So goes the ringtone on Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce’s phone—as performed by Toby “’cause we put a boot up your ass, it’s the American way” Keith. Seconds into any conversation with Pearce on the issue of illegal immigration, you’ll find the song fits. Pearce is—in his mind—the “American soldier.” What’s more, just as he sees himself a soldier, Pearce envisions his home to be none less than the front in a war which threatens the very fiber of the nation.
“There’s been 133 nations identified crossing that border. Not just Mexicans, not just Hondurans, not just El Salvadorians, but 133 nations. Many of those are nations of interest, which means that they either harbor, aid and abet, or are somehow connected to terrorist activities,” said Pearce. “And yet they continue to cross that border. We’ve got prayer rugs that have been found down there, other things that have ...
“Beside my brothers and my sisters, I’ll proudly take a stand. When liberty’s in jeopardy, I’ll always do what’s right. I’m out here on the frontline, sleep in peace tonight. American soldier, I’m an American soldier...”
In February 2010, the Idaho legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) released an audit report titled “Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process.” Among other things, the report critiqued Olivia Craven, Executive Director of the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole, for failing to have a formal grievance procedure for commission employees and for making them fearful of retaliation should they raise complaints.
In a strongly-worded response, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter criticized and rejected the report. Idaho Department of Corrections Director Brent D. Reinke separately rejected the OPE report, too. Both said the auditors lacked understanding of the problems facing the parole commission.
Of the 26 recommendations made in the report, Craven agreed with only three, disagreed with four and agreed with but refused to implement one. By far, the most controversial recommendation was that Craven establish “a formal, commission-specific communication and grievance process to improve the working relationship between management and staff and ensure all staff are treated fairly.”
Expounding on the need for a formal grievance process, OPE explained that several commission staffers were reluctant to participate in the performance evaluation, “citing concerns about retaliation from their immediate supervisor or the executive ...
by Matt Clarke
Censorship has been a harsh reality for our entire existence as prison and jail officials believe that if they don’t like the news they can censor it out of existence. As this issue notes, we have recently settled our lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Corrections and substantially revamped their mail rules. Unfortunately, even as we resolve censorship issues in one state, two more, Florida and New York, have banned PLN on a statewide basis, Florida supposedly because of our advertising content and New York supposedly because we accept stamps as payment. Reader support is what allows us to successfully challenge these censorship attacks and achieve significant changes in how publishers’ mail to prisoners is processed, handled and delivered.
If you can afford to make a donation to PLN please do so. Every little bit helps and ...
As we near the end of the year we are doing PLN’s annual fundraiser and this one is especially crucial because it is our 20th anniversary. Most publications never publish 10 issues, much less 240. Twenty years is a milestone for any organization and moreso for a publication like PLN that has faced obstacles beyond those of the mere publishing industry.
In partially denying state officials’ motion for summary judgment, an Illinois federal district court discussed the constitutional parameters involved in the use of a Rapiscan Secure 1000 device, which uses “back-scatter” X-ray technology to perform body scans on visitors entering a detention facility.
Before the court was a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint filed by Geneva Zboralski, who alleged violations of her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as claims for invasion of privacy and assault and battery.
The case arose due to searches that Zboralski was required to undergo to visit her husband, Brad Lieberman, a civilly-committed resident at the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Treatment and Detention Facility (TDF).
Zboralski had never been suspected of bringing contraband into TDF during her regular visits to see Lieberman from 2000 until May 2005. During May 2005, Zboralski came to the attention of TDF security therapy aide Jo Ellen Martin, who patted her down between ten and 20 times that month.
Martin seemed to make it a point to pat search Zboralski each time she entered the facility. During three of those pat downs, Martin briefly touched Zboralski’s vaginal area. The first time, Zboralski ...
by David M. Reutter
Under the 2009 law, House Bill 3508 (HB3508), offenders who were already eligible for a 20 percent sentence reduction became eligible for a 30 percent reduction unless they were convicted of any of a long list of disqualifying crimes. The law focused only on current offenses, so prisoners who had disqualifying crimes in their past were still eligible.
