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Prison Legal News: May, 2008

Issue PDF
Volume 19, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Washington Jail Prisoners Suffer from Overcrowding, Abusive Guards, Inadequate Health Care and Indifferent Politicians (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 10)
  3. When Courts Get it Wrong: Clark v. Beard (p 10)
  4. NY Court Dismisses Prisoner’s Assault Claim, Voids $500,000 Jury Award (p 11)
  5. Deadly Staph Infection 'Superbug' Has a Dangerous Foothold in U.S. Jails (p 12)
  6. $100,000 Damage Award Vacated for Seven-Year Service Delay (p 15)
  7. Summer of Discontent (p 16)
  8. Prison Doctors, Tainted by Regulatory Board Discipline, Administer Wisconsin Prisoner Care (p 24)
  9. My Space Becomes “No Space” for Online Sex Offenders (p 26)
  10. $2 Million Confidential Settlement In CCA Prisoner’s 2004 Beating Death Revealed (p 28)
  11. Washington DOC Pays PLN $541,000 for Illegally Withholding Records (p 28)
  12. Habeas Hints: Amending Petitions (p 30)
  13. Crazy In America: The Hidden Tragedy Of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill, by Mary Beth Pfieffer (Carroll & Graf, 2007, 280 pp. $15.95) (p 32)
  14. Texas Prison Health Care: On the Brink of Unconstitutionality, Again (p 34)
  15. Georgia Prisoner Assaulted By Jailer Awarded $5,300 (p 34)
  16. Texas Youth Commission Wants Increased Pepper Spray Use Despite Settlement (p 36)
  17. Wrongful Termination of Georgia Jail Guards by New Sheriff Settles for $7 Million (p 36)
  18. $3,175,000 Judgment against Private Health Contractor for Illinois Prisoner’s Stroke (p 37)
  19. North Carolina Execution Laws Trump Medical Board’s Ethics Declaration (p 38)
  20. Alabama DOC Charges Prisoners Unlawful Fees to Cover Budget Shortfalls (p 38)
  21. Alabama Parole Board Employee Pleads Guilty to Misuse of Computer Information (p 39)
  22. Michigan Prisoner Beaten By Guards Awarded $6,004 (p 40)
  23. Innocent California Prisoner Paid $3,171,000 For 12 Years Wrongful incarceration (p 40)
  24. South Florida Federal Court Censors Online Plea Agreements (p 41)
  25. News in Brief: (p 42)
  26. $56,274 Verdict in Negligent Rhode Island Maintenance Claim (p 44)

Washington Jail Prisoners Suffer from Overcrowding, Abusive Guards, Inadequate Health Care and Indifferent Politicians

Since the mid-1990s, Washington State jail populations have increased exponentially. Obsolete facilities built decades ago to hold a handful of prisoners are now packed like sardine tins, with as many prisoners sleeping on the floor as in bunks. Overcrowding has resulted in numerous problems in terms of security and meeting ...

From the Editor

This issues marks PLN?s 19th anniversary of continuous publishing and we have now published 219 consecutive issues of PLN. Few magazines even publish ten issues, much less a hundred. Moreso considering the obstacles PLN has faced since it?s inception of being published behind bars, with a $50 budget ...

When Courts Get it Wrong: Clark v. Beard

by Mumia Abu Jamal

When courts decide cases, the most important elements are the law, the facts and how to apply the relevant law to the facts.

When courts err in any of these elements the result is usually one that can be called into question, since it results in ...

NY Court Dismisses Prisoner’s Assault Claim, Voids $500,000 Jury Award

NY Court Dismisses Prisoner's Assault Claim, Voids $500,000 Jury Award

On March 15, 2007, a New York Civil Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Riker's Island prisoner George Craig, who alleged that the City was liable for injuries he suffered when he was attacked by another prisoner ...

Deadly Staph Infection 'Superbug' Has a Dangerous Foothold in U.S. Jails

by Silja J.A. Talvi

Dr. Jeff Duchin, the communicable diseases chief for Seattle/King County Department of Public Health holds his soap-lathered hands in an attention-grabbing newspaper cover photo. Above his dignified image is a highly magnified picture of fuzzy bacterium. The bacterium doesn?t appear to be particularly ...

$100,000 Damage Award Vacated for Seven-Year Service Delay

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a $100,000 excessive force judgment, and ordered dismissal of the action due to a seven-year delay in service on the defendants.

On August 9, 1995, Robert Efaw was confined in the Navajo County Jail in Winslow, Arizona when guards Jack Kerr and ...

Summer of Discontent

by John E. Dannenberg

Underlying the purported societal goal of prisoner rehabilitation lurks the reality of what impedes it: systemic violence that defines the adversarial relationship between all men and women behind bars, prisoners and guards alike.

Driven by racial animus, drugs, anger, gang rivalry, perceived disrespect and lack of ...

Prison Doctors, Tainted by Regulatory Board Discipline, Administer Wisconsin Prisoner Care

by David M. Reutter

Whenever prisoners complain about inept healthcare, prison officials accuse them of being manipulating whiners, or assert they are being administered the ?community standard of care? by competent medical professionals. A review by The Capital Times has revealed that the community standard of care rendered to Wisconsin ...

My Space Becomes “No Space” for Online Sex Offenders

My Space Becomes "No Space" for Online Sex Offenders

by David M. Reutter

After online social networking giant MySpace.com, under pressure, disclosed on July 24, 2007 that it had purged 29,000 sex offender profiles from its website, state Attorney Generals clamored for lists of those who had been ...

