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Prison Legal News: January, 2001

Issue PDF
Volume 12, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. Hepatitis C, A 'Silent Epidemic' Strikes U.S. Prisons (p 1)
  2. Louisiana Prison System Exceeds Administrative Statutory Authority (p 4)
  3. U.S. S.Ct. Upholds PLRA Automatic Termination Law (p 5)
  4. Florida X-Wing Guard Acquitted in Valdes Beating (p 6)
  5. Wisconsin Supermax Bans Local Paper (p 7)
  6. Qualified Immunity Denied in CO Rape Case; Suit Settled for $70,000 (p 8)
  7. From the Editor (p 8)
  8. Eleventh Amendment Immunity for Illinois Sheriff Denied (p 9)
  9. Alabama Ad Seg Publication Ban Struck Down (p 9)
  10. Morrissey Protections Required for WA Community Custody Revocation (p 10)
  11. AZ Medical Copayment Not Retroactive (p 10)
  12. Iowa Segregation Suit Settled (p 11)
  13. Right to Associate Still Viable (p 12)
  14. Construction Contractor Not Liable Under §1983 for Disabling Fire Safety Equipment (p 13)
  15. Guard Reinstated After Nazi Flag Flap (p 14)
  16. Habeas Hints: State Remedies (p 15)
  17. DC Prisoners Sue VA Over Restraints (p 17)
  18. Build Jails, Not Schools: Ohio Prison Building Corruption (p 18)
  19. Administrative Exhaustion Required in Third Circuit; U.S. S. Ct. Grants Review (p 18)
  20. University Cancels Sodhexo-Marriott Contract (p 20)
  21. Sodexho Bows to Pressure, Announces Sale of CCA Stock (p 20)
  22. PLRA Attorney's Fees Cap Applies to Nonprisoner Intervenors (p 22)
  23. States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons (p 22)
  24. Pubic Hair Search of Released Jail Detainee Unconstitutional (p 23)
  25. IFP Litigant Entitled to Amend Complaint (p 24)
  26. MO Consent Decree Modification Affirmed (p 24)
  27. News in Brief (p 25)
  28. NY DOCS Guard Nets $300,000 for ADA Retaliation (p 26)
  29. Certificate of Review Mandatory in Colorado Negligence Suits (p 27)
  30. DC District Court Denies Guards' Summary Judgment Retaliation Case (p 28)
  31. High Standard of Proof for Retaliation Claims (p 29)
  32. No Immunity for Ignoring Prisoner Work Restrictions (p 30)
  33. Cursory Medical Treatment Cruel and Unusual (p 31)
  34. NY Prisoners Have Liberty Interest in Work Release (p 31)
  35. Seventh Circuit Rejects ETS Claim (p 32)

Hepatitis C, A 'Silent Epidemic' Strikes U.S. Prisons

It's been called the nation's most insidious virus. A "silent epidemic" that has swept the nation, hepatitis C is now the most common, chronic, bloodborne infection in the U.S. Because the virus often causes no noticeable symptoms for up to 20 or 30 years after infection, most ...

Louisiana Prison System Exceeds Administrative Statutory Authority

The Court of Appeals of Louisiana for the First Circuit has held the Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) exceeded its statutory authority when it referred prisoners to a "Special Court" for the additional forfeiture of good time when they had already received two authorized penalties for Schedule B ...

U.S. S.Ct. Upholds PLRA Automatic Termination Law

On June 19, 2000, a divided U.S. supreme court upheld the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 3626(e)(2). In 1996 congress enacted the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Among the PLRA's provisions are 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2) which allows for the "immediate termination ...

Florida X-Wing Guard Acquitted in Valdes Beating

The first of five Florida State Prison guards to be tried in connection with the beating death of "XWing" prisoner Frank Valdes was acquitted by a jury in a rural county dominated by the state "corrections" industry.

In the October 1999 PLN we reported. that "XWing" prisoner Frank Valdes was ...

Wisconsin Supermax Bans Local Paper

When the southwestern Wisconsin town of Boscobel celebrated the grand opening of a 509bed supermax prison in September 1999, the festive atmosphere was likened to a carnival or state fair so happy were the townspeople to bring in jobs, jobs, jobs. Venders hawked sodas, sausages and supermax Tshirts to about ...

