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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: December, 2011

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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 to not think about it too much, to just get it over with – like so much else that he’d been through over the past few years.

The room was teeming with Department of Justice attorneys, law enforcement agents and corrections officials. Not exactly Howard’s kind of crowd; he’d tried to tell his story to such people before, only to be labeled a liar and a whiner. But the participants also included members of Congress, medical professionals, prison activists, counselors and sexual-assault survivors.

They’d all come to take part in a “listening session” on the wishfully titled Prison Rape Elimination Act. Passed in 2003, PREA created a national commission to study the causes and costs of sexual assault behind bars and to come up with federal policies to attack the problem. Seven years and several blown deadlines later, backers are still waiting for United States Attorney General ...

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 the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee (CMHCC) $466.4 million to pay for all TDCJ prisoner medical care. CMHCC, which kept $700,000 for its own use, is supposed to act as an independent contractor of prisoner health care services.

In FY 2009, UTMB accounted for about four-fifths of medical care provided to TDCJ prisoners, receiving $366.1 million from CMHCC. TTUHSC received $99.6 million.
Because UTMB had a budget deficit of $12.8 million in FY 2009 – requiring a supplemental appropriation – plus an estimated deficit of $82.3 million for FYs 2010 and 2011, the Texas State Auditor’s Office examined the expenditures of both UTMB and TTUHSC, and issued separate reports in February 2011.

The reports were critical of both agencies’ practices. While the audits were in progress, UTMB revised its combined projected deficit for FYs 2009 through 2011 to $83.5 million – a reduction of more ...

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, killing him on November 13, 2009. He was serving a 27-month sentence for counterfeiting and probation violations.

During his short stay Montoya repeatedly begged for help, according to reports from other prisoners. He was seen once by medical staff but only for 10 minutes. They told him he had the flu; one staff member allegedly told him to “man up” and stop complaining.

Montoya was suffering from HIV, cancer and hepatitis. According to the coroner’s report, however, the only medication in Montoya’s system was a trace of Tylenol. There was no evidence that he had received stronger pain medication or his HIV meds.

“He shouldn’t have died in agony like that,” said Dennis Conover, the coroner. “He had been out there long enough that he should have at least died in the hospital.”

Montoya’s symptoms of hepatitis and cancer were obvious – yellow eyes, swelling in the ...

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 reality is that the sexual assault of prisoners remains the only forum in which the mainstream media and politicians can joke about someone being raped. In many ways, culturally, politically and legally, the sexual assault of prisoners in particular and men in general is where the rape of women was 40 or 50 years ago.

As this month’s cover story by Alan Prendergast illustrates, all too often when prisoners have been raped, the police state is silent and the victim is deemed to be a liar, exaggerating or “asking for it.” The bigger political issue is the reality that prison rape and sexual abuse is an essential tool of modern American prison management. As prevalent as it is, it could not be so widespread were it not at least tacitly condoned if not encouraged by prison and jail officials.

President Bush signed the ambitiously-named Prison Rape Elimination Act into ...

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 about 1,500 people already and there are probably an equal number still out there,” Gilmore said around 11:30 a.m., an hour-and-a-half after the event started. “We had a line of 100 at 8:30 a.m.”

It took about three months to plan and organize the job fair. Five employers, Veterans Administration officials, attorneys and counselors interviewed prospective employees and provided them with information on how to dress for success, succeed in an interview, have their voting rights restored, get criminal records expunged and earn a GED. Potential job candidates were told to put on their best clothes and prepare to be interviewed onsite.

“This is sending a message to the city that this is a service that’s badly needed,” said Rep. Gilmore. “There are people here today that were convicted some 20 or 30 years ago and still have trouble finding a job because they ...

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 Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The failure to accommodate prisoners with hearing disabilities includes IDOC’s refusal to provide American Sign Language interpreters, technological assistance and other alternative forms of communication. Without such accommodations, deaf and hard of hearing prisoners are endangered and deprived of meaningful access to religious services, healthcare, educational and vocational programs, telephones, televisions, library services, pre-release programs, and disciplinary and grievances proceedings, the complaint argues.

