required Prior to Automatic Termination Under PLRA (p 11)
  6. Guarding Their Silence: Corcoran Guards Acquitted of Rape (p 12)
  7. Megan's Law Fallout (p 14)
  8. CCPOA Runs Corcoran TV 'Ads' (p 14)
  9. Review: With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America (p 15)
  10. The Keeper of the Keys (p 15)
  11. Gender and Justice: Women, Drugs, and Sentencing Policy (p 16)
  12. Dean Injunction Clarified in Washington 35% Suit (p 17)
  13. Washington DOC Settles Mail Censorship Suit (p 18)
  14. Washington DOC Public Disclosure Overcharges Struck Down (p 19)
  15. Class Certification Appeals Must Be Timely (p 20)
  16. New Folsom Year Long Lockdown (p 20)
  17. Michigan DOC Settles Lawsuit Over PLN Book Ban (p 21)
  18. Michigan Legislature Kills Class Action Suit by Female Prisoners (p 22)
  19. PLRA Attorney Fees Cap Violates Equal Protection Clause (p 23)
  20. No Liberty Interest in Erroneous Parole Release (p 23)
  21. Third Circuit Evenly Split on PLRA Attorney Fee Cap (p 24)
  22. Brazoria Trial Brings Acquittals, Convictions in Jail Beatings (p 25)
  23. CCA Facility Cited for Sex Scandal (p 25)
  24. ADA and RA May Require Sign Language Interpreters (p 26)
  25. Out-of-State Prisoner Housing Contracts Subject to Long-Arm Jurisdiction (p 27)
  26. News in Brief (p 28)

Youngstown Case Reveals New Legal Issues for Prisoner Advocates, State Correctional Agencies and Private Prison Companies

As the number of prisoners in private lock-ups continue to increase, lawsuits filed by them, not unexpectedly, are also on the rise. While that is no surprise to corrections professionals and litigators, what is new are some of the legal theories being pressed and the entities named as defendants. This ...

$1.5 Million Settlement in CA Jail Suicide Attempt

On June 6, 1996, a California man was arrested on charges of drunk driving after being involved in a traffic accident. He was unable to make bail and was confined in the Los Angeles county jail to await trial. While in the jail he became depressed, incoherent and refused to ...

From the Editor

Thanks to the response our fundraiser has achieved, PLN was recently able to hire a second staff person, Linda, to help with our essential office tasks. Right now the main thing she has been doing is helping Fred, our office manager, get caught up on the many essential tasks that ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics

In my last column, I discussed when you can appeal from a trial court ruling against you and how to appeal if you decide to. I left for this second column on appeals the large question: Should I appeal? In other words, will it do me any good to appeal ...

Hearing Required Prior to Automatic Termination Under PLRA

The Eleventh Circuit has held that a federal district court must hold a hearing on the current conditions at the prison and the scope of the prospective relief to be terminated before terminating prospective relief in a prison conditions lawsuit under the PLRA's "automatic termination" provision, 18 U.S ...

Guarding Their Silence: Corcoran Guards Acquitted of Rape

The acquittal in November, 1999, of four California prison Guards charged with arranging for a young prisoner to be raped by Corcoran State Prison's notorious "Booty Bandit" was the result of a massive legal and political show of force on the part of the state's prison guards union ...

Megan's Law Fallout

by W. Wisely


The 1996 Megan's Law, an amendment to the 1994 Wetterling Act, requires public notice when convicted sex offenders move into a community. Some 14 states provide that public notice by posting photographs, addresses, and conviction records of sex offenders on Web pages, according to the Law ...

CCPOA Runs Corcoran TV 'Ads'

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), a union representing California prison guards, has launched a year-long campaign of 30-second television ads aimed at improving the public perception of Corcoran prison guards.

The five 30-second ads all begin with the line: "Corcoran officers: They walk the toughest beat in the ...

Review: With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America

by Scott Christianson,Northeastern University Press, 1998

Review by Rick Card

Prisoners have played an important role in the entire story of America. From the founding of the New World by Christopher Columbus to the economic power of their cheap labor today, convicts are as germane to America as apple ...

The Keeper of the Keys

by Lee Dickenson, Lost Coast Press, 1999, 161 pages

Review by Rick Card


In a sequel to The Sounding Tree, published last year [PLN, May 1999], Lee Dickenson now offers a bundle of unrelated tales about his experience as a Connecticut prison guard. The stories range from administrative incompetence to ...

Gender and Justice: Women, Drugs, and Sentencing Policy

A new study reveals a dramatic surge nationwide of women incarcerated for drug offenses - an 888% increase between 1986-96, in comparison to a rise of 129% for all non-drug offenses. The study by The Sentencing Project documents that while the women's prison population more than doubled during this period ...