Qualified Immunity Denied in CO Rape Case; Suit Settled for $70,000

In an unpublished ruling, the Tenth Circuit has denied qualified immunity to prison officials who failed to protect a prisoner from being raped by another prisoner.

Marvin Gray, a "large and powerful individual with a violent past," was a prisoner at Colorado's Limon Correctional Facility (LCF) in 1993. He ...

From the Editor

Paul Wright

January 15, 2001, marks the end of PLN's matching grant fundraiser. PLN still hasn't reached the full $15,000 grant maximum. If you haven't donated yet to the matching grant fundraiser please do so now. We will report the fundraiser's results in the March ...

Eleventh Amendment Immunity for Illinois Sheriff Denied

Denial of a county Sheriff's motion for dismissal of an arrestee's civil rights suit was affirmed when the Seventh Circuit upheld a district court's ruling that an Illinois Sheriff is a county officer and Eleventh Amendment immunity did not apply.

Mario DeGenova was arrested in October 1996 ...

Alabama Ad Seg Publication Ban Struck Down

On March 20, 2000, a Federal Magistrate recommended declaratory relief striking down a ban on subscription publications in the Alabama Department of Corrections' (DOC) Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg) unit.

This recommendation follows a previous ruling where the Court held, after a bench trial, that the Ad Seg ban on the ...

Morrissey Protections Required for WA Community Custody Revocation

In a case of first impression, the Washington state court of appeals held that an individual facing community custody revocation is entitled to the procedural protections established in Morrissey v. Brewer, 408, U.S. 471, 92 S.Ct. 2593 (1972), but that counsel is not required.

Samuel McNeal filed a ...

AZ Medical Copayment Not Retroactive

A federal district court in Arizona held that Ariz. Rev. Stat. (ARS) § 31201.01, which includes a socalled medical copayment provision, cannot be applied to state prisoners who are incarcerated for offenses committed prior tothe statute's effective date. In an unpublished ruling the state was permanently enjoined from applying ...

Iowa Segregation Suit Settled

A federal district court in Iowa
held that after nearly a decade of unconstitutional conditions, state prison officials have finally submitted an acceptable plan to remedy substantive due process violations relating to extraordinarily longterm lockup, and various Eighth Amendment violations in a segregation unit. In lieu of injunctive relief, the ...

Right to Associate Still Viable

The U.S. court of appeals for the Second Circuit held that genuine issues of fact, as to the reasonableness of an official denial of a prisoner's request to form a legal defense center, precluded summary judgment for prison officials. The court, however, further held that the officials were ...

Construction Contractor Not Liable Under §1983 for Disabling Fire Safety Equipment

Construction Contractor Not Liable Under §1983 for Disabling Fire Safety Equipment

A federal district court in Illinois has dismissed a private construction contractor from a suit alleging a prisoner was injured in a fire after the contractor's employees removed and disabled fire safety and prevention equipment in the prison ...

Guard Reinstated After Nazi Flag Flap

New York state prison guard Edward Kuhnel was suspended from his job on December 12, 1996, two days after a picture of a Nazi flag flying outside his home appeared in a local newspaper. Pursuant to the grievance procedure outlined in the collective bargaining agreement between the prison guards union ...

Habeas Hints: State Remedies

by Kent Russell

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 ...

DC Prisoners Sue VA Over Restraints

Since 1998, about 1,200 District of Columbia prisoners have been caged at the Sussex II highsecurity state prison in Virginia when D.C. closed its aging Lorton Correctional Complex. On August 29, 2000 a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of those prisoners claims they suffer "cruel degradation and ...

Build Jails, Not Schools: Ohio Prison Building Corruption

The apparatus of repression provides frequent examples of the corruption endemic to late capitalism. It is hugely expensive, miniminaly accountable, and has no clear product by which to gauge its performance. Military fraud and waste are cliche. Endless police scandals regularly crop up around the country. The prisonindustrial complex is ...

Administrative Exhaustion Required in Third Circuit; U.S. S. Ct. Grants Review

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the PLRA requires exhaustion of administrative remedies for all prisonerinitiated prisoncondition federal court actions, even if "available" remedies exclude the specific relief sought. Applying the rule to both Bivens and § 1983 actions, the court held that there is no futility ...

University Cancels Sodhexo-Marriott Contract

Students from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, declared victory August 14, 2000 in a two month struggle to keep a catering company with ties to the forprofit prison industry from taking over the school's food service contract.

