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Prison Legal News: June, 2003

Issue PDF
Volume 14, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. The Crime of Being Poor (p 1)
  2. Texas Medical Provider Investigated for Mixing, Selling Bodies (p 8)
  3. Wichita Kansas Pays $6.2 Million to Settle Detainees' Lawsuit (p 8)
  4. From the Editor (p 9)
  5. No Termination of Special Parole Upon Deportation (p 9)
  6. The Shame of Prison Health (p 10)
  7. Proof of Actual Rights Violation Required for Attorney Fee Award (p 13)
  8. Habeas Hints (p 14)
  9. Ohio Federal District Court Finds RLUIPA Constitutional (p 16)
  10. YSI: Another Death, Another Settlement (p 17)
  11. New Mexico Supreme court Affirms Dismissal of Phone Rate Suit (p 17)
  12. Texas Tries to Hire Incompetent Doctors to Review Medical Care (p 18)
  13. Retaliatory Prisoner Transfer for Exercising First Amendment Rights is "Adverse Determination" Under the Privacy Act (p 19)
  14. Evidence Suppressed in California Ex-Parolee's Warrantless Search (p 20)
  15. PLRA Not Applied to Attorney Fees, $407,635 for Puerto Rican Prisoners (p 20)
  16. Texas Prisoners Have Limited Right to Appear at Expungement Hearing (p 21)
  17. Washington DOC Settles ADA Suit for $8,000 (p 22)
  18. Seventh Circuit Vacates $1.8 Million Award in BOP Suicide (p 23)
  19. Injunction Allows Legal Mail Between Iowa Prisoners (p 24)
  20. "Atypical And Significant" Hardship Segregation Claim Cannot Be Dismissed Under §1915(e)(2) (p 24)
  21. $345,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Jail Rape Suit (p 25)
  22. $14 Million Settlement in U.S. Corrections Corporation Pension Plan Suit (p 25)
  23. Guajardo (Texas Prison Mail) Suit Dismissed (p 26)
  24. Alaska Prisoners' Benefits Extended to Arizona (p 26)
  25. Washington Women's Medical Care Consent Decree Ended (p 27)
  26. Ex-Employee Wins $500,000 Religious Discrimination Award Against TDCJ (p 28)
  27. $174,175 Awarded in D.C. Conditions and Medical Suit (p 28)
  28. $250,000 Award for Texas Jail Paraplegic Upheld (p 29)
  29. Hawaii Adopts "Mailbox Rule" in Prisoner Civil Actions (p 30)
  30. New Jersey's Five Percenters an STG and a Religion (p 30)
  31. Mailbox Rule Tolls Statute of Limitations in BOP Medical Suit (p 31)
  32. Incarcerated Father Retains Child Visitation Rights (p 32)
  33. PLRA Physical Injury Requirement Not Applicable to First Amendment Compensatory Damages (p 32)
  34. Third Circuit Holds PLRA Exhaustion Requirement an Affirmative Defense (p 32)
  35. Deposition Testimony Not Hearsay; Expert Must Satisfy Daubert in BOP Van Accident (p 33)
  36. News in Brief (p 34)
  37. Beaten Philadelphia Prisoner Gets $125,000, Two Guards and Warden Get Time (p 36)

The Crime of Being Poor

"The law in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread."


_ Anatole France


A central part of the mythology of the criminal justice system in the United States is that everyone is treated ...

Texas Medical Provider Investigated for Mixing, Selling Bodies

Texas Medical Provider Investigated For Mixing, Selling Bodies


Officials at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB) are investigating the improper handling of at least 78 bodies donated to the Willed Body Program, which uses them for education and research. UTMB provides medical services to 80% of prisoners ...

Wichita Kansas Pays $6.2 Million to Settle Detainees' Lawsuit

Wichita Kansas Pays $6.2 Million
to Settle Detainees' Lawsuit


On May 7, 2002, Wichita's City Council approved $6.2 million to be awarded to the 7,000 citizens who had their 14th Amendment rights violated. The suit filed by what the city has labeled as Municipal Court Scofflaws ...

From the Editor

Observant readers will have noticed that PLN's masthead has changed its message from "Working to Extend Democracy to All" to "Dedicated to Protecting Human Rights." As PLN enters its fourteenth year of publishing and advocacy on behalf of prisoners, we think this change more accurately reflects the actual work ...

No Termination of Special Parole Upon Deportation

No Termination of Special Parole
Upon Deportation


In a case of first impression, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a term of special parole does not terminate upon the parolee being deported to his home country. Antonio Cuero-Flores appealed his sentence of 71 months after entering a ...

The Shame of Prison Health

A report is sitting at the Justice Department, unpublished. It has been there for three years. Titled The Health Status of Soon-to-be-Released Inmates, it was compiled by experts who sat on three panels: one on communicable diseases, one on chronic diseases and a third on mental illness. Their findings are ...

