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Prison Legal News: May, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Michigan Prisons: Another CMS Failure in Privatized Prisoner Health Care (p 1)
  2. Michigan's Prison Health Care System Found Contemptuous (p 7)
  3. Michigan's In-Cell Restraints Considered Torture; Injunction Issued (p 8)
  4. California Creates High Risk Sex Offender Task Force (p 10)
  5. From the Editor (p 10)
  6. Florida's Prison Industry Practices Tightening (p 11)
  7. PLN Uncovers Secret Sweetheart Settlement Between PRIDE and Former Board Members (p 12)
  8. Nevada Prisoner Awarded $18,700 For Retaliation Claim (p 12)
  9. Indianapolis’ Sex Offender Ordinance Banning Presence in Public Places with Children Enjoined (p 13)
  10. New BOP Program Isolating Muslim, Middle Eastern Prisoners (p 14)
  11. ABA Recommends Congress Repeal Portions of PLRA (p 16)
  12. Doing “Katrina Time” (p 18)
  13. Habeas Hints: Retroactivity-Cunningham and Beyond (p 20)
  14. Fraudulent Tax Returns Net Illegal Millions for Prisoners (p 22)
  15. Suit Over Suicide At Indian Jail In Washington Settled For $700,000 (p 24)
  16. New Jersey Auditor: Life Skills Academy Prison Contract Improperly Monitored (p 24)
  17. Record Number of Texas Prison Guards Arrested (p 26)
  18. $143,774.55 Attorney Fee and Costs Award in New York EMSA Suit (p 27)
  19. Kentucky County Settles Prisoner Rape Suit for $1.4 Million (p 28)
  20. WA Prisoners Entitled to Minimal Due Process Before Risk Level Demotion (p 28)
  21. Washington State Waits Too Long to Collect Restitution (p 28)
  22. Prisoner’s Death After Restraint Settled By Los Angeles County For $80,000 (p 29)
  23. Eleventh Circuit Remands ADA and Section 1983 Claims for Amended Complaint (p 29)
  24. Audit of California DOC Contracted Healthcare Expenditures Reveals Rampant Waste, Abuse and Management Deficiencies (p 30)
  25. Guards Sue California DOC for Identity Theft by Prisoner Workers (p 32)
  26. Missouri Elective Abortion Ban Ruled Unconstitutional In Class Action (p 32)
  27. Washington DOC Settles Open Records Suit for $15,000 (p 33)
  28. Jail Chaplains Scrutinized for Affairs with Female Prisoners (p 34)
  29. California DOC Settles With PLN Over Restrictive Publications Policies: Changes Regulations, Pays Damages (p 34)
  30. $128,000 Cost Fee Against Former Angolite Editor Reversed (p 35)
  31. $110,000 Settlement for North Carolina Prisoner Beaten By Guards (p 36)
  32. U.S. Supreme Court: Failure to Exhaust Remedies Is an Affirmative Defense Under the PLRA (p 36)
  33. Missouri’s Lethal Injection Protocol Unconstitutional; Executions Stayed (p 37)
  34. Innocent Idaho Prisoner Receives $900,000 for 21 Years Wrongful Incarceration (p 38)
  35. A Devastating Link: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs (p 38)
  36. Prosecutors Check Prospective Jurors’ Background, Hoping to Disqualify Them (p 39)
  37. EPA Fines Pennsylvania DOC $37,000 for Air Violations (p 40)
  38. Registration Requirements Expanded to Non-Sex Crimes and Unconvicted Offenses (p 40)
  39. Florida DOC Liable for Legal Copy Costs Not Repaid (p 41)
  40. Pennsylvania Prisoner Wins $10,000 On Excessive Force Claim (p 41)
  41. Suit For Untreated Diabetic Prisoner’s Death In Los Angeles County Jail Lobby Settled For $700,000 (p 41)
  42. News in Brief: (p 42)
  43. Washington DOC Pays $1.9 Million in Rape-Murder; County Escapes Liability (p 44)

Michigan Prisons: Another CMS Failure in Privatized Prisoner Health Care

by David M. Reutter

Another state prison system that subjected itself to the experiment of privatized medical services has learned the same hard lesson suffered by other states: a trail of inadequate care that leaves prisoners dead or maimed. This time the Michigan prison system is under pressure by the ...

Michigan's Prison Health Care System Found Contemptuous

by David M. Reutter

"Step on a man's foot once, and a polite apology will do. Do it twice, and a profuse apology is in order. Do it thrice, and you have left the land of apology and entered the arena of self-defense." That saying is the beginning of ...

Michigan's In-Cell Restraints Considered Torture; Injunction Issued

by David M. Reutter

A Michigan federal district court has held that the use of in-cell restraints for punitive reasons constitutes torture. In reaching that conclusion, the Court reopened its previous judgment concerning mental health claims and issued a preliminary injunction.

The Court's ruling comes in the Hadix case ...

California Creates High Risk Sex Offender Task Force

By Executive Order S-6-08 (May 15, 2006), California?s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger created the High Risk Sex Offender Task Force (HRSOTF). Its job was to advise the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on policy upgrades regarding (1) notification of local law enforcement of the release ...

From the Editor

This issue marks PLN?s 17th anniversary and our 205th issue since we first started publishing in May, 1990. This makes PLN the longest published, by far, independent prisoner publication in US history. About 95% of PLN?s articles remain written by current or former prisoners around the country. In ...

Florida's Prison Industry Practices Tightening

by David M. Reutter

Three years after its scathing report on the corporate nepotism that was lining the pockets of administrators of Florida's Prison Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), Florida's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accounting (OPPAGA) has issued a progress report. The fiascos revealed by ...

PLN Uncovers Secret Sweetheart Settlement Between PRIDE and Former Board Members

by David M. Reutter

In its continual effort to expose corruption within prisons, PLN has uncovered the confidential settlement between Florida?s Prison Rehabilitation Industries and Diversified Industries (PRIDE) and the corporations spawned by its former directors? corporations.

Our January 2005 cover article detailed how PRIDE corporate executives and directors ...

Nevada Prisoner Awarded $18,700 For Retaliation Claim

On October 14, 2005, a federal jury in Nevada awarded $18,700 to a state prisoner who suffered a retaliatory transfer and punishment after he voiced complaints about the prison?s food and grievance procedures.

According to the lawsuit, prisoner Phillip Lyons was elected president of the NAACP?s local ...

Indianapolis’ Sex Offender Ordinance Banning Presence in Public Places with Children Enjoined

Indianapolis' Sex Offender Ordinance Banning Presence in Public Places with Children Enjoined

An Indiana federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs in an action challenging a City of Indianapolis ordinance that bans sex offenders from being within 1,000 feet of a public playground, recreation center ...

New BOP Program Isolating Muslim, Middle Eastern Prisoners

by Jennifer Van Bergen

The US Department of Justice has implemented a secretive new prison program segregating ?high-security-risk? Muslim and Middle Eastern prisoners and tightly restricting their communications with the outside world in apparent violation of federal law, according to documents obtained by Raw Story and PLN.

Quietly implemented in ...

ABA Recommends Congress Repeal Portions of PLRA

by David M. Reutter

The American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section has issued a report that “urges Congress to repeal or amend specified portions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).” That report was sent for approval and action by the ABA’s House of Delegates in February 2007, which ...

Doing “Katrina Time”

Doing "Katrina Time"

by Bob Williams

Last month, PLN's cover story addressed the terrors and tribulations faced by prisoners when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans on August 29, 2005 -- not just the horrors of the storm, but also the brutality and abuse inflicted by ill-prepared and sadistic prison guards ...

Habeas Hints: Retroactivity-Cunningham and Beyond

by Kent Russell

This column is intended to provide ?habeas hints? to prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys (?in pro per?). The focus of the column is habeas corpus practice under AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice ...

Fraudulent Tax Returns Net Illegal Millions for Prisoners

Arizona prisoners are so adept at defrauding the IRS that U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (AZ) dubbed the dilemma ?Operation H&R (Cell) Block.?

The business of bilking Uncle Sam from within Arizona prisons accounted for about half of the state?s fraudulent income tax claims in 2005. ?It?s time we put it out of business,? Rep. Hayworth stated.

Nationwide, nearly $10 million worth of fraudulent tax claims were filed by 18,000 prisoners in 2004. That?s about one-seventh of all phony claims and is up 700 percent over the past three years.

?There is no question that prisoner refund fraud is on the rise,? said Nancy Jardini, chief of IRS criminal investigations. ?Even though prisoner returns comprised less than 1 percent of all federal income tax returns filed in 2004, more than 15 percent of false refund returns used prisoner names and taxpayer identification numbers.?

Several problems prevent authorities from solving or even slowing prisoner tax scams. One difficulty is that prisoners who are identified in such cases are seldom punished. State prison officials often investigate but don?t impose disciplinary sanctions for fear of impeding federal investigators. Federal officials are prohibited by law from divulging details of an investigation to prison officials. Thus, even known guilty prisoners are neither prosecuted nor disciplined.

Another problem is that punishment is often ineffective. ?If someone is in prison and spending years there anyway, what?s the point of spending time and resources?? queries Sandy Schwartz, an investigation supervisor for the Arizona Revenue Department. ?Are we going to prosecute? No.?

One Arizona prisoner, however, didn?t benefit from the frustrated government?s live-and-let-defraud philosophy. Daniel G. Johnson was a library worker at the privately-operated Marana Community Correctional Treatment Center when he contrived a tax scheme. Johnson filed two returns claiming overpaid taxes on gambling winnings; he requested refunds totaling $209,815. The large sum threw up a red flag, which eventually led to Johnson?s prosecution. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced on ...

Suit Over Suicide At Indian Jail In Washington Settled For $700,000

The family of a man who hanged himself in a Washington jail managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has settled with the federal government for $700,000, according to an announcement made on January 31, 2007.

Although he had expressed suicidal thoughts, Ricky Sampson, 39, was left unattended ...

New Jersey Auditor: Life Skills Academy Prison Contract Improperly Monitored

by Matthew T. Clarke

A report by the New Jersey State Auditor released in July 2005, finds that the $1.5 million Life Skills Academy (LSA) contract was not properly monitored by prison system officials. The problems included prisoners who had graduated from the program previously and were facilitating the ...

Record Number of Texas Prison Guards Arrested

by Matthew T. Clarke

It has often been said that it?s hard to tell the cops from the crooks. In Texas this may be true for prison guards as well. In April 2006, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) released information indicating that record numbers of guards have ...

$143,774.55 Attorney Fee and Costs Award in New York EMSA Suit

by Matthew T. Clarke

On May 16, 2006, a New York federal district court magistrate recommended awarding $143,774.55 in attorney fees and costs to the attorneys who represented a prisoner in a civil rights action.

Byron Lake was a prisoner in the Schenectady County (New York) Jail. Due ...

Kentucky County Settles Prisoner Rape Suit for $1.4 Million

Grant County, Kentucky, has settled with a prisoner who was brutally raped in the county's jail for $1.4 million. The September 1, 2005, settlement was the largest to date in a series of similar lawsuits against the county.

The victim, Joshua Sester, who had just turned 18 and ...

WA Prisoners Entitled to Minimal Due Process Before Risk Level Demotion

Division 1 of the Washington Court of Appeals has ruled that the State Department of Corrections (DOC) must afford minimal due process to prisoners whose risk assessment levels it intends to demote.

In 2000, Dion Xavier Adams, a Washington State prisoner, was sentenced to 108 months in prison for drug ...

Washington State Waits Too Long to Collect Restitution

Division 2 of the Washington State Court of Appeals has vacated a restitution order imposed in a criminal case because the state took no action to secure payment for over 10 years.

On June 26, 1986, Daniel Sigo pled guilty to attempted 1st degree theft in the Pierce County Superior ...

Prisoner’s Death After Restraint Settled By Los Angeles County For $80,000

Prisoner's Death After Restraint Settled By Los Angeles County For $80,000

The Los Angeles County Claims Board settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $80,000 in December 2006 that resulted from a jail prisoner dying after being restrained of his assaultive behavior.

On January 10, 2005, Pitchess Detention ...

Eleventh Circuit Remands ADA and Section 1983 Claims for Amended Complaint

Eleventh Circuit Remands ADA and § 1983 Claims for Amended Complaint

by John E. Dannenberg

In two similar cases, the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued orders remanding prisoner complaints of Georgia?s violations of Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA; 42 U.S.C. § 12131 ...

Audit of California DOC Contracted Healthcare Expenditures Reveals Rampant Waste, Abuse and Management Deficiencies

In August 2006, State Controller Steve Westly reported his fiscal review of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation?s (CDCR) prisoner healthcare delivery system expenditures to Robert Sillen, Receiver for the California Prison Receivership (see: PLN, Mar. 2006, p.1, Federal Court Seizes California Prisons? Medical Care; Appoints Receiver ...

Guards Sue California DOC for Identity Theft by Prisoner Workers

Thirty-one guards from Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), California?s supermax lockup, filed suit on May 23, 2006 in Sacramento Superior Court against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation following the discovery that PBSP prisoners had obtained guards? names, Social Security numbers (SSNs), work attendance data and home addresses ...

Missouri Elective Abortion Ban Ruled Unconstitutional In Class Action

A federal court in Missouri held in a class action lawsuit that a prison policy barring elective abortions was unconstitutional and invalid.

The Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) and its medical provider, Correctional Medical Services (CMS), routinely transported women prisoners to abortion clinics at the prisoners? requests prior to July ...

Washington DOC Settles Open Records Suit for $15,000

On May 1, 2006, the State of Washington agreed to pay prisoner Allan Parmelee $15,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the Department of Corrections (DOC) refusal to provide him with records he had requested under the Public Disclosure Act (PDA), RCW 42.17, et seq.

Pursuant to the ...

Jail Chaplains Scrutinized for Affairs with Female Prisoners

Two county jail chaplains in different states are being accused by female prisoners of seeking sex from them while in custody.

When she was held in Indiana?s Morgan County Jail, Susan L. Robbins, 38, was involved in the jail?s GED program. That program was started by the jail ...

California DOC Settles With PLN Over Restrictive Publications Policies: Changes Regulations, Pays Damages

by John E. Dannenberg

On December 19, 2006, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) settled with Prison Legal News (PLN) over PLN's complaints of CDCR's restrictive publications-approval policies for California state prisoners. On April 12, 2007, PLN filed the complaint in federal district court in Oakland ...

$128,000 Cost Fee Against Former Angolite Editor Reversed

Louisiana?s Third Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court?s order imposing a $128,000 court cost fee assessed against award winning former prison journalist Wilbert Rideau. PLN previously reported on Rideau?s release.

Rideau is best known for his work as editor of Angola Prison?s ...

$110,000 Settlement for North Carolina Prisoner Beaten By Guards

A North Carolina prisoner who claimed jailers brutally beat him in the Mecklenburg County Jail (MCJ) will receive $110,000 in exchange for dropping his lawsuit against the county.

Paul Midgett alleged that while imprisoned at MCJ on May 10, 2000, he was pummeled by guards Paul E. Gee, Doltheia ...

U.S. Supreme Court: Failure to Exhaust Remedies Is an Affirmative Defense Under the PLRA

by John E. Dannenberg

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held on January 22, 2007 that when a prisoner files an action governed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), the question of whether he properly exhausted administrative remedies before filing suit is an affirmative defense; the prisoner does not ...

Missouri’s Lethal Injection Protocol Unconstitutional; Executions Stayed

Missouri's Lethal Injection Protocol Unconstitutional; Executions Stayed

Finding the current method of Missouri's execution of prisoners by lethal injection subjected condemned prisoners to "an unacceptable risk of suffering unconstitutional pain and suffering," a Missouri federal district court stayed all executions in the state.

Before the Court was the ...

Innocent Idaho Prisoner Receives $900,000 for 21 Years Wrongful Incarceration

After spending nearly twenty-one years incarcerated for murder, Donald M. Paradis was released from Idaho?s death row on April 10, 2001. Now, just over fiver years later, Paradis is set to receive $900,000 for his wrongful conviction and incarceration. This case demonstrates an especially egregious case of police ...

A Devastating Link: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs

by Lovisa Stannow and Kathy Hall-Martinez

The enormous financial and moral costs of the ?war on drugs? have been well-documented over the past few years. Less known is the devastating link between U.S. drug policy and the epidemic of prisoner rape.

With laws requiring longer sentences for drug offenses ...

Prosecutors Check Prospective Jurors’ Background, Hoping to Disqualify Them

Prosecutors Check Prospective Jurors' Background, Hoping to Disqualify Them

An Ohio murder case has exposed a new tactic that prosecutors are using to disqualify potential jurors -- the use of a federal criminal records database to run background checks.

Timothy Jordan is an African-American who was charged with aggravated murder in ...

EPA Fines Pennsylvania DOC $37,000 for Air Violations

For a violation of federal environmental laws, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) has been fined $37,510. That penalty came in a settlement agreement between PDOC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The agreement resulted from an administrative complaint for violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA ...

Registration Requirements Expanded to Non-Sex Crimes and Unconvicted Offenses

by Matthew T. Clarke

Ohio and Illinois have recently expanded the scope of persons required to register with the state as sex offenders to include persons who have never been charged with or convicted of a sex crime.

In Ohio, the law was intended to register persons suspected of having ...

Florida DOC Liable for Legal Copy Costs Not Repaid

The Circuit Court for Leon County, Florida, on October 4, 2006, awarded a Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) prisoner $1,030 in damages and court costs in an action seeking recovery of the cost of legal copies made for the prisoner.

Prisoner Elijah Jackson, following the decision in Smith v ...

Pennsylvania Prisoner Wins $10,000 On Excessive Force Claim

A Pennsylvania state prisoner who was injured when a guard slammed the cell slot door on his arm after the prisoner didn?t retract his arm soon enough was awarded $10,000 in punitive damages by a federal jury on January 28, 2006.

Greene Correctional Institution prisoner Demetrious Bailey sued ...

Suit For Untreated Diabetic Prisoner’s Death In Los Angeles County Jail Lobby Settled For $700,000

Suit For Untreated Diabetic Prisoner's Death In Los Angeles County Jail Lobby Settled For $700,000

The Los Angeles County Claims Board settled out a wrongful death lawsuit for $700,000 that resulted from a jail prisoner dying from lack of insulin after sitting for three days unattended in ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On May 1, 2006, Timothy Monk, 34, a prisoner at the Wilmot Prison, took prison guard Laurel Kennedy hostage while armed with a razor blade shank, demanding a transfer to the state of Montana in exchange for her release. Monk released Kennedy unharmed after six hours and then surrendered ...

Washington DOC Pays $1.9 Million in Rape-Murder; County Escapes Liability

The Washington Supreme Court has held that Mason County had no duty to warn the public of a sex offender in the community, thus the County could not be held liable for negligence.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the family of 15-year-old Jennie Mae Osborn, who was ...