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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: April, 2009

Issue PDF
Volume 20, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Economic Crisis Prompts Prison Closures Nationwide, but Savings (and Reforms) are Elusive (p 1)
  2. Illinois Governor Bases Prison Closure Decision on Politics (p 10)
  3. Pennsylvania Prison Crowding, Parole Crisis Result in New Laws, Parole Suspension (p 12)
  4. From the Editor (p 12)
  5. Prisons Flush Drugs, Contaminate Water Supply (p 13)
  6. Prisoner Self Care: Hypertension (p 14)
  7. Releasing The Disease: Is Overcrowded Cook County Jail Responsible For The Rise Of MRSA On The Outside? (p 18)
  8. Illinois Guards Protest Prison’s Failure to Treat Scabies Outbreak (p 21)
  9. Court Monitor Criticized Care to Michigan Dialysis Treatment Afforded Prisoners (p 22)
  10. California Class-Action Suit Reinstates $1.5 Million Illegally Siphoned From County Jail Inmate Welfare Fund (p 22)
  11. California Juvenile Parolees Entitled to Two-Step Revocation Process; Case Settles (p 24)
  12. Texas Prison Authority OK’s Illegal Use of Prison Labor, but PIE Contract Not Renewed (p 25)
  13. California Female Parole Supervisor Awarded $859,000 for Gender Discrimination by Female Superior (p 26)
  14. Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners, by Matt Meyer (p 26)
  15. Minnesota Sex Offenders’ Requisite Disclosure in Treatment Can Violate Fifth Amendment (p 28)
  16. BJS Report Finds 53% of Prisoners Are Parents (p 28)
  17. BJS Report Reveals Parole Supervision Characteristics (p 30)
  18. CA Supreme Court Capitulates, Rewrites "Unworkable" 2005 Dannenberg Lifer Judicial Parole Review Standards (p 30)
  19. Federal Prisoner’s §2241 Petition Dismissed for Non-Exhaustion; Prisoner Sought Sentence Reduction for Revealing Weapons (p 31)
  20. This Valentine’s Lingerie Is Brought to You By the Prison Industrial Complex (p 32)
  21. Numerous Prison Systems Sign Up for Free Christian TV Programming (p 33)
  22. Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Procedures Found Lacking (p 34)
  23. Colorado: When Suing Private Prison under Common Law Tort, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Not Required (p 34)
  24. Bureau of Justice Report on Sexual Violence in Juvenile Prisons (p 36)
  25. BOP Amends Policy On Shackling Of Pregnant Prisoners (p 36)
  26. Thousands Sought Pardons or Commutations from Bush, but Few Were Fortunate (p 37)
  27. Indiana Law Requiring Former Prisoners to Consent to Search and Monitoring of Their Computers Held Unconstitutional (p 38)
  28. $7.5 Million Fine Recommended in Florida Jail Phone Overcharges (p 38)
  29. California: Restitution Fine Unlawful for Accessory to Murder (p 39)
  30. Elected Judges More Punitive Just Before Elections (p 40)
  31. Pennsylvania Contractor Prohibited from Using State and Federal Funds for Religious Purposes (p 40)
  32. $100,000 Settlement In Death of Diabetic California Prisoner (p 41)
  33. Missouri Prisoner Wins $25,000 in Police Excessive Force Case; Attorney Fees Limited to $37,500 by PLRA (p 42)
  34. Felony Disenfranchisement Reforms Restore Voting Rights to 760,000 (p 42)
  35. Texas, New Jersey Prison Staff Prosecuted for Cell Phone Smuggling (p 43)
  36. North Carolina Audit Finds Deficiencies in 
State-Funded Youth Programs (p 44)
  37. Oregon Prison Chief’s Pay Raise Revoked; He Must Survive on Only $14,500 a Month (p 44)
  38. Taliban Break 870 Prisoners Out of Afghan Prison (p 45)
  39. Imprisoned Connecticut Politician Gets Special Privileges (p 46)
  40. Conditions on Federal Death Row “Horrendous,” ACLU Finds (p 46)
  41. Cornell Defrauded of $13 Million in Prison Construction Scam (p 47)
  42. Suit Filed Over Minnesota Jail’s Secret Recording of Privileged Phone Calls (p 48)
  43. Arizona DOC Deporting Prisoners to Save Money (p 48)
  44. North Carolina DOC Pays $750,000 for Sex Between Guard and Female Prisoner (p 49)
  45. News in Brief: (p 50)
  46. $1.5 Million Settlement for CA Jail Prisoner’s Broken Leg (p 52)

