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Prison Legal News: August, 2012

Issue PDF
Volume 23, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Federal Sex Offender Civil Commitment Process Under Fire (p 1)
  2. Ethics Complaint Against Former Oregon Prison Official Dismissed (p 8)
  3. From the Editor (p 10)
  4. Maryland Women Prisoners Sew Commemorative 1812 Flags (p 10)
  5. Hawaii Audit Finds Offenders Rarely Pay Restitution Owed (p 12)
  6. Prisoner Lacked Standing to Challenge Georgia’s Failure to Send Absentee Ballot to Jail (p 13)
  7. Federal BOP to Let Prisoners Have MP3 Players (p 14)
  8. $975,000 Award to Former Prisoner Who Gave Birth in Seattle, Washington Jail (p 14)
  9. California Pays $295,000 to Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit by Sikh Barred from Employment as Prison Guard (p 15)
  10. California Supreme Court Restricts Lifer Parole Challenges (p 16)
  11. CA Court of Appeal: Documents Identifying Suppliers of Execution Drug are Public Records (p 17)
  12. Florida Town Rallies to Stop CCA Immigration Detention Facility (p 18)
  13. PLN Settles Censorship Suit Against Sacramento County, California Jail (p 20)
  14. U.S. Supreme Court Holds AG Rules Required Before SORNA Sex Offender Law is Applied Retroactively (p 20)
  15. New Mexico Sheriff Sentenced for Selling County Property on eBay (p 21)
  16. Former Florida Sheriff Cleared in Theft Investigation and PHS Contract Fraud Suit (p 22)
  17. Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida DOC’s Ban on Pen Pal Solicitations (p 22)
  18. $50 Million in Grants Targets HIV in the Criminal Justice System (p 24)
  19. Pro Se Virginia Prisoner Settles Religious Exercise Suit (p 24)
  20. $3.5 Million Settlement in Teen’s Death at New York Juvenile Facility (p 25)
  21. Texas Legislator Uses Prisoner-Made Goods as Gifts for Campaign Contributors (p 26)
  22. Texas: Helping HIV+ Prisoners Receive Post-Release Meds (p 26)
  23. BOP’s RDAP Program Unevenly Administered and Unnecessarily Costly (p 28)
  24. Florida Reports Indicate Restoration of Civil Rights Reduces Recidivism (p 30)
  25. Tenth Circuit Holds Sex Offenders Who Leave U.S. Must Still Register (p 30)
  26. Tainted Chicken Sickens Hundreds of Prisoners, Staff at Pennsylvania BOP Facility (p 31)
  27. ACLU Challenges “Jail or Church” Program in Alabama (p 32)
  28. “Fusion Centers” Gather Intelligence on U.S. Citizens (p 32)
  29. Kentucky Supreme Court Adopts Mailbox Rule Retrospectively (p 33)
  30. Termination from Drug Treatment Program Fails to State Liberty Interest Claim (p 34)
  31. California: ADA Protections Again Extended to Disabled State Prisoners Held in County Jails (p 34)
  32. State Awarded Statutory Attorney Fees, Costs for Dismissed Washington PRPs (p 36)
  33. Fifth Circuit Rules on Prisoner’s ADA Claim; Issues Superseding Opinion (p 36)
  34. Fourth Circuit: Where Offer of Judgment is Silent as to Costs, Prevailing Party Entitled to Recover Attorney’s Fees (p 37)
  35. Ninth Circuit Grants Qualified Immunity to California Prison Officials for Denial of Outdoor Exercise During Lengthy Lock-down (p 38)
  36. Tenth Circuit Affirms Denial of Qualified Immunity to Oklahoma Jail Official Who Failed to Follow Prescribed Medical Instructions (p 38)
  37. First Circuit Holds that Delay in Treating HIV May Constitute Deliberate Indifference (p 39)
  38. New York Court of Appeals Holds Sex Offense Does Not Prove Parental Neglect (p 40)
  39. New Jersey Appellate Court Holds Attorneys for Female Prisoners Temporarily Transferred to All-Male Facility May be Entitled to Fees (p 40)
  40. Single Incident of Deliberate Indifference Insufficient to Establish Policy or Custom (p 41)
  41. Texas Teenager Killed at Private Juvenile Detention Center (p 42)
  42. No Good Time for Time Spent in State Custody before Imposition of Federal Sentence (p 43)
  43. Ninth Circuit Holds BOP Individual RDAP Determinations Not Subject to Judicial Review (p 43)
  44. Washington State Court of Appeals Holds Payments to Class II Prison Workers Are “Wages” for Time-Loss Compensation Calculations (p 44)
  45. Georgia Court Clerk Liable for Failure to Inform Prison Officials of Sentence Reduction (p 44)
  46. Florida Death Row Prisoners Cannot Challenge Sentence Pro Se (p 45)
  47. Former Mississippi Mayor Charged with Sexually Assaulting Prisoner (p 45)
  48. “Voluntary” Work Program in Private Detention Centers Pays Detained Immigrants $1 a Day (p 46)
  49. Vermont DOC Disbands Citizens’ Advisory Group that Critics Called “Window Dressing” for Transparency (p 48)
  50. News in Brief (p 50)

