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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: April, 2001

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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 City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997)[PLN, Sep. 1997].

In Boerne the court held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, was unconstitutional as applied to state and local governments (the RFRA still applies to the federal government). The court held that in enacting the RFRA congress exceeded its authority under section 5 of the 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution. The RLUIPA attempts to correct this.

The RLUIPA applies to all government programs that receive federal financial assistance, which includes all state governments and virtually all-local governments. The RLUIPA prohibits government imposition of land use regulations that burden religious exercise (the underlying issue in Boerne) unless the government can show a compelling interest and the regulation is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.

While the RFRA applied to prisoners, the RLUIPA specifically states its application to prisoners ...

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 and said, "Oh God!"

In the May 2000 issue of PLN we reported how Ohio prison officials uncovered evidence of a widespread parolesforsale scam. Two excons, Lynn Moore, 44, and Willie Ray Patton, 51, were indicted in September 1999 on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, bribery and complicity to escape. The two were accused of contacting Ohio prisoners with upcoming parole hearings with the promise that a payment of $5,000 _ $10,000 would buy a parole release decision. Parole hearing officer Harold Miller, 63, was alleged to have granted early releases to prisoners in exchange for bribes paid to him by Patton, an allegation that he steadfastly denied.

But six months later, in March 2000, Moore pleaded guilty to two counts of bribery and Patton pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery, and complicity to escape. Both agreed to testify against Miller, who was arrested on ...

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's Seattle office and moved it to a home office in Monroe, a small town 30 miles away. This effectively cut PLN off from its volunteer base. The quality of PLN's layout deteriorated based on the unqualified person that Fred hired to do it, Gary Taylor Rose.

Around February 15, 2001, Fred had PLN's phones turned off beginning on the 20th and by the 16th had disappeared. It turns out that Fred had been embezzling money and misappropriating funds since at least 1999. Right now we are in the process of figuring out how much he stole and for how long he had been doing it. At this point, we know that Fred has stolen at least $20,000 in PLN funds, most of it in grants we had recently received.

PLN volunteers have been able to recover most of PLN's physical assets. We are in the ...

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 in the general population. The rate of HIV infection is higher there than in the general population and drug companies could and would supply complete expensive medical care for HIV and AIDS infected prisoners.

There is an inherent contradiction, however, in the use of prisoners as human guinea pigs. Mandatory Standard 34373 of the American Correctional Association (ACA) specifies that "Written policy and practice prohibit the use of [prisoners] for medical, pharmaceutical or cosmetic experiments" Among the few states that allow the testing of prisoners are Texas and Florida. The ACA has not explained how any of the experimental drug programs being carried out on prisoners in those states can pass muster under the standard. Nor has either the Texas or the Florida DOC attempted to justify its programs.

The use of prisoners in medical testing is banned in many states because testing conducted over the years since the 1930s ...

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 45yearold prisoner assigned to work as a gym orderly, about what he'd been doing in a janitor's closet. A struggle ensued, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) spokesman Larry Fitzgerald.

The woman locked herself in the gym office, but Roy broke in, bound her wrists and sexually assaulted her, said Fitzgerald.

"After the offender left, she locked herself in a bathroom and phoned the assistant warden's office," Fitzgerald told the Associated Press. He said guards who responded to the call were led to the janitor's closet by a blood trail.

"He was barricaded in there," Fitzgerald said. "They used some (pepper spray) gas through the door and upon opening the closet door they found offender Roy hanging by shoestrings."

The same day, though, French Robertson warden James Duke gave a different account to the Abilene ReporterNews. Duke said that Roy wrapped a cord around his ...

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 him repeatedly in the neck. After eluding McKissick, Gamble was taken to a local hospital where he died after surgery to repair the arteries in his neck. "He never regained consciousness after the surgery," said Sherri Gamble, his widow.

Callaway, 35, was stabbed 13 times by McKissick and was listed in stable condition by a Lawton hospital. McKissick, 24, was serving a ten-year sentence for throwing bodily fluids on a county jail guard.

After the stabbing McKissick retreated to a dayroom. The prison's emergency response team was called in and after four hours McKissick surrendered. Two makeshift knives were recovered and a 12 to 14-inch piece of sharpened steel was tagged as the murder weapon. McKissick was transferred to the maximum security prison in McAlester after the stabbing.

