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Prison Legal News: August, 2007

Issue PDF
Volume 18, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Prisons as Incubators and Spreaders of Disease and Illness (p 1)
  2. U.S. Surgeon General Pressured to Avoid Addressing Prison Health Care (p 6)
  3. TB Prevention and Control In Prisons and Jails: New CDC Guidelines (p 9)
  4. We’ll Lock Up Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free (p 10)
  5. From the Editor (p 12)
  6. Prison Privatization Launders Taxpayer Dollars into Political Contributions (p 13)
  7. Minnesota Prison Industries Managers Ride High on Prison Slavery (p 18)
  8. UN Committee Against Torture Wants Guantanamo Closed (p 20)
  9. $2,500 Settlement in False Report of Oregon Prisoner’s Death (p 21)
  10. Due Process Required Before Termination from Colorado Sex Offender Treatment Program (p 22)
  11. BJS Reports Death Penalty Trends In 2005 (p 23)
  12. Prior Drug Use Stable Among State Prisoners, Rises For Federal Prisoners (p 24)
  13. Accuracy of Sex Offender Registries Questioned By GAO (p 24)
  14. Florida Prison Nurses Net $1 Million for Sexual Harassment by Prisoners (p 26)
  15. “State Secrets Privilege” Forecloses CIA-Detainee’s Kidnapping and Torture Suit (p 26)
  16. $140,000 Settlement in Death of Asthmatic Texas Prisoner (p 28)
  17. Rhode Island Pays $120,000 To Prisoner Forced To Eat Feces (p 28)
  18. $1.2 Million Compensation Package Approved For Wrongfully Convicted Georgia Man (p 29)
  19. Connecticut: Victims’ Privacy Protection Saves Some Sex Offenders From Public Registration (p 30)
  20. Monterey County Grand Jury Report Blasts Two California Prisons (p 30)
  21. New Orleans Prisoners Work on Judge’s House (p 31)
  22. Civil Grand Jury Calls San Mateo County Women’s Jail a “Crowded Disgrace” (p 32)
  23. United States Sues Georgia County Jail over Unconstitutional Medical and Living Conditions (p 32)
  24. An Old Story: District of Columbia Continues Overdetaining and Strip Searching Prisoners (p 33)
  25. A Voice From Guantanamo’s Darkness (p 34)
  26. Columbus, Ohio Jail’s Seclusion Turns Parole Into Death March (p 34)
  27. BJS Report: The Price of Justice in 2003 (p 35)
  28. Wrongfully Imprisoned California Man Awarded $18 Million (p 36)
  29. Prison A Major Factor In Spreading AIDS (p 36)
  30. New York Prisoner Awarded $190,000 For Improperly Treated Knee Injury (p 37)
  31. Six Florida Federal Prison Guards Convicted, Sentenced On Rape and Corruption Charges (p 38)
  32. Quadriplegic California Prisoner Baked to Death in Transport Van (p 38)
  33. Shackling at California Jury Trial, Without Justifying Need, Is Reversible Error (p 39)
  34. Texas Prison System Faces Critical Guard Shortage (p 40)
  35. Illinois Jail Prisoner Dies from Dental Infection (p 41)
  36. Torture vs Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment -- Is the Distinction Real or Apparent?, by Metin Basoglu, MD, PhD et al., (p 41)
  37. News in Brief: (p 42)
  38. Breaking the Prison Habit (p 42)
  39. New York Discharge-Planning: The Term “City Jail” Includes Mental Health “Forensic Units” (p 44)

Prisons as Incubators and Spreaders of Disease and Illness

by John E. Dannenberg

America’s lockups are turning from prisoner dumping grounds into infectious disease breeding grounds. Isolation is intended to be the punishment inflicted by society upon prisoners. But concentrating prisoners in the process of isolating them, and then denying them adequate medical care, is having the perverse ...

U.S. Surgeon General Pressured to Avoid Addressing Prison Health Care

On July 10, 2007, The New York Times reported that former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, had testified that he was pressured by administration officials to suppress public health reports, including a study on medical care in the nation’s ...

