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Prison Legal News: March, 2002

Issue PDF
Volume 13, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. Idaho's Prison Labor Scandal (p 1)
  2. Stun Gun, Four-Point Restraint Use Curtailed in Virginia Prisons (p 4)
  3. From the Editor (p 5)
  4. Washington DOC Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $245,000 (p 6)
  5. BOP Settles Prisoner Beating/Restraint Lawsuit for $99,000 (p 7)
  6. Puerto Rico Prison Officials Fined $10 Million (p 8)
  7. Res Judicata Dismissal of Texas Prisoner's Suit Reversed (p 8)
  8. Third Circuit Holds PLRA Bars Claims for Compensatory Damages (p 9)
  9. Hitching Post Unconstitutional (p 10)
  10. Claims Dismissed in First Challenge to BOP Communications Ban (p 11)
  11. Prison Coffee and Games: Starbucks and Nintendo Admit Their Contractor Uses Prison Labor (p 12)
  12. No Qualified Immunity for Prison Officials Who Upheld Grievance (p 13)
  13. Recent Significant Decisions (p 14)
  14. Qualified Immunity Upheld for Probation Officer in HIV Privacy Action (p 17)
  15. State Prisons Abrogate Attorney-Client Mail Privilege (p 18)
  16. Equitable Tolling May Apply to Administrative Exhaustion (p 19)
  17. Pennsylvania's Released Felons Granted Right to Register to Vote (p 19)
  18. The Cost of Medical Neglect in Washington Prisons (p 20)
  19. $225,000 Paid in Mentally Ill Prisoner's Death (p 20)
  20. $630,000 Plus Paid in Ulcer Related Death (p 20)
  21. $180,000 for Loss of Vision in Left Eye (p 21)
  22. $25,000 Paid for Misdiagnosed Blood Clot (p 21)
  23. $62,000 in Slip and Fall/Medical Neglect/Retaliation Case (p 21)
  24. $100,000 for Brain Damaged Prisoner (p 21)
  25. $40,000 for Achilles Tendon Injury (p 21)
  26. $6,000 for Amputated Ring Finger (p 22)
  27. $5,000 Paid for Failure to Treat Iritis (p 22)
  28. $8,500 for Surgical Mishap (p 22)
  29. $13,500 for Ruptured Appendix (p 22)
  30. $15,000 in Allergy/Retaliation Suit (p 22)
  31. $250 for Providing Wrong Medication (p 23)
  32. $5,000 for Severed Tendon (p 23)
  33. $1,500 Paid for Failure to Provide Pain Medication (p 23)
  34. $1,500 for Refusal to Treat HIV Positive Cancer Patient (p 23)
  35. $1,500 for Failure to Assist Disabled Prisoner (p 23)
  36. $1,000 for Unnecessary Appendectomy (p 23)
  37. $250 for Lack of Aftercare Following Stroke (p 23)
  38. $200 for Providing Wrong Medication (p 23)
  39. Inadequate Dental Care Results in Settlement (p 23)
  40. Washington DOC Virtually Uninsurable (p 24)
  41. New Retaliation Standard Defined (p 25)
  42. Pro Se Appellants Must Cite Authority (p 25)
  43. NCIA Report Finds Prison Race Statistics Distorted (p 26)
  44. New York Court Limits "Son of Sam" Law (p 27)
  45. New York Expands "Son of Sam" Law Giving Crime Victims More "Clout" (p 27)
  46. PLN Awarded $58,059 in Attorneys' Fees in Oregon Bulk Mail Suit; PLRA Doesn't Apply, Injunction Entered (p 28)
  47. New York Failure to Protect Claim Set for Trial: Bilingual Counsel Appointed (p 29)
  48. Sixth Circuit Finds Ohio Response to Jewish Prisoner's Hair 'Exaggerated' (p 30)
  49. Ohio Appeals Court Allows Prisoner's Request for Past Work Information on Guards (p 31)
  50. Arizona Prisoner Adequately Pleaded Section 1983 Claim (p 31)
  51. News in Brief (p 32)

Idaho's Prison Labor Scandal

by Silja J.A. Talvi

Over the past decade, Idaho's state prison system has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals ranging from the sexual abuse of prisoners to the violation of prisoners' First Amendment rights.

