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Prison Legal News: May, 2010

Issue PDF
Volume 21, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. The History of Prison Legal News (p 1)
  2. Twenty Years of PLN in Court (p 8)
  3. From the Editor (p 14)
  4. Private Manufacturers Use Cheap Arkansas Prison Labor (p 16)
  5. Virginia Jail Prisoner Awarded $7,500 after Being Beaten By Guards (p 16)
  6. Sex for Contraband Racket Unravels After Kansas Prisoner Has Abortion (p 18)
  7. Housing Mentally Ill Violent Offender in Nursing Home Leads to Rape (p 20)
  8. Georgia Law Creates Homeless Sex Offender Colony (p 20)
  9. $5,000 Award in New York Prisoner’s Retaliation Suit (p 22)
  10. Cornell Wins $19.5 Million Alaska Contract; CCA Protest Denied (p 22)
  11. Early Release Scam Results in Arrests (p 23)
  12. $99,999 Settlement for Michigan Prisoner Damaged by Second-Hand Smoke (p 24)
  13. CA Prisoner Erroneously Validated as Prison Gang Member; Clears His Name, Has Records Expunged, $1.04 Million in Fees Awarded (p 24)
  14. Study Finds Pharmacological Treatment of Opiate Dependence Under-Utilized in State and Federal Prisons (p 25)
  15. Washington LFOs Issued Before July 1, 2000 Expire in 10 Years (p 26)
  16. Ninth Circuit: Federal Receiver May be Sued for Breach of Contract (p 26)
  17. Ohio Prisoner Awarded $40,000 for Sexual Assault (p 27)
  18. Missouri DOC Targeted by State Auditors (p 28)
  19. California: Failure to Maintain Relevant Data Renders CDCR Unable to Effectively Monitor and Manage its Operations (p 28)
  20. Illinois Jail Agrees to Pay $290,000 & Annuity Payments to Settle Excessive Force Suit (p 29)
  21. Iraq: Unrest at Abu Ghraib as Camp Bucca Closes (p 30)
  22. Ion Spectrometry Scans Resume at BOP Facilities (p 30)
  23. Methadone Vending Machines Installed in British Prisons (p 30)
  24. Faith-Based Substance Abuse Program Contracts May Violate Florida’s Constitution (p 32)
  25. Missouri Jail Prisoner Awarded $5,000 in Failure to Protect Case (p 32)
  26. Tennessee Jail Agrees to Pay $5,000 for Withholding Prisoner’s Leg (p 33)
  27. State of Washington Settles Suit for $400,000 After Released Sex Offender Goes on Crime Spree (p 33)
  28. Political Uproar Follows NC Court Ruling that Life Sentence is 80 Years (p 34)
  29. King County, WA Pays $125,000 for Assault on Juvenile Prisoner (p 35)
  30. DOJ Releases Report on Staff Sexual Abuse of Federal Prisoners (p 36)
  31. $900,000 Settlement in Washington State Suit Over Parolee Murdering Woman (p 37)
  32. Fifth Circuit Orders Discovery in Katrina Prisoner Evacuation Case (p 38)
  33. Colorado Guards Rarely Jailed for Sexual Abuse of Prisoners (p 38)
  34. Mississippi Earned Time Policy Violates Ex Post Facto Clause (p 39)
  35. Are Debtors’ Prisons Making a Comeback in Indiana? (p 40)
  36. Closed Door Justice: Court Seeks Disbarment of Attorney in Secret (p 40)
  37. Washington Prisoner’s Rape Claim Results in $60,000 Settlement (p 41)
  38. Cost of Capital Punishment Comes Under Increased Scrutiny in a Struggling Economy (p 42)
  39. PLRA Attorney Fee Caps Constitutional, Third Circuit Decides (p 42)
  40. $12,000 Award to Wheelchair-Bound NY Prisoner for Fall off Loading Ramp (p 43)
  41. 17,698 DNA Profiles Missing from Wisconsin Database (p 44)
  42. Kentucky Supreme Court: Retroactive Application of Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Unconstitutional (p 44)
  43. Kern County Settles False Arrest Lawsuit for $5.5 Million (p 45)
  44. CCA Agrees to Pay $1.3 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Suit (p 46)
  45. $932,900 Award to Hawaii Prisoner Rendered Infertile Due to Inept Medical Care (p 46)
  46. Flushing Junk Down Jail Toilets Damages Sewer System, Prompts $2.3 Million Settlement in California Lawsuit (p 46)
  47. Gloucester County, New Jersey Settles Jail Strip Search Class Action for $4 Million (p 47)
  48. $27,500 Settlement for Washington Prisoner’s Public Records and RLUIPA Claims (p 47)
  49. Opening Legal Mail Outside BOP Prisoner’s Presence States Constitutional Claim (p 48)
  50. Alternative Prisoner Phone Service Company Files Unsuccessful Suit (p 48)
  51. Bivens Case by Disabled Prisoner Against Federal Prison Officials Remanded; Settles for $15,000 (p 49)
  52. News in Brief: (p 50)

