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Prison Legal News: November, 2012

Issue PDF
Volume 23, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. Bailing on Justice: The Dysfunctional System of Using Money to Buy Pretrial Freedom (p 1)
  2. Guantanamo Detainees Cost $800,000 Annually (p 13)
  3. $15,700 Plus Boombox to Settle California Prisoner’s Excessive Force Claim (p 14)
  4. From the Editor (p 14)
  5. Liberty for Sale: Should Ohio Prisoners be Commodities in a For-Profit Venture? (p 16)
  6. PLN Readers Flood the FCC with Letters; Campaign Fights for Prison Phone Justice (p 20)
  7. The Other Death Sentence: More than 100,000 Americans are destined to spend their final years in prison. Can we afford it? (p 22)
  8. Private Prison Companies Use Political Influence to Increase Incarceration (p 26)
  9. California Prison Psychologist Faked Her Own Rape (p 29)
  10. $60,411 Attorney Fee Award in Maryland Prisoner’s Public Information Act Suit (p 30)
  11. Hawaii AG Study Confirms Ineffectiveness of Mainland Private Prisons (p 30)
  12. Florida Jail Abandons Postcard-Only Mail Policy, Pays Prisoners’ Attorney Fees (p 32)
  13. Prisoner’s Coma-Inducing Latex Allergy Triggers Lawsuit, Burning Questions (p 32)
  14. State Auditor Finds Flaws in Texas Criminal Justice Information System (p 34)
  15. California Settles Suit with Prison Guards’ Union for $3.5 Million, Interest-Free (p 34)
  16. $20,000 Settlement in Arkansas Jail Prisoner’s Failure to Protect Suit (p 36)
  17. Seventh Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Wisconsin Transgender Prisoner Treatment Ban (p 36)
  18. New York City Pays $2 Million to Settle Suit Over Death of Juvenile Killed by Other Prisoners Acting as Guards’ Enforcers (p 38)
  19. $2,500 Settlement in Illinois Prisoner’s Telephone Disconnect Suit – After Nine Years (p 38)
  20. Pennsylvania Guards Charged with Physical, Sexual Abuse of Prisoners (p 40)
  21. Pennsylvania Jail Major Pleads Guilty to Beating Prisoner After Escape Attempt (p 40)
  22. BOP Supermax Lawsuit Claims Horrific Abuse of Mentally Ill at ADX (p 42)
  23. Vietnam Pardons 10,244 Prisoners but Few Dissidents (p 44)
  24. Nebraska Refuses to Return Execution Drug to Swiss Company (p 44)
  25. Iowa Reconsidering Costs, Benefits of Sex Offender Supervision Law (p 46)
  26. Los Angeles Jail Pays $161,000 Settlement for Juvenile Injured Due to Negligent Supervision (p 46)
  27. News in Brief (p 50)

Bailing on Justice: The Dysfunctional System of Using Money to Buy Pretrial Freedom

by Tracy Velázquez, Melissa Neal and Spike Bradford*

The practice of requiring someone to pay money to a court in order to remain free while awaiting trial is known as “money bail.” While considerable attention has been focused on other aspects of our criminal justice system, money bail is a ...

Guantanamo Detainees Cost $800,000 Annually

The U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has become the world’s most expensive prison, at around 30 times the average cost to house prisoners in detention facilities in the United States.

Each year the Department of Defense “spends approximately ... $800,000 per detainee,” Attorney General Eric Holder ...

$15,700 Plus Boombox to Settle California Prisoner’s Excessive Force Claim

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) agreed to pay $15,700 plus a boombox to settle a prisoner’s excessive use of force claim.

The lawsuit, filed by state prisoner Tracye B. Washington, stemmed from events that occurred at Salinas Valley State Prison. Washington’s problems began on ...

