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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: November, 2005

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Volume 16, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. Prison Design Boycott a Challenge to the Professional Business of Incarceration (p 1)
  2. North Carolina Prosecutors Reprimanded For Intentionally Withholding Crucial Exculpatory Evidence in (p 8)
  3. Parole for Women in California: Promise or Pathos (p 10)
  4. From the Editor (p 12)
  5. California Prison Gang Linked to Guards and Mexican Drug Cartel (p 13)
  6. CIA Private Jet Takes Prisoners on Torture Trips (p 14)
  7. Connecticut: Rash of Prisoner Suicides Prompt Questions, Concerns (p 15)
  8. Rising Deaths and Violence Among Problems In Illinois Prisons, Jails (p 16)
  9. Jail Policy Barring Abortion Without Court Order Upheld (p 17)
  10. Oklahoma Prisons Suffer Crisis of Violence and Mismanagement (p 18)
  11. Overturned Conviction Nets Baltimore Man $1.4 Million (p 19)
  12. Federal Prison Problematic For Texas Officials (p 20)
  13. Tulia Undercover Deputy Tom Coleman Convicted of Perjury (p 21)
  14. Procedural Default In Exhausting State Administrative Remedies Held Not A Bar To Bringing § 1983 Act (p 22)
  15. Los Angeles County Pays $125,000 In Medical Negligence Juvenile Camp Death (p 22)
  16. Escaped Murderer Found Eleven Years Later (p 23)
  17. Pro Se Tips and Tactics: Three-Strikes and No More (p 24)
  18. Supreme Court Holds Penalty Phase (p 27)
  19. Fired, Tattooed, Nude-Posing Guard Settles with Maryland DOC for $10,000 (p 28)
  20. PLN Loses Florida Writer Pay Ban/Censorship (p 29)
  21. Higher Property Tax Collections Permit 25% Growth Of Los Angeles County Jail Capacity (p 30)
  22. Mississippi Juvenile Legal Access Class Action Settled (p 30)
  23. Maryland Prisons MisCalculate Half of All Prisoner Release Dates (p 31)
  24. $97,000 in Damages and Fees Awarded in Arkansas Over Detention Suit (p 32)
  25. New York City Settles Wrongful Imprisonment Suit For $1 Million (p 32)
  26. New York Prisoner Awarded $195,000 for Hand, Knee Injury (p 33)
  27. New York Employees Families Settle Attica Riot Claims for $12 Million (p 33)
  28. Virginia Federal Court: Over 47 Hours in (p 34)
  29. BJS Report Reveals Rising Imprisonment Rates, Trends In 2003 (p 35)
  30. Accounting Errors Plagued California Criminal Justice Agency (p 36)
  31. SABER's Sexual History Disclosure Requirement Violates Fifth Amendment (p 36)
  32. Jail Prisoner Strangles Psychiatrist; Jury Awards $2.6 Million (p 37)
  33. PLRA Limits Prisoner's Attorney Fees Incurred Defending (p 38)
  34. Mass Parole Re-Hearings in Tennessee Following AG Opinion (p 39)
  35. Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of BOP Medical Neglect Case; (p 40)
  36. News in Brief: (p 41)
  37. U.S. Corrections Corporation Stock Suit (p 41)
  38. 133 Prisoners Killed in Dominican Republic Prison Fire (p 44)

Prison Design Boycott a Challenge to the Professional Business of Incarceration

Prison Design Boycott a Challenge to the
Professional Business of Incarceration

by Raphael Sperry, ADPSR National President, and the Prison Design Boycott organizing group: Ariel Bierbaum, Juan Calaf, Karen Kearney, and Kathleen Monroe

Saying No" to Prisons

In September 2004 the non-profit organization Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) issued a call for architects and design industry professionals to quit working on prisons. ADPSR's Prison Design Boycott campaign challenges the role of design professionals (a term that encompasses architects, engineers and planners) within the prison-industrial complex and society at large. The boycott's immediate issues would seem to be how necessary designers are to prisons, and conversely how much prisons mean to designers, especially in economic terms. But the professional, ethical social issues raised by the boycott go far beyond the boundaries of those who draw up the blueprints, CAD files and specifications that outline state power. The boycott also creates a collective voice for social justice and a shared platform for organizing and advocacy among design professionals, potentially signaling a departure from our established social role of implementing the will of the wealthy and powerful on the built environment. In ADPSR's experience, many design professionalsironically even ...

