Prison Legal News:
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Volume 17, Number 12
In this issue:
- Florida's Department of Corruption (p 1)
- Florida Prison Canteen Operators Offices Raided (p 4)
- Violent Oregon Prisoner Murders Cellmate; County Points Fingers; Family Sues (p 8)
- From the Editor (p 8)
- Aramark: Prison Food Service with a Bad Aftertaste (p 10)
- Private Prison Execs Win Big While Guards and Prisoners Lose Out (p 16)
- Habeas Hints (p 18)
- How to Exit Californias Sexual Predator Prison: Refuse Treatment (p 20)
- City Of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Settles Wrongful Imprisonment Claim For $12,250,000 (p 22)
- Wrongfully Imprisoned Wisconsin Man Awarded $400,000, Now Accused of Murder (p 22)
- Many U.S. Prisoners Give Birth In Chains (p 23)
- Deplorable Delaware Prisoner Health Care; Another Prisoner Death Results (p 24)
- Virginia Jail Disgraceful (p 24)
- Robotic Medicine Dispensers Pillage Jails Cost Savings (p 25)
- Florida Boot Camps a Bust, Replaced by Less Fatal Programs (p 26)
- Ten Months Later: 66 Maximum Security Prisoners Still Improperly Housed In CDCR Reception Centers (p 26)
- Texas Parole System Sick From Top to Bottom (p 27)
- Federal Judge Suspends Some Georgia Sex Offender Residency Restrictions (p 28)
- Federal Court Orders California DOC to Pay $58 Million In Overdue Medical Bills (p 29)
- BOP Must Let Prisoners Control Their Outside Assets; Pays $10,500 To Settle Grievances (p 30)
- NY Appellate Court Reverses Denial of Parole (p 30)
- Indiana Justice Agency Head Fired for Misallocating $417,000 in Funds (p 31)
- Missouri Prisoner Calls Get Cheaper; But Lowest Bid Rejected (p 32)
- New California SVP Facility Struggles to Attract Staff (p 32)
- $225,000 Settlement for Female Colorado Prisoner Raped By Guard (p 32)
- Hate-Filled Religious Fanatics Find a Home in Kansas Corrections (p 33)
- Florida Judge's Brother Receives Medical Furlough, Recuperates at Home (p 34)
- New York Prisoner Wins Brutality Suit, Loses Award to Son-of-Sam Law (p 34)
- Bacterial Contamination In Prison-Made Milk Fells 1,344 Prisoners and 14 Staff in 11 California Pris (p 34)
- PLRA Administrative Exhaustion Requirement Distinguished in Two California (p 35)
- San Francisco Jails Strip Search Policy Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Court (p 36)
- Court Invalidates BOP Prisoners' UCC Liens Against Judges and Officials (p 36)
- Wisconsin Prison Psychiatrists License Suspended After Prisoners Death (p 37)
- Alabama Guards Liable in Killing a Prisoner (p 38)
- California Sheriffs Authority to Fire Rogue Guard is Validated (p 38)
- Ninth Circuit: Total Exhaustion-Dismissal Rule Not Required Under PLRA (p 39)
- Sixth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of ETS/Retaliation Claims (p 40)
- Seventh Circuit Rejects Total Exhaustion Rule for § 1983 Complaints (p 40)
- Sixth Circuit Upholds $34,000 Retaliation Verdict; New Trial & No Recusal Not Abuse of Discretion (p 41)
- News in Brief: (p 42)
- Seventh Circuit Discusses Administrative Exhaustion (p 44)
Florida's Department of Corruption
by David M. Reutter
An underlying principle of our penal system is to instill respect for the laws and rules that govern our society. As such, those charged with running our nations jails and prisons have an ethical obligation to set an example for all citizens, including employees under their watch and prisoners in their custody. Investigations of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), however, have revealed that more often FDOCS leaders are seeking to emulate the criminal acts of prisoners.
Where you follow, so shall you go. Prisoners, by their lot, are unemployed and confined in jails or prisons. As of August 2006, more than 50 key upper-level FDOC staff members have been fired or forced to retire. An additional 21, including former FDOC Secretary James V. Crosby, have been arrested and indicted. They are being transformed from the watchers to the watched.
To those familiar with FDOCs inner workings, the revelations come as no surprise. Everybody likes to use the phrase good ole boys club, thats what it is out there and they protect one another. There is a code of silence, says a former guard identified by First Coast News as Dave ...
by David M. Reutter
Agents from the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement raided the office of American Institutional Services (AIS) on June 7, 2006 and seized the companys business records. AIS ran weekend visiting park canteens within the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), and following the raid AIS was banned from further operations at FDOC facilities.
AIS was a subcontractor of St. Louis-based Keefe Commissary Network, which has operated all FDOC prison canteens since winning a no-bid contract in October 2003. [See: PLN, February 2006, p.22]. In 2004, Keefe took over operations of visiting park canteens and subcontracted with AIS to manage that part of its prison operations. Keefe has since taken over full operations of the visiting park canteens. We readily agreed to assume those duties, said Keefe spokesman Pat Farrell. Considering how prisoners and their families are being price-gouged, its understandable why Keefe was so eager to capitalize on that captive market.
