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Prison Legal News: April, 2000

Issue PDF
Volume 11, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. California's No Parole Board (p 1)
  2. Guards Fired in Massachusetts Sex Abuse Cases (p 3)
  3. Virginia DOC Says 'No Pattern' of Sexual Abuse (p 4)
  4. No Qualified Immunity for Unsafe Working Conditions (p 4)
  5. From the Editor (p 5)
  6. Warrant Required Despite Private Prison Contract (p 5)
  7. Discovering America As It Is (p 6)
  8. Race to Incarcerate (p 6)
  9. Washington Health and Safety Standards Apply to Prison Work Places (p 7)
  10. Washington Prisoner May Not Challenge Underlying Infraction in Four Strike Disciplinary Violation (p 7)
  11. Four Florida Prison Guards Face Murder Charges (p 8)
  12. U.S. Political Prisoner Info (p 8)
  13. Texas Prison Rocked by Guard Killing, Riot (p 9)
  14. Two Die during Latest Angola Escape Attempt (p 10)
  15. Prison Must Provide Medication Supply to Released Prisoners (p 11)
  16. New York Federal District Court Rules Nassau County Strip Search Policy Unconstitutional (p 12)
  17. Virginia Court Requires Pro Se Prisoner Plaintiff to Appear Via Video Conference (p 12)
  18. Eleven Guards Injured in CA Ruckus (p 13)
  19. Flight to Texas Execution 'Not Life Threatening' (p 13)
  20. HIV+ Prisoners Not Qualified For Rehabilitation Act Benefits (p 14)
  21. Turkish Political Prisoners Massacred (p 16)
  22. NY Prisoner Worker Awarded $90,000 in Accident (p 16)
  23. Notes from the Unrepenitentiary (p 17)
  24. $4.1 Million Award In Suit Over Sexual Assault of Prisoners by Official (p 18)
  25. No Immunity for Media Defendants in Ridealong Suit (p 18)
  26. Error in Electronic Docket Tolls Appeal Deadline (p 18)
  27. ADA Applies to Parole Claims (p 19)
  28. Class Action Prisoners Must Show Actual Injury to Maintain Access to Courts Relief (p 20)
  29. $105,000 Awarded in Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Suit (p 20)
  30. Long Term Segregation of Security Threat Group Okay (p 21)
  31. Seventh Circuit Prisoners Must Exhaust Futile Grievance Remedies (p 22)
  32. California PIA Chief, Folsom Mayor, Arrested (p 22)
  33. Pretrial Cold Cell Violates Fourteenth Amendment (p 23)
  34. En Banc Ninth Circuit Upholds Jail Porn Ban (p 24)
  35. Denial Of Food and Medicine Supports Eighth Amendment Claim (p 25)
  36. $3,000 Awarded in Wrongful Release Suit (p 25)
  37. South Carolina Prisoner Wins Excessive Use of Force Suit Pro Se (p 26)
  38. Qualified Immunity Granted for Pre-1996 ADA Violation (p 27)
  39. Tenth Circuit Holds Prison Officials Liable for Failing to Provide Religious Meals (p 27)
  40. News in Brief (p 28)

California's No Parole Board

With no change in the statutory standards for lifer parole hearings, the CA Board of Prison Terms (BPT) has reduced its rate of parole grants from 50% in 1978 to 0.2% in 1998. In April, 1999, newly elected Governor Davis (who has the constitutional power to recommend BPT en ...

Guards Fired in Massachusetts Sex Abuse Cases

Four guards were fired from the Suffolk County House of Correction in Boston in August and October 1999 on charges that they had sexual contact with female prisoners. One of the prisoners became pregnant in what was described by the Boston Globe as a "guard-inmate drugs-for-sex ring." The charges rocked ...

Virginia DOC Says 'No Pattern' of Sexual Abuse

In 1999 the Virginia Department of Corrections conducted an internal review of 44 complaints of sexual assault, harassment and fraternization between prisoners and staff of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, all since the prison opened in April 1998. Even though 13 employees have been fired or resigned due to ...

No Qualified Immunity for Unsafe Working Conditions

A federal district court in New York held that a risk of future harm to a prisoner from dangerous chemicals at his prison job violates a clearly established right, from which prison officials are not immune. The court further held that the statute of limitations in these matters does not ...

From the Editor

As this issue goes to press it is too early to have received any response on the matching grant campaign. Between May and January 2001, each issue of PLN will contain a bar graph showing how much has been donated to date and how much we need to raise to ...

Warrant Required Despite Private Prison Contract

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a home detainee's contract with a private confinement company allowing warrantless home searches was invalid under Louisiana law. Therefore, any evidence from a warrantless search of his home was properly suppressed.

Joshua Francis was sentenced to two years in ...

Discovering America As It Is

by Valdas Anelauskas, Clarity Press, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, 1999, 584 pages

Review by Hans Sherrer


Discovering America is Valdas Anelauskas' challenge to the oft heard claim that America is the greatest country in the world.

As a former Soviet dissident who emigrated to the United States ten years ago with ...

