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Prison Legal News: August, 2006

Issue PDF
Volume 17, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Guards Rape of Prisoners Rampant, No Solution in Sight (p 1)
  2. I Wake Up in Middle-of-Night Terror (p 3)
  3. From the Editor (p 14)
  4. Prisoner Rape Is Torture (p 14)
  5. Ohio Woman Raped by Guard Awarded $625,000 (p 16)
  6. European Court of Human Rights Voids UKs Blanket Bans On Prisoner Voting (p 17)
  7. Michigan DOC Improperly Calculated Sentences and Released Prisoners; Officials Fired and Demoted (p 18)
  8. California Valdivia Attorneys Awarded $6.5 Million For 12 Years Work (p 19)
  9. Problems Continue In Maryland Prisons and Jails (p 20)
  10. Pennsylvania Correctional Industries Overcharges Customers, Stockpiles Cash, Fails Mission (p 22)
  11. Georgia Prisoner Beaten By Guard Awarded $22,000 (p 23)
  12. $100,000 Settlement For Black Oklahoma Prisoner Beaten By White Prisoners (p 23)
  13. Texas State Representative Criticized For Helping Prisoners and Families (p 24)
  14. Texas Politicians Provided Perks Using Prisoner Slave Labor (p 25)
  15. $475,000 Settlement In California Suicide Suit (p 26)
  16. Bubble-Gum Computers in Washington State DOC (p 26)
  17. California Prison Guards Overtime Doubles to $277 Million (p 27)
  18. Transgender Wisconsin Prisoners Continue Hormone Treatment Despite Law (p 28)
  19. $365,000 Settlement For Restrained, Untreated Michigan Boot Camp Prisoner (p 28)
  20. Armor Correctional Health Services: A New Company Blossoming with Political Payback (p 29)
  21. Ohio Awards $662,000 to Man Wrongly Imprisoned for Rape (p 30)
  22. Canadian Prison Sanctioned Skin-Art Saving Society Health Problems (p 30)
  23. Korean Company Employing Prisoners Receives Coveted Quality Award (p 30)
  24. California DOC Drug Program Funds Squandered (p 31)
  25. North Carolina Prisoner Taps Jails Bank Account for $120,000 (p 32)
  26. Survivors of Texas Jail Suicidee Win $516,000 Against Phone Provider (p 32)
  27. Muslim Prisoner Attacked by Other Muslims May Sue Prison for Failure to Protect (p 34)
  28. Alabama Sheriff Charged With Raiding Jail Food Fund (p 34)
  29. EMSA Negligent In Florida Jail Prisoners Death, County Pays $65,000 (p 35)
  30. $790,000 Settlement In Ulcer Death of Georgia Jail Prisoner (p 35)
  31. Tolling Provision Appeals to NY Personal Injury Action (p 36)
  32. No Qualified Immunity for Failure to Perform Timely Liver Biopsy (p 36)
  33. Florida District Court Awards Federal Prisoner $829.65 for Lost Property (p 36)
  34. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Reinvigorates DNA Testing Law (p 37)
  35. $769,000 Awarded For Death of Asthmatic Virginia Jail Prisoner (p 37)
  36. No Qualified Immunity for Retaliatory Transfer; Jury Awards $219,000 in Damages (p 38)
  37. California Third-Level Administrative Appeals May Be Filed with Prison Appeals Coordinator (p 38)
  38. Ohio Pre-S.B. No. 2 Indeterminately Sentenced Prisoners Who Took a Plea are Entitled to Meaningful N (p 39)
  39. Ninth Circuit Holds Prisons Not Immune In ADA and RA Suit (p 39)
  40. RLUIPA Bars Total Ban on Melanic Literature (p 40)
  41. Alabama Clarifies Prisoners Right to Call Witnesses At Disciplinary Hearing (p 40)
  42. Washington Courts Authority to Order Community Custody Limited (p 41)
  43. California Supreme Court Resolves Conflict From Concurrent Sentences With Different Credit Earning R (p 41)
  44. News in Brief: (p 42)
  45. Actual Innocence Required in Washington Criminal Malpractice Actions (p 44)

Guards Rape of Prisoners Rampant, No Solution in Sight

Psychologists will quickly tell you that rape is not about sex. Its about power. Its about imposing ones will on another. Its about masking feelings of inadequacy with intimidation about artificially inflating ones low self esteem by abusing someone else. Sex is just a symptom. So its little wonder that ...

I Wake Up in Middle-of-Night Terror

next to the warm sleeping body of my lover

yet alone in the conviction that I am in a prison cell

shut away, suddenly, from all that makes my life.

I sense the great weight of the prison

pressing down on the little box of room I lie in

alone ...

