Tennessee isn't known for its huge prison system, like Texas or California. Nor is the state's capital city, Nashville, recognized for massively overcrowded jails such as the ones in Los Angeles or New York City. But one thing is clear: Tennessee lockups are just as dangerous, the guards equally brutal and incompetent, and supervisory officials just as scandal-prone as those in more populous states.
At a prison in Nashville, a state prisoner was brutally murdered and set on fire after guards abandoned their post, leaving him with two other maximum-security prisoners; one of the guards was fired for violating prison policy and the other resigned. A national headline-making escape of a state prisoner from a courthouse parking lot resulted in the shooting death of a prison guard. Another guard smuggled a gun into a state facility for her imprisoned lover. And at the administrative level, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Dept. of Correction (TDOC) resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and questions about his relationship with a subordinate.
The situation is no better in the state's county jails. At one Nashville facility a diabetic prisoner died after private contract medical personnel failed to dispense ...
by Michael Rigby
Florida's Correctional Privatization Commission (CPC) consistently failed to safeguard the State's interests in its role as steward of privately operated correctional facilities," causing Florida's taxpayers to pay $12.7 million in questionable and excessive of cost. That conclusion was arrived at in a scathing report of the CPC by Florida's Inspector General.
The audit, issued on June 30, 2005, comes a year after the Florida Legislature abolished the CPC and turned its operation and management of private prison contracts over to the Department of Management Services (DMS).
Florida contracts with two vendors to operate five prisons in the state. Gadsden, Bay, and Lake City prisons are operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) while GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut Corrections, operates Moore Haven and South Bay prisons. Combined, these prisons warehouse 5,290 male prisoners.
The audit said that CPC records and contract documentation showed CPC consistently made questionable contract concessions to the vendors." That statement comes as no surprise to those familiar with the cronyism and infestation of the CPC by those who are in the vendors' pockets. That story as told in Private Capitol Punishment: The Florida Model, by Ken Kopczynski ...
by David M. Reutter
Prison Legal News was also the lead amicus in a brief submitted by various publishing groups, including Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Association of American publishers, the Publishers Marketing Association and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression in Banks v. Beard, a lawsuit challenging a Pennsylvania prison rule barring prisoners in long term control units from receiving all non religious books and publications. That case will be decided later this term.
PLN also submitted an amicus brief in Williams v. Donald, at the district court level. The case involves a challenge to the Georgia prison system's ban on material downloaded from the internet.
We have also filed an amicus brief in a certiorari petition to the US Supreme Court on behalf ...
In addition to PLN's own censorship litigation for prisoners we also undertake advocacy and support for prisoner rights on behalf of prisoners in other court cases. In the current supreme court term, PLN submitted an amicus brief in Goodman v. Georgia, a case involving prisoners' right to sue states for money damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The supreme court ruled unanimously in favor of the prisoner.
7th Circuit Says Challenge Not Cognizable on Habeas
The Eighth Circuit Court Of Appeals reversed the denial of a federal prisoner's 28 U.S.C. § 2241 habeas corpus petition challenging the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policy limiting halfway house placement to the lesser of six months or ten percent of the sentence. The court found that the policy was based upon an erroneous interpretation of two statutory provisions.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, however, issued an opinion the following day, that § 2241 was not the proper remedy for a BOP halfway house policy challenge and that prisoners bringing such a challenge must comply with provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), including exhaustion of administrative remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
Prior to December 13, 2002, the BOP had a policy of allowing prisoners to serve their last six months of incarceration in a [Community Corrections Center (CCC)] regardless of what percentage of the sentence this six months comprised." On December 13, 2002, however, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a Memorandum (the Memorandum') that found the BOP's CCC placement policy illegal because it was ...
8th Circuit Invalidates BOP Halfway House Policy;
Revenues Sues California DOC
A Bakersfield, California businessman, who lost a contract for his private prison housing California Department of Corrections (CDC) prisoners due to allegations that he misappropriated $1.6 million from prisoner collect telephone call revenues, has filed suit in Kern County Superior Court against CDC for libel, defamation and breach of contract. He claims his reputation and his ability to do business were harmed.
Terry Moreland, affiliated with Marantha Corrections LLC, once operated a CDC Community Corrections Facility in Adelanto, but that contract was constructively terminated when he sold the 550 bed minimum security facility to San Bernardino County while CDC was demanding he return the disputed revenues. (See: PLN, Feb. 2005, p.39.) Moreland has resisted CDC's refund demand for years, arguing that his contract did not require it.
Source: Bakersfield Californian.
Private Prison Contractor Who Allegedly Diverted $1.6 Million in Telephone
Prisoner Craig A. Savery was disciplined for possession of narcotics. Savery's initial appeal to Tomoka Correctional Institution's Warden was denied. His second administrative review to the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) was denied as untimely because it was filed more than fifteen days after the previous denial. Savery then filed a petition for writ of mandamus in Volusia County Circuit Court, which held the petition was barred by the statute of limitations because it was not filed within 30 days of F.D.O.C. rendering a decision.