Race to Incarcerate

by Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project,The New Press, 1999, 224 pages

Review by Rick Card


If understanding the social, political, and financial issues associated with our nation's massive prison system was a solution in itself, Marc Mauer's book, Race to Incarcerate, would spell the end of ...

Washington Health and Safety Standards Apply to Prison Work Places

The Washington State Supreme Court has held that the Dept. of Corrections (DOC) must comply with electrical licensing and safety laws, but not competitive bidding and prevailing wage laws, when managing prisoner labor.

The National Electrical Contractor Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) filed a complaint ...

Washington Prisoner May Not Challenge Underlying Infraction in Four Strike Disciplinary Violation

In the November 1998 issue of PLN we reported on In re Gronquist, 89 Wn.App. 596 P.2d 497 (WA Ct.App.Div.I 1997), where the Washington Court of Appeals granted Derek Gronquist's personal restraint petition alleging that he had been denied due process at a disciplinary ...

Four Florida Prison Guards Face Murder Charges

Nine guards from Florida State Prison's "X-Wing" were suspended while state law enforcement investigators probed their role in the July 17, 1999 beating death of X-Wing prisoner Frank Valdes [see page 1 of the October 1999 PLN]. On February 2, 2000, four of the suspended guards were indicted and ...

U.S. Political Prisoner Info

The Anarchist Black Cross Federation is a group dedicated to providing political and material support to political prisoners and prisoners of war. They currently distribute one of the largest selections of books, tapes and videos by and about American political prisoners anywhere. The proceeds of the sales go directly to ...

Texas Prison Rocked by Guard Killing, Riot

A guard at the McConnell Unit prison in Beeville, Texas, was fatally stabbed a week before Christmas, 1999. Three days later 80 convicts escaped from their ad-seg cells and took control of the unit for three and a half hours before riot squads regained control.

Texas prison spokesman Larry Todd ...

Two Die during Latest Angola Escape Attempt

Two Die During Latest Angola Escape Attempt

by Dan Pens

A guard and a prisoner were killed December 28, 1999 at Louisiana's maximum security penitentiary at Angola during a bungled escape attempt that ended after a two hour hostage standoff.

The guard, Captain David Knapps, 49, was beaten to ...

Prison Must Provide Medication Supply to Released Prisoners

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Ninth Circuit has held that prison officials must provide a supply of medications to prisoners requiring medication when they are released from prison.

Timothy Wakefield, a California state prisoner who requires psychotropic medication to control his Organic Delusional Disorder (ODD) and attendant violent outbursts, filed ...

New York Federal District Court Rules Nassau County Strip Search Policy Unconstitutional

Ray E. Shain was arrested in Nassau County, New York, after police received a domestic disturbance call, and subsequently remanded by a Nassau County District Court Judge to the custody of the Nassau County Sheriff at the NCCC. Upon arrival, in accordance with the uncontested written policy of NCCC, Shain ...

Virginia Court Requires Pro Se Prisoner Plaintiff to Appear Via Video Conference

by Matthew T. Clarke

A federal district court in Virginia has held that a pro se prisoner must present his civil rights case to the jury via video conferencing.

Michael S. Edwards, a Virginia state prisoner, filed a civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Virginia guards ...

Eleven Guards Injured in CA Ruckus

Eleven guards were treated for injuries resulting from a November 22, 1999 incident at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville, California prison authorities said.

One guard had two teeth knocked out, The Sacramento Bee reported, during an attack by about 60 prisoners who refused to be strip searched.

"They ...

Flight to Texas Execution 'Not Life Threatening'

Texas prisoner David Martin Long had a date with the nation's busiest executioner (who had already dispatched 31 souls in 1999) on Wednesday, December 8, 1999. But Long decided to go out on his own terms: prison guards found him unconscious from a drug overdose Monday morning. Long had ...

HIV+ Prisoners Not Qualified For Rehabilitation Act Benefits

The U.S. court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, sitting en banc, held that because prisoners infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV+) pose a "significant risk" of transmission to uninfected prisoners, they are not "otherwise qualified," as required under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (RA) for benefits under that ...

Turkish Political Prisoners Massacred

On September 26, 1999, eleven political prisoners in a Turkish prison were massacred by police. The victims were imprisoned members of the People's Revolutionary Liberation Front Party (DHKP-C) and the Communist Party of Turkey-Marxist-Leninist (TKP-ML). Both organizations are currently waging people's wars to overthrow the Turkish government.

On ...

NY Prisoner Worker Awarded $90,000 in Accident

In 1995 William Terry was a prisoner at the Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility where he worked as a hay shredding machine operator on the prison dairy farm. While operating the shredding machine without safety shields, Terry's glove became caught in the machine and severed part of his right middle ...

Notes from the Unrepenitentiary

Thinking About Dying and Living at the End of the 2nd Western World Millennium

by Marilyn Buck

Because I'm a Federal prisoner in California, I hear more about what goes on in California state prisons than in other states. Fortunately there exists a progressive, growing prisoner support movement with ...

$4.1 Million Award In Suit Over Sexual Assault of Prisoners by Official

$4.1 Million Award In Suit Over Sexual Assault of Prisoners By Official

by Matthew T. Clarke

A federal district court in Texas has awarded two female prisoners who were the victims of sexual assault by a prison official $4.1 million in a jury trial.

Plaintiffs, "A" and "B ...

No Immunity for Media Defendants in Ridealong Suit

In the October, 1999, issue of PLN we reported Hanlon v. Berger, 119 S.Ct. 1706 (1999) where the court held that it violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. constitution for police to bring media reporters and photographers with them when they enter the homes of people being ...

Error in Electronic Docket Tolls Appeal Deadline

The court of appeals for the Eleventh circuit held that a lawyer's reliance on a district court's electronic docketing system to monitor a case's progress would toll the 30 day time limit in which to file a notice of appeal.

As state and federal courts increasingly rely ...

ADA Applies to Parole Claims

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to claims that prisoners are denied parole primarily due to past histories of substance abuse. The court held that habeas corpus is not the sole remedy for this type of claim. The ruling ...

Class Action Prisoners Must Show Actual Injury to Maintain Access to Courts Relief

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Sixth Circuit has held that prisoner plaintiffs in a class action access to courts lawsuit must show widespread actual injury to maintain an injunction previously ordered by the federal district court.

This involves two consolidated class-action lawsuits by Michigan state prisoners. The Hadix v. Johnson ...

$105,000 Awarded in Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Suit

On April 14, 1999, a Wayne county jury in Michigan awarded Willie Thomas Jr., Larry Reid and Edward Grant $35,000 in damages each. The three men had been Michigan state prisoners who were released after serving their entire sentences. Several months later, the Michigan DOC ordered their arrest claiming ...

Long Term Segregation of Security Threat Group Okay

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that the long-term segregation of a purported religious sect as a Security Threat Group (STG) violates neither the Free Exercise nor the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It further held that long-term administrative segregation (ad seg ...

Seventh Circuit Prisoners Must Exhaust Futile Grievance Remedies

In two separate rulings, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that prisoners must exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit, regardless of the relief sought and no matter how ineffectual the prison grievance system may be.

Eduardo Perez, a Wisconsin state prisoner incarcerated in Texas, slipped, fell and injured ...

California PIA Chief, Folsom Mayor, Arrested

On January 27, 2000, Reggie "party meister" Drew, 57, was arrested in a room at the B-7-B Motel in a seedy industrial area of North Sacramento. Drew was charged with five felony and misdemeanor counts for soliciting an undercover policewoman for unspecified sex acts. Drew allegedly offered to pay for ...

Pretrial Cold Cell Violates Fourteenth Amendment

A federal district court in Illinois held that a pretrial detainee's alleged exposure to low temperature in a detention cell, while naked and with no alternative means of protecting himself from the cold, supported a claim of inadequate shelter against county jail deputies and thus stated a claim of ...

En Banc Ninth Circuit Upholds Jail Porn Ban

By Paul Wright

In the February, 1999, issue of PLN we reported Mauro v. Arpaio, 147 F.3d 1137 (9th Cir. 1998) where a panel of the Ninth circuit appeals court held that a jail policy banning all sexually explicit material was unconstitutional. That ruling was vacated when the court ...

Denial Of Food and Medicine Supports Eighth Amendment Claim

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that a prisoner's medical condition was sufficiently serious to support an Eighth Amendment claim, and material fact issues existed as to whether officials acted with deliberate indifference toward the prisoner's serious medical condition.

Orrin S. Reed, a prisoner at ...

$3,000 Awarded in Wrongful Release Suit

On October 29, 1999, the New York court of claims awarded. $3,000 in damages to Frank Nicchio. Nicchio was a New York state prisoner who was wrongly held 30 days past his release date from prison. Nicchio was granted summary judgment on the issue of liability. The case went ...

South Carolina Prisoner Wins Excessive Use of Force Suit Pro Se

South Carolina Prisoner Wins Excessive Use Of Force Suit Pro Se

By Matthew T. Clarke

In an unpublished opinion, the Fourth Circuit court of appeals has held that a South Carolina federal district court improperly failed to consider a prisoner's affidavit regarding an assault and torture by guards and ...

Qualified Immunity Granted for Pre-1996 ADA Violation

The court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that it was not clearly established before 1996 that the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA), and Rehabilitation Act of 1973, (Rehabilitation Act), apply to state prisoners. As such, the court concluded that prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity for ADA ...

Tenth Circuit Holds Prison Officials Liable for Failing to Provide Religious Meals

Tenth Circuit Holds Prison Officials Liable For Failing To Provide Religious Meals

The Tenth Circuit court of ap- peals has held that prison officials unconstitutionally interfered with a punitive segregation prisoner's exercise of religion when they failed to accommodate the needs of his religious beliefs by delivering Ramadan meals ...

News in Brief

AR: On January 17, 2000, the state prison system banned all tobacco products on prison property. The ban affects 12,000 prisoners and 3,000 employees.

Brazil: On January 1, 2000, riot police stormed the Presidente Bernardes Penitentiary to end a 60 hour uprising by hundreds of prisoners demanding transfers ...