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Prison Legal News: September, 2003

Issue PDF
Volume 14, Number 9

In this issue:

  1. Strapped States Threaten Prisoner Releases to Extort Revenue (p 1)
  2. Ninth Circuit Affirms Constitutionality of RLUIPA (p 6)
  3. Settlement Reached in Beating Death of Florida Prisoner (p 6)
  4. Habeas Hints (p 7)
  5. From the Editor (p 9)
  6. Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: The Militarization of Law Enforcement (p 10)
  7. Informal Grievance Procedure Must Be Exhausted Before Filing Suit (p 11)
  8. CSC: More Misery and Misfortune (p 12)
  9. BOP Guards Smuggle Sperm for Mobsters (p 14)
  10. Washington DOC Settles Kosher Diet Complaints (p 15)
  11. Arizona's Pima County Settles Prisoner Beating Death Lawsuits for $500,000 (p 16)
  12. Washington DOC Ban on Bulk Mail and Catalogs Enjoined in PLN Suit, Due Process Required (p 18)
  13. New York Muslim Prison Chaplains Purged (p 20)
  14. CDC Report Outlines Prevention and Control of Hepatitis in Prisons (p 21)
  15. Washington State's Changes to Good Time Laws Benefit Few (p 22)
  16. Military Prisoners Cannot Sue Over Conditions of Confinement (p 23)
  17. Georgia Jury Awards $325,000 to Prisoner's Widow in Legal Malpractice Case (p 24)
  18. Texas Magistrate Suspended for Verbally Abusing Prisoners (p 24)
  19. Canadian Supreme Court Grants Prisoners Right to Vote (p 25)
  20. Justice Department Report Decries Smuggling in Federal Prisons (p 26)
  21. The Death Penalty in 2001 (p 26)
  22. Court Okay Needed Before Housing Mentally Ill Prisoners in California Supermax (p 27)
  23. South Carolina Found in Contempt for Non-Treatment of Mentally Ill Prisoners (p 28)
  24. Expert Witness Standard in RLUIPA Gang Case (p 28)
  25. Tennessee Prisoner Awarded $242,500 in CCA Medical Neglect Suit (p 29)
  26. Gay Visiting Rule Challenged (p 30)
  27. Mediation Costs Not Taxable in §1983 Suit (p 30)
  28. Women Prisoners in Alabama Win Preliminary Injunctive Relief (p 31)
  29. Alabama's Women Prisoners Moved to Louisiana to Ease Overcrowding (p 32)
  30. The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (p 33)
  31. News in Brief (p 35)

Strapped States Threaten Prisoner Releases to Extort Revenue

by Matthew Clarke


In the wake of an economic downturn, states throughout the country are facing budget deficits averaging 15% of their previous general revenue. A uniform response to the revenue shortfall has been to threaten the early release of state prisoners. However, this appears to be merely a threat ...

Ninth Circuit Affirms Constitutionality of RLUIPA

by John E. Dannenberg


In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) (42 U.S.C. § 2000 cc et seq.) passes constitutional muster as applied to a ...

Settlement Reached in Beating Death of Florida Prisoner

In October 2002, the sons of a Florida man agreed to settle their wrongful death action, in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, against several jail guards and the Escambia County sheriff. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.


This case began on January 5, 1999, when Mark ...

Habeas Hints

by Kent Russell


This column is intended to provide "habeas hints" to prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys ("in pro per"). The focus of the column is habeas corpus practice under the AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus ...

From the Editor

When PLN first started publishing in 1990 there were several dozen prisoner rights publications being published around the country and in Canada. California alone had a half dozen. Today most of them have folded. Historically, the United States has had a penal press since the early 1800's. It is ...

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: The Militarization of Law Enforcement

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later:
The Militarization of Law Enforcement

by Silja J.A. Talvi


The following is a review of Militarizing the American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and the Police, Peter B. Kraska (editor), Northeastern University Press, 2001.


As the line between the ...

Informal Grievance Procedure Must Be Exhausted Before Filing Suit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a district court's denial of summary judgment for prison officials after ruling that prisoners were required to exhaust their administrative remedies before bringing a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action even when such remedies had not been formally ...

CSC: More Misery and Misfortune

Page 1 of the August 2002 issue of Prison Legal News carried a story about Correctional Services Corporation (CSC), the scandal-ridden private prison outfit beset with self-inflicted troubles. Since that story appeared, CSC's troubles have multiplied. Consider the following:

Ø In August 2002, a Texas court convicted a CSC ...

BOP Guards Smuggle Sperm for Mobsters

BOP Guards Smuggle Sperm For Mobsters

by Gary Hunter


On March 1, 2002, the U.S. District court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied the motion of a mobster's wife requesting the return of her incarcerated husband's sperm. Circumstances leading to this unusual request began in 1992 ...

Washington DOC Settles Kosher Diet Complaints

Washington DOC Settles
Kosher Diet Complaints

by John E. Dannenberg


Washington state's Department of Corrections (DOC) settled two 42 USC § 1983 complaints from prisoners who "practiced" Judaism but were denied kosher diets. Both settlements accorded the diets; in the attorney-represented case fees and costs of $14,652 were awarded ...

Arizona's Pima County Settles Prisoner Beating Death Lawsuits for $500,000

Arizona's Pima County Settles Prisoner Beating Death
Lawsuits for $500,000

by Matthew T. Clarke


By paying $500,000 and issuing letters of apology from the Sheriff, Pima County has settled two lawsuits by the survivors of two prisoners beaten to death by Pima County Jail guards in two ...

Washington DOC Ban on Bulk Mail and Catalogs Enjoined in PLN Suit, Due Process Required

Washington DOC Ban on Bulk Mail and Catalogs Enjoined
in PLN Suit, Due Process Required

by Paul Wright


On June 17, 2003, Seattle federal district court judge Robert Lasnick issued a permanent injunction, effective August 16, 2003, enjoining the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) from censoring mail based on the ...

New York Muslim Prison Chaplains Purged

by Matthew T. Clarke


Imam Warith Deen Umar helped found the advocacy group National Association of Muslim Chaplains (NAMC) in 1976. Since then, the 58-year old cleric and NAMC have come to exercise near monopolistic influence over the selection of Muslim prison chaplains in New York state prisons, according to ...

CDC Report Outlines Prevention and Control of Hepatitis in Prisons

CDC Report Outlines Prevention And Control Of Hepatitis In Prisons

by John E. Dannenberg


The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an updated report providing guidelines and recommendations for juvenile and adult correctional facilities to help identify, immunize against and prevent acute viral hepatitis disease. In ...

Washington State's Changes to Good Time Laws Benefit Few

On May 20, 2003, Washington state governor Gary Locke signed into law Senate Bill 5990, which works numerous changes to the amount of good time prisoners in the state can receive. The new law, passed by 43-4 and 84-13 votes in the Senate and House respectively, increases the amount of ...

Military Prisoners Cannot Sue Over Conditions of Confinement

In a landmark decision, the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming the United States District Court of Kansas, has held that a military prisoner cannot sue over conditions of confinement in a military prison, even if the prisoner is fully discharged from military service at the time of ...

Georgia Jury Awards $325,000 to Prisoner's Widow in Legal Malpractice Case

Georgia Jury Awards $325,000 to Prisoner's Widow In Legal Malpractice Case


On July 13, 2002, a Carroll Counrty, Georgia, jury awarded $325,000 to the widow of a prisoner who allegedly died due to medical malpractice and neglect. The verdict was against a law firm that first agreed ...

Texas Magistrate Suspended for Verbally Abusing Prisoners

Texas Magistrate Suspended For Verbally Abusing Prisoners

by Matthew T. Clarke


A Brazoria County, Texas, Justice of the Peace (JP) has been suspended pending the outcome of judicial misconduct proceedings, after he used profanity and racial slurs to verbally abuse prisoners in the Pearland City Jail (the jail).


In April ...

Canadian Supreme Court Grants Prisoners Right to Vote

On November 3, 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law that barred prisoners serving sentences of two years or more from voting in federal elections. In a sharply divided 5-4 decision, the Canadian high court held that the federal government failed to show any justification for impinging ...

Justice Department Report Decries Smuggling in Federal Prisons

Justice Department Report Decries
Smuggling in Federal Prisons


The U. S. Justice Department has issued a report decrying the ability of smugglers to get regular shipments of drugs even into the highest security federal prisons. The report blames visitors, mail, and prison employees for bringing contraband, including marijuana, heroin, cocaine ...

The Death Penalty in 2001

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), by the end of December 2001, 3,581 prisoners were under sentence of death in the thirty-seven States and the Federal prison system in the United States. Fewer prisoners (155) were received under sentence of death than at any time since 1973 ...

Court Okay Needed Before Housing Mentally Ill Prisoners in California Supermax

Court Okay Needed Before Housing Mentally Ill Prisoners
in California Supermax


The US District Court (E.D. Calif.) issued an order preventing the CA Dept. of Corrections (CDC) from housing mentally ill prisoners in its psychologically isolating and debilitating new "supermax" administrative segregation cells at Corcoran State Prison, unless CDC ...

South Carolina Found in Contempt for Non-Treatment of Mentally Ill Prisoners

South Carolina Found in Contempt for Non-Treatment
of Mentally Ill Prisoners

by Lonnie Burton


The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH) and its director were held in contempt of court on September 5, 2002, for ignoring repeated court orders to treat mentally ill prisoners confined in county jails. The ...

Expert Witness Standard in RLUIPA Gang Case

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has denied in part and granted in part summary judgment to New York's Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), in a case involving the beliefs, practices, and literature of the Nations of Gods and Earths, also known as ...

Tennessee Prisoner Awarded $242,500 in CCA Medical Neglect Suit

On December 3, 2002, a U.S. district court issued a $400,000 judgment against Corrections Corporation of America for violating the rights of Wesley Taylor, a prisoner at the South Central Correctional facility in Tennessee. After hearing Taylor's §1983 federal civil rights suit stemming from improper medical treatment ...

Gay Visiting Rule Challenged

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the U.S. District Court's (D.Ariz.) Fed.Rules Civ.Proc. Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of an equal protection claim raised by an Arizona prisoner and his gay visitor who were denied the right to kiss and hug during ...

Mediation Costs Not Taxable in §1983 Suit

Mediation Costs Not Taxable in §1983 Suit

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that state officials named as defendants in a prisoner's civil rights suit could not be taxed costs for mediation. The decision reverses the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri ...

Women Prisoners in Alabama Win Preliminary Injunctive Relief

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama granted a motion for a preliminary injunction after a group of female prisoners complained that the state operated the women's prisons in an unconstitutionally unsafe manner.


The Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women is located in Wetumpka, Alabama, about ...

Alabama's Women Prisoners Moved to Louisiana to Ease Overcrowding

Alabama's Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women at Wetumpka was built in 1942 to house 364 prisoners. In 2002, Tutwiler's population rose beyond 1,000 with overcrowding so severe that a group of women prisoners sought relief by filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.


In a grant ...

The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry

by Peter Wagner, Prison Policy Initiative and Western Prison Project, 2003, 48 pages

Review by Paul Wright


As a prison journalist, one of the most challenging things is reporting the facts and putting those facts into a bigger context since no story occurs in a vacuum. There are a multitude ...

News in Brief

Brazil: On June 23, 2003, a 12 hour riot among prisoners in a jail in Manaus in the Amazon left 13 prisoners dead. Forty visitors and four jail guards were taken hostage during the uprising but were released unharmed. No cause for the riot was given in media reports.


California ...