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Prison Legal News: October, 2008

Issue PDF
Volume 19, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. Gay and Lesbian Prisoners: Recent Developments and a Call for More Research (p 1)
  2. Washington State Crime Lab Chief Resigns (p 8)
  3. From the Editor (p 8)
  4. Over 60% of Oregon Prisoner Suicides Linked to Mental Illness, Isolation (p 10)
  5. Trifecta for Michigan DOC: Three Reports Find Deficient Prison Medical Care (p 16)
  6. Fondled Hawaiian Transexual Prisoner Awarded $817,500 in Damages and Attorney Fees (p 18)
  7. Virginia Parole Rate Plummets Despite Thousands of Eligible Parolees (p 19)
  8. Houston District Attorney Caught in E-mail Scandal, Resigns, Held in Contempt (p 20)
  9. Courts Find Ohio Adam Walsh Act Unconstitutional (p 23)
  10. NY DOC’s Former 60% Prisoner Phone Call Kickback Scheme Did Not Violate Prisoners’ Families’ Constitutional Rights (p 24)
  11. Prison Legal News Prevails in Tennessee Public Records Suit Against CCA (p 24)
  12. TASER International’s Stock Shocked By $6.2 Million Damages Award (p 25)
  13. Teeth Extraction Policy for CA Women Prisoners Rescinded (p 26)
  14. Michigan Jail Pays $145,000 for Vindictively Exhibiting Naked Detainees in Segregation Cell (p 26)
  15. Harris County, Texas Sends 600 Jail Prisoners to Private Pen in Louisiana (p 28)
  16. Jail Prisoners Get Rapid HIV Tests (p 28)
  17. Federal Prisoner May Not be Held Indefinitely in Punitive Housing Pending Investigation of Infraction (p 29)
  18. $204,856 in Attorney’s Fees and Costs Awarded in Nebraska Kosher Diet and Muslim Prayer Case (p 30)
  19. Excessive Force Suit Against Illinois Guards Must be Retried, Allowing Evidence of Guards’ Actions (p 30)
  20. Bill Introduced to Exempt Wrongfully Convicted from Federal Income Taxes (p 31)
  21. States Expand Registration Laws to Include Drug Offenses (p 32)
  22. Alabama Jail Guard Fired, Convicted, Held Civilly Liable in Prisoner’s Assault (p 32)
  23. Montana DOC Employees Disciplined for E-mail Abuse (p 33)
  24. Segregated Massachusetts Nation of Islam Prisoners Entitled to Halal Menu and Jum’ah Prayers; $237,299.25 in Attorney Fees Awarded (p 34)
  25. PHS Wins Quadriplegic Prisoner’s Negligence Suit, Jail Settles for $100,000 (p 34)
  26. Federal Prisoner in State Jail Custody Illegally Denied State Court Name Change Petition (p 35)
  27. U.N. Committee Against Torture: Tasering is a “Form of Torture” (p 36)
  28. 71-Year-Old Veteran Paid $185,000 for Rough California Jail Booking Treatment (p 36)
  29. Monetary Sanctions Permitted for Milwaukee Jail’s Violation of Consent Decree (p 38)
  30. Prior Failure to Register as Sex Offender Does Not Violate Adam Walsh Act (p 38)
  31. WA Prisoner Properly Denied Access to Savings Account to Hire Lawyer for Parolability Hearing (p 39)
  32. Sixth Circuit: $4.5 Million Award Upheld Against Michigan DOC Doctor in Dehydration Death of Mentally Ill Prisoner (p 40)
  33. $7,025 Award in Slip and Fall From Ohio Prison Bunk (p 40)
  34. Ten Michigan Lawyers Honored For 8-Year Effort To Win $30 Million Damages For 10 Women Prisoners’ Sexual Abuse By Prison Guards (p 42)
  35. $45,000 Awarded to Probationer Subject to Overzealous Probation Officer (p 43)
  36. Georgia Inmate Welfare Fund Consent Decree Terminated Under PLRA (p 43)
  37. $305,021 Awarded to Missouri Prisoner Struck by Tree; State Legislature Takes Note (p 44)
  38. Michigan Federal Court Issues Injunctive Relief for Lifer Parole Hearings (p 44)
  39. Washington DOC Fires McNeil Island Employee for Prisoner Fund Theft (p 45)
  40. Contempt Order Entered Against Virgin Island’s Prison Mental Health Care (p 46)
  41. $449,000 Settlement in BIA Prisoner’s Fall from Top Bunk in Detox Cell (p 46)
  42. Wyoming Prisoner Receives $350,000 in Failure to Protect Case (p 47)
  43. $1.95 Million for 18 Years Wrongful Imprisonment in North Carolina (p 47)
  44. Indiana Judge Refuses to Send Juveniles to Unsafe Facility (p 48)
  45. New York Mail Rule Disciplinary Conviction Reversed (p 48)
  46. Texas Adds Sex Offender Employment and School Information to Registry (p 49)
  47. Texas Youth Commission Settles Lawsuit with U.S. Dept. of Justice (p 50)
  48. News in Brief: (p 50)
  49. Ice Cream Trucks No Treat for Sex Offenders (p 52)

