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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: May, 2007

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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. Washington State Waits Too Long to Collect Restitution (p 28)
  20. Kentucky County Settles Prisoner Rape Suit for $1.4 Million (p 28)
  21. WA Prisoners Entitled to Minimal Due Process Before Risk Level Demotion (p 28)
  22. Eleventh Circuit Remands ADA and Section 1983 Claims for Amended Complaint (p 29)
  23. Prisoner’s Death After Restraint Settled By Los Angeles County For $80,000 (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. U.S. Supreme Court: Failure to Exhaust Remedies Is an Affirmative Defense Under the PLRA (p 36)
  32. $110,000 Settlement for North Carolina Prisoner Beaten By Guards (p 36)
  33. Missouri’s Lethal Injection Protocol Unconstitutional; Executions Stayed (p 37)
  34. A Devastating Link: Prisoner Rape and the War on Drugs (p 38)
  35. Innocent Idaho Prisoner Receives $900,000 for 21 Years Wrongful Incarceration (p 38)
  36. Prosecutors Check Prospective Jurors’ Background, Hoping to Disqualify Them (p 39)
  37. Registration Requirements Expanded to Non-Sex Crimes and Unconvicted Offenses (p 40)
  38. EPA Fines Pennsylvania DOC $37,000 for Air Violations (p 40)
  39. Suit For Untreated Diabetic Prisoner’s Death In Los Angeles County Jail Lobby Settled For $700,000 (p 41)
  40. Pennsylvania Prisoner Wins $10,000 On Excessive Force Claim (p 41)
  41. Florida DOC Liable for Legal Copy Costs Not Repaid (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 mainstream media and the Governor's office to examine the health care provided to prisoners by Correctional Medical Services (CMS).

CMS is no stranger to PLN readers. In our December 2005 issue we detailed the inept and non-existent care provided to Delaware prisoners. While Delaware's experiment with privatized prison health care goes back 20 years, Michigan opened its prisons to HMO-style for-profit medical services in 1997, when it contracted with United Correctional Managed Care. CMS assumed the contract the following year; in 2004 the company's contract was renewed for three more years through April 2007.

Michigan's experiment is mainly isolated to what are known as the "Hadix prisons," so named after a lawsuit that has put prisons in the Jackson area under federal oversight for more than a decade (Hadix v. Caruso, USDC WD MI, Case No. 4:92-CV-00110-RAE). That lawsuit sought to improve medical care and ...

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, a longstanding prison conditions suit dating back to 1980 that involves several prisons operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC). In January 2001, the Court terminated enforcement of the mental health provisions of an earlier consent decree. The case has generated dozens of rulings and published opinions.

After the August 6, 2006 death of Timothy Souders, whom the Court identified only as T.S., the Plaintiffs moved to reopen the terminated decree provisions, arguing that Souders'death and the deaths of other prisoners were attributable to delays or malfeasance in the provision of mental health care. [See related article in this issue of PLN, Michigan Prisons: Another Failure in Privatized Prisoner Health Care].

The first two sentences of the Court's order, written by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Enslen, set a somber tone: Say a prayer for T.S. and the others who have passed. Any earthly ...

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 this time period we have grown from a hand typed, ten page, photocopied newsletter to the magazine you are now holding in your hands. In 1990 a PLN prisoner subscription cost $10, 17 years and a 38 page increase in size later it is only $18. 576 pages of magazine a year makes PLN the best buy on the cell block.

We hope to expand our size still more to bring our readers more news and information. Each full page of advertising will allow us to increase our size by four pages, and we remain committed to maintaining a balance of at least 75% editorial content to 25% advertising content. So one page of ads means readers get three pages of hard hitting useful legal information and news. Any ideas or suggestions on potential advertisers are welcomed.

Since PLN started we have grown as an organization from being an all ...

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 the OPPAGA?s 2003 report on PRIDE were the subject of PLN?s January 2005 cover story Florida's Private Prison Industry Under Siege.

That 2003 report revealed that rather than bring profits to the state for operation of its prison industries; PRIDE's directors and corporate officers had inflated their pay and created corporations to suck the profit out of PRIDE. For instance, PRIDE's chief executive officer and president received $276,000 and $232,000 as annual salary. Moreover, they, with the Board of Directors created Industries Training Corporation (ITC) to fulfill many of PRIDE's missions.

