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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: August, 2008

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Volume 19, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Oregon DOC Food Manager Takes Over $1 Million in Bribes, Feeds Prisoners “Distressed” Food (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 10)
  3. C O R R E C T I O N (p 10)
  4. Los Angeles County Pays $40,000 Damages to Assaulted Prisoner Informant Witness (p 10)
  5. Deal to Reconsider 1,000 Paroles Scotched When New York Governor Capitulates Over Cop Killer’s Case (p 11)
  6. Phoenix New Times Executives Arrested for Reporting About Sheriff Joe Arpaio (p 12)
  7. Mississippi Jail Prisoner Wins $3,000,000 in Failure to Protect Suit (p 13)
  8. Oklahoma Pays $844,000 for Comprehensive Performance Audit of DOC (p 14)
  9. $300,000 Settlement in Murder of College Student by Released Sexual Predator (p 15)
  10. Human Rights Watch Report: Most Sex Offender Laws Misguided and Ineffective (p 16)
  11. More Prisoners Murdered in Texas Federal Prisons (p 17)
  12. Illinois Prisoners Win $8 Million for Failure to Treat Hep C (p 18)
  13. Fifth Circuit: Federal Prisoner Loses Retaliation Suit but U.S. Attorney Sanctioned (p 18)
  14. Over $6 Million Awarded in Oakland, California Parolee’s False Arrest Suit (p 19)
  15. Washington Inter-Prison Property-Shipping-Fee Class Action Suit Settles For $1,262,500 (p 20)
  16. Unlocking America, Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population, The JFA Institute, November 2007, 32 pp. (p 21)
  17. Former North Carolina Lawmaker’s Son Submits Highest Bid, Gets Prison Contract (p 22)
  18. Complaint Against Utah DOC for Non-Delivery of PLN Fails Because Defendants Only Negligent; Jail Publication Ban Illegal (p 22)
  19. Maryland Juvenile Justice Official Resigns Over Past Abuse Allegations (p 24)
  20. Pennsylvania Prison Medical Firm’s Performance Called into Question (p 24)
  21. $64,900 Award in Arkansas Excessive Force Claim; Warden Held Not Liable (p 25)
  22. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to Pay for Grant Fraud (p 26)
  23. Floor-Sleeping at Los Angeles County Jail Ruled Unconstitutional (p 26)
  24. Eighth Circuit: Iowa Prisoner’s Denial-Of-Court-Access Ruling Reversed (p 27)
  25. Court Orders Attorney General to Allow Law Students Access to Political Prisoners at Federal Supermax (p 28)
  26. Mentally Ill Woman Sues Over Seg-Cell Sex; County Settles for $40,000 (p 28)
  27. Alabama Felon Disenfranchisement Limited (p 30)
  28. Three Suicide Suits At Sacramento, California Jail Settled For $1,000,000 (p 30)
  29. Muslim Virginia Prisoner Entitled to 2,200 Calories During Ramadan (p 31)
  30. Ohio DNA Specimen Law Ruled Not Retroactive (p 32)
  31. Authorities Listen in on Attorney-Client Calls at Jails in FL, CA and TX (p 32)
  32. Illinois Man Falsely Arrested in Attempted Child Abduction Awarded $2 Million (p 33)
  33. Court Clerk Fired for Relationship with Prisoner; Bar Complaint Against Federal Prosecutor Exposed Relationship (p 34)
  34. Exonerated Montana Prisoner Sues State, Receives $3.5 Million (p 34)
  35. United Kingdom Creates Foreigner Only Prisons (p 35)
  36. CMS Found Liable for Inadequate Hep C Medical Care of Delaware Prisoner (p 36)
  37. Vermont DOC Settles Religious Practice Denial Suit For $25,000 (p 36)
  38. New York Man Wins $640,000 for Unjust Incarceration (p 37)
  39. Whistle-blowing California Sheriff’s Deputy Settles Retaliation Suit For $150,000 (p 38)
  40. Fifth Circuit: Texas Prisoners Cannot be Disciplined for Trust Fund Deposits Initiated by Others (p 38)
  41. “Special Circumstances” Justify Non-Exhaustion in Second Circuit (p 39)
  42. Retaliation Claim Not Barred by Heck (p 40)
  43. Informant/Hit Man In 20 Murders Released After 12 Years; Paid $20,000 (p 40)
  44. “Defense of Another” Not Applicable to Prison Disciplinary Defense (p 41)
  45. News in Brief: (p 42)
  46. Prisoners on Prison Education: Your Knowledge, Experience and Views Are Sought by the Special Rapporteur on Education (p 42)
  47. Spokane Jail Prisoner Murdered in Cell, County Settles Lawsuit for $180,000 (p 44)

Oregon DOC Food Manager Takes Over $1 Million in Bribes, Feeds Prisoners “Distressed” Food

During a 2002 interview, Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) Food Services Administrator Farhad “Fred” Monem, 49, shook his head in disgust as he criticized government employees who feel a sense of entitlement. “People work for so many years and feel the taxpayer owes them,” he said. “But to me, nobody deserves anything. I always try to not be one of those guys.”

In a 2005 performance review Monem provided a glowing self-evaluation, describing himself as “continually striving to exceed professional and ethical standards, as well as setting the highest measurement as a role model for fellow staff members.” His ODOC supervisors agreed; they publicly praised him for his outstanding performance, which cut prison food costs by 40 percent.

While everyone was busy patting Monem on the back, however, he was robbing Oregon taxpayers blind in what authorities describe as one of the worst corruption cases in state history. Between mid-2000 and December 2006, Monem “supplemented” his $79,000 annual salary with at least $1,132,000 in bribes and kickbacks from brokers who sold food to the ODOC – often food of dubious quality.

Now the subject of a federal indictment and a lawsuit filed by Oregon officials, Monem has fled ...