A preliminary report indicated that FDOC was losing money on the visiting park canteen operations, but no explanation of how much money was being lost or how that occurred was given.
AIS is owned by Gainesville businessman ...
Florida Prison Canteen Operators Offices Raided
Just three months into his sentence, Gordon committed an unprovoked assault on a fellow prisoner, according to Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) records. He stated later that he forgot why he attacked the man.
During the ensuing 3½ years, Gordon committed 59 rule violations including staff assaults, prisoner assaults, strong-arming, throwing objects and other violent infractions. Gordon spent all but approximately two months of his first three years of incarceration in solitary confinement. Prison records describe Gordon as a very dangerous, violent inmate.
In early 2005, Gordon wrote homicide detectives in Portland, Oregon, and implicated himself in the 2001 death of Vernon Ralph Moranville, whose death had never been investigated as a homicide before Gordons letter.
Moranvilles body was discovered ...
By all accounts, 22-year-old Thomas Allen Tommy Gordon is an extremely dangerous man. In 2001 he fatally shot his friend, Dylan Beck, in the back of the head while they were driving in Vancouver, Washington. While awaiting trial Gordon committed more than 30 major rule violations, including unprovoked assaults on prisoners and staff. Gordon was sentenced in February 2002 to the maximum sentence of 33 years in prison due largely to his extensive record of violent outbursts while awaiting trial.
Going into the next year our goals include expanding PLNs size by an additional four to eight more pages. To do this we will need to increase the number of advertisers since advertising is what has allowed to expand in the past. Each full page of advertising translates into three more pages of news and editorial content. We now have more than 5,000 subscribers and we want to increase that by at least an additional thousand subscribers this coming year.
Upgrading the technology behind PLNs mailing list program and our website are two additional major goals for the year as well.
By now all subscribers should have received PLNs annual fundraiser letter. I hope everyone has ...
As the year 2006 closes we have reported a lot of news and major developments, some of it good, some of it not so good. The main thing though is we accomplished a lot as far as getting back on our regular publishing schedule, improving the already high quality of our stories even more and getting our message on behalf of prisoner rights out even more than we have. We also won significant court cases on behalf of prisoners, publishers and advocates alike.
Aramark, Inc. is a Philadelphia-based $10 billion/yr. Fortune 500 company providing diverse institutional food services. Its Illinois-based subsidiary, Aramark Correctional Services, Inc., (ACSI), which bought out Wackenhuts Correctional Foodservice Management division in 2000, contracts with 450 prisons and jails in 40 states, serving over 300,000 prisoners. In addition to food, it provides commissary services, laundry services, maintenance, and vocational prisoner training in food services. But Aramarks record is replete with allegations of making political donations to gain contracts, over billing on their contracts, skimping on food portions, maintaining poor sanitation, and offering poor food quality. Contracts have not been renewed, fines have been levied and Aramark employees have been arrested for smuggling contraband into prisons. This report chronicles Aramarks checkered past in 19 states and Canada.
At the El Paso County Jail in 2005, many of the 1,300 prisoners filed suit in the 4th Judicial District against foodservice contractor Aramark and the jail, claiming that Aramarks food fails Colorados statutory requirement for good and sufficient food for prisoners. Claims included repetition (turkey was served for five consecutive meals), spoiled fruit, and a 25% reduction in portion size beginning in March 2005. The ...
by John E. Dannenberg
Like those they watch over, many prison guards make a barely livable wage. In Mississippi, for example, the starting salary for state prison guards is $19,620 a year; in Tennessee its $21,000 and in Alabama $25,352. These salaries are generally far less than those of their bosses. For instance, the commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections (DOC) makes $136,000 a year, and Californias top prison official earns $129,000. At the Bureau of Prisons, where annual pay for guards starts at $34,000 to $35,000, the BOP commissioner draws a healthy $160,000 salary. The dichotomy is perhaps most striking in Texas, however, where Brad Livingston, Executive Director of the Department of Criminal Justice, rakes in $165,000 a year ...
Many of the problems associated with imprisonment in the U.S. high staff turnover, prisoner neglect and abuse, and the introduction of contraband by employees, for example can be attributed to the paltry salaries and few benefits that most guards receive. But while low-paid guards must make do with their miserly paychecks, those at the top of the prison hierarchy especially the executives of private prison companies are living lives of lavish excess.
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.
HABEAS HIGHLIGHTS SUPREME COURT TERM
As 2006 winds down, this column takes its annual look at the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) decisions during this past term which are likely to have the most significant impact on nationwide habeas corpus practice. At the end of each of the summaries, Ive suggested one or more Habeas Hints based on the Courts decision.
House v. Bell, 126 S.Ct. 2064 (2006).
A state prisoner who had been convicted of capital murder and rape sought relief on habeas corpus. He powerfully supported his petition with newly discovered DNA evidence showing that semen on the victims clothing came from the victims husband rather than from petitioner, and by evidence that the husband had since admitted being the killer. The district court found that petitioners claim was marred by a state procedural default (failure ...
Habeas Hints: Supreme Court Term 2005-2006
by John E. Dannenberg
California, with 538 sexually violent predators (SVP) civilly committed at its Department of Mental Healths Atascadero State Hospital (ASH), has an efficacious five-step psychological treatment program to prepare its wards for reentry into society. The problem is that the program is so arduous that only four prisoners have ever graduated. However, another 54 SVPs were released as of December 2005 who chose a more viable alternative: refusing treatment. These men took their chances on simply going before a court every two years for a determination as to whether they were still too dangerous to be released. Absent any new indicia of dangerousness, these 54 escaped unanimous jury findings that they should be recommitted.
Its Better Not to Be Treated
Ironically, after release, the treated suffered harsher lifestyles than the untreated. An ASH graduate is placed on strict parole supervision, with a GPS ankle bracelet, quarterly registration requirements, and lots of publicity as to his placement and whereabouts. Any minor infraction will result in immediate reincarceration at ASH.
But a court-released SVP must simply register annually, and no public (Scarlet Letter) notification is made as to his location ...
How to Exit Californias Sexual Predator Prison: Refuse Treatment
The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will pay $12.25 million to settle with a man who spent 14 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, according to a settlement agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on June 16, 2006 ...
News of the settlement came as the plaintiff, Stephen ...
On February 14, 2006, a Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didnt commit settled his lawsuit against Manitowoc County for $400,000. Hell likely use the money to defend himself against a recent murder charge.
One of those states is Arkansas, where Shawanna Nelson, a prisoner at the McPherson Unit in Newport, has filed a lawsuit challenging the practice. Nelson was in labor for more than 12 hours before prison authorities transferred her to a local hospital on September 20, 2003.
With chains around her ankles and in excruciating pain (she had been given nothing stronger than Tylenol all day), Nelson says she begged to have the shackles removed. But her guard refused, even though a doctor and two nurses joined her request. She was shackled all through labor, said Cathleen V. Compton, Nelsons attorney. The doctor who was delivering the baby made them remove the shackles for the actual delivery at the very end.
Dee Ann Newell, who has taught prenatal care and parenting classes in Arkansas prisons for 15 years, called the practice appalling. If you ...
Childbirth is sacred in most cultures. But for many female prisoners in the U.S., the process can be cruel and degrading. According to a March 1, 2006, report by the human rights group Amnesty International U.S.A., 23 state prison systems and the federal Bureau of Prisons expressly allow the shackling of prisoners during childbirth.
Despite mainstream media pressure, public outcry, and a federal investigation, the Delaware Department of Corrections (DDOC) continues to keep its head in the sand about prisoner health care. Not surprisingly, it has resulted in another prisoner's death.
PLN reported the deplorable health care given to DDOC prisoners. See: PLN, Dec. 2005, pg 1. The Delaware Legislature, as we reported, refused to provide money to upgrade that care.
The latest DDOC prisoner death occurred at Young Correctional Institution (YCI). In the early morning hours on May 30, 2006, guards found Thomas J. Burns hanging in his cell. Burns had only been off suicide watch for a few hours.
Burns' saga began when police arrested him on a forgery arrant. When arrested, he was found at his sister's house in the midst of a suicide attempt, using pills and alcohol. He was taken to Christina Hospital, where he remained until taken to YCI.
Once at YCI, Burns, 56, was placed in a strip cell on suicide watch. Despite phone calls by mental health advocates to warn YCI that Burns would kill himself, a Correctional Medical Services counselor decided Burns could be removed from suicide watch. Within ...
by David M. Reutter
On January 4, 2006 a report was issued detailing the deficiencies of the 40-year old jail. Mayor L. Douglas Wilders Commission on City Jail Issues reported a variety of problems ranging from commonplace to highly unusual.
The three month study ran from August to November 2005 and noted the following problems.
" Jail staff was determined to be severely under trained. Most staff received no follow-up training after the academy;
" Richmond City Jail was neither accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA) nor were there any current efforts to get accredited. The Commission reasoned that both training and accreditation was vital to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of staff and offenders within a correctional setting.
" Record management in the jail was inefficient in that it was not automated and lacked efficient communication with the Sheriffs Office and the Police Department;
" Searches before and after visits were virtually nonexistent;
" Prisoners were placed at risk because current classification procedures
are based on bed space with no regard to ...
Richmond City Jail is in such bad shape newly elected Sheriff C.T. Woody called it a ...disaster. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it was that bad, he said.
by John E. Dannenberg
ROBOT, a $1 million automatic pill dispensing system installed at the Contra Costa County (California) jails in February 2005 and advertised to save the county $240,000, has so far instead cost the county $60,000 in overtime pay for people to supplant the non-functional machinery. A May 25, 2006 Contra Costa County Grand Jury report, subtitled Who Drugged ROBOT?, branded the program an apparent failure in both mechanical operation as well as in cost/benefits.
In September 2004, Contra Costa County leased three ROBOT systems for five years for $971,082. (See: PLN, May 2006, p.27.) The contract justification forecast savings from replacement of the pharmacist with a pharmacy technician ($89,000), simplification of the drug formulary ($100,000), and efficiencies from daily instead of monthly dispensing ($60,000). When comparing total reductions ($249,468) against lease costs ($196,616), the projected annual savings were $54,852. But the grand jury found these savings illusory.
First, the vendor only delivered two of the three ROBOTs, and both of those were still not operational as of May 2006 due largely to lack of a project manager. Second, the ...
Robotic Medicine Dispensers Pillage Jails Cost Savings
The studys results, reported in March 2006, revealed that 90 percent of boot camp graduates eventually return to a life of crime and delinquency. Of the 740 youths who participated in the Pinellas County program between November 1993 and November 2005, a staggering 666 were rearrested after successfully graduating; 607 received some form of criminal conviction.
A state report indicated that between 2003 and 2004, 61 percent of the boot camp graduates were in trouble again within a year. Fifty-two percent were charged with felonies, many of which included property, drugs and violence. Juvenile justice researcher Steven Chapman stated that between 2003 and 2004, Florida boot camps as a whole had a recidivism rate of 41 percent, which was just 3 percent lower than halfway houses for moderate-risk youths.
Somewhere, theres a breakdown in the system here, said Coats. He suggested that the program would benefit from a residential re-entry facility for boot camp graduates, believing that a more gradual transition back into society is needed.
The camp houses 14 to 18-year-old youths in platoons of ...
A study of the Pinellas County, Florida boot camp for juveniles, requested by Sheriff Jim Coats, found the program to be a phenomenal failure.
The IG found that 66 maximum custody prisoners were improperly placed in the general population at five of the centers, i.e., the very type of administrative lapse that caused the death of prison gaurd Gonzalez only ten months earlier. The misplacements were not merely procedural in nature. Four such prisoners had already been involved in violent attacks since entering reception; two had attacked guards and one had attempted to murder another prisoner with a shank.
The IG noted that in 2004, CDCR had processed 125,422 male prisoners in the six reception centers. While 66 errors in one snapshot might not seem like much, it takes just one to permit a preventable ...
Following up on the August 2005 statewide directive to tighten up on procedures for properly segregating known dangerous new commitments at the reception center prisons, the California Inspector General (IG) conducted an audit on October 14, 2005 of CDCRs Distributed Data Processing System to determine housing and custody status of all prisoners at the six reception centers: San Quentin State Prison, Deuel Vocational Institution, Wasco State Prison, North Kern State Prison, California Correctional Institution and R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility. The report was released in march, 2006.
by Gary Hunter
Parole in Texas has never been very reputable. During the 1920s and 30s Miriam Ma Ferguson, Texas first female governor, and her husband Pa Ferguson, who preceded his wife in office, enriched themselves with bribes of land and cash in exchange for parole. Ma Ferguson paroled or pardoned about 100 prisoners per month. Pa Ferguson, who set the standard, is the only Texas governor to ever be impeached.
Legislative changes were made but by the mid 1940s corruption came in a different guise. Professional parole seekers would build personal relationships with board members to obtain their clients early release. No sentence was too long, no crime to heinous for those who could afford the services of the seekers.
In 1947, the legislature enacted a disclosure law to address this concern. The law required anyone appearing before the board to file an affidavit affirming or denying having been paid for their assistance. However, the law was not put into effect until 1953.
By 1989 parole seekers had come to be called parole consultants and paying for parole had again become common. Consultants often charged large fees for little work. Successful ...
Texas Parole System Sick From Top to Bottom
On June 29, 2006, e federal judge in Georgia granted class-action status and a temporary restraining order (TRO) suspending enforcement of some provisions of Georgias sex offender residency law (SORL), Ga.Code.Ann. § 42-15.
The SORL was passed in 2006 and included provisions prohibiting registered sex offenders (RSO) from living, working, or loitering within 1,000 feet of any area where minors congregate. This includes any public or private school bus stop. The effect of the law is to banish most sex offenders from their housing while prohibiting RSOs from living in, the vast majority of Georgia residences.
The law affects all Georgia RSOs. This is seen by many as draconian because some RSO are low-risk, non-violent offenders. For instance, Wendy Whitaker, 26, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the school bus stop provision, was convicted of having consensual sex with her 15-year-old boyfriend whey she was 17. She was sentenced to 5 years of probation, which she completed without incident. She also had no further charges following her probation. Despite her exemplary record, Whitaker was required to move from the 106-year-old bungalow she and her husband recently acquired in the tiny north Georgia village ...
by Matthew T. Clarke
On March 30, 2006, the U.S. District Court, N.D. Cal., ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to pay its backlog of overdue medical subcontractors bills within 60 days. The bills, some as old as four years, and totaling $58 million, had been submitted by contract medical providers at all of the 33 CDCR prisons, but not paid purely due to bureaucratic gridlock. As a result of non-payment, some providers were refusing to provide needed services, putting constitutionally adequate medical health care at risk.
Upon recommendation of the courts recently appointed CDCR health care receiver (see: PLN, Mar. 2006, p.1, Federal Court Seizes California Prisons Medical Care; Appoints Receiver With Unprecedented Powers), the court responded to the receivers emergency request to break the obvious logjam that was impeding prisoner medical care. The court called this yet another chilling example of the inability of the CDCR to competently perform the basic functions necessary to deliver constitutionally adequate medical health care, adding, the abdication not only threatens the health and lives of inmates but also has significant fiscal implications for the State.
The court referred to the March 27, 2006 report of its ...
by John E. Dannenberg
In a convoluted pro per suit, two federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoners, who had been retaliated against after they grieved the BOPs having infracted them for controlling their legitimately-acquired outside assets from inside the walls [running a business], won a damage settlement totaling $10,500 ...
by John E. Dannenberg
The Appellate Division (1st Dept.) of the New York Supreme Court granted a non-life prisoners article 78 petition challenging the Parole Boards denial of his parole that had been based upon the nature and seriousness of the offense, alleged limited insight into his criminality, and alleged lack of remorse. The appeals court remanded to the Board for a new and proper hearing within 60 days.
Now-disbarred attorney Jay Wallman, 64, was convicted of looting $4.7 million from his clients accounts and sentenced in August 2000 to three concurrent terms of 3 1/3 to 10 years for grand larceny. Based upon Correction Law § 805, he was granted an earned eligibility certificate and a Merit Time certificate. The latter permitted an early release consideration at 5/6 of his minimum term of imprisonment; however, the Merit Board denied his application.
In June 2003 he became eligible for parole consideration. In spite of numerous support letters, the Parole Board denied him parole for two years. The Board determined that there is a reasonable probability that you would not live and remain at liberty without violating the law and your release at this time is incompatible with the ...
by John E. Dannenberg
On May 26, 2006, the executive director of Indiana's Criminal Justice Institute was fired for misallocating $417,000 in grant money earmarked for a program to help the children of prisoners.
Heather Bolejack, 31, allegedly funneled the money to a family friend who intended to use the lucre for personal pursuits such as cars and travel. A written statement detailing Bolejack's firing also suggested she altered documents to cover up her misdeeds.
According to the governor's office, Bolejack had also directed that another federal grant for $80,000 be awarded to her friend shortly before she was placed on leave, and that employees inside the agency refused to process the grant.
Bolejack, an attorney, was appointed to the $86,716-a-year position in April 2005 by the Governor's office. As head of the institute, Bolejack oversaw the administration of more than $60 million in federal grants, including the one in question.
Bolejack was suspended on April 25 pending the outcome of an investigation by the state attorney general's office. That investigation found that Bolejack improperly awarded the $417,000 grant to McKenna Consulting outside the review and approval process, and failed to disclose her relationship with ...
Selecting the higher bidder will cost family and friends of Missouri prisoners about $3.4 million a year more than if the lowest bid had been accepted. Why allow this money to go into the pockets of providers? asks Sen. Maida Coleman.
Prison Officials say the new provider will still result in a savings of about $2 million a year over the current service. The new contract was awarded to Public Communications Services (PCS).
PCS bid charges 10 cents a minute for long distance calls, compared to 7 cents a minute under the cheapest bid. A local call under PCS will be $4.50 plus a $1 surcharge for a 35 minute call. In contrast, the lowest bidder, Consolidated Communications Public Services, proposed 95 cents for local calls regardless of the duration.
Prison officials justify high prisoner phone calls on the need for equipment ...
The competitive bid process is normally used by state agencies to compel companies to compete with lower bids while providing the same service. Usually, the lowest bid prevails. In the case of providing collect calls for Missouri prisons, the contract was awarded to a company that provided a bid that was higher than three other competitors.
SVP Anthony Iannalfo, recently transferred from ASH, likes the new facility because of its amenities, which include private music rooms with keyboards and drums, woodworking and printing studios, a gleaming gym, computer classes, and a Native American Sweat Lodge. Still, he refuses treatment, because he is banking instead on eventual court-ordered release.
Paradoxically, it was the lack of staff at CSH that made Iannalfo a prime candidate for transfer from ASH.
The virtually empty CSH was initially staffed by only a skeleton crew of two hospital police officers (and no licensed caregivers) per 50 man housing unit. With its remote location in Californias central valley, and offering ...
The new $338 million Coalinga State Hospital (CSH), which opened in October 2005, houses only the best-behaved 170 Of Atascadero State Hospitals (ASH) 550 sexually violent predators (SVP), as of March 2006. Although the physical plant is in place, the staff is not. Of the 32 housing units at CSH, 30 do not have the legally required complement of licensed nurses and psychiatric technicians. Nor is the problem temporary. In 2005, the California Legislature reluctantly suspended its existing laws for six years to permit the supervision of mental patients with fewer skilled staff.
In August 2005, Penifer Salinas, a female Colorado Department of Correction (CDOC) prisoner at Denver Womens Correctional Facility (DWCF) entered into a proposed $225,000 settlement with the State of Colorado. The settlement was a result of a Federal civil rights claim alleging a sexual assault against her by former ...
Hate is a strong word. Many prison employees and DOC officials are contemptuous of or indifferent to the prisoners in their custody. Detention facility staff are sometimes negligent, retaliatory and even abusive,(1) but they seldom display a fanatical hatred toward prisoners. There is, however, one group whose deep burning hatred and extremism are evidently well suited for employment in the criminal justice field.
For those who aren't familiar with Rev. Fred W. Phelps, Sr., the 77-year-old reverend leads the fire-and-brimstone Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.(2) Phelps and his religious clan -- consisting of approximately 80 followers,(3) including numerous members of the Phelps extended family -- have gained national attention through their high-profile protests at funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.(4)
The Westboro Baptist Church believes that the United States is being punished due to a tolerance of homosexuality;(5) they have various other beliefs, all of which center around such slogans as "God hates fags" and "God hates America."(6) The Phelps clan has also demonstrated at funeral services for gay murder victims (7) and for the 12 West Virginia mine workers killed in an accident earlier this year,(8) and planned to protest at the ...
Florida Judge's Brother Receives Medical Furlough, Recuperates at Home
The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has sent one of its prison doctors to review if a prisoner should return to prison to heal from heart surgery. The prisoners connections have some wondering if Kenneth Ackerman is receiving preferential treatment.
Ackerman is in the ninth year of a 15-year sentence for DUI manslaughter for running over 24-year-old Chad Cowen. The connection for Ackerman is his brother, David Ackerman, an Escambia County Judge. FDOC released Kenneth from Union Correctional Institution on March 9, 2006, he proceeded to a Texas hospital for surgery, where he remained for six weeks.
Ken now is recuperating at his brothers residence on house arrest. Since his family paid for the medical care, Cowens mother, Mary Cowen, does not mind that Ken received top-grade medical care. She does, however, question his current status.
I cant see how he would get better treatment in a home outside of a medical facility than he would in a fully accredited prison hospital with nurses on every floor, said Mary Cowen.
Kens surgery replaced his descending aorta, had his spleen removed, his lung was deflated, and arteries feeding other essential organs ...
Abdul Majid, 57, a New York state prisoner was convicted of killing New York City police officer John Scarangella in 1981. Majid was formerly known as Anthony LaBorde and was convicted along with another member of the Black Panthers of shooting Scarangella and his partner, Richard Rainey, during a traffic stop in Queens.
Prison guards roughed up Majid, who sued and won an award of $15,000. This prompted Rainey, 57, and Scarangellas family to sue Majid under New Yorks Son-of-Sam law. On May 29, 2006, after eight hours of deliberation, a jury in Poughkeepsie awarded Rainey $25 million and awarded Scarangellas widow, Vivian $17 million. Although the plaintiffs are unlikely to see much of the award, they expressed their pleasure at depriving Majid of his award.
He doesnt deserve anything, said Scarangellas son, Tom, 33. He deserves to spend his life in jail--and thats it.
The most disturbing aspect of this development is that it takes away from prisoners any monetary incentive to pursue legal action ...
A New York prisoner won $15,000 in a suit over having been beaten by prison guards only to have a jury return a $42 million adverse verdict under New Yorks Son-of-Sam law.
by John E. Dannenberg
Between May 16 and May 23, 2006, a milk-borne illness caused by the bacterium campylobacter caused vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headaches and dehydration in 1,344 prisoners and 14 staff in eleven California state prisons.
The mass outbreak began with 379 cases -- five requiring hospitalization -- surfacing at the Deuel Vocational Institute (DVI) where the milk was made as part of the 6,000 gal./day Prison Industries program. Within days, it had spread to 200 Mule Creek State Prison prisoners, 400 at Valley State Prison for Women, 11 at Wasco State Prison and 10 at Folsom State Prison.
Visiting was suspended, as were transfers. By May 28, other confirmed prisoner cases included 32 at the California Medical Facility (prison hospital); 4 at California Rehabilitation Center; 75 at California State Prison Sacramento; 94 at Central California Womens Facility; 130 at Sierra Conservation Center; and 9 at Avenal State Prison. Not explained was how prison staff became ill from milk made by and intended for prisoners.
Transmitted from animals through food, unpasteurized milk or contaminated water, campylobacter contamination is the byproduct of improper ...
Bacterial Contamination In Prison-Made Milk Fells 1,344 Prisoners and 14 Staff in 11 California Prisons
by John E. Dannenberg
The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals consolidated two interlocutory appeals from U.S. District Courts in California that distinguished under what circumstances administrative exhaustion is deemed satisfied if the grievance process has been truncated below the highest available level.
Californias four-level grievance process (Form 602) begins with the informal response level (for most issues) and ends with the Directors level review in Sacramento. A prisoner ultimately seeking court relief for violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must first exhaust all administrative remedies as are available. (42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a)). The question presented here is if and when such remedies may be deemed exhausted at a level less than the Directors level.
Of course a grievance appeal might be fully granted at an intermediate level, but afterwards the respondent may welch on delivering the granted remedy. In such a case, the prevailing prisoner may bring suit to compel compliance without going higher in the grievance appeal process. But if an appeal is partially granted, and no further remedy is available through the administrative process, must the prisoner continue to exhaust futile procedures? In the instant decision ...
by John E. Dannenberg
The U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.) ruled on motions for summary judgment that the City and County of San Franciscos blanket jail policy of strip-searching all pre-arraignment detainees, regardless of offense or adjudication status, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of those prisoners for whom no specific, pre-ordained reason would necessitate such a bodily intrusion. But because the district court grounded its findings on federal constitutional grounds, state law statutory minimum damages were precluded from the suit. The plaintiff class attorney estimates that 27,000 former prisoners will come under the ambit of the courts ruling; defendants assert the number is closer to 7,000 to 9,000. Either way, millions of dollars of damages may result.
Mary Bull is a frequent ardent protester for liberal social causes, whose aggressive stance has often landed her in jail. Consequently, she has become a plaintiff in numerous lawsuits against California jails where she was arbitrarily strip-searched as a detainee for her non-violent citations or misdemeanor charges. Under representation by Sacramento attorney Mark Merin, Bull has succeeded in class-action lawsuits brought in state court alleging violations of ...
San Francisco Jails Strip Search Policy Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Court
On October 8, 2003, Martin and Falice filed financing statements with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), claiming Falice was a secured party for a debt of $8 million allegedly owed by Patricial Conner, Clerk of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Robert Bruce King, Karen Williams and Clyde Hamilton, judges of the same court who had served on the panels that affirmed Falice and Martin's criminal convictions.
The same day, Falice and Martin filed another UCC statement claiming Falice was the secured party for a $100 million debt owed by Troy Miller, Jerry Jones and David Haas, all current or former Bureau of Prisons employees. Martin was named as the person to whom acknowledgment of filing should be sent. In response, the U.S. government filed correction statements with the SCC, incurring a cost of $140 in the process. The government ...
A Virginia federal district court has entered a permanent injunction against two federal prisoners who filed liens under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) against judges and prison officials. The United States government brought this action against Lorenzo Grade Martin and Reginald Anthony Falice, prisoners serving life sentences at the United States Penitentiary in Lee County, Virginia.
by Gary Hunter
Yoges Pareek, had his medical license suspended by the Wisconsin Examining Board in October 2005. Pareek is a former psychiatrist at the Waupun Correctional Institution (WCT). He was found guilty of negligence in the death of a prisoner under his care.
In spite of his patients bizarre behavior, Pareek allowed the man to discontinue his psychotropic medications. Records indicate that Pareek was fully aware of his patients psychotic episodes. The doctor also failed to notify guards that the prisoner was off his medication and they should be on alert for irrational behavior.
From March to July 1998 the WCI prisoner demonstrated incidents of destructive behavior and self mutilation. At one point he required stitches after he repeatedly beat his head against a wall. On July 29, 1998 the prisoner committed suicide in his cell.
Pareeks defense was that, by law, he could not require the prisoner to take medication. He maintained that this option was left solely to the patient.
On March 11, 2003 the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin rejected Pareeks reasoning and held that treatment of a mentally ill prisoner is properly ...
Wisconsin Prison Psychiatrists License Suspended After Prisoners Death
Following a successful escape attempt at Alabamas Mt. Meigs Youth Facility, seventeen-year-old Mario Haggard was transferred to the Montgomery County Detention Facility (MCDF) in August 1999. Upon arrival at MCDF, Haggard was housed in cellblock 4E, which was reserved for escape risks and other high-risk prisoners.
Sometime between 4:15 and 4:45 a.m. on October 11, 1999, guards were called to Haggards cell, which was flooded with toilet water; urine and feces were on the floor and water was running off the top tier to the first floor. Haggard was naked, pacing his cell, yelling religious phrases, and drinking the water from the toilet and spitting it toward the guards. After Haggard was unresponsive to the guards attempts to calm him, the water to his cell was shut off.
Haggard vomited several times after continuing to drink the water, and made a futile attempt to hang himself with a string in his cell. Guards told Haggard that if they had to come ...
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an Alabama federal district courts grant of summary judgment to guards in a civil rights suit stemming from the killing of a prisoner by guards during a struggle.
by Marvin Mentor
The California Court of Appeal held that the San Diego County Civil Service Commission abused its discretion when it overturned the Sheriffs firing of a deputy who lied to cover-up his physical abuse of a prisoner. The Sheriff had complained that the Commission had effectively interfered with his right and duty to manage his department. This case is important because civil service review boards typically excuse guards from egregious misbehavior against prisoners. For example, in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the State Auditor found that 62% of all guard firings were reversed with full back pay awarded after civil service board reviews. (See, e.g., PLN, March, 2005, p.1.)
Sheriffs deputy Timothy Berry signed the Recruit Honor Code when he joined up, avowing I will not lie, cheat or steal. I will not tolerate those who do. I will treat everyone fairly and respectfully.... I will tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known. I do not lie. However, Berrys oath didnt even survive his probationary period (during which he was subject to termination without cause).
At the George Bailey Detention ...