Proof of Actual Rights Violation Required for Attorney Fee Award

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of a California Federal District Court, has held that a prisoner cannot be awarded attorney fees for winning a temporary restraining order (TRO) if the prisoner did not subsequently prove "an actual violation" of his civil rights.


Jaturun Siripongs ...

Habeas Hints

This column is intended to provide habeas hints for prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys. The focus of the column is habeas corpus practice under the AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice throughout the U.S.


STANDARD ...

Ohio Federal District Court Finds RLUIPA Constitutional

In a case of first impression in the Sixth U.S. Circuit, the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has refused to dismiss Ohio prisoners' religious rights claims based on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§2000cc, et. seq. The ...

YSI: Another Death, Another Settlement

Youth Services International (YSI), a company already under fire for a multitude of problems, including contract violations, financial mismanagement, prisoner mistreatment and prisoner deaths, was again in the news this past September. YSI, a subsidiary of Corrections Services Corporation, operates juvenile prisons, including boot-camp-style facilities, in a number of states ...

New Mexico Supreme court Affirms Dismissal of Phone Rate Suit

New Mexico Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Phone Rate Suit


The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed a district court's dismissal of an excessive phone rates case for failure to state a claim. Recipients of collect telephone calls from New Mexico jails and prisons brought suit for damages and injunctive ...

Texas Tries to Hire Incompetent Doctors to Review Medical Care

by Matthew T. Clarke


In October, 2002, Chancellor of the University of Texas (UT) System Mark Yudof asked Texas Health Commissioner Eduardo Sanchez to appoint a three-member panel of experts "with laudable records in correctional health care" and without ties to UT, UT Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston (which provides ...

Retaliatory Prisoner Transfer for Exercising First Amendment Rights is "Adverse Determination" Under the Privacy Act

Retaliatory Prisoner Transfer for Exercising First Amendment Rights is "Adverse Determination" Under the Privacy Act

by Bob Williams


The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has held that the reclassification and transfer of a federal prisoner in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights constitutes an "adverse determination" under ...

Evidence Suppressed in California Ex-Parolee's Warrantless Search

Evidence Suppressed in California
Ex-Parolee's Warrantless Search

by John E. Dannenberg


The California Supreme Court held that evidence seized by a police officer accompanied by the ex-parolee's parole officer during a warrantless search of the ex-parolee's motel room must be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment. The good ...

PLRA Not Applied to Attorney Fees, $407,635 for Puerto Rican Prisoners

PLRA Not Applied to Attorney Fees,
$407,635 for Puerto Rican Prisoners


A federal district court in Puerto Rico has denied the defendant's motion for new trial in an excessive force case, and awarded attorney fees and costs to the plaintiffs. The jury entered a verdict in favor of ...

Texas Prisoners Have Limited Right to Appear at Expungement Hearing

Texas Prisoners Have Limited Right to Appear
at Expungement Hearing

by Matthew T. Clarke


Guadalupe Guajardo, Jr., a Texas state prisoner, filed a motion to expunge the record of two of his prior arrests pursuant to Articles 55.01 and 55.02, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Although Guajardo filed ...

Washington DOC Settles ADA Suit for $8,000

In July 2002, Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) officials agreed to pay Roger Smith and his disabled wife Laurie $8,000 to settle their lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 12132 et seq, Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).


Roger Smith arrived as a prisoner at ...

Seventh Circuit Vacates $1.8 Million Award in BOP Suicide

by Mathew T. Clarke


The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a case in which the survivors of a federal prisoner who committed suicide in jail received a $1.8 million award, rendering judgment in the government's favor.


Robert Johnson, the deceased prisoner, was incarcerated for six months ...

Injunction Allows Legal Mail Between Iowa Prisoners

The U.S Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit recently upheld a preliminary injunction enjoining Iowa prison officials from interfering with prisoner-to-prisoner legal mail. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa imposed the injunction to ensure the prisoners' right of access to the courts was ...

"Atypical And Significant" Hardship Segregation Claim Cannot Be Dismissed Under §1915(e)(2)

"Atypical And Significant" Hardship Segregation Claim Cannot Be Dismissed Under §1915(e)(2)


The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has found that a claim that 75 days in punitive segregation is atypical and significant cannot be dismissed by the district court sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e ...

$345,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Jail Rape Suit

$345,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania
Jail Rape Suit


On September 11, 2002, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, agreed to settle a federal lawsuit brought by seven female county jail prisoners who were raped by male jail staff by paying them $345,000. The rape of female prisoners at the facility had been ...

$14 Million Settlement in U.S. Corrections Corporation Pension Plan Suit

In accordance with a July 29, 2002 ruling by U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman, as many as 700 former guards who worked at private prisons in Kentucky operated by U.S. Corrections Corp. could share in settlement of $14 million or more. In her 49 page opinion, Coffman ...

