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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: August, 2005

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Volume 16, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Prison Health Services: As Health Care in Jails Goes Private, 10 Days Can Be a Death Sentence (p 1)
  2. Fatal Justice: The New Maryland (p 1)
  3. From the Editor (p 6)
  4. Arbitrary Draconian Restrictions on Texas Parolees (p 7)
  5. Former Connecticut Governor Rowland Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges in Juvenile Prison Kickback Scheme (p 8)
  6. Pennsylvania Jail Prisoner Settles Use-Of-Force Suit For $15,000 (p 9)
  7. $600,000 Settlement In Death Of Unmedicated Wisconsin Prisoner (p 9)
  8. Federal Prisoner Wins Right To Marry, Fees Awarded (p 10)
  9. $99,981 In Fees Awarded For Successful Massachusetts Court Access Suit (p 10)
  10. Prison Health Services: Missed Signals in New York Jails Open Way to Season of Suicides (p 11)
  11. Settlements Reached In Alabama Women Prisoners' Class-Action Suit (p 11)
  12. CCA Finally Loses Contract at Mismanaged Tulsa Jail (p 14)
  13. U.S. Supreme Court: Michigan Appellate Attorneys Have (p 16)
  14. New Hampshire Prisoner's Due Process Suit Nets $54,000 in Fees and Damages (p 17)
  15. $800,000 Awarded to Wrongly Convicted Tennessee Man (p 18)
  16. Texas Attorney General Clarifies Confiscation Law Governing Prisoner Art Sales (p 18)
  17. National Prison Reform Commission Started (p 19)
  18. Michigan Guard Who Procured Hit On Prisoner Must Pay $200,000 Damages (p 20)
  19. Fifth Circuit Upholds $5,000 Excessive Force Verdict Against Wackenhut Guard (p 20)
  20. New York Senator Returned To Jail After Illegal Release (p 20)
  21. PREA Data Collection Efforts Underway (p 21)
  22. Another CCA Prison in Oklahoma, Another Riot (p 22)
  23. Army Prison Ban On PLN Containing Postage-Stamp-Exchange Ad Is Enjoined, But Ban On Internet Mail Up (p 23)
  24. California Prison Employee Paid $500,000 To Settle Whistleblower Retaliation Suit (p 23)
  25. Federal Immigration Detainee Taken Off Life Support Without Family's Consent (p 23)
  26. Supreme Court Finds Ohio Supermax Placement Policy Constitutional (p 24)
  27. Brain Dead California Prisoner Guarded Around The Clock (p 24)
  28. California Prison Guard Gets Time For Setting Up Prisoner Beating (p 24)
  29. Report: Federal Prison Guards Sexually Abuse Prisoners With Near Impunity (p 26)
  30. Washington DOC Settles Contempt Action For $500,000; Money To Fund Patient Advocate (p 26)
  31. Los Angeles County Settles Parolee's Overdetention Suit For $80,000 (p 26)
  32. Alabama Workers' Comp Act No Bar to Psychological Torts (p 27)
  33. Wackenhut Settles Suit Over Premature Birth for $98,000 (p 27)
  34. $15,000 Settlement In Hawaii Voting Rights Suit (p 27)
  35. U.S. Supreme Court: State Prisoners May Challenge Unconstitutional Parole Procedures Under § 1983 If Earlier Release Doesn't Necessarily Follow (p 28)
  36. 42 Alabama AIDS Prison Deaths In Five Years Spurs Major Medical Suit Settlement (p 28)
  37. Prisoners of Love: Good Advice for Those Separated By Walls But United by Love (p 29)
  38. Maricopa County, Arizona, Settles Wrongful Imprisonment Suit For $1.4 Million (p 29)
  39. RLUIPA Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court (p 30)
  40. Louisiana Prison Writer Free After 44 Years (p 30)
  41. Jury Trial in Prison Violates Oregon Constitution (p 31)
  42. Suit Over Rape of Prisoner By TDCJ Employee Settled for $118,318.56 and Beach Property (p 32)
  43. Supreme Court Decision Orders Release of 920 Mariel Cubans; ICE: Dumps them In the Streets Without Aid (p 32)
  44. Massachusetts Law, Not PLRA, Applies to Attorneys Fee Award in State Court § 1983 Action for Native (p 33)
  45. California Guard Wins $10 Million Default Judgment Against Assaultive Prisoners (p 33)
  46. $1 Million L.A. County Jail Rape Award Overturned (p 34)
  47. Colorado Teenagers Raped By Guards Settle For $165,000 Each (p 35)
  48. Former Wackenhut Guard Awarded $600,000 For Wrongful Termination (p 36)
  49. Arizona Boot Camp Director Convicted In Teen’s Death (p 36)
  50. Tennessee Public Records Act Requires Delivery Of Records To Prisoners (p 36)
  51. Court Holds Temperatures on Florida's Death Row Constitutional; Class Action Exhaustion Explained (p 37)
  52. Staph Infections Kill Women Prisoners In Pennsylvania; Coroner’s Office Raided (p 37)
  53. Kentucky State Auditor Blasts Prison Industries After $377K in Undeposited Payments Found in Manager’s Desk (p 38)
  54. Mere Pendency of Proceedings Deprives Court of Jurisdiction in Jail Collect Call Case; Attorney Fee (p 38)
  55. California’s Sex-Offender Internet Site Gets 14 Million Hits In First Four Days (p 39)
  56. Florida's Law Libraries Provide Adequate Access to Courts Under State's Constitution (p 39)
  57. Besmirched California Prison Doctors Sue To Block Higher Qualification Standards (p 39)
  58. News in Brief: (p 40)
  59. News in Brief (p 42)
  60. Ninth Circuit: Kicking Shackled Prisoner In Genitals Is Cruel And Unusual Punishment (p 44)

Prison Health Services: As Health Care in Jails Goes Private, 10 Days Can Be a Death Sentence

By Paul Von Zielbauer; Joseph Plambeck contributed reporting for this article.

Brian Tetrault was 44 when he was led into a dim county jail cell in upstate New York in 2001, charged with taking some skis and other items from his ex-wife’s home. A former nuclear scientist who had struggled with Parkinson’s disease, he began to die almost immediately, and state investigators would later discover why: The jail’s medical director had cut off all but a few of the 32 pills he needed each day to quell his tremors.

Over the next 10 days, Mr. Tetrault slid into a stupor, soaked in his own sweat and urine. But he never saw the jail doctor again, and the nurses dismissed him as a faker. After his heart finally stopped, investigators said, guards at the Schenectady jail doctored records to make it appear he had been released before he died.

Two months later, Victoria Williams Smith, the mother of a teenage boy, was booked into another upstate jail, in Dutchess County, charged with smuggling drugs to her husband in prison. She, too, had only 10 days to live after she began complaining of chest pains. She phoned friends in ...

Fatal Justice: The New Maryland

It's a state already steeped in heritage--birthplace of The Star Spangled Banner, home to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and site of the bloody Civil War battle at Antietam. But now Maryland is raising a new legacy: a system of dangerous and deadly prisons.

