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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: February, 2001

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Volume 12, Number 2

In this issue:

  1. Bag'm, Tag'm and Bury'm; Wisconsin Prisoners Dying for Health Care (p 1)
  2. WA Law Libraries Threatened; DOC Proposes Budget Cuts (p 8)
  3. Food Strike Puts Washington DOC on Spin Control (p 9)
  4. From the Editor (p 10)
  5. Fraud Charged by Washington DOC Whistleblower (p 10)
  6. $330,000 Verdict in MI Beating (p 11)
  7. $4,500 Verdict in NY Hernia Suit (p 11)
  8. WA DOC Whistleblowers Speak Out: Is Anyone Listening? (p 12)
  9. CA Medical Lab Faked Prison Tests (p 14)
  10. AZ Prisoners Can't Access Internet, But the Net Accesses Them (p 15)
  11. $5,500 Awarded in NY Unlawful Imprisonment Suit (p 16)
  12. $160,000 Verdict in NY Diabetic Cyst Suit (p 16)
  13. $115,000 Settlement Where Guards Fed NY Prisoner Ground Glass (p 16)
  14. The Prison Payoff: The Role of Politics and Private Prisons in the Incarceration Boom (p 17)
  15. MO Prisoner Awarded $130,000 in Retaliation and Haircut Claims (p 17)
  16. Ohio Abandons Private Food Service Experiment (p 17)
  17. Tide Turns Against Prison Privatization (p 18)
  18. SC Jail Escape Kills One (p 19)
  19. IL Prison Phone Ruling Published (p 19)
  20. OH S.Ct. Strikes Down Bad Time Law (p 19)
  21. News in Brief (p 20)
  22. Work Stoppage at Idaho CCA Prison (p 21)
  23. No Qualified Immunity for Alabama Blanket Strip-Search Policy (p 22)
  24. Yeskey Dismissed on Remand (p 22)
  25. Mentally Ill Prisoners in the New Jersey Prison System (p 22)
  26. Louisiana Abandons Private Juvenile Prisons (p 24)
  27. $7,500 Paid to Settle Delay of Legal Property Suit (p 25)
  28. Louisiana Abandons Private Juvenile Prisons (p 25)
  29. A.I. Reports on US Compliance with UN Convention Against Torture (p 26)
  30. $8,000 Awarded in NY Chair Collapse (p 26)
  31. Ninth Circuit Requires Evidentiary Review Before Terminating Old Consent Decree Under PLRA (p 27)
  32. $7,500 Award in NY Window Injury (p 27)
  33. $1.75 Million Verdict in Juvenile Death Suit (p 27)
  34. $30,000 Awarded to NY Prisoner Slashed in Attack (p 28)
  35. BOP Prisoners' Convictions for Destroying Military Factory Upheld (p 28)
  36. $49,999 Settlement in CA Sex Extortion Suit (p 29)
  37. Conditions Claims Viable in WA PRP (p 29)
  38. Failure to Exhaust Requires Hearing Before Dismissal (p 30)
  39. Leave to Amend Complaint Improperly Denied (p 30)
  40. $158,500 Awarded in NY Slip and Fall (p 31)
  41. Summary Judgment Reversed on Diabetes Claim (p 31)
  42. Book Review: Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing (p 32)

Bag'm, Tag'm and Bury'm; Wisconsin Prisoners Dying for Health Care

[The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (www.jsonline.com) published an investigative series titled: "Wisconsin's Death Penalty," by Mary Zahn and Jessica McBride, October 22-24, 2000. Wisconsin doesn't have capital punishment, but the Journal Sentinel revealed the routine "execution" of state prisoners by a Department of Corrections health care system, which seemingly places little value on prisoners' lives. The series sparked public outrage and led to immediate and substantive prison health care reforms. Portions of the following article are excerpted by permission from "Wisconsin's Death Penalty"]

WA Law Libraries Threatened; DOC Proposes Budget Cuts

On December 5, 2000, deputy DOC secretary Eldon Vail informed the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) executive staff and administrators of the DOC's 2001-03 biennium budget reduction package. The state of Washington has recently been subjected to conflicting ballot initiatives, which restrict state spending, eliminate car tabs as a significant source of tax revenue, increase education spending and mandate increased transportation spending. Governor Gary Locke asked all state agencies to include a 2% reduction in their 2001-03 budget proposals. On November 15, the DOC was asked to submit an additional 4% budget reduction. The 4% target was $42 million. Readers should note that the DOC's budget would actually increase over previous appropriations and continue its growth, just at a slower pace.

