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Prison Legal News: January, 2006

Issue PDF
Volume 17, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. Texas Jails Troubled by Deaths, Negligence and Failed Inspections (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 8)
  3. Federal Judge Enforces "Valdivia Remedial Plan" for California Parole Violators (p 9)
  4. California Parole Board Lax In Contracting For Foreign Language Interpreters (p 10)
  5. Indiana State Courts Have Jurisdiction In Prisoner Phone Contract Case (p 11)
  6. Michigan's Dirty Little Secret: Sexual Abuse of Female Prisoners Pervasive, Ongoing (p 12)
  7. President Bush Orders Compliance With World Court Order, Withdraws From Optional Protocol (p 16)
  8. North Carolina Pays $43,500 to Women Strip-Searched By Prisoners (p 17)
  9. California's New Governor Has Paroled 102 Lifers, But Rejected Twice That Many (p 18)
  10. Private Prison Firms Stumble; Hire Former California Officials to Lobby for For-Profit Facilities (p 20)
  11. Texas State Auditor Questions Necessity of Prison Health Care Oversight Board (p 22)
  12. Death Penalty for Texas Prison Horses Stirs Controversy (p 23)
  13. New York's Sex Offender Treatment Program Enjoined; Stay Issued Pending Appeal (p 24)
  14. Ex-Prisoners Barred From Nursing in Texas (p 26)
  15. Los Angeles County Jail Tests Prisoner Radio ID Tags (p 27)
  16. Texas Enacts Life Without Parole Law (p 27)
  17. Lethal Injection Painful, Study Suggests; U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Issue (p 28)
  18. New York Jail Doctor Put on Probation After Wrong Prescription Kills Detainee (p 29)
  19. Suspicious Deaths And Beatings Allegations Still Plague Santa Clara County, California Jail (p 30)
  20. GEO Group Buys Out Correctional Services Corporation (p 31)
  21. New Jersey Taxpayers Underwrite Unqualified, Unnecessary Prison Employees (p 31)
  22. Auditors Uncover Hidden Cash Accounts at Chester County, Pennsylvania, Prison (p 32)
  23. Judge Reduces Damage Award Against PHS In New York Jail Heart Attack Suit (p 32)
  24. Federal Court Finds California Murder Paroles Blocked by Illegal No-Parole" Policy (p 33)
  25. Class Action Suit Filed Against L.A. County Jail After 4,000 MRSA Infections (p 34)
  26. Feres Doctrine Bars FTCA Actions (p 34)
  27. California's Preferential Bulk Price For Hepatitis-C Drugs Kept Secret (p 35)
  28. New Jersey Parole Officials Pay $50,000 for Delayed Release (p 35)
  29. New York: Wrongfully Imprisoned Man Settles For $5,000,000 (p 36)
  30. Los Angeles County Pays $60,900 To Settle Jail Detainee Rape Claim (p 37)
  31. Wisconsin Must Install Air Conditioning in Supermax (p 38)
  32. Double-Celling Mentally Ill California Ad-Seg Prisoners Proves Fatal (p 38)
  33. Hawaii Prisoner Injured In Fight Awarded $25,427 (p 39)
  34. 11th Circuit Finds S.Ct. Overruled Heightened Pleading Standard (p 40)
  35. Seventh Circuit Reverses § 1915(e)(2) Dismissal of Meritorious Complaint (p 40)
  36. News in Brief (p 41)
  37. Court Invalidates Mental Health Supervised Release Condition; Condition Impermissibly Delegates Judicial Authority to PO (p 44)

Texas Jails Troubled by Deaths, Negligence and Failed Inspections

For decades Texas jails have been cesspool's of misery, medical neglect, brutality and over crowding. Class action litigation in the 1970's alleviated some of the worst aspects of the Texas jail system and led to modest improvements. By the late 1990's the jail consent decrees and injunctions ...

From the Editor

By now all subscribers should have received PLN's bi annual reader survey and fundraiser letter. We have not received that many responses back to the survey which may mean everyone is happy with PLN's content the way it is. If you have not yet returned it please do ...

Federal Judge Enforces "Valdivia Remedial Plan" for California Parole Violators

Federal Judge Enforces "Valdivia Remedial Plan"
for California Parole Violators

On June 8, 2005, the United States District Court enforced its order in Valdivia v. Davis, 206 F.Supp.2d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2002) [PLN, Jan.2003, p.16] and its March 9, 2004 Stipulated Permanent Injunction implementing the ...

California Parole Board Lax In Contracting For Foreign Language Interpreters

The watchdog California Office of Inspector General (OIG), when investigating the case of a foreign language interpreter who bilked the Board of Prison Terms (BPT) out of $11,862 in false claims, found the BPT's contracting and accountability procedures for such services woefully inadequate.

Between August, 2000 and June ...

Indiana State Courts Have Jurisdiction In Prisoner Phone Contract Case

In a suit challenging excessive collect call rates charged to prisoners' families, friends and attorneys, the Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Chanelle Alexander and others (the Class) pay for collect calls from prisoners in Indiana's state prisons ...

Michigan's Dirty Little Secret: Sexual Abuse of Female Prisoners Pervasive, Ongoing

by Michael Rigby

Despite reports of sexual abuse dating back 20 years ... despite a tumultuous decade of lawsuits that cost millions of taxpayer dollars ... and despite a promise by state officials to implement sweeping reforms, the sexual victimization of women continues unabated in Michigan prisons, according to a five month ...

President Bush Orders Compliance With World Court Order, Withdraws From Optional Protocol

by Matthew T. Clarke

President Bush has ordered the states to comply with a March 2004 decision of the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court. In that decision the World Court ruled that fifty-one Mexican national prisoners that are incarcerated on various death rows in the ...

North Carolina Pays $43,500 to Women Strip-Searched By Prisoners

by Michael Rigby

The North Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC) has paid $43,500 to four women who were subjected to strip and body-cavity searches performed by other prisoners and to a fifth who was beaten when she refused to undress.

The assaults occurred in a disciplinary housing wing at ...

California's New Governor Has Paroled 102 Lifers, But Rejected Twice That Many

The good news is that as of September 30, 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has approved 102 lifers for parole since taking office two years ago, a vast improvement over former Governor Gray Davis' record of paroling just eight lifers during his five years in office. The bad news is ...

Private Prison Firms Stumble; Hire Former California Officials to Lobby for For-Profit Facilities

Private prison companies, which presently house only 2,550 of California's 165,000 prisoners, have hired a former county lawmaker, former CDC employees and the former state Finance Director in an attempt to expand into the $7 billion California corrections market. However, the powerful prison guards union (CCPOA), which ...

Texas State Auditor Questions Necessity of Prison Health Care Oversight Board

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Texas State Auditor's Office has released a report which scathingly criticized the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee (Committee) for failing to perform its contractual duties and having several conflicts of interest with the health care providers, concluding that the committee may no longer be ...

Death Penalty for Texas Prison Horses Stirs Controversy

Between February 2003 and November 2004, the Texas prison system sold 53 horses to the Dallas Crown slaughterhouse in Kaufmann, Texas, for processing into meat for human consumption. This violates § 149.003 of the Texas Agriculture Code. The first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 ...

New York's Sex Offender Treatment Program Enjoined; Stay Issued Pending Appeal

by Bob Williams

The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York ruled that New York's program for treating convicted state sex offenders violates the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against compulsory self-incrimination and issued a preliminary injunction. The Second Circuit has issued a stay pending appeal ...

Ex-Prisoners Barred From Nursing in Texas

by Matthew T. Clarke

Recently, the Dallas Morning News (DMN) generated articles decrying the presence of convicted drug and sex offenders in the nursing profession.
Texas, like many states, has statutes denying ex-prisoners licensing in many state-licensed professions. In some professions, being convicted of a misdemeanor is sufficient cause for ...

Los Angeles County Jail Tests Prisoner Radio ID Tags

by John E. Dannenberg

The Los Angeles (L.A.) County Sheriff's Department will spend $1.5 million to install a computerized radio ID tag system in 2006 to monitor the location of 1,900 prisoners at the Pitchess Detention Center (county jail) in Castaic.

The radio-linked wristbands work inside ...

Texas Enacts Life Without Parole Law

On June 17, 2005, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law legislation that allows Texas juries to sentence defendants to life without the possibility of parole in capital cases. Senate Bill 60 replaces the previous non-death-penalty option of 40 years without the possibility of parole with life without the possibility ...

Lethal Injection Painful, Study Suggests; U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Issue

by Michael Rigby

Hundreds of prisoners killed by lethal injectionthe preferred method of execution in 37 states and the federal Bureau of Prisonsmay have suffered agonizing deaths due to a routine failure to administer enough anesthesia, according to a recent study. Reviewing toxicology data from 49 executions, researchers in Virginia ...

New York Jail Doctor Put on Probation After Wrong Prescription Kills Detainee

by John E. Dannenberg

The former medical director for Rensselear (New York) County Jail was put on probation for three years by state health authorities for improper treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome that caused the death of a pre-trial detainee. Additionally, the director was permanently banned from practicing medicine at ...

Suspicious Deaths And Beatings Allegations Still Plague Santa Clara County, California Jail

by Marvin Mentor

Seven prisoner deaths and numerous reported police beatings between October 2004 and April 2005 at the Santa Clara County (SCC), California jail have local civil rights watchers calling for a grand jury investigation. Similar problems occurred at SCC in 1995 when they were studied by the County ...

GEO Group Buys Out Correctional Services Corporation

In November 2005, GEO Group, the second-largest private prison company in the U.S., finalized its purchase of the Sarasota, Florida-based Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) for $6 a share -- a total of $62 million in cash -- and the assumption of $124 million of CSC's debt. GEO had previously announced ...

New Jersey Taxpayers Underwrite Unqualified, Unnecessary Prison Employees

The New Jersey prison system is infested with parasitic employees--thrust upon the department by legislators and the governor's office--who bleed state taxpayers for more than $850,000 a year, Department of Corrections (DOC) commissioner Devon Brown has admitted.

The revelation came during a May 3, 2005, meeting of the ...

Auditors Uncover Hidden Cash Accounts at Chester County, Pennsylvania, Prison

An audit of the Chester County, Pennsylvania, Prison's finances uncovered hidden cash accounts used to collect $18,000 from prisoners between 1984 and 2003. All but $4,000 of the money had already been spent at management's discretion over the years," according to Ray E. White, Jr., acting ...

Judge Reduces Damage Award Against PHS In New York Jail Heart Attack Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

In July 2005, a New York federal jury awarded $150,000 in compensatory damages and $632,988 in punitive damages to a jail prisoner who suffered permanent disabilities when treatment for his heart attack was delayed for three critical days by indifferent guards and medical staff ...

Federal Court Finds California Murder Paroles Blocked by Illegal No-Parole" Policy

Federal Court Finds California Murder Paroles Blocked by Illegal No-Parole" Policy

by Marvin Mentor

On May 19, 2005, the United States District Court (E.D. Cal.) ruled that the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT), between 1992 and 1998, disregarded regulations ensuring fair hearings and instead operated under a sub ...

Class Action Suit Filed Against L.A. County Jail After 4,000 MRSA Infections

by John E. Dannenberg

A class action lawsuit against Los Angeles (L.A.) County and its Sheriff Leroy Baca was filed in 2004 in the United States District Court (C.D. Cal.) on behalf of an estimated 4,000 present and former L.A. County Jail prisoners who were infected ...

Feres Doctrine Bars FTCA Actions

by Military Prisoners

The Unites States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the Feres doctrine, adopted by the United States Supreme Court in Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135 (1950), bars suits brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) by military prisoners.

Jeffrey ...

California's Preferential Bulk Price For Hepatitis-C Drugs Kept Secret

The good news is that California's Department of General Services (DGS) negotiated a bulk discount price for the large quantities of pegylated interferon it buys for the treatment of Hepatitis-C infected prisoners, and will save the state $1 million on the $5.6 million expended last year. The bad ...

New Jersey Parole Officials Pay $50,000 for Delayed Release

On February 3, 2005, a New Jersey man settled his federal lawsuit against state parole officialswhom he claimed were responsible for his remaining in prison 11 months beyond his approved parole datefor $50,000.

Vincent Pannone was imprisoned on May 7, 1999, for theft by deception and credit card fraud ...

New York: Wrongfully Imprisoned Man Settles For $5,000,000

by Michael Rigby

A man who was wrongfully convicted of raping a 5-year-old girl has settled with the state of New York for $5 million, the largest such settlement in state history.

But no amount of money can atone for the seven years Alberto Ramos spent in prison with the ...

Los Angeles County Pays $60,900 To Settle Jail Detainee Rape Claim

Los Angeles County Pays $60,900 To Settle
Jail Detainee Rape Claim

Los Angeles (L.A.) County, California, paid $60,900 to a female detainee who was raped in her Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF) cell by a male prisoner who was inadvertently admitted by a County Sheriff's deputy ...

Wisconsin Must Install Air Conditioning in Supermax

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court order requiring prison officials to take immediate steps to air condition the cells of Wisconsin's supermax prison.

In 2000, two prisoners confined in the Supermax prison in Boschobel, Wisconsin brought suit alleging that they were subjected to extreme temperatures ...

Double-Celling Mentally Ill California Ad-Seg Prisoners Proves Fatal

When administratively segregated mentally ill prisoners were placed in the same cell at California State Prison, Los Angeles (LAC) in September, 2004, one strangled the other with a bed sheet. Upon investigating the death, the watchdog Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that there was no policy against such ...

Hawaii Prisoner Injured In Fight Awarded $25,427

On February 1, 2005, a Hawaii court awarded $25,427.00 to a prisoner who claimed he was assaulted by another prisoner.

Plaintiff Lael Samonte, 47, contended that while imprisoned at the Halawa Correctional Facility on May 22, 2002, he was attacked and knocked unconscious by fellow prisoner Jonathan Tagatac ...

11th Circuit Finds S.Ct. Overruled Heightened Pleading Standard

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the heightened pleading standard is not applicable in a § 1983 action against a non-governmental entity that cannot raise qualified immunity as a defense" pursuant to Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 113 S.Ct. 1160 (1993 ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses § 1915(e)(2) Dismissal of Meritorious Complaint

by Bob Williams

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reversed a Wisconsin Federal District Court's dismissal of a prisoner complaint the district court found to have probable merit but dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 191S(e)(2) screening because the judge felt ...

News in Brief

News in Brief:

Alabama: On January 10, 2006, Ronald Hammonds, 35, a guard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega was arrested in a Taco Bell parking lot by FBI agents on charges of supplying prisoners with marijuana.
Arizona: On December 31, 2005, Vincent Cannon, 23, a guard at the ...

Court Invalidates Mental Health Supervised Release Condition; Condition Impermissibly Delegates Judicial Authority to PO

Court Invalidates Mental Health Supervised Release Condition;
Condition Impermissibly Delegates Judicial Authority to PO

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Delaware district court improperly imposed a supervised release condition requiring mental health counseling. The court also held that the condition was invalid because it impermissibly delegated judicial ...