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Prison Legal News: June, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. The Political Economy of Prison and Jail Litigation (p 1)
  2. Florida’s Broward County Jail: Abuse and Misconduct As Usual (p 12)
  3. From the Editor (p 12)
  4. Suicides Plague Wisconsin Jails; Attempted Suicide Suit Settles for $13.1 Million (p 14)
  5. Dr. Yank: Washington Prison Dentist Nearly Kills Patient (p 16)
  6. Landmark Settlement Reduces SHU Time, Increases Treatment Of New York Prisoners With Mental Illness (p 17)
  7. Maryland Restores Voting Rights to 50,000 Felons (p 19)
  8. Missouri Legislature Allows Wrongfully Convicted to Receive Compensation (p 20)
  9. Supreme Court: California’s Law Permitting Suspicionless Police Search of Parolees Does Not Violate Fourth Amendment (p 20)
  10. Increasingly Repressive Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Have Doubtful Benefits (p 21)
  11. Phoenix, Arizona Sheriff’s Policy Delaying Prisoners’ Elective Abortions Enjoined (p 22)
  12. Alaska Jail Settles Alcohol Withdrawal Death Case For $573,000 (p 22)
  13. Colorado Successfully Pressures FBI To Release DNA Info; Racial Bias Infects DNA Databases (p 23)
  14. Guards Convicted of Stealing, Bringing Drugs into Washington State Private Jail (p 24)
  15. Disallowing Printed E-Mail Responses To Wisconsin Prisoner’s Web Page Raised Triable Issues of Fact (p 24)
  16. BOP Cancels Solicitation of Proposal for Single-Faith Program (p 26)
  17. Lifetime Supervision or Lifetime Incarceration for Colorado Sex Offenders? (p 26)
  18. Louisiana Prisoner Denied Religious Materials Under “Approved Vendor” Policy Settles Suit for $21, 786.13 in Damages and Fees (p 27)
  19. Study: Supermax Prisons Achieve Control While Inflicting Debilitating Side Effects, But Don’t Reduce Recidivism (p 28)
  20. California Sheriff Criticized on Injury Non-Treatment After Use of Force (p 29)
  21. South Carolina Prisoner Awarded $4,000 For Fall, Broken Ankle (p 30)
  22. Human Rights Watch Urges Access to Condoms in U.S. Prisons and Jails (p 30)
  23. Private Prison Companies Bilk Florida Taxpayers Out of Millions (p 32)
  24. $30,000 Award in Hawaii Medical Negligence Suit (p 32)
  25. Los Angeles County Jail Visitor’s Injury After Scuffle With Deputies Settles For $150,000 (p 33)
  26. Florida Court Without Jurisdiction to Impose Confinement Condition Sanctions at Sentencing (p 33)
  27. City of Detroit Must Record Suspect Confessions; $4 Million Wrongful Incarceration Award (p 34)
  28. Excessive Force And Medical Negligence Death In Youngstown, Ohio Arrest Settles For $350,000 From Police, $100,000 From PHS (p 34)
  29. U.S. Supreme Court: State Felon’s Deportation Order Reversed Where Underlying Offense Amounted Only to Federal Misdemeanor (p 35)
  30. $248,000 Jury Award for Inhumane D.C. Jail Conditions (p 35)
  31. Fifth Circuit Remands Texas Prisoner’s Retaliation Claim, Adopts De Minimis Standard (p 36)
  32. Harsh Federal Parole Conditions for Federal Sex Offender Upheld (p 36)
  33. California Prison Guards Awarded $440 Million Retroactive Pay Increase (p 37)
  34. Second Hawaii Sex Assault Case Settled for $25,000 (p 37)
  35. $2.5 Million Settlement in Schenectady County Strip Search Suit (p 38)
  36. California Governor’s Parole Veto Reversed by Federal Court (p 38)
  37. New York Jail’s Juvenile Education Suit Returns to District Court (p 39)
  38. Ninth Circuit: Prisoner is Protected by Legal Privilege but Not Marriage Privilege When Writing His Lawyer-Wife (p 40)
  39. Federal Prisoner’s Criminal Assault Conviction Reversed; Entitled to Raise Self-Defense (p 40)
  40. Washington Indigents All Get Experts at Public Expense (p 41)
  41. New York Prisoner Beaten By Unofficial Enforcer Awarded $500,000 (p 41)
  42. News in Brief: (p 42)
  43. Alaska DOC Liable for Rape of Federal Prisoner by Prison Doctor (p 44)

The Political Economy of Prison and Jail Litigation

by Margo Schlanger*

This article explores the practical effects of the prisoner civil rights docket on conditions of incarceration for the 2.2 million people in American jails and prisons on any given day.1 The analysis takes on a great deal more importance than it ideally would because detention ...