Additionally, if an offender was serving sentences for both disqualifying and non-disqualifying offenses, he or she was entitled to a 30 percent sentence reduction on the non-disqualifying offense but only a 20 percent reduction on the disqualifying charge.
Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) officials were tasked with identifying the 4,466 eligible offenders – about 30 percent of the state’s prison population. If neither the prosecutor nor victims objected, the prisoner was automatically credited with the additional 10 percent sentence reduction, which ...
In a controversial move touted as saving Oregon an estimated $6 million, in June 2009 the state legislature passed a bill that increased earned time sentence reductions for non-violent offenders by an additional 10 percent. Just seven months later, however, prosecutors and crime victims successfully pressured lawmakers to suspend the increase in earned time and restrict it to fewer prisoners.
A new threat looms in the Internet age – the threat of improper prosecutions and wrongful convictions for the unwitting receipt, possession or attempted possession of child pornography. Everyone is at risk, as these offenses can be committed by hackers who gain remote control of your computer, by malicious software that directs your PC to websites with illegal videos and images, or by sexual predators who use your unsecured wireless connection to conduct illicit activity.
Even something as simple as clicking on the wrong hyperlink – set up as part of an FBI sting operation – can land you in prison. So can being a victim of credit card fraud, if hackers use your card information to buy child porn. More disturbing is the fact that even when people are acquitted of such crimes they are nevertheless convicted in the court of public opinion, often resulting in ruined reputations, careers and relationships.
Computer Viruses and Malware
A 2009 investigative report by the Associated Press described several cases where innocent people were labeled as pedophiles or sexual perverts after family members or co-workers found porn on their computers.
Michael Fiola, a former employee of the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, was ...
by Mike Rigby
A jury in Prince George’s County, Maryland found that state prison and highway officials and the driver of a private dump truck were liable in an accident that killed a prisoner who was picking up trash on the side of the Capitol Beltway. The jury awarded $2.025 million ...
During her first day on the job a fellow prisoner took Jane’s hands and placed them on Golden’s body in a sexual manner, according to a subsequent federal civil rights action filed in December 2009. Jane was also compelled to expose her breasts to Golden as other prisoners snapped photos of her and each other, the lawsuit alleges.
Jane had been working for just a few days when Golden took her to an isolated shed under the pretext of looking for a sink. Once out of view of surveillance cameras, he forced his hands under Jane’s shirt, felt her breasts and reached into her pants. She feared that resisting him would result in disciplinary action or loss of privileges.
Golden forced Jane to pull down her pants as he shot photos with his cell phone. She began crying and begged him to let her go. Instead, Golden tried to force himself on her, but Jane got away ...
On March 25, 2008, an Oregon prisoner we’ll call “Jane” reported to work in the physical plant of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF). Her boss, Paul W. Golden, was a civilian ground crew supervisor employed at the prison.
Documents obtained by the Associated Press following a public records suit revealed that in 2003, two female staff members at the state prison in Deer Lodge were disciplined for having undisclosed relationships with Murphy. Prison officials were shocked to learn in 2008 that he had been involved with three other female employees, too. [See: PLN, May 2009, p.1].
One was his therapist, Killian L. Thomas. She told investigators that Murphy “kissed me one day in my office and I just thought what the fuck did I just do.” Although she said she felt manipulated and compromised, she engaged in mutual oral sex with Murphy in her office on multiple occasions and gave him about $400.
Prison guard Lisa Mantz admitted to “swapping spit” with “Murph,” and wrote him a love letter detailing how she couldn’t wait to have sex with him. Shannon Davies, another guard, said she developed a “limited emotional attachment” to Murphy, sending him a greeting card that said “I ...
In both state and federal prisons it is illegal for staff members to have sex with prisoners. Five female employees of the Montana Department of Corrections, however, reportedly had personal relationships with prisoner Michael Murphy, 36.
