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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: August, 2007

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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 effect of punishing society by propagating serious contagious diseases that released prisoners “give back” to the non-incarcerated public.

Thus, the populist hatred that inheres against criminals, which permits inhumane healthcare to persist in jails and prisons, is itself a contributing cause to such growing public health menaces as tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis C (HCV), AIDS (HIV) and Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Myriad other diseases flourish inside overcrowded, unsanitary prisons as well – and extend beyond to local communities – as discussed in this introspection into infections in detention facility settings. This is nothing new. Prisons and jails have been the incubators of disease for centuries. But with notions of public health, better awareness of disease contagion, etc., it is all the more remarkable that not only does prison health remain a threat to the public health of all citizens, but that it has grown as the number of prisoners has grown.

Tuberculosis ...

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 prisons. 

According to Dr. Carmona, who served as Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006, the government’s decision to delay or prevent the release of a report on prison medical care - as well as reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, global warming, mental health and global healthcare-related issues - was politically motivated.

A draft report by the Surgeon General’s office on prison health care is reportedly still being reviewed by government officials and has not been approved or published. “The correctional health care report is pointing out the inadequacies of health care within our correctional health care system,” stated Dr. Carmona. “It would force the government on a course of action to improve that.” 

Given the expense required for adequate prison health care, this is apparently something that the federal government doesn’t want to address, despite obvious public health concerns. “These people go back into the community ...

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 and prisons as well as in detention facilities housing recent immigrants from indigenously infected Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines. In 2003, .07 % of the total U.S. population was incarcerated, but 3.2 % of the total TB cases occurred therein.
Often, the rate of TB infection in jails and prisons has run ten times that in the average state population. Thus, interdiction of this disease in detention facilities, jails and prisons is imperative.

Principal factors contributing to high infection rates in incarceration settings include risky behavior leading to disease spread such as the use of injected drugs. Low socioeconomic status is also a common factor, often because of the corresponding lack of TB education and access to public health treatment. TB appears both in active disease form as well as in latent infection. Many persons who once had TB but still carry the bacterium can become actively infectious again simply ...

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 far-off country, some dictatorship where one would expect children to be locked up. He is imprisoned in the United States.

The boy, Kevin, is imprisoned in Taylor, Texas, at the T. Don Hutto Residential Facility. His parents are also locked up there. The tale of how this family became imprisoned is just one example of how broken our immigration policies are in this country. It is a tale of children left behind, of family values locked up, of your tax dollars at work.

The parents are Iranian and spent 10 years in Canada seeking asylum.

Kevin, their son, was born in Canada during that time. Their request for asylum was eventually denied and they were deported back to Iran. Majid, the father, said he and his wife were jailed and tortured there. They soon fled to Turkey and bought Greek passports. They hoped to reapply for asylum in Canada, armed ...

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. As we have previously reported, the epicenters for drug resistant TB, virulent strains of HIV and MRSA have all been traced to prisons and jails in the past.

But this is hardly a natural, unforeseen or unpredictable consequence of mass imprisonment. Rather it is the result of deliberate policy choices made by legislators and governors and presidents alike. At a time when sickness and disease is sweeping through the nation?s prisons and jails, the United States Surgeon General is being pressured by the White House to not issue any reports on the public health implications of withholding treatment from prisoners. As former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified to congress, the pressure came because President Bush does not want to spend money on health care for prisoners. Or put another way, billions for imprisonment, but a pittance to keep the prisoners alive and healthy. More pathetic is the fact that ...

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 laundering of taxpayer money through for-profit corporations into campaign contributions.

Politicians, however, ardently deny that political graft factors into their decisions to award lucrative privatization contracts for services normally reserved to the public sector. "It's outrageous even to imply or infer a connection and absolutely not true. State contracts are fully transparent and must follow strict procurement procedures," said Pahl Shipley, spokesman for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D).

While politicians are quick to justify their ethically-questionable actions, a little research and investigation usually reveals that someone is getting a raw deal. In the case of prison contracts, those who are supposed to benefit often suffer while the politically-connected companies hired to perform public services are the ones that benefit.

