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Prison Legal News: April, 2011

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Volume 22, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Nationwide PLN Survey Examines Prison Phone Contracts, Kickbacks (p 1)
  2. Some Agencies Balk at Releasing Prison Phone Data (p 17)
  3. New Research: Why Innocent People Confess to Crimes They Did Not Commit (p 18)
  4. From the Editor (p 18)
  5. Bexar County, Texas Fails to Properly Evaluate Mentally Ill Jail Prisoners (p 20)
  6. Prisoners’ Human Rights (p 22)
  7. Colorado Sought to Revoke Prisoner’s Electrician License After His Release (p 25)
  8. It’s Scary Out There in Reporting Land: Why Crime News is on the Rise and Reporting Analysis is on the Decline (p 26)
  9. Controversial Drug Given to All Guantanamo Detainees Akin to “Pharmacologic Waterboarding” (p 28)
  10. Washington Court Reverses Injunction Against Prisoner’s Public Records Requests (p 32)
  11. New York Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Late Prison Vendor Payments (p 33)
  12. Texas State Auditor’s Reports Find Problems with Parole System (p 34)
  13. Oregon Parole Board Improperly Excluded Witnesses at Revocation Hearing (p 35)
  14. Maryland: Convicted Felons Receive Victims’ Compensation (p 36)
  15. Maine Governor Rakes in Private Prison Money, Shows Appreciation (p 37)
  16. Minnesota DOC Releases Study on Impact of Prison-Based Sex Offender Treatment (p 38)
  17. Heat Ray Device, Rejected by Military, to be Tested on Los Angeles County Jail Prisoners (p 38)
  18. Federal Court Rejects California’s Attempt to Terminate Clark Remedial Plan, Grants $2.3 Million in Attorney’s Fees (p 40)
  19. GEO Group Acquires Electronic Monitoring Firm for $415 Million (p 40)
  20. Facebook Lands Prison Guards, Prisoners in Hot Water (p 42)
  21. Massachusetts Strip Search Class-Action Nets $1,162,468 (p 42)
  22. Billing Medicaid Would Save NC $11.5 Million in Prison Medical Care Costs (p 44)
  23. U.K. Terrorism Suspects May Challenge Extradition Based on U.S. Prison Conditions (p 44)
  24. Twelve Indiana Prison Employees Suspended for Positive Drug Tests, Contraband (p 46)
  25. Texas Legislator Who Helped Prisoners’ Families Indicted, Convicted, Sentenced (p 46)
  26. Wisconsin Prisoner Pleads No Contest to Helping Cellmate Commit Suicide (p 48)
  27. Questionable New Jersey Halfway House Funding Benefits CEC (p 48)
  28. $85,000 Settlement in South Carolina Prison Murder Suit (p 49)
  29. News In Brief: (p 50)

Nationwide PLN Survey Examines Prison Phone Contracts, Kickbacks

by John E. Dannenberg

An exhaustive analysis of prison phone contracts nationwide has revealed that with only limited exceptions, telephone service providers offer lucrative kickbacks (politely termed “commissions”) to state contracting agencies – amounting on average to 42% of gross revenues from prisoners’ phone calls – in order to obtain exclusive, monopolistic contracts for prison phone services.

These contracts are priced not only to unjustly enrich the telephone companies by charging much higher rates than those paid by the general public, but are further inflated to cover the commission payments, which suck over $143 million per year out of the pockets of prisoners’ families – who are the overwhelming recipients of prison phone calls. Averaging a 42% kickback nationwide, this indicates that the phone market in state prison systems is worth more than an estimated $362 million annually in gross revenue.

In a research task never before accomplished, Prison Legal News, using public records laws, secured prison phone contract information from all 50 states (compiled in 2008-2009 and representing data from 2007-2008). The initial survey was conducted by PLN contributing writer Mike Rigby, with follow-up research by PLN associate editor Alex Friedmann.

The phone contracts were reviewed to determine the ...

Some Agencies Balk at Releasing Prison Phone Data

by Mike Rigby

It is common knowledge among PLN readers that prison and jail phone rates are priced far above those in the free world. But just how overpriced are they? What is the average kickback (commission) rate provided by phone companies, and how much in kickbacks is paid each year nationwide?

In an effort to obtain a comprehensive overview of the prison phone market, I was hired to help acquire phone contracts, rate information and commission data from all 50 state prison systems as well as the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and selected county jails. I requested the same data from all agencies yet the responses, and what was initially produced, varied widely.

Responses to the requests for phone data were varied, but the norm was a mixture of bureaucracy and indifference. I was often routed from department to department, from one person to another, before reaching someone who had the authority or initiative to provide the requested information.

For example, the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) readily produced its commission data, but obtaining the prison phone contracts from the uncooperative state purchasing department took multiple calls and emails to 5 different agency officials.
Actually obtaining copies of ...

New Research: Why Innocent People Confess to Crimes They Did Not Commit

A September 2010 article in the New York Times highlighted an interesting phenomenon that has become more evident in an era where DNA evidence is available to help conclusively prove guilt or innocence – the fact that many people confess to crimes they did not commit, and serve lengthy prison terms as a result. Now, due to numerous real-life examples and research by experts, it is recognized that such confessions occur much more frequently than originally presumed.

Peter J. Neufeld, co-founder of the New York-based Innocence Project, said the new research is dramatic. “In the past, if somebody confessed, that was the end. You couldn’t imagine going forward.” Neufeld noted that rather than focusing on whether confessions were physically coerced, one should also “look at whether they are reliable.”

According to records compiled by Professor Brandon L. Garrett of the University of Virginia Law School, since 1976 at least 40 people have given confessions that were later shown to be false by DNA evidence. Prof. Garrett observed that it has been known for some time that the mentally impaired, mentally ill, young, and easily led can often be coerced into confessions, but cited the example of Eddie J. Lowery to ...

From the Editor

The gouging of prisoner’s families and friends by prison and jail officials and the telephone industry is a well-known phenomenon but also one that is fairly recent. Telephones were not introduced into prisons and jails until the 1970s (the state of Texas was the last to introduce phones to its prison system in 2010). It took almost two decades before the telecom industry figured out that they could get lucrative contracts by offering “commissions,” the euphemism for kickbacks, to prison and jail officials in exchange for monopoly contracts that allowed them to charge as much as they wanted.

Two decades later the practice is entrenched and normalized. In the mid 1990’s the Wall Street Journal estimated that the prison and jail phone call racket was a billion dollar-a-year industry, but no one really knew the extent of it. This issue’s cover story on the prison phone industry is unique because it is the first time anyone has ever looked at the actual contracts and dollar amounts generated by the prison phone racket.

As Mike Rigby’s side bar article makes clear, getting this information was not easy and, in fact, at least half the states produced considerable obstacles to our being ...

Bexar County, Texas Fails to Properly Evaluate Mentally Ill Jail Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

In 2009 the Texas legislature amended a law, codified at Article 16.22 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, with the intent to require early identification of mentally ill jail prisoners so they can receive appropriate treatment and consideration upon sentencing.

Bexar County, which includes the city of San Antonio, Texas, has failed to fully apply the state law to its 4,500 jail prisoners, 21% of whom are estimated to have a mental illness.
Under the law, the jail is required to provide a list of possibly mentally ill prisoners to a magistrate within 72 hours of arrest, and the magistrate must order a mental health evaluation and receive a report and recommended course of treatment within 30 days. The magistrate is required to provide a copy of the report to the prosecutor and defense attorney. During this process the criminal case cannot proceed.

State Rep. Pete Gallego sponsored the bill with the aim of seeing criminal justice and mental health resources used more efficiently.

“The goal is to do it up front,” said Gallego. “The way the system was working was, you weren’t catching [mentally ill prisoners] until the tail end, and by then the person had ...

Prisoners’ Human Rights

by Corey Weinstein, MD

It was a little more than sixty years ago that the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). For the first time in history, governments from around the world declared that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” and that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

A number of treaties and conventions have been promulgated based on the UDHR, stating the principle that all people in any kind of detention or prison must “be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”1 The declaration of the inherent dignity of all people is the foundation of human rights doctrine and stands in stark contradiction to societies’ historical treatment of law breakers and the imprisoned.

In ancient Greece, “infamous” criminals were not allowed to appear in court, make public speeches or serve in the army. Criminals in Rome could be denied voting rights or the ability to hold public office.2 In medieval Europe, infamous criminals suffered “civil death” which resulted in the deprivation of all rights, ...

Colorado Sought to Revoke Prisoner’s Electrician License After His Release

For nearly two decades, Colorado state prisoner Marke E. Bogle worked as a licensed electrician for the Colorado Department of Corrections. In 1987, with the prison system’s approval, he tested and obtained his journeyman’s license. The next year he was licensed as a master electrician, and prison officials paid for his license renewal every two years.

Bogle spent the better part of 18 years working 12-to-15 hour days, and even trained other prisoners. He performed every conceivable electric-related job while he was locked up.
He installed surveillance systems and repaired electrical fences. Wardens kept him on call at all hours and he traveled across the state repairing prisons’ electrical problems for 60 cents a day – the going wage for prison labor.

On one occasion Bogle even saved his prison supervisor’s life. “I was 72 feet up [a lamppost]” recalled Richard Nailor, Bogle’s former supervisor. When Bogle realized the pole was about to snap, “he held it real carefully as I eased down.”

Bogle only declined one job during his entire sentence: He refused to wire the Territorial Prison’s room used for lethal injections.

In 2006, after almost two decades behind bars, Bogle was released on parole. He soon began ...

It’s Scary Out There in Reporting Land: Why Crime News is on the Rise and Reporting Analysis is on the Decline

To understand how badly we’re doing the most basic work of journalism in covering the law enforcement beat, try sitting in a barbershop. When I was getting my last haircut, the noon news on the television—positioned to be impossible to avoid watching—began with a grisly murder. The well-educated man in the chair next to me started ranting about how crime is out of control.

But it isn’t. I told Frank, a regular, that crime isn’t running wild and his chance of being burglarized today is less than one quarter what it was in 1980. [Author’s note: Upon further checking, I learned that the chance of getting burglarized today is actually 42.5 percent of what it was in 1980].

The shop turned so quiet you could have heard a hair fall to the floor had the scissors not stopped. The barbers and clients listened intently as I next told them about how the number of murders in America peaked back in the early 1990’s at a bit south of 25,000 and fell to fewer than 16,000 in 2009. When we take population growth into account, this means your chance of being murdered has almost been cut in half.

“So why is ...

Controversial Drug Given to All Guantanamo Detainees Akin to “Pharmacologic Waterboarding”

by Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye

The Defense Department forced all “war on terror” detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison to take a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug, mefloquine, an act that an Army public health physician called “pharmacologic waterboarding.”

The U.S. military administered the drug despite Pentagon knowledge that mefloquine caused severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. The drug was used on the prisoners whether they had malaria or not.

Interviews conducted over the past two months with tropical disease experts and a review of Defense Department documents and peer-reviewed journals show there were no preexisting cases where mefloquine was ever prescribed for mass presumptive treatment of malaria.

The revelation, which has not been previously reported, was buried in documents publicly released by the Department of Defense (DoD) two years ago as part of the government’s investigation into the June 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo detainees.

Army Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman, who was stationed at Guantanamo at the time of the suicides in 2006, and has presented evidence that demonstrates the three detainees could not have died by hanging themselves, noticed in the detainees’ medical files that they were given mefloquine. Hickman has ...

Washington Court Reverses Injunction Against Prisoner’s Public Records Requests

On July 29, 2010, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed that prisoners have standing to request records under Washington’s Public Records Act (PRA). The court also held that photographs of guards; personnel, compensation and training records; and intelligence and investigation reports were not exempt from disclosure. Finally, guards who were not named in a prisoner’s “counterfeit sexual predator flyer” were not entitled to an injunction, though prison employees “have the right to seek an injunction to protect their individual privacy rights when faced with an explicit and volunteered threat.”

Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) prisoner Allan Parmelee frequently requests public records under the PRA. Between July 2004 and August 2006, he “submitted 95 public disclosure requests” to the DOC, and prison officials claimed at the time that he had filed over 400 public records requests.

Parmelee wrote several letters to DOC officials “stating that he intends to misuse information that he receives about DOC staff,” the appellate court noted. “He also made comments that DOC staff have interpreted as thinly veiled threats against them and their families.”

Parmelee contacted DOC Secretary Harold Clarke on July 20, 2005, calling Clallam Bay Correctional Center (CBCC) Superintendent Sandra Carter “a man-hater lesbian.” ...

New York Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Late Prison Vendor Payments

Paying your bills on time is a basic element of efficient fiscal management. Apparently, however, it is a basic element that the New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) failed to master, since the Department’s tardy payments resulted in $58,553 in unnecessary interest on 2,384 late vendor bills.

The problems stemmed from the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, a state prison on Staten Island. According to an audit by the Office of the New York State Comptroller dated April 23, 2009, Arthur Kill was late on vendor payments 77 percent of the time during the 2005-2006 fiscal year and 34 percent during 2006-2007. Under New York’s prompt payment law, vendors are supposed to be paid within 30 days.

Arthur Kill staff attributed the late payments to staffing issues, lack of available funds, mishandled paperwork and misprioritization of payments. With respect to staffing, for example, Arthur Kill complained that it did not have enough business office employees and that it had trouble hiring new staff because few people were willing to pay $10 a day to commute via a toll bridge, or $6 a day via public transportation.

And while Arthur Kill claimed that it lacked funds, at times, to pay its ...

Texas State Auditor’s Reports Find Problems with Parole System

Two audits of Texas’ parole system, in 2008 and 2010, revealed a number of problems and inefficiencies.

According to the first audit, released in June 2008, approximately 1,250 Texas parole officers supervised 77,526 parolees during fiscal year 2007. Five counties – Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis – accounted for over half of the parolee case load.

The State Auditor’s Office determined that the only efficient aspect of Texas’ parole system was in the area of parole revocations. In other areas, both the board that determines parole review criteria as well as parole offices that monitor parolees fell short of acceptable operational standards.

A major factor in the parole system’s inefficiency was its antiquated computer database. In 2000 the state contracted with a company called Sapient to implement the Offender Information Management System (OIMS). OIMS consisted of three modules and was projected to go online in 2001. The first module, used for parole supervision, was not operational until 2004 and still had numerous problems. Modules two and three, used for determining parole releases and parole revocations, respectively, were seven years behind schedule when the audit was performed.

The projected cost of OIMS was $31 million, and two of the three ...

Oregon Parole Board Improperly Excluded Witnesses at Revocation Hearing

The Oregon Supreme Court, sitting en banc, held that the Oregon Board of Parole (Board) had improperly deprived a parolee of his right to call witnesses at a revocation hearing.

Parolee Thomas Edward O’Hara was arrested on March 9, 2005 for a parole violation after his parole officer, two other parole officers and police conducted an unscheduled home visit.

On March 15, 2005, O’Hara requested a formal hearing and asked that six witnesses be called to testify. The hearing officer denied his request, finding the witnesses could offer nothing relevant to the allegations against him.

The formal hearing was conducted on March 28, 2005. The hearing officer acknowledged O’Hara’s witness request and again denied the request, “concluding that the testimony of those witnesses was not relevant to the issues to be examined.” O’Hara objected to the denial. The hearing officer then found O’Hara in violation of his parole supervision and recommended a 45-day jail sanction.

On appeal, the Oregon Supreme Court rejected the Board’s argument that O’Hara was required to make an offer of proof at the hearing as to each witness’ testimony. “That might be an appropriate objection in formal litigation,” the Court wrote. “An informal hearing, however, does ...

Maryland: Convicted Felons Receive Victims’ Compensation

Since 2003, Maryland’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Board has awarded about $1.8 million to claimants with criminal convictions. In Baltimore, over 120 people who received victims’ compensation had been arrested for selling or manufacturing drugs; more than seventy of those payments went to families to cover burial expenses.

Deandra M. Gaskins had convictions for car theft, armed robbery and drug dealing. In 2005 he was shot during a drive-by in South Baltimore, and his injuries resulted in thousands of dollars worth of hospital bills. He applied to the compensation fund for assistance and was approved.

Gaskins had just left work on the night he was shot. As he sat on the front steps of a friend’s rowhouse, four men in a car stopped in front of him. One asked Gaskins for the time. When he replied he didn’t know, the man responded, “You know what time it is,” then opened fire with an assault rifle.

