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Prison Legal News: October, 2003

Issue PDF
Volume 14, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. The Deadly Health Services of Naphcare in Alabama (p 1)
  2. Temporary Injunction Issued in Alabama Suit (p 5)
  3. Crime Control as Industry: Towards Gulags, Western Style (p 7)
  4. Wackenhut's Legacy of Shame in Austin (p 8)
  5. New Study Rejects Link Between Prisons and Economic Growth (p 10)
  6. Hawaii: High Recidivism for Mainland Prisoners (p 10)
  7. From the Editor (p 11)
  8. Scandal-Ridden, Bankrupt MCI WorldCom Wins No-Bid California Prisoner Phone Contract (p 12)
  9. $500,000 Settlement in Connecticut Suicide (p 13)
  10. Dead Man Waking (p 14)
  11. Family Awarded $229,000 Against CMS in Illinois Hepatitis C Jail Death (p 15)
  12. Honduras Prison Massacre: What Really Happened (p 16)
  13. Cheap Mexican Prison Labor Exploited by U.S. Firms (p 17)
  14. Michigan Visiting Rules Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court (p 18)
  15. Thomas and Scalia Flunk History (p 19)
  16. Federal Appeals Courts Address Finality of Dismissals, Grievance Contents (p 19)
  17. Washington SCC Injunction and Contempt Order Upheld (p 20)
  18. Director of Florida's Private Prison Commisssion Resigns, Fined $10,000 for Ethics Violations (p 21)
  19. Eight Washington Prison Premises Liabilities Claims Settled for $35,058 (p 22)
  20. Nebraska Prisons Get Progressive Phone Contract (p 23)
  21. Washington DOC Settles Failure to Protect Case for $13,000 (p 24)
  22. Nebraska Prisons Get Progressive Phone Contract (p 24)
  23. Kansas Sheriff, Lawyer, Jailed for Sweetheart Jail Contract (p 25)
  24. Washington Retaliation Suit Settled for $2,500 (p 25)
  25. California Taxpayer Action Forces Private Employer to Pay Prisoners Prevailing Wages (p 26)
  26. Washington Posts Health Care Provider Information Online (p 26)
  27. U.S. Supreme Court: Reviving Expired Statute of Limitations Violates Ex Post Facto (p 27)
  28. California Prisoner Who Received First Heart Transplant Dies (p 28)
  29. PLRA Physical Injury Rule Not Applicable in Non-Prison State Cases (p 29)
  30. First Amendment Protects Witnessing of California Executions (p 30)
  31. Survivors of North Carolina Jail Fire Settle for $1.94 Million (p 30)
  32. Receipt of Federal Funds Waives Eleventh Amendment Immunity for Rehabilitation Act (p 31)
  33. Diagnosis, Not Exposure, Triggers Limitation Period in HCV Action (p 31)
  34. Stun Belt Prejudice Reverses California Conviction (p 32)
  35. PLRA Does Not Apply to Challenges to Civil Commitment (p 32)
  36. News in Brief (p 33)
  37. Pendency of Federal Lawsuit Doesn't Toll 31-Day Texas Limitations (p 35)
  38. Seventh Circuit Reverses BOP's Denial of Death Row Prisoner's Interviews (p 36)

The Deadly Health Services of Naphcare in Alabama

It is often said that you can tell a lot about a society by checking the condition of its prisons. Based on the way prisoners in Alabama are treated (or, more accurately stated, not treated), citizens of that state have a lot to be worried about. With only a few ...

Temporary Injunction Issued in Alabama Suit

On June 26, 2003, the parties in Baker v. Campbell agreed to the entry of a temporary preliminary injunction which, among other things, provides for "immediate" and "adequate" medical care for Alabama prisoners with serious illnesses.


The "Preliminary Injunction Settlement Agreement" stems from a class action suit filed by prisoners ...

Crime Control as Industry: Towards Gulags, Western Style

by Nils Christie, Routledge Press (2000 Rev. Ed.) 244 pages, Paperback

Review by Peter Wagner


The heavily revised third edition (2000) of Crime Control As Industry: Towards Gulags, Western Style is an essential guide to understanding the incarceration boom and considering how we can turn it around. The first book ...

Wackenhut's Legacy of Shame in Austin

by Matthew T. Clarke


The price of attending the March 1997 South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, came very high for Dallas record producer David Prater. Busted for a minor drug possession, in 1998 Prater was sentenced to 250 days in the Wackenhut-run Travis County Community Justice Center ...