North Carolina Prosecutors Reprimanded For Intentionally Withholding Crucial Exculpatory Evidence in

North Carolina Prosecutors Reprimanded For Intentionally Withholding Crucial Exculpatory Evidence in Capital Case

by Matthew T. Clarke

Alan Gell cried recently after a North Carolina State Bar panel issued a mere reprimand, the least discipline possible, to two former prosecutors who withheld evidence in his capital murder case. Here I am again and with the system letting me down again," said Gell.

How did the system let him down the first time? By sentencing him to death in 1998 and having him spend over four years on death row for a murder he did not commit. His conviction was reversed due to withheld evidence and he was acquitted in a second trial in February 2004.

Well, wrongful convictions happen all the time, you say. True, but it doesn't always happen that the alleged murderer was in jail when the murder occurred and that the prosecutors withheld evidence of their star witness fabricating accusations against the defendant, nor does it always happen that the prosecutors invent a new time of death contrary to a pathologist's findings because the defendant was in jail on other charges the actual day of the murder.

That is exactly what David Hokenow the second-highest ...

Parole for Women in California: Promise or Pathos

by Corey Weinstein, MD, CCHP

Women are not men, but the California Department of Corrections (CDoC) has treated them as such until very recently. They are housed in mega prisons, denied contact with their children and denied important gender appropriate needs.

The sexual abuse scandals in California women's prisons in the late 1990s and recent Federal legislation concerning the elimination of rape in prison forced CDoC to begin deal with the issue of the protection of women in prison and gender equity. Pressure by the community has pushed the prison managers further. During this past winter California Prison Focus, a community based human rights group in San Francisco, launched its Dignity for Women Prisoners Campaign. CPF won a stunning victory that promises the end to the abusive cross gender pat searches of women prisoners. By June 2005 rules and regulations were in place which prohibit male staff from routinely pat searching women, thus ending 50 years of routine formal sexual abuse of women prisoners by staff.
There are other signs that CDoC may be beginning to create other gender appropriate policies and procedures. But CDoC is a notorious swamp of inadequacy in which positive steps get mired in the ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

The cover story of this issue about the organizing efforts of design professionals to stop their colleagues from designing and building more prisons is an important example of the organizing that needs to be taking place at all levels to combat the use of mass imprisonment in the United States. Professionals can and should be held to a higher standard, both due to their education and the monopoly licensing they are provided to practice their trade. PLN's past coverage on the role of medical doctors supervising torture, executions and providing shoddy and inadequate medical care to prisoners is the flip side of that responsibility being not just abdicated but abused.

Unfortunately, with tens of billions of dollars at stake each year in prison and jail spending, large segments of American society are now financially vested in the current system of mass imprisonment. This ranges from the 700,000 people directly employed in prisons and jails, to the companies that build and design the prisons, the companies that provide the goods associated with running such facilities and the rural communities that have latched onto prisons as a form of economic development. All of which makes positive change ...

California Prison Gang Linked to Guards and Mexican Drug Cartel

A barber shop in National City, California was allegedly the war room" connecting the statewide Mexican Mafia gang (Eme) to the underworld Arellano Felix drug cartel in nearby Mexico, according to investigators from the California Department of Corrections (CDC). The war room was reportedly headed by barber Roberto Ramiro Marin, who is now one of 35 defendants indicted for robbing and beating imprisoned drug dealers who didn't pay taxes" (protection money) to Eme. (See: PLN, Feb. 2005, California Prisoner Trust Accounts Used To Launder Gang Drug Money.) The 52-count indictment not only involves the notorious Mexican cartel, it is also linked through Marin to CDC Sergeant Michael S. Erickson, who was accused of taking $500,000 from the cartel to help Eme associate Carlos Sarmiento escape in 2001 from the R.J. Donovan State Prison (RJD) in nearby San Diego.

The escape plot was foiled when fellow guards ratted Erickson off. Erickson was fired in 2002 after disciplinary proceedings. Although CDC forwarded its investigative results to the San Diego District Attorney's office, the evidence wasn't handled properly," according to prosecutors, leaving them purportedly without enough to get a criminal conviction. That evidence included testimony at Erickson's ...

CIA Private Jet Takes Prisoners on Torture Trips

by Matthew T. Clarke

When you step on board a 14-passenger Gulfstream V jet plane, you expect to be treated to a flight teeming with luxuries. The Gulfstream is, after all, a favorite small jet for corporate CEOs and celebrities. Stepping onboard the Gulfstream V with tail number N44982 is quite a different experience for many of its passengers. They arrive handcuffed, leg-ironed and hooded. Their destinations are not the business capitols or luxury resorts such small jets are normally seen at. They are being flown to countries that legally allow torture. They won't enjoy the flightthey'll be heavily sedated and wearing disposable adult diapers all the way.
The jet belongs to Bayard Foreign Marketing, Inc. of Portland, Oregon, an apparent CIA front corporation whose listed owner, Leonard T. Bayard, doesn't appear in any of the normal records such as utilities or business transaction records, a real person would be expected to generate. Bayard bought the jet November 18, 2004, from Premiere Executive Transport Services, Inc. of Dedham, Massachusetts, another company whose officers and directors have newly-minted Social Security numbers and post-office-box addresses, but don't have a history of residences, work, telephone usage or business activities ...