California Sheriffs Authority to Fire Rogue Guard is Validated
The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that a prisoners 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against prison officials should not be summarily dismissed under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) for containing both exhausted and unexhausted claims, but rather should be dismissed with leave to amend to allow the prisoner an opportunity to excise the unexhausted claims, except where no amendment to the complaint could cure its defects.
Ernesto Lira is a California prisoner who for years was housed in a Security Housing Unit (SHU) after prison officials validated him as being affiliated with the Northern Structure gang. Lira denied this, and steadfastly fought his endless SHU lock-up via administrative appeals.
After three appeals, and an intervening change in prison regulations on how officials validate such gang affiliation, Lira sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming, inter alia, denial of due process of law. Upon examining his claims, the U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.) observed in the administrative appeal history that it was apparent Lira had fully exhausted some, but not all, of his claims. The question was, in light of the PLRAs requirement ...
by John E. Dannenberg
Tennessee prisoner Lutfi Shaqf Talal (a.k.a. James Taylor) is allergic to tobacco smoke and was housed in a non-smoking unit of the Turney Center Industrial Prison (TCIP).
In 2003, Talal brought suit against the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) and more than forty individual officials. Talal alleged guards violated the Eighth Amendment when they smoked in non-smoking housing areas; allowed prisoners to smoke in non-smoking areas and gave them tobacco; placed smoking and non-smoking prisoners in the same cells; and permitted smoking in the general areas of the prison. He also claimed guard Polly Marchen retaliated against him by refusing to enforce the prisons no- smoking policy and deliberately exposing him to high levels of smoke. The district court dismissed the suit pursuant to § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim prior to service upon the defendants.
Citing Hunt v ...
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(10)(1) dismissal of an environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) claim filed by a Tennessee prisoner, concluding that the plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to state a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim. The appeals court also found that the prisoners retaliation claim had not been addressed.
by Bob Williams
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the dismissal of a prisoners amended complaint, finding prior exhaustion putting the state on notice was sufficient to pass muster under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).
Illinois state prisoner William Cannon, Jr. was transferred to the Centralia Correctional Center on June 12, 1996. Refusing two anal cavity searches that day, he was twice beaten and twice forcibly searched. The following day, June 13, there was a repeat performance and he was then transferred to the Shawnee Correctional Center for another round of the same. On June 14 Cannon suffered one more forcible anal cavity search and was transferred to Menard Correctional Center. He received disciplinary reports for disobeying orders, insolence and assault. Cannon was convicted of all but the assault, demoted in credit-earning class and transferred to a maximum security unit.
Waiting until the last minute of the six-month grievance filing period then required in Illinois (now 60 days), Cannon mailed a grievance on December 13 but it was returned for insufficient postage and re-mailed on December 14. Although denied as untimely, the grievance board invited ...
Seventh Circuit Rejects Total Exhaustion Rule for § 1983 Complaints
Ernest Bell, Jr., was a prisoner at the Southern Michigan State Prison who was held in administrative ...
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower courts order granting a new damages trial on a prisoners retaliation claim. The appellate court also upheld the district judges refusal to recuse himself.
Arizona: On July 12, 2006, Phoenix police officers Michael Coleback, Hain Price and Richard Ruff were indicted on aggravated assault charges in state court for assaulting jail prisoner Thomas Schuster on November 11, 2005, in the intake area of the Fourth Avenue jail and assaulting prisoner German Diaz on May 1, 2005 in the same area. The police union is providing lawyers to the accused criminal cops.
California: In late March, 2006, Manuel Ramos, 20, was arrested and charged with trying to smuggle drugs into the Fresno county jail. A ...
Arizona: On July 10, 2006, Kevin Peltier, 30, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for participating in the fatal beating of Mojave county jail prisoner Peter Deakin. Jereme Cosby, the alleged leader of the beating was sentenced to life in prison for the beating. Mark Morton, 26, Daniel Nelson, 36, Tony Pamula, 37, and Adam Martin, 30, were jail prisoners who had also been initially charged in the assault and murder of Deakin, who was in jail on charges of raping his girlfriend and failing to register as a sex offender, but they cut deals agreeing to testify against Cosby and Peltier and received no additional jail time.
This action was filed by Joseph Barnes, a prisoner at Illinois State Correctional Facility. In 1999 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was conducting a study, under contract with Stateville, to determine the amount and severity of communicable diseases among the prisoner population.
Barnes, being concerned he had contracted hepatitis, asked to be tested in August 1999. His request was not answered.
In October 2000, Barnes filed a pro se complaint against the CDC under the Federal Tort Claims Act. He alleged he had been exposed to hepatitis as a result of poor sanitation in prison and being housed with infected prisoners. He also alleged that CDC knew prisoners infected with HIV and hepatitis were entering Illinois prisons, that a significant risk existed that those pathogens could be transmitted between prisoners, that CDC had failed to identify and isolate infected prisoners, and that the agency had provided no treatment for those affected.
The Illinois District Court ...
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a prisoners amended complaint was the functional equivalent of a new complaint, and that new claims that were administratively exhausted after the original complaint was filed satisfied the Prison Litigation Reform Acts (PLRA) exhaustion requirement.