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Prison Legal News: June, 2008

Issue PDF
Volume 19, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. Sex Offenders Set Up Camp in Miami Florida: The Julia Tuttle Causeway Becomes a Colony. Politicians Pass the Buck. (p 1)
  2. California Parole Board Executive Officer Resigns After Caught Drinking on Duty (p 9)
  3. From the Editor (p 10)
  4. CCA Attempts Cover-Up of Assault by Warden at Tennessee Prison (p 10)
  5. Record Number of Disciplinary Actions Against Texas Prison Guards (p 12)
  6. $154,000 Awarded to Hawaii Prisoner Injured by Jumping from Bunk Bed Without Ladder And Exposed to ETS (p 13)
  7. Think Outside The Cell: An Entrepreneur’s Guide for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated, by Joseph Robinson, Resilience Multimedia, 270 pages (p 14)
  8. California Homosexual Prisoner Family Visits Policy Draws Fire (p 15)
  9. $900,000 Settlement in Illinois Jail Guard’s Sexual Assault of Juvenile (p 16)
  10. New Jersey Abolishes the Death Penalty (p 16)
  11. Nevada Prisoner Health Care So Atrocious, Prisoners Volunteer for Execution to Avoid Suffering (p 18)
  12. Eight Guards, Nurse Acquitted in Florida Child’s Beating Death (p 20)
  13. Flesh-Eating Bacteria Grossly Disfigures Misdiagnosed Washington State Prisoner (p 20)
  14. California Prison Beset by Deadly Valley Fever Epidemic (p 22)
  15. New York Prisoner Awarded $112,000 For Leg Burns (p 22)
  16. Vermont Prisons Subject to Human Rights Commission Jurisdiction (p 23)
  17. Florida Prison Still Beset by Contaminated Water (p 24)
  18. $25.5 Million Awarded in California County Jail Strip Search Suit (p 25)
  19. Washington Study Finds Higher Recidivist Rate Amongst Sex Offenders Recommended, But Not Committed, For Civil Commitment (p 26)
  20. Defunct Louisiana Juvenile Private Prison Reactivated by GEO for Immigrants (p 27)
  21. Son of Illinois Congressman Fired, Charged With Raping Prisoners (p 27)
  22. California DOC Federal Master: Continued Court Oversight Needed on “Code of Silence” (p 28)
  23. Pierce County, WA Jail Settles Jail Strip-Search Suit For $667,000 (p 28)
  24. New York Prisoner Awarded $322,000 For Hand Laceration (p 30)
  25. Dallas County, Texas, Criticized for Offering Probation to Murder Defendants (p 30)
  26. Iowa Faith-Based Program Finally Closed (p 31)
  27. $80,000 Settlement For Injury Caused By Defective Federal Prison Sidewalk (p 31)
  28. Junk Bonds to Junk Science? Drug Treatment Program Questioned (p 32)
  29. The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America, By Marie Gottschalk, Cambridge University Press, 451 pp. (p 34)
  30. 33,000 California Prisoners May Need Credits Recalculated Due To Retroactive State Court Decisions (p 34)
  31. U.S. Releases Highest Ranking Soldier Convicted For Abu Ghraib Prisoner Abuse (p 35)
  32. California State Prisoner Wins $39,011 for Deprivation of Outdoor Exercise During Extended Lockdowns (p 36)
  33. PLN Sues Massachusetts DOC Over Book Ban, Added to Approved List One Week Later (p 36)
  34. Texas Prisoner’s Hepatitis C Claim Not Frivolous, Fifth Circuit Holds (p 37)
  35. Ohio Jail Prisoner’s Excessive Force Lawsuit Settles For $100,000 (p 38)
  36. Federal Jury Convicts California DOC Guards on Assault and Conspiracy Charges; Judge Tosses Verdict (p 38)
  37. Innocent California Prisoner Freed After Nine Years; Paid $1 Million (p 38)
  38. North Carolina Agency Liable in Jail Fire That Killed Five Prisoners (p 39)
  39. Georgia’s Sex Offender Residency Restriction Unconstitutional; Work Restriction Approved (p 40)
  40. Nevada Criminalizes Cell Phones in State Prisons (p 40)
  41. CA Uses Jail Inmate Welfare Funds for Reentry; Expands Early Release for Permanently Disabled CDCR Prisoners (p 41)
  42. News in Brief: (p 42)
  43. $700,000 Settlement in Minnesota Teen’s Wrongful Death Caused by Jail’s Indifference to Head Infection (p 44)

Sex Offenders Set Up Camp in Miami Florida: The Julia Tuttle Causeway Becomes a Colony. Politicians Pass the Buck.