Connecticut: Rash of Prisoner Suicides Prompt Questions, Concerns

by Michael Rigby

A rash of prisoner suicides in the Connecticut Department of Corrections (CDOC) has exposed serious flaws in the department's suicide prevention policies. The CDOC saw nine prisoner suicides in 2004, many of which could have been prevented.

Joseph Spence is one example. Spence was arrested on June 9, 2004, for allegedly shooting to death his long time girlfriend. A Superior Court judge ordered him held on $2 million bail and remanded him to the CDOC. Noting the crime and certain statements Spence made, the judge also ordered him placed on suicide watch. When he arrived at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, however, prison officials took no action on the judge's order. Spence hanged himself two days later.

As a result of Spence's suicide, along with the May 9, 2004, suicide of Marlin Bugg in the New Haven Correctional Center, two guards have been fired and one has been reprimanded. Bridgeport guard Carroll Rainey and New Haven guard Raphael Gayle were fired for failing to conduct cell inspections. A third guard, New Haven Lt. Rocco Sweat, was formally counseled for failing to conduct complete tours when tours were logged, (and) failure to follow proper policies and ...

Rising Deaths and Violence Among Problems In Illinois Prisons, Jails

by Michael Rigby

Imprisonment in Illinois is becoming more perilous, according to the John Howard Association, a Chicago-based nonprofit group that monitors prisons and jails. Between August 2003 and May 2004, according to the association, several state prisoners died under suspicious circumstances and three were murdered. By comparison, only 4 state prisoners were killed in the previous 5 years.

Much of the focus has been on the Menard Correctional Center, where two prisoners died in close succession. Charles Platcher, 31, froze to death in the prison infirmary on Christmas Day 2003. Three months later, another prisoner was strangled to death in his cell. Finger pointing and buck passing soon followed.

Platcher, a prisoner serving 40-years for fatally stabbing his mother in 2001, had been moved to a solitary cell in the prison's health care unit (HCU) on December 15 after he allegedly threatened suicide and declined to visit with his father. At HCU, Platcher was issued a gown and a suicide blanket" (a heavy, carpet-type cover that can't be cut up or made into a noose). His clothes were confiscated.

Around 2 a.m. Christmas morning, the heating went out in three of the infirmary's cells, including ...

Jail Policy Barring Abortion Without Court Order Upheld

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Louisiana jail's policy prohibiting elective medical procedures, including abortions, without a court order. It also concluded that plaintiff failed to sufficiently show the requisite culpability and causation.

When Victoria W. began serving a sentence in the Terrebonne Criminal Justice Complex in Louisiana on July 28, 1999, a physical examination revealed she was pregnant. Nine days later, an ultrasound established that the pregnancy was fifteen weeks, two days along.

Victoria requested an abortion as soon as she learned she was pregnant. Pursuant to the jail's general, unwritten, policy that prisoners seeking elective medical procedures must obtain a court order allowing transport or temporary release. Victoria was told she needed to obtain a court order to get an abortion.

This required her attorney to motion the trial court for the order. However, Victoria's attorney balked, apparently for moral reasons" and did not file a motion until September 8, 1999. When he did, rather than seeking release or transport in order to obtain an abortion" counsel sought Victoria's release from the remainder of her sentence based on the prison's inadequate prenatal care." He also failed to have Victoria brought to ...

Oklahoma Prisons Suffer Crisis of Violence and Mismanagement

by Matthew T. Clarke

2005 has turned out to be a violent year in Oklahoma prisons. Between January and July, 2005, the prisons in Oklahoma suffered multiple riots, multiple murders of prisoners, and extensive probes of drug running.
The stage for 2005 was set in 2004. In 2002 and 2003, 274 state prisoners were given disciplinary write ups for possession of a weapon. In 2004 alone, 351 prisoners were given disciplinary writ ups for weapons possession. This prevalence of armed prisoners, combined with an acute shortage of guards in Oklahoma's state prisons, set the stage for an increase in prison violence. Thus, it was no surprise when in 2005 violence exploded in Oklahoma prisons with three state prisoners murdered by mid-July and several riots having occurred in that same time period.
Sometime in the night of January 29th to 30th, 2005, Ronald Stiles, 48, a prisoner at the Lawton Correctional Facility (LCF) was strangled to death. LCF is a private prison run by GEO Group, Inc. Stiles was serving 10 years for possession of contraband. His cell partner, Robert M. Cooper, 32, who is serving life without parole for a first-degree murder, is the main suspect.

