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Prison Legal News: June, 2009

Issue PDF
Volume 20, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. Cheney and Gonzales Indicted in Connection with Private Prison in Texas (p 1)
  2. Michigan Sex Offender Freezes to Death on Street As Housing Crisis Continues (p 5)
  3. Massachusetts DOC Settles PLN Censorship Suit (p 5)
  4. From the Editor (p 6)
  5. Pro Se Muslim Prisoner Reaches Religious Rights Settlement Agreement with Virginia Prison Officials (p 7)
  6. Washington DOC Pays Pro Se Prisoner $110,043 For Illegally Withholding Records (p 8)
  7. Lawsuits Challenge Prohibition on Prisoner Pen-Pal Services in Indiana, Florida (p 9)
  8. Texas Court of Appeals Upholds $42.5 Million Award Against Wackenhut / GEO Group (p 10)
  9. OIG Audit Finds Major Deficiencies with BOP Health Care (p 12)
  10. McNeil Island Prison Fined $28,400 for Improper Asbestos Removal (p 12)
  11. Jury Nullification: Power To The People (p 14)
  12. Cost of Defending Federal Death Penalty Cases on the Rise (p 14)
  13. As Economy Falters, Rehabilitative and Substance Abuse Programs Get the Axe (p 16)
  14. $1.4 Million Settlement in Three-Day Long Sexual Assaults of Alaska Prisoners (p 16)
  15. First Circuit Awards Defendant Costs Under FRCP 68; Plaintiff Rejected $10,000 Offer, Was Awarded $5,500 (p 18)
  16. Michigan Jail Officials Lied and Hid Documents in Lawsuit Over Prisoner’s Death (p 18)
  17. Racial Impact Statements: An Effort to Eliminate Legal Racism (p 20)
  18. BOP Settles Suit Over Telephone Access, Electronic FOIA Claims (p 20)
  19. Florida Judge Publicly Reprimanded for Trying to Ease Jail Overcrowding (p 21)
  20. $875,001 Verdict in Beating of Massachusetts Prisoner (p 22)
  21. New Trial and JNOV Denial Upheld in $15,545,000 Michigan Prisoner Sexual Harassment Case (p 22)
  22. $155,000 Settlement in Sexual Assault of Washington Jail Prisoner (p 23)
  23. Florida U.S. District Court Rescinds Policy Restricting Access to Plea Agreements (p 24)
  24. Alameda County, CA Settles Juvenile Detainee Strip Search Suit for $4.3 Million (p 24)
  25. Protecting Your Health & Safety (p 25)
  26. PLN Awarded Summary Judgment In FOIA Case Again (p 26)
  27. California Prison’s Drinking Water Cited for Excessive Arsenic Levels (p 26)
  28. Nevada Ramps Up Prisoner Deportations – Even Those Ineligible for Early Release (p 28)
  29. Indiana Court Denies Challenge to Monopolistic Prison Phone Contracts (p 28)
  30. Oregon Detainee Paid $30,000 for 90 Days Illegal Jail Confinement (p 29)
  31. Oregon Prison Romance Nets Probation/Community Service (p 29)
  32. Ohio Supreme Court Restricts Public Access to Court Records (p 30)
  33. Oregon Slow to Address Problems at Contract Juvenile Facilities (p 30)
  34. Empty Oregon Jail Has Cost $1.25 Million; Grand Jury Demands Humility and Creative Solutions (p 31)
  35. Texas Lawmakers “Surprised” Over Hiring of Non-Citizen Prison Guards on Work Visas (p 32)
  36. Florida Judge Criticizes State’s Efforts to Seize Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights Judgment (p 32)
  37. California DOC Closes Prisoner Work/Restitution Center (p 33)
  38. Madoff Fraud Bankrupts JEHT Foundation, Hurts Criminal Justice Reform Efforts (p 34)
  39. Report Says New Mexico Prison Phone Companies Still Gouging Families (p 34)
  40. Michigan DOC Rehabilitation Programs Emphasize Education, Reentry Support (p 36)
  41. California DA Says Incarceration Rate a Measure of His Success – Despite Wrongful Convictions, Prosecutorial Misconduct (p 36)
  42. Sheriff “Hollywood Hewett” Sentenced to 16 Months (p 37)
  43. New York Jury Awards $1,400,006 to Former Prisoner for Beating by Guards; Punitive Damages Later Reduced (p 38)
  44. Missouri Court Reverses $244,636 Incarceration Cost Award Against Prisoner (p 38)
  45. $4.75 Million Settlement in Virginia Jail Construction Accident Case (p 39)
  46. Federal Prisoner Dies During Illicit Tryst With His Wife (p 40)
  47. Systemic Constitutional Violations at Ohio Juvenile Facilities Leads to Settlement in Class Action; Guards Attempt to Block Relief (p 40)
  48. Supreme Court Holds Failure to Report to Prison Not a Violent Felony Under ACCA (p 41)
  49. New Texas Prison Hospital Approved (p 41)
  50. California Lifers Housed Out-Of-State in Federal Witness Protection Program Entitled to Appear in Person at Parole Hearings (p 42)
  51. Colorado DOC Settles Suit Over Provision of Education Programs to Learning Disabled Prisoner (p 42)
  52. Florida Jail Supervisor Disciplined for Using Prisoner Labor for Brother’s Political Campaign (p 43)
  53. Oregon Prison Manager Indicted for Misusing Prison Credit Cards (p 43)
  54. Ninth Circuit: County Contractor that Counsels Bad-Check Writers Not Entitled to State Sovereign Immunity from Suit (p 44)
  55. Ninth Circuit Strikes Down BOP Regulation Precluding Early Release for Prisoners Who Complete Drug Treatment (p 44)
  56. South Carolina Prison Official Remained on the Job a Year After Indictment (p 45)
  57. Ninth Circuit: California Federal Habeas Petitioner Sufficiently Exhausts State Court Remedies When He Presents Facts Necessary to Support Constitutional Claim (p 46)
  58. Prisoner’s Free Speech Rights Violated by Legal Mail Opened Outside His Presence; Qualified Immunity Denied (p 46)
  59. $25,000 Settlement in Washington Detainee Contracting for TB in Seattle Jail (p 47)
  60. D.C. Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Deliberate Indifference Gallstone Claim (p 48)
  61. Sixth Circuit Upholds Conviction and Sentences for Jail Guards Accused of Abusing, Killing Prisoners (p 49)
  62. News in Brief: (p 50)
  63. Washington: Violation of Community Custody Conditions May Be Enforced While Offender Is Reincarcerated (p 52)
  64. Amnesty International Sources Given Journalistic Protection (p 55)