Much of the scrutiny directed at the Maryland Division of Correction (DOC) has stemmed from two recent high-profile homicides. In one, a prisoner was choked to death on a prison bus under the noses of five apparently torpid guards. His body was not discovered until the bus arrived at its destination. The death has resulted in the firing of three guards and a review of the DOC's transportation protocols.

In the other, a cabal of riot-clad guards killed a prisoner while performing a violent cell extraction. Numerous procedures and policies were violated, and signs of a cover-up abound. The prisoner's family has filed a lawsuit against the DOC. Both deaths have sparked calls for reform among lawmakers and prisoner advocates.

Death On A Bus

It was pitch-black inside the prison bus as it rolled down Highway 70 in the pre-dawn hours of February 2, 2005. Onboard, the killer readied for the ...

From the Editor

We would like to apologize to readers for the delay in issues between the May and June, 2005 issues. A combination of factors have resulted in issues getting delayed. The first was a trial in Florida against the Florida Department of Corrections over the censorship of PLN and a policy prohibiting payment to prisoner writers for their articles. The second has been a longer than expected learning curve as we recently switched to a new desktop publishing program, In Design. Our next several issues will be published fairly soon until we are again caught up on our regular publishing schedule and readers are receiving each month's issue around the first of the month. Please bear with us through this, subscriptions are based on the number of issues mailed by PLN, not time, so subscriptions are unaffected.

With this issue of PLN we are pleased to announced that PLN's website is now fully operational and contains all back issues of PLN in both a PDF format (exactly as published) as well as in a fully searchable database. It also contains the full text of all court rulings we have reported as well as a brief bank of pleadings, settlements ...

Arbitrary Draconian Restrictions on Texas Parolees

by Matthew T. Clarke

Texas parolees have been subjected to a number of draconian measures not necessarily related to their conviction. For instance, parolees who were not convicted of sex offenses have been made to register as sex offenders and take sex offender therapy, parolees with any history of sex offenses (and those with no such history, but who were required to register as sex offenders) have been confined to their homes on Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Years and parolees with any history of DWI or other alcohol related crimes have been instructed to sign pledges not to drive between 7 p.m. New Years Eve and 6 a.m. New Years Day--to be enforced by parole officers checking to make sure the parolees are at home during those times.

Sex Offender Therapy for Non-Sex Offenders

The arbitrary classification of parolees with no sex offense conviction as sex offenders is seen as particularly onerous as they are required to pay for weekly therapy sessions costing $20 to $35 each session, after having had to pay $150 for an evaluation to determine whether the weekly sessions are needed. The person giving the evaluation is usually the same sex offender therapist who ...

Former Connecticut Governor Rowland Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges in Juvenile Prison Kickback Scheme

Former Connecticut Governor Rowland Pleads Guilty to
Corruption Charges in Juvenile Prison Kickback Scheme

by Matthew T. Clarke

In December 2004, John G. Rowland, 47, former governor of Connecticut, pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting over $100,000 in bribes as part of a conspiracy by government officials. He faced one to two years in federal prison.

Rowland was the biggest player in a state government full of officials willing to sell out the public interest for cash and other considerations. Rowland became famous when revelations of an ill-gotten cottage, hot tub, and Cuban cigars led to a full-scale corruption scandal, resulting in an impeachment inquiry, state Supreme Court battle, and ultimately Rowland's resignation and guilty plea.

Peter Ellef, Rowland's co-chief of staff, was another big player in the corruption game. He doled out no-bid contracts to LF Designs, a company owned by his son, Peter Ellef II, and Tunxis Management Company, a company owned by the New Britain-based Tomasso family, which paid him off in cash transfers, gold coins, limousine rides to Boston and New York and other gratuities. The Tomasso companies, in turn, funneled $1.6 million in contracts to LF Design between January 1998 ...

Pennsylvania Jail Prisoner Settles Use-Of-Force Suit For $15,000

On January 3, 2005, a Pennsylvania prisoner settled his claims of excessive use of force and deliberate indifference against Lackawanna County Prison officials for $15,000.

According to the complaint, plaintiff Mario Ludovici was arrested on October 13, 2001, on a warrant for unpaid child support and taken to the ...

$600,000 Settlement In Death Of Unmedicated Wisconsin Prisoner

A lawsuit over the death of a mentally ill epileptic Wisconsin prisoner has settled for $600,000.

Kelvin Brooks, an epileptic state prisoner with a long history of mental illness was imprisoned at Wisconsin's Green Bay Correctional Facility. For unknown reasons Brooks was isolated in the prison's segregation ...

Federal Prisoner Wins Right To Marry, Fees Awarded

A federal prisoner has settled his lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for $175 and permission to marry his fiancée. The court also awarded attorney fees of $21,537.50 in a separate proceeding.

On November 2, 2000, while imprisoned at U.S.P. Lewisburg in Pennsylvania, plaintiff Rodney ...

$99,981 In Fees Awarded For Successful Massachusetts Court Access Suit

In a strongly worded opinion chastising Massachusetts officials for over 1itigating a case in which a prisoner's constitutional right of access to courts was clearly violated, a federal district court awarded attorneys' fees and costs of $99,981 to the plaintiff. Plaintiff's counsel, a commercial law firm, had ...

Prison Health Services: Missed Signals in New York Jails Open Way to Season of Suicides

by Paul Von Zielbauer; Joseph Plambeck contributed reporting for this article.

The warnings were right there in her medical ?le: a childhood of sexual abuse, a diagnosis of manic depression, a suicide attempt at age 13—all noted when Carina Montes arrived at Rikers Island in September 2002.

But none of them, state investigators said, were ever seen by the mental health specialist caring for her. He could never track down the ?le, which by December included another troubling fact: Ms. Montes had been placed on suicide watch by a jail social worker. Not that the suicide watch was terribly reliable; it depended in part on prisoners paid 39 cents an hour to check on their suicidal peers.

In her ?ve months at Rikers, investiga¬tors later discovered, Ms. Montes never saw a psychiatrist.

It did not, however, take a psychiatrist to pick up on the alarms she sounded near the end, when another prisoner saw her tearing bed sheets and threatening to kill herself. But the guard who was called had no idea she was on suicide watch, did not notice the sheets and never reported the incident. Six hours later Ms. Montes was dead, hanging from a sheet ...

Settlements Reached In Alabama Women Prisoners' Class-Action Suit

by Matthew T. Clarke

On August 23, 2004, U. S. District Judge Myron Thompson signed a settlement order in a class-action civil-rights lawsuit brought by prisoners at three Alabama Department of Corrections women's prisons challenging their conditions of confinement. The suit focused on basic human needs such as adequate living space, ventilation, personal safety, security, medical treatment and mental health care. The order approves two agreements: The Conditions Settlement Agreement and the Medical Settlement Agreement. Together, they require sweeping improvements in the conditions at the three prisons.

Unconstitutional Prison Conditions

In December, 2002, the court declared conditions at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, Edwina Mitchell Work Release Center (later renamed Tutwiler Annex) and Birmingham Work Release Center unconstitutional. It described conditions at Tutwiler as a time bomb ready to explode facility-wide at any unexpected moment." Laube v. Haley, 234 F.Supp.2d 1227 (M.D.AL 2002). See: PLN, Sep. 2003 pp. 32, 33; Oct. 2003 p. 1.; June 20011, p. 35.
Indeed, conditions at Tutwiler and the other prisons were gruesome. Tutwiler had been built in 1942 and intended to house about 360 women. By 2002, it held 1,017 prisoners. Violence was rampant, medical treatment virtually nonexistent ...

CCA Finally Loses Contract at Mismanaged Tulsa Jail

by Matthew T. Clarke

For years the Sheriff of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, Stanley Glanz, has been telling anyone who would listen that he, not CCA, should be running the county jail. Now, after five years of CCA mismanagement, he may finally get his chance.

The saga started in the late 80s and early 90s when the previous county jail, located in the top two floors of the county courthouse, became hopelessly overcrowded. A federal judge ordered Glanz to reduce the crowding in the jail. He responded by setting up tents for prisoners and lobbying for a 5/12th cent increase in county sales tax to fund construction of a new jail. The tax increase passed along with a measure setting up the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority (TCCJA) to oversee the jail's administration.

The 1,714-bed new county jail is known as the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center. It was named after a tough-on-crime former District Attorney. The jail was immediately surrounded by controversy when former Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage led a coalition to privatize the new jail's management.

Glanz fought that move all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. However, the courts disagreed with his ...

U.S. Supreme Court: Michigan Appellate Attorneys Have

U.S. Supreme Court: Michigan Appellate Attorneys Have No Third Party Standing To Sue For Rights Of Future Unrepresented Prisoners

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. Supreme Court, sidestepping the important question of the constitutionality of a Michigan state law that prohibited appointment of appellate counsel for indigent defendants who took a deal" on their criminal convictions, ruled instead that the appellate attorneys who sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to protect all such prisoners' rights to representation had no third-party" standing to even bring such a suit. The plaintiff-attorneys unsuccessfully argued that the future loss of income to them from large-scale reduction of their state appellate appointments was in itself sufficient nexus to give them third-party standing. The Court further held that the lower federal courts should have abstained from reaching the constitutionality question until it had first been exhausted in the state courts.

In 1994, Michigan amended its constitution to provide that an appeal by a criminal defendant who pled guilty or nolo contendre was no longer a right, but was subject to judicial discretion. In response, Michigan judges adopted the correlative policy of not appointing appellate counsel for such defendants. The Michigan Legislature codified this ...

New Hampshire Prisoner's Due Process Suit Nets $54,000 in Fees and Damages

A New Hampshire federal district court has awarded a prisoner $20,503 in nominal and punitive damages in a civil rights action alleging Fourteenth Amendment violations. The Court further awarded $31,000 in attorney's fees and $3,900 in costs to the prisoner's attorney.

While imprisoned at New ...

$800,000 Awarded to Wrongly Convicted Tennessee Man

After maintaining his innocence for 22 years, Clark McMillan was released from prison after DNA evidence cleared him of raping a 16 year-old in 1980. McMillan was released from a Tennessee prison in 2002 after DNA testing revealed a former Memphis resident serving time in Texas for rape had committed ...

Texas Attorney General Clarifies Confiscation Law Governing Prisoner Art Sales

Texas prisoners can sell artwork over the internet and retain the proceeds as long as the value is not increased because of their notoriety, an opinion by Attorney General Greg Abbott has confirmed.

The Attorney General's January 25, 2005, opinion was in response to a judicial inquiry by state Representative Robert Talton (R-Pasadena). Talton had questioned whether death row prisoner James Vernon Allridge III violated state law by selling his artwork over the internet. Allridge sold his art on a Web site for prices ranging from $10 for a box of greeting cards to $465 for a large print.

Allridge was sentenced to death in 1985 for fatally shooting a convenience store clerk during a robbery. Before his execution on August 26, 2004, Allridge's art--depictions of monarch butterflies, anemones, koalas, tiger lilies, and the like--had won several awards and gained considerable attention, especially in Hollywood. A number of celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Redford, supported Allridge through letters.
Some, including Susan Sarandon and Sting, bought his artwork. Sarandon even visited Allridge on death row.

Allridge is not the only Texas prisoner to sell his artwork. Until the early 1990's, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ...

National Prison Reform Commission Started

Chaired by former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and former U.S. Circuit Judge John Gibbons, the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons opened shop in March, 2005 and has held two of four scheduled public hearings -- the first in April in Tampa, Florida and the second in July in Newark, New Jersey. The Commission is a private group, organized by the Vera Institute of Justice, in New York. It brings together 21 commissioners -- civic leaders with law enforcement backgrounds, prisoners' advocates, former prisoners, corrections professionals (from both jails and prisons), forensic psychiatrists, law professors, and others. Some of the commissioners are very high profile -- they include William Sessions, former U.S. District judge and FBI Director; Marc Morial, former Mayor of New Orleans; Gloria Romero, California Senate Majority Leader; and Gary Maynard, Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections and American Correctional Association President-elect. Some are less well known -- me, for example. Our common ambition is to understand the most serious problem in our nations' nearly 5,000 detention facilities and recommend ways to make them safer for prisoners, staff, and the public.

Both national and state blue ribbon prison reform commissions have a long history, of ...

Michigan Guard Who Procured Hit On Prisoner Must Pay $200,000 Damages

by Marvin Mentor


A Michigan federal jury returned verdicts of $75,000 in compensatory damages and $125,000 in punitive damages against a Michigan state prison guard who paid one prisoner six cigarettes to viciously pummel another.
Michigan prisoner Barton Allen, serving a life sentence for first degree murder, was ...

Fifth Circuit Upholds $5,000 Excessive Force Verdict Against Wackenhut Guard

In an unpublished opinion, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict finding that a prison guard used excessive force against a prisoner and awarding $5,000 in damages.

Mississippi prisoner Thomas Unger sued Wackenhut (now Geo Corporation), various supervisory officials and guard Reginald Blanchard, alleging that he ...

New York Senator Returned To Jail After Illegal Release

By Michael Rigby

Most people will accept that certain perks are available to a state’s top lawmakers. What is unacceptable, however, is that these perks often continue even after the public trust has been violated. The case of former New York Senator Guy Velella, a once powerful Republican convicted of accepting bribes from state contractors, is a prime example. From being given a sweetheart deal, to gaining early and improper release from jail, to remaining free for Christmas after he lost his appeal, the disgraced senator’s case is rife with favoritism.

Evidence of preferential treatment was apparent from the start. In May 2002 Velella, 60, his father Vincent, 90, and two co-defendants were indicted in a scheme to accept bribes from state contractors. But prosecutors bargained with Velella. In exchange for pleading guilty to a felony charge of accepting at least $137,000 in kickbacks, his father was given immunity to prosecution and Velella was sentenced to just one year in jail. Velella’s co-defendants—Hector Del Toro, 52, and Manuel Gonzalez, 67—were sentenced to jail terms of 9 months and 8 months, respectively.

