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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: November, 2001

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Volume 12, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. Washington's Island of Deviant Doctors (p 1)
  2. Washington DOC Pays $24,697 in PLN Records Suit (p 3)
  3. Ex-Prisoner Awarded $2.7 Million on Remand in Medical Neglect Suit (p 7)
  4. Leg Amputation Caused by Improper Treatment Defeats Summary Judgment (p 7)
  5. From the Editor (p 8)
  6. Virginia Settles Juvenile Death Suit for $1.2 Million (p 10)
  7. Children Strip-Searched While Touring DC Jail (p 11)
  8. DC Prison Guards Smuggled Cash, Pagers (p 11)
  9. Hawaii Prison Doctors Denied Qualified Immunity (p 12)
  10. South Dakota Prison Conditions Class Action Settled (p 12)
  11. Blind Ohio Prisoner Spends Months in Strip Cell (p 13)
  12. Environmental Challenge Bars Construction of California Prison (p 14)
  13. Mississippi Taxpayers Fund Welfare Payments to Private Prisons (p 16)
  14. Prisoners Riot in Dartmouth Jail (p 17)
  15. Summary Judgment Denied in Oklahoma Jail Beating (p 18)
  16. $522,458 Rebate Ordered in California Prisoner Phone Overcharges (p 19)
  17. Notes from the Unrepenitentiary: A Matter of the Past (p 20)
  18. Colombian Rebels Attack Prisons, 140 Prisoners Flee (p 21)
  19. California Racial Segregation Case Reversed; Phone Claim Dismissed (p 22)
  20. Summary Judgment Granted for Forced Religious Substance Abuse Program (p 22)
  21. Cell Search, Property Seizure Suit Set for Trial (p 23)
  22. Jailhouse Lawyering Protected; Frivolous Claims Are Not (p 23)
  23. New Trial Ordered in Excessive Use of Force Suit (p 24)
  24. California Dials Wrong Number (p 24)
  25. Sandin Retroactive, But Not for Qualified Immunity; BOP Ad Seg Rule Creates Liberty Interest (p 25)
  26. Plug Pulled in California Prison (p 26)
  27. Book Review: Power, Politics, & Crime (p 27)
  28. Junking the Jurors (p 28)
  29. Alaska Supreme Court Reverses Former Prisoner's $2.4 Million Jury Award (p 29)
  30. News in Brief (p 30)

Washington's Island of Deviant Doctors

The McNeil Island Correction Center (MICC), located on McNeil Island near Steilacoom, Washington, has a long history of hiring misfits in its medical and psychological departments. In order to secure such a position it almost seems as though one must have drug or alcohol problems, a long history of incompetence in his or her profession, or a documented history of sexual misconduct with patients.

The Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) at first refused to provide documentation substantiating these claims. However, after a oneyear battle over public disclosure requests, followed by a successful lawsuit to compel disclosure of the documents, PLN finally obtained the documentation. (See: sidebar, page 3.)

This article highlights the poor quality of medical and psychological care that is provided to prisoners on McNeil Island. Such abysmal quality of care, as detailed below, results from the hiring of grossly inappropriate personnel.

Bruce H. Barrett was a Physician's Assistant (PA) for an unspecified duration at MICC, until he was found dead in his pickup truck on March 10, 1999. King County police found him slumped over the steering wheel alongside Interstate 5 near Seattle, Washington. Barrett had injected himself with a lethal dose of Demerol. Found on his ...

Washington DOC Pays $24,697 in PLN Records Suit

The cover story in this issue of PLN , "Washington's Island of Deviant Doctors," is the result of a lengthy investigation into the provision of medical care to prisoners and civil commitment "residents" at the McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC) in Steilacoom, Washington. PLN reviewed thousands of pages of documents ...

Ex-Prisoner Awarded $2.7 Million on Remand in Medical Neglect Suit

On April 20, 2001, a Denver jury awarded former Colorado prisoner Arthur Nieto, 44, damages totalling $2.7 million in a medical neglect suit against Colorado prison officials and medical staff. In 1991, while imprisoned at the Delta County Correctional Facility, Nieto contracted a sinus infection. Despite repeated requests for ...