On certiorari review, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the denial of Savery's appeal was dated March 24, 2004, but not filed with the agency clerk until March 29. Savery's mandamus petition was filed on April 27, 2004, the court held the circuit court erroneously used the March 24, date to begin running the 30 days limitations period. Under Fla. R. App. P. 9.0201 an order is not rendered until filed with the clerk.
As the denial was not filed with F ...
Two separate Florida District Court of Appeals decisions have reversed the dismissal of two prisoners' civil actions that challenged disciplinary reports.
On April 27, 2000, Richard Foelker reported to the Outagamie County, Wisconsin, Jail to begin serving a sentence for driving under the influence of intoxicants.
When he entered jail, Foelker had been on a methadone maintenance treatment program for heroin addiction for five weeks. He had not taken his daily dose because he was ill that morning and the clinic closed at noon." At the jail he told a registered nurse that he needed a dose of methadone to avoid going into withdrawal." However, he was not given a dose the next day and he was told that he would not receive methadone during his incarceration because he had been off the drug for 3 days." The methadone clinic advised jail staff that Foelker should receive a reduced dose of methadone" but he was never given any.
On Foelker's third day in jail he defecated on himself and the cell floor. Jail staff believed he was playing the system' and not in need of medical attention." Three hours later Foelker was ...
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's grant of summary judgment to jail officials on claims of denial of methadone and inadequate medical care.
Robert Pineyro was charged for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Initially, he was held at the Plymouth House of Correction (PMC). After fifteen months, the court released him to home detention because his incarceration was amounting to punishment. While held at PHC, Pineyro was without pain medication, surgery, therapy, or meaningful care.
Pineyro suffers from heterotopic ossification (HO), a condition that has immobilized his left arm, shoulder, back, and a left leg. HO is a disease that causes excess bone growth in the bone Pineyro broke in a very serious car accident in 1999.
The affected areaselbow, forearm, shoulder, hip, and backbecome stiff, like stone. Pineyro is unable to bend or raise the areas in question; he walks with a limp. Since the condition is chronic, he must be closely monitored. He periodically undergoes radiation and physical therapy and has undergone multiple operations to scrape away the excess bone. Because of the pain, he requires 60 mg of morphine ...
A Massachusetts federal district court has departed from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines because of the defendant's illness and the Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) failure to meet its burden that it could provide the most effective" medical treatment.
While employed as a guard at the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, Ricardo Vasquez sexually assaulted 4 female prisoners on separate occasions. Specifically, Vasquez had sexual intercourse with one prisoner on one occasion; sexual intercourse with a second prisoner on two occasions; separate incidents of sexual intercourse and oral sex with a third prisoner; and repeated sexual touchings with a fourth prisoner.
Vasquez was charged with 5 counts of sexually abusing a prisoner (18 U.S.C. § 2243(b), 1 count of abusive sexual contact (18 U.S. C. § 2244(a)(4), and 1 count of making a false statement (18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2). During trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, Vasquez pled guilty to all 7 counts.
Because abusive sexual contact is a misdemeanor, it was not used in the sentencing calculation. The other six counts, however, were calculated as separate incidents, and Vasquez was ultimately sentenced to 21 months in prison. Vasquez appealed the November 6, 2003, ruling arguing ...
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that multiple counts of prisoner sexual abuse against a prison guard had been properly grouped under federal sentencing guidelines.
Lonnie Burton, Gordon Lebar, James Bringham and Michael Holmberg (collectively Burton), all Washington state prisoners, sued then DOC Secretary Joseph Lehman and several others claiming that the Policy violated, inter alia, RCW 72.02.045(3). The Thurston County Superior Court dismissed the suit under CR 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, and Division 2 of the State Court of Appeals affirmed. See: Burton v. Lehman, 76 P.3d 271 (Wash. App. Ct. Div. II, 2003). Burton sought discretionary review.
On discretionary review, the Washington Supreme Court recognized that section IX of the Policy required DOC to ship 2 boxes of a prisoner's property for free when a prisoner is transferred from one prison to another. Any additional property, however, would be shipped only if the prisoner paid shipping costs in advance. Otherwise the prisoner forfeited the property.
The Supreme Court considered whether the Policy requiring inmates to either pay the shipping costs for some of their property or ...
The Washington State Supreme Court (Supreme Court) has re-instated a lawsuit challenging Department of Corrections (DOC) Policy 440.000 (Policy). The Policy requires prisoners who are transferred to another prison to pay shipping costs for their property.
A Maryland prison is no place to get sick. Virtually every facet of prisoner health care, which has been provided by Tennessee-based Prison Health Services (PHS) since 2000, is in disarray. Prisoners sometimes receive the wrong medicine or none at all; records are poorly kept; physical exams are often cursory; sick call requests are ignored; and short-staffing is ubiquitous.
To address the problems, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), which operates Maryland prisons and Baltimore jails has implemented a new health care system and changed providers. The department also promised to spend more money for health services. Some critics doubt the new system and additional money will make a difference since the quality of care--or lack thereof--will still be influenced by profit motives.
Medication mix-ups, and delays are common in Maryland prisons, according to independent audits, internal documents, and prisoner complaints. In a December 2004 letter to a concerned community organization, DPSCS Secretary Mary Ann Saar acknowledged the problem when she wrote, We have repeatedly heard complaints relating to the failure of inmates to receive medications ... in a timely manner." The situation can be deadly for prisoners with life-threatening illnesses such as asthma, diabetes ...
by Michael Rigby
The California Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the state's official watchdog" agency, conducted an audit of the Board of Prison Terms (BPT) in July 2005 to determine compliance with the OIG's prior recommendations to correct deficiencies and inefficiencies it identified in its 2002 and 2003 audits of the BPT. It found that the BPT over reported by 4,000 the number of lifer" parole consideration hearings it conducted over the past three years, had a growing backlog (1,607) of overdue parole consideration hearings, had inadequate supervision and time management of its 74 Deputy Commissioners, held 700 meaningless Mentally Disordered Offender hearings per year and failed to review all BPT decisions as required by law. On the plus side, the OIG found that the BPT had mooted its previous backlog of 2,200 overdue responses to prisoners' administrative appeals of its decisions by abolishing the entire appeals process, and had vastly improved timeliness of parole revocation hearings (because the situation had become so dire that the federal courts had to step in and order the BPT to change its ways). (See: Valdivia v. Schwarzenegger, 206 F.Supp.2d 1068 (E.D. Cal. 2002); PLN, Jan. 2003, p ...
How To Get It And Use It To
Prove Your Innocence
By far the most successful habeas corpus petitions have been those which have relied on DNA testing to show that the person who was convicted could not possibly have committed the crime which landed them in prison. Nevertheless, most convicted prisoners lack the money and/or the legal knowledge to bring favorable DNA evidence to the attention of the courts. Therefore, even though news accounts, TV shows, movies, and plays are now focusing the public's attention on people who have been wrongfully convicted, an unknown number of prisoners whose innocence could be proved through DNA testing remain in prison.
Solving this problem could be easy enough if each state would set up procedures by which prisoners who claim that DNA could prove their innocence could have counsel appointed to bring appropriate claims before the ...
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 the AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice throughout the U.S.
Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg
In October 2003, Pace University Law School hosted a three-day symposium at its White Plains, New York campus, widely attended by leading academics, attorneys, prison reformers, judges and prison officials, to discuss how to advance the cause of prison reform in the United States. Vol. 24, No. 2, of the Pace University Law Review is a reprint of the papers presented at that conference. The organizer of the confab, and the resulting Law Review publication reviewed here, was Pace law professor Michael B. Mushlin, well known to prisoners nationwide who regularly rely on his three-volume book, Rights of Prisoners, dealing with civil rights of institutionalized persons.
Prison Reform Revisited contains 24 papers grouped into five chapters: (1) Accomplishments and Failures of Prison Reform Litigation; (2) The Modern American Penal System; (3) Anatomy of the Modern Prisoner's Rights Suit; (4) The International Context of Prison Reform; and (5) The Future of Prison Reform Efforts.
Chapter 1 takes stock of the successes in the past three decades of prison litigation. Noted prison monitor Vincent Nathan propounds that ...
Prison Reform Revisited: The Unfinished Agenda, Pace University Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 2, Spring 2004 (softback, 460 pp.)
by Michael Rigby
Nearly two years after the Prison Rape Elimination Act, (PREA) passed unopposed in the U.S. House and Senate, an attitude of indifference and skepticism surrounding prison sexual assaults still permeates the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC).
Signed into law on, September 4, 2003, as Public Law 108-79, the PREA authorizes the Bureau of Justice Statistics to collect statistical data and calls for a federal commission to devise standards aimed at combating prison rape. The law also requires states to track prison sexual assaults and encourages prison officials and lawmakers to attack the problem at the state level.
Because Arkansas stands to lose money if it doesn't comply--federal funding to states failing to meet the standards will be reduced by 5% a year--the Arkansas Board of Corrections met on June 9, 2005, to vote on the state's planned compliance. For Arkansas, which augments its annual $231 million prison budget with $840,000 in federal grant money, the reduction equates to a loss of $42,000.
According to the text of the law, an estimated 13% of the nation's 2.1 million prisoners have been sexually assaulted in prison. Experts note the consequences are far ...
An October, 2004, report issued by Florida's Auditor General (AG) criticizes a contract awarded to Keefe Commissary Services (Keefe) for the operation of the Florida Department of Corrections' (FDOC) 240 prison canteens. The three-year contract that privatized FDOC's prisoner canteen services became effective on October 9, 2003.
