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Prison Legal News: July, 2010

Issue PDF
Volume 21, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Celebrity Justice: Prison Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (p 1)
  2. California Uses $1.08 Billion in Federal Stimulus Funds to Pay Prison Guard Salaries (p 12)
  3. From the Editor (p 12)
  4. New Medical Director at Texas Jail Previously Sanctioned (p 13)
  5. U.S. Supreme Court to Review California Prison Population Reduction Orders (p 14)
  6. Florida Prison Psychiatrist Resigns; License Revoked Over Sex with Patient (p 15)
  7. Dallas County Jail Settles Three Medical-Related Suits for $795,000 (p 16)
  8. Florida’s Civil Rights Restoration Process Insufficiently Funded (p 16)
  9. Convictions Upheld in Appeal of Lynne Stewart, Attorney to Blind Sheikh, but Case Remanded for Resentencing (p 18)
  10. Texas Youth Commission Ombudsman Resigns Following Smuggling Indictment (p 18)
  11. Kentucky Lethal Injection Protocol Adopted in Violation of APA (p 20)
  12. Pennsylvania County Jail Settles Medical Indifference Suit for $55,000 (p 20)
  13. Eighth Circuit Upholds $2,501 Retaliation Judgment Against Arkansas Prison Guard (p 22)
  14. Indiana Sex Offender Registration Law Can Not Be Retroactively Applied (p 22)
  15. Valley Fever Cases at California Prison Increase in 2009 (p 22)
  16. Release Conditions Requiring Defendant to Tell Probation Officer about Romantic Relationships Vacated (p 23)
  17. Only Three States in Compliance with Unfunded Federal Sex Offender Mandates (p 24)
  18. DNA Exonerations in Georgia Result in Disparate Compensation Awards (p 24)
  19. Guilty Pleas in Angola Horse Selling Scheme (p 26)
  20. San Francisco Settles Wrongful Incarceration Cases for $7.5 Million (p 26)
  21. Canyon County Jail in Idaho Settles Conditions Suit With Consent Decree and $190,000 in Attorney’s Fees (p 27)
  22. U.S. Senator’s Girlfriend, In-Law Get Department of Justice Jobs (p 28)
  23. U.S. Department of Justice Releases Report on HIV in Prisons (p 28)
  24. South Carolina Settles Prisoner Stabbing Death Lawsuit for $47,500 (p 30)
  25. California County Jail Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $600,000 (p 30)
  26. Virginia Sheriff’s Office, PHS Settle Wrongful Death Suit for $1.6 Million (p 30)
  27. CCA Pays $70,000 in Damages, Attorney Fees to Settle PLN Censorship Suit (p 31)
  28. Prison-based Call Centers Open in Austria, India (p 32)
  29. New York Prisoner Beaten, Guards Convicted, GEO Settles Suit for $80,000 (p 32)
  30. California Counties Vie to House ICE Prisoners (p 33)
  31. New Jersey DOC Agrees to Let Prisoner Preach (p 34)
  32. Erroneously Released Texas Prisoner Entitled to Credit on Sentence (p 34)
  33. Media Agencies Intervene to Unseal Records in Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit (p 36)
  34. Sacramento County Partially Settles Taxpayer Suit Alleging Il-legal Conditions of Confinement in Juvenile Facilities (p 36)
  35. Oregon Offers Early Release to Illegal Immigrants Who Consent to Deportation (p 37)
  36. The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal Under the Bus (p 38)
  37. CMS Nurse Denied Summary Judgment for Failure to Treat Prisoner for Heat Illness;$400,000 Settlement Following Sixth Circuit Ruling (p 40)
  38. Wisconsin County Pays $750,000 to Settle Jail Sex Abuse Suit (p 41)
  39. Marsy’s Law Enjoined in California (p 42)
  40. Arkansas Federal Jury Awards $261,000 to Male Prisoner Raped by Male Guard (p 42)
  41. One in Six HIV-Infected Americans Spent Time in Prison or Jail in 2006 (p 43)
  42. Houston Police Department Conducted Blood Draw Training on Prisoners (p 44)
  43. Second Circuit Ruling in Post-9/11 Immigration Detention Case (p 46)
  44. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Sheriff May Not Charge Jail Fees (p 46)
  45. Former New York Corrections Commissioner Receives Four-Year Prison Sentence (p 48)
  46. Sixth Circuit: No Eleventh Amendment Immunity When ADA Claim Includes Fourteenth Amendment Violations (p 48)
  47. Georgia Officials Receive Prison Sentences in Charge-Fixing Scheme (p 49)
  48. News in Brief: (p 50)

