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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: July, 2000

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Volume 11, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Prison Realty/CCA Verges on Bankruptcy (p 1)
  2. $820,000 Awarded to Informant and Wife for Assault (p 3)
  3. From the Editor (p 4)
  4. Louisiana Sheriff Busted in Private Prison Scheme (p 5)
  5. Habeas Hints: Williams Precedent (p 6)
  6. $1,800 Awarded in PA Retaliation Suit (p 7)
  7. Czech Prisons Reverberate as Thousands Protest (p 8)
  8. Washington Jail Settles Exercise Suit (p 9)
  9. Restrained Washington Prisoner Exonerated in Assault on Guard (p 9)
  10. Another Texas Prison System Lockdown-Politics as Usual? (p 10)
  11. $1.5 Million Awarded in Arizona Jail Medical Neglect Suit (p 11)
  12. Staff Representative in Medication Hearing Must Have Medical Knowledge (p 12)
  13. Brown Ad-Seg Due Process Claim Remanded for Hearing (p 12)
  14. Administrative Exhaustion not Jurisdictional Satisfied by Letters to Defendants (p 13)
  15. Texas Supreme Court Invalidates TDCJ-ID VitaPro Contract (p 13)
  16. Sixth Circuit Orders Retrial of Retaliation Suit (p 14)
  17. Showing Of Malice Under Eighth Amendment Excessive Force Test Not Required For Sexual Assault Claim (p 15)
  18. Liberty Interest In New York Work Release (p 16)
  19. Individual Analysis Required for Diabetic Class Action Damage Award (p 17)
  20. $97,500 Awarded in NY Prison Work Accident (p 17)
  21. No Pretrial Appeals of Motions to Dismiss (p 17)
  22. Arizona Jury Acquits CCA Escapees (p 18)
  23. Field 'Sleep Out' Without Adequate Toilet Facilities States An Eighth Amendment Violation (p 18)
  24. Iowa Supreme Court Holds Liberty Interest in Good Time Law (p 19)
  25. Slave Labor O.K. FLSA Does Not Apply to Detainees (p 20)
  26. Mailbox Rule Applies to Section 2254/2255 Motions (p 21)
  27. Private Prison Contract May be Invalid (p 21)
  28. Retaliation Claim Remanded for Hearing on Qualified Immunity (p 22)
  29. Prison Riots in Peru (p 23)
  30. $12,000 Awarded in NY Slip and Fall (p 24)
  31. IN Jail Settles Victim Suit for $650,000 (p 24)
  32. The Western Prison Project (p 24)
  33. Marriott Cancels Prison Protest Concert (p 25)
  34. News in Brief (p 26)
  35. $47,500 Settlement in Pennsylvania Restraint Suit (p 27)
  36. $100,000 Awarded Under ICCPR in GA Jail Suit (p 28)
  37. The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (p 31)

Prison Realty/CCA Verges on Bankruptcy

On March 31, 2000, Prison Realty Trust, Inc. announced operating losses of $62 million for the year ended December 31, 1999. Its largest subsidiary and chief tenant, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), reported a net loss of $203 million for 1999. Independent auditors of both Prison Realty and CCA indicated that "there is substantial doubt about the ability of either company to continue as a going concern."

According to some industry analysts, CCA's troubles began in July 1997 when it spun off a new corporation, CCA Prison Realty Trust Inc., which was structured as a real estate investment trust (REIT) [See: The Poor Get Poorer -- The Rich Get Prisons, PLN Dec. '97]. At that time CCA was a darling of Wall Street, its stock having doubled in value in the first six months of 1997 alone.

In its initial public offering, Prison Realty sold 18.5 million shares at $21/share, raising a whopping $388 million. The newly formed REIT immediately shelled out $308.1 million to purchase nine prisons from its parent, CCA, which it then leased back to CCA.

Some Wall Street analysts expressed concern about the incestuous relationship between Prison Realty (whose stock ticker letters are ...

$820,000 Awarded to Informant and Wife for Assault

A federal district court in New York issued pre- and post-verdict opinions in a negligence action brought by a prisoner and his wife against jail officials. In the pre-verdict ruling, the court held that the plaintiffs were entitled to amend their pleadings during trial and that jail officials have a ...