The IDOC’s failure to accommodate deaf and hearing impaired prisoners regularly jeopardizes their safety. Prison officials provide no auditory safety alerts to such prisoners, making them unaware of vital warnings such as fire alarms, warning shots and orders to lie down to avoid being shot. Without the provision of communication options, deaf prisoners are forced to rely on other prisoners to interpret and communicate for them, which places them in constant danger of exploitation ...

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), a non-profit citizen watchdog group that opposes the privatization of correctional services.

Data obtained from the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) recorded incidents in 11 categories related to prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, prisoner-on-staff assaults and institutional disturbances. Data was reported for the state’s 11 prisons operated by the TDOC as well as three facilities that house state prisoners managed by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison firm.

The three CCA facilities (South Central Correctional Facility, Hardeman County Correctional Facility and Whiteville Correctional Facility) held between 25 and 27 percent of Tennessee’s prison population between January 2009 and June 2011 – slightly over 5,000 prisoners.

While the average number of incidents per month per facility was 17.29 at the state-run prisons in 2009, the average number per month was 31.56 at each CCA facility. In 2010, the average number of incidents per month at ...

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 economic output.

The study focused on male offenders, since they constitute 90% of people convicted of felonies in the U.S. It is well known that ex-prisoners in general have a more difficult time finding jobs than people without a criminal history. The goals of the study were to quantify the amount of disadvantage caused by a felony conviction and to clarify how much of that employment disadvantage was caused by factors unrelated to a criminal record – such as a lack of education, skills or work history – and how much was due solely to the effect of the conviction and/or incarceration.

The study used government statistics to estimate the 2008 working-age ex-felon population in the U.S. at 12.3 to 13.9 million. Of those, between 5.4 and 6.1 million were former prisoners while the others had felony convictions but had not served time in prison ...

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 may in fact end up costing more than state-run correctional facilities.

Ohio Governor John Kasich is a proponent of prison privatization, as are some of his close associates. For example, Donald Thibaut, Kasich’s former congressional chief of staff whom he acknowledges as his closest friend, founded a lobbying firm, The Credo Company, in March 2010. Among Credo’s clients is Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company with $1.6 billion in gross revenue in 2010.

Robert F. Klaffky and Douglas J. Preisse worked on formulating strategy and policy in Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign. They are partners in the lobbying firm of Van Meter, Ashbrook & Associates, which represents the GEO Group – the second-largest private prison company in the U.S. Further, Kasich appointed Gary C. Mohr as director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Before his appointment, Mohr spent five years working as a correctional consultant, mostly for CCA, and served as a managing director for CCA from 2007 to 2009.

Governor Kasich, who ran against special interests that had their “snouts in the trough” of public spending, has publicly stated he will not be giving his friends and close campaign advisors any special treatment. Nonetheless, Kasich came out strongly in favor of further prison privatization, soliciting bids to sell the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility, the Grafton Correctional Institution, the North Central Correctional Institution and a no-longer-used youth prison in Marion. The five facilities are owned by the state, but Lake Erie and North Coast are already privately operated. The plan is for private prison companies to own and manage all five prisons.

Kasich touted the sale as a budget-boosting measure that would generate an estimated one-time cash infusion of up to $200 million. He claimed that the increased privatization of prison operations would save the state millions of dollars in operating expenses. He also has sentencing reform on his political agenda.

A lawsuit to block the prison sale was filed by ProgressOhio, but the court declined to issue a temporary restraining order and allowed the sale to proceed. See: State ex rel. ProgressOhio.org v. State of Ohio, Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County (OH), Case No. 11CVH08-10647.

Ultimately, on September 1, 2011, Ohio ended up selling only one state prison, Lake Erie, for $72.7 million. The buyer, CCA, will be paid to house state prisoners at the facility; this was the first time a state has ever sold a public prison to a private company.

Additionally, the state will merge the North Coast facility, which was operated by private prison firm MTC, with the ...

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 collateral review).

But even if a non-citizen can show defense counsel failed to advise him and he was prejudiced, the immigrant may only be able to assert this defense while in criminal custody. Many state courts have held that to bring a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to vacate the conviction, the individual must be in criminal custody. Custody typically includes incarceration, probation, or parole for the deportable conviction. Courts have found, however, that immigration detention does not count as custody if parole and probation for that offense have been terminated. People v. Carrera, 239 Ill. 2d 241, 940 N.E.2d 1111, 1118(2010)(liberty must be curtailed by state to file relief under Post-Conviction Hearing Act and federal immigration custody does not count as state curtailment of liberty); People v. Villa, 445 Cal.4th 1063 (2009)(California habeas statute’s requirement that individual be “imprisoned” or ...

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 collar, as well as around the ears. It also prohibits beards and goatees.

The stated reasons for the policy are related to security and health concerns. For example, the policy is intended to prevent prisoners from drastically altering their appearances, thereby making them easier to identify should they escape, and to prevent prisoners from hiding contraband in their hair. Female prisoners, however, are allowed to have shoulder-length hair.

A number of Virginia prisoners, followers of the Rastafarian religion, have been kept in segregation for violating the grooming policy. They contend the policy infringes on their religious rights since Rastafarians let their hair grow in dreadlocks and do not cut their beards.

Eric Balaban, an attorney with the ACLU’s National Prison Project, called it “... remarkable, based solely upon the continued violation of grooming policy, to put somebody in the hole for 10 years.”

It is unclear exactly how many prisoners ...

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’s success rate is a mere 29 percent. That ranks as the worst in the state.
Probationers in Hamilton County were 21 percent more likely to re-offend than those with comparable ages and convictions who were not under any supervision.

Other counties saw reductions in recidivism among offenders on intensive probation. Butler County’s program participants were 17 percent less likely to re-offend, while in Clermont County the recidivism rate was 13 percent lower.

This is despite the fact that Hamilton County spends more per probationer than any other county in Ohio. The county also receives more state money than any other county, even larger ones.

Hamilton County received around $1.7 million in state funding during fiscal year 2009 for its intensive probation program. With 728 people to supervise, the county spends an average of $2,308 per probationer.

Yet only 183 of the 640 people who completed the ...

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, and provides pathology services to nine other counties, covering 21,000 square miles in Northern California.

While some of the doctors hired by FMG are well respected among peers in their field, the firm has been criticized for hiring pathologists who were fired from previously-held government positions. Critics also complain that the large number of autopsies performed by FMG, and the fact that they are spread out over such a large area, result in substandard performance even from otherwise competent pathologists. FMG doctors examine around 2,500 bodies a year – more than the San Diego County medical examiner and more than double the number of autopsies conducted by the Riverside County coroner.

“You can’t do that many cases well,” observed Dr. John Pless, a retired Indiana University forensic pathology professor and director of the National Association of Medical Examiners. “You just cannot do it. I don’t care who ...

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 gave around $1.5 million to Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas, and kept $3.5 million for his law firm.
Glasheen is accused of having told his clients to forgo pursuing lawsuits and instead use the state’s compensation system. He then charged them 25% of the compensation money, which they could have obtained without legal representation.

In fact, an exoneree need only fill out a simple one-page form to request compensation, which doesn’t require an attorney. Some exonerated former prisoners, frustrated with waiting, filled out their own compensation forms and then were billed by Glasheen for 25% of the compensation they received nonetheless.

Glasheen sent Steven C. Phillips, an exoneree who spent 25 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted, a bill for $1 million. Yet according to Phillips, Glasheen never filed a single motion in court on his behalf. Phillips and another ...

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 and FDOC wardens at the Everglades, Dade and Homestead Correctional Institutions.

According to the complaint, PLN accuses the FDOC of violating its rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments by refusing to deliver its monthly publication and books to FDOC prisoners system-wide.

“When the government blocks information based on the content of that information, that’s censorship,” said Randall Marshall, Legal Director for the ACLU of Florida. “These publications provide inmates with vital information about their legal rights and individuals in FDOC custody have a right to access these publications.”

Although PLN’s articles and editorial content do not violate FDOC policies or regulations, PLN is being censored by Florida prison officials purportedly due to its advertisements – such as ads for pen-pal services and alternative prison phone services.

“The FDOC is imposing a blanket ban on all of PLN’s publications, including our self-help books for prisoners, because they don ...

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 the facility. Guards placed him in a chokehold, piled on top of him and Tasered him after he refused to go to a holding cell and reportedly cursed at a deputy. Booker wanted to first get his shoes that were nearby; as a result, he ended up dead.

The coroner found that Booker died due to “cardiorespiratory arrest during physical restraint,” with an enlarged heart, emphysema and cocaine use cited as contributing factors. According to the coroner, guards at the jail placed their entire body weight on Booker’s back for four minutes while he was face down. He also was put in a “sleeper hold” for several minutes and shocked for eight seconds with a Taser after he had been handcuffed.

The guards involved in the incident were placed on paid leave pending an investigation. The episode was recorded on surveillance video, which was released publicly.

The Denver Sheriff ...

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 looting and lawlessness that occurred in some Egyptian neighborhoods during the revolution, most of the escaped prisoners were able to evade capture after they broke out. According to news reports, almost a dozen Hizbollah and Hamas militants who were being held in Egyptian prisons escaped and returned to Gaza and Lebanon.

General Mohammed al-Batran, a prison official negotiating with prisoners who were demanding their release, was killed. Some news reports indicated he was shot by a prison guard.

Other Egyptian prison guards were accused of fatally shooting dozens of prisoners and a visitor at the al-Qatta al-Gadeed prison. Another 81 prisoners at that facility were injured.
The violence broke out after prison officials rejected prisoners’ requests to be set free, and continued into February 2011 after the uprising had ended.

“The authorities must stop the use of lethal force against inmates and allow all those injured to receive medical treatment ...

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 first was an administrative compliance order. The order alleges that the KDOC violated the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants by failing to conduct a required asbestos inspection or notifying the EPA prior to renovating E-Dorm.

Under authority of the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA also issued a notice of noncompliance against the KDOC for failing to provide appropriate respiratory protection, training, supervision, assessments and monitoring for workers involved in the renovation project.

Asbestos, a highly toxic mineral fiber found in a variety of pre-1980s building materials, is known to cause such fatal illnesses as asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the protective lining of the lungs, heart, chest and abdomen. Asbestos can only be removed by certified removal specialists in accordance with federal regulations.

During the renovation project, which lasted from April 2005 to October 2006, prisoners and employees at TCF claimed ...

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 crimes.

In 2008, Stephen Raher, former co-coordinator of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, submitted a FOIA request for the contracts as part of a law school project. The BOP turned over several thousand pages of documents but many were heavily redacted. The BOP refused to release numerous other records.

Raher filed suit, arguing that the BOP had improperly withheld many of the requested documents. For example, the BOP claimed a “High 2” exemption – which applies to records about purely internal matters – for the redaction of portions of contract proposals submitted by various private prison firms, including CCA and GEO Group.

In a September 2, 2010 order, however, Judge Stewart found that the BOP had inadequately justified the use of the High 2 exemption. The “descriptions by BOP do not contain sufficient detail or information for the court to determine whether the information is used predominantly for internal purposes by ...

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 its wastewater plant, resulting in “constant unauthorized discharges” of untreated sewage.

Adelanto officials worked to stop the sewer connection ban, claiming it would slow the area’s already lagging economic growth and take away the very resources needed to correct the problem. Especially in danger would be the plans of GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company, to build a 650-bed facility in Adelanto that would create 170 jobs. Another company, D.R. Horton, was also planning to build 83 houses in the city – presumably to market to prison employees.

“I recognize that a connection ban can have adverse economic effects. But the fact is that they currently don’t have a capacity to treat the water that they currently receive,” said Chuck Curtis, the board’s supervising engineer. “By continuing to add additional connections and additional discharge to the sewer system, the threat of additional disinfected waste ...

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 Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use.

The Justice Policy institute (JPI) reached a similar conclusion in a report titled Addicted to Courts: How a Growing Dependence on Drug Courts Impacts People and Communities, also released in March 2011.

“On the face of it, drug courts appear to be aligned with a growing sentiment that incarceration is not an effective response to drug use and that treatment is a better option because it gets at the root of the problem,” stated Margaret Dooley-Sammuli of the DPA and Nastassia Walsh of JPI, in an April 6, 2011 editorial. “In other words, drug courts are promoted as more like a public health approach. Unfortunately, drug courts appear to be a case of good intentions being mistaken for a real solution.”

For 20 years, drug courts have sought to reduce illegal drug use by mandating substance abuse treatment within an overburdened criminal ...

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 patients and their obligations to an employer, government agency, insurer or the military – a common problem in immigration facilities, prisons and other detention centers.

The relationship between doctor and patient is sacrosanct and deserves special recognition, treatment and protection under the law. Indeed, the World Medical Association’s International Code of Ethics affirms that “a physician shall owe his patients complete loyalty and all the resources of their science.”

When doctors and health care professionals are caught between two parties with different or discordant aims and objectives, they have what is known as a “dual loyalty” conflict.

“In many cases, health professionals who succumb to the pressure to fulfill third party needs at the expense of their patients end up breaching the ethical obligations of their profession and violating the human rights of the very person who is entitled to the health professionals’ strongest loyalty,” the PHR report stated. “Ethically ...

$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 America (CCA).

CCA guard Donald Charles Dunn, 30, was tasked with transporting immigration detainees who were being released. On May 11, 2010, a newly-released detainee complained to airport officials that she had been groped by Dunn. Austin police were summoned. They notified the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) and sheriff’s deputies interviewed Dunn, who admitted groping several women when transporting them late at night.

Dunn said he would stop at several locations in Williamson and Travis Counties on the way to Austin. He then “told the women he was going to frisk them and inappropriately touched their breasts, crotch and buttocks,” according to a WCSO press release. “Mr. Dunn advised that he didn’t do this for safety concerns but as self gratification. Mr. Dunn indicated that he had done this to numerous other women while performing his duties as transport officer.”

WCSO began a “large scale investigation ...

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 listen to attorney-client phone calls; Sheriff’s officials claimed the recordings were inadvertent.
The controversy arose when 142 CDs containing the calls, among many other phone conversations from the jail, were turned over to federal prosecutors who shared them with dozens of criminal defense lawyers.

Some of the defense attorneys whose calls were recorded objected to their release, claiming it violated attorney-client privilege, but other defense lawyers refused to return the CDs with the recorded calls, saying they might be useful in the representation of their clients.

U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin, who ultimately received the CDs with the attorney phone recordings, said “It’s our policy not to listen to those calls. The controversy arises because there’s [sic] criminal defense lawyers in town who want to listen to other defense lawyers’ calls.”

As part of an investigation into a Somali gang sex-trafficking ring, the U.S. Attorney ...

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.

The nurses, Karen J. Newton Hodge and Stephanie Denise Slaughter Travis, were employed by the jail’s medical contractor, Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS).
They failed to provide medical care for Ferguson despite observing him in distress. The nurses reportedly thought he was “faking” an illness.

After a complaint was filed by Ferguson’s family, the Board of Nursing issued a subpoena for “copies of any facility investigation regarding the death of inmate Dean Ferguson on July 10.” Two days later, CMS employee Jonathan Bowen, who served as the medical director at the jail, left his job. No reason was given for his departure and CMS refused to comply with a public records request for documents related to Bowen’s termination of employment.

Hodge and Travis agreed on March 28, 2011 to have their licenses suspended for three years, according to the Board of Nursing’s Executive Director, Charlotte Beason ...

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 state budget, and “the shortfall between revenue and expenses is expected to remain at more than $2 billion” over the next decade.

To address this crisis, outgoing Oregon Governor Theodore Kulongoski issued an executive order establishing a Governor’s Reset Cabinet to explore inefficiencies at all levels of state government.

In June 2010, the Reset Subcommittee on Public Safety issued a report that focused on two of the “three main cost-drivers in building and operating prisons” – who is sent to prison and for how long.

Since the 1985-87 biennium, the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) “has increased expenditures by 209 percent,” according to the Subcommittee report. ODOC now accounts for 53 percent of the state’s public safety spending and about 10 percent of the entire general fund.

In the last two decades ODOC’s budget has increased to a current two-year budget of $1.36 billion. That amount “is ...

$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 adopt national sex offender registration, community notification and classification standards or face the loss of a percentage of federal crime control funds.
The Ohio AWA, which implemented the federal AWA, was enacted by the state legislature in 2007. The Ohio AWA directs the state Attorney General to reclassify all Ohio sex offenders using federal AWA standards.

In 2007, Christian Bodyke was reclassified by the Attorney General as a “Tier III” offender based on a 1999 conviction for sexual battery. As a Tier III offender, Bodyke was required to register “with the local sheriff every 90 days for the duration of his life.” Before passage of the Ohio AWA, Bodyke was only required to register once a year for ten years.

Bodyke appealed his reclassification as a Tier III offender, arguing that the Ohio AWA reclassification violated separation of powers. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed. “The reclassification scheme in the AWA ...

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 all current and future DOC prisoners who request a kosher diet for religious reasons.
The suit alleged that the DOC’s termination of its kosher program for cost reasons violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Until June 2010, the DOC provided pre-packaged kosher meals for lunch and dinner to prisoners who expressed a religious preference for a kosher diet. Breakfast meals were not pre-packaged.

Due to cost increases associated with providing Halal meals to Muslim prisoners, however, the DOC decided to stop providing all pre-packaged religious meals. Instead prison officials offered a vegetarian diet that it conceded was not kosher.

The DOC argued that “spiraling costs” alone constituted a “compelling government interest” supporting the termination of its kosher meal program. Judge Magnus-Stinson disagreed.

“The idea that cost alone could provide a compelling government interest,” she wrote, “directly contravenes Seventh Circuit precedent.” Further, the cost basis for ...

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 by jail deputies that he could not recognize him.

Whitmore described the detainee, Federico Bustos, as so “extraordinarily aggressive” that he routinely hurt himself and others. According to Whitmore, Bustos, who was charged with murder and attempted murder in the kidnapping and shooting of two men in 2006, was injured during a cell extraction.

While Deputy Public Defender John F. Montoya decried the February 2011 incident, saying he had “never represented anyone who was as severely beaten by the police as Federico Bustos was,” Whitmore claimed that Bustos – who sustained bruises to his face, body, legs and left eye – had not been injured as seriously as Montoya alleged.

According to court records, in January 2011, after repeatedly refusing to leave his cell to appear in court, Bustos was found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. On February 23, as Bustos awaited transfer to Patton State Hospital, sheriff’s deputies ...

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, happened to be the sister of a city councilman. Klaetsch was fired effective Oct. 31, 2011.

California: Two fights at the John Latorraca Correctional Center in August 2011 have officials worried about safety at the facility. The first incident, involving Norteno gang members attacking members of a rival gang, left two prisoners and three guards with minor injuries. The second fight, on August 27, also involved Norteno gang members. Guards used batons and pepper spray to regain control, and several homemade weapons were found following the fight. The Merced County Sheriff’s Employee Association blamed budget cuts for the increase in violence.

Florida: On Sept. 21, 2011, Governor Rick Scott denied a request for clemency for state prisoner Deborah Turner, who has leukemia. Prison officials assured him that Turner, serving three years for burglary and theft, was receiving adequate medical care. Scott also denied clemency in most of the other ...

 

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