Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: November, 2006

Issue PDF
Volume 17, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. PHS Redux: Sued In A Dozen States, Contract Losses, Stock Plummets, Business Continues (p 1)
  2. Utah House of Refuge a House of Horrors (p 10)
  3. Wisconsin Halfway House Overbills BOP; Fired Whistle blower Settles For $435,000 (p 12)
  4. From the Editor (p 12)
  5. Floridas Civil Commitment Center Under Funded and Out-of-Control (p 13)
  6. California Guard Murdered By Prisoner; Investigative Reports Blame Gross Staff Incompetence (p 18)
  7. California County Jail Settles Overdue Prisoner Hospital Bills For $1.5 Million (p 20)
  8. South Carolina Prison Industries Program Implements Some Audit Recommendations (p 20)
  9. Illinois Cook County Jail Embroiled in Shootings, Scandals and Escapes (p 21)
  10. $1,156,149 Awarded to Former Federal Prisoner for Failure to Diagnose and Treat Throat Cancer (p 24)
  11. Colorado Expands Private Prisons While Fining CCA for Understaffing (p 24)
  12. Record $3.2 Million Settlement for Wrongfully Imprisoned Massachusetts Man (p 26)
  13. Florida County Sued Over Refusing Sex Offender Home Weather Stripping (p 26)
  14. Private Geo Prison in Texas Rocked By Prisoner Abuse, Disturbance and Escape (p 27)
  15. Prisoner Dies in Custody of Washington Jailers (p 28)
  16. Georgia Sheriff Indicted on Corruption Charges, Pleads Guilty (p 28)
  17. Corruption in Arpaio's Office: AZ County Continues Paying Convicted Sheriffs Sgt. (p 30)
  18. U.S. Businesses Lobby Government to Curb Federal Prosecutors (p 30)
  19. Georgia Prison Guards Plead to Misdemeanors in Prisoner Beatings (p 32)
  20. Unique Texas Sexual Predator Civil Commitment Has Successes/Failures (p 32)
  21. L.A. County Sheriff Settles Two Jail Excessive Force Suits For $135,000 (p 33)
  22. Settlement Agreement Evicts Room and Board Fees From Georgia Jail (p 34)
  23. Supreme Court: No Exclusionary Rule for Vienna Convention Violations (p 34)
  24. Ex-Con Denied Admission To AZ Bar (p 35)
  25. New York Parole Rates Plunge Under Governor Patakis Policy (p 36)
  26. $6,280,000 Settlement For Illegal California Juvenile Hall Strip Searches (p 36)
  27. Idaho Population Cap Upheld; $155,858.68 in Fees and Cost Awarded; 300+ Prisoners Shipped to Minn. C (p 38)
  28. New York Jail Employee Charged With Sexual Abuse Commits Suicide (p 38)
  29. Federal Prisoner Awarded $150.00 For Food Poisoning (p 39)
  30. Minnesota Court Invalidates Some Evidence Standard in Disciplinary Hearings for Fact-Finding (p 40)
  31. $50,000 Settlement for Neck Injury Resulting from Seattle Jail Guards Excessive Force (p 40)
  32. Wrongly Imprisoned Massachusetts Man Settles Suit Against City For $2,450,000 (p 41)
  33. L.A. County Settles With Abused Quadriplegic Prisoner For $46,000 (p 41)
  34. Sovereign Immunity No Bar to BOP Prisoners' Eighth Amendment Mandamus Suit (p 41)
  35. Oregon Predatory Sex Offender Designation Order Reversed; Notice and Hearing Required in All Cases (p 42)
  36. New Jersey Appeals Court Upholds Statute Disenfranchising Felons (p 42)
  37. News in Brief: (p 43)
  38. Mentally Ill Arkansas Prisoners Removed From Supermax, CMS Contract Renewed (p 44)

PHS Redux: Sued In A Dozen States, Contract Losses, Stock Plummets, Business Continues

by John E. Dannenberg

Prison Health Services (PHS), a subsidiary of America Service Group, Inc. (ASG), continues to face lawsuits and lose contracts for its deplorable record of prisoner health care gaffes in a dozen states. The old maxim Physician, heal thyself might be good advice for ASG, whose stock ...