But nothing has shaken the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) as hard ...

Stun Gun, Four-Point Restraint Use Curtailed in Virginia Prisons

Because Connecticut's prisons were overfull, Lawrence Frazier was sent to Virginia to serve his time. He didn't go home alive. He died in a Richmond hospital of cardiac arrhythmia after prison guards repeatedly shocked him with an Ultron II stun gun and shackled him to a steel table ...

From the Editor

March 31, 2002, marks the final date for PLN to raise $15,000 for its matching grant fundraiser campaign .As we go to press, we have raised $10,852, which is still way short of our goal . PLN desperately needs these funds to continue operating .If you have not yet ...

Washington DOC Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $245,000

Washington DOC Settles Wrongful Death Suit For $245,000

In February 2001, Washington prison officials agreed to settle a $2.9 million wrongful death suit for $245,000 in costs, damages, and attorneys' fees. The lawsuit was brought in state court by a prisoner's mother, Sharon Corner, after her ...

BOP Settles Prisoner Beating/Restraint Lawsuit for $99,000

BOP Settles Prisoner Beating/Restraint Lawsuit For $99,000

In the summer of 1997, Lealon Muldrow was incarcerated in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) of the United States Penitentiary (USP) at Atlanta .On July 1 of that year, Muldrow was threatened with being chained down because the other prisoner in ...

Puerto Rico Prison Officials Fined $10 Million

A federal court in Puerto Rico held prison officials in contempt for failing to comply with court orders governing prison conditions and imposed a contempt sanction of $10 million.

More than 20 years ago the court first dealt with prison overcrowding in Puerto Rico prisons by issuing a preliminary injunction ...

Res Judicata Dismissal of Texas Prisoner's Suit Reversed

by Matthew T. Clarke

A Texas court of appeals has reversed the district court's res judicata based dismissal of a Texas state prisoner's personal injury suit chastising the lower court for using an improper procedure.

Steven W. Howell, a Texas state prisoner, brought suit against the Texas Department ...

Third Circuit Holds PLRA Bars Claims for Compensatory Damages

Third Circuit Holds PLRA Bars Claims For Compensatory Damages

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held that although the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) barred a prisoner from recovering compensatory damages for violations of his right to religious expression, he may recover nominal and punitive ...

Hitching Post Unconstitutional

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that handcuffing a prisoner to a hitching post for prolonged periods violates the Eighth Amendment, but granted guards qualified immunity. Alabama prisoner Larry Hope was assigned to the chain gang at Limestone Correctional Facility (Limestone) in 1995 .On two occasions ...

Claims Dismissed in First Challenge to BOP Communications Ban

by Matthew T .Clarke

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the claims in the first published challenge to the implementation of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, a federal prisoner at ...

Prison Coffee and Games: Starbucks and Nintendo Admit Their Contractor Uses Prison Labor

by Erica C .Barnett

Most people assume that prisoners, especially those convicted of felonies like rape and murder, spend their days stamping license plates, making furniture for state offices, and digging ditches along state highways for 25 or 30 cents an hour .So it may seem a bit odd that ...

No Qualified Immunity for Prison Officials Who Upheld Grievance

In a scathing opinion written in the first person, Elaine Bucklo, a federal judge in Illinois, handed down a potentially far-reaching ruling which favored a prisoner complaining of inadequate medical care, denied qualified immunity to prison medical workers, and found personal involvement by prison administrators who denied the prisoner's ...

Recent Significant Decisions

by Walter M .Reaves, Jr.

The following is a summary of some of the more significant recent decisions on issues important to prisoners.

Search and Seizure

InUnited States v. Osage, 235 F.
3d 518 (10th Cir. 2000), the Court addressed the scope of a consent to search .The Court held ...

Qualified Immunity Upheld for Probation Officer in HIV Privacy Action

The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has found that there is a right to privacy in non-disclosure of HIV status by government employees but granted qualified immunity to a probation officer since the law was not clearly established when the disclosure was made.

In 1993, Frederick Herring was ...

State Prisons Abrogate Attorney-Client Mail Privilege

Just as the federal government has seized on the events of September 11, 2001, to push for a long list of previously desired powers and restrictions on civil liberties, state prison systems have done the same. Several states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Vermont and Michigan, have enacted rules or ...

Equitable Tolling May Apply to Administrative Exhaustion

The Arizona Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's grant of summary judgment against a prisoner for failure to file a tort claim notice with the Attorney General's office within 180 days of his injury as required by ARS § 12821.01(A).

On July 7, 1997, Arizona prisoner ...

Pennsylvania's Released Felons Granted Right to Register to Vote

An intermediate court of appeals in Pennsylvania struck down a voter registration law that prohibited convicted felons from voting for 5 years after their release from prison.

Lorenzo Mixon and five present and former prisoners filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania law that restricted felons' voting rights. Presiding Judge Joseph Doyle ...

The Cost of Medical Neglect in Washington Prisons

By Sam Rutherford

The case, Corner v. State of Washington , [see page 6] is only one of many medical neglect suits that the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) has settled. In fact, below is a comprehensive list of the medical neglect cases filed by prisoners that the DOC settled between ...

$225,000 Paid in Mentally Ill Prisoner's Death

$225,000 paid in mentally ill prisoner's death


In 1991, John E. Rickert was placed in the DOC's custody to serve a sentence upon conviction of a crime. Mr. Rickert was suffering from an unspecified mental illness at the time of his incarceration, of which the DOC was ...

$630,000 Plus Paid in Ulcer Related Death

$630,000 plus paid in ulcer related death


On May 16, 1994, Gertrude Barrow, 41, died at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) of a perforated chronic peptic ulcer and acute peritonitis. She was just three months short of her release date.


At the time of her incarceration in ...

$180,000 for Loss of Vision in Left Eye

$180,000 for loss of vision in left eye


On May 17, 1995, Joseph Johnson was incarcerated in the Spokane County Jail. That evening a fight broke out between two prisoners, and Mr. Johnson assisted jailers in quelling the disturbance. In the process of breaking up the fight, Mr. Johnson ...

$25,000 Paid for Misdiagnosed Blood Clot

$25,000 paid for misdiagnosed blood clot


In January of 1996, Valerie Bartlett was sent to the WCCW to serve a short prison sentence. Upon arrival, she complained of swollen legs and feet, general fatigue, and chest pains. These symptoms persisted and Ms. Bartlett continued to seek medical attention, but ...

$62,000 in Slip and Fall/Medical Neglect/Retaliation Case

$62,000 in slip and fall/medical neglect/retaliation case


Karen Posey was incarcerated at the WCCW on April 25, 1996. During her medical intake, Ms. Posey informed clinic staff that she had a large screw in the front of her foot that made it difficult for her to climb ...

$100,000 for Brain Damaged Prisoner

$100,000 for brain damaged prisoner


In the Winter of 1966, Lawrence Jordan was a prisoner at the Washington State Reformatory (WSR) in Monroe, Washington. On March 7 of that year, Mr. Jordan submitted to eye muscle surgery by the WSR ophthalmologist. He was placed under general anesthesia and subsequently ...

$40,000 for Achilles Tendon Injury

$40,000 for Achilles tendon injury


On August 21, 1993, while incarcerated at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) in Connell, Washington, Richard Yamamoto suffered a severe injury to his right Achilles tendon. The nature, extent, and severity of the injury was misdiagnosed and mistreated by CRCC medical staff. As ...

$6,000 for Amputated Ring Finger

$6,000 for amputated ring finger


In the Summer of 1993, Donnie Hayes was confined at the McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC), near Steilacoom, Washington. He was assigned to work in the MICC kitchen.


On July 21 of that year, MICC kitchen staff instructed Mr. Hayes and six other prisoners ...

