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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: October, 2005

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Volume 16, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. Modern Slavery In North Carolina: Another Peculiar Institution (p 1)
  2. Problems Mount In Maryland Prisons (p 6)
  3. Bringing Down The Brotherhood (p 8)
  4. California County Jail Quietly Settles (p 15)
  5. From the Editor (p 16)
  6. Guards Rape, Sexually Harass and Smuggle at Colorado Prisons (p 18)
  7. Oklahoma Civil Action Timely (p 20)
  8. Pennsylvania Control Unit Newspaper, Magazine and Photo Ban Invalidated; Supreme Court Grants Review (p 21)
  9. Grand Jury Finds Criminal Conduct In Chicago Jail Prisoner Abuse Scandal (p 22)
  10. Rape Behind Bars: Bureau of Justice Statistics Issues First Report (p 24)
  11. Massachusetts DOC Denies Two, Approves One, Same-Sex Marriages (p 25)
  12. U.S. Finally Outlaws Execution of Children (p 26)
  13. Raped New York Prisoner Awarded $25,000 (p 27)
  14. California Lifer Claims Parole (p 28)
  15. NY DOC Agrees to Comply with A.D.A. (p 28)
  16. Prisoners Faced Violent Hazing In Troubled Pennsylvania Jail (p 29)
  17. Titan Pays $28.5 Million After Pleading Guilty to Three Felonies (p 30)
  18. Suit Implicates Washington DOC In Near-Fatal Collision, Drug Use Suspected (p 30)
  19. Report Details General Decline In Death Penalty Statistics For 2003 (p 31)
  20. Reliance Solely On Guard's Version of Incident Improper (p 32)
  21. Illinois Jail Conditions Suit Nets $150,000 Attorney Fee Award (p 32)
  22. An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse:An Essay On Prison Reform from an Insider's Perspective, by Jens Soering, Lantern Books, 2004, $12, 113 pages (p 33)
  23. Accounting Errors Plagued California Criminal Justice Agency (p 34)
  24. Parole Officers Not Absolutely Immune For Conduct Distinct From Parole Decisions (p 34)
  25. Nevada Supreme Court Clarifies Personal Injury Exhaustion Requirements (p 35)
  26. Denial of New Jersey Work Credits Violates Equal Protection (p 36)
  27. PLRA Attorney Fee-Award Criteria "Directly Incurred" and "Degree Of Success" Explained (p 36)
  28. Tennessee Pretrial Jail Credit Mandatory, Not Waivable (p 37)
  29. Sexual Predator Civil Commitment Detainee May Not Be Housed In Punitive Segregation (p 38)
  30. Damages Denied To Bilingual Iowa Prisoner Prohibited From Writing Family In Spanish (p 38)
  31. First Circuit Upholds Order Privatizing Prison Health Care In Puerto Rico (p 40)
  32. News in Brief: (p 41)
  33. California Family Visiting Appeal Denied (p 44)

Modern Slavery In North Carolina: Another Peculiar Institution

by Michael Rigby

Jean Valjean went to prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's seven hungry children. It was only the first of many injustices the protagonist in Victor Hugo's biting social commentary, Les Miserables, would endure. For the next 19 years he labored as a slave on a French chain gang. When he was released in 1815, Valjean had earned a grand total of 109 francs--then the equivalent of about 2 months' wages.

Two hundred years later, prisoners in North Carolina have it no better. Toiling in prison sewing plants, stamping out license plates, and assembling furniture, these modern slaves labor for a top pay of $3 a day.
Correction Enterprises (CE), the division of the North Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC) that operates prison factories, farms and other prisoner work programs, employs 2,300 prisoners and about 375 staff. In 2004 CE had $78.7 million in sales and reported $4.5 million in profit. That year, sales to prisons accounted for 46% of CE revenue while sales to other state agencies made up another 40%. In 2003 and 2004, $3 million of CE's net income went to the state's ...

Problems Mount In Maryland Prisons

by Michael Rigby

Even as the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) reels amid mounting criticism over pervasive violence, inadequate medical care, overcrowding, understaffing, and other systemic deficiencies, new tremors continue to rattle the division. Eight guards accused of beating a prisoner to death have been fired, and an investigator inexplicably reassigned. Another guard has been charged with plotting to kill a prisoner. At the same time, prison workers are complaining of unsafe work conditions, and a warden has resigned in protest.

On May 14, 2005, Raymond Smoot, 52, died after he was beaten and stomped ... by a number of officers" at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center, said Warren Brown, the family's attorney. Smoot died the next day at a local hospital. The state medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

It'll be clear that this institution is operating with an absence of rules and regulations on how to deal with these types of procedures," Brown said. The beatingwhich reportedly involved 25 to 30 guardsapparently happened when Smoot refused to enter his cell.

