Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: April, 2002

Issue PDF
Volume 13, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. "Barbaric Conditions" At Wisconsin Supermax Result in Preliminary Injunction To Transfer Mentally Ill Prisoners (p 1)
  2. D.C. Wrongly Jails Mentally Ill Man for Two Years (p 4)
  3. Mistakenly Released Prisoners Have No Due Process Rights (p 5)
  4. From the Editor (p 5)
  5. Wisconsin Medical Care Substandard, Even for Prisoners (p 6)
  6. Texas Prison Warden Pleads Guilty; Prison Workers Arrested in Major Drug Bust (p 7)
  7. MCI WorldCom Investigated in Georgia for Phone Overcharges; State Senator Involved (p 8)
  8. Prison Guards Face Resentencing Dilemma in Beating Death of New York Jail Prisoner (p 9)
  9. 23 Escape from Wackenhut Prison in Caribbean (p 10)
  10. Wackenhut Searches for New Business (p 11)
  11. Angola Prisoner Wins $1.5 Million Verdict Against Five Guards for Assault (p 12)
  12. Pennsylvania Ban on Sex Between Staff and Prisoners Struck Down (p 12)
  13. South Carolina Guards Plead Guilty in Sex Cases (p 12)
  14. Illinois Court Reduces Prisoner's Eye Injury Award to $850,000 (p 13)
  15. $237,500 New York Administrative Segregation Verdict Upheld (p 14)
  16. $500,000 Settlement in Oregon Jail Self-Mutilation Case (p 15)
  17. U.S. Supreme Court Holds Private Prison Corporations Immune from Bivens Suit (p 18)
  18. Intangible Religious Freedom Claims Not Barred by PLRA (p 19)
  19. Florida's Prisoner Indigency Statute Unconstitutional (p 19)
  20. D.C. Closes Lorton Prison (p 20)
  21. Massachusetts DNA Law Invalidated (p 20)
  22. HIV Still a Major Health Threat in Prisons and Jails (p 21)
  23. Failure to Protect States Claim in High Profile Case (p 21)
  24. Death Toll Hits 87 as Turkish Prison Protest Strike Continues (p 22)
  25. Consecutive Ad Seg Placements From Same Cause Are Aggregated for "Atypical Hardship" Analysis (p 23)
  26. En Banc Third Circuit Defines Religious Standard (p 24)
  27. $147,000 Paid for 3-1/2 Hour Overdetention and Strip Search of Mistaken Arrestee (p 25)
  28. $250,000 Award for Paraplegic Dallas County Jail Prisoner (p 26)
  29. Defendants Denied Summary Judgment in Wrongful Incarceration Suit (p 27)
  30. Pennsylvania Youths Have No Right to Education (p 27)
  31. BOP Disciplinary Habeas Requires Exhaustion (p 28)
  32. No Immunity for Photo Limit (p 28)
  33. Detainee's Strip Search Unconstitutional, But Qualified Immunity Granted (p 29)
  34. Pubic Hair Search by Medical Personnel Constitutional (p 29)
  35. News in Brief (p 30)
  36. PLRA Protects Lawless Guards Accused in Prisoner Beating (p 32)

"Barbaric Conditions" At Wisconsin Supermax Result in Preliminary Injunction To Transfer Mentally Ill Prisoners

"Barbaric Conditions" At Wisconsin Supermax Result in Preliminary Injunction To Transfer Mentally Ill Prisoners

by John Dannenberg

Noting that the Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual punishment clause protects the mental health of prisoners no less than their physical health, and observing mistreatment of seriously mentally ill prisoners "bordering on ...

D.C. Wrongly Jails Mentally Ill Man for Two Years

D.C. Wrongly Jails Mentally Ill Man For Two Years

Joseph Heard, 42, was released from the Washington D.C. jail on August 13, 2001. He served nearly 2 years in solitary confinement in the jail's mental health unit. The problem is that all charges against him were dismissed ...

Mistakenly Released Prisoners Have No Due Process Rights

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that prisoners who were released on mandatory supervision then arrested as escaped prisoners and reincarcerated without a hearing had no right to due process.

Vincent Henderson, Daryelle Rexrode, and John Calella, were Maryland state prisoners who were released on mandatory ...

From the Editor

In next month's issue we will report the results of our reader survey as well as our matching grant campaign. As this issue goes to press we are still receiving responses to both.

A recurring problem for PLN has been some subscribers, especially prisoners, who move and don't ...

Wisconsin Medical Care Substandard, Even for Prisoners

Michelle Greer had asthma, the operative word being had past tense. Her asthma no longer exists because Michelle Greer is dead. On February 29, 2000, at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution, she died of an asthma attack, suffocated by the apathy and neglect of the Wisconsin prison system.