Economic Crisis Prompts Prison Closures Nationwide, but Savings (and Reforms) are Elusive

Economic Crisis Prompts Prison Closures Nationwide, but Savings (and Reforms) are Elusive

by David M. Reutter

With the current economic crisis adversely affecting state tax revenues, lawmakers across the nation are seeking ways to cut costs and slash spending. Many states have proposed reducing their prison budgets by closing correctional ...

Illinois Governor Bases Prison Closure Decision on Politics

Illinois Governor Bases Prison Closure Decision on Politics

by Derick Limberg

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Illinois spent at least $17 million to transform the 137-year-old Pontiac Correctional Center (PCC) into a specialized facility to house the state’s most violent prisoners.

However, in May 2008, Illinois Governor Rod ...

Pennsylvania Prison Crowding, Parole Crisis Result in New Laws, Parole Suspension

by Matt Clarke

On September 29, 2008, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell ordered a moratorium on paroles. Three weeks later he lifted the suspension of paroles for non-violent offenders, and the moratorium was completely withdrawn last December. These are the latest developments in a crisis caused by overcrowding in Pennsylvania’s ...

From the Editor

I generally don’t write about books in my monthly editorial but this is an unusual month. PLN’s first book, the long awaited and much anticipated Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the US and Canada has been printed and is now being shipped. The third edition of ...

Prisons Flush Drugs, Contaminate Water Supply

Each year, tons of unused pharmaceuticals are flushed by America’s state and federal prisons, hospitals and long-term care facilities, contaminating the nation’s drinking water, according to an Associated Press (AP) investigation.

“We flush it and flush it and flush it – until we can’t see any more pills ...

Prisoner Self Care: Hypertension

by Michael D. Cohen M.D.

Introduction

This article is about high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Hypertension is a common chronic disease that arises slowly and continues for years. It generally causes few or no symptoms. Treatment is directed at controlling the blood pressure, not curing the underlying disease ...

Releasing The Disease: Is Overcrowded Cook County Jail Responsible For The Rise Of MRSA On The Outside?

Releasing The Disease: Is Overcrowded Cook County Jail Responsible For The Rise Of MRSA On The Outside?

by Kelly Virella

The sudden death of a 17-month-old boy in Hyde Park brought Dr. Robert Daum to the Cook County Jail. Out of town the April morning in 2004 when Simon Sparrow ...

Illinois Guards Protest Prison’s Failure to Treat Scabies Outbreak

Illinois Guards Protest Prison’s Failure to Treat Scabies Outbreak

An outbreak of scabies, a mite infestation that causes itching and rash-like symptoms, has hit the Illinois River Correctional Center. Guards protested outside the facility on October 1, 2008 to decry prison officials’ refusal to address the problem, which the guards ...

Court Monitor Criticized Care to Michigan Dialysis Treatment Afforded Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

Before the Michigan Department of Corrections closed the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility (SMCF) in late 2007 to avoid further litigation in the long-running class action known as Hadix, the federal judge overseeing the case and lawyers representing prisoners argued that closing SMCF would not only transfer ...

California Class-Action Suit Reinstates $1.5 Million Illegally Siphoned From County Jail Inmate Welfare Fund

California Class-Action Suit Reinstates $1.5 Million Illegally Siphoned From County Jail Inmate Welfare Fund

by John E. Dannenberg

Santa Clara County, California (SCC) agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit seeking recovery of funds unlawfully taken from its jails’ Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF) between July 2003 and January 2008 to ...

California Juvenile Parolees Entitled to Two-Step Revocation Process; Case Settles

California Juvenile Parolees Entitled to Two-Step Revocation Process; Case Settles

by John E. Dannenberg

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California has held that the rights of California juvenile parolees were violated by the single-hearing revocation process used by the Juvenile Parole Board (JPB). Nevertheless, the ...