Smoot's niece, Delvonna Smoot, said his face was horribly deformed from the beating. My uncle's face was like ...

Bringing Down The Brotherhood

by Alan Prendergast

Inside the feds' war on the deadliest prison gang: 16 murders. 21 death-penalty cases. Snitches galore.

A wide red line runs across the floor of the visiting room like a clown's grin, separating the guard post and the civilian exit from the rest of the place. Prisoners are forbidden to cross that line.

Joseph Principe stays way, way clear of the line. The last thing he needs, today or any of the other days he has to spend behind bars, is trouble.
Maybe it's the olive-green uniform, maybe it's the way he stands for a frisk, but there is little to distinguish Principe from the other convicts in this medium-security lockup on Colorado's high plains. Only this: When the female guard who pats him down tells him to tuck in his shirt, he doesn't give her attitudejust a slight smile.

Is this new?" he asks.

She shakes her head slowly. He turns away from her, for modesty's sake, and tucks. The whole exchange takes only a few seconds, but it's rich in ritual. Here are the rules, ancient and implacable, thus it has always been and always shall be&and over here is Joe Principe, a man in a unique position to understand both the absurdity and the necessity of what is being asked of him.

Until a few years ago, Principe was the one doing the frisking and making prisoners toe the line. He was a guard at the highest-security prison in the country, the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum. Better known as ADX, the federal pen outside of Florence is home to many of the nation's most dangerous terrorists, gang leaders and murderers, and Principe was their keeper. But then the world turned upside down, and he found himself on the wrong side of the bars.

Disgraced cops who go to prison usually end up in some form of protective custody checking in," convicts call it. But that's not Principe's way. He walks the yard with the rest of the cons, takes his meals with them. Checking in is for rats, and Principe is no rat. His refusal to snitch is a point of pride with him. Depending on how you look at it, it's the one thing that has kept him alive, or the thing that got him in trouble in the first place.

News travels fast in prison, rumors even faster. Everybody knows a little bit about who Principe is and what he used to be. Usually all they hear is that this guy used to be a fed," he says. It gets passed around. So I put it out there: You got any questions? Bring them to me. I'll tell you what's up.' But I don't feel comfortable telling them the whole story.
The whole story, as Principe tells it, is about snitches and the games they play. One day you're a trusted employee of the United States Bureau of Prisons. Then the snitches go to work, and you're a pariah. Before you know it, you're a named defendant in the biggest, hairiest, high-stakes racketeering case the federal government has ever prosecuted. That's your name on the 110-page indictment, linked to a bunch of hardcore killers, dope dealers and bank robberslifers and career criminals with nicknames such as The Baron, The Hulk, Blinky, McKool, Tank, Turtle, Youngster and Lucifer.

Unveiled in 2002 by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, the sprawling indictment is the culmination of years of effort by federal and state agencies to smash the Aryan Brotherhood, the most notorious of all prison gangs. The case is stunning in scope, targeting forty defendantsvirtually the entire upper management of the AB, as well as various associates," wannabes and stoogesfor their alleged roles in a criminal enterprise stretching over decades. It encompasses 16 murders, dating back to the 1979 near-beheading of a prisoner by AB leader Barry The Baron" Mills, and 16 other plotted or attempted murders; numerous ...

California County Jail Quietly Settles

Substandard Healthcare Suit For $1.75 Million

Santa Clara County, California has quietly paid a settlement of $1.75 million to settle a federal claim by county jail healthcare workers about being retaliated against and demoted for having complained about substandard healthcare practices they observed in the jails. County officials ...

From the Editor

This issue of PLN sees the addition of Andrea Cavanaugh as a quarterly columnist for the magazine. Andrea is the media coordinator of Stop Prisoner Rape, a non profit advocacy organization in Los Angeles which seeks to eliminate the sexual assault of prisoners. I have been on the advisory board of SPR for a number of years now and believe that sexual assault is an integral management tool for prison and jail officials in this country and as a practice it needs to be eliminated.

Two things that need to be done are raising public awareness of the problem and also organizing and educating prisoners to end the practice. In many respects, awareness of the sexual assaults of prisoners is, legally and politically, where the sexual assault of women was 40 years ago in terms of the treatment of rape victims and public attitudes towards it. In popular culture, on television and elsewhere, the topic of prison rape is still considered a joke, when obviously rape outside of the prison context is not.

We look forward to future columns from Andrea as well as joint projects with SPR.

