Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: April, 2001

Issue PDF
Volume 12, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Federal Religious Freedom Law Passed (p 1)
  2. Attica Compensation Served Up 29-Years-Cold (p 3)
  3. Ohio Parole Hearing Officer Acquitted in Bribe Case (p 4)
  4. From the Editor (p 5)
  5. Texas and Florida Prisoners Used in Medical Experiments (p 6)
  6. Mystery Surrounds Texas Prison Rape/Suicide (p 8)
  7. Oklahoma Guard Killed (p 8)
  8. Washington DOC Settles Public Disclosure Suits (p 11)
  9. Ohio 'Entrepreneur' Lands in Hot Water (p 11)
  10. South Carolina Rapes Exposed (p 12)
  11. South Carolina Prison Chief Fired as Scandal Widens (p 13)
  12. Wisconsin Prisoners to Farm Worms (p 15)
  13. Justice Department Report Slams Nassau County Jail (p 15)
  14. PRP Proper to Challenge Some WA Disciplinary Orders (p 16)
  15. Wackenhut to Build Prison in South Africa (p 17)
  16. PLN Strikes Down Oregon Bulk Mail Ban (p 18)
  17. Coalition for Prisoners' Rights? (p 20)
  18. Frozen Toes State a Claim for Deliberate Indifference (p 21)
  19. No Qualified Immunity for Illinois Visitor Strip Searches (p 21)
  20. The Funhouse Mirror, By Robert Ellis Gordon and Inmates of the Washington Corrections System (p 22)
  21. New Jersey Guard Unions Charged with Telemarketing Fraud (p 22)
  22. California Legislative Committee Hearing Meets Behind Prison Walls To Hear Testimony From Female Prisoners (p 23)
  23. $40,000 Awarded in Tennessee Jail Failure to Protect Suit (p 25)
  24. Crime and Punishment Relation Examined (p 26)
  25. TRO Allows Father to Attend Birth; Court Awards Full Attorney Fees (p 27)
  26. $57,000 Awarded in Illinois Prison Beating (p 27)
  27. Welfare Retaliation Suit Reinstated (p 28)
  28. Second Circuit Discusses Qualified Immunity in Disciplinary Case (p 29)
  29. News in Brief: (p 30)

Federal Religious Freedom Law Passed

On July 27, 2000, Congress unanimously enacted Senate Bill 2869, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), which was signed into law by president Clinton, as a public law 106-274. The bill passed congress in two weeks and tries to reverse the supreme court ruling in ...

Attica Compensation Served Up 29-Years-Cold

Two weeks short of 29 years after the Attica massacre, a federal judge divided an $8 million settlement to compensate more than 500 Attica prisoners and surviving relatives for the abuse suffered when prison guards and state troopers retook the prison after a 5 day siege.

At more than 200 ...

Ohio Parole Hearing Officer Acquitted in Bribe Case

After a three-day trial, a jury acquitted an Ohio parole-hearing officer of charges that he sold early parole releases to prisoners.

On Nov. 9, 2000, as Lorain Co. Common Pleas Judge Lynett M. McGough read the verdict, parole hearing officer Harold K. Miller clapped his hands once above his head ...

From the Editor

From The Editor

by Paul Wright

Recently PLN has not been publishing on its usual schedule. There have been a number of unforeseen developments lately that have caused this. In October 2000, the behavior of Fred Markham, PLN's office manager at the time, became increasingly erratic. He closed PLN ...

Texas and Florida Prisoners Used in Medical Experiments

When the AIDS epidemic struck in the mid eighties and pharmaceutical companies wished to test new and promising drugs, what better place than in the nation's prison systems? AIDS has no known cure and test subjects in the prison population are far more available and expendable than test subjects ...

Mystery Surrounds Texas Prison Rape/Suicide

A prisoner at the French Robertson Unit near Abilene, TX, hanged himself August 16, 2000, shortly after sexually assaulting a female prison employee, prison authorities say.

A few minutes after 4:00 p.m., the female recreational staff (whose name and age were not released) confronted Michael Wayne Roy, a ...

Oklahoma Guard Killed

On June 6, 2000, Joe Gamble, 29, a prison guard at the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, Oklahoma, died from stab wounds allegedly inflicted by prisoner Dorhee McKissick. The stabbing occurred on June 5 when Gamble saw another guard, William Callaway, being attacked by McKissick. Gamble intervened and McKissick stabbed ...

Washington DOC Settles Public Disclosure Suits

Plaintiffs Roger Smith, Donald Miniken, and Karl Twilleager, prisoners at the McNeil Island Correction Center (MICC) near Steilacoom, Washington, settled their consolidated Public Disclosure Act claims against defendants Washington Department of Corrections, MICC, and MICC Public Disclosure Officer, Rosemarie Routson on August 7, 2000.

The controversy arose from the prisoners ...

Ohio 'Entrepreneur' Lands in Hot Water

An Ohio prisoner will spend an additional three years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to theft charges stemming from an elaborate credit card and telephone scam he ran from behind bars.

Lonny Lee Bristow, 27, was already serving a 9year 11month sentence at the Southern Ohio Correctional ...

South Carolina Rapes Exposed

South Carolina is reaping a crop of corruption and scandal from the desolate fields of its prison system. Predatory guards wield power with few checks on their using it to seek gratification through exploitation and oppression. Prisoners, especially women, are stripped of the protections of law, morality, status and conscience ...

South Carolina Prison Chief Fired as Scandal Widens

Governor Jim Hodges angrily fired South Carolina's prisons chief January 11, 2001 after two guards were charged with allowing four minimumsecurity prisoners (2 male, 2 female) to have sex inside the governor's mansion.