Dean Injunction Clarified in Washington 35% Suit

Wright Acted On

PLN has extensively reported the state and federal litigation challenging the constitutionality of RCW 72.09.480. RCW 72.09.480 is the statute which allows the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) to seize 35% of all funds sent to Washington prisoners. As reported in the August ...

Washington DOC Settles Mail Censorship Suit

In early October, 1999, the Wash- ington Department of Corrections settled a wide ranging lawsuit challenging various aspects of its mail censorship policies. PLN reported the filing of the suit in its November, 1997, issue. The lawsuit had publisher plaintiffs Humanists of Washington, the ACLU's National Prison Project and ...

Washington DOC Public Disclosure Overcharges Struck Down

On September 17, 1999, Spokane superior court judge Ellen Clark ruled that the Washington Department of corrections has been overcharging for Public Disclosure Act (PDA) requests. RCW 42.17 allows citizens to seek documents from state and local government agencies. RCW 42.17.300 allows agencies to charge "reasonable fees ...

Class Certification Appeals Must Be Timely

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that parties seeking to immediately appeal decisions to grant or deny class certification must do so within the ten days prescribed by Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) 23(f).

Women prisoners in the Cook county (Chicago) jail in Illinois filed ...

New Folsom Year Long Lockdown

by W. Wisely


Northern California Mexican prisoners have been locked down since November 21, 1998, at New Folsom Prison's C Facility. The lockdown began when Northern and Southern California Mexican prisoners, long time enemies, fought on the yard. Ken Hurdle, an ombudsman appointed by California Department of Corrections Director ...

Michigan DOC Settles Lawsuit Over PLN Book Ban

In April, 1999, the Michigan DOC settled a class action lawsuit filed by Prison Legal News, Common Courage Press, and Michigan prisoners Larry Lynch and Calvin Holmes over the censorship of the PLN anthology, The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry (TCOA). Michigan Department ...

Michigan Legislature Kills Class Action Suit by Female Prisoners

In March, 1996, seven women pris- oners filed suit in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court against the Michigan Department of Corrections, Director Kenneth McGinnis, and ten individual wardens and officers. (96-6986 CZ) The complaint alleged that the plaintiffs had all "been subjected to various degrees of sexual assault, sexual harassment ...

PLRA Attorney Fees Cap Violates Equal Protection Clause

by Matthew T. Clarke


A federal district court in Michigan has held that the attorney fees cap in the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(d), violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States ...

No Liberty Interest in Erroneous Parole Release

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that a North Carolina prisoner had no liberty interest in remaining free when he was erroneously paroled, lived a law abiding life, and was then reimprisoned two years later when the mistake was discovered.

In the September, 1999 ...

Third Circuit Evenly Split on PLRA Attorney Fee Cap

Circuit has barely upheld the constitutionallity of the Attorney Fee Cap Provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(d).

Michael Collins brought suit alleging the defendants violated his constitutional rights when he was attacked by a guard dog while he was incarcerated in the ...

Brazoria Trial Brings Acquittals, Convictions in Jail Beatings

In October, 1999, a federal jury returned acquittals and a minor conviction against private prison guards charged with beating and abusing Missouri prisoners. As previously reported in PLN, some 100 Missouri prisoners were sent to the Brazoria county jail in Texas to relieve overcrowding in the Missouri prison system. The ...

CCA Facility Cited for Sex Scandal

On Sept. 17, 1999, Colorado Dept. of Corrections officials confirmed that they are investigating allegations of brutality, sexual misconduct and drug trafficking involving guards at the CCA-operated Kit Carson Corr. Facility in Burlington, which houses around 650 state prisoners. The investigation began in July but was not disclosed until it ...

ADA and RA May Require Sign Language Interpreters

Eighth Circuit held that a deaf-mute prisoner stated a prima facie claim against the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) for violations of the Rehabilitation Act (RA) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to provide him with sign language interpreter assistance. The court further held ...

Out-of-State Prisoner Housing Contracts Subject to Long-Arm Jurisdiction

A federal court in Missouri has held that Missouri prisoners whose incarceration was contracted to Brazoria County, Texas, could sue Brazoria County in Missouri.

This is a lawsuit filed in Missouri federal district court by Missouri state prisoners who were abused while incarcerated in Brazoria County pursuant to its contract ...

News in Brief

Bermuda: On December 22, 1999, the British territory abolished the death penalty and corporal punishment.

CA: In December, 1999, Charles Scott was arrested by Kern county sheriff's deputies after they found 34 rifles and pistols, tear gas, stingball and flash bang grenades in his home. Police claim the items ...