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Prison Legal News: November, 2008

Issue PDF
Volume 19, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. Doing Borrowed Time: The High Cost of Back-Door Prison Finance (p 1)
  2. Arkansas Woman Left in Cell for Four Days Without Food or Water (p 8)
  3. From the Editor (p 8)
  4. Monitor’s Second and Third Reports Find Medical Care From CMS for Delaware Prisoners Still Lacking (p 10)
  5. Paying Texas Prisoners Undermines Outside Businesses (p 12)
  6. Colorado DOC Increases Legal Photocopy Fees 400 Percent (p 13)
  7. An Interview with Randall Berg, Executive Director of the Florida Justice Institute (p 14)
  8. Could the Fall of Lehman Brothers Signal Trouble for Private Prison Corporations? (p 16)
  9. Private Prisons a Public Disgrace in Texas (p 18)
  10. Ex-Warden’s Wife Charged With Assisting Prison Escapee (p 19)
  11. Privatized Medical Care in Mississippi Prisons: Another Wexford Failure (p 20)
  12. Illinois Federal Jury Awards Record $15.5 Million in False Arrest Case (p 21)
  13. Effects of Florida’s Faith Based Prisons Found to Be Promising in Reducing Recidivism (p 22)
  14. Florida County Sheriff Liable for $1.5 Million for Acts of Informant on Work Release (p 23)
  15. Massachusetts Jail Conditions Unconstitutional Says U.S. Department of Justice (p 24)
  16. CA Justice Commission: “Low bid, flat fee” Defense Attorney Hiring Scheme Shortchanges Indigent Criminal Defendants (p 25)
  17. $13.5 Million Florida Jail Strip Search Settlement (p 26)
  18. Maricopa County Special Prosecutor Padded Résumé, Law Partner Quits (p 26)
  19. U.N. Recommends Worldwide Death Penalty Moratorium (p 27)
  20. CMS Nurse Injects 15 Delaware Prisoners with the Same Syringe (p 28)
  21. Errantly Paroled Mentally Ill San Quentin Prisoner Commits Mayhem In San Francisco (p 28)
  22. Iowa Imprisons Blacks at Alarming Rate (p 29)
  23. HIV Cases in U.S. Prisons Decline (p 30)
  24. Nevada Phone Contract Reduces Costs to Prisoners’ Families But Increases State’s Kickback (p 30)
  25. U.S. Pardon Attorney Replaced After Investigation Reveals Racial Comments, Retaliation and Mismanagement (p 31)
  26. Texas State Auditor States Some Prison Rehabilitation Programs Effective, Some Not (p 32)
  27. Justice Policy Institute Brief Links Crime, Wages and Unemployment (p 32)
  28. $145,000 Awarded to New York Prisoner Who Falls While Cutting Wet Grass (p 33)
  29. Incarcerated New York Women Denied Access to Reproductive Health Care (p 34)
  30. Alabama Federal Court Awards $538,178 in Attorney Fees and Expenses for Women Prison Conditions Litigation (p 34)
  31. $156,289 in Attorney Fees Awarded for Enforcing California Jail Prisoners’ Federal Consent Decrees (p 36)
  32. Report Finds Incarceration Damages Children Psychologically, Emotionally (p 36)
  33. CA State Auditor: 352 Licensed Residential Living Facilities Errantly Housed Registered Sex Offenders (p 38)
  34. Former Female Prisoners Settle Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Virginia (p 38)
  35. Identity of Prisoner Who Smuggled Gun into New Jersey Facility Revealed by Appeals Court (p 39)
  36. California Proposition 36 Drug Program Participation Credits Apply Against Subsequent Probation Revocation (p 40)
  37. BOP Administrative Tort Claims Fail to Satisfy PLRA’s Exhaustion Requirement (p 40)
  38. $80,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Prisoner’s Suicide (p 41)
  39. $5,775 Awarded For 104 Days of Over-Incarceration in Ohio Prison (p 41)
  40. Supreme Court: Death Penalty for Child-Rape Barred as Cruel and Unusual Punishment (p 42)
  41. Ninth Circuit: Washington Law Creates Liberty Interest in Sex Offenders’ Early Release to Community Custody (p 42)
  42. Crack Cocaine Offenders Denied Representation for Sentence Reductions (p 44)
  43. Snitch: Informants, Cooperators & the Corruption of Justice, by Ethan Brown Public Affairs Publishing, 273 pages, $25.95 (p 44)
  44. Pre-Release Jail-Abuse Questionnaires Said to Pressure Prisoners (p 46)
  45. California Juvenile Jail Ward, Brain Damaged from Suicide Attempt, Awarded $4.6 Million (p 46)
  46. Hawaii Prisoner Awarded $20,000 in Slip and Fall Lawsuit (p 47)
  47. Former Illinois Prison Watchdog Group Executive Acquitted of Bribing Prison Officials (p 47)
  48. Banning of Newsletter in Wisconsin Prison Violates First Amendment (p 48)
  49. Florida Imposes Broad Budget Cuts, but Prison Officials Increase Pay Through Double-Dipping (p 48)
  50. News in Brief: (p 50)
  51. Romance with Jail Guard Lands Sex Offender Back in Prison (p 52)

