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Prison Legal News: September, 2004

Issue PDF
Volume 15, Number 9

In this issue:

  1. Iraqi Dungeons and Torture Chambers Under New, American Trained Management (p 1)
  2. $10,000 Awarded in Colorado Magazine Confiscation (p 6)
  3. Former Ohio Parole Chief, Parole Attorney Alliance Raises Ethical Concerns (p 6)
  4. From the Editor (p 8)
  5. Settlement Brings Alabama DOC's Diabetic Treatment into 21st Century (p 9)
  6. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (p 10)
  7. World Court Rules Against U.S. for Consular Notification Failures (p 12)
  8. California Private Prison Uprisings Kill 2, Injure 66 (p 13)
  9. Report Faults Vermont Policies in Prisoner Deaths; Retaliation Precedes PLN Writer's Suicide (p 14)
  10. Captive Audience: Ohio Wants to Bring Prisoners to Jesus, the Law Be Damned (p 18)
  11. Four Prisoners Injured in Shooting at Washington D.C. Jail (p 21)
  12. The American Correctional Association  A Fraud on Texas Taxpayers (p 22)
  13. BOP Good Time Credits Must Be Calculated Against Sentence, Not Pro-Rated to Time Served (p 23)
  14. Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness (p 24)
  15. U.S. Supreme Court: ADA Title II Implicates Due Process Right of Physical Access To The Courts (p 26)
  16. Texas Prisoners Have Right to Specific Notice of Mandatory Supervision Hearing (p 27)
  17. Manipulation of Crime Statistics and Use of Tax Dollars for Campaigning Revealed (p 28)
  18. New York State Prisoner Awarded $30,000 for Work Related Injuries (p 28)
  19. Austin, Texas, Settles Wrongful Conviction Suit for $9 Million (p 29)
  20. Idaho Incompetence Delays Prisoners' Release, Taxpayers Foot The Bill (p 30)
  21. California Prison Guard Union Scandal Goes Public (p 31)
  22. Prisoner Shot Dead by Guard in California Prison Riot (p 32)
  23. Supreme Court Justice Criticized Over No Recording Policy, Federal Agent's Actions (p 32)
  24. California Changes Policies for Prison Gangs and Security Housing Units (p 33)
  25. Survivors of Prisoner Killed in Texas County Jail Awarded $2,500,000 (p 34)
  26. Complaints Amended to Change John Doe Defendants' Names Don't Relate Back (p 34)
  27. Former Illinois Governor Indicted on Federal Charges (p 35)
  28. FTCA Claims for Sentence Miscalculation Accrues Upon Reversal; Statute of Limitations Tolled (p 35)
  29. $76,000 in Fees and Damages Awarded in Kansas Excessive Force Claim (p 36)
  30. Washington Jail Settles Conditions Lawsuit (p 38)
  31. Washington Jail Trustees Entitled to L&I Benefits (p 38)
  32. Prison AIDS Cases, Deaths Increase; HIV Infections Decrease (p 39)
  33. Administrative Remedies Deemed Unavailable Based on Physical Injury (p 39)
  34. Federal Halfway House Litigation (p 40)
  35. Prison Guards With Criminal Records Work in Texas Prison (p 41)
  36. News in Brief (p 42)

Iraqi Dungeons and Torture Chambers Under New, American Trained Management

Just a year ago, Attorney General John Ashcroft pointed to the Iraqi prison system as a shining example of the freedoms that the U.S. would bring to Iraq. He said, "Now, all Iraqis can taste liberty in their native land, and we will help make that freedom permanent by ...

$10,000 Awarded in Colorado Magazine Confiscation

A Denver Federal Judge has awarded $10,000 plus costs and attorney fees to a state prisoner whose sexually explicit magazines were confiscated for content reasons.

Michael Milligan, a prisoner in the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC), was transferred without warning from the medium security Fremont Correctional Facility (FCF) to ...

Former Ohio Parole Chief, Parole Attorney Alliance Raises Ethical Concerns

A business partnership between former head of the Ohio Parole Board, Margarette Ghee, and Ohio prisoner-turned-parole attorney, Derek Farmer, has raised ethical concerns in the legal and criminal justice communities.

After serving 18 years on a 1974 conviction of accessory to murder of a policeman, Farmer was paroled in 1992 ...

From the Editor

On August 7, 2004, I attended the memorial for PLN writer James Quigley. The memorial was held on the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Jim died on October 7, 2003, when he hung himself in the segregation unit of the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans, Vermont. He ...

Settlement Brings Alabama DOC's Diabetic Treatment into 21st Century

by David M. Reutter

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) agreed on January 15, 2004, to settle a lawsuit brought by diabetic prisoners by upgrading their medical care. The agreement sets a precedent for management and care of diabetic prisoners that is a first in the nation.

An investigation in ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics

Before starting on my1 first, of many, pro se articles, I want to thank John Midgley on behalf of the hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners that he has helped through these eight years. He has taken difficult legal concepts for even attorneys to understand and has, with his gift ...

