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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: July, 1991

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Volume 2, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Racism: The Clouded Lens (p 1)
  2. Clallam Bay Double Celling (p 2)
  3. Prison/Community Alliance Update (p 2)
  4. Violent Crime Up 10% in 1990 (p 2)
  5. Police Brutality or Brutal Police? (p 3)
  6. Prisoners Allowed to See Evidence Against Them (p 4)
  7. Pig Park Update (p 4)
  8. Pro Se Litigants Entitled to Litigation Costs (p 4)
  9. Prisoners and the Grievance System (p 5)
  10. Overcrowded and Unfair (p 6)
  11. Editorial (p 6)
  12. Letters From Readers (p 7)
  13. No Warrantless Search of Departing Visitor (p 7)
  14. U.S. Prison Population Grew 8.2% in 1990 (p 7)
  15. Disagrees With Attorney's Article (p 9)
  16. Reality of Sexual Victimization Obscured by "Predator" Label (p 9)
  17. Bad Water, Backed Up Toilet States Claim (p 10)

Racism: The Clouded Lens

By Dan Pens

The other day I flipped on the Donahue Show to kill a few minutes before chow. The featured guests were families who raise their children to be racists. Instead of teaching them familiar Mother Goose rhymes, the children are taught to recite:

Adolf Hitler is our friend,
He fought for us to the end.
The audience was appalled by such unabashed racism. They booed and hissed and vented their righteous indignation at the racists. In response to blasts of rage from the audience, the parents justified their racism with remarks like:

More than 80 percent of all crimes are committed by [Blacks] (another term was used) And: They [Blacks] carry the AIDS virus. If we don't teach our children to stay away from them, they might end up being infected.

At this point I'd seen enough. I flipped off the tube and started to ruminate about the role that racism plays in our society. And you know something? It occurred to me that the parents of those children on Donahue are as much a victim of racism as anybody. Hmmmm... maybe victim isn't the best word... ummmmm... dupes. Yes! That's exactly it. Dupes ...

Clallam Bay Double Celling

On June 12, 1991, Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) superintendent Neal Brown announced that the 21 million dollar expansion of CBCC was on schedule (but there is no money for teachers and schools in Washington). The expansion plans include renovation of food service and dining facilities, expansion of the sewage treatment plant, and construction of a warehouse, a gymnasium and 400-bed medium security cell block. The gym and warehouse are supposed to be finished in February, 1992; the expanding dining and food service areas in July/August 1992; and the new cell block in October/November 1992.

Double bunks have been installed in every cell in the existing units at CBCC and will be double celled as needed. For now however, CBCC's population won't go past around 570 prisoners until the sewage treatment plant is expanded. Once that is done, around October 1, 1991, the population will be increased by up to 400 more prisoners.

As of July 1, 1991, CBCC will be designated a close custody facility making CBCC and the penitentiary at Walla Walla the only close custody prisons in the state.

Once the additional cellblocks and such are built and operational the number of DOC ...

Prison/Community Alliance Update

By Carrie Roth

June 10, 1991 the Legislature went back into session and by the time this is read the session should be over. This is a time when there is a lot of speculation and rumors going around. One rumor is that Senator Gary Locke is against the continuation of the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) and that he is actively trying to stop their funding. Senator Locke is a former Deputy Prosecutor and wrote the state budget (HB 1300) which allocates the ISRB over $3 million dollars. This is no different from previous years. As Sen. Locke expressed to me, "the elimination of the ISRB would be unfair to prosecutors who did not press all the charges they could have at the time because they knew that under the parole board the offenders could be made to do the time anyway." He said a lot of charges were never pressed that would be pressed in today's courts under the SRA. He seemed to have the impression there is no plea bargaining under the SRA.

On another note, I have been following the civil commitment hearing of Vance Cunningham closely. Actually closer than I wanted to as I ...