Gay and Lesbian Prisoners: Recent Developments and a Call for More Research

by Zachary Wolfe, Esq.1

This is an interesting time in the changing legal landscape relating to gay and lesbian prisoners, but public and scholarly attention is lacking. Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered prisoners are often conceived of either in long-established concerns relating to guards’ discrimination or in ...

Washington State Crime Lab Chief Resigns

Washington crime lab chief Barry Logan resigned effective March 14, 2008, after judges in three counties roundly criticized the work performed in state laboratories under his supervision.

The fallout mainly stemmed from hundreds of DUI cases that were improperly handled by Ann Marie Gordon during her stint as a manager ...

From the Editor

This issue’s cover story on the rights and treatment of gay and lesbian prisoners stems from the dearth of such coverage everywhere else. In February of this year I was a speaker on a panel in Manhattan on the rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender prisoners. A few ...

Over 60% of Oregon Prisoner Suicides Linked to Mental Illness, Isolation

Over 60% of Oregon Prisoner Suicides Linked to Mental Illness, Isolation

by Mark Wilson

Nathan Bashaw, 21, had a mere 259 days left to serve until his April 1, 2008 release date. He was serving a sentence in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) for attempted robbery ...

Trifecta for Michigan DOC: Three Reports Find Deficient Prison Medical Care

Trifecta for Michigan DOC: Three Reports Find Deficient Prison Medical Care

by David M. Reutter

From the advent of federal oversight of medical services for Michigan prisoners, the focus has been on three Michigan Dept. of Corrections (MDOC) facilities that house the state’s sickest prisoners in close proximity to Duane ...

Fondled Hawaiian Transexual Prisoner Awarded $817,500 in Damages and Attorney Fees

Fondled Hawaiian Transexual Prisoner Awarded $817,500 in Damages and Attorney Fees

by Matt Clarke

On March 18, 2008, Hawaiian First Circuit Court Judge Sabrina S. McKenna awarded a pre-operative transgendered prisoner who had been sexually abused and harassed by a prison guard at the O’ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC ...

Virginia Parole Rate Plummets Despite Thousands of Eligible Parolees

by John E. Dannenberg

Politics in Virginia have trumped reason when it comes to releasing eligible offenders on parole. Notwithstanding examples of successful reintegration into society after such prisoners are released, political pressure has driven the parole board’s grant rate down from 40% to 5.6%. It also drove ...

Houston District Attorney Caught in E-mail Scandal, Resigns, Held in Contempt

Houston District Attorney Caught in E-mail Scandal, Resigns, Held in Contempt

by Gary Hunter

Racist jokes, sexually explicit photos, love notes to his mistress and evidence of improper political campaigning were found in the e-mail account of former Harris County (Houston, Texas) District Attorney Charles “Chuck” Rosenthal, Jr. Nevertheless, even ...

Courts Find Ohio Adam Walsh Act Unconstitutional

Cuyahoga County Judge Ronald Suster held on May 9, 2008 that Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act violates the retroactivity clause of the Ohio Constitution and is an ex post facto law.

Ohio has maintained a sex offender registry since 1963. The first substantial revisions to the registration law occurred in ...

NY DOC’s Former 60% Prisoner Phone Call Kickback Scheme Did Not Violate Prisoners’ Families’ Constitutional Rights

NY DOC’s Former 60% Prisoner Phone Call Kickback Scheme Did Not Violate Prisoners’ Families’ Constitutional Rights

In December, 2007, the New York State Supreme Court (this is a trial level court) held that the New York Department of Corrections’ (NYDOC) policy of contracting for prisoner collect telephone calls, which resulted ...

Prison Legal News Prevails in Tennessee Public Records Suit Against CCA

Prison Legal News Prevails in Tennessee Public Records Suit Against CCA

In 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a private company which performed services that were “functionally equivalent” to those provided by a public agency had to comply with the state’s Public Records Act, T.C.A. § 10-7-501 ...

