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Prison Legal News: December, 2004

Issue PDF
Volume 15, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Business as Usual (p 1)
  2. Death Exposes Inadequate Mental Health Care in Oregon Prisons (p 6)
  3. PAMII Requires Records Release in Connecticut Prisoners' Deaths (p 8)
  4. CMS Must Pay $1.75 Million in Illinois Jail Suicide (p 10)
  5. Exculpatory Evidence Must Be Disclosed at Prison Disciplinary Hearing (p 12)
  6. From the Editor (p 12)
  7. Wisconsin County Settles Negligent Death Claim for $1.2 Million (p 13)
  8. Pro Se Tips and Tactics: The Pro Se Complaint (p 14)
  9. California Prisons' Joint-Venture Program Under Statewide Court Injunction (p 16)
  10. New York Prisoner Informant Awarded $7.65 Million In Failure-To-Protect Suit (p 17)
  11. California Parole Board Must Vacate Parole Denial And Give Lifer New Hearing (p 18)
  12. Private Capitol Punishment: The Florida Model (p 19)
  13. New York City: Thousands Unnecessarily Imprisoned at Enormous cost (p 20)
  14. Judge Barkett Dissents from Expansion of "In Custody" Meaning for PLRA purposes (p 20)
  15. Washington Supreme Court Rejects Federal Mail-Box Rule (p 21)
  16. Washington Prison Labor Program Struck Down (p 22)
  17. Guards Fornicate, Sell Drugs in Pennsylvania Jails (p 23)
  18. Vermont Auditor's Report Blasts CCA and CMS (p 24)
  19. Abuse, Torture and Rape Reported at Unlisted U.S.-Run Prisons in Iraq (p 26)
  20. Iowa Sex Offender Residence Restrictions Unconstitutional (p 28)
  21. Untimely Grievances Satisfy PLRA; $70,000 Beating Verdict Upheld (p 29)
  22. California Lifer Parole Rescission Upheld On One Of Five Grounds Alleged; Federal Ex Post Facto Appeal Is Moot (p 30)
  23. Illinois Appeals Court Reinstates Prisoner's Telephone Disconnect Suit (p 31)
  24. Nevada Prisoner Killed in Rec Yard Riot (p 32)
  25. Wisconsin District Court Reversed; PLRA Fee Limits Constitutional, Says Seventh Circuit (p 32)
  26. "Therapeutic Seclusion" of Civilly Committed Sex Offenders Contrary to Professional Judgment (p 33)
  27. New Jersey Vegetarian Meals Satisfy Halal Dietary Obligations (p 34)
  28. BOP Fires Prison Guard Accused of Rape, Attempted Murder (p 34)
  29. Qualified Immunity Granted for Warrantless Parole Search (p 35)
  30. Hermaphroditic Wyoming Prisoner Awarded $1,000 for 14 Months in Solitary (p 36)
  31. New York Prison Officials Denied Qualified Immunity in Revoking Prisoner's Temporary Release (p 36)
  32. Florida's $4 Administrative Processing Fee for Prisoner Banking Fees Challenged (p 37)
  33. Punitive Transfer After Winning Administrative Appeal Is Actionable (p 38)
  34. International Red Cross Suspects U.S. Hiding Foreign Detainees (p 39)
  35. Arrestee Cannot Be Charged With Bringing Drugs Into Jail (p 39)
  36. News in Brief (p 40)
  37. Seventh Circuit Invalidates Wisconsin News Clippings Ban (p 42)
  38. Prisoner Lawsuits Not Subject to Heightened Pleading Standard in Seventh Circuit (p 42)
  39. Jury's $108,000 Verdict in New York Prisoner's Medical Claim Vacated (p 43)
  40. Oklahoma Family Buries Wrong Man (p 44)

Business as Usual

Wackenhut further angered state officials by saying they must pay for the empty bed space at the Santa Rosa facility caused by transferring prisoners to the Virginia supermax. According to the state's contract, Wackenhut claimed, the state must pay as though the prison is 90 percent full even if ...

Death Exposes Inadequate Mental Health Care in Oregon Prisons

On April 29, 2002, the tormented life of 45-year-old Oregon prisoner William Owens came to a tragic end in the Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU) of the Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI). His death exposed numerous problems with the treatment afforded mentally ill prisoners in Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) facilities ...

