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Prison Legal News: January, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. Ex-Communication: Competition and Collusion in the U.S. Prison Telephone Industry (p 1)
  2. Maryland Sentence Reduction Rule Violates Ex Post Facto Clause (p 12)
  3. From the Editor (p 12)
  4. Violence from Racial Tension and Overcrowding Pervades California Jails, Spreads to Prisons (p 14)
  5. Lawsuit Filed Over Health Care at Wisconsin Women’s Prison, More Possible (p 20)
  6. Vermont DOC Agrees To Stop Punishing Self-Harming Prisoners (p 21)
  7. 200 Dead in Brazil Prison Uprisings, Street Violence (p 22)
  8. California’s “High-Risk” Sex Offender Parolees Ostracized; Parole Official Fired (p 24)
  9. Washington Women’s Prison Healthcare Violations Continue (p 25)
  10. The Prison and Jail Industry—Who Will Run It (p 26)
  11. Washington Prisoners Must Pre-Pay for Record Inspection (p 28)
  12. Illinois Parole Violators Enforce Revocation Due Process Rights with Consent Decree (p 28)
  13. California Lifer Hearing Backlog Increases Despite Court Order To Catch Up (p 30)
  14. Vienna Convention Creates Individually Enforceable Rights (p 30)
  15. Washington Prisoner Sues Over Bogus Disciplinary Actions; State Settles for $1,500 (p 32)
  16. Settlement Revamps Grant County, Washington Indigent Defense System; County Agrees to $1.1 Million in Attorney Fees (p 32)
  17. $214,000 Award for Injuries Caused by Dilantin Deprivation to Michigan Jail Prisoner (p 33)
  18. PLRA’s Mental and Emotional Damage Award Ban Unconstitutional in $219,000 First Amendment Claim (p 34)
  19. Illegal Strip Searches Cost MTC, New Mexico County $8.5 Million (p 34)
  20. Michigan Prisoner Assaulted By Jailers Awarded $2,000 (p 35)
  21. Florida DOC’s Policy Prohibiting Release of Sex Offenders Without Address Unconstitutional (p 36)
  22. Wisconsin “Boondoggled” Into Buying Broken Down New Private Prison (p 36)
  23. New York Prison Worker Not Kidnapped/Raped Long Enough For Compensation (p 37)
  24. Mississippi Beating Suit Nets $348,960 — Upheld on Appeal (p 37)
  25. Maryland Disciplinary Rules Violate APA (p 38)
  26. 5th Circuit Reverses Texas Prisoner’s Disciplinary Conviction For “Non-Existent” Offense (p 38)
  27. Texas Supreme Court: Non-Suit Deprives Appeals Court of Jurisdiction (p 39)
  28. Virginia Guard Hazed By Coworkers Awarded $25,001 (p 40)
  29. Eleventh Circuit Affirms Damage Award in Psychiatrist’s Strangling Death (p 40)
  30. Fourth Circuit Holds FTCA Applies to BOP Property Claims (p 40)
  31. Missouri Prison Ordered to Provide Immediate Abortion (p 41)
  32. Fifth Circuit Reinstates Texas Prisoners’ Challenge to Extended Lockdown (p 41)
  33. News in Brief: (p 42)
  34. Oklahoma Regulation Confiscating Money Order From Other Prisoner’s Family Upheld (p 42)
  35. Tenth Circuit Reinstates Colorado Ad Seg Conditions Claims (p 44)

Ex-Communication: Competition and Collusion in the U.S. Prison Telephone Industry

by Steven J. Jackson

The prison communication industries occupy a large and significant blind spot within the literature of critical communication scholarship and the social sciences more generally. Professional arguments around crime, punishment and the American prison system have dealt with communication issues as a footnote, if at all.

For ...

Maryland Sentence Reduction Rule Violates Ex Post Facto Clause

The Maryland Court of Appeals has struck down an administrative regulation amending another regulation to deny previously authorized sentence reduction credits for certain categories of prisoners.

In January of 2002, Quinton Demby, Jesse Baltimore, Kenneth Woodall, Daniel Falcone, and Earl Cox were all serving time in Maryland state prisons. Each ...

From the Editor

Welcome to the first issue of PLN for 2007. With this issue, PLN now enters it?s 17th year of publishing. We have several important goals for the coming year so we can better serve our readers. Among them are expanding the size of the magazine to bring readers still ...

Violence from Racial Tension and Overcrowding Pervades California Jails, Spreads to Prisons

by Marvin Mentor

Los Angeles (L.A.) County jail prisoners have been locked in interracial gang-controlled violence for the past year, and the unrest has spread to other jails and into California state prisons as prisoners pursue their simmering racially-charged disputes. Future stability seems doubtful. If California's prison system ...

Lawsuit Filed Over Health Care at Wisconsin Women’s Prison, More Possible

Lawsuit Filed Over Health Care at Wisconsin Women's Prison, More Possible

by Michael Rigby

The medical, dental, and mental health care provided to female prisoners at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin, is so "grossly deficient" that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, according to a ...

Vermont DOC Agrees To Stop Punishing Self-Harming Prisoners

On May 18, 2006, the Vermont Department of Corrections (VDOC) settled a class-action lawsuit by agreeing to stop punishing prisoners who harm themselves. The VDOC further agreed to implement training, retain consultants, and document the mental health assessments of self-harming prisoners. Additionally, the VDOC will pay the litigation costs incurred ...

200 Dead in Brazil Prison Uprisings, Street Violence

In May 2006, approximately 200 people were killed in Sao Paulo, Brazil as gang members of the Primerio Comando da Capital ? the First Capital Command, known by its Portuguese initials, PCC ? clashed with police in the streets and rioted in prisons.

The violence began after prison officials learned of a ...

California’s “High-Risk” Sex Offender Parolees Ostracized; Parole Official Fired

California's "High-Risk" Sex Offender Parolees Ostracized; Parole Official Fired

by John E. Dannenberg

California's 2,000 "high-risk" sex offenders (HRSOs) currently on parole are increasingly being ostracized following relentless publicity as to their whereabouts, forcing parole officials to continuously find new housing for them after concerned citizens run ...

Washington Women’s Prison Healthcare Violations Continue

Washington Women?s Prison Healthcare Violations Continue

As we've reported extensively, health care at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW), has been woefully inadequate for decades. Reform efforts have been underway since 1993, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In addition to a ...

The Prison and Jail Industry—Who Will Run It

The Prison and Jail Industry--Who Will Run It

by Gary Hunter

With the huge growth in American prisons between 1980 and 1990, the American Correctional. Association (ACA) went looking in the past to solve both foreseeable and current problems. It quickly found that the problems facing the new detention industries ...

Washington Prisoners Must Pre-Pay for Record Inspection

The Washington Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court?s refusal to require the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) to allow prisoners to inspect records without pre-payment of copy and postage expenses.

WDOC Policy No. 280.510 grants prisoners a right of access on demand only to documents in ...

Illinois Parole Violators Enforce Revocation Due Process Rights with Consent Decree

by John E. Dannenberg

The class of all Cook County, Illinois parole violators was granted a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court, Northern District, Eastern Division, ordering the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to conduct preliminary parole revocation hearings within ten days after arrest, at or near the ...

California Lifer Hearing Backlog Increases Despite Court Order To Catch Up

The Marin County Superior Court, which had directed the California Board of Parole Hearings (Board) to take the necessary steps to cut its lifer hearing backlog in 2001 when it was 2,058 hearings behind (and would take 21 months to abate), was distressed to learn in February 2006 that ...

Vienna Convention Creates Individually Enforceable Rights

by Matthew T. Clarke

In a ground-breaking decision the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Vienna Convention) created individual rights to consular notification that may be enforced in a civil action. Thus, the Seventh Circuit allowed a former state prisoner who ...

Washington Prisoner Sues Over Bogus Disciplinary Actions; State Settles for $1,500

The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) has paid one of its prisoners $1,500 to dismiss a civil rights action he filed after disciplinary actions taken against him were vacated for being unlawful.
Lonnie Burton is a Washington state prisoner who, in April of 2001, was serving time at ...

Settlement Revamps Grant County, Washington Indigent Defense System; County Agrees to $1.1 Million in Attorney Fees

Grant County, Washington entered into a sweeping settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit alleging that its indigent defense system was constitutionally deficient.

Prior to February 12, 2004, Grant County ?maintained a contract system of providing for the defense of indigent? felony defendants. The County ?contracted with one attorney or law ...

$214,000 Award for Injuries Caused by Dilantin Deprivation to Michigan Jail Prisoner

A Michigan federal jury awarded a former prisoner $214,000 in damages for injuries caused by policies at the Grand Traverse County Jail that failed to assure she received her Dilantin.

The plaintiff in this case, Amy Lynn Ford, was on probation for a domestic assault conviction. The evening before ...

PLRA’s Mental and Emotional Damage Award Ban Unconstitutional in $219,000 First Amendment Claim

PLRA's Mental and Emotional Damage Award Ban Unconstitutional in $219,000 First Amendment Claim

A Michigan federal district court has held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act?s (PLRA) prohibition of mental or emotional damages without physical injury is unconstitutional as applied to First Amendment Violation Claims.

A jury ...

Illegal Strip Searches Cost MTC, New Mexico County $8.5 Million

Management and Training Corporation (MTC) and Santa Fe County, New Mexico, will pay $8.5 million to settle with an estimated 13,000 former prisoners who were unconstitutionally strip searched at the Santa. Fe County Detention Facility between January 2002 and June 2006. The Utah-based MTC, which operated the jail ...

Michigan Prisoner Assaulted By Jailers Awarded $2,000

On June 9, 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan awarded $2,000 to a prisoner who was beaten by jailers in the Macomb County Jail.

While imprisoned at the jail on October 27, 2004, plaintiff William F. Diaz claimed he was beaten by jailer ...

Florida DOC’s Policy Prohibiting Release of Sex Offenders Without Address Unconstitutional

Florida DOC's Policy Prohibiting Release of Sex Offenders Without Address Unconstitutional

by David M. Reutter

In October, 2005, a Florida Circuit Court has held that a Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) policy that requires a sex offender to provide a physical address or face indefinite imprisonment is unconstitutional.

Christopher ...

Wisconsin “Boondoggled” Into Buying Broken Down New Private Prison

Wisconsin "Boondoggled" Into Buying Broken Down New Private Prison

After buying a private prison for $87.1 million, the Wisconsin Legislature is crying foul upon discovering the Stanley prison violates electrical, plumbing, and safety codes that will cost $5 million to repair. It's turning out that the entire situation ...

New York Prison Worker Not Kidnapped/Raped Long Enough For Compensation

On December 28, 2004, a 52-year old female employee at New York?s Camp Cass juvenile facility was accosted by 16-year old Michael Elston who choked her, banged her head against a wall and raped her at knife-point. Elston then forced his hostage into her car and drove around for ...

Mississippi Beating Suit Nets $348,960 — Upheld on Appeal

Mississippi Beating Suit Nets $348,960 -- Upheld on Appeal

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Mississippi district court's award of damages after a bench trial. The civil rights action was brought by Mississippi prisoner Stephen Michael Combs against Norris W. Kennedy, an employee at Combs' prison ...

Maryland Disciplinary Rules Violate APA

The Maryland Supreme Court invalidated prison disciplinary ?directives? because they were not adopted in conformity with the State Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Under the Maryland APA, all state agencies must follow certain procedures when adopting ?regulations? as defined by the APA. The APA excludes statements concerning only internal management from ...

5th Circuit Reverses Texas Prisoner’s Disciplinary Conviction For “Non-Existent” Offense

5th Circuit Reverses Texas Prisoner's Disciplinary Conviction For "Non-Existent" Offense

by Michael Rigby

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held there was no evidence to sustain a Texas prisoner's disciplinary conviction for assaulting a guard and that the district court erroneously construed the prison's disciplinary ...

Texas Supreme Court: Non-Suit Deprives Appeals Court of Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court of Texas held that a plaintiff?s filing non-suit while an appeal was pending deprived the court of appeals of jurisdiction and any authority to enter an order, holding or opinion.

Darla Blackmon, a Texas state prisoner, died of pneumonia while being held at a substance abuse ...

Virginia Guard Hazed By Coworkers Awarded $25,001

On March 1, 2006, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia awarded $25,001 to a prison guard who was subjected to a humiliating hazing ritual by his coworkers.

Guard Terry Givens was promoted to sergeant on December 21, 2000, while working at ...

Eleventh Circuit Affirms Damage Award in Psychiatrist’s Strangling Death

Eleventh Circuit Affirms Damage Award in Psychiatrist's Strangling Death

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a jury's verdict awarding a psychiatrist's widow $1.3 million judgment against Florida's Collier County Sheriff. PLN previously reported this verdict, which was predicated upon the strangling death of ...

Fourth Circuit Holds FTCA Applies to BOP Property Claims

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Sixth, Seventh and District of Columbia Circuits in holding that Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guards are not ?law enforcement officers? for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2680(c). The Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits disagree.

BOP prisoner Anthony ...

Missouri Prison Ordered to Provide Immediate Abortion

A federal court in Missouri granted an injunction to a female prisoner, requiring the Women?s Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC) to transport her for an immediate abortion.

Prisoner Roe was approximately 16-17 weeks pregnant and had been requesting an abortion while confined at WERDCC. No such services were available ...

Fifth Circuit Reinstates Texas Prisoners’ Challenge to Extended Lockdown

Fifth Circuit Reinstates Texas Prisoners' Challenge to Extended Lockdown

by Michael Rigby

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a prisoner lawsuit challenging the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's practice of indefinite segregation without due process.

C. Joseph Salazar and Johnny Maldonado are Texas prisoners who have ...

News in Brief:

California: On November 17, 2006, Orange county jail prisoners Garrett Aguilar, 23; Stephen Carlstrom, 38; Michael Garten, 21; Eric Miller, 21; Jared Petrovich, 22 and Christopher Teague, 30, were charged with the murder of jail prisoner John Chamberlain, 41, who was beaten to death on October 5, 2006. Chamberlain was ...

Oklahoma Regulation Confiscating Money Order From Other Prisoner’s Family Upheld

Oklahoma Regulation Confiscating Money Order From Other Prisoner's Family Upheld

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an Oklahoma State Penitentiary (OSP) regulation that allows money sent to prisoners by a person on another prisoner's visitation list to be classified as contraband and confiscated by OSP.

The ...

Tenth Circuit Reinstates Colorado Ad Seg Conditions Claims

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has reversed a Colorado state prisoner?s administrative segregation (Ad Seg) conditions of confinement claims which were dismissed as frivolous by the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

Ronald Fogle was housed in continuous Ad Seg confinement ...