Celebrity Justice: Prison Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

by Matt Clarke

There are two criminal justice systems in the United States. One is for people with wealth, fame or influence who can afford to hire top-notch attorneys and public relations firms, who make campaign contributions to sheriffs, legislators and other elected officials, and who enjoy certain privileges due ...

California Uses $1.08 Billion in Federal Stimulus Funds to Pay Prison Guard Salaries

In a November 2009 letter to Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders, California State Auditor Elaine Howle reported that corrections officials had greatly overstated the number of jobs they saved using $1.08 billion in federal stimulus money, claiming they retained thousands of positions that were never in jeopardy.

Faced with ...

From the Editor

The cover story of this month’s issue of Prison Legal News is no surprise to our readers. The pay-to-stay luxury jails in Southern California first came to my attention over a year ago when a reporter from the Los Angeles Times called to ask me for a comment on ...

New Medical Director at Texas Jail Previously Sanctioned

In December 2009, McLennan County, Texas commissioners Lester Gibson, Kelly Snell and Joe Mashek admitted that a candidate for the medical director’s position at the McLennan County Jail had previously been sanctioned by the Texas Medical Board. That didn’t stop them from hiring him, though.

A background check ...

U.S. Supreme Court to Review California Prison Population Reduction Orders

by John E. Dannenberg

On June 14, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) agreed to review orders entered by a three-judge federal district court panel in California that would relieve overcrowding in that state’s prison system by requiring a reduction in its 172,000 prisoner population by 46 ...

Florida Prison Psychiatrist Resigns; License Revoked Over Sex with Patient

by David M. Reutter

Prisoners often believe that prison health care personnel are second-rate and incompetent, and likely couldn’t find work in non-correctional settings. The December 2, 2009 resignation of a Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) psychiatrist whose license was revoked lent credence to that belief.

Emanuel John Falcone ...

Dallas County Jail Settles Three Medical-Related Suits for $795,000

In April 2009, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas awarded $355,000 to Robert Duvall for injuries he suffered when he was denied medical treatment at the Dallas County Jail. Less than three months later, Dallas County settled two similar lawsuits ...

Florida’s Civil Rights Restoration Process Insufficiently Funded

by David M. Reutter

With Florida continuing to face budget shortfalls due to the economic crisis, Governor Charlie Crist is looking for ways to slash government spending. However, his efforts are drawing fire from those who question cutting the budget of the Florida Parole Commission (FPC).

When Crist became governor ...

Convictions Upheld in Appeal of Lynne Stewart, Attorney to Blind Sheikh, but Case Remanded for Resentencing

On December 23, 2009, a federal appeals court upheld the convictions of disbarred defense attorney Lynne Stewart and criticized what it called a “strikingly low sentence” for her offenses, which were related to providing material support in a terrorism conspiracy. [See: PLN, Sept. 2005, p.14; Sept. 2002, p.20 ...

Texas Youth Commission Ombudsman Resigns Following Smuggling Indictment

by Matt Clarke

On November 30, 2009, Catherine S. Evans, a former Dallas state district judge and the newly-appointed ombudsman for the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), resigned after she was indicted on a third-degree felony charge for smuggling a prohibited weapon into a TYC facility. [See: PLN, March 2010, p ...

Kentucky Lethal Injection Protocol Adopted in Violation of APA

The lethal injection protocol adopted by the Kentucky Department of Correction (DOC) was promulgated in violation of the state’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Kentucky Supreme Court decided on November 25, 2009.