PAMII Requires Records Release in Connecticut Prisoners' Deaths

A Connecticut federal district court held that the State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (Connecticut P&A), a state agency designated by Connecticut's Governor to provide protection and advocacy services to individuals with disabilities, including persons suffering from mental illness, is entitled to access to deceased prisoners' psychiatric, medical and all other records pertaining to the prisoners' suicide deaths.

Between August 2000 and April 2001, Connecticut P&A became aware of the suicide deaths of five Connecticut Department of Corrections (DOC) prisoners via newspaper accounts of the suicides; another prisoner subsequently died while being transported to a CDOC mental health ward. Connecticut P&A determined it had probable cause to believe each of the prisoners were ...

CMS Must Pay $1.75 Million in Illinois Jail Suicide

CMS Must Pay $1.75 Million In Illinois Jail Suicide


by John E. Dannenberg

Correctional Medical Services (CMS), a private contractor providing all medical and mental health services at the Lake County, Ill. Jail, was ordered by a federal appeals court to pay a federal district court jury award of ...

Exculpatory Evidence Must Be Disclosed at Prison Disciplinary Hearing

Exculpatory Evidence Must be Disclosed at Prison Disciplinary Hearing


by David M. Reutter

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a prisoner is entitled to receive exculpatory evidence in a prison disciplinary hearing when a liberty interest is implicated. This habeas corpus proceeding was brought by Clyde Piggie ...

From the Editor

From The Editor


by Paul Wright

As we close the year I would like to remind readers of our matching grant fundraiser where donations will be matched, dollar for dollar from non prisoners, and two dollars for every dollar donated from prisoners. The maximum amount being donated is $25,000 ...

Wisconsin County Settles Negligent Death Claim for $1.2 Million

Wisconsin County Settles Negligent Death Claim For $1.2 Million


On July 24, 2003, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a claim arising from a man's death in the county jail.

The deceased, former president of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, Paul ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics: The Pro Se Complaint

by Daniel Manville

The last column in the September, 2004, issue of PLN discussed "Proceeding In Forma Pauperis."2 That article explains that a prisoner is usually required to pay a partial filing fee before the complaint will be filed by the federal court clerk. The federal court will establish ...

California Prisons' Joint-Venture Program Under Statewide Court Injunction

by John E. Dannenberg

On February 17, 2004, the Superior Court of San Diego County entered a two-year injunction against the State of California and its state prison Joint Venture prison-labor contractors, requiring compliance with the California Labor Code as to employer record-keeping and payroll data, as well as to ...

New York Prisoner Informant Awarded $7.65 Million In Failure-To-Protect Suit

On May 3, 2004, a federal jury in Manhattan awarded $7.65 million to a New York prisoner who was nearly killed when another prisoner attacked him with a razor.

The plaintiff had alleged in his civil rights lawsuit that prison officials ignored requests to segregate him despite warnings that ...

California Parole Board Must Vacate Parole Denial And Give Lifer New Hearing

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeals ordered the Board of Prison Terms (BPT) to vacate its decision denying parole and give a murderer a new parole hearing wherein it shall consider the prisoner's psychological evaluations as favoring parole and shall properly consider all evidence favoring parole ...

Private Capitol Punishment: The Florida Model

by Ken Kopczynski, 111 pp. 2004, Authorhouse, softbound

Reviewed by David M. Reutter

As the prison industrial complex has expanded, the privatization of prisons has increased. The pages of PLN have chronicled the mental and physical abuse, as well as medical neglect, suffered by those warehoused in privatized prisons. Private ...

New York City: Thousands Unnecessarily Imprisoned at Enormous cost

New York City: Thousands Unnecessarily Imprisoned At Enormous Cost


New York City is spending a fortune to unnecessarily imprison thousands of its citizens for relatively minor offenses. According to the city's Independent Budget Office, in fiscal year 2003 the total yearly cost of imprisonment per prisoner was approximately $92 ...