To obtain a contract, Keefe, which services 65 percent of the nation's prisoners in jails and prisons, agreed to pay FDOC $.82 per prisoner per day on FDOC's midnight count. Since the contract went into effect, it has been amended three times. Keefe's ability to increase its revenue has been enhanced by FDOC's raising of the amount prisoners can spend each week, an increase in canteens Keefe operates, and Keefe's act of raising canteen prices 40% or more since assuming operations. Despite Keefe's revenue increase, FDOC does not receive more money.
In examining the Keefe/FDOC contract, the AG made five findings for future action by the Legislature or FDOC. First, the AG recommended the Florida Legislature revise statutes to include provisions for the competitive procurement of revenue-generating contracts." Current law for such contracts does not ensure all eligible contractors are ...
by David M. Reutter
The law, which became effective July 13, 2005, creates the offenses of Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree, a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the Second-Degree, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
It is a felony for any person employed by or under contract with the state or local agency that" is the arresting, confining or supervisory agency, to engage in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with...or penetrate the vagina, anus or penis of another...with any object other than the penis or mouth of the actor" if the other person is (A) In the custody of a law enforcement agency following arrest; (B) Confined or detained in a correctional facility; (C) Participating in an inmate or offender work crew or work release program; or (D) On probation, parole, post-prison supervision or other form of conditional or supervised release[.]
It is a misdemeanor for employees ...
In the wake of a huge scandal involving several high ranking, veteran prison officials engaging in sexual activity with female prisoners of the Coffee Creek Correctional Institution, Oregon has enacted legislation criminalizing custodial sexual misconduct.
by Alan Prendergast
Suppose that you're the warden of a women's prison. Among your valued employees is a prison guard named Dave, whose job puts him in charge of dozens of female prisoners for long, lonely nights.
Dave is a popular guy among his colleagues. But there's also something odd about him. One day you learn that local police suspect him of being a world-class perv. They believe he's been stalking at least three women in the metro area for years burglarizing their homes, leaving them disturbing and graphic messages, boldly pursuing an elaborate kink that involves intimate relations with a certain brand of sneakers. He's already been identified by two victims, and the cops plan to arrest him as soon as all the evidence is in.
What do you do, boss? Do you:
A. Tell Dave to seek other employment, possibly at Foot Locker.
B. Reassign him to a job that doesn't involve custodial supervision of vulnerable women.
C. Sit tight and wait for the other shoe to drop.
In the case of David ...
If the Shoe Fits: Did Colorado Prison Officials Look the Other Way While a Guard's Fetish Turned Violent?
In Allegation No. I2003-0834, the Auditor determined that CDC had improperly granted 25 CDC nurses pay increases totaling $238,184 between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2003. Nurses, like other CDC non-custody staff, receive a monthly pay premium of $446 if their job also entails supervising two prisoner workers, each of whom works at least 173 hours/month doing what would otherwise have been performed by state civil service employees. State regulations and the nurses' employment contract provide that any overpayment shall be reimbursed, provided the action to recoup is initiated within three years of the overpayment.
When challenged, CDC could not provide documentation in 17 of the 25 cases because the prisons audited (Avenal State Prison, California Institution for Women, California State Prison (Sacramento), and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison) either had no supervisory hours ...
The California State Auditor detailed four investigations of California Department of Corrections (CDC) employee misconduct completed between July 1 and December 30, 2004, where the tip-offs of miscreance were reported through California's Whistleblower Protection Act (Government Code § 8547 et seq.). Reportable transgressions under the Act include official government wrongdoing that violates federal or state laws, is wasteful, or involves dishonesty, incompetence or inefficiency.
Plaintiff Daniel Arroyo, 17, was convicted of a youthful offense. On November 9, 1994, while being transported from court to the Rikers Island Correctional Facility ...
On April 28, 2005, a New York prisoner was awarded $600,000 for injuries he sustained when other prisoners attacked him on a prison bus.
A September 2004 Florida Auditor General's Report found numerous deficiencies in the Florida Department Of Corrections' (FDOC) pharmaceutical contract with Terry Yon & Associates, Inc. (TYA). The current three-year contract became effective January 1, 2004. Its estimated worth is $72 million.
To distribute prescribed pharmaceuticals, FDOC operates four cluster" pharmacies where health services' staff, records, equipment, and pharmaceutical inventories are consolidated. These four pharmacies provide pharmacy support to neighboring institutions.
The FDOC did not put its pharmaceutical contract out for bid prior to signing with TYA, concluding it was not required to under law because the contract was for health services involving examination, diagnoses, treatment, prevention, medical consultation, or administration. The Auditor General, however, concluded the contract with TYA does not appear to provide for health services described by law, making the service susceptible to open bidding.
The Auditor General further found that TYA is providing commodities that are available from other vendors. The repackaging of pharmaceuticals for unit dosing is not included in the list of statutory health services. Absent competitive procurement, FDOC cannot demonstrate the contract provides the best value for the state or that the contract was equitably awarded. That finding was amplified by FDOC's comparison of TYA prices with those of another pharmaceutical vendor, which found the other vendors repackaging prices were lower by about 30 percent than those of TYA.