Federal Sex Offender Civil Commitment Process Under Fire

Among other provisions, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 allows the federal government to indefinitely detain “sexually dangerous” offenders through a civil commitment process, which requires mandatory court hearings after such offenders have been certified by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as eligible for ...

Ethics Complaint Against Former Oregon Prison Official Dismissed

As previously reported in PLN, Michael Taaffe, 56, retired from his $91,020-per-year position with the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) in March 2011. He had been employed as an assistant administrator with the ODOC’s Health Services Division, and served on a three-member panel in 2009 that recommended Correctional ...

From the Editor

When Prison Legal News published its first issue in May 1990, it was less than one month after Washington state became the first in the nation to enact a civil commitment law for sex offenders. PLN has reported on this issue ever since as such laws have spread around the ...

Maryland Women Prisoners Sew Commemorative 1812 Flags

In July 2011, prisoners at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup were busy sewing 1812-style flags to be flown at Maryland public buildings.

The plan was to replace the state’s old flags with the 1812-style flags, which have 15 stars and 15 stripes, in time for the ...

Hawaii Audit Finds Offenders Rarely Pay Restitution Owed

Thirteen years after the Hawaii Office of the Auditor issued a report critical of the state judiciary’s efforts to collect restitution payments from offenders, only a small fraction of tens of millions of dollars in restitution has been collected, which has left crime victims upset at what they perceive ...

Prisoner Lacked Standing to Challenge Georgia’s Failure to Send Absentee Ballot to Jail

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held on February 2, 2012 that a former Georgia jail prisoner lacked standing to complain that state and local officials had failed to mail his absentee ballot to the jail, which prevented him from voting.

In anticipation of the November 4, 2008 presidential election ...

Federal BOP to Let Prisoners Have MP3 Players

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has announced that it will allow federal prisoners to purchase MP3 music players, which were first tested at Federal Prison Camp Alderson, a women’s facility in West Virginia. The policy change, expected to be implemented throughout the BOP system in 2012, was ...

$975,000 Award to Former Prisoner Who Gave Birth in Seattle, Washington Jail

A federal jury in Washington State has awarded $975,000 to a mentally ill woman who gave birth in a cell at the King County Correctional Facility (KCCF). The jury found both the county and jail staff liable on federal constitutional and state law negligence claims.

Imka Pope was sleeping ...

California Pays $295,000 to Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit by Sikh Barred from Employment as Prison Guard

California Pays $295,000 to Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit by Sikh Barred
from Employment as Prison Guard

In August 2011, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) settled a religious discrimination suit filed by Trilochan Oberoi, a Sikh, who was barred from becoming a prison guard because he refused ...

California Supreme Court Restricts Lifer Parole Challenges

In its second review in three years of a state prisoner’s habeas corpus petition seeking review of an adverse parole decision, on December 29, 2011 the California Supreme Court again reversed the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. 1, which had ordered a new hearing after finding that the ...

CA Court of Appeal: Documents Identifying Suppliers of Execution Drug are Public Records

On December 20, 2011, a California Court of Appeal held that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) may not withhold the names of pharmaceutical companies and other sources from which it sought to acquire a drug used in the state’s lethal injection protocol, when a request for ...

