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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: December, 2007

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Volume 18, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Pennsylvania County Jail System Overcrowded, Under-Regulated (p 1)
  2. European Court of Human Rights Awards Russian Prisoner $20,060 For Overcrowding (p 12)
  3. Texas Wrongful Death Jail Lawsuit Settles For $375,000 (p 13)
  4. From the Editor (p 14)
  5. Problematic California Private Prison Sold to San Bernardino County (p 15)
  6. Prisoner’s Rights Profile: John Midgley (p 16)
  7. Missouri: New State Law Conceals Identity of Executioners (p 19)
  8. California DOC Settles Federal Suit to Permit Bible Study Materials; Establishes Pilot Program For Screening Books and CDs (p 20)
  9. National Conference for Prison Book Projects Held in Urbana-Champaign (p 20)
  10. Dallas, Texas, Jail Pays $950,000 for Neglecting Mentally Ill Prisoners (p 22)
  11. Texas GEO Prison Squalor Drives Idaho Prisoner to Suicide (p 23)
  12. Policy Lock-Down, The Institute On Money In State Politics, 95 pp., softbound, April 2006 (p 24)
  13. Public, Private Prison Escapes in Ohio (p 25)
  14. Michigan’s Solution to Prisoner Healthcare: Close the Prison (p 26)
  15. Sudden Rise in New Jersey Prison Guard Firings (p 26)
  16. FBI Investigates Arkansas Guard Violence (p 28)
  17. Sentenced to Science: One Black Man’s Story of Imprisonment in America, by Allen M. Hornblum (p 28)
  18. PLN Files Censorship Suit Against Fulton County Jail in Georgia (p 30)
  19. $4,500 Jury Award in Delayed Medical Treatment of Illinois Prisoner Upheld (p 30)
  20. Arizona Jail Sex Results in Charges for Guards, Prisoner (p 31)
  21. California DOC Settles With Mistreated Diabetic Prisoner For $600,000 (p 32)
  22. Former Florida Prison Officials Sentenced to Federal Prison (p 32)
  23. Scottish Court Holds Prison Phone Call Imprinting Violates European Convention On Human Rights (p 33)
  24. Bail Bond Businesses Getting Black Eye in Texas, California (p 34)
  25. Pennsylvania Jail Prisoner Assaulted With Hot Water Awarded $50,000 (p 36)
  26. County, Contractor Settle Diabetic New Jersey Prisoner’s Death for $700,000 (p 37)
  27. Wisconsin Felon Convicted of Voter Fraud for Voting (p 37)
  28. California Prisoner Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Questioned By Legislators (p 38)
  29. Connecticut Prisoners’ Families Gouged on Phone Calls (p 38)
  30. Wrongfully Imprisoned Ohio Man Settles With State for $260,000 (p 39)
  31. California’s Mother-Child Alternative Prison Centers Investigated (p 39)
  32. BJS Releases Statistics on Vets in Prison in 2004 (p 40)
  33. Former Illinois DOC Director, Former Prisoner Advocate, Others Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges (p 40)
  34. Eighth Circuit Holds Sweat Patches Generally Reliable (p 41)
  35. News in Brief: (p 42)
  36. Arizona Law Requires Ineligible Prisoners to Fund Transition Programs (p 44)

Pennsylvania County Jail System Overcrowded, Under-Regulated

by David M. Reutter

Almost everyone with experience on the incarceration side of America's criminal justice system will tell you they would rather do time in prison than in a jail. The primary reason is that the overall conditions of confinement are better and less restrictive in prisons. The transient nature of a jail population makes it difficult for prisoners to improve conditions through legal challenges, as they are often released or transferred elsewhere before they can act; also, jails do not have the programs and resources available at prisons, which are designed for a longer-term sentenced population.

Most non prisoners have no concern for conditions in prisons or jails, assuming they will never be subjected to them. "I just did not care at all about what it was like. But when I went to prison, my whole view of prison and people in prison changed," said Joe Kramer, who served almost four months in Pennsylvania's Dauphin County Jail for assault and violating probation on a marijuana possession charge. "I still think about it to this day. I've had nightmares, and waking up in the middle of the night," he stated. The experience of incarceration in our ...

European Court of Human Rights Awards Russian Prisoner $20,060 For Overcrowding

by Matt Clarke

On March 29, 2007, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, awarded a Russian prisoner 15,000 Euros ($20,060) in damages for incarcerating him in extremely overcrowded conditions.

