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Prison Legal News: June, 2000

Issue PDF
Volume 11, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. The New Bedlam (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 4)
  3. Riot at Private Prison (p 4)
  4. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (p 5)
  5. Wisconsin Prisoners Rebel at Private Tennessee Prison (p 7)
  6. My Statement in Response to the State (p 8)
  7. Defiant Texas Death Row Activist Executed (p 8)
  8. New York Prisoner Wins $50,000 In Failure To Treat Mental Illness Suit (p 9)
  9. $59,177 in Damages and Fees Awarded in Georgia Braille Suit (p 9)
  10. Contradictory Disciplinary Hearing Evidence Not Precluded From Use of Excessive Force Suit (p 10)
  11. Retaliation Claim Requires Trial (p 11)
  12. $15,000 Awarded to Ohio Prisoner Beaten by Guards (p 11)
  13. Attica Suit Settled for $12 Million (p 12)
  14. Attica Uprising Verdict Reversed (p 12)
  15. Illinois Jail Guards Charged with Smuggling Gun (p 13)
  16. Women in Prison: GAO Report (p 14)
  17. Marijuana Law, 2nd Edition (p 14)
  18. Federal Judge Hits BOP Mule with Two-by-Four (p 15)
  19. Republican Political Prisoners in the North of Ireland (p 16)
  20. Prison Working Conditions Protected by Eighth Amendment (p 17)
  21. Mark Cook Freed (p 17)
  22. U.S. Supreme Court to Revisit Civil Commitment (p 18)
  23. Illinois Phone Suit Dismissed (p 19)
  24. West Virginia Prisoners Protest Visit/Phone Restrictions (p 19)
  25. Former BOP Director Fingered in Sex Scandal (p 20)
  26. Colorado Prison Population Exploding (p 21)
  27. Four Texas Guards Nabbed in Bribery Sting (p 21)
  28. $200,000 Awarded in Michigan Jail Wrongful Medication Suit (p 22)
  29. New York Jail Guards Charged with Raping Prisoners (p 22)
  30. Washington Restitution Orders Are Invalid After 10 Years (p 23)
  31. Oregon Execution Viewing Rules Invalidated (p 24)
  32. Exhaustion Not Required for Claims of Assault (p 24)
  33. Prison Psychologist Pleads Guilty to Aiding Escape (p 25)
  34. News in Brief (p 26)
  35. U.S. Parole Commission Bound by Own Rules (p 28)

The New Bedlam

by W. Wisely

Gary Hahn walks his dog, tugging at the leash, back and forth on the hardpan track at Lancaster prison's maximum security D Facility in California. Right arm folded, fist crammed into the small of his back, Gary walks bent over, his curved spine and emaciated frame ...

From the Editor

By Paul Wright

As the article in this issue mentions, PLN contributing writer Mark Cook was recently released from prison after 24 years. We wish Mark the best.

Former contributing writer O'Neil Stough was recently released from prison and, unfortunately, did not do very well as he committed suicide ...

Riot at Private Prison

On November 14, 1999, hundreds of prisoners housed at a privately operated prison in Taft, California, rioted in protest over conditions, according to The Bakersfield Californian. Prisoners at the Wackenhut Corrections run facility broke windows, televisions, and furniture causing some $60,000 in damage at the two year old prison ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics

Supreme Court Decides Georgia Parole Case

by John Midgley

In many states, there are parole boards that decide when prisoners will be released. In these states, the timing of when the parole board will consider parole the timing of "initial" parole consideration and the timing of later "reconsideration" of parole ...

Wisconsin Prisoners Rebel at Private Tennessee Prison

On November 30, 1999, Wisconsin state prison officials were touring the Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Tennessee. The prison is operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and houses 1,500 Wisconsin prisoners.

Just minutes after WCF warden Percy Pitzer led an entourage headed by Wisconsin corrections chief Jon Litscher ...

My Statement in Response to the State

by Kamau "Ponchai" Wilkerson

[The following is an excerpt from "My Statement in Response to the Setting of an Execution Date and the State of Texas' Plan to Murder Me," by Ponchai Kamau Wilkerson]

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery "...except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have. been ...

Defiant Texas Death Row Activist Executed

On March 15, 2000, the state of Texas killed Kamau (Ponchai) Wilkerson. He proved to be a fighter to the end.

Kamau was among seven Texas death row prisoners who stunned the world with a bold escape attempt on Thanksgiving Day 1998 [See: Daring Death Row Escape Shakes Up Texas ...

New York Prisoner Wins $50,000 In Failure To Treat Mental Illness Suit

by Matthew T. Clarke

A federal district court in New York has held that officials of the New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) subjected a prisoner to cruel and unusual punishment through their deficient treatment of his mental illness and by the brutal conditions under which he was incarcerated ...

$59,177 in Damages and Fees Awarded in Georgia Braille Suit

On April 15, 1999, a federal district court in Georgia issued a directed verdict awarding a blind Georgia state prisoner $2,000 in damages. Eddy Stephens, a blind prisoner, was denied access to braile books and writing instruments. He was also not allowed to take prison vocational courses due to ...

Contradictory Disciplinary Hearing Evidence Not Precluded From Use of Excessive Force Suit

By Ronald Young

The U.S. district court for the East- ern District of California held that a prisoner was not precluded from introducing evidence contradicting factual findings of disciplinary proceeding instituted against prisoner as a result of incident.

Vincent Marquez, a California state prisoner, brought a 42 U.S ...

Retaliation Claim Requires Trial

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that a trial was required to determine if a prisoner was retaliated against for exercising his right to religious freedom. The court also held that prisoners have no right to encourage other prisoners to file grievances or lawsuits and that an ...

$15,000 Awarded to Ohio Prisoner Beaten by Guards

On July 2, 1999, a federal jury in Columbus, Ohio, awarded Ohio prisoner James Morrison 115,000 in damages. Morrison filed suit claiming he was taken to a secluded area of a prison (unnamed in reports), where he was beaten and kicked by guards Karl Davis, Jeffrey Felts and Charles ...

Attica Suit Settled for $12 Million

On February 15, 2000, a federal judge approved a settlement in which New York State is to pay $8 million to the prisoners who were beaten and tortured after the 1971 Attica riot, closing one of the longest, ugliest chapters in criminal justice history. The settlement provides an additional $4 ...

Attica Uprising Verdict Reversed

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals added insult to brutal injury when it overturned two jury awards - totaling $4 million and $75,000 - stemming from the murder of 39 people and the torture of hundreds of prisoners immediately following the 1971 Attica riot. Holding that bifurcation of the liability and ...

Illinois Jail Guards Charged with Smuggling Gun

Illinois Jail Guards Charged With Smuggling Gun

Two former Kankakee (Illinois) County Jail guards and a civilian face multiple felony counts in connection with a dramatic December 22, 1999 jailbreak.

Newly-hired guards Melody Burdunice and Michael Cutler allegedly smuggled cellular telephone batteries to accused killer and jail detainee John "Buck ...

Women in Prison: GAO Report

Reviewed by Julia Lutsky

During the calendar years 1995 to 1998, approximately 31,400 women prisoners in the three largest U.S. jurisdictions made a total of 506 allegations of staff sexual misconduct; of these only 92, or 18 percent, were sustained. "Because many female [prisoners] may be reluctant or ...

Marijuana Law, 2nd Edition

By Richard Glen Boire, Ronin, 271 pages

Review by Allan Parmelee

This book is must reading for anyone interested in knowing what their rights are when dealing with police in general as well as every aspect of the law as it concerns the use, possession, growing and sale of marijuana ...

Federal Judge Hits BOP Mule with Two-by-Four

Federal Judge Hits BOP Mule With Two-by-Four

A ticked-off federal judge in Miami interrupted the fraud and money-laundering trial of jewel dealer Jack Hasson February 2, 2000, for an "extraordinary display of judicial pique and power," the Palm Beach Post reported.

U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King ordered ...

Republican Political Prisoners in the North of Ireland

by David Fanning, Irish Northern Aid

On May 22, 1998, voters in Ireland, north and south, voted overwhelmingly in favor of adopting what has become known as the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). This agreement was meant to bring to an end over thirty years of bitter conflict in the six ...

Prison Working Conditions Protected by Eighth Amendment

A federal district court in New York held that fact issues existed as to whether a prison official was deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's health, and whether she was aware of unsafe working conditions. Since both situations fall within the purview of the Eighth Amendment, a trial was necessary ...

Mark Cook Freed

On April 3, 2000, PLN contributing writer Mark Cook was released from the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington. Mark was imprisoned for more than 24 years in Washington and federal prisons after being captured and charged in 1976 with carrying out action on behalf of the George Jackson Brigade (GJB ...

U.S. Supreme Court to Revisit Civil Commitment

On March 20, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Certiorari to the State of Washington appealing a ninth. Circuit order for the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine if the state's civil commitment statute "as applied" to petitioner renders the statute "punitive" in nature and ...

Illinois Phone Suit Dismissed

In the August, 1999, issue of PLN we reported that a class action suit had been filed in federal court in Illinois challenging the extortionate phone rates charged to those who accept collect calls from prisoners.

On March 23, 2000, federal district court judge William Hibbler ordered the suit dismissed ...

West Virginia Prisoners Protest Visit/Phone Restrictions

Prisoners at the Mount Olive Correctional Center in West Virginia staged a walkout on Monday morning August 30, 1999 to protest a new visitation policy and problems with the phone system.

More than 200 prisoners gathered in the prison's recreation yard and sat down. Most of them had walked ...

Former BOP Director Fingered in Sex Scandal

In 1992 Bureau of Prisons (BOP) em- ployee Steven McPeek quietly settled a sexual harassment complaint he leveled against then-BOP director J. Michael Quinlan, according to recently filed court papers. McPeek alleged in his 1992 complaint that Quinlan made sexual advances beginning in August 1990 while they traveled together on ...

Colorado Prison Population Exploding

Last summer the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, John Suthers, announced to the Colorado Legislature that Colorado's male prison population is growing at its fastest rate ever. In fact, at an average of 1.3% per month in the second quarter of 1999, the prison population ...

Four Texas Guards Nabbed in Bribery Sting

Four Texas state prison guards face felony bribery charges after agreeing to launder supposed drug money for prisoners, authorities told The Associated Press.

The four were arrested January 24, 2000 after walking into an undercover sting orchestrated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Internal Affairs office and the ...

$200,000 Awarded in Michigan Jail Wrongful Medication Suit

On June 22, 1999, a Macomb county jury in Michigan awarded $200,000 in damages to David Dempsey after he was wrongly medicated in the Macomb county jail. Dempsey suffers from bipolar disorder. While imprisoned on the psychiatric floor of the Macomb county jail, Suzanne Pease, a nurse with St ...

New York Jail Guards Charged with Raping Prisoners

New York Jail Guards Charged With Raping Prisoners

On January 26, 2000, Westchester county, New York, jail guards Carlos Aldarondo, 33, Javier Corona, 31, Michael Downey, 39 and Robert Escalera, 39, were charged in Westchester county court with assorted felony charges stemming from their rape and sexual abuse of women ...

Washington Restitution Orders Are Invalid After 10 Years

The Washington state Supreme Court, sitting En Banc, held that the 10 year life of restitution orders begins to run upon release from confinement and is not tolled by any subsequent imprisonment on unrelated charges.

In 1986, Brandt Sappenfield was convicted of crimes in Benton and King counties. He was ...

Oregon Execution Viewing Rules Invalidated

The Oregon Supreme Court invalidated several administrative rules of the Oregon Department of Corrections, (ODOC), regarding the witnessing of executions. The Court held that the challenged rules exceeded the ODOC's rulemaking authority.

The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and several other members of the media challenged a series of rules ...

Exhaustion Not Required for Claims of Assault

A federal district court held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) exhaustion requirement does not apply to assault claims. It also held that a cause of action under the Violence Against Women Act, (VAWA), is analogous to a cause of action under Section 1983, and that supervisors are ...

Prison Psychologist Pleads Guilty to Aiding Escape

Elizabeth Feil, 43, a former psychologist at the Patuxent Institution in Baltimore, MD has pled guilty to accessory to escape for her role in helping her lover, Byron Smoot, 29, escape from a medium security prison in Jessup, Maryland.

Smoot had been under the care of Feil when he was ...

News in Brief

Brazil: On March 11, 2000, 17 prisoners armed with knives overpowered four guards at the Mata Grande Penitentiary in Rondonopolis and forced them to open the cellblock of a rival gang. The armed prisoners then proceeded to kill 13 and wound 3 of their rivals. Three hours later police stormed ...

U.S. Parole Commission Bound by Own Rules

The court of appeals for the Third circuit held that the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC) was bound by its own rules and erred in calculating a prisoner's parole eligibility date. Former CIA agent Edwin Wilson was convicted in 1982 of transporting firearms in interstate commerce for the purpose ...