On November 12, 2005, long time Texas prisoner David Ruiz died at ...

Guards Rape, Sexually Harass and Smuggle at Colorado Prisons

by Matthew T. Clarke

There are new troubles at several prisons in Colorado. At a 250-bed GRW-run private prison in Brush, a tiny town 91 miles northwest of Denver, the newly-resigned ex-warden and two guards have been indicted in relation to felony sexual contact with eight female prisoners. A guard lieutenant at a state prison has been arrested for sexually assaulting a male prisoner. Another nine people have been charged with smuggling contraband into the Brush Correctional Facility (BCF). Background checks also revealed that five of the guards at BCF had felony convictions and three others had questionable criminal backgrounds. The U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stated in federal court that a high-ranking employee of Dominion Correctional Services of Edmond, Oklahoma, forced a female subordinate to engage in sexual activities at Crowley County Correctional Facility (CCCF) when that company was running that prison. The female guard filed suit in federal court alleging outrageous sexual conduct by the superior, retaliation and gender discrimination. Dominion settled the suit for an undisclosed sum. Meanwhile, a guard at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (AVCF) has been arrested for allegedly raping a male state prisoner.

GRW Doing Good and
Doing Well at Brush ...

Oklahoma Civil Action Timely

Under Mailbox Rule

The Oklahoma Court of Appeals held that the prison mailbox rule applies to prisoner filings of civil actions. It also held that the trial court violated District Court rule 13(f) when it ruled on a summary judgment motion without giving the prisoner time to file a response to defendants' pleadings.

While in jail, Oklahoma prisoner Philip Halliday was assaulted by other prisoners in May 1999, and then again in December 1999, while he was held in a PC tank." He was moved from the tank on December 20, 1999.
Halliday filed a civil action against various County defendants, alleging that they violated his rights by failing to protect him from physical attack by other prisoners while he was in the jail. Although Halliday gave his complaint to prison officials for mailing on December 12, 2001, it was not ultimately file-stamped by the court clerk until January 24, 2002, outside the applicable two-year limitation period for filing an action.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, alleging the action was barred by the two year limitation period prescribed by 12 O.S. 2001 § 95(3). Halliday argued that under the prison mailbox rule" his complaint was timely. The ...

Pennsylvania Control Unit Newspaper, Magazine and Photo Ban Invalidated; Supreme Court Grants Review

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's decision upholding a Pennsylvania prison policy prohibiting a class of segregated prisoners from possessing newspapers, magazines and photographs. The U.S. supreme court granted review in the case on November 14, 2005.
In 2000, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) created a Long Term Segregation Unit (LTSU) at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh. The LTSU holds a maximum of forty prisoners who are deemed too disruptive, violent, or problematic to [be] housed elsewhere." Upon admission to LTSU prisoners are classified at Level 2," where they must remain at least 90 days, and where they may remain indefinitely. The length of time a prisoner may spend in the LTSU is open-ended and subject to the discretion of prison personnel.

DOC policy prohibits Level 2 prisoners from receiving newspapers or magazines... from any... source for the duration of their confinement at Level 2 status unless the publication is religious or legal in nature. Individual articles clipped from publications are prohibited, unless they relate to the [prisoner] or his family." The policy also prohibits receipt or possession of photographs of spouses, other family members, or friends." Meanwhile, Level 1 prisoners are permitted ...

Grand Jury Finds Criminal Conduct In Chicago Jail Prisoner Abuse Scandal

As previously reported in PLN, the Cook County Jail has been the scene of controversy involving the wanton beating of prisoners by an elite squad of guards known as the SORT team. [PLN Feb. 2004, May 2005, p. 39]. An investigatory Grand Jury in Chicago has found felony criminal conduct related to the beatings of prisoners by Cook County jail personnel in 1999.

Two Beatings

The two main incidents involving the SORT team beating prisoners occurred on February 24, 1999 and July 29, 2000. In early 2003, media attention, spurred by the filing of several lawsuits by prisoners who were beaten, focused on the beatings and coverup of the 1999 beating. The March 2003 Grand Jury was extended to investigate the beatings. On August 30, 2004, the Grand Jury released a 149-page report of the beatings and subsequent coverup by Sheriff’s Office personnel.

Grand Jury Findings On 1999 Beatings

The Grand Jury found that, on February 24, 1999, at 6:25 a.m., the SORT team, led by Superintendent Richard Remus, entered Wings 3E and 3F of Division 9 at the maximum security facility. At that time, the wings were locked down and quiet. They had been quiet throughout ...

Rape Behind Bars: Bureau of Justice Statistics Issues First Report

by Andrea Cavanaugh

The numbers only begin to tell the story.

In July, 2005, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics released its first-ever report on the prevalence of prisoner rape. A survey of U.S. prisons, jails, and youth facilities found that there were 8,210 allegations of sexual violence against prisoners last year. Nearly 2,100 of those allegations were substantiated by detention facility officials.
With more than 2.1 million Americans behind bars, nearly everyone acknowledges the BJS statistics offer only a glimpse of the truth. Even the study's authors, BJS statisticians Allen J. Beck and Timothy A. Hughes, wrote that the numbers represent only the tip of the iceberg. The factors that prevent prisoners from reporting rape are just too powerful, they concluded.

Administrative records alone cannot provide reliable estimates of sexual violence," Beck and Hughes wrote. Due to fear of reprisal from perpetrators, a code of silence among inmates, personal embarrassment, and lack of trust in staff, victims are often reluctant to report incidents to correctional authorities.

At present there are no reliable estimates of the extent of unreported sexual victimization among prison and jail inmates and youth held in residential facilities.

Although statistics ...

Massachusetts DOC Denies Two, Approves One, Same-Sex Marriages

Massachusetts DOC Denies Two,
Approves One, Same-Sex Marriages

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) has denied the request of two civilly-committed sex offenders to marry. It also denied a similar request by two other male prisoners, but approved a request by a female prisoner and a female non-prisoner.

Essie Billingslea and Bruce Hatt, civilly-committed state prisoners at the Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC), requested permission to marry from the DOC following a November 2003 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court allowing same-sex marriages. DOC Superintendent Robert Murphy denied the request citing very serious security concerns." Governor Mitt Rommey endorsed the decision.

A March 23, 2005, letter from Murphy to Billingslea stated, A wedding/marriage between you and resident Bruce Hatt would present a significant security risk to the" MTC and DOC. A marriage between two residents . . . would have a direct impact on the orderly running of the facility.

There is the potential for you to be harassed, up to the point of assault, by other residents and/or inmates," wrote Murphy. There is also the potential for you to be exploited both personally and financially as a result of this relationship. I am concerned for your ...

U.S. Finally Outlaws Execution of Children

by Marjorie Cohn

Today, the Court repudiated the misguided idea that the United States can pledge to leave no child behind while simultaneously exiling children to the death chamber.

Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International
Until March 1, 2005, the United States was the only nation in the world that permitted the execution of children under age 18. Only seven countries besides the U.S. have executed juvenile offenders since 1990: Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and China. Since then, each of these countries has either abolished capital punishment for juveniles or made public disavowal of the practice. With the Supreme Court's monumental ruling in Roper v. Simmons, 125 S.Ct. 1183 (2005), the United States has finally joined the community of nations that says the state-sanctioned execution of children is wrong.

Christopher Simmons was a 17-year-old junior in high school when he and a friend burglarized Shirley Crook's home. When Simmons realized Mrs. Crook had recognized him, he and his friend tied her up, and threw her off a bridge to her death. Simmons, who had never even been arrested before, was described by clinical psychologists who evaluated him ...

Raped New York Prisoner Awarded $25,000

On August 17, 2004, a New York court of claims awarded $25,000 to a state prisoner who was raped in the shower.

While imprisoned at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, Donald Ramos received a series of letters from another prisoner who was known to be a sexual predator ...

California Lifer Claims Parole

Chair Fisher Is Biased

While most of California's lifers face a mere 99% chance of being denied parole, murderer Linda Ricchio's odds appear far worse. Her victim, Ronald Ruse, was the brother of newly appointed (and confirmed) Board of Prison Terms (BPT) Commissioner Susan Fisher. Fisher, it turns out, is more than a grieving next-of kin, she is also an active member and leader of victims' rights/revenge groups. Fisher has most recently (since 1999) been Director of the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, including being a board member for seven years. She belonged to two other victims groups, and was President of Citizens for Law and Order since 2000. The Doris Tate Crime Victim's Bureau receives the bulk of its funding from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the union that represents prison guards in California.

Ricchio' s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, has filed papers to remove Ricchio's hearing to superior court. While, of course, Fisher could never sit on Ricchio's parole panel, the concern remains that her influence may pervade the whole BPT. Pfeiffer believes that Fisher's appointment to the BPT is simply a mission to avenge her brother's murder. Pfeiffer notes ...

NY DOC Agrees to Comply with A.D.A.

The New York City Department of Corrections (NYDOC) on Rikers Island has entered into a voluntary compliance agreement that requires it to comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). A NYDOC prisoner filed a complaint with the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, causing that office to investigate whether the NYDOC was violating the ADA.