Those board members also created other non-profits, for which they sat on the boards of for additional pay and compensation, that served PRIDE. After the scandal was exposed, PRIDE severed ties with ITC and its umbrella of corporations. The newest report from the OPPAGA reveals that cost PRIDE $19 million in ...

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 December, 2006, the special ?Communications Management Unit? (CMU) at a federal penitentiary in Indiana targeting Muslim and Middle-Eastern prisoners was not implemented through the process required by federal law, which stipulates the public be notified of any new changes to prison programs and be given the opportunity to voice objections. Instead, the program appears to have been ordered and implemented by a senior official at the Department of Justice.

In April, 2006, the US Federal Bureau of Prisons -- part of the Department of Justice -- proposed a set of strict new regulations and, as required, there was a period of public comment. Human rights and civil liberties groups, including Prison Legal News, voiced strong concerns about the constitutionality of the proposed program.

The program originally proposed was said to be applicable only to terrorists and terrorist-related criminals. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Prison Legal News, however, along with a ...

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 approved it. 

The report began by noting the PLRA, which had far-reaching implications, did not receive in-depth review by Congress, but “was inserted and approved as a rider to an omnibus appropriations bill.”
There are several reasons “the PLRA is of especial concern to all who believe in the need to the Constitution and other legal requirements,” the report said.

First, the PLRA creates for prisoners “formidable, and often insurmountable obstacles to seek redress from courts the violation of their federally secured rights." Without access to the courts, the legal rights accorded prisoners are ephemeral and unenforceable meaningless words and empty promises.

Next, the PLRA contravenes the basic premise “that it is important for prisoners to have ready access to the courts to enforce their legal rights as it is for everyone in our country.” Third, prisoners are isolated from public view, in part because ...

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.

Unfortunately, for many prisoners the ordeal didn't end there. With court records lost or under water, evidence and witnesses scattered far and wide, and the New Orleans justice system in shambles, thousands of prisoners were held for lengthy periods of time without trials or past their release dates. Their odyssey became known as doing "Katrina time."

Over 6,000 prisoners who had been packed into the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) were displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina. By September 2, 2005, almost all of those prisoners had been removed from the flooded jail buildings; they were bused to 38 facilities across the state, including the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, Jena Correctional Facility, Bossier Parish Maximum Security Jail, Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, and the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Another 2,000 prisoners were evacuated from surrounding areas.

Due to a complete lack of preparedness by OPP officials, during ...

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 throughout the U.S.

Retroactivity: Cunningham And Beyond

In my recent PLN piece entitled Cunningham -- Who?s Covered and Who?s Not, [PLN, March, 2007] I summarized the requirements for bringing a habeas corpus claim based on the January 2007 decision in Cunningham v. California, 127 S. Ct. 856 (2007), which held that California?s Determinate Sentence Law is unconstitutional to the extent that it allows the judge to impose an upper-term sentence on the basis of sentencing factors that the jury has not determined beyond a reasonable doubt. With the ink on Cunningham barely dry, the California Legislature quickly swung into action and passed a new bill which eliminates California?s preference for the middle term, thereby returning to trial judges the power to impose an upper-term sentence on their own, consistently with the Sixth Amendment concerns the Supreme Court had expressed in Cunningham. Governor Schwarznegger quickly signed the ...

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 June 27, 2006 to 33 months in federal prison, to run consecutively with his state time.

Other prisoners across the country have been prosecuted for tax fraud. Two Colorado prisoners were indicted in federal court for filing fraudulent claims. Carl William Pursley, Jr. and Wendell Wardell, Jr. applied for over $50,000 in undeserved tax refunds, but their scheme was discovered before they collected all the money.

Pursley was sentenced to eight years in federal prison in October 2005 and ordered to repay $14,440 to the IRS. Wardell was found guilty in November 2005. He also was sentenced to eight years, and ordered to repay $14,444 plus over $7,000 in court costs. Their sentences were affirmed by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

On January 18, 2007, former Ohio prisoner Tommie Lee Brown received a 46-month federal sentence for his role in a conspiracy involving 74 fraudulent ...

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 program being listed as new graduates, ineffective tracking of prisoner attendance and program attendees being graduated with only 757 of the required hours.

Life Skills Academy, Inc. of Trenton, New Jersey has an unusual past and even more unusual financing. It is supposed to teach troubled prisoners decision-making skills. The eight subjects taught in its classes include: ?effective communication,? ?goal setting,? ?emotional control.? It has eight employees and twenty coordinators.