Oregon sheriffs touted the new mail policy as a cost-cutting measure, yet most counties admit that it is unknown how much money the policy will save. Only Marion County Jail Commander Jeff Holland was willing to estimate the fiscal impact.
Marion County spends about $60,000 annually sorting prisoner mail, according to Holland. “We estimate by going to the postcard system, we can cut that in half,” he said.
Holland claims that his jail processes over 1,000 pieces of prisoner mail each week and that it takes about nine hours a day to process incoming correspondence. Administrative employees first sort the mail. Deputies then open the letters, remove the envelope flap and stamp, and read and search the letters for contraband or other violations of the jail’s mail ...
By January 2010, 13 of Oregon’s 36 counties had implemented policies that limit incoming and outgoing mail at county jails to postcards. Ten other counties plan to adopt similar rules in the future. The postcard-only policy is a national trend that began in 2002 in the Maricopa County, Arizona jail system under the direction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known for his harsh and abusive treatment of prisoners.
The first prisoner caught offering a little competition to what county officials thought was a monopoly on the jail’s phone system was Shawn “Sammy Straight Razor” McGinnis. Between December 2006 and October 2007, McGinnis called his parents collect from the jail and they would make three-way connections to Qwest Communications, according to sheriff’s deputy Jose M. Torres.
McGinnis claimed to be a small business owner – a landscaper, a window washer or the owner of a cleaning supply company – and said he needed special business lines for each of his 14 employees. He gave Qwest the “profiles” – names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth – of 14 identity theft victims, plus a billing address. After Qwest issued the business ...
A fifteen-minute collect call from the Multnomah County jail in Portland, Oregon costs $2.35, billed to the party who accepts the call. Between May 2006 and April 2009 those calls generated $3.5 million in revenue for the jail’s phone service provider, Texas-based Securus Technologies, Inc., while the county’s 38% kickback totaled $1.3 million. Profits likely would have been higher were it not for a handful of prisoners who made free collect calls from the jail.
NYDOCS houses about 62,000 prisoners at 69 prisons and one drug treatment center. Before 1992, each facility employed its own cooking staff, did its own food purchasing and prepared prisoner meals on-site. A 1992 audit by the State Comptroller put an end to that, however, upon identifying significant food preparation waste.
NYDOCS responded by establishing a Food Production Center at the Oneida Correctional Facility in Rome, New York and designing a cook/chill program to “streamline the manufacturing and service of meals to the inmate population.” This program “allows the ... Center to prepare massive quantities of food and quickly chill it to near freezing before it is shipped to facilities throughout the State.”
The Food Center “is a state-of-the-art facility designed to provide food and drink on a daily basis to ...
A joint audit/investigation by the New York State Comptroller and Inspector General uncovered a 17-year fraudulent scheme by the former director of the New York Department of Correctional Services (NYDOCS) Food Production Center. Between 1992 and August 2008 the Center’s director bilked the state out of $497,452.61, though he and his supervisors tried to justify the fraud by claiming he deserved all he stole.
While Anthony McCoy was being processed into the Davidson County Jail for failing to pay child support, McCoy had his gold “grill” yanked out of his mouth by Lt. Tanya Mayhew. McCoy had told deputies that his “grill” was cemented in and could not be removed, but Mayhew did not seem to care.
Mayhew’s actions caused $10,000 in damage to McCoy’s teeth. Adding to the tooth damage, McCoy went untreated for ten days following the incident.
Mayhew violated Davidson County Jail policy, according to a report by legal staff for the Metro Council Office.
“[S]ince Lt. Mayhew violated a departmental policy by reaching into Mr. McCoy’s mouth, and since the plaintiff may be able to present evidence that the sheriff’s department has violated these policies on prior occasions,” the Metro Council legal staff recommended the county settle the suit for $95,000.
Correct Care Solutions, the contractor responsible for providing medical care at the jail, agreed to pay $20,000 of the settlement. McCoy was represented by attorney David Raybin. This is a pre-litigation ...
A Tennessee man whose “grill” was ripped off by a sheriff’s deputy has received a $95,000 pre-litigation settlement.