$5,000 Paid for Failure to Treat Iritis

$5,000 paid for failure to treat iritis


While incarcerated at the WSP in 1993, Terry Miller contracted iritis in his right eye. The eye was extremely swollen, red and painful when he reported to the clinic on May 4, 1993. Despite the obviousness of the problem, medical staff did ...

$8,500 for Surgical Mishap

$8,500 for surgical mishap


In March of 1995, Jerry Thomas, a prisoner at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC), near Port Angeles, Washington, injured his right hand. CBCC medical staff determined that surgery was warranted, and Mr. Thomas was subsequently transported to the Olympic Memorial Hospital to undergo the ...

$13,500 for Ruptured Appendix

$13,500 for ruptured appendix


In the early morning hours of October 28, 1995, Arnold Kitchen awoke in his cell at the Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC), near Spokane, Washington, in excruciating pain. His symptoms included severe abdominal pain of a sudden onset and vomiting of a "brownish/green mushy ...

$15,000 in Allergy/Retaliation Suit

$15,000 in allergy/retaliation suit


Between October of 1994 and August of 1995, Ricardo Bowman was confined at WSR. Mr. Bowman repeatedly complained of severe allergic reactions to dust, dust mites, and certain foods. These reactions caused pain and swelling in his eye, head, neck, and shoulder.


Despite his ...

$250 for Providing Wrong Medication

$250 for providing wrong medication


On August 8, 1997, Michael Clarke reported to the WSP pill line to obtain medication for his broken tooth. Nurse Dufner gave Mr. Clarke two small pills and some white cream to apply directly on the injured tooth. Immediately following application of the creamy substance ...

$5,000 for Severed Tendon

$5,000 for severed tendon


On April 5, 1993, a Physician's Assistant at the WSP severed a tendon in Walter Mathis' left thumb. This injury resulted in the loss of ability to extend the thumb, and required surgery to attempt correction of the problem. Even after the surgery, Mr ...

$1,500 Paid for Failure to Provide Pain Medication

$1,500 paid for failure to provide pain medication


On July 7, 1993, Leonard Willis dropped a 65-pound weight on his left ring finger while incarcerated at the CRCC. The injury was extraordinarily painful, and Mr. Willis immediately sought medical attention. Although he pleaded for adequate pain medication and proper ...

$1,500 for Refusal to Treat HIV Positive Cancer Patient

$1,500 for refusal to treat HIV positive cancer patient


In 1996, Samuel Page was confined at the WSP. Mr. Page is HIV positive and had cancer. When he sought treatment for his condition, Dr. Alfred Marur, the contract physician for the WSP, refused to address Mr. Page's medical ...

$1,500 for Failure to Assist Disabled Prisoner

$1,500 for failure to assist disabled prisoner


In 1999, Ronald Christner was confined at the AHCC. Mr. Christner is disabled and requires assistance in attending to his personal hygiene needs. On August 8, Mr. Christner was given a bath by AHCC nursing staff. Although he was supposed to be ...

$1,000 for Unnecessary Appendectomy

$1,000 for unnecessary appendectomy


In May through June of 1994, Robert Falcone was incarcerated at the Lewis County Jail in the custody of the DOC. Medical staff at the jail misdiagnosed and mistreated Mr. Falcone, resulting in his receiving an unnecessary appendectomy. Mr. Falcone's neck glands also became ...

$250 for Lack of Aftercare Following Stroke

$250 for lack of aftercare following stroke


On February 8, 1996, while incarcerated at the WSP, Frederick Aylward suffered a stroke. The stroke severely limited Mr. Aylward's mobility. Following the stroke, WSP medical staff refused to provide physical therapy to assist Mr. Falcone in attempting to recover some of ...

$200 for Providing Wrong Medication

$200 for providing wrong medication


On October 19, 1999, James Rollins reported to the WCC pill line to obtain his daily medication. Approximately 20 minutes after receiving a pill from Nurse Norris, Mr. Rollins fell unconscious to the floor. WCC medical staff later determined that Ms. Norris had given him ...

Inadequate Dental Care Results in Settlement

Inadequate dental care results in settlement


In 1994, William Smith sued the dental department at the WSP for failing to provide annual check-ups and routine teeth cleanings. The DOC settled the case by agreeing to provide Mr. Smith with the services he complained were absent from the WSP dental department ...

Washington DOC Virtually Uninsurable

In the May, 2001, issue of PLN we reported the soaring cost of negligent parole supervision cases against the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) in the past year, totaling over $50 million in verdicts and settlements at that time .One result of that steady stream of losing verdicts and huge ...

New Retaliation Standard Defined

In a case of first impression, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has defined a prisoner's burden of proof in a retaliation claim. Prisoner Henry Rauser sued Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) officials after they retaliated against him for exercising his right to religious freedom under the ...

Pro Se Appellants Must Cite Authority

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that pro se prisoner litigants must cite supporting authority when they appeal adverse judgments. The ruling is especially important for pro se litigants in states that have inadequate, or nonexistent, prison law libraries.

Illinois prisoner Bobby Anderson filed suit claiming various ...

NCIA Report Finds Prison Race Statistics Distorted

A report released in May 2001, says that Hispanic/Latino prisoners are often classified in a variety of racial categories, which results in a distortion of prison statistics reporting the racial composition of American prison populations.

The research report, Masking The Divide: How Officially Reported Prison Statistics Distort the Racial ...

New York Court Limits "Son of Sam" Law

New York Court Limits "Son of Sam" Law

A New York appellate court affirmed a trial court ruling that, absent a state felony conviction and a complaint by the victim, the Crime Victims Board lacked authority to compel criminals to forfeit profits from the commercialization of their activities.

The intention ...

New York Expands "Son of Sam" Law Giving Crime Victims More "Clout"

New York Expands "Son of Sam" Law Giving Crime Victims More "Clout"

by Lonnie Burton

In June 2001, the State of New York amended its socalled "Son of Sam" law to allow crime victims to collect on any monies a prisoner receives while in prison and to extend the statute ...

PLN Awarded $58,059 in Attorneys' Fees in Oregon Bulk Mail Suit; PLRA Doesn't Apply, Injunction Entered

In the April 2001, issue of PLN we reported Prison Legal News v. Cook , 238 F.3d 1145 (9th Cir. 2001), where the Court struck down as unconstitutional the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) ban on third class non-profit mail. The Court also held that the plaintiffs ( PLN and Oregon ...

New York Failure to Protect Claim Set for Trial: Bilingual Counsel Appointed

A prison guard's motions for summary judgment and dismissal of a prisoner's 42 USC § 1983 action were denied after a federal district court found that further discovery was required and the prisoner's failure to follow orders of the court did not warrant dismissal.

Ruben Mendez, formerly a ...

Sixth Circuit Finds Ohio Response to Jewish Prisoner's Hair 'Exaggerated'

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case addressing an Ohio prisoner's suit over the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's (DORC) hairlength restriction "as applied," has reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to DORC defendants, but remanded the case for declaratory and injunctive proceedings ...

Ohio Appeals Court Allows Prisoner's Request for Past Work Information on Guards

The Fourth District Court of Appeals of Ohio has reversed the decision of the Pickaway County Court of Common Pleas denying a prisoner's request for specific work information relating to two guards in the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DORC).

Timothy Conley is a DORC prisoner at the Southern ...

Arizona Prisoner Adequately Pleaded Section 1983 Claim

The Arizona Court of Appeals held that a prisoner was barred from bringing a tort action against the state and Department of Corrections (DOC) but that his allegations were sufficient to support a claim against a prison official under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Arizona prisoner Anant Tripati brought suit ...

News in Brief

Alaska: The state of Alaska has launched its first drive to recruit prison guards since 1988 to fill 40 guard positions when it opens a state jail in Anchorage. Applicants must be 21 years old, no experience is required. Starting pay is $33,300 a year, one of the highest ...