The DOC's proposed budget cuts are designed to be as politically unpalatable as possible and most are couched in terms of gloom and doom if implemented.

High on the list of budget cuts are Washington prison law libraries at 8 prisons. Closing the law libraries would save the state $596,000 per year, or $1.192 million per biennium. The DOC proposes to provide only forms as a means of court access for literate, English speaking ...

Food Strike Puts Washington DOC on Spin Control

Prison food sucks. That's no big secret. And it should come as no surprise that for any given meal only a fraction of prisoners may bother to show up at the chow hall. Turkey A'la King? Good luck! But when 640 out of 700 prisoners fail to attend all three meals two days in a row it's gotta be more than a crappy menu.

That's what prison volunteer Linda Coleman tried to relate to newspaper reporters who contacted her for information about the July 20-21, 2000 food strike at the Washington State Reformatory (WSR) in Monroe.

Coleman, a participant in volunteer programs at the prison for three years, was the only person other than "official DOC sources" that Everett Herald reporters Warren Cornwall and Cathy Logg could find to comment on record about the strike. Prison administrators, of course, put their customary spin on the story.

"It's business as usual," WSR associate superintendent Willie Daigle told The Herald. "It's just that they're not eating," referring to the fact that (except for the food strike) there had been no disturbances or violence at the prison.

As to what caused the protest, Daigle portrayed the ...

From the Editor

From The Editor


Paul Wright

For the past five years, the January issue of PLN has contained our annual index. We decided to discontinue the practice last year because as PLN grew so did the index. It has gotten to the point that an annual index takes up most of one issue of PLN. We are currently working on a cumulative index that is highly specific and encompasses all articles printed in PLN. We expect to have it ready within the next few months. As soon as it is available and ready for shipping we will announce it in PLN.

This issue concludes PLN's series of articles on prison health care or the lack thereof. The prison health care crisis behind bars is not only being ignored by state and federal governments it is being abetted by them. Historically prisons and jails have been breeding grounds for disease and illness. That historical role continues the only difference being is that today's illnesses are hepatitis C and HIV, in centuries past it was smallpox and typhus. Tuberculosis has, however remained a constant. I would like to thank those readers who sent information and material that we used in this ...

Fraud Charged by Washington DOC Whistleblower

An employee of the Washington Department of Corrections Office of Correctional Operations contacted the state auditor's office in August 1997 pursuant to the State Whistleblower Act. The unnamed whistleblower [we'll call him/her "Doe"] told the auditor that the DOC used improper and illegal methods to award a $560,000 contract to an inept and unqualified software vendor to develop a custom "Inmate Banking System." Doe also alleged that a $21,500 contract for a digital "Inmate Badging Intake System" was awarded to the same company without soliciting competitive bids.

After an eight-month investigation, the state auditor dismissed the most serious allegations related to the $560,000 banking system contract, and concluded that procedures used to acquire the badging intake system were improper but not illegal.

In documents obtained by PLN, Doe describes how in early 1995 the DOC put out bids for a new Inmate Banking System that would not only modernize the mainframe system then in use, but would also include certain additions and modifications needed to comply with newly-enacted legislation. [The 1995 Offender Accountability Act mandated a plethora of new deductions from prisoner accounts including: recreation fees; medical co-payments; education fees; and automatic deductions from ...

$330,000 Verdict in MI Beating

On October 8, 1999, a federal jury deliberated four hours before returning a $330,000 verdict in favor of Richard Johnson. Johnson, a Michigan state prisoner, had been imprisoned at the Ionia Correctional Facility. While being moved to a different cell, Johnson was shoved from behind by a prison guard ...

$4,500 Verdict in NY Hernia Suit

On November 16, 1999, the New York court of claims awarded New York state prisoner Justo Lopez $4,500 for a hernia he developed while assigned to do work beyond his physical capacity. Prior to his incarceration Lopez had been shot several times, as a result his abdominal wall was ...

WA DOC Whistleblowers Speak Out: Is Anyone Listening?

Hollywood has glamorized whistleblowers as selfless, dedicated employees with the public interest at heart. It has also implied that when government or corporate employees expose wrongdoing there is someone there to investigate their claims. A veteran investigative journalist writing for the American Journalism Review, who has worked with whistleblowers on a regular basis, said the reality is usually far different. He described the typical whistleblower as an employee with personal axes to grind who goes public to expose wrongdoing only to settle an unrelated dispute or grievance.

