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Prison Legal News: April, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Reflections on Katrina’s First Year: The Story of Chaos and Continuing Abuse in One of America’s Worst Justice Systems (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 14)
  3. Mentally Ill Connecticut Prisoner Assaulted by Guard Awarded $250,000, Plus $121,384.80 in Fees (p 15)
  4. California DOC Stipulates to Providing Comprehensive Dental Care Program (p 16)
  5. PLN Sues Dallas County Jail for Censorship (p 17)
  6. Two Registered Sex Offenders Murdered in Maine (p 18)
  7. Does Parole Work? Apparently Not. (p 19)
  8. Two Victories in New York’s Struggle Against Unjust Telephone Contract (p 20)
  9. Early Release Debacle Prompts Nevada Prison Director’s Resignation (p 22)
  10. California DOC Substance-Abuse Contractor Audits Reveal $5 Million in Overcharges (p 22)
  11. Alabama Transfers Prisoners to Louisiana Rather Than Use In-State Prison (p 23)
  12. Pennsylvania County Pays U.S. INS $16 Million for Detainee Housing Overcharges (p 24)
  13. Prisoners In 13 States Allowed Work-Access To Social Security Numbers (p 24)
  14. Deaths In Alabama Jail Prompt Changes (p 26)
  15. Eight Tennessee Guards Convicted in Prisoners’ Beatings, Death (p 26)
  16. Washington State Supreme Court Justice Reprimanded For Visiting Prisoners (p 27)
  17. Sexual Victimization in Prison Statistically Analyzed (p 28)
  18. Yale University Divests CCA Stock Following Student and PLN Protests (p 28)
  19. Tennessee Prison Contracting Official Engaged to Contractor (p 30)
  20. California Corrections Standards Authority Chided by Inspector General for Failure to Develop Prison Guard Selection and Training Standards (p 30)
  21. Illinois DOC Capitulates On Prison Newspaper Ban (p 31)
  22. Corruption and Violence Plague South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Prisons (p 32)
  23. Chicago Juvenile Detention Center Workers Resist Court-Ordered Reforms (p 32)
  24. Maryland’s Public Information Act Exempt from Administrative Exhaustion Requirements (p 33)
  25. California Sexual Predators’ Suit Alleging Unconstitutional Civil Confinement Conditions Survives Dismissal (p 34)
  26. California Prisoner Fed Finger Settles with Florida Food Manufacturer (p 35)
  27. Ninth Circuit: Before Conducting Warrantless Parole Search, Police Need Probable Cause to Believe Parolee Lives There (p 36)
  28. BOP Mail Rule Banning Internet Downloads and Soft Cover Publications Not Sent by Publisher Held Unconstitutional (p 37)
  29. Oklahoma Orthodox Jewish Prisoners Win Kosher Diet (p 38)
  30. Marin County, California Settles Wrongful Jail Death For $1 Million (p 38)
  31. California-Based Mental Health Systems, Inc.Fails 23 Audits (p 39)
  32. Ninth Circuit: Failure to Timely Set Fractured Thumb is Actionable (p 40)
  33. California State Prisoner Wins $21,800 for 250 Days Excess Incarceration (p 40)
  34. California Prisoner IFP State Civil Filing Fee Statutes Interpreted (p 40)
  35. Sensitive Illinois DOC Personnel Records Compromised (p 41)
  36. News in Brief: (p 42)
  37. Expungement, Not Rehearing, Mandated in Colorado Disciplinary Reversals (p 42)
  38. Los Angeles County Sheriff Immune from Suit on Jail Housing Policies (p 44)

Reflections on Katrina’s First Year: The Story of Chaos and Continuing Abuse in One of America’s Worst Justice Systems

Reflections on Katrina's First Year: The Story of Chaos and Continuing Abuse in One of America's Worst Justice Systems

by Bob Williams

As America reflected on Hurricane Katrina's first anniversary last August, one major component was missing from the many reviews: The abused, neglected prisoners. Ignored during ...

