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Prison Legal News: April, 2004

Issue PDF
Volume 15, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Jails for Jesus (p 1)
  2. City Immune in California Drunk Tank Beating Suit Because Prisoner Was Criminal, Not Civil Detainee (p 5)
  3. Kansas Gift Subscription Ban Rejected by State Court But Upheld By Federal Court (p 6)
  4. From the Editor (p 8)
  5. Alabama Restores Voting Rights to Some Ex-Prisoners (p 9)
  6. Another Death in a Wisconsin Prison (p 10)
  7. PLRA Fee Payments Cease Upon Release from Prison (p 11)
  8. Thirty-Two Years of Resistance: Free the Angola Three! (p 12)
  9. Thirty Years in Segregation May State Claim (p 14)
  10. First Circuit Holds ADA Title II Abrogated State Sovereign Immunity (p 15)
  11. Prison Nation Wins Human Rights Award (p 15)
  12. BOP, FBI Investigations in Texas, Oregon, Arizona, and California Federal Prisons (p 16)
  13. Sixth Circuit: Claims Against Parole Procedures Cognizable Under § 1983 (p 17)
  14. Disarray in Colorado: Prisoners Hurt by Host of Problems (p 18)
  15. $475,000 Settlement for Wrongly Convicted Indiana Ex-Con (p 20)
  16. Eighteen Indicted for Drug Smuggling and Weapons Possession Inside Puerto Rican Prisons (p 20)
  17. Brooklyn MDC Guard Pleads Guilty to Raping Prisoner (p 21)
  18. New York Prisoner Awarded $435,000 in Tire Accident (p 22)
  19. The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America, From Slave Passes to the War on Terror (p 22)
  20. Asset Forfeiture Defense Manual (p 23)
  21. California Parole Violators' Due Process Rights Upheld in Settlement (p 24)
  22. Former Warden and Two Jailers Sentenced for Philadelphia Jail Beating (p 25)
  23. Mississippi Death Row Conditions Unconstitutional; Sweeping Reforms Ordered (p 26)
  24. Constitutional Amendment Effort Launched to Bar Florida's Prison Privatization (p 28)
  25. Canadian Prisoner Dies After Drinking Drug-Laced Vomit, Others Charged (p 28)
  26. Permanent Injunction Requires Full HCV Retreatment for Florida Prisoner (p 29)
  27. Disabled Missouri Prisoner Awarded Backpay after Passing GED Test (p 30)
  28. Brief Statement of Operative Facts Satisfies Texas Pleading Requirement (p 30)
  29. Texas Prisoners Have Right to Judicial Review of Administrative Finding (p 31)
  30. Jail Rape Results in Reduced Sentence (p 31)
  31. Court Questions Federal Assault Conviction on Private Prison Guard (p 32)
  32. A Culture of Prosecutorial Misconduct (p 32)
  33. California Presentencing Credits Upheld For Jail Time in Another County (p 33)
  34. Blind Prisoner Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies (p 33)
  35. Impeding Grievance Exhaustion May Violate Access to Courts (p 34)
  36. § 1983 Disciplinary Challenge Available to Parolee Because Habeas Would Be Moot (p 35)
  37. Mentally Incapacitated Oregon Pretrial Detainees Denied Due Process (p 36)
  38. Virginia Drug Treatment Program Still Violates Establishment Clause (p 37)
  39. $108,352 Attorney Fee Award Approved in California Prisoner ADA/RA Suit (p 38)
  40. Washington DOC/King County Settles Negligent Supervision Case for $3.1 Million (p 38)
  41. Fighting for Fair Phone Rates (p 39)
  42. Supplemental Parole Violation Warrant Filed After Sentence Expiration Illegal (p 39)
  43. California Initial Cell Assignments By Race Upheld, U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review (p 40)
  44. Wisconsin Pro Se Co-Plaintiffs Must Maintain Separate § 1983 Actions (p 41)
  45. County May Be Liable for Private Prison's Customs and Policies (p 41)
  46. News in Brief (p 42)
  47. Prior To Reversal And Reconviction, California Prison Credits, Not Jail Credits, Apply (p 43)
  48. Prison Mailbox Rule Applies to Civil Rights Complaint (p 44)

Jails for Jesus

Pastor Don Raymond isn't trained in corrections and is not employed by the government, but he runs a new 140-person wing of the Ellsworth, Kansas, medium-security prison that draws prisoners from throughout the state system.