World Court Rules Against U.S. for Consular Notification Failures

by Matthew T. Clarke

On March 31, 2004, the International Court of Justice (also known as the World Court) held that the United States was in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR).

The case was brought by Mexico on behalf of 52 of its nationals who are ...

California Private Prison Uprisings Kill 2, Injure 66

Interracial prison riots occurred on October 27 and December 3, 2003 in two southern California privately-contracted minimum security prisons. Because California private prison contractors have no weapons not even pepper spray the riots continued for up to 90 minutes until armed peace officers could arrive to restore order. In one ...

Report Faults Vermont Policies in Prisoner Deaths; Retaliation Precedes PLN Writer's Suicide

by David M. Reutter

An independent investigation into the deaths of seven prisoners concludes that Vermont Department of Corrections (VDOC) policies were partly to blame for some of the deaths. The deaths occurred between November 25, 2002, and October 7, 2003. After the suicide death of PLN contributing writer James ...

Captive Audience: Ohio Wants to Bring Prisoners to Jesus, the Law Be Damned

On August 12, 2003, the Marion Correctional Institution played host to a most unlikely revival. The Promise Keepers, the international men's Christian ministry, put on a four-hour service for about 1,000 men, more than half the prison's population.

Joe White, a former Texas A&M assistant football coach, offered a talk tailor-made for his audience. "The thief on the cross, the man on death row, was the first to be promised he'd be with Christ in paradise," White preached. "Jesus took your debt-- your sin -- and nailed it on the cross and said, `Paid in full; it is finished ...

Four Prisoners Injured in Shooting at Washington D.C. Jail

Four prisoners were injured in a shooting in the maximum security section of the Washington D.C. jail just after 2 p.m. on December 20, 2003. The shooting appeared to be a prisoner-on-prisoner assault, said Corrections Department spokesman Darryl J. Madden.

Four prisoners were injured. One prisoner was shot ...

The American Correctional Association  A Fraud on Texas Taxpayers

The American Correctional Association A Fraud on Texas Taxpayers


by C. C. Simmons

In June, 2002, the Texas state prison system was finally released from 29 years of federal court oversight. The longest running civil rights class-action lawsuit in the history of the United States came to an end when ...

BOP Good Time Credits Must Be Calculated Against Sentence, Not Pro-Rated to Time Served

BOP Good Time Credits Must Be Calculated Against Sentence, Not Pro-Rated To Time Served


by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court (W.D. Wisc.) held that good time credits available to federal prisoners under 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) must be calculated as a percentage of the ...

Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness

Human Rights Watch, 2003, 215 pp.

Reviewed by Tara Herivel

[In the interests of full disclosure, the author of this review contributed to the following Human Rights Watch Report as a source, and this magazine contributed to the gathering of testimonials for the report.]


It is deplorable that this state ...

U.S. Supreme Court: ADA Title II Implicates Due Process Right of Physical Access To The Courts

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. Supreme Court held that Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, which guarantees disabled individuals access to all activities of public entities, operated to protect disabled persons restrained by physical barriers in court facilities ...

Texas Prisoners Have Right to Specific Notice of Mandatory Supervision Hearing

by Matthew T. Clarke

On May 19, 2004, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) issued a revised opinion holding that a prisoner being considered for denial of mandatory supervision release has the right to specific notice of a pending hearing and a reasonable amount of time to submit evidence ...

Manipulation of Crime Statistics and Use of Tax Dollars for Campaigning Revealed

by David M. Reutter

The public entrusts its law enforcement officials to protect it from crime and to use the tax dollars it provides to fulfill that duty. The manipulation of that trust has come to light. An Atlanta audit reveals that police officers caused more than 22,000 crime ...

New York State Prisoner Awarded $30,000 for Work Related Injuries

On December 17, 2003, a state court of claims in White Plains, New York, awarded state prisoner Jose Santos $30,000 for injuries he sustained while working in the industrial-unit paint shop at the Fishkill Correctional Facility.

In his lawsuit, Santos alleged that on August 21, 1998, he injured his ...

Austin, Texas, Settles Wrongful Conviction Suit for $9 Million

by Matthew T. Clarke

On July 17, 2003, the City of Austin, Texas settled for $9 million a suit brought by the guardian of a wrongfully convicted Texas prisoner.

Richard Danziger, 31, a wrongfully convicted Texas state prisoner, spent 12 years in prison for a rape-murder he didn't commit ...

Idaho Incompetence Delays Prisoners' Release, Taxpayers Foot The Bill

Idaho prisoners check in but they don't check outand it's costing taxpayers thousands. That's the criticism being hurled at the Idaho parole commission and the state Department of Corrections (DOC) for unnecessarily holding prisoners past their approved parole dates.

At any given time, hundreds of state prisoners ...

California Prison Guard Union Scandal Goes Public

The current leadership of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association has charged 10 current and former leadership members with wrongdoing.

In internal documents received by the Lassen County Times, current President Mike DeWitt of the local CCPOA said both Mark Viale and Andrew Wellborn, past president and vice-president are guilty ...