The events leading to Martin’s January 6, 2006 death were caught on a 30-minute videotape. The footage showed Martin collapsing after rigorous exercise, and the guards punching and striking him with their knees. To revive him, they jammed ammonia tablets in his nose and dragged his limp body around the yard. A nurse looked on but failed to intervene. [See: PLN, Dec. 2006, p.26; July 2006, p.9].
“What did they want, 45 minutes more [of videotape], another hour?” said Ben Crump, the attorney representing Martin’s parents. “This was one time we had such hope, such faith.”
The family was told of the decision not to pursue charges during a long emotional meeting with federal prosecutors, who began looking into the case following the October 12, 2007 acquittal of the seven guards and nurse on state manslaughter charges. [See: PLN, June 2008, p.20; July 2007, p.11].
Martin’s family received a total of $7 ...
The U.S. Department of Justice announced on April 16, 2010 that it will not pursue civil rights violations or other charges against seven Florida boot camp guards and a nurse in connection with the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson.
New technology that helps law enforcement officials track sexual predators, terrorists and other criminals has been an effective tool that has led to thousands of arrests, but privacy experts are concerned about the convergence of information used to obtain those results.
At the center of the controversy is Hank Asher, referred to by one of his employees as a “mad scientist.” Asher, by all accounts, is a computer genius who capitalized on the power of data mining and combining databases.
Asher amazed himself in 1992 when he created Auto Track, a program that integrated information in public databases such as state motor vehicle bureaus with private sources from banks and other businesses that contained Social Security numbers and additional information not available to the public.
When Asher ran his own name through Auto Track he received a long list of “associated” people. The list included “my ex-wife and her newest victim. I thought, ‘what have I done?’” He then limited sales of Auto Track to reporters and insurance investigators. He provided it free to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Asher’s admitted history of drug smuggling made law enforcement officials wary. In 1980 ...
by David M. Reutter
Between July 2009 and April 2010, 166 probationers in Hillsborough County paid $65 each to attend a four-hour class at Bonanno’s Probation & Violation Center. In return, Circuit Judges Manuel Lopez, Daniel Perry and Wayne Timmerman cut some of those probationers’ court-ordered community service hours.
While the three judges are supportive of Bonanno’s program, others are not. “I think that they’re doing something that the Department of Corrections is supposed to do themselves,” said Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarotta.
In April 2010, the Florida Department of Corrections held 15 scheduled events in Hillsborough County that included tips for succeeding on probation and information about using public transportation, setting life goals and obtaining job training. Basically, those are the same types of things offered in Bonanno’s classes.
Nonetheless, Bonanno envisions his business going statewide, saying it is more effective. Probation officers “can’t ...
Utilizing the connections he made as a judge in Florida’s Hillsborough County over a 19-year period, Robert Bonanno is building a business that offers classes to people on probation. What he provides for a fee is the same thing the state supplies at no charge, but with the added incentive of reduced community service hours.
On January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered a major earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people and, as a side effect, allowed thousands of prisoners to escape from the country’s most secure lock-up, the national penitentiary in Port-au-Prince. Les Cayes, Haiti’s third largest city, took less damage, though the earthquake and aftershocks made everyone nervous – especially the 467 prisoners in the dilapidated and overcrowded Les Cayes prison.
Unlike the penitentiary which held convicted felons, including hundreds considered a threat to national security, three-quarters of the Les Cayes prisoners were awaiting trial. Many had minor or eclectic charges such as loitering, commercial debt, petty theft, and even practicing witchcraft or werewolfery.
“Understand, you can be arrested in Haiti for practically nothing,” said Maurice D. Geiger, an American contractor working on Haitian justice reform. “And once you are arrested and go to prison, it is not only possible, but likely that you will stay there for an extended period of time without seeing a judge.”