Doing Borrowed Time: The High Cost of Back-Door Prison Finance

Much public attention has been devoted in recent years to the “industrial” side of the prison boom, from the fortunes of private prison operators to the profits generated by telecommunications companies from lucrative phone contracts. Less attention has been paid to the sector of the prison industry that gets paid ...

Arkansas Woman Left in Cell for Four Days Without Food or Water

Arkansas Woman Left in Cell for Four Days Without Food or Water

In March 2008, a woman was locked in a small courthouse holding cell without food or water for four days after an Arkansas bailiff forgot about her.

Adriana Torres-Flores, 38, a mother of three and an illegal immigrant ...

From the Editor

Each day the news brings more headlines about the turmoil in financial markets and the collapse of speculative financial devices that were apparently too complex for their buyers to understand (we can all recall the junk bonds of the 1980s), the financial bail out of Wall Street bankers and the ...

Monitor’s Second and Third Reports Find Medical Care From CMS for Delaware Prisoners Still Lacking

Monitor’s Second and Third Reports Find Medical Care From CMS for Delaware Prisoners Still Lacking

by David M. Reutter

Despite a monitor to provide oversight, Correctional Medical Services (CMS) continues to suffer from a “lack of stable and effective leadership” that inhibits it from supplying adequate medical care to Delaware ...

Paying Texas Prisoners Undermines Outside Businesses

Breaking with its longstanding tradition of using prison slave labor, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is paying certain prisoners, on several units, for working in industry programs. The upside is that some prisoners are being compensated for their labor and money is being added to the state’s ...

Colorado DOC Increases Legal Photocopy Fees 400 Percent

As if cutting prisoner wages 70 percent (from $2 per workday to $0.60 while providing nothing but one roll of toilet paper per week) was not enough, Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Aristedes Zavaras has ordered the facility law libraries to increase their fee for copying prisoner?generated ...

An Interview with Randall Berg, Executive Director of the Florida Justice Institute

An Interview with Randall Berg, Executive Director of the Florida Justice Institute

by Todd Matthews

With approximately 100,000 people in Florida’s prisons, and another 66,000 in its county jails, Florida has joined the ranks of Texas and California as a state that has taken the practice of mass ...

Could the Fall of Lehman Brothers Signal Trouble for Private Prison Corporations?

Could the Fall of Lehman Brothers Signal Trouble for Private Prison Corporations?

by Bob Libal and Nick Hudson

While recent business news has been dominated by the bailout of some of the nation’s largest investment firms, the fall of financial giant Lehman Brothers may have unintended consequences for one of ...

Private Prisons a Public Disgrace in Texas

So much human feces covered the floors of a GEO Group-run juvenile prison in Coke County, Texas that departing inspectors stopped outside to wipe their shoes in the grass. The Coke County Juvenile Justice Center was in such bad shape that Texas Youth Commission (TYC) executive director Dimitria Pope ordered ...

Ex-Warden’s Wife Charged With Assisting Prison Escapee

In April 2008, charges were filed against Bobbi Parker, 46, who is accused of hiding convicted killer Randolph Dial in her van and driving him out of the Oklahoma State Reformatory (OSR) on August 30, 1994. The pair remained missing for over ten years before they were eventually discovered.

Bobbi ...

Privatized Medical Care in Mississippi Prisons: Another Wexford Failure

by David M. Reutter

A report submitted to Mississippi’s legislature found serious deficiencies in the delivery of medical care to prisoners in the Mississippi Dept. of Corrections (MDOC). The December 11, 2007 report was issued by the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER). It found ...

Illinois Federal Jury Awards Record $15.5 Million in False Arrest Case

by Matt Clarke

On December 20, 2007, an Illinois federal jury awarded a record amount in a civil rights case for false arrest – $15.5 million. The damage award was against the sheriff of Will County, Illinois and four of his deputies. Prior to trial, the former state attorney, forensic ...