New Study Rejects Link Between Prisons and Economic Growth

A new study examining 25 years of economic data finds that despite the many claims and promises, building prisons in rural communities has had no positive effect on either employment or per capita income. The study by The Sentencing Project examined prison development trends in upstate New York State over ...

Hawaii: High Recidivism for Mainland Prisoners

Hawaii prisoners housed out of state are virtually guaranteed to return to prison after release, according to a Jan. 21, 2003, story by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Currently, 90 percent of prisoners housed on the mainland return to prison, while those housed in state have a recidivism rate of between 47 ...

From the Editor

Subscribers should soon receive PLN's fall fundraiser letter along with our reader survey. Periodically we send readers a survey asking readers what they think of PLN's coverage and content and what they would like to see in future issues. We welcome suggestions and comments so that we can ...

Scandal-Ridden, Bankrupt MCI WorldCom Wins No-Bid California Prisoner Phone Contract

A renewed four-year no-bid prisoner phone contract was awarded in June, 2002 by the California Department of General Services to MCI WorldCom, a telephone conglomerate whose recent bankruptcy exposed the largest accounting fraud in US business history - $11 billion. The non-competitive award, giving MCI exclusive control of prisoner phone calls ...

$500,000 Settlement in Connecticut Suicide

On April 14, 2003, the family of a prisoner who committed suicide in 1996 while in a Connecticut prison settled with the state for $500,000.


William Dumais, 19, was imprisoned in the Corrigan Correctional Institution in Uncasville from December 1995 to February 1996 on a charge of fourth-degree larceny ...

Dead Man Waking

Is it possible Timothy McVeigh was fully alert and utterly sentient when potassium chloride shot through his leg and stopped his heart? The tear witnesses saw well up in his left eye suggests that he might have been very conscious as lethal drugs burned his veins, took his breath, and ...

Family Awarded $229,000 Against CMS in Illinois Hepatitis C Jail Death

A jury has awarded the family of a prisoner who died while in the Kane County Illinois Jail $229,500. On May 16, 2002, after 92 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict against Correctional Medical Services of Illinois, the jail's health care contractor. The total award was ...

Honduras Prison Massacre: What Really Happened

On April 5, 2003, 68 people were murdered inside the walls of the El Porvenir prison in Honduras. The story that initially came out of that country said that 59 of the dead were gang members who shot at other prisoners, then barricaded themselves inside the cellblocks. Original reports went ...

Cheap Mexican Prison Labor Exploited by U.S. Firms

Even with U.S. laws prohibiting the importation of commodities produced with prison labor, prison officials in northern Mexico report that prisoners there are making furniture headed for Texas. Moreover, they're pursuing more contracts with American companies to produce a variety of goods, even offering to label the products ...

Michigan Visiting Rules Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

On June 16, 2003, the United States Supreme Court unanimously upheld visiting restrictions imposed by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). The decision reverses contrary rulings by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and a Michigan federal district court. Twenty-one states plus the federal government filed amicus curiae ...

Thomas and Scalia Flunk History

The unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court in Overton v. Bazzetta, upholding Michigan's punitive restrictions on prisoners' visiting rights, showed again how antagonistic the Rehnquist Court is toward prisoners' rights compared to the Burger Court. But the Court's two most conservative justices showed they would like ...

Federal Appeals Courts Address Finality of Dismissals, Grievance Contents

In two, separate, unrelated cases, the Third and Seventh U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have addressed the finality of dismissals without prejudice, the contents of grievances, and various procedural points under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) and prisoner suits brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


Ali Ahmed ...

Washington SCC Injunction and Contempt Order Upheld

On February 26, 2003, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein upheld an injunction and contempt order issued against the superintendent and clinical director of the Special Commitment Center ("SCC") at McNeil Island, Washington. The SCC houses former prisoners civilly committed as "sexually violent predators." In 1994, U.S. District Judge ...

Director of Florida's Private Prison Commisssion Resigns, Fined $10,000 for Ethics Violations

Agreeing to pay $10,000 for ethics violations, the director of Florida's agency overseeing private prison contracts resigned in April, 2002. The Florida Ethics Commission has accepted the settlement. C. Mark Hodges was in charge of Florida's Correctional Privatization Commission (CPC), a state agency empowered to award contracts ...