Violent Crime Up 10% in 1990

Violent Crime Up 10% In 1990

Last issue we published an article titled "Which Shell Is The Pea Under?" in which we argued against the U.S. government's claim that there exists a "definite and positive" link between locking people up and violent crime rates in the United States. As more offenders go to prison, their argument went, violent crime decreases. The Justice Department's conclusion was that there is an ongoing need to continue prison expansion.

A month after the above claims the FBI issued its Uniform Crime Report. Overall, violent crime - murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault - jumped 10 percent in 1990. That is only a continuation of a trend of increase that has continued along side the increase in the size of the nation's prison population. Violence has continued to increase year by year, and the increase actually grows larger with the increase in the number of people put behind bars. If anything, the proposition could be put forward that prisons cause violent crime, the more people you lock up the more violent crime there is.

Police Brutality or Brutal Police?

Police Brutality Or Brutal Police?

By Paul Wright

By now most people have seen the gruesome home video of Rodney King being beaten senseless by Los Angeles police. The only thing unusual about this episode is that it was captured on film, not that it happened to begin with.

It is unfortunate that the video's existence was revealed before the cops had a chance to file charges against King, as the usual practice is to claim the victim "assaulted" police who then had to beat him to a pulp.

The mainstream media has treated the King beating as an isolated exception. Yet in 1980 Arthur Duffy, a black man, was beaten to death by Miami police. They claimed he was speeding. The acquittal of the cops led to rioting in Miami.

In March of 1991, after the King video had been broadcast, a man named Doug Jewett was beaten to death in West Palm Beach, Florida, by two policemen. Mr. Jewett's offense? He was hitchhiking when judge, jury and executioner pulled up. Jewett was beaten to a pulp and suffered what the county medical examiner called "the worst genital destruction I have seen outside of Amnesty International reports ...

Prisoners Allowed to See Evidence Against Them

Prisoners Allowed To See Evidence Against Them

A federal prisoner in Pennsylvania was infracted and charged with making threats of bodily harm to another prisoner and refusing a cell assignment. The threats were supposedly made in a letter Young, the prisoner, gave to a guard while refusing to cell in with his cellmate who had threatened to rape him. At the disciplinary hearing the hearings officer refused to give Young a copy of the letter which Young claimed had no such threats.

Young filed suit and the district court dismissed it as frivolous. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed in part holding that prison officials had violated Young's right to due process by not allowing him to refute the charges against him by presenting his own letter. The court warns against hearing officer's exclusive reliance upon prison employee's oral summary of information implicating the prisoner. The Court also held the hearing officer may have violated Young's rights by not allowing him to be present while questioning the reporting guard as a no security reason was proffered for refusing to allow him to be present. See: Young vs Kann, 926 F.2d 1396 (3rd ...

Pig Park Update

Recently a PLN reader reported that a park for employees of the Washington State penitentiary (WSP) was being built only for employees. The park opened on March 18, 1991, as an "employee park" as a 4-acre area adjacent to the highway and east of the penitentiary, it is surrounded by a new six-foot cyclone fence. The park is open from dawn to dusk and its use is limited to full time WSP employees. The park is now on land that was formerly a game farm area.

We would appreciate any more information on this park from our readers, namely, if the land or facilities is being bought or paid for in anyway with state tax money or inmate welfare fund money, who approved the project, etc. Anyone with information on this please write Paul Wright, either direct or in care of PLN.

Pro Se Litigants Entitled to Litigation Costs

Pro Se Litigants Entitled To Litigation Costs

Benton Burt was a pretrial detainee in San Francisco who filed suit under 42 USC, §1983 in federal court claiming he was confined under illegal and unconstitutional conditions. At a bench trial Burt won his case and $500.00 in damages. He represented ...

Prisoners and the Grievance System

Prisoners And The Grievance System

By Paul Wright

The Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and many others have grievance systems to resolve complaints within the prison system rather than going to court to settle them.

Many prisoners are skeptical of the grievance system as it rarely resolves their complaints, especially when it involves misconduct by an identified staff member.