Florida Town Rallies to Stop CCA Immigration Detention Facility

by David M. Reutter

Residents in a South Florida community near a proposed 1,500-bed privately-operated immigration detention center waged a successful yearlong opposition campaign that culminated in the cancellation of the project in June 2012.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) purchased a 24-acre plot in the town of Southwest ...

PLN Settles Censorship Suit Against Sacramento County, California Jail

On July 17, 2012, Prison Legal News settled a lawsuit against Sacramento County, California and Sheriff Scott R. Jones for $300,000 plus policy changes in the county’s jail system.

The suit was filed in federal court in April 2011 after Sacramento County jail staff refused to deliver PLN ...

U.S. Supreme Court Holds AG Rules Required Before SORNA Sex Offender Law is Applied Retroactively

On January 23, 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision written by Justice Stephen Breyer, reversed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which had held that the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (Act) applied retroactively even in the absence of a rule by the U ...

New Mexico Sheriff Sentenced for Selling County Property on eBay

On July 20, 2011, former Santa Fe County, New Mexico Sheriff Greg Solano, 47, pleaded guilty to five counts of third-degree fraud for selling county property on eBay and keeping the proceeds. The property, which was reportedly worth over $75,000, included everything from cell phone chargers, printer cartridges and ...

Former Florida Sheriff Cleared in Theft Investigation and PHS Contract Fraud Suit

Following a two-year investigation and a jury verdict in a civil suit, a special prosecutor announced in June 2011 that criminal charges would not be forthcoming against Bill Balkwill, former sheriff of Sarasota County, Florida.

The jury verdict was entered in a lawsuit filed by Prison Health Services (PHS) that ...

Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida DOC’s Ban on Pen Pal Solicitations

by David M. Reutter

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) may ban all pen pal solicitations between pen pal services and Florida prisoners, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held on December 22, 2011. The appellate decision affirms a federal district court’s January 2011 summary judgment order that found ...

$50 Million in Grants Targets HIV in the Criminal Justice System

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health, is awarding almost $50 million in grants to fund research projects that target HIV among prisoners, parolees and probationers.

The grants will be distributed over a five-year period to 12 research teams, which will conduct ...

Pro Se Virginia Prisoner Settles Religious Exercise Suit

Virginia state prisoner Rashid Qawi Al-Amin, proceeding pro se, reached a settlement with prison officials that requires them to purchase Islamic reading materials, CDs and DVDs for the prison chaplain’s library. The state also agreed to pay him $2,000.

Al-Amin, a prisoner at Greensville Correctional Center (GCC), filed ...

$3.5 Million Settlement in Teen’s Death at New York Juvenile Facility

A $3.5 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit over the death of a juvenile offender who was restrained by two staffers at the Tryon Boys Residential Center in Fulton County, New York.

The suit claimed that the civil rights of Darryl Anthony Thompson, 15, were violated as ...

Texas Legislator Uses Prisoner-Made Goods as Gifts for Campaign Contributors

by Matt Clarke

When Republican Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle scheduled her “Riddle Executive Leadership Summit” at the Lanier Theological Library in August 2011, the agenda mentioned several “esteemed discussion leaders,” a buffet reception and special gifts for large campaign donors. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, those ...

Texas: Helping HIV+ Prisoners Receive Post-Release Meds

by Matt Clarke

When Diana Harris was released from a Texas prison more than a decade ago, she received no information on how to continue her regimen of HIV medication. The prison issued her a 10-day supply of meds and when that ran out she basically ignored the problem for ...

BOP’s RDAP Program Unevenly Administered and Unnecessarily Costly

by Brandon Sample and Derek Gilna

A comprehensive review of the federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), enacted by Congress in 1994, indicates that almost 20 years after its creation RDAP has yet to fulfill its full potential and is unnecessarily expensive.

The enactment of 18 ...

Florida Reports Indicate Restoration of Civil Rights Reduces Recidivism

by David M. Reutter

Advocates of automatic restoration of civil rights for ex-offenders have long maintained that such a policy helps former prisoners reintegrate into society and therefore reduces recidivism. Two reports by the Florida Parole Commission (FPC), released in 2011 and 2012, lend support to that argument.