From the Editor

On May 16, 2000, the Prison Activist Resource Center in Berkeley sponsored a fundraiser party for PLN in San Francisco. The hip hop/dance party featured DJ Neta, Bamudhi, Local 1200 DJs, Vine Folks and Emma Said. PLN co-founder Ed Mead spoke at the party and PLN contributing writer Mark Cook appeared via video. The party was a success in that everyone had a good time and it raised $341.00 for PLN's matching grant .fundraiser. We would like to thank the folks at PARC and everyone who helped make the fundraiser party happen.

As noted before, a PLN supporter has pledged a $15,000 matching grant to PLN. The matching grant matches donations from non prisoners and fundraisers dollar for dollar, up to $500 per donor. Donations from prisoners are matched $2 to $1. To date PLN has received $326.58 from prisoners and $1528.00 from non prisoners. We have until January 15, 2001 to meet the $15,000 matching grant. If each of PLN's subscribers donated just $5 above and beyond the cost of their subscription we would be more than able to meet the matching grant. This additional money is essential for PLN to ...

Louisiana Sheriff Busted in Private Prison Scheme

In 1990, Dale Rinicker, then Sheriff of East Carroll Parish (county), Louisiana, saw a lot of money being made in the private "rent-a-jail" business and decided he wanted a piece of the action. So cooked up a scheme that would eventually net him close to half a million dollars before landing him in federal prison.

In April 1990, Sheriff Rinicker asked local attorney and businessman "Captain Jack" Wyly to finance the construction of a private prison in the parish to house state prisoners. Wyly agreed and later that month he formed a corporation, East Carroll Correctional Systems, Inc. (ECCS), which issued 100 shares of stock to Wyly cronies and family members. Thirty-five of the 100 shares were issued to 62-year-old Dorothy Morgel, Wyly's legal secretary of 35 years. Five of those shares were hers, the other thirty were earmarked for Sheriff Rinicker.

Soon after its incorporation, ECCS borrowed money from another of Wyly's corporations, purchased an abandoned school building, and began renovating it into the East Carroll Detention Center (ECDC). That same day, ECCS and the Sheriff's Office entered into a lucrative lease agreement whereby the latter would pay the former from the funds it received from ...

Habeas Hints: Williams Precedent

This column is intended to provide "habeas hints "for prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys ("in pro per'). The focus of the column is habeas corpus practice under the AEDPA - the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice throughout the U.S.

1. Rely on the recent "Williams" decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court to argue for meaningful federal habeas corpus review under the AEDPA.
It was like Christmas in April! The U.S. Supreme Court (USSC), for the past many decades the source of almost nothing but bad news for habeas corpus petitioners, issued two decisions during the 2000 term which suggest that habeas corpus is still alive and well, even under the AEDPA. Both decisions were delivered on April 18, 2000 by the U.S. Supreme Court and, conveniently enough, both are entitled Williams v. Taylor.

Of the two cases, the one which puts the most meat on the table is Terry Williams v. Taylor, 2000 U.S. Lexis 2837, where the USSC interpreted the crucial test which has to be passed under the AEDPA in order to win on federal habeas corpus. By the time a ...

$1,800 Awarded in PA Retaliation Suit

On June 25, 1999, U.S. district court judge James McClure Jr. awarded $1,800 in damages to a Pennsylvania jail prisoner who was retaliated against for complaining about jail conditions. The judge also awarded $1 in nominal damages to another prisoner with a similar claim.

In 1993 a class ...

Czech Prisons Reverberate as Thousands Protest

by Julia Lutsy

An uprising at 21 of the Czech Republic's 33 prisons was touched off on January 10, 2000, when a guard turned off prisoners' television an hour early in the Vinarice prison in Central Bohemia. This gave rise to a hunger strike and, two days later, the protests escalated to include the destruction of bunks, bedding and furniture.

No confrontations with guards were reported, but prisoners' windows soon were festooned with banners proclaiming, "We are people, not animals" and "On hunger strike for our rights." Leaders presented a list of prisoners' grievances. Of 37 demands, the authorities conceded 15 almost immediately as the protests began to spread. The most important were related to severe overcrowding, followed by those related to the lack of work opportunities, poor food, unhygienic living conditions and severe new restrictions which had been instituted at the beginning of the year with respect to the receipt of parcels from families. At the peak of the protests, on January 12, 6,000 prisoners were on the hunger strike.