“It snapped my wrist out of place and slung me up against a wall,” said Gaskins, who lamented his permanent physical injuries, saying, “I can’t play with my kids the way I want to anymore.”

In an unrelated incident a gang member was shot to death ...

Maine Governor Rakes in Private Prison Money, Shows Appreciation

In Maine’s last gubernatorial campaign, the controversial Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit prison operator, spent $25,000 on behalf of Republican candidate Paul LePage, now Maine’s newly-elected governor. The money was given to the Republican Governors Association’s Maine political action committee, which spent heavily on LePage. No other Maine gubernatorial candidate benefited from CCA money, campaign-finance reports reveal.

Although his transition office denied a link with the contribution, LePage met in Augusta with CCA representatives weeks before he became governor. The meeting breathed new life into the town of Milo’s effort to lure CCA into building a giant prison in that remote, impoverished Piscataquis County community.

Milo officials also met with LePage. The town manager, Jeff Gahagan, said CCA officials have talked about a prison housing 2,000 to 2,400 prisoners with 200 to 300 employees. If true, that would be an extraordinarily small number of staff for such a large number of prisoners. The Maine State Prison has just over 400 workers – most of them guards – to deal with just over 900 prisoners. LePage also is looking into boarding Maine prisoners in CCA prisons out of state.

That possibility and the Milo prison possibility are ...

Minnesota DOC Releases Study on Impact of Prison-Based Sex Offender Treatment

by Matt Clarke

In March 2010 the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) released a report on the impact of in-prison sex offender treatment programs on recidivism rates. The results of the study “suggest that prison-based treatment in Minnesota produces a significant, albeit modest, reduction in sex offender recidivism.”

The report opens by noting that previous studies, which tended to show either no positive effect or a very small reduction in recidivism when comparing sex offenders who participated in in-prison treatment programs with those who did not, suffered from a lack of methodological rigor. The research weaknesses in those studies included a lack of random assignment or matching techniques so that nonequivalent comparison groups were used (in 84% of previous studies), and, most importantly, insufficient sample size (in 87% of earlier studies).

The March 2010 report examines recidivism rates through December 31, 2006 of sex offenders released from Minnesota state prisons between 1993 and 2003. After removing releasees who refused treatment and a matching group from the study, 1,020 releasees who had not been offered treatment were matched with a corresponding group of releasees who received in-prison treatment, for a sample size of 2,040.

To match individual treated vs. untreated releasees, ...

Heat Ray Device, Rejected by Military, to be Tested on Los Angeles County Jail Prisoners

by Mike Brodheim

In August 2010, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced plans to deploy a high-tech heat ray device, originally developed by Raytheon Company for use by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, as a tool to respond to prisoner unrest at the Pitchess Detention Center’s North County Correctional Facility in Castaic, California.

Use of the 600-pound, 7 1/2-foot-tall heat ray, an active denial system known as an Assault Intervention Device, is being monitored by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is funding a six-month trial of the heat ray at Pitchess.

“We believe that technology can help solve problems facing the corrections community, including addressing issues of inmate violence,” said Sheriff Lee Baca. “The Assault Intervention Device appears uniquely suited to address some of the more difficult inmate violence issues without the drawbacks of tools currently available to us.”

With a range of 80 to 100 feet, for example, the heat ray can be used to target prisoners in circumstances where a Taser would be ineffectual. “This device will allow us to quickly intervene without having to enter the area and without incapacitating or injuring either combatant,” Sheriff Baca ...

Federal Court Rejects California’s Attempt to Terminate Clark Remedial Plan, Grants $2.3 Million in Attorney’s Fees

by Mike Brodheim

On August 26, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law after conducting a hearing to determine whether it was appropriate to terminate the prospective relief provisions of the Clark Remedial Plan (CRP). The CRP is a set of policies and procedures detailed in a 2001 settlement agreement designed to ensure that California prisoners with developmental disabilities are protected from serious injury and discrimination due to their disabilities. [See: PLN, Sept. 1998, p.12].

The State of California, the Governor and various prison officials – the defendants in Clark v. California – filed a motion in 2010, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b), seeking to terminate the CRP. While the defendants had agreed in 2001 that “they [had] violated the federal rights of plaintiffs [developmentally disabled prisoners] in a manner sufficient to warrant the relief contained” in the CRP, in seeking to terminate the CRP they argued that such violations no longer occurred.

The district court largely rejected that argument. To the contrary, the court found further relief was necessary because the defendants had demonstrated they were unable to remedy their ...

GEO Group Acquires Electronic Monitoring Firm for $415 Million

by David M. Ruetter

The GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company, announced on December 21, 2010 that it will pay $415 million in an all-cash deal to acquire Behavioral Interventions, Inc. (BI). The purchase allows GEO to expand beyond detention services into the area of community supervision.

BI was founded in 1978; the company oversees more than 60,000 offenders in all 50 states through contracts with around 900 federal, state and local agencies. BI uses technologies that include radio frequency and GPS monitoring, voice identification, and remote alcohol detection systems to supervise parolees, probationers and pretrial defendants. “BI also provides community-based re-entry services for approximately 1,700 parolees,” according to a GEO press release.

“This acquisition will distinguish GEO as the premier service provider with full continuum of care solutions for correctional, detention and residential treatment worldwide,” said George C. Zoley, GEO’s chairman and CEO. Currently, GEO operates 81,000 beds at 118 prisons, jails and residential treatment facilities in the U.S., Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

With BI being integrated into GEO’s subsidiary, GEO Care, GEO will be able to “address all aspects and reach all segments across the entire corrections, detention and residential treatment spectrum, providing ...

Facebook Lands Prison Guards, Prisoners in Hot Water

by Mike Rigby

One downside of the information age is that both prison guards and prisoners have found themselves in trouble due to their accounts on Facebook, the Internet’s premier social networking site.

Three Nebraska prison guards were fired in March 2010 due to a Facebook post in which they gloated about abusing prisoners. [See: PLN, May 2010, p.50].

“When you work in a prison a good day is getting to smash an inmate’s face into the ground .... for me today was a VERY good day,” Nebraska Dept. of Corrections guard Caleb Bartels stated on his Facebook page. Two other prison guards, Shawn Paulson and Derek Dickey, posted responses supporting his comment. Dickey wrote, “very satisfying isn’t it!!!”

Prison officials confirmed that staff had used force against a prisoner at the Nebraska State Penitentiary on February 8, 2010, the date of Bartel’s Facebook post.

In a letter to Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, former State Senator Ernie Chambers said the “reprehensible misconduct” bragged about by the guards on Facebook made them unfit to serve. “Given the nature of their work and the power they exercise over inmates, they have shown themselves to lack fitness to hold employment,” Chambers wrote. ...

Massachusetts Strip Search Class-Action Nets $1,162,468

Massachusetts has agreed to pay $1,162,468 to settle a class-action suit on behalf of 486 detainees who were strip searched without cause at the Franklin County Jail.
The sheriff maintained a policy of routinely strip searching all detainees who were admitted to the jail. The policy did not require individual, reasonable suspicion that the detainee possessed drugs, weapons or other contraband.

Gregory Garvey, Sr. was strip searched without reasonable suspicion pursuant to Franklin County’s blanket strip search policy. On March 28, 2007, Garvey filed suit in federal court alleging that the county’s strip search policy was unconstitutional. The case was certified as a class action on April 15, 2008, covering “all people strip searched without individualized reasonable suspicion ... at the Franklin County Jail” between March 28, 2004 and February 25, 2007. The district court appointed attorneys Howard Friedman and David Milton as class counsel under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(g).

On October 22, 2009, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the county’s blanket strip search policy was unconstitutional as to “people who were held while waiting for bail to be set or before a first court appearance after being arrested on charges or on warrants that did ...

Billing Medicaid Would Save NC $11.5 Million in Prison Medical Care Costs

The North Carolina Department of Corrections (NCDOC) “could save about $11.5 million a year by requiring hospitals and other medical service providers to bill Medicaid for eligible inmate inpatient hospital and professional services,” according to an August 2010 report by the North Carolina State Auditor’s Office.

The NCDOC “cooperates with 35 hospitals to provide medical services for over 40,000 inmates housed in 71 prisons.” In 2008-2009, the NCDOC spent approximately $159.8 million in prisoner health care expenses but “does not require hospitals or other medical service providers to bill Medicaid for any inmate health care costs,” the audit found. A previous audit had “concluded that the Department pays an average of 467% (from 198% to as high as 879%) of Medicaid rates for inmate health care costs.” [See: PLN, Nov. 2010, p.48].

State auditors found the NCDOC “could reduce its inmate healthcare costs if medical providers billed Medicaid for inpatient services provided to Medicaid-eligible inmates.”
The Medicaid eligibility requirements “include income and resource limits, citizenship and alien status, state of residence, 20 years old or younger, 65 years old or older, pregnant, blind or disabled,” according to the audit report. Prisoners “could also be Medicaid eligible if they are considered ...

U.K. Terrorism Suspects May Challenge Extradition Based on U.S. Prison Conditions

by Matt Clarke

On July 8, 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France held that four suspects being detained in the United Kingdom pending extradition to the United States on terrorism charges could challenge their extradition based upon the expected prison conditions they would be subjected to in the U.S. – specifically the anticipated use of the federal supermax prison (ADX) in Florence, Colorado and the imposition of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) restricting their contact with other people.

Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat, Syed Tahla Ahsan – all British citizens – and Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (AKA Abu Hamza al-Masri), the “suspects,” were arrested in the U.K. based on extradition requests by the United States following their indictment on terrorism charges in the U.S. The suspects challenged their extradition in the U.K.’s legal system alleging, among other claims, that they would be subjected to confinement in the ADX and SAMs if convicted. This account simplifies the complexities of three separate legal proceedings that were later consolidated before the ECHR.

The U.K. court held that the suspects’ complaints that they may be exposed to trial by military tribunal, the death penalty and rendition were nullified by a U.S. ...

Twelve Indiana Prison Employees Suspended for Positive Drug Tests, Contraband

by Matt Clarke

In September 2010, Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) officials announced the suspension of a dozen employees at the Pendleton Correctional Facility following a crackdown on contraband smuggling. [See: PLN, Oct. 2010, p.50]. Pendleton houses about 2,000 prisoners and has approximately 600 employees.

The crackdown, which included cell-by-cell searches and drug testing of employees, was instituted after a rash of prisoners tested positive for drugs in mid-August. Employees were drug tested starting on August 30, 2010, and 49 came back positive within the first two days. Eleven of the guards who tested positive admitted to using illegal drugs and were suspended. The others claimed they did not use illicit drugs, and will be further tested to determine if legal prescription medication caused the positive results.

Another DOC employee was suspended after being caught smuggling a cell phone.
Additional employees tested positive for drugs on subsequent days, but the DOC did not release any details about those staff members. The prison had been on lockdown with visits suspended since the rash of positive prisoner drug tests.

“We knew [prisoners at Pendleton] were getting drugs,” said DOC spokesman Doug Garrison. “Visitors can bring them in, people on the outside can ...

Texas Legislator Who Helped Prisoners’ Families Indicted, Convicted, Sentenced

For 14 years, Texas State Rep. Terri Hodge (D-Dallas) was a staunch defender of minorities and prisoners’ rights in the Texas legislature. On October 1, 2007, federal prosecutors indicted Hodge on 14 counts of corruption including bribery, fraud and conspiracy. The indictment created a firestorm of controversy.

The 31-count main indictment named a number of prominent Dallas citizens including former city council member and Mayor Pro Tem Donald W. Hill. Also named, and most closely connected to Hodge, was real estate developer Brian L. Potashnik and his wife Cheryl.

Rep. Hodge and other defendants were accused of accepting bribes in return for providing letters of support to help Potashnik’s company, Southwest Housing, obtain lucrative tax credits for building low-income apartments in southern Dallas.

Outspoken, Hodge passionately professed her innocence. “People say that I got paid for this, man, that’s (expletive). I’m not the only elected official that has given a letter to developers putting projects in their districts. I guess what really tied me in is not only had I given a letter, I was living in one of his affordable apartments.”

In August 2008, Rep. Hodge’s attorneys petitioned the federal district court in Dallas to try her separately from ...

Wisconsin Prisoner Pleads No Contest to Helping Cellmate Commit Suicide

On June 1, 2010, a Wisconsin prisoner entered a no-contest plea to charges that he helped his cellmate hang himself.

Adam Peterson, 20, and Joshua Walters, 21, were unlikely acquaintances. Peterson, never in trouble with the law before, was serving a life sentence for murder at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupan.

Peterson’s life had gone off track while he was in college. He developed a mental illness, dropped out of school, and one day wandered into the home of a Madison man. Peterson stabbed the man to death with a paring knife.

Walters, unlike Peterson, had been in and out of prison. His latest stint at Waupan was for a parole violation on a previous burglary charge.

Peterson had tried to kill himself multiple times after his arrest. While awaiting trial, for example, he attempted to hang himself in the shower, but another prisoner notified guards who thwarted the suicide attempt.

Shortly before sentencing, Peterson was transferred to Waupan. Walters was his cellmate. Waupan was supposed to have been a better place for Peterson, who told his family that he liked going to the prison’s gym and library. He was even looking forward to his first contact visit with ...

Questionable New Jersey Halfway House Funding Benefits CEC

by Matt Clarke

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie insisted on budget cuts in 2010, except when it came to funding treatment centers, formerly called halfway houses. Gov. Christie wanted to increase funding for treatment centers by $3.1 million, from $61.5 million to $64.6 million, which would benefit prisoners after they were released.

Coincidentally, the increased funding would also benefit the governor’s close friend and political advisor William J. Palatucci, who is a senior vice president and general counsel for Community Education Centers (CEC) – a for-profit company that operates treatment centers in New Jersey as well as secure facilities and in-patient treatment programs in other states.

Palatucci has a decades-long relationship with Christie, during which he has helped run Christie’s election campaign and served as co-chair of Christie’s inaugural committee. He has also personally contributed $26,650 to the Republican Party. John C. Clancy, CEC’s chairman, contributed $138,525 and CEC has contributed $372,350 to both parties.

The donations seem to have paid off. CEC provides 1,687 of the 3,029 treatment center beds under contract from the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC).

Eight vendors have DOC contracts for treatment center beds but CEC is not one of them.
CEC “does ...

$85,000 Settlement in South Carolina Prison Murder Suit

The South Carolina Department of Corrections agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a wrongful death case and survival action in the murder of a prisoner by his cellmate.

Perry Correctional Institution prisoner Charles D. Martin was serving a five-year non-violent sentence. He was assigned on September 12, 2005 to a cell with prisoner Jeffery Motts, who is serving a life sentence for murder.

Motts did not like Martin, and he did not want to share a cell with him. Both requested guards to separate them. Martin told guards he was fearful Motts would attack him. Lt. Tamara Conwell was told by Motts that he would kill Martin if he was not moved.

The threat was followed through on December 8, 2005. Motts confessed that he choked Martin until he was unconscious. He then tied Martin’s hands and feet; he spent the night beating Martin until he died. Motts then placed Martin’s dead body in a chair, where it remained until breakfast. When Motts told other prisoners he had killed Martin, it was reported to guards.

The federal district court overseeing the case approved the parties’ compromise settlement on April 13, 2010. That settlement pays Martin’s estate $84,400 for the wrongful ...

News In Brief:

Arkansas: Garland County deputy Garvin Todd Reid, 27, was fired in February 2011, then arrested on charges that he raped a female trustee in a supply room at the county jail.
“There were no actual witnesses. There was a detention deputy who had come in as the two individuals [were] coming out of [the] supply room,” said Sergeant Joel Ware. A rape kit from the prisoner was sent to the state crime lab. Following his arrest, Reid posted a $7,500 bond; the prisoner, who was not identified, was removed from her trustee position.

Brazil: Six prisoners were killed by other prisoners during a 15-hour riot at a police lockup in Maranhao on February 7, 2011. The murdered prisoners were all accused of sex crimes involving children; four were decapitated. The rioters demanded a kilo of marijuana from authorities in exchange for releasing hostages and ending the disturbance. News reports did not indicate whether they received the cannabis.

California: On January 28, 2011, former Riverside County probation officer Elizabeth Z. Nolan pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful intercourse with a minor. As part of a plea agreement, 16 other counts – including oral copulation with a minor and rape ...