Another one showed up last night. Around 10 — just before curfew — a car rolled in under the bridge and the newcomer got out with his wife. She hugged and kissed him goodbye, pulled the car out along the road, and disappeared into a sea of headlights. The new guy sits ...

California Parole Board Executive Officer Resigns After Caught Drinking on Duty

The Executive Officer of California’s Board of Parole Hearings (Board), who was the passenger in a state car driven by another Board employee, resigned after police stopped the car and arrested the driver for DUI.

John Monday, 56, a 34-year veteran state employee, held the top position at the ...

From the Editor

The past several months have been even busier than usual for PLN. In addition to getting the magazine published each month we have seen an upsurge in censorship activities in prisons and jails around the country.
As noted in this issue of PLN, after 5 years of banning books ordered ...

CCA Attempts Cover-Up of Assault by Warden at Tennessee Prison

Late last year, a prisoner at the CCA-operated Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in Tennessee notified PLN that the prison’s warden, assistant warden and internal affairs officer had either resigned or been fired or transferred. The staff changes reportedly resulted from an excessive use of force incident and unrelated ...

Record Number of Disciplinary Actions Against Texas Prison Guards

by Matt Clarke

As previously reported in PLN, a record number of Texas prison guards have been arrested in recent years [see: PLN, May 2007, p. 26]. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has now confirmed that over a recent 12-month period, a record number of prison staff have ...

$154,000 Awarded to Hawaii Prisoner Injured by Jumping from Bunk Bed Without Ladder And Exposed to ETS

Hawaii’s First Circuit Court has awarded a prisoner $153,652.73 in a negligence lawsuit. The prisoner’s claims arise from the failure to provide ladders on bunk beds and failure to enforce a non-smoking ban, causing the prisoner injury.

The action was brought by Rodney Herbert, a prisoner ...

Think Outside The Cell: An Entrepreneur’s Guide for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated, by Joseph Robinson, Resilience Multimedia, 270 pages

Book Review by Gary Hunter

Books about business come and go. Someone is always ready to tell us how to manage our money. But few books break down complex concepts of business into terms we can all understand. Fewer still are specifically oriented to helping prisoners succeed. This is the ...

California Homosexual Prisoner Family Visits Policy Draws Fire

California’s newly adopted state prison policy permitting overnight conjugal visits for registered domestic partners who are in prison has been praised by homosexual advocacy groups but has drawn fire from religious conservatives.

Prison conjugal visiting began in 1918 in Mississippi as a privilege to motivate prisoners to work. Today ...

$900,000 Settlement in Illinois Jail Guard’s Sexual Assault of Juvenile

Another case of sexual abuse upon a minor by a custodial person has hit the taxpayer’s coffers. This time, a guard at Illinois’ St. Clair County juvenile custody center sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy, causing the County to settle the boy’s civil rights and negligent hiring claim of ...

New Jersey Abolishes the Death Penalty

by Matt Clarke

On December 12, 2007, New Jersey became the second state since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 to legislatively abolish the death penalty, replacing it with life without parole. That same day, New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine commuted the sentences of the eight prisoners ...

Nevada Prisoner Health Care So Atrocious, Prisoners Volunteer for Execution to Avoid Suffering

by David M. Reutter

“It is my opinion that the medical care provided at Ely State Prison amounts to the grossest possible medical malpractice, and the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering, that I have ever encountered in the medical profession in my thirty-five years ...

Eight Guards, Nurse Acquitted in Florida Child’s Beating Death

by David M. Reutter

An all white Florida jury acquitted eight former boot camp guards and a nurse of manslaughter in the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson.
PLN previously reported upon the beating and dragged death of Martin while the nurse stood idly by watching. See: PLN, July, 2007 ...

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Grossly Disfigures Misdiagnosed Washington State Prisoner

by John E. Dannenberg

A Washington state prisoner who lay for two days in the Stafford Creek Correctional Facility infirmary in agonizing pain, with a rash covering his torso and slowly drifting into septic shock, had been misdiagnosed by infirmary staff as having only an allergic reaction to Robitussin (an ...

California Prison Beset by Deadly Valley Fever Epidemic

by John E. Dannenberg

In the past three years more than 900 of the 5,300 prisoners at California’s Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) in Fresno County, plus 80 staff members, have contracted coccidioidomycosis, a fungus commonly known as “valley fever.” Over a dozen prisoners and one guard have ...

New York Prisoner Awarded $112,000 For Leg Burns

On August 30, 2007, a court of claims in Syracuse, New York, awarded $112,000 to a prisoner who burned his legs while working in a prison kitchen.