The prisoner's complaint alleged, among other things, that NYDOC had not designated a responsible employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with its obligations under the ADA with respect to prisoners, and refused to provide the complainant with the name, address and telephone number of that employee.

Under the ADA, no qualified individual with a disability: shall be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, program or activities of a public entity." NYDOC is a public entity under 42 U.S.C. § 12132, and the implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.
A public entity with fifty or more employees is obligated under the ADA to designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under (the ADA), including investigation of any complaint communicated to ...

Prisoners Faced Violent Hazing In Troubled Pennsylvania Jail

by Michael Rigby

At least 50 prisoners entering Pennsylvania's Somerset County Jail over a 2-year period were beaten as part of a violent hazing ritual that went unchecked by jail authorities. This combined with serious overcrowding and a history of poor performance has placed the jail in danger of decertification.

The beatings, delivered to new prisoners by more senior ones, came in the form of a shower shoeing," said Somerset Borough Police Chief Randy Cox. These attacks consisted of 10 to 20 whacks" with a heavy, rubber-soled shower shoe from a prisoner swinging with two hands with all his energy." Prisoners who refused the shower shoeing received a more conventional beating of kicks and punches that often resulted in serious injury.
Cox said the attackers preyed on vulnerable prisoners, some of whom were in the jail only briefly. The inmates who were victimized tended to be smaller and, obviously, not prepared for what they were facing," he said. Some ... were brought in for an appearance that day. One was there for five hours and walked away with a beating.

A list released by county commissioners on April 5, 2005, showed that 46 prisoners were hospitalized for injuries in 2003 ...

Titan Pays $28.5 Million After Pleading Guilty to Three Felonies

Titan Pays $28.5 Million After
Pleading Guilty to Three Felonies

by Matthew T. Clarke

On March 1, 2005, Titan Corp., the largest private supplier of translators for the U.S. military, pleaded guilty to three felony charges and agreed to pay $13 million in criminal fines and settle a Security and Exchange Commission civil suit for $15.5 million without admitting or denying guilt in that suit. The felony charges arose from Titan's attempt to influence elections in Benin, a country in West Africa. The guilty plea was to one charge under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, one charge of falsify accounting records, and one charge of filing a falsified income tax return.
The corruption came to light when Lockheed Martin Corp., a large military contractor, was reviewing Titan's books in preparation for a planned corporate take-over of Titan in early 2004. Titan had paid $2 million to the 2001 presidential election campaign of Mathieu Kerekou, who won the election. The bribery was covered up as consulting fees. At that time, Titan was involved in development of a cellular telephone network in Benin. In exchange for the bribery, Titan's management fees were quadrupled from 5% to ...

Suit Implicates Washington DOC In Near-Fatal Collision, Drug Use Suspected

A woman critically injured in a collision caused by an employee of the Washington prison system--reassigned to his home because of suspected drug use--has sued the state Department of Corrections (DOC) for endangering the public.

Barbara Starkel was returning home from work on November 21, 2003, when an oncoming car crossed the centerline, sideswiped another car, and slammed head-on into her Chevy pickup. As firefighters pried her from the crumpled cab, Starkel, 55, was still alive--but barely. Her neck had a torn artery and was broken in 2 places, her right heel was shattered, and a severe head injury left her in a coma for 10 days. At the hospital, Starkel suffered multiple strokes.

Mark Aldrich, a Washington DOC community corrections officer (what parole officers are called in Washington) assigned to oversee state prisoners released to community supervision, was driving the car that hit Starkel. According to the police report, Aldrich, 50, had been driving 63 mph in a 50-mph zone. Aldrich also admitted he'd had two 16-ounce beers, though his blood alcohol level tested about half the legal limit of .08. He refused to be evaluated by a drug-recognition expert or to provide a blood sample.
At the ...

Report Details General Decline In Death Penalty Statistics For 2003

For most of the nation, 2003 was a year of declining death penalty statistics. That year, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report, the number of death sentences imposed fell to a 30-year low, while the number of completed executions also declined slightly.

During 2003, 144 prisoners were sentenced to death24 fewer than in 2002 and lowest number since 44 prisoners received death sentences in 1973. By contrast, between 1994 and 2000 the average was 297 per year.
Twenty-five states and the federal government accounted for all 144 death sentences in 2003. Five statesTexas (29), California (19), Florida (11), and Arizona and Oklahoma (both 9)accounted for more than half of there.
At yearend 2003, 3,374 prisoners were on death row in 37 states and the federal prison system, 188 fewer than at yearend 2002. It was the third consecutive year to show a decline. Much of the reduction (91%), however, was accounted for by a single act: Illinois governor George Ryan's decision to commute 167 death sentences to life in prison [See PLN, July 2003, p. 24].