The actual sentences, though, turned out to be much less. After spending just ...

PREA Data Collection Efforts Underway

Efforts to implement the data collection requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) have begun, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report.

Signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 4, 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act [Public Law 108-79] calls for a wide range of measures to combat the burgeoning problem of prisoner rape in the U.S. Specifically, the PREA authorizes, among other things, grant money to fund state efforts aimed at reducing the incidence of prisoner rape, the establishment of national standards, and the collection of statistical data [see PLN, March 2004, p. 6].

To date, few studies have addressed the issue of prison rape, according to Data Collections for the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, a BJS status report released on June 30, 2004. As a result, the issue is not well understood. With that in mind, the PREA directs the BJS to collect national statistics on various aspects of prison rape.

Due to the sensitive nature of prison sexual assaults, especially when same-sex attackers are involved, the report notes that prior attempts to gather data through personal interviews and questionnaires have been plagued with low response rates and low ...

Another CCA Prison in Oklahoma, Another Riot

by Matthew T. Clarke

On March 22, 2005, a riot at a private prison run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) near Cushing, Oklahoma resulted in the death of one prisoner and injuries to fifteen others, one of them critically. No guards or other CCA employees were injured.

Adam Gene Lippert, 32, suffered a fatal stab wound to the chest during the riot at the Cimarron Correctional Facility (CCF). Lippert was serving a 10-year sentence for a drug-related crime. He allegedly bore tattoos identified with the Aryan Brotherhood. He arrived at CCF on December 2, 2004. He died at the Cushing Regional Hospital 90 minutes after the riot was quelled. He had been beaten and stabbed multiple times.

Lucky Miller--a police sergeant in Stroud, Oklahoma, who grew up with Lippert in Davenport, Oklahoma., and arrested him for the conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine charge that sent him to CCF--described Lippert as a good person whose life had spun out of control due to drugs and alcohol.

I've known Adam my whole life," said Miller. I liked Adam. Deep down he was a good person. Drugs and alcohol started controlling his life. I hate it that he got killed. He's ...

Army Prison Ban On PLN Containing Postage-Stamp-Exchange Ad Is Enjoined, But Ban On Internet Mail Up

Army Prison Ban On PLN Containing Postage-Stamp-Exchange Ad Is Enjoined, But Ban On Internet Mail Upheld


by John E. Dannenberg


The U.S. District Court (D. KS) enjoined Ft. Leavenworth prison officials from banning Prison Legal News issues carrying advertisements from The Greenback Exchange that offered to send Greenback's information packet to inquiring prisoners for three postage stamps. Separately, the court upheld the United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) regulatory ban on prisoner receipt of Internet-generated photocopies of legal material not coming directly from a publisher or commercial vendor.

Craig Waterman, serving 20 years at USDB Ft. Leavenworth, filed a pro se habeas action in district court complaining that the prison mailroom's policy of rejecting incoming mail containing photocopies of publications or materials not coming directly from publishers or commercial vendors (e.g., Internet-generated mail) was unconstitutional. Waterman had been mailed copies of legal case material copied off of the Internet, but the mailroom had intercepted and rejected them as being in violation of USDB Regulation 28-1, Paragraph 5- l a(2)(1), which prohibits mail that did not come directly from the publisher or vendor....

Leavenworth is a high-security facility and upholding its security regulations was important, the ...

California Prison Employee Paid $500,000 To Settle Whistleblower Retaliation Suit

The California Department of Cor¬rections (CDC) settled an employee whistleblower retaliation suit for $500,000 in October, 2004. CDC admitted it had additionally spent $300,000 in legal fees fighting the claim.

Richard Krupp, formerly the chief of CDC’s Personnel Automation Section, after being rebuffed by his supervisors ...

Federal Immigration Detainee Taken Off Life Support Without Family's Consent

by John E. Dannenberg

A 69 year-old Mexican national, who suffered a heart attack at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Los Angeles and was put on life support at White Memorial Medical Center, was taken off life support three days later without noti¬fication to or consent of his nearby family.

Prison offcials were aware of Moises A. Murillo’s preexisting heart condition, having placed him on daily medication for a clot near his heart in July. He fell off his bunk in August and broke three ribs. On Friday, October 22, 2004, guards found Murillo on the floor. When he was taken to the hospital, doctors declared him brain dead and put him on life support. MDC didn’t notify Murillo’s family “because it was late Friday by then, and over the weekend they didn’t have time to get the family notified,” according to U.S. Marshals spokesman Jimmel Griffin. “We only deal with emergencies as far as after hours stuff,” he added. Griffin further stated that MDC didn’t have Catalina Hernandez' (Murillo’s wife) phone number, but later found it in the visiting log. Hernandez had visited Murillo dozens of times since his ...

Supreme Court Finds Ohio Supermax Placement Policy Constitutional

By Bob Williams

The United States Supreme Court has found prisoners possess a liberty interest in avoiding supermax placement but ruled Ohio’s new classification policy for placing and retaining prisoners in the state’s supermax is constitutional as written. Relief for due process violations under the former written and unwritten policies was to be determined on remand.

In 2001, Charles Austin and 28 other Ohio state prisoners filed a class action 42 § 1983 suit challenging conditions of confinement at the state’s supermax, Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP). Eighth Amend¬ment claims for medical and psychiatric care, inadequate recreation and harsh re¬straints were settled before trial which was held in 2002. The settlement included a two-year injunction with $150,000 in attorney fees and $10,000 per year in monitoring fees. Shortly before trial, a new policy 111¬07 was issued which became the focus of trial and was found unconstitutional. The United States District Court for the North¬ern District of Ohio entered an injunction prohibiting further OSP placement until an approved 111-07 policy was issued comply¬ing with both the procedural and substantive due process changes ordered by the court. See: Austin v. Wilkinson, 189 F.Supp ...

Brain Dead California Prisoner Guarded Around The Clock

A California parole violator, who was declared brain dead from being shot in the head by a guard at 6,100 bed Wasco State Prison during a lounge-area fight, was guarded at a nearby Bakersfield hospital at a cost of $1,056/day in overtime. $30,000 later, after much adverse publicity, the prisoner was credited with time served and discharged to his family by California Department of Corrections (CDC) officials.

Daniel Provencio, 28, a former high school wrestler and construction worker, had served 3 ½ years on drug charges. He was returned to prison on a parole violation in August, 2004, for drunken driving, gang affiliation, evading arrest and gun possession. He was felled by a 40 mm. rubber projectile, designed for shooting only arms and legs, fired by a guard on January, 16, 2005. While on a ventilator and feeding tubes in intensive care at Mercy Hospital in nearby Bakersfield, he was covered by two CDC guards 24 hours per day, while shackled to the bed. There had been no upgrade in his initial brain-dead diagnosis, but after twenty days, besieged CDC officials agreed to drop one guard and remove the shackles.
Other recent examples of outside hospital ...

California Prison Guard Gets Time For Setting Up Prisoner Beating

On February 17, 2005, a former guard at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP), who set up a gang -initiated attack on a prisoner, was sentenced in Monterey Superior Court to two years and eight months in state prison.
On November 17, 2004, former guard Leon Holston took a deal for filing a false report and for assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. In exchange, the Monterey County District Attorney agreed to a maximum four year sentence and to drop three other charges. Holston's convictions stem from an August 14, 2003 attack on prisoner Tillis" that Holston helped arrange. Holston was in charge of a cellblock housing members of a San Francisco street gang, who beat Tillis unconscious. Holston also allegedly aided the gang members communicate with other gang members both in and outside of SVSP (the dropped charges).

In the week prior to Holston's plea bargain, nine other SVSP guards were formally fired in connection with the beating of prisoner Rafael Serrano in October, 2003. The nine guards were implicated in the Green Wall" code of silence guards' gang at SVSP. [See prior issues of PLN for details on guard gang activities in California prisons ...

Report: Federal Prison Guards Sexually Abuse Prisoners With Near Impunity

By Michael Rigby

Federal prison guards and other employees who have sex with prisoners are rarely prosecuted, and when convictions do result the punishment is often trivial, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The April 2005 report, Deterring Staff Sexual Abuse of Federal Inmates, blames the problem on light penalties and loopholes in federal law.

Between fiscal years (FY) 2000 and 2004, 351 federal prison employees were investigated for alleged sexual abuse of prisoners. Of those, OIG investigators found enough evidence in 163 of the cases to refer them for prosecution. However, fewer than half (45%) were accepted by prosecutors. Even worse, the 65 that were eventually convicted received lenient sentences. The majority (73%) received probation, 15% were sentenced to less than 1 year in jail, and one received only a fine. Just 8% were sentenced to more than 1 year imprisonment.

Consequently, investigators reported that these predators are emboldened by a culture of impunity, believing they either won’t be caught or that there will be no repercussions if they are. They’re generally right. The report cited one case in which prosecutors refused to pursue action against a teacher who ...

Washington DOC Settles Contempt Action For $500,000; Money To Fund Patient Advocate

The Washington Department of Corrections has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a contempt action stemming from alleged violations of a consent decree governing medical care at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW). Pending approval by the court, roughly half of the money will be used to pay ...

Los Angeles County Settles Parolee's Overdetention Suit For $80,000

Los Angeles County paid $80,000 to settle a California parolee's
overdetention suit that alleged failure to process release information for one week.

On June 4, 2001, William Green was arrested by his parole agent on a violation for failing to register as a sex offender. On July 6 ...

Alabama Workers' Comp Act No Bar to Psychological Torts

The Alabama Court of Appeals held that Alabama's Workers' Compensation Act is not an exclusive remedy for tort claims of employees alleging purely psychological injuries.

Three female employees of Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS) brought suit against CMS employees of the Alabama Department of Corrections and others, for an incident that occurred on August 31, 2000, in the health-care unit at the Fountain Correctional Facility.
While working in the health-care unit, plaintiffs heard a guard scream. Shortly thereafter, one plaintiff was captured by one of several prison[ers]...and was led at knifepoint into an interior hallway[.] She was released later and was not physically harmed, while she was held hostage. The other two plaintiffs were able to avoid being captured by barricading themselves in a break room. They did not sustain any physical injuries during the incident.

Plaintiffs alleged that CMS had negligently, wantonly, recklessly and intentionally failed to formulate, implement and oversee policies and procedures for the protection of the [employees] from the wrongful conduct of the prison population' and that the employees had been terrorized' and caused to suffer severe and continuing mental anguish and emotional distress' as a proximate result of CMS's omissions.

The ...

Wackenhut Settles Suit Over Premature Birth for $98,000

On August 12, 2004, Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, now known as GEO Group, Inc., settled a suit alleging that inadequate medical care at a 640-bed Wackenhut-run jail caused a prisoner to give birth prematurely.

Melissa Villarreal, 32, a former prisoner at the Wackenhut-run jail in downtown San Antonio, was arrested for ...

$15,000 Settlement In Hawaii Voting Rights Suit

By John E. Dannenberg

Dwayne Yoshina, Chief Election Officer of the Hawaii Office of Elections and Genevieve Wong, Honolulu City Clerk agreed to pay $15,000 in damages for disenfranchising 44 prisoners at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) by their failure to provide the prisoners with absentee ballots and ...

U.S. Supreme Court: State Prisoners May Challenge Unconstitutional Parole Procedures Under § 1983 If Earlier Release Doesn't Necessarily Follow

U.S. Supreme Court: State Prisoners May Challenge
Unconstitutional Parole Procedures Under § 1983
If Earlier Release Doesn't Necessarily Follow

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. Supreme Court held that state prisoners attacking the constitutionality of procedures used in either parole-eligibility or parole-suitability proceedings may avoid the state-court exhaustion requirements of federal habeas corpus (28 U.S.C. § 2254) and instead bring their actions immediately under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, providing that the relief sought would not necessarily invalidate or shorten state-imposed confinement. If earlier release is sought, however, the action may be brought only in habeas corpus.

Ohio state (life) prisoner William Dotson complained that Ohio's parole authority violated his due process and Ex Post Facto rights by denying him parole eligibility for five years in 2000, based upon a harsher eligibility guideline established in 1998. He asked not for release, but for a new hearing under the earlier rules. The U.S. District Court (N.D. Ohio) denied relief, holding that any action challenging parole denial must be brought in habeas corpus.

Separately, Ohio state prisoner Rogerico Johnson, serving 10-30 years, was denied parole suitability in 2000, also based upon the harsher 1998 Ohio regulatory ...

42 Alabama AIDS Prison Deaths In Five Years Spurs Major Medical Suit Settlement

By John E. Dannenberg

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) settled a class action federal civil rights lawsuit brought by Limestone Correctional Facility AIDS-afflicted prisoners who had complained of unconstitutional conditions of medical treatment and confinement that resulted in excessive suffering and a high mortality rate. The settlement implicated performance failure of Limestone’s former contract medical provider, NaphCare, Inc. The instant settlement is in addition to earlier hepatitis-C and working-conditions settlements previously reported in PLN (Oct. 2003, pp.3, 5; Jan. 2003, p.12).

Antonio Leatherwood and four other Limestone prisoners sued Donald Campbell, Commissioner of ADOC, Ronald Cavanaugh, Director of Treatment of ADOC, Billy Mitchem, Limestone’s Warden and David Wise, Deputy Warden in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action suit for injunctive relief for all AIDS-afflicted Limestone prisoners. The impetus of the suit was to end the years of pain and suffering and ensure that medical care would improve. U.S. District Magistrate Judge John Ott (U.S.D.C., N.D. Ala. (Western Div.) had found, “It is evident that lives were lost due to preventable lapses in the medical treatment. HIV prisoners died without necessary intervention by the Limestone medical staff or ADOC ...

Prisoners of Love: Good Advice for Those Separated By Walls But United by Love

by Matthew T. Clarke


If you want to know the mechanics of how a Texas prison is run, you should read Behind the Walls by George Antonio Renauld [PLN Aug. 2003, p. 29]. It gives all the details on the inner workings of a large prison system, much as the owner's manual gives all the details on how to operate your car. However, just as the owner's manual can never convey the emotional pleasure driving can be, Renauld relates merely the unemotional mechanics of imprisonment--the rules, the programs and the furnishings. If you want to know how it feels to have a loved one in prison, read Toni Cyan-Brock's Prisoners of Love. Cyan-Brock goes beyond describing the mechanics, delving into the emotional impact imprisonment has on prisoners and their loved ones.

Prisoners of Love is a collaborative project by Cyan-Brock and the people who responded to her requests for contributions. It is largely a first-hand-experience book, but addresses general situations as well as the specific ones encountered by the contributors. Cyan-Brock also puts out a Prisoners of Love Newsletter ($20/year, P. O. Box 32531, Amarillo, TX 79120) and runs a website: www.prisonersoflove.com. All three ...

Maricopa County, Arizona, Settles Wrongful Imprisonment Suit For $1.4 Million

On April 6, 2005, a man falsely imprisoned for a decade on Arizona's death row settled with Maricopa County for $1.4 million.

Ray Krone, once dubbed the snaggletooth" killer, was sentenced to death in 1992 based on testimony that his bite matched a mark found on the victim ...

RLUIPA Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

by John E. Dannenberg


A unanimous United States Supreme Court held that § 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §2000cc-1(a) (1-2), which proscribes the government from imposing a substantial burden on the religious exercise of incarcerated persons, does not thereby offend the First Amendment's Establishment Clause by implicitly putting government in the business of fostering religious practice. While ruling that all religions are thus protected, even non-mainstream" ones, the court noted that accommodation of religious practices would necessarily be tempered by deference to prison administrators' need to maintain discipline, order, safety and security within penal institutions. In so holding, the Court overruled the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals which held that § 3 of RLUIPA was facially nconstitutional. (See: Cutter v. Wilkinson, 349 F.3d 257, 6th Cir. 2003).)
State prisoners Jon Cutter and John Gerhardt had successfully sued the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODORC) for accommodation of the practice of Satanist, Wicca, Asatru and Church of Jesus Christ Christian religions. They had complained that ODORC inhibited their religious practice by retaliating and discriminating against them for exercising nontraditional faiths, denying them access to religious ...

Louisiana Prison Writer Free After 44 Years

Award-winning prison journalist and civil rights figure Wilbert Rideau, once described as “the most rehabilitated prisoner in America,” is free after spending more than four decades behind bars. Ironically, Rideau’s freedom came not from being exonerated, but from being found guilty a fourth time.

Rideau was a 19-year-old, virtually illiterate, eighth-grade dropout when he robbed a Lake Charles bank on February 16, 1961. After collecting $14,079 in cash, Rideau, who is black, kidnapped three white employees and drove them to a bayou on the edge of town. There he shot teller Julia Ferguson, then stabbed her through the heart with a hunting knife. Rideau also shot the other hostages and left them for dead, but they survived. Caught just 80 minutes later, Rideau would spend the next 44 years in some of Louisiana’s most brutal prisons.

Rideau was sentenced to die for Ferguson’s murder in April 1961. It was the first of three death sentences to be imposed by juries comprised entirely of white men—the second came in 1964, the third in 1970. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Rideau’s first conviction in 1963 because his confession had been broadcast repeatedly on local television ...

Jury Trial in Prison Violates Oregon Constitution

The Oregon Supreme Court held that conducting a prisoner's jury trial within a prison violates the impartial jury guarantee of the Oregon Constitution.

Gary Cavan, a prisoner at the Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI) was charged with several crimes stemming from his assault of an SRCI guard. Based on [Cavan's] extensive disciplinary record in the prison system, his involvement in an earlier violent escape attempt at another facility, and the unprovoked nature of [the] attack," the trial court granted the state's request to hold Cavan's jury trial in a courtroom constructed within the SRCI visiting room.

Following his convictions, Cavan appealed, arguing that holding his jury trial in prison violated his state and federal constitutional rights to a public trial by an impartial jury." The Oregon Court of Appeals disagreed, affirming his convictions. State v. Cavan, 185 Or. App. 367, 59 P. 3d 553 (2002).

The Oregon Supreme Court granted review, noting that the case present[ed] an issue of first impression under the Oregon Constitution and require[d] the Court to revisit the question of the scope of [Oregon's] impartial jury guarantee." The Court then concluded that the Court of Appeals erred in holding ...

Suit Over Rape of Prisoner By TDCJ Employee Settled for $118,318.56 and Beach Property

By Matthew T. Clarke

On November 19, 2004, a Texas prisoner who was raped by a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) guard settled his suit against the guard and TDCJ for a total of $118,318.56 and the guard’s beach property.

Nathan Essary, 22, a Texas state ...

Supreme Court Decision Orders Release of 920 Mariel Cubans; ICE: Dumps them In the Streets Without Aid

Supreme Court Decision Orders Release of 920 Mariel Cubans;
ICE: Dumps them In the Streets Without Aid

By Mark Wilson

In a 7-to-2 decision, the United States Supreme Court expanded upon its earlier decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001), holding that aliens who are ordered removed and who are inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. § 1182 may be detained only as long as reasonably necessary' to remove them from the country." It also reaffirmed that the presumptive period during which the detention of an alien is reasonably necessary to effectuate his removal is six months [ ]" beyond the expiration of the 90-day removal period allowed by 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(1)(A). The Court's decision requires the release of 747 Cuban Mariel refugees (Marielitos) and 173 non-Cuban detainees, or 920 refugees, nationwide. The case originally arose in Seattle, Washington. The two petitioners in this case were Cubans who emigrated to the United States in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift and who were comvicted of assorted crimes and served their sentences. At no point did they become US citizens.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency took them into custody and they were found to ...

Massachusetts Law, Not PLRA, Applies to Attorneys Fee Award in State Court § 1983 Action for Native

Massachusetts Law, Not PLRA, Applies to Attorneys Fee Award in State Court § 1983 Action for Native American Rights

A Massachusetts Superior Court has held that the determination of an appropriate attorney's fee in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Action is governed by Massachusetts common law and practice and not the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). This action was filed by prisoners in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC), alleging violation of their state and federal constitutional right to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

The prisoners, in particular alleged unlawful discrimination by MDOC for failing to allow them to participate in a Native American Purification sweat lodge ceremony. In 1995, the prisoners obtained preliminary injunctive relief, but were not successful at trial in 1999. At the suggestion of the Appeals Court in October 2001, the parties entered into settlement discussions that resulted in a final settlement.

In determining if the prisoners were a prevailing party entitled to attorney fees, the Superior Court found the prisoners were warranted in stating that the success of this litigation marks an historic milestone in the treatment of Native American spiritual practices in Massachusetts as elsewhere, where centuries of disrespect and suppression have ...

California Guard Wins $10 Million Default Judgment Against Assaultive Prisoners

A guard at California State Prison Los Angeles (CSP-LA) in Lancaster, who was allegedly injured by two prisoners, was awarded a $10,253,792.57 default judgment against them in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 17, 2005.

Guard Demont Blunt, 25, was repeatedly kicked in the head on April ...

$1 Million L.A. County Jail Rape Award Overturned

by Marvin Mentor

The California Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion, reversed a Los Angeles (L.A.) County jury verdict that had awarded $1 million in damages to a jail detainee who was brutally beaten and raped in his L. A. County Jail module while waiting twenty hours to ...

Colorado Teenagers Raped By Guards Settle For $165,000 Each

In August 2004, two teenage girls raped by guards at a Colorado juvenile prison settled their lawsuits for $165,000 apiece. Both girls had been imprisoned at the Youthful Offender System (YOS), which is operated by the Colorado Department of Corrections. Their lawsuits were identical and involved the same defendants ...

Former Wackenhut Guard Awarded $600,000 For Wrongful Termination

A federal jury in Fresno, California, has awarded $600,000 to a former guard at the Taft Correctional.Institution (TCI) for wrongful termination. TCI is a private prison operated by the Geo Group, formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corporation [see PLN, June 2004, p.16]. TCI houses federal prisoners.

John Elliot, who ...

Arizona Boot Camp Director Convicted In Teen’s Death

On January 3, 2005, the founder of a tough-love boot camp in Arizona was convicted of reckless manslaughter in the 2001 death of a 14-year-old camper who collapsed under the relentless desert sun. On May 24, 2005, Long was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the homicide.

Charles Long, 59, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the death of camp participant Anthony Haynes, but jurors convicted him of the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter. “There was never any doubt as to the guilt on Count I (the homicide charge), it was the level of guilt,” said juror Myrna Lee after the trial.

Long was also found guilty of aggravated assault for holding a knife to the chest of another teenager and threatening to “gut him like a fish.” The jury deadlocked on eight counts of child abuse related to other camp participants. Youths at the camp ranged from 7 to 18 years of age.

Because the aggravated assault conviction carries a mandatory 5-15 year prison sentence, Long was taken into custody immediately following the verdicts.

Haynes, a troubled, overweight teenager, had been sent to Long’s Buffalo Soldiers Re-Enactors Association boot camp after he slashed ...

Tennessee Public Records Act Requires Delivery Of Records To Prisoners

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has held that the state's Public Records Act requires a District Attorney General not only to make public records available, but to copy and deliver records requested by prisoners.
Jaxie Raymond Jones, a Tennessee state prisoner in the Northeast Correctional Complex, filed a petition against Joe C. Crumley, Jr., District Attorney General for the First Judicial District of Tennessee, seeking delivery of records pertaining to a Washington County criminal case that were in Crumley's possession. The trial court ordered Crumley to produce the records pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(1999), and Crumley appealed.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals (COA) at Knoxville affirmed. The decision was a reaffirmation of the COA's earlier ruling in Waller v. Bryan, 16 S.W.3d. 770 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999).

In Waller the COA held that If a citizen can sufficiently identify the documents which he wishes to obtain copies of so as to enable the custodian of the records to know which documents are to be copied, the citizen's personal presence before the records custodian is not required." The Waller court did, however, hold that a per copy fee could be imposed in ...

Court Holds Temperatures on Florida's Death Row Constitutional; Class Action Exhaustion Explained

By David M. Reutter

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Florida District Court's order denying that prisoners' cell temperatures on Florida's death row constitute cruel and unusual punishment. This civil rights action was filed by Jim E. Chandler and William Kelley, prisoners on death row at Union Correctional Institution's Northeast Unit (UCINU).

Shortly after the action was filed, the District Court on December 4, 2000, certified a class consisting of, all persons who are assigned to [U.C.I.N.U.] or who in the future will be assigned to that unit." After the court convened a bench trial, which included the court visiting UCINU, it denied relief on the merits. The prisons then appealed.
Before the Eleventh Circuit turned to the merits of the claim, it addressed the class exhausting their administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation and Reform Act (PLRA). The record shows that Chandler exhausted all three levels of the grievance process provided by the Florida Department of Corrections.

The Eleventh Circuit held that when one or more class members has exhausted his administrative remedies with respect to each claim raised by the class." The PLRA is satisfied because vicarious exhaustion" occurred ...

Staph Infections Kill Women Prisoners In Pennsylvania; Coroner’s Office Raided

By Michael Rigby

Three female prisoners have died after contracting a deadly strain of Staph infection while confined in Pennsylvania jails. All of the deaths occurred in March 2005. Two of the women, originally said to have inhaled toxic fumes while cleaning one of the jails, died within hours of each other.

Angel L. Powell, 33, became seriously ill while imprisoned in the Burlington County Minimum Security Facility. She was rushed to a local hospital on March 2, 2005, but it was too late. She died the next day. An autopsy revealed that Powell died from pneumonia caused by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA. Powell was the sixth Burlington County prisoner in a year to become infected. Prisoners in other Burlington County jail facilities have also contracted MRSA, health officials said.

MRSA is a particularly virulent strain of Staphylococcus Aureus, a bacteria that most commonly causes skin lesions but can also lead to skin and bone infections and pneumonia. Originally found most often in hospitals, MRSA is now “clearly an epidemic” in community settings, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in April 2005. The Journal noted that MRSA infections are fatal in 20 to 25 percent of patients.

Because ...

Kentucky State Auditor Blasts Prison Industries After $377K in Undeposited Payments Found in Manager’s Desk

by Matthew T. Clarke

It is hard to imagine the surprise of Kentucky Correctional Industries (KCI) employees when they discovered $377,751.86 in undeposited payments in a KCI manager’s desk in April, 2004. As a result of the discovery, Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) Commissioner John Rees asked the State Auditor to conduct an audit of KCI to “scrutinize the financial integrity of” KCI and “examine existing internal control mechanisms.” The audit revealed “flawed business practices, lack of financial controls, and gross mismanagement by the former branch manager and previous administrators that led to the inability to conclusively account for all KCI receipts.” Meanwhile, state officials expressed shock and anger at the discovery. Kentucky Lt. Governor Pence described the payment hoarding as a “deplorable neglect of duty.”

“This was an extreme example of lack of oversight,” said Rees. “I can certainly understand the surprise and outrage experienced by Lt. Governor Pence and Commissioner Rees when this situation first came to their attention. The fact that an employee would put over $377,000 in payments in a drawer and not deposit them for years is simply unbelievable.”

Of equal concern is that financial controls were not in place to ...

Mere Pendency of Proceedings Deprives Court of Jurisdiction in Jail Collect Call Case; Attorney Fee

Mere Pendency of Proceedings Deprives Court of Jurisdiction in Jail Collect Call Case; Attorney Fee Awarded Reversed, Injunction Upheld

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an award of attorney's fees, holding the mere pendency of proceedings that threatens harm is insufficient to invoke a district court's jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief.

This civil rights action was originally filed by Jeff Lynch, a pretrial detainee at Ohio's Hamilton County Justice Center (HCJC). Lynch alleged that HCJC's policy of allowing prisoners to make only collect telephone calls, in combination with the Hamilton County Public Defender's policy of refusing collect calls operated to deny pretrial detainees at HCJC their Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The second amended complaint added Mike Powers as a plaintiff.

Hamilton County moved to dismiss, based on lack of standing to bring the suit. Lynch was dismissed from the suit on that basis in January 2002. The Ohio Federal District Court, however, held that Powers had standing because he had a capias that was currently outstanding." That factual finding was incorrect. Power's cause of action arose after he was arrested for failing to appear on charge of operating a motor vehicle ...

California’s Sex-Offender Internet Site Gets 14 Million Hits In First Four Days

California’s new public internet data-base listing 63,000 of 85,000 convicted sex-offenders was put on line December 15, 2004. By that evening, it was too crowded to navigate, receiving 14 million hits in the first four days. This data was previously only available at police stations.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court approved such public lists (“Megan’s Law”). The California site was authorized by legislation passed in September, 2004, which gave the state attorney general until July, 2005 to comply. Attorney General spokesperson Mariam Bedrosian said, “We hope that families will use this as a tool to protect themselves, to educate their children and to be aware of the risks that surround them.” Offenders are listed by ZIP code, city, county, name, address and proximity to elementary schools and parks. The most serious offenders can be identified by clicking on blue dots on maps, which give street addresses. [Exact addresses are only given for “top 33,500.”] Other data includes photographs, gender, age, race and physical identifiers.

A criticism of the list is that an estimated 20% have not advised authorities of changes in address. And by law, those 22,000 with the most minor offenses ...

Florida's Law Libraries Provide Adequate Access to Courts Under State's Constitution

Florida's Law Libraries Provide Adequate Access to Courts
Under State's Constitution

By David M. Reutter

Florida's First District Court of Appeal has held that Article I, § 21 of the Florida constitution requires the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) to provide more affirmative assistance to prisoners in the preparation and filing of litigation papers than does the federal constitution. The court, however, held the assistance FDOC provides does not significantly impede the prisoner's access to courts.

This class action suit, filed by five Florida prisoners, alleged that their right to court access under § 21 was violated by FDOC's actions of: (1) removing reference books and form pleadings from the state's prison law libraries; (2) limitation of access to legal materials through inter-library loans; (3) restriction on the hours and means of access to prison law libraries and restrictions on the use of those libraries and restrictions on the use of those libraries for drafting legal pleadings and legal mail; (4) elimination of access to computers, word processors, and typewriters for preparation of legal pleadings and legal mail; (5) reduction in the availability of prisoners' research aides to assist prisoners; (6) undue interference with prisoners attempting ...

Besmirched California Prison Doctors Sue To Block Higher Qualification Standards

By John E. Dannenberg

California Department of Corrections (CDC) doctors, who have been much maligned in recent scathing federal court reports depicting “horrible” medical care conditions in California’s prisons, made a defensive move on April 29, 2005 by having their union, the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, file a suit in Sacramento County Superior Court alleging that the tighter doctor certification standards recently announced by CDC violate state law.

At the heart of the disagreement is that CDC is levying medical qualification standards upon its doctors in the form of Medical Board certification for either internal or family medicine or by way of a CDC-administered competency test. The union alleges that CDC’s evaluation programs are flawed and that in any event, any new job qualifications must be approved by the State Personnel Board. They claim that CDC “is arbitrarily, capriciously, and unilaterally imposing new minimum qualifications for prison doctors to divert attention from its own execrable management spanning two decades. In a desperate last ditch effort to divert attention from its own colossal mismanagement, CDC is doing its best to blame prison doctors for its own failure.”

CDC spokesman Todd Slosek countered that it was bound by ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: On April 28, 2005, Mario Centobie, 39, was executed after waiving his appeals. In 1998, Centobie, a former Mississippi firefighter who was serving a 40 year sentence at Parchman Prison in Mississippi for kidnapping his estranged wife and 6 year old son, escaped from the prison while being taken to a court appearance. Over the course of that escape Centobie shot one police officer and killed another in separate incidents. Captured by police when he did not resist an arrest lest the people who had given him a ride be harmed, Centobie later escaped from the Etowah county jail after charmed jail guard Donna Hawkins into helping him escape. He remained free for two weeks before being caught after police traced the love letters he sent Hawkins. Hawkins was convicted of her role in the escape and served 18 months in prison.

Alabama: On May 25, 2005, Frankie Pruitt, 35, Alfred Tanner, 34, Christopher Robinson, 29; Jeremiah Davis, 17; Terry Kelly, 39 and Carlos McGlathery, 34, were charged with murdering fellow Madison county jail prisoner Ronald Pinchon, 19, by beating him to death three days earlier. Pinchon was in jail for violating work release rules, where he had been ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:

Alabama: On February 2, 2005, Jimmy Toliver, 40, was arrested on criminal trespassing charges after attempting to break into the Bullock County jail in Union Springs. Toliver had crawled under the jail's security fence and was found hiding behind an air conditioning unit at 3 AM. Toliver told police he was trying to borrow $5 from a jail prisoner. A search of the area discovered a bag of marijuana stuffed into a ventilation shaft. He was later transported to the same jail he had sought entry to. Toliver was sentenced to time served and ordered by the judge to stay away from the jail.

Arizona: On January 17, 2005, three guards at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Tucson were injured when a fight broke out in the prison's dining hall. Thirty prisoners barricaded themselves in the dining hall but surrendered when guards pepper sprayed them.

California: On August 2, 2005, Tyreese Reed, 29, was charged with 18 counts of rape and robbery. Known as the Koreatown rapist," the electrical technician is accused of raping and robbing 13 women, all of them Asian, ranging in age from 17 to 55. Reed committed the attacks while posing a ...

Ninth Circuit: Kicking Shackled Prisoner In Genitals Is Cruel And Unusual Punishment

When California Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) prisoner Christopher Watts filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against guards J. McKinney and S.J. Steinberg for kicking Watts in the genitals after an unsuccessful interrogation regarding PBSP guards bringing in drugs or knives, the U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.) ruled that this physical abuse amounted to cruel and unusual punishment." State defendants appealed, asserting that no reasonable [guard] would have believed that his conduct was unlawful.

In a brief published opinion, the Ninth Circuit first reviewed Watts' sworn statement. On Oct. 10, 1995, Watts was escorted from his administration segregation cell for an interrogation." There, Watts said he wanted his attorney present. Instead, the guards repeatedly threatened Watts and his family for not cooperating and told him repeatedly he'd be sorry." Thereafter, guard McKinney took Watts to a holding cell, slammed Watts' face into a wall causing a nose bleed and swollen eye. Then, while Watts lay on the floor, McKinney kicked Watts several times in his penis and in his back, while Watts' hands were cuffed behind his back.
From these facts the district court had found that a triable issue of fact was stated ...

 

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