From the Editor

One of the little noted facts and realities of the massive explosion of mass imprisonment, and the corresponding increase in money spent on prisons and jails, is the inherent corruption that accompanies it. This month’s cover story on the Oregon DOC’s corrupt food manager, Fred Monem, is unusual only in the sense that it was brought to light. Within the past few years the Director of the Illinois DOC was convicted of taking kickbacks from a medical vendor.
James Crosby, the secretary of the Florida DOC, is sitting in prison for taking bribes from commissary vendors. Andy Collins, former director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was convicted by a jury and later acquitted by a judge of taking bribes from a food and a fence vendor. These are just the big cases. The petty corruption of the guards who smuggle contraband into facilities, who steal money and property from prisoners, is small potatoes compared to the institutional corruption of the head honchos.

In many cases these ostensible public servants sold their offices out very cheap, more so considering their salaries have been more than most Americans make. One of the hallmarks of the American system of ...

C O R R E C T I O N

Since PLN began publishing in 1990, we have never had to make a retraction based on our own factual mistake. While we’ve run corrections before, they were based on errors in the original news articles or reports that were used as source material. PLN strives for accuracy.
That being said, we need to make a correction to articles we ran in the September 2004 and July 2006 issues of PLN, regarding an incident where four prisoners were shot with a smuggled gun at the Washington, D.C. jail.

We stated in those articles that the four prisoners involved – Frederick Robinson, Leonard Johnson, Jamal Jefferson and Shawn Gray – were prosecuted, and that Johnson and Jefferson had cooperated with authorities and testified against their co-defendants.
That was incorrect. Leonard Johnson did not cooperate with the prosecution; he was found guilty and sentenced to 69 months in prison. His case, which is currently on appeal, raises claims of prosecutorial misconduct among other issues. According to the Washington Post, Robinson and Jefferson assisted the prosecution in the D.C. jail shooting case.
PLN regrets the error and we are glad to set the record straight.

Los Angeles County Pays $40,000 Damages to Assaulted Prisoner Informant Witness

The County of Los Angeles, California paid $40,000 to a prisoner who was badly beaten in the county jail upon returning from court, by friends of the defendant he had just testified against in a murder trial.

In November 2003, James Vensel, a Los Angeles County Jail prisoner, testified ...

Deal to Reconsider 1,000 Paroles Scotched When New York Governor Capitulates Over Cop Killer’s Case

by John E. Dannenberg

Faced with a pending federal class action lawsuit brought by New York state prisoners seeking relief from being denied parole based solely on the nature of their crimes, then Governor Elliot Spitzer was ready to order the Parole Board to reconsider the cases of 1,000 Class-A violent felons. However, when the Board approved parole in the controversial case of cop-killer Shu’aib Raheem, a police union evoked such a public outcry that on February 8, 2008, Raheem’s case was set for rescission while the Class-A parole rehearings were put on ice.

Raheem was convicted in the 1973 murder of 29-year-old Williamsburg police officer Stephen Gilroy during an armed robbery and two-day siege of a sporting goods store. He was sentenced to 25 years to life. That vicious crime apparently ended his career of violence, as thereafter he became a model prisoner – earning college degrees and working as a paralegal and AIDS counselor. He planned to live with his wife while working and mentoring at-risk youth following his release.

Based upon Raheem’s excellent institutional record, and Board rules requiring evaluation of a prisoner’s rehabilitation, he was granted parole in November 2007. Caught by ...

Phoenix New Times Executives Arrested for Reporting About Sheriff Joe Arpaio

by Matt Clarke

On the night of October 18, 2007, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, founders and owners of the Phoenix New Times, an independent weekly publication in Phoenix, Arizona, were arrested and charged with the misdemeanor offense of revealing grand jury information. The alleged crime occurred when the New Times published an article that same day which described a subpoena it had received demanding that the paper disclose details about its online readers, among other information.

The underlying reasons for the arrests go back much further, though, to a series of unflattering articles involving Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, published by the New Times in 2004 and 2005. Those articles – which are also available on PLN’s website – included one describing a defamation suit filed against Arpaio by a political rival, one about the history of antagonism between Arpaio and the New Times, and another alleging that Arpaio had abused a law enforcement privacy law to conceal his more than $690,000 in cash real estate purchases. The good sheriff earns around $78,000 a year plus a modest federal pension, which raises some interesting questions. [See: PLN, March 2007, p.14].

The New Times had published Arpaio’s ...

Mississippi Jail Prisoner Wins $3,000,000 in Failure to Protect Suit

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors (Board) agreed to settle a three-million-dollar federal lawsuit filed by a former prisoner in the Hinds County Jail after he was left paralyzed by a beating at the hands of other prisoners in March 2007. The five-member Board voted four-to-one to settle the case ...

Oklahoma Pays $844,000 for Comprehensive Performance Audit of DOC

by Matt Clarke

On January 4, 2008, MGT of America, Inc. released a performance audit of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC). The 285-page report cost $844,000 and provided several clues as to how the prison system could improve and save money. Chief among its recommendations were that the DOC contract for additional private prison beds to ease its overcrowding problem, and that the governor be removed from active participation in the parole process for most prisoners.

The reason for recommending further private prison contracting in the state with the second-highest private prison incarceration rate (23.8%) was the desperate need for additional bed space and the long lead-time for state planners. If the per diem rate per prisoner including direct and indirect expenses was held down to $61.03, the cost would not exceed that of new prison construction. However, recent disagreements with private prison company Cornell Corrections led to the firm’s abrupt cancellation of its contract with the state. The DOC scrambled to find housing for prisoners from the Cornell facility, but was hampered due to its overcrowding problem. Thus, the report recommended deleting the termination-at-will clause from future private prison contracts.

One nagging problem in ...

$300,000 Settlement in Murder of College Student by Released Sexual Predator

The State of Minnesota has paid $300,000 to the family of a University of North Dakota student who was kidnapped, raped and killed by a recently-released sexual predator. The payment was offered as a pre-litigation settlement before a lawsuit was filed.

