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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: November, 2006

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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. South Carolina Prison Industries Program Implements Some Audit Recommendations (p 20)
  8. California County Jail Settles Overdue Prisoner Hospital Bills For $1.5 Million (p 20)
  9. Illinois Cook County Jail Embroiled in Shootings, Scandals and Escapes (p 21)
  10. Colorado Expands Private Prisons While Fining CCA for Understaffing (p 24)
  11. $1,156,149 Awarded to Former Federal Prisoner for Failure to Diagnose and Treat Throat Cancer (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. Georgia Sheriff Indicted on Corruption Charges, Pleads Guilty (p 28)
  16. Prisoner Dies in Custody of Washington Jailers (p 28)
  17. U.S. Businesses Lobby Government to Curb Federal Prosecutors (p 30)
  18. Corruption in Arpaios Office: AZ County Continues Paying Convicted Sheriffs Sgt. (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. $6,280,000 Settlement For Illegal California Juvenile Hall Strip Searches (p 36)
  26. New York Parole Rates Plunge Under Governor Patakis Policy (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. Sovereign Immunity No Bar to BOP Prisoners' Eighth Amendment Mandamus Suit (p 41)
  33. L.A. County Settles With Abused Quadriplegic Prisoner For $46,000 (p 41)
  34. Wrongly Imprisoned Massachusetts Man Settles Suit Against City For $2,450,000 (p 41)
  35. New Jersey Appeals Court Upholds Statute Disenfranchising Felons (p 42)
  36. Oregon Predatory Sex Offender Designation Order Reversed; Notice and Hearing Required in All Cases (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. Robert Ferris and Steve Sandlin are pastors of the Central Christian Church in Salt Lake City. They also owned and operated Transmetron, an unlicensed telemarketing company which they ran out of the church basement.
Transmetron phone lines were manned by House of Refuge residents, some of whom were paid as little as 28 cents per hour for their labor.

Some of the men living in the House of Refuge were homeless. Others were ordered there by judges or state agencies, including the Department of Corrections.

Joe Rupp was ordered into the program by the court. For the first three and a half weeks I was there, I believe I was making 58-cents an hour, he said.

Resident James Auston said, My pay? Im making $1.28 an hour, working up to 50 hours per week.

House of Refuge residents were forced to sign contracts which stated that all their pay ...

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 bang for the buck.

We will receive up to $15,000 in a matching grant from a PLN supporter, dollar for dollar, for all donations made between now and January 31, 2007. Please help us receive the entire amount. We will report our progress in the next few issues of PLN. Your support, above and beyond the amount PLN receives from subscriptions and advertising is what helps us continue publishing and supports our advocacy on behalf of prisoners around the country.

That advocacy includes events like my attending the National Lawyers Guild convention in Austin, Texas in late October where I gave a presentation on the rights of disabled prisoners and moderated a workshop on the issue of sexual assault of prisoners. I am also the national jailhouse lawyer co-vice president of the NLG. PLN columnist Mumia Abu Jamal is the other.
One of our goals is not just to ...

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, Floridas 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 has turned into a facility that treats less than one-third of its residents while releasing those who receive no treatment. To date, not one resident has completed the treatment regimen, but over 200 formerly-incarcerated sex offenders have been released from FCCC. A state audit found that FCCC failed to provide a therapeutic atmosphere; drug and alcohol use was routine, sex between staff and residents was not uncommon, pornography was available, and a racially-charged tension existed.

FCCC was created due to a 1998 law commonly referred to as the Jimmy Ryce Act, in memory of a 9-year-old Miami-Dade County boy who was kidnapped at gunpoint, sexually assaulted, murdered and buried inside several large planters by a handyman. The law allows for persons deemed sexually violent predators to be confined indefinitely beyond the expiration of their criminal sentence.

Initially, FCCC was located within a former drug treatment center adjacent to Martin Correctional Institution ...

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

Aprison 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 peace officer. This was the first murder of a guard by a state prisoner in California in twenty years. All 33 California prisons (and many county jails) were locked down for one day; Governor Schwarzenegger ordered Capitol flags lowered to half mast.

Guard Manuel A. Gonzalez, Jr., 43, died from three stab wounds to his chest and abdomen that were allegedly inflicted by Jon Blaylock, 35. Using a prison-made weapon, Blaylock was allegedly assisted by fellow prisoners Keith White and Henry Riley when he attacked Gonzalez from behind. Gonzalez was not wearing a protective vest because CIM had received only 352 of its order for 900 of the $500 vests; none were issued pending receipt of the balance. However, it is uncertain whether a vest would have saved Gonzalezs life. Blaylock is now fighting for his own life: San Bernardino Co. District Attorney Michael Ramos is seeking the death penalty for ...