The detainees in the Les Cayes prison’s 14 crumbling concrete cells, frightened by the earthquake and jolted by continuing aftershocks, began screaming to be released and tried to open the cell ...
by Matt Clarke
Recent reports in the Texas media have focused attention on the state’s prison commissaries. However, none have presented the point of view of prisoners or their families. Instead, such reports tend to interview members of victims rights groups and ask them what they think about prisoners being allowed to purchase “luxury” items such as snacks and sodas. The reaction is predictably negative, but apparently that is what passes for objective news reporting in the mainstream Texas press.
One member of Mothers of Murdered Children said that the money put into prisoners’ trust fund accounts by their families should be given to the “relatives of victims.” This viewpoint assumes that most prisoners are incarcerated for murder or other violent crimes. In fact, many prisoners are serving time for offenses such as drug use, sale or possession, which do not have easily definable “victims.”
The truth about prison commissaries in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is that they save the state a lot of money. The TDCJ is required to supply indigent prisoners with basic necessities such as tooth powder, stamps, envelopes and stationery. About half of the TDCJ’s 160,000 prisoners are classified as ...
by Matt Clarke
The Court’s May 13, 2010 ruling came in an appeal filed by Washington State Penitentiary prisoner Allan Parmelee. In October 2004, Parmelee requested from the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) “photographs, addresses, incomes, retirement and disability information, administrative grievances or internal investigations, and any other related documents” pertaining to numerous prison employees.
Fifteen employees then filed suit against the WDOC seeking a protective order from disclosure of the records, based on a claim of privacy. After the trial court granted the employees an injunction, Parmelee filed a limited notice of appearance seeking to intervene, requesting that the trial court reconsider. His motion was denied and the appellate court affirmed. See: Burt v. Department of Correction, 141 Wn.App. 573, 170 P.3d 608 (Wash.App. Div. 3, 2007).
Parmelee petitioned to the state Supreme Court.
Washington’s Public Records Act “is a strongly worded mandate for broad disclosure of public records.” Persons named in a request for records or to whom the requested records specifically pertain may ...
The Supreme Court for the State of Washington has held that a person who requests public records must be joined in an action that seeks to prevent the disclosure of those records.
The settlements, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, resolved claims filed ...
Washington State’s Department of Corrections (WDOC) has agreed to pay $6.4 million to settle claims involving the department’s failure to properly supervise a parolee, resulting in a string of violent crimes that included rape and murder.
The lawsuit charges that jail officials violated PLN’s rights under the free speech, establishment and due process clauses of the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by refusing to deliver PLN’s monthly publication and books to prisoners at the facility.
“Our inmates are only allowed to receive soft back [B]ibles in the mail directly from the publisher. They are not allowed to have magazines, newspapers, or any other type of books,” a jail sergeant stated in an e-mail to PLN staff.
“This is nothing less than unjustified censorship,” said David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “There is no legitimate justification for denying detainees access to periodicals and, in the process, shutting them off from the outside world in draconian ways.”
The lawsuit contends that since 2008, PLN’s ...
On October 6, 2010, Prison Legal News, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Defense Center staff attorney Lance Weber, filed suit in federal court challenging an unconstitutional policy at the Berkeley County Detention Center in Moncks Corner, South Carolina that bans all magazines, newspapers and books – except for the Bible – from being sent to prisoners.
Although apparently legal under current laws and regulations, the practice raises issues of accountability due to a growing number of incidents at such subcontracted detention facilities, according to the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy (CIP).
Tom Barry, a CIP senior policy analyst, states that this “lack of accountability and transparency and irresponsible profiteering are problems that are also prevalent in the very heart of Homeland Security operations ... largely outsourced using highly questionable bidding and contracting processes.”
Under current federal law and Department of Homeland Security regulations, Native American companies are favored recipients for immigrant detention contracts, and they reap large profits by assigning those contracts to non-Native American firms. One of the major Native-owned corporations that has received such contracts is Doyton Ltd., which holds the contract for operational, transportation and food services at the 800-bed El Paso Service Processing Center in El Paso, Texas.
According to CIP, “Doyton is one of twelve original Alaskan Native Regional Corporations created as part of the ...