The case garnered national attention in 2003, when Dru Sjodin was last seen leaving her job at a mall in Grand Forks, North Dakota. On November 22, 2003 a major manhunt began for Sjodin and her abductor. In December, police arrested convicted rapist Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr.

Rodriguez had been released from prison only a few months before Sjodin went missing; he had served over 20 years for attempted rape, aggravated rape and assaulting a woman in cases that dated from 1974 to 1980.

Police found blood matching Sjodin’s DNA in the trunk of Rodriguez’s car. They also found a knife that matched a sheath found in the parking lot where Sjodin had been abducted. It was not until April 17, 2004 that her body was discovered outside Crookston, Minnesota near where Rodriguez lived. An autopsy revealed that she had suffered “torture and severe physical abuse.” She also had been raped.

Critics charged that Rodriguez should not ...

Human Rights Watch Report: Most Sex Offender Laws Misguided and Ineffective

by Matt Clarke

In September 2007, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US. The report concluded that most sex offender laws are ineffective and misguided in that they do not reduce the probability of future sex offenses or make the perpetrators of sex offenses easier to identify and apprehend. This is largely because the laws are based upon several widely-held, but erroneous beliefs which are reinforced by the mass media and which the public and lawmakers vehemently believe to be true. Thus, the report concludes, “sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws are ill-considered, poorly crafted, and may cause more harm than good.”

If asked in a random survey, most members of the public and lawmakers would tell you that sex offenders continually repeat their offenses, that they have no control over their criminal sexual impulses, that there is no cure for this condition, that children and teens who commit sex offenses will commit adult sex offenses and that sex offenders’ victims are usually strangers. The problem with these perceptions is that they are all untrue. The 143-page HRW report not only makes this clear, but backs it up ...

More Prisoners Murdered in Texas Federal Prisons

Until February 13, 2008, Ronald Joseph, 29, was serving time at a federal penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas for firearm and drug-related convictions. On that date he was found dead in his cell; a preliminary autopsy report indicated he had been murdered.

“[A] precise cause of death” has not been determined, said Justice of the Peace Tom Gilliam III. “Several things were found wrong with the body.”

Officials have been tight-lipped about the details of Joseph’s murder, and his family members are frustrated at being kept in the dark.

“I think it’s sad that I lost my son and I can’t get answers from nobody,” said Joseph’s mother, Leah Crutchfield. “It’s probably over something they [prison officials] did.” Erika Joseph, Ronald’s sister, questioned how her brother could be killed in his cell while the unit was on lockdown.

Prison officials confirmed that the unit was locked down at the time of Joseph’s death due to an unrelated incident. In Ms. Joseph’s mind this only confirms her suspicions of the prison’s culpability. “That prison is always on lockdown. They need to do something,” she said.

Joseph had already served four years on his ...

Illinois Prisoners Win $8 Million for Failure to Treat Hep C

A federal jury has awarded four Illinois prisoners over $2 million apiece in a civil rights action filed against state prison officials for denying treatment for Hepatitis C (Hep C).

In 2005, Edward J. Roe, Anthony P. Stasiak, Timothy J. Stephen and Jackson Walker, all state prisoners at the Logan ...

Fifth Circuit: Federal Prisoner Loses Retaliation Suit but U.S. Attorney Sanctioned

by John E. Dannenberg

A federal prisoner in Texas sued prison officials for retaliating against him for filing grievances. While the court found for the defendants, it nonetheless sanctioned two Assistant U.S. Attorneys $500 for procedural discovery errors, payable to the plaintiff. On appeal the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict, except that it modified and redirected payment of the sanction to the district court.

PLN contributing writer Brandon Sample filed a pro se federal civil rights action in U.S. District Court (WD Tex.) against Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employees, alleging they had retaliated against him for filing grievances while incarcerated at a prison in Bastrop, Texas. During the summary judgment phase Sample lost his bid for injunctive relief to require BOP director Harley Lappin to develop new policies forbidding retaliation and requiring such training for guards. The balance of Sample’s claims and his request for damages were resolved against him in a two-day bench trial.

Both parties appealed. The Fifth Circuit rejected Sample’s complaint that the district court’s findings of fact lacked sufficient detail. Since witness credibility was the central issue, the court’s finding for the defendant conclusively resolved the contradictory ...

Over $6 Million Awarded in Oakland, California Parolee’s False Arrest Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

A federal jury awarded $6,058,000 in damages to a parolee and his girlfriend for outrageous conduct by Oakland, California city police (OPD) when they broke into his residence, told him they had a non-existent warrant, falsely claimed they found a firearm, and caused him ...

Washington Inter-Prison Property-Shipping-Fee Class Action Suit Settles For $1,262,500

by John E. Dannenberg

Between 1995 and 2005, Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) policy 440.000 required prisoners who were being transferred between WADOC prisons to pre-pay the shipping costs of their personal property in excess of two boxes, or forfeit the property. A class-action lawsuit brought by four ...

Unlocking America, Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population, The JFA Institute, November 2007, 32 pp.

Reviewed by John E. Dannenberg

Unlocking America is a study on how to approach the task of reducing America’s prison population (“decarceration”) without compromising public safety. Key factors recommended to accomplish this include reducing the number of persons sent to prison, shortening the terms of those who are, and decreasing/eliminating returns to custody for technical parole/probation violations. Also recommended is decriminalizing “victimless” crimes such as drug possession.

The study exposes some of the myths surrounding crime and punishment. One is that mass incarceration and recurrent parole/probation violations serve to reduce crime. Another hypothesizes the existence of “career criminals” who can be “‘identified and locked’ up to save society.” Yet another is that tougher penalties will protect the public from “dangerous criminals.” A fourth is that tougher penalties will have a deterrent effect. From the study’s corrections to the myths come ideas on how to change the flawed system - explained in six practical and cost-effective recommendations.