Buying Political Influence and Prison Contracts

The GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut Corrections, understands the connection between money in politics and procuring government contracts. The company hedges its bets both ...

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 the whistle on the practices. After he was laid off in May 2006, Williams sued MINNCOR under whistle blower protection laws. His union, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, says the report confirms Williams? allegations.

MINNCOR was created in the 1870?s to provide Minnesota prisoners an opportunity to work and acquire certain knowledge and skills prior to release. It currently operates in eight prisons, providing various products and services that are sold to state agencies, local units of governments, and businesses. Some of the services and products include custodial supplies, park and patio accessories, data entry, market research, laundry and sewing services, and office, library, and residential furniture. The Minnesota Department of Corrections (MDOC) oversees MINNCOR?s operation.

The Auditor?s first conclusion was that MDOC failed to adequately resolve a conflict of interest that it was aware occurred between three MINNCOR employees and ?a business partner.? The conflict ...

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 ban on torture.

On April 19, 2006, the committee released its report finding that lengthy detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo, in which they are not charged or given access to judicial process, violates the 1984 U.N. Convention Against Torture (the convention). The committee called for Guantanamo?s immediate closure. The U.S. responded that Guantanamo complied with U.S. law and the Guantanamo detainees had access to U.S. courts and lawyers.
Bush-friendly foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen have also called for Guantanamo?s closure. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush?s staunchest ally in the so-called ?war on terror,? has stated that Guantanamo must eventually be closed.

The committee also stated that the U.S. should close all secret detention facilities and publicly condemn any policy of secret detention. It also recommended that a federal law ...

$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 River Correctional Institution, is married to Tonya Jackson. Jackson had a strained relationship with his prison counselor, Ceil Cross. On November 17, 2005, Mr. Cross left a message on Tonya's voice mail, instructing her to call the chaplain so arrangements could be made for the disposal of Jackson's body after it was determined how he died.

The voice mail was first heard twice by Tonya's mother and grandmother, who then contacted Tonya and her sons to tell them of Jackson's death. Tonya and the children cried and wailed hysterically and were unable to sleep. The next day Tonya was able to confirm that her husband was still alive, but Cross would only allow them one minute on the phone. Jackson was later transferred to the Oregon State Correctional Institution.

Tonya and her sons filed suit in state circuit court alleging intentional or reckless infliction of emotional ...

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 year. All 60 were killed by lethal injection.

With 19 executions in 2005, Texas had the dubious distinction of executing the most prisoners. Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina followed with 5 each. Georgia and South Carolina both carried out 3 executions; California performed 2; and Connecticut, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, and Mississippi executed 1 each.

A total of 3,254 prisoners were on death row in 2005. Most were in California (646), followed by Texas (411), and Florida (372).
Thirty-seven were under federal death sentences. In all, 38 states and the federal government had death penalty statutes on the books in 2005.

Between 1977 and 2005, 33 states and the federal government performed 1,004 executions. Nearly two-thirds occurred in 5 states. Texas led by far with 355 executions, followed by Virginia (94), Oklahoma (79), Missouri (66), and Florida (60).

Those executed in 2005 spent an average of 12 years ...

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 prior to committing their crimes remained about the same while similar drug use for federal prisoners rose on all measures and, for the first time, 50% of federal prisoners reported using drugs in the month prior to committing their crimes.

In 1997, 45% of federal and 57% of state prisoners had used drugs in the month prior to their offense. 33% of state and 22% of federal prisoners were using drugs when they committed their crimes. By 2004, 50% of the federal prisoners reported using drugs in the month before their crimes while 26% reported using drugs while committing their crimes. In contrast, the state percentages for 2004 remained stable at 56% and 32%, respectively.

Prisoners with recent drug dependence prior to their crimes were also likely to have an extensive criminal history. Among state prisoners who were dependent or using drugs, 53% had at least three prior sentences to ...

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 depended upon the sex offenders self-reporting their addresses. Thus, if a RSO failed to report a move, the database became inaccurate and there was no systematic way to discover the inaccuracy. Since a RSO?s failure to report a change of address is a felony in most states, this also allowed the crimes to remain undetected.