The Auditor General found the contract disclosed several deficiencies. First, the contract pays TYA the vendor's medication cost plus 1.45 percent, plus a fee for the pharmaceutical package. The contract fails to address rebates or discounts that are common in the pharmaceutical industry. Second, the contract fails to contain a provision requiring TYA to advise FDOC of any complaint filed, investigations made, warning letters or inspection reports issued, or any disciplinary actions imposed on TYA by any federal or state oversight agency. A check of state oversight agencies reveals TYA received a warning letter on August 6, 2002, but the same letter never appeared in FDOC's records. Finally, the contract requires TYA to abide by all pertinent requirements of specified Florida Statutes and Administrative Codes. The contract cites rules repealed or transferred prior to the effective date of the contract.
The Auditor General's review found that TYA did not always fulfill the contract responsibilities and conditions. First, FDOC was never provided a copy of TYA's Florida Department of Health Pharmacy license or Federal Drug Enforcement Agency registration. TYA, also is required to provide FDOC a financial and compliance audit. One has never been provided. Next, TYA is supposed to provide a procedure manual for all four FDOC pharmacies. Two did not have a manual, and the manual the other two had were outdated. Moreover, TYA did not always recognize order limit maximums set by FDOC.
The Auditor General also found that contract monitoring by FDOC was extremely flawed. The Contract Manager had no training and utilized checklists that were not signed or dated, making frequency of monitoring visits undocumented.
TYA was also found by the Auditor General's report to have failed to timely fill orders as required by the contract. Eight of 40 orders reviewed were not timely filled. Those 8 orders were filled 1 to 10 days late. Because the date stamps on receiving reports did not always agree with the invoice, an additional 22 orders could not be determined for timeliness. Yet, the Contract Manager found TYA Met" the contract timeliness requirement.
The Auditor General's review found that 34 of the 40 invoices from TYA were not supported by adequate documentation. Specifically, the order forms or receiving reports for these 34 invoices are not available; did not identify the pharmacy placing the order; or were not properly signed to indicate the person who placed the order, authorized the order, accepted the order, or approved the order received." 37 of the 40 invoices were not reviewed or approved by a FDOC Lead Pharmacist or designee prior to payment. These failures may allow the misappropriation of pharmacy supplies to occur and not be timely detected.
The Auditor General's final finding addressed credits for returned pharmaceuticals. TYA was selected over the cheaper vendor because of its policy on returned medications." Yet, TYA did not comply with that policy when crediting FDOC. TYA's return policy was to credit FDOC the applicable item listing, which is regularly revised. Rather than credit FDOC for the prices it paid, TYA credited FDOC under the most current item listing. Additionally, the Auditor General noted some minor errors in pricing and instances in which the number or type of items credited did not agree with [FDOC] records of the number or types of items ...
by David M. Reutter
The t-shirts scream Stop Snitchin'!
From Baltimore to Boston to New York; in Pittsburgh, Denver, and Milwaukee, kids are sporting the ominous fashion statement, prompting local fear, outrage, and fierce arguments over crime. Several trials have been disrupted by the t-shirts; some witnesses refuse to testify. Boston's Mayor Thomas M. Menino has declared a ban: We're going into every retail store that sells them," he declared to the Boston Globe, and we're going to take them off the shelves." With cameo appearances in the growing controversy by NBA star Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets and the rapper Li'l Kim, snitching is making urban culture headlines.
The Stop Snitchin'" T-shirt drama looks, at first blush, like a dustup over a simple counterculture message launched by some urban criminal entrepreneurs: that friends don't snitch on friends. But it is, in fact, a symptom of a more insidious reality that has largely escaped public notice: For the last 20 years, state and federal governments have been creating criminal snitches and setting them loose in poor, high-crime communities. The backlash against snitches embodies a growing national recognition that snitching is dangerous public policyproducing bad information ...
by Alexandra Natapoff
On December 17, 2004, the Cook County Board's Litigation Sub-Committee approved a settlement of $362,000, including attorneys' fees, in a case involving brutality against a Cook County jail prisoner by the jail's infamous Special Operations and Response Team (SORT). We have previously reported the brutality of the ...
Lance A. Cole, 24, was arrested for violating his probation by possessing a gun. A day earlier Cole had injured himself while out socializing with friends: he ...
On January 25, 2005, a Missouri prisoner was awarded $2,500 for pain and suffering incurred when guards kicked him in the groin.
Native American prisoners and Nebraska's then Director of Corrections, Harold Clarke, reached a settlement agreement on March 15, 2005 in U.S. District Court (D. Neb.) to reinstate the Native American prisoners' club (Native American Spiritual and Cultural Awareness) (NASCA) and to permit medicine men and other religious volunteers to attend Native American spiritual meetings at the 1,200-prisoner Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP). In so doing, the parties agreed to the termination (with prejudice) of prior consent decrees from 1974 and 1976.