While imprisoned at the Watertown Correctional Facility on July 16, 1995, Daniel Marria was standing on a table cleaning vent hoods when ...

Vermont Prisons Subject to Human Rights Commission Jurisdiction

The Vermont Supreme Court has held that the Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act (The Act) applies to state prisons. That holding affirmed an order by the Washington Superior Court denying the Vermont Department of Corrections’ (VDOC) motion to quash the subpoena served by the Human Rights Commission (HRC ...

Florida Prison Still Beset by Contaminated Water

Despite spending millions of dollars on new wells and water treatment systems, the Martin Correctional Institution (MCI) in Indiantown, Florida is still unable to provide uncontaminated water to its 1,400 prisoners. The problem has the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) considering closing the facility.

MCI has a long history ...

$25.5 Million Awarded in California County Jail Strip Search Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

The County of San Bernardino, California has agreed to settle a federal class action lawsuit filed against its Sheriff’s Department in 2005 for $25.5 million – one of the largest such payouts on record.

On September 26, 2007 the County preliminarily agreed to pay for ...

Washington Study Finds Higher Recidivist Rate Amongst Sex Offenders Recommended, But Not Committed, For Civil Commitment

by David M. Reutter

A report by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy concludes that sex offenders “who were referred for possible civil commitment have a much higher pattern of recidivism than the full population of sex offenders.” The report examined the recidivism of 135 sex offenders released between ...

Defunct Louisiana Juvenile Private Prison Reactivated by GEO for Immigrants

A Jena, Louisiana private prison with a troubled past will experience rebirth as an immigrant detention center. The facility, built by the failed N-Group Securities company as part of a scam run by Patrick and Michael Graham, once held 280 juveniles. The Grahams were prosecuted – along with former Houston mayor ...

Son of Illinois Congressman Fired, Charged With Raping Prisoners

On September 10, 2007, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) fired Jeffery M. Rush, son of U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL).

Jeffrey Rush, 42, who was employed as an assistant supervisor at the Fox Valley Adult Transition Center in Aurora, Illinois, had been on paid leave from his ...

California DOC Federal Master: Continued Court Oversight Needed on “Code of Silence”

John Hagar, the Special Master assigned by the U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.) to monitor the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) staff investigations and disciplinary process has opined, in an October 2007 Final Report to the court, that monitoring should be continued because CDCR could ...

Pierce County, WA Jail Settles Jail Strip-Search Suit For $667,000

Pierce County, Washington settled a class action suit challenging unconstitutional strip searches of specified pretrial detainees in its county jail for $200,000 in damages, $15,000 in administrative costs and $452,000 in attorney fees. In addition, the Superior Court of Pierce County held that Washington statutes RCW 10 ...

New York Prisoner Awarded $322,000 For Hand Laceration

On September 19, 2007, a court of claims in White Plains, New York, awarded $322,000 to a state prisoner who suffered a severe hand laceration while opening a window at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville.

In his lawsuit Jose Medina, who is serving 50 years to life ...

Dallas County, Texas, Criticized for Offering Probation to Murder Defendants

According to a Dallas Morning News article published on November 10, 2007, Dallas County, Texas, leads the state in the number of probation deals it hands out to murder defendants. The highly critical five-part series implies that Dallas County prosecutors and judges simply overlook the seriousness of these crimes and ...

Iowa Faith-Based Program Finally Closed

After a five-year court battle and public controversy, the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) has decided to close a Bible-oriented re-entry program at the Newton Correctional Facility.

The program, operated by Virginia-based Prison Fellowship Ministries, was part of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative. PLN has reported extensively on this challenge to ...

$80,000 Settlement For Injury Caused By Defective Federal Prison Sidewalk

The Bureau of Prisons has agreed to pay Beatrice Codianni-Robles, a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institute in Danbury, Connecticut, $80,000 to settle a federal tort claims suit. While walking outside her prison unit on July 29, 2002 Codianni-Rubles tripped and fell on a “dangerous and defective” depression in ...

Junk Bonds to Junk Science? Drug Treatment Program Questioned

by Gregory Dober

What was worth approximately $554 million in 2007 and is valued at about $94 million today? The correct answer is the stock market value of a firm formerly known as Alaska Freightways Inc., a shell company that, as the result of a merger, is now doing business ...

The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America, By Marie Gottschalk, Cambridge University Press, 451 pp.

Book review by Silja J.A. Talvi

It should no longer be a matter of any debate that the American trajectory toward mass incarceration is the result of an approach toward social control that relies, almost exclusively, on the callous warehousing of our most vulnerable citizens.