Judge Barkett Dissents from Expansion of "In Custody" Meaning for PLRA purposes

Judge Barkett Dissents from Expansion of "In Custody" Meaning for PLRA purposes


Judge Barkett has dissented from the denial of en banc review of an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to lawsuits that claim injuries suffered during custodial episodes, even ...

Washington Supreme Court Rejects Federal Mail-Box Rule

The Washington State Supreme Court has rejected the federal mail-box rule, under which pro se prisoners' pleadings are deemed filed when they are given to prison officials for mailing to the court. This ruling was based on differences between state and federal court rules.

In Washington, collateral attacks on criminal ...

Washington Prison Labor Program Struck Down

by Roger Smith & Paul Wright

In a rare reversal of its own prior ruling, the Washington state supreme court has ruled that the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) must stop "letting out" convict labor to private businesses. The court found that practice to violate art. II, sec. 29 of the ...

Guards Fornicate, Sell Drugs in Pennsylvania Jails

Guards Fornicate, Sell Drugs In Pennsylvania Jails


The Allegheny County Jail in Pennsylvania is a den of perversion and sexual predation. To date, eleven guards have been ordered to stand trial on charges they sexually assaulted female prisoners at the jail.

The first 4 guards were arrested on January 16 ...

Vermont Auditor's Report Blasts CCA and CMS

by David M. Reutter

The Keys to Success report issued by the Vermont State Auditor on May 26, 2004, concludes the Vermont Department of Corrections' (VDOC) "failure to monitor its contracts with private companies and individuals has resulted in significant financial impacts, services that were paid for and not received ...

Abuse, Torture and Rape Reported at Unlisted U.S.-Run Prisons in Iraq

Abuse, Torture and Rape Reported at Unlisted U.S.-run Prisons in Iraq


by Lisa Ashkenaz Croke

American legal investigators have discovered evidence of abuse, torture and rape throughout the US-run prison system in Iraq. A Michigan legal team meeting with former detainees in Baghdad during an August, 2004, fact-finding ...

Iowa Sex Offender Residence Restrictions Unconstitutional

by Matthew T. Clarke

A federal court in Iowa has held that the residential restrictions placed upon sex offenders by Iowa Code § 692A.2A are unconstitutional.

John Does I-III, Iowa sex offenders, filed a class-action suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in Iowa federal district court challenging the restrictions ...

Untimely Grievances Satisfy PLRA; $70,000 Beating Verdict Upheld

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that even an untimely grievance satisfied the exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) so long as the prisoner goes through every step of the grievance process. In doing so, the court upheld a $70,000 damage verdict against an Ohio ...

California Lifer Parole Rescission Upheld On One Of Five Grounds Alleged; Federal Ex Post Facto Appeal Is Moot

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeals held that one of the five causes charged by the Board of Prison Terms (parole board) to rescind a life prisoner's unexecuted grant of parole was properly determined by the Board, and thus upheld the rescission. In a subsequent federal ...

Illinois Appeals Court Reinstates Prisoner's Telephone Disconnect Suit

The Illinois Court of Appeals for the Third District reinstated a prisoner's lawsuit against Ameritech over the company's alleged fraudulent intentional early disconnecting of prisoner phone calls.

Johnnie Flournoy, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit in state court alleging fraud and negligence against Ameritech, the provider of prison ...

Nevada Prisoner Killed in Rec Yard Riot

Nevada Prisoner Killed In Rec Yard Riot


On July 13, 2004, racial tension at the High Desert State Prison in southern Nevada erupted into a deadly riot. The fighting, reportedly between Blacks and Hispanics on the rock-strewn recreation yard, left one prisoner dead and 18 others injured.

The battle began ...

Wisconsin District Court Reversed; PLRA Fee Limits Constitutional, Says Seventh Circuit

In a 6-5 decision marked by a plurality opinion and a strongly-worded dissent, the en banc Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, and held that provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) limiting recovery of attorney fees in ...

"Therapeutic Seclusion" of Civilly Committed Sex Offenders Contrary to Professional Judgment

"Therapeutic Seclusion" of Civilly Committed Sex Offenders Contrary to Professional Judgment


by David M. Reutter

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that civilly committed sex offenders are entitled, as a matter of due process, to the exercise of professional judgment as to the needs of residents, and fact ...