Cheney and Gonzales Indicted in Connection with Private Prison in Texas

Cheney and Gonzales Indicted in Connection with Private Prison in Texas

by Matt Clarke

On November 17, 2008, a Texas grand jury returned an indictment against then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney and former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, charging Cheney with contributing to prisoner abuse in privately-run prisons and ...

Michigan Sex Offender Freezes to Death on Street As Housing Crisis Continues

Michigan Sex Offender Freezes to Death on Street As Housing Crisis Continues

by Jimmy Franks

On January 26, 2009, Thomas Pauli, 52, was found dead on the cold streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pauli, a registered sex offender, was apparently the latest victim of stringent residency restrictions imposed on people ...

Massachusetts DOC Settles PLN Censorship Suit

Effective May 12, 2009, the Massachusetts Dept. of Correction (MDOC) agreed to settle a First Amendment censorship lawsuit filed by PLN.

PLN brought suit in U.S. District Court on April 23, 2008 following repeated efforts over a 5-year period to be added to the MDOC’s approved vendor list ...

From the Editor

Our cover story this month examines the travails of Geo Corporation, the second largest private prison company in the world in the state of Texas. We recently noted their pullout from the state of Pennsylvania. Also in this issue of PLN is the Texas court of appeals ruling upholding a ...

Pro Se Muslim Prisoner Reaches Religious Rights Settlement Agreement with Virginia Prison Officials

Pro Se Muslim Prisoner Reaches Religious Rights Settlement Agreement with Virginia Prison Officials

by David M. Reutter

A pro se Virginia prisoner has entered into a settlement agreement with prison officials that provides him a $2,250 cash payment and a change in policies surrounding the provision to allow prisoners ...