Eight Washington Prison Premises Liabilities Claims Settled for $35,058

Premises liabilities claims by injured Washington state prisoners and visitors were settled in eight unrelated claims totaling $35,058 over a two year period in 2001 and 2002.


Pro per Walla Walla State Penitentiary prisoner Marcus Ogans filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint in state superior court under ...

Nebraska Prisons Get Progressive Phone Contract

by Matthew T. Clarke

In February, 2003, The Nebraska Department of Corrections (DOC) has contracted with AT&T to set up what may be the most progressive prisoner phone service in the United States. The five-year contract makes AT&T the sole provider of local and long distance services, associated equipment, maintenance and administrative services to the approximately 3,700 prisoners in the Community Corrections Centers at Lincoln and Omaha, the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center at Lincoln, Hastings Corrections Center, Lincoln Correction Center, Nebraska Correction Center for Women, Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility at Omaha, Nebraska State Penitentiary, Omaha Correctional Center, Work Ethic Camp at McCook, and the Youth Rehab Treatment Centers at Geneva and Kearney.

AT&T operates more than 49,000 prisoner phone stations at over 3,000 U.S. prisons and jails. AT&T invented prisoner "collect calling only," 23 years ago. However, the contract calls for AT&T to offer the dialer a choice of calling collect or charging the call to a debit account. The ability of prisoners to call using a debit account has two favorable features: a 20% lower call rate and the ability to place international calls (which may not be done collect).

Prisoners are limited to 15 minutes of phone calls a day. The DOC is not accepting a commission. This allows for remarkably low rates. Local collect calls cost $1.00 regardless of length. Local debit calls cost 80¢, regardless of length. Each non-local call involves a service charge plus a call rate. The service charge for collect calls is 75¢; for debit calls it is 60¢. Thus, the charge on calls is as follows: 75¢ + 7¢/min (collect) or 60¢ + 5.6¢/min (debit) for a non-local call within the same area code ...

Washington DOC Settles Failure to Protect Case for $13,000

On March 16, 2002, the Washing-ton Department of Corrections (WA DOC) settled an Eighth Amendment complaint for failure-to-protect at the Washington State Reformatory (WSR) where a high security prisoner was attacked and seriously injured by another prisoner known to want to kill him.


Ryan Bartlett, a maximum security prisoner at ...

Nebraska Prisons Get Progressive Phone Contract

by Matthew T. Clarke


In February, 2003, The Nebraska Department of Corrections (DOC) has contracted with AT&T to set up what may be the most progressive prisoner phone service in the United States. The five-year contract makes AT&T the sole provider of local and long distance services, associated equipment, maintenance and administrative services to the approximately 3,700 prisoners in the Community Corrections Centers at Lincoln and Omaha, the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center at Lincoln, Hastings Corrections Center, Lincoln Correction Center, Nebraska Correction Center for Women, Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility at Omaha, Nebraska State Penitentiary, Omaha Correctional Center, Work Ethic Camp at McCook, and the Youth Rehab Treatment Centers at Geneva and Kearney.


AT&T operates more than 49,000 prisoner phone stations at over 3,000 U.S. prisons and jails. AT&T invented prisoner "collect calling only," 23 years ago. However, the contract calls for AT&T to offer the dialer a choice of calling collect or charging the call to a debit account. The ability of prisoners to call using a debit account has two favorable features: a 20% lower call rate and the ability to place international calls (which may not be done collect).


Prisoners are limited to 15 minutes of phone calls a day. The DOC is not accepting a commission. This allows for remarkably low rates. Local collect calls cost $1.00 regardless of length. Local debit calls cost 80¢, regardless of length. Each non-local call involves a service charge plus a call rate. The service charge for collect calls is 75¢; for debit calls it is 60¢. Thus, the charge on calls is as follows: 75¢ + 7¢/min (collect) or 60¢ + 5.6¢/min (debit) for a non-local call within the same area code ...

Kansas Sheriff, Lawyer, Jailed for Sweetheart Jail Contract

Negotiating their way out of 21 felony bribery charges, a former Kansas sheriff and a lawyer-cum-executive for a private prison contractor each pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of conflict of interest on December 18, 2002, getting only one year in county jail and a $750,000 restitution order.


Reno ...

Washington Retaliation Suit Settled for $2,500

On February 27, 2002, the Washington DOC settled a prisoner claim of retaliation for his having filed a grievance and a lawsuit, for $2,500.