Guajardo (Texas Prison Mail) Suit Dismissed

by Matthew T. Clarke


On September 24, 2002, a federal district court in Texas dismissed the long-standing class-action lawsuit which has governed the mail system in Texas prisons for twenty-five years. The Guajardo suit resulted in three published opinions (432 F.Supp. 1373, 580 F.2d 748, and 568 F ...

Alaska Prisoners' Benefits Extended to Arizona

The Supreme Court of Alaska sustained a lower court's ruling which provisionally allowed Alaska prisoners to be transferred to an Arizona prison, required the Arizona facility to comply with Alaska's prison overcrowding settlement agreement, and found the Alaska prisoners' challenge to the process of selecting individuals for transfer ...

Washington Women's Medical Care Consent Decree Ended

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court's refusal to extend the terms of a consent decree under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The court also held that the district court improperly declined to consider plaintiffs' motion for contempt.


In 1993 prisoners at the Washington Corrections ...

Ex-Employee Wins $500,000 Religious Discrimination Award Against TDCJ

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) will appeal a half-million dollar judgment against it in favor of an ex-employee who claims she was forced to retire early after complaining of religious discrimination.


Vicki Allen-Curry, an ex-employee, sued TDCJ and Richard Watkins, warden of the Holiday Unit claiming she was ...

$174,175 Awarded in D.C. Conditions and Medical Suit

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has denied motions by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DC DOC) for judgment as a matter of law and for new trial following a jury verdict finding the DC DOC liable for Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment violations in ...

$250,000 Award for Texas Jail Paraplegic Upheld

by Matthew Clarke


The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a $250,000 award against Dallas County, Texas, for a paraplegic prisoner who developed life-threatening decubitus ulcers due to the jail's deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.


Brent Lawson, a former prisoner in the Dallas County Jail ...

Hawaii Adopts "Mailbox Rule" in Prisoner Civil Actions

Hawaii Adopts "Mailbox Rule" in Prisoner Civil Actions


The Hawaii Supreme Court reinstated a prisoner's appeal in a civil action. The prisoner timely gave his notice of appeal to prison guards, who did not mail it until after the filing period had run. The State Supreme Court adopted the ...

New Jersey's Five Percenters an STG and a Religion

by David M. Reutter



The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a New Jersey federal district court's grant of a motion for summary judgment in separate 42 U.S.C. §1983 actions filed by prisoner's Joel Fraise, Alexander Kettles, and John Harris. Their suits challenged the constitutionality ...

Mailbox Rule Tolls Statute of Limitations in BOP Medical Suit

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that, pursuant to the mailbox rule of Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 108 S.Ct. 2379 (1988), a prisoner's medical malpractice action was filed as of the date he delivered it to prison officials for mailing.


Federal prisoner Joe Richard ...

Incarcerated Father Retains Child Visitation Rights

The Arizona Court of Appeals recently held that an incarcerated father had a right to visits with his infant daughter, absent proof that such visitation would harm the child.


Michael M. is the father of Corianna M. Both Michael and Corianna's mother lost their parental rights when they were ...

PLRA Physical Injury Requirement Not Applicable to First Amendment Compensatory Damages

PLRA Physical Injury Requirement Not Applicable To First Amendment Compensatory Damages


A federal district court in New York has held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) prohibition against seeking damages for mental or emotional injury without a showing of physical injury does not apply to First Amendment violations ...

Third Circuit Holds PLRA Exhaustion Requirement an Affirmative Defense

Third Circuit Holds PLRA Exhaustion Requirement
an Affirmative Defense

by Bob Williams


The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the PLRA's exhaustion requirement is an affirmative defense to be pled by the Defendant. A district court may not dismiss an action on its own for failure to ...

Deposition Testimony Not Hearsay; Expert Must Satisfy Daubert in BOP Van Accident

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court erred in failing to make findings of fact on critical issues, excluding the deposition testimony of a prisoner as hearsay, and in failing to conduct a Daubert hearing to determine the qualifications of the plaintiff's expert witness.


A ...

News in Brief

Arkansas: On March 25, 2003, Fulton county jail prisoners Bobby Woodrum and Brian Shanckle, both 19, escaped from the jail by handcuffing a female jail guard to a chair, stealing guns and ammunition and running off in the jail's jeep. They were recaptured without incident ten hours later.


Brazil ...

Beaten Philadelphia Prisoner Gets $125,000, Two Guards and Warden Get Time

Beaten Philadelphia Prisoner Gets $125,000,
Two Guards and Warden Get Time

by Matthew T. Clarke


On May 1, 2002, two guards and an assistant warden were convicted in federal court of charges relating to the beating of a Philadelphia prisoner. In the latest of a series of settlements for ...