The number of women on death row also declined slightly. On December 31, 2003, 47 women were under ...

Reliance Solely On Guard's Version of Incident Improper

In an unpublished decision, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment dismissal of a prisoner's civil rights action against Michigan prison guards holding that the district court had erroneously relied on the guards' version of disputed fats.

Robert L. Johnson, a Michigan state prisoner, claimed that he was assaulted by prison guards as he walked down a hall in leg irons and handcuffs. Johnson's account follows. As he passed guards Paul Perry, Mark Panasiewicz, and James Lachance, the guards told him to hurry up and called him an old bastard." Johnson tried to continue walking but was pushed into a stairwell by Perry and Panasiewicz. Halfway down the stairs Perry stepped on the chain between Johnson's legs and then, with Panasiewicz's help, pushed him down the stairs and onto the concrete floor. Perry then stepped on Johnson's handcuffs and put him in a choke hold while Panasiewicz and Danny Loosemore helped carry him to his cell, where they threw him violently to the floor. Perry then told the other guards not to remove Johnson's restraints and to ignore his requests for medical attention.

Johnson was later examined by a ...

Illinois Jail Conditions Suit Nets $150,000 Attorney Fee Award

An Illinois Federal District Court has awarded attorneys representing prisoners at the Winnebago County Jail (WCJ) $150,000 in attorney fees and costs. This class action suit alleged the conditions at WCJ were unconstitutionally deficient in numerous respects.

The suit alleged system-wide problems of overcrowding, double and triple bunking of ...

An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse:An Essay On Prison Reform from an Insider's Perspective, by Jens Soering, Lantern Books, 2004, $12, 113 pages

An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse:An Essay On
Prison Reform from an Insider's Perspective, by Jens Soering,
Lantern Books, 2004, $12, 113 pages

reviewed by Stephen Healy and Peter Wagner

When Virginia lifer Jens Soering released his second book, An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse: An Essay On Prison Reform from an Insider's Perspective he fired a warning shot across the bow of the prison industrial complex. An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse is the best short, readable, fact-drive summation of why prisons don't work, but what makes the book so powerful is that it is written by a conservative Christian addressed to other fiscal conservatives.

Fiscal conservatives define "government" as small government, so by using a simple cost-benefit analysis, Soering shows that locking up 2 million people fails to justify the $57 billion cost. While progressives may oppose the current criminal and penal systems for social and ethical reasons, Soering's arguments have the potential to split the Republican party's fiscally conservative base from its get tough on crime" leadership.

Using fresh analysis and groundbreaking arguments to bring sometimes dry statistics to life, Soering's book is organized ...

Accounting Errors Plagued California Criminal Justice Agency

A defunct California agency charged with distributing grant money for crime prevention and victim aid may have cost the state millions in federal funds due to poor accounting practices, state auditors said on February 2, 2005.

Lawmakers knew something was wrong at the Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP) two years ago when they couldn't get information from the agency to prepare the state budget. After abolishing the office, auditors were called in to review the books. What they found was criminal.
Cash receipts, payments, and accounts receivable weren't recorded. Funds intended for some programs were spent on others. Files the agency did keep were incomplete and filled with errors.

In fact, accounting records were in such poor shape that forensic accountants had to reconstruct the agency's files before auditors could do their job. To complete the review, it took 46 employees 16,000 hours and cost over $1 million.

In my 30 years experience, this is the worst thing I've ever seen," said Samuel Hull, chief of state audits. When we got into there and started looking at things ... the problems just kept ballooning.
A copy of the report has been forwarded to the attorney ...

Parole Officers Not Absolutely Immune For Conduct Distinct From Parole Decisions

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that California Department of Corrections (CDC) parole officers were not absolutely immune from suit by a former prisoner who alleged he was re-incarcerated because the officers falsified his records in a conspiracy to cause his wrongful detention.

Michael Swift completed his sixteen month term for uttering a bad $114 check in California and then transferred to out-of-state parole in Iowa. While in Iowa, he was arrested for domestic violence, for which a parolee-at-large warrant was issued. However, he was acquitted of the domestic violence charge. Later, the Interstate Parole Supervision Unit (IPSU) held a Morrissey hearing as to parole violations, only to again acquit him. In January, 1998, Swift was released from parole supervision by Iowa. His successful completion of parole was reported to IPSU, but IPSU failed to notify the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT) or the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). As a result, the earlier warrant was never recalled.

When Swift became aware of the warrant in 2001, he contacted IPSU to request its recall. He was told to report to CDC's parole unit in Chula Vista, California on April 18, 2001 ...

