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Prison Legal News: March, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. “To Get Stuff and Sell It for As Much As We Can Get”: Federal Prison Industries and Electronics Recycling (p 1)
  2. ARE YOU IN A PRISON WORK PROGRAM HANDLING TOXIC ELECTRONICS? (p 8)
  3. From the Editor (p 12)
  4. Maryland Man Awarded $6.4 Million For False Imprisonment, Police Misconduct (p 12)
  5. Joe Arpaio: America’s Toughest Sheriff or Most Corrupt? (p 14)
  6. California DOC Wage Audit: Guards Overcharged State $12 Million for Union Business Leave (p 17)
  7. Florida Warden Susceptible to Liability in Valdes’ Murder; Suit Settles for $1,169,923.42 (p 18)
  8. Prisoners Sell Art Through Prison Art Gallery (p 19)
  9. Hawaii Settles DOJ Suit Over Unconstitutional Juvenile Facility (p 20)
  10. Cunningham v. California: Who’s Covered and Who’s Not? (p 20)
  11. HIV in Prison Is Lower Than Believed (p 21)
  12. China’s Death Penalty On Wheels (p 22)
  13. Sheriff’s Deputies Charged in Prisoner’s Death; Both Get Prison Time (p 22)
  14. Ninth Circuit: California Lifers Have A Liberty Interest In Parole (p 23)
  15. California DOC Federal Receiver Is Granted First Waiver of State Law (p 24)
  16. North Carolina Enacts Innocence Inquiry Commission (p 24)
  17. Three Work-Release Van Drivers Escape from Arkansas Prison; Practice Discontinued (p 26)
  18. PHS Loses $707 Million FDOC Contract Rebid; State Adopts Hybrid Model of Prison Health Care (p 26)
  19. California Inspector General Assesses DOC’s Compliance With Past Audit Recommendations (p 28)
  20. Hawaii Juvenile Gay Bashing Enjoined (p 28)
  21. Bernard Kerik Pleads Guilty; Has Name Removed From New York City Jail (p 30)
  22. Alabama Spends $500,000 to Vaccinate State Prisoners (p 31)
  23. Maricopa County, Arizona, Abandons Restraint Chairs Following Deaths, Multimillion Dollar Payouts (p 32)
  24. Vermont, the Last State to Pass Sex Abuse Laws (p 32)
  25. New York HCV Treatment Suit Not Mooted by Equivocal DOC Concession; Class Certification Granted (p 33)
  26. Georgia County Pays $5.1 Million for Community Service Turned Deadly (p 34)
  27. Many U.S. Prisoners Mentally Ill, Few Receive Treatment (p 34)
  28. Federal Court Restrains Los Angeles County Jail Overcrowding (p 35)
  29. New Jersey Phone Rates Out of Control (p 36)
  30. $205,000 Settlement in Massachusetts Strip Search Suit (p 36)
  31. US Settles Prisoner’s UNICOR Whistleblower Suit for $6,000 (p 37)
  32. Appeals Court Reverses Summary Judgment of Washington Phone Suit (p 38)
  33. Pennsylvania Work-Release Program Criticized (p 38)
  34. Fahrenheit 451 on Cell Block D (p 39)
  35. California DOC Ordered to Comply with Overdue Suicide Prevention Measures (p 39)
  36. Texas Prisoners Face Mandatory Testing For HIV (p 40)
  37. $275,000 Paid In Excessive-Force Michigan Jail Death Lawsuit (p 40)
  38. Grievances Must Identify Defendants Later Sued (p 41)
  39. Colorado Prisoners Caging Prisoners (p 41)
  40. News in Brief: (p 42)
  41. Wyoming Federal Court Awards Attorney $18,000 for Compliance Monitoring (p 44)

“To Get Stuff and Sell It for As Much As We Can Get”: Federal Prison Industries and Electronics Recycling

"To Get Stuff and Sell It for As Much As We Can Get": Federal Prison Industries and Electronics Recycling

by Aaron Shuman

In recent months, UNICOR Recycling has experienced a number of challenges in its efforts to build the infrastructure of U.S. electronics recycling into the infrastructure of federal ...

ARE YOU IN A PRISON WORK PROGRAM HANDLING TOXIC ELECTRONICS?

At Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and the Prison Activist Resource Center we have been working to end the exposure to toxics of people working in electronic recycling programs in prison, particularly in UNICOR work programs within the Federal Prison System. Sworn statements from people in prison have played a vital ...

