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Prison Legal News: February, 2003

Issue PDF
Volume 14, Number 2

In this issue:

  1. Sex, Drugs, and Beatings at Boston Jails (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 4)
  3. Washington Jail Settles Work Release Suit (p 4)
  4. Connecticut Pays $1,850,000 in Deaths of Two Prisoners Transferred to Virginia (p 5)
  5. U.S. District Court Finds Supermax Placement at Ohio Prison "Atypical and Significant Hardship" (p 6)
  6. Third Circuit Sets High Standard for Supervisory Liability (p 8)
  7. Ninth Circuit Upholds Sanctions Against Idaho DOC Lawyer; DOC Retaliated for Litigation (p 9)
  8. Protecting Your Health and Safety: A Litigation Guide for Inmates (p 10)
  9. Washington Police Scientists' Work Under Scrutiny (p 10)
  10. Washington Jail Sued Over Conditions (p 11)
  11. System Examined in Death of Washington Prisoner (p 12)
  12. Summer Uprisings in Three Southern Jails (p 14)
  13. $15,555 Awarded to Beaten Pennsylvania Prisoner (p 15)
  14. Washington DOC Settles Hep C Death Suit for $1 Million (p 15)
  15. Boston Jail Strip Searches Unconstitutional (p 16)
  16. $10 Million Settlement in Boston Strip Search Suit (p 17)
  17. All California Prisoners Win Upgraded Medical Care (p 18)
  18. Ten Percent Surcharge on New Jersey Commissary Purchases Upheld (p 18)
  19. California Internet Mail Ban Enjoined (p 19)
  20. EMSA and Nevada Jail Pay $40,000 Settlement to Quadriplegic (p 20)
  21. Texas' Historic Ruiz Lawsuit Settled (p 20)
  22. $56.5 Million Jury Verdict in Indiana Jail Murder (p 21)
  23. Conclusory Allegations held Not "Some Evidence" in Prisoner Retaliation Claim (p 22)
  24. Prison Officials Liable for Gang Member's Murder (p 22)
  25. Hawaii SO Notification Law Violates Due Process (p 23)
  26. Failure to Timely Raise Exhaustion Defense Waives that Defense (p 23)
  27. $2.5 Million Settlement, No Immunity for Indiana Jail Strip Search (p 24)
  28. Court Orders Hospitalization for Federal Pretrial Detainee (p 24)
  29. No Probation in Arizona Jail Drug Possession (p 25)
  30. Jury Awards $392,000 for Failure to Protect New York Jail Prisoner (p 25)
  31. South Carolina County Pays $276,660 for Illegal Wiretaps on Judges' Telephones (p 26)
  32. Prisoner's Estate Survives Summary Judgment on Medical Policy Claims (p 26)
  33. Good Time on Alaska CS Sentences Subtracted from Aggregate Sentence (p 27)
  34. Alabama Jail Conditions Unconstitutional, County Liable (p 28)
  35. Ohio Appeals Court Upholds § 1983 Medical Care Claim (p 29)
  36. News in Brief (p 30)
  37. $1 Million New York Jail Beating Settlement (p 32)

Sex, Drugs, and Beatings at Boston Jails

by Matthew T. Clarke


A pattern of sexual abuse, bru-tality, drug smuggling, improper guard/prisoner relationships, and other official malfeasance at the jails in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, has raised serious questions about the leadership abilities of Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Rouse.



Sex, Lies, But No Videotape at South Bay ...

From the Editor

PLN's new book, Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor is now available for distribution from PLN as well as other bookstores and outlets. Edited by myself and Seattle attorney Tara Herivel, Prison Nation is the first book to systematically examine the connection between mass imprisonment and indigent ...

Washington Jail Settles Work Release Suit

On April 25, 2002, United States District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein approved a settlement agreement reached between the King County Jail in Kent, Washington, and a class of female prisoners who had sued alleging discriminatory practices in relation to access to work release, good time and trustee programs. The suit ...

Connecticut Pays $1,850,000 in Deaths of Two Prisoners Transferred to Virginia

by John E. Dannenberg


The Connecticut Department of Corrections (CDC) settled two claims in March 2002 totaling $1,850,000 for the wrongful deaths of a mentally ill prisoner and a severely diabetic prisoner who were transferred to a Virginia "supermax" prison solely due to overcrowding in Connecticut. Additionally, one ...

U.S. District Court Finds Supermax Placement at Ohio Prison "Atypical and Significant Hardship"

U.S. District Court Finds Supermax Placement at Ohio Prison "Atypical and Significant Hardship"

by Robert Woodman


In a ruling believed to be the first of its kind, Judge James Gwin of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, found that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation ...

Third Circuit Sets High Standard for Supervisory Liability

by Matthew T. Clarke


The court of appeals for the Third Circuit has set a very high standard for proving supervisory liability in a case involving a guard who repeatedly sexually assaulted female juvenile prisoners over the course of several years.


Annie Marie Beers-Capitol and Aliya Tate, two former residents ...