Up until two years ago, NSP's 43 Native American prisoners had enjoyed NASCA associational, long hair, sweat lodge (inipi) and ceremonial privileges granted in the 1974 consent decree. However, NSP disbanded the program when complaints were received about membership discrimination wherein NASCA had adopted a policy of not permitting blood-line qualified" non-Native prisoners to be club members and/or officers.
Richard Walker, a Winnebago serving 10-life for second degree murder, then filed the lawsuit complaining that NSP was not permitting Native Americans to practice their religion.
With the agreement, NASCA modified (and NSP approved) its bylaws to remove the objectionable language restricting membership or creating sub-classes of membership based upon Native American ...
by John E. Dannenberg
Reviewed by Sheerly Avni
In part because of the war on drugs, in part because of mandatory sentencing laws such as California's three strikes" law, and in part because we have gradually shifted our concept of justice from rehabilitation to punishment over the past 30 years, the United States now ranks as the world's most prolific jailer.
The greatest increases in the prison population have occurred among drug offendersand in particular among women, whose numbers in jail have increased eightfold over three decades. One disturbing by-product of all these imprisonments is that there are now 2.4 million American children who have a mother or father in jail. One in 10 American children has a parent under some sort of probationary supervision.
The consequence to American families has been devastating: In her remarkable new book, All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated, Bay Area youth advocate and journalist Nell Bernstein sets out to explore the crisis -- one which she suggests will be the civil rights issue of the 21st century." Bernstein introduces us to families struggling to stay together through imprisonment, and through the programs dedicated ...
By Nell Bernstein, The New Press; 303 Pages; $25.95
California guards Delwin Brown, Marcel Berry, Linda Bridges, Steve Chiu, Danny Torrez and Robert Dutra had been fired from their jobs at the N.A. Chadjerian Youth Correctional Facility after an internal investigation there revealed that they had used excessive force in subduing wards. In a much publicized video recording of the January 20, 2004 incident wherein Brown was depicted sitting atop one of the wards and flailing him with a series of lefts and rights to the head," the guards were dismissed. (See: PLN, April, 2005) Voicing approval of the dismissal were State Senator Gloria Romero and Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman. According to guards' union (CCPOA) spokesman Lance Corcoran, the guards had acted in self-defense from the wards' assault on them that began before the video coverage started.
Although an administrative law judge overruled the dismissals upon finding the guards' witnesses more credible than the State's (findings upheld by ...
In a process fabled for reinstating 6070% of the jobs of fired prison guards, a unanimous California State Personnel Board (SPB) ordered the positions of six previously dismissed Youth Authority guards restored with full back pay. And in a strikingly similar case, Connecticut did the same for one guard.
In a recent expose, the Sacramento Bee revealed that the California prison guards union (CCPOA) cut a side deal two months after its last five-year contract was negotiated in 2001 that removed a cap of 10,000 union member-donated hours available to CCPOA representatives to use for paid leave to conduct union business on the job. As a result, over 120,000 such hours have been billed since 2001.
At issue was a side letter" outside the main contract that removed the 10,000-hour cap in one part of the 300-page contract, but left the cap in another part. Only recently learning of this, the Department of Personnel Administration tried to block further allocations of release time" to save an estimated $3 million cost overrun. But in June 2005, an arbitrator determined that since both the state and the CCPOA had verbally" agreed to this unwritten contract change, the open-ended agreement would be enforced.
In practice, any union member may donate hours of his or her personal vacation or holiday leave to the release time bank," which union reps can draw upon ...
Court Halts Practice of California Prison Guards Getting Unlimited Paid Time to Conduct Union Business on the Job
Plaintiff Steven Jarmon was imprisoned in a Louisville jail on robbery charges. On February 15, 2000, Jarmon, 38, and several other prisoners boarded a paddy wagon for ...
On June 3, 2005, a Kentucky jury awarded $9,000 to a prisoner who was injured while riding in a jail transport vehicle.
A Florida jury has awarded $225,000 in a case against the City of Clearwater and an individual detective on a claim of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Plaintiff claimed he was falsely arrested on child molestation charges and the prosecution was continued by ...
The Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) made a formal recommendation in its Report to the House of Delegates" (August 2005) (Report) that the ABA go on record as urging all federal and state governments to afford Prisoners reasonable opportunity to maintain communication with the free community, and to offer telephone services in the correctional setting with an appropriate range of options at the lowest possible rates.
Recognizing numerous studies that have shown a direct correlation between prisoners' outside community support and their eventual reintegration success, the ABA took a pro-active stand to promote public interest in a responsible corrections telecommunications policy. The Report added that telephone access can contribute to safer prisons by reducing tension via improved morale and better staff-prisoner interactions. Voice communication becomes literally a lifeline since at least 40% of the national prison population is known to be functionally illiterate.
Notwithstanding the accepted need to put controls on telephone abuse by prisoners, the Report noted that many detention entities install draconian limitations that instead frustrate the beneficial purpose of telephone contact. The limitation of collect-only calls severely limits contact with attorneys, a result found by many courts to be ...
by John E. Dannenberg
to Law Library Access
In a per curiam ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's grant of habeas relief (Espitia v. Ortiz, 113 Fed. Appx. 802 (2004)) to a California prisoner who, after choosing to represent himself at trial per Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), complained that he was prejudicially denied his right of access to the courts by his denial of law library access in county jail.