From the Editor

This year?s matching grant fundraiser went well and raised a total of $17,994.69. Prisoners donated over $1,000 of this amount. We would like to thank everyone who donated to the fundraiser. Fundraiser donations are making possible the revamping of PLN?s website to be more user ...

Mentally Ill Connecticut Prisoner Assaulted by Guard Awarded $250,000, Plus $121,384.80 in Fees

On March 3, 2006, a federal jury in Connecticut awarded $250,000 to a mentally ill state prisoner who was beaten by a high-ranking prison guard at the Northern Correctional Institution.

According to his amended complaint, Duane Ziemba, a mentally ill prisoner with a long history of self-destructive behavior and ...

California DOC Stipulates to Providing Comprehensive Dental Care Program

by John E. Dannenberg

In settlement of a federal class action lawsuit on December 15, 2005, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agreed to provide dental care for all prisoners as set forth in a new Dental Policies and Procedures manual (?Manual?) and an Implementation Plan.
CDCR?s ...

PLN Sues Dallas County Jail for Censorship

On February 26, 2007, Prison Legal News filed suit against the Dallas County Jail in Dallas, Texas, challenging the jail?s total ban on magazines and newspapers. PLN claims the policy, which took effect on March 31, 2006, violates the publication?s right to free speech and due process of ...

Two Registered Sex Offenders Murdered in Maine

by Matthew T. Clarke

A violent criminal predator used Maine's sex offender registry web site to identify two sex offenders so he could murder them.

Stephen A. Marshall, 20, of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, used his laptop to methodically research the information posted on 34 registered sex offenders ...

Does Parole Work? Apparently Not.

More than 774,000 men and women were on some form of community supervision in 2003, up 74.5 percent from 197,000 in 1980. According to a March 2005 study of the Urban Institute, however, ?parole supervision has little effect on re-arrest rates of released prisoners?.

The goal of ...

Two Victories in New York’s Struggle Against Unjust Telephone Contract

Two Victories in New York's Struggle Against Unjust Telephone Contract

by Annette Dickerson, Rachel Meeropol, and Lauren Melodia

Families of those incarcerated by New York State finally won some justice this winter in their fight against a prison telephone contract that charges families of prisoners 630 percent more for ...

Early Release Debacle Prompts Nevada Prison Director’s Resignation

Early Release Debacle Prompts Nevada Prison Director's Resignation

by Matthew T. Clarke

Jackie Crawford, director of the Nevada state prison system since May 2000, announced her resignation from the $116,000-a-year position on September 15, 2005. The announcement cited health issues -- a worsening back problem -- as the reason for ...

California DOC Substance-Abuse Contractor Audits Reveal $5 Million in Overcharges

by John E. Dannenberg

California?s Inspector General (IG), the state?s overseer of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), discovered $5 million in past overcharges from three substance-abuse treatment contractors, plus $258,250 in overstated expenses and chronic illegal retention of CDCR property after completion of the ...

Alabama Transfers Prisoners to Louisiana Rather Than Use In-State Prison

Overcrowded prisons in Alabama almost landed state prison commissioner Richard Allen in jail. Under current state law the DOC has thirty days to pick up prisoners from county jails once they?ve been convicted. But the prison population being almost double what it was designed to hold has left a ...

Pennsylvania County Pays U.S. INS $16 Million for Detainee Housing Overcharges

by John E. Dannenberg

On October 25, 2006, York County, Pennsylvania agreed to pay the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) $16 million to settle a dispute over alleged overcharges for INS detainees who were housed in the York County Prison (York) between October 1999 and March 2003.

York ...

Prisoners In 13 States Allowed Work-Access To Social Security Numbers

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported that prisoners in thirteen states had access to Social Security numbers (SSNs) during the course of their prison employment. Following a nationwide survey, the OIG recommended that this access be curtailed to prevent identity theft, although ...

Deaths In Alabama Jail Prompt Changes

Two people died in less than 90 days in Alabama’s Baldwin County Corrections Center. On May 30, 2006, at 11:30 p.m., Ross Paul Yates was found slumped over and unresponsive, in his cell, his hands cuffed behind him to a restraint rail on the wall. He was officially ...

Eight Tennessee Guards Convicted in Prisoners’ Beatings, Death

Eight Tennessee Guards Convicted in Prisoners? Beatings, Death

by Gary Hunter

Walter "Steve" Kuntz was beaten to death by jailers in Wilson County, Tennessee. His murder led to a federal investigation, the indictment of nine jailers, six guilty pleas and two convictions.

On January 12, 2003, Kuntz was arrested for ...

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Reprimanded For Visiting Prisoners

Citing an ?appearance of partiality,? a nine-member substitute special panel of the Washington State Supreme Court admonished Justice Richard B. Sanders for his having visited McNeil Island Special Commitment Center in 2003 where he spoke with sexually violent predator prisoners and accepted documents from them.

The panel was concerned that ...

Sexual Victimization in Prison Statistically Analyzed

by John E. Dannenberg

The New York Academy of Medicine published a study in June 2006 on rates of sexual victimization of state prisoners. Contrasted with earlier studies that only used small population samples, this study covered all adult prisoners (22,231) in one state, encompassing its twelve male prisons ...

Yale University Divests CCA Stock Following Student and PLN Protests

According to a May 12, 2006 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Farallon Capital Management LLC, a hedge fund that handles part of Yale University's $12 billion endowment, has sold all of its shares in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest private prison operator. Farallon, which controls ...

Tennessee Prison Contracting Official Engaged to Contractor

The Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) is investigating whether a romance between a prison contract oversight official and a prison contractor involved any impropriety.

TDOC purchasing director Nola Butler disclosed her romantic relationship with prison commissary contractor Martin Jennen, president of American Commissary Supply-US, to TDOC Assistant Commissioner Catherine Posey ...

California Corrections Standards Authority Chided by Inspector General for Failure to Develop Prison Guard Selection and Training Standards

The California Inspector General (IG) reviewed progress in October, 2006 on his seven earlier (2005) recommendations to the 19-member Corrections Standards Authority pertaining to development of selection and training standards for prison guards, and found that only two had been partially accomplished. The IG found that the responsible agency, the ...

Illinois DOC Capitulates On Prison Newspaper Ban

by John E. Dannenberg

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) settled a publisher?s civil rights complaint challenging the arbitrary ban of Stateville Speaks, a nascent newspaper containing writings by IDOC prisoners. The IDOC amended its mail regulations regarding ?unacceptable publication? reviews (20 Ill. Adm. Code § 525.230) to provide ...

Corruption and Violence Plague South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Prisons

Corruption and Violence Plague South Africa's Post-Apartheid Prisons

by Gary Hunter

Corruption plagues South African (SA) prisons at every level as prisoners suffer violence and torture from both prisoners and warders alike.

Former high court judge Thabani Jali was commissioned, in 2003, to launch an extensive probe of SA ...

Chicago Juvenile Detention Center Workers Resist Court-Ordered Reforms

by John E. Dannenberg

In June 1999, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) won a suit against Chicago?s Cook County to abate unconstitutionally sordid, unsafe and abusive conditions at its Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC), conditions that had been tied to staff improprieties and inaction. But as of June ...

Maryland’s Public Information Act Exempt from Administrative Exhaustion Requirements

Maryland's Public Information Act Exempt from Administrative Exhaustion Requirements

The Maryland Court of Appeals has held that a prisoner is not required to exhaust administrative remedies to bring an action under the Public Information Act.

Before the Court was a case filed by Richard C. Massey, Jr., a prisoner ...

California Sexual Predators’ Suit Alleging Unconstitutional Civil Confinement Conditions Survives Dismissal

California Sexual Predators' Suit Alleging Unconstitutional Civil Confinement Conditions Survives Dismissal

by John E. Dannenberg

A class of 600 civilly committed sexually violent predators (SVP) sued the California Department of Mental Health (DMH) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, complaining of a litany of unconstitutional conditions of confinement. When the ...

California Prisoner Fed Finger Settles with Florida Food Manufacturer

On January 31, 2006, a Florida food company reached a confidential settlement agreement with a California state prisoner who found a three-quarter inch long human finger tip in one of the company?s prepackaged meals.

While confined in isolation at California?s Pelican Bay Prison on March 20, 2005, prisoner ...

Ninth Circuit: Before Conducting Warrantless Parole Search, Police Need Probable Cause to Believe Parolee Lives There

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has held that ?before conducting a warrantless search pursuant to a properly imposed parole condition, law enforcement officers must have probable cause to believe that the parolee resides at the house to be searched.? The court distinguished this ...

BOP Mail Rule Banning Internet Downloads and Soft Cover Publications Not Sent by Publisher Held Unconstitutional

by John E. Dannenberg

On October 26, 2006, in an unpublished order, the U.S. District Court (D. Colo.) held that 28 C.F.R. § 540.71(a)(2), which restricts Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoners from receiving soft cover publications unless they come directly from the publisher, a book ...

Oklahoma Orthodox Jewish Prisoners Win Kosher Diet

by John E. Dannenberg

Three Orthodox Jewish state prisoners won both preliminary and permanent injunctive relief requiring the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) to provide them a Kosher diet at no personal cost.

Prisoners Dennis Fulbright, Jon Cottriel and Jerry Harmon brought individual 42 U.S.C. § 1983 actions in ...

Marin County, California Settles Wrongful Jail Death For $1 Million

by John E. Dannenberg

Marin County, California settled with the surviving family of a man who died after being hog-tied upon his arrest by Marin County Sheriff deputies.

Cary Grime was a pedestrian at 2 a.m. in the city of Novato on August 17, 2003. He was observed by ...

California-Based Mental Health Systems, Inc.Fails 23 Audits

by John E. Dannenberg

San Diego, California-based nonprofit addict-counseling firm Mental Health Systems, Inc. (MHS) may have been making a profit on its annual revenues of $65 million, after all. In May 2006, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency asked MHS to reimburse the county $83,278 ...

Ninth Circuit: Failure to Timely Set Fractured Thumb is Actionable

by John E. Dannenberg

A California prisoner who severely fractured his right thumb when falling from an upper bunk stated sufficient facts to assert an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, as well as a violation of California Government Code (GC) § 845.6 [state law ...

California State Prisoner Wins $21,800 for 250 Days Excess Incarceration

On July 5, 2006, a jury awarded $21,800 to a California state prisoner after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) miscalculated his good time/work time credits on his twelve year sentence.

Jorge Gallegos, a Mexican national, was sentenced to state prison in September 1995. With CDCR ...

California Prisoner IFP State Civil Filing Fee Statutes Interpreted

by John E. Dannenberg

In an important ruling for all California in forma pauperis (IFP) prisoner state civil complaint plaintiffs, the California Court of Appeal interpreted the application of the mandatory prisoner civil filing fee statutes, Government Code (GC) § 68511.3 and Penal Code (PC) § 2601.

Phillip Sanders had filed ...

Sensitive Illinois DOC Personnel Records Compromised

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) recently mishandled personnel information on ?virtually all? of its 13,500 employees. Additionally, the Department of Transportation lost data on 40 of its employees.

An angry public employees? union demanded to know when the breach occurred, what had been done to correct it, and ...

News in Brief:

Brazil: On September 12, 2006, Colonel Ubiritan Guimaraes, a former military police commander who in 1992 oversaw the storming of the Carandiru prison in which 111 prisoners were murdered by police, was found dead in his Sao Paulo apartment of a single gunshot wound to his chest, wrapped in a ...

Expungement, Not Rehearing, Mandated in Colorado Disciplinary Reversals

In an unpublished opinion, the Colorado Court of Appeals has held that expungement of a prisoner?s disciplinary record, not a rehearing, is an appropriate remedy when reversed on administrative or judicial review.

Colorado prisoner Lewis Simpson was convicted of Code of Penal Discipline (COPD) violations for assault and advocating ...

Los Angeles County Sheriff Immune from Suit on Jail Housing Policies

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeal held that the Los Angeles (L.A.) County Sheriff was immune from suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for injuries suffered by a prisoner who claimed his suffering was due to jail housing policies that failed to protect him from ...