The authors, eight university professors of criminal justice, first review crime rates and the resultant incarceration. The old adage, “the punishment does not fit the crime” is demonstrated by showing examples of gross sentencing inequities. Crime rates for major categories ...

Former North Carolina Lawmaker’s Son Submits Highest Bid, Gets Prison Contract

Last year, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation began examining the award of a prison pest control contract to the son of the state’s former House Speaker. The contract raised questions because the winning bid was roughly three times higher than the lowest bidder for the same job.

The contract was to provide pest control services at two new prisons that were being built, and the investigation focused on Black Pest Control, a Charlotte company owned by Jon Black, whose father is former House Speaker Jim Black. Black’s company won the contract to provide pest control for prison construction projects in Bertie and Greene counties.

Black’s bid for those 2003 projects was $124,000. His company received the job despite another firm bidding $42,000 for the same work. In 2005, Black Pest Control won the bid for another prison project in Columbus. It obtained that contract for $73,600 even though another company had bid $20,600, but later withdrew from the job.

Prior to winning the contracts, Black Pest Control had no experience in its 65-year history of working on prison projects. Then again, it never before had such a profitable reason for doing ...

Complaint Against Utah DOC for Non-Delivery of PLN Fails Because Defendants Only Negligent; Jail Publication Ban Illegal

by John E. Dannenberg

The Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has rejected several Utah-based civil rights complaints concerning the denial of reading material to prisoners, including issues of Prison Legal News. In a case involving the Salt Lake County Jail, suit was brought regarding the constitutionality of the jail’s mail regulations. An unrelated lawsuit, filed by PLN against the Utah Department of Corrections (UDOC), alleged deliberate non-delivery of PLN to several state prisoners. All of the suits were brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The initial federal complaint challenging the jail’s ban on magazines, books and catalogs was filed in 1994 (Farnsworth v. Salt Lake Metro Jail, captioned Jones v. Salt Lake County on appeal for plaintiff Paul B. Jones). In 1998, PLN v. Christensen and PLN v. Haun were filed due to non-delivery of PLN to UDOC subscribers. The appeal in PLN v. Christensen was dismissed by stipulation after the parties settled and the Tenth Circuit consolidated the remaining two cases.

The appellate court reviewed the jail and prison complaints separately, relying on the four-part test developed in Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987). Turning first to the jail regulations in Jones ...

Maryland Juvenile Justice Official Resigns Over Past Abuse Allegations

Just seven months after he was hired as director over Maryland’s juvenile detention facilities, Chris Perkins, 38, resigned his $76,000 a year position when a Montana judge unsealed a report that found Perkins had abused children at a Montana boot camp.

The 21-page report detailed treatment of juveniles while Perkins was director of the Swan Valley Youth Academy, which was operated by Colorado-based Cornerstone Programs Corp. from 2003 to 2006. In fairness, Perkins’ alleged treatment of children under his care was no different from the treatment inflicted on juvenile offenders in many other states’ boot camp programs.

According to the report, Swan Valley Staff used “intimidation,” “brute force” and “threats” to create an “environment of fear” and a “culture of terror.” The report detailed incidents of staff forcing youths to exercise naked for hours at a time, making them drink hot water, repeatedly slamming them against a wall, and placing them in isolation for extended periods of time.

Cornerstone’s chief executive, Joseph Newman, said he suspended Perkins in November 2005 after Montana’s Public Health and Human Services Department began investigating allegations of abuse at Swan Valley. State officials found 19 licensing violations and concluded that Perkins ...

Pennsylvania Prison Medical Firm’s Performance Called into Question

Dr. Edward Zaloga, co-owner of Correctional Care, Inc. (CCI) of Moosic, Pennsylvania, a firm that provides medical services at the Lackawanna County Prison, had his past called into question when a female prisoner was forced to give birth alone in her cell after her pleas for help were ignored.

While the County Correctional Board apologized for the July 10, 2007 incident, the prisoner, Shakira Staten, filed a federal lawsuit against the prison, Zaloga and CCI for cruel and unusual punishment. The Board blamed Staten’s treatment on “serious errors of judgment” on the part of a nurse. The nurse was later fired and the prison adopted new policies for dealing with pregnant prisoners.

The lawsuit dredges up Zaloga’s past, when he was fired by Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Services, another prison medical care firm, in Sept. 1999. While he was employed with Wexford, Zaloga had disagreed with the introduction of a new hepatitis C treatment protocol as “wasteful of taxpayers’ money” because it was yet unproven. It was also expensive, and the amount that Zaloga claimed the money he saved Wexford contributed to the company’s alleged $4 million in profits at the time. Zaloga sued Wexford for wrongful termination ...

$64,900 Award in Arkansas Excessive Force Claim; Warden Held Not Liable

by David M. Reutter

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a judgment against the warden of Arkansas’ Cummins Unit, finding he did not have sufficient knowledge that the guards under his supervision were inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on prisoners.

The appeal, by Warden M.D. Reed, was ...

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to Pay for Grant Fraud

On March 10, 2008, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) agreed to settle a grant fraud case for $300,000.

After being promoted to Special Projects Manager of the NCJFCJ, Serena Hulbert requested access to documents related to grants, budgets and expenditures concerning the project she ...

Floor-Sleeping at Los Angeles County Jail Ruled Unconstitutional

by John E. Dannenberg

On September 21, 2007, a California U.S. District Court granted summary judgment in favor of a class of prisoners who had been required to sleep on the floor of the Los Angeles County Jail (“Jail”) between December 18, 2002 and May 17, 2005, ruling that such conditions of confinement constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

The class also included prisoners who were incarcerated between December 18, 2000 and December 17, 2002 who remained at the Jail until at least December 18, 2002.
The principal defendant in the suit was Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca, who was sued in both his individual and official capacities. The district court granted Baca’s motion for qualified immunity as to his individual liability.

The class of prisoners is potentially huge. Jail records indicate that in just a four-month period, 24,000 prisoners had slept on the floor. Captain John Clark at the Men’s Central Jail testified that at that facility alone, prisoners housed on the floor numbered as high as 500. Class members who were pre-trial detainees (and thus should have enjoyed even greater protections under the 14th Amendment because they were ...

Eighth Circuit: Iowa Prisoner’s Denial-Of-Court-Access Ruling Reversed

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a district court § 1983 judgment that had found Iowa’s contract attorney arrangement (in lieu of a law library) had denied an Iowa prisoner’s constitutional right of access to the courts. The court also awarded him nominal damages ($1) for loss of a § 1983 claim. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit held that the prisoner’s underlying complaint of wrongful extradition was meritless and that he had defaulted on his § 1983 complaint by filing untimely.

Duane White was arrested by Iowa authorities in Iowa in 1999 for committing a crime there as well as for an outstanding warrant from South Dakota. He pled guilty in both states. In Iowa, his plea agreement was predicated upon his agreement not to seek any post-conviction legal relief on his Iowa conviction. After doing 2 ½ years in Iowa, he was transferred to South Dakota in July 2002.

However, prior to White’s Iowa incarceration, Iowa had discontinued its law libraries in favor of providing contract attorneys to meet with prisoners several days each month, for 15 minute sessions. There, the attorneys answered simple questions and provided basic legal forms. White was dissatisfied with this ...

Court Orders Attorney General to Allow Law Students Access to Political Prisoners at Federal Supermax

On January 17, 2008, U.S. District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel granted a preliminary injunction permitting University of Denver law students access to two prisoners housed at the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) Administrative Maximum facility (Supermax) in Florence, Colorado.

On February 25, 2005, NBC broadcasted an investigative news report related to correspondence between Nidal Ayyad, Mahmud Abouhalima, and certain prisoners in Spain allegedly tied to the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Ayyad and Abouhalima are serving sentences in the Supermax for convictions related to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In response to the news report, then Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, imposed Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) on Ayyad and Abouhalima. The SAMs severely restrict Ayyad and Abouhalima’s communications. For instance, Ayyad and Abouhalima are only permitted to send correspondence to members of their immediate family, and receive only certain newspapers absent editorials and classifieds.

Ayyad and Abouhalima sued the Attorney General over the imposition of the SAMs. Originally proceeding pro se, Ayyad and Abouhalima obtained representation from the Student Law Office of the University of Denver. However, because of the SAMs, the law students were denied access to their clients. Under regulations promulgated by the Attorney General, only licensed attorneys ...

Mentally Ill Woman Sues Over Seg-Cell Sex; County Settles for $40,000

Twenty-nine-year-old Misha Cooper has a long history of mental illness and criminal offenses. In May 2006, she was confined in the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) in Portland, Oregon. Due to her mental health issues she was placed in a special segregation unit consisting of five single cells.

One of ...

Alabama Felon Disenfranchisement Limited

The Alabama Supreme Court has voided a Jefferson County Circuit Court’s order that prohibited the state from disenfranchising former prisoners until every felony involving the element of moral turpitude had been catalogued by the state legislature.

The ruling resulted from an appeal filed by the Alabama Secretary of State. The underlying complaint was a putative class action suit involving the voting rights of former prisoners who had been convicted of felony offenses. That action concerned the Secretary of State’s application of the June 1996 ratification of Amendment 579 to the Alabama Constitution, §177, which only disenfranchised felons convicted of crimes involving “moral turpitude” rather than all felons.

The lead plaintiffs in the case were prohibited from registering to vote due to DUI convictions. Under a March 18, 2005 opinion from the Attorney General, that crime and many others were not classified as involving moral turpitude; nonetheless, the Secretary of State continued its policy of disenfranchising all felons regardless of offense. Finding the new law was unconstitutionally vague because it failed to denote moral turpitude, the Circuit Court ordered that all felons who were otherwise qualified to vote be allowed to vote. The court also granted the plaintiffs attorney ...

Three Suicide Suits At Sacramento, California Jail Settled For $1,000,000

For a total of $1,000,000, California officials settled the wrongful death lawsuits stemming from three prisoner suicides in the Sacramento County jail. Sacramento County Sheriff John McGuiness averred that the agreement to settle should not be construed as evidence of any wrongdoing. Rather, he called it “strictly a ...

Muslim Virginia Prisoner Entitled to 2,200 Calories During Ramadan

A federal district court has issued a preliminary injunction requiring the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) to provide a Muslim prisoner with “food items containing 2,200 calories” daily during Ramadan, a month-long period of religious fasting.

This action was brought by Keen Mountain Correctional Center prisoner William R. Couch, who is a Sunni Muslim. Couch’s complaint alleged claims under the First Amendment and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), stating that prison officials had “deprived him of adequate nutrition and calories during Ramadan” in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

VDOC operating procedures allow each prison to decide whether to provide Ramadan participants with the same full, hot breakfast that is served to the general prison population or to provide a significantly smaller, cold bag meal. Prison officials always opted to serve the bag meal. During previous Ramadans, Couch was provided with only “approximately 1,000 calories per day.” As a result, he said he experienced weight loss of about 13 pounds, constant hunger, “hunger headaches” and listlessness.

For the Ramadan fast in 2006, prison officials advised Couch they would follow the previous Ramadan procedures. Couch then filed suit on the previous violations of his religious rights ...

Ohio DNA Specimen Law Ruled Not Retroactive

The Ohio Supreme Court held that a state law requiring convicted felons and some misdemeanants to provide DNA specimens could not be applied retroactively to offenders placed on supervised release before the law’s May 2005 effective date.

On August 6, 2002, Craig Consilio pleaded guilty to DUI, a fourth degree felony. He was sentenced to six months in jail and three years community supervision.

While Consilio was still on supervision the Ohio legislature enacted HB525, amending R.C. 2901.07(B)(3)(a) to require all felony and some misdemeanor offenders to submit a DNA specimen when on supervised release. HB525 became effective on May 18, 2005. It did not expressly address retroactivity.