Texas Prison Authority OK’s Illegal Use of Prison Labor, but PIE Contract Not Renewed

Texas Prison Authority OK’s Illegal Use of Prison Labor, but PIE Contract Not Renewed

by Gary Hunter

Even though a Texas legislator found the practice illegal, and even though it cost sixty people their jobs, the Private Sector Prison Oversight Authority of the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) announced ...

California Female Parole Supervisor Awarded $859,000 for Gender Discrimination by Female Superior

California Female Parole Supervisor Awarded $859,000 for Gender Discrimination by Female Superior

A Los Angeles jury has awarded $859,000 in damages to a female state parole supervisor who claimed that her superior, also a woman, discriminated against her based on gender, which caused great emotional distress.

Rebecca Hernandez ...

Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners, by Matt Meyer

Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners, by Matt Meyer

Book Review by Ian Head

In October, 2008, activist and (disbarred) attorney Lynne Stewart, who writes the afterword in Let Freedom Ring, spoke at the National Lawyers Guild’s annual convention in ...

Minnesota Sex Offenders’ Requisite Disclosure in Treatment Can Violate Fifth Amendment

Minnesota Sex Offenders’ Requisite Disclosure in Treatment Can Violate Fifth Amendment

Minnesota state prisoners Frank Johnson and John Henderson individually petitioned for writs of habeas corpus in 2005 after 45 days were added to their sentences for noncompliance with a Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP), which required them to admit ...

BJS Report Finds 53% of Prisoners Are Parents

BJS Report Finds 53% of Prisoners Are Parents

by Mark Wilson

About 809,800 (53%) of America’s 1,518,535 prisoners in 2007 were parents of minor children, according to a Special Report of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Fifty-two percent of state prisoners ...

BJS Report Reveals Parole Supervision Characteristics

In 2006, nearly 68,000 state employees supervised 660,959 adult parolees – about 83 percent of 798,202 total parolees – according to a Special Report of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Parole officers had an average caseload of 28 active parolees.

Approximately half ...

CA Supreme Court Capitulates, Rewrites "Unworkable" 2005 Dannenberg Lifer Judicial Parole Review Standards

CA Supreme Court Capitulates, Rewrites "Unworkable" 2005 Dannenberg Lifer Judicial Parole Review Standards

In a welcome reversal of its own “hotly contested” 4-3 decision in In re Dannenberg, 34 Cal. 4th 1016 (2005), concerning judicial review of Board of Parole Hearings (Board) lifer decisions and the Governor’s reversal thereof, the ...

Federal Prisoner’s §2241 Petition Dismissed for Non-Exhaustion; Prisoner Sought Sentence Reduction for Revealing Weapons

A federal court in Michigan denied a federal prisoner’s motion for relief from judgment summarily dismissing his habeas corpus petition. The court found that the prisoner failed to show that he exhausted his administrative remedies.

Federal prisoner Carl Green filed a federal habeas corpus petition under 28U.S.C ...

This Valentine’s Lingerie Is Brought to You By the Prison Industrial Complex

This Valentine’s Lingerie Is Brought to You By the Prison Industrial Complex

by Beth Schwartzapfel

With Valentine’s Day, perhaps you made a trip to Victoria’s Secret. If you’re a conscientious shopper, chances are you want to know about the origins of the clothes you buy: whether they’re sweatshop free or ...

Numerous Prison Systems Sign Up for Free Christian TV Programming

by Matt Clarke

Since 2007, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the largest religious network in the world, has been quietly spreading a faith-based rehabilitative TV program for prisoners.
Following a successful pilot program in South Dakota’s prison system, TBN’s Second Chance program is poised to expand nationwide. South Dakota ...

Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Procedures Found Lacking

Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Procedures Found Lacking

by David M. Reutter

An independent study of suicide prevention practices within the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC) has found serious deficiencies in the care of prisoners at risk of suicide. Since 2000, there have been 18 suicides, but 12 of those occurred during ...

