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Prison Legal News: May, 2009

Issue PDF
Volume 20, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Sexual Abuse by Prison and Jail Staff Proves Persistent, Pandemic (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 12)
  3. Billionaire-Funded California Voter Initiative Triples Lifer Parole Denial Intervals, Imposes Restrictions on Parole Violators (p 12)
  4. Prisoner’s Death, Abusive and Incompetent Guards Give Black Eye to Maryland Prisons & Jails (p 14)
  5. Unlock the Box: Documenting the Struggle to Shut Down Prison Control Units, Reel Soldier Productions / MIM (www.abolishcontrolunits.org) 2008, 2:00 hours (p 16)
  6. State Auditor: Texas Prisoners Face Retaliation for Airing Grievances (p 18)
  7. Washington’s Top Prison Doctor Resigns Over Executions; Entire Execution Team Later Quits Following PLN Records Request (p 18)
  8. New York Prisoner Receives $3,732 for Medical Neglect/Lost Property Claim (p 19)
  9. Caging Kids for Cash: Two Pennsylvania Judges Guilty of Selling Out Juvenile Justice System (p 20)
  10. Wisconsin Prisoners Sexually Assaulted by 20 Staff Members Over Five Years (p 23)
  11. $1 Million Settlement Fund Established in New Mexico Jail Strip Search Settlement (p 24)
  12. TYC Leaders Straining Public Coffers; Agency Still Problematic (p 24)
  13. California County’s 2005 Purchase of Private Prison Still Clouded in Conflict of Interest Questions (p 26)
  14. CA Jail Deputies Allegedly Provoke Murder of Misidentified Child Molester by Other Prisoners; Wrongful Death Suit Settled for $600,000 (p 26)
  15. Conditions in Maricopa County, Arizona Jails Still Unconstitutional (p 28)
  16. Hawai’i Supreme Court Holds Takings Clause Requires Payment of Interest on Prisoner Trust Accounts (p 29)
  17. Study Shows Treating HCV in Prisons with Pegylated Interferon Is Cost-Effective (p 30)
  18. Overdetained California Prisoner Wins $21,800 for False Imprisonment (p 30)
  19. Washington DOC Agrees to Pay $850,000 to Family of Victim Killed by Drunk Driver Under Community Supervision (p 31)
  20. Private Prison Company Cleans Up Texas Creek, Finally Gets Prisoners (p 32)
  21. Criminal Defense Attorney Helps “Sting” His Own Clients (p 32)
  22. Oregon Jail Oversight Committee Disbanded After Sheriff Resigns (p 33)
  23. U.S. Military Uses Small Wooden Boxes for Segregation Cells of Iraqi Prisoners (p 33)
  24. Prisoners Used for 2008 Voter Registration, Election Campaigning (p 34)
  25. Double Standard of Punishment for Supervisors, Line Staff in Colorado DOC (p 34)
  26. Ex-Convict Demoted After Mismanaging Reentry Program (p 35)
  27. Florida Prison Officials’ Failure to Timely Respond to Grievances Results in Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies (p 36)
  28. Mock Prison Disaster Program Discontinued; Mock Prison Riot Training Remains (p 36)
  29. Prisons and Jails Preparing for Switch to Digital TV Broadcasting ... or Not (p 37)
  30. California Prison Fined $40,000 for (Another) Raw Sewage Spill (p 38)
  31. Second Prisoner Unconditionally Released from Washington State Civil Commitment Center (p 38)
  32. New Jersey Judge Denied Sex Offender a Fair Hearing, Appellate Court Finds (p 38)
  33. $95,000 Awarded After NY Court Officers Fail to Transmit Protective Custody Order to DOC and Rape Occurs (p 39)
  34. Eighth Circuit: Missouri Prisoner Has Right to Elective Abortion (p 40)
  35. South Dakota Jail Prisoner Awarded $1.1 Million for Rape by Guard (p 41)
  36. Los Angeles County Pays $850,000 for Police Misconduct Death and $595,000 in Jail Medical-Related Death (p 42)
  37. Executioner Banned in Missouri but Available for Hire Elsewhere (p 42)
  38. Ninth Circuit: “Supervised Release” is Not “Imprisonment” (p 44)
  39. California Prisoner-Pay Deductions for Aiding Crime Victims Distributed to Victim Organizations (p 44)
  40. $75,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Prisoner’s Suicide (p 44)
  41. Federal Supervised Release Must be Credited for Time Served on Prior Revocations (p 45)
  42. Bivens Action Unavailable Against Federal Private Prison Employees (p 46)
  43. Ninth Circuit Remands RLUIPA Claim for Group Religious Worship in Maximum Security Jail (p 46)
  44. $7,025 Award in Slip and Fall From Ohio Prison Bunk (p 47)
  45. Court Rejects Federal Prisoner Worker’s Claim of Copyright Infringement (p 48)
  46. Ninth Circuit: Former Gang Member Entitled to Jury Trial in § 1983 Jail Guard Retaliation Suit (p 48)
  47. Oregon Jail Suicide Nets $59,422 (p 49)
  48. Michigan Auditor General: DOC Overspends Millions on Overtime (p 50)
  49. News in Brief: (p 50)
  50. Four BOP Guards Sentenced To Prison For Beating, Cover-Up (p 52)