Effects of Florida’s Faith Based Prisons Found to Be Promising in Reducing Recidivism

Effects of Florida’s Faith Based Prisons Found to Be Promising in Reducing Recidivism

by David M. Reutter

A report by the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center concluded the statistically significant difference between the share of prisoners in Florida’s Faith and Character Based Institutions (FCBI) and a comparison group of male ...

Florida County Sheriff Liable for $1.5 Million for Acts of Informant on Work Release

Florida County Sheriff Liable for $1.5 Million for Acts of Informant on Work Release

On May 18, 2007, a Florida jury found the Hendry County Sheriff is liable for injuries caused by a prisoner it placed on work release status to hire him as a confidential informant. After the ...

Massachusetts Jail Conditions Unconstitutional Says U.S. Department of Justice

A report released by the U.S. Justice Department (USJD), on May 1, 2008, concluded that conditions in the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction (HOC) in Massachusetts violated the constitutional rights of prisoners in its custody. The report detailed a variety of unsanitary and environmentally unsafe living conditions ...

CA Justice Commission: “Low bid, flat fee” Defense Attorney Hiring Scheme Shortchanges Indigent Criminal Defendants

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice (Commission) charged that the practice of California counties to use competitive bidding for private attorneys to represent indigent criminal defendants has resulted in unconstitutionally poor legal representation. The practice usually involves bidding the criminal defense work on ...

$13.5 Million Florida Jail Strip Search Settlement

Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay $13.5 million to settle a lawsuit claiming it illegally strip searched prisoners charged with minor offenses. The settlement ends a class action filed in state court in 2002. Under the settlement, each class member will receive up to ...

Maricopa County Special Prosecutor Padded Résumé, Law Partner Quits

by Matt Clarke

Regular readers of PLN are familiar with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” [See, e.g., PLN, March 2007, p.14]. Dennis Wilenchik, a private attorney known as “Arpaio’s Bulldog,” was hired as a special prosecutor by ...

U.N. Recommends Worldwide Death Penalty Moratorium

by Matt Clarke

On December 12, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding moratorium on the death penalty. The 192 member nations voted 104 to 54 with 29 abstentions. The measure was spearheaded by the 27-member European Union (EU) which requires death penalty abolition as a condition of ...

CMS Nurse Injects 15 Delaware Prisoners with the Same Syringe

That Delaware prisoners have been subject to dreadful health care by the state’s medical contractor, Correctional Medical Services (CMS), is not a new revelation for readers of PLN. We previously published an exposé on the deaths, injuries and deliberate indifference suffered by Delaware prisoners as a result of CMS ...

Errantly Paroled Mentally Ill San Quentin Prisoner Commits Mayhem In San Francisco

Errantly Paroled Mentally Ill San Quentin Prisoner Commits Mayhem In San Francisco

When San Quentin, California state prison employees released mentally ill prisoner Scott Thomas onto parole on the night of Friday, May 18, 2007, they committed numerous serious security blunders that culminated in Thomas’ brutal knife assault the next ...

Iowa Imprisons Blacks at Alarming Rate

Extreme racial disparities in Iowa’s sentencing patterns have put the state under scrutiny once again. Iowa has a population of about 3 million people. Only 2.3 percent, about 20,000, are black. Yet the incarceration for black Iowans is six times greater than their white counterparts.

A 1999 ...

HIV Cases in U.S. Prisons Decline

by Matt Clarke

In September 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics released a bulletin showing known cases of prisoners infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and those with confirmed AIDS declined for the sixth straight year in 2005.
The total number of known ...

Nevada Phone Contract Reduces Costs to Prisoners’ Families But Increases State’s Kickback

Nevada Phone Contract Reduces Costs to Prisoners’ Families But Increases State’s Kickback

by David M. Reutter

A panel headed by Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons has approved a contract that reduces the cost of in-state collect calls from prisoners, but maintains exorbitant rates for out-of-state calls. The contract also increases the ...

U.S. Pardon Attorney Replaced After Investigation Reveals Racial Comments, Retaliation and Mismanagement

U.S. Pardon Attorney Replaced After Investigation Reveals Racial Comments, Retaliation and Mismanagement

by Brandon Sample

The federal attorney responsible for recommending presidential pardons and commutations has been replaced following an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Roger Adams ...

Texas State Auditor States Some Prison Rehabilitation Programs Effective, Some Not

Texas State Auditor States Some Prison Rehabilitation Programs Effective, Some Not

by Matt Clarke

In March, 2007, the Texas State Auditor’s Office (SAO) released a report on five rehabilitation programs used in the Texas state prison system (TDCJ). The report found that three of the programs resulted in reduced recidivism ...