On March 22 ...

Overturned Conviction Nets Baltimore Man $1.4 Million

Maryland's Board of Public Works (BPW) awarded a Baltimore man $1.4 million for spending 27 years on a faulty murder conviction.

In 1974, Michael Austin, then 25, was convicted for the murder of a grocery store security guard. Austin was not only at work when the murder transpired, but is also 7 inches taller than the killer that eyewitnesses described during his trial. Incompetent counsel allowed prosecutorial misconduct during the trial, including the misuse of evidence and mistaken identification, which caused the jury to convict Austin.

Twenty years later, Austin sent a letter to a Princeton, New Jersey group called Centurion Ministries. Centurion helps prisoners it believes are wrongly convicted. With the help of a private investigator, who was hired by Centurion to look into the case, its findings led the Baltimore Sun to examine the case in March 2001. That investigation consequently led to Austin's conviction to be overturned nine months later by Baltimore Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes.

Despite being wrongfully convicted of the murder, Austin applied himself to self-betterment. During his incarceration, he had a cellmate that holds a bachelor's degree in Music. Austin not only learned to play the trumpet and piano ...

Federal Prison Problematic For Texas Officials

A 500-bed federal detention center may have caused more problems than it solved for cash-strapped Willacy County, Texas. Three county commissioners have already been convicted of accepting kickbacks from companies involved with the prison, and a state senator's ties to three contractors has raised ethical questions. The detention center is now the focus of a federal bribery investigation and a lawsuit filed by the county.
Between June 2000 and March 2003, Willacy County commissioners Israel Tamez, 58, and Jose Jiminez, 67, accepted a series of bribes totaling more than $10,000 in exchange for their votes in awarding lucrative prison contracts. Both men pled guilty to bribery charges on January 4, 2004.
Also charged and convicted was David Cortez, 70, a former Webb County commissioner. Cortez plead guilty in May 2005 for conspiring to obstruct, delay and affect commerce" for helping secure a contract for the detention facility. He admitted funneling at least $39,000 to county commissioners to help an unnamed consulting firm get part of the prison contract.
Sentencing for Tamez and Jiminez was postponed until January 2006 pending the outcome of the continuing federal investigation; Cortez's sentencing also was postponed by the federal district court ...

Tulia Undercover Deputy Tom Coleman Convicted of Perjury

Tom Coleman was on top of the world after being honored as the Texas Department of Public Safety's 1999 Outstanding Lawman of the Year. The award was for his undercover investigation between January 1998 and July 1999 in the small Texas Panhandle town of Tulia that resulted in 46 arrests and 38 convictions for drug dealing. However beginning in 2000, there have been many revelations about Coleman's wrongdoing before, during, and after his investigation.


Among the irregularities in Coleman's investigation was the lack of any audio or video surveillance recordings corroborating that he had bought drugs from a single arrested or convicted person, and when the dozens of people were arrested and their homes searched, no drugs, weapons or unusual amounts of money were found. It was also discovered that when hired by Swisher County, Coleman was under indictment for stealing $6,700 from Cochran County merchants while employed there as a sheriff deputy.
The disclosures about faults with Coleman's drug investigation" and his questionable character culminated in Governor Rick Perry's pardon of 35 of the Tulia defendants in August 2003, and a $6 million settlement in April 2004 of a civil rights lawsuit ...

Procedural Default In Exhausting State Administrative Remedies Held Not A Bar To Bringing § 1983 Act

Procedural Default In Exhausting State Administrative Remedies Held Not A Bar To Bringing § 1983 Action; Supreme Court Grants Review

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, deepening a split among the circuits, held that a California state prisoner's alleged untimeliness in filing his administrative grievance would not bar him from access to federal court under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) in a subsequent 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint. From a factual perspective, the question was, if the state administrative appeals process (a 3-level structure) is truncated below the third level by the state for reasons of alleged procedural error by the prisoner, has the prisoner in fact exhausted his administrative remedies for purposes of the PLRA (42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)) if he accepts the termination at the intermediate appeal level and proceeds directly to federal court? Or, from a legal perspective, does failure to comply with administrative filing requirements" amount to a failure to exhaust" available state remedies?

Viet Mike Ngo, serving 17-life for second degree murder, was placed in administrative segregation at San Quentin State Prison on October 26, 2000, the charges for which Ngo complained wrongly defamed him ...