Washington DOC Pays Pro Se Prisoner $110,043 For Illegally Withholding Records

Washington DOC Pays Pro Se Prisoner $110,043 For Illegally Withholding Records

The Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC) will pay former Airway Heights Corrections Center prisoner Derek E. Gronquist $110,043 for mishandling his requests for public records. This represents the largest payout the WDOC has ever paid to ...

Lawsuits Challenge Prohibition on Prisoner Pen-Pal Services in Indiana, Florida

Lawsuits Challenge Prohibition on Prisoner Pen-Pal Services in Indiana, Florida

by David M. Reutter

To the extent that an Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) policy “denies prisoners the right to advertise for pen-pals and receive material so they can advertise for pen-pals, the [policy] violates the First Amendment to the ...

Texas Court of Appeals Upholds $42.5 Million Award Against Wackenhut / GEO Group

Texas Court of Appeals Upholds $42.5 Million Award Against Wackenhut / GEO Group

by Matt Clarke

On April 2, 2009, a Texas Court of Appeals upheld a jury award of $22,000,000 in actual damages and $20,500,000 in punitive damages against Wackenhut Corrections (now known as GEO ...

OIG Audit Finds Major Deficiencies with BOP Health Care

OIG Audit Finds Major Deficiencies with BOP Health Care

by Brandon Sample

A comprehensive audit by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found numerous problems with the provision and management of medical services by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

The OIG’s latest audit focused on ...

McNeil Island Prison Fined $28,400 for Improper Asbestos Removal

The McNeil Island prison in Washington state was fined $28,400 in July 2008 for two “willful” and seven “serious” violations related to three renovation projects in November and December 2007. The projects involved the removal of vinyl tile glued down with adhesive that contained asbestos. Eight prisoners, eight Department ...

Jury Nullification: Power To The People

Jury nullification is power to the people. It’s a constitutional doctrine that allows juries to acquit defendants who are technically guilty, but who don’t deserve punishment. Does this sound like anyone you know?

As a former prosecutor, I think it sounds like many of the non-violent drug offenders ...

Cost of Defending Federal Death Penalty Cases on the Rise

The cost of defending federal death penalty cases has increased sharply since 1998, according to a preliminary report by the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services.

Congress first revived the federal death penalty in 1988, authorizing capital punishment for so-called “drug kingpin” murders. In 1994, Congress expanded the scope of ...

As Economy Falters, Rehabilitative and Substance Abuse Programs Get the Axe

As Economy Falters, Rehabilitative and Substance Abuse Programs Get the Axe

by Mark Wilson

Facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, states are slashing rehabilitative criminal justice programs in a desperate attempt to save money. Critics contend, however, that this is a shortsighted approach that will lead to ...

$1.4 Million Settlement in Three-Day Long Sexual Assaults of Alaska Prisoners

$1.4 Million Settlement in Three-Day Long Sexual Assaults of Alaska Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

Two male Alaska prisoners who were sexually assaulted by other prisoners have reached a $1.4 million settlement in a lawsuit filed against prison officials. The incident occurred at the Yukon Kuskokwin Correctional Center ...

First Circuit Awards Defendant Costs Under FRCP 68; Plaintiff Rejected $10,000 Offer, Was Awarded $5,500

First Circuit Awards Defendant Costs Under FRCP 68; Plaintiff Rejected ?$10,000 Offer, Was Awarded $5,500

by Mark Wilson

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has awarded a defendant costs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 68, after a prisoner rejected a joint settlement offer of $10,000 ...

Michigan Jail Officials Lied and Hid Documents in Lawsuit Over Prisoner’s Death

Michigan Jail Officials Lied and Hid Documents in Lawsuit Over Prisoner’s Death

by David M. Reutter

On the eve of trial, a Michigan U.S. District Court adjourned a civil rights suit to reopen fact finding in the case. That rare development resulted after it was revealed that officials at ...