In the aftermath of the stabbings, 30 prison guards assembled on June 28, 2000, at the state capitol in Oklahoma City ...

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 Facility in Lucasville, OH, for retaliation, aiding an escape, harassment by an inmate and telephone harassment, when he was convicted September 5, 2000 of three counts of theft.

Prison officials began investigating Bristow in December 1999 after he'd lost his telephone privileges for making threats and throwing something at a guard. Informants also told prison investigators that Bristow had been using a bogus credit card to make mailorder purchase by phone.

An internal prison investigative report obtained by the Columbus Dispatch revealed that Bristow stole the identity of Praveen Arcot after reading Arcot's name in a newspaper announcement of his hiring as a software engineer by a Columbus company.

Prison investigator David See told the Dispatch that Bristow devised a way to bypass security features on the automated inmate telephone system. That allowed him to call the Nelsonville, Ohio police department and, posing as a deputy from California ...

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, leaving only their physical bodies between them and the depredations of unchecked power. A recent sex scandal in the South Carolina DOC illustrates the result.

In the summer of 2000, allegations of widespread sexual misconduct by staff in South Carolina prisons began to come to light. Investigation of a tabloid report that Susan Smith had been beaten in prison propelled the controversy into the public spotlight. Smith is notorious for having drowned her two infant sons by rolling her car into a lake in 1999 and then claiming a black man had taken them in a carjacking. Smith later confessed to the murders.

Smith told prison investigators that earlier that year she had four sexual encounters with Lieutenant Houston Cagle, a supervisor at South Carolina's Women's Correctional Institution (WCI) where she is confined. Cagle admitted having sex with Smith and another prisoner and was charged with the offenses ...

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's most famous female prisoner, told investigators that she had sex with two prison guards. Since the investigation began, a total of 13 guards and prison employees have been criminally charged for illegal actions involving sex, drugs and contraband smuggling [See accompanying article: "South Carolina Rapes Exposed"].

The allegations involve four minimumsecurity prisoners, two men and two women, who handled maintenance and housekeeping chores around the governor's mansion. Prisoners told investigators that they did not use the governor's bedroom or have sex while his family was home.

"I'm mad as hell, for the sanctity of my home has been violated," Hodge said. He added that he had decided to terminate the prisoner work program at his residence.

Cato, who had headed the state's prison system since 1998, was the target of increasing criticism as his department took mounting hits from an everwidening scandal.

On December 13 ...

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 to produce highquality fertilizer. Prison officials expect the operation to consume 21 tons of cardboard waste and 48 tons of food scraps (from prison chow halls) annually. State Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher said the prisonrun worm farm would sell breeding stock of worms, along with the high nutrient fertilizer. He said the program would also cut costs of hauling prison waste to landfills.

State Senator Carol Roessler, who serves on the Building Commission, said the new prison industry would have several benefits and no downsides that she can see. She said that Indiana and Minnesota have already successfully undertaken similar projects. Roessler proclaimed the prison worm farm would not compete with private enterprise.

Source: Appleton PostCrescent

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 "goon squads" that use terror and violence to enforce order in the cellblocks.

Saying that life was so brutal in one of the jail's housing units that it was known as a "terror dome," the Justice Department report described an ingrained attitude of brutality, indifference and coverup at the jail, where guards would reward prisoners for hurling feces and urine mixed with milk at particularly reviled prisoners, such as those accused of sex crimes.

According to the report, the jail has an "institutional culture [that] supports the use of excessive force: some correctional staff support and encourage the use of excessive force by joking about it, bragging about engaging in such conduct, failing to report it and/or ridiculing the legitimate rights of inmates.... We have concluded that NCCC subjects inmates to unconstitutional conditions that have caused them grievous harm; staff engage in a pattern or practice of physical ...

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 when 19 pieces of metal were found in his desk at work. The disciplinary hearings officer found him guilty of the charge and sanctioned him to 10 days segregation and loss of 90 days good time for 360 days.

McVay appealed to the superintendent who reduced the sanction to a reprimand and limited to disciplinary segregation to time served, because further investigation revealed that McVay was authorized to possess the metal.

McVay filed a PRP challenging the disciplinary order alleging that the disciplinary decision was not supported by "some evidence" and that he was denied the assistance of a staff advisor.

The court of appeals concluded that McVay was under restraint for purposes of bringing a PRP action because he was found guilty of a serious infraction and was sanctioned to disciplinary segregation and loss of good time credits _ even though those sanctions were later reversed.

Following the Washington ...

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 United States as well as in Great Britain,Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean.

The 25 year contract, which is valued by the South African government at about $245 million, including $45 million in construction costs, was signed August 12, 2000 in Pretoria. The cost of construction is to be financed by a consortium of South African banks. The prison will be located in the far northern town of Louis Trichardt.

South African prisons are desperately overcrowded, so in 1997, the government began soliciting bids to build and manage four private prisons.

Wackenhut and its local partners, incorporated as South African Custodial Services, bid for the right to build and operate three of the prisons and won two-of the bids, including the planned prison at Louis Trichardt.

Three weeks after signing this contract, the South African government announced it would release 18,000 prisoners to relieve overcrowding of a prison ...

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 class mail are entitled to due process notice of censorship, regardless of the amount of postage paid. The court also held the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity from damages as the law on this issue was not clearly established.

In 1988 the Oregon DOC banned the receipt of bulk mail from its prisons. Since then, any third or fourth-class mail received at Oregon prisons has been destroyed or returned to the post office. Oregon prisoners could only receive mail sent via express mail, priority mail, first class or periodicals rate. Everything else was prohibited based on the postage rate paid by the sender.

PLN has been mailing its magazine at third class non-profit rates since 1991. For several years PLN provided hand mailed subscriptions to Oregon prisoners at a higher rate to offset not only the postage difference but also the staff time involved in processing the subscriptions. The ...

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 had previously sent its newsletter to Oregon prisoners via first class mail but had stopped doing so when they could no longer afford it. CPR is normally mailed via third class, or standard, mail. CPR agreed to be a coplaintiff in the case.

All went well until district court judge Malcolm Marsh dismissed the case. Counsel and I had already concluded this was likely since judge Marsh had previously upheld the bulk mail ban in another, unpublished, case. We were already preparing an appellate strategy. I was quite surprised when, two weeks before the notice of appeal was due to be filed, Alison Hardy, one of our lawyers in the case, told me that Mara Taub of the CPR was opposed to appealing the dismissal.

I spoke with Mara and her position was that appealing the decision was too risky as we might lose in the Ninth circuit and an ...

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. Marshals at Anoka, MN, on federal bank robbery charges. Although Thornton complained that his feet were numb and asked for medical attention, the Marshals ignored his requests.

A few hours later, Thornton was transferred to Anoka County Jail. Detention Officer Sandra Strom wrote "Frozen feet/cannot feel 7 of 10 toes" on the intake form, left the form for nextday processing, and did not notify medical personnel of Thornton's condition.

Later, a deputy observed Thornton's purple and swollen feet and contacted Strom who summoned nurse Marilyn Noll. Noll diagnosed Thornton's feet as frostbitten with vascular damage. She telephoned a physician who recommended two medications: an antibiotic and a blood thinner.

Even with medication, Thornton's condition worsened. He complained of inadequate medical care: he had to soak, debride, and bandage his feet: inject his IV medications: and walk on damaged feet to obtain medications and meals.

On ...

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 required to submit to random strip searches in the absence of any suspicion that they were actually carrying any contraband. Two visitors, the father and wife of different death row prisoners, filed suit claiming the suspicion-less strip searches violated the Fourth amendment. The plaintiffs sought money damages and injunctive relief. The district court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining further strip searches.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming they were entitled to qualified immunity from money damages because, they argued, the law on the right of prison visitors to be free from suspicion-less strip searches was not clearly established in 199597. The district court denied the motion, holding the law was clearly established on this issue. The defendants appealed and the court of appeals affirmed the denial of qualified immunity and remanded the case for further proceedings.

The appeals court noted that while the supreme court and ...

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 prison environment offers, an experience he describes as "peering into the funhouse mirror of the American soul."

In this slim volume Gordon has assembled a rather haphazard collection of his prisonerstudents' creative writing essays, along with a few tales of his own, flavored with a dash of his polemic, meandering personal observations on prison reform.

Gordon is enthralled by the lurid tales that prisoners and staff tell him the bloodier and more perverse the better. But he makes no distinction between truth, satire, and outright whoppers meant to shock or entertain. In the book's preface, Gordon claims, "all of the events recounted in The Funhouse Mirror did, indeed, take place." And after reading the book, there's no denying that the reality is all there, staring the reader in the face. Yet it is nearly impossible to separate the true picture from what is twisted, exaggerated, or distorted beyond ...

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 state charged Community Affairs Inc. with having its telemarketers pose as local or state police and telling thousands of prospective donors they were raising money to purchase bulletproof vest, to help "widows and orphans" of slain peace officers and to provide scholarships.

The telemarketers were actually representing prison guard unions, and less than 2 percent of the donations, about $35,000, went toward legitimate charity, the state charged.

About 80 percent of the money raised, about $1.6 million, was paid to the telemarketing company as fees. Most of the remaining money, about $365,000, went directly into union coffers, the state alleged.

Charged were Burlington County Corrections Officers PBA Local 249, Somerset County Corrections Officers PBA Local 177, Union County Corrections Officers FOP Lodge 123, and the New Jersey Superior Officers Law Enforcement Association. The latter is a statewide group consisting mainly of New Jersey state prison guards holding ...

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 Prison Construction and Operations was focused on the health and medical issues of female prisoners who had come to testify on their own behalf.

In a recreational room inside VSPW, prisonbluesattired female prisoners filed in shortly after the hearing started at noon. Some 100-prison activists, family members, lawyers and journalists, in addition to numerous California Department of Corrections (CDC) officials, were on hand to observe the hearing.

According to Senate Majority Leader Richard D. Polanco (DLos Angeles), it was the first time in over a decade that a California legislative committee was conducting a public hearing in a state prison facility.

After opening testimony from Ellen Barry, founder of the San Francisco based Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, over a dozen current prisoners of VSPW and the adjacent Central California Facility for Women (CCWF), in addition to several former prisoners, offered their stories to three members of the legislative ...

$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 Project and written by Jenni Gainsborough and Marc Mauer, Diminishing Returns: Crime and Incarceration in the 1990s.

On a state level, the rise in the incarceration rate does not correlate with a corresponding drop in crime rates. While Texas had the greatest increase in imprisonment in the period: a whopping 144% and a large drop in crime rate (35%), West Virginia, with an increase in incarceration rate of 131% had a drop of only 4% in its crime rate and New York had an increase of only 24% in its incarceration rate but a drop of 43% in its crime rate. Maine, with the lowest increase in its rate of incarceration (2%) showed a 19% drop in its crime rate. When states were grouped according to whether they fell above or below the national average increase in incarceration rate (47%) the disparities become even more apparent: the twenty states and ...

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 board for an infraction, which could result in lengthy solitary confinement.

Willie Horne, a mentally retarded New York state prisoner, filed suit against prison officials alleging he was denied his constitutional right to due process when he was denied assistance in defending himself in a prison disciplinary proceeding at which he was sentenced to a term of one year of solitary confinement.

In prison system and state court disciplinary appeal proceedings, the disciplinary case was reversed, reserved, and Horne was given an employee assistant who did little to assist Horne. Horne was again sentenced to 300 days in the SHU and 300 days loss of good time. Horne again appealed the disciplinary action through the prison system's appellate process and the sentence was reduced to 6 months in the SHU and the loss of 6 months good time. By then, Horne had already spent the six months in SHU ...

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 Johnsen, a guard at the Wasco State Prison, was arrested, at his divorce lawyer's office in Bakersfield on suspicion of possessing explosive devices and prohibited weapons. Bakersfield police searched Johnsen's home and found tear gas grenades, a 37mm tear gas launcher and tear gas rounds for it, which are all illegal to possess. Prison officials stated that items did not belong to the prison system. Police also found armor-piercing bullets, manuals on making bombs and silencers, and magazines for automatic weapons. Johnsen's estranged wife, Linda, 37, had reported the explosives in their home after Johnsen kicked her five-year-old son with his steel-toed prison boots. Johnsen is being investigated on child endangerment charges in that incident. The couple had been married six months.

CO: In January, 2001, federal court judge Daniel Sparr sentenced Joseph Torrez, 34, and Harry Pollard, 54, former Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg to ...


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