On November 26, 2001, Andrey Frolov, a Russian prisoner, filed an application against the Russian Federation pursuant to Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Court alleging he was incarcerated in Kresty Prison in St.
Petersburg, Russia, under conditions that violated Article 3 of the Convention. Article 3 states that "[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment." Specifically, Frolov, 40, alleged that while incarcerated in Kresty Prison for four years he was forced to share with 12 to 14 other prisoners an 8-square-meter (67-square-foot) cell equipped with six bunks.

According to Frolov, "the cells were dimly lit; the ventilation system was blocked; prisoners had to make curtains to separate the lavatory pan from the rest of the cell; all the prisoners in the cells had only six minutes, once a week to shower together--although there were only six shower heads--with no toiletries." Frolov also alleged inadequate bedding material, unsanitary ...

Texas Wrongful Death Jail Lawsuit Settles For $375,000

In June 2006, Navarro County, Texas, agreed to pay $375,000 to the family of a juvenile prisoner who received no medical attention following his imprisonment in the county jail and died the following day.

Jesus Martinez, a minor, was arrested on April 12, 2003, after he was found unconscious ...

From the Editor

Long time readers of PLN may recall that from 1996 through 2004 John Midgley wrote our very popular Pro Se Tips and Tactics column with information on how prisoners could master civil procedure to vindicate their civil rights in court. John stopped writing the column when he was promoted to head Columbia Legal Services in Seattle, Washington.

I am pleased to include in this issue a lengthy interview with John on his decades of work representing prisoners (and he has represented juveniles, adult and mental institution prisoners along the way) which gives some perspective on how far our movement has come and how far we still have to go. Todd Matthews is an excellent free lance journalist based in Tacoma. We hope that this is the first in an ongoing series of interviews with the long time and all but unsung heroes and heroines of the prisoner rights movement.

I went to prison in 1987 and became an advocate and activist for the rights of prisoners shortly after getting to prison. In the years since I have met a lot of people in the prisoner rights movement. The ones who have impressed and inspired me the most are the ones ...

Problematic California Private Prison Sold to San Bernardino County

by John E. Dannenberg

In the continuing saga of a troubled private prison in Adelanto, California, the facility was sold to the County of San Bernardino for $31.2 million in February 2006. However, controversies haunted the county for another year. The facility's owner, Maranatha Corrections (in turn owned by Moreland Family, LLC), was slow to make needed and agreed-upon repairs, causing late occupancy by the county. In addition, uncertainty remained as to whether the sale was tainted by conflicts of interest between the private prison company and local officials.

The Adelanto facility was originally built on spec by Maranatha and leased to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The lease was terminated when CDCR tried in vain to reduce its population, and the building fell into disrepair. The terms of the prison's sale to the county included fixing the fire and smoke alarms, refurbishing heating/air-conditioning/ventilation equipment, replacing broken glass, and adding security panels and dorm dividing walls. When Maranatha fell behind in this work, the county withheld $500,000 in payment as a "hammer" to force compliance. The work was completed two months behind schedule, resulting in a $260,000 penalty assessed by ...

Prisoner’s Rights Profile: John Midgley

Prisoner's Rights Profile: John Midgley

An interview with Washington social justice attorney John Midgley

by Todd Matthews

"The most important thing about prison work is it's fundamentally about human rights," says John Midgley, a Seattle attorney who has worked in the fields of social justice and prisoners rights for three decades. "It's about how we are going to treat people we are incarcerating. I think that's worthwhile."

Midgley, 59, is executive director of Columbia Legal Services (CLS), a non-profit organization of lawyers and legal aids located in five offices throughout Washington State who provide assistance to low-income and special needs populations. CLS, in turn, is part of Alliance for Equal Justice, a coalition of legal service providers with a similar goal. His administrative role overseeing the organization's operations is a departure of sorts (he's used to being on the front lines of prisoners' rights cases), though the spirit of his work is consistent with a moral concern he's held since graduating from Michigan Law School in 1975.

Midgley's interest in social justice issues was sparked in 1970, when news reports centered on students protesting the war in Vietnam. He recognized the importance ...

Missouri: New State Law Conceals Identity of Executioners

by John E. Dannenberg

Missouri enacted a new law declaring the identity of those personnel participating in the execution process to be a state secret. The statute provides a legal cause of action for damages and punitive damages against those "leaking" such information, and bars any licensing board or department from taking any form of sanction against such a participant for his having so aided the state.