Sexual Abuse by Prison and Jail Staff Proves Persistent, Pandemic

Sexual assault, rape, indecency, deviance. These terms represent reprehensible behavior in our society. They also represent recurring themes in our nation’s prisons – not only by prisoners, but also by guards and other staff members.

PLN’s August 2006 cover story, Guards Rape of Prisoners Rampant, No Solution in Sight ...

From the Editor

On March 20, 2009, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency gave Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration, the third PLN anthology on mass imprisonment its respected PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award. The purpose of the award is to honor the role of the media in ...

Billionaire-Funded California Voter Initiative Triples Lifer Parole Denial Intervals, Imposes Restrictions on Parole Violators

Billionaire-Funded California Voter Initiative Triples Lifer Parole Denial Intervals, Imposes Restrictions on Parole Violators

In the November 2008 elections, California voters narrowly passed Proposition 9 by a 53 to 47% margin. Prop. 9 was a state Initiative Act that 1) tripled the statutory intervals permitted by the Board of Parole ...

Prisoner’s Death, Abusive and Incompetent Guards Give Black Eye to Maryland Prisons & Jails

Prisoner’s Death, Abusive and Incompetent Guards Give Black Eye to Maryland Prisons & Jails

by Gary Hunter

On June 27, 2008, Ronnie L. White, 19, was arrested for the death of Maryland State Police Cpl. Richard S. Findley after hitting him with a truck. Police reports claim that White “intentionally ...

Unlock the Box: Documenting the Struggle to Shut Down Prison Control Units, Reel Soldier Productions / MIM (www.abolishcontrolunits.org) 2008, 2:00 hours

Unlock the Box: Documenting the Struggle to Shut Down Prison Control Units, Reel Soldier Productions / MIM (www.abolishcontrolunits.org) 2008, 2:00 hours

Reviewed by David Preston (DP_Editor@comcast.net)

The new documentary Unlock the Box is the upshot of two public conferences: “Unlock the Box,” held in 2005 ...

State Auditor: Texas Prisoners Face Retaliation for Airing Grievances

State Auditor: Texas Prisoners Face Retaliation for Airing Grievances

by Matt Clarke

In September 2008, the Texas State Auditor released a report on the investigation and resolution of complaints in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The report found that while grievance administrators filled out investigation forms properly and ...

Washington’s Top Prison Doctor Resigns Over Executions; Entire Execution Team Later Quits Following PLN Records Request

Washington’s Top Prison Doctor Resigns Over Executions; Entire Execution Team Later Quits Following PLN Records Request

by Mark Wilson

Washington State death row prisoner Darold Ray Stenson was scheduled for execution in December 2008. He got an unlikely stay, however, when the top physician for the Washington Department of Corrections ...

New York Prisoner Receives $3,732 for Medical Neglect/Lost Property Claim

New York Prisoner Receives $3,732 for Medical Neglect/Lost Property Claim

A New York Court of Claims awarded a prisoner $3,500 for medical neglect by prison medical officials’ failure to treat the prisoner’s deviated septum for 20 months. The prisoner also received a $232.68 settlement for lost ...

Caging Kids for Cash: Two Pennsylvania Judges Guilty of Selling Out Juvenile Justice System

Caging Kids for Cash: Two Pennsylvania Judges Guilty of Selling Out Juvenile Justice System

by Matt Clarke

Judges are supposed to be the protectors of our constitutional rights. They are expected to be fair and impartial, and to safeguard vulnerable members of society who are unable to protect themselves. Admitting ...

Wisconsin Prisoners Sexually Assaulted by 20 Staff Members Over Five Years

Wisconsin Prisoners Sexually Assaulted by 20 Staff Members Over Five Years

by Gary Hunter

According to John Dipko, public information director for the Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections, twenty state prison employees have faced charges of rape or sexual assault involving prisoners since 2003. Several recent cases are detailed below.

Dwight ...