Ninth Circuit Upholds Sanctions Against Idaho DOC Lawyer; DOC Retaliated for Litigation

by Matthew T. Clarke


The Ninth Circuit court of appeals upheld the injunctive relief granted against Idaho Department of Corrections (DOC) officials for retaliating against prisoners who filed grievances or litigation. Sanctions awarded against the defendants' attorney were also upheld where he "received, read and used bootlegged copies of legal ...

Protecting Your Health and Safety: A Litigation Guide for Inmates

by Robert Toone, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2002, 328 pages

Review by Paul Wright


The bottom-line for most prisoners is surviving prison. That means staying healthy, getting medical care as needed in a safe environment and not being assaulted by prisoners and staff. Everything else-free speech, religious freedom, disciplinary hearings ...

Washington Police Scientists' Work Under Scrutiny

Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) is undertaking a review of cases in which Washington State Patrol scientists Arnold Melnikoff and Michael Hoover conducted forensic testing or offered expert testimony.


It was recently revealed that Melnikoff engaged in scientific fraud during his tenure as the director and hair examiner for the Montana ...

Washington Jail Sued Over Conditions

On February 25, 2002, a county jail prisoner in Port Hadlock, Washington brought a class action lawsuit against the Jefferson County jail alleging near barbaric jail conditions that include inadequate health care, frigidly cold cells, broken plumbing, flooding, and inadequate clothing and bedding.


The prisoner who filed the suit, Shawn ...

System Examined in Death of Washington Prisoner

By the time the guard helped him, the 32-year-old burglar's eyes and skin glowed yellow. Curled up on his metal bunk at McNeil Island Correctional Center, Phillip Montgomery's lanky, athletic body lay weak from days of pain and vomiting.


A nurse refused to even look at the prisoner ...

Summer Uprisings in Three Southern Jails

As temperatures rose last summer, so did tensions in some southern jails.


Guards at the Craighead County jail in Jonesboro, Arkansas, used tear gas and stun guns to regain control of a cell block that housed 27 prisoners. Four prisoners received minor injuries during the May 7, 2002, incident and ...

$15,555 Awarded to Beaten Pennsylvania Prisoner

On July 15, 2002, a federal jury awarded $15,555 to prisoner Corey Jones. Jones was a minimum security state prisoner who was subpoenaed to testify at a hearing in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Jones was shackled and handcuffed when he had an exchange with county sheriff's deputy Howard Seddon ...

Washington DOC Settles Hep C Death Suit for $1 Million

Washington DOC Settles HEP C Death Suit for $1 Million


On October 30, 2002 the Washington Department of Corrections agreed to pay $1 million to the family of Philip Montgomery to settle a wrongful death suit filed by his survivors. Montgomery had hepatitis C and died from a lack of ...

Boston Jail Strip Searches Unconstitutional

by John E. Dannenberg


A Boston City Police Department (BPD) policy of invasive and degrading strip-searching of all female detainees, regardless of the cause of their detention, while not similarly treating male detainees, violated the unreasonable search provisions of the Fourth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth ...

$10 Million Settlement in Boston Strip Search Suit

On July 8, 2002, both Suffolk County and the City of Boston entered into a settlement agreement to pay $10 million for violating the equal protection rights of female detainees at the Suffolk County Jail who, unlike similarly situated male detainees, were strip-searched when being booked. The settlement includes costs ...

All California Prisoners Win Upgraded Medical Care

by John E. Dannenberg


On January 25, 2002, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) entered into a settlement in a class action lawsuit that will upgrade medical care for 157,000 prisoners at all 33 California state prisons. Following the recent cluster of deaths of eight female prisoners and persistent ...

Ten Percent Surcharge on New Jersey Commissary Purchases Upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a district court's dismissal of New Jersey prisoners' challenge to a 10 percent surcharge on state prison and jail commissary purchases.


In January 1998, the New Jersey legislature passed the Violent Crimes Compensation Board Surcharge Act (VCCB Surcharge ...

California Internet Mail Ban Enjoined

by John E. Dannenberg


The US District Court (N.D. Cal.) issued a permanent injunction against the California Department of Corrections' (CDC) policy that prohibits prisoners from receiving mail that contains Internet-generated information.


Frank Clement, a prisoner at Pelican Bay State Prison (CDC's "supermax"), sued CDC and several named ...

EMSA and Nevada Jail Pay $40,000 Settlement to Quadriplegic

In April, 2002, Robert Cornwall, 30, a quadriplegic, settled a lawsuit against the Washoe county jail in Nevada for $40,000. The lawsuit stemmed from Cornwall being arrested on domestic violence charges against his wife on July 25, 2000. Cornwall spent the night in the Washoe county jail. Cornwall has ...

Texas' Historic Ruiz Lawsuit Settled

by Donna Brorby and Meredith Martin Rountree


One of the biggest prison class actions of our time is over. As appeals by both sides were pending in the Fifth Circuit, the historic Ruiz class action lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was dismissed by agreement of the ...