For the past two years, PLN has investigated all substantiated whistleblower complaints filed by Washington Department of Corrections employees with the state Auditor's office. A review of several thousands of pages of documents reveals a cozy but dysfunctional system where little investigation of state malfeasance takes place, and even when wrongdoing is found, nothing is done about it.

Washington, like most states, assigns to the state auditor the task of investigating whistleblower allegations filed against state agencies. It is an elected, partisan office. Washington has had Democratic governors since 1984. Brian Sonntag has been state auditor since 1992 and was recently elected to a third term in office. Sonntag is also a ...

CA Medical Lab Faked Prison Tests

A scandal has unfolded wherein a contract medical laboratory faked critical test results of at least 4000 state prisoners in 11 California prisons between 1995 and 1996. Moreover, a search of prisoners' medical records uncovered at least 650 cases, where, as of four years later, no retest was documented, a San Francisco Chronicle investigative report revealed recently through documents obtained via state Public Records Act and federal Freedom of Information Act requests.

B.C.L. Clinical Labs of Santa Fe Springs (Los Angeles County) had gained contracts with at least seven California Department of Corrections (CDC) prisons between 1995 and 1996 to process prisoner lab specimens. State inspectors closed B.C.L. down in December 1996 in a raid where they caught employees red-handed typing phony lab "results" into a computer. Critical tests for AIDS, hepatitis, cancer and other serious diseases were being faked at the expense of the health of the prisoners and the communities they returned to.

The Chronicle reported that a recent hand search of all of CDC's 162,000 prisoner medical files revealed at least 650 cases where no retesting was documented. Disturbing was the fact that the search and retesting effort comes after almost ...

AZ Prisoners Can't Access Internet, But the Net Accesses Them

A state law that went into effect July 18, 2000 makes it a Class 1 Misdemeanor for Arizona prisoners to "send mail or receive mail from a communication service provider or remote computing service." The law imposes penalties for any prisoner that "corresponds or attempts to correspond with a communication service provider or remote computing service" or for "any person who accesses the provider's or service's internet web site at the inmate's request."

The stated purpose of the law, according to a "fact sheet" distributed by the Arizona State Senate, is to prohibit "prison inmates from posting or retrieving internet information either personally or through a third party."

The preamble to H.B. 2376, which passed by a wide margin and became law (Arizona Revised Statutes, § 31-242) when signed by the governor March 31, 2000, states:

"Arizona inmates do not currently have access to the internet. However, many prison inmates use third parties to do business with Internet service providers. The inmate can contact friends, family or an Internet service provider via paper mail services in order to post information online from outside the prison. The friend, family member or service provider can then collect any responses ...

$5,500 Awarded in NY Unlawful Imprisonment Suit

On May 4, 2000, the New York court of Claims awarded Allen Israel $5,600 in damages after New York parole officials wrongfully violated his parole. Israel had a maximum parole expiration date of April 12, 1996. His parole was later revoked due to a traffic offense but no new ...

$160,000 Verdict in NY Diabetic Cyst Suit

On January 11, 2000, the New York court of claims awarded $160,000 to diabetic New York state prisoner Daniel Brill. In 1996 while at the Mid-State Correctional Facility Brill sought treatment for an infected cyst. Brill was eventually hospitalized and treated with IV antibiotics and ultimately required extensive surgery ...

$115,000 Settlement Where Guards Fed NY Prisoner Ground Glass

In September 1999, New York prison officials settled a lawsuit by prisoner Teno Gee for $115,000 in damages. Gee was the chairman of the Inmate Liaison Committee at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock. In that capacity Gee had caused a number of policy changes in the prison ...

The Prison Payoff: The Role of Politics and Private Prisons in the Incarceration Boom

A report published by the Western Prison Project and the Western States Center. The report concludes that private prison corporations exert increasing political influence at the state level. Private Prisons are also playing a key role in the Grafting of harsh criminal justice legislation that is designed to improve their long-term business prospects by increasing the number of Americans incarcerated. To get a copy send $15 to:


Westren Prison Project

PO Box 40085

Porland, Oregon 97240-0085

(or) 503-335-8449

MO Prisoner Awarded $130,000 in Retaliation and Haircut Claims

On February 4, 2000 a federal jury in the Eastern District of Missouri awarded $130,000 in damages to Jerry McCrary. McCrary, who is black, filed suit claiming that while imprisoned at the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri on August 16, 1992, he was severely beaten by white prisoners during ...