From the Editor

This editorial is being written in Wichita, Kansas on February 14, 2007. For the past two days PLN?s executive director, Don Miniken, and I have been attending the bench trial before USDC Judge Monte Belot in Prison Legal News v. Werholtz. PLN filed the lawsuit in 2002 challenging the ...

Maryland Man Awarded $6.4 Million For False Imprisonment, Police Misconduct

On August 30, 2006, a jury in Prince George?s County, Maryland, awarded $6.4 million to a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for the brutal rape and murder of his wife. During trial the jury heard compelling evidence indicating that County Police Department detectives lied about the suspect?s ...

Joe Arpaio: America’s Toughest Sheriff or Most Corrupt?

Joe Arpaio: America?s Toughest Sheriff or Most Corrupt?

by Alex Friedmann

Joe M. Arpaio, the head lawman over Maricopa County, Arizona, bills himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff." While "toughest" may be subject to debate (literally -- in September, 2006 Arpaio debated L.A. County Sheriff Leroy Baca over who ...

California DOC Wage Audit: Guards Overcharged State $12 Million for Union Business Leave

California?s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the state Legislature?s watchdog over prison operations, reviewed guards? use of leave for union-related business and found that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) accounting controls were so loose as to put in grave doubt the validity of $12 million ...

Florida Warden Susceptible to Liability in Valdes’ Murder; Suit Settles for $1,169,923.42

Florida Warden Susceptible to Liability in Valdes' Murder; Suit Settles for $1,169,923.42

by David M. Reutter

While former Florida Department of Corrections director James Crosby was never charged in the murder of Florida death row prisoner Frank Valdes, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that ...

Prisoners Sell Art Through Prison Art Gallery

Creating art can expand our human experience and help us grow. For prisoners, having contact with the outside world is crucial because many are in a place where educational programs, letters or visits are rare or non-existent. The Prisons Foundation strives to make things better for the prisoners who want ...

Hawaii Settles DOJ Suit Over Unconstitutional Juvenile Facility

The State of Hawaii settled a suit brought by the United States government, resolving a suit over unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Hawaii Youth Corrections Facility (HYCF) in Kailua, Hawaii.

On August 16, 2004, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a year-long investigation of conditions, policies and ...

Cunningham v. California: Who’s Covered and Who’s Not?

Cunningham v. California: Who's Covered and Who's Not?

by Kent Russell

On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Cunningham v. California, __ S.Ct. __, 2007 WL 135687 (No. 05-6551), holding that California?s determinate sentencing law, which allows CA judges to impose upper-term sentences ...

HIV in Prison Is Lower Than Believed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study showing that the spread of HIV in prison is extremely low. Of 856 males in Georgia?s prisons who tested positive for HIV in 2005, only 76 acquired the virus inside prison.

The study dispelled the myth that prisons ...

China’s Death Penalty On Wheels

China's Death Penalty On Wheels

by Gary Bunter

China's death penalty has gone mobile. Death vans are now replacing firing squads as the preferred method of execution.

In the past, condemned prisoners were executed publicly in prisons or court buildings. Kang Zhongwen, designer of the Jinguan Automobile death ...

Sheriff’s Deputies Charged in Prisoner’s Death; Both Get Prison Time

Sheriff's Deputies Charged in Prisoner's Death; Both Get Prison Time

by Gary Hunter

Jail guards Ronald Eugene Parker and Brandon Gray Huie were charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of a prisoner in North Carolina's Davidson County jail, and both received prison terms.

Carlos ...

Ninth Circuit: California Lifers Have A Liberty Interest In Parole

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals crushed a determined attempt by the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT-- now called the Board of Parole Hearings) to transmogrify the California Supreme Court?s decision in In re Dannenberg, 34 Cal. 4th 1061 (2005) to stand for the proposition that ...

California DOC Federal Receiver Is Granted First Waiver of State Law

by John E. Dannenberg

The federal court Receiver for healthcare in California state prisons (see: PLN, Mar. 2006, p.1, Federal Court Seizes California Prisons? Medical Care; Appoints Receiver With Unprecedented Powers) surmounted his first statutory bureaucratic obstacle to gaining constitutional healthcare. On October 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge ...

North Carolina Enacts Innocence Inquiry Commission

by John E. Dannenberg
On August 3, 2006, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley signed into law H-1323, a bill creating an eight-member Innocence Commission wherein prisoners who have exhausted their court appeals but still claim they were wrongly convicted may reopen their convictions by offering new evidence not previously considered ...

Three Work-Release Van Drivers Escape from Arkansas Prison; Practice Discontinued

Two prisoners escaped from Arkansas? Benton Unit prison on July 9, 2006. Tab Delancey and Clifton Sanders were drivers in the prison?s work-release program.

Arkansas was one of the few states that, until recently, allowed unsupervised prisoners to transport other prisoners to and from free-world jobs.

?We can?t ...

PHS Loses $707 Million FDOC Contract Rebid; State Adopts Hybrid Model of Prison Health Care

by John E. Dannenberg

On September 20, 2006, Tennessee-based Prison Health Services (PHS), a for-profit prison medical care contractor [see: PLN, Nov. 2006, pp.
1-10], exercised an escape clause just ten months into its ten-year $645 million contract to provide medical services to 25% of Florida?s prison population. The ...

California Inspector General Assesses DOC’s Compliance With Past Audit Recommendations

California Inspector General Assesses DOC's Compliance With Past Audit Recommendations

by John E. Dannenberg

California's Inspector General (IG), Matthew Cate, who has oversight responsibility over the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), issued an exhaustive 363 page Accountability Audit reporting the degree of compliance with 22 earlier ...

Hawaii Juvenile Gay Bashing Enjoined

A federal court in Hawaii issued a preliminary injunction, prohibiting harassment, abuse, discrimination and isolation of juvenile detainees who are, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT).

The Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) is a secure juvenile detention facility ?existing in a state of chaos ...

Bernard Kerik Pleads Guilty; Has Name Removed From New York City Jail

Former New York Police Chief Bernard B. Kerik, proclaimed hero of 9/11, fell to his lowest point yet after pleading guilty to two unclassified misdemeanor charges on June 30, 2006.

Kerik, also a former Director of the New York Department of Corrections, admitted to improperly accepting $165,000 worth ...

Alabama Spends $500,000 to Vaccinate State Prisoners

The Alabama DOC has launched an innovative program to vaccinate prisoners for Hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis is a disease that damages the liver with the potential to be fatal. Alabama optimistically hopes to inoculate over half of its prisoners during the next year at a cost of one-half million ...

Maricopa County, Arizona, Abandons Restraint Chairs Following Deaths, Multimillion Dollar Payouts

After three prisoner fatalities and two wrongful death payouts totaling $17.25 million, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, has finally discontinued the use of restraint chairs in county jails.

On August 21, 2006, Arpaio told The Arizona Republic that the jail?s restraint chairs have been replaced by ...

Vermont, the Last State to Pass Sex Abuse Laws

On May 23, 2006, Vermont became the fiftieth and final state to outlaw sex between detention facility employees and prisoners. The proposed measure had been under debate for five years before Governor James Douglas finally signed the bill into law.

Amnesty International has pushed for the measure since 1999 when ...

New York HCV Treatment Suit Not Mooted by Equivocal DOC Concession; Class Certification Granted

by John E. Dannenberg

The United States District Court (N.D. N.Y.) rejected the New York Department of Corrections' (NYDOC) attempt to moot a class action claim filed by HCV (Hepatitis-C) infected prisoners who had sued to receive treatment for their deadly disease. The principal roadblock to treatment had ...

Georgia County Pays $5.1 Million for Community Service Turned Deadly

On August 21, 2006, a Georgia state court awarded $5.1 Million to the family of a college student who was killed when he fell from a DeKalb County garbage truck while performing community service.

Vince Currid, 22, had been sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid slave labor, euphemistically referred ...

Many U.S. Prisoners Mentally Ill, Few Receive Treatment

Nearly half of the nation?s 2.3 million prisoners suffer from some sort of mental disorder, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released in September 2006. Yet fewer than a third of those receive any treatment.

The numbers are disturbing. Overall, the report reveals ...

Federal Court Restrains Los Angeles County Jail Overcrowding

by John E. Dannenberg

On October 27, 2006, the U.S. District Court (C.D. Cal.) issued an ?Order to Show Cause (?OSC?) re Issuance of Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order,? plus imposed initial restraints, regarding the ongoing unconstitutional overcrowding at the Los Angeles County Main Jail (MCJ). These ...

New Jersey Phone Rates Out of Control

Two calls a week from her incarcerated son costs Marjorie Arniotis over $150 per month. Lorraine Green pays around $200 a month to talk to her imprisoned son and was paying more until one of her sons was acquitted in January 2006.

New Jersy jails and prisons have long been ...

$205,000 Settlement in Massachusetts Strip Search Suit

On December 27, 2006, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to pay $205,000 to settle a class action lawsuit alleging hundreds of arrestees were illegally strip searched at the Hampshire Jail and House of Corrections between January 18, 2002 and November 7, 2002.

Lead plaintiff Charles Ryan IV was arrested ...

US Settles Prisoner’s UNICOR Whistleblower Suit for $6,000

US Settles Prisoner's UNICOR Whistleblower Suit for $6,000

On October 27, 2006, the United States paid $6,000 to settle with a federal prisoner who claimed he was fired from his UNICOR job in retaliation for filing safety complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In ...

Appeals Court Reverses Summary Judgment of Washington Phone Suit

A Washington appeals court has overturned a lower court's grant of summary judgment to telephone companies in a lawsuit alleging they failed to disclose rates to recipients of prisoner-initiated phone calls as required by state law.

In 2000, Sandy Judd, Zuraya Wright and Tara Herivel filed suit against five ...

Pennsylvania Work-Release Program Criticized

Some citizens of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania feel that county work-release prisoners are forfeiting too much of their salary to a greedy judicial system.

Businessman Lewis Knepp employs work-release prisoners. He tells how one of his employees, who earns $10 an hour and takes home $317 a week has $257 garnished ...

Fahrenheit 451 on Cell Block D

[Certified Jailhouse Lawyer Program Proposed]
By Evan R. Seamone, Esq., Reprinted from Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 24, No. 1 (2006), pp. 91-147.

Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg

Attorney Evan R. Seamone wants to promote justice by raising the stature of jailhouse lawyers nationwide. He proposes having a mini-Bar examination to certify them in an effort to fight back against the debilitating effect of the U.S. Supreme Court?s decision in Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996).

Lewis pitilessly declared that prisoners have no constitutional right to a law library to prepare pleadings for their liberty; they only have the right of ?access to the courthouse steps? to file what predictably follows -- inartful and ineffectual petitions. While the Lewis court did allow that one could seek damages for denial of access ...

California DOC Ordered to Comply with Overdue Suicide Prevention Measures

On February 13, 2006, The U.S. District Court (E.D. Cal.) entered a remedial Stipulation and Order to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to force CDCR to implement the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) policy that the court had previously ordered on June 9, 2005. CDCR?s failure ...

Texas Prisoners Face Mandatory Testing For HIV

From January to May 2006, 480 Texas prisoners tested HIV-positive upon their release from prison. Testing for the virus has now become mandatory in Texas before a prisoner can be released.

The bill for mandatory testing, passed in May 2005, was sponsored by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.

?We need to ...

$275,000 Paid In Excessive-Force Michigan Jail Death Lawsuit

by John E. Dannenberg

On May 25, 2006, Kent County, Michigan agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit for $275,000 brought by the family of a Grand Rapids man who died of a heart attack suffered after struggling with arresting police. County officials denied any liability, but paid off ...

Grievances Must Identify Defendants Later Sued

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed in part and reversed in part an Ohio federal district court?s dismissal of a prisoner?s complaint for failure to comply with the exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

Christopher Bell, a prisoner at Ohio?s Trumball Correctional ...

Colorado Prisoners Caging Prisoners

Colorado State Penitentiary II (CSP-IT) is slated for construction in early 2007. It will hold the state?s most dangerous prisoners locked down for 23 hours per day. Ironically, the 948 pre-fab cells will be built by prisoners in the Freemont prison facility located about a mile down the road ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On December 22, 2006, Yuma state prison captain Wiliam Kangas, 52, was sentenced to 100 years in state prison after a jury convicted him of possessing child pornography. The crime was reported to police by a fellow Arizona Department of Corrections guard who was repairing Kangas? computer and found ...

Wyoming Federal Court Awards Attorney $18,000 for Compliance Monitoring

On March 9, 2006, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming awarded $16,200.50 in enhanced fees plus $2,105.28 in costs to an attorney for time spent monitoring compliance with remedial measures at the Carbon County (Wyoming) Jail.

In August 2003 Carbon County officials ...