LSA began life in 1994 as the New Jersey chapter of Amer-I-can, a prisoner rehabilitation program founded by football star Jim Brown. Brown?s program started in the late 1980?s and eventually included 11 state chapters. Brown persuaded then Assembly Speaker Garabed Haytaian to secure the New Jersey chapter $1.5 million in funding and allow Trenton street activist Shahid Watson to run the chapter.

Later in 1994, when Haytaian--who was running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination--came ...

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 been arrested in recent years.

The statistical data was obtained following a public records request by the Austin American-Statesman. Although the data did not indicate how many of the arrests were for felonies, some were for crimes as serious as capital murder of a child, murder, negligent homicide, arson, theft, bank robbery, promotion of child pornography, indecent exposure, impersonating a police officer, smuggling illegal aliens and possession of illegal drugs.

Lesser offenses included public intoxication, floating hot checks, bigamy, passing counterfeit money and interfering with a 911 call.

Notably missing from the information released by the TDCJ was the high-profile July 2004 arrest of Salvador ?Sammy? Buentello, Chairman of the State Classification Committee and assistant director of TDCJ?s Security Threat Group Management office, on multiple felony sexual assault charges. [PLN, June 2005]. Buentello pleaded guilty on March 31, 2006 to five Class A misdemeanors and one felony; he received ...

$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 ...

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 Court in Tacoma, Washington. On August 19, 1986, that court sentenced him to 93 days in jail and released him the same day with credit for time served. The court also ordered him to pay over $7,000 in restitution, but the state made no effort to collect it or to get an extension of time to do so.

On June 25, 2004, Sigo filed a motion to dismiss the restitution order in the Superior Court under RCW 9.94A.753(4). Under that statute, for crimes committed after July 1, 1985 but before July 1, 2000, the court only retains jurisdiction to collect restitution for 10 years after entry of the judgment and sentence, or for 10 years after the prisoner?s release from total confinement, whichever is longer. If asked to extend the collection period before expiration of the 10 years, the court may do so. Otherwise the ...

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 convictions. At the time, Washington prisoners could receive only a 33% sentence reduction for good conduct.

But in 2003 the legislature enacted RCW 9.94A.728(1)(b), which allowed some low-risk prisoners to earn a 50% good conduct reduction. Such prisoners must have had no violence or sex offenses in their past, and a DOC risk assessment must place them in levels RM-C or RM-D. Those in RM-A and RM-B didn't qualify.

In March of 2004, the DOC found that Adams qualified for the 50% reduction. In July the DOC demoted Adams' risk assessment level and decided that Adams no longer qualified for the 50% reduction, without allowing him to be heard. Adams filed a personal restraint petition (PRP) claiming his good time had been miscalculated.

Division 1 rejected Adams' arguments that the DOC couldn't conduct a second assessment on him and that the assessment model itself ...

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, et seq.) that had been brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to permit the prisoners to amend their complaints to distinguish and specify which of the claims and defendants had offended the ADA and which had offended § 1983. These orders followed the U.S. Supreme Court's earlier reversal of the Eleventh Circuit's dismissal of all such claims based upon Georgia's assertion of Eleventh Amendment immunity. (U.S. v. Georgia, 126 S.Ct. 877 (2006) (?Georgia?) [PLN, Mar. 2006, p. 14]).

Tony Goodman, a paraplegic Georgia prisoner, had sued state defendants for denial of wheelchair access. Although his claim had been framed in Eighth Amendment arguments (cruel and unusual punishment), he sued under both the ADA and § 1983, which the Eleventh Circuit dismissed. On certiorari in Georgia, the high court ruled that Goodman?s ADA complaint trumped the Eleventh Amendment if those claims articulated an actual Fourteenth ...

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 ...

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 With Unprecedented Powers). After examining whether these expenditures were legal, necessary, reasonable and valid, Westly lambasted, ?My office found evidence strongly suggesting that waste, abuse, and management deficiencies are rampant in the department?s expenditures and oversight of contracted healthcare services. In addition, despite previous audit recommendations by the Office of the Inspector General and the Bureau of State Audits [frequently reported in PLN], the CDCR has not implemented appropriate control measures to provide oversight over contract expenditures.?

From 2000 to 2004, CDCR?s medical expenditures increased 56% to $1.05 billion. For 2006, the annual tab was forecast to grow to $1.48 billion, and that is before the new Receiver makes a real dent in bringing healthcare operations into constitutional compliance. Of this latest total, $821 million is projected to be outside-contract care -- an increase of 437% since 2000. Thus, curing defects in outside contracting costs becomes paramount ...

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. Two guards had already suffered identity theft; one discovered fraudulent charges on her MasterCard that included an Internet search for her husband, also a prison guard.

The first security breach was discovered on February 9, 2006. A prisoner sentenced for fraud told guards he had been approached by another prisoner working in the warehouse seeking advice on how to defraud prison staff. The resulting lockdown and workplace search turned up guards? personal information. An investigation revealed how some prisoners moved documents from an unlocked area in the warehouse; other prisoners accessed boxes of guards? private data in the gym, where the boxes were stored on unsecured shelves next to a weight bench.

Sensitive forms were also found stuffed in punching bags ? one bag even made it to a prisoner?s cell. Another breach occurred on April 6, 2006 when a prisoner warehouse worker was discovered with an employee?s medical ...

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 PDA, Parmelee, a state prisoner, requested records relating to his imprisonment on June 2, 2002. A prison employee, Kay Wilson-Kirby, summarily dismissed Parmelee?s request stating that records provided in an earlier request was all that could reasonably be expected. (Parmelee was previously provided records pursuant to a January 2002 request. He claimed, however, that records had been added and/or modified since his original request and thus sought those documents in the request at issue.)

Parmelee filed repeated requests with prison officials and the state attorney general (AG). The DOC simply ignored his requests. The attorney general?s office contended they could take no action because the DOC did not deny his request, but rather simply failed to respond. As such, they reasoned, there was no specific ?denial? that was subject to review.

Parmelee was ultimately forced to seek judicial relief, and, nearly three years later, filed a claim ...

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?s chaplain, Homer Henderson, who also was the chaplain for the Indiana State Police.

Henderson would escort prisoners from the jail to Mooresville High School to have GED tests administered. On February 17, 2006, Henderson escorted Robbins and another female prisoner for test administration. When Robbins finished first, she began talking to Henderson while waiting for the other prisoner.

Henderson ?then suggested that Robbins could use the phone at the high school or furthermore, (she) could see her boyfriend.? She would, however, ?have to do him a favor.? The favor? Oral sex. They then went to a teacher?s lounge where Robbins performed that favor. Afterwards, she was given an hour to go with her boyfriend and two cousins to a Taco Bell.

The next day, Henderson told Robbins that ?the same deal that was in effect yesterday would be good today.? Henderson then fondled her, and Robbins agreed to ...

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 state funded newspaper, The Angolite, which was a seven-time finalist for the National Magazine Award while under Rideau?s direction. In 2005, after 44 years in prison, Rideau was released after he was sentenced to 21 years following a jury verdict of manslaughter on charges that arose in 1961. Those charges stemmed from Rideau?s robbery of a Lake Charles bank, the kidnapping of three bank employees, and the murder of Julia Ferguson.

Three times between 1961 and 1972, Rideau was convicted and sentenced to death. In 1972, his sentence was annulled to life imprisonment after the death penalty was declared unconstitutional. In 2001, Rideau?s conviction was reversed by a federal court because blacks were illegally excluded from the grand jury.

Sixty days after his 2005 sentencing, the trial court entered an order requiring Rideau pay court costs and indigent defense fees of $127,905.45. Those fees included ...

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 have the burden to plead or demonstrate such exhaustion. To the extent that the Sixth Circuit crafted a rule imposing an exhaustion burden on three Michigan prisoners, the appellate court was reversed.

Saginaw Correctional Facility prisoner Lorenzo Jones was injured in a prison vehicle accident in 2000 and could only do limited work thereafter. When assigned hard labor he performed the job only under protest of his disabilities, and suffered aggravations to his prior injury. After exhausting his Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) institutional grievances, he filed suit in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. But the magistrate recommended dismissal because while Jones had sued six defendants, only two had been expressly named in his grievances. In other words, administrative exhaustion was deemed incomplete because Jones hadn't identified all eventual defendants in his grievances. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in an unpublished opinion, using the "total exhaustion ...

$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 ...

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 complaint of prisoner Michael Anthony Taylor, who alleged "that the three drug sequence using a procedure whereby the drugs are administered through the femoral artery creates a foreseeable risk of the infliction of gratuitous pain.? The execution process involved a physician administering 5 grams of sodium pentothal, also known as thiopental, which is a substance that produces anesthesia. The physician flushes the IV line with saline and then administers pancuronium bromide to prevent any involuntary movement of the body.

After again administering saline, potassium chloride is injected to stop the heart's electrical activity.

During discovery it was learned that only 2.5 grams of sodium pentothal was being administered rather than 5 grams. Also, the physician was a surgeon with no training in anesthesiology. He had performed the last six Missouri executions. There was no written protocol for the administration of the lethal cocktail. In fact, the physician had ...

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 and less judicial discretion for leniency, the war on drugs has had a profound impact ? just not the impact that was intended. Instead of resolving the problems of drug use and drug addiction, these policies have resulted in a mushrooming of the prison and jail population, which has contributed to the rampant sexual abuse behind bars.

Of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the U.S. today, more than 500,000 are imprisoned on drug charges, with hundreds of thousands more convicted of drug-motivated crimes. Federal, state, and local governments are building ever more prisons and jails ? and existing facilities remain seriously overcrowded and dangerous.

Prisoner rape is this country?s most widespread human rights emergency and the war on drugs is a major contributor to the crisis. Studies show that as many as 20 percent of male prisoners have been pressured or coerced into sex, and 10 percent ...

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 ...

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 the April 2002 shooting of RaeMone Williams. When he went to trial in November 2004, his jury pool included four prospective African-American jurors. Jordan's attorney, Robert Ranz, charged that prosecutors had checked the background records of three of the four prospective black jurors based on their responses to questions during voir dire. After learning that two of those jurors had been untruthful about their criminal histories, the state exercised peremptory challenges to remove them from the jury pool.

Ranz, a Cincinnati solo practitioner, alleged that prosecutors had deliberately checked the black jurors in an effort to disqualify them, because the defendant was also black. He moved for a mistrial. The assistant prosecutor, Judith Mullen, said she used the database because she had "reason to believe" that some of the jurors had lied about their criminal backgrounds. "It's not a routine thing; there is no office policy," she stated ...

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 committed a sex crime for which the statute of limitations has expired in the Ohio Attorney General?s Internet Civil Registry. To do this, the person requesting the registration requirement must only convince a judge that it is more likely than not that the crime occurred. The judge considers testimony and other evidence from both sides. No other state is considering such a registry.

The test case for the Ohio registry will likely be that of David Kelley, a Catholic priest from Mount Airy, Ohio, who is currently on administrative leave from the archdiocese of Cincinnati. Kelley is suspected of sexually abusing an elementary school student at the church?s school in the 1990s.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) lobbied for a bill to retroactively extend the two-year statute of limitations and allow hundreds of people who as children were abused by priests to file lawsuits or ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. Department of Corrections, 920 So.2d 638 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005), review denied 923 So. 2d 1162 (2006), sued in small claims court, seeking to be repaid for all costs of legal copies prior to January 2006. The Smith decision found the FDOC had no statutory authority to enact a rule assessing fees to make legal copies for prisoners.

Jackson?s suit proceeded to trial. The Court concluded FDOC was not entitled to charge Jackson for the costs of copies or to enforce liens for copying costs. Thus, any amounts collected ?should be returned to the prisoner Plaintiff.?

The Court found no costs were assessed after January 27, 2006; all liens imposed prior to that date were removed from Jackson?s prisoner account. FDOC, however, refused to repay costs previously paid. It offered no defense other than that the Smith decision did not address the issue of damages.

The Court ...

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. He was then transferred to a control unit in Florence, Arizona.

California: On April 19, 2007, John Whittle, 47, a state prison guard, was sentenced to two years in state prison for conspiring to smuggle methamphetamine into the Mule Creek State Prison where he worked. But the sentence was suspended. Whittle had been a prison guard for 22 years before his arrest.

California: On December 12, 2006, Marilyn Windham, 59, a psychologist at the California State Prison-Sacramento in Folsom, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of having sex with a male prisoner at the facility. On June 9, 2005, a prison guard discovered Windham in a supply closet partially nude with the prisoner engaged in a sex act. The prisoner claimed the sex was consensual and he had merely gone to get cleaning supplies and "it just happened." On February 13, 2007, Windham was sentenced by Sacramento superior court judge ...

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 ...


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