$1 Million Settlement Fund Established in New Mexico Jail Strip Search Settlement

$1 Million Settlement Fund Established in New Mexico Jail Strip Search Settlement

by David M. Reutter

A $1 million settlement fund has been established in a class action lawsuit alleging an unconstitutional blanket strip search at the Hidalgo County Detention Center (HCDC) in New Mexico violated the rights of the ...

TYC Leaders Straining Public Coffers; Agency Still Problematic

Administrators at the already-troubled Texas Youth Commission (TYC) have succeeded in creating a new scandal. Only 18 months ago, Texas citizens and lawmakers were rocked by revelations that two senior TYC officials, Ray Brookins and John Paul Hernandez, had been molesting young boys at the West Texas Youth Facility in ...

California County’s 2005 Purchase of Private Prison Still Clouded in Conflict of Interest Questions

California County’s 2005 Purchase of Private Prison Still Clouded in Conflict of Interest Questions

by Marvin Mentor

Investigative journalism by the San Bernardino Daily Bulletin has revealed that the April 2005, $31.2 million purchase of a private prison by San Bernardino County remains under a conflict-of-interest cloud because the ...

CA Jail Deputies Allegedly Provoke Murder of Misidentified Child Molester by Other Prisoners; Wrongful Death Suit Settled for $600,000

CA Jail Deputies Allegedly Provoke Murder of Misidentified Child Molester by Other Prisoners; Wrongful Death Suit Settled for $600,000

A prisoner booked into the Theo Lacy jail in Orange County, California on domestic battery and child pornography charges was falsely labeled a child molester by deputies, and as a ...

Conditions in Maricopa County, Arizona Jails Still Unconstitutional

by Matt Clarke

On October 22, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Neil V. Wake issued an 83-page order with findings of facts and conclusions of law in a long-running civil rights lawsuit against Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other county officials. The order held that conditions of ...

Hawai’i Supreme Court Holds Takings Clause Requires Payment of Interest on Prisoner Trust Accounts

Hawai’i Supreme Court Holds Takings Clause Requires Payment of Interest on Prisoner Trust Accounts

by David M. Reutter

The Hawai’i Supreme Court has held that prison officials have no statutory authority to divide a prisoner’s trust account into two accounts, one of which was restricted as to withdrawals. More importantly ...

Study Shows Treating HCV in Prisons with Pegylated Interferon Is Cost-Effective

Study Shows Treating HCV in Prisons with Pegylated Interferon Is Cost-Effective

by Matt Clarke

A new study published in the November 2008 issue of the medical journal Hepatology found that treating hepatitis C-infected prisoners with the standard therapy of pegylated interferon and ribavirin was cost-effective. Savings were as high as ...

Overdetained California Prisoner Wins $21,800 for False Imprisonment

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeal upheld a Superior Court verdict of $21,800 against state prison officials in a lawsuit filed by a prisoner whose eventually-corrected good time credit earning rate resulted in his being released nine months late. Suing under a theory of false imprisonment ...

Washington DOC Agrees to Pay $850,000 to Family of Victim Killed by Drunk Driver Under Community Supervision

On April 16, 2008, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) settled a lawsuit brought by the family of a woman killed by a drunk driver under DOC community supervision for $850,000.

Charles Roberson III was placed on community supervision by the DOC in 2003 for possession of a controlled ...

Private Prison Company Cleans Up Texas Creek, Finally Gets Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

In July 2008, Louisiana-based private prison company LCS Corrections Services agreed to remove junked cars, appliances and other debris inhibiting the flow of Petronila Creek, which runs close to LCS’s newly-built 1,100-bed Coastal Bend Detention Center near Robstown, Texas.

The company had applied to the ...

Criminal Defense Attorney Helps “Sting” His Own Clients

On January 23, 2009, Chevaliee Robinson was sentenced to 15 years by a U.S. District Court in Ohio after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. Robinson’s arrest was one of 30 made by federal agents in connection with an undercover sting operation that lasted more ...

Oregon Jail Oversight Committee Disbanded After Sheriff Resigns

Oregon Jail Oversight Committee Disbanded After Sheriff Resigns

In 2006, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in Portland, Oregon responded to a scathing prosecutor’s report about dangerous and costly conditions in the county’s jails by creating a special advisory committee. [See: PLN, Jan. 2008, p.12].

The committee was designed ...

U.S. Military Uses Small Wooden Boxes for Segregation Cells of Iraqi Prisoners

U.S. Military Uses Small Wooden Boxes for Segregation Cells of Iraqi Prisoners

The U.S. military has taken the meaning of segregation back to the most draconian periods in human history. The military’s answer to dealing with violent Iraqi or Al Qaeda loyalist prisoners is to place them in ...

Prisoners Used for 2008 Voter Registration, Election Campaigning

Last year, prisoners participating in a work release program were hired by Choices Group, a contractor, to register voters in Nevada. Residents of the Casa Grande Transitional Housing Facility in Las Vegas were used to canvass neighborhoods and sign up voters by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now ...

Double Standard of Punishment for Supervisors, Line Staff in Colorado DOC

Double Standard of Punishment for Supervisors, Line Staff in Colorado DOC

by Gary Hunter

Records show that supervisors who break the rules at the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) are punished less severely, if at all, in comparison with low-level prison employees.

In 2006, Director of Prisons Gary Golder was ...

Ex-Convict Demoted After Mismanaging Reentry Program

Before his release in 2003, Ronald L. Cuie had served almost three years in Pennsylvania prisons for aggravated assault, robbery and criminal conspiracy. However, it was his successful work under two previous Philadelphia mayors that convinced Mayor Mike Nutter to appoint him over an office created to help former prisoners ...

Florida Prison Officials’ Failure to Timely Respond to Grievances Results in Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Florida Prison Officials’ Failure to Timely Respond to Grievances Results in Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that Florida prison officials failed to timely respond to a prisoner’s grievance, which satisfied exhaustion of available remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

The U.S ...

Mock Prison Disaster Program Discontinued; Mock Prison Riot Training Remains

Mock Prison Disaster Program Discontinued; Mock Prison Riot Training Remains

by Gary Hunter

Practicing for prison riots has been big business in Moundsville, West Virginia for years. The West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville gained notoriety in 1986 when prisoners took control of the facility for 53 hours, holding seventeen ...

Prisons and Jails Preparing for Switch to Digital TV Broadcasting ... or Not

Prisons and Jails Preparing for Switch to Digital TV Broadcasting ... or Not

by Matt Clarke

On February 17, 2009, over-the-air television broadcasters were scheduled to complete the switch from analog to digital signals. Following the changeover, analog televisions will no longer receive over-the-air stations without a converter, as all channels ...

California Prison Fined $40,000 for (Another) Raw Sewage Spill

California Prison Fined $40,000 for (Another) Raw Sewage Spill

California water officials fined the California Men’s Colony State Prison (CMC) in San Louis Obispo $40,000 for a 20,000 gallon raw sewage spill into Chorro Creek on January 27, 2008. This was just the latest such spill into ...

Second Prisoner Unconditionally Released from Washington State Civil Commitment Center

Washington State, for only the second time ever, has unconditionally released a prisoner from the Special Commitment Center (SCC), a facility for civilly-committed sex offenders located on McNeil Island near Tacoma.

John Henry Mathers, 56, was civilly-committed in July 1997. He was initially incarcerated at SCC but graduated to a ...

New Jersey Judge Denied Sex Offender a Fair Hearing, Appellate Court Finds

New Jersey Judge Denied Sex Offender a Fair Hearing, Appellate Court Finds

Questioning a lower court’s ability to conduct a fair hearing, a New Jersey appellate court ordered a new hearing before a different judge for a sex offender confined under the state’s Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA).

On March ...

$95,000 Awarded After NY Court Officers Fail to Transmit Protective Custody Order to DOC and Rape Occurs

The Supreme Court of New York held that the Court of Claims erred when it dismissed a prisoner’s damages claim for injuries suffered when he was not placed in protective custody as had been ordered by the Criminal Court.

Kenneth H. was arrested on September 15, 1998 for grand ...

Eighth Circuit: Missouri Prisoner Has Right to Elective Abortion

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has held that the Missouri Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) blanket policy of prohibiting the transport of female prisoners to outside medical facilities for elective, non-therapeutic abortions violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

An anonymous MDOC prisoner identified as Jane Roe (and later, a class ...

South Dakota Jail Prisoner Awarded $1.1 Million for Rape by Guard

South Dakota Jail Prisoner Awarded $1.1 Million for Rape by Guard

A South Dakota federal jury awarded a former female pretrial detainee $1.1 million in damages for being raped by a guard at the Pennington County Jail. The detainee, Mindy Kahle, was a former stripper awaiting disposition of ...

Los Angeles County Pays $850,000 for Police Misconduct Death and $595,000 in Jail Medical-Related Death

Los Angeles County Pays $850,000 for Police Misconduct Death and $595,000 in Jail Medical-Related Death

Los Angeles County settled two lawsuits in July 2008 for a total of $1,445,000. Of that amount, $850,000 went to the survivors of a man shot to death by sheriff’s ...