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 generally poor oversight of the PIP and practices that provided collaborating companies a potentially unfair advantage in the marketplace. [See PLN, February 2005, for more on the 2003 report].

The PIP employs more than 1,900 prisoners, mostly through arrangements with private companies. The SCDC supplies the prisoners and the buildings, and the companies use the subsidized labor to manufacture their products. The companies then compensate the SCDC, which in turn pays the prisoners hourly wages of between 35 cents and $6.50 per hour.

One area of concern addressed in the 2003 report was the PIPs failure to collect appropriate victim restitution from prisoner wages. The report advised the SCDC to review sentencing records to ensure that these deductions are properly made. During the follow-up review auditors found that in 2005 the SCDC had documented victim restitution deductions--apparently enough of an improvement to consider the recommendation implemented.

Billing was ...

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 bills incurred by its Sheriffs Department. The agreement does not cover some emergency room doctors who have sued separately.

State law requires sheriffs to pay for medical care for their jail prisoners. To this end, the San Diego County Sheriff contracted to pay specified rates for prisoner care, but in 2003 unilaterally notified the hospitals that he would now only pay a lesser scale. The hospitals responded by submitting full-billed charges, which the sheriff proceeded to underpay. The full-billed charges came to $5 million. The settlement now calls for the county to pay $1,457,717 to the involved hospitals, on top of the $700,000 paid earlier.

The agreement permits the county to appeal one remaining question, namely whether the sheriff is responsible for medical costs of pre-arraignment detainees. The San Diego Superior Court ruled in October 2005 that the county is so obligated. [Note: Reversal of this holding ...

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, 2006, prisoners Lorenzo Evans, Terry Martin and Gregory Sherman each sustained bullet wounds from a .32-caliber revolver that had been smuggled into Cook Countys Division 11 maximum security jail.

Randi White, 21, was arrested after investigators unraveled her part in the gun-smuggling scheme. Prosecutor Brian Holmes described a scenario where, on January 26, 2006, White visited Sherman, her boyfriends brother, at the jail. During that visit White allegedly unscrewed the visiting cage mouthpiece ... and proceeded to hand the revolver to Mr. Sherman.

Sheriffs Dept. spokeswoman Sally Daly offered a different explanation. We believe they unscrewed a plate where the phone was on the wall and passed the contraband through the opening, she said.

White was originally arrested and held on $500,000 bond. On June 2, 2006 she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Evans and Martin likewise accepted guilty pleas and received 3-year sentences ...

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 other private prison companies.

The fines were prompted by a state auditors report which blasted the private prison companies and recommended fines. [PLN, Apr. 2006, p. 18].
CCAs Kit Carson County Correctional Facility (KCCCF) in Burlington was fined $103,743 for short shifting 701 times during the ten-week period ending January 10, 2006. This meant that the prison was short about ten employees per day every day spread out among three shifts. The supervisor was missing for five shifts while the assistant supervisor was absent for 44 shifts. In October 2005, the DOC waived $46,000 in fines for KCCCF because it said it was unfair to strictly enforce a contract that was only a month old at the time.

CCAs Crowley County Correctional Facility (CCCF) in Olney Springs was fined close to $23,000 for short shifting 157 times during the ten weeks. CCCF had been previously granted a ...

$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 ...

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 because it is more restrictive than federal law, the suit contends.

Raymond Houston, 45, was convicted in 1994 of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 16. He was sentenced to 4½ years probation, which he successfully completed. There was a house party. She was underage, and I was stupid, said Houston.

Under the federal Energy Conservation and Production Act (Act), Houston sought to have his doors weather stripped and a hot water heater replaced. Brevard County, who has a contract with Floridas Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to distribute money under the Act, rejected Houstons application because he was an ineligible applicant under criteria set by the Brevard county Commissions Weatherization Policy.

That policy prohibits grant funds to any person convicted of a felony in any state or federal court or if listed as a sexual predator or sexual offender. It also excludes a household if any ...

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 of a deputy warden. Additionally, allegations of prisoner abuse were substantiated; Idaho prisoners have since been removed from the facility.

Idaho incarcerates 449 of its prisoners in out-of-state private prisons. Of those, 30 are incarcerated at a CCA prison in Minnesota and 419 are held at NCCC, one of 53 prisons nationwide operated by Geo Group, formerly known as Wackenhut.

