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Prison Legal News: August, 2001

Issue PDF
Volume 12, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. New York Guards Watch as Prisoner Kills Cellmate (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 5)
  3. Executive Director Note (p 5)
  4. $1.1 Million Awarded in Texas Restraint Chair Settlement (p 6)
  5. Michigan DOC Sex Abuse Suit Nets Nearly $4 Million (p 7)
  6. Michigan Prison Visitor Forced to Wet Pants Wins $40,000 in Damages and Fees (p 8)
  7. Brutality Behind the Orange Curtain (p 8)
  8. Private Prison Corporation Can Be Sued in Bivens Action: Supreme Court Grants Review (p 9)
  9. INS Force-Feeds Long-Term Detainee (p 10)
  10. Pelican Bay Policy Banning Internet-Generated Mail Upheld (p 12)
  11. BOP Changes Organ Transplant Policy (p 12)
  12. 305 Days in New York SHU Is Atypical (p 13)
  13. Trial Required in Pennsylvania Failure to Protect Suit (p 13)
  14. Notes From the Unrepenitentiary: Whose Security? (p 14)
  15. New York Nazi Guard Charged with Sodomy (p 15)
  16. Unjust Rape Conviction Nets New York Man $530,000 (p 15)
  17. Habeas Hints: Apprendi (p 16)
  18. Turkish Prisoners Struggle Against Transfers (p 18)
  19. Two Escape from Oklahoma Control Unit (p 19)
  20. U.S. Supreme Court Requires Futile Administrative Exhaustion (p 20)
  21. Washington Civil Commitment Injunction Upheld (p 21)
  22. Arizona Supreme Court Rules on 1993 Earned Release Statute (p 22)
  23. $80,000 Settlement in CDC Transsexual Suit (p 22)
  24. Court Awards $146,000 in Arizona Medical Indifference Case (p 23)
  25. Kansas Disciplinary Restitution Orders Authorized (p 24)
  26. Pre-Sentence Detention Earns Good Time Credits in Montana Prison (p 24)
  27. Dismissal of Washington Persistent Prison Misbehavior Charge Upheld (p 25)
  28. PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Analyzed (p 25)
  29. Arizona Judgment Seizure Statute Upheld; Fees Protected (p 26)
  30. Retaliation Complaint Not Frivolous if Not Irrational or Wholly Incredible (p 26)
  31. Kansas 2-Year Visiting Restriction Unauthorized (p 26)
  32. Retaliation Claim Not Foreclosed by Sandin (p 27)
  33. New York District Court Reversed for Failure to State Legal Reasoning (p 27)
  34. Washington ISRB May Rescind Parole after Final Discharge (p 28)
  35. No Due Process for Washington Sex Offender Registration (p 29)
  36. News in Brief (p 30)
  37. DC Prisoner Wins $175,000 in Conditions Case (p 32)
  38. Washington Sex Offenders Settle Suit for $150,000 (p 32)

New York Guards Watch as Prisoner Kills Cellmate

by Jennifer Gonnerman

In the summer of 1999, New York's prison officials opened a sleek new penitentiary on the outskirts of Malone, a tiny town 15 miles south of the Canadian border. By then, New York already had 69 prisons, but its 70th stood out from the others. This ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

We have recently added several new books to the list of titles PLN is distributing. In coming months we will add more titles to our book list. As PLN 's office situation stabilizes our staff has more time to do things like track down book suppliers.

Among ...

Executive Director Note

This is the seventh issue of PLN printed since I became Executive Director. It has been a real challenge getting PLN back on track.

To ensure another Fred fiasco does not happen again we have instituted several procedures and safeguards. These measures include: compartmentizing operations, two signature checks, bank statements ...

$1.1 Million Awarded in Texas Restraint Chair Settlement

Nueces County, Texas, settled a $1.1 million lawsuit filed by the father of Andrew Sokolinski, a prisoner who died while strapped into a restraint chair at the Nueces County Jail. The county settled the lawsuit midway through an August 2000 trial, three years after Sokolinski died from the abuse ...

Michigan DOC Sex Abuse Suit Nets Nearly $4 Million

On February 7, 2000, Michigan DOC officials agreed to settle a lawsuit with 32 women prisoners for $3,787,000 in damages, costs, and attorney fees. The women sued in a Michigan federal district court after being sexually abused by DOC guards.

The named plaintiff, Linda Nunn, and 31 others ...

Michigan Prison Visitor Forced to Wet Pants Wins $40,000 in Damages and Fees

Michigan Prison Visitor Forced To Wet Pants Wins $40,000 in Damages and Fees

On February 12, 2001, James Glaspy was awarded $10,000 in damages at a bench trial in a Michigan federal district court. He sued after he was denied restroom access at a Michigan prison and was ...

Brutality Behind the Orange Curtain

by W. Wisely

The FBI began its second civil rights investigation of the Orange County, California, sheriff's department following the beating of a diabetic prisoner asking for food to lower his blood sugar. Michael Gennaco, head of the civil rights division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in ...