Though Czech President Vaclav Havel issued an amnesty in 1990 emptying the prisons of their 20,000 prisoners, they are now filled to excess with 23,000 ...

Washington Jail Settles Exercise Suit

On October 12, 1999, the King County (Seattle) jail in Washington settled a class action suit concerning the amount of outdoor exercise provided to ultra high security (UHS) prisoners and detainees.

In 1997 a class action suit was filed challenging the classification process and conditions of confinement for prisoners designated by King County jail officials as ultra high security. The practice of ring County jail officials was, and remains, to classify as USH those detainees accused of offenses that receive widespread media attention. USH is a form of administrative segregation where USH prisoners are kept confined to their cells at least 23 hours a day and have no contact with other prisoners. Also challenged in the lawsuit was the fact that USH prisoners did not receive any fresh air or outdoor exercise and were handcuffed whenever they were out of their cells. The suit was .filed in ring county superior court in Seattle, Washington.

The settlement applies to the King county jail in downtown Seattle. As part of the settlement, the jail immediately agreed to provide USH prisoners with access to an outdoor exercise yard for one hour per day, three days per week. Effective December 31, 2000, the jail ...

Restrained Washington Prisoner Exonerated in Assault on Guard

by Terry A. Kupers and Marybeth Dingledy

Rodney Gitchel had been in 4-point restraints for two months inside the Special Offenders Center (S.O.C.) at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington when he struggled free of the restraints and assaulted the next guard who entered his cell. He faced the possibility of five additional years in prison as he stood trial in Everett, Washington, February 27 through March 3, 2000, for assault on a guard. After hearing testimony from Dr. Fred Davis, the prison psychiatrist who ordered Gitchel placed in restraints as part of an experimental "treatment" designed to cure angry outbursts and repetitive rule violations; testimony from fellow prisoners who reported the defendant had suffered unusually harsh deprivations and brutality; and testimony from psychologist Dr. Lee Gustafson and psychiatrist Dr. Terry Kupers, for the defense; the jury voted nine to three in favor of acquittal.

Gitchel had been in prison for approximately four years when the assault occurred. During the first year he had three disciplinary infractions, in the second year he had six, including the one that led to his transfer to the Intensive Management Unit at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center. During his first year in ...

Another Texas Prison System Lockdown-Politics as Usual?

by Matthew T. Clarke

For the second time in two years, the entire Texas prison system was locked down in a delayed response to isolated incidents in two Texas prisons, once again raising the specter of political motivation for the lockdown. The previous lockdown was reported in the May 1999 issue of PLN.

This year's lockdown began on March 16, 2000. According to TDCJ spokesmen, the incident which triggered the lockdown was the murder of a Hispanic prisoner by another Hispanic prisoner at the Coffield Unit which occurred two days before the lockdown. TDCJ's official line was that the prisoner who was killed was a member of a prison gang known as the Texas Syndicate and the prisoner who killed him was a suspected member of another prison gang known as the Pistoleros and the lockdown was necessary to remove any weapons from the prison system and prevent an all out gang war between the two prison gangs. However, a prison system spokesman later admitted that they "still aren't certain whether the killing was a gang-oriented hit or a personal spat" and they don't even know if the prisoner who is charged with the murder really ...

$1.5 Million Awarded in Arizona Jail Medical Neglect Suit

On April 15, 1999, a Maricopa County Superior Court jury awarded $1.5 million in damages to former Maricopa County (Phoenix, Arizona) jail detainee Timothy Griffin. Griffin was imprisoned for driving on a suspended license. Griffin has a history of ulcers. While in the jail Griffin suffered extreme abdominal pain ...

Staff Representative in Medication Hearing Must Have Medical Knowledge

The court of appeals for the Fourth circuit held that federal prison officials can forcibly give a federal pretrial detainee psychotropic drugs without a court hearing. But, if the prisoner has a prison staff member acting as his representative at the hearing, the staff member must be knowledgeable about medical issues.

Richard Morgan was found mentally incompetent to stand trial on federal gun and drug charges. He was sent to a federal prison for psychiatric treatment. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) issued an administrative order under 28 C.F.R. § 549.43 that Morgan be forcibly medicated. Morgan sought judicial review of the order. He claimed that § 549.43 does not adequately protect his due process rights because the forcible medication order should be given by a judge after a hearing, not by BOP staff. The district court upheld the administrative order. The court of appeals vacated and remanded.

The appeals court held that 28 C.F.R. § 549.43 was constitutional and substantially complied with the dictates of Washington v. Harper, 110 S.Ct. 1028 (1990). Under Harper, prisoners can be forcibly medicated after an administrative hearing by prison officials. A court hearing, and order, is not required.

The ...

Brown Ad-Seg Due Process Claim Remanded for Hearing

Brown Ad-Seg Due Process Claim Remanded For Hearing

By Ronald Young

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit held that a prisoner who received ten months of administrative segregation during a housing reassignment hearing did not receive the minimal process required by the Due Process Clause. The court also held that remand was required to permit the district court to develop, the record to determine whether the prisoner's ten-month stay in ad-seg imposed an atypical and significant hardship on a prisoner serving a comparable sentence.

This case is a remand from the court of appeals for the D.C. circuit and was previously reported in the November 1998 PLN. See: Brown v. Plaut, 131 F.3d 163 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Ernest Brown, a prisoner at Lorton Prison, alleged that he was not given prior notification of a hearing before the Housing Board where he was found guilty of being in possession of a tooth brush fashioned into a shank. The district court originally dismissed Brown's claims, but the court of appeals vacated the dismissal and remanded it back to the lower court to determine whether, assuming that Brown did have a cognizable liberty interest ...

Administrative Exhaustion not Jurisdictional Satisfied by Letters to Defendants

The court of appeals for the Sixth circuit reiterated that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires administrative exhaustion in all cases, even where prisoners seek money damages not available via prison grievance systems. The court also held that the exhaustion requirement is not jurisdictional and that a prisoner exhausted his administrative remedies for PLRA purposes by writing letters to the prison official defendants instead of using the grievance system.

George Wyatt is an Ohio state prisoner who was raped by another prisoner. Wyatt sued various prison officials for money damages claiming they violated his Eighth amendment rights, first by placing him in a cell with a known rapist, and then denying him adequate medical and psychological care after the rape. 42 U.S.C § 1997e(a) of the PLRA states that "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available shall be exhausted." The district court dismissed the suit because Wyatt did not exhaust the prison grievance system. The appeals court reversed and remanded, finding that while exhaustion ...

Texas Supreme Court Invalidates TDCJ-ID VitaPro Contract

The Texas Supreme Court reversed a lower appellate court's decision and held that the trial court had ruled correctly when it invalidated TDCJ-ID's contract with VitaPro Foods, Inc. of Montreal, Canada, for a soy-based meat substitute. The product was unpopular among prisoners and guards who claimed it made them sick.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that only the original contract for a "trial" shipment costing $62,000 was legitimate. That contract was illegally amended four times until it reached a project cost between $33 million and $40 million. The trial court had held that the amendments, done without competitive bidding, were illegal and unenforcable. The Austin Court of Appeals had reversed the trial court, holding that, since "agricultural commodities" and raw materials were exempted from the competitive bidding requirement, VitaPro should be given a hearing on whether it was an agricultural raw material. The Texas Supreme Court held that VitaPro, which contains a mixture of soybeans, dehydrated vegetables, and flavoring, was clearly not an "agricultural commodity" or raw material. Thus, the trial court was correct in invalidating the contract.

Former Executive Director of TDCJ, James "Andy" Collins and VitaPro president Yank Barry were indicted on counts of federal ...

Sixth Circuit Orders Retrial of Retaliation Suit

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Sixth Circuit court of appeals has ordered the retrial of a lawsuit by the surviving mother of a deceased ex-prisoner against a guard who allegedly retaliated against her son because the mother requested the guard's name and badge number.

1n 1993, Stephen Neal was a Michigan state prisoner at a facility that allowed prisoners to leave the facility to work, to seek work,.' and for visits. On a Friday, Neal left to look for work, returning on time later that da. On Sunday, Neal arrived at the sign out desk where Harry Green, a guard, was working. Green accused Neal of having been AWOL since Friday. Neal asked Green to confirm Neal's presence at the prison since Friday with two other guards. Green refused, canceled the visit, but allowed Neal to go to the parking lot and explain the situation to his waiting mother, Marcellette Reynolds. Shortly thereafter, Reynolds approached Green and requested his name and badge number. Green refused to give them. The two guards who knew Neal had been at the prison then intervened and Neal was given his visit.

Green wrote two major disciplinary reports against Neal: for threatening behavior ...

Showing Of Malice Under Eighth Amendment Excessive Force Test Not Required For Sexual Assault Claim

By Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that it was plain error to instruct a jury that, to find a prison guard liable on excessive force claim where the guard allegedly raped prisoner, it had to find both that he forced the prisoner to have sexual intercourse and that the use of force was applied maliciously and for the purpose of causing harm. This was an appeal of a case previously reported in PLN. See: Giron v. Corrections Corporation of America, 14 F.Supp.2d. 1252 (D.N.M. 1998).

Tanya Giron, a prisoner at the New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility (NMWCF), brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against NMWCF prison guard Danny Torrez, Warden Thomas Newton, and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) which operates the NMWCF under contract with the State of New Mexico. Ms. Giron alleged, among other things, that her being raped by Torrez "constituted excessive force in violation of her Eighth Amendment rights."

A jury returned a verdict for the defendants and the district court entered judgement. Ms. Giron appealed, contending among other things that the jury instruction on her § 1983 claim was improperly given by the district ...

Liberty Interest In New York Work Release

By Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Second circuit held that a prisoner has a protected liberty interest in her continued participation in a work release program, and entitled to a hearing which states the reason for her removal from the program, prior to her formal jurisdictional removal. The court also held that only the chairperson of the committee that held the hearing was liable for a due process violation, and was not entitled to qualified immunity. But the court also held that the prisoner was entitled to only nominal damages.

Young Ah Kim, a New York state prisoner, brought an action against several New York state Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) personnel, including Chairperson Delores Thornton and Chairperson Marjorie L. Hurston, both overseeing Temporary Release Committees. Hurston was at Parkside Correctional Facility and Thornton at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.

After serving part of her sentence, Kim was placed in the Temporary Release Program (TRP). To participate in the program, Kim was transferred in January 1995, from Bedford Hills to Parkside, a TRP facility in New York City, where she was eventually permitted to be released from physical confinement and live at home while continuing to work. In ...

Individual Analysis Required for Diabetic Class Action Damage Award

By Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Third circuit held that the lower court erred in holding that all members of the plaintiff class past, present, and future of insulin-dependent diabetic prisoners alleged violation of their Eighth Amendment rights.

In 1990, Darryl rouse, an insulin-dependent diabetic then incarcerated at the Adult Diagnostic. and Treatment Center (ADTC) in New Jersey filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against William Fauver, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections; William Plantier, Acting Superintendent of the ADTC; and several other doctors and nurses. "Rouse alleged that the defendants had subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide him with adequate medical care. In 1994, Rouse amended his complaint and sought class certification, declaratory and injunctive relief for class members, and monetary relief for present insulin-dependent diabetic" prisoners.

The district court, in 1996, certified a class consisting of all former, present, and future insulin-dependent diabetics incarcerated at the ADTC. For the purpose of classwide damages, a class consisting of all former and present insulin-dependent diabetics incarcerated at ADTC was also certified. After hearing expert testimony from both sides, the district court found that the plaintiffs "had demonstrated the ...

$97,500 Awarded in NY Prison Work Accident

On July 19, 1999, a Binghamton county court in New York awarded $97,500 in damages to Fred Thomas for an eye injury he suffered. while imprisoned in a New York state prison in 1993.

Thomas, then a 33-year-old prisoner at the Elmira Correctional Facility, was injured when an electric ...

No Pretrial Appeals of Motions to Dismiss

The Eighth circuit court of appeals held that it had no jurisdiction to hear interlocutory appeals on issues other than qualified immunity. The court also held it will review FRCP 60(b) motions for abuses of discretion.

Emmit Broadway was a pretrial detainee housed in a jail run by the Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC). He filed suit claiming he was not provided with adequate medical care while in the jail. The defendants filed motions to dismiss on the basis of qualified immunity and arguing that under FRCP 12(b)(6), Broadway had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court denied both motions but did dismiss one defendant. The remaining defendants then filed a "motion for reconsideration," claiming the court erred in denying their other motions. The district court construed it as a FRCP 60(b) motion and denied relief. The defendants then filed an interlocutory appeal.