Utah House of Refuge a House of Horrors

A Utah faith based halfway house for probationers, jail releasees and homeless men, called the House of Refuge, turned out to be a house of horrors for those who lived there.

On February 2, 2006, state licensing officials shut down the church-operated shelter citing it for 13 different state violations ...

Wisconsin Halfway House Overbills BOP; Fired Whistle blower Settles For $435,000

by John E. Dannenberg

Federal jurors found that Rock Valley Community Programs (RVCP) in Janesville, Wisconsin and its chief executive officer, Irwin McHugh, had submitted false claims for reimbursement to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The jury also found that the whistleblower reporting the fraud had been wrongfully terminated ...

From the Editor

By now subscribers should have received the annual PLN matching grant fundraiser. I hope that those who can afford to make a donation do so. While there are many worthy causes out there I think that PLN is one of the few where your activist dollar will get the biggest ...

Floridas Civil Commitment Center Under Funded and Out-of-Control

Floridas Civil Commitment Center Under Funded and Out-of-Control

by David M. Reutter

When first created in 1999, Florida's Civil Commitment Center (FCCC) was hyped as a place to house sexually violent predators for protection of the public while providing sex offender treatment after completion of criminal sanctions.

Instead, FCCC ...

California Guard Murdered By Prisoner; Investigative Reports Blame Gross Staff Incompetence

A prison guard at the California Institution for Men (CIM) at Chino was stabbed to death in the Sycamore Hall housing unit on January 10, 2005 by an East Coast Crips gang-affiliated prisoner who had just begun a 75-year-to-life three-strikes enhanced sentence for the attempted murder of a Los Angeles ...

California County Jail Settles Overdue Prisoner Hospital Bills For $1.5 Million

by John E. Dannenberg

Settling a long-simmering dispute in billing rates for medical treatment of jail prisoners, San Diego County has agreed to pay $1.5 million to multiple hospitals for bills dating back over three years. The health care providers had sued the county in 2004 to recover unpaid ...

South Carolina Prison Industries Program Implements Some Audit Recommendations

The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) has implemented 5 of 13 recommendations made in an October 2003 report that criticized its Prison Industries Program (PIP), according to a May 2006 follow-up report. In its original report the South Carolina General Assemblys Legislative Audit Council (LAC) chided the SCDC for ...

Illinois Cook County Jail Embroiled in Shootings, Scandals and Escapes

by Gary Hunter

Shootings, stabbings, suicides, a death and multiple escapes have turned the Cook County Jail in Chicago on its proverbial ear over the past year, in addition to misconduct by guards, a change in the jails leadership and a lawsuit alleging brutal beatings.

Guns in Jails

On February ...

$1,156,149 Awarded to Former Federal Prisoner for Failure to Diagnose and Treat Throat Cancer

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on September 6, 2005, awarded $1,156,149 to former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoner Hernando Lopez for failure to diagnose and treat throat cancer over a two-year period. The Court held that BOP medical personnel in Pennsylvania ...

Colorado Expands Private Prisons While Fining CCA for Understaffing

by Matthew T. Clarke

On June 28, 2006, Colorado assessed $126,000 in fines against Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for persistently understaffing two Colorado private prisons. The Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) also awarded contracts for new private prisons and the expansion of current private prisons to CCA and ...

Record $3.2 Million Settlement for Wrongfully Imprisoned Massachusetts Man

The City of Boston, Massachusetts, has agreed to pay $3.2 million to a man who spent 10 ½ years in prison for a rape he did not commit. The March 2006 settlement is believed to be the largest of its kind in state history.

Neil Millers nightmare began on ...

Florida County Sued Over Refusing Sex Offender Home Weather Stripping

A Florida sex offender has sued Brevard Bounty for refusing to weatherize his home. The suit alleges the County has enacted a prerequisite that excludes persons with criminal convictions from receiving federal funds to perform energy savings and installation of energy saving measure on low-income homes. That prerequisite is illegal ...

Private Geo Prison in Texas Rocked By Prisoner Abuse, Disturbance and Escape

by Matthew T. Clarke

Recently, the Newton County Correctional Center (NCCC), a private prison in Newton, Texas run by the Boca Raton, Florida-based Geo Group, has experienced several incidents involving the out-of-state Idaho prisoners housed there. These incidents included a non-violent protest involving 85 prisoners, an escape, and the resignation ...