Colorado: When Suing Private Prison under Common Law Tort, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Not Required

Colorado: When Suing Private Prison under Common Law Tort, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Not Required

The Colorado Court of Appeals held that prisoners in a private for-profit prison could sue the prison company, in a common law tort action, for nefarious acts of its employees during a 2004 riot without ...

Bureau of Justice Report on Sexual Violence in Juvenile Prisons

Since the Prison Rape Elimination Act was implemented in 2003 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has accumulated statistical data on sexual activity in juvenile prisons in the U.S. A report issued in July 2008, by the DOJ, compiled information in the areas of youth-on-youth sexual violence and ...

BOP Amends Policy On Shackling Of Pregnant Prisoners

BOP Amends Policy On Shackling Of Pregnant Prisoners

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has decided to bar the shackling of pregnant federal prisoners except in extreme situations. The policy change comes just six months after the Second Chance Act of 2007 was signed into law. The Second Chance Act included ...

Thousands Sought Pardons or Commutations from Bush, but Few Were Fortunate

It is not unusual to see an increase in requests for pardons in the waning days of a presidential administration. President Clinton, for example, received 1,827 petitions during his final year in office. However, with harsh mandatory minimums, tough sentencing guidelines and the abolition of parole for federal prisoners ...

Indiana Law Requiring Former Prisoners to Consent to Search and Monitoring of Their Computers Held Unconstitutional

On June 24, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge David Hamilton struck down Section 8(b) of Indiana Public Law 119, which required sex offenders and violent offenders who had completed their sentences and were no longer on parole, probation or any other form of correctional supervision to “consent” to ...

$7.5 Million Fine Recommended in Florida Jail Phone Overcharges

by David M. Reutter

Florida’s Public Service Commission has recommended that TCG Public Communications, Inc. (TCG) pay $7.5 million for the improper disconnection of jail prisoners’ telephone calls. The recommendation was made in a September 8, 2008 memorandum following an investigation into complaints made by family and friends ...

California: Restitution Fine Unlawful for Accessory to Murder

California: Restitution Fine Unlawful for Accessory to Murder

The California Court of Appeal (1st District) reversed a trial court’s imposition of a $12,083 restitution fine in an accessory-to-murder conviction because the criminal act – accessory after the fact – did not cause economic loss to the victim.

Kendricks Woods ...

Elected Judges More Punitive Just Before Elections

Elected Judges More Punitive Just Before Elections

by Gary Hunter

Research compiled by Gregory A. Hubner of Yale University and Sanford C. Gordon of New York University revealed that trial judges hand out more prison and jail time to defendants just before they come up for reelection.

A total of ...

Pennsylvania Contractor Prohibited from Using State and Federal Funds for Religious Purposes

Pennsylvania Contractor Prohibited from Using State and Federal Funds for Religious Purposes

by Bob Williams

Citizens in Bradford County, Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against the County and state and federal officials after government funds allegedly were used for religious prosetylizing of jail prisoners. A consent order was entered that ...

$100,000 Settlement In Death of Diabetic California Prisoner

$100,000 Settlement In Death of Diabetic California Prisoner

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) settled for $100,000 the wrongful death suit brought by the surviving son of a CDCR prisoner who died from undertreated diabetes after a 2½ year period.

Jeffrey Gautier was transferred in 2003 ...

Missouri Prisoner Wins $25,000 in Police Excessive Force Case; Attorney Fees Limited to $37,500 by PLRA

Missouri Prisoner Wins $25,000 in Police Excessive Force Case; Attorney Fees Limited to $37,500 by PLRA

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, following the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), limited the attorney fees awarded in a prisoner’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ...

Felony Disenfranchisement Reforms Restore Voting Rights to 760,000

Felony Disenfranchisement Reforms Restore Voting Rights to 760,000

by Mark Wilson

Since 1997, 19 states have eased felony disenfranchisement laws and policies, resulting in the restoration of voting rights to at least 760,000 people, according to The Sentencing Project (TSP).

TSP “is a national non-profit organization engaged in ...