Florida’s Broward County Jail: Abuse and Misconduct As Usual

Florida's Broward County Jail: Abuse and Misconduct As Usual

by David M. Reutter

Despite Florida's Broward County jail (BCJ) being under the supervision of a court-appointed monitor, recent incidents reveal prisoners are still at danger. BCJ has been under supervision since a 1994 consent decree that settled a ...

From the Editor

As this issue goes to press we are finishing the revamped PLN website which will have all the great content our previous site did as well as still more briefs, publications, reports and cases than our previous website did. The feedback we received from users about our old site was ...

Suicides Plague Wisconsin Jails; Attempted Suicide Suit Settles for $13.1 Million

by Matthew T. Clarke

There has been a rash of suicides in Wisconsin jails, including six in 2005 and four in the first half of 2006. One jail, in LaCrosse County, experienced prisoner suicides in 1997, 2002, 2005 and 2006. La Crosse County Sheriff Mike Weissenberger blamed the problem on ...

Dr. Yank: Washington Prison Dentist Nearly Kills Patient

by Rick Anderson

If anyone really needed another reason to fear the dentist, Dr. Joel Diven provided it one day in May 2006, when a state prisoner climbed into his dental chair with a toothache.

State investigators say Diven, 72, a Department of Corrections dentist at McNeil Island Corrections Center ...

Landmark Settlement Reduces SHU Time, Increases Treatment Of New York Prisoners With Mental Illness

by Betsy Sterling

After five years of litigation and two weeks of trial, the New York State Department of Correctional Services and Office of Mental Health have agreed to a settlement that establishes major improvements in psychiatric treatment for New York State prisoners with mental illness.
The lawsuit, Disability Advocates ...

Maryland Restores Voting Rights to 50,000 Felons

Annapolis, MD - Governor Martin O?Malley on April 24, 2007, signed legislation re-enfranchising more than 50,000 Maryland residents who have completed their felony sentences of prison, parole, and probation. O?Malley?s support of the ?Voting Registration Protection Act? ends the state?s draconian lifetime voting ban and eliminates ...

Missouri Legislature Allows Wrongfully Convicted to Receive Compensation

The Missouri Legislature has enacted legislation to compensate all persons declared "actually innocent" after DNA testing. In the last 15 years, five such prisoners in Missouri were released after being exonerated by DNA testing.

The latest action by that legislature sought to cure an injustice arising out of its original ...

Supreme Court: California’s Law Permitting Suspicionless Police Search of Parolees Does Not Violate Fourth Amendment

Supreme Court: California's Law Permitting Suspicionless Police Search of Parolees Does Not Violate Fourth Amendment

by Marvin Mentor

A divided U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of a unique California statutory condition of parole wherein any police officer may conduct a suspicionless search of a California parolee ...

Increasingly Repressive Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Have Doubtful Benefits

by John E. Dannenberg

While politicians trample each other in their rush to enact increasingly onerous post-release residency restrictions on all manner of sex offenders, the California Legislature took pause to commission a study to measure the effectiveness of such restrictions throughout the United States. The findings were that, by ...

Phoenix, Arizona Sheriff’s Policy Delaying Prisoners’ Elective Abortions Enjoined

Phoenix, Arizona Sheriff's Policy Delaying Prisoners' Elective Abortions Enjoined

by John E. Dannenberg

Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's policy that required a female prisoner seeking an elective abortion to first obtain a court order for this procedure was enjoined because it represented an exaggerated response to Arpaio ...

Alaska Jail Settles Alcohol Withdrawal Death Case For $573,000

On June 12, 2006, the State of Alaska settled a federal civil rights lawsuit over the wrongful death of a prisoner in a state-run jail for $573,000.

Julia Walker is the mother of Troy Wallace, who died while a prisoner in the Ketchikan Correctional Center, a jail run by ...

Colorado Successfully Pressures FBI To Release DNA Info; Racial Bias Infects DNA Databases

State law enforcement agencies have struck a tentative deal with FBI officials that allows agencies to share previously privileged information.

The deal resulted from the brutal rape and beating of a Colorado woman who literally lost an eye from the attack.

DNA from the rapist was compared to more than ...

Guards Convicted of Stealing, Bringing Drugs into Washington State Private Jail

by Matthew T. Clarke

Security Specialists Plus (SSP) is a 60-employee firm operating out of Bellingham, Washington?s Irongate industrial area. It provides animal control services to unincorporated parts of Whatcom County, hires out private security guards, and serves legal documents. It also has a contract to incarcerate about 50 ...

Disallowing Printed E-Mail Responses To Wisconsin Prisoner’s Web Page Raised Triable Issues of Fact

Disallowing Printed E-Mail Responses To Wisconsin Prisoner's Web Page Raised Triable Issues of Fact

by John E. Dannenberg

The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections? (WDOC) policy of disallowing prisoner mail receipt of printed responses to their personal web pages (as ...