From the Editor

The sexual assault of prisoners is one of the largest problems in American prisons and jails today (the lack of adequate medical care is probably the biggest). As regular readers of PLN know, we have had extensive and ongoing coverage of prison rape issues since our inception in 1990. This ...

Prisoner Rape Is Torture

The U.S. has arrived at a critical moment of truth in addressing the sexual violence that plagues its prisons and jails. The failure of Departments of Corrections nationwide to prevent sexual abuse behind bars and to adequately respond to those who have been victimized is receiving national and international ...

Ohio Woman Raped by Guard Awarded $625,000

On September 15, 2005, a federal jury in Columbus, Ohio, awarded $625,000 to a woman who was fondled and digitally raped by a guard at the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW).

In November 1996, while serving a 1-year sentence at ORW for stabbing her husband, plaintiff Michelle Ortiz was ...

European Court of Human Rights Voids UKs Blanket Bans On Prisoner Voting

European Court of Human Rights Voids UKs Blanket Bans On Prisoner Voting

by Matthew T. Clarke

On October 6, 2005, the European Court of Human Rights issued a Grand Chamber Judgment holding that Britains blanket ban on incarcerated prisoners voting in elections violated Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 of ...

Michigan DOC Improperly Calculated Sentences and Released Prisoners; Officials Fired and Demoted

Prisoner release procedures in the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) suffer from serious flaws, according to the Intake Processing Unit (IPU). The IPU undertook an audit and review of the way the DOC determined prisoner release dates, and issued its findings in an October, 2005 report. The IPU tested the ...

California Valdivia Attorneys Awarded $6.5 Million For 12 Years Work

by John E. Dannenberg

The attorneys who labored twelve years to overturn the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations unconstitutional practice of snatching parolees off the streets and incarcerating them without due process of law [i.e., bed vacancy-driven recidivism] (see: PLN, January, 2003, p.16; April, 2004, p.24 ...

Problems Continue In Maryland Prisons and Jails

A battle is raging in Maryland over how best to improve prison safety. Some advocate hiring more guards and medical personnel. Others want to expand prisoner rehabilitation services. Neither side seems to be considering the possibility that both are needed. Meanwhile, violence, neglect, and contraband are on the rise.

Im ...

Pennsylvania Correctional Industries Overcharges Customers, Stockpiles Cash, Fails Mission

On September 13, 2005, Jack Wagner, the Pennsylvania Auditor General issued a report on his audit of Pennsylvania Correctional Industries (PCI). The audit covered, the period of July 1, 2000, through February 18, 2005, and was generally critical of PCI. Jeffery A. Beard, the Secretary of Corrections, agreed that the ...

Georgia Prisoner Beaten By Guard Awarded $22,000

On October 19, 2005, a federal jury awarded $22,000 in damages to a Georgia prisoner who was beaten by a guard.

Plaintiff Larry Hudson, 45, claimed that on March 7, 2002, while confined in disciplinary segregation, he became involved in a verbal confrontation with guard J. Singleton. According to ...

$100,000 Settlement For Black Oklahoma Prisoner Beaten By White Prisoners

Creek County, Oklahoma, has paid $100,000 to a black man who was severely beaten by a group of white prisoners in the county jail.

Rameses Gibbs, a black man, was arrested on November 22, 2001, on a misdemeanor charge and taken to the Creek County Jail. After he was ...

Texas State Representative Criticized For Helping Prisoners and Families

Texas Representative Terri Hodge has been taking heat for (gasp!) helping prisoners and their families, in other words--for doing her job.
Hodge is accused of the following: (1) helping arrange rare face-to-face meetings between parole-eligible prisoners and members of the parole board; (2) helping obtain the dismissal of disciplinary charges ...

Texas Politicians Provided Perks Using Prisoner Slave Labor

Texas Correctional Industries (TCI), the industrial division of the Texas prison system, has been operating as a cut-rate, custom craft-goods supplier for dozens of Texas legislators. One politician furnished his new home with prisoner made goods. The goods include a dining table with hand-carved state seal adornment, ten chairs, bar ...

$475,000 Settlement In California Suicide Suit

On December 20, 2005, the county of San Mateo, California, agreed to pay $475,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit involving a mentally ill woman who committed suicide in the county jail.

Angela Ramirez, 23, was imprisoned at the Womens Correctional Center after being sentenced to 120 days on ...

Bubble-Gum Computers in Washington State DOC

Bubble-gum-and-baling-wire operation....a risk to public safety over the long term. Thats how Rep. Glenn Anderson, R-Fall City, Washington, described the state prisons current computer system.

Its a disaster. Its been a disaster for a long time, agreed state Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Anderson is a former high-tech management consultant ...

