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Prison Legal News: February, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 2

In this issue:

  1. Still More Murder and Mayhem in Maryland (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 8)
  3. Confronting Confinement, A Report On Safety and Abuse In America’s Prisons, Vera Justice Institute (2006), 118 pp. (p 8)
  4. Sacramento Jail Rampant with Excessive Force and Brutality (p 10)
  5. Bureau of Prisons Begins Certifying Sexually Dangerous Persons (p 14)
  6. New York’s Prison System Infested With Drugs (p 16)
  7. High Ranking Louisiana Prison Official Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges (p 17)
  8. California Habeas Handbook, Expanded 5th Edition, by Attorney Kent Russell, Sept. 2006, 114 pages plus appendix, soft cover (p 18)
  9. 5-Point Restraints = Excessive Force + Due Process Violation Results in $25,000 Virginia Damage Award (p 18)
  10. Correct Rx a New Major Player in the Prison Drug Industry (p 20)
  11. The Warehousing of New Hampshire’s Mentally Ill (p 20)
  12. Seizure of Washington Prisoners’ Cash at Jail Booking Unconstitutional (p 22)
  13. Prison TB 10 Times Higher Than Non-Prison Cases (p 22)
  14. Fulton County Reinstates Deputies Fired in Killing Rampage (p 24)
  15. $400,000 Wrongful Death Settlement After San Diego Jailers Hog-Tied Prisoner (p 24)
  16. 1997 Changes in Pennsylvania Commutation Law Held Ex Post Facto (p 25)
  17. Summary Judgement Reversed on Illinois Outgoing Mail Ban (p 26)
  18. Federal Court Compels Activation of California DOC Mental Health Crisis Beds; Approves New $111 Million Mental Care Hospital (p 26)
  19. North Carolina Jail Prisoner Killed During Court Appearance (p 28)
  20. Cleaning up Mississippi’s Supermax: Conditions Suit Settled (p 28)
  21. Prison Deaths: A National Shame (p 29)
  22. California DOC Medical Receiver’s Initial On-The-Job Impression: “Conditions Disgraceful” (p 30)
  23. California Governor Vetoes Open Records, Prisoner Condoms and Media Access Bills (p 30)
  24. U.S. Spends Record $185 Billion on Justice System is 2003 (p 32)
  25. New York’s Governor Vetoes New Treatment Facilities For Mentally Ill Prisoners (p 32)
  26. Mississippi DOC Guts TB Program (p 33)
  27. Colorado Parolee’s Disenfranchisement Upheld (p 33)
  28. PLN Awarded $48,709 In Attorney Fees After Successful FOIA Suit Against BOP (p 33)
  29. Family of Texas Prisoner Murdered in Geo-Operated Prison Awarded $47.5 Million (p 34)
  30. 9th Circuit Holds § 1997e(a) Applies to Private Prisons; Magazine Confiscation Is a “Prison Condition” (p 34)
  31. $255 Awarded For Destruction of Prisoner’s Property (p 34)
  32. New Jersey Prison Commissioner’s Complete Ban On Media Lifted (p 35)
  33. Michigan Jail Prisoners Pay For Incarceration (p 35)
  34. Sixth Circuit Extends Abela Ruling to Parole Denial Habeas Petitions (p 36)
  35. Virginia Prison Minister Indicted on Sex Charges; Ministries Under Fire (p 36)
  36. Garnishment of Ohio Prisoner’s Account Permitted to Pay Court Costs (p 36)
  37. $2.5 Million Settlement for Illegal Strip Searches in Connecticut Jail (p 37)
  38. New Jersey Sex Offenders Must Be Protected and Segregated During Transports (p 38)
  39. MO Jail Guards Denying Seizure Medication amd Assigning Prisoner to Top Bunk May Violate 8th Amendment (p 38)
  40. Nebraska UA Procedures Do Not Violate Due Process (p 39)
  41. Illinois Jail’s Strip Search Policy Unconstitutional (p 39)
  42. Native American Entitled to Prayer Feather (p 40)
  43. BOP Halfway House Walkaway Is Not Federal “Crime of Violence” (p 40)
  44. New Hampshire Prisoner’s ADA Claim Survives Summary Judgment (p 41)
  45. News in Brief: (p 42)
  46. No Qualified Immunity for Michigan Prisoner’s Heat-Dehydration Death (p 44)

Still More Murder and Mayhem in Maryland

"Lock them up and throw away the key." Like the rest of the nation, this overriding penal philosophy in Maryland has led to a criminal justice system that is defunct at every level. The state's adult prisons are "in crisis." Its juvenile facilities are "beyond dysfunctional." And its jails ...

From the Editor

This month's cover story is by long time PLN contributing writer Mike Rigby. I am pleased to announce that in December, 2006, Mike was released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after 13 years of imprisonment. He will continue contributing articles to PLN as his new schedule allows ...

Confronting Confinement, A Report On Safety and Abuse In America’s Prisons, Vera Justice Institute (2006), 118 pp.

Confronting Confinement, A Report On Safety and Abuse In America's Prisons, Vera Justice Institute (2006), 118 pp.

Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg

The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons released its June 2006 report Confronting Confinement which concluded, "What happens inside jails and prisons does not ...

Sacramento Jail Rampant with Excessive Force and Brutality

Imagine six million candles of light and the noise level of a jet plane taking off inside an average 6'x10' jail cell. That's what Courtney Countee, Jessie Kerwin, Daniel Lucas, Jason Morrison, Cladius Jefferson and Michael Toro endured at the hands of the Sacramento County jail's Custody ...

Bureau of Prisons Begins Certifying Sexually Dangerous Persons

BOP has a new tool authorized this summer as part of the Adam Walsh Act. BOP may now ?certify? prisoners as ?sexually dangerous persons? (SDP). Certification can occur prior to sentencing, or at any time after the commencement of probation or supervised release and prior to the completion of the ...

New York’s Prison System Infested With Drugs

New York's Prison System Infested With Drugs

by David M. Reutter

The most glaring result of America's war on drugs has been the explosion of the nation?s prison population. Over 75 percent of all prisoners are either doing time for drug related offenses or were under the ...

High Ranking Louisiana Prison Official Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

On June 29, 2006, Louisiana prison administrator James H. Leslie, 55, was formally indicted on federal charges of tampering with a witness. The indictment was returned on February 16, 2006 but remained sealed so as not to impede an ongoing investigation.

“[T]here is no longer any need for ...

California Habeas Handbook, Expanded 5th Edition, by Attorney Kent Russell, Sept. 2006, 114 pages plus appendix, soft cover

Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg

Three years after publishing his 67 page 4th Edition of the California Habeas Handbook (CHH) [see: PLN, Jan. 2004, p.18], Attorney Kent Russell has rewritten and expanded this tutorial guide to aid pro per prisoners in researching and filing successful habeas corpus petitions in ...

5-Point Restraints = Excessive Force + Due Process Violation Results in $25,000 Virginia Damage Award

A federal court in Virginia held that subjecting a prisoner to five-point restraints for 46-48 hours on five occasions was cruel and unusual punishment. It also found the lack of procedural protections deprived the prisoner of due process of law.

Charles Card was confined at Virginia?s Sussex II State ...

Correct Rx a New Major Player in the Prison Drug Industry

Pharmaceutical drug distributors have found a future and a fortune in our nation?s prison system. Record rates of incarceration equal record profits for drug companies.

One enterprising pharmacist has made herself a major player in the drug distribution industry. With an idea that literally was created at her kitchen ...

The Warehousing of New Hampshire’s Mentally Ill

The Warehousing of New Hampshire's Mentally Ill

by David M. Reutter

Despite over 30 years of litigation, mentally ill prisoners at the New Hampshire State Prison (NHSP) are still not receiving care to treat their conditions. In fact, with NHSP adopting the trend of locking prisoners down in Special ...

Seizure of Washington Prisoners’ Cash at Jail Booking Unconstitutional

Seizure of Washington Prisoners' Cash at Jail Booking Unconstitutional

by Michael Rigby

On August 29, 2006, a, federal district court in Washington held that a state law allowing jails to confiscate money from prisoners during booking without notice or a hearing was unconstitutional.

In May 2003 the Washington legislature amended ...

Prison TB 10 Times Higher Than Non-Prison Cases

The number of Tuberculosis (TB) cases in correctional populations far outpaced the general population between 1993 and 2003, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. TB case rates in the general population remained at fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people, while correctional rates ...

Fulton County Reinstates Deputies Fired in Killing Rampage

After the March 11, 2005 killing rampage by Brian G. Nichols at an Atlanta courthouse, Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman talked tough about punishing officers who failed to perform their duties or lied during the ensuing investigation. He initially followed through by firing eight people, including Maj. Orlando Whitehead, Maj ...

$400,000 Wrongful Death Settlement After San Diego Jailers Hog-Tied Prisoner

by John E. Dannenberg

The County of San Diego, California agreed in September 2006 to pay $400,000 to settle an excessive-force wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the family of a prisoner who died on February 2, 2001 in the Otay Mesa Jail after being hog-tied by sheriff?s deputies.

Marshawn ...

1997 Changes in Pennsylvania Commutation Law Held Ex Post Facto

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that a 1997 state ballot constitutional amendment, which modified Pennsylvania?s commutation laws to require a unanimous vote rather than a simple majority of the Board of Pardons to initiate pardons or commutations of ...

Summary Judgement Reversed on Illinois Outgoing Mail Ban

The Illinois Court of Appeals held that prison officials violated a prisoner?s First Amendment free speech rights by refusing to allow him to mail an investigative report out of the prison.

Illinois prisoner Gene Arnett and two other prisoners attempted to escape from Tamms Correctional Center (Tamms) in May ...

Federal Court Compels Activation of California DOC Mental Health Crisis Beds; Approves New $111 Million Mental Care Hospital

by John E. Dannenberg

California?s 16-year-old prisoner mental health federal lawsuit (originally, Coleman v. Wilson) was given new and urgently needed life on May 2, 2006 when a frustrated U.S. District Judge (Emeritus) Lawrence K. Karlton ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to activate 125 ...

North Carolina Jail Prisoner Killed During Court Appearance

Willie Forrest, 37, was fatally shot by a Northampton sheriff?s deputy, after he grabbed another deputy?s gun and fired two shots.

Forrest, who had a history of courtroom violence, was standing trial, on Wednesday July 12, 2006, for three felony charges. He became enraged when the judge would ...

Cleaning up Mississippi’s Supermax: Conditions Suit Settled

Cleaning up Mississippi's Supermax: Conditions Suit Settled

by David M. Reutter

A class action lawsuit filed on behalf of prisoners at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman charged that the totality of conditions are so "hellish" that it makes "Unit 32 the worst place to be incarcerated in Mississippi ...

Prison Deaths: A National Shame

While the human rights abuses of prisoners detained in Guantánamo Bay and the Middle East have sparked widespread criticism and debate in this country and abroad, surprisingly little attention has been focused on the treatment of citizens imprisoned within our borders. Each year, approximately 7,000 Americans die in U ...

California DOC Medical Receiver’s Initial On-The-Job Impression: “Conditions Disgraceful”

California DOC Medical Receiver's Initial On-The-Job Impression: "Conditions Disgraceful"

by John E. Dannenberg

In his first bi-monthly accounting to his boss (U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson), California's Prison health-care Receiver ("CPR") Bob Sillen concluded that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) health-care situation ...

California Governor Vetoes Open Records, Prisoner Condoms and Media Access Bills

by John E. Dannenberg

On September 29, 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislative bills that would have permitted better access to public records, condoms in state prisons as well as media access to specified prisoners.

The public records access bill (AB 2927) would have made public agency records requests available ...

U.S. Spends Record $185 Billion on Justice System is 2003

by Matthew T. Clarke

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Justice?s Bureau of Justice Statistics in April, 2006, the U.S. spent a record $185 billion for police protection, detention, and judicial and legal activities in 2003. This represented a 418% unadjusted increase over ...

New York’s Governor Vetoes New Treatment Facilities For Mentally Ill Prisoners

New York's Governor Vetoes New Treatment Facilities For Mentally Ill Prisoners

by John E. Dannenberg

Prior to leaving office, on August 16, 2006, then New York Governor George Pataki (R)vetoed Assembly Bill No. 3926-A, which would have provided $280 - $380 million to construct Residential Mental Health Treatment Programs ...

Mississippi DOC Guts TB Program

For many years the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) has led the nation in controlling tuberculosis (TB) in its prison system. This was accomplished by giving chest x-rays to all incoming prisoners to determine whether they had the disease. Unfortunately this practice has been terminated to save money.

Now the ...

Colorado Parolee’s Disenfranchisement Upheld

Colorado Parolee's Disenfranchisement Upheld

The Colorado Supreme Court has held that a person on parole does not have a right to vote. That ruling came in an appeal filed by Pastor Michael Danielson after the District Court for the city and County of Denver dismissed his suit against Colorado ...

PLN Awarded $48,709 In Attorney Fees After Successful FOIA Suit Against BOP

In June, 2006, Prison Legal News won the right to gain media investigative access to federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) records regarding lawsuits by prisoners, employees, contractors and visitors without payment of search and copying fees, pursuant to PLN's request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U ...

Family of Texas Prisoner Murdered in Geo-Operated Prison Awarded $47.5 Million

On September 15, 2006, a jury in Willacy County, Texas awarded $47.5 million to the family of a prisoner who was murdered at a private prison operated by the Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections). The Florida-based company was spun off from Wackenhut's parent corporation in 2003 [see PLN ...

9th Circuit Holds § 1997e(a) Applies to Private Prisons; Magazine Confiscation Is a “Prison Condition”

9th Circuit Holds § 1997e(a) Applies to Private Prisons; Magazine Confiscation Is a "Prison Condition"

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of an Idaho prisoner's suit for non-exhaustion, concluding that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to private prisons. The court also held that confiscation ...

$255 Awarded For Destruction of Prisoner’s Property

$255 Awarded For Destruction of Prisoner's Property

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOC) appealed an order awarding state prisoner Carlos Escamilla $255 for property that turned up missing. Escamilla petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus to receive reimbursement. The DOC claimed that precluded his award under ...

New Jersey Prison Commissioner’s Complete Ban On Media Lifted

New Jersey Prison Commissioner's Complete Ban On Media Lifted

by Gary Hunter

Immediately upon taking office, in January 2005, New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) Commissioner George Hayman imposed a total ban on media interviews with prisoners. DOC spokesman Matthew Shuman said the policy was put in place because ...

Michigan Jail Prisoners Pay For Incarceration

Under a law passed by Michigan legislators prisoners can now be required to pay up to $60 per day for the cost of their incarceration in city jails.

Proposed by State Sen. Laura M. Toy, R-Livonia the law was signed into effect by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on April 5, 2006 ...

Sixth Circuit Extends Abela Ruling to Parole Denial Habeas Petitions

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the 90-day period to apply for certiorari review to the U.S. Supreme Court tolls the one-year statute of limitations for habeas corpus actions challenging parole denial. In so holding, the Court extended its decision in Abela v. Martin, 348 F ...

Virginia Prison Minister Indicted on Sex Charges; Ministries Under Fire

Toney Leon McDonald, an ex-sheriff?s deputy and now ex-prison minister, was arrested on May 17, 2006 on four counts of sexual misconduct with a 23-year-old female prisoner. After posting a $25,000 bond, McDonald surrendered to authorities a second time on May 19, 2006 on charges of having oral ...

Garnishment of Ohio Prisoner’s Account Permitted to Pay Court Costs

Garnishment of Ohio Prisoner's Account Permitted to Pay Court Costs

The Ohio Supreme Court has held that the state may collect court costs from an indigent criminal defendant, including collection from a prisoner's account.

Before the Court was the appeal of Michelle Threatt, who was ordered on August ...

$2.5 Million Settlement for Illegal Strip Searches in Connecticut Jail

The State of Connecticut has entered into a settlement agreement that will cost it $2.5 million for a correctional policy of strip searching all detainees regardless of their charges.

The settlement comes in a class action filed in a Connecticut federal district court. The class is estimated to encompass ...

New Jersey Sex Offenders Must Be Protected and Segregated During Transports

A New Jersey federal district court has issued a preliminary injunction requiring prison officials at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, New Jersey (ADTC) to protect and segregate ADTC prisoners when transporting them to medical appointments or court appearances.

This class action suit was brought by ADTC prisoners ...

MO Jail Guards Denying Seizure Medication amd Assigning Prisoner to Top Bunk May Violate 8th Amendment

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has reversed a federal district court?s grant of summary judgment to jailers who denied seizure medication to a prisoner, who then fell from a top bunk while having a seizure.

James Phillips was a prisoner in the county jail ...

Nebraska UA Procedures Do Not Violate Due Process

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court?s decision that Nebraska?s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) urine sample collection and testing procedures do not deprive prisoners of due process of law.

DCS tests urine samples for drugs using the fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA) method, which is ...

Illinois Jail’s Strip Search Policy Unconstitutional

Illinois Jail's Strip Search Policy Unconstitutional

by Michael Rigby

On December 16, 2005, a federal district judge ruled that the Will County, Illinois jail routinely violated prisoners' Fourth Amendment rights by subjecting them to a blanket strip search policy, paving the way for a potential multi-million dollar damage award ...

Native American Entitled to Prayer Feather

An Arkansas federal district court has held that a Native American prisoner has a constitutional right to possess or use a prayer feather for religious purposes. This action was brought by Billy Joe Wolf, complaining about acts while he was imprisoned at Arkansas? Benton County Detention Center (BCDC).

Wolf was ...

BOP Halfway House Walkaway Is Not Federal “Crime of Violence”

BOP Halfway House Walkaway Is Not Federal "Crime of Violence"

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that a walkaway from a federal halfway house did not fit the categorical "crime of violence" definition for career offender under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (U.S ...

New Hampshire Prisoner’s ADA Claim Survives Summary Judgment

New Hampshire Prisoner's ADA Claim Survives Summary Judgment

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a New Hampshire federal district court's summary judgment order concluding that a prisoner failed to demonstrate that prison officials violated his rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: On August 21, 2006, Baldwin county jail guard Jorge Quezada, 20, was fired for failing to monitor jail prisoner Ross Paul Yates who died after being handcuffed to a wall for several hours.

Arkansas: On October 12, 2006, Michael Bolton, 25, a prisoner at the East Arkansas Regional Unit ...

No Qualified Immunity for Michigan Prisoner’s Heat-Dehydration Death

No Qualified Immunity for Michigan Prisoner's Heat-Dehydration Death

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of qualified immunity to eleven prison officials in the isolation, dehydration and death of a Michigan prisoner.

A "heat alert" was issued for Ionia Michigan from June 29, 2002 to July 5 ...