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Prison Legal News: May, 2002

Issue PDF
Volume 13, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Bailing Out the Private Prison Industry (p 1)
  2. Hawaiian Women Prisoners File Suit Over Sex Abuse, Torture in Oklahoma Private Prison (p 6)
  3. Suicides, Staff Negligence Plague Private Arkansas Juvenile Prison (p 7)
  4. From the Editor (p 8)
  5. Failure to Timely Pay Filing Fee Dismissal Reversed (p 9)
  6. U.S. Cited for Human Rights Violations (p 10)
  7. U.S. Cited for Human Rights Violations (p 11)
  8. High Cost of Prison Telephone Calls Goes to Illinois State Court (p 12)
  9. Montana Supreme Court Upholds Refusal to Seal Settlement Agreement (p 13)
  10. Prison Phone Rate Case Remanded to South Carolina State Court (p 13)
  11. Wisconsin Ban on Sexually Explicit Materials Unconstitutional (p 14)
  12. Grievance Retaliation States Claim (p 16)
  13. Oregon Passes Pay-to-Stay Law (p 16)
  14. New York Assault and Medical Case Settled for $5,000 (p 17)
  15. $400,000 Settlement in Oklahoma Jail Failure to Protect Suit (p 17)
  16. Oregon Jail Settles Taser Suit for $197,000 (p 18)
  17. Arizona DOC's Endless Isolation of Suspected Gang Member Enjoined (p 18)
  18. TDCJ-ID Must Provide Procedures for Prisoners to Identify Evidence Supporting Grievances (p 20)
  19. $377,500 Awarded in Tennessee Jail Death (p 21)
  20. Ohio Supreme Court Rules Indigent Sex Predator Gets Paid Expert Witness (p 21)
  21. BOP Prisoner Release Public Notification Required Only If Current Offense Qualifies (p 22)
  22. Illegal Strip Searches Cost Chicago Jail $6.8 Million (p 22)
  23. Rape and Racism in Washington Prisons (p 23)
  24. $50,000 Settlement in D.C. Retaliation Suit (p 23)
  25. Wisconsin Jail Settles Escape Lawsuit with Escapee (p 24)
  26. Compelled Attendance at AA/NA Violates Establishment Clause (p 24)
  27. Former CCA Captain and Texas Probation Officer Pleads Guilty (p 25)
  28. Section 2241 May Not Be Used to Challenge BOP Prison Placement (p 25)
  29. Tenth Circuit Discusses Religious Rights in BOP (p 26)
  30. Ohio Prison Supervisors Possibly Liable for Employing Known Racist Guard (p 27)
  31. Eighth Amendment Challenge to California Integrated Yard Policy Is Triable (p 28)
  32. County Supervisors Liable for Indemnifications (p 28)
  33. Cold, Vermin and Sewage in New York Prison May Violate Eighth Amendment (p 29)
  34. News in Brief (p 30)

Bailing Out the Private Prison Industry

The private-prison industry is in trouble. For close to a decade, its business boomed and its stock prices soared because state legislators across the country thought they could look both tough on crime and fiscally conservative if they contracted with private companies to handle the growing multitudes being sent to ...

Hawaiian Women Prisoners File Suit Over Sex Abuse, Torture in Oklahoma Private Prison

When the State of Hawaii opted in 1998 to send its female prisoners to a privately run Oklahoma prison, it had no idea what was in store for these women. What ensued over the next three years, according to a lawsuit filed by four Hawaiian women, was a "widespread pattern ...

Suicides, Staff Negligence Plague Private Arkansas Juvenile Prison

In October 2001, a just-completed state investigation concluded that Houston-based Cornell Company, the private firm that runs Arkansas's Alexander Youth Services Center, was negligent for failing to monitor an at-risk youth who committed suicide. The suicide was the second in less than four months at the facility, and the ...

From the Editor

Welcome to PLN 's 12th anniversary issue. PLN first started publishing in 1990 and this marks 12 years and 144 consecutive issues. PLN is the longest publishing independent, prisoner-produced magazine in U.S. history. While we have had our ups and downs over the years we have consistently improved the ...

Failure to Timely Pay Filing Fee Dismissal Reversed

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh circuit held that a district court erred when it dismissed a prisoner's suit for failure to pay the filing fee in a timely manner. Bernard Beyer, a Wisconsin prisoner held in a private prison in Tennessee, filed suit against city building inspectors ...