Leg Amputation Caused by Improper Treatment Defeats Summary Judgment

A federal district court in New York has ordered a new trial in a civil rights excessive use of force suit. Prisoner Milton Ruffin filed suit against Sullivan Correctional Facility guard Van Fuller for an incident that occurred on October 19, 1998. Ruffin was confined in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and had just been handcuffed with a waist chain to be taken for his daily shower.

Ruffin testified at trial that as he was backing out of his cell Fuller called him "a bitch," and when he turned to respond to the comment, a struggle ensued. Ruffin then got on his knees and voluntarily laid on the ground as instructed by the guards. While on the floor in restraints, two other guards held Ruffin down, and Fuller kicked him in the face three or four times. Two of the kicks landed directly in Ruffin's mouth breaking his teeth. Another prisoner, Michael Howell, testified he saw Fuller kick Ruffin in the mouth.

The three guards testified that Ruffin was not kicked in the mouth by Fuller, or anyone else. The guards did not dispute that Ruffin's teeth were injured in the incident, they could not recall, however, how ...

From the Editor

The recent attacks of the World Trade Center towers (WTC) in New York City and the Pentagon have filled the news. Largely ignored by the corporate media has been the federal government's treatment of people convicted in previous Muslim terrorist attacks, such as the 1993 WTC bombing. It is safe to assume they have been totally isolated by the Bureau of Prisons.

In the movie Casablanca, Claude Raines, the corrupt police inspector, instructs his deputies to "round up the usual suspects." So too with the latest attack. Intelligence agencies that were totally clueless about the attack to begin with, were able to identify Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden as the likely perpetrator of the attacks within a matter of hours.

On a more mundane level, the federal government seems to be rounding up the usual suspects already within its custody. The U.S. government has always denied holding political prisoners. In reality it holds at least several dozen, ranging from domestic anti-imperialists (such as the former members of the United Freedom Front, Black Liberation Army, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional) on the left, to members of The Order on the right, as well as foreign radicals, such as members ...

Virginia Settles Juvenile Death Suit for $1.2 Million

In early April 2001, the Virginia Attorney General's office announced it had agreed to settle a wrongful death suit for $1.2 million. In the December 1999 issue of PLN we reported the death of Wallace Dandridge, 16, a developmentally disabled child at the Oak Ridge Juvenile Correctional Center ...

Children Strip-Searched While Touring DC Jail

In April and May 2001, school children were strip searched while touring a jail in Washington, D.C. A lawsuit seeking $4 million for each of six girls and one boy is forthcoming.

D.C. schools routinely schedule these tours for children with behavioral problems. The goal is to scare them into altering their behavior by showing them what jail life is like. Problems arose, however, when school officials and guards forced the touring children, ages 11 to 15, to submit to strip searches by jail guards.

The strip searches were done in a common area in view of teachers, students, and prisoners. Some of the children reported seeing male prisoners masturbating in nearby cells during the searches.

Evans Middle School counselor Dorothy Simpkins, formerly Dorothy Shepard, arranged the tours and accompanied the children during the tours. Simpkins reportedly requested the stripsearches. A male teacher from the school, Terrence Barker, instructed guards to perform the stripsearches on several male students.

Simpkins denies wrongdoing, and Barker complained that the children had toured the police department and a juvenile detention facility, to no avail. Even so, both have been dismissed by the school.

An unnamed guard who disagreed with the stripsearches complained ...

DC Prison Guards Smuggled Cash, Pagers

Ten Washington, D.C., prison guards were charged with conspiracy to smuggle cash and twoway pagers to prisoners in federal indictments unsealed April 31, 2001. The guards, nine of whom work for Corrections Corporation of America, a private company operating the Correctional Treatment Facility in Southeast Washington, were caught in an FBI sting, according to the Washington Post .