Between 1994 and 2003, Congress enacted a series of laws that required sex offenders to register with law enforcement agencies and threatened the federal funding of any state that did not set up a sex offender registry. All fifty states now require registration of sex offenders. This led to about one out of every 754 people in the United States being required to register as a sex offender. This is 0.13% of the population of the United States--over 400,000 people nationwide. All RSO are registered in the FBI?s National Sex Offender ...

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 Intelligence Agency (CIA) to various clandestine prisons around the world, where he alleged he was incarcerated in inhumane conditions, kept from contacting his family, and tortured. The appellate court held that even bringing the case to the initial stage of litigation -- discovery -- would place the United States in peril of revealing national security secrets in violation of the government's rights protected under 28 U.S.C. § 517 (the ?state secrets privilege?).

Khaled El-Masri, a Lebanese-born German citizen, was detained by Macedonian authorities and turned over to CIA operatives, who flew him to a U.S.-run prison in Kabul, Afghanistan. Five months later while en route back to Germany he was dropped off in Albania. El-Masri was released when the CIA apparently determined that it had abducted the wrong man. He eventually reunited with his family, which, believing he had abandoned them, had moved to Lebanon.

In a Bivens ...

$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 of abducting a 29-year-old woman outside an Atlanta fast food restaurant in 1981 and raping her repeatedly. The victim identified Clark as her assailant and he was sentenced to two life sentences plus 20 years.

Clark maintained his innocence from the beginning. In 1999, after reading an article about the New York-based Innocence Project, he wrote for help and attorneys with the Project accepted his case. In December 2003 Clark filed a petition for DNA testing, which was granted. The test concluded that Clark?s DNA didn?t match semen obtained from the victim?s rape kit.

Clark, who spent time at the state?s worst prisons, was released on December 8, 2005. He says he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia as a result of his wrongful imprisonment and contracted hepatitis C from a prison tattoo.

Even so, Clark has maintained an exceptional attitude. ?I feel great,? Clark told reporters as ...

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 only to law enforcement officials.

The name of James Baily Jones, 27, convicted in March 2007 of molesting a preschool girl, is not available to the public when inquiring online of sex offenders who might be living in their neighborhoods. Jones took a plea for a five-year suspended sentence plus five years probation for touching a girl inappropriately. His entered an "Alford Plea," meaning he maintained his innocence while admitting the state might succeed if they took the case to trial. His sentence further banned him from unsupervised contact with any child under 17, ordered him to take counseling, and required him to register as a sex offender for ten years. However, Jones was shielded from public registry by a rare Section 54-255 court order, the purpose of which is supposedly to protect the identity of the victim. (Additionally, in any such case, the court must find that public dissemination ...

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 overcrowding, lack of programs and poor ?vertical? staff communication. In addition, it found too many unfilled guard positions at SVSP, which it laid to unaffordable housing in the county. But this did not explain why neighboring CTF had almost full employment.

SVSP is a new style (?180 degree?) prison, designed in 1996 to hold 2,234 prisoners on its 300 acres. However, as of March 2006, it housed 4,267 Level 1 through Level IV prisoners in what were intended to be single-occupied prison cells, as well as in gymnasiums and day rooms.
SVSP has had twelve wardens in the past ten years (five since 2004), suffering a record of constant violence, ?Green Wall? Code of Silence incidents, lockdowns, and demoralization of both staff and prisoners.
SVSP has terminated all of its vocational programs, cut its Prison Industry Authority programs to one (a minimum security dairy), and reduced its educational ...

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.

In July 2006, OPP prisoners were put to work on the home of 1st City Court Judge Angelique Reed. Her uncle, David Reed, owns a private construction company and was overseeing construction on an addition to Judge Reed's house.

On July 10 and 11, David Reed was "loaned" two prisoners by OIC's executive director, Philip Baptiste. The prisoner laborers then did "exploratory digging for the footing for the addition" on the judge's property. After the worksite was visited by The Times-Picayune and the Metropolitan Crime Commission on June 11, Baptiste was questioned about the arrangement; he then ordered the prisoners off the property, saying it was "improper involvement."