California Prison Guards Overtime Doubles to $277 Million

California Prison Guards Overtime Doubles to $277 Million

The total California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) guard overtime pay in 2005 of $277 million was twice that of 2004. CDCRs 30,000 prison guards averaged $72,000 for the year, gaining about $15,000 each in overtime pay. But ...

Transgender Wisconsin Prisoners Continue Hormone Treatment Despite Law

On January 25, 2006, a federal court in Wisconsin issued an emergency injunction to prevent the state from discontinuing hormone therapy for three transgender prisoners, despite a new state law banning the therapy.
In January 2006 the Wisconsin legislature enacted the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act, Wis. Stat. § 302.286 ...

$365,000 Settlement For Restrained, Untreated Michigan Boot Camp Prisoner

On December 22, 2005, the state of Michigan agreed to pay $365,000 to a boot camp prisoner who was strapped in a restraint chair for six hours and later suffered kidney and liver failure.

Craig Allen Cook II was arrested on June 14, 1999, and imprisoned in the Manistee ...

Armor Correctional Health Services: A New Company Blossoming with Political Payback

by David M. Reutter

A recently-formed Florida prison healthcare corporation is blossoming with new contracts from county sheriffs who decided to change bidding requirements and in one case eliminate cost as a consideration.

The company, Coconut Creek-based Armor Correctional Health Services, is owned by Miami physician Dr. Jose Armas. In ...

Ohio Awards $662,000 to Man Wrongly Imprisoned for Rape

The State of Ohio has agreed to pay Nathaniel Lewis, 28, $662,000 for the five years he spent in prison before his conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court in 2002.

While a freshman at the University of Akron (UA), Lewis was convicted of raping another UA freshman ...

Canadian Prison Sanctioned Skin-Art Saving Society Health Problems

Six Canadian prisons are paying prisoner tattoo-artists to ply their trade. The experimental government training program was initiated as an attempt to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

Legal tattooing ensures equipment will be sterile and sanitary. Connie Johannson, assistant warden at Manitobas Rockwood Institution, north of Winnipeg, reasons that ...

Korean Company Employing Prisoners Receives Coveted Quality Award

A South Korean company employing 70 prisoners at Jeonju Prison to build precision automobile airbag parts won the Single Parts Per Million certificate of quality from the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Small and Medium Business Association.

The February 10, 2006 award commended management at Jinpyeong, Inc ...

California DOC Drug Program Funds Squandered

Five California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employees, testifying under subpoena at a February 27, 2006 State Senate Government Oversight Committee hearing, revealed the use-it-or-lose-it practice of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars allotted to prisoner drug treatment programs on such items as guitars, pianos, a portable stage, plasma ...

North Carolina Prisoner Taps Jails Bank Account for $120,000

A former prisoner of North Carolinas Durham County Jail (DCJ) managed to bilk the jails prisoner account for over $120,000.

After serving 69 days at DCJ, Keith Edward Wright, 34, was issued a check for the balance of the money he had not spent in DCJs canteen. Ordinarily those ...

Survivors of Texas Jail Suicidee Win $516,000 Against Phone Provider

The mother and son of a prisoner who committed suicide by hanging himself from a telephone in his jail cell won a lawsuit against the phone provider. On appeal, the award was upheld, but some of the costs awarded were not.

Rolando Domingo Montez was 19-years old when he was ...

Muslim Prisoner Attacked by Other Muslims May Sue Prison for Failure to Protect

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that a California Muslim prisoner who was attacked by fellow Muslims stated two Eighth Amendment claims against prison officials by alleging that (1) they failed to protect him and (2) that his conditions of confinement during nine months in administrative segregation ...

Alabama Sheriff Charged With Raiding Jail Food Fund

Mobile County, Alabama, Sheriff Jack Tilman has been charged with theft and violation of the public officials ethical laws for allegedly taking for personal use funds allocated by the state to feed jail prisoners.

Alabama paid Tilman $1.75 per day to feed the prisoners in the Mobile Metro Jail ...

EMSA Negligent In Florida Jail Prisoners Death, County Pays $65,000

EMSA Negligent In Florida Jail Prisoners Death, County Pays $65,000

by Michael Rigby

On April 1, 2005, a jury in the 19th Circuit Court of St. Lucie County, Florida, found EMSA Correctional Care negligent but not liable for damages in a prisoners allegedly drug-related death. EMSAs co-defendant, St. Lucie ...

$790,000 Settlement In Ulcer Death of Georgia Jail Prisoner

In November 2005, Dekalb County, Georgia, a private medical provider, and a local hospital agreed to pay a combined total of $790,000 to settle with the widow of a prisoner who died from a perforated ulcer.

While imprisoned in the Dekalb County Jail, the decedent, 64, was taken to ...