TASER International’s Stock Shocked By $6.2 Million Damages Award

TASER International’s Stock Shocked By $6.2 Million Damages Award

by John E. Dannenberg

The stock of TASER International, Inc. tanked by 11% to $6.13 per share on June 9, 2008 when three days earlier a federal jury in San Jose, California awarded $6.2 million in a wrongful ...

Teeth Extraction Policy for CA Women Prisoners Rescinded

Teeth Extraction Policy for CA Women Prisoners Rescinded

by John E. Dannenberg

As part of a bizarre medical policy, the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has for years imposed a rule that requires women prisoners who apply for alternative community incarceration programs, where they can live with their ...

Michigan Jail Pays $145,000 for Vindictively Exhibiting Naked Detainees in Segregation Cell

Michigan Jail Pays $145,000 for Vindictively Exhibiting Naked Detainees in Segregation Cell

Four former male and female pre-trial detainees sued the Saginaw County, Michigan jail for an outrageous disciplinary policy that forced them to sit in a segregation cell visible to passers-by of both sexes, after first being stripped ...

Harris County, Texas Sends 600 Jail Prisoners to Private Pen in Louisiana

Harris County, Texas Sends 600 Jail Prisoners to Private Pen in Louisiana

In December 2007, Harris County, Texas officials announced they were sending an additional 200 jail prisoners – 180 of them women – to a privately-run prison in northeast Louisiana. This brings the total number of Harris County prisoners ...

Jail Prisoners Get Rapid HIV Tests

A relatively new rapid HIV test has been used on over 31,000 jail prisoners in four different states. The testing was made possible by grants from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The grants were part of a project to expand the use of HIV tests to jail prisoners ...

Federal Prisoner May Not be Held Indefinitely in Punitive Housing Pending Investigation of Infraction

Federal Prisoner May Not be Held Indefinitely in Punitive Housing Pending Investigation of Infraction

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has held that a federal prisoner, removed from the general population and placed in administrative segregation (SHU) pending investigation of in-prison charges, could not ...

$204,856 in Attorney’s Fees and Costs Awarded in Nebraska Kosher Diet and Muslim Prayer Case

$204,856 in Attorney’s Fees and Costs Awarded in Nebraska Kosher Diet and Muslim Prayer Case

by Brandon Sample

On May 5, 2008, Joseph F. Batallion, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, awarded $204,856.28 in attorney’s fees and costs to a ...

Excessive Force Suit Against Illinois Guards Must be Retried, Allowing Evidence of Guards’ Actions

Excessive Force Suit Against Illinois Guards Must be Retried, Allowing Evidence of Guards’ Actions

The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that a prisoner who sued guards for allegedly brutally injuring him during an uncuffing procedure must be given a new trial wherein evidence of the guards’ actions ...

Bill Introduced to Exempt Wrongfully Convicted from Federal Income Taxes

Bill Introduced to Exempt Wrongfully Convicted from Federal Income Taxes

On December 6, 2007, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Sam Brown (R-KS) introduced a bill to exempt wrongfully convicted former prisoners from having to pay federal income tax on their compensation awards. The bill would also exempt ...

States Expand Registration Laws to Include Drug Offenses

States Expand Registration Laws to Include Drug Offenses

In 2003, Montana began including persons convicted of manufacturing illegal drugs on its sex offender and violent offender Internet registry. Since then, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas and Illinois have created online registries for people convicted of making or selling methamphetamine. The information on ...

Alabama Jail Guard Fired, Convicted, Held Civilly Liable in Prisoner’s Assault

Alabama Jail Guard Fired, Convicted, Held Civilly Liable in Prisoner’s Assault

by David M. Reutter

In a rare conclusion to a guard’s violent attack on a prisoner, a Jefferson County, Alabama jail guard was fired, prosecuted, convicted and found liable in a civil lawsuit. The guard, Antonio Allums, continues to ...

Montana DOC Employees Disciplined for E-mail Abuse

An internal investigation of e-mail abuse in the Montana Dept. of Corrections (DOC) uncovered what was termed “disgusting” behavior on the part of guards and even high-level prison officials. Seventy-four employees were cited for abusing state computer privileges.

Their offenses included e-mailing sexually and racially inappropriate material, chain letters, videos ...