Initially, Idahos out-of-state transfers were voluntary and had few problems. In October 2005, Idaho transferred 302 prisoner volunteers to Minnesota. However, overcrowding led Minnesotas prison system to exercise its primacy option on the bunk space in that states private prisons. Thus, 270 of the 302 Idaho prisoners were transferred hundreds of miles away to NCCC in Texas, something they neither volunteered for nor desired.

When they arrived at NCCC, Idaho prisoners discovered hotter temperatures and an austere prison life without many of the luxuries and privileges they were accustomed to ...

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 one count of theft by conversion for using a state vehicle for personal gain.

The district attorneys office is also investigating allegations that Smith issued release passes to prisoners illegally; one prisoner who allegedly received a pass was a convicted felon sentenced to state prison.

It is unclear whether Smith exercised his right, under Georgia law, to appear before the grand jury and make a statement. Smiths attorney, Jerome Adams, declined to comment on the charges.

Scores of the sheriffs supporters gathered at the Coffee County Jail. Nearly 100 people attended the rally but received no response from county leaders, who were under a gag order issued by three Waycross Superior Court Judges.

Before Governor Perdue could decide whether or not to appoint a commission to conduct an inquiry into whether Smith could still effectively perform his duties as sheriff, on March 29, 2006, Smith announced his resignation effective April ...

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 three misdemeanor charges when he was kneed twice and shot multiple times with a Taser during three separate altercations with guards.
The fights began about 6:50 a.m. on January 29.

A nurse noticed that Sichiro was going through alcohol withdrawal and wanted him moved to a cell closer to her office. Sichiro was belligerent as guards approached him. Two Taser shots were fired, but the projectiles bounced off books and magazines that Sichiro had stuffed in his jail coveralls. The stun-gun was then placed directly against his body and fired again, but even that did little to slow him down.

He wasnt feeling the pain, one guard commented.

Guards eventually wrestled Sichiro into another cell and stuffed him under a bunk to allow them time to retreat. But when Sichiro stood on a desk and threatened to hurl himself head-first onto the concrete floor, the nurse then asked ...

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 companies to waive attorney-client privilege and stop paying the attorney fees of employees under investigation.

In 2002, largely in response to the Enron and other U.S. corporate scandals, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act stiffening penalties for business fraud. In 2003, then-Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson issued a memorandum containing guidelines for prosecutors considering indicting a company. The guidelines grant leniency to companies that cooperate with prosecutors. In the memorandum, waiver of attorney-client privilege by a company is considered a sign of cooperation while protecting culpable employees by paying their legal bills is a sign of non-cooperation.

An indictment alone can bring down a company, as it did with Arthur Anderson LLP, an accounting firm associated with the Enron scandal which went from 85,000 employees to bankrupt following its indictment. The now-defunct company was eventually vindicated on appeal, but that did nothing to change the companys dissolution.

Some federal ...

Corruption in Arpaios 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 Sheriffs Sgt. Leo Richard Driving Hawk, Sr. pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in connection with a $78 million swindle perpetrated by his fathers bank.

For over three years Driving Hawk was a vice president at the United States Reservation Bank and Trust while he simultaneously was employed as a member of Sheriff Joe Arpaios Internal Affairs Division. What has raised eyebrows is that for over four months after his guilty plea Driving Hawk remained on the sheriffs payroll, receiving a $60,000 annual salary with Arpaios apparent blessing. According to the Maricopa Co. Sheriffs Department, Driving Hawk remained employed with the department until the end of December 2005.

The tough-on-crime sheriff has remained conspicuously silent on the subject, but one of his aides, Jack MacIntyre, defended the continuing paychecks as an attempt to avoid future liability. We want to make sure we cross all the ts and dot all the is so theres no lawsuit that costs even more, he insisted.

Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has authored books and runs ...

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 routinely beaten with the explicit knowledge of supervisors, according to Tommy Cardell, a former guard at the prison. Cardell revealed the abuse to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May 2005 after officials in the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) ignored his complaints.

Cardell said prisoners were punched and kicked in ways that wouldnt leave big cuts or bruises, and stated his supervisors gave him padded black leather gloves to administer the beatings. Prison officials as high up as the warden were sometimes present at the beatings and even encouraged them, said Cardell. He also accused prison medical personnel of helping to cover up the beatings.

After Cardell complained to the newspaper, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations launched an investigation in July 2005. Seven guards were fired and indicted, and Warden Glenn Rich and Assistant Warden P.P. Collins were suspended. Rich retired in August 2005 while Collins was later reinstated.

The ...

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 mans recent escape from a Dallas halfway house brought the Texas model into question.

Seventeen states have laws that allow for civil commitment of sexual predators after they complete their prison sentences. Sixteen of them lock up the committed people with little or no treatment. Texas took another route.

