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Prison Legal News: July, 2003

Issue PDF
Volume 14, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Beaten Philadelphia Prisoner Gets $125,000, Two Guards and Warden Get Time (p 1)
  2. Compensating the Wrongly Convicted, or Not (p 1)
  3. Veterans' Disability Check Unlawfully Seized to Pay State Restitution Fine (p 4)
  4. Dallas Police Convicted of Framing Drug Defendants, DA Refuses to Help Innocent Prisoners (p 5)
  5. California Prison Guards' Attorneys Convicted in Dog Mauling (p 6)
  6. Kansas Tobacco Smuggling Conviction Upheld (p 7)
  7. From the Editor (p 7)
  8. Mississippi Pays $6 Million for Empty Prison Bunks (p 8)
  9. Over 100 Prisoners Exonerated Through DNA, Government Cuts Funding (p 10)
  10. $35,000 Settlement in New York Jail Cell Door Injury (p 11)
  11. Arkansas Prison Must Pay for Kosher Meals (p 11)
  12. HIV Infections, AIDS Deaths Down in U.S. Prisons (p 12)
  13. No Right to Renounce Citizenship - U.S. Not "at War" (p 12)
  14. Injunctive Relief Ordered to Fix ADA Violations in California Parole Hearings (p 14)
  15. Eighth Circuit: BOP Prisoners Have No Liberty Interest in Visits (p 15)
  16. Compelled Oral Sex Satisfies PLRA's "Physical Injury" Requirement (p 16)
  17. $240,000 Settlement in Florida Juvenile Boot Camp Suicide (p 16)
  18. Secretly Recorded California Jail Phone Conversations May Be Used to Convict (p 17)
  19. California Ad Seg Requires Opportunity to Present Views, Gang Debriefing Upheld (p 17)
  20. Appointment of Counsel in New Jersey Medical Suit (p 18)
  21. Texas Guard Stabbing Prisoner Not State Action Under § 1983 (p 18)
  22. Washington Supreme Court Reverses Parole Revocation for Failure to Record Hearing (p 19)
  23. Joinder of Georgia Annual Parole Hearing Injunction is Rejected (p 20)
  24. Trial Required in Death of Mentally Ilil Nevada Detainee, 9th Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment (p 20)
  25. Joinder of Georgia Annual Parole Hearing Injunction Is Rejected (p 21)
  26. Expert Testimony Required to Prove Causation (p 21)
  27. $22,500 Award Upheld in Texas Gang Assault Set-up by Guards (p 22)
  28. Guard's Prior Misconduct Wrongly Excluded from Rape Trial (p 22)
  29. Arizona Governor Must Personally Decide Prisoner Clemency Denials (p 23)
  30. BOP Ban on R-Rated Movies Challenged (p 23)
  31. Favorable Termination Rule Inapplicable to Conditions Claims (p 23)
  32. Gov. Ryan's Song (p 24)
  33. Illinois Governor Commutes All Death Sentences (p 25)
  34. Gay Bashing Illinois Guards to Pay $65,000 for Savage Beating (p 26)
  35. Houston Crime Lab Closed, Prisoner Freed (p 26)
  36. Washington Guards Shoot Now, Ask Questions Later (p 27)
  37. Prompt Mental Health Services Ordered for Arkansas Pretrial Detainees (p 28)
  38. Alabama DOC Settles Mental Health Class Action (p 29)
  39. California Governor Has Carte Blanche in Denying Lifer Paroles (p 30)
  40. No Qualified Immunity When Denying Pain Medication (p 31)
  41. U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Sex Offender Registration Laws (p 32)
  42. Habeas Granted in BOP Good Time Case (p 33)
  43. News in Brief (p 34)
  44. No Administrative Exhaustion in Idaho Child Support Modification (p 35)
  45. Consultants Do Not Insulate Officials from Kosher Diet Liability (p 36)
  46. $13 Million Approved for Study of Prisoner Rape (p 36)

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 assaults on prisoners by staff, the prisoner received $125,000 from the ...

Compensating the Wrongly Convicted, or Not

by Matthew T. Clarke

Hundreds of thousands of men and women are hidden from society—social failures convicted of felonies—behind concrete walls and razor wire in isolated parts of our country. Nestled among them are society's silenced victims—the wrongfully convicted.

Society is loath to admit its mistakes ...