Justice Policy Institute Brief Links Crime, Wages and Unemployment

by Matt Clarke

On October 1, 2007, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, published a research brief linking crime rates to wages and unemployment levels. In general terms, JPI found that higher crime rates occur when unemployment rates rise and that increases in wages ...

$145,000 Awarded to New York Prisoner Who Falls While Cutting Wet Grass

$145,000 Awarded to New York Prisoner Who Falls While Cutting Wet Grass

A New York Court of Claims has awarded $145,000 in damages to a prisoner who slipped and fell on wet grass while mowing a hilly section of the prison’s lawn. The fall, which occurred at the ...

Incarcerated New York Women Denied Access to Reproductive Health Care

Incarcerated New York Women Denied Access to Reproductive Health Care

by Gary Hunter

According to a March 4, 2008 study by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) female prisoners in New York county jails consistently were given little or no assistance in terms of gender-specific health care despite state ...

Alabama Federal Court Awards $538,178 in Attorney Fees and Expenses for Women Prison Conditions Litigation

Alabama Federal Court Awards $538,178 in Attorney Fees and Expenses for Women Prison Conditions Litigation

On August 31, 2007, an Alabama federal court awarded $484,406.35 in attorney fees and $53,771.79 in expenses to prisoners who successfully challenged conditions of confinement in Alabama state prisons for ...

$156,289 in Attorney Fees Awarded for Enforcing California Jail Prisoners’ Federal Consent Decrees

$156,289 in Attorney Fees Awarded for Enforcing California Jail Prisoners’ Federal Consent Decrees

by John E. Dannenberg

On , August 22, 2007, the U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.) approved $156,289 in attorney fees and costs for the enforcement of two consent decrees related to law libraries and ...

Report Finds Incarceration Damages Children Psychologically, Emotionally

Report Finds Incarceration Damages Children Psychologically, Emotionally

by Gary Hunter

Broken Bonds, a study by the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center shows that incarceration inflicts psychological and emotional damage on the children of incarcerated citizens. Unlike other forms of trauma the incarceration of a parent “creates unique stressors in a ...

CA State Auditor: 352 Licensed Residential Living Facilities Errantly Housed Registered Sex Offenders

CA State Auditor: 352 Licensed Residential Living Facilities Errantly Housed Registered Sex Offenders

by John E. Dannenberg

The California State Auditor cross-checked the State’s database of its 59,000 registered sex offenders and that of its Department of Social Services (DSS) state-funded alcohol and drug rehabilitation residential living facilities and ...

Former Female Prisoners Settle Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Virginia

State officials at Virginia’s Pocahontas Correctional Unit have reached a settlement agreement with nine former female prisoners who sued after being sexually abused by prison employees. The terms of the settlement, which was approved by the Governor’s office in July 2008, remain confidential. According to court documents, however ...

Identity of Prisoner Who Smuggled Gun into New Jersey Facility Revealed by Appeals Court

Identity of Prisoner Who Smuggled Gun into New Jersey Facility Revealed by Appeals Court

by Gary Hunter

A prisoner accused of smuggling a gun into a New Jersey prison two years ago was identified when he was denied relief by the state’s Superior Court Appellate Division.
Hector Sanabria, 48, was ...

California Proposition 36 Drug Program Participation Credits Apply Against Subsequent Probation Revocation

California Proposition 36 Drug Program Participation Credits Apply Against Subsequent Probation Revocation

The California Court of Appeal, Second District, held that when a prisoner convicted of drug possession but granted Proposition 36 probation to attend a drug treatment program in lieu of incarceration violates his probation terms, the time he ...

BOP Administrative Tort Claims Fail to Satisfy PLRA’s Exhaustion Requirement

BOP Administrative Tort Claims Fail to Satisfy PLRA’s Exhaustion Requirement

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that a federal prisoner’s administrative tort claims did not satisfy the administrative exhaustion requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), but ordered an evidentiary hearing to determine whether threats by a guard ...

$80,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Prisoner’s Suicide

The private medical provider at Utah’s Salt Lake County Jail (SLCJ) has settled a lawsuit in a prisoner’s suicide for $80,000. The lawsuit was originally filed in federal court, but landed in state court prior to the settlement.

After Jeremy Ruybal, 27, hanged himself with a bed-sheet ...