New Jersey Vegetarian Meals Satisfy Halal Dietary Obligations

by John E. Dannenberg

The Third U.S. Court of Appeals held that legitimate cost and convenience factors supported the New Jersey Department of Corrections' (NJDOC) decision to provide the 280 observant Muslims with only vegetarian Halal (Islamic ritually correct) meals instead of their requested meals made with Halal meat ...

BOP Fires Prison Guard Accused of Rape, Attempted Murder

BOP Fires Prison Guard Accused Of Rape, Attempted Murder


A federal prison guard charged with the kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder of an 18-year-old woman has been fired from the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon.

Robert James Stamper Jr.'s long overdue termination came on July 16, 2004one day ...

Qualified Immunity Granted for Warrantless Parole Search

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that parole officers' warrantless entry into a homeowner's residence was per se unreasonable and violated the homeowner's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. The court further held, however, that the officers were entitled, under the "special needs" doctrine ...

Hermaphroditic Wyoming Prisoner Awarded $1,000 for 14 Months in Solitary

Hermaphroditic Wyoming Prisoner Awarded $1,000 For 14 Months In Solitary


In a bench trial, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming has awarded $1,000 to a hermaphroditic Wyoming state prisoner who was made to serve her entire 14-month sentence in solitary confinement.

Miki Ann DiMarco ...

New York Prison Officials Denied Qualified Immunity in Revoking Prisoner's Temporary Release

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, held that prison officials violated a state prisoner's civil rights by revoking his temporary release program participation without a hearing and were not entitled to qualified immunity on that violation ...

Florida's $4 Administrative Processing Fee for Prisoner Banking Fees Challenged

by David M. Reutter

A class action suit filed in Florida's Leon County Circuit Court challenges a new law enacted by the Florida Legislature in its 2004 session. That Legislature amended § 944.516, Florida statutes, to add subpart (1)(h), effective July 1, 2004. The new law allows the ...

Punitive Transfer After Winning Administrative Appeal Is Actionable

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the transfer of a California state prisoner to a Security Housing Unit (SHU) punitive segregation facility after his underlying alleged rules violation had been reversed by the granting of an administrative appeal, was a sufficient factual ...

International Red Cross Suspects U.S. Hiding Foreign Detainees

The International Red Cross (IRC) said on July 13, 2004, that it suspects the United States is hiding foreign detainees in prisons throughout the world.

According to Antonella Notari, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, terror suspects that the FBI says it has captured have never turned ...

Arrestee Cannot Be Charged With Bringing Drugs Into Jail

The Ohio Second District Court of Appeals has held that an arrestee cannot be charged with knowingly conveying drugs onto the grounds of a detention facility. Stephen Sowry was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. A pat-down search revealed no weapons or contraband, and Sowry was transported ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:


Arizona: In April, 2004, Department of Corrections employee Paul Lamprill was fired after using his state supplied DOC computer to send more than 8,000 e mails to campaign on behalf of former Arizona DOC director Terry Stewart who was running for president of the American Correctional ...

Seventh Circuit Invalidates Wisconsin News Clippings Ban

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prison ban on clippings and photocopies of clippings from newspapers and magazines violates the First Amendment right of prisoners to receive and exchange information. The court also held, however, that the district court's injunction violated the Prison Litigation reform Act ...

Prisoner Lawsuits Not Subject to Heightened Pleading Standard in Seventh Circuit

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoner's complaint need only state the prisoner's legal claim together with some indication of the time and place: detailed facts need not be supplied.

Brian K. Thomson, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit pro se under 42 U.S ...

Jury's $108,000 Verdict in New York Prisoner's Medical Claim Vacated

The Second Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed a district court's order setting aside a jury's verdict of $108,000 in a prisoner's lawsuit alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. New York prisoner Juan Hernandez sustained multiple gunshot wounds prior to his arrest by New ...

Oklahoma Family Buries Wrong Man

An Oklahoma couple got a real shock upon returning home from a family funeral. They received a call from their son, Kevin Wyckoff, whom they believed they had just buried.

"Hey Dad," Kevin, 23, said in his call from the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center on December 22, 2003. "Huh ...