The concept of civil commitment of sexual predators originated in Washington State in 1990. As of December, 2004, 3,493 people had been civilly committed as sexual predators nationwide. 66 of them came from Texas. 427 civilly committed sexual predators (CCSPs) have been released from civil commitment nationwide. None of them were from Texas. 30 of the Texas CCSPs have been returned to prison for violations of the strict civil commitment rules. Violation of civil commitment rules is a third-degree felony in Texas. No Texas CCSP has committed a sex offense after being civilly committed.

Texas began its civil commitment program in 2001. It provides sex offender therapy for CCSPs and requires that they be closely monitored ...

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, was arrested following a shootout with police. During police questioning, he made incriminating statements. Mario Bustillo, a Virginia state prisoner and a citizen of Honduras, was arrested and charged with murder. Neither was notified of his Convention rights, including the right to have his countrys consulate notified of his arrest and detention.

Sanchez-Llamas filed a pretrial motion to suppress his statements. The motion was denied. He was convicted and lost his state appeals. The Oregon Supreme Court held that the Convention did not create rights enforceable by an individual. He then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Bustillo was convicted of murder. He then filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus arguing for the first time that his Convention rights had been violated. The state court dismissed the petition as procedurally barred because he failed to raise the claim at trial or in direct appeal. The Virginia Supreme ...

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 murderers 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 the time he was released in 1992, hed earned a bachelors degree in applied sociology, summa cum laude, from Northern Arizona University. While on parole Hamm graduated from the Arizona State University School of Law, and in 1999, he passed the Arizona bar exam. In 2004 he filed his Character and Fitness Report with the Committee and requested admission to the Arizona Bar.

Under Arizona Supreme Court Rule 36(g), the Committee must deny an application if it is not convinced of the applicants good moral character. The applicant may then petition the State Supreme Court for review.

The Committee denied Hamms application, citing: (1) the extreme violence associated with his murder conviction; (2) his failure to disclose the fact that hed been questioned by police about an argument with his wife in 1996; (3) his failure to pay child support for his son; and (4) his possible emotional instability. Hamm ...

$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 Center, William K. Morgan Assessment Center, and the Juvenile Intake and Juvenile Hall facilities. Of this sum, up to $500,000 is reserved for claims administration and $1.5 million is to be paid to Sacramento class attorney Mark Merin for fees and costs. $280,000 is specifically allocated to pay for verified claims of the class action's six representative plaintiffs.

Emily Robinson and Kimberly Koslowski were principal named plaintiffs in two actions [later joined by the court] brought in U.S. District Court (E.D. Cal.) in 2004 seeking damages from unconstitutional strip searches in Sacramento Countys various juvenile detention facilities. They alleged that regardless of their status as detainees, convicted misdemeanants or nonviolent felons, they were routinely subjected to unclothed body strip searches upon arrival at their unit and upon transfer to their units. In addition, they were strip searched in groups following visits and school classes ...

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 were released in 1992-93, only 3 percent were approved in 2004-05. The restriction is not the result of any change in statutes or regulations, but is due to the dramatic change in exercise of discretion by Patakis increasingly carefully culled appointees to the parole board.

New York has the nations highest percentage of prisoners sentenced to life-top terms (20 %), none of whom can be released unless and until the board says so. The Governor does not enjoy veto power over the board in New York, but his personal (read: political) views nonetheless carry the day via public reprovals and new appointments. For example, former political prisoner Kathy Boudin was convicted of second degree felony-murder after three deaths during a 1982 Brinks armored truck heist. When she was approved for parole in 2003, Pataki angrily replaced longtime Board Chairman Brion Travis in a matter of months. No controversial paroles have been ...

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.
Physicians Assistant Gary Feinberg, 48, had been arrested on February 8, 2006, and charged with 16 counts of second-degree sexual abuse and 5 counts of misconduct, said Sheriffs Department Chief of Staff Alan Otto.
Additional charges were pending. Feinberg, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, was free on $2,500 bail and had returned to his job at the jail, though his contact with prisoners was supposedly prohibited.

Feinbergs suicide coincided with the filing of a $10 million lawsuit by one of the victims. Rochelle Ramos claimed in her lawsuit--filed the day of Feinbergs death--that Feinberg rubbed up against her and fondled her roughly during a routine exam on December 28, 2005. Though Ramos is no longer in jail she still suffers from the assault. I have to struggle with the feeling, Ramos, 40, said during a news conference at her attorneys office. I feel so gross. I feel so violated ...

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 Corrections can extend the prisoners date of supervised release for the rule violation. In so holding, the court held the some evidence standard of proof is inappropriate at the fact-finding level.