Native American companies, many of which have no experience in prison management, are earning large sums of money as conduits for Department of Homeland Security contracts which are then subcontracted out to other firms.
In a unanimous ruling on July 29, 2010, the California Supreme Court resolved a narrow question regarding lifer parole litigation; namely, what is the proper scope of the remedy ordered by a California court which concludes that a decision by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) to deny parole was not supported by “some evidence”?
Rejecting restrictive remedies that had been ordered by two lower courts, the Supreme Court held the proper remedy should be to conduct a new hearing, consistent with due process of law and factual findings by the lower court, that does not limit the type of evidence the Board is statutorily required to consider.
Michael Prather had been sentenced to 27 years-to-life for a 1982 first-degree murder-robbery. At his 2007 parole hearing, Prather was denied parole. He petitioned the Los Angeles County Superior Court, which denied relief. However, his subsequent petition to the Second District Court of Appeal resulted in the appellate court granting the writ and ordering the BPH “to find Mr. Prather suitable for parole unless, within 30 days of the finality of this decision, the Board holds a hearing and determines that new and different evidence on Mr. Prather ...
by John E. Dannenberg
On May 20, 2010, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Texas parolees who had never been convicted of a sex offense, but were subject to onerous sex offender parole conditions (SOPCs), were entitled to specific and extensive due process before the imposition of such conditions.
Raul Meza, a Texas parolee, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights suit in federal court against the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) and Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Parole Division (TDCJ-PD) employees, alleging his 14th Amendment due process rights were violated when the defendants imposed severe SOPCs on him despite the fact that he had never been convicted of a sex offense.
His parole conditions included requirements that he register as a sex offender, participate in sex offender therapy (SOT), not enter child-safety zones, be placed under super intensive supervision parole (SISP), and not leave the Travis County Correctional Complex (TCCC) unless accompanied by a parole officer. The combined effect of those conditions meant that Meza had been unable to leave TCCC since he was paroled in 2002.
Meza had been convicted of murdering a nine-year-old girl in 1982. The only time he admitted to sexually ...
by Matt Clarke
In 2003 and 2004, Texas state Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D) was a consultant for Management & Training Corporation, a private prison firm, and Corplan Corrections, a prison design and development company. Now his son, state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, (D) has signed on to be a Corplan consultant.
Corplan’s CEO, James Parkey, typically sells desperate towns on high-risk government-financed prisons, promising them jobs and economic growth. Corplan builds the prisons with local government financing, such as project revenue bonds, but leaves after the construction is complete. How to fill the prisons is up to local officials.
“James Parkey and Corplan are prison developers who get paid when a prison is built,” said Bob Libal, a Grassroots Leadership anti-private prison organizer in Texas. “It’s not necessarily in their interest to make sure the prison project is successful.”
Past Corplan projects include a scheme to build a prison in Hardin, Montana that cost $27 million to construct but has sat vacant for years because the city has been unable to find prisoners to fill it. [See: PLN, Dec. 2009, pp.1, 8].
Corplan, based in Argyle, Texas, was also part of a group of companies trying to build a 2,000-bed immigration detention facility in Willacy County, Texas in 2003 and 2004, with Senator Lucio representing the companies. Lucio suspended his consulting work in 2005 after two Willacy County commissioners and a commissioner from another county who represented Corplan were charged with bribery in connection with the prison project. Corplan was not charged in the bribery scandal. [See: PLN, Nov. 2005, p.20].
Parkey’s most recent grand scheme was to try to convince local governments in Benson, Arizona; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Weslaco, Texas to build new detention facilities specifically designed to hold immigrant families. Las Cruces and Benson have already shot down the deal, but Parkey’s hopes remain alive in Weslaco, where he hired Rep. Lucio as the attorney for the project.
Weslaco Mayor Buddy de la Rosa said he was introduced to Parkey two years ago and the detention facility proposal has been in the works since that time, with Corplan handling all the details. As late as February 2010, Parkey and Rep. Lucio spoke to the Weslaco city commissioners, urging them to pass a resolution authorizing Corplan to file a grant application for the prison.
However, this is not a good time to be building detention centers for immigrant families. Inhumane conditions at privately-operated family detention facilities, such as CCA’s T. Don Hutto Residential Center near Taylor, Texas, attracted international attention and resulted in the Obama administration announcing in August 2009 that immigrant families would be removed from Hutto. [See: PLN, Dec. 2009, p.26].
“To my knowledge, and I spoke specifically ...
by Matt Clarke
About two weeks after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in late August 2005, James Allen Terry, Jr. was arrested for looting and possession of a controlled dangerous substance while in possession of a weapon in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. He was taken to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center (EHCC). An Orleans Parish judge arraigned him and set a $200,000 bond three days later.
Ordinarily, an indictment must be filed within 60 days after arrest for a felony offense. Due to the chaotic situation in southern Louisiana, however, the state’s Supreme Court extended the filing deadline to January 6, 2006. The deadline passed without Terry being indicted. He wrote letters to EHCC Warden Cornel H. Hubert asking why he had not been released, what the addresses were for various Louisiana politicians, and why the law library hadn’t responded to his request for habeas corpus forms and inmate counsel.
Hubert had an assistant warden ...
On June 21, 2010, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that emergency conditions at a Louisiana prison following Hurricane Katrina helped excuse the failure of a warden to release a prisoner for three months after the deadline for filing an indictment against him had passed.
Two classes were specified in the lawsuit: the Youth Class, which includes all present and future PCJ detainees and those at Remann Hall who were transferred to PCJ during the school year, who were under eighteen on their first day of confinement and the District’s first day of the school year, and who had not yet graduated high school; and the Parent class, which consists of the parents of the Youth Class.
The settlement agreement requires PCJ and the District to implement an educational program that satisfies the legal requirements for providing academic courses to the Youth Class. The program is to commence and operate with the District’s regular school instructional calendar or as otherwise authorized by law.
Within 48 hours of booking a Youth Class member, PCJ must inform program staff of the potential eligible detainee. Within three days of notification, program staff must inquire of the juvenile as to whether participation ...
The parties in a class-action lawsuit regarding the lack of educational services for juvenile offenders at Washington state’s Pierce County Jail (PCJ) reached a settlement that requires the Tacoma School District (District) to provide incarcerated youths with the opportunity to earn high school credits.
The 2003 Oregon legislature required prosecutors to investigate and present evidence of economic losses suffered by victims, and required judges to order restitution when those losses are substantiated.
State auditors reviewed prosecution records in four of 36 Oregon counties involving 210 restitution-eligible cases. About half (111) of those cases did not include restitution because the victim did not suffer an economic loss or was compensated in other ways, such as by insurance payouts and court-ordered fines.
In 99 cases, about one-third of the affected victims did not provide all of the necessary documentation to claim restitution. In two-thirds of those cases, however, prosecutors failed to take necessary steps to obtain orders of restitution.
Prosecutors defended their failures, claiming they lacked the resources to investigate economic losses suffered by all victims. “Frankly, we just don’t hear back from some of the victims,” said John Sewell, district attorney for Hood River County and president of the Oregon District Attorney’s Association.
Sewell blamed the bad economy and the lack of a statewide data system, which ...
An audit by the Oregon Secretary of State, released in early 2010, found that crime victims are not getting restitution and prosecutors are largely to blame.
As previously reported, on November 13, 2007, DOJ investigators issued a scathing report that found medical neglect and conditions at KCCF had contributed to detainee deaths. In addition to “preventable deaths,” the DOJ determined that prisoner abuse was “routine” and that overall jail operations were seriously deficient. [See: PLN, Feb. 2008, p.18].
Between 2000 and 2002 KCCF averaged one death annually, but between 2002 and 2006 the average number of deaths per year jumped to five. There were even more prisoner deaths in 2007. The DOJ found at least two deaths that resulted from inadequate medical care plus three suicides in the preceding three years were preventable. The report noted that ...