Greer had complained ...

Texas Prison Warden Pleads Guilty; Prison Workers Arrested in Major Drug Bust

A former Texas prison warden who pled guilty to stealing more than $9,300 from a charity fund was sentenced to 5 years probation by a Coryell County District Court in Gatesville, Texas.

On October 18, 2001, Linda Moten, who retired in August 2001 as warden of the Gatesville State ...

MCI WorldCom Investigated in Georgia for Phone Overcharges; State Senator Involved

MCI WorldCom owns the exclusive contract to provide phone services to the 45,000 prisoners incarcerated in the State of Georgia. Of course, the prisoners are only allowed to place collect calls, and have no choice on which company to use. The state decides that for them. It's MCI ...

Prison Guards Face Resentencing Dilemma in Beating Death of New York Jail Prisoner

Prison Guards Face Resentencing Dilemma In Beating Death Of New York Jail Prisoner

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the federal criminal civil rights sentences of the Nassau County, New York guards who had pled guilty to brutally beating to death ...

23 Escape from Wackenhut Prison in Caribbean

23 Escape From Wackenhut Prison in Caribbean

by Gary Hunter

A rash of escapes have fueled investigations into negligence and possible corruption at a Wackenhut prison. In less than two months, 23 prisoners have escaped from Curacao's Koraal Specht prison in Netherlands Antilles. On March 24, 2001, six prisoners ...

Wackenhut Searches for New Business

Wackenhut Searches For New Business

In the 1990s, states couldn't build prisons fast enough. To keep up with the ever-increasing number of prisoners, many states turned to private prison companies like Wackenhut Corrections, Corrections Corporation of America, and Cornell Corrections. But the prison-building boom of the 1990s has now ...

Angola Prisoner Wins $1.5 Million Verdict Against Five Guards for Assault

In January 2001, pro se prisoner John Poullard won a $1.5 million judgment against five guards who beat him in retaliation for other lawsuits and complaints he had previously filed.

Poullard, who is serving time at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, alleged that the five guards--identified as Captain Joseph ...

Pennsylvania Ban on Sex Between Staff and Prisoners Struck Down

On December 10, 2001, Montgomery county court judge Marino Rossanese struck down as unconstitutional a 1998 Pennsylvania law that bans sex between prisoners and prison and jail employees. The ruling came in the case of Eileen Mayfield, 43, a guard for 18 years at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.

In ...

South Carolina Guards Plead Guilty in Sex Cases

In the April 2001 issue of PLN we reported at length on a series of investigations into allegations of drug smuggling by staff, as well as sexual activity between prisoners and staff, in South Carolina prisons.

The investigation was started by a tabloid newspaper report that prisoner Susan Smith had ...

Illinois Court Reduces Prisoner's Eye Injury Award to $850,000

The United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois has denied a motion for a new trial by an Illinois Department of Corrections (ILDOC) physician but granted remittitur of both the compensatory and punitive damages awards given to an ILDOC prisoner following a jury trial. The verdict was ...

$237,500 New York Administrative Segregation Verdict Upheld

A New York state prisoner won damages in a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York against employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) for due process violations in confining him in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) for ...

$500,000 Settlement in Oregon Jail Self-Mutilation Case

In March 2001, the Multnomah county jail in Portland, Oregon, paid over $500,000 to settle a lawsuit by a mentally ill jail prisoner who gouged his eyes out during a psychotic episode. In 1998 Peter Klarquist was found guilty except for insanity of assorted charges, including second-degree assault and ...

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Private Prison Corporations Immune from Bivens Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly construed Bivens actions suing private federal prison contractors to be available only against their individual prison employees, and not the parent corporations.

Reversing the Second Circuit US Court of Appeals in Malesko v. Correctional Services Corp ...

Intangible Religious Freedom Claims Not Barred by PLRA

Intangible Religious Freedom Claims Not Barred By PLRA

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court (District of Massachusetts) held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) proscription of claims for emotional damages, in the absence of physical harm, did not foreclose claims for violation of constitutionally protected ...

Florida's Prisoner Indigency Statute Unconstitutional

The Florida Supreme Court, in two separate cases, has held that Florida's Prisoner Indigence Statute (PIS) is unconstitutional, and ordered reinstatement of cases dismissed for failing to comply with PIS. Prisoner Douglas M. Jackson, Sr., filed a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC ...

D.C. Closes Lorton Prison

The 91-year-old Lorton Correctional Complex is closed. Forever. In November 2001, after a 16-year-old jail population cap was temporarily lifted, the last 300 prisoners were transferred from the nearby Fairfax County complex to the District's main jail in Washington, D.C.

On November 15th, U.S. District Court Judge ...