The probation office informed Consilio that he would be required to provide a DNA sample under HB525. Consilio filed a motion in opposition, arguing that the amended statute could not be applied to him because it was not in effect when he was sentenced. The trial court denied the motion, finding the amended statute applied to all individuals on supervised release regardless of when they were sentenced. Consilio appealed.

While the appeal was pending, on January 10, 2006, Consilio’s community supervision ended. The following month ...

Authorities Listen in on Attorney-Client Calls at Jails in FL, CA and TX

by David Reutter & Matt Clarke

In December 2007, it was reported that an investigator at Florida’s Charlotte County Jail was caught listening to telephone conversations between a prisoner and his attorney. As a result, the investigator, Kenneth Hill, was reprimanded and placed on road patrol.

Hill was investigating charges of introduction of contraband and attempt to defraud involving jail prisoner David Price. In all, Hill monitored five phone calls between Price and his lawyer, Michael Powell, in an attempt to learn about a possible drug exchange.

In a deposition taken by Powell, Hill admitted he had listened to the conversations. Later, however, Hill wrote a memo to the State Attorney’s office recanting what he said in his deposition. When internal affairs investigators questioned him, Hill stated he “did not listen to the conversations to gain an upper hand in court, for a loophole in the defense, or with any devious intent.”

When asked whether an attorney-client phone conversation should be monitored, Hill said, “That is a good question! If the attorney wants to speak in private, they should not be on a recorded line. You can’t know all of that.”

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office has since implemented a policy that allows lawyers to put their phone numbers on a do-not-monitor list. Further, jail employees are required to discontinue monitoring if they realize a prisoner is having a conversation with an attorney.

PLN reported a similar incident at a Florida jail in 2006, when Broward County officials recorded two weeks of privileged conversations between prisoners and their attorneys. A resulting lawsuit was settled in February 2008 for “a few thousand dollars,” according to one of the lawyers involved in the case. See: Sawchuck v. Jenne, U.S.D.C. SD Fla., Case No. 0:06-cv-61182-KAM. [PLN, June 2007, p.12].

Attorney-client phone snooping isn’t limited to Florida jails. In June 2008, the Sheriff’s Department in San Diego County, California was found to be using a system that recorded all jail phone calls, including those between prisoners and their counsel. Angry defense lawyers noted that prosecutors had access to the improperly recorded attorney-client calls.
Indeed, Jim McMahon, with the Alternate Public Defender’s office, said phone conversations with his incarcerated client were included on a disc turned over by prosecutors as part of discovery in the case. “I’m not at all comfortable with the DA being supplied with confidential, privileged phone calls with my client,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department claimed the attorney calls had been recorded due to an “inadvertent glitch” in the phone system, according to the Union Tribune. The system was not supposed to record calls placed to phone numbers in an attorney database, but the database was severely deficient – it did not include all attorneys’ numbers nor their cell phones or direct lines. A California state law expressly prohibits eavesdropping on attorney-client calls.

Further, the practice of Hunt County, Texas prosecutors obtaining recorded phone calls from jail prisoners – including attorney-client calls – has come under fire. Defense attorneys in the capital murder trial of Bradon Dale Woodruff filed pre-trial motions concerning the known use of recorded attorney-client calls by Hunt County prosecutors in prior criminal cases involving defendants Adam Kelly Ward and Abigail Louann Whytus.

Attorney Dennis Davis, who represented Ward and Whytus, was surprised when he received recordings of jail phone calls from the prosecutor in response to discovery requests. The recordings included conversations with attorneys, family members and an expert witness on the issue of Ward’s competency. “They basically assassinated his character with those [phone call] outtakes,” said Davis.

That was just fine according to some Texas prosecutors. “Certainly, there is attorney-client privilege, and you can waive that. Once you’re put on notice that this is being recorded, then you have waived that right,” stated Rockwall County District Attorney Ray Sumrow. “I don’t see a legal or ethical problem, assuming that they have been notified.” However, Sumrow noted he could not recall his office ever requesting jail phone recordings between a prisoner and his attorney.

Hunt County prosecutor Noble Walker defended his office’s actions in court.

“When you pick up the dang phone, it tells you that you are subject to being recorded,” he stated, adding that the issue is whether prisoners have an expectation of privacy in the phone calls.

“All the law that I’m familiar with says it’s unlawful and unethical to record attorney-client communication,” countered Dallas defense lawyer Barry Sorrels.

Other Texas counties, including Dallas, Denton, Collin and Rockwall, have acknowledged recording attorney-client phone calls at their jails. Dallas County officials admitted they sometimes send the recordings to prosecutors, while Denton, Collin and Rockwall County said they randomly monitor the calls.

State District Judge Richard A. Beacom, Jr. denied a defense motion to dismiss the murder charge against Woodruff due to the improper monitoring of his attorney-client conversations; however, he ruled on Sept. 18, 2007 that any evidence obtained from the phone calls could not be used at trial.

“Although the Court does not believe that the Office of the Hunt County District Attorney acted with malice or without some case authority to support their actions, this Court believes that the practice of the State listening to a defendant’s telephone conversations with his attorney is a violation of the 6th Amendment,” Judge Beacom held.

Sources: Sun-Herald, San Diego Union-Tribune, Dallas Morning News

Illinois Man Falsely Arrested in Attempted Child Abduction Awarded $2 Million

A federal jury has awarded over $2 million to a man who was acquitted of attempting to abduct two young girls.

In March 2001, a man approached an eight-year-old girl on the front porch of her home in Chicago, Illinois and offered to take her on a field trip. The ...

Court Clerk Fired for Relationship with Prisoner; Bar Complaint Against Federal Prosecutor Exposed Relationship

In August 2007, a deputy clerk at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was fired after an investigation revealed she had a personal relationship with a prisoner who flooded the courts with legal filings.

