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Prison Legal News: December, 2001

Issue PDF
Volume 12, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Telemarketing and Computer Programs Crash at Utah Prison (p 1)
  2. Use of Force, Religious Diet Claims Set for Trial (p 3)
  3. From the Editor (p 4)
  4. Sixth Circuit Rules PLRA Attorneys' Fees Cap Provisions Not Unconstitutional (p 5)
  5. Administrative Remedies Need Not Identify Wrongdoers (p 6)
  6. New Missouri Mega-Prison Mothballed (p 6)
  7. Connecticut and Florida Change Felon Disenfranchisement Laws (p 7)
  8. Staff Shortage in Nation's Prisons (p 8)
  9. Excessive Force Claims Not Subject to Exhaustion; Supreme Court Grants Review (p 9)
  10. Two Studies Criticize Texas Department of Criminal Justice (p 10)
  11. Prison Guard Sentenced in Escape Plot (p 10)
  12. Jury Awards Imprisoned KKK Member $55,000 in Texas Jail Beating (p 11)
  13. Texas Jury Awards $70,000 in Prison Stabbing (p 11)
  14. Rape Rarely Prosecuted in Texas Prisons (p 12)
  15. Prisoners Stage Sit Down at CCA Run New Mexico Prison (p 13)
  16. Arizona CCA Prison Found 'In Turmoil' (p 14)
  17. $1.5 Million Awarded in CDC Medical Neglect Suit (p 15)
  18. $100,000 Awarded in Arizona Medical Indifference Case (p 15)
  19. Washington Enacts Sweeping New Sentencing Laws, Creates Parole Board for Sex Offenders (p 16)
  20. Medical Monitoring Suit Settled for $675,000 (p 18)
  21. Oregon Radiation Suit Settled for $1.5 Million (p 19)
  22. Washington Supreme Court Rules Imprisoned Children Entitled to Education (p 20)
  23. Habeas Hints: AEDPA Update 2001 (p 21)
  24. New York DOCS Settles Welfare Suit; Bans Welfare for Work Release Prisoners (p 23)
  25. U.S. Supreme Court Holds Violation of IAD's Anti-Shuttling Provisions Requires Dismissal (p 24)
  26. Failure to Sign Notice of Appeal Not Jurisdictional (p 25)
  27. ADA Claims Against State Cannot Proceed in Federal Court (p 25)
  28. Supreme Court Eliminates "Catalyst Theory" Fee Awards (p 26)
  29. Florida DOC Clears Itself of Racism Charges (p 27)
  30. Race-Based Religious Policy Unconstitutional (p 27)
  31. Family of BOP Prisoner Awarded $1.1 Million in Wrongful Death Suit (p 28)
  32. PLRA Bars Mental and Emotional Damages for Asbestos Exposure (p 29)
  33. News in Brief (p 30)
  34. Denial of Treatment for Two Hours Defeats Qualified Immunity (p 32)
  35. Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Application of Gate Money Amendments (p 32)

Telemarketing and Computer Programs Crash at Utah Prison

"Hi, how are you doing? I am fine. My name is David ... If you will be willing to go out with me, will you answer these questions honestly as to what you will be willing to do with me ... holding hands, french kissing, fondling each other ..." and more explicit sexual ...

Use of Force, Religious Diet Claims Set for Trial

A New York prisoner's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit on First and Eighth Amendment violations survived three out of four summary judgment challenges by prison officials and moved closer to trial.

On September 5, 1996, Abdul Majid, a prisoner at Sullivan Correctional Facility, was passing through a security ...

From the Editor

Some readers have recently contacted PLN after letters they sent to our Seattle address were returned to them by the post office marked "undeliverable as addressed." PLN 's address has not changed. Inquiries with the post office have not been very helpful. Postal officials have told us that the mail ...

Sixth Circuit Rules PLRA Attorneys' Fees Cap Provisions Not Unconstitutional

Two District Court Rulings Overturned

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has overruled two federal magistrates, both of whom, in separate decisions, had previously held that the statutory limitatons on attorneys' fees in prisoner civil rights actions violate the implied equal protection component of the Due Process Clause ...

Administrative Remedies Need Not Identify Wrongdoers

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that prisoners do not need to identify those persons directly involved in the alleged deprivations in their administrative remedies to satisfy the exhaustion requirement of 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)a.

Prisoner Raymond Brown filed a 42 U.S ...