In July, school administrators announced that the college was in final ...

Sodexho Bows to Pressure, Announces Sale of CCA Stock

Bowing to pressure from angry U.S. and Canadian student activists, Paris based Sodexho Alliance (SA) announced plans to sell its 8 percent stake in Corrections Corporation of America, as soon as CCA completes a corporate restructuring.

But in a statement released October 9, 2000. Not With Our Money! a ...

PLRA Attorney's Fees Cap Applies to Nonprisoner Intervenors

The Fourth Circuit has held that a publisher who intervened in a law suit filed by prisoners is subject to the attorney fees cap of the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

Virginia state prisoners Donald Hodges and Michael Flores sued Keen Mountain Correctional Center officials claiming that their First Amendment rights ...

States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons

Edited by Joy James. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000). 352 Pages

Reviewed by Mumia AbuJamal

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once opined that the nature of a civilization could be discerned by examining its prisons. If that is so, James has assembled a wide variety of essays that are ...

Pubic Hair Search of Released Jail Detainee Unconstitutional

A federal district court in Alabama held that a sheriff's policy of searching prisoners' pubic hair as they were released from jail was unconstitutional. The court also held that jail officials were entitled to qualified immunity from money damages for strip searching a detainee being placed in the jail ...

IFP Litigant Entitled to Amend Complaint

The court of appeals for the Second circuit held that a district court erred when it dismissed an indigent pro se prisoner's complaint without affording him an opportunity to amend the complaint and cure the defect.

Benjamin Cruz, a Connecticut state prisoner, filed suit claiming his due process rights ...

MO Consent Decree Modification Affirmed

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that a district court correctly granted prison officials' motion to modify a consent decree to allow for prison overcrowding. The ruling is novel in this post Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) era when prison officials tend to seek dissolution of consent ...

News in Brief

Brazil: On October 22, 2000, 420 prisoners at the Nelson Hungria prison in Contagem rioted and seized control of the prison to protest overcrowding and bad conditions: The prisoners took two policemen and 16 prison guards hostage.

CA: In July, 2000, Wackenhut Corrections Corp. announced it had received a 5 ...

NY DOCS Guard Nets $300,000 for ADA Retaliation

The U.S. court of appeals for the Second Circuit held that the absence of a finding of disability in a guard's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim did not preclude a finding that the guard's employer retaliated against him for bringing the claim. The judgment of the ...

Certificate of Review Mandatory in Colorado Negligence Suits

The Colorado Supreme court has held that prisoners must file a "certificate of review" under Colorado law when suing a licensed professional (LP) for negligence, whether or not the LP is a named party, but that a failure to file the certificate does not require dismissal of claims not based ...

DC District Court Denies Guards' Summary Judgment Retaliation Case

A federal district court in the District of Columbia has denied prison guards' motion for summary judgment and set for trial a civil rights suit alleging that guards retaliated against prisoners who complained of a guard's repeated unsolicited sexual propositions.

Frede Garcia, Lawrence Caldwell, and Antonio Tirado are District ...

High Standard of Proof for Retaliation Claims

On remand, a federal district court in New York held that a state prisoner failed to establish "actual injury" in his access to court claims, nor did he show that prison officials acted with a retaliatory animus. Once again, summary judgment was granted in favor of the defendants.

In December ...

No Immunity for Ignoring Prisoner Work Restrictions

No Immunity For Ignoring Prisoner Work Restrictions


by Ronald Young

A federal district court for the Eastern district of New York held that a prisoner's allegations that he was required to perform sanitation duties despite a doctor's orders to the contrary were sufficient to state an Eighth Amendment ...

Cursory Medical Treatment Cruel and Unusual

The U.S. court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a failure to diagnose a prisoner's colon cancer may have been extremely negligent, but it did not rise to the level of deliberate indifference. However, a factual dispute precluded summary judgment on the adequacy of treatment, and ...

NY Prisoners Have Liberty Interest in Work Release

NY Prisoners Have Liberty Interest In Work Release

by Ronald Young

A federal district court for the Eastern District of New York held that the failure of the state to provide a prisoner with 24 hour's notice of a hearing concerning removal from a work release program violated due ...

Seventh Circuit Rejects ETS Claim

The U.S. court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a pretrial detainee's injuries from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) were not sufficiently serious to support a due process claim, and that he could not recover for future injuries absent some showing of an increased risk ...