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Prison Legal News: July, 2012

Issue PDF
Volume 23, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 16)
  3. Minnesota Man Settles Lawsuit for $229,500 and Policy Changes to Assist Deaf Arrestees (p 17)
  4. Audits Identify Problems with Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (p 18)
  5. Florida DNA Mix-Up Raises Questions about Rapist’s Conviction (p 19)
  6. California U.S. District Court Holds that Prop. 9 Does Not Supersede Previously-Issued Injunction Regarding Parole Revocation Procedures (p 20)
  7. U.S. Department of Justice Soft on Corporate Crime (p 22)
  8. New Jersey Comptroller Criticizes, Questions Halfway House Contracts (p 24)
  9. Former California Assistant Sheriff Awarded $183,688 in Backpay Despite State and Federal Convictions (p 26)
  10. Ohio Prison Guards Denied Qualified Immunity for Leaving Prisoner Handcuffed for 12 Hours (p 26)
  11. PLN Lawsuit Ends No-Publication Policy at Washington Jail, Results in $180,000 Settlement (p 28)
  12. California Plans to End Out-of-State Prisoner Transfers (p 28)
  13. Texas Prison System Increases Prisoners’ Monthly Phone Minutes (p 30)
  14. Oklahoma Taxpayers Foot $13.5 Million Settlement Bill for Sexual Abuse by Jailers (p 30)
  15. California Prisoners Seek End to Long-Term Segregation, Oppressive SHU Conditions (p 32)
  16. Maryland DOC Rescinds Ban on Prisoner’s Book (p 36)
  17. Missouri Court Finds Prisoner Phone Contract Bidding Process Unfair (p 38)
  18. Alabama Prison Guards Charged in Prisoner’s Murder (p 38)
  19. Another Oregon Prison Food Manager Accused of Misconduct (p 40)
  20. Michigan Introduces Tasers to Prison System (p 40)
  21. Washington State Court Holds Requester Has the Right to Joinder in Suit Seeking to Bar Disclosure of Public Records (p 41)
  22. Study Reveals High Rates of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases at Maricopa County, Arizona Jails (p 42)
  23. California Pays $2.5 Million After Girl Attempts Suicide at Juvenile Facility (p 42)
  24. Saginaw County Jail in Michigan Settles Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit for $1.3 Million (p 44)
  25. $2.4 Million Awarded for Wrongful Death of Virginia Prisoner (p 44)
  26. Private Prison Industry Exerts Political Influence in Arizona (p 45)
  27. Texas Parole Board Removes Onerous Sex Offender Conditions from 176 Parolees (p 46)
  28. Most Second Chance Act Money Goes to Government Agencies (p 46)
  29. $1 Million Settlement in Maricopa County, Arizona Jail Prisoner’s Beating Death (p 47)
  30. Prisoners Win Three Jury Trials in Eastern District of California (p 48)
  31. Federal Suit Targets Dangerous, Unconstitutional Conditions in Fresno County, California Jail System (p 48)
  32. Florida Nurse Accused of Scalding Prisoner with Hot Water (p 49)
  33. News in Brief: (p 50)

Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow

by James Forman, Jr.*

In the last decade, a number of scholars have called the American criminal justice system a new form of Jim Crow. These writers have effectively drawn attention to the injustices created by a facially race-neutral system that severely ostracizes offenders and stigmatizes young, poor black men ...

From the Editor

The Prison Phone Justice Campaign is gaining momentum nationally. As announced in last month’s issue, a number of organizations, including the Human Rights Defense Center (the parent organization of Prison Legal News) have launched a campaign to end the practice of price gouging prisoners and their families for the ...

Minnesota Man Settles Lawsuit for $229,500 and Policy Changes to Assist Deaf Arrestees

A deaf Minnesota man has agreed to accept $229,500 and policy changes to settle a lawsuit that alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act (RA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) due to the failure of jail officials to provide him with an ...

Audits Identify Problems with Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative

by David M. Reutter

Two audit reports, one by Michigan’s Office of the Auditor General in 2012 and the other by the State Budget Office in 2011, both found shortcomings with the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative (MPRI).

Michigan took a bold step in 2005 by implementing MPRI. The program ...

Florida DNA Mix-Up Raises Questions about Rapist’s Conviction

When the FBI informed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that it had a recent “hit” on the DNA of convicted rapist Andrew Lingard, the FDLE realized there was a problem: Lingard had been in prison for the past four years, and the FDLE lab in Orlando had processed ...

California U.S. District Court Holds that Prop. 9 Does Not Supersede Previously-Issued Injunction Regarding Parole Revocation Procedures

by John E. Dannenberg

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence K. Karlton has upheld a 2004 injunction that conflicts with the parole revocation provisions of California’s so-called Victims’ Bill of Rights, also known as Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law, enacted in 2008 as Proposition 9, a ballot ...

U.S. Department of Justice Soft on Corporate Crime

If you’ve wondered why no one has been prosecuted for the corporate misdeeds that devastated the economy in 2008 and nearly thrust the United States into another Great Depression, you’re not alone.

The reason no Wall Street executives have faced charges for malfeasance is due to the federal ...

New Jersey Comptroller Criticizes, Questions Halfway House Contracts

In a June 15, 2011 letter and separate audit report, the New Jersey State Comptroller’s office sharply criticized a number of issues related to the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) contracts with private halfway houses. Singled out for special attention was Education and Health Centers of America, Inc. (EHCA), a ...

Former California Assistant Sheriff Awarded $183,688 in Backpay Despite State and Federal Convictions

The California Court of Appeal has held that former Orange County Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo is entitled to backpay of $183,688.66 from the time he was improperly fired from the sheriff’s department in March 2004 until he pleaded guilty to two state-law felonies in January 2007.

The ...

Ohio Prison Guards Denied Qualified Immunity for Leaving Prisoner Handcuffed for 12 Hours

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s grant of qualified immunity to prison officials in a federal civil rights action alleging violations of a prisoner’s rights under the Eighth Amendment.

Ohio state prisoner Jasen Barker filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ...

PLN Lawsuit Ends No-Publication Policy at Washington Jail, Results in $180,000 Settlement

Less than 90 days after PLN filed suit challenging a no-publication mail policy at Washington State’s Chelan County Regional Justice Center (RJC), the defendants conceded the policy was unconstitutional and agreed to the entry of a consent decree and payment of $180,000 in damages, attorney fees and costs ...

California Plans to End Out-of-State Prisoner Transfers

by David M. Reutter

On November 8, 2010, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) issued a press release announcing that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) intended to award a new contract to the company, “to manage up to 3,256 offenders at CCA’s Crowley County Correctional Facility ...

Texas Prison System Increases Prisoners’ Monthly Phone Minutes

by Matt Clarke

In 2007, when Texas became the last state in the nation to let prisoners make phone calls on a regular basis, the limit on phone usage was 120 minutes a month. [See: PLN, Nov. 2007, p.11]. Two years later the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ ...

Oklahoma Taxpayers Foot $13.5 Million Settlement Bill for Sexual Abuse by Jailers

by David M. Reutter

The general public typically shows little concern about abuse and corruption in jails and prisons, at least until it affects them personally. That was the case when residents in Delaware County, Oklahoma attended a November 2011 meeting of the County Commission and learned they may face ...

California Prisoners Seek End to Long-Term Segregation, Oppressive SHU Conditions

There are many forms of political and social protest. They can be purely for the sake of being disruptive or they can aim for resolution of a particular issue. Of course, even when they seek the latter they invariably involve some degree of the former.

A review of hunger strikes ...

Maryland DOC Rescinds Ban on Prisoner’s Book

On July 20, 2011, the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services (DPSCS) rescinded its ban on The Marshall Plan: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther, a memoir co-authored by Maryland state prisoner Marshall “Eddie” Conway and Dominque Stevenson with the American Friends Service Committee.
Maryland Correctional ...

Missouri Court Finds Prisoner Phone Contract Bidding Process Unfair

On November 30, 2011, a Missouri circuit court held that adding optional services to the state’s prisoner telephone contract without putting those services out for competitive bidding would render the contract void. The court found the current contract was valid, but to amend it to include the optional services ...

Alabama Prison Guards Charged in Prisoner’s Murder

Four Alabama state prison guards have been charged in connection with the brutal 2010 beating death of a prisoner at the Ventress Correctional Facility (VCF).

The first guard, Lt. Michael Anthony Smith, 37, was indicted on October 17, 2011 by a Barbour County grand jury; he was arrested and booked ...

Another Oregon Prison Food Manager Accused of Misconduct

As previously reported in PLN, former Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) Food Services Administrator Farhad “Fred” Monem accepted over $1.2 million in bribes from several food vendors and then fled to his homeland of Iran, leaving his wife and the vendors to face criminal prosecution. [See: PLN, Oct. 2011 ...

Michigan Introduces Tasers to Prison System

by David M. Reutter

Citing hopes of reducing the number of work-related injuries and associated costs resulting from altercations with prisoners, in December 2011 the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) invested $125,000 in a pilot program at five maximum-security prisons to test the effectiveness of Tasers.

MDOC guards at ...

Washington State Court Holds Requester Has the Right to Joinder in Suit Seeking to Bar Disclosure of Public Records

Washington State Court Holds Requester Has the Right to Joinder in Suit Seeking
to Bar Disclosure of Public Records

The Division Three Court of Appeals for the State of Washington has vacated an injunction that barred the disclosure of records requested by a state prisoner related to Washington Department of ...

Study Reveals High Rates of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases at Maricopa County, Arizona Jails

A joint study by the Arizona Arrestee Reporting Information Network and Arizona State University’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, released in June 2011, found high rates of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) among prisoners in Maricopa County’s jail system. Approximately 130,000 people are booked into the county ...

California Pays $2.5 Million After Girl Attempts Suicide at Juvenile Facility

California officials have agreed to pay $2.5 million to the family of a teenage girl who was left severely brain damaged after trying to hang herself in the mental health unit of the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF). According to the family’s lawsuit, VYCF guards and supervisors failed ...

Saginaw County Jail in Michigan Settles Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit for $1.3 Million

The Executive Committee for Saginaw County, Michigan voted in December 2011 to settle a lawsuit that alleged county and jail officials were responsible for a prisoner’s death that occurred in May 2007.

Jerry Rouster, 48, was serving a 3-day sentence for misdemeanor contempt of court at the Saginaw County ...

$2.4 Million Awarded for Wrongful Death of Virginia Prisoner

On September 13, 2011, a Virginia jury awarded the estate of a Richmond City Jail prisoner $2.4 million in a wrongful death suit.

James D. Robinson, 46, was arrested and booked into the jail in 2008 after he suffered a seizure while driving with a suspended license and crashed ...

Private Prison Industry Exerts Political Influence in Arizona

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and other state policymakers have been criticized for their close connections with private prison companies, including Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit prison firm.

Brewer’s senior political advisor and 2010 campaign manager, Chuck Coughlin, founded Highground Public Affairs Consultants, which lobbies ...

Texas Parole Board Removes Onerous Sex Offender Conditions from 176 Parolees

In November 2011, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles removed the sex offender designations from 176 parolees who were subject to stringent parole restrictions known as Condition “X,” but had never been convicted of a sex offense.

The issue of whether Texas can impose sex offender conditions on parolees ...

Most Second Chance Act Money Goes to Government Agencies

by Derek Gilna and Brandon Sample

When the Second Chance Act (SCA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, the legislation was intended to fund programs to help former prisoners find jobs, reintegrate into society and stay out of jail. Years later, however, it appears that ...

$1 Million Settlement in Maricopa County, Arizona Jail Prisoner’s Beating Death

The Board of Supervisors for Maricopa County, Arizona has agreed to pay $1 million to the family of a man who was beaten to death by guards at the Maricopa County Jail (MCJ).

Juan Farias Mendoza was in the custody of the MCJ for a DUI probation violation on December ...

Prisoners Win Three Jury Trials in Eastern District of California

On September 29, 2011, a Sacramento jury found that a prison doctor had violated state prisoner Christopher Kyle Prater’s civil rights, and awarded $10,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages. Prater alleged that Dr. Paramvir Sahota, Chief Medical Officer at Folsom State Prison, was deliberately ...

Federal Suit Targets Dangerous, Unconstitutional Conditions in Fresno County, California Jail System

Fresh off their recent victory in Plata v. Brown, where the U.S. Supreme Court held that overcrowding is the primary cause of constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care in California’s prison system [See: PLN, July 2011, p.1], attorneys at the Prison Law Office, joined by Disability ...

Florida Nurse Accused of Scalding Prisoner with Hot Water

A registered nurse at Florida’s Lake Correctional Institution (LCI) was charged on February 8, 2011 with abuse, aggravated abuse and neglect of an elderly or disabled adult. The charges followed a three-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

Nurse Elaine M. Wade, 48, was accused of ...

News in Brief:

Alabama: On March 2, 2012, the maximum-security Limestone Correctional Facility was hit by a tornado and suffered damage to several buildings, including the roofs of cell blocks C and D and the canteen. A week later, around 200 prisoners were transferred to other facilities. No injuries were reported at the ...