Racial Impact Statements: An Effort to Eliminate Legal Racism

Racial Impact Statements: An Effort to Eliminate Legal Racism

by Gary Hunter

Barack Obama’s election to the White House has many citizens convinced our country is closing its racial divide. Perhaps we are. But the disproportionate number of black Americans that fill our nation’s prisons testifies to the fact that ...

BOP Settles Suit Over Telephone Access, Electronic FOIA Claims

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has agreed to settle another lawsuit brought by PLN contributing writer, Brandon Sample.The settlement resolves several disputes between Sample and the BOP. Sample had complained, for instance, that the call prompt announced over the prisoner telephone systems requiring called parties to push the number ...

Florida Judge Publicly Reprimanded for Trying to Ease Jail Overcrowding

On May 6, 2009, the Florida Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a St. Lucie County judge who had tried to do something about overcrowding at the county’s jail.

Earlier this year, following a two-day hearing, the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) found Judge Clifford H. Barnes guilty of creating an appearance ...

$875,001 Verdict in Beating of Massachusetts Prisoner

by David M. Reutter

Finding that a guard at Massachusetts’ Suffolk County House of Correction (SCHC) had violated a prisoner’s Eighth Amendment rights and committed assault and battery, a federal jury awarded the prisoner $875,001 in damages.

The 121-page complaint in this U.S. District Court action named ...

New Trial and JNOV Denial Upheld in $15,545,000 Michigan Prisoner Sexual Harassment Case

New Trial and JNOV Denial Upheld in $15,545,000 Michigan Prisoner Sexual Harassment Case

by Matt Clarke

On January 27, 2009, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s denial of a motion for judgment nonwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or a new trial in a case that resulted ...

$155,000 Settlement in Sexual Assault of Washington Jail Prisoner

$155,000 Settlement in Sexual Assault of Washington Jail Prisoner

Washington State’s King County Jail has paid $155,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a female prisoner who was sexually assaulted by two guards.

While imprisoned at the Jail between August 25, 2004 and April 1, 2005, prisoner Jennifer ...

Florida U.S. District Court Rescinds Policy Restricting Access to Plea Agreements

Florida U.S. District Court Rescinds Policy Restricting Access to Plea Agreements

by David M. Reutter

The Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has entered an order that rescinds a previous policy of limiting access to plea agreements in criminal cases. The ...

Alameda County, CA Settles Juvenile Detainee Strip Search Suit for $4.3 Million

Alameda County, CA Settles Juvenile Detainee Strip Search Suit for $4.3 Million

by John E. Dannenberg

In July 2008, Alameda County, California settled a class-action civil rights suit brought by former juvenile detainees of the Alameda County Jail for $4,286,600. The suit was brought on behalf of ...

Protecting Your Health & Safety

Book review by Brandon Sample

The murky waters of prisoner self-representation just got a little easier to navigate with the arrival of the second edition of Protecting Your Health & Safety, A Litigation Guide For Inmates.

Published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and distributed by PLN, Protecting Your Health & Safety ...

PLN Awarded Summary Judgment In FOIA Case Again

On March 26, 2009, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton entered summary judgment for PLN in an ongoing battle between Prison Legal News and the BOP over the release of certain records.

In 2003, PLN submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the BOP for “all documents showing ...

California Prison’s Drinking Water Cited for Excessive Arsenic Levels

California Prison’s Drinking Water Cited for Excessive Arsenic Levels

by John E. Dannenberg

Whenever prisoners at California’s Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) watch the classic 1944 movie Arsenic and Old Lace, they have to swallow hard. That’s because the drinking water supply at KVSP was cited in December 2008 by ...

Nevada Ramps Up Prisoner Deportations – Even Those Ineligible for Early Release

Nevada Ramps Up Prisoner Deportations – Even Those Ineligible for Early Release

by Matt Clarke

In an attempt to reduce prison overcrowding and save money, Nevada has expanded its efforts to deport incarcerated non-citizens, including those not eligible for early release.
Nevada began its deportation program in 2007 when 100 ...

Indiana Court Denies Challenge to Monopolistic Prison Phone Contracts

by John E. Dannenberg

The Indiana Court of Appeals has rejected a class-action suit brought by families and friends of prisoners who challenged prison telephone contracts as monopolistic and prison phone rates as oppressive. The appellate court held that it was not illegal for the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC ...

