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Prison Legal News: June, 2001

Issue PDF
Volume 12, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. Women Behind Bars (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 4)
  3. Strikes Sweep Bolivian Prisons as Promise of Freedom Fades (p 5)
  4. Custodial Rape of Female Prisoners Widespread in U.S. (p 6)
  5. Wrongfully Convicted Ohio Man Receives $250,000 Award (p 7)
  6. Federal Court Partially Terminates New York Jail Consent Decree Relief (p 8)
  7. Texas Prisoners Have Thirty Days to Sue Following Resolution of Grievance (p 10)
  8. ADA Settlement at Washington Special Commitment Center (p 10)
  9. Prisoners of the Census (p 13)
  10. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (p 14)
  11. Leave to Amend Complaint Wrongly Denied (p 14)
  12. Failure to Notify Prisoner of Hearing Violates Procedural Rights (p 15)
  13. Bid to Regain Family Visits Fails in California (p 16)
  14. Supreme Court Restricts ADA (p 17)
  15. Louisiana Prison Activist Freed (p 18)
  16. Arbitrary Denial of Michigan Appeal Bond Enjoined (p 19)
  17. Costs Allowed Only by Court Order (p 19)
  18. Second Circuit Holds Staged Perp Walks Unconstitutional, Grants Qualified Immunity (p 20)
  19. $9.6 Million Awarded for Child Death in Illinois Jail (p 21)
  20. No Forfeiture Notice Violates Due Process (p 22)
  21. Montana Court Awards PLRA-Capped Attorney Fees Under Catalyst Theory (p 23)
  22. Prisoner Defendants Entitled to Notice of Summary Judgment Requirements (p 23)
  23. Texas Prisoners Have Liberty Interest in Mandatory Supervision (p 24)
  24. Guards Use Shotguns to Control Riot (p 24)
  25. Unlawful Imprisonment Nets Ohio Man $25,000 (p 24)
  26. Texas Prisoners Have Right to Appear at Civil Court Hearings (p 25)
  27. Washington Media Royalties Sentencing Condition Reversed (p 26)
  28. Prison Doctor Wins $654,471 in Retaliation Suit (p 26)
  29. Minnesota Prison Cited For Asbestos Infractions (p 27)
  30. Texas Prisoners May Challenge Discretionary Mandatory Release Procedures (p 27)
  31. $3 Million Award Not Excessive in Prisoner Beating Death (p 28)
  32. Suspicionless Maine Jail Strip Searches Set for Trial; Settles for $455,000 (p 28)
  33. PLRA-Based Garnishment Used to Collect Court Costs for Defendant (p 29)
  34. Indiana Jail Settles Strip Search Case for $300,000 (p 29)
  35. News in Brief (p 30)
  36. Harsh Hitching Post Treatment States Claim (p 31)
  37. Ten Percent Prison Commissary Surcharge in New Jersey Upheld (p 31)
  38. Statutory Authority Not Required to Levy Housing Costs (p 32)
  39. Continuing California's Prison Interview Ban (p 32)

Women Behind Bars

It's the kind of statistic that deserves repeated mention: America's prisons and jails now hold just under two million persons, or 1 in every 142 U.S. residents.

To put America's incarceration rates into perspective, it's worth bearing in mind from 1990 to 2000, U.S ...

From the Editor

Welcome to another issue of PLN. Right now we are still focused on getting our publishing schedule back on track so that readers receive their issue around the beginning of the issue's calender date. We expect to be back on schedule by July.

As mentioned in the April, 2001 ...

Strikes Sweep Bolivian Prisons as Promise of Freedom Fades

In celebration of Jubilee 2000, Roman Catholic Pope John Paul asked the nations of the world to pardon crimes and free prisoners where possible. Bolivia responded with Law 2098 "to celebrate the coming of the third millennium by granting benefits of special character to those imprisoned."

In June of 1999 ...

Custodial Rape of Female Prisoners Widespread in U.S.

Custodial Rape Of Female Prisoners Widespread In U.S.

by Roger Smith

American jail and prison officials sexually molest hundreds, and possibly thousands of women prisoners each year. According to a March 2001 report by Amnesty International USA, over 1,000 such cases were reported in the last 3 years ...

Wrongfully Convicted Ohio Man Receives $250,000 Award

On January 11, 2001, a Columbus, Ohio man who spent nearly six years in prison for three rapes he did not commit was awarded almost $250,000 in damages by the Ohio Court of Claims.

Walter D. Smith, 43, was released from the Madison Correctional Institution on December 6, 1996 ...

Federal Court Partially Terminates New York Jail Consent Decree Relief

by Matthew T. Clarke

A federal district court in New York has terminated consent decree relief for New York City Jail prisoners with respect to restrictive housing due process, prisoner correspondence, and law libraries, while leaving intact the consent decree relief for restraint status due process and attorney visitation.

This ...

