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Prison Legal News: June, 2006

Issue PDF
Volume 17, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. Torture in Maine Prison (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 14)
  3. Maquiladoras Expanding in Mexico; Global System of Prison Factories Envisioned (p 15)
  4. North Carolina Prison Audit Finds Industry Excesses,Overpaid Guards, More (p 16)
  5. Rampant Sexual Favoritism By California Prison Warden Is Actionable Under Hostile Work Environment T (p 18)
  6. Illinois DOC Seeks to Block Ex-Wardens Benefits (p 19)
  7. The Decline and Fall of the Prison Press (p 20)
  8. Audit of Californias Failed Intermediate-Parole-Sanctions Program Blames Lack of Benchmarks And D (p 21)
  9. California Auditor: Prison Industries Loses Money and Fails to Demonstrate Rehabilitative Success (p 22)
  10. Nevadas Son of Sam Statute of Violates First Amendment (p 23)
  11. California Legislature Reorganizes DOC To Add Rehabilitation (p 24)
  12. Aramark to Pay $65,000 for Overbilling Pennsylvania Prison (p 25)
  13. $40,000 Default Judgment Reversed for Determination of Service of Process Validity (p 25)
  14. $20,500 New Hampshire Jail Award Upheld for False Disciplinary Charges (p 26)
  15. Unpaid Prisoners Clean Up Rita Ravaged Southeast Texas (p 26)
  16. Estate of Pennsylvania Prisoner Killed By Wexford Health Sources Settles Suit for $2.15 Million (p 27)
  17. Love Letter Mail Scam Nets Ten Prisoners $221,000 and Fed Time (p 28)
  18. Michigan Youth Prison Closed But Problems Continue (p 28)
  19. Michigan DOCs Visitation Ban for Substance Abuse Upheld (p 29)
  20. Maryland ALJ Faults Arbitrary Transfer/Medical Order Violation (p 29)
  21. GEO Buys CSC After Settling $38.8 Million Judgment in Texas Boot Camp Death (p 30)
  22. California Prison Excessive Force Death Suit Settled For $850,000 (p 30)
  23. Washington DOC May Seize Money for LFOS; RCW 9.94A.772 Abrogates Angula (p 30)
  24. GAO: Private Contractors Perform Poorly At Overseas Military Prisons (p 31)
  25. Georgia Jail and Its Medical Provider Settle Jail Wrongful Death Suit For $500,000 (p 32)
  26. Denial of Medication/Prescribed Treatment States Eighth Amendment Claim (p 32)
  27. Florida Muslim's Forced Shave Challenge Remanded (p 33)
  28. Federal Court Filing Fees Increased, Cost of Justice Too High for Many Prisoners (p 33)
  29. California Ex-Con DNA Collection Law Ruled Not Retroactive (p 34)
  30. PHS Parent Company Fires Executives For Cause In Billing Scandal (p 34)
  31. Hawaii Guard Given Probation for Prisoners Death (p 35)
  32. Failure to Procure Medical Treatment Suit Proceeds Against Puerto Rican Guard (p 35)
  33. Dismissal of the Publisher/Approved Vendor Only Challenge Reversed (p 36)
  34. California Ban On Sexually Explicit Materials Upheld (p 36)
  35. Washington DOC Pays Again for Flaunting Open Records Law (p 37)
  36. Second Circuit: Drug-Abuse Based Denial Of HCV Treatment Is Actionable (p 37)
  37. PLRA Does Not Apply to Released Prisoner (p 38)
  38. § 1997e(e) Governs First Amendment Claims in Fifth Circuit (p 38)
  39. Qualified Immunity Denied in Illinois Jail Rape Case (p 39)
  40. Alabama Supreme Court Sidesteps Merits of Suit Challenging Contracted Prison Labor (p 40)
  41. Washington Community Placement Condition Barring Pornography Unconstitutionally Vague (p 41)
  42. SJ Reversed on Delaware Detainee Triple-Celling Claim; Due Process, Not Eighth Amendment Controls (p 41)
  43. News in Brief: (p 42)
  44. PLRAs 150% Attorney Fee Cap Applied in Nominal Damages, Non Prison Case Against Police (p 44)

Torture in Maine Prison

Torture in Maine Prison

by Lance Tapley


The mission of the Maine State Prison is to provide a safe, secure, and humane correctional environment for the incarcerated offender.

Five hollering guards wearing helmets, face shields, and full body armor charge into a mentally ill mans cell. The first attacker smashes ...

From the Editor

This months cover story highlights abuse in the Maine prison system which consists mostly of one prison. While a lot of PLNs news and legal coverage focuses on states such as Texas and California and the federal Bureau of Prisons, in large part because their sheer size and number of ...