Los Angeles County Pays $125,000 In Medical Negligence Juvenile Camp Death

Los Angeles County settled a surviving family's suit for $125,000 that
alleged negligent medical care for their son who died while incarcerated in county juvenile facilities.

Sixteen year-old William Lee was taken to Central Juvenile Hall after being arrested on August 16, 2002. During medical screening there, his ...

Escaped Murderer Found Eleven Years Later

Escaped Murderer Found Eleven Years Later Living With Warden's Wife

by John E. Dannenberg

Tipped off by a viewer of America's Most Wanted, Shelby County, Texas police on April 4, 2005 took into custody Randolph Dial, 60, a murderer who escaped from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, Oklahoma on August 30, 1994. And in a bizarre twist, he was found living with the wife of then Deputy Warden Randy Parker, Bobbi Parker, 42, who disappeared with their red minivan the same day after leaving a note that she was going grocery shopping. Living deep in the woods near the Louisiana border, the two were raising chickens.

The night of Bobbi's disappearance, her mother received a phone call later traced to Hurst, Texas where Bobbi reportedly said, while crying, I can't talk now. I'm OK. Tell the kids I'll see them soon." A day later, she called from Forth Worth, telling a friend, I've got 30 seconds to talk. I want you call home. Tell the kids I love them and I'll be home soon." She was never heard from again.

Dial had been accorded minimum custody trusty" status, working outside the ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics: Three-Strikes and No More

Partial Payment of Filing Fees

by Daniel E. Manville


When filing a pro se lawsuit you may seek a waiver of the payment of the entire filing fee. However, with the enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), courts are now authorized to deny such waiver if you have filed three or more prior lawsuits which have been dismissed based upon a finding that these lawsuits were either frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim. 2 If such a finding is made, you will not be allowed to file a lawsuit in forma pauperis but you can file it if you pay the entire filing fee when you submit the lawsuit to the court. This is commonly known as the three strikes" provision of the PLRA.

What is a Strike?

A strike is when a court has determined that your lawsuit or appeal is frivolous, malicious, or it failed to state a claim.
3 The court will count the dismissal of the complaint as a strike" if it meets one or more of these criteria. If you then appeal that dismissal and the appellate court finds that the dismissal was correctly based upon one of these criteria ...

Supreme Court Holds Penalty Phase

Supreme Court Holds Penalty Phase Shackling Violates the Due Process

In a 7-to-2 decision that Justices Thomas and Scalia criticized as shunning common sense and risk[ing] the lives of courtroom personnel, with little corresponding benefit to defendants," the United States Supreme Court held that the Constitution forbids the use of visible shackles during the penalty phase [of a capital case], as it forbids their use during the guilt phase, unless that use is justified by an essential state interest such as the interest in courtroom security specific to the defendant on trial.

In 1998, Carl Deck was convicted of a double homicide and sentenced to death in Missouri. The State Supreme Court vacated Deck's death sentence in a new sentencing proceeding was convened. From the first day of the new proceeding, Deck was shackled with leg errands, handcuffs, and a belly chain." Counsel objected to the shackling on three separate occasions and moved to strike the jury pool because... Mr. Deck is shackled in front of the jury and makes them think that he is... violent today.'" The trial court overruled each objection, stating Deck has been convicted and will remain in leg irons and a belly chain ...

Fired, Tattooed, Nude-Posing Guard Settles with Maryland DOC for $10,000

by Matthew T. Clarke

Maryland has agreed to pay an ex-guard who appeared nude on a website and in a tattoo magazine $10,000 to get her to drop her wrongful discharge claim after an administrative law judge sided with the guard.

Marcie Betts wasn't intending to become an icon for First Amendment rights when she applied for a job as a prison guard with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in January, 2003. She just needed a job.

Around here [Hagerstown], you have to work at the [Mack Truck] plant itself or at the prison to find a good paying job, unless you are a doctor or a lawyer," said the 24-year old Betts.

Since graduating high school in 1997, Betts had supported herself, and later her husband, by working in a tattoo parlor, caring for mice bred for research, as a receptionist at a pest control company, and later an insecticide sprayer, and yes, even at the plant as a security guard. In May 2002, she applied for a job at the prison. On May 29, 2002, after filing the application, but before being notified of her acceptance, she sold 81 digital photos of ...

PLN Loses Florida Writer Pay Ban/Censorship

Lawsuit: Appeal Pending

by David M. Reutter

A Florida federal district court has held that PLN has not suffered, and is not currently suffering, a significant First Amendment injury from Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) rule, policies, or procedures that ban compensation to prisoner writers and caused the impoundment of PLN for ad content.

As previously reported, PLN filed suit against the FDOC after it began impounding and banning PLN from receipt by Florida prisoners because it contained advertisements for three-way calling and pen pal services. PLN also challenged FDOC's rule that prohibits prisoners from establishing or engaging actively in a business or profession while incarcerated. See: PLN, February 2004, pg. 27; February 2005, pg. 11.

The matter proceeded to a bench trial on June 6-8, 2005. PLN was represented at that trial by Randall Berg and Cullin O'Brien from the Florida Justice Institute and Mickey Gendler of Seattle. PLN alleged violations of its First Amendment rights, seeking declatory and injunctive relief.

The Court's July 28, 2005, order granting a directed verdict to the defendants first addressed FDOC's banning of PLN by prisoner subscribers due to content of certain advertisements. PLN, further, asserted that the FDOC ...

Higher Property Tax Collections Permit 25% Growth Of Los Angeles County Jail Capacity

by John E. Dannenberg

A six percent increase in property tax collections due to soaring real estate prices will add an estimated $150 million to Los Angeles County coffers in the coming year. County supervisors have allotted $68.5 million of that to reverse the cutbacks in the County Sheriff's budget for jails in the past three years that have resulted in 200,000 prisoners being let out early, the vast majority after serving only 10% of their sentences.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca plans to hire 500 new deputies and add 4,474 new beds to the jail system, a 25% increase in capacity. High-risk offenders will be moved into the Twin Towers downtown jail in an effort to counter the pattern of five detainee murders in the past two years at the hands of under-supervised fellow prisoners. An additional 63 deputies will be hired to perform safety checks" on prisoners. This was in response to the infamous security breach wherein a high-risk prisoner was able to freely roam the Central Jail to seek out and murder the witness who planned to testify against him. [See: PLN, April, 2005]
Beginning in 2002, Sheriff Baca was forced by ...

Mississippi Juvenile Legal Access Class Action Settled

On January 12, 2005, Mississippi settled a class action suit challenging a policy at the Colombia Training School (CTS) which severely limited residents' access to legal counsel.

CTS is a co-ed juvenile detention facility in Mississippi. The residents range in age from 10-18 years old. CTS was the subject of a 2002 report to the Mississippi Legislature, which found numerous deficiencies... in the areas of medical care, dental care, prevention of abuse, and treatment and programming for children with special needs.

Simultaneously, the United States Department of Justice, (DOJ), launched a sweeping investigation into the conditions at CTS. In June 2003, the DOJ announced its findings, which included particularly shocking and abusive conditions... including such inhumane institutional practices and hog-tying, pole-shackling, and prolonged isolation of suicidal youth in dark rooms without light, ventilation, or toilet facilities. DOJ also found rampant and unchecked staff-on-youth abuse, including physical assaults and chemical spray.

The DOJ's findings were well-publicized... Many parents with children confined in [CTS] were greatly alarmed... and... requested that attorneys from the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ') and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC') meet with their children.

In January 2004, SPLC attorney Sheila Bedi attempted to visit a CTS ...

Maryland Prisons MisCalculate Half of All Prisoner Release Dates

by David M. Reutter

Up to one half of all Maryland prisoners early release dates at two prisons were erroneous, concluded a report by the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits. The report declined to identify the two prisons it audited, as it felt the problems exposed are system wide.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services-Division of Corrections (DOC) oversees the State's 23 prisons. According to DOC records, approximately 23,000 prisoners were incarcerated during fiscal year 2004.

To influence cooperation and promote positive behavior by its prisoners, Maryland law offers a carrot in the form of diminuation credits, which provides a mechanism to release prisoners prior to the expiration of their full sentence. Prisoners earnings such credits are placed on mandatory supervision for oversight and monitoring by the Maryland Parole Commission until the expiration of the full-term of their sentence.

Maryland law permits prisoners to earn up to 20 days of diminuation credits a month. Those credits fall under four broad categories:

" Good Conduct CreditsAllows up to 10 days credit per month for following DOC behavioral guidelines.

" Work Task CreditsPrisoners can receive up to 5 days a month for satisfactory performance in approved work programs.

" Educational ...

$97,000 in Damages and Fees Awarded in Arkansas Over Detention Suit

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a judgment awarding compensatory damages of $50,000 in a civil rights suit filed by James M. Hayes, alleging his 38-day pre-appearance detention violated his right to due process. The Court further held that the attorney fee award of $47,000 was ...

New York City Settles Wrongful Imprisonment Suit For $1 Million

On February 4, 2005, a man convicted of murder and wrongfully imprisoned for five years based on testimony fabricated by prosecutors settled his claim against the City of New York for $1,000,000.

Milton Lantigua, 20,was sitting in front of his Bronx apartment building at around 1 a ...

New York Prisoner Awarded $195,000 for Hand, Knee Injury

On October 6, 2004, a court of claims in White Plains, New York, awarded $195,000 to a state prisoner who fell in the shower, injuring her hand, and knee.

While imprisoned at the Taconic Correctional Facility, prisoner Juliann Gibson slipped and fell in a shower area on August 25 ...

New York Employees Families Settle Attica Riot Claims for $12 Million

The State of New York has reached a $12 million settlement with the Forgotten Victims of Attica, a group of surviving state employees and relatives of 11 guards killed during the 1971 uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility.

Under a proposal by Governor George E. Pataki, the Forgotten Victims of ...

Virginia Federal Court: Over 47 Hours in

Virginia Federal Court: Over 47 Hours in Five-Point Restraint Unconstitutional

by Matthew T. Clarke

A federal court in Virginia held that prison officials violated a prisoner's constitutional rights when they strapped his ankles, wrists and chest to a bed for over 67 hours.

Gary Neal Sadler, a Connecticut state prisoner who was incarcerated out-of-state at Wallen's Ridge State Prison in Virginia, filed suit pro se under 62 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging his constitutional rights were violated when prison officials bound him face-up to a prison bed using plastic restraints for 47 hours and 20 minutes after he allegedly slapped a food tray onto a guard. Sadler was dressed in his under-shorts during the restraint and was not given any covering. He was released from the five-point restraint only six times over the two days, for approximately fifteen minutes each time, to use the toilet and eat.
At trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defendants. At that time Sadler, who was incarcerated in a Connecticut prison and represented himself pro se via video link, timely moved for judgment as a matter of law.

The court found that defendant guard David Allen Taylor recommend the restraint, guards ...

BJS Report Reveals Rising Imprisonment Rates, Trends In 2003

by Michael Rigby

Rising prison populations...record numbers of female prisoners...rampant overcrowding...continuing racial disparities. These are among the disturbing trends revealed by Prisoners in 2003, a Bureau of Justice Statistics report released in November 2004.

At yearend 2003, 1,470,045 prisoners were under the jurisdiction of state and federal authorities, an increase of 2.1% over the previous year. That figure represents an increase of 20,370 state prisoners and 9,531 federal prisoners. The highest percentage growth5.8%was in the federal prison system, which held 173,059 prisoners on December 31, 2003.

By yearend 2003, there were an average of 482 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents, up from 411 in 1995. Eleven states exceeded the national average, including Louisiana (801), Mississippi (768), Texas (702), and Oklahoma (636). Nines statesincluding Maine (149), Minnesota (155), and North Dakota (181)had rates that were less than half the national average.
When local jails and other detention facilities were included, the number of prisoners rose to 2,212,475 for an overall imprisonment rate 714 per 100,000, making U.S. imprisonment rates the highest in the world, according to Washington, D.C. based Sentencing Project. Russia ...

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 ...

SABER's Sexual History Disclosure Requirement Violates Fifth Amendment

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the compelled sexual history disclosure required by the Sexual Abuse Behavior Evaluation and Recovery Program (SABER) violates the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against self incrimination. The court also held that a supervised release condition prohibiting possession of any pornographic, sexually oriented or sexually stimulating materials" was unconstitutionally vague under United States v. Guagliardo, 278 F.3d 868 (9th Cir. 2002).

Lawrence Antelope purchased a child pornography video from an undercover agent, over the Internet. He was convicted of possessing child pornography and sentenced to five years of probation. One probation condition required him to participate in the SABER, which included submitting to mandatory periodic and random polygraph examinations. At sentencing, Antelope raised a Fifth Amendment challenge to this requirement but the court found that the information was protected by the counselor-patient privilege.

The court also impose conditions prohibiting Antelope from possess[ing] or us[ing] a computer with access to any online computer service' at any location...without the prior written approval of the probation department.
Antelope's probation was revoked when he refused to submit to a polygraph and violated other conditions. Probation was reinstated with an additional six months of ...

Jail Prisoner Strangles Psychiatrist; Jury Awards $2.6 Million

A Florida jury awarded $2,650,260 in the strangling death of a psychiatrist doing an evaluation on a prisoner at the Collier County Jail. David J. Hoyer was doing a court ordered competency evaluation on January 3, 2001, when he was attacked by prisoner Rodrigus Sanchez Patten, then 20 ...

PLRA Limits Prisoner's Attorney Fees Incurred Defending

PLRA Limits Prisoner's Attorney Fees Incurred Defending Appeal of Successful § 1983 Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that after a prisoner wins a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit for damages, the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) 150%-of-damages fee ...

