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Prison Legal News: November, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. Prison Drinking Water and Wastewater Pollution Threaten Environmental Safety Nationwide (p 1)
  2. Suit Over Death in Rockwall County, Texas, Settles for $100,000 (p 9)
  3. From the Editor (p 10)
  4. Texas Last State in Union to Get Prison Phones (p 11)
  5. Habeas Hints: Habeas Year in Review: 2007 (p 12)
  6. Dallas County Jail Deficient, Says 2006 Report; DOJ Files Suit (p 14)
  7. $56,000 Settlement for Torturous Eight Hours in New Jersey Jail (p 15)
  8. Arizona and Indiana Prisoner Uprising at GEO-Run Prison in Indiana (p 16)
  9. Innocent Indiana Man Awarded $9 Million for 20 Years Imprisonment (p 17)
  10. Federal Jury Awards $530,000 for Wrongful Death in Minnesota Jail (p 18)
  11. Five-Year Forecast: Prison Population Will Swell 13%—Triple America’s Growth Rate (p 18)
  12. Michigan’s Law Attaching Prisoner Retirement Benefits Trumped By Federal Law (p 19)
  13. Overcrowded Washington DOC’s Solution: Ship ’Em Out of State (p 20)
  14. MDC Brooklyn: Sex Scandal and 11 Staff Indicted for Beating Prisoners (p 22)
  15. Oklahoma Court Orders Sentenced Prisoners Transported to Prison (p 22)
  16. PHS Fails Benchmarks In NYC Jail Medical Contract; Fined $250,000 (p 23)
  17. Like America, Japan Allows Guards to Walk After Prisoner Abuse Convictions (p 24)
  18. Indiana DOC Agrees to Remove Mentally Ill Prisoners from Control Units (p 24)
  19. March Madness in Georgia Prisons (p 25)
  20. Rikers Island Diapered Mentally Ill in Segregation (p 26)
  21. Prisoners Died By the Thousands Between 2001 and 2004 (p 26)
  22. Reformed Dental Care Will Have Ohio Prisoners Smiling (p 27)
  23. Inadequate Medical Care Alleged at Alameda County, CA Jail – Four Prisoners Dead (p 28)
  24. U.S. Prison and Jail Population Continues Meteoric Rise (p 28)
  25. State Auditor Flunks California DOC For Failure To Make Prison Population Projections (p 30)
  26. Corruption in Awarding California DOC Medical Contract Exposed (p 30)
  27. Texas Jail Pays $200,000 to Settle Rape/Suicide Suit (p 31)
  28. California DOC Guards Win Injunction to Stop Prisoner Transfers Out-Of-State; Transfers Continue While State Appeals (p 32)
  29. California DOC Pays PLN’s Attorneys $320,000 In Fees/Costs Related To Mail Censorship Settlement (p 32)
  30. Cook County, Illinois, To Pay $4,575,000 for Nonconsensual STD Testing (p 33)
  31. $150,000 Settlement in Suit over Atlanta Prisoner’s Fall-Related Death (p 33)
  32. Utah DOC Audit: Ingrained Staff Cronyism Stymies Workplace Effectiveness (p 34)
  33. California DOC Contract Registry Pharmacist Accused of Diverting 93% of Referrals to His Own Corporation (p 34)
  34. New York High Court Invokes Due Process Rights for Civil Commitment of Alleged Sexual Predators (p 35)
  35. Pennsylvania Prison Legal Mail Policy Unconstitutional, Enjoined (p 36)
  36. California’s Prison Drug Procurements Separate from Other State Agencies (p 36)
  37. Federal Prisoner Beaten On Texas Recreation Yard Awarded $350,000 (p 37)
  38. California DOC Federal Healthcare Receiver Issues Master Remedial Plan (p 38)
  39. “Please Rip Us Off” Florida Officials Tell Private Prison Companies (p 38)
  40. Study on Barriers to Employment of Ex-Prisoners in Milwaukee Released (p 40)
  41. California Inspector General: $1 Billion In DOC Drug Treatment Program “A Complete Waste Of Money” (p 40)
  42. News in Brief: (p 42)
  43. Connecticut Strip Search Suit Settles For $2.5 Million (p 44)

Prison Drinking Water and Wastewater Pollution Threaten Environmental Safety Nationwide

by John E. Dannenberg

Aging infrastructure concerns are not limited to America's highways, bridges and dams. Today, crumbling, overcrowded prisons and jails nationwide are bursting at the seams -- literally -- leaking environmentally dangerous effluents not just inside prisons, but also into local rivers, water tables and community water supplies. Because ...