Segregated Massachusetts Nation of Islam Prisoners Entitled to Halal Menu and Jum’ah Prayers; $237,299.25 in Attorney Fees Awarded

The U.S. District Court for Massachusetts granted declaratory relief to two maximum-security Nation of Islam (NOI) prisoners who had sued for a Halal (Muslim religious dietary) menu and participation in daily Jum’ah prayers. The district court denied the plaintiffs’ requests for meal preparation by Muslim prisoners, prayer rugs ...

PHS Wins Quadriplegic Prisoner’s Negligence Suit, Jail Settles for $100,000

PHS Wins Quadriplegic Prisoner’s Negligence Suit, Jail Settles for $100,000

On February 14, 2008, a Florida jury found that Prison Health Services (PHS) was not negligent in misdiagnosing a jail prisoner’s broken neck, which left him a permanent quadriplegic. The series of events that led to this tragic result ...

Federal Prisoner in State Jail Custody Illegally Denied State Court Name Change Petition

Federal Prisoner in State Jail Custody Illegally Denied State Court Name Change Petition

The California Court of Appeal has reversed the Fresno Superior Court’s denial of a name-change petition filed by a federal prisoner awaiting sentencing while housed in the Fresno County Jail. The California law precluding a state prisoner ...

U.N. Committee Against Torture: Tasering is a “Form of Torture”

by Matt Clarke

On November 23, 2007, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) concluded that using the Taser X-26 electric stun gun is a “form of torture” that “can even provoke death.” CAT is charged with overseeing the application of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other ...

71-Year-Old Veteran Paid $185,000 for Rough California Jail Booking Treatment

An elderly veteran, while being booked into the Santa Clara County, California jail in December 2005 for failure to appear at a civil trial, struggled with deputies during the fingerprinting process and was subdued with violent force. He claimed he suffered a fractured eye socket, broken nose, impaired vision, acute ...

Monetary Sanctions Permitted for Milwaukee Jail’s Violation of Consent Decree

Monetary Sanctions Permitted for Milwaukee Jail’s Violation of Consent Decree

by David Reutter

Wisconsin’s First District Court of Appeals has held that an intentional contempt finding against the Milwaukee County Jail (MCJ) entitles prisoners who were injured by the contemptuous conduct to recover monetary sanctions.

In March 1996, MCJ prisoner ...

Prior Failure to Register as Sex Offender Does Not Violate Adam Walsh Act

Prior Failure to Register as Sex Offender Does Not Violate Adam Walsh Act

On December 5, 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri granted a motion for judgment of acquittal in a criminal prosecution for failure to register as a sex offender.

Terry Lee Rich ...

WA Prisoner Properly Denied Access to Savings Account to Hire Lawyer for Parolability Hearing

WA Prisoner Properly Denied Access to Savings Account to Hire Lawyer for Parolability Hearing

by Roger Smith

Division 2 of the Washington Court of Appeals has upheld a denial by the state Department of Corrections (DOC) of a prisoner’s request to use funds from his Personal Inmate Savings Account (PISA ...

Sixth Circuit: $4.5 Million Award Upheld Against Michigan DOC Doctor in Dehydration Death of Mentally Ill Prisoner

Sixth Circuit: $4.5 Million Award Upheld Against Michigan DOC Doctor in Dehydration Death of Mentally Ill Prisoner

by John E. Dannenberg

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a $4.5 million damage award against a Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) doctor whose deliberate indifference resulted in ...

$7,025 Award in Slip and Fall From Ohio Prison Bunk

The Ohio Court of Claims has awarded a former Ohio prisoner $7,025 for injuries related to a slip and fall from a prison bunk.

Stacy Rose slipped and fell while climbing down from his bunk at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. Rose suffered injuries to his lower back, left ankle ...

Ten Michigan Lawyers Honored For 8-Year Effort To Win $30 Million Damages For 10 Women Prisoners’ Sexual Abuse By Prison Guards

by John E. Dannenberg

Ten Michigan attorneys were awarded two different awards by two national attorney professional associations. The attorneys received the National Lawyers Guilds’ coveted Law for the People award. The NLG was founded in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association. In addition to the ...

$45,000 Awarded to Probationer Subject to Overzealous Probation Officer

$45,000 Awarded to Probationer Subject to Overzealous Probation Officer

An arbitrator awarded Washington State probationer Mark S. Rice $44,515 in a claim alleging negligence, emotional distress, and aggravation of a preexisting elbow injury. Washington Department of Corrections Community Corrections Officer Jenny Sheriden was alleged to have overstepped her ...