Kentucky, like most other states that have the death penalty, uses a three-drug lethal injection protocol to ...

Pennsylvania County Jail Settles Medical Indifference Suit for $55,000

Butler County, Pennsylvania has agreed to settle a medical deliberate indifference lawsuit for $55,000. In April 2006, James Raub was arrested and taken to the Butler County Prison. During the booking process, he told guards and a nurse that he was in pain and wanted to be sent to ...

Eighth Circuit Upholds $2,501 Retaliation Judgment Against Arkansas Prison Guard

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has affirmed a $2,501 award to an Arkansas state prisoner who was subjected to retaliation by an Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) guard.

On June 23, 2007, ADC prisoner Walter Haynes filed a grievance against Sgt. Patrick L. Stephenson ...

Indiana Sex Offender Registration Law Can Not Be Retroactively Applied

The Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act (ISRA) can not be applied to offenders who committed their crimes before the statute’s enactment, the Indiana Supreme Court decided on January 6, 2010.

Gary M. Hevner was convicted in 2008 of possessing child pornography after downloading illegal images to his computer. In ...

Valley Fever Cases at California Prison Increase in 2009

According to The Fresno Bee, the number of cases of Valley Fever among California prisoners at the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009. Data reported by prison officials to the Fresno County Public Health Department indicate that 311 prisoners were diagnosed with Valley Fever ...

Release Conditions Requiring Defendant to Tell Probation Officer about Romantic Relationships Vacated

On January 7, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a condition of supervised release that required a federal defendant to notify probation officials each time he entered into a “significant romantic relationship.” A related condition that required the defendant to inform anyone he was ...

Only Three States in Compliance with Unfunded Federal Sex Offender Mandates

by Matt Clarke

In 2006 Congress enacted the Adam Walsh Act, which requires states to institute stricter monitoring of sex offenders or face losing 10% of their federal crime-prevention grants. Although all states were supposed to comply with the Act by July 2009, as of May 18, 2010 only Ohio ...

DNA Exonerations in Georgia Result in Disparate Compensation Awards

by David M. Reutter

The disparity in compensation awards for prisoners exonerated by DNA evidence in Georgia demonstrates the need for evenhanded compensation laws.

Five wrongly convicted prisoners, Clarence Harrison, Robert Clark, Douglas Echols, Samuel Scott and Willie Otis “Pete” Williams, spent a combined 82 years in Georgia prisons for ...

Guilty Pleas in Angola Horse Selling Scheme

by David M. Reutter

A federal investigation uncovered a fraudulent scheme at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in which horses were sold to private parties, bypassing required public auctions. Two indictments were handed down that resulted in guilty pleas.

On September 19, 2007, a federal grand jury returned an ...

San Francisco Settles Wrongful Incarceration Cases for $7.5 Million

Nearly six years after his release from prison, Antoine Goff received a measure of belated justice – a $2.9 million settlement for almost 13 years of wrongful incarceration. Goff and his co-plaintiff, John “J.J.” Tennison, had filed complaints under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that alleged numerous Brady violations ...

Canyon County Jail in Idaho Settles Conditions Suit With Consent Decree and $190,000 in Attorney’s Fees

On November 12, 2009, Canyon County, Idaho agreed to settle a federal class-action suit against the Canyon County Jail (CCJ) that raised a myriad of claims related to unconstitutional conditions.

Filed in March 2009 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of prisoners at the jail, the lawsuit ...

U.S. Senator’s Girlfriend, In-Law Get Department of Justice Jobs

Melodee Hanes, the live-in girlfriend of U.S. Senator Max Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, has received a high-level political appointment with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Hanes’ new job at the DOJ comes on the heels of a brewing scandal concerning her nomination for U.S. Attorney ...

U.S. Department of Justice Releases Report on HIV in Prisons

In December 2009, the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice released a report entitled HIV in Prisons, 2007-08. The report indicates that while the number of prisoners with HIV increased in some states and decreased in others, overall the number of HIV-positive prisoners in the ...

South Carolina Settles Prisoner Stabbing Death Lawsuit for $47,500

In October 2009, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC) paid $47,500 to settle a survivorship suit related to a fatal stabbing.

Justin Bregenzer, 22, a DOC prisoner, was stabbed to death by another prisoner in July 2005 at the Lieber Correctional Institution. Bregenzer’s mother, Sandra Carter, filed ...

California County Jail Settles Wrongful Death Suit for $600,000

In December 2009, the Board of San Joaquin County, California approved a $600,000 settlement to resolve a federal lawsuit filed by the family of a 71-year-old man who died of a heart attack following his release from jail.

On March 4, 2006, Guillermo Davila was arrested by Tracy City ...

Virginia Sheriff’s Office, PHS Settle Wrongful Death Suit for $1.6 Million

Prison Health Services (PHS), a private for-profit company that provides medical care to prisoners, has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of a man who died at a Virginia jail, with the sheriff’s office paying another $100,000.

Joseph Combs, 57, a Vietnam veteran who suffered ...

CCA Pays $70,000 in Damages, Attorney Fees to Settle PLN Censorship Suit

On June 7, 2010, Prison Legal News announced that it had settled a federal censorship suit against Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company.
PLN filed the lawsuit in September 2009, claiming that CCA’s Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona only allowed prisoners to ...

Prison-based Call Centers Open in Austria, India

by Matt Clarke

In an attempt to bridge a budget shortfall, the Austrian Justice Ministry has set up call centers in prisons and con-tracted them out to private companies that might otherwise outsource the work overseas. The move has prompted criticism about prisoners handling private customer information.

Austrian prison officials ...

New York Prisoner Beaten, Guards Convicted, GEO Settles Suit for $80,000

by Matt Clarke

On July 7, 2009, three private prison guards were convicted of charges involving the unjustified beating of a New York prisoner in 2007. [See: PLN, Sept. 2009, p.50; July 2009, p.50]. A fourth guard was convicted of related charges in January 2010.

Rex Egurido, 28 ...

California Counties Vie to House ICE Prisoners

Santa Clara County, California – where local law enforcement authorities have policies against cooperating fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in terms of enforcing immigration laws – has turned a blind eye to its pro-immigration values and contracted with federal officials to incarcerate immigrant detainees.

The decision to go into the ...

New Jersey DOC Agrees to Let Prisoner Preach

In November 2009, the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) settled a lawsuit brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The suit, filed by the ACLU on behalf of a New Jersey state prisoner, alleged the DOC had violated RLUIPA by refusing to let prisoners preach ...

Erroneously Released Texas Prisoner Entitled to Credit on Sentence

by Matt Clarke

On February 4, 2009, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that a state prisoner who had been erroneously released through no fault of his own, and who had not violated any of the conditions of his release, was entitled to credit against his sentence for the ...

Media Agencies Intervene to Unseal Records in Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit

On November 4, 2005, Earl Krugel was killed while exercising on the recreation yard at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Phoenix, Arizona, a medium-security facility.

Krugel, an activist for the Jewish Defense League, had been prosecuted and convicted for his role in a plot to bomb a California mosque ...

Sacramento County Partially Settles Taxpayer Suit Alleging Il-legal Conditions of Confinement in Juvenile Facilities

The parties to a taxpayer lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, which alleges that conditions in Sacramento County’s juvenile detention facilities violate state statutory, constitutional and regulatory laws, reached a partial settlement and signed a stipulated consent decree in December 2009.

Plaintiff David Porter, a resident of Sacramento County ...

Oregon Offers Early Release to Illegal Immigrants Who Consent to Deportation

Seeking to cut costs in the face of a recession that has forced many states to reconsider their criminal justice priorities, Oregon officials have signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under which illegal immigrants who waive their ...

The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal Under the Bus

“I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”
– Frederick Douglass

On the evening of February 25, 2010, participants at the Fourth World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Switzerland had assembled from all over the globe for a dramatic Voices of Victims evening ...

CMS Nurse Denied Summary Judgment for Failure to Treat Prisoner for Heat Illness;$400,000 Settlement Following Sixth Circuit Ruling

by David M. Reutter

In February 2009, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of summary judgment to a Correctional Medical Services (CMS) nurse in a lawsuit that accused her of failing to properly treat a Michigan prisoner for heat sickness, which left him a quadriplegic.
On July ...

Wisconsin County Pays $750,000 to Settle Jail Sex Abuse Suit

A woman who was sexually assaulted at a jail in Monroe County, Wisconsin has received $750,000 as part of a settlement in a federal civil rights case.

While awaiting trial on charges of felony battery of a police officer, Sherry Calhoun was repeatedly forced to perform oral sex on ...

Marsy’s Law Enjoined in California

On February 4, 2010, in a class-action suit brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by eight plaintiffs seeking to represent a class of California state prisoners serving life sentences with possibility of parole, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence K. Karlton issued two significant orders.
The first order granted ...

Arkansas Federal Jury Awards $261,000 to Male Prisoner Raped by Male Guard

On July 16, 2009, a federal jury awarded $261,000 to a former Arkansas prisoner who was sodomized and forced to perform oral sex on a guard.

While incarcerated at the Varner Supermax Unit, Jason D. Palton was terrorized by Arkansas Dept. of Correction guard Antonio Remley. On four occasions ...

One in Six HIV-Infected Americans Spent Time in Prison or Jail in 2006

The authors of a study published in November 2009, which was partially funded by the Emory Center for AIDS Research, reported that the number of HIV/AIDS cases involving releasees from prisons and jails in the U.S. decreased by nearly 30% between 1997 and 2006.

More specifically, the authors ...

Houston Police Department Conducted Blood Draw Training on Prisoners

In 2009, to expedite DWI arrests, the Houston Police Department sent seven officers to Lone Star College to be trained as certified phlebotomists. A phlebotomist is a qualified medical technician who draws a person’s blood. During the course of the officers’ clinical training, they practiced on prisoners in the ...

Second Circuit Ruling in Post-9/11 Immigration Detention Case

by Matt Clarke

On December 18, 2009, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a federal class-action suit brought by illegal immigrants arrested in sweeps following the 9/11 attacks and incarcerated at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in New York City. The Court of Appeals affirmed ...

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Sheriff May Not Charge Jail Fees

by Matt Clarke

On January 5, 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that the Sheriff of Bristol County could not charge fees for certain jail services.

In 2002, prisoners at the Bristol County House of Correction and Jail in Dartmouth, Massachusetts filed a complaint in state Superior Court ...

Former New York Corrections Commissioner Receives Four-Year Prison Sentence

by Matt Clarke

On February 18, 2010, a New York federal judge sentenced Bernard “Bernie” Kerik, 54, to four years in federal prison after Kerik pleaded guilty to five counts of making false statements to federal agents, two counts of tax fraud and one count of making a false statement ...

Sixth Circuit: No Eleventh Amendment Immunity When ADA Claim Includes Fourteenth Amendment Violations

by Matt Clarke

On January 5, 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Michigan district court’s denial of Eleventh Amendment immunity for a claim involving both a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131, et seq., and the Equal Protection Clause ...

Georgia Officials Receive Prison Sentences in Charge-Fixing Scheme

Two former DeKalb County, Georgia officials have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a criminal charge-fixing scheme.

In 2008, an unidentified defendant arrested on a drug offense was told by DeKalb County pretrial officer Keith C. Hughes and probation officer Natalie Nicole Dunn that he could get ...

News in Brief:

Australia: In May 2010, guards at the Mobilong prison in South Australia discovered a fake gun made of matchsticks. Prison staff searched an unnamed prisoner and found the faux weapon after they noticed him behaving suspiciously. Authorities described the matchstick gun as highly realistic; it was apparently made in the ...