Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: January, 2002

Issue PDF
Volume 13, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. ALEC in the House: Corporate Bias in Criminal Justice Legislation (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 5)
  3. Private Prison Lobbying Group Founded (p 6)
  4. Ohio Eliminates Prison Oversight Committee; Reduces Prison Funding (p 6)
  5. Corrections Corporation of America Announces Closing of Youngstown Prison (p 7)
  6. World Court Upholds Foreigners' Right to Contact Their Embassies (p 7)
  7. Iowa Law Library Consent Decree Terminated Under PLRA (p 8)
  8. Michigan Prisoners Awarded Nearly $7,000 for Retaliatory Transfers (p 8)
  9. West Virginia Supreme Court Fails to Cure Prison Overcrowding - Again (p 9)
  10. Escapes Are Violent Crimes Under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (p 10)
  11. CCA Guard is "Public Official" Under Bribery Statute (p 10)
  12. Complaint Claims Texas Psychiatrist Molested Prisoner Patients (p 11)
  13. Missouri and Benetton Settle Lawsuit Over Death Row Advertisements (p 11)
  14. Tarrant County (Texas) Jail's 'God Pod' Unconstitutional (p 12)
  15. Philadelphia City Prison Fined $1 Million (p 13)
  16. Released NYC Prisoners Win Mental Health Benefits (p 14)
  17. Attorney Seeks Answers in Aftermath of New Mexico Riot (p 14)
  18. Denial of Clothing to Arrestees States Claim for Relief; Suit Settles for $31,500 (p 15)
  19. Pennsylvania Court Upholds Part of Prisoner's Request for Public Records (p 15)
  20. Colorado ACLU Settles Restraint Board Suit (p 16)
  21. California Pays for Guard's Sexual Misconduct (p 17)
  22. BOP Smoking Suit Dismissed (p 19)
  23. $250,000 in Hawaii Beating Death (p 19)
  24. Indiana Prisoners Riot in CCA Prison (p 19)
  25. Colorado Restraint Board Death Case Settled (p 20)
  26. Texas Gives $2 Million to Proselytizing Prison Program (p 22)
  27. Ohio Appellate Court Holds No Privacy Right in Urine (p 23)
  28. Damages Awarded in Ohio Disciplinary Suit (p 24)
  29. Washington DOC Suffers Yet Another Multi-Million Dollar Negligent Supervision Settlement (p 25)
  30. No Refund or Cancellation of Filing Fees on Appeal (p 26)
  31. Indigent Texas Prisoners Subject to 31 Day Statute of Limitations (p 26)
  32. Michigan Disciplinary Hearing Class Action Settled (p 27)
  33. Eighth Circuit Applies Turner Test to Control Unit Conditions Case (p 28)
  34. New Trial Ordered in Excessive Use of Force Suit (p 28)
  35. En Banc Third Circuit Rules on PLRA Three Strikes (p 29)
  36. Prisoners Entitled to Hearing Before Consent Decree Termination (p 29)
  37. New Jersey Prisoners Exempt from Exhaustion Requirement (p 30)
  38. U.S. Marshal's Conviction for Raping Prisoners Affirmed (p 30)
  39. PLRA Screening Applies Regardless of Fee Status (p 30)
  40. News in Brief (p 31)

ALEC in the House: Corporate Bias in Criminal Justice Legislation

The past twenty years have marked a dramatic shift to more harsh criminal justice policies. While it is common knowledge that politicians beat the "tough on crime" drum to win elections, one has to wonder where they find the time to draft the reams of draconian legislation passed in recent ...

From the Editor

Welcome to the New Year. This will mark PLN's thirteenth year of publishing, and we hope to make significant strides in terms of increasing both PLN 's circulation and its size. We need an additional $500 per month to add four pages to PLN . As soon as we get ...

Private Prison Lobbying Group Founded

A group of private prison has formed an alliance to promote the growth of the private prison industry and to further develop prisoners as a marketable commodity. Among the founding members of the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations (APTCO) are industry giants Corrections Corporation of America, Wackenhut Corrections ...

Ohio Eliminates Prison Oversight Committee; Reduces Prison Funding

The Ohio legislature reduced funding for the state prison system that will result in the elimination of 1,100 jobs within the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DORC). The May 2001 legislative action also eliminates a prison oversight committee.

Ohio prison officials began hiring hundreds of prison guards after a ...

Corrections Corporation of America Announces Closing of Youngstown Prison

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced it would close its Youngstown, Ohio prison on August 18, 2001. The shutdown means the loss of more than 500 jobs. So much for the recession-proof industry.

The 2,016-bed Northeast Ohio Correctional Center last housed 350 prisoners from the District of Columbia. The ...

World Court Upholds Foreigners' Right to Contact Their Embassies

Gerardo Valdez, a Mexican citizen who had been scheduled for execution this fall in Oklahoma, was granted an indefinite stay by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in September due to a recent decision from the International Court of Justice, sometimes known as the World Court. That decision extends our ...

Iowa Law Library Consent Decree Terminated Under PLRA

A federal district court in Iowagranted prison officials' motion for termination of a consent decree requiring the maintenance of law libraries, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, (PLRA).

In 1973 Charles Martin, a prisoner of the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP), filed suit alleging that he was denied access to ...

Michigan Prisoners Awarded Nearly $7,000 for Retaliatory Transfers

In February 2001, a federal judge ruled that two Michigan prisoners are entitled to almost $7,000 in damages after they were unjustly punished by the state Department of Corrections when they were transferred to highersecurity prisons. The transfers came after the prisoners exercised their First Amendment right to free ...

West Virginia Supreme Court Fails to Cure Prison Overcrowding - Again

West Virginia's Supreme Court took notice of the overcrowded state prison system, acknowledged that over 850 convicted felons are lodged in county jails and elsewhere while awaiting transfer to state prison, discharged the current Special Master, appointed a new Special Master, but stopped short of ordering meaningful sanctionsdaily, highdollar ...

Escapes Are Violent Crimes Under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Escapes are Violent Crimes Under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that prison and jail escapes are considered "crimes of violence" for purposes of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (USSG).

Larry Nation was convicted in federal court in Arkansas of being a felon ...

CCA Guard is "Public Official" Under Bribery Statute

CCA Guard is "Public Official" Under Bribery Statute

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a prison guard's bribery conviction, finding that he was a "public official" for purposes of the federal bribery statute.

Shannon Thomas was employed as a guard at a private prison in Texas, owned and ...

Complaint Claims Texas Psychiatrist Molested Prisoner Patients

A complaint has been filed in the 87th Judicial District Court of Anderson County, Texas, alleging that John W. Goodman, M.D., a former prison psychiatrist at the Gurney Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), sexually assaulted many of his prisoner patients. The complaint, filed by eleven ...

Missouri and Benetton Settle Lawsuit Over Death Row Advertisements

On June 15, 2001, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon announced that Italian clothes making company Benetton had agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the state of Missouri by paying $50,000 to a victims compensation fund. In February 2000, Nixon filed suit after Benetton ran an international advertising campaign ...

Tarrant County (Texas) Jail's 'God Pod' Unconstitutional

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Texas Supreme Court has held that the Chaplain's Education Unit (CEU) at the Tarrant County Jail unconstitutionally violates the separation of church and state.

In 1992, former Tarrant County (Texas) Sheriff David Williams initiated the CEU program, known to prisoners as the "God Pod ...

Philadelphia City Prison Fined $1 Million

The Commonwealth Court, Pennsylvania's intermediate appellate court, upheld a trial court order for the City of Philadelphia to pay more than $1 million in fines for failure to provide prisoners with sufficient clothing, laundry access, services, social workers, and vocational training.

In 1971, five prisoners in Philadelphia's city ...

Released NYC Prisoners Win Mental Health Benefits

Prisoners in New York City jails who received treatment for mental illness won class certification and a preliminary injunction requiring defendants to provide written discharge plans for prisoners who, during their confinement, received treatment for mental illness.

Plaintiffs sought certification of the class defined as those consisting of themselves and ...

Attorney Seeks Answers in Aftermath of New Mexico Riot

Prisoners at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County staged a riot on April 27, 2001. The prisoners reportedly set small fires and backed up toilets after refusing to return to their cells for an evening lockdown. Prison guards allegedly regained control of the unit when they used ...

Denial of Clothing to Arrestees States Claim for Relief; Suit Settles for $31,500

A Michigan Federal District Court has ruled that arrestees detained in a city jail without any clothing or covering for between six and eighteen hours as a suicide prevention method, with limited exposure to viewing by members of the opposite sex, stated claims for relief under the Fourth and Fourteenth ...

Pennsylvania Court Upholds Part of Prisoner's Request for Public Records

A Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania has partially upheld a state prisoner's request for medical information under the state's Right-to-Know Act. The opinion and order affirms in part, and reverses in part, the denial of information by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC).

Julian Heicklen petitioned PADOC to inspect ...

Colorado ACLU Settles Restraint Board Suit

A monitoring agreement was reached between the ACLU Foundation of Colorado, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office (EPSO) regarding EPSO's use of a restraint board and Level 3 restraints on jail prisoners. The January 31, 2000, agreement also ...

California Pays for Guard's Sexual Misconduct

by W. Wisely

California taxpayers must pay $154,212 in damages to a former female prison guard sexually harassed on the job, according to the Sacramento Bee . Ray Collie, the lieutenant who couldn't seem to control his urges, owes just $75,000 in punitive damages out of his own ...

BOP Smoking Suit Dismissed

A federal district court in New York has dismissed a civil complaint filed by 435 federal prisoners against tobacco manufacturers and prison officials.

The complaint alleged that tobacco manufacturers and Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) director, Kathleen Hawk, conspired to sell as many cigarettes as possible to federal prisoners, with ...

$250,000 in Hawaii Beating Death

In May 2001, the Hawaii prison system paid $250,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from a prisoner being beaten to death by prison guards. In 1999 Antonio Revera, 26, was serving a 10 year sentence for rape in the Halawa Correctional Facility. While being transferred out of the prison ...

Indiana Prisoners Riot in CCA Prison

On July 6, 2001, hundreds of Indiana state prisoners held at the Otter Creek Correctional Complex in Wheelwright, Kentucky, rioted. The prison is owned and operated by the private, for profit, Corrections Corporation of America. The riot lasted nine hours and involved prisoners throwing televisions, sinks and toilets out of ...

Colorado Restraint Board Death Case Settled

by Bill Trine, esq.

A§ 1983 civil rights lawsuit and medical/healthcare negligence lawsuit was brought by the mother of 54 year old Michael Lewis, who died on May 7, 1998, after being placed on a "restrainer board" while incarcerated as a pre-trial detainee at the El Paso County Criminal ...

Texas Gives $2 Million to Proselytizing Prison Program

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Texas Legislature appropriated an additional $1.5 million to expand the Interchange Freedom Initiative (IFI) to include prisoners who expect to be paroled to the DallasFort Worth area. Sponsored by Prison Fellowship Ministries, an organization founded by bornagain Christian and former Watergate coconspirator, Chuck Colson ...

Ohio Appellate Court Holds No Privacy Right in Urine

The highly influential Tenth District Court of Appeals of Ohio has ruled that prisoners "have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the items they possess in a prison or in the activities in which they engage while incarcerated. This loss of privacy and personal control is basic to our presentday ...

Damages Awarded in Ohio Disciplinary Suit

A federal district court in Ohio held that a trial was required to determine if a prisoner was improperly denied the right to call witnesses at a disciplinary hearing. The Court also held that the suit was not barred by the PLRA or the Heck/Edwards doctrine. A jury later ...

Washington DOC Suffers Yet Another Multi-Million Dollar Negligent Supervision Settlement

On May 16, 2001, the State of Washington and King County agreed to pay $5.5 million to the family of a man stabbed to death by a mentally ill man who was mistakenly released from the King County (Washington) jail.

On August 24, 1997, 64 year old Ross Stevenson ...

No Refund or Cancellation of Filing Fees on Appeal

The Court of Appeals for the Second circuit held that prisoners who proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) on appeal, and later choose to dismiss their appeals before a ruling issues, are not entitled to a refund of the filing fees paid nor a cancellation of the debt they incurred under ...

Indigent Texas Prisoners Subject to 31 Day Statute of Limitations

In two recent cases, Texas state restrictions on the filing of civil lawsuits, codified at Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (TCPRC), in Texas state court have been upheld. One restriction includes a 31day statute of limitations following the denial of the statutorallymandated prison system administrative ...

Michigan Disciplinary Hearing Class Action Settled

A federal district court in Michigan has approved a proposed settlement agreement in a classaction lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The Court also modified class representation.

In 1996, Richard Heit and two others filed a complaint on behalf of themselves and all persons similarly situated alleging that ...

Eighth Circuit Applies Turner Test to Control Unit Conditions Case

In the first case to apply the "Reasonable Relationship" Test of Turner v. Safley , 482 U.S. 78, 107 S.Ct. 2254 (1987), to a conditions of confinement case, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded a district court's decision finding constitutional violations in relation to longterm segregation, for ...

New Trial Ordered in Excessive Use of Force Suit

A federal district court in New York has ordered a new trial in a civil rights excessive use of force suit. Prisoner Milton Ruffin filed suit against Sullivan Correctional Facility guard Van Fuller for an incident which occurred on October 19, 1998. Ruffin was confined in the Special Housing Unit ...

En Banc Third Circuit Rules on PLRA Three Strikes

In a 134 en banc decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals abandoned its prior interpretation of the "imminent danger" exception to the PLRA's "three strikes" rule, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), and adopted the interpretation given to the phrase by the Fifth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts ...

Prisoners Entitled to Hearing Before Consent Decree Termination

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court's (D.N.H.) PLRA based termination of a 1975 New Hampshire state prison consent decree was vacated and remanded to permit the prisoners an opportunity to demonstrate if there were any "current and ongoing" Constitutional violations that weighed against such ...

New Jersey Prisoners Exempt from Exhaustion Requirement

New Jersey Prisoners Exempt From Exhaustion Requirement

A federal district court has held that New Jersey prisoners are not required to exhaust institution implemented grievance procedures before filing a civil rights suit. New Jersey prisoners Victor Concepcion and Anthony Ways filed suit alleging excessive use of force by prison guards ...

U.S. Marshal's Conviction for Raping Prisoners Affirmed

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a United States Marshal's conviction and sentence for raping female detainees and a court security officer in a federal courthouse.

As a Deputy United States Marshal, Richard Urrabazo supervised detainees in the cell block of the U.S. Marshals' Service office located ...

PLRA Screening Applies Regardless of Fee Status

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) screening and dismissal provisions apply even when the prisoner is not proceeding in forma pauperis .

Federal prisoner Gerald Plunk filed a Bivens action alleging that he was denied due process in a prison disciplinary proceeding. The ...

News in Brief

California: On October 24, 2001, a riot at the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose left 22 prisoners and one guard injured. Guards broke up a fight between four prisoners and placed them in holding cells. Twenty-four prisoners then barricaded themselves in a recreation room to demand the prisoners ...