Maquiladoras Expanding in Mexico; Global System of Prison Factories Envisioned

U.S. businessman Joe Robertson has a dream: A global system of foreign-owned factories employing prisoners and their families for low wages and with few benefits. But for now his sights are set on Mexico, where he hopes to establish maquiladoras both inside and outside the prison gates.

Maquiladoras--foreign-owned companies ...

North Carolina Prison Audit Finds Industry Excesses,Overpaid Guards, More

The North Carolina Department of Corrections prison industries program routinely violates state purchasing guidelines and lacks adequate internal controls, a state audit has confirmed. The audit, released on October 19, 2005, also found that guards were sometimes overpaid, disbursement procedures were defective, prisoner work hours werent properly recorded, and prison ...

Rampant Sexual Favoritism By California Prison Warden Is Actionable Under Hostile Work Environment T

Rampant Sexual Favoritism By California Prison Warden Is Actionable Under Hostile Work Environment Theory


A unanimous California State Supreme Court held that non involved female employees could sue the Department of Corrections (CDC) for sexual harassment under a hostile work environment theory, when they suffered job stress from the prison ...

Illinois DOC Seeks to Block Ex-Wardens Benefits

Illinois DOC Seeks to Block Ex-Wardens Benefits

by Matthew T. Clarke

On September 13, 2005, the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) filed an appeal of a workers compensation arbitrators decision to grant ex-prison warden William Barham permanent total disabilities benefits. Barhams injuries stem from a fatal one-vehicle accident for which ...

The Decline and Fall of the Prison Press

It was a melee, a riot, a simmering dispute. Despite the nomenclature, coverage of the August 9, 2005, prisoner incident at San Quentin prison was hardly diversified. 39 prisoners were injured in one of the largest riots since 1982 at Californias oldest prison, with newspapers citing tensions between Latino and ...

Audit of Californias Failed Intermediate-Parole-Sanctions Program Blames Lack of Benchmarks And D

Audit of Californias Failed Intermediate-Parole-Sanctions Program Blames Lack of Benchmarks And Data Analysis

The California State Auditor issued a stinging 58 page report in November 2005 that squarely fixed the blame for the purported failure of the recent parole violators alternatives-to-reincarceration program on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ...

California Auditor: Prison Industries Loses Money and Fails to Demonstrate Rehabilitative Success

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) Prison Industry Authority (PIA) loses money in 20 of 28 enterprises it operates in CDCR prisons, provides rehabilitative work for a declining number of prisoners in spite of a meteoric climb in prison population, and lacks a marketing plan, according to the ...

Nevadas Son of Sam Statute of Violates First Amendment

Nevadas Son of Sam Statute of Violates First Amendment

by Mark Wilson

The Nevada Supreme Court held that the States Son of Sam law violates the First Amendment.

In 1977, New York enacted the nations first Son of Sam law, in response to the possibility that David Berkowitz, a serial ...

California Legislature Reorganizes DOC To Add Rehabilitation

California Legislature Reorganizes DOC To Add Rehabilitation

by Marvin Mentor

Via legislative enactment (SB 737) effective July 1, 2005, the California DOC (formerly CDC) was renamed the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the Board of Prison Terms (BPT) was replaced with the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH), and numerous ...

Aramark to Pay $65,000 for Overbilling Pennsylvania Prison

Pennsylvanias Dauphin County Prison (DCP) will receive $65,000 from its food service vendor from overbilling. The settlement comes on the heels of a several-month grand jury investigation started in 2004 to examine allegations of watered-down food and overcharging.

The agreement, which was reached in September 2005, concludes there was ...

$40,000 Default Judgment Reversed for Determination of Service of Process Validity

In a case of unusual circumstances, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a default judgment of $40,000 in favor of a prisoner against a prison nurse for failure to serve process, but ordered the district court to make evidentiary findings that could reinstate the judgment.

Before the ...

$20,500 New Hampshire Jail Award Upheld for False Disciplinary Charges

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a jurys award of $20,500 to a pretrial detainee in a civil rights action, alleging denial of due process from the filing of false disciplinary charges.

Jason Surprenant was a pretrial detainee at New Hampshires Hillsborough County Jail on the evening ...

Unpaid Prisoners Clean Up Rita Ravaged Southeast Texas

With few federal funds headed for areas of Southeast Texas devastated by Hurricane Rita, state officials are using the free labor of Texas prisoners to augment clean up efforts.

As of January 30, 2006, prisoners from the Larry Gist State Jail had already cleaned areas of Sabine Pass, Nederland, and ...