Texas Prisoners Have Thirty Days to Sue Following Resolution of Grievance

An appeals court in Texas has held that Texas prisoners have only 30 days to file a lawsuit after resolution of their administrative grievance. Failure to do so results in dismissal of the suit.

Richard James Randle, a Texas state prisoner, filed a state court lawsuit against prison employee D ...

ADA Settlement at Washington Special Commitment Center

By Hank Balson

In December 2000, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) settled a lawsuit brought by seven disabled residents of the Washington Special Commitment Center (SCC), the state's civil commitment facility to confine sex offenders who have been ...

Prisoners of the Census

Record numbers of urban people of color are now in prisons in rural areas _ where the census counts them as residents. Result? The prisoners' `share' of federal funds pegged to population counts will go to their keepers' hometowns.

Since April Fool's Day, prison guards have been slipping census ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics

The Supreme Court recently decided a case that could have an impact on prisoners who provide (free of charge) legal assistance to other prisoners. In this column, I discuss this new case and its implications.

In April, the Court unanimously decided that a prisoner does not have a special First ...

Leave to Amend Complaint Wrongly Denied

In a brief ruling, the court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that a district court erred in dismissing a prisoner's lawsuit without giving him leave to add a retaliation claim to the complaint.

Jeffrey Williams, an Iowa state prisoner, was transferred to a different prison to attend ...

Failure to Notify Prisoner of Hearing Violates Procedural Rights

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin found that when prison officials ignore their own rules requiring a prisoner to be notified of the date, time, and location of disciplinary proceedings against him, the prisoner's fundamental rights are violated and the disciplinary proceedings must be invalidated.

In February 1997, Ira Lee ...

Bid to Regain Family Visits Fails in California

by W. Wisely

On December 29, 2000, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge's order dismissing a lawsuit challenging prison regulations, which eliminated family visits for the majority of California prisoners. U.S. District Judge William Shubb had ruled that the hastily enacted regulations did not ...

Supreme Court Restricts ADA

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision allowing disabled persons to sue State employers for money damages in federal court under Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). 42 U.S.C. § 12112. The 54 majority held that the U.S. Constitution ...

Louisiana Prison Activist Freed

On February 8, 2001, Robert King Wilkerson, one of the prisoners known as the Angola 3, was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana after spending twenty-nine years in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit.

Wilkerson, 57, was convicted of the 1973 murder of Angola ...

Arbitrary Denial of Michigan Appeal Bond Enjoined

A federal District Court in Michigan has enjoined prison officials from incarcerating Joseph Puertas for drug convictions. Puertas obtained the preliminary injunction in a habeas corpus action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 after state courts arbitrarily denied his request to remain free on bond while appealing his convictions.

On ...

Costs Allowed Only by Court Order

Costs Allowed Only By Court Order

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted a pro se prisoner's Motion to Disallow Costs, holding that even under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, (PLRA), the assessment of costs remains within the discretion of the court and costs are allowed only by order ...

Second Circuit Holds Staged Perp Walks Unconstitutional, Grants Qualified Immunity

The court of appeals for the Second Circuit has held that staged "perp walks" are unconstitional violations of an arrestee's Fourth Amendment's rights. However, the Second Circuit also held that the law was not sufficiently established in September 1995 for a police officer to know such actions were ...

$9.6 Million Awarded for Child Death in Illinois Jail

On October 19, 2000 a Cook County jury in Chicago, Illinois awarded $9.6 million to the estate of Joyce Hughes, who died from injuries she sustained after she was born in a cell in the Cook County Jail near Chicago on October 29, 1996.

Katrina Taylor, Joyce's mother ...

No Forfeiture Notice Violates Due Process

An en banc majority of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that due process is violated when notice of a pending administrative forfeiture proceeding is not sent directly to a pretrial detainee when the detainee's actual whereabouts can be determined. A panel of the Fourth circuit court of ...

Montana Court Awards PLRA-Capped Attorney Fees Under Catalyst Theory

by Matthew T. Clarke

A federal district court in Montana has awarded attorney fees to prisoners in a Montana jail, even though the case was settled outofcourt, because the suit was the catalyst of change similar to the relief requested in the suit.

Harry Lozeau and other prisoners at the ...

Prisoner Defendants Entitled to Notice of Summary Judgment Requirements

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that pro se prisoner litigants who are being sued are entitled to notice from the court on the requirements of summary judgment to ensure the prisoner adequately responds to the moving party's summary judgment motion.

In Rand v. Rowland, 154 ...

Texas Prisoners Have Liberty Interest in Mandatory Supervision

The court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held that eligible Texas state prisoners have a liberty interest in release on mandatory supervision.

Dobber Graham Malchi, a Texas state prisoner, filed a federal habeas corpus action challenging a prison disciplinary decision, which resulted in 30-days loss of commissary privileges ...