However, regardless of how effective or ineffective the grievance system is, it is important because it provides a written, public record of complaints filed within the DOC. One that is data based and easily accessible. This is important when a person files suit and through discovery can establish if anyone else complained of the same practice or misconduct giving rise to his own lawsuit. If 30 prisoners also complained about similar misconduct by the same staff member it will be more difficult for the warden or his superiors who may also be defendants in the lawsuit to claim that they had no knowledge of the propensity to misconduct by their underlings and for not taking steps to stop it.

Grievances filed and the DOC response to them are available to attorneys, the public and others through the Public Disclosure Act in ...

Overcrowded and Unfair

Overcrowded And Unfair

By Gary Parker

Human nature and society were not transformed when the SRA was implemented in 1984. The transformation was meant to occur in the basic philosophy of this state's justice system. The old system did not work. Some offenders were paroled too soon, others were imprisoned too long. The parole board was rarely able to see beyond their smudged glasses. Eventually people quit pretending the old system worked, and a new one was implemented to take its place.

The Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) was implemented on July 1, 1984. It was enacted to make the justice system more fair and equitable for offenders and for society. SRA prisoners (convicted after July 1, 1984) may argue about SRA's merits, however, pre-SRA prisoners do not argue as much. They are sullen and exhausted. They have argued for seven years through every conceivable avenue of appeal that they should be treated like post SRA offenders.

Two kinds of time coexist in Washington prisons. They appear to be identical on the surface, but they are fundamentally different. SRA prisoners do their time alongside old guideline prisoners. They coexist, but the time they do is radically different.

Old guideline ...


Editorial Comments

By Ed Mead

First of all, I would like to share the situation and some of the thoughts of a former Palestinian prisoner, a man who was only recently released after having served l7 years in Israeli prisons. His name is Ali Mohammed Jiddah, and he was born in Jerusalem in 1950. Shortly after his release, Ali traveled to England, where he talked openly about unfolding events in the Middle East. In an interview in the British leftist newspaper FRFI, he was asked to comment on the character of Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein. I am quoting a large portion of his response because I think it is important for our American readers to hear the Palestinian reasoning behind their support of Iraq during the recent war. Here is part of what Ali had to say:

"On this issue there is a great deal of misunderstanding of the Palestinian position. We were strong and open supporters of Iraq, but not because we are adherents of Saddam Hussein. We do not approve of what he is doing to the Kurds and to the progressive forces inside Iraq itself. Being an occupied people ourselves we cannot approve occupying another country ...

Letters From Readers

Approaching Agreement

I think [the letter from] "name withheld, TRCC" had a good point about stigmatizing sex offenders. I find it painfully ironic that the people in our society most victimized by stigmatization (i.e. prisoners) sometimes do the same thing to other inmates. If you include date rape, I wonder out of 100 men walking down the street how many haven' t committed an act that could be considered a "sexual offense" in a court of law. Of those that haven' t committed a sexual offense, how many would have if they weren't afraid of the legal consequences. Keep in mind that adultery, sodomy between consenting adults and other voluntary human behaviors are considered illegal in some states. In Texas up to a few years ago a man living with his wife legally could not rape her, in other words she was his sexual property. In a way we as a society are locking up our own "deviant" tendencies by putting sexual offenders away for a good long time.

I found Dan Pens' article informative. I have one emotional reservation about the issue of confidentiality [of statements made by sex offenders during treatment]. I keep remembering the sex ...

No Warrantless Search of Departing Visitor

No Warrantless Search Of Departing Visitor

Prison officials strip-searched a prisoner's sister at the conclusion of a visit because of a suspicion that she was smuggling marijuana to him. Nothing was found. She brought suit under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. The defendant prison officials sought qualified immunity from damages, arguing that they were entitled to such immunity because the right of a visitor to be free from a warrantless search was not "clearly established" at the time of their conduct.

The court disagreed, saying there was no question about the state of the law at the time of the incident. A warrant (based upon probable cause) is always required before a search of a person leaving a visit can be done.