Estate of Pennsylvania Prisoner Killed By Wexford Health Sources Settles Suit for $2.15 Million

Wexford Health Sources and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have agreed to pay $2.15 million to the family of an asthmatic prisoner who died after her medication was denied at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Muncy.
Erin Finley, 26, was transferred to SCI-Muncy on July 2, 2002, to serve ...

Love Letter Mail Scam Nets Ten Prisoners $221,000 and Fed Time

On October 4, 2005, Karen Ann Erdely, 40, a Pennsylvania state prisoner, was sentenced to the maximum term of five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The federal court found that she was the ringleader of a love letter scam that involved over a dozen female ...

Michigan Youth Prison Closed But Problems Continue

During its six years of operation, the Michigan Youth Correctional Facility has been criticized over abuse, suicide attempts, and a policy of filling beds at the maximum-security prison with low level offenders. But even after its closure, the privately run prison continues to poison the community and divide the government ...

Michigan DOCs Visitation Ban for Substance Abuse Upheld

Michigan DOCs Visitation Ban for Substance Abuse Upheld

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a Michigan federal district court erred in refusing to dissolve its injunction ordering the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) visitation limitations violated the due process rights of prisoners.

This case has a 10-year ...

Maryland ALJ Faults Arbitrary Transfer/Medical Order Violation

A Maryland Administration Law Judge (ALJ) held that the Maryland Division of Correction (MDOC) violated a Settlement Agreement and acted arbitrarily, capriciously and in violation of law by transferring a prisoner. The ALJ also found the refusal to provide ordered medical devices was arbitrary.
In 1985, MDOC prisoner Douglas Arey ...

GEO Buys CSC After Settling $38.8 Million Judgment in Texas Boot Camp Death

Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) has settled a $38 million judgment that held the company responsible for the 2000 death of Bryan Dale Alexander, an 18 year old prisoner at a Texas boot camp. The terms are confidential, but according to an online article accessed February 6, 2006, CSC paid $2 ...

California Prison Excessive Force Death Suit Settled For $850,000

A Corcoran State Prison prisoner whose psychotropic medications had not been renewed for 20 days died from excessive force used to subdue him when he suffered withdrawal symptoms. On November 4, 2005, California settled his parents civil rights wrongful death suit brought in the federal district court for $850,000 ...

Washington DOC May Seize Money for LFOS; RCW 9.94A.772 Abrogates Angula

The Washington Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) to seize money from a prisoners trust account to pay legal financial obligations (LFOs).

In 1994 John Martin was sentenced to 300 months in prison and ordered to pay $6,844.46 in restitution. Due ...

GAO: Private Contractors Perform Poorly At Overseas Military Prisons

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released April 29, 2005, criticized the militarys poor management of private contractors in Iraq and put partial blame for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal on private contractors and their poor management. The report had been requested in a letter by Rep. David Price, D-NC ...

Georgia Jail and Its Medical Provider Settle Jail Wrongful Death Suit For $500,000

Wilkes County, Georgia and Integrative Detention Health Services, Inc. (IDHS) paid $500,000.00 for settlement of a wrongful death suit alleging negligent medical care, deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, and wrongly allowing a paramedic to practice medicine.

Wilkes County is a small, rural Georgia community of 4,000 ...

Denial of Medication/Prescribed Treatment States Eighth Amendment Claim

In two separate cases the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoners claim of being denied medication, or not given prescribed treatment, states a claim under the Eighth Amendment.

Arkansas prisoner Willie Munn appealed a district courts dismissal of his suit after an evidentiary hearing. Munn had claimed ...

Florida Muslim's Forced Shave Challenge Remanded

Florida Muslim's Forced Shave Challenge Remanded

by David Reutter

Floridas First District Court of Appeal has reversed a circuit courts order denying a petition seeking to declare the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) shave policy unconstitutional when applied to Muslims.

Prisoner Akeem Muhammad, a Muslim, asserts that Islam commands ...

Federal Court Filing Fees Increased, Cost of Justice Too High for Many Prisoners

As of April 10, 2006, the fee for filing civil complaints in U.S. District Courts, or having state cases removed to federal court, increased from $250 to $350. Note that this increase applies to lawsuits and related civil claims, but not to habeas petitions.

Similarly, beginning April 10, the ...

California Ex-Con DNA Collection Law Ruled Not Retroactive

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court, N.D. Cal., ruled that Californias recent Proposition 69, which provides for DNA collection from all convicted persons, does not apply retroactively to exconvicts who have been discharged from custody, parole or probation.

A class action suit was brought by ...

PHS Parent Company Fires Executives For Cause In Billing Scandal

America Service Group, the parent company of Prison Health Services, has fired two high level employees in connection with billing improprieties by its prison pharmacy division.

ASG fired Trey Hartman, president and chief operating officer of Prison Health Services, on December 7, 2005. Grant Bryson, president and CEO of Secure ...

Hawaii Guard Given Probation for Prisoners Death

Hawaii Guard Given Probation for Prisoners Death

by Gary Hunter

Brian Freitas, a former guard was sentenced to one year probation for his part in the death of Antonio Revera, a prisoner at Halawa prison in Hawaii.
Revera was beaten to death in 1998 after he bit a sergeant at ...

Failure to Procure Medical Treatment Suit Proceeds Against Puerto Rican Guard

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed in part and reversed in part a Puerto Rico District Courts grant of summary judgement to prison officials in a civil rights action alleging failure to render or procure adequate medical treatment. The action was brought by the mother of deceased Puerto ...

Dismissal of the Publisher/Approved Vendor Only Challenge Reversed

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district courts sua sponte dismissal of a Michigan prisoners claims that rejection of a religious publications violated the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

On November 1, 2002, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) implemented Directive ...

California Ban On Sexually Explicit Materials Upheld

The California Court of Appeal upheld the denial of a state prisoners petition for writ of mandate seeking (1) rescission of California prison regulation 15 CCR § 3006 (c) (17) [proscribing possession of explicit sexual images], and (2) a declaration that the regulation violated both the First Amendment and Penal Code ...

Washington DOC Pays Again for Flaunting Open Records Law

The Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) has agreed to pay $65,000 to a state employee who claimed prison officials rejected his attorney’s request for electronic records, instead insisting on providing 38,000 pages of expensive hard copies that would have cost $5,700.

“[The] DOC could have easily ...

Second Circuit: Drug-Abuse Based Denial Of HCV Treatment Is Actionable

by John E. Dannenberg


The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals permitted a prisoners damages claim against the New York Department of Corrections (DOC) to proceed after he had been denied treatment for his Hepatitis-C (HCV) disease because he had tested positive for marijuana within the preceding two years ...

PLRA Does Not Apply to Released Prisoner

In remanding for further proceedings, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the administrative exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) does not apply to persons not imprisoned when the suit is filed.

Before the Tenth Circuit was the appeal of former prisoner Lois Harold Norton, who ...

§ 1997e(e) Governs First Amendment Claims in Fifth Circuit

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district courts dismissal of a pro se prisoners §1983 action, as frivolous and barred by the physical injury requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e). The court joined the Second, Third, Eight, Tenth and D ...

Qualified Immunity Denied in Illinois Jail Rape Case

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of qualified immunity for failing to protect a pretrial detainee from being raped by his cellmate.

In 1999, David Velez was confined in the Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Jail. In late August, Velez got a cellmate, Roberto Zayas, who was being held ...

Alabama Supreme Court Sidesteps Merits of Suit Challenging Contracted Prison Labor

The Alabama Supreme Court denied class certification and sidestepped ruling on the merits of a prisoners claim that prison officials illegally contracted out his labor to a private company.

Before the Court was the appeal of prisoner Darrell Latham, who sought a declaratory judgment that the Alabama Department of Corrections ...

Washington Community Placement Condition Barring Pornography Unconstitutionally Vague

Washington Community Placement Condition Barring Pornography Unconstitutionally Vague

The Washington Court of Appeals held that a condition of community placement prohibiting possession or perusal of pornography without prior probation officer approval was unconstitutional.

Richard Sansone was sentenced to prison and community placement for raping and assaulting a girlfriend. One condition ...

SJ Reversed on Delaware Detainee Triple-Celling Claim; Due Process, Not Eighth Amendment Controls

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Delaware District Court improperly analyzed a conditions of confinement claim brought by pre-trial detainees under the Eighth Amendment, rather than the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The appeals court then reversed the grant of summary judgment to prison officials ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: On May 3, 2006, Peter Makres, 52, a prisoner was strangled and killed at the Limestone Correctional Facility inside an isolation cell. Police suspect Joseph Burns, 22, the only other person in the cell with Makres, may have committed the crime. Makres was serving a 20 year sentence for ...

PLRAs 150% Attorney Fee Cap Applied in Nominal Damages, Non Prison Case Against Police

PLRAs 150% Attorney Fee Cap Applied in Nominal Damages, Non Prison Case Against Police

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, has reversed a panel ruling holding that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) mandates attorney fees be limited to 150% of the damage award in all prisoner-filed ...