Guards Use Shotguns to Control Riot

Guards Use Shotguns To Control Riot

Guards used shotguns loaded with rubber pellets to break up a riot at Wallens Ridge Prison in Virginia. On Sunday December 3rd, in a deliberate violation of prison procedure, prisoners returning from lunch left the sidewalk and gathered on the recreation yard to protest ...

Unlawful Imprisonment Nets Ohio Man $25,000

In late 2000 ex-Ohio state prisoner Ricky Carter, 44, agreed to accept a $25,000 award to compensate him for being incarcerated over 13 months past his release date. Carter, who was due to be released March 15, 1998, was instead illegally held until April 28, 1999. Ohio prison official ...

Texas Prisoners Have Right to Appear at Civil Court Hearings

An appeals court in Texas has held that Texas prisoners have the right to appear-either in person, by affidavit, by depostition, by telephone, or by teleconferencingat court hearings in civil cases.

Richard Owen Taylor, a Texas state prisoner, filed a motion for contempt in state district court alleging that his ...

Washington Media Royalties Sentencing Condition Reversed

A Washington State Court of Appeals modified the sentence of childrapist Mary R. Letourneau by striking a requirement that inperson contact with her own children be supervised and lifting the prohibition on her profiting from any commercialization related to her crimes.

In early 1997, the King County (Seattle, Washington) Department ...

Prison Doctor Wins $654,471 in Retaliation Suit

Prison Doctor Wins $654,471 In Retaliation Suit


by John E. Dannenberg

Dr. Terence Allen, prison physician at Halawa (Hawai'i) prison, was awarded $111,000 in damages plus $543,360 in attorney fees/costs against prison officials who retaliated against him for speaking out on prisoner abuse at Halawa ...

Minnesota Prison Cited For Asbestos Infractions

A Minnesota prison received nine citations and was fined over $18,000 for violations involving cancercausing asbestos. The judgment levied against Faribault prison, in November 2000, by Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Division, came as a result of disgruntled employees who say they have complained about the conditions for years ...

Texas Prisoners May Challenge Discretionary Mandatory Release Procedures

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has held that Texas prisoners have the right to use a state habeas corpus action under Article 11.07, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, to challenge the procedures used to deny them mandatory release.

David Lee Geiken, a Texas state prisoner, who had been ...

$3 Million Award Not Excessive in Prisoner Beating Death

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a $778,000 verdict and $2.2 million punitive damage award against Shelby County, Tenn. deputy sheriff Rhett Shearin and life prisoner Jerry Ellis in a county jail beating death where Shearin simultaneously opened Ellis' cell door and adjacent prisoner ...

Suspicionless Maine Jail Strip Searches Set for Trial; Settles for $455,000

The court of appeals for the First circuit held that disputed fact issues required a trial to determine if a Maine jail's practice of strip-searching all arrestees was unconstitutional. Carmen Miller was arrested on a restricted warrant and for allegedly failing to pay a $235 fine. She spent 3 ...

PLRA-Based Garnishment Used to Collect Court Costs for Defendant

The court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held that the method for garnishing a prisoner's trust fund set forth in the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) and codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(f)(2)(A), (B) and (b)(2), may be used to collect costs ...

Indiana Jail Settles Strip Search Case for $300,000

Indiana Jail Settles Strip Search Case For $300,000

On June 6, 2000 Harrison County, Indiana, Jail officials agreed to settle a class action lawsuit involving nearly 200 people who sued in an Indiana federal district court after they were illegally strip searched by jail officials. The settlement totaled $300 ...

News in Brief

AL: In December 2000, Montgomery jail guard Eileen Mayfield was accused of coercing five male prisoners into giving her sexual favors in exchange for candy, snacks and cigarettes.

Brazil: On April 12, 2001, 368 prisoners at the Carumbe prison in Cuiaba took 150 visiting family members hostage to demand the ...

Harsh Hitching Post Treatment States Claim

An Alabama federal district Court ruled state prisoner Toby Fountain stated a cruel and unusual punishment claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for being tied to a hitching post for 9 hours. Alabama DOC authorizes the use of a "restraining bar," that is better known as the "hitching post ...

Ten Percent Prison Commissary Surcharge in New Jersey Upheld

The Superior Court of Appeals of New Jersey has held that the 10% surcharge on purchases from prison commissaries in New Jersey is constitutional.

Paul Auge, a New Jersey state prisoner, filed suit in state court challenging the imposition by the New Jersey Department of Correction (DOC) of a 10 ...

Statutory Authority Not Required to Levy Housing Costs

Statutory Authority Not Required To Levy Housing Costs

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that prison officials can levy housing cost liens without statutory authority. Prisoner Leonard G. Tillman filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 action challenging the Lebanon County Correctional Facility's $10.00 daily assessment fee ...

Continuing California's Prison Interview Ban

by W. Wisely

For the second year in a row, California Governor Gray Davis vetoed a bill aimed to restore news media access to prisoners. On Monday, October 2, 2000, Davis vetoed the bill, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, which would've allowed reporters to interview specific prisoners ...