While Baptiste had allowed the prisoners to work with David Reed, "he didn?t know where I was taking them," Reed stated. "I thought I was doing good." Reed said the prisoners were doing nothing while sitting in jail ...

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 women's facility did not provide the same standards as the nearby modern Maguire Correctional Facility men's jail.

While Jury foreman Ted Glasgow declared the women?s facility a "crowded disgrace" that was old and outdated, he said the visiting facility was the worst part. "One of the main things lacking that jumps out at you ... [is that] mothers and children have no space to get together." Where the men?s facility has one visiting room for every 24 prisoners, the women's jail has only one room for every 65.

As to overcrowding, the women's jail (with a capacity of 84) was crammed with up to 149 prisoners. The beds are in open-bay dorm settings, forcing sentenced and unsentenced prisoners of all classifications to be housed together. This has led to altercations and has prevented rehabilitation programs from working. Specifically, the Jury found that the women's ...

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, protection from harm, environmental health and safety, and fire safety. To remedy these problems the DOJ sued Terrell County in U.S. District Court, prevailing on a summary judgment motion.

The DOJ had, in fact, investigated the Terrell County Jail in 1995, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2003 ? each time finding the same violations it had found in 1995 despite recommended remedial actions. In addition, the Terrell County Grand Jury, which investigated the jail in 2002 and 2003, found conditions at the facility were ?inadequate, inhumane and unsafe.? Sheriff John W. Bowens admitted the accuracy of these findings.

Medical care reports showed that in 70 of 118 times that county Emergency Medical Technicians recommended emergency medical treatment at the jail, it was refused. Other complaints dealt with staffing deficiencies, including shortages, sloth in opening cells and failure to provide medical screening (particularly for infectious diseases). Terrell prisoners have suffered serious harm ...

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 reported that history, which had identical allegations as in Bynum v. District of Columbia, 257 F.Supp.2d 1 (D.DC. 2002). See: PLN, October, 2006.

The Bynum litigation was resolved by a settlement agreement the Court approved in January 2006. In Bynum, the problem was that ?court releases? prisoners who were entitled to release after a court appearance were typically taken from court back to jail. There, they would await processing of their release, which involved acquiring the release order, verifying no warrants or detainers existed, and obtaining their personal property. That process resulted in a day, two, or a week or more of over-detention.

While they awaited for the ?out-processing? to be completed, the prisoners were taken back to general population. This required they be strip searched. The Bynum settlement required those ordered released to be held at a holding facility on the grounds of D.C. General ...

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 by the Department of Defense.

January 11, 2007

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba -- I am writing from the darkness of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo in the hope that I can make our voices heard by the world. My hand quivers as I hold the pen.

In January 2002, I was picked up in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled, drugged and loaded onto a plane and flown to Cuba. When we got off the plane in Guantanamo, we did not know where we were. They took us to Camp X-Ray and locked us in cages with two buckets -- one empty and one filled with water. We were to urinate in one and wash in the other.

At Guantanamo, soldiers have assaulted me, placed me in solitary confinement, threatened to kill me, threatened to kill my daughter and told me I will stay in Cuba for the rest of my life ...

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 walking the lonely road to freedom. So well known is this hazard that jail guards reportedly joke about it.

But no one could laugh at the cold fate of 63 year-old James Smith, Jr., whose icy body was found five days after his nighttime release from Franklin County's Jackson Pike Jail, near a cement plant a couple miles away. Toothless, mobility-impaired and heart-diseased, Smith was released at 7:30 p.m. in sub-freezing weather, with 18 mph winds. Based upon one sighting by a passer-by 90 minutes later, who observed Smith's slurred speech, running nose, and slobbering at the mouth, Smith must have stopped walking shortly thereafter, sat down, and froze to death.

There had been confusion as to who might have picked him up at the jail.

Uncertainty surrounded his potential release time, leaving his case-worker off duty, while ready-to-help relatives were not notified because jail policy ...

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 figure also represents a 418% increase over the $36 billion spent in 1982. To put it another way, running the justice system in 2003 cost every man, woman, and child in the nation an estimated $618.