$5,775 Awarded For 104 Days of Over-Incarceration in Ohio Prison

$5,775 Awarded For 104 Days of Over-Incarceration in Ohio Prison

The Ohio Court of Claims has awarded a former Ohio prisoner $5,775 for 104 days of over-incarceration.

Jasen Thomson was confined at the Marion Correctional Institution for 104 days beyond his lawful confinement. Thomson sued the Ohio Department ...

Supreme Court: Death Penalty for Child-Rape Barred as Cruel and Unusual Punishment

by John E. Dannenberg

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on June 25, 2008 that a Louisiana statute imposing the death penalty for rape of a child, absent murder or an intent to kill, was unconstitutional because it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the ...

Ninth Circuit: Washington Law Creates Liberty Interest in Sex Offenders’ Early Release to Community Custody

Ninth Circuit: Washington Law Creates Liberty Interest in Sex Offenders’ Early Release to Community Custody

A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that Washington State statute RCW § 9.94A.710(1) (2006), which permits application of earned prison conduct credits towards early release ...

Crack Cocaine Offenders Denied Representation for Sentence Reductions

Crack Cocaine Offenders Denied Representation for Sentence Reductions

by Brandon Sample

In the wake of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s decision to reduce penalties for federal crack cocaine offenses, and to make those changes retroactive effective March 3, 2008, crack offenders are being forced to go it alone in their ...

Snitch: Informants, Cooperators & the Corruption of Justice, by Ethan Brown Public Affairs Publishing, 273 pages, $25.95

Snitch: Informants, Cooperators & the Corruption of Justice, by Ethan Brown Public Affairs Publishing, 273 pages, $25.95

Reviewed by David Preston

“Snitch” – the word is one of the most loaded in the English language. To the law enforcement community it means a bad guy gone good: someone who ...

Pre-Release Jail-Abuse Questionnaires Said to Pressure Prisoners

by John E. Dannenberg

Civil rights advocates and attorneys have raised concerns over a recent policy implemented by the Sacramento County, California jail system whereby prisoners are asked to sign a “screening form” prior to release that inquires whether they were mistreated during their incarceration. The pre-release form is purportedly ...

California Juvenile Jail Ward, Brain Damaged from Suicide Attempt, Awarded $4.6 Million

California Juvenile Jail Ward, Brain Damaged from Suicide Attempt, Awarded $4.6 Million

A teenager incarcerated at a Kings County, California boot camp sustained permanent brain damage after he attempted suicide. His father then sued the county for negligence in failing to properly train their juvenile hall and boot camp ...

Hawaii Prisoner Awarded $20,000 in Slip and Fall Lawsuit

A Hawaii State Court has awarded a prisoner$20,000 for injuries incurred in a negligence claim stemming from a slip and fall, incident. While imprisoned at the Halawa High Security Facility on January 26, 2006, Joseph Sampiao was walking down the smooth concrete walkway to the shower in his ...

Former Illinois Prison Watchdog Group Executive Acquitted of Bribing Prison Officials

Former Illinois Prison Watchdog Group Executive Acquitted of Bribing Prison Officials

On May 7, 2008, a federal judge acquitted Michael J. Mahoney, former executive director of a prison watchdog organization, of involvement in the payment of $20,000 in bribes to former Illinois Department of Corrections director Donald Snyder.

The ...

Banning of Newsletter in Wisconsin Prison Violates First Amendment

Banning of Newsletter in Wisconsin Prison Violates First Amendment

by John E. Dannenberg

A U.S. District Court has held that a decision by the Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections (WDOC) to ban a prisoner’s receipt of The New Abolitionist, an establishment-critical newsletter, was an exaggerated response and thus violated the ...

Florida Imposes Broad Budget Cuts, but Prison Officials Increase Pay Through Double-Dipping

Florida Imposes Broad Budget Cuts, but Prison Officials Increase Pay Through Double-Dipping

by David M. Reutter

While the State of Florida has to contend with across-the-board budget cuts due to a financial shortfall caused by the faltering economy, high-ranking Florida Department of Correction (FDOC) officials are padding their pockets by ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On September 20, 2008, Amado Martinez, a guard at the Pinal county jail was arrested and charged with stealing money from prisoners booked into the jail.

California: On July 26, 2007, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a pardon for former San Quentin prison guard Kevin Martino, 47, who was convicted ...

Romance with Jail Guard Lands Sex Offender Back in Prison

Once described as the most-watched prisoner in Texas, Wesley Wayne Miller has managed to make the news again. Miller, 45, is the state’s first prisoner to be committed under the Sexually Violent Predator Program. He was convicted of murder in 1982 and was suspected of several rapes. Two years ...