Prisoner Dies in Custody of Washington Jailers

Eight Spokane County Jail guards were placed on paid administrative leave while investigators probed the death of a prisoner under their care, but they werent suspended for long. All were back at work within two weeks.
Benites Salmon Sichiro, 39, was booked into the jail on January 27, 2006 for ...

Georgia Sheriff Indicted on Corruption Charges, Pleads Guilty

Coffee County Sheriff Rob Smith was indicted on March 20, 2006 on eight counts of abuse of office. Three counts charged Smith with using prisoner labor to construct campaign election signs. The charges also included two counts of violation of oath of office, two counts of malpractice and malfeasance, and ...

Corruption in Arpaio's Office: AZ County Continues Paying Convicted Sheriffs Sgt.

Corruption in Arpaios Office: AZ County Continues Paying Convicted Sheriffs Sgt.

by Gary Hunter

On August 2, 2005, Maricopa County Sheriff's Sgt. Leo Richard Driving Hawk, Sr. pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in connection with a $78 million swindle perpetrated by his father's bank.

For over three ...

U.S. Businesses Lobby Government to Curb Federal Prosecutors

by Matthew T. Clarke

U.S. businesses and Wall Street investment companies have begun a campaign to get the Justice Department to reign in federal prosecutors in business crime cases. The effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Securities Industry Association and Bond Market Association focuses on prosecutors pressuring ...

Georgia Prison Guards Plead to Misdemeanors in Prisoner Beatings

In mid-April 2006, seven Georgia prison guards were indicted by a Tantall County jury in connection with beatings of prisoners at the Rogers State Prison in Reidsville.

As previously reported [see PLN, April 2006, p.1], Rogers is a cesspool of violence and corruption. Handcuffed prisoners at the facility are ...

Unique Texas Sexual Predator Civil Commitment Has Successes/Failures

by Matthew T. Clarke

Texas has a unique form of civil commitment for sexual predators which allows outpatient treatment and requires most of the civilly committed to live at a halfway house. A committed man's recent escape from a Dallas halfway house brought the Texas model into question.

Seventeen ...

L.A. County Sheriff Settles Two Jail Excessive Force Suits For $135,000

Los Angeles (L.A.) County settled two civil rights complaints arising from alleged excessive use of force on prisoners in the L.A. County Jail. In January 2005, Jerry Moreno, a prisoner at the Pitchess Detention Facility (North) was brandishing two long metal frame pieces taken from a lighting fixture ...

Settlement Agreement Evicts Room and Board Fees From Georgia Jail

The Sheriff of Clinch County, Georgia, has agreed to end a decades-long practice of charging pretrial detainees for room and board and to return $27,000 to those who paid the fees over a 4-year period. Also pursuant to the agreement, signed by U.S. District Court Judge Hugh Lawson ...

Supreme Court: No Exclusionary Rule for Vienna Convention Violations

by Matthew T. Clarke

On June 28, 2006, the Supreme Court held that violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Notification (Convention) do not require exclusion of evidence from a criminal trial and are subject to procedural default rules.

Moises Sanchez-Llamas, an Oregon state prisoner and a citizen of Mexico ...

Ex-Con Denied Admission To AZ Bar

The Arizona Supreme Court has upheld the State Committee on Character and Fitness (Committee) denial of a convicted murderer's application for admission to the State Bar.

James Hamm served over 17 years in the Arizona prison system for a first degree murder he committed near Tucson in 1974. By ...

New York Parole Rates Plunge Under Governor Patakis Policy

New York Parole Rates Plunge Under Governor Patakis Policy

by John E. Dannenberg

The administration of Governor George Pataki has dramatically cut parole release rates for violent felons, especially those with A-1 crimes (e.g., murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, arson). Where 23 percent of New Yorks parole eligible A-1 felons ...

$6,280,000 Settlement For Illegal California Juvenile Hall Strip Searches

by John E. Dannenberg

On July 10, 2006, the County of Sacramento, California agreed to pay $6,280,000 to the class of juvenile hall detainees who were illegally strip-searched between January 1, 1998 and October 1, 2004 at the Sacramento County Boys Ranch, Community Programs, Warren E. Thornton Youth ...