The Warrant Clause exception that allows prison visitors to be searched on the basis of reasonable suspicion that they are trying to smuggle contraband into a prison, a standard less stringent than probable cause, does not justify warrantless searches of persons as they leave following a visit. So held the U.S. Court of Appeals in Marrion v. Smith, (8 Cir. 1991).

U.S. Prison Population Grew 8.2% in 1990

Washington State Has Second Highest (15.4%) Increase The number of state and federal prisoners grew 8.2 percent last year, the U.S. Justice Departments Bureau of justice Statistics (BJS) announced on May 15. According to the Bureau, the 1990 growth rate was more moderate than the 13.5 percent increase recorded during 1989.

Since 1980 the nation's prison population has increased by almost 134 percent. "The 58,686 additional inmates added during 1990 is equal to a need for about 1,100 new prison beds every week," said Bureau Director Steven Dillingham.

"We estimate from what the prison authorities reported to us that prisons throughout the country were operating at 18 to 29 percent above their capacities, Dillingham said. "In addition, we found that local jails were holding more than 18,000 prisoners because state institutions lacked space."

For the first time since 1981, the increase in male prisoners during 1990 exceeded that for women. The number of male prisoners rose 8.3 percent during the year, whereas the number of female prisoners increased 7.9 percent.

Thirteen states and the federal system recorded increases of at least 10 percent in the number of prisoners last year ...

Disagrees With Attorney's Article

I would like to make some observations about the article titled ".100 hearings; Opinions of an Attorney" by Barbetta Ralphs, Attorney. I believe I am qualified [to discuss her article] because I have served a total of over eleven years on parole. It is very significant that Ms. Ralphs would take the time and care to write a concerned article which contains a number of constructive and helpful suggestions for prisoners who have to deal with the I.S.R.B. [parole board] and the [RCW 9.95].100 hearings. I have met many prisoners who had no idea what to do or say, or how to organize some kind of presentation when going before the board. Then, after the hearing, all they could say was, "Man, I got screwed!" Part of the reason why people don't know how to act in their own best interests is due to the Unrealistic Expectation Propaganda which abounds on both sides of the fence in the criminal justice system. Some of this shows up in Ms. Ralph's article where she says, " other strong factor which mitigates against release, and this in the nature of what one inmates does to another ...

Reality of Sexual Victimization Obscured by "Predator" Label

(Reprint of letter to the Seattle Times) Thomas Shapley in his column on sexual predators (Focus, April 7) does a disservice to the sexually abused and sexually assaulted. He reminds me of the man in the Mae West movie. When he offers to protect her, Mae West asks: "Who are you going to protect me from?" The fury directed at the tiny class of individuals we are inventing and calling "sexual predators" obscures the horrifying reality of sexual victimization in this culture. Children and women do not have sexual predators to fear most. The threat to our safety comes from our fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles. One in every group of four women knows this from experience and knows that locking up every so-called sexual predator will not protect us in a society where the sexual violation of women and mostly female children has been approved and tolerated.

In a recent case, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled a teenage girl could not sue her father for repeatedly raping and sodomizing her because the traditional doctrine immunizing parents from suit by their children - a doctrine designed to protect the integrity of the family.

Only recently has rape of a spouse ...

Bad Water, Backed Up Toilet States Claim

A prisoner filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging that the conditions in the housing unit in which he was confined violated his eighth and fourteenth amendment rights. The trial court refused to dismiss the claim that living conditions in the housing unit were a health hazard because water came out of the pipes rusted, there was a scent of bad smelling pipes, and he was exposed to human waste which backed up through the plumbing. While the defendant prison officials contended that these conditions were no more than "an inconvenience or discomfort," the court found that it could not "with assurance determine that the conditions" in the housing unit met an "essential" or "minimum" standard of sanitation. Buffington v. O'Leary, 748 F.Supp. 633 (N.D. Ill. 1990).

From: Jail & Prison Law Bulletin


Federal Prison Handbook



Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual



Federal Prison Handbook




Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual