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Prison Legal News: May, 2001

Issue PDF
Volume 12, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Washington DOC Hit with almost $50 Million in Verdicts and Settlements in Parole Victim Suits (p 1)
  2. Closing Washington's Window of Parole Liability (p 4)
  3. From the Editor (p 6)
  4. Private Prison Contractor Not Entitled to Immunity (p 6)
  5. Washington DOC Hit with almost $50 Million in Verdicts and Settlements in Parole Victim Suits (p 7)
  6. Warden Fired over Riot at New Mexico CCA Prison (p 8)
  7. Kentucky Phone Rate Ruling (p 8)
  8. Eight Prisoner Deaths in California Women's Prison (p 9)
  9. Disciplinary Hearing Reversed for Failure to View Videotape (p 12)
  10. New York Strip Search Punitive Damage Award Vacated (p 14)
  11. New York Strip Search Suit Settled for $50 Million (p 14)
  12. Software Glitch Frees Washington Probationers (p 15)
  13. Two Louisiana Death Row Prisoners Freed (p 15)
  14. Peaceful Protest at Mount Olive Prison (p 16)
  15. CCA Faulted in Texas Jail Escape (p 16)
  16. Corrections Corporation of America Hit with $3 Million Abuse Verdict (p 17)
  17. New York Jury Awards $900,000 for Jail's Failure to Protect (p 18)
  18. Three Florida Guards Charged with Beating 'Gunner' (p 19)
  19. Due Process Violation, Plain Error Reverse Marijuana Conviction (p 19)
  20. Voluntary Agreement with MINNCOR Not Enforceable Contract (p 20)
  21. Washington DOC Settles Sex Harassment Suit for $250,000 (p 20)
  22. Second Circuit Cautions District Courts To Use Proper Sandin Analysis (p 21)
  23. $74,000 Awarded to Slashed New York Prisoner (p 21)
  24. Bogus Felons List Results in Suppression of Florida Votes (p 22)
  25. US Supreme Court Allows BOP Limit on Early Release Statute (p 23)
  26. Homemade Paper Spear Is Not a Deadly Weapon (p 24)
  27. Texas Prisoner Raped By Wackenhut Guard Entitled To Discovery Protection (p 25)
  28. PLRA Vacated Consent Decrees Can't Be Enforced in State Court (p 25)
  29. Change in AIDS Medication States Claim (p 26)
  30. PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Doesn't Apply After Release; Texas County Liable in Attack (p 26)
  31. Damages Awarded in New York Retaliation Suit (p 27)
  32. County Must Pay Prisoner's Medical Expenses (p 28)
  33. Gay New York Guard Wins $1.5 Million Harassment Award (p 28)
  34. Prisoner Bound by Jailhouse Lawyer's Work (p 29)
  35. Secular Humanism: Philosophy or Religion? (p 29)
  36. News in Brief (p 30)
  37. The Prisoner's Guide to Survival: A Comprehensive Legal Assistance Manual for PostConviction Relief and Prisoners' Civil Rights Actions (p 32)

Washington DOC Hit with almost $50 Million in Verdicts and Settlements in Parole Victim Suits

In a four-month period between September, 2000 and January, 2001, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) was hit with separate jury verdicts for $22.4 and $15 million and settled two additional cases for $8.8 million. All four lawsuits stem from the DOC's negligent supervision of parolees in ...

Closing Washington's Window of Parole Liability

In addition to almost $50 million in settlements and verdicts assessed against the Washington DOC in recent months, the Washington DOC has paid an additional $20.6 million to settle 25 parole liability cases and pay one jury verdict since 1994. Apparently, the state had previously been able to buy ...

From the Editor

Welcome to PLN's 132nd consecutive issue. May 2001, marks PLN's eleventh anniversary. In that time period PLN has grown from a 10 page, hand typed, photocopied newsletter to its current magazine format and size.

As reported in last month's editorial, things at PLN have been hectic in ...

Private Prison Contractor Not Entitled to Immunity

A State court of appeals in West Virginia has held that a private contractor of youth incarceration services is not entitled to immunity under the Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act (the Act), W.Va. Code §§ 2912A1 to 18.

Tracy Galloway initiated delinquency proceedings against her fourteen-yearold son. The ...

Washington DOC Hit with almost $50 Million in Verdicts and Settlements in Parole Victim Suits

A federal district court in New York has reinstated the malicious prosecution claim in Scott v. Coughlin and allowed trial to proceed on the issue of whether the denial of three requested witnesses at a prison disciplinary hearing was a violation of due process.

Harold Scott, a New York state ...

Warden Fired over Riot at New Mexico CCA Prison

Warden Fired Over Riot at New Mexico CCA Prison

Corrections Corporation of America officials fired the warden and chief of security at the Torrence County (New Mexico) Detention Facility just three weeks after a November 11, 2000 prisoner uprising involving 32 District of Columbia prisoners who reportedly used a sixinch ...

Kentucky Phone Rate Ruling

A federal district court in Kentucky held that the filed rate doctrine barred any claims for money damages against Phone Company and county jail defendants. However, injunctive relief was still available. The court questioned the legality of an exclusive service provider contract.

In the August, 1999, issue of PLN we ...

Eight Prisoner Deaths in California Women's Prison

Eight Prisoner Deaths In California Women's Prison Revive Concerns About Medical Care, Availibility
Of Compassionate Release


by Silja J.A. Talvi

The deaths of eight female prisoners within a seven-week period at a California women's prison have sparked a new round of activist and legislative inquiry into the ...

Disciplinary Hearing Reversed for Failure to View Videotape

In two separate rulings a U.S. District Court set aside an Indiana State Prison Conduct Adjustment Board's (CAB) findings of guilt and punishment after determining that the CAB violated a prisoner's due process rights when it denied his request to review a security camera videotape.

Darrell Mayers ...

New York Strip Search Punitive Damage Award Vacated

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the award of $5 million in punitive damage award against the City of New York for an unlawful strip and body cavity search of a misdemeanant arrestee. The court held that punitive damages are not available against municipalities.

In January 1997 ...

New York Strip Search Suit Settled for $50 Million

On January 9, 2001, it was announced that New York City would pay $50 million to settle a class action lawsuit involving the suspicionless strip searches of some 58,000 people arrested on minor charges. For ten months in 1996 and 1997 jail guards in Manhattan and Queens strip-searched all ...

Software Glitch Frees Washington Probationers

A computer error at the Washington state Department of Corrections prematurely released about 70 people from criminal supervision or restitution payments. People convicted of crimes such as robbery, drug possession and assault were suddenly freed from supervision on April 21, 2000, said DOC spokesman Jack Kopp.

DOC officials failed to ...

Two Louisiana Death Row Prisoners Freed

Three days after Christmas, 2000, Michael Ray Graham walked off death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He was wearing a prison issue denim jacket and carried all of his worldly possessions in two manila envelopes tucked under one arm.

After 14 years on death row and with ...

Peaceful Protest at Mount Olive Prison

Limits on personal property sparked a peaceful protest by prisoners at Mount Olive Correctional facility in Fayette County, West VA. On October 2nd over a fourth of the 867 residents gathered on the recreation yard with 16 demands for warden Howard Painter. The demands ranged from better food and medical ...

CCA Faulted in Texas Jail Escape

Staff shortages, unwatched video surveillance monitors, unlocked doors, untrained staff and a security alarm that was ignored by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) employees contributed to the August 27, 2000 escape from the Bartlett State Jail near Austin, Texas.

Sixteen problems, the biggest of which was human error, allowed the ...

Corrections Corporation of America Hit with $3 Million Abuse Verdict

On Dec 14, 2000, a federal jury in South Carolina awarded a 14-year-old boy more than $3 million in damages after finding Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) guilty of physically abusing the Charleston, SC teen-ager.

In 1996, William Pacetti, then 14, was sent to CCA on charges that he ...

New York Jury Awards $900,000 for Jail's Failure to Protect

A federal jury awarded judgment of $900,000 against the County of Nassau and the Sheriff of Nassau for failing to protect prisoner Steven W. Arnold from being assaulted and severely beaten while detained in the Nassau County Jail. PLN has previously reported about the unconstitutional conditions at the Nassau ...

Three Florida Guards Charged with Beating 'Gunner'

Three Florida state prison guards were arrested October 6, 2000 and charged with kicking and beating a prisoner so severely that his crushed right testicle had to be surgically removed. The beating was administered by guards as a form of "counseling" to a prisoner for reportedly "stalking female staff." [Prisoners ...

Due Process Violation, Plain Error Reverse Marijuana Conviction

The Michigan Supreme Court reversed a state prisoner's conviction for possession of marijuana after finding that the prosecution had improperly introduced inculpatory statements made by the defendant at an earlier prison disciplinary hearing.

Raymond Wyngaard was a prisoner of Michigan's Kinross Correctional Facility when he was found in ...

Voluntary Agreement with MINNCOR Not Enforceable Contract

Voluntary Agreement With MINNCOR Not Enforceable Contract


A state court of appeals in Minnesota has held that the Voluntary Agreement signed by prisoners laboring under MINNCOR's administration is not an enforceable contract.

Kenneth Murray, a Minnesota state prison, filed suit in state court alleging MINNOCR, a division of the ...

Washington DOC Settles Sex Harassment Suit for $250,000

WA DOC Settles Sex Harassment Suit for $250,000


In December 2000, the Washington Department of Corrections paid $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former community corrections officer who says she was fired after complaining to superiors about the harassment.

Shawnae Fossum claimed in her ...

Second Circuit Cautions District Courts To Use Proper Sandin Analysis

Acourt of appeals for the SecondDistrict has, once again, cautioned the district courts against using an improper analysis when analyzing conditions in Special Housing Units to determine whether a liberty interest is implicated under Sandin v. Canner, 515 U. S. 472 (1995).

Mitchell Kalwasinski, a New York state prisoner, filed ...

$74,000 Awarded to Slashed New York Prisoner

In July 2000, New York court of claims judge Ferris Lebous awarded $74,000 in damages to a prisoner slashed in an attack by another prisoner. On February 19, 1991, Billy Blake was in the segregation unit of the Shawangunk Correctional Facility. When Blake went to the segregation units recreation ...

Bogus Felons List Results in Suppression of Florida Votes

Bogus Felons List Results In Suppression of Florida Votes

by Ronald A. Young

Undoubtedly, it was the politically motivated decision handed down by five U.S. Supreme Court justices to put a halt to counting untallied Florida votes which actually decided the outcome of Presidential election 2000. Some folks, this ...

US Supreme Court Allows BOP Limit on Early Release Statute

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld 28 C.F.R. § 550.58(a)(1) (vi)(B) (Regulation), a federal Bureau Of Prisons (BOP) regulation modifying 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B) (Statute). The Statute provides that federal prisoners with nonviolent convictions may receive up to a one-year ...

Homemade Paper Spear Is Not a Deadly Weapon

Homemade Paper Spear is Not a Deadly Weapon

The Washington state Court of Appeals held that a spear, made from paper rolled into a rigid shaft and tipped with a golf pencil, used to jab a guard through prisoner's cell door was not a deadly weapon for purposes of ...

Texas Prisoner Raped By Wackenhut Guard Entitled To Discovery Protection

An appeals court in Texas has held that, under the Texas rape victims shield laws, Rule 412, 509(c)(1) and 510(b)(1), Texas Rules of Evidence, a prisoner who was raped by a guard and is suing Wackenhut may not be compelled to answer questions on whether the ...

PLRA Vacated Consent Decrees Can't Be Enforced in State Court

PLRA Vacated Consent Decrees Can't be Enforced in State Court

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that consent decrees terminated under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) cannot be enforced as private contracts in state court. Iowa prison officials moved to terminate various consent decrees under ...

Change in AIDS Medication States Claim

Change In Aids Medication States Claim

A Virginia federal district court ruled prisoner Terry Lee Taylor stated a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 where a prison doctor order a change in Taylor's AIDS medication without notification. The new medication caused Taylor to suffer side effects, including rashes ...

PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Doesn't Apply After Release; Texas County Liable in Attack

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that a Texas county was liable for failing to protect an arrestee from assault in its jail. The court also held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) attorney fee cap did not apply to a case filed by someone who ...

Damages Awarded in New York Retaliation Suit

Damages Awarded In New York Retaliation Suit

A Federal District Court in New York awarded a prisoner $4,221.40 for back wages and educational costs, but denied punitive damages in a successful retaliation suit. The court later denied the defendants' motion for reconsideration.

In 1988, New York state prisoner ...

County Must Pay Prisoner's Medical Expenses

AKansas Court of Appeals found that a governmental agency is not entitled to seek reimbursement from a prisoner for the cost of medical treatment received by the prisoner while in the agency's custody.

While incarcerated in the Haskell County {Kansas) jail, David Sullivan experienced chest pains and difficulty breathing ...

Gay New York Guard Wins $1.5 Million Harassment Award

On July 18, 2000, a gay Nassau County, NY jail guard won $1.55 million in damages after a federal jury agreed that his supervisors failed to intervene when his coworkers repeatedly tormented and harassed him due to his sexual orientation.

The verdict, reached after a threeweek trial in Federal ...

Prisoner Bound by Jailhouse Lawyer's Work

by Paul Wright

Afederal district court in Texas has held that a prisoner who relies on other prisoners to prepare his legal pleadings is bound by the content of those pleadings.

Nhan Kiem Tran is a federal prisoner in Texas who was convicted of several methamphetamine related offenses. With the ...

Secular Humanism: Philosophy or Religion?

The D.C. Circuit has held that federal prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity for refusing to recognize secular humanism as a religion.

Ben Kalka, a former federal prisoner, sought to form secular humanism groups to meet in prison chapels. At his last unit of incarceration, FCIJesup, the prison ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:


Argentina: On December 29, 2000, 11 political prisoners of the Movimiento Todos Por La Patria ended a hunger strike begun on September 6, 2000, after president Fernando de la Rua signed a decree reducing the prisoners' life sentences. The prisoners had been convicted of assaulting an army ...

The Prisoner's Guide to Survival: A Comprehensive Legal Assistance Manual for PostConviction Relief and Prisoners' Civil Rights Actions

By L. Powell Belanger PSI Publishing, Inc. (745 Pages)

Reviewed by Sam Rutherford

The Prisoner's Guide to Survival is a new legal research tool that covers all aspects of federal litigation common to prisoners. The book is useful both to the novice pro se litigant and to the experienced ...