Federal prisoner William G. Moore was convicted in October 1995 on conspiracy, methamphetamine and money laundering charges in Washington State. He was sentenced to life imprisonment due to his prior criminal history and incarcerated at a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon.

In the years since his conviction, Moore has filed more than two dozen appeals and other filings in federal courts in Oregon and Washington, proclaiming his innocence and claiming he was wrongfully convicted.

Moore has also been a frequent filer in the Ninth Circuit, where deputy court clerk Jane Cross, 57, handled filings in his cases beginning in 2000. At some point Cross and Moore began a personal relationship – writing, calling and even visiting at FCI Sheridan.

The government trained its crosshairs on Cross in June 2007 after she filed a complaint with the Washington State Bar Association against U.S. Attorney Kurt Hermanns. The bar complaint accused Hermanns of committing perjury in his 1995 prosecution of Moore.

Cross was accused of ...

Exonerated Montana Prisoner Sues State, Receives $3.5 Million

In January 2008, the state of Montana settled a lawsuit filed by a former prisoner who had been wrongfully convicted of raping a child, paying him $3.5 million. The settlement was the largest amount the state had ever paid for a civil rights violation.

When he was 19, Jimmy ...

United Kingdom Creates Foreigner Only Prisons

In mid-2007, the United Kingdom (UK) designated two detention facilities to be occupied solely by foreign national prisoners. If the plan is successful, the government intends to expand the practice beyond the Bullwood Hall and Canterbury prisons.

The move comes as the proportion of foreign prisoners to English prisoners continues to increase. There are 11,300 foreigners who face deportation after they complete their sentences among the UK’s prison population of 83,000.

The so-called “specialist prisons” aim to provide better services to incarcerated foreign nationals. Due to language and cultural barriers, prison officials had reported difficulty in providing care to mentally ill foreign prisoners. It was hoped that by having all foreign nationals in one place rather than spread throughout the prison system, services could be improved to meet their needs.

The government itself will also benefit. Officials from the UK’s Border and Immigration Agency hope to identify each prisoner’s immigration issues so as to hasten their deportation. In 2007, approximately 4,000 foreigners were deported after being discharged from prisons in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. This year, 2,400 have been deported as of June 2008.

The deportations are deemed necessary because “the ...

CMS Found Liable for Inadequate Hep C Medical Care of Delaware Prisoner

The federal district court in Delaware has held that Correctional Medical Services (CMS), the medical provider for the Delaware Department of Corrections (DDOC), was deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s medical needs. The ruling should come as no surprise to PLN readers, as PLN has previously featured the “obviously inadequate” medical care provided to DDOC prisoners by CMS. [See: PLN, Dec. 2005, p.1]

This civil rights action was initiated and prosecuted pro se by DDOC prisoner Richard Turner, who alleged that inadequate medical care at the Delaware Correctional Center violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court had previously dismissed claims against CMS doctors due to Turner’s failure to serve them. Before the court were summary judgment motions filed by both Turner and the remaining defendants.

The court granted the state defendants’ motion, allowing only the claims against CMS to proceed. At issue were medical services rendered by CMS from July 1, 2000 until June 30, 2002. The court further limited that time period by granting CMS summary judgment, in part, to provide for a two-year statute of limitations. Since Turner’s lawsuit was not filed until October 1, 2002, he could only pursue claims arising ...

Vermont DOC Settles Religious Practice Denial Suit For $25,000

The Vermont Department of Corrections (VDOC) settled a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by a former prisoner claiming he had been denied traditional food for Jewish holidays that had been donated by an outside philanthropic organization.

Gordon Bock, 53, was incarcerated in VDOC between October 2004 and May 2005 for domestic ...

New York Man Wins $640,000 for Unjust Incarceration

The state of New York has agreed to pay $640,000 to a man who it unjustly incarcerated for five years to dismiss the lawsuit he filed after his convictions were vacated because the evidence clearly indicated that he wasn’t involved in the robbery precipitating his convictions and incarceration ...

Whistle-blowing California Sheriff’s Deputy Settles Retaliation Suit For $150,000

by John E. Dannenberg

Butte County, California officials settled a decade-old $1.2 million lawsuit brought by a former county jail deputy who blew the whistle on a jailhouse beating of a child molester ordered by three other deputies, and who was then subjected to a retaliatory bogus prosecution on ...

Fifth Circuit: Texas Prisoners Cannot be Disciplined for Trust Fund Deposits Initiated by Others

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that prison officials must introduce evidence that a prisoner participated in a monetary transfer before they can discipline him for trafficking and trading due to third-party trust fund deposits.

Hubert Earl Teague, a Texas state prisoner, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging disciplinary charges filed against him that led to a loss of good conduct time credits. Teague was found guilty of a Code 15.0 disciplinary offense, which was based upon his having received $225 that another prisoner, Melvin Jordan, arranged for a third party to deposit in Teague’s trust fund account.

The offense report specified that Jordan had the money placed on Teague’s account to pay for legal work that Teague had done for him. The offense report, a copy of the $225 cashier’s check and Teague’s trust fund transaction records were introduced into evidence.
Jordan testified that he had the money placed on Teague’s account. Teague testified that he had no knowledge of and did not participate in the deposit of the funds. Teague was found guilty. He exhausted his step one and two grievances, then filed a ...

“Special Circumstances” Justify Non-Exhaustion in Second Circuit

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has excused a New York prisoner’s failure to exhaust available administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The court found that prison officials’ erroneous refusal to investigate a claim, and frustration of administrative review of the error, constituted “special circumstances” justifying non-compliance with the PLRA.

On June 9, 2000, New York prisoner Hardy Brownell was found in possession of photographs, social security numbers and identification cards of several guards. Brownell’s photo was on three of the identification cards.

Brownell was transferred to another prison that same day. He was again transferred on July 14, 2000 and September 16, 2000. At the time of the initial transfer Brownell had fourteen bags of property, but by September 16, 2000 he had only three bags. He claimed that his missing property included legal materials.

On September 18, 2000, Brownell filed a claim related to the missing property; a claim number was assigned and an investigation was conducted. On November 14, 2000, a Deputy Superintendent denied the claim for lack of documentation.

Brownell could have appealed the denial of the claim. Instead of appealing, however, at the direction of an Inmate Grievance Program Supervisor ...

Retaliation Claim Not Barred by Heck

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held a prisoner’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is not barred when a victory for the prisoner “would have at most the potential to decrease his period of detention,” in a case where the prisoner “alleged adequately the elements of a First Amendment retaliation claim.”

This action was filed by Michigan prisoner Jerald Thomas, who is imprisoned at Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility. The appellate court found the accounts of the facts at issue varied widely. According to Thomas, “Corrections Officer Eby” kicked his cell door at 1:30 a.m. on October 23, 2003. After Thomas awakened, Eby told Thomas she was going to “teach [him] a lesson” for writing a grievance against a guard named Grieke. She also said, “You people are as dumb as you look,” which Thomas took as a slur against African-Americans.

Eby, however, contended that Thomas was already awake and “was standing in the observation window with his penis exposed masturbating.” She took the act as an attempt to “degrade” her. Eby wrote Thomas a Major Misconduct Report. The next day, Thomas wrote a grievance. At a hearing, Thomas was found guilty of “intentionally exposing his ...

Informant/Hit Man In 20 Murders Released After 12 Years; Paid $20,000

by John E. Dannenberg

A hit man with 20 cold-blooded murders under his belt, but who turned government informant to expose a dirty FBI agent, was released from a Massachusetts state prison in 2007 after serving only 12 years. To help him get on his feet, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) paid him $20,000 in “gate money.”

John Martorano, now 67, cut a deal in 1998 while up on federal racketeering charges and turned informant to expose FBI agent John Connolly, Jr. on his racketeering career. Martorano’s testimony helped expose the dirty relationship with the FBI and resulted in major murder indictments against James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Martorano, Bulger and Flemmi had committed execution murders - eight in the 1960s, ten in the 1970s and two more in 1981 and 1982. Federal authorities were only able to get to Bulger and Flemmi by first getting to Connolly, the inside FBI con. Connolly was convicted and sentenced to 10 years for racketeering and presently faces trial in Florida for allegedly helping Bulger, Flemmi and Martorano commit the 1982 murder.

To get to Bulger and Flemmi, after Connolly fell, the DEA recruited Martorano as a ...

“Defense of Another” Not Applicable to Prison Disciplinary Defense

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that it is no defense to a prison disciplinary charge for battery that the blows were struck to prevent the further stabbing of a third person.

Aaron B. Scruggs, an Indiana state prisoner, filed a federal habeas corpus action challenging his disciplinary conviction for battery that resulted in loss of credit time, reduction in credit-time-earning class, and three months of solitary confinement. The undisputed facts were that Scruggs saw prisoner Marty Robbins stabbing prisoner Richard Carrizales and intervened by striking Robbins “a couple of frantic hard hits with his cane,” causing Robbins to abandon the attack and throw his shank out a window. Robbins was subsequently hospitalized.

Scruggs offered a defense-of-others argument as his defense, which was rejected by the Conduct Adjustment Board (CAB) and on subsequent administrative appeals. The federal district court denied Scruggs’ habeas petition on the merits and he appealed.

The Seventh Circuit held that a prison disciplinary board is not a court and therefore the AEDPA’s deferential standard of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) does not apply. Reviewing the CAB’s decision de novo, the Seventh Circuit held that Scruggs had no substantive due process right ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On April 19, 2008, Maricopa county prosecutors announced they were seeking the death penalty against former Maricopa county jail guard Jeffrey Hamlet, 55, who is accused of killing his wife. The Maricopa county jail is run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and is notorious for its brutality and sub human conditions.

Arizona: On May 7, 2008, six prisoners required hospital treatment due to injuries in fights between prisoners at the state prison complex in Douglas.

California: On April 3, 2008, three unidentified guards in an office at the state prison in Tehachapi were stabbed by two unidentified prisoners who are members of the Surenos prison gang. The state’s entire prison system was locked down as a result.

Colorado: On May 7, 2008, El Paso county district attorney John Newsome apologized after a local television station filmed him drinking 8 beers in a five hour period before driving home in a county owned vehicle. Assistant district attorney Amy Mullaney drank six beers with him during the same period. Both denied driving drunk.

Denmark: On March 13, 2008, four guards at the Nyborg prison were hospitalized with minor injuries after eating a cake given to them by prisoners which was laced ...

Prisoners on Prison Education: Your Knowledge, Experience and Views Are Sought by the Special Rapporteur on Education

The Special Rapporteur on education, Vernor Muñoz, is to submit a report on the right to education for people in detention to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009.
Mr. Muñoz, an independent and unpaid expert appointed by the United Nations, wishes to ensure that prisoners’ knowledge, positions and ideas on education in detention are fully reflected in his report. This can only be ensured if prisoners themselves are involved in the preparation of the report. If you are or have been in detention therefore and wish to express your view on the provision of the right to education in detention, Mr. Muñoz would welcome hearing from you.

As every person has a right to education and every person has specific educational experiences and needs, he wishes to hear from men, women and children in, or previously in detention, from all global regions including those with disabilities and those without; from different races, religions, cultures and sexual orientation; from those in closed and/or open institutions; those who have chosen not to or have been unable to undertake educational programmes (formal and/or informal) and those currently enrolled; and from those with no, few or many qualifications.

Please send ...

Spokane Jail Prisoner Murdered in Cell, County Settles Lawsuit for $180,000

The Spokane County, Washington, Commissioner has agreed to settle a civil rights action prosecuted by the family of a prisoner who was murdered by his cellmates at the Geiger Correction Center (Geiger) in Spokane County for $180,000.

In October of 2004, 21-year-old Christopher L. Rentz was being held at ...

 

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