Our nation is hardly ...

33,000 California Prisoners May Need Credits Recalculated Due To Retroactive State Court Decisions

by John E. Dannenberg

Three recent California court decisions interpreting California’s sentencing laws have spawned a need for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to recalculate the release dates of an estimated 33,000 current prisoners. It is unknown how many of the 33,000 will actually ...

U.S. Releases Highest Ranking Soldier Convicted For Abu Ghraib Prisoner Abuse

On October 1, 2007, former U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick, 40, was released from the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after having served three years of his eight year prison sentence for abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Frederick famously placed wires in ...

California State Prisoner Wins $39,011 for Deprivation of Outdoor Exercise During Extended Lockdowns

On November 8, 2007, a federal jury awarded a California state prisoner $39,011 for injuries he suffered due to being placed in retaliatory extended lockdowns that prison officials initiated following assaults on staff by other prisoners. The lawsuit alleged cruel and unusual punishment resulting from excessive confinement with no ...

PLN Sues Massachusetts DOC Over Book Ban, Added to Approved List One Week Later

For the past five years Prison Legal News has been unable to sell or distribute books to prisoners in Massachusetts because PLN was not on the Dept. of Correction’s (DOC) approved vendor list. Massachusetts prisoners can only order books from a limited number of pre-approved sources.

DOC officials failed ...

Texas Prisoner’s Hepatitis C Claim Not Frivolous, Fifth Circuit Holds

A Texas prisoner’s claim alleging that his civil rights were violated by the denial of hepatitis c treatment based on policy decisions rather than on medical factors was not frivolous, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held, in an unpublished decision.

Edward Trigo, a Texas state prisoner ...

Ohio Jail Prisoner’s Excessive Force Lawsuit Settles For $100,000

On May 24, 2007, an Ohio prisoner who claimed he suffered permanent back injury after guards beat him at the Delaware County Jail accepted a $100,000 settlement to end his lawsuit against the county and others.

Plaintiff Steven Foster, 23, claimed that in September 2001, while he was writing ...

Federal Jury Convicts California DOC Guards on Assault and Conspiracy Charges; Judge Tosses Verdict

Last September, a federal grand jury delivered an indictment against California prison guard Hector Flores on allegations that he helped cover-up an unjustified use of force on two prisoners at the California Institution for Men (CIM) at Chino. Flores’ indictment followed the February 2007 indictments of fellow CIM guard Robert ...

Innocent California Prisoner Freed After Nine Years; Paid $1 Million

An innocent man sentenced in 1995 to 27 years for raping and kidnapping a 13-year-old girl was freed by the California Innocence Project after serving 3,280 days in prison. In his subsequent suit for wrongful incarceration, he received $1 million in a settlement with the city, county and state ...

North Carolina Agency Liable in Jail Fire That Killed Five Prisoners

The North Carolina Supreme Court has held that the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has a statutorily imposed duty that creates a special relationship to prisoners that makes it liable in a negligence lawsuit.

At the heart of the case is a fire at the Mitchell ...

Georgia’s Sex Offender Residency Restriction Unconstitutional; Work Restriction Approved

The Georgia Supreme Court has declared that a state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from residing or loitering at a location that is within 1,000 feet of any childcare facility, church, school or area where minors congregate (the “residency restriction”) is unconstitutional. The Court, however, found a statutory ...

Nevada Criminalizes Cell Phones in State Prisons

On May 10, 2007, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons signed into law AB-106, a bill making it a felony for prisoners to possess a cell phone in prison or for a person to furnish a prisoner with a cell phone. Anyone charged with one of those offenses faces up to four ...

CA Uses Jail Inmate Welfare Funds for Reentry; Expands Early Release for Permanently Disabled CDCR Prisoners

In September 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill (SB) 718 into law, which amends penal code § 4025 to permit the use of Inmate Welfare Funds (IWF) collected in eight California counties to be used to assist prisoners in their reentry process once they are released from jail.

Set up as ...

News in Brief:

Australia: In 2007 a law was passed making it illegal for anyone to provide erectile dysfunction drugs to prisoners or for prisoners to sell their artwork. The law was enacted after media disclosed that Bevan Spencer von Einem, a prisoner serving a life sentence for the 1983 rape and murder ...

$700,000 Settlement in Minnesota Teen’s Wrongful Death Caused by Jail’s Indifference to Head Infection

Shortly after his arrest and booking into Minnesota’s Mille Lacs County Jail, 18-year-old Brandon Brown began Complaining of excruciating head pain. The result of jail personnel’s failure to treat him caused his death and a settlement by the County to his family for $700,000.

About five hours ...