Suit Over Death in Rockwall County, Texas, Settles for $100,000

Rockwall County, Texas, and Lake Pointe Medical Center will pay $100,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of a prisoner who died after being turned away from the hospital twice in 2004.

Sharon Mann claimed in her state lawsuit that jailers and hospital medical staff ...

From the Editor

This month's cover story is on what goes in and comes out of prisons in the way of water and sewage. While a lot of attention is paid to the more dramatic effects of prison overcrowding, such as violence, inadequate medical care, prisoners sleeping in gyms and store rooms ...

Texas Last State in Union to Get Prison Phones

by Matt Clarke

On May 15, 2007, legislation took effect that brought Texas into the fold of the other 49 states that have prisoner telephones in state prisons.
State Senator Letica Van de Putte filed SD 1580, authorizing the phones, which took effect Nay 15, 2007. State Representatives Terri Hodge ...

Habeas Hints: Habeas Year in Review: 2007

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 on habeas corpus practice under AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice throughout the ...

Dallas County Jail Deficient, Says 2006 Report; DOJ Files Suit

Just over two years ago, the jail in Dallas County, Texas (DCJ) failed state certification inspections and came under fire for numerous high profile cases of prisoner deaths and neglect. A U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report, issued on December 8, 2006, found that the facility was still deficient ...

$56,000 Settlement for Torturous Eight Hours in New Jersey Jail

In April 2007, the Borough of Bradley Beach, New Jersey, agreed to pay $56,000 to settle a federal lawsuit alleging multiple constitutional violations by a woman who spent eight hours in the Borough?s jail.

Plaintiff Aimee Sliker was arrested at the Bradley Beach police station on November 17 ...

Arizona and Indiana Prisoner Uprising at GEO-Run Prison in Indiana

by Matt Clarke

On April 24, 2007, about 500 Arizona and Illinois prisoners at a privately-run facility owned by the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) participated in an uprising. The prison is operated by the Boca Raton, Florida-based GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections), a NYSE-listed company that manages 68 prisons ...

Innocent Indiana Man Awarded $9 Million for 20 Years Imprisonment

An Indiana federal jury awarded Larry Mayes $9 million for actions taken by police officers of Indiana's City of Hammond, which resulted in Mayes being convicted of a rape he did not commit. As a result of those actions, Mayes served almost 21 years in prison.

Mayes was arrested ...

Federal Jury Awards $530,000 for Wrongful Death in Minnesota Jail

On February 26, 2007, a federal jury in Minnesota awarded $530,000 to the family of a man who died in his cell after jailers and medical staff at the Washington County Jail repeatedly ignored his pleas for medical assistance.

Walter Gordon made a fatal mistake on January 2, 2004 ...

Five-Year Forecast: Prison Population Will Swell 13%—Triple America’s Growth Rate

Five-Year Forecast: Prison Population Will Swell 13%?Triple America's Growth Rate

The charitably funded Washington D.C.-based Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP), statistically analyzing prison population trends in all 50 states and the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), projected that between 2007 and 2011 the total prison population ...

Michigan’s Law Attaching Prisoner Retirement Benefits Trumped By Federal Law

Michigan's Law Attaching Prisoner Retirement Benefits Trumped By Federal Law

Michigan requires financially able prisoners to contribute up to 90% of monies received at their prison address to the state's coffers as an offset to the cost of their incarceration. Moreover, state law prohibits prisoners from maintaining bank ...

Overcrowded Washington DOC’s Solution: Ship ’Em Out of State

Overcrowded Washington DOC's Solution: Ship ?Em Out of State

by David M. Reutter

Overcrowding is pinching the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC). To alleviate that problem, the department ordered less than 100 community supervision violators released without a hearing -- but the resulting public outcry has the WDOC looking for ...

MDC Brooklyn: Sex Scandal and 11 Staff Indicted for Beating Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

On April 12, 2007, eleven guards at the federal Bureau of Prison's Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York " including a captain and three lieutenants" were indicted for abusing prisoners. At the same time, another scandal at the MDC involved a staff psychologist allegedly having ...

Oklahoma Court Orders Sentenced Prisoners Transported to Prison

The District Court for Oklahoma County, Oklahoma has ordered the County's Sheriff to transfer all prisoners awaiting transportation to the Department of Corrections (DOC) within 30 days and any prisoners sentenced after the Court's order are to be so transferred within 45 days of sentencing.

The Court's ...