In the phylum of prison staff, Raymond defies classification. He is not a tight-lipped ...

City Immune in California Drunk Tank Beating Suit Because Prisoner Was Criminal, Not Civil Detainee

The California Supreme Court ruled that California Govt. Code § 844.6(a)(2) [governmental immunity for injury to prisoner] prevented a city jail detainee who had been beaten by another drunk tank prisoner from maintaining a government tort claim against the city for damages, because a jail prisoner is a ...

Kansas Gift Subscription Ban Rejected by State Court But Upheld By Federal Court

Kansas Gift Subscription Ban Rejected by State Court
But Upheld By Federal Court

by John E. Dannenberg


In two independent but inconsistent rulings, Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) policy IMPP 11-101 (banning gift subscriptions of magazines and newspapers to prisoners) was determined to be a regulation that both did impinge ...

From the Editor

With our recent expansion to 48 pages we will be bringing readers more information than ever before and we also hope it will be more timely than it has been in the past. Readers that send us newspaper clippings and similar information help us stay on top of what are ...

Alabama Restores Voting Rights to Some Ex-Prisoners

On June 24, 2003, Republican Alabama governor Bob Riley announced he was vetoing the felons' voting bill passed by the state legislature. The bill would have made it easier for certain felons to have their voting rights reinstated. Alabama law imposes a lifetime ban on voting for any person convicted ...

Another Death in a Wisconsin Prison

"Unremarkable." That's what prison nurse Jolinda Waterman called Donnie Powe's condition when she relegated him to an observation cell. Guards perfunctorily recorded his declining health right up until he died, face down on the floor of his 6 by 8 foot tomb in Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF ...

PLRA Fee Payments Cease Upon Release from Prison

PLRA Fee Payments Cease
Upon Release from Prison


The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held a prisoner who was granted in forma pauperis (IFP) status is not required to continue filing fee payments upon release from prison. Prisoner Keith William DeBlasio filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action challenging ...

Thirty-Two Years of Resistance: Free the Angola Three!

by Shana Griffin and Brice White


Thirty two years in solitary confinement would be enough to drive many of us to despair. Yet as of April 17, 2004, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 have each spent the last thirty-two years inside a six by nine foot ...

Thirty Years in Segregation May State Claim

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the denial of prison authorities' motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity because no proper determination was made as to whether prisoners' over 30 years of confinement in extended lockdown created a liberty interest.


Plaintiffs, Louisiana state prisoners Robert ...

First Circuit Holds ADA Title II Abrogated State Sovereign Immunity

The First Circuit court of appeals has held that Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), as applied in this case, abrogates state sovereign immunity. There is now a 6-3 split in the circuits on this issue.


Matthew Kiman, a former New Hampshire state prisoner, suffers from amyotrophic ...

Prison Nation Wins Human Rights Award

On December 16, 2003, Paul Wright and Tara Herivel were awarded the 2003 Myers Outstanding Book Award certificate for Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor (Routledge, 2003). The award is from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America.


Based in ...

BOP, FBI Investigations in Texas, Oregon, Arizona, and California Federal Prisons

BOP, FBI Investigations in Texas, Oregon, Arizona,
and California Federal Prisons

by Michael Rigby


Murder, riots, drug overdoses, and allegations of official corruption have prompted the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the FBI to launch investigations at federal prisons in Texas, Oregon, Arizona, and California.


In Texas, the FBI is ...