Texas, New Jersey Prison Staff Prosecuted for Cell Phone Smuggling

On October 20, 2008, the entire Texas prison system was locked down and searched for cell phones and other contraband. The search resulted in the discovery of hundreds of cell phones, chargers, SIM cards, tobacco stashes and weapons. [See: PLN, March 2009, p.29]. While the search was in progress ...

North Carolina Audit Finds Deficiencies in 
State-Funded Youth Programs

North Carolina Audit Finds Deficiencies in ?State-Funded Youth Programs

by Derek S. Limburg

On July 29, 2008, North Carolina’s State Auditor issued a report on the state’s oversight of juvenile delinquency prevention programs. The audit focused on three areas, all related to Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils (JCPCs).

Each ...

Oregon Prison Chief’s Pay Raise Revoked; He Must Survive on Only $14,500 a Month

Oregon Prison Chief’s Pay Raise Revoked; He Must Survive on Only $14,500 a Month

by Brandon Sample

Crime pays well in Oregon. Just ask Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) Director Max Williams, who earned a whopping $174,000 last year – $14,500 a month – which was $80 ...

Taliban Break 870 Prisoners Out of Afghan Prison

Taliban Break 870 Prisoners Out of Afghan Prison

On June 13, 2008, the Taliban staged a prison break in Kandahar, Afghanistan, releasing 870 of Sarposa Prison’s 1,000 prisoners, 390 of whom were members of the Taliban. The escape started with a cell phone call from a Taliban prisoner to ...

Imprisoned Connecticut Politician Gets Special Privileges

Imprisoned Connecticut Politician Gets Special Privileges

by Matt Clarke

In October 2008, the Hartford Courant reported that former Connecticut State Representative Jesse G. Stratton had received special privileges from Department of Corrections officials. Stratton, a 61-year-old widow with three grown children, was serving a four-month prison sentence at the York ...

Conditions on Federal Death Row “Horrendous,” ACLU Finds

The conditions of confinement on federal death row fall below minimum constitutional standards and jeopardize the lives and safety of condemned prisoners, according to an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The results of the ACLU’s investigation were summarized in an October 15, 2008 letter sent to ...

Cornell Defrauded of $13 Million in Prison Construction Scam

Cornell Defrauded of $13 Million in Prison Construction Scam

On August 26, 2008, indictments were filed against three men accused of defrauding private prison operator Cornell Corrections of California, Inc. out of $13 million in a prison construction scam.

A federal grand jury handed down indictments that included 20 counts ...

Suit Filed Over Minnesota Jail’s Secret Recording of Privileged Phone Calls

Suit Filed Over Minnesota Jail’s Secret Recording of Privileged Phone Calls

by Matt Clarke

On October 15, 2008, a Minneapolis law firm filed a civil rights suit in federal district court alleging that attorney-client phone calls from the Becker County Jail in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota were secretly recorded and sent ...

Arizona DOC Deporting Prisoners to Save Money

The Arizona Department of Corrections (AZDOC) has transferred almost 1,500 illegal aliens from state lockups to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) since 2005. AZDOC director Dora Schriro said the newly-implemented policy has saved the state $18.6 million since its inception.

According to Julie Myers ...

North Carolina DOC Pays $750,000 for Sex Between Guard and Female Prisoner

North Carolina DOC Pays $750,000 for Sex Between Guard and Female Prisoner

A North Carolina Department of Corrections (NCDOC) female prisoner won a jury award of $750,000 for three acts of sexual intercourse perpetrated by a male prison guard.

Former prisoner Tawanda Johnson, 25, reported the three incidents ...

News in Brief:

California: On March 19, 2009, a rebellion by 38 prisoners at the Kern Valley State Prison left prisoner Oscar Cruz dead and 16 injured. One prisoner was stabbed to death by other prisoners, four prisoners were shot by guards, two were stabbed and the remainder were wounded by “blunt projectiles ...

$1.5 Million Settlement for CA Jail Prisoner’s Broken Leg

Ventura County, California officials have settled an excessive-force lawsuit brought by a prisoner whose leg was severely broken while he was being restrained by jail deputies. The $1.5 million award, while admittedly high, avoided both the high costs of attorney fees in the civil rights suit and an even ...

 

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