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Prison Legal News: April, 2011

Issue PDF
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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

$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 ...

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 ...