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Prison Legal News: December, 2007

Issue PDF
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. Sudden Rise in New Jersey Prison Guard Firings (p 26)
  15. Michigan’s Solution to Prisoner Healthcare: Close the Prison (p 26)
  16. Sentenced to Science: One Black Man’s Story of Imprisonment in America, by Allen M. Hornblum (p 28)
  17. FBI Investigates Arkansas Guard Violence (p 28)
  18. $4,500 Jury Award in Delayed Medical Treatment of Illinois Prisoner Upheld (p 30)
  19. PLN Files Censorship Suit Against Fulton County Jail in Georgia (p 30)
  20. Arizona Jail Sex Results in Charges for Guards, Prisoner (p 31)
  21. Former Florida Prison Officials Sentenced to Federal Prison (p 32)
  22. California DOC Settles With Mistreated Diabetic Prisoner For $600,000 (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. California’s Mother-Child Alternative Prison Centers Investigated (p 39)
  31. Wrongfully Imprisoned Ohio Man Settles With State for $260,000 (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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

$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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...