The Supreme Court recognized a split in the circuits as to pre-conviction law library access, but declined to reach the merits of whether a Faretta pro per litigant has in fact such a right. The Court only disagreed with the Ninth Circuit's holding that Faretta had established such a right, noting that Faretta says nothing about any specific legal aid that the State owes a pro se criminal defendant." Since Espitia was prevented by the AEDPA from bringing a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas action absent a pre-existing U.S. Supreme Court ruling on point (§ 2254(d)(1)), habeas relief was procedurally unavailable. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit ...
U.S. Supreme Court: Faretta Does Not Establish Right Of Pro Se Defendant
Guards William Shugrue and a Jeffrey Padula were members all the Inner Perimeter Security Unit (IPS) at the Massachusetts Correctional InstitutionCedar ...
On March 25, 2005, a federal jury awarded a Massachusetts prisoner $250,000 in damages for injuries sustained when he was assaulted by a guard during a strip search.
California's Governor Schwarzenegger improved health care for women prisoners by signing AB 478 into law, which makes it illegal to deny prenatal and postpartum care (to include basic dental cleaning) and bans shackling during labor and delivery in a locked hospital ward. Assembly Member Sally Lieber (D - San Jose), author of AB 478, noted that The United Nations has established minimum rules for treatment of prisoners and California has not been following them.
The American College of Obstreticians and Gynecologists weighed in, stating, Physical restraints have interfered with the ability of physicians to safely practice medicine by reducing their ability to assess and evaluate the physical condition of the mother and the fetus, and have similarly made the labor and delivery process more difficult than it needs to be; thus, overall putting the health and lives of the women and unborn children at risk.
The California Medical Association added, Prenatal care has consistently been shown to be a cost-effective tool in preventing birth defects and protecting the health of the infant and the mother. Additionally, shackling of a prisoner during childbirth may be unnecessarily uncomfortable and dangerous for the female inmate, while providing little additional ...
by John E. Dannenberg
According to the July 2005 report, Substance Dependence, Abuse, and Treatment of Jail Inmates, 2002, 68% of jail prisoners met substance abuse or dependence criteria as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition. Even more striking, at least 85% of convicted jail prisoners met the criteria.
Despite these alarming numbers, more than one-third of all jail prisoners who met the criteria never participated in substance abuse treatment or other alcohol or drug programs. What's more, over half (53%) of jail prisoners had never received treatment or participated in other substance abuse programs while under correctional supervision.
The report, based on interviews conducted with 6,982 prisoners at 417 jails, revealed a number of other important trends as well. For instance, race and age were factors in the rate of substance dependence or abuse. White prisoners had the highest rate (78%), compared to blacks (64%), and Hispanics (59%). Jail prisoners between ages 25 and ...
More than two-thirds of U.S. jail, prisoners in 2002 were found to be dependent on drugs or alcohol or to abuse them. But many never get the help they need, a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reveals.
Wal-Mart is using prison labor to build a new distribution center in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Local residents have expressed safety concerns and also worry that lower paid prisoners are siphoning jobs away from the community.
Prisoners working at the Wal-Mart site come from the Fox Lake Correctional institution, where about 130 of the prison's 1,330 prisoners participate in work release programs. Guards drop the prisoners off at the site and pick them up after work. The prisoners, who perform manual labor-type tasks, are supervised by their employer while on the job.
Some nearby residents are concerned about possible violent prisoners. Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) responded by asking the Department of Corrections (DOC) to ensure that no inmate convicted of a violent or drug related crime is being permitted to work in such close proximity to a residential area.
Most prisoners working at the site have been convicted of non-violent crimes and are close to release. The number of prisoners varies by day but appears to be between 5 and 8. The placements began in October 2005 and were scheduled to end in December 2005.
Out of the original 7 workers, 4 had been removed by ...
by Michael Rigby
GSP prisoner Gregory M. Lamb claimed ...
In September 2004, the Georgia Department of Corrections (CDOC) settled for $15,000 a prisoner lawsuit alleging that understaffing at the maximum-security Georgia State Prison (GSP) compromised prisoner safety. The GDOC also agreed to increase staffing levels in prisoner housing areas at the prison.
On September 29, 2004, the widow of a one-time suspect in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping settled her wrongful-death lawsuit against the Utah Department of Corrections (DOC) for $150,000.
When 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002, police were ...
by Michael Rigby
Pennsylvania-based Woolrich Inc. plans to use the labor of federal prisoners to fulfill two multi-million-dollar contracts with the Defense Department, according to an October 2, 2005, article in The Patriot-News. In April 2005 the company was awarded a 5-year contract worth between $68 million and $100 million, to manufacture approximately 75,000 pair of Army pants annually. Woolrich was awarded a second contract in July 2005 for between 5,000 and 25,000 cold-weather jackets per year for air crews. That contract was valued at between $4 million and $19 million.
The pants and jackets will be manufactured by federal prisoners earning between $0.23 and $1.15 an hour. Given the low profit margin involved, the company could not be competitive if it paid a wage comparable to that in the community, lamented Woolrich president Roswell Brayton Jr. And because products for the military must be totally American made, Woolrich was unable to use its overseas sweatshops. Prison slave labor was the next logical step.
Federal prisoners in Atlanta, Georgia, and Beaumont, Texas, are already sewing ...
The prison and military industrial complexes have collided, with a private military contractor poised to make millions off the sweaty backs of prisoners.
On August 27, 2005, two registered sex offenders were murdered in Bellingham, Washington, by a vigilante posing as an FBI agent. The killer got the victims' names, address and photographs from the Whatcom County Sheriff's Sex Offender Notification Web Site.
In letters to Seattle Times reporter Mike Carter, Michael Anthony Mullen, 36, confessed and even bragged about murdering Victor Vazquez, 68, and Hank Eisses, 49. Mullen claimed that he was sickened and prompted to vigilante action when he learned the details of notorious case of Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42, a Tacoma, Washington, sex offender who is accused of having murdered three members of the Groene family in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, in order to kidnap their two children to sexually abuse them. The body of one child, Dylan, 9, was recovered from a Montana campground. His sister, Shasta, 8, was rescued on July 2, 2005, at a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene.
The details of how the burly 6'-5" goateed and tatooed Mullen gained access to the Bellingham where the murders took place are well known. Eisses owned the small blue house with a white picket fence and had been renting a room ...
by Matthew T. Clarke
An NBC News I-Team 10 investigation caused considerable media controversy when it reported that a New York state prisoner with end-stage liver disease had received a $400,000 liver transplant in November, 2005, at state expense. This is significant because most states will not approve transplants for prisoners.
Prisoner Wilfredo Rodriguez, convicted of a string of robberies which involved one victim being shot to death, is doing 8 1/3 to 25 years at maximum security Wende Correctional Facility. Aware that he has become the center of a medical ethics debate, he agreed to talk to I-Team 10's Brett Davidson about it.
In New York State, the liver transplant waiting list is 2,200 people long. Many will die awaiting a donor. The purported ethical question is whether a prisoner who took a life should be entitled to have his life saved at state expense. Rodriguez, who had perhaps two months to live without the donor organ, said he felt that everyone should be entitled to medical care, regardless of their status. A prior non-prisoner recipient, Ronald Goehle, disagreed, stating that he would draw the line for one who has taken a life.
But the ...
by John E. Dannenberg
Marc Herouard, a prisoner at the Fishkill Correctional Center, discovered on February 7, 2001, that his eyeglasses had been broken in storage while he was ...
On February 9, 2005, a New York court of claims awarded $2,500 to a state prisoner whose replacement eyeglasses were delayed for 10 months.
Arizona: On July 10, 2005, Jerry Booker, 57, a guard at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman in Florence was pistol whipping and threatening to shoot Nyeema Irby, 23, to collect a $50 drug debt Irby owed him when Irby pulled his own pistol and shot and killed Booker.
Arkansas: On April 10, 2005, Curtis Parks, 28, a guard at the Ouachita River Unit prison in Malvern was arrested when prison officials discovered him smuggling 4.8 ounces of tobacco and an ounce of crack cocaine into the prison.
Burundi: On March 28, 2005, 20 to 30 prisoners escaped from the main prison in Ruyigi by climbing over the walls at noon. Prison guards shot and killed five prisoners and wounded one during the escape. Most of the prisoners have been convicted on charges of genocide for participating in massacres in 1993.
California: On January 11, 205, Rohnert Park police arrested Forrest Mills, 44, a guard at the Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City on one count of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting at a homeless man after the homeless man shouted at Mills to slow down while driving. Police arrested Mills at a nearby ...
News in Brief:
Tennessee lawmakers are complaining that their prison guards are helping to drugs and other contraband into the state's prisons. They specifically are bemoaning that those guards are being allowed to quit or resign without facing criminal prosecution when caught.
Tennessee employs more than 2,400 employees in its 15 prisons. Salaries begin at just over $21,000 a year.
Lawmakers' position that guards caught smuggling without facing prosecution are misfounded. Of 17 guards that were terminated or resigned for drug violations since the beginning of 2004, more than two thirds were prosecuted criminally. Eight of those were accused of smuggling drugs into prisons. One guard smuggled 2 pounds of marijuana to prisoners.
Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) officials say the failure to prosecute all guards terminated for drug violations is due to lack of evidence or the local prosecutor not pursuing charges. One lack of evidence case involved a guard who had marijuana seeds found in his vehicle, which was insufficient for a possession conviction.
An example of a guard smuggling to supplement his income involved Jamie Bizzle, 27. Drugs and other contraband were mailed from a prisoner's home to Bizzle's home in Newbern. One shipment contained ...