Sixth Circuit: Claims Against Parole Procedures Cognizable Under § 1983

Sixth Circuit: Claims Against Parole Procedures Cognizable Under § 1983;
U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review


Bringing itself into line with its sister circuits, the en banc U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Ohio prisoners may challenge parole procedures under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provided that adjudication ...

Disarray in Colorado: Prisoners Hurt by Host of Problems

Society is dynamic, in a state of con-stant flux where change is the only constant, but recent changes in Colorado are turning up the pressure in Colorado's prison system. Prisoner pay has been nearly eliminated while hygiene items are not provided. Prisoner phone rates are now in the hands ...

$475,000 Settlement for Wrongly Convicted Indiana Ex-Con

$475,000 Settlement for Wrongly
Convicted Indiana Ex-Con


On March 5, 2003, Jerry Watkins settled his wrongful conviction lawsuit against the Hancock County sheriff's department inIndianapolis and the Indianapolis police department. Watkins was convicted of murdering his 11 year old sister in law and was sentenced to 60 years ...

Eighteen Indicted for Drug Smuggling and Weapons Possession Inside Puerto Rican Prisons

Eighteen Indicted for Drug Smuggling and
Weapons Possession Inside Puerto Rican Prisons

by Lonnie Burton


On May 8, 2003, a 21-page indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury sitting in San Juan, Puerto Rico charging 18 people mostly prisoners for allegedly trafficking heroin and cocaine throughout Puerto Rico ...

Brooklyn MDC Guard Pleads Guilty to Raping Prisoner

by Matthew T. Clarke


On October 17, 2002, Randy Denjen, a guard lieutenant at the Brooklyn, New York Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) pleaded guilty to charges of causing a prisoner to engage in sexual contact by threatening and placing her in fear, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2242 ...

New York Prisoner Awarded $435,000 in Tire Accident

New York Prisoner Awarded $435,000
in Tire Accident


On June 10, 2003, the Court of Claims in Rochester, New York, awarded $435,000 for pain and suffering to a New York prisoner who was injured when a forklift tire exploded in his face.


Prisoner Clay Rumley was attempting to ...

The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America, From Slave Passes to the War on Terror

The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America,
From Slave Passes to the War on Terror

by Christian Parenti, (Basic Books, 2003) 273 pp., $24.95 cloth


Review by Scott Christianson


Big Brother is watching. He may not be able to find Osama Bin Laden or identify the Anthrax Attacker, but he ...

Asset Forfeiture Defense Manual

by Brenda Grantland, Judy Osburn and Susan Raffanti;


Liberty Press, San Francisco, CA, Nov. 2001; 500 pp. (soft-back)


Vol. 1: Substantive Law and Administrative Procedure;


Review by John E. Dannenberg


You may have thought your troubles were over when you were prosecuted for a state or federal crime, until your ...

California Parole Violators' Due Process Rights Upheld in Settlement

California Parole Violators' Due Process Rights
Upheld in Settlement


In a November 17, 2003 Stipulated Or-der for Permanent Injunctive Relief (PI), defendant California prison officials settled a nine-year old federal class action suit brought by parolees whose due process rights in parole violation proceedings had been consistently unconstitutionally abused. The ...

Former Warden and Two Jailers Sentenced for Philadelphia Jail Beating

Former Warden and Two Jailers Sentenced
for Philadelphia Jail Beating


A former warden and two former guards were sentenced in federal court for their roles in connection with the severe beating of a federal prisoner who was being held at a Philadelphia jail.


Donti Hunter, the former Philadelphia jail prisoner ...

Mississippi Death Row Conditions Unconstitutional; Sweeping Reforms Ordered

Mississippi Death Row Conditions Unconstitutional;
Sweeping Reforms Ordered

by Bob Williams


Hailed as the broadest ruling ever is-sued by a federal judge in a death row conditions of confinement case, and a precedent setting breakthrough in prisoners' rights, conditions at Mississippi State Penitentiary Unit 32-C, Parchman Death Row, were found ...