Ohio Abandons Private Food Service Experiment

In October 2000, the Ohio prison system decided to abandon its controversial two-year pilot project to privatize the food service at the Nobel Correctional Institution (NCI).

In October, 1998, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DORC) awarded a two-year contract to ARAMARK Correctional Services, a private company in Oakbrook, Illinois, to prepare and serve meals to NCI's 2,500 captive consumers. The contract was plagued with problems from the outset [See: "Ohio Prison Food Contract Sparks Controversy," PLN, Oct. '00]. The meals served by ARAMARK were of such poor quality and small portion sizes DORC officials feared a riot at NCI.

In February, 1999, state officials met behind closed doors with ARAMARK executives and secretly amended the contract to allow the company to charge more than 60 percent higher rates in exchange for providing more and better food, resulting in cost overruns of nearly $2 million over the original contract.

When the state solicited bids for a new contract in 2000, ARAMARK and two other private food service companies submitted proposals. Another bid was submitted by Local 11 of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association; AFSCME, the union representing state workers. Each bidder the union and the three ...

Tide Turns Against Prison Privatization

North Carolina, Georgia, Utah and Louisiana are among states that experimented with private prisons and because of problems encountered have eliminated them altogether or scaled back plans for future privatization.

North Carolina officials converted both of the state's private prisons to public operation, and banned future "spec" prison development and the importation of prisoners from other states.

Two private prisons were built in North Carolina by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in 1998 under five-year contracts with the state to house prisoners on a "pilot" basis. But the Pamlico and Mountain View Correctional Facilities were beset with problems from the day they opened. CCA was repeatedly cited by state monitors for chronic understaffing and inadequate service delivery in many vital areas: prison security and safety; prisoner work assignments; medical and mental health care; education programs; and substance abuse treatment. As a consequence of CCA's failure to live up to contract specifications, the DOC withheld $1 million in payments to the company. And on June 23, 2000, DOC Secretary Theotis Beck announced the state would terminate the CCA contracts and resume operational control of both prisons. CCA will continue to own the prisons, leasing them back to the state ...

SC Jail Escape Kills One

Eight prisoners sought to escape from the Richland county jail in South Carolina on the night of September 17, 2000. The jail houses mostly pretrial detainees from Columbia, South Carolina and Richland County. The escape attempt resulted in a guard's death but no one actually left the jail's perimeter.

The eight prisoners, Terrion Warren, Antonio Ball, Charles Hayes, Roy Wilson, William Blount, Lahborn Allah, Clarence Jones, and Cornelius Rogers were all in the jail facing charges ranging from armed robbery to murder. In the wake of the escape attempt, the first four were additionally charged with murder, kidnapping hostage taking, first degree lynching armed robbery, conspiracy to escape and attempted escape on September 22. The other four were charged with lesser escape related offenses.

According to Richland county sheriff Leon Lott, the prisoners overpowered the lone guard, Alvin Glenn, on duty in their 64-prisoner unit. The four charged with the guard's murder dragged him into a cellblock room handcuffing him and securing his radio car keys and car alarm remote control which they hoped to obtain their getaway vehicle. In the process and with other prisoners looking on through a window the guard was beaten and choked ...

IL Prison Phone Ruling Published

In the June 2000, issue of PLN we reported that a federal district court in Illinois had dismissed a class action lawsuit challenging the phone rates charged to consumers who accept phone calls from prisoners in Illinois prisons and jails. The court's ruling is published at: Arsberry v. Illinois, 117 F. Supp.2d 743 (ND IL 2000).

The case is on appeal and PLN will report its outcome. A number of similar suits challenging prison jail phone rates have been dismissed by federal courts around the country and are on appeal. This is the first of those rulings to be published. Other suits challenging prison and jail phone rates in state courts are still pending.

OH S.Ct. Strikes Down Bad Time Law

The Ohio Supreme Court found a state statute, RC 2967.11, which allowed prison officials and the Ohio Parole Board to try: convict, and add time to Ohio prisoners' sentences for criminal infractions occurring during the prisoners' stated prison terms, violated the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and was unconstitutional.

While serving an 8-month prison term for drug possession, Gary Bray allegedly assaulted a prison guard and the Ohio Parole Board added a 90-day bad-time penalty to Bray's original sentence.

In October 1998, while serving a 9-month prison term for aggravated assault, Richard Haddad allegedly committed an assault and was sentenced by the Ohio Parole Board to an additional 90 days of bad-time incarceration.

Samuel White was serving a 16-month term for receiving stolen property when, in June 1998, he allegedly committed an assault and the Ohio Parole Board sentenced him to an additional 30-day bad-time sentence. Later in 1998, White allegedly committed another assault; the Parole Board sentenced him to an additional 90-days bad time in prison.

In the state courts. Bray, Haddad, and White individually and separately contested their bad-time penalties and the constitutionality of RC 2967.11. Following different appellate pathways, the three converged at ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:


Australia: On November 15, 2000, Russell Briggs, the administration and finance officer at the Fulham private prison in Sale was fired for sexually harassing, intimidating and bullying four female prison employees. The prison is operated by Australasian Correctional Management; a subsidiary of U.S. based Wackenhut Correctional Corporation. Jim Stanley, the prison's intelligence and investigations manager is also accused of assaulting and sexually harassing a female guard and prison manager Andrew Senior is being investigated for sexually harassing a female employee at the prison.

AR: On October 24, 2000, Marcus King, 26, a prison guard employed by the private, for profit, Wackenhut Corrections Corporation at the McPherson prison in Newport, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexually assaulting prisoner Vera Arnold, 29. King was guarding female prisoners at a local hospital when he raped Arnold in a bathroom. Arnold said she tried to resist but couldn't because she was handcuffed and shackled. King was fined $500, plus $75 in court costs for the rape. The judge then suspended the fine because King had been in jail awaiting disposition of the charges.

Bolivia: In November 2000, a group of 36 prisoners in the Arocaqua prison ...

Work Stoppage at Idaho CCA Prison

Five weeks after it opened, the Idaho Correctional Center (ICC), went on lockdown following a non-violent protest by prisoners there. Corrections Corporation of America operates the $50 million 1,250-bed prison.

In early July 2000, CCA began moving Idaho prisoners from its New Mexico facilities. According to prison officials, the prisoners objected to more stringent rules at the new CCA prison south of Boise, including a prohibition on beards and higher telephone call charges.

The work-stoppage prompted an immediate response from state prison officials, who issued an "open letter" to ICC prisoners reminding them that, "refusing to work will not be tolerated.. and could result in placement in Administrative Segregation for an extended period of time."

PLN doesn't know how long the protest and lockdown lasted.


Source: The Associated Press

No Qualified Immunity for Alabama Blanket Strip-Search Policy

A federal district court in Alabama held that a County Sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity for a policy of strip-searching all jail admittees, regardless of personal circumstances.

DeAngela Wilson, an 18-year-old high school student, was arrested at a drivers' license checkpoint for driving under the influence of intoxicants. Under Alabama law, she was required to remain in custody overnight.

Wilson was strip searched in accordance with the Shelby County Jail's blanket strip search policy that applied to all arrestees admitted to the jail, regardless of the charge against them, their criminal history, or the lack of a reason to believe they possessed contraband.

Wilson brought suit alleging that the strip search policy violated her Fourth Amendment rights and seeking damages. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.

The court noted, "the circuit courts have unanimously rejected blanket policies authorizing strip-searches for minor-offense arrestees." Ultimately, the court concluded "that the strip search of this 18-year-old girl, arrested for DUI and with no prior criminal record of any sort, isolated in a cell by herself, and creating no reasonable suspicion that she was hiding contraband, violated here Fourth Amendment right to be free from `unreasonable' searches."

The court also ...

Yeskey Dismissed on Remand

In the September, 1998 issue of PLN we reported Pennsylvania DOC v. Yeskey, 118 S.Ct. 1952 (1998) in which the United States supreme court held that prisons and jails are included in the coverage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA) 42 UJ.S.C. S 12131-12165. The district court in this case had previously dismissed the case, holding that prisoners were not within the ada's coverage. The court of appeals tor the Third circuit reversed, holding prisoners were covered by the ADA. See: Yeskey v. Pennsylvania DOC, 118 F.3d 168 (3rd Cir. 1997)[PLN, Apr. 1998]. The Supreme Court affirmed, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.

Ronald Yeskey, a Pennsylvania state prisoner with high blood pressure, filed suit under the ADA after he was prevented from significantly reducing his prison sentence by participating in the Pennsylvania DOC's boot camp program. Due to his high blood pressure, Yeskey cannot engage in the vigorous physical exercise required by the boot camp program. As a result, he served a longer prison sentence. The court gives a detailed outline of the Pennsylvania boot camp program and its time reduction component.

To qualify for protection ...

Mentally Ill Prisoners in the New Jersey Prison System

Two hundred prisoners filed a class action suit against the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) in 1996. A court order issued as a result of that suit mandated an investigation to "assess the mental health services in the... NJDOC with emphasis on those institutions and housing units where the mentally ill were congregated." Inspections were conducted in 1996 and 1997 in Northern State Prison, New Jersey State Prison, and the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women and East Jersey State Prison. Dr. Dennis F. Koson, who conducted the investigation and prepared the report, also visited the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital where mentally ill prisoners in crisis are held.

The report was issued in 1998 and the court case was settled in July 1999. See: D.M. v. Terhune, 67 F.Supp. 2d 401 (DNJ 1999) [PLN, Nov., 2000]. When no information appeared subsequently indicating changes had been made, Human Rights Watch sued to have Koson's report released. When the state still refused to indicate what changes had been made, HRW issued a copy of the report. With this they hoped to pressure the NJDOC and then Governor Christine Whitman to show that conditions had improved. Following are some of ...

Louisiana Abandons Private Juvenile Prisons

The state of Louisiana agreed to a settlement in federal court September 7, 2000 designed to radically alter the way it operates its juvenile prisons. The agreement was intended to settle several lawsuits against the state, including one by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, which charged that teenage detainees were routinely brutalized by guards and deprived of food, clothing and medical care.





Former mayor of Houston, Fred Hofheinz, faces charges of conspiracy, extortion and bribery... Brown is alleged to have funneled $845,000 from Hofheinz to Gov. Edwards to serve the lucrative contract.





The settlement agreement effectively ends Louisiana's experiment with privately run juvenile prisons, where the worst abuses had occurred. The state had tried to privatize its juvenile lockups to cut costs, but the effort raised questions about whether for-profit corporations could operate prisons more efficiently than the government without skimping on essential services and training. Richard Sthadler, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said the state had been forced to expand juvenile prisons but that its "efforts to provide some of these services through privately operated facilities were a disappointment."

Under the settlement, the state is prohibited from placing any more juveniles ...

$7,500 Paid to Settle Delay of Legal Property Suit

On September 27, 1999, District of Columbia federal judge Stanley Sporkin entered judgment on a settlement for $7,500, plus $47.81 in interest, in a lawsuit involving the shipping of a D.C. prisoner's legal property from a Washington state prison to a D.C. prison. Edward Ashford ...

Louisiana Abandons Private Juvenile Prisons

The state of Louisiana agreed to a settlement in federal court September 7, 2000 designed to radically alter the way it operates its juvenile prisons. The agreement was intended to settle several lawsuits against the state, including one by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, which charged that teenage detainees were routinely brutalized by guards and deprived of food, clothing and medical care.





Former mayor of Houston, Fred Hofheinz, faces charges of conspiracy, extortion and bribery... Brown is alleged to have funneled $845,000 from Hofheinz to Gov. Edwards to serve the lucrative contract.





The settlement agreement effectively ends Louisiana's experiment with privately run juvenile prisons, where the worst abuses had occurred. The state had tried to privatize its juvenile lockups to cut costs, but the effort raised questions about whether for-profit corporations could operate prisons more efficiently than the government without skimping on essential services and training. Richard Sthadler, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said the state had been forced to expand juvenile prisons but that its "efforts to provide some of these services through privately operated facilities were a disappointment."

Under the settlement, the state is prohibited from placing any more juveniles ...

A.I. Reports on US Compliance with UN Convention Against Torture

In May 2000, a United States government delegation appeared before the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva to present its first report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture). When the government had presented its case, the Committee issued a list of conclusions and recommendations.

Amnesty International has issued two papers reflecting this report and its results: A Briefing for the UN Committee Against Torture, a document submitted by AI to the U.S. government before the US delegation presented its report and in which AI outlines its main concerns with respect to the state of human rights in this country; and for call to action by the UN Committee Against Torture, that AI published after the Committee had reached its conclusions. The last document actually consists of three parts: a one page statement by AI, a letter to the President from AIs General Secretary Pierre Sane and an addenda listing the Committee's conclusions and recommendations.

It is not surprising to find that many areas of concern expressed in the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee and by Secretary General Sane closely coincide with areas ...

$8,000 Awarded in NY Chair Collapse

On November 24, 1999, the New York court of claims awarded $8,000 in damages to New York prisoner Troy Benjamin. In 1995 while Benjamin was a prisoner at the Collins Correctional Facility, the back of the chair he was sitting in fell off, causing him to fall backwards, separate ...

Ninth Circuit Requires Evidentiary Review Before Terminating Old Consent Decree Under PLRA

by John E. Dannenberg

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's termination of prospective relief under two long-standing consent decrees at San Quentin State Prison and remanded with directions to hold evidentiary hearings to evaluate the ongoing need, if any, to protect against continued violations of prisoners' constitutional rights. The termination had been sought by the state in response to a provision in the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA) (Public Law 104-134), which provides for presumptive termination of any such consent decree that is over two years old. The state's position was that all such extant decrees must automatically extinguish after two years. Rejecting this as arbitrary, the Ninth Circuit held that an evidentiary review must first be conducted by the district court to determine if the past constitutional violations that engendered the decree still existed. No termination would be permitted where such a violation would otherwise continue.

The two decrees in question covered access to legal materials (Gilmore v. Lynch, N.D. Cal. No. 45878 (1972)) (see earlier cases at 400 F.2d 228 (9th Cir. 1968) and 319 F.Supp. 105 (N.D. Cal. 1970)), and death row ...

$7,500 Award in NY Window Injury

On November 8, 1999, the New York court of claims awarded $15,000 in damages to a New York state prisoner who cut his arm while opening a malfunctioning window. In 1990, Neil Henry, a prisoner at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in New York, cut his arm while opening a ...

$1.75 Million Verdict in Juvenile Death Suit

On February 9, 2000, a federal jury in Macon, Georgia held that Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice employees were liable for the death of a 15 year old female juvenile prisoner who was given Tylenol to treat a serious brain injury and who later died from lack of treatment.

Latasha ...

$30,000 Awarded to NY Prisoner Slashed in Attack

On September 15, 1999, the New York court of claims awarded $30,000 in damages to New York state prisoner Mario Vasquez. In 1995, Vasquez was slashed in a stairwell at Collins Correctional Facility by two knife-wielding prisoners. The day before the attack, Vasquez was involved in a fistfight with ...

BOP Prisoners' Convictions for Destroying Military Factory Upheld

In October, 1995, riots broke out in more than a dozen federal prisons after Congress voted down sentencing guideline commission rules that would have equalized the penalties for possession of crack and powder cocaine. [PLN Jan. 1996] As is historically the case, the government has harshly punished the rebellious prisoners it was able to identify. Prisoners who wore masks or otherwise concealed their identities during the uprising were not prosecuted.

The latest case stems frow the conviction and appeal of federal prisoners Philip Creen, Santos Negron and Larry Walters, who were convicted of rioting at the Federal Correctional Institution in Memphis, Tennessee en October 20, 1995. In addition to starting fires in housing units and prison buildings, windows were broken and property destroyed. Of greater significance was the destruction of a federal prison industries (AKA UNICOR) plant that used prison slave labor to make electronic cables for the Department of Defense. The government claimed $3,445,165 million in losses as a result.

Apparently, the BOP chose to prosecute a few scapegoats at each prison that rebelled. In this case, Walters was sentenced to an additional 93 months imprisonment, Negron to 32 months, and Green to 84 months, to run ...

$49,999 Settlement in CA Sex Extortion Suit

On February 1, 2000, San Bernadino County, California settled a lawsuit with Jeffrey Darr for $49,999. Darr filed suit claiming that county sheriff deputy James Wiebeld (now promoted to detective) had framed him on methamphetamine manufacturing charges, for which he spent three years in jail awaiting trial, so Wiebeld ...

Conditions Claims Viable in WA PRP

A Washington state appeals court held that conditions of confinement claims are cognizable under the state's Personal Restraint Petition (PRP) system. In doing so, the court upheld a ban on a sex offender's correspondence with his 11-year-old niece.

Robert Arseneau was convicted of first-degree incest for raping his daughter for 11 years from the time she was five years o1d. While in prison Arseneau began corresponding with his 11 year old niece. Washington prison officials prohibited Arseneau from corresponding with his niece under DOC Policy 450.050, which allows prison officials to deny or restrict contact between prisoners and individuals or classes of individuals that have "been victimized by the offender."

Arseneau filed a PRP under RAP 16.4(e)(6) challenging the ban on correspondence with his niece. Significantly, the court held that a PRP can be used to challenge conditions of confinement that do not affect the length, duration or validity of the underlying conviction of confinement. RAP 16.4(e)(6) allows petitioners to challenge the conditions or manner of the restraint. The court observed that other states as well as federal habeas corpus statutes allow challenges to prison conditions and civil rights claims.

Turning ...

Failure to Exhaust Requires Hearing Before Dismissal

The court of appeals for the Second Circuit held that a prisoner's failure to exhaust administrative remedies was not grounds for dismissal for failure to state a claim. The court also held that pro se prisoner litigants must be given an opportunity to contest dismissals for failing to exhaust administrative remedies.

Raymond Snider, a New York state prisoner, filed suit against Dr. Melindez, a prison psychiatrist, alleging that Melindez repeatedly drugged him with Haldol and placed him in an uninhabitable cell. Snider filed his complaint using forms provided by the federal courts. The form asks plaintiffs: "Is there a prisoner grievance procedure in this institution?" and "Did you present the facts relating to your complaint under the prisoner grievance procedure?" Snider answered the first question "yes" and the second "no".

The district court allowed Snider to proceed in forma pauperis but then ruled, sua sponte, that while Snider's claim clearly raised serious issues; it had to be dismissed for failure to comply with the administrative exhaustion requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Section 1997e(a) states: "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other federal ...

Leave to Amend Complaint Improperly Denied

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit held that a district court erred in refusing to allow a pro se prisoner to amend his complaint. Fred Bennett, a California state prisoner, filed suit against various prison officials. The district court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend so Bennett could refile the suit alleging only those claims he had administratively exhausted.

Bennett was given 30 days to amend his complaint. Shortly afterwards he was infracted for damaging state property and assaulting staff. He was then placed in a strip cell and denied all his legal materials.

When Bennett was released from the strip cell, the 30-day time limit had expired; he promptly explained his delay to the district court and sought leave to file the amendment complaint, which the court denied. The court ordered the case dismissed.

The appeals court reversed. Bennett had the right to file an amendment complaint, Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122 (9th Cir. 2000, en banc). The district court erred in not accepting Bennett's uncontroverted explanation of his delay in amending the complaint. An extension of time should have been granted this pro se litigant. See: Eldridge v. Block, 832 F2.2d ...

$158,500 Awarded in NY Slip and Fall

On September 22, 1999 the New York court of claims awarded former New York state prisoner Lourdes Fischer $158,500 in damages for injuries she suffered when she fell from a ramp at the Albion Correctional Facility and landed face first on a concrete parking pad. The state was found ...

Summary Judgment Reversed on Diabetes Claim

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a lower court's grant of a summary judgment in favor of a doctor and a deputy sheriff on a pre-trial detainee's §1983 claim that they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.

Floyd Roberson, a prisoner in Missouri's Pemiscot County Jail, suffers from diabetes. Upon incarceration on March 15, 1996, Roberson informed the jailers of his diabetic condition and his need for both medication and a special diet. Roberson claims Deputy Sheriff Bradshaw would not provide the needed care without a doctor's order and did not let him see a doctor until April 15. Roberson then suffered a reaction to the Glucophage prescribed by Dr. Gubin for diabetes. Roberson wasn't returned to the doctor until May 22 when the same medication was again prescribed.

Bradshaw and Gubin countered Roberson's claims with their own version of the events stating that Roberson failed to inform jailers of his condition for a week, didn't ask to see a doctor for a month, and never complained about his diet or a reaction to the Glucophage.

While affirming summary judgment to the other defendants, the court focused on ...

Book Review: Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing

Fyodor Dostoevsky's old adage about measuring a civilization by reviewing its prisons if followed in the U.S. context is a condemnation of this nation's own version of the gulag archipelago. A cross-section of prisoner's writings submitted to the PEN writing contest for the past quarter century reveals the cold dark underside of the American dream. Men and women denizens of both state and federal prisons write brilliantly about trying to stay human in the midst of places of marked inhumanity and indeed places that only succeed if they dehumanize.

The submissions in Doing Time work on one level like maps of time tracing the high water mark of prison activism and social rebellion of the early to mid-1970s to the more individualistic less politicized and more repressive 1990s. Here we see the microcosm that prisons represent in a social order for as in the streets so in prison. Here it is also clear that prisons by their very nature serve political interests and one of them is black containment seen in the sharp trajectory of African American incarceration rates from the 1970s to the present.

It is a rare submission that does not reflect the predominantly ...

 

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