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Prison Legal News: December, 1991

Issue PDF
Volume 2, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Monroe's Struggle Against Double Celling (p 1)
  2. Court Supports Supervisory Liability Claim (p 2)
  3. Written Findings of Disciplinary Hearing Held Inadequate (p 3)
  4. Prisoners May Not Be Subjected to Freezing Temperatures (p 3)
  5. Executions Report Issued (p 3)
  6. Prison Law Libraries Must Keep All Books Current (p 4)
  7. The Criminalization of Poverty (p 4)
  8. From The Editor (p 5)
  9. New York Prisons Profiled (p 6)
  10. Oklahoma Must Provide Adequate Funds for Its Public Defenders (p 6)
  11. Consent Decree Creates a Liberty Interest (p 7)
  12. Prison Guards May Not Be Fired for Testifying on Prisoner's behalf (p 7)
  13. Guards Liable for Harassing Searches of Cell (p 7)
  14. Prison Tobacco Sales Are Not Punishment (p 7)
  15. No Liberty Interest in Prison Jobs (p 8)
  16. Civil Commitment (p 8)
  17. Evidence Must Be Presented at Disciplinary Hearing (p 8)
  18. Letters From Readers (p 9)

Monroe's Struggle Against Double Celling

Monroe's Struggle Against Double Celling: A Status Report

By Ed Mead

A flood of new rumors have been flying hot and heavy on the double celling status here at the Reformatory in Monroe. Some of these reports say there has been a negative change in the district court's ...

Court Supports Supervisory Liability Claim

James Johnson, a prisoner at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections, appealed from the district court's dismissal of his §1983 complaint. The complaint alleged that Johnson suffered an inguinal hernia, which was diagnosed in January 1984. The prison doctor recommended surgery to repair the hernia, and ...

Written Findings of Disciplinary Hearing Held Inadequate

An Illinois prisoner launched a 1983 challenge to the prison disciplinary hearing committee's finding of guilt on several infractions, including one charging him with conspiracy to murder a Unit Manager. The civil rights complaint alleged a number of constitutional infirmities in the disciplinary process, but only one issue was ...

Prisoners May Not Be Subjected to Freezing Temperatures

In 1982 outside temperatures at the Stateville prison in Illinois plunged to 22 degrees below zero with a wind-chill factor of 80 degrees below zero. The heating system in a cell block with 300 men malfunctioned and frigid air circulated through the cell blocks through broken windows, with ice forming ...

Executions Report Issued

Eleven states executed 23 people last year, the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced on September 29th. The Bureau said as of December 31, 1990, there were 2,356 people being held on death row in 34 states. Between 1976, when the U.S. Supreme ...

Prison Law Libraries Must Keep All Books Current

One of the questions presented in this case was whether a prison law library must keep current (update) those books that they are not constitutionally required to have. The case arose when prisoners initiated litigation, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, over the adequacy of the law library at ...

The Criminalization of Poverty

The Criminalization Of Poverty

By Sabina Virgo
Sabina Virgo is an activist in the Los Angeles area. The following is an edited version of a speech given in L.A. on International Human Rights Day, December 8, 1990.)

An anonymous poet in the 1700s once wrote, "The law will punish ...

From The Editor

By Paul Wright

Welcome to the December issue of PLN . When you receive this issue the whole commercialized Christmas season will be in full swing. So in the spirit of giving, if you haven't donated to PLN yet this is a great time to do so. If you have ...

New York Prisons Profiled

A prisoners' advocacy group in New York City on September 27 released a profile of the state and city inmate population and found a pattern of minority offenders being increasingly locked up for nonviolent crimes.

The Correctional Association of New York said there are more than 57,000 inmates in ...

Oklahoma Must Provide Adequate Funds for Its Public Defenders

In a highly significant case the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that by failing to adequately fund it's appellate public defenders the Oklahoma State Legislature deprives prisoners of their right to due process and equal protection of law under the federal constitution.

Robert Richards filed a Pro Se ...

Consent Decree Creates a Liberty Interest

Consent Decree Creates A Liberty Interest

Stephen Rodi, a Rhode Island state prisoner filed suit under § 1983 claiming he had been put in administrative segregation without cause, notice or opportunity to be heard. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim and on appeal the Court ...

Prison Guards May Not Be Fired for Testifying on Prisoner's behalf

Prison Guards May Not Be Fired For Testifying On Prisoner's Behalf

Salvatore Ziccarelli was employed as a guard at the Cook County (Chicago) jail in Illinois. While there he became acquainted with a prisoner facing the death penalty. Ziccarelli voluntarily appeared, while off duty, on behalf of the defense ...

Guards Liable for Harassing Searches of Cell

Guards Liable For Harassing Searches Of Cell

Although searches of a prisoners' cell do not violate the fourth amendment, they can be "punishment" under the eighth amendment. Searches of a prisoner's cell conducted in order to harass the prisoner in retaliation for exposing the misconduct of a guard constitute ...

Prison Tobacco Sales Are Not Punishment

David Steading, an Illinois state prisoner filed suit under § 1983 claiming violation of his 8th amendment rights because prison officials had failed to provide a smoke free environment for all Illinois prisoners. The district court dismissed the suit and the court of appeals for the 7th district affirmed it.

Steading ...

No Liberty Interest in Prison Jobs

No Liberty Interest In Prison Jobs

The 7th circuit in an en bane ruling held that neither the due process clause nor Illinois statutes create a protected liberty interest in a prisoner holding one prison job over another.

Phillip Wallace is an Illinois state prisoner employed as a prison tailor ...

Civil Commitment

by Carrie Roth, Prison/Community Alliance

The Special Commitment Center (SCC) is a block of prison cells in the Special Offenders Center (SOC) in Monroe, WA. Eleven men are now housed in the prison under the Civil Commitment law passed in 1990. Although the center is in a prison owned ...

Evidence Must Be Presented at Disciplinary Hearing

Evidence Must Be Presented At Disciplinary Hearing

Eddie Griffin, a Pennsylvania state prisoners was infracted for possessing a fermented beverage. Prison guards destroyed the liquid in question prior to the disciplinary hearing. At the hearing Griffin was found "guilty" solely on the basis of the guards infraction report. Griffin then ...

Letters From Readers

More On Plight Of The Young

This letter is in response to a letter to the editor printed in the September issue of the PLN, titled "Plight Of The Young. "

The thing with brother Barry Massey, in particular - the U.S. judicial systems sanctioning of his life sentence without the ...