The indictments signaled the end of a twoyear federal investigation into corruption at the private prison. Federal prosecutors said the guards accepted hundreds of dollars from an undercover FBI agent posing as a friend of several prisoners. The guards then smuggled the cash and twoway pagers into CTF and delivered them to prisoners.

Unlike previous scandals involving D.C. corrections, these smuggling charges did not involve drugs. When the guards handed over the contraband to certain prisoners, who cooperated in the government sting, the FBI confiscated it. Prisoners are allowed neither cash nor unrestricted electronic communication devices at the facility.

Those charged were Donald Edwards, 44, of Southeast Washington; Henry Hayes, 43, of Temple Hills; Aric Mack, 29, of Capitol Heights; Jonathan Mason, 31, of Oxon Hill; Anthony McLeod, 42, of Temple Hills; Cornelius Minor, 43, of Suitland; Ken Moore, 43, of ...

Hawaii Prison Doctors Denied Qualified Immunity

AU.S. district court found that Hawaii state prison physicians were deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's medical needs and were not entitled to qualified immunity. Raymond Kenney filed suit in state court alleging denial of medication to control his seizures while he was a Hawaii state prisoner. Kenney sued the State of Hawaii and his prison doctors in their official and individual capacities.

Defendants moved the matter to U.S. district court where they promptly sought and the court granted dismissal of all §1983 claims against the State and against the physicians in their official capacities. The Eleventh Amendment generally bars federal court actions against states and state officials in their official capacities when the relief sought is monetary damages. As to Kenney's claims against the physicians in their individual capacities, defendants sought dismissal, asserting qualified immunity.

A defendant is entitled to the defense of qualified immunity when the court: (1) identifies the right allegedly violated; (2) determines that the right was clearly established at the time of the violation; and (3) decides that a reasonable official would have believed the conduct at issue did not violate the identified right.

The court found that Kenney satisfied the first ...

South Dakota Prison Conditions Class Action Settled

The federal district court in South Dakota has dissolved a state prison conditions consent decree and approved a class action settlement, ending two decades of litigation.

State prisoners filed a §1983 suit challenging prison conditions, certified as a class action in 1982. The court found the conditions at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. A consent decree was entered in 1985, which required changes in such areas as fire safety, housing, food service and storage, shops and programs, legal access, and medical, dental, and mental health care. The decree also required progress reports and monitoring. See: Cody v. Hillard , 599 F.Supp. 1025 (D.S.D. 1984); affirmed in part, and reversed in part, 830 F.2d 912 (8th Cir. 1987). In 1987 and 1992, the court issued supplemental orders finding the SDSP still not in compliance with the consent decree, but noted they were making progress.

In 1996, the defendants moved to dissolve the decree and the supplemental orders. The plaintiffs opposed the dissolution and had experts conduct inspections of the SDSP. The decree was dissolved in 1997 and the plaintiffs appealed. In 1998, the Eighth Circuit issued a limited remand ...

Blind Ohio Prisoner Spends Months in Strip Cell

Blind Ohio Prisoner Spends Months In Strip Cell

by Ronald Young

An investigation by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) revealed that a blind prisoner at the Orient Correctional Institution in Pickaway County was subjected to three months of continuous isolation in a strip cell.

Willie Thomas, a 67 yearold prisoner suffering from advanced glaucoma and diabetes, was placed in an isolation cell on October 5, 2000, after an altercation with Orient prison guard Vicky Wilder. Thomas allegedly ripped Wilder's shirt and scratched her in several places after being ordered to move out of her line of sight during the running of a pill line.

The prison Rules Infraction Board found Thomas guilty of assaulting a prison guard and sent him to isolation for an undetermined amount of time. However, four hours later, guards acting on the orders of Max Unit Supervisor Lt. Patricia Rice and Major David Larsen placed Thomas in a strip cell, removing his mattress and all of his clothing except his underwear. Thomas stayed there for three months with only a steel slab to sleep on. To further exacerbate the situation, the cell Thomas was placed in had a broken window covered only ...

Environmental Challenge Bars Construction of California Prison

by Rose Braz, Esq.