$2 Million Confidential Settlement In CCA Prisoner’s 2004 Beating Death Revealed

$2 Million Confidential Settlement In CCA Prisoner's 2004 Beating Death Revealed

by Alex Friedmann

PLN has previously reported on the death of Estelle Richardson, a mentally ill prisoner who died at the CCA-operated Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility in Nashville, Tennessee on July 5, 2004.

Richardson was found unresponsive in ...

Washington DOC Pays PLN $541,000 for Illegally Withholding Records

The Washington Department of Corrections will pay Prison Legal News $541,000 for illegally withholding public records. It is the largest records-related settlement in Washington state history, and it brings the total amount PLN has won against the state DOC in the past decade to $1.3 million, mostly in ...

Habeas Hints: Amending Petitions

This column is intended to provide ?Habeas Hints? to prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys (?in pro per?). The focus of the column is on habeas corpus practice under AEDPA, the 1996 habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice throughout the ...

Crazy In America: The Hidden Tragedy Of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill, by Mary Beth Pfieffer (Carroll & Graf, 2007, 280 pp. $15.95)

Reviewed by David Preston

Imagine how tough your life would be if you were trying to cope with schizophrenia or severe depression. Plenty tough, right? Now imagine yourself, a schizophrenic, being suddenly torn from the shelter of your family, denied medication, and tossed into a punishment cell, essentially a sensory-deprivation ...

Texas Prison Health Care: On the Brink of Unconstitutionality, Again

by Matt Clarke

According to Texas prison healthcare officials, medical care in the state?s prison system is teetering on the brink of becoming unconstitutional.

?We?re toed up to the line. No doubt about it,? proclaimed Dr. Ben Raimer, University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) vice president for correctional ...

Georgia Prisoner Assaulted By Jailer Awarded $5,300

On June 21, 2007, a federal jury in Georgia awarded $5,300 to a prisoner who claimed he was assaulted by a jailer while imprisoned in the Dougherty County Jail.

Plaintiff Kelvin Boyd alleged that in 2000 jailer Santos Ruiz-Gonzalez hit him on top of the head with a pair ...

Texas Youth Commission Wants Increased Pepper Spray Use Despite Settlement

by Michael Rigby

Less than three months after agreeing to a court settlement limiting the use of pepper spray on juveniles, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) has failed to curb its use and is actually planning to increase the use of chemical weapons on young people in its care. The ...

Wrongful Termination of Georgia Jail Guards by New Sheriff Settles for $7 Million

A $7 million settlement has been reached between the sheriff of Georgia?s Clayton County and 34 employees he fired on his first day in office. The employees alleged they were discriminated against based on their race and political preference.

Upon taking office as Clayton County?s Sheriff in January ...

$3,175,000 Judgment against Private Health Contractor for Illinois Prisoner’s Stroke

$3,175,000 Judgment against Private Health Contractor for Illinois Prisoner's Stroke

On January 26, 2007, an Illinois prisoner who claimed he suffered a stroke due to negligence on the part of Health Professionals, Ltd. a private company that contracts with the State to provide health care to prisoners ...

North Carolina Execution Laws Trump Medical Board’s Ethics Declaration

North Carolina Execution Laws Trump Medical Board's Ethics Declaration

by John E. Dannenberg

In September 2007, the Wake County, North Carolina Superior Court ruled that because executions are not "medical procedures," a state law that requires a physician to attend executions was not trumped by another state statute that ...

Alabama DOC Charges Prisoners Unlawful Fees to Cover Budget Shortfalls

by Matt Clarke

On June 1, 2007, the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts released an audit report critical of the funding practices of the state's Department of Corrections (DOC).

The DOC operates 19 prisons, 10 work release centers, three community work centers and a pre-release center, and ...

Alabama Parole Board Employee Pleads Guilty to Misuse of Computer Information

On June 15, 2007, Stacey Bell, 31, formerly an administrative assistant to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, pleaded guilty in Elmore County District Court to violating the Alabama Computer Crime Act, § 13A-8-102. She was given a six month suspended sentence, 12 months probation and 25 hours community service ...

Michigan Prisoner Beaten By Guards Awarded $6,004

On November 17, 2006, a Michigan jury awarded state prisoner Robert Brooks $6,004 for a beating he received at the hands of two guards.

Brooks, who was serving time in a maximum-security Michigan prison for a 1982 murder, claimed he was attacked and beaten in his cell by guards ...

Innocent California Prisoner Paid $3,171,000 For 12 Years Wrongful incarceration

An East Palo Alto, California auto mechanic who served 12 years in state prison for a first degree murder he did not commit was paid $421,000 by the state plus $2.75 million by the County of Santa Clara.

Rick Walker was convicted in 1991 for the stabbing and ...

South Florida Federal Court Censors Online Plea Agreements

Recently, the South Florida federal court system has been removing plea agreements from its online court docket. While a plea agreement is still reflected on the docket sheet, attempts to open the online record result in a notice that the user does ?not have permission to view this document.?

The ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: On September 11, 2007, Morgan County Community Corrections Director Alison Nix resigned her job as head of the county?s sentencing alternative program after the Community Corrections and Court Services Commission voted to fire her after it was learned she was improperly billing the county $504 for mileage on ...

$56,274 Verdict in Negligent Rhode Island Maintenance Claim

A Rhode Island state jury awarded a prisoner $56,274 for a claim that alleged prison officials failed to properly maintain exercise equipment, which cased the prisoner injury. The action was filed by prisoner James Bernardo, who was imprisoned at Rhode Island?s Minimum Security Facility of the Adult Correctional ...