Nevada Supreme Court Clarifies Personal Injury Exhaustion Requirements

The Nevada Supreme Court held that state prisoners seeking compensation for personal injuries are not required to allege exhaustion of their administrative remedies, nor does the failure to exhaust administrative remedies deprive the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction.

Thomas Cotton, Wilbur Lewis Jr., and Aries Mosby, prisoners at the High Desert Correctional Center, were injured when the tractor-type cart they were riding in overturned. The prisoners claimed that after the accident they filed grievances requesting, among other things, medical care, but the grievances either went unanswered or were denied.

The prisoners subsequently filed a claim in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County against the Nevada Department of Prisons (DOP) seeking damages and injunctive relief regarding medical care and work time credits. On the DOP's motion, the district court dismissed holding that pursuant to NRS 41.0322(1) (which governs personal injury actions brought by prisoners in the DOP) prior to filing their complaint, appellants must have first exhausted their administrative remedies and have pleaded exhaustion as part of their claim for relief." The prisoners appealed.
On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court first noted that nothing in NRS 41.0322(1) specifically requires that exhaustion be pleaded ...

Denial of New Jersey Work Credits Violates Equal Protection

A New Jersey appellate court held that denying work credits to prisoners serving concurrent New Jersey sentences in other states violates the equal protection clause of the New Jersey Constitution.

On February 11, 1978, Charles VanWinkle began serving a seventeen and one-half to thirty-five year sentence in Pennsylvania. Pursuant to the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), [he] was temporarily transferred from Pennsylvania to New Jersey to stand trial for pending charges.
In October 1978, VanWinkle was sentenced in three New Jersey cases to an aggregate minimum sentence of twenty-two years and a maximum sentence of fifty-five years. All sentences were imposed concurrently to VanWinkle's Pennsylvania sentence.

Following sentencing in New Jersey, VanWinkle was returned to Pennsylvania pursuant to the provisions of the IAD, where he continued serving his Pennsylvania sentence and concurrent New Jersey sentences[,]" until paroled to his New Jersey detainer on June 14, 1994.

In April 2001, VanWinkle sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections requesting his work record so that New Jersey could use this information to award him additional work credits." Pennsylvania authorities notified the New Jersey Department of Corrections of VanWinkle's request. New Jersey officials then notified VanWinkle that work credits ...

PLRA Attorney Fee-Award Criteria "Directly Incurred" and "Degree Of Success" Explained

PLRA Attorney Fee-Award Criteria "Directly Incurred" and "Degree Of Success" Explained

by John E. Dannenberg

After a successful jailhouse lawyer retaliation suit (see: PLN, March 2003, p.20, $90,169 Plus Injunction In California Retaliation Suit), California prison official defendants appealed the award of post-Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) attorney ...

Tennessee Pretrial Jail Credit Mandatory, Not Waivable

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a defendant's convictions, holding that the trial court should not have accepted [his] plea agreement waiving pretrial Jail credit and that the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.
On May 10, 2002, Richard Filauro pled guilty to two counts of rape of a child, for conduct toward his eight-year-old granddaughter. At the guilty plea hearing, the trial court imposed two concurrent twenty-five year sentences, as provided in the plea agreement. In addition, the agreement stipulated that the defendant would not receive pretrial Jail credit for the eighteen months he spent in jail before agreeing to plead guilty.

On May 31, 2002, Filauro moved to withdraw his guilty pleas, contending that his pleas were both illegal and manifestly unjust." After a hearing, [t]he trial court denied the defendant's motion to withdraw, finding that a defendant could waive pretrial jail credit and that his sentence of 26.5 years was not illegal.

Citing McConnell v. State, 12 S.W. 3d 795, 798 (Tenn. 2000), the appellate court agreed with Filauro that the trial court was without jurisdiction to accept his pleas because jail credits ...

Sexual Predator Civil Commitment Detainee May Not Be Housed In Punitive Segregation

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that a California sexual predator civil commitment detainee, while awaiting commitment proceedings, is entitled to conditions of confinement that are not punitive.

Oscar Jones was a California parole violator whose original commitment offenses made him a candidate for civil commitment as a sexually violent predator under California's Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) [Welfare and Institutions Code § 6600 et seq.].

When he was originally paroled, the 1996 SVPA had not yet been enacted. However, when he violated parole in June 1997, he became subject to SVPA civil commitment proceedings before being re-paroled in six months, and in December, 1997, was transferred to the Sacramento County Jail and detained pending such proceedings (due by law in 45 days). Per California Penal Code (PC) § 4002(a), such persons shall not be housed in the same room as criminal-detainees. Additionally, per § 4002(b), civil SVPA detainees must be kept in administrative segregation, which is defined as not involving deprivation of privileges other than that necessary to protect prisoners and staff.