Executioner Banned in Missouri but Available for Hire Elsewhere

by John E. Dannenberg

A former Missouri prison doctor and participant in lethal injections, who was banned from performing executions in that state, is still for hire to conduct executions in other jurisdictions. With over 40 death sentences notched in his belt, he is widely sought after for his purported ...

Ninth Circuit: “Supervised Release” is Not “Imprisonment”

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has held that with respect to 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e), being on supervised release in a state community pre-release center did not toll a state prisoner’s concurrent federal supervised release. Since the plaintiff had therefore served all of his ...

California Prisoner-Pay Deductions for Aiding Crime Victims Distributed to Victim Organizations

California Prisoner-Pay Deductions for Aiding Crime Victims Distributed to Victim Organizations

In December 2008, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Prison Industry Authority distributed $131,343 collected from prisoner workers’ pay to twelve crime victims organizations. The money, amounting to 20% of the net wages earned in Joint ...

$75,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Prisoner’s Suicide

$75,000 Settlement in Utah Jail Prisoner’s Suicide

Officials at the Salt Lake City Jail settled a lawsuit involving a prisoner’s suicide for $75,000. The settlement came in the hanging death of Arthur Henderson.

When he was booked on January 28, 2006, Henderson revealed he was depressed and had ...

Federal Supervised Release Must be Credited for Time Served on Prior Revocations

Federal Supervised Release Must be Credited for Time Served on Prior Revocations

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the maximum allowable period of federal supervised release following multiple revocations must be reduced by the aggregate length of any prison terms served as a result of prior revocations.

In ...

Bivens Action Unavailable Against Federal Private Prison Employees

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a federal prisoner incarcerated at a privately operated prison may not pursue a Bivens action against private prison employees for violating his Eighth Amendment rights.

Luis Francisco Alba, a federal prisoner incarcerated at the McRae Correctional Institution in ...

Ninth Circuit Remands RLUIPA Claim for Group Religious Worship in Maximum Security Jail

Ninth Circuit Remands RLUIPA Claim for Group Religious Worship in Maximum Security Jail

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has held that under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a prisoner seeking group worship in the maximum security section of a jail was entitled to ...

$7,025 Award in Slip and Fall From Ohio Prison Bunk

$7,025 Award in Slip and Fall From Ohio Prison Bunk

The Ohio Court of Claims has awarded a former Ohio prisoner $7,025 for injuries related to a slip and fall from a prison bunk.

Stacy Rose slipped and fell while climbing down from his bunk at the Chillicothe ...

Court Rejects Federal Prisoner Worker’s Claim of Copyright Infringement

Court Rejects Federal Prisoner Worker’s Claim of Copyright Infringement

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed a prisoner’s copyright infringement suit for lack of jurisdiction; the dismissal was upheld on appeal.

Robert J. Walton, a federal prisoner, sued the United States for copyright infringement related to his creation of ...

Ninth Circuit: Former Gang Member Entitled to Jury Trial in § 1983 Jail Guard Retaliation Suit

Ninth Circuit: Former Gang Member Entitled to Jury Trial in § 1983 Jail Guard Retaliation Suit

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a prisoner’s lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Jail for intentionally housing him in the jail’s “gang module” as retaliation for his refusal to ...

Oregon Jail Suicide Nets $59,422

On March 14, 2008, Multnomah County, Oregon paid $59,422 to the estate of a mentally ill female detainee to settle a suit stemming from her jail suicide.

Berta Ray Lee was a 27-year-old mother of three minor children, ages five, seven and nine. She was arrested on December 17 ...

Michigan Auditor General: DOC Overspends Millions on Overtime

by Matt Clarke

In October 2008, Michigan’s Auditor General released a performance audit on selected personnel and other administrative costs at the Department of Corrections (DOC) for the previous fiscal year. The report revealed that the DOC had overspent millions on overtime pay.

As of December 31, 2007, the ...

News in Brief:

Florida: On October 7, 2008, Dade County circuit court Judge Maria Espinosa Dennis accused fellow judge David Miller of assaulting her when he attempted to use the fax machine in her chambers. Dennis told police that Miller had “grabbed her by her shoulders and pushed her toward her office in ...

Four BOP Guards Sentenced To Prison For Beating, Cover-Up

Four BOP Guards Sentenced To Prison For Beating, Cover-Up

U.S. District Judge Carol B. Ann has ordered four former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guards to serve time for the beating of a prisoner and subsequent cover-up.

Jaime Toro and Glenn Cummings, former guards at the Metropolitan Detention Center in ...