$56.5 Million Jury Verdict in Indiana Jail Murder

On May 9, 2002, a federal jury in Indiana awarded $56.5 million dollars in damages to the estate of a jail detainee who was beaten to death by jail guards. This is believed to be the largest jury verdict in Indiana history. On October 5, 1997, Christopher Moreland, 30 ...

Conclusory Allegations held Not "Some Evidence" in Prisoner Retaliation Claim

Conclusory Allegations Held Not "Some Evidence" in Prisoner Retaliation Claim


The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that conclusory statements referencing investigative reports not in the record cannot be used by prison officials as "some evidence" to show that official disciplinary actions against a prisoner were for actual violation ...

Prison Officials Liable for Gang Member's Murder

A federal court in Connecticut de-nied prison officials qualified immunity in an action arising from the murder of a gang member by his cellmate while housed in a Close Custody unit.


Juan Rodriguez, a prisoner of the Connecticut Department of Corrections, (CDOC) and a member of the Latin Kings gang ...

Hawaii SO Notification Law Violates Due Process

The Hawaii Supreme Court held that the state's sex offender notification law violates the due process clause of the Hawaii Constitution by providing public notification without any procedural safeguards.


Eto Bani pled no contest to Sexual Assault in the Fourth Degree. The court ordered Bani, as part of his ...

Failure to Timely Raise Exhaustion Defense Waives that Defense

Failure To Timely Raise Exhaustion Defense Waives That Defense


In a successful class-action 42 USC § 1983 civil rights complaint brought by seriously mentally ill Wisconsin Supermax prisoners for injunctive relief [see 164 F.Supp.2d 1096], prison official defendants' motion to lately require all class members to have first exhausted ...

$2.5 Million Settlement, No Immunity for Indiana Jail Strip Search

A federal district court in Indiana granted summary judgment to jail arrestees who were improperly administered strip searches, and denied qualified immunity to the sheriffs. This was a class action suit brought by Mindy Doan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the former Sheriff, Leland Watson, and current Sheriff ...

Court Orders Hospitalization for Federal Pretrial Detainee

A federal court in Maryland held that a federal pretrial detainee was entitled to be transferred to a hospital or infirmary for the duration of his pretrial detention due to inadequate medical care while in custody of U.S. Marshals.


Trevor Wallen, a federal pretrial detainee, had numerous medical problems ...

No Probation in Arizona Jail Drug Possession

The Arizona court of appeals held that Proposition 200, which mandates probation for drug possession offenses, does not apply to drug possessions that occur in detention facilities. Edwin Roman was convicted of promoting prison contraband and possessing dangerous drugs after guards in the Maricopa county jail in Phoenix, Arizona, found ...

Jury Awards $392,000 for Failure to Protect New York Jail Prisoner

A federal district court in New York has denied a guard's motion seeking judgment as a matter of law, or for a new trial after a jury awarded a prisoner $392,000 total damages for the guard's failure to protect the prisoner from a serious risk of injury ...

South Carolina County Pays $276,660 for Illegal Wiretaps on Judges' Telephones

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a federal district court's $276,660 damage award to South Carolina state court judges who alleged that Greenville County law enforcement officers ran unlawful wiretaps on their telephones and recorded their conversations for 4 years.


In 1994, Greenville ...

Prisoner's Estate Survives Summary Judgment on Medical Policy Claims

A federal district court in Michigan held that issues of fact as to whether prison officials adopted a policy discouraging necessary health care precluded summary judgment.


Roscoe Young was incarcerated in a prison of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) from March 1999 until his death on November 10, 1999 ...

Good Time on Alaska CS Sentences Subtracted from Aggregate Sentence

The Alaska Court of Appeals held that good time credits for prisoners serving consecutive sentences are subtracted from the entire sentence rather than against each separate sentence. The court also held that prisoners serving more than one sentence receive the benefit of good time credits and are released on mandatory ...

Alabama Jail Conditions Unconstitutional, County Liable

by David M. Reutter


The Court of Appeals for the Elev-enth Circuit has held, in a case with protracted litigation resulting in three opinions of the Court, that the conditions of the Butler County Jail in Greenville, Alabama are so atrocious that Sheriff Diane Harris, the Butler County Commission, and ...

Ohio Appeals Court Upholds § 1983 Medical Care Claim

Ohio Appeals Court Upholds § 1983 Medical Care Claim


Ohio's Fourth District Court of Appeals has partially reversed the dismissal of an Ohio prisoner's 42 U.S.C. §1983 complaint filed in state court. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DORC) prisoner Dale Baker was housed at Orient Correctional ...

News in Brief

Arkansas: In early January, 2003, Little Rock district court judge Rodney Owens, 55, resigned from the bench a day after he qualified for a state pension. Owens was convicted in July, 2002, of registering a motor home at a fictional address in Oregon to avoid paying state sales tax in ...

$1 Million New York Jail Beating Settlement

On April 19, 2002, Nassau County, New York, agreed to pay $1 million to Gary Boylan who was seriously beaten by jail guards after being falsely charged with attempted to lure a six year old girl into his car. Boylan, 52, suffers from Parkinson's disease. In 1997 Boylan had ...