Massachusetts DNA Law Invalidated

In an unpublished ruling, the Superior Court of Massachusetts invalidated a state statute authorizing the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC) to: define indigence for the purpose of assessing costs of collecting and processing DNA samples; and impound and seize funds from prisoner accounts without their consent for the purpose of ...

HIV Still a Major Health Threat in Prisons and Jails

Between 1995 and 1999, the death rate from AIDS in prisons and jails plummeted, and the rate of increase of HIV in prisons grew at about one third the rate of increase of the general prison population. That bit of good news, part of a July 2001 report by Laura ...

Failure to Protect States Claim in High Profile Case

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has held the failure to protect a pre-trial detainee in a highly charged and well-publicized case states a claim. Morritz Weiss, a white male, was the principal suspect in the rape of a 15-year-old African-American girl.

In early June 1995, Weiss was ...

Death Toll Hits 87 as Turkish Prison Protest Strike Continues

On November 4, 2001, Turkish police used armored vehicles to batter down the barricades protesters had erected in Kucakarmutlu, an outlying district on the European side of Istanbul. The semi-official news agency Anatolia reported four protesters had died of burns or carbon monoxide poisoning after setting themselves ablaze. A police ...

Consecutive Ad Seg Placements From Same Cause Are Aggregated for "Atypical Hardship" Analysis

Consecutive Ad Seg Placements From Same Cause Are Aggregated For "Atypical Hardship" Analysis

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that where a prisoner suffered 670 days of administrative segregation (Ad Seg) placement at one prison and when transferred to another prison was placed in continuing Ad Seg ...

En Banc Third Circuit Defines Religious Standard

by Matthew T. Clarke

The federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit sitting en banc has ruled that the centrality of a religious belief to a prisoner's religion is not a factor in whether the belief must be accommodated by prison officials. In doing so, it specifically overturned ...

$147,000 Paid for 3-1/2 Hour Overdetention and Strip Search of Mistaken Arrestee

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict of $100,000 against the Little Rock, Arkansas police when, after a judge ordered the release of a mistakenly arrested woman, they failed to promptly do so.

Willie Mae Young was arrested by Little Rock police officer James Brown on ...

$250,000 Award for Paraplegic Dallas County Jail Prisoner

$250,000 Award For Paraplegic Dallas County Jail Prisoner

by Matthew T. Clarke

A paraplegic Texas prisoner has been awarded a quarter million dollars for pain and suffering caused by conditions in the Dallas County Jail (the jail).

Brent Lawson, a Texas state prisoner, filed suit against Dallas County and ...

Defendants Denied Summary Judgment in Wrongful Incarceration Suit

Defendants Denied Summary Judgment In Wrongful Incarceration Suit

An Indiana federal district court has partially denied summary judgment and the qualified immunity defense to defendants at the Allen County (Indiana) Jail in a case involving wrongful imprisonment.

Shakidi Johnson was arrested on contempt of court charges for failure to appear ...

Pennsylvania Youths Have No Right to Education

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that Pennsylvania youths sentenced as adults and sentenced to county detention centers have no right to an education. This was a class action suit filed by school-aged youths against the Pennsylvania Department of Education, its Secretary, and three school districts ...

BOP Disciplinary Habeas Requires Exhaustion

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a federal prisoner who files a habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 must first exhaust all available administrative remedies, and further held that a prisoner procedurally defaulting on those remedies may be excused from default only by first ...

No Immunity for Photo Limit

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in a per curium opinion, held that Arkansas prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for promulgating a policy that allows prisoners to retain only five photographs in their cells.

Len Davis, a federal prisoner in the Arkansas state prison system ...

Detainee's Strip Search Unconstitutional, But Qualified Immunity Granted

The court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that a jail strip search of an arrestee without reasonable suspicion violates the Fourth Amendment, but granted qualified immunity. DeAngela Wilson was arrested at a checkpoint for driving under the influence of alcohol, and was taken to the Shelby County ...

Pubic Hair Search by Medical Personnel Constitutional

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has overturned a district court's order that held as unconstitutional a Sheriff's policy of searching a prisoner's pubic hair prior to release. PLN previously reported the district court's order. (See: Skurstenis v. Jones , 817 Supp.2d 1228 (ND ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:

Brazil: On October 31, 2001, police negotiated an end to an uprising at the Carumbe prison in Cuiaba. Sixty of the prison's 380 prisoners killed a prisoner, then seized two guards as hostages. The prisoners demanded a review of their sentences, that the warden be fired ...

PLRA Protects Lawless Guards Accused in Prisoner Beating

A lawsuit filed by a federal prisoner in Colorado provides a clear example of how the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) protects lawless prison guards from the consequences of their blatantly illegal actions.

William Vance Turner is a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoner in Protective Custody (PC) at Florence ...