U.S. Cited for Human Rights Violations

( On May 15, 2001, at a human rights conference in Geneva, the United States was denounced for its inhumane and discriminatory practices. Amnesty International and the U.N. Committee Against Torture cited the U.S. for oppressive tactics by both public law enforcement and prison agencies.
Of particular importance to ...

U.S. Cited for Human Rights Violations

On May 15, 2001, at a human rights conference in Geneva, the United States was denounced for its inhumane and discriminatory practices. Amnesty International and the U.N. Committee Against Torture cited the U.S. for oppressive tactics by both public law enforcement and prison agencies.

Of particular importance to ...

High Cost of Prison Telephone Calls Goes to Illinois State Court

In a characteristically colorful opinion from Judge Richard Posner, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit breathed new life into an otherwise moribund lawsuit where plaintiffs sought relief from the exorbitant charges for collect telephone calls made from Illinois' prisons and jails.

Prisoners, their families, and a ...

Montana Supreme Court Upholds Refusal to Seal Settlement Agreement

The Montana Supreme Court held that prevailing party did not establish that privacy rights of parties outweighed the public's right to know what costs it incurred in a settlement agreement.

Steve Pengra brought suit against Montana, contending that the State's negligent acts and omissions led to the brutal ...

Prison Phone Rate Case Remanded to South Carolina State Court

The United States District Court of South Carolina has remanded to state court a suit by prisoners' family members against Sprint Payphone Services and other communications providers, the State of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC) and its prisons, alleging that the state illegally entered into ...

Wisconsin Ban on Sexually Explicit Materials Unconstitutional

The Federal District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin has denied a motion for summary judgment finding the Wisconsin Department of Corrections' (WDOC) ban on sexually explicit materials violated prisoners' First Amendment freedom of speech and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. The Court later approved a class action settlement ...

Grievance Retaliation States Claim

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit held that a district court erred when it dismissed an Arkansas prisoner's claim that he was subjected to false disciplinary charges in retaliation for filing grievances against a prison employee. The court upheld the dismissal of a claim challenging the loss ...

Oregon Passes Pay-to-Stay Law

The 2001 Oregon Legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill (SB) 183, authorizing, but not requiring, the Oregon Department (ODOC) to assess prisoners for costs associated with their imprisonment, including "but . . . not limited to, such items as medical care, room, board, administrative costs and other costs not otherwise excluded by law."

SB ...

New York Assault and Medical Case Settled for $5,000

On August 28, 2001, New York state prison officials agreed to pay $5,000.00 to settle a prisoner's lawsuit that he was beaten by prison guards and then denied medical care. In 1993, prisoner Easton Beckford, who is also wheelchair bound, was attacked and beaten by guards at ...

$400,000 Settlement in Oklahoma Jail Failure to Protect Suit

On April 19, 2001, the insurer for the Garfield county jail in Oklahoma agreed to pay $400,000 to a former jail prisoner who was attacked and beaten by his cellmate. On April 26, 1998, Larry Thomas, then 58, was imprisoned in the Garfield county jail for five days to ...

Oregon Jail Settles Taser Suit for $197,000

In December 2000, the Clackamas county jail in Oregon settled a lawsuit with Stephen J. Thom for $197,000. On July 24, 2000, Thom, who suffered brain damage in a 1981 accident, was drunk and brought to the jail's booking section. While he was handcuffed, jail sergeant Daniel McClean ...

Arizona DOC's Endless Isolation of Suspected Gang Member Enjoined

Afederal District Court in Arizona recently enjoined Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) officials from indefinitely isolating a prisoner whom they suspect to be a gang member.

Mark Koch, an Arizona prisoner and successful prison litigator of long standing, was placed in solitary confinement (SMU II) in 1996 at the Florence ...

TDCJ-ID Must Provide Procedures for Prisoners to Identify Evidence Supporting Grievances

by Matthew T. Clarke

A Texas court of appeals has ruled that the Texas prison system is required by law to provide procedures for a prisoner to identify evidence to substantiate the prisoner's claim.

Charles William Ingram, Jr., M.D., a Texas state prisoner, sued Wayne Scott, the Executive ...

$377,500 Awarded in Tennessee Jail Death

In September 2001, a federal jury in Memphis, Tennessee, awarded $377,500 in damages to the estate of a mentally ill jail prisoner killed by guards. In November 1996, Calvin Shaw, a paranoid schizophrenic, was arrested on sexual assault charges and imprisoned at the Davidson county jail. Three days later ...

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Indigent Sex Predator Gets Paid Expert Witness

The Ohio Supreme Court has held that an indigent defendant in a sexual predator classification hearing is entitled to an expert witness at state expense "if the court determines, within its sound discretion, that such services are reasonably necessary to determine whether the offender is likely to engage in the ...