Idaho Population Cap Upheld; $155,858.68 in Fees and Cost Awarded; 300+ Prisoners Shipped to Minn. C

Idaho Population Cap Upheld; $155,858.68 in Fees and Cost Awarded; 300+ Prisoners Shipped to Minn. CCA Facility

A federal court in Idaho has refused to lift a 1987 population cap on four housing units at the Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI). More than 200 beds were removed and ...

New York Jail Employee Charged With Sexual Abuse Commits Suicide

On March 27, 2006, a health care worker charged with multiple counts of sexually abusing female prisoners at the Suffolk County Jail apparently committed suicide by stepping into the path of an oncoming Long Island Railroad Train. He was pronounced dead at the scene just before midnight.
Physician's Assistant ...

Federal Prisoner Awarded $150.00 For Food Poisoning

On February 17, 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Middle district of Florida awarded $150.00 to a federal prisoner who contracted food poisoning while imprisoned at FCC Coleman-Low.

On April 23, 2002, prisoners eating breakfast in the chow hall were served ham that had been stored overnight ...

Minnesota Court Invalidates Some Evidence Standard in Disciplinary Hearings for Fact-Finding

Minnesota Court Invalidates Some Evidence Standard in Disciplinary Hearings for Fact-Finding

by David M. Reutter

The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that a Minnesota Department of Corrections disciplinary hearing fact-finder must find by a preponderance of the evidence that a prisoner has violated a disciplinary rule before the Commissioner of ...

$50,000 Settlement for Neck Injury Resulting from Seattle Jail Guards Excessive Force

$50,000 Settlement for Neck Injury Resulting from Seattle Jail Guard's Excessive Force

Washington States King County Jail has paid a former jail prisoner $50,000 to settle a civil rights action claiming guards used excessive force and injured the prisoners neck.

Robert Ward Garrison was confined at the ...

Wrongly Imprisoned Massachusetts Man Settles Suit Against City For $2,450,000

On October 14, 2005, the City of Chicopee, Massachusetts, paid $2,450,000 to settle with a man who was falsely convicted of rape and imprisoned for 14 years before DNA evidence exonerated him.

Eduardo Velazquez was convicted in 1987 of raping a college student at knife point and sentenced ...

L.A. County Settles With Abused Quadriplegic Prisoner For $46,000

In February 2004, prisoner Joseph Burriss became exasperated waiting to make a phone call from the Los Angeles County Jail. Burriss, a partial quadriplegic, maneuvered his wheelchair towards a deputy and made a disparaging racial remark. The deputy responded by wheeling Burriss to an isolation cell. When they arrived there ...

Sovereign Immunity No Bar to BOP Prisoners' Eighth Amendment Mandamus Suit

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a federal prisoner's mandamus action alleging an Eighth Amendment violation is not barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This action was brought by Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoner Ron Simmat, who is incarcerated in the United States Penitentiary at ...

Oregon Predatory Sex Offender Designation Order Reversed; Notice and Hearing Required in All Cases

Oregon Predatory Sex Offender Designation Order Reversed; Notice and Hearing Required in All Cases

The Oregon Supreme Court held that every offender facing a predatory sex offender designation under Oregon's community notification law is entitled to minimal due process protections (i.e., notice and hearing).

In 1993, Oregon enacted ...

New Jersey Appeals Court Upholds Statute Disenfranchising Felons

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, held that a state law prohibiting felons from voting while on parole or probation did not violate equal protection despite its disparate effect on minority voting power.

Plaintiffs, the New Jersey National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Latino ...

News in Brief:

Arkansas: On July 9, 2006, Rebecca Daniel, the former commissary manager at the Miller county jail was charged with sexually assaulting a male prisoner and giving him chewing tobacco. Prosecutors claim Daniel had sex with the prisoner in the back of the commissary and plied him with movies, food and ...

Mentally Ill Arkansas Prisoners Removed From Supermax, CMS Contract Renewed

On April 21, 2006, the Arkansas Board of Corrections approved a new policy designed to keep mentally ill prisoners out of sensory-deprived environments like the Varner Supermax Unit in Lincoln County. The Board also renewed the prison systems contract with Correctional Medical Services (CMS).

The new supermax policy was implemented ...