PHS Fails Benchmarks In NYC Jail Medical Contract; Fined $250,000

Prison Health Services (PHS), nearing the end of its three-year $359.6 million contract to provide medical, dental, mental health and pharmaceutical services to ten of the eleven New York City jails, was audited by the State Comptroller's Office in June 2007. The 26 page audit report revealed that ...

Like America, Japan Allows Guards to Walk After Prisoner Abuse Convictions

The recent convictions and sentences given to several Japanese prison guards reveals the phenomena of allowing guards to walk even when they seriously injure kill prisoners is not limited to the United States.

In total, seven guards have been convicted by the Nagoya District Court of assaults on three prisoners ...

Indiana DOC Agrees to Remove Mentally Ill Prisoners from Control Units

The Indiana Department of Corrections (IDC) settled a class action lawsuit brought by mentally ill prisoners whose Eighth Amendment rights had been trampled since 1993 by IDC policy that placed them in long-term disciplinary housing instead of treating their mental illnesses. The settlement comes ten years after a Human Rights ...

March Madness in Georgia Prisons

by Matt Clarke

March 2007 was an unusually bloody month in Georgia prisons, with three murders of prisoners by other prisoners and one severe beating of a mentally ill, handcuffed prisoner by guards.

Since 2005 there have been five homicides in the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC). Three of them ...

Rikers Island Diapered Mentally Ill in Segregation

Prison officials in New York City have been charged in a lawsuit filed upon behalf of four mentally ill prisoners with depriving those prisoners of their basic human rights and placing them in diapers while in isolated segregation.

The prisoners, who were identified by their first names only, say they ...

Prisoners Died By the Thousands Between 2001 and 2004

by Michael Rigby

Elderly prisoners are more than twice as likely to die behind bars as those who are not in prison, a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on prison mortality rates reveals. White and Hispanic prisoners were also slightly more likely to die than their non-incarcerated ...

Reformed Dental Care Will Have Ohio Prisoners Smiling

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) will hire dozens of dental health care providers, revise policies and procedures governing prisoner dental care, and implement oral health care education programs as part of a settlement agreed to in a larger class action lawsuit that alleged constitutionally inadequate health care ...

Inadequate Medical Care Alleged at Alameda County, CA Jail – Four Prisoners Dead

Inadequate Medical Care Alleged at Alameda County, CA Jail - Four Prisoners Dead

Family members of prisoners who became sick or died at the Santa Rita jail in Alameda County, California have alleged inadequate health care following two deaths within a one-week period in 2006. There have been two other medically-related ...

U.S. Prison and Jail Population Continues Meteoric Rise

It?s beginning to sound a bit repetitive, but the nation?s prison population continues to grow exponentially. At midyear 2006, U.S. prisons and jails held 2,245,189 persons?a 2.8% increase over the previous year, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report released in ...

State Auditor Flunks California DOC For Failure To Make Prison Population Projections

In a March 2007 Letter Report to California's Governor and Legislature, State Auditor Elaine Howell reported that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had failed to make meaningful progress in devising accurate prisoner population projections for California. Such projections are of paramount importance because they seriously impact ...

Corruption in Awarding California DOC Medical Contract Exposed

More details have surfaced in a conflict-of-interest scandal involving two California gubernatorial appointees involved in a $26 million no-bid contract awarded by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for medical scheduling services. PLN previously reported that the chief of CDCR's Division of Health Care Services, Dr. Peter ...

Texas Jail Pays $200,000 to Settle Rape/Suicide Suit

Val Verde County, Texas and its contract Del Rio jail operator, GEO Group, Inc., agreed in March 2007 to pay $200,000 to the surviving family of a 23-year-old woman prisoner who, upon becoming depressed after being raped in the jail, hung herself with her bed sheet in July 2004 ...

California DOC Guards Win Injunction to Stop Prisoner Transfers Out-Of-State; Transfers Continue While State Appeals

The Superior Court of Sacramento County has granted a writ of mandate prohibiting the transfer of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisoners to out-of-state facilities to alleviate the prison system's chronic overcrowding crisis.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the union that represents state prison guards ...

California DOC Pays PLN’s Attorneys $320,000 In Fees/Costs Related To Mail Censorship Settlement

California DOC Pays PLN's Attorneys $320,000 In Fees/Costs Related To Mail Censorship Settlement

by John E. Dannenberg

In June, 2007, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Prison Legal News (PLN) stipulated to a $320,000 settlement for attorney fees and costs associated with CDCR ...

Cook County, Illinois, To Pay $4,575,000 for Nonconsensual STD Testing

On July 10, 2007, Cook County, Illinois, agreed to pay $4,575,000 to settle a federal class action lawsuit that alleged prisoners were subjected to nonconsensual testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during intake at Chicago?s Cook County jail.

Plaintiffs Robert Jackson, Joseph McGrath, and Derrell Smith claimed ...

$150,000 Settlement in Suit over Atlanta Prisoner’s Fall-Related Death

$150,000 Settlement in Suit over Atlanta Prisoner's Fall-Related Death

In November 2006, the family of a man who suffered fatal injuries when he fell over a railing on an upper floor of an Atlanta jail settled with the city for $150,000.

Decedent Todd Jones, 37, was arrested ...

Utah DOC Audit: Ingrained Staff Cronyism Stymies Workplace Effectiveness

by John E. Dannenberg

A December 2006 state audit of the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) found that entrenched upper management personnel lacked vision and innovation, while they selectively allowed punishable staff "indiscretions" to be swept under the rug without consequences. This self-perpetuating chronic situation left UDC staff morale in ...

California DOC Contract Registry Pharmacist Accused of Diverting 93% of Referrals to His Own Corporation

California's State Auditor has found that a pharmacist, who was contracted by three state prisons to select other pharmacists from a state-approved registry to perform services at the facilities, directed 93% of such referrals worth $1.1 million to pharmacists on his own firm's registry. Fees and costs ...

New York High Court Invokes Due Process Rights for Civil Commitment of Alleged Sexual Predators

The New York Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by the Appellate Division that had permitted sex offenders nearing the end of their criminal sentences to be summarily transferred to mental health facilities (e,g., civil commitment centers) without hearings. This was the second such ruling by the state?s ...

Pennsylvania Prison Legal Mail Policy Unconstitutional, Enjoined

by Matt Clarke

On May 3, 2007, a federal court in Pennsylvania found unconstitutional the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) mail policy allowing legal mail to be opened outside the presence of prisoners if the pail does not display a prison-issued control number.

Derrick Dale Fontroy, Theodore B. Savage and ...

California’s Prison Drug Procurements Separate from Other State Agencies

California's Prison Drug Procurements Separate from Other State Agencies

California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle issued a June 2007 report to follow-up on her past recommendation to implement bulk procurement cost-savings in the state's contracts for pharmaceuticals. Since 70% of such drugs are purchased for adult and juvenile ...

Federal Prisoner Beaten On Texas Recreation Yard Awarded $350,000

On March 12, 2007, a federal district court awarded $350,000 to a prisoner who was beaten by about 40 other prisoners on the recreation yard of a federal prison in Texas.

Plaintiff Luis Garza claimed that while on the recreation yard at the Bureau of Prison's Federal Correctional ...

California DOC Federal Healthcare Receiver Issues Master Remedial Plan

by John E. Dannenberg

"Good care is less costly than bad care." This maxim, from prison healthcare Receiver Robert Sillen, set the tone when he announced his master plan on May 10, 2007 to constitutionally repair the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) ailing healthcare system. In the ...

“Please Rip Us Off” Florida Officials Tell Private Prison Companies

"Please Rip Us Off" Florida Officials Tell Private Prison Companies

by David M. Reutter

Despite having ordered a criminal investigation into its private prison contractors, the Florida Legislature and Governor Charlie Crist have enacted legislation that specifies those same companies are the only ones that can bid on expanding current ...

Study on Barriers to Employment of Ex-Prisoners in Milwaukee Released

by Matt Clarke

In early 2007, the Employment Training Institute (ETI) of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee released a study assessing the legal and employment needs of ex-prisoners residing in Milwaukee County.

The study of 26,772 adults released from Wisconsin prisons since 1993 found that ex-prisoners faced significant hurdles to ...

California Inspector General: $1 Billion In DOC Drug Treatment Program “A Complete Waste Of Money”

California Inspector General: $1 Billion In DOC Drug Treatment Program "A Complete Waste Of Money"

by Marvin Mentor

California's Inspector General Matthew Cate issued a scathing 52-page report in February 2007 which concluded that the $1 billion that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has spent on ...

News in Brief:

California: On January 12, 2007, prisoners at Folsom State Prison gave 192 phone cards to the California National Guard which was purchased with money raised during a pizza fund raiser at the prison. Each card had 200 minutes on it and will be distributed to soldiers serving overseas. The irony ...

Connecticut Strip Search Suit Settles For $2.5 Million

The State of Connecticut will pay $2.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged the state maintained an unconstitutional practice of strip searching all incoming prisoners at the New Haven Community Correction Center (NHCCC).

Plaintiff Charles Campbell claimed that he was strip searched at the jail on ...