BOP Cancels Solicitation of Proposal for Single-Faith Program

On October 26, 2006, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced that it was canceling its solicitation of proposals for single-faith, faith-based residential re-entry programs. The move came after a lawsuit was filed by the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which is ?a national association of freethinkers, atheists ...

Lifetime Supervision or Lifetime Incarceration for Colorado Sex Offenders?

by G.A. Bowers

Colorado has one of the toughest sex offender laws in the nation, according to University of Denver law professor Karen Steinhauser. Under the 1998 Lifetime Supervision of Sex Offenders Act (Act), over 800 sex offenders have been incarcerated. Of the 182 who have met the parole ...

Louisiana Prisoner Denied Religious Materials Under “Approved Vendor” Policy Settles Suit for $21, 786.13 in Damages and Fees

Louisiana Prisoner Denied Religious Materials Under "Approved Vendor" Policy Settles Suit for $21, 786.13 in Damages and Fees

The State of Louisiana has settled with a prisoner who was denied religious materials while imprisoned in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Under the agreement, which was concluded on February ...

Study: Supermax Prisons Achieve Control While Inflicting Debilitating Side Effects, But Don’t Reduce Recidivism

Study: Supermax Prisons Achieve Control While Inflicting Debilitating Side Effects, But Don't Reduce Recidivism

by John E. Dannenberg

The Justice Policy Center of the Urban Institute (UI) issued a research report, Evaluating the Effectiveness of Supermax Prisons, in which it concluded that while these restrictive lockups achieve their goals ...

California Sheriff Criticized on Injury Non-Treatment After Use of Force

A highly critical May 2006 report by the Riverside County Grand Jury found that at the five county jail lockups, a disturbing pattern had emerged where prisoners who were injured while being subdued often were not provided medical aid. Worse, Sheriff?s Dept. personnel frequently filed inaccurate reports and often ...

South Carolina Prisoner Awarded $4,000 For Fall, Broken Ankle

On August 21, 2006, a South Carolina jury awarded $4,000 to a man who fell and broke his ankle while imprisoned in the Charleston County Detention Center.

Plaintiff Clark Green, 40, claimed that while imprisoned in the two-story jail he was forced to walk down the stairs for recreation ...

Human Rights Watch Urges Access to Condoms in U.S. Prisons and Jails

by Megan McLemore

Incarcerated individuals bear a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases, including Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV/AIDS. The HIV prevalence in state and federal prisons is more than 3 times higher than in the general population. The prevalence of HCV among prisoners approaches ...

Private Prison Companies Bilk Florida Taxpayers Out of Millions

by David M. Reutter

From its inception, privatization of Florida prisons has been touted as a way to save taxpayers money. Yet, a 2005 audit by Florida's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) revealed that private prison vendors bilked taxpayers for $13 million. To add insult ...

$30,000 Award in Hawaii Medical Negligence Suit

On March 14, 2006, a court in Hawaii awarded a prisoner $30,000 for medical negligence by Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) personnel.

Walter V. Rodenhurst, III, was a pre-trial detainee who was incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) due to overcrowding at OCCC. When he complained of abdominal ...

Los Angeles County Jail Visitor’s Injury After Scuffle With Deputies Settles For $150,000

Los Angeles County Jail Visitor's Injury After Scuffle With Deputies Settles For $150,000

The Los Angeles County Claims Board settled out an injury lawsuit for $150,000 in December 2006 that resulted from a jail visitor being injured after scrapping with deputies in the visiting lobby.

On September ...

Florida Court Without Jurisdiction to Impose Confinement Condition Sanctions at Sentencing

Florida?s Third District Court of Appeals has held that a trial court has no jurisdiction to impose sanctions that regulate the treatment of prisoners in conjunction with a criminal sanction.

Henry Cuesta is a prisoner serving a life sentence for first degree murder with a firearm. When asked to ...

City of Detroit Must Record Suspect Confessions; $4 Million Wrongful Incarceration Award

A Michigan federal district court has approved a settlement that requires the City of Detroit to record all interrogations of criminal suspects and awards the estate of a wrongfully convicted man $4,075,000.

The complaint in this action outlines a pattern of ?unconscionable deceptions? to deceive Eddie Joe Lloyd ...

Excessive Force And Medical Negligence Death In Youngstown, Ohio Arrest Settles For $350,000 From Police, $100,000 From PHS

by John E. Dannenberg

The death of a Youngstown, Ohio arrestee who was severely beaten by police and negligently treated by Prison Health Services? (PHS) contract jail medical staff resulted in a settlement totaling $450,000.

African-American Booker Mitchell, 72, was summoned to the scene of an automobile accident involving ...

U.S. Supreme Court: State Felon’s Deportation Order Reversed Where Underlying Offense Amounted Only to Federal Misdemeanor

U.S. Supreme Court: State Felon's Deportation Order Reversed Where Underlying Offense Amounted Only to Federal Misdemeanor

On December 5, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the federal deportation order of an alien who had been convicted of felony drug possession in South Dakota. An immigration judge had ...

$248,000 Jury Award for Inhumane D.C. Jail Conditions

Five prisoners in the D.C. Jail were awarded a total of $248,000 in damages On February 1, 2006, following a two day jury trial in federal district court over inhumane and unconstitutional conditions at the jail.

Shannon J. Battle, Bernard Brown, Eugene Scott, Vonsauli Smith and Timothy Williams ...

Fifth Circuit Remands Texas Prisoner’s Retaliation Claim, Adopts De Minimis Standard

Fifth Circuit Remands Texas Prisoner's Retaliation Claim, Adopts De Minimis Standard

by Michael Rigby

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that prisoners must allege more than de minimis retaliatory acts to support retaliation claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, the Court further held that ...

Harsh Federal Parole Conditions for Federal Sex Offender Upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has affirmed a federal district court order requiring a released sex offender to undergo polygraph exams, to avoid contact with minors, and to abstain from using the Internet while on parole.

Jeffrey Johnson, a federal prisoner, served 88 months in ...

California Prison Guards Awarded $440 Million Retroactive Pay Increase

California?s 30,000 prison guards, some 6,000 of whom pulled down over $100,000 last year, won an arbitration award on January 19, 2007 for retroactive pay increases totaling $440 million. Funding for this liability was not included in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation?s (CDCR ...

Second Hawaii Sex Assault Case Settled for $25,000

The state of Hawaii has agreed to settle with a second prisoner who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a former warden while imprisoned at the Maui Community Correctional Center, as reported in a February 9, 2007 article in the Honolulu Advertiser.

According to the settlement, the victim, Viki Wong ...

$2.5 Million Settlement in Schenectady County Strip Search Suit

On July 31, 2006, Schenectady County, New York, agreed to settle a suit over its county jail strip search policy for $2.5 million.

This is a class-action civil rights lawsuit brought in federal district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff class consists of ?persons who ...

California Governor’s Parole Veto Reversed by Federal Court

California Governor's Parole Veto Reversed by Federal Court

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court granted a California second degree murderer's 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition and ordered that he be released on parole unless the Board of Prison Hearings (Board) gave him ...

New York Jail’s Juvenile Education Suit Returns to District Court

New York Jail's Juvenile Education Suit Returns to District Court

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a federal court may only grant relief in a civil rights action filed by a prisoner on federal law claims but not on state law issues. Before the appellate court ...

Ninth Circuit: Prisoner is Protected by Legal Privilege but Not Marriage Privilege When Writing His Lawyer-Wife

A California state prisoner who was being tried in United States District Court for federal conspiracy, racketeering and murder offenses committed from state prison, and whose wife was his lawyer, was permitted to write to his wife confidentially under his state prison-created ?confidential-legal? privilege, but only for matters related to ...

Federal Prisoner’s Criminal Assault Conviction Reversed; Entitled to Raise Self-Defense

Federal Prisoner's Criminal Assault Conviction Reversed; Entitled to Raise Self-Defense

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a California federal district court failed to properly define the elements of a claim of self-defense when a prisoner was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of ...

Washington Indigents All Get Experts at Public Expense

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that CrR 3.1(f) entitles indigent criminal defendants to expert services at public expense, even if they?re represented by private counsel.

Rodin Punsalan and Chayce Arden Hanson were prosecuted in the King County Superior Court in Seattle, Washington - Punsalan for robbery ...

New York Prisoner Beaten By Unofficial Enforcer Awarded $500,000

A man who claimed he was beaten while imprisoned at New York?s Rikers Island jail complex will receive $500,000 under the terms of a settlement agreement reached with the City on February 14, 2007.

Donald Jackson had claimed in his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit that he ...

News in Brief:

Afghanistan: On May 6, 2007, two US army soldiers were shot and killed outside the Pul-i-Charki prison near Kabul and two others were wounded when an Afghan soldier opened fire on their vehicle as it was leaving the prison. The dead soldiers were training guards in the puppet Afghan regime ...

Alaska DOC Liable for Rape of Federal Prisoner by Prison Doctor

Alaska?s Supreme Court has held that the intentional-tort immunity law does not prevent a suit against the state when it breaches a duty separate from its role as an employer.

B.R., a federal prisoner housed at the state jail in Anchorage, brought suit after she was sexually assaulted ...