Tolling Provision Appeals to NY Personal Injury Action

The New York Court Of Appeals held that the year-and-90-day period contained in General Municipal Law § 50-; is a statute of limitations (to which the tolling provision of CPLR § 205[a] applies) rather than a condition precedent to suit.

On December 17, 1997, New York City Department of Corrections prisoner ...

No Qualified Immunity for Failure to Perform Timely Liver Biopsy

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling by the U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.) that the failure of a prison health care manager to provide a Hepatitis-C positive (HCV+) prisoner with a timely liver biopsy amounted to deliberate indifference to ...

Florida District Court Awards Federal Prisoner $829.65 for Lost Property

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division, has awarded a federal prisoner $829.65 for lost property.

Plaintiff Iris Pereira sued the United States seeking compensation for several items of personal property lost during her transfer from the Federal Prison Camp in Coleman, Florida ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Reinvigorates DNA Testing Law

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) handed down a decision that removed previous restrictions against prisoners seeking DNA testing to prove their innocence.

Billy James Smith, a Texas state prisoner, filed a motion for DNA testing. The court appointed an attorney to represent him. The attorney filed a formal ...

$769,000 Awarded For Death of Asthmatic Virginia Jail Prisoner

On May 11, 2005, a jury in Portsmouth City, Virginia, awarded $769,000 to the family of an asthmatic prisoner who died in the city jail due to inadequate medical care.

While serving a five day sentence in the Portsmouth jail for driving with a suspended license, Mark Anthony Benthall ...

No Qualified Immunity for Retaliatory Transfer; Jury Awards $219,000 in Damages

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a guard is not entitled to qualified immunity for initiating a retaliatory prison transfer against a prisoner who had complained to the guards supervisor that the guard failed to authorize money disbursements to pay the prisoners lawyer.

Michigan prisoner Darrell Siggers-El ...

California Third-Level Administrative Appeals May Be Filed with Prison Appeals Coordinator

by John E. Dannenberg

The Solano County Superior Court ordered that when a California Department of Corrections (CDC) prisoner files a third (Director) level administrative appeal, he need not mail it via U.S. Mail to the Director of Corrections as noted on the bottom of the Form 602 appeal ...

Ohio Pre-S.B. No. 2 Indeterminately Sentenced Prisoners Who Took a Plea are Entitled to Meaningful N

Ohio Pre-S.B. No. 2 Indeterminately Sentenced Prisoners Who Took a Plea are Entitled to Meaningful New Parole Hearings

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ohio State Court of Appeals, Tenth Appellate District, ruled that the class of Ohio state prisoners who, prior to the enactment of S.B. No. 2 ...

Ninth Circuit Holds Prisons Not Immune In ADA and RA Suit

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that state prisons are not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suits brought by prisoners under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Billy Ray Phiffer, an Oregon state prisoner, filed suit in federal court under the ADA. The state filed a motion for ...

RLUIPA Bars Total Ban on Melanic Literature

A Michigan federal district court has entered an injunction that bars the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) from continuing a total ban on Melanic literature, requiring MDOC officials to screen such literature to ensure prohibited materials are prevented entry into MDOC prisons.

The courts order comes in a civil rights ...

Alabama Clarifies Prisoners Right to Call Witnesses At Disciplinary Hearing

Alabama Clarifies Prisoners Right to Call Witnesses At Disciplinary Hearing

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama held that prison officials may not use excuses such as off duty or unable to reach by phone to deny prisoners witnesses at disciplinary hearings.

Lebron Luster, an Alabama ...

Washington Courts Authority to Order Community Custody Limited

Washington Courts Authority to Order Community Custody Limited

A Washington Appeals Court has held that an amended statute limits a trial courts ability to sentence criminal defendants to community custody in only specified offenses. The matter was on appeal after a Spokane County Superior Court denied a petition filed by ...

California Supreme Court Resolves Conflict From Concurrent Sentences With Different Credit Earning R

California Supreme Court Resolves Conflict From Concurrent Sentences With Different Credit Earning Rates

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Supreme Court held that when a prisoner is sentenced to two concurrent prison terms, the shorter of which is for a violent felony eligible only for 15% good-time credits and the ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On February 23, 2006, Jamie Wanek, a guard at the Maricopa county jail in Phoenix was charged with 57 felony and misdemeanor counts of having sex with a jail prisoner Joshua Lopez, 30, and bringing him alcohol, drugs and other contraband. Lopez has also been charged with promoting contraband ...

Actual Innocence Required in Washington Criminal Malpractice Actions

Actual Innocence Required in Washington Criminal Malpractice Actions

In a 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court held that plaintiffs suing criminal defense attorneys for legal malpractice must prove that they are innocent of the underlying criminal charge.

Dr. Jessy Ang and his wife were prosecuted on 18 criminal counts, including ...