The enactment, Section 546.720 RSMo, signed into law by Missouri Governor Matt Blunt in July 2007, has an even darker implication. According to the Jean Maneke, attorney for the Missouri Press Association, it amounts to a state law denying the media the right to publish truthful information, thus striking at the heart of the First Amendment. (Note: There exist precedents protecting information damaging to the national security, and there are community-standard protections redacting the identity of juvenile litigants.] However, section 2 of the new statute proscribes such reporting "[n]otwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary."
This may prove to be the legal soft underbelly by which the Missouri Press Association attacks the statute, citing the First Amendment as such a "provision of law." And because section 3 of the statute ...

California DOC Settles Federal Suit to Permit Bible Study Materials; Establishes Pilot Program For Screening Books and CDs

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) settled a lawsuit brought by Jesus Christ Prison Ministry (JCPM) that sought to overcome CDCR's rigid bar to mailing free materials to prisoners. The settlement was based on the intervening Ninth Circuit decision in Prison Legal News ...

National Conference for Prison Book Projects Held in Urbana-Champaign

On November 3, 2007, a conference in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois brought together 88 participants from 29 different prison book projects across the country. A similar event of this kind has not taken place since a 2002 conference in Philadelphia.

Participants shared information about issues of fundraising, censorship, and how to work with prison administrations. They compared their experiences of what has worked and what has not. All agreed that, despite their titles, prisons have failed to "correct" their prisoners. These prison activists have taken it upon themselves to reach out to those individuals who are "gone but not forgotten." 

The history of the Urbana-Champaign Books To Prisoners project, host of the event, is an inspiring story. Yet it's just one example of similar projects that have sprouted up throughout the nation in places like New Orleans, Seattle, Boston, and Claremont, California. In 2004, the UC-BTP began as a small handful of volunteers carrying boxes of books around in the backs of their cars. When the local Independent Media Center purchased an old post office built in 1915, UC-BTP found the perfect home in an old mail sorting room in the basement with built-in shelves ready-made for a library.

Books ...

Dallas, Texas, Jail Pays $950,000 for Neglecting Mentally Ill Prisoners

On February 20, 2007, the Dallas County, Texas, Jail agreed to pay $950,000 for its negligent mistreatment of three mentally ill individuals, one of whom died, while imprisoned at the jail awaiting competency hearings.

In 2004, James Monroe Mims, a man in his 50s, was sent from the state ...

Texas GEO Prison Squalor Drives Idaho Prisoner to Suicide

by Matt Clarke

Seven months after arriving at the Dickens County Correctional Center (DCCC), a private prison in Spur, Texas operated by the GEO Group, Idaho state prisoner Scot Noble Payne, 43, was dead by his own hand. The reason he gave for committing suicide? Squalid conditions at the privately-run lockup.

Payne arrived at DCCC on August 27, 2006 along with 125 other Idaho prisoners who were transferred from a troubled GEO-run facility in Newton, Texas. In December 2006, Payne escaped from DCCC by scaling a fence. He was captured a week later, returned to the prison and placed in solitary confinement. In a letter to his uncle, Payne wrote that he welcomed death because "it sure beats having water on the floor 24/7, a smelly pillow case, sheets with blood stains on them and a stinky towel that hasn't been changed since they caught me."

Just after midnight on March 4, 2007, he used a razor blade to cut two 3-inch gashes in his throat.

Following Payne's suicide, Don Stockman, the health care director for the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC), inspected the GEO facility and declared it the worst prison he had ever seen. "The ...

Policy Lock-Down, The Institute On Money In State Politics, 95 pp., softbound, April 2006

reviewed by John E. Dannenberg

In a classic case of "follow the money," The Institute On Money In State Politics (IMSP) reviewed influence-peddling by private prison corporations (and their leaders, lobbyists, and subcontractors) who made political contributions to curry favor for their firms -- leading inexorably to vast increases in the prison privatization business.
Although such private interests in 44 states gave politicians over $3.3 million between 2000 and 2004 (the study period), Policy Lock-Down focused on the top ten states.

Florida led the pack with $647,600 (almost 20% of the total) followed by Texas ($519,000) and New Jersey ($323,000). Six states logged no private prison contributions: Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota. To insulate the real donors, most of the money given out passed through the hands of lobbyists. Popular targets for givers were states with tough-on-sentencing laws: $2.1 million went to 22 states with "three-strikes" laws, while only $1.2 million went to 22 states without such laws. Two-thirds of all monies went directly to political candidates, while one-third went to state political parties.
Two-thirds of the money for candidates supported incumbents, thus reducing the odds of a challenger to ...

Public, Private Prison Escapes in Ohio

On May 11, 2006, Ohio state prisoner Marrion P. Smith was shot in the head by prison guard Gary Myers during a foiled escape attempt. Smith had been transported from the Mansfield Correctional Institution to the Ohio State University Medical Center, where he was to undergo an MRI. Smith managed to conceal a makeshift knife; he stabbed Myers in the shoulder and then ran outside to the parking lot.

Myers recovered, chased after Smith, and shot him once in the head. Myers? stab wound was not serious and Smith survived the gunshot. Smith was serving a 7-to-25 year sentence for kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and theft. He was convicted of felony assault, aggravated robbery, assault and escape charges stemming from the hospital incident.

On April 2, 2007, federal prisoner Billy Jack Fitzmorris escaped after he was taken to a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. Fitzmorris overpowered two prison guards and held them long enough to take one of the guards' uniform and gun. Once outside he carjacked a vehicle and managed to flee 150 miles in a chase that led U.S. Marshals halfway across the state.

During his flight Fitzmorris robbed two banks. Cornered and surrounded by law enforcement ...

Michigan’s Solution to Prisoner Healthcare: Close the Prison

Michigan's Solution to Prisoner Healthcare: Close the Prison

by David M. Reutter

In December 2006, a federal district court found the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) in contempt in the long-running Hadix case, and ordered prison officials to submit a plan to ensure that prisoners receive adequate medical care [See: PLN, May 2007, p.7].

Two months later, in February 2007, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm announced the state's plan to solve the problem of federal oversight of MDOC healthcare: Close the prison under the court's jurisdiction -- the 1,400-bed Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson -- which would save the state $35 million in the process.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Enslen responded by requiring the MDOC to submit a prisoner transfer plan within 45 days, prohibiting the closure of the prison until the court gave its approval. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the MDOC's request to stay the order, but required the district court to rule by May 9.

After the MDOC filed its transfer plan, the Hadix plaintiffs objected and the Office of the Independent Medical Monitor (OIMM) filed a special report. On May 4, 2007 the district court entered an ...

Sudden Rise in New Jersey Prison Guard Firings

by Matt Clarke

The number of New Jersey state prison system employees terminated for disciplinary reasons rose from 33 in 2005 to 69 in 2006. 52 of the 2006 firings are final; 17 are on appeal. The reasons for the firings range from beating prisoners without provocation and allowing prisoners to attack other prisoners to smuggling drugs and cell phones in to prisoners. Guards also mishandled weapons, both on and off duty. One discharged a shotgun in the armory while another drove drunk with a firearm on his lap. A third, who was off duty at a bar, decided to spray a fly with Mace, making a bar patron ill.

"The policy is the same as it was last year," according to Matthew Schuman, prison system spokesman. "It shows that the department is very meticulous in policing itself. You would like there to be no disciplinary actions, but that's not realistic. It is important that we're not ignoring these incidents and we deal with them as efficiently as possible."

Of course, it could also be that prison employees were committing many more serious disciplinary offenses in 2006 than in 2005.

Joe Malagrino, president of the union local that ...

FBI Investigates Arkansas Guard Violence

In June 2006, the FBI began a civil rights investigation into a prisoner's beating administered by guards at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker, Arkansas. The investigation, surprisingly, was requested by prison officials.

The officials were investigating an incident that occurred in the prison's dining hall on Memorial Day in 2006. It began at 4:30 p.m. when prisoner Terry Botts pulled out a shank and stabbed prisoners Antonio Finney and Brad Scott. A captain, a lieutenant and two other guards tackled Botts and took the shank away.

"At that point any use of force should have stopped. It was no longer necessary," said Arkansas Correction Department (ACD) spokesperson Dina Taylor. The guards, however, then proceeded to kick, punch and strike Botts with a baton. He suffered bruises, swelling to his face and a bump on his head, requiring treatment at a local hospital.

When investigators examined the stabbing they learned about the guard-administered beating, and found the use of force had not been reported. Six guards were fired as a result - the four who beat Botts and two others who failed to report the assault or lied about it when questioned. Three more guards were suspended ...

Sentenced to Science: One Black Man’s Story of Imprisonment in America, by Allen M. Hornblum

Sentenced to Science: One Black Man's Story of Imprisonment in America, by Allen M. Hornblum

Published by Pennsylvania State University Press, 232 pages, 16 illustrations, Cloth Bound, $24.95

Book Review by Greg Dober

In 1964, medical research in prison led Dr. Albert Kligman and Edward "Butch" Anthony to cross paths with each obtaining very different outcomes. For Dr. Kligman, Professor Emeritus of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, prison research allowed the discovery of Retin-A, a popular commercial and patented anti-acne cream. For Edward Anthony, ex-prisoner of Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, prison research left him with debilitating conditions ranging from psychotic episodes, skin lesions and hands that swell like "boxing gloves." The disparity in results for Kligman and Anthony were common in post World War II medical trials in America. These outcomes of experimentation provided lucrative rewards for the researcher and negative consequences for the institutionalized test subject.

Sentenced to Science, written by Allen Hornblum tells the first hand account of Butch Anthony's experience at Holmesburg as a human "guinea pig" in the 1960's. Despite decades of unethical prisoner experimentation after World War II, Sentenced to Science is probably the only book written from a test ...

PLN Files Censorship Suit Against Fulton County Jail in Georgia

On October 22, 2007, Prison Legal News filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Fulton County and Sheriff Myron Freeman, due to a Fulton County Jail policy that prohibits prisoners from receiving any books, magazines or newspapers other than religious publications.

The same policy had been previously challenged in federal court in 2002 and found unconstitutional. (See: Daker v. Barrett, USDC ND Ga., Case No. 1:00-cv-1065-RWS). However, the jail's reading materials policy was still applied to PLN and subscriptions sent to prisoners at the jail were rejected and destroyed with no notice to PLN.

"A federal judge has already told the Fulton County Jail that their absolute ban on publications like Prison Legal News is unconstitutional," stated Gerald Weber, former legal director of the Georgia ACLU and one of PLN's attorneys in the case. "That the policy is still being enforced, years after that ruling, speaks volumes about the need for better management at the jail."

"Given the close scrutiny that the Fulton County Jail has experienced due to federal court oversight, staff misconduct, shredding documents and the questionable use of Tasers by guards, one would think that jail ...

$4,500 Jury Award in Delayed Medical Treatment of Illinois Prisoner Upheld

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that "verifying medical evidence" to support a prisoner's delayed medical treatment claim can come from the prisoner's medical records and the prisoner.

That ruling came in the appeal of prison officials after an Illinois federal jury found them liable, awarding ...

Arizona Jail Sex Results in Charges for Guards, Prisoner

by David M. Reutter

Sexual relationships involving guards and prisoners in Arizona jails have resulted in criminal charges on both sides of the bars.

An investigation at the Yuma County Jail snared three guards and four female prisoners. The guards, Justin Herrera, 26, Kenneth Smith, 34, and Jose Espinoza, 26, were charged on June 12, 2007 with unlawful sexual conduct. Herrera faces two counts while Smith faces three counts and a sexual assault charge.

Espinoza was initially charged with six counts of unlawful sexual conduct. After all three former guards were released on $25,264 bonds, Espinoza was rearrested and booked for sexual assault and kidnapping, too.

Those charges revolve around an incident where Espinoza allegedly coerced a female prisoner by lying about a visitor at the jail. Once he led her into a room without camera surveillance, he forced her to have sex. Espinoza's lawyer argued that while the prisoner opposed the sex, she didn't physically resist the guard's advances.

Three of the victims remain unnamed. The fourth, however, was identified because authorities claim she was not a victim but actively sought sexual relations with guards. Shannon Rose, 32, was serving a 315-day sentence at the ...

California DOC Settles With Mistreated Diabetic Prisoner For $600,000

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) settled with a prisoner who had sued for failure to properly treat his diabetic condition that eventually resulted in blindness and amputations. The $600,000 settlement included attorney fees and costs.

When Daniel Cordero entered CDCR's Reception Center at Wasco State ...

Former Florida Prison Officials Sentenced to Federal Prison

by David M. Reutter

Former Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Secretary James Crosby and his protégé, Allen Clark, have been sentenced to federal prison terms for accepting kickbacks from profits generated from prison visiting park canteens.

PLN has previously reported on how prison officials' greed, corruption and brutality ran rampant under Crosby's reign as FDOC Secretary, which began in 2003 when he was appointed by then governor Jeb Bush. Prison guards sold, bought and consumed steroids, physically assaulted each other, hired "ringers" to play in the annual Secretary's Softball Tournament, and abused prisoners without fear of retribution. [See: PLN, Dec. 2006, p.1]. Crosby's appointment came as a promotion after death row prisoner Frank Valdez was beaten to death by guards at the Florida State Prison in Starke. Crosby was warden at the time.

While it has never been revealed exactly how federal officials became aware of Crosby and Clark's acceptance of kickbacks from American Institutional Services, a contract vendor, it has come to light that Clark secretly recorded conversations that implicated Crosby in the scandal. Both have been cooperating with prosecutors to implicate others in a wider investigation of current and former FDOC employees.

On ...

Scottish Court Holds Prison Phone Call Imprinting Violates European Convention On Human Rights

Lord Glennie of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland ruled that the blanket policy of imprinting all prisoner originated phone calls with the warning, "This call originates from a Scottish prison" violated the European Convention on Human Rights because it "inhibited (the prisoner's) social rehabilitation" and was "embarrassing." But the court opined that an individualized use of such warnings might be justified upon a prior showing of good cause.

Stewart Potter, imprisoned at Glenochil in Clackmannanshire on a 21-year term for assault and robbery, petitioned the Court of Session, Outer House for judicial review of the lawfulness of the policy of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and/or Governor (warden) of the prison that such a pre-recorded message should be arbitrarily attached to all outgoing prisoner-originated phone calls. He complained that when calling his children at their school, he (and they) were embarrassed to have it publicized that their father was in prison.

SPS had made the following blanket policy in regards to prisoner phone calls. (1) Prisoners may only call one of 20 numbers pre-approved by the Governor; (2) all calls are logged; (3) calls may be recorded or monitored; (4) all calls are preceded by the ...

Bail Bond Businesses Getting Black Eye in Texas, California

It's common knowledge that outside the federal Bureau of Prisons, California and Texas have the largest prison systems in the U.S. So it should come as no surprise that bail bonds are big business in both states. But the bonding industry has recently come under fire for unethical practices in California and elsewhere, and is being scrutinized for influence peddling in Texas.

California Corruption

In Los Angeles County alone, local officials incurred $9.1 million in lost revenue from bail bond forfeitures between 2001 and 2003. Almost $6 million of that debt resulted from one company, Capital Bonding Corp. (CBC). Uncollected bond forfeitures were estimated at $100-$150 million statewide.

CBC, which did business in 38 states, referred to itself as the "Wal-Mart of bail bonds." However, the company conducted its business more like Enron. For example, CBC arranged bail for Carlos Alberto Hernandez, who was convicted of murder in December 2002. Hernandez's bond was $1.5 million and he was about to receive a life sentence. The bail was posted without collateral; Hernandez, who reportedly paid "little or nothing" to get out of jail, fled to Mexico nine days before his sentencing date.

CBC also posted ...

Pennsylvania Jail Prisoner Assaulted With Hot Water Awarded $50,000

On December 15, 2006, a federal court awarded $50,000 to a prisoner who was burned with hot water by another prisoner while in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, jail.

Peter Muse claimed that on April 23, 2004, while he slept, another prisoner assaulted him with boiling water that the other prisoner ...

County, Contractor Settle Diabetic New Jersey Prisoner’s Death for $700,000

County, Contractor Settle Diabetic New Jersey Prisoner's Death for $700,000

On April 3, 2007, Essex County, New Jersey, and Correctional Health Services (CHS) paid $700,000 to settle with the family of a man who died from insulin deficiency after being misdiagnosed at a county jail.

Henry Sipp ...

Wisconsin Felon Convicted of Voter Fraud for Voting

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a convicted felon for voter fraud. During the 2004 election cycle, Kimberly Prude was serving a term of supervised release for a forgery conviction in Wisconsin. Under Wisconsin law, Prude was not eligible to vote until she finished her term of supervision.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Prude became a volunteer for candidates in the 2004 presidential race. She made calls encouraging residents to vote and offering to arrange transportation or absentee ballots for those who requested them. On October 22, 2004, Prude participated in a rally that encouraged people to march to Milwaukee City Hall, register to vote, request an absentee ballot and vote. With her fellow marchers, Prude did just that. She also filled out an application to be officially employed by the Election Commission as a poll worker on Election Day, and was hired.

Following an investigation into voter fraud in Milwaukee, Prude was arrested in 2005 for casting a ballot despite being an ineligible voter. At the conclusion of a three-day trial, Prude was convicted of voter fraud and sentenced to twenty-four months in prison, to be served concurrently with a sentence ...

California Prisoner Workers’ Compensation Eligibility Questioned By Legislators

California Prisoner Workers' Compensation Eligibility Questioned by Legislators

by John E. Dannenberg

In 2006, the California state Compensation Insurance Fund paid $5.73 million to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to cover prisoner workers' compensation claims. This figure includes claims for parolees unable to work because of their prison job injuries, retraining expenses for injured prisoners, medical expenses for job-related injuries and monthly insurance premiums for injured prisoners.

Senator Dave Cogdill, (R-Modesto) recently questioned whether it is fiscally responsible for taxpayers to cover prisoner job-injury costs, especially relatively minor ones. His 2003 bill to restrict such compensation for prisoners failed in committee. Some of the injuries covered included abrasions, burns, bruises, bone fractures, cuts, heat exhaustion, poison oak, punctures, dislocations, sprains, strains, insect bites and bee stings. Rejected claims in 2005-2006 included indigestion, cramps, high pulse, strained testicles, dehydration, toothache and valley fever.

Prisoners are covered by law for job-related injuries. The Compensation Fund paid more to CDCR in 2006 than it did to Fish and Game, Conservation Corps, and Parks and Recreation. (However, the latter departments don't have near CDCR's 175,000 eligible workers.) At the Sierra Conservation Center state prison (which also operates 19 ...

Connecticut Prisoners’ Families Gouged on Phone Calls

Connecticut Prisoners' Families Gouged on Phone Calls

Until recently, most Connecticut Department of Correction (CDOC) prisoners were forced to make phone calls using an MCI (Verizon Business) collect calling system at rates much higher than those charged to the general public.

Under MCI's contract, 45% of the company's profits are kicked back to the state as "commission" payments, which have totaled $32.7 million since 2001. Although that equates to unethical price gouging of prisoners' families and friends, while simultaneously disadvantaging prisoners who need to maintain crucial outside support pending their release, it's the standard arrangement for most prison and jail systems.

Dianne Johnson, a working grandmother, has been trying to stay in touch with her son at a CDOC facility during his 20-year burglary term. Paying up to $17 per 15-minute call, she estimates the phone charges will add up to a multi-thousand dollar burden.

Worse yet, the Hartford Courant has reported that little or none of the MCI phone kickback money is being funneled into programs to benefit prisoners, such as re-entry or training projects. The state acknowledged that most of the revenue was spent on "state telecommunications, including computer tracking systems for law enforcement ...

Wrongfully Imprisoned Ohio Man Settles With State for $260,000

On April 10, 2007, the State of Ohio paid $260,000 to a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for four years.

Plaintiff Dartangnan Hill, a former gang leader, was convicted in May 2001 on charges of home invasion. Hill was accused of dressing as a mail man, robbing the homeowner ...

California’s Mother-Child Alternative Prison Centers Investigated

California's Mother-Child Alternative Prison Centers Investigated

by John E. Dannenberg

California has five alternative prison centers housing 140 women with their children as the mothers serve prison terms for non-violent crimes. Contracted out to Center Point, Inc. of San Rafael, CA, the five Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) centers have come under fire lately for inadequate healthcare. The complaints relate both to the children, who are not incarcerated, and to the mothers, who are.

In 2005, CDCR's medical care system was taken over by a federal receiver. (See: PLN, Mar. 2006, p.1.) When asked about healthcare complaints regarding the alternative mother-child centers, Receiver spokesperson Rachel Kagan doubted that the children were under their jurisdiction, since they were not incarcerated. While arguably legally correct, this response does not salve the unfolding human tragedy.

When women are incarcerated, 90% of their children typically move in with relatives, while 10% are placed in foster care. The separation of children from their mothers is often later traced as a causative factor in the children entering the criminal justice system. Thus, the alternative prison centers hold great social promise, in theory.

But the absence of healthcare for the prisoners' children was ...

BJS Releases Statistics on Vets in Prison in 2004

Veterans were about half as likely as non-veterans to be imprisoned in 2004, but more than twice as likely to be serving time for a sex offense, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said in a report released on May 20, 2007. Veterans were also more likely to have been imprisoned for a violent crime, according to the report.

Nearly 1 in 4 veterans in state prison were convicted of a sex offense, compared to 1 in 10 non-veterans. Researchers had no reason for the anomaly. "We couldn't come to any definite conclusion as to why," said Margaret E. Noonan, one of the study's authors.

Even so, veterans as a group are less likely to be in prison in the first place. According to the report, veterans are imprisoned at a rate of 630 per 100,000, compared to 1,390 per 100,000 for non-veterans. Veterans in prison are almost exclusively male (99%).

A similar trend is reflected in military prisons, where the overall populations have dropped in recent years but sex assaults remain the most prevalent crime.

Noonan emphasized the lower overall numbers. "I don't want people to come away from this thinking veterans ...

Former Illinois DOC Director, Former Prisoner Advocate, Others Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges

The former Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2007 on charges of taking $50,000 in kickbacks from health care vendors that received state prison contracts. Two lobbyists, one the former Undersheriff of Cook County, were also indicted, as well as a former director of the John Howard Society, an organization that advocates for prison reform.

The criminal charges resulted from a probe into the activities of former Governor George Ryan, 73, who in 2007 began serving a 6½ year federal prison sentence for racketeering and fraud.

Donald N. Snyder, Jr., 52, was the Director of the Illinois DOC from 1999 to 2003. John J. Robinson, 59, had been Cook County's Undersheriff from 1991 to 2001, and worked between 1996 and 2003 as a paid consultant and lobbyist for various DOC vendors. Larry E. Sims, 58, was employed as a lobbyist for several state vendors, including Addus HealthCare, which received over $250 million in DOC medical services contracts since 2003.

Snyder and Robinson were each charged with five counts of mail fraud, while Sims was charged with perjury for having lied to the federal grand jury. Sims admitted ...

Eighth Circuit Holds Sweat Patches Generally Reliable

The Eighth Circuit court of appeals held that sweat patches were a sufficiently reliable method of determining drug usage to support federal probation revocation.

Mark Lou Meyer, a federal prisoner, appealed an Iowa federal district court?s revocation of his probation. Two conditions of his probation were not to use illegal drugs and not to travel outside the Northern District of Iowa. Within eight months, Meyer was tested sixteen times for drug usage using the PharmChem sweat patch. The first eight times, he tested negative for drugs. The ninth time, the sweat patch came off somehow, so the test, which was positive, was considered invalid by the district court. The next seven times, the tests care back positive for cocaine. Urinalysis performed at the same time came hack negative for cocaine. Soon after the sixteenth test, Meyer traveled to Aurora, Illinois, without permission, to have his hair tested.

The sweat patch is affixed to the skin for a week or more. Sweat is absorbed into and evaporated from the patch, leaving behind drugs and their metabolites. As explained by a biochemist, the sweat patch is more sensitive than urinalysis and tests 24 hours a day whereas urinalysis works only a ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On June 6, 2007, Phoenix police arrested Loren Williamson, 33, a guard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix on charges that he raped a girl repeatedly for six years from the time she was six years old until the date of his arrest.

Arizona: On October 16, 2007, Christopher Johnston, 34, an employee of Correctional Medical Services at the Pima county jail was arrested on charges he sexually assaulted female prisoners in the course of his employment.

California: On October 22, 2007, Stevem Irysh, 23, a guard at the San Luis Obispo county jail was arrested and charged with exposing himself to female jail prisoners and also offering them candy bars in exchange for them exposing themselves to him. He was charged with misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and being a jail employee engaged in sexual conduct with a prisoner.

California: On January 11, 2007, Kern county jail guards Donal Lungren and Patrick Holloway were charged with selling and possessing marijuana. Guard Josh Bankston was charged with felony cocaine possession. The drugs were seized in the guards' homes and vehicles.

Canada: On October 27, 2007, Richard McNair, 48, was captured in Canada, 18 months after he escaped from ...

Arizona Law Requires Ineligible Prisoners to Fund Transition Programs

The Arizona Legislature has enacted a law that requires prisoners to pay five percent of their earnings to fund re-entry transition programs. The pay deduction applies to prisoners who are ineligible to participate in such programs because of their crimes.

The law, House Bill 2298, which revised A.R.S. § 31-254, went into effect on September 19, 2007. The legislation provides that prisoners ?not? convicted of a drug offense will have five percent of their prison wages deducted ?to fund the transition offices? established by statute. The transition offices, run by a ?private or nonprofit entity,? provide prisoner transition services.

To be eligible to participate in transition programs a prisoner must be serving a sentence for a drug offense. Even then, prisoners convicted of a violent felony, an offense involving death or physical injury, or the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument are not eligible for transition program participation. Prisoners with felony detainers, who have not ?maintained civil behavior? or are not ?current on restitution payments? are also ineligible.

In effect, the law requires prisoners who are not eligible by law to participate in the transition programs to fund them. Meanwhile, prisoners who are eligible for the programs ...


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