A Kern County, California, supperior court judge has barred the state from proceeding with plans to build a $335 million, 5,160 bed maximum-security prison slated for Delano. The groundbreaking ruling came in an environmental lawsuit filed by Critical Resistance, the National Lawyers Guild Prison Law Project, and the Friends of the Kangaroo Rat, in coalition with the California Prison Moratorium Project, the NAACP and numerous organizations across the state. ( Critical Resistance, et al v. California Department of Corrections, Case No. 211365 RDR, Kern County Superior Court, Bakersfield.) Critical Resistance is a national organization working to put an end to the prison- industrial complex.

In a decision issued June 7, 2001, Judge Roger Randall concluded that the California Department of Corrections' (CDC) environmental review of the "cumulative impacts" of the proposed prison was inadequate and ordered the Department to complete a new environmental review which must include an analysis of the impact of past, present and future projects in the area.

The unique litigation was brought under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), codified at California Public Resources Code §21000 et seq ., and the California Code of Regulations ("CCR") Title 14, §15000 et seq. ("CEQA Guidelines ...

Mississippi Taxpayers Fund Welfare Payments to Private Prisons

Mississippi Taxpayers Fund Welfare Payments To Private Prisons

by Ronald A. Young

Mississippi taxpayers will pay about $6 million a year to private and regional prisons for "ghost inmates" under a bill the legislature approved on March 26, 2001. The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) funding bill includes a provision to subsidize the regional and private facilities despite the absence of need of such facilities.

The provision will raise the number of prisoners at ten regional prisons from 200 to a new contracted amount of 230 and provides for 900 prisoners at the Delta Correctional Facility in Greenwood and the Marshall County Correctional Facility, both private prisons. The Delta prison is owned and operated by Nashvillebased Corrections Corporation of America, while Floridabased Wackenhut Corrections Corporation operates the Marshall County prison.

The state doesn't have the prisoners to fulfill the obligations under the bill, Corrections Commissioner Robert Johnson said. Taxpayers will pay about $2 million a year to private prisons and $4 million to regional prisons for what have been termed "ghost inmates," according to Johnson. "I guess that's where the old saying `politics makes strange bedfellows' comes from," he said. "Anytime you find a group of Mississippi legislators ...

Prisoners Riot in Dartmouth Jail

On April 15, 2001, the scene at the Dartmouth House of Correction in Massachusetts could have been lifted straight from the pages of a medieval novel. Prisoners stormed the woodshop, armed themselves with boards, then set the shop afire. While one group laid siege to the courtyard another group scaled the building. From the roof they hurled rocks at the guards below.

One guard lost a futile attempt to barricade himself in a bathroom, and was taken hostage by a prisoner wielding a screwdriver. The guard, David Florent, was strapped to a bed for about 35 minutes as his captors demanded to speak to the media. In their universal language of protest, angry prisoners clogged their toilets and flooded their cells with water. Three guards were injured in the fray, none seriously.

In response to the uprising, about 50 guards and 10 police dogs confronted the prisoners on the courtyard. The protesting prisoners quickly gave way to the aggressive dogs and guards firing nonlethal beanbags into the crowd. Alas, the media never arrived.

But it doesn't take a newsflash to determine the reason for the riot. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson has been labled a tyrant ever since he ...

Summary Judgment Denied in Oklahoma Jail Beating

A federal district court in Oklahoma has denied summary judgment against a pretrial detainee's failure to protect and deliberate indifference to medical needs claims.

On September 5, 1995, John Winton was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on shooting charges that were later dismissed. Twelve days later he complained about the jail's feeding procedures which often resulted in food being stolen by other prisoners. He was told by guards to file a grievance which he did that same day. That evening, dinner was served in a different manner due to the filing of the grievance.

Several hours later, Winton, who is Caucasian, was pulled from his top bunk by several black prisoners and landed on his head. From there he was beaten and kicked. Later, Winton was removed and taken to a medical cell where he was seen the following day by a nurse contracted from Wexford Regional Medical Center. He was diagnosed with multiple abrasions and contusions, a cerebral contusion, a subdural hematoma, a basilar skull fracture with conductive hearing loss, a wrist fracture that required surgery, and a dislocated shoulder.

Winton and his wife filed a §1983 suit against the Board of Commissions of Tulsa County ...

$522,458 Rebate Ordered in California Prisoner Phone Overcharges

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordered MCI Telecommunications Corp. (MCI) to offset $522,458 in overcharges it made between June 14, 1996, and July 12, 1999, on MCI California Maximum Security Calls (i.e., California prisoner collect calls) by proportionately reducing the cost it charges for future such calls ...

Notes from the Unrepenitentiary: A Matter of the Past

In Charlottesville, Virginia, Mary Smith, a Black working class woman, got fired from her job at the University of Virginia Medical Center. So did eight other workers. They all had prior felony convictions. Ms. Smith's was for $200 of bad checks. Like four of those fired she had not hidden that fact on her application when she was hired four years ago. But in the aftermath of a rape at the Medical Center, in which the accused rapist was also an employee, Ms. Smith and the others were fired.

"Morally, these are people who have paid their dues," said Susan Fraiman, a member of the Labor Action Group and a professor of English at the university. ( The New York Times, July 2, 2001, p. A-10.) The Labor Action Group is part of the growing movement for fair treatment of former offendersexcons in the oldspeak. Fortunately, the recent firings have sparked protest and a federal civil rights suit. That's the good news.

The bad news is that for far too long former prisoners have been banished to the outhouse of society: no jobs (or marginal ones) for the vast majority, as well as an overdose of contempt, hatred and ...

Colombian Rebels Attack Prisons, 140 Prisoners Flee

Prison escapes are common in Colombia. Prisoners often buy the help of guards and administrators and are often able to outgun their jailers. In the case that follows they had concerted help from the outside. It is not the first time that rebels outside have used such tactics to free their imprisoned comrades.

On the night of June 23, 2001, rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), Latin America's largest and oldest insurgent force, attacked La Picota prison in Bogota, blowing out a security wall from inside the prison with dynamite. There was then a prolonged exchange of fire with the prison authorities during which more than 140 prisoners fled as the FARC provided cover with gunfire. Five escaped prisoners were killed by guards and at least 36 of the escapees were recaptured alive after a massive security operation in the surrounding area.

Prison director Fabio Campos said munitions experts deactivated a vehicle loaded with dynamite parked near the prison. One police agent and at least 12 prisoners were wounded. At least 19 of the escapees are FARC members. According to a communique issued on June 27 by the General Staff of the "Antonio Narino ...

California Racial Segregation Case Reversed; Phone Claim Dismissed

Holding that the action was not time-barred and otherwise stated an actionable claim, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a prisoner’s pro se action which claimed that California state prisons practiced racial segregation in housing prisoners. The Court upheld the dismissal of a claim that prison directors conspired with the telephone company to overcharge for prisoner telephone service.

In 1995, Garrison Johnson filed an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986 seeking damages and declaratory relief. Johnson’s two primary claims were that the Director of the California Department of Corrections (CDC) instituted and enforced a policy which permitted racial discrimination in prisoner housing, and that the Director conspired with the telephone company to extort money from prisoners. The federal district court dismissed the case with prejudice holding that the action was time-barred and otherwise failed to state a claim.

Addressing the time-bar ruling, the Court of Appeals held that the California one-year statute of limitations is applicable to §1983 suits since §1983 does not contain its own statute of limitations and it is thus proper to use the state’s personal injury claim ...

Summary Judgment Granted for Forced Religious Substance Abuse Program

A New York federal district court has awarded summary judgment to a prisoner who held agnostic beliefs and was forced to participate in a prison religious-based substance abuse program. New York prisoner Troy Alexander sued officials at Cayuga Correctional Facility under 42 U.S.C. §1983.

Because Alexander had previosly ...