The court of appeals held that it had no jurisdiction to review the defendants' arguments regarding their respondeat superior and Rule 12(b)(6) claims because those issues cannot be raised on interlocutory appeals. Instead, the issues must be appealed only after a final order has ...

Arizona Jury Acquits CCA Escapees

Two Alaska state prisoners on trial for a 1996 escape from a private prison were acquitted by an Arizona jury. The prosecution was undoubtedly stunned by the verdict in what was considered to be an open and shut case. However, the prosecutor in the case had no post-verdict comments for the press.

Jurors returned the not guilty verdicts on February 18, 2000, after Mark Hartvigsen testified that he had to escape from the Central Arizona Detention Center, run by Corrections Corporation of America, because his life was in danger, said his attorney Richard Gierloff.

Hartvigsen told jurors that he has a heart condition requiring medicine but that CCA guards would often withhold his medication for "disciplinary reasons." He also testified that CCA medical personnel gave him the wrong medication for a while, causing him to have a stroke.

Acquittals from escape charges are rare. The "duress defense" presented by Hartvigsen's attorney almost never succeeds. Under Arizona law, a prisoner has to convince the jury that he faced immediate life-threatening danger and that he had tried legal means to fix the problem.

The prosecutor in the case told the jury that Hartvigsen's allegations of medical mistreatment were not true ...

Field 'Sleep Out' Without Adequate Toilet Facilities States An Eighth Amendment Violation

By Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that, for qualified immunity purposes, a prisoner who was forced to spend the night outdoors in a work field without adequate bathroom facilities and shelter demonstrated a violation of his clearly established Eighth Amendment rights. The court also held that the warden and assistant warden were not entitled to summary judgement based on qualified immunity.

Devlin L. Palmer, a Texas state prisoner, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against TDCJ-ID Director Gary Johnson, Warden Bryan Hartnett, and Assistant Warden Oscar Mendoza. Palmer alleged that in retaliation for some profane remarks made to a field sargeant by members of a field squad he was in, Palmer and the rest of the squad were ordered by Assistant Warden Mendoza to remain seated in the field. Later that afternoon Warden Hartnett ordered the 49 prisoners in the squad to remain overnight in the field. They were confined to a 20-by-30-foot area. There were no toilet facilities and the prisoners were denied shelter, jackets, blankets, "or other means of keeping warm" even though the temperature dropped below 59 degrees that night.

"The district court dismissed with prejudice all of Palmer ...

Iowa Supreme Court Holds Liberty Interest in Good Time Law

The Iowa supreme court held that Iowa prisoners have a due process liberty interest in their good time credits, but do not have a private cause of action under Iowa tort law for their negligent loss. Federal courts previously held that Iowa law did not create a liberty interest in prison good time credits.

Patrick Sanford, an Iowa state prisoner, was infracted on theft charges shortly before his scheduled release from prison. He was found guilty of the charges at a prison disciplinary hearing and sanctioned with 380 days in disciplinary segregation and the loss of 1,000 days of good time credits. After exhausting prison administrative remedies, Sanford filed suit in state court. The trial court upheld the infractions but ruled that the loss of 1,000 days of good time credits was excessive. It then remanded the case to the Iowa DOC for imposition of sanctions consistent with the ruling. The Iowa DOC then reduced Sanford's loss of good time credits to 465 days. The DOC did not appeal from that ruling.

Prior to the thefts, Sanford had a prison release date of May 28, 1994. With the trial court's reduction of the theft sanction, he ...

Slave Labor O.K. FLSA Does Not Apply to Detainees

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Third Circuit court of appeals has held that detainees who won their appeals, but the state appealed further, are still "duly convicted" detainees for purposes of the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition on slavery, even if the detainee ultimately prevails on appeal. The Third Circuit also held that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not apply to detainees or pretrial detainees so that they need not be paid minimum wage for the work they are forced to perform.

Mark D. Tourscher is a Pennsylvania state detainee who was forced to work in the prison's cafeteria during the pendency of his appeal, after the appeal had been decided in his favor by the intermediate court of appeals and Pennsylvania appealed further and after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal. Alleging that this was slavery in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Tourscher filed suit against the prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The Thirteenth Amendment forbids slavery except as punishment for persons "duly convicted" of a crime. Tourscher alleged that he was not "duly convicted" while his case was pending on appeal, after the ...