Oregon Detainee Paid $30,000 for 90 Days Illegal Jail Confinement

Oregon Detainee Paid $30,000 for 90 Days Illegal Jail Confinement

The State of Oregon and Multnomah County have paid a man $30,000 to settle his suit for 90 days of illegal confinement.

Ira Robinson was detained in the Multnomah County jail to face criminal charges. Oregon’s speedy trial ...

Oregon Prison Romance Nets Probation/Community Service

Oregon Prison Romance Nets Probation/Community Service

A prison romance earned a female Oregon prison contractor a felony conviction, probation and 80 hours of community service.

Fifty-seven-year-old Sharon Simovic was a contractor at the Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI), a minimum-security prison in Portland, Oregon. As the prison’s Education Coordinator ...

Ohio Supreme Court Restricts Public Access to Court Records

by David M. Reutter

The Ohio Supreme Court has approved new rules that allow state courts to restrict public access to court documents or entire case files if deemed necessary.

The new rules, which have an effective date of July 1, 2009, are codified in Rules 44 to 47 of ...

Oregon Slow to Address Problems at Contract Juvenile Facilities

Oregon Slow to Address Problems at Contract Juvenile Facilities

by Mark Wilson

Oregon officials knew of significant problems at two Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) contract facilities for months before taking action.

The Kirkland Institute for Child and Family Study (“Kirkland”) is a secure facility in Burns, Oregon under contract to ...

Empty Oregon Jail Has Cost $1.25 Million; Grand Jury Demands Humility and Creative Solutions

Empty Oregon Jail Has Cost $1.25 Million; Grand Jury Demands Humility and Creative Solutions

by Mark Wilson

The Wapato Jail in Multnomah County, Oregon was completed in 2004 at a cost of $58 million, but has sat empty ever since because the county can’t afford to operate the facility ...

Texas Lawmakers “Surprised” Over Hiring of Non-Citizen Prison Guards on Work Visas

by Matt Clarke

Texas has 112 prisons and employs 23,700 guards – which is 2,600 shy of the number authorized by the state legislature. The shortage of prison staff is not new and neither is the state’s use of non-citizens as guards. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice ...

Florida Judge Criticizes State’s Efforts to Seize Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights Judgment

Florida Judge Criticizes State’s Efforts to Seize Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights Judgment

by David M. Reutter

In a concurring opinion that affirmed the imposition of a “civil restitution” lien of $50 per day for a prisoner’s cost of incarceration, a Florida appellate court judge said he was “troubled” by the ...

California DOC Closes Prisoner Work/Restitution Center

California DOC Closes Prisoner Work/Restitution Center

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has closed an innovative program that placed nonviolent prisoners in a community work-release center so they could earn money to pay restitution to their victims. Although the closure was a consequence of the state’s budget ...

Madoff Fraud Bankrupts JEHT Foundation, Hurts Criminal Justice Reform Efforts

Madoff Fraud Bankrupts JEHT Foundation, Hurts Criminal Justice Reform Efforts

by Matt Clarke

Wall Street mogul Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme has led to the closure of a New York-based charity devoted to reducing the booming prison population while maintaining public safety. The Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance ...

Report Says New Mexico Prison Phone Companies Still Gouging Families

Report Says New Mexico Prison Phone Companies Still Gouging Families

by Dave Maass

The phone is ringing; you pick it up. An operator announces it’s a collect call – your spouse, sibling, child – from prison. Will you accept the charges?

Good luck finding out what those charges will be ...

Michigan DOC Rehabilitation Programs Emphasize Education, Reentry Support

Michigan DOC Rehabilitation Programs Emphasize Education, Reentry Support

by Matt Clarke

In 1998, Michigan passed a law requiring most prisoners without a high school diploma to earn a GED before being released on parole. That law has since been copied by other states, but most merely purport to give enhanced ...

California DA Says Incarceration Rate a Measure of His Success – Despite Wrongful Convictions, Prosecutorial Misconduct

California DA Says Incarceration Rate a Measure of His Success – Despite Wrongful Convictions, Prosecutorial Misconduct

by Gary Hunter

Ed Jagels, District Attorney for Kern County, California, is concerned that his ratings have slipped from first to third. Not his ratings in the polls or even his popularity rating among ...

Sheriff “Hollywood Hewett” Sentenced to 16 Months

Sheriff “Hollywood Hewett” Sentenced to 16 Months

by Mark Wilson

Like a moth to a flame, North Carolina Sheriff Ronald Hewett had a fatal attraction to television cameras and the bright spotlight. In the end, “Hollywood Hewett’s” mistress betrayed him, exposing the flamboyant crime fighter as just another hypocritical, corrupt ...

New York Jury Awards $1,400,006 to Former Prisoner for Beating by Guards; Punitive Damages Later Reduced

New York Jury Awards $1,400,006 to Former Prisoner for Beating by Guards; Punitive Damages Later Reduced

by David M. Reutter

A New York federal jury awarded $1,400,006 to a former prisoner in a lawsuit alleging two beatings by state prison guards. The U.S. District Court ...

Missouri Court Reverses $244,636 Incarceration Cost Award Against Prisoner

Missouri Court Reverses $244,636 Incarceration Cost Award Against Prisoner

by Mark Wilson

The Missouri Court of Appeals has concluded that a factual dispute as to whether the state had “good cause” to seek reimbursement of incarceration costs barred summary judgment in an action brought against a state prisoner.

Under ...

$4.75 Million Settlement in Virginia Jail Construction Accident Case

$4.75 Million Settlement in Virginia Jail Construction Accident Case

On June 26, 2008, Electric Power Systems, Inc. (EPS) entered into a $4.75 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by electrician Larry Shifflett, 53, who was seriously injured during construction of the River Regional Jail.

Shifflett was working on ...

Federal Prisoner Dies During Illicit Tryst With His Wife

Desmond A. Greene, a prisoner at the Big Sandy federal prison in Martin County, Kentucky, was in his bunk just after midnight on October 5, 2008. But at 1:12 a.m. his wife, Susan A. Witherspoon, was banging on the front door of the facility telling guards that Greene ...

Systemic Constitutional Violations at Ohio Juvenile Facilities Leads to Settlement in Class Action; Guards Attempt to Block Relief

Systemic Constitutional Violations at Ohio Juvenile Facilities Leads to Settlement in Class Action; Guards Attempt to Block Relief

by Brandon Sample

The Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of all juvenile offenders incarcerated in the ODYS.

Problems with the ...

Supreme Court Holds Failure to Report to Prison Not a Violent Felony Under ACCA

Supreme Court Holds Failure to Report to Prison Not a Violent Felony Under ACCA

A defendant’s failure to surrender to serve a prison sentence is not a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), the U.S. Supreme Court held on January 13, 2009.

Deondery Chambers pleaded guilty ...

New Texas Prison Hospital Approved

On January 16, 2009, Texas lawmakers announced that the state will convert a dormant 59-year-old federal medical center into a prison hospital for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The five-story, 100-bed Thomas T. Connally Veterans Affairs Medical Center has not been used in six years.

“We are anxious ...

California Lifers Housed Out-Of-State in Federal Witness Protection Program Entitled to Appear in Person at Parole Hearings

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeal (Third District) held that California prisoners sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, who are housed in out-of-state facilities in the federal witness protection program, are entitled to appear personally at their parole hearings. To the extent that parole board ...

Colorado DOC Settles Suit Over Provision of Education Programs to Learning Disabled Prisoner

Colorado DOC Settles Suit Over Provision of Education Programs to Learning Disabled Prisoner

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a prisoner who was denied the right to participate in educational services due to her learning disability.

Maureen Martin, a Colorado state prisoner ...

Florida Jail Supervisor Disciplined for Using Prisoner Labor for Brother’s Political Campaign

A supervisor at Florida’s Broward County Jail has been disciplined for using prisoner labor and county property to assist his brother’s political campaign.

Sgt. Alan Rainey was assigned to oversee the county jail farm when his brother, Jeff, was a Republican candidate for the District 1 County Commission. On June ...