Cell Search, Property Seizure Suit Set for Trial

Cell Search, Property Seizure Suit Set For Trial

A federal district court in Delaware held that summary judgment was not appropriate to decide if a prisoner's cell had been illegally searched and his papers improperly seized. Michael Jordan, a Delaware prisoner, filed suits against three Delaware prison guards who allegedly searched his cell and illegally seized legal papers and personal property. Jordan alleged violations of his First, Fourth and Fourteenth (due process) Amendment rights and demanded recovery under the common law tort of conversion. The court had already dismissed some of Jordan's complaints and ordered him to file an amended complaint. See: Jordan v Bellinger , No. Civ.A. 98-230-GMS, 2000 WL 1239956 (D. Del. Aug. 28, 2000 ). Jordan then moved for summary judgment.

The Court denied summary judgment, stating that clear differences between Jordan's complaint and the defendants' answer were "genuine issues of material fact" precluding summary judgment, and because the prior ruling rendered some issues moot. The court noted that prison guards have a right to randomly search any prisoner's cell at any time, but such searches must be conducted reasonably and with "a legitimate need or reason." Jordan did not clarify how the search ...

Jailhouse Lawyering Protected; Frivolous Claims Are Not

by John E. Dannenberg

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that a prisoner could not maintain an access to the courts claim based on an action that has been dismissed as frivolous, but the plaintiff can proceed on a legal assistance retaliation claim. In doing so, the Court distinguished between general retaliation claims and those for the exercise of constitutionally protected conduct.

Tennessee state prisoner Issaac Herron had unsuccessfully pursued a § 1983 complaint and a series of administrative grievances alleging violation of his right to the free exercise of religion. While that suit was pending he was put up for transfer to a different prison, which he claimed was retaliatory. After the series of grievances he claimed retaliatory interference with his religious practices.

Later, he assisted another prisoner in a grievance action, following which he alleged he was harassed and incited by prison staff, resulting in disciplinary punishment. He then filed a separate suit claiming he had been retaliated against for having filed the initial lawsuits and later by providing legal assistance to another prisoner. The district court dismissed the complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. [Fed. R. Civ. P ...

New Trial Ordered in Excessive Use of Force Suit

A federal district court in New York has ordered a new trial in a civil rights excessive use of force suit. Prisoner Milton Ruffin filed suit against Sullivan Correctional Facility guard Van Fuller for an incident that occurred on October 19, 1998. Ruffin was confined in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and had just been handcuffed with a waist chain to be taken for his daily shower.

Ruffin testified at trial that as he was backing out of his cell Fuller called him "a bitch," and when he turned to respond to the comment, a struggle ensued. Ruffin then got on his knees and voluntarily laid on the ground as instructed by the guards. While on the floor in restraints, two other guards held Ruffin down, and Fuller kicked him in the face three or four times. Two of the kicks landed directly in Ruffin's mouth breaking his teeth. Another prisoner, Michael Howell, testified he saw Fuller kick Ruffin in the mouth.

The three guards testified that Ruffin was not kicked in the mouth by Fuller, or anyone else. The guards did not dispute that Ruffin's teeth were injured in the incident, they could not recall, however, how ...

California Dials Wrong Number

by W. Wisely

In reaction to bad publicity, lawsuits, and legislative hearings following a record number of fatal shootings of unarmed male prisoners, staged fights, and the sexual abuse and medical neglect of women prisoners, California established the allegedly independent Office of Inspector General within the state's Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. Posters were ordered to be put up at all department and Youth Authority facilities asking prisoners to report staff misconduct by calling a tollfree number. Unfortunately, neither the Department nor the Youth Authority will allow prisoners to make tollfree calls.

"We informed the Office of Inspector General of that," a spokes- woman for the Department told the Sacramento Bee . "But, they went ahead with the posters anyway." Martin Hoshino of the Inspector General's Office admitted the problem, but said there was no choice. "We're required [by a new state law] to put the posters up, and that's what we did," Hoshino told the newspaper.

The Inspector General's Office is optimistic a solution will be worked out. But, since last October, the Department and Youth Authority have both refused to change their rules to allow prisoners to report staff misconduct by using an 800 ...

Sandin Retroactive, But Not for Qualified Immunity; BOP Ad Seg Rule Creates Liberty Interest

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a federal prisoner's due process rights were violated when he was placed in segregation without notice or a hearing and kept there for some 514 days. The Court also held that prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity from damages.

Rene Tellier was a federal prisoner confined at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City. Upon his arrival at the MCC on November 6, 1992, he was placed in administrative segregation (ad seg). He was not informed of the reason for his placement in ad seg nor was he later given any hearing for his continued placement there. The district court denied the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) defendants' motion to dismiss and they appealed. See: Tellier v. Fields , 49 F. Supp.2d 607 (SDNY 1999). [ PLN , May, 2000.]

Tellier claimed that he had a due process right under 28 C.F.R. § 541.22 to receive an "Administration Detention Order" within 24 hours of segregation. Tellier never received such an order nor was he given periodic hearings to evaluate his continued ad seg placement, despite filing grievances informing prison officials of his situation.

In analyzing the ...

Plug Pulled in California Prison

California is short on energy. The state has suffered repeated Stage Three power alerts and rolling power outages. Without authorization by the Legislature, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) may be trying to alleviate the crisis. And it seems at least one warden is locking his prisons down and shutting off power to the cells.

Eli Rosenblatt, author and Director of the Prison Activist Resource Center, reported that prisoners at Lancaster, a maximum security prison located in the desert of Los Angeles County, are locked down from 4:00 P.M. until about 9:00 A.M. daily, and the electricity to their cells is cut off. Lancaster prisoners were fed three sandwiches a day (rather than the two hot meals and one sandwich required by state regulations), and denied showers because staff claim there was no power to run them. The prisoners were also reportedly confined to cold, dark cells without any hot water.

California's problems started when the state decided to deregulate energy prices. In addition, several power plants mysteriously took themselves off-line at the same time for "maintenance." The shortage of power plants, and the decaying energy transmission lines causing bottlenecks in the state's antiquated ...

Book Review: Power, Politics, & Crime

Book Review: Power, Politics, & Crime

by William J. Chambliss, Westview Press, 1999

Review by Rick Card

"There is ... a huge chasm," says William Chambliss in his book, Power, Politics, & Crime , "between the reality of crime, the public's perception of it, and the information being disseminated to the public by law enforcement agencies, the media, and politicians."

Chambliss, a sociology professor at George Washington University, and former president of the American Society for Criminology, writes with a clear and authoritative voice. He demonstrates that America's fear of crime has been manufactured by conservative politicians seeking to repress civil rights and political dissent, a consolidated media obsessed with captivating a mass audience, and the law enforcement industry reaching for an everlarger share of public funds.

Chambliss focuses on what he calls "marketing crime," a wretched conflict of interests that culminates in the designed manipulation of crime statistics. He points out that the Department of Justice and the FBI are the only real sources of data on annual crime, and that both agencies have strong bureaucratic and financial incentives to present the data in less than realistic terms.

Using the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) published annually by the FBI and widely ...

Junking the Jurors

by Mumia Abu Jamal

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed&"

U.S. Constitution, 6 th Amendment

It has been almost two decades since a Philadelphia jury sentenced a youthful Donald Hardcastle to death. On a cold, wintry December day in 1982, a jury of grimfaced strangers convicted him of two counts of murder, arson and burglary.

Hardcastle, a dark-skinned North Philadelphian, had every reason to think of that tight-faced jury as a bunch of strangers, for few of them looked like him. They were mostly pink-complexioned, and from a part of the city where most of the residents were of a similar pinkish hue.

This was by design, not accident. For the lawyer for the State strove mightily to remove virtually every person of color from the jury panel (even at least one dark-skinned Italian, it seemed). Of her fifteen peremptory challenges used, twelve were for African Americans. That means roughly 87% of the government's peremptories were used against black persons, to remove them from the jury panel. Hardcastle's jury, who would choose liberty or death, was one that the Philadelphia DA's office officially purged of almost all blacks.