Since the ...

Tenth Circuit Holds Sex Offenders Who Leave U.S. Must Still Register

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held on December 23, 2011 that a Utah sex offender must register in his home state even if he intends to permanently leave the U.S. to live in another country. Kevin Daniel Murphy, convicted of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated sexual abuse of ...

Tainted Chicken Sickens Hundreds of Prisoners, Staff at Pennsylvania BOP Facility

In late June 2011, around 320 prisoners and employees at USP Canaan in Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia, became sick due to salmonella poisoning after eating “tainted chicken” used to make fajitas. Four prisoners were ill enough to require treatment at a local emergency room for dehydration.

According to Bureau of ...

ACLU Challenges “Jail or Church” Program in Alabama

On September 26, 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama (ACLU) sent a cease-and-desist letter to the City of Bay Minette, demanding that city officials “immediately end Operation Restore Our Community (ROC), which requires first-time, non-violent misdemeanor offenders to choose between jail time or attending church once a week ...

“Fusion Centers” Gather Intelligence on U.S. Citizens

Homeland Security-financed agencies called “fusion centers,” ostensibly formed to collect information to prevent 9/11-type terrorist attacks, have expanded their scope of operations to include ordinary street-level crime. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently expressed concerns about a fusion center in Cleveland, Ohio, claiming the center’s secrecy and ...

Kentucky Supreme Court Adopts Mailbox Rule Retrospectively

The Supreme Court of Kentucky, in a modified ruling, adopted the “mailbox rule,” allowing notices of appeal in criminal cases to be considered filed when they are placed in the prison’s internal mail system.

Joe B. Jones and Michael Allen Hallum, Kentucky state prisoners, each filed a motion for ...

Termination from Drug Treatment Program Fails to State Liberty Interest Claim

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the decision of prison officials to remove a prisoner from a drug treatment program, which made him ineligible for a probated sentence, was insufficient to confer a liberty interest for due process purposes.

Missouri state prisoner Michael Louis Persechini brought a ...

California: ADA Protections Again Extended to Disabled State Prisoners Held in County Jails

On January 13, 2012, sixteen months following remand from the Ninth Circuit in the case of Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken issued an order that again extended the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq., to disabled ...

State Awarded Statutory Attorney Fees, Costs for Dismissed Washington PRPs

The Washington State Court of Appeals has held that the state is entitled to statutory attorney fees following the dismissal of a personal restraint petition (PRP).

After pleading guilty to witness tampering and burglary, Gregory Scott Bailey filed a PRP challenging the voluntariness of his plea. The petition was dismissed ...

Fifth Circuit Rules on Prisoner’s ADA Claim; Issues Superseding Opinion

On October 14, 2010, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132, does not abrogate a state’s sovereign immunity when the misconduct complained of does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. In a May 2011 superseding ...

Fourth Circuit: Where Offer of Judgment is Silent as to Costs, Prevailing Party Entitled to Recover Attorney’s Fees

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that “in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an offer of judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 68(a) which makes no mention of costs or attorney’s fees cannot be interpreted, after the fact, to have included ...

Ninth Circuit Grants Qualified Immunity to California Prison Officials for Denial of Outdoor Exercise During Lengthy Lock-down

On March 17, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted qualified immunity to California prison officials who had denied a prisoner outdoor exercise during a 15-month lockdown precipitated by a “particularly violent armed riot ... against staff.”

Steve Joseph Noble IV was incarcerated in Facility “C” at the Substance Abuse ...

Tenth Circuit Affirms Denial of Qualified Immunity to Oklahoma Jail Official Who Failed to Follow Prescribed Medical Instructions

On October 14, 2011 the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s denial of summary judgment, on the ground of qualified immunity, to Payne County, Oklahoma jail administrator Brandon Myers. The appellate court held that a reasonable jury could find that Myers was deliberately indifferent to pretrial ...

First Circuit Holds that Delay in Treating HIV May Constitute Deliberate Indifference

The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment to a physician assistant at the York County Jail (YCJ) in Maine, concluding that a material dispute existed as to whether the physician assistant acted with deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of an HIV-positive detainee.

In ...

New York Court of Appeals Holds Sex Offense Does Not Prove Parental Neglect

The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, has held that the fact that a defendant was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, was a level-three registered sex offender and had not received any sex offender treatment was insufficient to prove that he or the ...

New Jersey Appellate Court Holds Attorneys for Female Prisoners Temporarily Transferred to All-Male Facility May be Entitled to Fees

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey has held that the attorneys who represented a class of female prisoners temporarily transferred to the all-male New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) may qualify for an award of attorney’s fees.

The answer will hinge on whether the prisoners are ...

Single Incident of Deliberate Indifference Insufficient to Establish Policy or Custom

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff’s evidence, which indicated a single case of a constitutional violation, did not prove a private medical provider had a policy, practice or custom of deliberate indifference.

The ...

Texas Teenager Killed at Private Juvenile Detention Center

by Matt Clarke

On October 10, 2011, 14-year-old Jordan Adams was found unconscious on the floor of his isolation cell at the Granbury Regional Juvenile Justice Center (GRJJC) in Granbury, Texas. A sheet was wrapped around his neck. He died six days later at the Cook Children’s Medical Center ...

No Good Time for Time Spent in State Custody before Imposition of Federal Sentence

Good conduct time (GCT) may not be awarded to a federal prisoner for time spent in state custody before receiving his federal sentence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held.

Russell Schleining was arrested in 2003 for burglary and attempted burglary. At the time of ...

Ninth Circuit Holds BOP Individual RDAP Determinations Not Subject to Judicial Review

Individualized decisions related to the federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) are not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held.

Philip T. Reeb sought habeas relief after he was expelled from ...

Washington State Court of Appeals Holds Payments to Class II Prison Workers Are “Wages” for Time-Loss Compensation Calculations

by Matt Clarke

On April 13, 2011, a Washington state Court of Appeals held that money paid to Class II prison workers counted as “wages” for purposes of calculating time-loss compensation.

James B. Hill, a former Washington state prisoner, was injured while performing a Class II prison job for which ...

Georgia Court Clerk Liable for Failure to Inform Prison Officials of Sentence Reduction

The Georgia Supreme Court has held that a court clerk is not entitled to official immunity in a lawsuit claiming negligent performance of a ministerial duty. At the heart of the case was the clerk’s failure to inform prison officials about a court order that reduced a prisoner’s ...

Florida Death Row Prisoners Cannot Challenge Sentence Pro Se

Citing its “constitutional responsibility to ensure the death penalty is administered in a fair, consistent and reliable manner, as well as having an administrative responsibility to work to minimize the delays inherent in the post-conviction process,” the Florida Supreme Court held on October 6, 2011 that prisoners sentenced to death ...

Former Mississippi Mayor Charged with Sexually Assaulting Prisoner

Federal prosecutors have charged the former mayor of Walnut Grove, Mississippi with sexually assaulting a prisoner while acting under color of law. He also was charged with telling the prisoner to lie during an investigation into the incident. [See: PLN, April 2012, p.1].

William Grady Sims, 61, was first ...

“Voluntary” Work Program in Private Detention Centers Pays Detained Immigrants $1 a Day

In the Stewart Detention Center in rural Lumpkin, Georgia, Pedro Guzman cleaned the communal areas, cooked, painted walls, ran paperwork and buffed floors. But Guzman was not brought into Stewart as an employee – he was a detained immigrant taking part in the detention center’s “voluntary” work program.

“I didn ...

Vermont DOC Disbands Citizens’ Advisory Group that Critics Called “Window Dressing” for Transparency

Andy Pallito was on the hot seat on July 19, 2012 at a meeting of the Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee. Vermont’s commissioner of corrections had failed to notify lawmakers that he had disbanded a citizen panel charged with advising his department.

Sen. Dick Sears, who chairs the Legislative ...

News in Brief

Arizona: ASPC Florence prison guard Jeffrey Williams, 46, was arrested and booked into the Pinal County jail on April 20, 2012 after child pornography was found on his computer. Williams had taken the computer to a repair shop, which notified the sheriff’s office about the child porn. He reportedly ...