Constitutional Amendment Effort Launched to Bar Florida's Prison Privatization

Constitutional Amendment Effort Launched
to Bar Florida's Prison Privatization

by David M. Reutter


The Florida Police Benevolence As-sociation (PBA) has launched a petition drive to enact an amendment to Florida's constitution that would bar privatization of prisons, jails, and offender supervision. The PBA represents over 30,000 law ...

Canadian Prisoner Dies After Drinking Drug-Laced Vomit, Others Charged

Canadian Prisoner Dies After Drinking
Drug-Laced Vomit, Others Charged

by Michael Rigby


Prisoners at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (Canada) have been drinking each other's drug-laced vomit in order to get high. One woman has died as a result of this gut-wrenching practice, and three ...

Permanent Injunction Requires Full HCV Retreatment for Florida Prisoner

Permanent Injunction Requires Full HCV
Retreatment for Florida Prisoner

by John E. Dannenberg


The U.S. District Court (S.D. Fla.) is-sued a permanent injunction on July 24, 2003 ordering James Crosby, the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections (FLADOC) and its contract health care provider Wexford Health Sources ...

Disabled Missouri Prisoner Awarded Backpay after Passing GED Test

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri found that a disabled prisoner was entitled to backpay because he was not reassigned to a premium pay job after he successfully passed the GED test.


James Arlt Jr, a Missouri prisoner, sued the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC ...

Brief Statement of Operative Facts Satisfies Texas Pleading Requirement

by Matthew T. Clarke


A Texas state court of appeals has held that a brief statement of operative facts of prior lawsuits satisfies the requirements of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (TCPRC) §§ 14.004 & 14.005.


Theron Belton, a Texas state prisoner, sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ...

Texas Prisoners Have Right to Judicial Review of Administrative Finding

Texas Prisoners Have Right to Judicial
Review of Administrative Finding


A Texas state court of appeals has held that Texas state prisoners have a right to a judicial review of an administrative finding of destruction of state property in a prison disciplinary action.


Thomas Retzlaff, a Texas state prisoner, filed ...

Jail Rape Results in Reduced Sentence

An Alabama federal district court has reduced a female prisoner's sentence by a three-level downward departure based on her rape by a jail guard.


Deborah Rodriguez pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 382 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride. After being raped by a jail guard while awaiting sentencing ...

Court Questions Federal Assault Conviction on Private Prison Guard

Court Questions Federal Assault Conviction
on Private Prison Guard


In a case applicable to all federal pris-oners incarcerated in private and state prisons the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held a federal prisoner who assaults a private person employed at a privately run prison may be convicted of assault of ...

A Culture of Prosecutorial Misconduct

Review by Peter Schmidt


The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit, investigative journalism organization based in Washington, D.C., has recently published a major study on prosecutorial misconduct in America. The lengthy, empirical study, entitled Harmful Error: Investigating America's Local Prosecutors, which is available online, contains some revealing ...

California Presentencing Credits Upheld For Jail Time in Another County

California Presentencing Credits Upheld
For Jail Time in Another County

by John E. Dannenberg


The California Supreme Court ruled that while a prisoner was on pre-trial bail from one county, but had been arrested for an unrelated offense in another county - for which the first county then placed a hold ...

Blind Prisoner Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Blind Prisoner Must Exhaust
Administrative Remedies


The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a blind prisoner is not excused from the administrative exhaustion requirement of the PLRA, and that a state court finding the prison systems grievance procedure violates Louisiana's State Constitution does not impact federal law. Prisoner ...

Impeding Grievance Exhaustion May Violate Access to Courts

A U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin held that a prisoner's access to court was impeded because jail officials interfered with his ability to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to several non-frivolous claims, which were dismissed for failure to exhaust. On these claims, the ...

§ 1983 Disciplinary Challenge Available to Parolee Because Habeas Would Be Moot

§ 1983 Disciplinary Challenge Available To Parolee Because Habeas Would Be Moot

by John E. Dannenberg


The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a prisoner suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for damages resulting from unconstitutional procedures in an earlier disciplinary hearing would not be required instead ...