But Jones' complaint was that he was housed (for what became two years) in County Jail administrative segregation area T-sep ...

Damages Denied To Bilingual Iowa Prisoner Prohibited From Writing Family In Spanish

by John E. Dannenberg

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that an Iowa prisoner was not entitled to damages when he challenged a policy requiring prisoners to correspond only in English because he had not identified cost free alternatives to the policy. A prison mail policy prohibited a Mexican national prisoner incarcerated in Iowa's Fort Dodge Correctional Facility (FCDF) from writing to his Spanish-only speaking family in Mexico. The prisoner was fluent in English, however his family in Mexico could read and write only in Spanish. Although FCDF dropped this policy three months later, Ortiz sued his Unit Manager Tom Conley and FCDF in U.S. District Court, N.D. Iowa under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for damages and punitive damages for violation of his First Amendment rights during the restricted months. The district court had held that the earlier regulation was reasonably related to legitimate penological interests" and denied Ortiz relief.
On appeal, Ortiz cited the Eighth Circuit's precedent favoring a Laotian Iowa prisoner who won damages in 1993 in a similar English-only complaint (Thongvanh v. Thalacker, 17 F.3d 256 (8th Cir. 1994)). Thongvanh had won when he demonstrated that the prison ...

First Circuit Upholds Order Privatizing Prison Health Care In Puerto Rico

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals held that an order governing the privatization of health care in Puerto Rican prisons was valid and did not violate the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

This case is the latest iteration in a Byzantine class action lawsuit that has dragged on for more than 20 years. In 1979, a group of prisoners sued the Puerto Rican prison system alleging dire shortcomings in virtually every aspect of prisoner confinement." The district court granted injunctive relief. Little progress was made, however, and years of legal wrangling followed. Some conditions eventually improved, but medical care was not one of them.

In 1997, a court-appointed expert concluded that the prison system's existing health care programs could never be brought up to constitutional standards and proposed the appointment of a receiver. The parties unanimously opposed this recommendation and instead suggested privatizing prison health care services through the creation of a non-profit corporation. On September 26, 1997, with both sides pledging their full support, the parties drafted, executed, and filed a stipulation embodying this agreement." The district court endorsed the stipulation in 1998 and the Correctional Health Services Corporation (CHSC) was born. [See PLN, December 2003 ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On October 4, 2005, three prisoners escaped from the tent city jail in Phoenix. Two of the three escapees were recaptured a day later driving a stolen car. The third escapee was captured two days after escaping. The men climbed over electric fences and razor wire to escape.

Arizona: On September 8, 2005, Maricopa county police shot and killed probationer Darnell Clement, 26, when he showed up at a probation office in Scottsdale where he had been told to report to have his probation revoked. Clement was on probation for beating his wife and was having his probation revoked for a similar domestic violence incident.

Arkansas: On October 7, 2005, Glen Andis, 30, a prisoner at the Cummins Unit in Varner fell into a corn filled silo and suffocated. Andis had been repairing a hole in the side of the bin when he fell into the corn and could not get out.

California: On September 22, 2005, over 200 prisoners at the Reception Center-East facility in Chino rioted in a cell block and smashed windows, destroyed cell doors, light fixtures and toilets in their cells. Guards abandoned the unit during the uprising. Guards eventually subdued the prisoners using tear ...

California Family Visiting Appeal Denied

The California Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of a state prisoner's quest for injunctive and declaratory relief that would have invalidated the 1996 amendments to the Department of Corrections' (CDC) family [overnight] visiting rules excluding him from participation. The case had received much publicity in prisoner newsletters and publications.
Bernard Gordon, sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) in 1987, was denied family visiting by virtue of the 1996 amendments to prison regulation Title 15, § 3177(b)(2) [formerly § 3174(e)], which expressly excluded LWOPs. He had attacked the regulation as being procedurally defective under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) (Government Code
§§ 11340 et seq.) and countered CDC's argument that the regulation was
reasonably necessary.

In an unpublished opinion, the appellate court affirmed the San Francisco Superior Court's ruling that the APA claim was moot because CDC had reenacted the challenged regulation in 2003, which had the effect of curing any prior defects in the earlier enactment. As to the second claim, the court concluded that CDC's determination was not arbitrary and capricious" because it satisfied Government Code §§ 11340(c) and 11350(b)(1)'s requirement for substantial evidence to support exclusion of certain prisoners from ...

 

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Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual