Skip navigation
Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: October, 2006

View as PDF
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 prisoners. Classified in the oxymoronic category of less lethal weapons (see, e.g., California Penal Code § 12600 et seq.), Tasers have killed unlucky recipients of the devices painful shocks just as dead as more lethal weapons.

In many cases, death has resulted when the Taser exacerbates a victims underlying medical weakness such as a heart condition, or when it is used on a person who is under the influence of drugs or in a state of excited delirium. In other incidents, Taser use is in addition to pepper spray, restraint chairs and physical abuse which results in death by positional asphyxia. While the interrelated causes of such Taser-related deaths are being debated in myriad lawsuits brought by Taser victims families [and even by one police department see PLN, March, 2006, p. 18], prisoners continue to be electrically injured and killed in jails across the United States.

PLN originally addressed ...

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 suspicious circumstances in the overmedication death of one prisoner, the Board approved the report clearing PHS.

PHS was hired in 2002 for approximately $3.5 million/yr. to provide medical, mental health, and dental services for the 1,250 prisoners in the Leon County Jail. Approximately 90-100 prisoners visit the jails clinic daily, including those receiving medication. Medications are shipped daily from Secure Pharmacy Plus, PHSs subsidiary.

Leon County maintains oversight of PHS through Alliance Medical Management Corp. Leon County Jail is one of 21 county lockups in Florida accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. Accreditation must be renewed annually, although site evaluation only occurs every three years. In addition, a medical review committee is convened whenever three prisoner complaints surface on the same subject. In 2002, the Board approved mental health peer review oversight of the jails mentally ill, hiring both a Mental Health Coordinator and ...

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 and January 31, 2007. As most readers probably know, the amount charged for subscriptions and advertising income, do not completely cover all of PLNs operating expenses. The difference between what magazine subscriptions and advertising income and what our costs actually are has always been made up by reader donations.

PLN just celebrated its 16th anniversary of monthly publishing. We are the only independent nationally circulated prisoner rights publication that is still publishing, as well as the longest lived at this point. In addition to bringing our readers the latest news and information on detention facilities we are also advocating on behalf of prisoners locally and nationally; standing up for the rights of prisoners and publishers to send literature to prisoners; seeking transparency and accountability in prisons and jails via public records laws and a lot more.

There are a lot of worthy causes out there but not only is no ...

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 previous year and a reduction of more than 25 percent since 2000.

In fact, since 1993 the number of reported rapes and sexual assaults has dropped over 60 percent. Criminal justice experts attribute this decline to longer sentences for sex offenders as well as more therapy and a wider use of psychotropic drugs used to treat them. Also, the number of people convicted of sex crimes is rising more quickly than for all other crimes except drugs, and the increased incarceration of sex offenders has helped drive down the number of sexual assaults.

The decline in reported sexual offences also applies to children. According to David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, who analyzed incidents of child abuse reported to protection agencies, sexual assaults of children aged 12 to 17 dropped by 79 percent between 1993 and 2003.

However, in 2005 ...

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 agents attempting to arrest him and five others. An indictment issued a day earlier accused the six guards of a contraband-for-sex racket involving female prisoners at
the Federal Correctional Institution-Tallahassee, which is adjacent to the detention center.

The shootout began at 7:42 a.m. as agents with the FBI and the Justice Departments Office of the Inspector General (OIG) arrived to arrest Ralph Hill, 43, and five other guards as they ended their overnight shifts at the detention center. As the agents moved to make the arrests, Hill pulled out his personal gun, which he had smuggled into the prison, and began firing. When the shooting ended Hill and Justice Department Special Agent William Sentner, 44, were dead. An unidentified prison lieutenant was also shot but expected to recover.

One of the indicted guards, Vincent Johnson, said through his court-
appointed attorney, Alex Morris of the law firm Banks ...

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 programs. Nevertheless, it has dredged up a painful history of medical mistreatment and incited debate among prison rights advocates and researchers about whether prisoners can truly make uncoerced decisions, given the environment they live in.

Supporters of such programs cite the possibility of benefit to prison populations, and the potential for contributing to the greater good.

Until the early 1970s, about 90 percent of all pharmaceutical products were tested on prisoners, federal officials say. But such research diminished sharply in 1974 after revelations of abuse at prisons like Holmesburg in Philadelphia, where prisoners were paid hundreds of dollars a month to test items as varied as dandruff treatments and dioxin, and where they were exposed to radioactive, hallucinogenic and carcinogenic chemicals.

In addition to addressing the abuses at Holmesburg, the regulations were a reaction to revelations in 1972 surrounding what the government called the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in ...

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 relief in U.S. district court. However, in a November 2005 pre-trial ruling, the court granted defendants motion for qualified immunity, thus foreclosing claims for monetary damages.

The cases began in federal court when KDOC prisoners Jacklovich and Zimmerman and PLN in separate suits challenged KDOCs (former) regulations §§ 44-12-601 et seq. This policy barred outsiders from gifting subscriptions to KDOC prisoners because it would allegedly circumvent KDOCs behavior-based program for prisoners in disciplinary detention, a graduated incentive regimen with a strict $30/month limit on books and magazines. The district court rejected the prisoners First Amendment claims of the right to receive gift subscriptions of PLN, and rejected PLNs Due Process claim to be notified of non-delivery. (See: Zimmerman v. Simmons, 260 F.Supp.2d (D. Kans. 2003); PLN, Apr. 2004, p.6.) The prisoners and PLN, represented by Lawrence, Kansas attorney Bruce Plenk, appealed.

The Tenth Circuit held that ...

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 intercourse, but does not apply to oral sex. A conviction can merit up to two years in prison. Only two guards have been convicted since the laws enactment.

One of those is ex-guard Rudolph Hawkins, who in 1996 pled no contest to having sex with Valerie Stewart. When Stewart, who was serving time for robbery, became pregnant, she named Hawkins as the father. DNA supported that claim. The baby was taken by the state and put up for adoption.

Hawkins not only lost his job as a guard, but also faced a civil suit filed by Stewart. A jury ordered Hawkins to pay Stewart $25,000 in compensation and $100,000 in punitive damages. I felt empty-like I didnt have a soul-like the walking dead, Stewart told the jury. According to her lawyer, she only has an IQ of 80 and the mental capacity of a 14-year-old.

Womens rights advocates ...

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 for any prison employee to engage in sexual intercourse with prisoners, became effective July 13, 2005 [PLN, Feb. 2006, pg. 23].

Rebecca McLauchlin was indicted on 16 criminal charges for a summer 2005, relationship with Cory Ogden, a prisoner at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Those charges included custodial sexual misconduct, official misconduct, and bribery for engaging in sexual intercourse with Ogden and supplying him with tobacco in exchange for a least $200.

McLauchlin remained free on bail until she was arrested on April 9, 2006 for violating terms of her release agreement, when prison officials intercepted telephone calls between McLauchlin and Ogden.

On April 25, 2006, McLauchlin pleaded guilty to seven counts, including four counts of custodial sexual misconduct, indicating at least four separate sexual encounters. Under Oregon Law, McLauchlin must serve 25.6 months of her sentence.

The quick resolution of this case speaks volumes about the accountability and ...

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 throughout the U.S.

Statutory Tolling:

The Timeliness Requirement

A federal court will not consider a federal habeas corpus petition after AEDPAs 1-year period runs out, unless the Petitioner can establish equitable tolling, which is extremely hard to do. Therefore, in most cases, statutory tolling is necessary to save a federal habeas corpus petition from dismissal.

Statutory tolling is the period of time that AEDPA allows a petitioner to exhaust potential habeas claims on state habeas corpus. It is defined as the time that a properly filed state habeas corpus petition is pending in the state courts. The U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) has made clear that a state habeas corpus petition is pending, not only when it is actually on the docket of a state court, but also during the time that is spent in between a habeas denial in a lower state court and a filing in the ...

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, is solely based upon documents regarding the Guantanamo prisoners released by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the Bush administrations use of military trials for Guantanamo detainees has come under attack, the government has been criticized from both within and without, and in December 2005, Witnesses Against Torture (WAT), a Christian group opposing the torture of Guantanamo prisoners, marched 70 miles from Santiago, Cuba to Guantanamo in an attempt to visit the detainees and draw attention to their plight.

The Guantanamo Detainees report calls into question the governments criteria for designating captured persons enemy combatants and sending them to Guantanamo. According to the report, the government has determined that 55% of the Guantanamo prisoners committed no overt hostile act toward the U.S. or its coalition allies. Only 87 were designated al Qaeda fighters, while 40% had no definitive connection with al Qaeda and 18% had neither a definitive connection with ...

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 the white supremacist Nazi Low Riders gang (NLR) at the California Institution for Men (Chino). He helped NLR distribute hard drugs, carried messages between gang members, and fed information to gang shot callers. He also unlocked cell doors to permit gang members to assault other prisoners, including one who was stabbed under the eye.

Prison staff and over ten prisoners testified at the bench trial. Martin Aroian, Chapter President of the powerful prison guards union (California Correctional Peace Officers Association, CCPOA), testified for Ziskas character.

Ziska drew heat from the state legislature in 2003 when it was revealed that he had been on paid administrative leave since October 2000, collecting $150,000 to stay home pending an investigation. (See: PLN, Nov. 2003, p.3.) He was then recalled to work on non peace-officer status doing clerical duties until he was indicted and jailed in July 2004.

On June 26, 2006 ...

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 prison a third degree felony, is extreme. Prosecutors in Brazoria County never alleged that Manor, 41, used the cell phone to carry out illegal activity or circumvent prison security. Rather, the evidence shows only that he used it to call his sister. I was so surprised just to hear my brothers voice, said Shirley Manor, a contract worker for the Texas Department of Health. He just asked us how we were doing. Before the call, said Ms. Manor, she hadnt seen or heard from her brother in years.

Lawmakers in most states worry about contraband cell phones because the calls cant be monitored. This allows prisoners to maintain gang ties on the outside or to conduct criminal activity, they say. In Texas, however, this is not the case. Prisoners in the Lone Star State have no access to pay phones, and, in most cases, are imprisoned much too far from ...

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 the early 1990s, the ODOC purchased and implemented the Automated Financial Accounting Manufacturing Inventory System (AFAMIS), its main financial accounting system. The Audits Division of the Oregon Secretary of State Office conducted an audit to evaluate the effectiveness of computer controls governing AFAMIS, including system development, security, data integrity, and disaster recovery and contingency planning.

Auditors found that Department management did not use generally accepted controls for system development and maintenance...many critical system development phases and processes were not adequately performed during the departments project to upgrade...the system. Additionally, controls to secure AFAMIS programs, data and online functions were...insufficient and ineffective. Access and programs was not properly restricted and the departments ability to provide reliable internal control was limited. As a result, the integrity and confidentiality of the system was at significant risk of compromise.

Key data files...were not always complete, accurate, or valid ...

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 employees to adequately respond to his vomiting and severe heartburn, symptoms that appeared in 1994 and became progressively worse until he was eventually treated in 1997 for an esophageal ulcer.

The district court initially dismissed Greenos suit for failure to state a claim. In an unpublished opinion, the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that Greenos complaint stated a claim for deliberate indifference to an objectively severe medical condition. On remand, the district court granted the prison employees summary judgment and denied Greenos motion for appointment of counsel.

Greeno alleged that he first began experiencing severe heartburn in the summer of 1994 at Racine Correctional Institution. He was given antacid and instructed to avoid spicy foods. By the time of his July 1995 transfer to Fox Lake Correctional Institution, Greenos condition included severe heartburn and vomiting. He was given Maalox. Despite advising Dr. José Lloren that his family had a ...

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 of prisoners) being punished? In April 2006, McDonough took action to reduce those phone costs by 30%.

McDonough knows what it is like to be separated; he has three sons in the military overseas. He said he pays 3 cents a minute to make international calls.

In contrast, a collect call from a Florida prisoner to an in-state party costs $1.50 when you pick up the phone and 26 cents a minute after that. Calls out-of-state are upwards of $20 for a 15 minute call.

FDOCs contract with its phone vendor: Verizon/MCI requires that FDOC receive 53 percent of all call revenue. In fiscal year 2004-2005, FDOC netted $17.6 million in phone revenue. The reduction of 30 percent will reduce that take by about $10 million. Verizon/MCIs revenue will not be affected.

Although this action may in fact cause a decrease in the return to the ...

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 they do not work. The result was an illegal gift of public funds.

For example, when one employee was credited with 48 hours of holiday credits for days that she was not scheduled to work, a $1,653 gift of public funds was made to that employee. The Auditor found nine SCC exempt employees whose unearned holiday credits amounted to 516 hours between January 2002 and May 2005, worth $17,164.

Some of the employees benefited from another gimmick. Because they were on 10 hours/day, 4 days/week work schedules, when they gained a day of leave, it was only charged at the standard work-week rate of 8 hours/day. Nonetheless, they got paid for their day at the 10-hour equivalent rate. (Part time employees gained even more, earning a 10-hour day for a part day.) One employee netted $6,831 in the 3-year audit period via this mechanism ...

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 serve the dual purpose of alleviating prison overcrowding while providing a service to local communities. State prisoners assigned to Lonoke County were removed after Mayor Privett and Sheriff Campbell were using those prisoners for personal duties. But the sheriffs wife, Kelly Campbell, proved to be the biggest problem when it was discovered that, among other things, she was having sex with the prisoners.

Originally, Mayor Privett had admitted only to letting Campbell use one of his properties to allow state prisoners to work on the sheriffs boat. [See PLN, Sep. 2006] An investigation revealed that Privett had also used state prisoners to work on an air conditioner and hang Christmas lights at his home. The mayor was charged with theft of services and released from jail on a $500 bond.

Sheriff Campbells life began to crumble when Bobby Cox, a Little Rock bail bondsman, enlisted his help in returning a ...

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,,, and to find men wanting pen pal relationships with incarcerated women. They then solicited money from the men, receiving a total of $291,860. When Nixon heard about this, he filed a lawsuit under Missouris 1988 Incarceration Reimbursement Act with the intention of taking the money to partially repay the costs of the womens incarceration. Nixon is asking the court to freeze the accounts of the 33 prisoners.

Under Missouri Law, for certain serious felonies like murder, arson and others, we are allowed to go after and make sure they pay for their own jail time, said Nixon.

He should know: his office recovered $884,000 in reimbursement from prisoners in 2004. The Missouri DOCs budget that year was $574 million.
If youre going to be using a Missouri prison cell as a base of operations for ...

$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 ACLU investigators mentally impaired prisoners suffer most. Nebraska exceeds the national average for incarceration of the mentally ill with a figure of 17.5% compared to 16.3% nationally. Yet the states mentally ill patients have less access to services than any other disabled prisoners.

The study showed that most county jails lack any type of on-site health professionals. Consequently, most mentally ill county prisoners receive no treatment. Of those that are treated only 16% receive counseling -- a fact that is sometimes fatal.

Robert Patona was prescribed medication to control his anxiety disorder. When he was arrested and placed in Sarpy County Correctional Center jailers ignored his requests and refused to give him his medicine. On July 15, 2002 Patona hung himself in the jail.

Another man with a history of mental illness spent four weeks in a small northeastern Nebraska county jail without his psychotropic medication. Both the man ...

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 policeman in 1982, Abu-Jamal has spent over a quarter century on death row in Pennsylvania prisons.

Abu-Jamal was an outspoken journalist and a former Black Panther party member when policeman Daniel Faulkner was killed in a shootout. His constant criticism of Philadelphia police made Abu-Jamal a polarizing local figure. Convicted on the testimony of two prostitutes and a drunken cab driver, Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence.

In France, they see him as a towering figure, said activist Suzanne Ross. Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal is found in the civil rights district of the suburb of St. Denis.

Maureen Faulkner, widow of the slain policeman called the honor unnerving and insulting to the police officers of Philadelphia.

Its deplorable, said long-time policeman Richard Costello. Theyve made him some type of hero.

The Paris ceremony centered on a variety of U.S. civil rights deficiencies including its practice of the death penalty, and ...

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 him on a waiting list for treatment after blood tests found abnormally high levels of a liver enzyme and a biopsy revealed, liver inflammation. He was still waiting in February 2006 when he filed his pro se lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC). He was later placed on a treatment list.

Castello is just one of thousands of Massachusetts prisoners whose lives are threatened by hepatitis C and another potentially fatal infection, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococus Aureus, or MRSA.

Currently 1,472 Massachusetts prisoners are known to be infected with the hepatitis C virus, though the actual number is probably much higher. Health officials believe about 30% of the states 10,000 prisoners may be infected.

Yet only 150 prisoners are on the waiting list to receive treatment, and even fewer are getting it. As of December 27, 2005, only 62 prisoners were receiving the recommended combination of interferon ...

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 newly acquired service took effect on February 1, 2005, and promised as much as a two-thirds savings over current rates. The result was not even close.

Under the original phone service a 15-minute, interstate call cost $9.20. The same call is now $8.40, a savings of less than 10 percent.

It's not that cheaper rates are not available. That same $8.40 call from a Virginia state prison costs only $3.45 from a Virginia federal prison.

They're sticking it to us again, said CURE Director Jean Auldridge. The General Assembly doesn't want to give up the money.

The money Ms. Auldridge refers to is the 40 percent commission MCI pays the state for the prisoner phone contract. Annual revenue for state coffers in 2005 was $7 million, an average of $225 per prisoner.

MCI and Verizon also made almost $2 million in political campaign ...

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 sentence or confinement, which necessarily implicates habeas corpus, and a constitutional challenge to the procedure used in carrying out a sentence, which is a proper complaint under § 1983. This ruling does not address the merits of whether the common three-drug lethal injection protocol is per se unconstitutional or not.

Clarence Hill, a condemned Florida prisoner, filed a § 1983 complaint in U.S. District Court (D. Fla.) seeking to enjoin Floridas lethal injection procedure as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. The district court and the Eleventh Circuit construed the action as a petition for writ of habeas corpus and ordered it dismissed as an unauthorized second and successive petition. The sole question accepted by the Supreme Court on certiorari was whether the proper forum for challenging the execution procedure should be habeas corpus or § 1983.

When Hill was condemned in 1983, Florida used electrocution. After flames shot out ...

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 certiorari seeking a review of an order denying Florida prisoner William Larimores petition for writ of habeas corpus. Larimore pled guilty in two separate cases to two offenses of lewd, lascivious, or indecent acts on a child under the age of 16 years. The first offense was committed in 1997, in the second in 1990. There was a different victim in each case.

Pursuant to a plea agreement, Larimore received 15 years prison on the 1987 charge and five years probation on the 1990 charge. After accumulating 7.75 years of gain time in serving 7.25 years, Larimore was released to serve his probation sentence. Upon violating his probation, Larimore was sentenced to five years prison on the 1990 offense.

The Florida Department of Correction then applied § 944.28(1), Florida Statutes (1984) to Larimore, revoking all gain time earned during the incarceration portion of his initial sentence. That ...

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 show cause in another petitioners case. The appellate court also chided the lower court for issuing the order to show cause based upon grounds not expressly or implicitly raised in the original habeas petition or supported by factual allegations therein.

The Court of Appeal consolidated four virtually identical jailhouse-lawyer-spawned habeas corpus petitions for which Superior Court Judge James Emerson had granted orders to show cause, whereby the order included compelling the BPT to disclose prior parole rulings in non-related cases in a quest to determine if the BPTs 98% parole denial rate was based upon a statistically improbable blanket rejection policy. The judge apparently thought such discovery was appropriate, but the appellate court found that because no petitioner had requested such discovery and the order to show cause was inherently defective, the superior court had acted in excess of its powers in ordering discovery sua sponte.

The proper procedure, the ...

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 four shotgun shells in his Bronx apartment. The weapons were illegal for Umar to posses because he had been convicted of felony possession of a dangerous weapon on May 13, 1971.

Umar told federal judge Robert Patterson that he notified prison officials when he purchased the weapons in 1983. The judge is scheduled to sentence Umar to up to 10 years in prison at his sentencing.

Umar is best known for a February 2003 Wall Street Journal article in which he was quoted as saying even Muslims who say they are against terrorism secretly admire and applaud the 9-11 hijackers. Umar now says that what he meant was that some Muslims view the hijackers as martyrs, not that he personally agreed with that viewpoint. Umar has since called the 9-11 attacks a terrible thing to happen, saying he felt saddened for the victims.

The police went to the Bronx apartment ...

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 1 year of supervision. After another probation violation on March 22, 1999, his period of supervision was extended to 10 years, pursuant to RCW § 9.94A 120(10)(c). In March of 2003, a neighbor complained to police that Wallin was taking photos of her teenage niece. Believing a reasonable suspicion that Wallin violated his supervision existed, community corrections officers searched his home without a warrant. Evidence then discovered resulted in Wallins being convicted of new sex offenses. He appealed.

On appeal, Division 1 of the state Court of Appeals found that § 9.94A.120(10)(c) allowed courts to extend the period of supervision for sex offenses committed after 1996 only. Since Wallins were committed before 1996, his supervision was improperly extended and should have expired in 1999. Thus, he could not have been on supervision in 2003 when the warrantless search was done, and that search, then, violated ...

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 after he scuffled with Salvatore Ciafone, an officer supervising the 149th Street IRT subway station in the Bronx in 1979. After he gained possession of Ciafones service revolver, Kenyatta shot Ciafone six times, preventing Ciafone from returning to work as a police officer.

In January 2001, while still serving his 15 year to life sentence, Kenyatta received a settlement for a medical malpractice claim against the New York State Department of Correctional Services and prison medical personnel. For the misdiagnosis of his kidney failure, Kenyatta received a lump sum of $133,500 into a supplemental needs trust account and $500,000 into his prisoner account.

The New York State Crime Victims Board notified Ciafone of the settlement. He brought an action to recover damages, under the Son of Sam law, arising from the 1974 shooting. Kenyatta moved to dismiss, asserting the Son of Sam law violated the ex post facto ...

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 of all Florida citizens who have been convicted of a felony and have completed all terms of their incarceration, probation, and parole, but who are barred from voting under the Florida Constitutions disenfranchisement law. That appeal came after a Florida federal district court granted summary judgment for the state.

The plaintiffs alleged that racial animus motivated adoption of the disenfranchisement law in 1868, and that an animus remains legally operative today, notwithstanding the fact that Florida altered and reenacted the provision in 1968.

The Eleventh Circuit, turning to the Equal Protection claim, said that a states decision to permanently disenfranchise convicted felons does not, in itself, constitute an Equal Protection violation. The plaintiffs were required to plead facts to show that Floridas current disenfranchisement law intentionally discriminates on the basis of race.

The Court held the plaintiffs failed to make such a showing. Throughout history, criminal disenfranchisement provisions have existed ...

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 escaping from the Federal Prison Camp in Florence on March 14, 1999. Reynolds was then a fugitive for 7 years before being captured in Mexico. Reynolds had entered the federal prison system in 1998 to serve a seven year sentence for making false statements to a financial institution and money laundering.

El Salvador: On September 6, 2006, officials at the maximum security prison in Zacatecoluca discovered cell phones concealed in the rectal cavities of four prisoners. Nine cell phone chips and a charger were also discovered in various anuses. The cell phones were discovered as part of an investigation into organized crime inside the nations prisons.

Florida: On September 11, 2006, Kathleen Hill, 33, a former guard at the Charlotte county jail, pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from shooting and killing her forest ranger husband Shawn Hill, 32, in 2004. Kathleen claimed that Shawn had abused her which is ...

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 prisoner David Brengettcy, who alleged he was subjected to excessive force by guard William Horton while awaiting trial at Illinois Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC). Brengettcy attended a Bible study on August 21, 2000, in the mess hall on CCDOCs first floor. When he left the meeting and headed up the stairs to the second floor, Brengettcy recalled he had forgotten to mail a letter when he reached the second-floor landing. He went back down the stairs, mailed his letter, encountered a guard without incident, and returned to the second floor.

Upon observing his return, Horton asked Brengettcy why he had gone back downstairs, and began cursing him. Brengettcy silenced himself, looked Horton in the eye, and was then struck by Horton, who proceeded to continue beating him. To stop the attack, Brengettcy punched Horton several times.
Other guards called for assistance. When reinforcements arrived, Brengettcy claimed he was ...

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 10 years in prison. She was booked in to the Sebastian County Detention Center (SCDC) on May 8, 2001, pending transfer to the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Pool was not visibly pregnant but informed jailers that she was and asked to see a nurse because she was passing blood clots. Pool also asked to be taken to an emergency room and to be given Tylenol and sanitary pads. A nurse told Pool she just needed bed rest.

Pool continued to suffer severe abdominal cramps and bleeding for several days. Other prisoners showed jail staff some of the blood blots but Pool received no medical attention.

On May 11, 2001, Pool was transported to Benton County. By the time she had arrived, she bled through her clothing. She was seen by a nurse and sent back to SCDC an hour later.

Back at SCDC, Pool was placed in an isolation cell ...


Federal Prison Handbook



Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual



Federal Prison Handbook




Prisoner Education Guide side