From the Editor

This month’s cover story on the bail bonding industry focuses on one of the lesser discussed but equally important economic players in the U.S. prison industrial complex. One of the main causes of jail overcrowding in many local jurisdictions tends not to be mundane things like crime but ...

Liberty for Sale: Should Ohio Prisoners be Commodities in a For-Profit Venture?

by German Lopez, Cincinnati CityBeat

In 1997, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) opened a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio. The Northeast Ohio Correctional Center was to hold out-of-state prisoners with the promise of profits and tax revenue for Youngstown, a largely industrial city that had struggled economically since its steel ...

PLN Readers Flood the FCC with Letters; Campaign Fights for Prison Phone Justice

In June 2012, Prison Legal News began running a full-page flyer for the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, asking people to get involved and take action. Within weeks, letters from PLN readers began flooding the Federal Communications Commission, urging the FCC to cap the high costs of interstate prison phone ...

The Other Death Sentence: More than 100,000 Americans are destined to spend their final years in prison. Can we afford it?

The Other Death Sentence: More than 100,000 Americans are destined to spend
their final years in prison. Can we afford it?

by James Ridgeway

William “Lefty” Gilday had been in prison 40 years when the dementia began to set in. At 82, he was already suffering from advanced Parkinson ...

Private Prison Companies Use Political Influence to Increase Incarceration

by Matt Clarke

A June 2011 report by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) reveals how for-profit private prison companies use political campaign donations, lobbyists and relationships with government officials to increase their profits by promoting policies that result in more people being incarcerated.

Even in tight budgetary times when many ...

California Prison Psychologist Faked Her Own Rape

Unhappy with where she lived, Laurie Ann Martinez, 36, a psychologist employed with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), decided to convince her husband that they needed to move to a safer neighborhood.

Rather than simply having a conversation with her spouse about her desire to relocate, Martinez ...

$60,411 Attorney Fee Award in Maryland Prisoner’s Public Information Act Suit

The State of Maryland has agreed to pay more than $60,000 in attorney fees to settle a longstanding lawsuit brought by a prisoner who had requested public records pursuant to the state’s Public Information Act.

While incarcerated at the Western Correctional Institution (WCI) in May 2002, Richard L ...

Hawaii AG Study Confirms Ineffectiveness of Mainland Private Prisons

Academic researchers in Hawaii believe that exiling offenders to private prisons thousands of miles away on the U.S. mainland is misguided. And the Hawaii Attorney General’s office (AG) – the state’s Big Kahuna of law enforcement – actually agrees.
A federally-funded report released last year by the AG recommends ...

Florida Jail Abandons Postcard-Only Mail Policy, Pays Prisoners’ Attorney Fees

In February 2012, a Florida U.S. District Court approved a consent decree that settled a civil rights action challenging a postcard-only mail policy at the Santa Rosa County Jail (SRCJ). As a result of the settlement, prisoners are no longer restricted to postcards and can send and receive an ...

Prisoner’s Coma-Inducing Latex Allergy Triggers Lawsuit, Burning Questions

A prisoner’s lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Corrections, claiming a latex allergy so severe that he’s suffered burns and respiratory problems when touched by glove-wearing guards, appeared to have been resolved in August 2012 when DOC officials testified that they no longer use latex in their facilities ...

State Auditor Finds Flaws in Texas Criminal Justice Information System

by Matt Clarke

In September 2011, the Texas State Auditor released a report on the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) used by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The audit, which covered the period from September 2009 through November 2010, found inaccuracies ...

California Settles Suit with Prison Guards’ Union for $3.5 Million, Interest-Free

Avoiding the uncertainty of litigation, in January 2012 the State of California settled a lawsuit it had initiated two years earlier against the prison guards’ union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA).

According to the suit, the CCPOA owed the state at least $4.5 million for wages and ...

$20,000 Settlement in Arkansas Jail Prisoner’s Failure to Protect Suit

Officials in Baxter County, Arkansas agreed to pay $20,000 to settle a former prisoner’s lawsuit that alleged he was assaulted by another prisoner as a guard stood by and failed to intervene.

The suit was filed by Howard Johnson for events that occurred on January 30, 2007 at ...

Seventh Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Wisconsin Transgender Prisoner Treatment Ban

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s injunction barring the application of a Wisconsin law that prohibits certain types of medical care for transgender prisoners.

Several Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WDOC) prisoners have been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID), a psychiatric condition in which an ...

New York City Pays $2 Million to Settle Suit Over Death of Juvenile Killed by Other Prisoners Acting as Guards’ Enforcers

The City of New York has paid $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the mother of a juvenile offender who was beaten to death at the Robert N. Davoren Center (RNDC) on Rikers Island.

Christopher Robinson, 18, was killed in October 2008 by a gang of prisoners who ...

$2,500 Settlement in Illinois Prisoner’s Telephone Disconnect Suit – After Nine Years

An Illinois prisoner has accepted $2,500 to settle a lawsuit against Ameritech, in which he accused the telecommunications company of fraudulently and intentionally disconnecting phone calls made by prisoners.

Prisoner Johnnie Flournoy filed suit in state court in 2002. He alleged fraud and negligence against Ameritech, a prison phone ...

Pennsylvania Guards Charged with Physical, Sexual Abuse of Prisoners

A Pennsylvania state prison guard was arrested on September 27, 2011 and charged with 89 counts of physically and sexually abusing prisoners at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Pittsburgh. Seven other guards were initially suspended, and three face related charges.

Before his arrest, Harry F. Nicoletti, Jr., 60, had worked at ...

Pennsylvania Jail Major Pleads Guilty to Beating Prisoner After Escape Attempt

On October 29, 2011, James M. Donis, 50, who had been major of the guards and the fourth-highest-ranking official at the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was fired from his $68,631-a-year position. He had worked at the jail since 1989.

A federal lawsuit filed on October 7, 2011 ...

BOP Supermax Lawsuit Claims Horrific Abuse of Mentally Ill at ADX

“A Clean Version of Hell” – that’s what a 2007 segment of 60 Minutes called the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colorado, or ADX, home to some of the world’s most notorious murderers and terrorists. But according to a grimly detailed lawsuit filed in Denver on ...

Vietnam Pardons 10,244 Prisoners but Few Dissidents

Two Vietnamese activists jailed for advocating democracy were among more than 10,000 prisoners granted amnesty by Vietnam’s government on August 25, 2011 in celebration of National Day. Nguyen Van Tinh and Tran Duc Thach had been sentenced in 2009 to three-and-a-half and three years in jail, respectively – Tinh ...

Nebraska Refuses to Return Execution Drug to Swiss Company

In its desperation to obtain a supply of sodium thiopental, one of the three drugs commonly used to carry out executions by lethal injection, the State of Nebraska circumvented the manufacturer, which does not sell the drug for use in capital punishment, and instead bought it from an Indian middleman ...

Iowa Reconsidering Costs, Benefits of Sex Offender Supervision Law

Over the past decade more than 20 states have created “special sentences” that require community supervision for sex offenders after their release, even if they expire their prison terms. But Iowa is currently reevaluating whether the millions in taxpayer dollars spent on such post-release supervision is justified in light of ...

Los Angeles Jail Pays $161,000 Settlement for Juvenile Injured Due to Negligent Supervision

The County of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $161,000 to settle a civil rights action that claimed a juvenile offender was seriously injured while held at the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s Central Juvenile Hall (CJH), due to improper supervision.

The plaintiff, 17-year-old Alyssia Frenzel, was detained ...

News in Brief

Indiana: On June 21, 2012, former state prison guard Benjamin Hankins, 37, was sentenced to 64 years for killing his estranged wife, Lisa, in June 2011. Hankins shot his wife three times when she dropped off their children at his home, then waited several minutes before calling the authorities. Hankins ...