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Prison Legal News: October, 2004

Issue PDF
Volume 15, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. U.S. Torture: A Sordid History Of Official And Systematic Abuse (p 1)
  2. Florida's Rush to Disenfranchise Felons Before the 2004 Election (p 11)
  3. Restoration of Voting Rights in Washington (p 12)
  4. Georgia DOC to Provide Court Access With Computers, Legal Software (p 13)
  5. Seventh Circuit Allows Sanctions for Frivolous Habeas Corpus Petitions (p 13)
  6. Two Empty Bottles With Different Labels: John Kerry on Criminal Justice Issues (p 14)
  7. Denial of Nation of Islam Literature Unconstitutional (p 16)
  8. California Prisons Contract-Medical-Care Audit Reveals Millions In Waste (p 17)
  9. Scrubbing Abu Ghraib Away (p 18)
  10. From the Editor (p 20)
  11. Report Downplays Wrongful Convictions in U.S. (p 21)
  12. Acrimonious Michigan Prisoners' Rights Suit Settled After 15 Years (p 22)
  13. PLRA Applies to Juveniles; Claim Administratively Exhausted (p 23)
  14. Tulia Travesty Settled for $6 Million (p 24)
  15. Mismanaged, Money-Losing Folsom City Prison Closed (p 27)
  16. New Jersey Over Detains Prisoner Two Years Due to Illegal Sentence Calculation (p 28)
  17. $300,000 Awarded for Delayed Treatment of New York Prisoner's Hearing Loss (p 28)
  18. Democratic Organization Gives Some Felons Second Chance (p 29)
  19. Stun Belt Violates Due Process; Habeas Granted (p 30)
  20. VP's Drug Dealer Retaliation Claim Ordered to Trial (p 31)
  21. Report Blasts South Carolina Plan to Privatize Prison Health Care (p 32)
  22. Guards Let California Prisoner Slowly Starve to Death (p 33)
  23. The Citebook (p 34)
  24. Parents of Deceased Wisconsin Boot Camp Prisoner Settle for $462,000 (p 34)
  25. Florida DOC Ordered to Assist Felons Restore Their Voting Rights (p 35)
  26. New York Court Awards Prisoner $180,000 in Slip and Fall (p 36)
  27. California Internet Injunction Upheld (p 36)
  28. Preliminary Injunction Granted to Religious Objector of Tuberculosis Skin Test (p 37)
  29. Prisons Almanac 2004 Prisons Foundation, Washington, DC (p 38)
  30. New Mexico Lawyers Entitled to Jail Visiting, Phone and Records Access (p 38)
  31. Texas Syndicate Gang Members Busted - Again (p 39)
  32. U.S. Supreme Court: Guantanamo Detainees and "Enemy Combatants" Have Access to Habeas Corpus (p 40)
  33. California Awards Wrongly Incarcerated Man $428,000 (p 41)
  34. News in Brief (p 42)
  35. Jury Awards $20,000 to Nurse Stuck by Needle from HIV Positive Prisoner (p 44)

U.S. Torture: A Sordid History Of Official And Systematic Abuse

by G . Flint Taylor

The brutal and sadistic torture by U.S. military prison guards, military intelligence officers, and CIA interrogators which is being revealed daily in the mainstream media has brought protestations from President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and others who, despite apparently approving many of these techniques ...

Florida's Rush to Disenfranchise Felons Before the 2004 Election

By David M. Reutter

After George W. Bush won Florida by 537 votes in the 2000 election, an uproar arose when it was learned that election supervisors, using a list compiled by an Atlanta firm, had mistakenly identified voters as felons and purged them from voter rolls. Some supervisors mistakenly ...

Restoration of Voting Rights in Washington

by Nancy Talner and Julya Hampton

Are you registered to vote for the upcoming Presidential election? Even if you have a prior felony conviction, you may be eligible to register to vote in Washington. This article explains how ex-felons can get their voting rights restored.

Under the Washington Constitution, Art ...

Georgia DOC to Provide Court Access With Computers, Legal Software

Georgia DOC To Provide Court Access With Computers, Legal Software

The Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) is changing the way it affords prisoners access to courts. Out are the six lawyers who provided prisoners with free legal assistance. In are computers, legal software, and paralegals.

According to Bill Amideo, chief ...

Seventh Circuit Allows Sanctions for Frivolous Habeas Corpus Petitions

The Seventh Circuit has sanctioned two prisoners for filing frivolous habeas corpus actions under 28 U.S.C. § 2256 complaining about prison conditions.

Jerry Montgomery and Larriante Sumbry are Indiana state prisoners with "long histories of filing frivolous lawsuits" which resulted in the Seventh circuit fining Montgomery $500 and ...

Two Empty Bottles With Different Labels: John Kerry on Criminal Justice Issues

By Paul Wright

“Americans on the frontlines - our first responders, military forces, sheriffs, policemen, firefighters, and civil defense volunteers - must have the very best equipment, training and support possible. Our safety and freedom are the envy of the world and John Kerry and John Edwards will ensure this does not ...

Denial of Nation of Islam Literature Unconstitutional

by David M. Reutter

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that prison officials' refusal to allow prisoners to receive Nation of Islam literature was unconstitutional, but prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from money damages for their illegal actions. Pennsylvania prisoners Richard X. Sutton, Robert X. Wise, and ...

California Prisons Contract-Medical-Care Audit Reveals Millions In Waste

At a time when the California Department of Corrections (CDC) is already under intense Legislative criticism for overspending its annual budget by $544.8 million (see: PLN, Aug. 2004, p. 41), an April, 2004 report by the California State Auditor revealed that CDC repeatedly violated its own policies regarding contracting ...

Scrubbing Abu Ghraib Away

SCRUBBING ABU GHRAIB AWAY

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

If persistent news tips are correct, the U.S. Army's report on the barbarities at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison will lodge blame for the events there at the rank of colonel and below, and no real bigwigs or command staff officers ...

From the Editor

From The Editor

by Paul Wright

The month of September will be the last month that Hans Sherrer, PLN's circulation manager will be with us. After several years working for PLN Hans is moving on to other activities. As PLN's circulation manager, Hans oversaw our database and ensured ...

Report Downplays Wrongful Convictions in U.S.

A report by University of Michigan staffers and law students _ Exonerations in the United States: 1989 through 2003 _ was released to the public on April 23, 2004. The report analyzed data from 328 cases during that 15 year period in which the defendant was officially declared, "not guilty ...

Acrimonious Michigan Prisoners' Rights Suit Settled After 15 Years

by John E. Dannenberg

A class-action lawsuit launched by Michigan state prisoners in 1988 which ultimately cost taxpayers $7.5 million in litigation costs was settled on November 4, 2003, resulting in prisoners gaining appropriate classification and psychiatric services, plus restrictions on administrative segregation that exacerbates serious psychological illness. In ...

PLRA Applies to Juveniles; Claim Administratively Exhausted

A New York federal district court has held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to juvenile prisoners, and the juvenile's actions to air his grievance informally satisfied the PLRA's administrative remedy exhaustion requirement. Corey Lewis, a delinquent resident of the Tyron Residential Facility in Johnston, New ...

Tulia Travesty Settled for $6 Million

Tulia Travesty Settled For $6 Million

by Hans Sherrer

On August 22, 2003, Texas Governor Rick Perry pardoned 35 people whose convictions stemmed from a Swisher County drug investigation that began in 1998.

The prosecution of those people began with the arrest of 43 people in the Tulia, Texas area ...

Mismanaged, Money-Losing Folsom City Prison Closed

by John E. Dannenberg

Faced with losing $1.4 million in the following year, the City of Folsom, California, closed its 14 year-old, 380 bed minimum security prison and laid off most of the 70 city workers on June 30, 2003.

Known as the Folsom Community Correctional Facility (FCCF) [one ...

New Jersey Over Detains Prisoner Two Years Due to Illegal Sentence Calculation

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division has held that the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) cannot depart from the terms a sentencing judge imposes. In September 1994, prisoner Larry Hill was released on parole for a 1990 conviction. On January 31, 1997 and July 25, 1997, he ...

$300,000 Awarded for Delayed Treatment of New York Prisoner's Hearing Loss

On October 31, 2003 a New York Court of Claims awarded Fishkill Correctional Facility prisoner Darryl Dickerson $300,000 for a partial hearing loss suffered because he was not provided timely medical treatment.

Dickerson claimed he heard a popping noise while he was exercising on the prison yard on August ...

Democratic Organization Gives Some Felons Second Chance

America Coming Together (ACT)--a democratic group working to ensure that George W. Bush is not reelected--is employing felons to conduct door-to-door voter registration drives in Missouri, Florida, Ohio, and possibly 14 other states crucial to the November 2004 elections.

ACT contends that convicted criminals deserve a second chance in ...

Stun Belt Violates Due Process; Habeas Granted

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the use of a stun belt to restrain a California criminal defendant during his trial violated due process of law and was grounds for reversal upon a factual finding that he was prejudiced by it.

Frederico Gonzalez was ...

VP's Drug Dealer Retaliation Claim Ordered to Trial

In a case that has continued on and on like the Energizer Bunny, the District of Columbia has denied the Bureau of Prisons defendants' latest motion for summary judgment and ordered a trial. This case was filed in 1990 by Brett Kimberlin, a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution at ...

Report Blasts South Carolina Plan to Privatize Prison Health Care

South Carolina's disastrous 15-year experiment with prison health care privatization should be a warning to those hardheaded state leaders who plan to do it again, according to a report sponsored by Grassroots Leadership and South Carolina Fair Share. Authored by Dr. Marguerite Rosenthal, sociology professor at Salem State University ...

Guards Let California Prisoner Slowly Starve to Death

Guards Let California Prisoner Slowly Starve To Death


Seventy-two year old Khem Singh, who spoke no English and was crippled and wheelchair-bound, died of starvation in his Corcoran State Prison Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF) cell on February 16, 2004, after guards allegedly let him waste away without food or ...

The Citebook

by Tony Darwin, Starlite, Inc., 2004, 20th ed., 308 pp., $35.95, soft cover

Review by Michael Rigby

For anyone not trained in the law, navigating the U.S. judicial system can be a daunting prospect. But with knowledge comes confidence, and that's exactly what Tony Darwin provides with ...

Parents of Deceased Wisconsin Boot Camp Prisoner Settle for $462,000

The parents of a Wisconsin state prisoner who died due to exercise stress after his medical complaints were ignored settled their wrongful death suit for $462,000.

The Homeslys were parents of a male 20-year-old Wisconsin state prisoner who died of exercise stress. The son opted to attend the "Atlas ...

Florida DOC Ordered to Assist Felons Restore Their Voting Rights

Florida DOC Ordered to Assist Felons Restore their Voting Rights


by David M. Reutter

A Florida circuit court has ordered the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) to assist ex-felons who did not receive help in the application process for restoration of their civil rights as required by state law. Florida ...

New York Court Awards Prisoner $180,000 in Slip and Fall

On June 3, 2003, a court of claims in Rochester, New York, awarded prisoner Samuel K. Tambe $180,000 for injuries he sustained when he tripped over an elevated sidewalk slab at the Groveland Correctional Facility in Sonyea, New York.

After the fall, Tambe suffered intense pain and discomfort in ...

California Internet Injunction Upheld

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the statewide permanent injunction issued by the U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.) enjoining the California Department of Corrections' (CDC) policy prohibiting prisoners from receiving Internet-generated mail. Prison Legal News also filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the ...

Preliminary Injunction Granted to Religious Objector of Tuberculosis Skin Test

by David M. Ruetter

A New York federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction to a prisoner who objected on religious grounds, to taking a Purified Protein Derivative Test(PPD) to detect tuberculosis (TB). In a previous unpublished opinion, the court held the religious rights of Selam Selah, a ...

Prisons Almanac 2004 Prisons Foundation, Washington, DC

Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg

Prisons Almanac is a refreshingly eclectic collection of 140 of "the most promising and uplifting prison-related news stories of the previous year" produced in classic almanac format by the Prisons Foundation. The Almanac also provides a current statistical picture of American prisons and prisoners as ...

New Mexico Lawyers Entitled to Jail Visiting, Phone and Records Access

A New Mexico federal district court has entered a preliminary injunction that enjoins jail officials from prohibiting class counsel from having access to the jail, its prisoners and staff, its records, and from imposing time limits on telephone calls to lawyers by prisoners. This is a class action suit that ...

Texas Syndicate Gang Members Busted - Again

by C. C. Simmons

Deep in the bowels of the 4,000-man H. H. Coffield State Prison in east Texas, a young prisoner is locked in a telephone-booth-size holding cage. He screams obscenities at everyone. In the next corridor, a squad of guards attired in helmets, gas masks, and padded ...

U.S. Supreme Court: Guantanamo Detainees and "Enemy Combatants" Have Access to Habeas Corpus

U.S. Supreme Court: Guantanamo Detainees and "Enemy Combatants" Have Access To Habeas Corpus


by John E. Dannenberg

In three interrelated decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "enemy combatant" detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba or in the continental U.S. may not be held indefinitely without due ...

California Awards Wrongly Incarcerated Man $428,000

The State of California awarded $428,000 on September 24, 2003 for the 12 years of false incarceration served by an East Palo Alto, California man whose murder conviction had been abated when Santa Clara County prosecutors became convinced they had put the wrong man behind bars.

Quedellis "Rick" Walker ...

News in Brief

Alabama: In May, 2004, Gail Munnerlyn sued the Alabama Department of Corrections for its practice of allowing uninsured prisoners to drive DOC vehicles. Munnerlyn was injured when her car was struck by a DOC work release van driven by an uninsured prisoner. Her attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, said "I believe that ...

Jury Awards $20,000 to Nurse Stuck by Needle from HIV Positive Prisoner

On November 26, 2003, a Massachusetts jury awarded a nurse at a medical center, which treated prisoners from a nearby Worcester County prison, $20,000 for emotional distress that resulted from being stuck by a needle from an HIV positive prisoner. The nurse sued, under a negligent supervision theory, the ...