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Prison Legal News: December, 2011

Issue PDF
Volume 22, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Prison Sexual Abuse Survivor Speaks Out (p 1)
  2. Texas State Auditor Blasts UTMB, Texas Tech Prisoner Health Care Costs (p 10)
  3. DOJ Finds No Wrongdoing After Prisoner Dies Due to Grossly Inadequate Medical Care (p 12)
  4. From the Editor (p 12)
  5. Anatomy of False Confessions, Redux (p 14)
  6. Tennessee: Felony Friendly Job Fairs an Unexpected Hit (p 16)
  7. Illinois DOC Sued to Accommodate Hearing Impaired Prisoners (p 18)
  8. Tennessee: Incident Rates at CCA Facilities Higher Than at Public Prisons (p 18)
  9. Study Shows Ex-offenders Have Greatly Reduced Employment Rates (p 20)
  10. Ohio ACLU, Other Organizations Release Reports on Prison Privatization (p 22)
  11. Immigrants Have Special Sixth Amendment Rights But Limited Time to Enforce Them (p 24)
  12. Virginia Prisoners Held in Segregation Over 10 Years for Violating DOC Grooming Policy (p 28)
  13. Ohio County’s Intensive Probation Program Failing Miserably (p 28)
  14. Northern California Private Pathology Company Under Scrutiny (p 30)
  15. Texas State Bar, Exonerated Ex-Prisoners File Suit Against Attorney Over Fees (p 32)
  16. Prison Legal News Files Censorship Suit Against Florida DOC (p 32)
  17. Denver Prisoner’s Death Ruled a Homicide; Family Files Suit (p 34)
  18. Prisoners Shot and Killed During Egyptian Revolution; 23,000 Escape (p 34)
  19. US EPA Takes Action Against Kansas Prison for Asbestos Violations (p 36)
  20. Federal District Court Slams Bureau of Prisons in FOIA Suit (p 36)
  21. Planned GEO Prison in Adelanto, California Faces Sewage Hurdles (p 38)
  22. Drug Courts Need an Intervention, Reports Say (p 38)
  23. Report Highlights Dual Loyalties in Immigration Detention Health Care (p 40)
  24. $1 Million Settlement in Texas Wrongful Conviction Suit (p 40)
  25. Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Over Sexual Abuse of Female Detainees at CCA Facility in Texas (p 42)
  26. Recording of Nashville, Tennessee Jail Prisoners’ Attorney Calls Criticized (p 42)
  27. CMS Nurses Disciplined in Kentucky Prisoner’s Death (p 42)
  28. Oregon Rethinking Criminal Justice Policies to Avoid Fiscal Crisis (p 44)
  29. $96,000 Settlement in Massachusetts Conditions of Confinement Suit (p 46)
  30. $227,500 Settlement in Suit by Former Minnesota DOC Prison Chaplain (p 46)
  31. Ohio Adam Walsh Act Violates Separation of Powers Doctrine (p 48)
  32. Indiana DOC’s Refusal to Provide Kosher Meals Violates RLUIPA (p 48)
  33. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Defies Court Order, Refuses to Allow Attorney to Take Photographs of Injured Prisoner (p 48)
  34. News in Brief: (p 50)

Prison Sexual Abuse Survivor Speaks Out

In January 2010, Scott Howard, a 39-year-old federal prisoner, made his way briskly into a hearing room in the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Building in Washington, D.C. He was neatly dressed in blazer, slacks and tie, and quite nervous about what he was about to do. He was determined ...

Texas State Auditor Blasts UTMB, Texas Tech Prisoner Health Care Costs

Medical care for more than 150,000 prisoners in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is contracted out to two state university medical systems – the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC).

In fiscal year (FY) 2009, the TDCJ gave ...

DOJ Finds No Wrongdoing After Prisoner Dies Due to Grossly Inadequate Medical Care

Prison officials at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin, Illinois, a medium-security facility, were the subject of an FBI investigation related to a prisoner who died in agony after being denied medical care.

Adam Montoya, 36, was not at FCI Pekin long – a mere 18 days – before his spleen ruptured ...

From the Editor

Welcome to the last issue of PLN for 2011. Since we began publishing PLN, the issue of prisoner rape and sexual assault has been an important priority. There has been some improvement, at least as far as raising public awareness around this issue, over the past two decades. But the ...

Anatomy of False Confessions, Redux

Earlier this year PLN reported on the phenomenon of suspects who falsely confess to crimes they did not commit. [See: PLN, April 2011, p.18]. As false confessions occur in wrongful conviction cases with disturbing regularity, this article revisits and expounds on this important topic and the tragic consequences that ...

Tennessee: Felony Friendly Job Fairs an Unexpected Hit

When Tennessee state Representative Brenda Gilmore and other event organizers planned a Felony Friendly Job Fair in North Nashville on April 23, 2011, they expected a turnout of about 100 former prisoners looking for work. They grossly underestimated the interest among Nashville’s population of ex-offenders.

“We have probably seen ...

Illinois DOC Sued to Accommodate Hearing Impaired Prisoners

A class-action lawsuit filed on May 4, 2011 is challenging the failure of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to provide assistance to prisoners who are deaf or hard of hearing. The complaint, filed in federal court, alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act, Religious Land ...

Tennessee: Incident Rates at CCA Facilities Higher Than at Public Prisons

According to an analysis of incidents involving assaults and disturbances at government-run and privately-managed prisons in Tennessee from January 2009 to June 2011, incident rates were consistently higher at the state’s three private prisons. Those were the findings released on October 18, 2011 by the Private Corrections Institute (PCI ...

Study Shows Ex-offenders Have Greatly Reduced Employment Rates

In November 2010 the Center for Economic and Policy Research released a study titled “Ex-offenders and the Labor Market,” which found that a felony conviction or imprisonment significantly reduces the ability of ex-offenders to find jobs, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $57 to $65 billion annually in lost ...

Ohio ACLU, Other Organizations Release Reports on Prison Privatization

In April 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) released an expansive report entitled Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization, which draws strongly on the experiences of other states with heavily-privatized prison systems. The report concludes that privately-operated prisons result in little or no savings and ...

Immigrants Have Special Sixth Amendment Rights But Limited Time to Enforce Them

by Holly S. Cooper & Anel Carrasco

In negotiating plea bargains for immigrants, many defense lawyers forget to focus on the primary goal for their clients – staying in the United States. While no reliable data exists on how many immigrants are in state prisons, the federal government estimates that immigrants are about 25% of the federal prison population. Immigrants include individuals with green cards, refugee status, undocumented persons and persons here on visas. However, defense lawyers, district attorneys, attorney generals, and judges often fail to account for a person’s legal status here in the United States when entering a plea for a criminal offense.

With most defendants, less time in jail or prison may be a top priority but for immigrants a plea to a misdemeanor with no jail time may signify a life of exile to a country they have never known. Defense lawyers cannot assume what is good for the typical U.S. citizen defendant is good for the non-citizen defendant. In fact, many immigrants are willing to serve longer prison sentences in exchange for the security of being able to stay here in the United States.

Unfortunately, most immigrants do not realize the dramatic impact that a conviction can have on their lives until the immigration authorities begin deportation proceedings. This may happen while someone is serving a criminal sentence in prison or after the prison or jail sentence has ended.

Many prisoners are screened by immigration officials during their prison sentence. If immigration authorities believe the immigrant is deportable, they can put a detainer on the person, pick them up within 48 hours of the end of their release date, and transfer them to an immigration detention center anywhere in the United States.

Upon arrival in immigration detention, it begins to settle in that the accused may not have understood the exact impact of the plea agreement. The defense lawyer may not have ever explained that certain convictions result in almost automatic deportation. Also, the defense lawyer may have given mistaken legal advice that the plea would not have any impact on their immigration status – when in fact it does.

The Supreme Court, in Padilla v. Kentucky,130 S.Ct. 1473, 1480-82 (2010), recognized that the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel includes a duty to inform non-citizen defendants of the impact a plea will have on their immigration status. For many defendants, this means a legal remedy may exist to overturn a conviction if in fact the defendant was not warned of the immigration consequences of his plea.
Immigrants must also show that this failure to advise about the immigration impact prejudiced the accused. Prejudice may include, if it had not been for the bad legal advice, the person could have asserted his right to a jury trial, could have raised a defense to the charge, or could have negotiated a plea that would not have stripped him of his papers or ability to get papers. Currently, a split is developing among the courts as to whether the Padilla rule is retroactive. See e.g., Commonwealth v. Clarke, 949 N.E.2d 892, 899 (Mass. 2011)(Padilla retroactive); U.S. v. Orocio, 645 F.3d 630 (3rd Cir. 2011)(same); Chaidez v. United States, 655 F.3d 684 (7th Cir. 2011)(Padilla not retroactive); United States v. Hong, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 18034(10th Cir. 2011) (Padilla not retroactive to cases on ...

Virginia Prisoners Held in Segregation Over 10 Years for Violating DOC Grooming Policy

A number of prisoners in Virginia have been held in segregation for more than a decade because they refuse to cut their hair or beards on religious grounds.

Since December 1999, the Virginia Department of Corrections’ grooming policy has required male prisoners to keep their hair cut above the shirt ...

Ohio County’s Intensive Probation Program Failing Miserably

A study has found that an intensive probation program in Hamilton County, Ohio is so unsuccessful that its participants are actually more likely to re-offend than those convicted of similar crimes who receive no supervision at all, according to the state’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC).

The program ...

Northern California Private Pathology Company Under Scrutiny

A shortage of forensic pathologists in Northern California and elsewhere in the nation has led to the growth of private for-profit forensics companies. Forensic Medical Group (FMG) is one of those companies. FMG, which employs five doctors, conducts all the autopsies for Colusa, Contra Costa, Sonoma, Sutter and Yolo counties ...

Texas State Bar, Exonerated Ex-Prisoners File Suit Against Attorney Over Fees

The State Bar of Texas has filed a lawsuit against Lubbock attorney Kevin Glasheen, alleging that he grossly overcharged clients in violation of the Bar’s Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Glasheen, who represents over a dozen exonerated former prisoners, charged them about $5 million in combined attorney fees. He ...

Prison Legal News Files Censorship Suit Against Florida DOC

On November 17, 2011 the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Justice Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of Prison Legal News in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Named as defendants in the suit are Florida Dept. of Corrections (FDOC) Secretary Kenneth S. Tucker ...

Denver Prisoner’s Death Ruled a Homicide; Family Files Suit

The Denver area coroner’s office has ruled the death of a prisoner at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Facility (VCSDF) a homicide.

Marvin L. Booker, 56, a homeless preacher, died on July 9, 2010 after a struggle with guards at VCSDF. The incident occurred while Booker was being booked into ...

Prisoners Shot and Killed During Egyptian Revolution; 23,000 Escape

Egyptian officials reported in January 2011 that thousands of prisoners clashed with guards and staged mass escapes during nationwide protests that were part of the revolutionary movement known as Arab Spring. The officials acknowledged that a number of prisoners were killed or wounded during the uprising.

Against a backdrop of ...

US EPA Takes Action Against Kansas Prison for Asbestos Violations

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued orders against the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) for violations of federal law concerning asbestos removal. The violations stem from a renovation in 2005-2006 at the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF).

The EPA took two actions against the KDOC in March 2010. The ...

Federal District Court Slams Bureau of Prisons in FOIA Suit

U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart has denied summary judgment to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in a suit filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking copies of contracts between the BOP and private prison companies for the detention of non-U.S. citizens convicted of federal ...

Planned GEO Prison in Adelanto, California Faces Sewage Hurdles

In January 2011, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board called for a cease and desist order to prevent the City of Adelanto, California from establishing any new sewer connections. The board said that Adelanto’s water utility authority had created a significant health risk by exceeding the capacity of ...

Drug Courts Need an Intervention, Reports Say

Drug courts in the U.S. are increasingly like the people they purportedly aim to help – indulging their pathological tendencies with enabling self-talk that ignores the harsh reality of their failings. So argues the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) in its March 2011 report, Drug Courts are Not the ...

Report Highlights Dual Loyalties in Immigration Detention Health Care

A recent report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) focuses on the “dual loyalties” that medical professionals face when providing health care to detainees in the U.S. immigration system.

The March 28, 2011 report highlights the conflicts that arise when medical officials are torn between their duties to their ...

$1 Million Settlement in Texas Wrongful Conviction Suit

On March 31, 2011, a man who had been falsely convicted of burglary, rape and sexual abuse accepted a $1 million settlement after being exonerated by DNA evidence.
Donald Wayne Good filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights suit in federal court against the City of Irving, Texas ...

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Over Sexual Abuse of Female Detainees at CCA Facility in Texas

A guard at a privately-run immigration detention facility in Texas has pleaded guilty to sexually molesting numerous female immigration detainees while they were being transported to the bus station or airport for release. The facility, the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, located near Austin, is operated by Corrections Corporation of ...

Recording of Nashville, Tennessee Jail Prisoners’ Attorney Calls Criticized

In February 2011 it was revealed that the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee had recorded approximately 300 phone calls between jail prisoners and their lawyers, then gave the recordings to federal prosecutors.

The calls were recorded despite the unwritten policy of the Sheriff’s Office not to ...

CMS Nurses Disciplined in Kentucky Prisoner’s Death

The Kentucky Board of Nursing has disciplined two nurses who were on duty when a prisoner died one day after he was booked into the Fayette County Jail. Prisoner Dean Ferguson, 54, died of a pulmonary embolism on July 10, 2010 after complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath ...

Oregon Rethinking Criminal Justice Policies to Avoid Fiscal Crisis

Oregon is one of ten states in “financial peril,” according to a November 2009 report by The Pew Center on the States. Thanks in large part to the state’s criminal justice policies of the last 20 years, Oregon faces an expected $3.5 billion shortfall in the 2011-13 biennial ...

$96,000 Settlement in Massachusetts Conditions of Confinement Suit

Following a Massachusetts Superior Court’s award of nominal damages and attorney fees in a prison conditions case, and with an appeal pending, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. The settlement resulted from a lawsuit that sought damages for “disgusting and unhealthy conditions” at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Cedar Junction ...

$227,500 Settlement in Suit by Former Minnesota DOC Prison Chaplain

A former Minnesota prison chaplain has settled a lawsuit against state officials after she lost her job for raising concerns about the constitutionality of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) program.

Kristine Holmgren was employed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) as the religious coordinator at the Shakopee women’s ...

Ohio Adam Walsh Act Violates Separation of Powers Doctrine

Provisions of Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act (AWA) that require the reclassification of sex offenders by the Ohio Attorney General violate the separation of powers doctrine, the Ohio Supreme Court decided on June 3, 2010.

In 2006, Congress passed the federal Adam Walsh Act. The federal AWA requires states to ...

Indiana DOC’s Refusal to Provide Kosher Meals Violates RLUIPA

The Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) must provide kosher meals to prisoners who require a kosher diet to properly exercise their religious beliefs, U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson held on November 1, 2010.

Judge Magnus-Stinson’s decision was in response to a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of ...

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Defies Court Order, Refuses to Allow Attorney to Take Photographs of Injured Prisoner

Claiming there was “nothing to hide,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Steve Whitmore nevertheless defended the decision of the Sheriff’s Department not to comply with a court order authorizing an attorney to take photographs of his incarcerated client, who, according to the attorney, was so badly beaten ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: Evergreen police officer Sean Klaetsch was placed on paid leave on Sept. 8, 2011 due to “complaints of unprofessional and harassing conduct.” That conduct included Klaetsch allegedly using a Taser on a female prisoner while she was in a restraint chair at the local jail. The prisoner, Crystal Coleman ...