Prisoner Shot Dead by Guard in California Prison Riot

One prisoner was shot dead and four others received wounds requiring outside hospitalization, in a 20 minute riot an October 12, 2003 at Facility "B" of Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP), a 5,000 man prison in Coalinga, California.

The evening melee occurred in a recreation yard between 40 Mexican ...

Supreme Court Justice Criticized Over No Recording Policy, Federal Agent's Actions

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's longstanding policy of prohibiting audio and video recordings of his remarks came back to haunt him on April 7, 2004, when an over zealous Federal Deputy Marshall assigned to protect the justice ordered two journalists to erase recordings they were making of ...

California Changes Policies for Prison Gangs and Security Housing Units

by Charles F.A. Carbone, Esq.

Major changes to prison gang management policies and the use of security housing units (SHU's) or super-maximum prisons are expected in California prisons due to the settlement of a lawsuit brought by a California prisoner. The settlement requires substantial modifications in the procedures ...

Survivors of Prisoner Killed in Texas County Jail Awarded $2,500,000

On May 20, 2003, a state district court in El Paso, Texas, awarded $2.5 million in damages plus attorney fees and court costs of $393,518 to the surviving spouse, daughter and estate of a man who died while imprisoned in the El Paso County Jail.

Eduardo Miranda, a ...

Complaints Amended to Change John Doe Defendants' Names Don't Relate Back

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Tenth Circuit court of appeals held that an amended complaint filed to change the names of John Doe defendants did not related back to the original complaint for statute of limitations purposes. The court also refused to apply equitable tolling.

Jonathan Garrett, a federal prisoner ...

Former Illinois Governor Indicted on Federal Charges

Former Illinois governor and Nobel Peace Prize nominee George Ryan was indicted December 17, 2003, on federal charges of racketeering, mail and tax fraud, and lying to investigators.

Federal prosecutors allege that Ryan and his political bedfellows treated state employees and the treasury as personal property. As of December 2003 ...

FTCA Claims for Sentence Miscalculation Accrues Upon Reversal; Statute of Limitations Tolled

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a civil action under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FICA) for negligently calculating a federal prisoner's release date, or otherwise wrongfully imprisoning the prisoner, does not accrue until the prisoner has established, in a direct or collateral attack on his ...

$76,000 in Fees and Damages Awarded in Kansas Excessive Force Claim

The federal district court in Kansas has awarded a state prisoner $45,000 plus $30,913.90 for attorney fees and expenses in an excessive force claim brought against three prison guards. The court also denied qualified immunity, found expert witnesses were not required in examining excessive force claims, and ...

Washington Jail Settles Conditions Lawsuit

On October 6, 2003 officials in Jefferson County, Washington settled a class action lawsuit filed by a Jefferson County Jail prisoner. The suit alleged inhumane living conditions and resulted in sweeping changes in jail policy.

On February 25, 2002 Shawn Orndorff, a prisoner at the jail, filed the complaint in ...

Washington Jail Trustees Entitled to L&I Benefits

Division 3 of the Washington State Court of Appeals (Div. 3) has ruled that county jail trustees who are hurt while performing their duties are entitled to benefits from Labor & Industries (L&I) under RCW § 51.12.035 et seq.

In July of 2002, David J. Wissink was serving 90 days in the Stevens County Jail for an unspecified offense. Wissink had volunteered to be a trustee and was injured while carrying a bunk through a cell door. His injury required several stitches.

On August 2000, the jail applied to L&I. to pay Wissink's medical expenses, pursuant to § 51.12.035. The jail believed that Wissink qualified as a "volunteer" under 2 of the statute since he: (1) performed duties for the local government; (2) by his own free will; (3) without pay; and (4) was registered by the jail as a volunteer ...

Prison AIDS Cases, Deaths Increase; HIV Infections Decrease

In January 2004, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, reported that the number of confirmed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) cases and AIDS-related deaths among all state and federal prisoners increased from yearend 2000 to yearend 2001. In the same time ...

Administrative Remedies Deemed Unavailable Based on Physical Injury

Administrative Remedies Deemed Unavailable Based On Physical Injury


By Bob Williams

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that administrative remedies are unavailable when a prisoner has a physical injury which prevents filing a grievance and a subsequently filed grievance is then rejected as untimely.

Frank Days slipped and ...

Federal Halfway House Litigation

by Todd Bussert, Esq.*

In Decemberr 2002, a shock wave reverberated through the federal prison system, when the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced radical changes in its policy on when it will allow prisoners to serve some or all of their sentences in Community Confinement Centers (CCCs or halfway houses ...

Prison Guards With Criminal Records Work in Texas Prison

Over ten percent of the guards at the Lyncher State Jail, near Houston Texas, are convicted felons themselves. Houston television station. KPRC uncovered court files showing that about thirty of the guards had served time. Some are repeat offenders; some are ranking officers.

Charges against the guards include felony theft ...

News in Brief

Alabama: In March, 2004, Jefferson county jail guard Antonio Allums was charged with misdemeanor assault for attacking jail prisoner Michael Boler in the jail by choking him, slamming his head against a wall and then trying to cover it up. Boler was attacked for no apparent reason. Allums had previously ...