Mass Parole Re-Hearings in Tennessee Following AG Opinion

With some level of irony, on June 7, 2005 the Tennessee Attorney General's office sent a letter to the state's Board of Probation and Parole, recommending that the Board limit the amount of time between parole hearings and suggesting that over 375 prisoners be granted early re-hearings.

The letter was the result of the Board's request for guidance following a series of appellate state court decisions. In those rulings, including the seminal case of Baldwin v. Tenn. Board of Paroles, 125 S.W.3d 429 (Tenn. App. 2003), as well as Davis v. Maples, 2003 WL 22002660 (Tenn. App. 2003), York v. Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole, 2004 WL 305791 (Tenn. App. 2004) and Meeks v. Traughber, 2005 WL 280746 (Tenn. App. 2005), all petitions for writ of certiorari, the Board was directed to hold re-hearings in cases where prisoners received parole deferments ranging from 10 to 20 years.

The Tenn. Court of Appeals held in the above cases that it was arbitrary for the Board to defer prisoners' future parole hearings for such lengthy periods, finding that the parole board members have staggered six years terms and deferments exceeding that amount of time would prevent ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of BOP Medical Neglect Case;

District Court Abused Discretion in Denying Counsel

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's denial of the appointment of counsel to a prisoner. The court also vacated the grant of summary judgment to prison officials on medical malpractice and deliberate indifference claims.

Federal prisoner Diego Gil suffers from several serious intestinal and colorectal illnesses. In 1994, Gil requested surgery for a bleeding ulcer. He later experienced rectal bleeding that resulted in a need for blood transfusions." In 1997, Gil was seen by an outside specialist due to continuing problems. Eight months after the specialist determined that Gil needed surgery, he was taken to a local hospital for the recommended operation." He was diagnosed with a rectal prolapse which required major surgery.

He had the surgery in early March 1998, but his condition worsened afterwards, causing severe abdominal pain. On March 20, 1998, Gil returned to medical complaining of pain, fever, chills, and a bulge the size of a ping-pong ball' at the site of his surgical incision. The staff diagnosed an infection, lanced the bulge, and prescribed Tylenol III and an antibiotic." He was told both medications would be available later that day and he should ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: On September 7, 2005, Carl Ward, 40, escaped from the Elmore Correctional Facility in Montgomery where he worked outside the prison compound in a warehouse. Using a knife, Ward took an employee's wallet and car keys, restrained him with masking tape and stole his car. Ward was recaptured without incident on September 29, 2005, at a Red Carpet Inn on the Gulf Freeway in Texas after police received a tip. Ward had been serving a life sentence for a 1990 murder and had recently been denied parole.
Argentina: On October 15, 2005, dozens of prisoners in the prison in Magdalena burned their mattresses and rioted to protest the denial of longer visiting hours on mother's day. At least 32 prisoners died from carbon monoxide inhalation.

Arizona: The White County jail has a water leak that has left prisoners without hot water for weeks as of mid October and is costing the county at least $3,000 in water bills per month as the jail loses at least 8 gallons of water a minute. The water pipes are buried in concrete below the jail which has made repairs difficult and locating the leaks even harder.
Arkansas: On August ...

U.S. Corrections Corporation Stock Suit

U.S. Corrections Corporation Stock Suit Settled for $13.2 Million

The former owners of U.S. Correctional Corporation (USCC) have agreed to settle a lawsuit over misuse of the employee stock-ownership plan for $13.2 million.

Prior to 1998, when it was purchased by Corrections Corporation of America for ...

133 Prisoners Killed in Dominican Republic Prison Fire

A fight between rival gangs for control of a Dominican Republic prison resulted in a fire that killed 133 prisoners. Prisoners caused the blaze by setting ablaze their pillows and sheets. Attempts to rescue them were thwarted by a jammed door. Only 26 prisoners were rescued from the prison in Higuey, 75 miles northeast of the capital on the island's eastern tip.
The March 6, 2005, Higuey fire is the latest in a series of deadly blazes at Dominican Republic prisons. Thirty prisoners died in September 2002 at a La Vega prison after prisoners ignited mattresses. At that time, La Vega, designed to hold 50 prisoners, held 400 men in nine cells. A February 2005 fire caused by an electrical shortage at Santo Domingo's largest prison resulted in one prisoner dying.

The Dominican Republic is notorious for operating overcrowded prisons controlled by prisoners. Some prisons were totally out of the authorities control and were, in effect, operated by armed inmates," said the U.S. State Department in February 2005.

The Higuey incident erupted from rival gangs trying to control the prison. The gang that controls the prison, sells food, cigarettes, and drugs to the other prisoners. The problem ...


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