Mentally Incapacitated Oregon Pretrial Detainees Denied Due Process

Mentally Incapacitated Oregon Pretrial Detainees
Denied Due Process


The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that under Oregon law, state mental hospitals have a duty to accept mentally incapacitated criminal defendants for evaluation and treatment, once certified as mentally incapacitated by a circuit court. The court also held that the ...

Virginia Drug Treatment Program Still Violates Establishment Clause

Virginia Drug Treatment Program
Still Violates Establishment Clause


A federal district court in Virginia held that the Therapeutic Community Program (TCP) of the Virginia Department of Corrections violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The court also held, however, that prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity due to ...

$108,352 Attorney Fee Award Approved in California Prisoner ADA/RA Suit

$108,352 Attorney Fee Award Approved
in California Prisoner ADA/RA Suit

by John E. Dannenberg


The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals approved attorney fees/costs totaling $108,352 for litigation efforts in gaining injunctive relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA ...

Washington DOC/King County Settles Negligent Supervision Case for $3.1 Million

Washington DOC/King County Settles Negligent
Supervision Case for $3.1 Million


On March 9, 2003, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and King County agreed to pay $3.1 million to the family of a woman who was brutally raped and murdered by a man on community supervision. The ...

Fighting for Fair Phone Rates

Fighting For Fair Phone Rates

by Deborah M. Golden

In 2000, a group of prisoners, loved ones of prisoners, and attorneys filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the high cost of collect calls from private correctional facilities. The case is Wright ...

Supplemental Parole Violation Warrant Filed After Sentence Expiration Illegal

Supplemental Parole Violation Warrant Filed
After Sentence Expiration Illegal


A federal district court for the District of Columbia has held that a parolee cannot be violated for activity alleged in a supplemental warrant filed after expiration of the original sentence. Larry Owens was convicted of violating District of Columbia (DC ...

California Initial Cell Assignments By Race Upheld, U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review

California Initial Cell Assignments By Race Upheld,
U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review

by John E. Dannenberg


The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the policy of the California Department of Corrections (CDC) of using race as a factor in initially housing cellmates did not offend the ...

Wisconsin Pro Se Co-Plaintiffs Must Maintain Separate § 1983 Actions

Wisconsin Pro Se Co-Plaintiffs Must
Maintain Separate § 1983 Actions


Federal district court Chief Judge Bar-bara B. Crabb, of the Northern District of Wisconsin, has decided that all pro se prisoner plaintiffs filing in this district must file and maintain separate § 1983 actions rather than filing as co-plaintiffs.


Nathaniel Lindell was ...

County May Be Liable for Private Prison's Customs and Policies

County May Be Liable For Private Prison's Customs And Policies

by Bob Williams


The New Mexico federal district court has held that a county could potentially be liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the customs and policies of a private prison corporation to whom it had contracted ...

News in Brief

Bolivia: Protesting bad conditions and long sentences, two prisoners at the Palmasola prison in the capital of La Paz were crucified on February 11, 2004. Prisoners Fredy Acosta and Walter Ortiz were nailed to crosses in the prison. The protest was filmed by local television crews where it was aired ...

Prior To Reversal And Reconviction, California Prison Credits, Not Jail Credits, Apply

Prior To Reversal And Reconviction, California
Prison Credits, Not Jail Credits, Apply


The California Supreme Court held that when a prisoner's conviction is overturned on appeal, and a new conviction is obtained upon retrial, the time that was served in prison prior to the reversal counts against the new ...

Prison Mailbox Rule Applies to Civil Rights Complaint

Prison Mailbox Rule Applies To Civil Rights Complaint

by Jon Michael Withrow


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th circuit reversed and remanded a district court's dismissal of a prisoner's § 1983 complaint as untimely filed, holding that the prison mailbox rule applied to a prisoner's ...