Georgia Inmate Welfare Fund Consent Decree Terminated Under PLRA

Georgia Inmate Welfare Fund Consent Decree Terminated Under PLRA

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered a Georgia federal district court to terminate a permanent plan for charitable donations from the Inmate Welfare Fund at the Glynn County Detention Center (GCDC). The matter was before the Eleventh Circuit after ...

$305,021 Awarded to Missouri Prisoner Struck by Tree; State Legislature Takes Note

$305,021 Awarded to Missouri Prisoner Struck by Tree; State Legislature Takes Note

by Brandon Sample

A Missouri prisoner was awarded $305,021 after being struck by a tree. In February 2000, Hortense Cain, a female prisoner at the Women’s Correctional Center in Vandalia, was assigned to a Missouri Department ...

Michigan Federal Court Issues Injunctive Relief for Lifer Parole Hearings

Michigan Federal Court Issues Injunctive Relief for Lifer Parole Hearings

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued a declaratory judgment and remedial injunctive order granting new hearings to non-drug offense parolable Michigan prisoners sentenced to life prior to 1992, who had ...

Washington DOC Fires McNeil Island Employee for Prisoner Fund Theft

Washington DOC Fires McNeil Island Employee for Prisoner Fund Theft

On February 22, 2008, the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) fired Colleen Brixley, 48, a fiscal analyst at the McNeil Island Corrections Center, for stealing $103,000 from the McNeil Offender Welfare Betterment Fund. The fund is used primarily ...

Contempt Order Entered Against Virgin Island’s Prison Mental Health Care

Contempt Order Entered Against Virgin Island’s Prison Mental Health Care

A Virgin Islands federal district court has held territory officials in contempt, ruling that they willfully violated the court’s orders. That finding came in a class action suit dating back to 1994 which challenges “inhumane and dangerous conditions” at the ...

$449,000 Settlement in BIA Prisoner’s Fall from Top Bunk in Detox Cell

$449,000 Settlement in BIA Prisoner’s Fall from Top Bunk in Detox Cell

The United States has settled a lawsuit alleging negligent supervision and observation of a prisoner who fell from a top bunk. While the settlement was estimated to be for $449,000, it could be more due to ...

Wyoming Prisoner Receives $350,000 in Failure to Protect Case

Wyoming Prisoner Receives $350,000 in Failure to Protect Case

The Wyoming Department of Corrections has settled a prisoner’s failure to protect claim for $350,000. The action was filed in U.S. District Court by Wyoming State Penitentiary prisoner Jason C. Huff.

Huff had informed prison officials upon intake ...

$1.95 Million for 18 Years Wrongful Imprisonment in North Carolina

On February 16, 2007, a North Carolina man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit settled with the State and the City of Winston-Salem for $1,958,454.

Darryl Hunt, a black man, was imprisoned in 1984 for the rape and murder of Deborah ...

Indiana Judge Refuses to Send Juveniles to Unsafe Facility

On December 17, 2007, Judge Peter Nemeth of St. Joseph County, Indiana informed Governor Mitch Daniels that he would no longer send female juvenile offenders to the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility (formerly known as the Indiana Girls School).
Nemeth found that the facility was understaffed and determined it was “neither ...

New York Mail Rule Disciplinary Conviction Reversed

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, of the New York Supreme Court has ordered the removal from a prisoner’s institutional record of a misbehavior report for failing to comply with correspondence rules.

Curtis Davis, a prisoner at New York’s Attica prison, commenced an action pursuant to CPLR Article 78 ...

Texas Adds Sex Offender Employment and School Information to Registry

Texas Adds Sex Offender Employment and School Information to Registry

The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced it is adding information about where sex offenders work and go to school to its online sex offender registry. The registry update will cost $1.2 million, which is being paid by ...

Texas Youth Commission Settles Lawsuit with U.S. Dept. of Justice

It took less than three months for Texas officials to reach an agreement after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), alleging mistreatment of youthful offenders. A final settlement was entered by the court on May 5, 2008.

The lawsuit brought against ...

News in Brief:

California: On April 3, 2008, four prison guards at the state prison in Tehachapi were stabbed by two Hispanic prisoner members of the Surenos gang, and the entire state prison system was placed on lockdown. Other guards used batons, pepper spray and physical force to stop the attack. The injured ...

Ice Cream Trucks No Treat for Sex Offenders

Several cities and at least one state have passed laws that prohibit sex offenders from driving ice cream trucks.

In 2004 Eduardo Grau, 56, was driving an ice cream truck in New York state when he molested a 9-year-old girl. It was discovered that Grau had been in the habit ...