A rash of detainee deaths at the King County Correctional Facility (KCCF) in Seattle, Washington prompted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to open an investigation into conditions at the jail on October 30, 2006. As the investigation continued so did the deaths, but that did not stop the DOJ from settling with the county in January 2009 – on the same day that KCCF reported the death of yet another detainee, Daphney Justice. More recently there have been 3 suicides at the jail in a five-week period.
In October 2009, PLN filed suit against Gene M. Johnson, director of Virginia’s prison system, and other VDOC ...
Prison Legal News announced on September 23, 2010 that it had settled a censorship lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) for $125,250 in damages, attorney fees and costs.
Myra C. Solliday alleged that she was raped by Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guard E. Lavon Spence in 2003 while ...
On April 7, 2010, a federal jury awarded $2.16 million to a female prisoner who was raped by a guard at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Tallahassee, Florida.
North Carolina’s Department of Corrections (NDOC) has inadequate procedures to contain prisoner medical costs and it overpays for prisoner medical care, concludes a fiscal control audit issued by the state’s auditor.
NDOC spends over $100 million yearly in prisoner medical care, and the costs continue to increase. It has contractual relationships with hospitals and other service providers to deliver medical services that prisons are not equipped to provide prisoners.
A survey indicated that other states limit medical costs to amounts established in negotiated contracts, to Medicare or Medicaid rates, to rates paid under other programs for indigent care or to discount insurance provider rates.
The NDOC’s analysis indicated it incurred higher reimbursement costs for similar medical procedures than those paid by the insurance providers. The Auditor noted, based on its limited comparison of claims data, that payments were made for prisoner medical procedures that would not be considered allowable charges under either the state employee health plan or the Medicaid program. The comparison also revealed multiple rates applied for the same procedure code.
The Auditor examined the 131 largest hospital payments, which accounted for $8.9 million of the $31.5 million in ...
by David M. Reutter
In January 2002 the state entered into a “stipulation and order for injunctive relief” designed to remedy Eighth Amendment violations raised in a class-action suit brought by California prisoners challenging deficiencies in medical care. The order provided for remedial measures to be implemented on a rolling basis, several prisons at a time. [See: PLN, July 2001, p.5; Feb. 2003, p.18].
After three years, however, not one prison had successfully implemented the remedial measures. Meanwhile, a “significant number” of prisoners were dying as a result of substandard medical care – a fact then openly acknowledged by the state.
In a six-day evidentiary hearing, the district court heard testimony from experts who described as “abysmal” the CDCR’s medical care delivery system, where “medical care too often sinks below gross negligence to outright cruelty.” The state did not seriously contest this testimony and conceded that it was unable to comply ...
In a strongly worded opinion, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion filed by California state officials to terminate the receivership established in 2006 to oversee and manage delivery of medical care to prisoners in the custody of the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
Arkansas: No charges will be filed against Tucker Maximum Security Unit Sgt. Billy Hayes, who was manning a security checkpoint when he shot and killed Lester McGowan, a parolee who attempted to drive away after officers tried to stop him on June 20, 2009. [See: PLN, April 2010, p.24]. A Department of Corrections investigation determined that the shooting was justified because McGowan was a threat to people on the prison’s property. Hayes fired a round through the back window of McGowan’s car, hitting him in the back.
California: Steven “Matt” Schultz, serving 26-years-to-life at Folsom Prison, was sentenced in October 2010 to an additional 50-years-to-life term for killing another prisoner two years earlier. Schultz ...
Arkansas: Sebastian County jail prisoner Gary Van Wolf, 64, awaiting trial on sex charges involving children, was strangled to death and left in his cell on September 16, 2010. According to a report by the Sheriff’s Office, jailers had left prisoners unsupervised for about an hour during the time that Van Wolf was killed. Three jail employees were reprimanded. The suspect in the murder, prisoner Ashley Eugene Kaufman, 25, had learned about Van Wolf’s charges when they made video court appearances.