In fact, at the state and local levels, justice expenditures comprised about 7.2% of all public expenditures in 2003?roughly the same amount these governments spent on hospitals. Much of this spending is a direct result of the ?war on drugs,? wherein imprisonment has become more important than treatment or rehabilitation.

At the federal level, the largest part of the justice budget in 2003?$20 billion out of a total $35 billion?went to police protection. Even so, between 1982 and 2003 the largest percentage increase in federal justice expenditures was seen in the corrections budget, which rose an estimated 925%. Expenditures for police protection also rose dramatically?708% during the same period ...

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 the fact that, in spite of making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population. African American men, women and children account for half of all AIDS deaths each year.

In 2004 America?s prison population was 2.13 million. African Americans made up 41 percent of those prisoners. Drawing from data linking infectious diseases and prisoners it was estimated that 150,000 to 200,000 HIV-infected citizens were also incarcerated at some point. That total is about one-fourth of those infected in the U.S. The same study also estimated that up to 40 percent of those infected with TB and hepatitis-C also passed through a correctional facility during the same period.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice AIDS in U.S. prisons was three times higher than that of the general population percentage.
Researchers P.C. Johnson and S. Raphael, of the University of California ...

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 quietly arrest six federal prison guards on charges related to their having sex with female prisoners at the facility, usually in exchange for contraband such as jewelry, free-world bras, gum, perfume, makeup and cigars. Another aspect of the scheme involved prisoners? relatives mailing money orders to the guards to pay for the contraband. The guards listened in on the prisoners? phone calls and threatened any who tried to reveal the conspiracy.

Instead of an uneventful arrest, however, the federal agents became embroiled in a gun battle with one of the guards, Ralph Hill, who had smuggled a personal firearm into the prison. The gunfire left Hill and Special Agent William Sentner dead and a prison lieutenant wounded. [See: PLN Oct. 2006, pp. 12-13].

Five other guards, Gregory Dixon, Alan Moore, E. Lavon Spence, Alfred Barnes and Vincent Johnson, were arrested. Johnson, Barnes and Spence pleaded guilty to mail fraud on ...

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 hours.

Quadriplegic Jonathan Jerome Smith, 32, and a paraplegic prisoner were being transferred from the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran to Centinela State Prison on August 21, 2006. The two guards driving their van and two more guards in a chase car got lost, turning the six-hour ride into an eleven-hour death ride. When they finally arrived at Centinela, Smith was in a coma with blood pressure down to 60/30. He was taken to a hospital where he died two weeks later on September 5.

State corrections officials are conducting a criminal probe, although unnamed sources said the guards simply got lost and didn?t drive anywhere they shouldn?t have. ?They were calling for directions, they stopped and got water,? said CDCR spokesman Terry Thornton. The guards at one point said they checked on the prisoners, who stated they were OK. The guards involved were reassigned to ...

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 and sentenced to six years for possession of a controlled substance. The charge was sending marijuana to a cell on another tier via a ?fish line.? His principal contention on appeal was that he was prejudiced by his appearance at trial in restraints and prison garb, in plain view of the jury. While his attorney never moved for Simmons? being totally unrestrained, he did ask that Simmons have one hand freed. The appellate court held that this request was sufficient to preserve the issue on appeal that the trial court then had a duty to make a documented determination that restraints and prison garb were necessary and justified.

Even though the jury acquitted Simmons of a second related charge, arguably proving that they obeyed the court?s instruction not to be swayed by his being in restraints, their conviction hinged on ?weak? evidence. Being shackled when testifying in his own ...

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 (33%), Coffield (31%), Beta (31%) and Ferguson (28%). The TDCJ guard shortage is the highest of any prison system in the country; it compares with 9% in California, 4% in Florida and under 1% in New York.

Experts claim the shortage is caused by poor pay and the rural location of some prisons, which make it difficult to call on the large labor pools available in cities. While this may explain the difficulty that TDCJ has in recruiting new hires, interviews with numerous TDCJ guards who quit have revealed that the most cited reason for leaving was supervisors? poor management skills.