Airway Heights Correctional Center prisoner Douglas Gallagher was employed in the food factory production facility on a day when three door handles were broken off ...

California Taxpayer Action Forces Private Employer to Pay Prisoners Prevailing Wages

by John E. Dannenberg


Under California Code of Civil Procedure §526a, a private citizen taxpayer may bring an action to compel an officer or agent of a municipality to restrain him from wasteful or injurious expenditure of government funds. In a novel application of this law, the state was compelled ...

Washington Posts Health Care Provider Information Online

Past issues of PLN have reported on the checkered pasts of many prison health care employees. Before being employed by prisons and jails many medical staff have been disciplined, had their licenses revoked and suffered other forms of license limitations designed to protect the public from sex predators and assorted ...

U.S. Supreme Court: Reviving Expired Statute of Limitations Violates Ex Post Facto

U.S. Supreme Court: Reviving Expired Statute of Limitations Violates Ex Post Facto Clause


Reversing the California Court of Appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California's recent law reviving criminal liability for previously time-barred prosecutions violated the Constitutional proscription against ex post facto laws.


Catering to public ...

California Prisoner Who Received First Heart Transplant Dies

A California man, who is believed to be the first prisoner in the nation to receive a heart transplant while incarcerated, died last December from complications relating to the operation. The man, whose name has never been released, was serving a 14-year sentence for robbing a Los Angeles convenience store ...

PLRA Physical Injury Rule Not Applicable in Non-Prison State Cases

The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated and remanded part of an Alabama Federal District Court's dismissal of a federal prisoner's suit against tobacco companies. The Court held that prisoner suits unrelated to prison conditions that are brought in state court do not have to ...

First Amendment Protects Witnessing of California Executions

by John E. Dannenberg


The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, finding a restrictive state prison regulation unconstitutional, ruled that public witnesses enjoy a First Amendment right to view California executions uninterrupted from the moment the condemned prisoner enters the death chamber.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), joined ...

Survivors of North Carolina Jail Fire Settle for $1.94 Million

On January 9, 2003, Mitchell County (NC) Superior Court Judge Marlene Hyatt approved a settlement in which the families of the eight fatalities and the nine survivors of the May 3, 2002, Mitchell County Jail fire will split $1.94 million. $60,000 had already been paid as funeral expenses ...

Receipt of Federal Funds Waives Eleventh Amendment Immunity for Rehabilitation Act

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed in part and reversed in part a Pennsylvania Federal District Court's grant of summary judgment to state defendants in a prison employee's claim involving the Rehabilitation Act (RA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


George Koslow, a water ...

Diagnosis, Not Exposure, Triggers Limitation Period in HCV Action

The Iowa Supreme Court held in a workers compensation case that the statute of limitations in a hepatitis C exposure case begins to run on the date of diagnosis, rather than the date of exposure.


On October 2, 1990, Diane Perkins was employed by an Iowa retirement facility. On that ...

Stun Belt Prejudice Reverses California Conviction

by John E. Dannenberg


The California Supreme Court overturned a three-strikes conviction and remanded the case for a new trial because of the potential for psychological prejudice from a remote-controlled electronic stun belt on a defendant's demeanor during testimony, where it was an abuse of discretion to use the ...

PLRA Does Not Apply to Challenges to Civil Commitment

by Matthew T. Clarke


The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the PLRA does not apply to challenges to conditions of confinement by persons detained under the Florida sexually violent predator program.


Bryant S. Troville, a Florida civil detainee committed pursuant to the Jimmy Ryce Act, Fla. Stat ...

News in Brief

Alabama: In April, 2003, St. Clair Correctional Facility guard Cedric Bothwell, 39, was fired after being indicted in federal court on extortion charges. Bothwell is accused of selling crack cocaine to a prisoner in exchange for $4,000 and when the prisoner couldn't pay an additional $3,500 for ...

Pendency of Federal Lawsuit Doesn't Toll 31-Day Texas Limitations

A Texas state court of appeals has held that the pendency of a federal civil rights lawsuit on the same matter does not toll the statute requiring Texas state prisoners to file lawsuits in state court within 31 days after completion of the grievance procedure. § 14.005, Texas Civil Practices ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses BOP's Denial of Death Row Prisoner's Interviews

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an Indiana Federal District Court's dismissal of a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoner's complaint that he was unconstitutionally denied media interviews.


David Paul Hammer is a BOP prisoner in the Federal Death Row Unit, United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana ...