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Prison Legal News: October, 2006

Issue PDF
Volume 17, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. Taser: The "Less Lethal" Weapon with a Fatal Attraction to Prisoners (p 1)
  2. Board of Commissioners Clears PHS In Three Leon County (Florida) Jail Deaths (p 9)
  3. From the Editor (p 10)
  4. Focus on Sex Offenders Increases While Number of Sex Offenses Decline (p 10)
  5. Attempted Arrest of Federal Prison Guards in Florida Turns Deadly (p 12)
  6. Panel Suggests Using Prisoners in Drug Trials (p 14)
  7. Massachusetts Prisoner Awarded $60,000 For Electrical Shock (p 16)
  8. PLNs Publication-Ban Suit Against Kansas DOC Set For Trial On Declaratory And Injunctive Relief (p 16)
  9. Delaware Law: Punishing Prisoners for Reporting Sexual Abuse by Guards (p 17)
  10. Oregon Guard Gets 32 Months For Sex With Prisoner (p 17)
  11. Habeas Hints (p 18)
  12. Report on Status of Guantanamo Prisoners Released; Controversy Continues (p 20)
  13. California Guard Convicted of Abetting Prison Gang (p 21)
  14. Texas Prisoner Gets 40 Years For Cellphone; Guards Get Probation (p 22)
  15. Audit Criticizes Management of ODOC Financial Computer System (p 22)
  16. Years Long Pattern of Medical Neglect Defeats Summary Judgment (p 23)
  17. Florida DOC Cuts Prisoner Collect Call Costs by 30% (p 24)
  18. Arkansas County Pays $40,000 To Handicapped Man Raped In Jail (p 24)
  19. EMSA, Florida County to Pay $500,000 for Untreated Ectopic Pregnancy (p 25)
  20. Audit Reveals California DOC Employees Illegally Received Holiday Pay for Scheduled Days Off (p 26)
  21. Arkansas Mayor, Sheriff, Wife Jailed for Burglary, Drugs, Sex and More (p 26)
  22. Female Missouri Prisoners Make $291,000 as Sexy Pen Pals, AG Wants His Cut (p 27)
  23. $600,000 Settlement for Abuse at Maine Juvenile Prison (p 27)
  24. Michigan Prisoner Wins $20,000 on Failure to Protect Claim (p 28)
  25. Iowa Prisoners Settle Sexual Abuse Lawsuits For $160,000 (p 28)
  26. District of Columbia Jail Pays $14 Million For Over-Detentions and Strip Searches (p 29)
  27. Nebraskas County Jails Neglect Mentally Disabled (p 30)
  28. Los Angeles County Pays $110,000 for Wrongful Jail Death (p 30)
  29. Mumia Abu-Jamal Honored in Paris, France (p 31)
  30. Massachusetts Prisoners Battle MRSA, Untreated Hepatitis C (p 32)
  31. Washington Liable for Negligent Parolee Supervision; Bad Jury Instruction Vacates $33 Million Verdic (p 32)
  32. Texas Jail Suicide Suit Settles For $300,000 (p 33)
  33. Virginia's General Assembly Sells Out Prisoners' Families for Phone Money (p 34)
  34. Supreme Court: Lethal Injection Procedure May Be Challenged Via § 1983 (p 34)
  35. Beaten Texas Prisoner Who Was Denied Safekeeping Awarded $87,500 (p 35)
  36. Maywood, Illinois Jail Settles Failure to Protect Suit For $750,000 (p 35)
  37. Michigan Prisoners Deliberate Indifference Claim Nets $73,906 In Fees (p 36)
  38. WA Youth Detention Officer Awarded $603,500; Remitted Damages Reinstated (p 36)
  39. New York Prisoner Paid $1.25 Million for Untreated Glaucoma (p 37)
  40. $1.35 Million Settlement for Wrongful Death of Illinois Prisoner (p 37)
  41. Florida Gain Time Revocation Clarified (p 38)
  42. L.A. County Pays $300,000 for Wrongful Death of Psychiatric Jail Prisoner (p 38)
  43. California Parole Board Squelches Life Prisoner Writs on Procedural Grounds (p 38)
  44. Former Head New York Islamic Prison Chaplain Pleads Guilty in Gun Case (p 39)
  45. WA Courts Cannot Extend Supervision Period for Sex Offenses Committed Before 1996 (p 40)
  46. New Yorks Son of Sam Law Constitutional, Damages Seized (p 40)
  47. Floridas Felon Disenfranchisement Law Upheld (p 41)
  48. News in Brief: (p 42)
  49. Successor Judge Needs Compelling Reason to Reopen Prior Judges Ruling (p 44)
  50. No Qualified Immunity for Arkansas Detainees Miscarriage (p 213)

Taser: The "Less Lethal" Weapon with a Fatal Attraction to Prisoners

Taser: The "Less Lethal" Weapon with a Fatal Attraction to Prisoners

by John E. Dannenberg

Extensive medical evidence strongly supports the Taser devices will not cause lasting aftereffects or fatality.

Taser International literature

Tasers, fifty-thousand volt electronic stun guns manufactured by Arizona-based Taser International, are killing and injuring ever more ...

Board of Commissioners Clears PHS In Three Leon County (Florida) Jail Deaths

by John E. Dannenberg

After three jail deaths between May 2003 and October 2004, the Leon County Board of Commissioners met to consider the Sheriffs reports on the three deaths and any implications regarding the jails healthcare provider, PHS. Two of the deaths were in litigation. In spite of highly ...

From the Editor

As the year comes to an end we will soon be sending out PLNs annual fundraiser letter. A PLN supporter who wishes to remain anonymous has pledged to match all donations to PLN, up to the amount of $15,000, dollar for dollar that are made between October 1, 2006 ...

Focus on Sex Offenders Increases While Number of Sex Offenses Decline

In September, 2006 the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics released its annual Crime Victimization report for 2005, which indicated a dramatic drop in the number of rapes and sexual assaults nationally. The 191,670 reported incidents represent an almost 10 percent decline in rape and sexual abuse from the ...

Attempted Arrest of Federal Prison Guards in Florida Turns Deadly

The events of June 21, 2006, were so outrageous they seemed impossible (except, of course, to the regular readers of Prison Legal News). That day, two people were killed and a third was wounded when a prison guard at the Federal Detention Center in Tallahassee, Florida, opened fire on federal ...

Panel Suggests Using Prisoners in Drug Trials

An influential federal panel of medical advisers has recommended that the government loosen regulations that severely limit the testing of pharmaceuticals on prison inmates, a practice that was all but stopped three decades ago after revelations of abuse.

The proposed change includes provisions intended to prevent problems that plagued earlier ...

Massachusetts Prisoner Awarded $60,000 For Electrical Shock

In March 2005, a jury in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, awarded $60,000 to a state prisoner who was shocked by a faulty light fixture in his cell.

As Michael Paolillo arose from a nap to urinate in his prison cell, he placed his right hand on the wall behind the ...

PLNs Publication-Ban Suit Against Kansas DOC Set For Trial On Declaratory And Injunctive Relief

PLNs Publication-Ban Suit Against Kansas DOC Set For Trial On Declaratory And Injunctive Relief

by John E. Dannenberg

Seeking to overturn restrictive bans on prisoner receipt of publications in the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC), two former KDOC prisoners and Prison Legal News sued KDOC for damages and declaratory/injunctive ...

Delaware Law: Punishing Prisoners for Reporting Sexual Abuse by Guards

by David M. Reutter

In July 1980, the state of Delaware criminalized all sex in its prisons. Critics cry that the law requires a prisoner to be convicted even when the sex is non-consensual, preventing prisoners from reporting sexual abuse by guards.

Delawares law prohibits sexual intercourse and deviate sexual ...

Oregon Guard Gets 32 Months For Sex With Prisoner

The first guard caught in the snare of Oregons new law criminalizing sex with prisoners is a 36 year old mother of three. The judge called the case a tragedy, as he sentenced the 11-year veteran prison employee to 32 months in prison.

The law, which makes it a felony ...

Habeas Hints

by Kent Russell

This column is intended to provide habeas hints to prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys (in pro per). The focus of the column is habeas corpus practice under AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice ...

Report on Status of Guantanamo Prisoners Released; Controversy Continues

In February 2006, a report on the status of 517 prisoners being held in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba compiled by Seaton Hall law professor Mark Denbeaux, seven of his law students and attorney Joshua Denbeaux, was made public. The report, entitled The Guantanamo Detainees: The Governments Story ...

California Guard Convicted of Abetting Prison Gang

A twenty-year veteran California state prison guard was convicted on February 14, 2006 in Los Angeles U.S. District Court of federal charges of participating in a corrupt organizations conspiracy, violent crimes in the aid of racketeering, and deprivation of rights under color of law.

Shayne Allyn Ziska, 44, aided ...

Texas Prisoner Gets 40 Years For Cellphone; Guards Get Probation

In April 2006 a Texas prisoner was sentenced to 40 years in prison for possessing a contraband cell phone--8 years more than the 32-year sentence he was already serving for auto theft.

The sentence, the longest anyone has received since the Texas legislature made possession of a cell phone in ...

Audit Criticizes Management of ODOC Financial Computer System

An Audit found that the main financial accounting system of the Oregon Department of Corrections(ODOC), was in a general state of disrepair and the...project to upgrade [the system] was in jeopardy of failure.
Additionally, approximately $177,000 in contract payments...were made contrary to state contracting rules.

In ...

Years Long Pattern of Medical Neglect Defeats Summary Judgment

by David M. Reutter

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a prisoners claim showing years of failure to adequately treat a medical problem is sufficient to defeat summary judgment. This civil rights action was filed by Wisconsin prisoner Donald F. Greeno, over the alleged failure of prison ...

Florida DOC Cuts Prisoner Collect Call Costs by 30%

by David M. Reutter

For over 10 years, the family and friends of Florida prisoners have paid exorbitant costs to communicate with their imprisoned loved one. I dont think thats right, said interim secretary of Floridas Department of Corrections, James McDonough, upon hearing of those costs. Why are (the families ...

Arkansas County Pays $40,000 To Handicapped Man Raped In Jail

On May 22, 2006, Saline County, Arkansas, agreed to pay $40,000 to a deaf man who was raped by other prisoners in the Saline County Detention Center.
Johnny Jones, a deaf man who is unable to speak, was arrested and charged with rape in May 2002. He was subsequently ...

EMSA, Florida County to Pay $500,000 for Untreated Ectopic Pregnancy

Broward County, Florida, and EMSA Correctional Care, Inc., must pay $500,000 to a county prisoner who suffered permanent injury and weeks of unnecessary pain because jail medical personnel failed to diagnose or treat her ectopic pregnancy, a federal jury decided on January 8, 2004.

Charleen Foree, 38, was imprisoned ...

Audit Reveals California DOC Employees Illegally Received Holiday Pay for Scheduled Days Off

The California State Auditor found that Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) State Prison management permitted exempt health and social services professional employees to accrue holiday credits when a holiday fell on a scheduled day off, notwithstanding that their union agreement expressly provided that they do not accrue holiday credits on days ...

Arkansas Mayor, Sheriff, Wife Jailed for Burglary, Drugs, Sex and More

On February 6, 2006, just weeks after Lonoke Arkansas Mayor Thomas Privett, 68, and Sheriff Jay Campbell, 46, admitted to a state monitoring committee that they had illegally used state prisoners for personal benefit, the two were arrested on multiple charges of corruption.

Arkansas Act 309 program was designed to ...

Female Missouri Prisoners Make $291,000 as Sexy Pen Pals, AG Wants His Cut

Some Missouri prisoners have been making money by soliciting donations from pen pals found using internet web sites. Attorney General Jay Nixon says Missouri wants a piece of the action. Well, actually, the state wants all of the action.

Thirty-three female Missouri prisoners used web sites such as www.writeaprisoner ...

$600,000 Settlement for Abuse at Maine Juvenile Prison

In 2004 the state of Maine paid $600,000 to settle with a former prisoner at the Long Creek Youth Development Center (LCYDC), a juvenile prison.

In his lawsuit, filed in 2001, plaintiff Michael Taylor alleged he was placed in solitary confinement for more than a month at a time ...

Michigan Prisoner Wins $20,000 on Failure to Protect Claim

On March 29, 2006, a federal court in Michigan awarded $20,000 to a state prisoner who was attacked and cut with a razor after prison officials repeatedly ignored his requests for protection.

Reggie Williams, a prisoner serving 2 to 15 years in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections since 1999 ...

Iowa Prisoners Settle Sexual Abuse Lawsuits For $160,000

Iowa taxpayers and former state prison guard Kenneth Parrot will pay a combined total of $160,000 to three women whom Parrot sexually abused, according to the terms of a December, 2005 settlement agreement.

One of the victims, Melissa Henderson, says the sexual abuse started after Parrot made friends with ...

District of Columbia Jail Pays $14 Million For Over-Detentions and Strip Searches

While denying a pattern and practice of over-detentions and strip searches, the District of Columbia (the District) has agreed to pay $12 million to settle a class-action lawsuit plus an additional $2 million in additional construction funds. The $14 million includes over $4 million in attorney fees, $5 million to ...

Nebraskas County Jails Neglect Mentally Disabled

Nebraskas County Jails Neglect Mentally Disabled

by Gary Hunter

Nebraskas American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has revealed major problems in the states county jails. Prisoners with physical handicaps, chronic illnesses and mental disabilities receive little or no healthcare in a state where 1-in-33 citizens are arrested each year.

According to ...

Los Angeles County Pays $110,000 for Wrongful Jail Death

Los Angeles County settled a lawsuit for the wrongful death of Julius Gray in the North County Correctional Facility on November 21, 1998. Gray, jailed for corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, died from a ruptured aneurysm, according to the homicide investigation and coroners report. But Grays familys forensic ...

Mumia Abu-Jamal Honored in Paris, France

Prison Legal News columnist Mumia Abu-Jamal was recently honored by the citizens of Paris, France who named a street in his honor.

The controversial Philadelphia figure has the dual distinction of being a hero in one country and a villain in another.

Convicted of the fatal shooting of a Philadelphia ...

Massachusetts Prisoners Battle MRSA, Untreated Hepatitis C

Kerry M. Castello is infected with hepatitis C, a disease that is slowly destroying his liver. But because Massachusetts prison officials are short on funds, he cant get the treatment he desperately needs.

Castello, 41, was first diagnosed with hepatitis C by prison doctors in 2001. In 2003 doctors placed ...

Washington Liable for Negligent Parolee Supervision; Bad Jury Instruction Vacates $33 Million Verdic

Washington Liable for Negligent Parolee Supervision; Bad Jury Instruction Vacates $33 Million Verdict; Settles for $6.5 Million

In a 6-3 decision, the Washington Supreme Court reaffirmed its earlier holdings that the state may be held liable for negligent supervision of offenders. However, the court vacated a $22.4 million ...

Texas Jail Suicide Suit Settles For $300,000

In December 2005 Nueces County, Texas, agreed to pay $300,000 to settle with a woman whose husband committed suicide in the countys jail.

In 1995, while imprisoned in the Nueces County Jail in Corpus Christi, Texas, Jose Orlando Sanchez-Ortiz committed suicide. His wife, Maria Sanchez-Ortiz, subsequently filed suit in ...

Virginia's General Assembly Sells Out Prisoners' Families for Phone Money

Virginia's General Assembly reneged on their agreement with a prisoner advocate group to substantially reduce phone rates between prisoners and their families.

Virginia's Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) had lobbied for years to have a state-approved prepaid phone system for prisoners calling their families. The ...

Supreme Court: Lethal Injection Procedure May Be Challenged Via § 1983

by John E. Dannenberg

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that a condemned prisoners challenge to the procedure used in lethal injection may be brought in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and need not be brought in habeas corpus. The Court distinguished a challenge to the lawfulness of a ...

Beaten Texas Prisoner Who Was Denied Safekeeping Awarded $87,500

On March 20, 2006, a federal jury awarded $87,500 to a Texas prisoner who was beaten by gang members after his request for transfer to protective custody was denied.

While imprisoned at the McConnell Unit in southeast Texas on March 10, 2003, Robert Clark, 23, formally requested removal from ...

Maywood, Illinois Jail Settles Failure to Protect Suit For $750,000

The Village of Maywood, Illinois, paid $750,000 to settle with a former Maywood prisoner who was severely beaten by his cellmate at the village jail, according to a January 19, 2006, settlement agreement.

George Caithamer, 22, was arrested by Maywood police in June 2004 for a traffic violation. He ...

Michigan Prisoners Deliberate Indifference Claim Nets $73,906 In Fees

Michigan Prisoners Deliberate Indifference Claim Nets $73,906 In Fees

On October 20, 2005, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division, awarded $73,906 in attorneys fees to a plaintiff who prevailed on his claim of deliberate indifference against a Kalamazoo deputy. The Court ...

WA Youth Detention Officer Awarded $603,500; Remitted Damages Reinstated

The Washington Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals improperly reduced a plaintiffs non-economic-damage award from $260,000 to $25,000.

From 1979 to 1991, Ralph Bunch worked as a prison guard at the Washington State reformatory in Monroe. In 1991 he transferred to the Department of Youth Services ...

New York Prisoner Paid $1.25 Million for Untreated Glaucoma

On October 4, 2005, prisoner Abraham Mitchell settled his claim against the State of New York for $1,250,000. Mitchell had claimed in his lawsuit, filed in the Albany Court of Claims, that the New York Department of Correctional Services was responsible for his near total vision loss because ...

$1.35 Million Settlement for Wrongful Death of Illinois Prisoner

On March 17, 2005, Cook County, Illinois, agreed to pay $1.35 million to the surviving son of a woman who died in a county jail after she was denied medical attention.

Marilyn Bones, 37, was arrested on August 14, 2000, and eventually taken to the Cermak Health Services facility ...

Florida Gain Time Revocation Clarified

Floridas First of District Court of Appeal has held that a prisoner serving a split sentence where one of the crimes occurred before the effective date of a statute authorizing forfeiture of gain-time upon revocation of probation prohibits imposing a sanction.

Before the Court was a petition for writ of ...

L.A. County Pays $300,000 for Wrongful Death of Psychiatric Jail Prisoner

Los Angeles County settled with the estate of a deceased prisoner who died in the County Jail from inadequate care for his known psychiatric needs.

Darran Craig, 31, was arrested on January 13, 2004. On January 14, intake medical screening established that he had a history of mental illness, and ...

California Parole Board Squelches Life Prisoner Writs on Procedural Grounds

The California Court of Appeal, Sixth District (San Jose), granted the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT) petition for writ of mandate to prohibit a Santa Clara County superior court from appending an order from one unrelated life prisoners writ petition as support for the court granting an order to ...

Former Head New York Islamic Prison Chaplain Pleads Guilty in Gun Case

Until he retired in 2000, Imam Warith Deen Umar, 61, made $67,919 a year as the head Islamic chaplain for the New York state prison system. On June 7, 2006, Umar pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal district court to illegally possessing a Winchester shotgun, a .22-caliber Ruger rifle and ...

WA Courts Cannot Extend Supervision Period for Sex Offenses Committed Before 1996

In 1994, Jamie Wallin pled guilty to sex offenses in Washington state, committed between July 2, 1988 and January 8, 1990. He remained free on supervision until March of 1996, when he violated his probation and received a 51 month prison sentence. He was released on April 29, 1998 with ...

New Yorks Son of Sam Law Constitutional, Damages Seized

New Yorks Son of Sam Law Constitutional, Damages Seized

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, has held that the states Son of Sam law, which allows a victim to seek restitution from crime perpetrators, is constitutional.

Ibn Kenyatta was convicted of attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon ...

Floridas Felon Disenfranchisement Law Upheld

Floridas Felon Disenfranchisement Law Upheld

by David M. Reutter

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, has held that Floridas felon disenfranchisement law does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Voting Rights Act. Before the Court was the appeal filed on behalf ...

News in Brief:

California: On August 12, 2006, Tony Padilla, 44, a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville died in a local hospital after an altercation with another prisoner.

Colorado: On September 6, 2006, a federal court in Denver sentenced John Reynolds, 53, to an additional 16 months in prison for ...

Successor Judge Needs Compelling Reason to Reopen Prior Judges Ruling

Successor Judge Needs Compelling Reason to Reopen Prior Judges Ruling

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a successor judge did not have record support to reopen another judges decision that a prisoners suit was not barred for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

This action was filed by ...

No Qualified Immunity for Arkansas Detainees Miscarriage

No Qualified Immunity for Arkansas Detainees Miscarriage

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower courts denial of qualified immunity to jail officials who denied medical care to a female detainee, causing a miscarriage of her 4-5 month old fetus.

Talisa Pool was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to ...