BOP Prisoner Release Public Notification Required Only If Current Offense Qualifies

by John E. Dannenburg
( The Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals held that the statute requiring public notification of the release of federal prisoners convicted of drug trafficking or a crime of violence applied only to the current conviction, not to the prisoner's past record.

Richard Henrikson was finishing ...

Illegal Strip Searches Cost Chicago Jail $6.8 Million

In July 2001, the Cook County, Illinois Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to end a five-year long class-action suit brought by female prisoners who alleged that the strip-searches they were subjected to at the Cook County jail were unconstitutional. The Board approved a $6.8 million settlement which could be ...

Rape and Racism in Washington Prisons

The Second Division of the Court of Appeals of Washington overturned a jury verdict against the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) in which a prison sergeant sued DOC for racially discriminatory treatment against him.

Geronimo Subia is a male prison sergeant of Native American and Hispanic descent. Since 1988, Subia ...

$50,000 Settlement in D.C. Retaliation Suit

In the January 2001, issue of PLN we reported Garcia v. District of Columbia, 56 F. Supp.2d 1 (D DC 1998) in which the district court denied prison guards' motion for summary judgment. District of Columbia prisoners Freda Garcia, Lawrence Caldwell and Antonio Tirado filed suit claiming that prison ...

Wisconsin Jail Settles Escape Lawsuit with Escapee

In September, 2001, Wausau Insurance, the insurer for the city of Shawano, Wisconsin, agreed to pay Nicholas Bishop, 22, $5,000 to settle a lawsuit Bishop had filed against the city in federal court in Madison.

The lawsuit claimed that two city policemen negligently allowed Bishop to escape from custody ...

Compelled Attendance at AA/NA Violates Establishment Clause

Compelled Attendance At AA/NA Violates Establishment Clause

The Washington Court of Appeals has held that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment for the DOC to force a prisoner to attend AA/NA meetings as a part of its chemical dependency treatment program. However, because the petitioner ...

Former CCA Captain and Texas Probation Officer Pleads Guilty

On October 25, 2001, Jason Driskell, 27, a former captain at the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) operated Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) in Tennessee, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges in federal court. Driskell admitted that in 1999 he struck and injured prisoner Sammy Everett at the prison, and ...

Section 2241 May Not Be Used to Challenge BOP Prison Placement

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Tenth Circuit court of appeals has held that a federal prisoner may not use 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to challenge placement in a certain prison or the conditions in that prison.

Christopher John Boyce, a federal prisoner, filed a habeas corpus action under 28 ...

Tenth Circuit Discusses Religious Rights in BOP

Yu Kikumura is a federal political prisoner and member of the Japanese Red Army, who has been greatly harassed by authorities during his incarceration. His religious practices mix Buddhism and Christianity. Beginning in 1997, Kikumura tried to obtain pastoral visits from Reverend C. Harold Rickard, a retired United Methodist minister ...

Ohio Prison Supervisors Possibly Liable for Employing Known Racist Guard

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court's grant of summary judgment to Ohio prison officials and remanded for trial a case involving alleged official indifference to the actions of a known racist guard. The appeals court held that, given the number of complaints against the ...

Eighth Amendment Challenge to California Integrated Yard Policy Is Triable

In a California prisoner suit claiming cruel and unusual punishment for the prison's "integrated yard" policy, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled that the factual question presented could proceed to trial, thus rejecting prison defendants' claims of qualified immunity.

AfricanAmerican prisoner George Robinson had twice, while in ...

County Supervisors Liable for Indemnifications

County Supervisors Liable For Indemnifications

by John E. Dannenberg

The Los Angeles (LA), California County Board of Supervisors made official decisions, and thus a policy, to indemnify their county sheriffs so as to willfully (i.e., in bad faith) protect the sheriffs from punitive damages even after they had admittedly ...

Cold, Vermin and Sewage in New York Prison May Violate Eighth Amendment

by John E. Dannenberg

A New York state prisoner who had been subjected to inhumane and unsanitary living conditions was found by the Second Circuit US Court of Appeals to have stated a claim under 42 USC §1983 for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights to be free from cruel ...

News in Brief

California: On December 12, 2001, Don Lanier Jr., 34, a guard at the Wasco State Prison and a karate instructor, was sentenced to nine months in the Kern county jail after pleading guilty to unlawful intercourse with a minor. The charges stem from Lanier having consensual sex with a 15-year-old ...