Hardcastle went to over five different courts in Pennsylvania's state courts, two PCRA petitions before the Court of Common Pleas, once to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and twice to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, where he argued mostly one thing: the improper and racially discriminatory removals of a number of African-Americans from his jury panel. All were denied. After 1986, his argument was considerably strengthened by a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, called Batson v. Kentucky , where the majority declared it unconstitutional for the state to remove a potential juror on the basis of race. Hardcastle was elated, for although his trial was before the Batson case, the arguments were essentially the same. So he raised his claim in every court he could get it into.

For 15 years after the Batson decision, every court he went to spit on him, and he remained under the ever present threat of death. Time after time. No. Denied. Dismissed. Rejected. No. ( No, Nigger. ) He went before over 19 judges in almost 20 years and got spit on, every time.

Until now. In late June 2001, a federal judge found that at least half of his jury panel was removed in violation of the Batson decision, and granted habeas corpus relief.

What Judge John R. Padova found was that the DA's office engaged in "intentional discrimination" and used spurious reasoning to justify the removal of blacks from his jury panel. The Judge wrote:

"The Court also finds as fact based on the record that the prosecutor engaged in intentional discrimination with respect to the two jurors for whom no record-based potential reasons were found, Kim Richards and Lisa Stewart. Lisa Stewart testified that she was a housewife with one child living in West Philadelphia, and that she would follow the same law and weigh the evidence fairly. Several white female jurors who the prosecutor explicitly found acceptable also testified to being homemakers with children and living in Philadelphia. Kim Richards testified that she was a single, 26-year-old white female juror who had attended two years of college and worked as an accountant for an insurance company. The record reveals no credible basis other than race for distinguishing between Stewart or Richards and their respective white counterparts." Hardcastle v. Horn , No. Civ. A. 98-CV-3028, slip op. at 21; 2001 WL 722781 at 18, (E.D.Pa. June 27, 2001).

Was the twentieth judge who heard Hardcastle's case somehow a genius, able to see what nineteen others had not? I don't think so.

Judge Padova is obviously a bright guy, but he was once a common pleas court judge some years ago, and therefore very similar, in some ways, to the 19 others. The critical difference is that this federal judge was the first unelected judge to hear his case. All the others were elected judges.

The other judges, each of whom swore on a Bible to protect and defend the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, instead protected their political careers by making political decisions on an unpopular death penalty case, rather than legal decisions dictated by the Batson decision.

Five courts. Nineteen judges. Nineteen years. What happened in Hardcastle can be seen in every state of the union.

It is not justice. It is a ...

Alaska Supreme Court Reverses Former Prisoner's $2.4 Million Jury Award

The Supreme Court of Alaska reversed a jury verdict and a $2.4 million damage award in favor of a former prisoner who was injured when he fell down a stairway.

In February 1994, Carry Johnson was returning to his cell at the Ketchikan Correctional Center. As he reached the ...

News in Brief

Alabama: In April 2001, four unnamed guards at the Morgan County jail in Decatur were fired for leaving their posts on April Fools Day to play jokes on each other. The jokes included smearing shaving cream on each other, covering their cars with toilet paper and writing on each other's car windows with soap. Sheriff Steve Crabbe said he took immediate action when he learned of the play and said he would not tolerate employees neglecting their duties.

Brazil: On August 16, 2001, officials negotiated an end to an uprising at the Santo Antonio Leverger public prison in Mato Grasso. The uprising began with prisoners taking two guards hostage and burning mattresses to protest overcrowding. During the uprising rival gangs battled with homemade spears, leaving 9 prisoners dead. The hostages were released when prison officials agreed to resolve overcrowding at the jail (built to hold 80 prisoners, it held 188 at the time of the uprising), install a public telephone and allow more frequent visits by relatives.

California: On August 3, 2001, a contractor working on a nearby street inadvertently turned off all water to two jails in Los Angeles, leaving 10,000 prisoners and guards without water for ...

 

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Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual

 



 

Federal Prison Handbook

 



 


 

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