Before the Court was an appeal of a writ of habeas denial by the Washington County District Court, which was brought by Richard Carillo, a prisoner at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault (MCFF). Carillos petition alleged that on May 24, 2002, a fight broke out at MCFF while Carillo was on the prison baseball field with several other prisoners.

The fight caused guards to order prisoners to return to their living quarters. Lieutenant Susan Williams saw another prisoner fall in front of Carillo. She was about 50 yards away, and she radioed guards to intercept the next white person [who] comes in ****, [and] grab his ID. Williams then wrote Carillo a charge for disorderly conduct and assault of ...

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

$50,000 Settlement for Neck Injury Resulting from Seattle Jail Guards 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 King ...

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 Leavenworth, Kansas.

Simmat submitted a request to BOP staff in August 1999, seeking treatment by a dentist for a cavity. He filed a subsequent request in November 1999. On April 9, 2000, Simmat filed yet another request stating that his lower chewing molar had begun giving him constant pain, which gets really bad when I lay down. Four days later, Simmat was ordered to report for an X-ray, which indicated that the tooth might need to be extracted. Simmat was asked to return for a follow-up in two months. He did not return and received no further dental care for his other dental problems, which included gum disease, several cavities and a root that protruded from his gums.

He filed his pro se complaint in Kansas federal district court, seeking injunctive relief for the denied dental care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The defendants moved for dismissal on the ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 Leadership Alliance, and others filed a claim seeking to invalidate N.J.S.A. 19:4-1(8), which disenfranchises defendants while on parole or probation for indictable offenses.

The plaintiffs conceded the statute was authorized by Article II of the New Jersey Constitution, but argued that because the criminal justice system in New Jersey discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics, thereby disproportionately increasing their population among parolees and probationers, it unfairly diluted their voting power.

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Union County, in Case No. UNN-C-4-04, held the statute did not violate the plaintiffs right to equal protection under the law. The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that (a) the statute is specifically authorized by the New Jersey Constitution and (b) [w]hen, as here, a statute is facially neutral, disparate impact is an insufficient basis for relief under [New Jerseys] equal protection doctrine. Similarly, the Appellate Division observed ...

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 Oregons community notification law is entitled to minimal due process protections (i.e., notice and hearing).

In 1993, Oregon enacted a law requiring community notification when prisoners designated as predatory sex offenders are released on probation or parole. ORS 181.586(1)(a) authorizes the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision (Board) to determine which of the persons it releases on parole or post-prison supervision should be designated as predatory sex offenders.

When the board first took on the task of identifying predatory sex offenders, it adopted a decisional process ... that did not allow for input from the potential designees. In Noble v. Board of Parole, 327 Or. 485, 964 P.2d 990 (1998), however, the Oregon Supreme Court held that this process deprived the designees of due process, which require[s] the board to give a potential designee notice and an evidentiary hearing before the designation takes place. [PLN, Apr. 1999, p. 14].

In response to Noble, the board adopted a new, but similar, designation scheme. Applying the risk assessment ...

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 tobacco.

Belgium: On September 24, 2006, an unidentified 25 year old prisoner died in jail custody. On the 26th at least 100 North African youths rioted to protest jail conditions and torched stores, police cars and a youth center. At least 30 protestors were arrested.

Indiana: On September 28, 200 state Department of Corrections officials announced they had fired two guards and were investigating how Wabash Valley Correctional Facility prisoner Anthony Stockelman, 39, wound up with the words Katies Revenge tattooed on his forehead. Stockelman had been convicted of raping and murdering 10 year old Katln Katie Collman in 2005. Pictures of Stockelman and the tattoo have since made it online. He is now in protective custody.

Louisiana: On September 21, 2006, Union Parish jail guards James Webb, 23, and Nicholas Wilson, 21, were charged with smuggling an ounce of marijuana into the jail to give to prisoner Percy Franklin ...

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 about two months after an investigation by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed that mentally ill prisoners were housed at Varner in 7-foot by 11-foot cells nearly around the clock because the prison system lacked suitable beds elsewhere. In March about eight prisoners were removed from the supermax on the advice of a prison psychiatrist.

The new policy is certainly a step in the right direction, though the idea that these environments can cause a mentally ill prisoners condition to deteriorate is not exactly groundbreaking. Mental health experts around the country have been saying this for years. Whats more, federal courts have ruled consistently that housing mentally ill prisoners in supermaxes may constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Under the new policy, housing assignments and other actions that could worsen a mentally ill prisoners condition are prohibited, said Wendy Kelley, the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADOC) top mental health official. Before it had ...

 

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