TB Prevention and Control In Prisons and Jails: New CDC Guidelines

by John E. Dannenberg

The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) updated its 1996 standard guidelines for effective prevention and control of tuberculosis (TB) in detention facilities by issuing fifteen new recommendations in 2006.
These were necessary because TB is still spreading in the United States, often multiplying in jails ...

We’ll Lock Up Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free

We'll Lock Up Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free

by Amy Goodman

"I want to be free. I want to go outside, and I want to go to school," pleaded a 9-year-old boy, on the phone from prison. This prison wasn't in some ...

From the Editor

This month?s cover story reports on the public health implications which the willful neglect of prisoner health care issues in this country has on the overall population. This has been an ongoing topic of coverage in PLN over the past 17 years. Sadly, nothing has changed for the better ...

Prison Privatization Launders Taxpayer Dollars into Political Contributions

by David M. Reutter

If you know a company is not saving you money or performing its contractual obligations, why would you continue to use that company? The normal consumer would end the relationship quickly. When it comes to contracts for privatized prison services, the answer may lie in the ...

Minnesota Prison Industries Managers Ride High on Prison Slavery

by David M. Reutter

A report by Minnesota?s Office of The Legislative Auditor (Auditor) has found conflicts of interest, the improper disposition of surplus property, and questionable contracting practices existed at MINNCOR Industries, Minnesota?s prison industry.

That special review came after former MINNCOR sales representative Larry Williams blew ...

UN Committee Against Torture Wants Guantanamo Closed

by Matthew T. Clarke

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (the committee) has published a report urging the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Guantanamo). In doing so, the committee of nine international experts stated that the indefinite detention of the prisoners at Guantanamo violates the international ...

$2,500 Settlement in False Report of Oregon Prisoner’s Death

$2,500 Settlement in False Report of Oregon Prisone's Death

The wife and two sons of an Oregon state prisoner received a $2,500 settlement after a prison counselor left a voice mail message falsely stating that her imprisoned husband had died.

Michael Jackson, formerly incarcerated at the Snake ...

Due Process Required Before Termination from Colorado Sex Offender Treatment Program

The United States District Court for the District of Colorado has again found that Colorado state prisoners convicted of sex offenses have a liberty interest in receiving treatment and must be afforded due process prior to termination from treatment.

Colorado state prisoner Jeffrey Beebe was sentenced in 2001 to an ...

BJS Reports Death Penalty Trends In 2005

by Michael Rigby

In 2005, 16 states executed 60 prisoners?one more than in 2004, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report released in December 2006.

Those executed in 2005 included 38 whites, 19 blacks, and 3 Hispanics. As for gender, 59 men and 1 woman were executed that ...

Prior Drug Use Stable Among State Prisoners, Rises For Federal Prisoners

by Matthew T. Clarke

In October 2006, the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice released a report on prior drug use among state and federal prisoners. The report compared the years 1997 and 2004. It showed that the percentage of state prisoners who used drugs ...

Accuracy of Sex Offender Registries Questioned By GAO

by Matthew T. Clarke

On August 30, 2006, the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that questions the accuracy of the sex offender registries being used by the states to track registered sex offenders (RSOs). The chief complaint was that the sex offender databases used to track RSOs ...

Florida Prison Nurses Net $1 Million for Sexual Harassment by Prisoners

A Florida federal jury has awarded twelve nurses employed by the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) nearly $1 million for sexual harassment by prisoners in confinement cells.

The complaint in that lawsuit was filed by twenty-eight FDOC employees from four different prisons. The nurses were all females who provided care ...

“State Secrets Privilege” Forecloses CIA-Detainee’s Kidnapping and Torture Suit

"State Secrets Privilege" Forecloses CIA-Detainee?s Kidnapping and Torture Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld a district court's dismissal of a civil rights action filed by a foreign national who was (apparently mistakenly) kidnapped and spirited away by the Central ...

$140,000 Settlement in Death of Asthmatic Texas Prisoner

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will pay $140,000 to settle a federal lawsuit stemming from the needless asthma-related death of a prisoner at the McConnell prison unit in August 2004.

At least six guards and a nurse were present as Micah Burrell, 24, lay on the floor of ...

Rhode Island Pays $120,000 To Prisoner Forced To Eat Feces

The State of Rhode Island has paid $120,000 to settle with a prisoner who was forced by guards to eat his own feces.

While serving a six month sentence for shoplifting at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) in November 2006, Michael Walsh was confronted by six guards--including Captain Gaulter ...

$1.2 Million Compensation Package Approved For Wrongfully Convicted Georgia Man

Who can put a price on wrongful imprisonment? The Georgia legislature can. On March 19, 2007, the Georgia House of Representatives approved a $1.2 million compensation package for a man who spent 23 years in prison for a rape he didn?t commit.

Robert Clark, now 46, was convicted ...

Connecticut: Victims’ Privacy Protection Saves Some Sex Offenders From Public Registration

Connecticut: Victims' Privacy Protection Saves Some Sex Offenders From Public Registration

by John E. Dannenberg

In Connecticut, some convicted sex offenders' names will not show up on the state's public online registry. Under penal statute Section 54-255, courts may place certain sex offenders instead on a secret registry available ...

Monterey County Grand Jury Report Blasts Two California Prisons

In its 2006 report on Monterey County?s two state prisons (Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) and the Correctional Training Facility (CTF)), the Monterey County Grand Jury made 23 findings and 13 recommendations for SVSP plus 5 findings and 4 recommendations for CTF. In general, it found counterproductive conditions of ...

New Orleans Prisoners Work on Judge’s House

New Orleans Prisoners Work on Judge's House

To facilitate learning construction skills, prisoners at the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) participate in a government-funded private vocational program. That program, the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Greater New Orleans, Inc. (OIC), a non-profit, is not supposed to benefit politicians or public officials ...

Civil Grand Jury Calls San Mateo County Women’s Jail a “Crowded Disgrace”

Civil Grand Jury Calls San Mateo County Women's Jail a "Crowded Disgrace"

The San Mateo County (California) Civil Grand Jury found that the decades-old Women's Correctional Center in Redwood City was so deficient that it must be replaced. In its annual jail review, the Jury noted that the ...

United States Sues Georgia County Jail over Unconstitutional Medical and Living Conditions

by John E. Dannenberg

Using its investigative powers under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigated conditions at the Terrell County, Georgia jail (Terrell).
There it found unconstitutional conditions related to medical care, mental health care ...

An Old Story: District of Columbia Continues Overdetaining and Strip Searching Prisoners

A federal district court for the District of Columbia has, once again, certified a class action in a complaint that District of Columbia is over-detaining persons ordered released and strip searching them without individualized suspicion. The Court noted this is ?a case in which history insists on repeating itself.? PLN ...

A Voice From Guantanamo’s Darkness

A Voice From Guantanamo's Darkness

A current detainee speaks of the torture and humiliation he has experienced at Guantanamo since 2002

by Jumah al-Dossari

JUMAH AL-DOSSARI is a 33-year-old citizen of Bahrain. This article was excerpted from letters he wrote to his attorneys. Its contents have been deemed unclassified ...

Columbus, Ohio Jail’s Seclusion Turns Parole Into Death March

Columbus, Ohio Jail's Seclusion Turns Parole Into Death March

Columbus, Ohio's main incarceration facility has a fatal flaw. It is located so remote from public transportation--requiring walking miles along a dangerous freeway -- that prisoners happily paroled, but unable to call for friends to pick them up, sometimes die ...

BJS Report: The Price of Justice in 2003

by Michael Rigby

In 2003 the U.S. spent a staggering $185 billion to fund its burgeoning ?justice? system, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics released in March 2006. That figure includes funds spent on prisons and jails, police protection, and judicial and legal activities.

The ...

Wrongfully Imprisoned California Man Awarded $18 Million

On February 15, 2006, a federal jury in California awarded $18 million to a man who was wrongly charged with sexual assault of a child and imprisoned for 10 months.

During his false imprisonment in the Los Angeles County Jail, Ramirez, 26, was spat on by deputies and urinated on ...

Prison A Major Factor In Spreading AIDS

A recent study entitled African Americans, Health Disparities and HIV/AIDS has directly linked incarceration to the spread of AIDS in minority communities. Robert Fullilove ED.D., of Columbia University authored the study which was released on December 1, 2006 to coincide with World AIDS Day.

The Fullilove study highlights ...

New York Prisoner Awarded $190,000 For Improperly Treated Knee Injury

On June 6, 2006, a court of claims in White Plains, New York, awarded $190,000 to a state prisoner who claimed prison staff was medically negligent in their treatment of his knee injury, thus causing him to undergo an unnecessary surgery and adding to his pain and suffering.
Claimant ...

Six Florida Federal Prison Guards Convicted, Sentenced On Rape and Corruption Charges

by Matthew T. Clarke

Five former prison guards convicted in federal court on criminal charges stemming from a sex-for-contraband scandal at the Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) in Tallahassee, Florida have been sentenced; four received prison terms.

When federal agents arrived at FCI Tallahassee on June 21, 2006, they expected to ...

Quadriplegic California Prisoner Baked to Death in Transport Van

A California state prisoner being transferred in 109-degree weather from a Central Valley prison to a remote desert facility baked to death in the back of a transport van after the air conditioning in the passenger section of the vehicle broke down and the transport guards got lost for five ...

Shackling at California Jury Trial, Without Justifying Need, Is Reversible Error

A California state prisoner who was convicted of possessing drugs in his cell had his jury conviction reversed because the trial court had not determined the necessity of his being tried in chains and prison garb.

Melvin Simmons, while incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison, was convicted by a jury ...

Texas Prison System Faces Critical Guard Shortage

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is understaffed by 3,152 guards, a 12% deficit compared to full staffing. The shortage has grown each year from an average of 8.5% in 2004. Some prison units have very large staffing shortfalls, including Dalhart (37%), Smith ...

Illinois Jail Prisoner Dies from Dental Infection

A 25-year-old prisoner at the Peoria County Jail died from an infection in his gums that spread throughout his body, causing multiple-organ failure.

Jeremy L. Baksai had been in the Peoria jail since November 2006, awaiting an April 30, 2007 trial on robbery charges. He was physically fit but suffered ...

Torture vs Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment -- Is the Distinction Real or Apparent?, by Metin Basoglu, MD, PhD et al.,

Arch Gen Psychiatry Vol. 64, pp.277-284, March 2007

Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg

Motivated by recent reports of U.S. human rights abuses in military prisons, the three psychiatrist authors studied ill treatment during captivity, including psychological manipulations, humiliating treatment and forced stress situations, and upon finding them indistinguishable ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: On May 7, 2007, Leigh Ann Cochran, 33, a guard at the Houston county jail, was arrested and charged with having sexual contact with at least one prisoner and buying unspecified contraband for several others.

California: On March 8, 2007, Jack Boerner, 43, a guard at the Salinas State ...

Breaking the Prison Habit

Book Review by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Changin? Your Game Plan: How To Use Incarceration As A Stepping Stone For Success (Self-published: Big Mouth Street Media, 2006) pp.234] $14.99

This writer usually does reviews for political books, or ones which address the controversial or newsworthy events of the day.

I ...

New York Discharge-Planning: The Term “City Jail” Includes Mental Health “Forensic Units”

New York Discharge-Planning: The Term "City Jail" Includes Mental Health "Forensic Units"

A unanimous Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court held that a class action settlement agreement obliging discharge-planning for "city jail" prisoners necessarily included those prisoners who were isolated in "secure hospital units" or "prison wards" while ...