Veterans' Disability Check Unlawfully Seized to Pay State Restitution Fine

by John E. Dannenberg


The Third Circuit US Court of Appeals held that a New Jersey statute providing for seizure of a prisoner's federal veterans' disability benefits check to pay a state restitution fine was void because federal law protecting those benefits preempted state law. The court further held ...

Dallas Police Convicted of Framing Drug Defendants, DA Refuses to Help Innocent Prisoners

by Matthew T. Clarke


In April, 2000, former Dallas police officers Quentis Roper and Daniel Maples were convicted of extorting more than $125,000 from drug dealers and illegal immigrants and falsifying evidence against those who refused to pay. Senior Cpl. Mark Delapaz and officer Eddie Herrera were placed on ...

California Prison Guards' Attorneys Convicted in Dog Mauling

On March 21, 2002, a San Francisco, California husband and wife attorney team, Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, who for years had defended prison guards at maximum security Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), were themselves convicted of manslaughter when their two 120 lb. Presa Canario dogs attacked and chewed to ...

Kansas Tobacco Smuggling Conviction Upheld

The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Audra Watson's conviction for smuggling tobacco into the county jail in Pratt County, Kansas. That court rejected Watson's argument that the statute under which she was convicted, KSA § 21-3826, was unconstitutionally vague and could not be applied to convict her of smuggling tobacco ...

From the Editor

As PLN goes into its fourteenth publishing year, we have expanded our size to 40 pages to bring readers more information about prison and jail issues than ever before. Despite a prison and jail population at an all time high of more than two millions people imprisoned, the state of ...

Mississippi Pays $6 Million for Empty Prison Bunks

Mississippi Pays $6 Million For Empty Prison Bunks

by Matthew T. Clarke


In a highly politicized move, the Mississippi Legislature passed a budget paying Wackenhut Corporation (WC) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) millions of dollars for unneeded private prison bunks, despite Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove's attempts to prevent ...

Over 100 Prisoners Exonerated Through DNA, Government Cuts Funding

Bruce Godschalk became a free man on February 14, 2002,after fifteen years of incarceration for a crime he refused to admit to. In May, 1987 he was convicted in Philadelphia for the rape of two women and indecent exposure of a third. Two of these women identified Godschalk, as ...

$35,000 Settlement in New York Jail Cell Door Injury

On November 25, 2002, the New York City Department of Corrections settled a prisoner's personal injury suit by agreeing to pay $35,000. Rasheed Bolden was a 24 year old prisoner in the Rikers Island Jail. On October 22, 1994, a jail lockdown was instituted and Bolden's finger ...

Arkansas Prison Must Pay for Kosher Meals

Arkansas Prison Must Pay For Kosher Meals


The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed an order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas ordering the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) to provide a Jewish prisoner with money to purchase kosher food.


Kelvin Ray Love ...

HIV Infections, AIDS Deaths Down in U.S. Prisons

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the fearsome, incurable disease caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), is far more prevalent in prison populations nationwide than it is in the general, non-incarcerated population throughout the United States. At the end of the year 2000, 52 out of every 10,000 prisoners had ...

No Right to Renounce Citizenship - U.S. Not "at War"

No Right to Renounce Citizenship - U.S. Not "at War"

Judge Bernice B. Donald of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee has denied habeas corpus relief to a Wisconsin prisoner seeking to renounce his citizenship and be deported to another country. In so doing, Judge ...

Injunctive Relief Ordered to Fix ADA Violations in California Parole Hearings

by John E. Dannenberg


The Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals upheld a December 1999 district court decision (USDC, N.D. Calif.) granting injunctive relief to the class of all California state prisoners and parolees having specified disabilities who are subject to proceedings conducted by the California Board of Prison ...

Eighth Circuit: BOP Prisoners Have No Liberty Interest in Visits

by Matthew T. Clarke


The Eighth Circuit court of Appeals held that the suspension of a prisoner's visitation rights with his wife and two other women for eighteen months was not a significant and atypical hardship and therefore did not implicate a liberty interest.


While a federal prisoner at ...

Compelled Oral Sex Satisfies PLRA's "Physical Injury" Requirement

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, denying a defendant's motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, has held that compelled oral sex constitutes "physical injury" for purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA's) requirement that a prisoner must allege a physical ...

$240,000 Settlement in Florida Juvenile Boot Camp Suicide

Although described as a troubled kid, 16-year old Chad Franza didn't deserve to die they way he did. Only 24 days after entering a juvenile boot camp in Bartow, Florida, the teenager was found dead after hanging himself with his boot laces in 1998. Now Franza's parents have ...

Secretly Recorded California Jail Phone Conversations May Be Used to Convict

by John E. Dannenberg


The California Supreme Court held that jail detainees' unprivileged (non-attorney) phone conversations and visits may be secretly recorded and that that information may be used to convict. This ruling, which reversed a 1982 decision holding such recording by the prosecutor to be misconduct, was based upon ...

California Ad Seg Requires Opportunity to Present Views, Gang Debriefing Upheld

In an unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that due process requires that prisoners be afforded a meaningful opportunity to present their views to the critical decision maker in administrative segregation cases. The court also held that requiring prisoners leaving Security Housing Units (SHUs) to go through ...

Appointment of Counsel in New Jersey Medical Suit

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated and remanded a New Jersey U.S. District Court's award of summary judgment against, and denial of appointment of counsel to, a pro se prisoner plaintiff.


Jeffrey Montgomery, a New Jersey State prisoner now incarcerated at Riverfront State Prison ...

Texas Guard Stabbing Prisoner Not State Action Under § 1983

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a guard's actions in cutting a prisoner with a knife was not under color of state law for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


Texas prisoner Fred Townsend was working as a "Kennelman" caring for the guards' tracking dogs. Lieutenant ...

Washington Supreme Court Reverses Parole Revocation for Failure to Record Hearing

The Washington Supreme Court recently reaffirmed its well-settled rule that parolees need not establish prejudice when challenging the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board's ("ISRB") parole decisions based on procedural violations. Because the Court of Appeals erroneously required a showing of prejudice in order to obtain relief for such a violation ...

Joinder of Georgia Annual Parole Hearing Injunction is Rejected

The Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals rejected the attempt of a Georgia life prisoner to use the mechanism of joinder (Fed.RulesCiv.Proc. Rule 20(a)) to gain the benefit of another life prisoner's injunction providing for annual parole consideration hearings.


James Swan, a Georgia life prisoner who ...

Trial Required in Death of Mentally Ilil Nevada Detainee, 9th Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that summary judgment was improperly granted on the question of whether a County was deliberately indifferent to a pretrial detainee's mental illness while he was in custody at the county jail.


Stephen Gibson suffered from manic depressive disorder, and in January, 1996 ...

Joinder of Georgia Annual Parole Hearing Injunction Is Rejected

The Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals rejected the attempt of a Georgia life prisoner to use the mechanism of joinder (Fed.RulesCiv.Proc. Rule 20(a)) to gain the benefit of another life prisoner's injunction providing for annual parole consideration hearings.


James Swan, a Georgia life prisoner who ...

Expert Testimony Required to Prove Causation

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Missouri prisoner who suffered a stroke after being deprived of medication for hypertension for a month could not recover absent expert medical testimony on causation.


Willie Robinson, a sixty-four year old man with a history of hypertension was convicted of drug ...

$22,500 Award Upheld in Texas Gang Assault Set-up by Guards

$22,500 Award Upheld in Texas Gang Assault Set-Up By Guards

by John E. Dannenberg


The Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals affirmed a district court's denial of defendant prison officials' summary judgment motion in a prisoner suit alleging the guards had orchestrated a gang assault against him. It ...

Guard's Prior Misconduct Wrongly Excluded from Rape Trial

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the exclusion of evidence of a guard's prior improper sexual conduct against a former detainee warranted reversal.


On Friday, January 31, 1997, Julie Ann Blind-Doan turned herself in to the Taft City Police after being told the police were looking for ...

Arizona Governor Must Personally Decide Prisoner Clemency Denials

The Arizona Supreme Court held that the governor must personally and timely decide denials of unanimous Clemency Board recommendations to commute prisoners' sentences under that state's Disproportionality Review Act. In one case, after finding the governor had not so acted, an Arizona man was released from prison.


In 1990 ...

BOP Ban on R-Rated Movies Challenged

The United State Court of Appeals for the Third District held that a Pennsylvania district court failed to conduct a proper analysis when it dismissed a class action challenging the Federal Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) ban on movies rated R, X or NC-17. The judgment against the prisoner class was ...

Favorable Termination Rule Inapplicable to Conditions Claims

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that the "favorable termination rule" of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364 (1994), and Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 117 S.Ct. 1584 (1997), does not apply to claims that implicate only the conditions, and not ...

Gov. Ryan's Song

by Mumia Abu Jamal


Illinois Gov. George Ryan, in the last passing days of his first and only term, saved the best for last.


He sent shock waves across the nation when he issued four pardons to men sitting on the Condemned Units of the state's prison system, opening ...

Illinois Governor Commutes All Death Sentences

On January 11, 2003 Governor George Ryan ensured himself a place in the history of criminal justice reform by commuting the death sentences of 167 people. It was the most sweeping act of its kind by a governor in U.S. history.


Most of the 164 men and 3 women ...

Gay Bashing Illinois Guards to Pay $65,000 for Savage Beating

A man who was brutally beaten by jail guards while in custody at the Cook County Jail in Chicago will receive $65,000 in a settlement approved in June 2002.


Terry Phalen, now 42 and admittedly gay, was awaiting a bond hearing in October 1999 on auto theft charges when ...

Houston Crime Lab Closed, Prisoner Freed

On March 6, 2003, the Houston Police Department (HPD) Chief C. O. Bradford announced that the department's DNA crime lab had been shut down and that internal affairs had launched an investigation into possible criminal and other misconduct.


The announcement came six days before Josiah Sutton, who had been ...

Washington Guards Shoot Now, Ask Questions Later

There had not been a prisoner shot to death by a guard at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) in Walla Walla, Washington for more than thirty years. That changed last year. During 2002, under the "capable" leadership of Richard Morgan, the new WSP superintendent, WSP guards shot two prisoners to ...

Prompt Mental Health Services Ordered for Arkansas Pretrial Detainees

by John E. Dannenberg


A settlement was reached between the Arkansas Division of Mental Health Services and the class of all mentally ill pretrial detainees in Arkansas, to have either timely court-ordered mental health evaluations or be promptly admitted to the Arkansas State Hospital (ASH), according to the urgency of ...

Alabama DOC Settles Mental Health Class Action

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama approved a settlement agreement between a class of prisoners, defined as "all acutely or severely mentally ill male inmates who are presently or will in the future be incarcerated in the Alabama Department of Corrections" (ADOC), and the defendant ...

California Governor Has Carte Blanche in Denying Lifer Paroles

The California Supreme Court ruled that the governor has almost unlimited power to reverse a decision of the parole board (Board of Prison Terms ("BPT")) and that his decision may be reviewed by a court only to see if "a modicum" of evidence supported it. The court further ruled that ...

No Qualified Immunity When Denying Pain Medication

The Seventh Circuit US Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment against an Illinois state prisoner's 42 USC § 1983 principal complaint alleging negligent medical treatment, but denied the defendants' qualified immunity defense to the included claim regarding denial of pain medications.


John Walker, incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center, suffered ...

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Sex Offender Registration Laws

In two decisions handed down on March 5, 2003, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Ninth and Second U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, both of which had struck down state sex offender registration laws, popularly known as "Megan's Law(s)."


In one case, decided 6-3, the High ...

Habeas Granted in BOP Good Time Case

More than one year after Lopez v. Davis, 121 S.Ct. 714, 531 U.S. 230 (2001), an Oregon U.S. District Court has ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to transfer a prisoner to a community corrections (CCC) program "as soon as practicable."


Terry Hicks was convicted and ...

News in Brief

Arizona: On March 20, 2003, the Shiprock Detention Center on the Navajo reservation was closed for failing to correct health code violations, chipped paint and overcrowding with prisoners sleeping on the jail's floors. The Navajo Office of Environmental Health inspected the 40 year old jail in January, 2003, and ...

No Administrative Exhaustion in Idaho Child Support Modification

The Idaho Court of Appeals ruled that Idaho prisoners may seek judicial review of Magistrate Court orders setting monthly child support obligations, without first exhausting administrative remedies.


Charles Smith was a prisoner at the Idaho State Penitentiary from 1995 until 2001. His ex wife obtained a child support order against ...

Consultants Do Not Insulate Officials from Kosher Diet Liability

Consultants Do Not Insulate Officials from Kosher Diet Liability;
Prisoner Loses $30,000 for Failing to Exhaust


In an appeal by prison officials of a $30,000 punitive damage award for excluding a prisoner from participating in Jewish services and holidays, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc ...

$13 Million Approved for Study of Prisoner Rape

A $13 million funding package has been approved for the study of prisoner rape, the first-ever federal appropriation for research on the issue. The package is part of the $397 billion federal spending bill signed by President Bush on February 20, 2003.


The language of the funding package states that ...