Private Prison Corporation Can Be Sued in Bivens Action: Supreme Court Grants Review

by John E. Dannenberg

Holding that a private corporation acting under color of federal authority may be sued under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 US 388, 397, (1971), the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the District Court's dismissal of ...

INS Force-Feeds Long-Term Detainee

Nabil Soliman believes that "accepting a tray of food" from his jailers means accepting what he calls his "illegal detention" by the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS). Soliman has argued that it is a violation of his First Amendment right to expression and his Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy for jail officials to force-feed him. The INS responds that while Soliman "may have constitutional protections," these are limited when weighed against the government's interest "in preventing hunger strikes and preserving the life of INS detainees." Soliman is just one hunger-striker, but his case has national implications for the INS's management of its ever-increasing, and increasingly frustrated, population of detainees.

The INS currently holds over 20,000 detainees nationwide in its own Service Processing Centers, in privatized contract facilities, and in hundreds of local and county jails. The federal mandatory detention laws of 1996, which resulted in lengthy detention for thousands of legal residents convicted of often minor crimes, have transformed the agency into "a mini-BOP," according to one INS official, referring to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The average daily population of INS detainees just before the 1996 laws was about 8,000; local politicians around the country have been more than willing to help ease what that INS official calls "significant growing pains."

In early March, for example ...

Pelican Bay Policy Banning Internet-Generated Mail Upheld

The California Court of Appeal held that a policy adopted only at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) preventing prisoners from receiving through the US Mail any material that had been downloaded from the Internet was facially valid and reasonably related to legitimate prison security interests at PBSP.

PBSP prisoner Aaron ...

BOP Changes Organ Transplant Policy

The Federal Bureau of Prisons announced in early 2001, that it had decided to pay for organ transplants in some circumstances modifying its longstanding position of refusing to provide organ transplants for prisoners. Officials made the decision because, for disorders such as leukemia and endstage kidney failure, organ transplants have ...

305 Days in New York SHU Is Atypical

305 Days in New York SHU is Atypical.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that 305 days in segregation is an "atypical and significant hardship" within the meaning of Sandin v. Conner , 515 U.S. 472, 115 S.Ct. 2293 (1995).

State prisoner Armando Colon was issued ...

Trial Required in Pennsylvania Failure to Protect Suit

A federal district court in Pennsylvania held that summary judgment was precluded on a state prisoner's failuretoprotect claim. The court also held that prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity.

State prisoner Richard Pearson was stabbed six times by several prisoners in a hallway while he was housed ...

Notes From the Unrepenitentiary: Whose Security?

Notes From The Unrepenitentiary: Whose Security?

by Marilyn Buck

Two children, both with mothers imprisoned at FCI Dublin, died within a two-week period. Both children were adolescent boys, aged 13 and 9, repectively. One of the children ran away from his abusive father's home. He froze to death sleeping ...

New York Nazi Guard Charged with Sodomy

New York Nazi Guard Charged With Sodomy

In the January, 2001, issue of PLN we reported the New York Court of Appeals' ruling that upheld an arbitrator's decision to continue the employment of Edward Kuhnel, a prison guard at the Eastern Correctional Facility in Napanoch.

Kuhnel had been suspended ...

Unjust Rape Conviction Nets New York Man $530,000

In May, 2000, the New York Court Claims in White Plains awarded Victor Ortiz, 41, $530,658 in damages after he spent 12 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.

In January 1984, Ortiz, then 25, was convicted of rape and sentenced to 12 to 25 years ...

Habeas Hints: Apprendi

by Atty. Kent Russell

[This column is intended to provide "Habeas Hints" for prisoners who are handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys. The focus of the column is habeas corpus practice under the AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice throughout the U ...

Turkish Prisoners Struggle Against Transfers

When the Turkish army stormed 20 prisons in December, 2000, a four-day pitched battle ensued during which thirty-two died _ 30 political prisoners and two soldiers. The army claimed that many prisoners set themselves afire rather than surrender; prisoners who survived allege that in at least one prison, Bayrampaga in ...

Two Escape from Oklahoma Control Unit

Two Escape From Oklahoma Control Unit

Two maximum security prisoners escaped on January 15, 2001, from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary's notorious Hunit, an underground control unit, only to be recaptured two days later.

The escaped prisoners were identified by ODOC spokesman Jerry Massie as James Robert Thomas, 25; and ...

U.S. Supreme Court Requires Futile Administrative Exhaustion

On May 29, 2001, a unanimous United States Supreme Court held that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires the complete exhaustion of prison administrative remedies, regardless of how futile those remedies may be and regardless of the relief sought or available.

Timothy ...

Washington Civil Commitment Injunction Upheld

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the District Court's denial of a motion to dissolve an injunction requiring the Special Commitment Center (SCC) in Washington to bring its sexual deviancy treatment program within constitutional requirements.

In 1994, Richard Turay, a resident at the civil commitment ...

Arizona Supreme Court Rules on 1993 Earned Release Statute

Arizona Supreme Court Rules On 1993 Earned Release Statute

The Arizona Supreme Court has held that 1993 amendments to statutes governing earned release credits for Arizona prisoners do not apply to persons convicted of felonies committed prior to the amendment's effective date. In 1985, Kenneth True pled guilty to ...

$80,000 Settlement in CDC Transsexual Suit

In August 2000, the State of California settled a claim from a transsexual former prisoner that her need for hormone therapy was ignored while incarcerated by agreeing to pay her $80,000.

Torey Tuesday South, 40, began her trek through the California penal system when she entered San Quentin Prison ...

Court Awards $146,000 in Arizona Medical Indifference Case

An Arizona prisoner was awarded over $146,000 in damages in January 2000 after he filed suit claiming that an Arizona prison nurse's care amounted to deliberate indifference.

Manuel Covarrubias, 46, was a prisoner at the state prison at Douglas, Arizona in April, 1995, when he was injured while ...

Kansas Disciplinary Restitution Orders Authorized

The Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed a district court judgment, reducing the amount of restitution assessed against two prisoners for disciplinary rule violations, from $1,956.75 to $1,104.68 per prisoner. In doing so, the court concluded that the Department of Corrections has the authority to impose reasonable ...

Pre-Sentence Detention Earns Good Time Credits in Montana Prison

The Montana Supreme Court granted habeas corpus relief to William MacPheat, a Montana state prisoner, who sought goodtime credits for presentence jail time and an earlier release from prison based upon award of those credits.

In 1995, MacPheat was charged with multiple crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison ...

Dismissal of Washington Persistent Prison Misbehavior Charge Upheld

The Washington Supreme Court has affirmed the dismissal of a persistent prison misbehavior charge because the Department of Corrections (DOC) failed to properly promulgate its list of serious infractions, one of which formed the basis of the charge. In doing so, the court refused to decide whether a 1999 Court ...

PLRA Attorney Fee Cap Analyzed

The Temple Law Review recently published an article useful to any litigants challenging the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) cap on attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(d). The Price of Civil Rights: The PLRA's Attorney's Fee Cap Provision as a Violation of Equal Protection ...

Arizona Judgment Seizure Statute Upheld; Fees Protected

An Arizona appellate court has held that a state law allowing the Arizona Department Of Corrections (DOC) to seize 80% of all money won in prisoner lawsuits is valid under that State's constitution.

Charles Holly, an Arizona prisoner, sued that State after being injured in a fall at an ...

Retaliation Complaint Not Frivolous if Not Irrational or Wholly Incredible

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's dismissal of Illinois prisoner Terry Johnson's 42 USC §1983 complaint wherein he complained nurse Debbie Stovall filed false disciplinary charges against him in retaliation for his having filed a grievance against her. The District Court had dismissed the ...

Kansas 2-Year Visiting Restriction Unauthorized

The Kansas Court of Appeals held that a 2 year suspension of a prisoner's visiting privileges was not authorized by the visiting rules.

Derrick Davis, a prisoner at Lansing Correctional Facility received two disciplinary reports alleging that he engaged in lewd conduct with his wife in violation of the ...

Retaliation Claim Not Foreclosed by Sandin

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that a prisoner's civil rights complaint for damages due to administrative segregation placement was not foreclosed by the U.S. Supreme Court's Sandin "atypical hardship" rule, when the administrative segregation placement was alleged to be in retaliation for the ...

New York District Court Reversed for Failure to State Legal Reasoning

New York District Court Reversed For Failure To State Legal Reasoning

The Second Circuit Court Of Appeals reversed a district court's dismissal of a pro se prisoner civil rights action. The Second Circuit found that the District Court had not explained why it dismissed the case well enough for ...

Washington ISRB May Rescind Parole after Final Discharge

Washington ISRB May Rescind Parole After Final Discharge

In a closely divided opinion, a 5 Justice majority of the Washington Supreme Court held that the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) has jurisdiction and statutory authority to rescind an order of final discharge, revoke previously restored civil rights, and return the ...

No Due Process for Washington Sex Offender Registration

No Due Process For Washington Sex Offender Registration

The Washington Supreme Court held that sex offenders are not entitled to notice or a hearing prior to being assigned a registration level. In 1990, the Washington State Legislature enacted the Community Protection Act (CPA). The CPA requires any person convicted of ...

News in Brief

Bolivia: On June 4, 2001, prisoners at the Palmasola jail became fed up with a gang of prisoners who called themselves the "smurfs" who beat, assaulted and extorted other prisoners and their visitors at the jail. Taking matters into their own hands, a mob of prisoners killed three and wounded ...

DC Prisoner Wins $175,000 in Conditions Case

by David C. Fathi

On January 25, 2001, a federal jury in Washington, D.C. awarded nearly $175,000 to D.C. prisoner Lawrence Caldwell in his challenge to conditions at the District of Columbia's Maximum Security Facility (MSF) in Lorton, Virginia. The award included $25,000 each in ...

Washington Sex Offenders Settle Suit for $150,000

Washington Sex Offenders Settle Suit For $150,000

On January 22, 2001, Washington Special Commitment Center (SCC) officials settled two consolidated civil actions involving seven civilly committed Washington sex offenders. The sex offenders complained that they were not provided treatment for the psychological problems resulting in their civil commitment.

The ...