The History of Prison Legal News

In May 1990, the first issue of Prisoners’ Legal News (PLN) was published. It was hand-typed, photocopied and ten pages long. The first issue was mailed to 75 potential subscribers. Its budget was $50. The first 3 issues were banned in all Washington prisons, the first 18 in all Texas ...

Twenty Years of PLN in Court

Since PLN was founded in 1990 we have been censored in prisons and jails around the country. We have always tried to resolve censorship issues administratively, but in cases where the goal of prison officials was to ban PLN or our books, that obviously wasn’t possible. PLN has aggressively ...

From the Editor

Welcome to the 20th anniversary issue of Prison Legal News. It is quite the milestone in the history of any magazine or organization to reach the 20 year mark. The cover story and sidebar lay out our history and what we have accomplished in the past two decades.

Along the ...

Private Manufacturers Use Cheap Arkansas Prison Labor

by Matt Clarke

Two private manufacturing companies have opened shops in Arkansas prisons. Actronix, Inc. employs 65 female prisoners at the McPherson Unit to produce wiring harnesses for medical imaging devices such as MRI machines and CT scanners, while Glove Corp. employs 55 male prisoners from the Pine Bluff Unit ...

Virginia Jail Prisoner Awarded $7,500 after Being Beaten By Guards

On September 3, 2009, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams entered judgment in favor of a Virginia prisoner who was beaten by guards. In all, the prisoner was awarded $7,500.

On September 20, 2005, there was a disturbance at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia. Prisoners in ...

Sex for Contraband Racket Unravels After Kansas Prisoner Has Abortion

by David M. Reutter

Despite reports of rampant staff sexual abuse and harassment of women incarcerated at Kansas’ Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF), it was not until one prisoner had an abortion after being raped by a vocational instructor that the mainstream media took notice.

Between 2005 and 2008, the U ...

Housing Mentally Ill Violent Offender in Nursing Home Leads to Rape

by Matt Clarke

On January 16, 2009, a 21-year-old mentally ill man with a long history of violent crimes raped a 69-year-old woman housed in the same Illinois nursing home.

Christopher Shelton, 21, suffers from bipolar disorder that causes him to have an explosive temper, which led to multiple arrests ...

Georgia Law Creates Homeless Sex Offender Colony

by David M. Reutter

Georgia’s sex offender residency restrictions have led some offenders to live in the woods because they have no legal place to stay. Reminiscent of leper colonies, they are forced to camp out on the fringes of society.

Under Georgia law, the state’s 16,000 ...

$5,000 Award in New York Prisoner’s Retaliation Suit

Following a bench trial, a New York federal district court awarded a prisoner $5,000 in a lawsuit alleging that a guard retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights.

The civil rights action was filed by state prisoner Karl Ahlers, who worked as a law clerk at the ...

Cornell Wins $19.5 Million Alaska Contract; CCA Protest Denied

by Matt Clarke

In September 2009, Alaskan officials denied a protest filed by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which was the final hurdle before awarding Cornell Corrections of Alaska (a subsidiary of Cornell Corrections) a contract worth $19,446,000 to house up to 900 Alaskan prisoners in an out-of-state ...

Early Release Scam Results in Arrests

The FBI has arrested two men in an unusual and brazen plot to defraud prisoners and their families out of tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for reduced sentences.

Monterro Paul, who previously served time in federal prison for counterfeiting and drug charges, allegedly told an FBI agent that ...

$99,999 Settlement for Michigan Prisoner Damaged by Second-Hand Smoke

A Michigan prisoner accepted $99,999 to settle a lawsuit for damages and injuries he suffered as a result of prison officials’ failure to follow medical prescriptions to house him in a non-smoking environment.

Prior to being housed at Carson City Temporary Facility (CTF), prisoner Wantwaz Davis had been in ...

CA Prisoner Erroneously Validated as Prison Gang Member; Clears His Name, Has Records Expunged, $1.04 Million in Fees Awarded

On September 30, 2009, more than 16 years after being incorrectly “validated” as an associate of a violent California prison gang, and after having spent eight years in an isolation unit as a result of that false validation, former prisoner Ernesto Lira had his records cleared of any indication that ...

Study Finds Pharmacological Treatment of Opiate Dependence Under-Utilized in State and Federal Prisons

In the first national survey of its kind, researchers have documented important attitudes and practices among state and federal correctional medical directors regarding the use of methadone and buprenorphine to treat heroin/opiate addiction in prisoners, both while incarcerated and after release. The importance of the research stems from the ...

Washington LFOs Issued Before July 1, 2000 Expire in 10 Years

The Washington State Supreme Court has unanimously held that restitution orders issued before July 1, 2000 expire and become void after 10 years, unless extended by the trial court before expiration.

In 1992, Henry Gossage was convicted of sex offenses in Washington state, sentenced to prison and ordered to pay ...

Ninth Circuit: Federal Receiver May be Sued for Breach of Contract

The Ninth Circuit held on Oct. 30, 2009 that the Receiver appointed by a federal court to oversee delivery of medical care to prisoners in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) was not immune from an official-capacity lawsuit for damages. The lawsuit alleged that the Receiver had breached ...

Ohio Prisoner Awarded $40,000 for Sexual Assault

On August 19, 2009, an Ohio prisoner was awarded $40,000 after being sexually assaulted as a result of deliberate indifference to his safety.

John Meyer, a prisoner at the Southeastern Correctional Institution (SCI), approached Sergeant Barbara McNicholas after being “roughed up” and threatened by other prisoners who wanted him ...

Missouri DOC Targeted by State Auditors

On September 28, 2009, Missouri State Auditor, Susan Montee, released the results of an audit recently conducted by her office targeting the State’s DOC. The audit focused primarily on the three years ending June 30, 2008 and was intended as a tool to evaluate (l) the DOC’s internal ...

California: Failure to Maintain Relevant Data Renders CDCR Unable to Effectively Monitor and Manage its Operations

In September 2009, the California State Auditor, responding to a request from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, submitted a report to assess the effect of California’s rapidly increasing prison population on the state budget. The report found that in the past three years, while the adult prison population had ...

Illinois Jail Agrees to Pay $290,000 & Annuity Payments to Settle Excessive Force Suit

Illinois Jail Agrees to Pay $290,000 & Annuity Payments to Settle Excessive Force Suit

Tazewell County, Illinois has agreed to settle an excessive force suit for $290,000 and annual annuity payments.

Charles Chandler was taken to the Tazewell County Jail on November 6, 2006, after being arrested for aggravated ...

Iraq: Unrest at Abu Ghraib as Camp Bucca Closes

by Matt Clarke

In September 2009 the U.S. military closed Camp Bucca in Iraq, once its largest detention facility, and the prison at Abu Ghraib experienced a two-day uprising. Camp Bucca cost the U.S. $50 million to build and once held over 22,000 prisoners in separate camps ...

Ion Spectrometry Scans Resume at BOP Facilities

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has restarted its ion spectrometry program. In April 2008, the BOP suspended the use of all its ion spectrometry machines to screen prison visitors for drugs after lawsuits and complaints cast doubt on the reliability of the devices. [See: PLN, Feb. 2009, p.11 ...

Methadone Vending Machines Installed in British Prisons

Fifty-seven methadone vending machines have been installed in British prisons in an effort to help opiate-addicted prisoners manage their drug addictions without resorting to illegal heroin supplies available behind bars.

The machines dispense individualized doses of methadone to registered prisoners after a fingerprint or iris scan. A total of about ...

Faith-Based Substance Abuse Program Contracts May Violate Florida’s Constitution

by David M. Reutter

Contracts between the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) and faith-based substance abuse transitional housing programs may violate the “no-aid” provision of Florida’s Constitution. Because the issue required further factual development to make that determination, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court ...

Missouri Jail Prisoner Awarded $5,000 in Failure to Protect Case

On September 3, 2009, a federal jury returned a $5,000 verdict in favor of a prisoner who alleged that staff failed to protect him from attack.

While incarcerated at the St. Louis City Justice Center, Harold Dykes was attacked by another prisoner. Before the attack, Dykes told Joetta Mitchell ...

Tennessee Jail Agrees to Pay $5,000 for Withholding Prisoner’s Leg

The Davidson County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a prisoner under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Jerry Ray Brock was extradited from Columbus, Georgia to Tennessee to begin service of a Tennessee conviction. During intake at the Davidson County Jail, jail officials took ...

State of Washington Settles Suit for $400,000 After Released Sex Offender Goes on Crime Spree

In June 2008, the State of Washington entered into a stipulated judgment to settle claims for damages, filed in both state and federal courts, by Diana McKissen, who was raped, tortured, and severely beaten at gunpoint in 2004, when Community Corrections Officer Chris Leyendecker allegedly failed in his responsibilities to ...

Political Uproar Follows NC Court Ruling that Life Sentence is 80 Years

by David M. Reutter

A political brouhaha arose in October 2009 in the wake of a North Carolina appellate court decision which held that a “life sentence is as an 80-year sentence for all purposes.” While the ruling applies only to defendants convicted of crimes between 1974 and 1978, Governor ...

King County, WA Pays $125,000 for Assault on Juvenile Prisoner

Washington state’s King County has paid $125,000 to settle a claim that accused a guard of physically abusing a juvenile offender. The claim involved events that occurred on November 29, 2008 at the King County Jail.

The juvenile, Malika J. Calhoun, 15, said she was attacked in a ...

DOJ Releases Report on Staff Sexual Abuse of Federal Prisoners

A report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Justice concerning sexual abuse of federal prisoners by prison staff found that such claims were widespread and had more than doubled during the eight-year span reviewed by the report. The OIG called the Bureau ...

$900,000 Settlement in Washington State Suit Over Parolee Murdering Woman

On December 10, 2008, Washington State agreed to a $900,000 settlement in a suit alleging negligent supervision of a violent parolee who murdered a woman.

Laurence Owens, a level 3 sex offender and violent felon, was under the supervision of the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC). Owens had ...

Fifth Circuit Orders Discovery in Katrina Prisoner Evacuation Case

by Matt Clarke

On July 1, 2009, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a lower court’s denial of summary judgment in a case involving the evacuation of prisoners from the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The case was remanded with ...

Colorado Guards Rarely Jailed for Sexual Abuse of Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

Although not uncommon, any kind of sexual contact between a guard and a prisoner is considered coercive sexual abuse under Colorado state law. This reflects the reality that prisoners cannot have truly consensual sex with a person who has total control and authority over them. Between 2005 ...

Mississippi Earned Time Policy Violates Ex Post Facto Clause

Mississippi’s Court of Appeals has remanded for an evidentiary hearing a claim that a law prohibiting prisoners who are convicted of sale or transfer of a controlled substance from eligibility for earned-time allowance is an ex post facto law as applied to the petitioner.

The petitioner, Mississippi prisoner Van ...

Are Debtors’ Prisons Making a Comeback in Indiana?

Concerns are growing that small claims courts in Indiana may be taking actions that amount to the return of debtors’ prisons, sparking national debate on the issue. This has occurred despite objections from the state’s Court of Appeals as well as a state constitutional ban on imprisonment for debt ...

Closed Door Justice: Court Seeks Disbarment of Attorney in Secret

The story of Herbert Moncier, a prominent attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee, seems foreign, as if it were from another time and place. In fact, it is almost Gestapo-like.

Moncier’s problems began on November 17, 2006 during a sentencing hearing for one of his clients before U.S. District Court ...

Washington Prisoner’s Rape Claim Results in $60,000 Settlement

The State of Washington paid $60,000 to settle a claim that involved a prisoner at the Washington State Reformatory being “savagely sexually assaulted” by another prisoner.

In the late evening of June 9 or the early morning hours of June 10, 2005, prisoner Jason M. Grey was raped by ...

Cost of Capital Punishment Comes Under Increased Scrutiny in a Struggling Economy

A new report released by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) challenges the economic feasibility and sensibility of states maintaining the death penalty amid the nation’s current economic downturn.

The report, entitled Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis, “explores the prospect of ...

PLRA Attorney Fee Caps Constitutional, Third Circuit Decides

The provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) that cap attorney fees do not violate equal protection, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decided on May 28, 2009.

Pennsylvania prisoner Glenndol Parker sued prison guard Joseph Conway for assault in violation of the Eighth Amendment ...

$12,000 Award to Wheelchair-Bound NY Prisoner for Fall off Loading Ramp

A New York Court of Claims awarded a prisoner $12,000 for injuries incurred by a fall off a curb while in a wheelchair.

Prisoner Darin Carathers became a paraplegic after sustaining a gun shot wound to the neck in 1981, leaving him wheelchair-bound. Guards from the Green Haven Correctional ...

17,698 DNA Profiles Missing from Wisconsin Database

by Matt Clarke

In September 2009, Wisconsin officials discovered that the profiles of 17,698 convicted felons were missing from the state’s DNA database.

An investigation into Milwaukee serial killer suspect Walter E. Ellis revealed that his DNA was not in Wisconsin’s 128,065-profile database, though it should ...

Kentucky Supreme Court: Retroactive Application of Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Unconstitutional

On October 1, 2009, the Kentucky Supreme Court held that retroactive application of sex offender residency restrictions violated prohibitions against ex post facto laws in the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions.

In 1995, Michael Baker pleaded guilty to third-degree rape for unlawfully touching a teenage girl. He received five years ...

Kern County Settles False Arrest Lawsuit for $5.5 Million

In September 2009, Kern County (California) officials entered into a multimillion dollar settlement agreement with John Stoll, disposing of a federal lawsuit filed by Stoll in 2005, seeking compensation for damages allegedly sustained as a result of a violation of his civil rights, including 20 years of incarceration for crimes ...

CCA Agrees to Pay $1.3 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Suit

On October 1, 2009, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) entered into a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to settle allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation involving female employees at the company’s Crowley County Correctional Facility (CCCF) in Colorado.

In September 2006, the EEOC filed a ...

$932,900 Award to Hawaii Prisoner Rendered Infertile Due to Inept Medical Care

A Hawaii state judge awarded a former prisoner $932,900 in damages in a lawsuit alleging substandard medical care. Gregory Slingluff, 41, sued after he was rendered infertile due to poor medical treatment while incarcerated at the Halawa High Security Correctional Center in 2003-2004 for a drug offense.

Slingluff developed ...

Flushing Junk Down Jail Toilets Damages Sewer System, Prompts $2.3 Million Settlement in California Lawsuit

In October 2009, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors tentatively agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged county prisoners were damaging the adjoining sewer system by clogging it up with items not intended to be flushed down the jail’s toilets. The suit was ...

Gloucester County, New Jersey Settles Jail Strip Search Class Action for $4 Million

by Matt Clarke

On September 14, 2009, the parties in a class action lawsuit against Gloucester County, New Jersey over the county jail’s strip search policies filed a settlement agreement in federal district court agreeing to a $4 million settlement.

Sandra King Wilson was 51 years old when she ...

$27,500 Settlement for Washington Prisoner’s Public Records and RLUIPA Claims

The State of Washington Department of Corrections paid $27,500 to settle two lawsuits brought by prisoner Derek E. Gronquist. The first action involved request for disclosure of public records, and the second related to violations of religious freedom.

The public records suit related to Gronquist’s request to inspect ...

Opening Legal Mail Outside BOP Prisoner’s Presence States Constitutional Claim

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a district court decision denying qualified immunity to several Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employees accused of opening properly marked legal mail outside a prisoner’s presence.

Robert Merriweather, who was formerly incarcerated at ...

Alternative Prisoner Phone Service Company Files Unsuccessful Suit

by David M. Reutter

A company that offers a lower-cost alternative to the monopolistic practices of the nation’s largest prison and jail telephone service providers filed a federal lawsuit alleging violation of the Federal Communications Act.

The suit was filed by Millicorp, a Florida-based company that offers alternative phone ...

Bivens Case by Disabled Prisoner Against Federal Prison Officials Remanded; Settles for $15,000

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a grant of summary judgment to federal prison officials in a Bivens case brought by a handicapped prisoner who was unable to take a shower or go to recreation for over two months because the defendants refused to provide ...

News in Brief:

California: Contra Costa County’s top homicide prosecutor, Harold Jewett, was placed on administrative leave for allegedly punching his supervisor, assistant district attorney Paul Sequeira. The incident, which took place on March 8, 2010 during a staff meeting and sent Sequeira to the hospital for stitches, occurred after Sequeira confronted ...