TDCJ?s guard turnover rate was 24% in 2006; 30,000 guards have been hired since 2001, but 31,000 have left TDCJ during that same time period.
Halving the turnover rate would eliminate the guard staffing shortage in a single year.

Some Texas legislators expressed concerns that the ...

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 from chronic diseased teeth and gums. The young father of two had been suffering from a sore throat and fever for over a week.

As his symptoms worsened he was moved to the jail?s medical unit and given antibiotics. On March 20, 2007 he was found motionless in his cell.
Paramedics rushed him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
?They should have helped him more and my brother would still be alive,? lamented his sister, Annamaria Barrett. Culture tests were ordered to determine the precise infection that killed Baksai.

Prisoners who suffer from serious dental infections should seek immediate attention; ongoing dental infections can also lead to cardiovascular disease.

Three other prisoners have died at the Peoria County Jail in the past year ? Bruce B. Nicholson, 36, hanged himself with bed sheets on July 5, 2006; Dennis P. Lane, 35, died in a holding cell on Sept ...

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 from torture as to associated distress and uncontrollability, recommended prohibition of such practices by international law.

The authors set out to distinguish between torture and various other forms of ill treatment during captivity as to their relative psychological impact. They studied 279 survivors of war trauma from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. The target group was selected evenly from combat veterans, torture survivors, refugees, displaced people and NATO bombing victims. The measure tools used were the DSM-IV [standard psychiatric evaluation manual] scales for post-traumatic stress disorder and war/torture survivors. The principal results were that the effects of psychological manipulations, humiliating treatment, exposure to aversive environmental conditions and forced stress positions showed much the same results observed with torture victims.

The study defined the abusive prison treatment as blindfolding, hooding, forced nudity, isolation, forced standing, rope bondage, deprivation (e.g., sleep, light, water, food or medical care), and treatment designed to ...

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 valley Prison in Soledad was arrested on charges he raped a juvenile female of an unspecified age.

Colorado: On July 12, 2007, 20 unidentified soldiers parachuted into a cornfield on the grounds of the Fremont Correctional Facility after missing their landing zone at the Fremont county airport. The soldiers claimed they were with the Department of Defense but refused to tell prison employees which branch. The soldiers were armed with rifles and rubber bullets.

Florida: On May 7, 2007, Collier county jail guard Wayne Lawson, 26, was arrested and charged with forcing a female jail prisoner he was supervising on a work detail to perform oral sex.

Florida: On May 9, 2007, Sergeant Ramiro Torrico, an employee with the Florida Department of Corrections at the Dade Correctional Institute was charged with felony bribery for extorting a prisoner for $20,000 in exchange for protection and privileges.

Greece: On April 23 ...

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 will break that usual trend to review a book written, edited and self-published by a remarkable man: Randy Kearse, author of Changin? Your Game Plan.

This book will never be reviewed in the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, or the London Literary Review. And that?s not only because it?s self-published. The reason has more to do with the intended readers of this work: prisoners, especially Black men in prison.

Kearse writes to them, not to pontificate, nor to preach, but to share his own harrowing life story, and his climb out of the abyss, not merely of prison, but of the mindset that led him there, and which continues to lead others to the pits of hell.

He grew up in a good home, with parents who loved and cared for him, and did well in school (other than being bored to ...

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 receiving treatment for mental illnesses.

The City of New York had tried to weasel out of providing discharge-planning for mentally ill prisoners by construing the settlement-agreement term "city jail" to restrict applicability solely to those prisoners who were in mainline lockup units. The Supreme Court below had rejected the City's argument that the term "city jail" was ambiguous.

The Appellate Division construed New York City Charter § 623(1), which invests the Correction Commissioner with the "charge and management of all institutions in the city, including all hospital wards therein for the care and custody of [prisoners] ... including those requiring psychiatric ... treatment, except such places for the detention of prisoners as are placed by law under the charge of some other agency."

The class settlement agreement referred to "city jail" as "a correctional facility operated by [the] Department of Correction." The court interpreted the latter narrower definition as not reasonably ...

 

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