Mailbox Rule Applies to Section 2254/2255 Motions

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoner's pleadings were filed at the time he mailed them, even though he used the prison's regular mail system instead of its legal mail system.

While incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in E1 Reno, Oklahoma, Steven Gray filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

Gray's motion was due on or before April 24, 1997 - one year from the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, (AEDPA). He mailed the motion on April 21, 1997, but the court did not received it until April 30, 1997.

Because Gray used the prison's regular mail system instead of its legal mail system, the district court rejected his argument that the motion was filed the day he mailed it. Accordingly, the court denied the motion as untimely.

The court of appeals concluded that Gray should not be barred from the benefit of the mail box rule because E1 Reno's legal mail system does not provide a log or other record of receipt by prison authorities of all legal mail sent from the prison. Because Gray ...

Private Prison Contract May be Invalid

Private Prison Contract May Be Invalid

The Colorado state court of appeals remanded a case to the trial court for a determination of the validity of a private prison contract. The court implied that the contract may be invalid but failed to indicate what, if any, remedy may exist if it is.

William Arnold, was transferred from a Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) facility to a privately operated prison in Dickins County, Texas. He was then moved to a private prison in Karnes County, Texas, and finally to a private prison in Colorado.

Arnold filed a motion in the trial court asserting numerous challenges to his transfer, but the court summarily denied the action, finding that Arnold had been transferred to Texas under the Interstate Corrections Compact, (ICC).

The court of appeals found that there was no evidence in the record to support the trial court's finding that Arnold was transferred pursuant to the ICC. The court also observed that the ICC relates to agreements between states, not to agreements between a state and a county of another state.

The court rejected Arnold's argument that the CDOC Executive Director lacked the authority under Colorado law to enter into ...

Retaliation Claim Remanded for Hearing on Qualified Immunity

Retaliation Claim Remanded For Hearing On Qualified Immunity

By Ronald Young

The court of appeals for the Second circuit held that a district court's denial of summary judgement to prison guards on grounds of qualified immunity required remand to reconsider whether action against prisoner would have taken place in the absence of any retaliatory motive. The court also held that pendent appellate jurisdiction did not exist over the prisoner's interlocutory cross-appeal on issues unrelated to those qualified immunity issues raised, by the guards.

Ronald Davidson, a New York state prisoner, was bench-warranted to New York City pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum signed by a federal judge to testify at another lawsuit he had pending in federal court. During this time, Davidson spent five days at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a federal prison run by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Davidson filed a Bivens suit and alleged that several BOP guards violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights by, among other things, denying him a kosher diet and the opportunity to exercise in retaliation for his filing a lawsuit against a former MCC employee. Davidson also claimed that the denial of a kosher diet ...

Prison Riots in Peru

On Monday, Feb. 7, prisoners from the Communist Party of Peru (PCP, or "Shining Path" in the media) led an uprising at the maximum-security prison of Yanamayo in Puno, taking over 30 hostages. Seven guards and police were wounded, and one prisoner was killed, identified as Carlos Celso Ponce Torres.

The next day army troops and police under the command of general José Villenas Arías took over operations. At least six efforts to retake the pavilion by force failed, and negotiations under tight secrecy were begun. It was reported that the PCP prisoners were demanding the presentation of Abimael Guzmán (AKA Chairman Gonzalo), the imprisoned leader of the PCP, because they fear he has been killed by the regime. For some time supporters of the PCP have been raising the demand that Chairman Gonzalo be allowed to appear live on television.The prisoners hung banners and a red flag from the windows, shouting slogans until at least 8:00 PM on Monday.

The hostages were released around midday on Monday, but the prisoners continued their agitation and demanded the presence of Red Cross members to avert a massacre by the army troops surrounding the pavilion. According to unofficial sources, the ...

$12,000 Awarded in NY Slip and Fall

On July 15, 1999, the New York court of claims awarded pro se New York state prisoner Hamilton Thompson 112,000 for past pain and suffering. In 1996, while imprisoned at the Oneida Correctional Facility, Thompson slipped and fell in a puddle of water in his cell.

Prior to falling ...

IN Jail Settles Victim Suit for $650,000

On September 10, 1999, the Howard County jail in Indiana settled a lawsuit by crime victims for $650,000. A mother, 44, and her 9 year old daughter were physically and sexually assaulted by a prisoner who escaped from the jail by using a maintenance key to access a utility ...

The Western Prison Project

The Western Prison Project exists to help build a movement for progressive prison and criminal justice reform in our region (OR, WA, ID, MT, WY, UT, NV). We help support grassroots organizations work¬ing on prison issues (through research, coordination of joint projects, and tech¬nical assistance), and reach out to the public with information about the prison crisis in our region, to mobilize citizen action for reform. We publish "Justice Matters", a quarterly newsletter for mem¬bers ($7 membership for prisoners, $15 others). Contact:

The Western Prison Project
P.O. Box 40085, Portland, OR 97240

Marriott Cancels Prison Protest Concert

Sodexho-Marriot is a huge transnational corporation mainly consisting of hotel and food service operations. Marriott Dining Services, a subsidiary of Sodhexo- Marriott, operates the American University Tavern on the Washington D.C. campus of AU.

On February 15, 2000, a hip-hop concert was booked at the Tavern by AU Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). The show, "No More Prisons," was scheduled to coincide with many other events held around the country to protest the U.S. prison and jail population reaching two million, which had been estimated to occur on or about that date.

But a few minutes before the show was supposed to begin, AU SSDP vice president Dave Epstein announced from the stage that the management staff of the Tavern would not allow the show to happen.

Earlier that day AU and George Washington University's chapters of SSDP held an anti-drug war vigil in front of the U.S. Capitol. At the Tavern, several representatives from both AU's and GW's SSDP, as well as the Drug Reform Coordination Network, were distributing pamphlets outlining the increased cost of imprisonment and the decrease in spending on education.

"We had a hip-hop show planned," Epstein told a ...

News in Brief

CO: On April 26, 2000, Bobby Fowler, 24, a captain at the Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, was arrested and charged with felony criminal mischief for punching walls and knocking over a metal detector at the prison. The prison, operated by for profit Corrections Corporation of America, is chronically understaffed. Fowler was reprimanded when a surprise inspection by the Colorado Dept. of Corrections found nine guards, instead of 11, guarding 400 prisoners. Fowler claimed his outburst was the result of working 15 days in a row, which caused him to miss taking the medication he uses to control his bipolar disorder.

CA: On April 27, 2000, an unknown person fired a large caliber weapon into the Santa Clara probation department's work release facility in Mountain View. An unidentified 20 year old male prisoner was killed by the gunshot and an unidentified female counselor was cut by flying glass from the shot. The prisoner was serving a sentence for a non violent offense and was due to be released within a week of his death. Police are investigating the shooting.

CA: On April 6, 2000, Viola Cisneros, a medical worker at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville was taken ...

$47,500 Settlement in Pennsylvania Restraint Suit

In May, 1999, the Northampton County Prison (NCP) paid Maria Merced $47,500 to settle a "hogtying" lawsuit she had filed. In August, 1996, while awaiting trial in the NCP, Merced argued with a guard and eventually spat on him. A number of guards then rushed into her cell, handcuffed ...

$100,000 Awarded Under ICCPR in GA Jail Suit

On February 24, 2000, a federal jury In Augusta, Georgia awarded 1100,000 in damages to a Danish citizen who was denied medical care and phone calls to his family in Denmark while he was awaiting trial in the Lincoln county jail in Georgia. The ruling is historic because it ...

The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade

By Alfred W. McCoy

Lawrence Hill Books, 1991

Review by Rick D. Card

Imagine America, the great crusader against illicit drugs, a nation willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of its citizens in the name of its War on Drugs. Now imagine that same sovereign secretly allied with known drug producers and traffickers and actively engaged in the control and transportation of those same drugs. This is the contrast unveiled in Alfred McCoy's book, The Politics of Heroin.

Heroin has a history that dates further back than the 5th century BC. In the Odyssey, Homer describes it as medicine to "lull all pain and anger, and bring forgetfulness of every sorrow." Today it is known as an illegal substance that brings hard core addiction or a fifteen year prison stretch.

How heroin went from the source of everlasting joy described by Homer to a potion of destruction in communities today has a lot to do with American and British activities. A subject McCoy has feverishly researched and documented. He charts the path of heroin as American and British merchants commercialized it and created a world opium trade. Trading it to the Chinese for tea, silk, and porcelain, the two ...


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