New Missouri Mega-Prison Mothballed

What if they built a prison and nobody came? It's every prison abolitionist's dream come true. Such a reality has unfolded, even if only temporarily, in the rural Missouri community of Bonne Terre.

The economic history of Bonne Terre is a familiar one, which has played out in ...

Connecticut and Florida Change Felon Disenfranchisement Laws

Connecticut and Florida take different approaches as they address the disenfranchisement of convicted felons. In Connecticut, state lawmakers, after intense debate and much legislative maneuvering, passed a bill that gives back the right to vote to convicted felons on probation. In a much different process, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and ...

Staff Shortage in Nation's Prisons

Across the nation, states are plagued by a shortage of prison guards. A decade of building prisons has created an industry that employs more people than General Electric, and costs taxpayers in excess of $40 billion a year. To fill the shortage Kansas recently lowered the age requirements for prison ...

Excessive Force Claims Not Subject to Exhaustion; Supreme Court Grants Review

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) does not apply to assault and excessive force claims.

Connecticut state prisoner Ronald Nussle brought a civil rights action against two guards, alleging that they violated his constitutional ...

Two Studies Criticize Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Two independent studies, one by the Institute on Crime, Justice, and Corrections, the other by Security Response Technologies, indicate that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) needs stricter guidelines in assigning prisoners to housing areas and work details. Both reports follow in the wake of the escape of seven ...

Prison Guard Sentenced in Escape Plot

Erik Jacobs, 31, a former guard at Ely State Prison in Nevada was sentenced to one year in jail and fined $2,000 for helping a prisoner plan an escape. Jacobs was sentenced in March, 2001, by White Pine District Judge Dan Papez in Ely, a small, rural town some ...

Jury Awards Imprisoned KKK Member $55,000 in Texas Jail Beating

On July 19, 2000, a federal jury in Houston, Texas, awarded a Ku Klux Klan member damages totaling $55,000 after he was beaten by black prisoners with whom he was forced to share a cell.

Larry Webster, 42, was arrested in November 1993 on charges of kidnapping and robbery ...

Texas Jury Awards $70,000 in Prison Stabbing

In May 2001, a federal court jury in Corpus Christi, Texas, held three Texas prison officials responsible for a 1997 attack during which a prisoner at the McConnell Unit was stabbed about a dozen times by another prisoner who had escaped from his locked cell. The jury assessed $70,000 ...

Rape Rarely Prosecuted in Texas Prisons

According to recent reports, rape in Texas' prisons is the highest in the nation. Based on research from 19952000, of the 660 cases reported barely 4 percent have been prosecuted. Why does the state that prides itself on having the highest per capita prison population in the nation have such ...

Prisoners Stage Sit Down at CCA Run New Mexico Prison

Over 650 prisoners engaged in an apparently spontaneous protest at a Federal prison in New Mexico. On Monday, April 13, 2001, prisoners at the Cibola County Correctional Center congregated in the recreation yard and refused to leave. The assembly began as usual at 7:45 a.m., but at 8 ...

Arizona CCA Prison Found 'In Turmoil'

Hawaii officials found a prison "in turmoil" while inspecting a Florence, Arizona prison where about 560 Hawaii prisoners are being warehoused. The prison is operated by Nashville based Corrections Corporation of America.

An inspection of the prison conducted in April 2001 by a team of two men and two women ...

$1.5 Million Awarded in CDC Medical Neglect Suit

$1.5 Million Awarded In CDC Medical Neglect Suit

In November 2000, a jury awarded the Estate of Mark Holton and Amanda Holton a total of $1.5 million in costs and damages, as well as $279,000 in attorneys' fees, in a civil rights action. Amanda Holton filed the ...

$100,000 Awarded in Arizona Medical Indifference Case

In January 2000, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict awarding $100,000 to a former Arizona prisoner who was refused medical treatment while at the Maricopa County Jail.

In late 1994, Daniel Hawkins was arrested and booked into the Maricopa County Jail after police caught him ...

Washington Enacts Sweeping New Sentencing Laws, Creates Parole Board for Sex Offenders

Washington Governor Gary Locke recently signed into law the biggest changes to that state's sentencing laws since the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (SRA) was established. The Bill, known formally as Third Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6151, creates, among other things, a new parole board exclusively for sex offenders ...

Medical Monitoring Suit Settled for $675,000

Oregon State Prisoners' Class Action Victory

A class action lawsuit by Oregon prisoners involved in radiation experiments from 1963 to 1973 and still living as of December 31, 1997, who were not treated under Oregon's Medical Monitoring Statute (MMS) was settled for $675,000 in damages, attorneys' fees, costs ...

Oregon Radiation Suit Settled for $1.5 Million

On April 24, 2001, a class action lawsuit by Oregon prisoners who participated in radiation experiments from 1963 to 1973 was settled for $1,517,000 in damages, attorneys' fees, costs and expenses.

Sixty_seven prisoners at the Oregon State Penitentiary participated in experiments in which their testicles were irradiated to ...

Washington Supreme Court Rules Imprisoned Children Entitled to Education

In a case of first impression, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners in Washington State under the age of eighteen have a fundamental right under the Washington State Constitution to an education while in prison. [See: Tunstall v. Bergeson , 141 Wn.2d 201, 5 P.3d 691 (2000 ...

Habeas Hints: AEDPA Update 2001

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 ...

New York DOCS Settles Welfare Suit; Bans Welfare for Work Release Prisoners

In the April 2001 issue of PLN we reported Friedl v. City of New York , 210 F.3d 79 (2nd Cir. 2000) in which Walter Friedl, a New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) prisoner on work release filed suit after he was infracted and his work release status terminated ...

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Violation of IAD's Anti-Shuttling Provisions Requires Dismissal

The United States Supreme Court held that the "anti-shuttling" provision of Article IV(e) of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD) requires dismissal of the pending criminal charge(s) in the receiving state when the prisoner is returned to the sending state before trial on the charge(s).

In January ...

Failure to Sign Notice of Appeal Not Jurisdictional

In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court held that although the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) require that a notice of appeal be signed, the failure to sign a timely notice did not require the Court of Appeals to dismiss an appeal because the lapse was curable ...

ADA Claims Against State Cannot Proceed in Federal Court

ADA Claims Against State Cannot Proceed In Federal Court

In a suit against an Illinois prison brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a prisoner with impaired vision was denied monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief in federal court under a combination of statutory and Eleventh Amendment bars. Such ADA ...

Supreme Court Eliminates "Catalyst Theory" Fee Awards

Supreme Court Eliminates "Catalyst Theory" Fee Awards

In a 54 decision, the United States Supreme Court held that the "catalyst theory" is no longer a permissible basis for an award of attorneys' fees to "prevailing parties" under fee shifting statutes such as 42 U.S.C. §§ 19731(e), 1988, 2000e5 ...

Florida DOC Clears Itself of Racism Charges

The September 2001 issue of PLN reported on a series of lawsuits filed by black prison employees against the Florida Department of Corrections, as well as racist brutality by Florida prison guards. Florida DOC Secretary Michael Moore at the time promised to investigate the multitude of allegations concerning racism and ...

Race-Based Religious Policy Unconstitutional

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that prison officials' denial of Native American religious items to a non-Native American prisoner based solely upon his race violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Virginia prisoner Gary David Morrison, Jr., filed suit under 42 U.S ...

Family of BOP Prisoner Awarded $1.1 Million in Wrongful Death Suit

A federal judge in Oklahoma City ruled in May 2001 that the government was negligent in the death of federal prisoner Kenneth Michael Trentadue and ordered the family to be paid $1.1 million for emotional distress. However, U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard rejected arguments that Trentadue was murdered ...

PLRA Bars Mental and Emotional Damages for Asbestos Exposure

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a prisoner may not recover damages for mental and emotional injuries due to his exposure to asbestos and other health-threatening prison conditions.

Johnny Ray Herman, a Louisiana state prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various prison and ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:

Arkansas: On August 23, 2001, Joseph Davis, 39, and Bobby Green, 51, prisoners at a state prison in Varner feigned illness and jumped a guard. The men then stole the guard's truck and kidnapped an unidentified off duty guard and his daughter. The hostages were released ...

Denial of Treatment for Two Hours Defeats Qualified Immunity

Denial Of Treatment For Two Hours Defeats Qualified Immunity

Afederal district court in Alabama has held a detainee's allegations that guards failed to take action on his complaints of chest pains for over two hours defeats qualified immunity.

After being arrested by Deputy Sheriff Morris Rogers and taken to ...

Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Application of Gate Money Amendments

The Arizona Supreme Court, sitting en banc , held that amendments to Arizona's "Gate Money" statute were not applied retroactively and did not violate due process or ex post facto prohibitions.

Arizona prisoner Reinhold Zuther was convicted in 1992. At that time ARS § 31228 required the Arizona Department of Corrections ...