Oregon Prison Manager Indicted for Misusing Prison Credit Cards

Oregon Prison Manager Indicted for Misusing Prison Credit Cards

A former manager at a minimum-security prison in Salem, Oregon has been indicted for improperly using prison credit cards.

Kenneth C. Robertson, 46, began working for the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) in 1988. According to prison spokeswoman Susi Hodgin, he ...

Ninth Circuit: County Contractor that Counsels Bad-Check Writers Not Entitled to State Sovereign Immunity from Suit

by John E. Dannenberg

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that a private firm hired by a California county to run a diversion program for bad-check writers was not immune from suit under a claim of state sovereign immunity.

California law authorizes District Attorneys to offer ...

Ninth Circuit Strikes Down BOP Regulation Precluding Early Release for Prisoners Who Complete Drug Treatment

Ninth Circuit Strikes Down BOP Regulation Precluding Early Release for Prisoners Who Complete Drug Treatment

by Brandon Sample

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in promulgating a regulation that precludes up to ...

South Carolina Prison Official Remained on the Job a Year After Indictment

South Carolina Prison Official Remained on the Job a Year After Indictment

The deputy director over medical and health services for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC) was suspended without pay in November 2008. His suspension, however, came more than a year after he was indicted on felony fraud ...

Ninth Circuit: California Federal Habeas Petitioner Sufficiently Exhausts State Court Remedies When He Presents Facts Necessary to Support Constitutional Claim

Ninth Circuit: California Federal Habeas Petitioner Sufficiently Exhausts State Court Remedies When He Presents Facts Necessary to Support Constitutional Claim

by John E. Dannenberg

A California state prisoner challenging a prison disciplinary conviction first pursued his state habeas corpus petition through the highest state court, the California Supreme Court. However ...

Prisoner’s Free Speech Rights Violated by Legal Mail Opened Outside His Presence; Qualified Immunity Denied

Prisoner’s Free Speech Rights Violated by Legal Mail Opened Outside His Presence; Qualified Immunity Denied

by David M. Reutter

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that prison officials who open legal mail outside of a prisoner’s presence are not entitled to qualified immunity in a lawsuit alleging that such ...

$25,000 Settlement in Washington Detainee Contracting for TB in Seattle Jail

Washington State’s King County Jail has paid $25,000 to settle a pretrial detainee’s claim that he contracted tuberculosis while held at the jail.

While held at the Jail from November 2003 through January 2004, Jason Perez contracted tuberculosis from another detainee. As a result, he sustained a ...

D.C. Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Deliberate Indifference Gallstone Claim

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the dismissal of a prisoner’s civil rights action alleging inadequate medical care.

Herbert Brown, a prisoner in the District of Columbia (District), was incarcerated at the notorious Lorton Correctional Facility from 1991 to 1997. While at Lorton ...

Sixth Circuit Upholds Conviction and Sentences for Jail Guards Accused of Abusing, Killing Prisoners

Sixth Circuit Upholds Conviction and Sentences for Jail Guards Accused of Abusing, Killing Prisoners

by Brandon Sample

On February 4, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the conviction and sentences of two Wilson County, Tennessee jail guards accused of conspiring to violate the civil ...

News in Brief:

Arizona: On May 2, 2009, more than 2,000 protesters marched on the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix to protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s illegal immigration policies. The protestors were joined by musician and political activist Zack de la Rocha, formerly of the band Rage Against the Machine. The protestors ...

Washington: Violation of Community Custody Conditions May Be Enforced While Offender Is Reincarcerated

Washington: Violation of Community Custody Conditions May Be Enforced While Offender Is Reincarcerated

The Washington State Supreme Court held that a prisoner who had been released on “community custody,” but who violated his terms of release and was reincarcerated pending new criminal charges, could not have his pre-trial jail ...

Amnesty International Sources Given Journalistic Protection

Amnesty International Sources Given Journalistic Protection

A New York federal judge held that sources used by Amnesty International (Amnesty) in drafting a report on conditions of confinement at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York were entitled to the same protection as journalistic sources.

The district court’s ruling ...