The charges deepened a prison scandal that began last summer when Susan Smith, the state ...

Wisconsin Prisoners to Farm Worms

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections gained approval of the state Building Commission on November 22, 2000 to construct a $765,000 building at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution to house a "vermi-composting" operation as part of the DOC prison industries program.

Prisoners working in the building will care and feed earthworms ...

Justice Department Report Slams Nassau County Jail

After a 14 month investigation, the U.S. Justice Department released a report September 11, 2000, that is harshly critical of the Nassau County Correctional Center (NCCC) located on Long Island, New York. The 23 page report found that NCCC prisoners have long been terrorized by "beat up crews" and ...

PRP Proper to Challenge Some WA Disciplinary Orders

The Washington state Court of Appeals held that it was proper to utilize a personal restraint petition (PRP) to challenge prison disciplinary sanction ordering disciplinary segregation and lose of good time credits.

Raymond McVay, a prisoner of the Washington State Penitentiary, in Walla Walla, was charged with possessing a weapon ...

Wackenhut to Build Prison in South Africa

The Wackenhut Corrections Corporation completed an agreement with South African government to build and operate a 3,024 bed maximum security prison in that country. The prison, expected to be opened in early 2002, is the first venture in Africa for the Floridabased company, which operates forprofit gulags across the ...

PLN Strikes Down Oregon Bulk Mail Ban

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) ban on third class standard non-profit mail (AKA bulk mail) was unconstitutional and violated the First amendment rights of publishers and prisoners alike. The court also held that the sender and recipient of third ...

Coalition for Prisoners' Rights?

The Coalition for Prisoners' Rights (CPR) is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico and since 1981 has published a small newsletter by the same name. After PLN had recruited counsel to litigate the Oregon bulk mail case, PLN v. Cook [see accompanying article] we sought additional publisher plaintiffs. The CPR ...

Frozen Toes State a Claim for Deliberate Indifference

A U.S. District Court in Minnesota handed down a mixed ruling on defendants' motion for summary judgment on a federal prisoner's claim of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.

On January 25, 1996, after walking for 23 hours in freezing temperatures, Duane Thornton surrendered to U.S ...

No Qualified Immunity for Illinois Visitor Strip Searches

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that Illinois prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity from money damages for strip-searching prison visitors in the absence of any individualized suspicion that they were carrying contraband.

Between 1995 and 1997 people visiting death row prisoners in Illinois were ...

The Funhouse Mirror, By Robert Ellis Gordon and Inmates of the Washington Corrections System

WSU Press (2000), $14.95

Review by Allen N. Huxley

Robert Ellis Gordon is an educator and fiction writer who conducted creative writing workshops in various Washington prisons during the late 80s and early 90s. By his own admission, Gordon is "addicted to prisons." He craves the unique rush the ...

New Jersey Guard Unions Charged with Telemarketing Fraud

New Jersey Guard Unions Charged With Telemarketing Fraud

The New Jersey Attorney General's Office charged four "correctionsofficer" unions and a forprofit fundraising company with diverting nearly $2 million from police charities over a threeyear period.

In a 12count complaint filed in Monmouth County Superior Court in November 2000, the ...

California Legislative Committee Hearing Meets Behind Prison Walls To Hear Testimony From Female Prisoners

by Silja J.A. Talvi

It was anything but an ordinary California legislative hearing. On Wednesday, October 11,2000, behind the barbedwire grounds and multiple security checkpoints of Chowchilla's Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW), the bulk of a nearsevenhour, nonstop hearing held by the Joint Legislative Committee on ...

$40,000 Awarded in Tennessee Jail Failure to Protect Suit

A U.S. District Court in Tennessee ordered Shelby County to pay $40,000 to Jacob Miller for injuries suffered in an attack by fellow prisoners at Shelby County Correctional Center (SCCC).

Miller arrived at SCCC in December 1995 to serve a sentence for burglary. Fearing harm from gang members ...

Crime and Punishment Relation Examined

Between 1991 and 1998 the rate of incarceration in the United States increased a dramatic 47% at same time the crime rate dropped 22%. Before you conclude that imprisoning more people results in less crime you would be wise to read a report issued in September, 2000, by The Sentencing ...

TRO Allows Father to Attend Birth; Court Awards Full Attorney Fees

A U.S. District Court in Ohio awarded attorneys' fees and court costs to a state prisoner and her husband who sought and were granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) allowing the husband to attend the birth of their child.

In March 1999, Barbara Turner was confined at the Franklin ...

$57,000 Awarded in Illinois Prison Beating

In 1999 an Illinois state prisoner was awarded nearly $57,000 in damages and fees following trial on his charges that fellow prisoners beat him while a guard stood and watched.

Ronnie W. Carroll filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging that ...

Welfare Retaliation Suit Reinstated

Walter Friedl, a New York state prisoner, filed a §1983 action complaining that New York City and State officials had improperly revoked his work release program and reincarcerated him because he applied for welfare benefits. The City of New York settled for $20,000 while the district court granted the ...

Second Circuit Discusses Qualified Immunity in Disciplinary Case

Second Circuit Discusses Qualified Immunity In Disciplinary Case


The Second Circuit has with drawn its previous decision in Horne v. Coughlin, 155 F.3d 26 (2nd Cir. 1998), substituting an opinion that does not determine whether a mentally retarded prisoner has a constitutional right to assistance before a prison disciplinary ...

News in Brief:

CA: On January 16, 2001, Michael Bowers, 37, rammed a tractor-trailer into the state capitol where it burst into flames. Only Bowers was killed in the incident. An exconvict with numerous trips through local prisons and jails, Bowers had a history of mental illness.

CA: On February 16, 2001, Brice ...