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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: November, 2013

Issue PDF
Volume 24, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. The Too-Many Prisoners Dilemma (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 8)
  3. Texas Judges Rarely Disciplined, Seldom Publicly (p 9)
  4. Habeas Hints: Staring Down the Two-Headed Monster: Richter-Pinholster (p 12)
  5. The Real Costs of Incarceration in the United States (p 15)
  6. Attorney Fees Not Exempt from Disclosure Under California Public Records Act (p 17)
  7. PLN Files Censorship Suit Against Nevada DOC (p 18)
  8. Traumatic Brain Injury Rate High Among Prisoners (p 18)
  9. Debtors' Prisons Returning to America (p 20)
  10. Hell on Earth: Sexual Victimization of the Criminally Insane (p 22)
  11. China Vows to Finance Incarceration with Public Funds, Not Prison Profits (p 23)
  12. PLN Challenges Postcard-only Policy at Tennessee Jail (p 24)
  13. Oregon Considers Subsidizing Prison Medical Costs Through Medicaid (p 24)
  14. Federal Justice Grants Favor Prosecution, Law Enforcement Over Indigent Defense (p 26)
  15. Texas Prison Population Drops but Savings Evaporate (p 26)
  16. Minnesota Judge Condemns System that Jails Mentally Ill (p 28)
  17. Federal Prisoners Paid During Government Shutdown, but Not Prison Guards (p 28)
  18. GEO Group Pulls out of Mississippi Prisons (p 30)
  19. Gun Found in Segregation Cell at Privately-operated Mississippi Prison (p 33)
  20. New York City Jail Chaplain Fined for Accepting Bribe, Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges (p 34)
  21. New Exonerations Registry Catalogs Over 2,400 Wrongful Convictions (p 34)
  22. New Hampshire Supreme Court Revives Prisoner's Negligence Action (p 35)
  23. Prisoners in Texas Jail Providing Less Slave Labor (p 36)
  24. Book Review: Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America (p 36)
  25. Second Circuit: Bankruptcy Automatic Stay is No Excuse for Non-payment of Restitution (p 38)
  26. Third Circuit Reverses More Stringent Conditions of Supervised Release (p 38)
  27. Best Criminal Defense Pleading Ever! (p 40)
  28. Connecticut Supreme Court Reverses FOIA Disclosure of NCIC Printout (p 40)
  29. California: No-Gang-Contact Probation Condition Struck Down (p 41)
  30. Four West Virginia Officials, including Circuit Court Judge, Face Federal Charges (p 42)
  31. Ninth Circuit: Adam Walsh Detention Doesn’t Toll Term of Supervised Release (p 42)
  32. Eighth Circuit Upholds North Dakota Transient’s Failure-to-Register Conviction (p 44)
  33. U.S. Department of Justice Reports Statistics on State Prosecutors (p 44)
  34. California: Enhanced Presentence Conduct Credits Not Available to Defendants Who Committed Crimes Before Statute’s Effective Date (p 45)
  35. Philippines Prison Suspends Thriller Dancers (p 46)
  36. California: State Not Liable for Failure to Provide Needed Treatment so Long as Medical Care is Summoned (p 46)
  37. ICE Directive May Limit Solitary Confinement of Immigrant Detainees (p 48)
  38. Denial of Contraceptive Pill to Prisoner States Cause of Action (p 48)
  39. Anonymous PREA Hotlines Not So Anonymous (p 50)
  40. Montana Jail Fresh Air/Exercise Lawsuit Certified as Class Action, Then Settles (p 50)
  41. D.C. Circuit Clears Terrorism Suspect after 11-Year Ordeal (p 51)
  42. Audit Reveals Federal Prison Industries Faces Declining Revenue, Job Losses (p 52)
  43. Fifth Circuit: No Right to RDAP for Non-citizen Federal Prisoner (p 53)
  44. Prison Sentence Imposed for Sole Purpose of Drug Treatment Vacated by Eighth Circuit (p 54)
  45. Court Baffled by BOP's Steel-toe Boot Requirement for Prisoners (p 54)
  46. News in Brief (p 56)

The Too-Many Prisoners Dilemma

Prisons are a vast, undercovered but important beat. Why we need more criminal justice coverage

by Dan Froomkin

There’s a growing national consensus that, as Attorney General Eric Holder stated in August, “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good ...

From the Editor

By now all PLN subscribers should have received their annual fundraising letter. Subscription and advertising income alone does not cover the cost of producing each month’s issue. Most importantly, it does not cover the cost of the advocacy we do on behalf of prisoners and their families – for that ...

Texas Judges Rarely Disciplined, Seldom Publicly

by Matt Clarke

In 2009, former Harris County, Texas state district judge Woodrow “Woody” Densen was caught on surveillance video keying a neighbor’s car, causing significant damage. The video received widespread media coverage. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief and agreed to pay a $1 ...

Habeas Hints: Staring Down the Two-Headed Monster: Richter-Pinholster

by Kent Russell

This column provides “habeas hints” to prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys (“in pro per”). The focus of the column is on the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), the federal habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus ...

The Real Costs of Incarceration in the United States

It has long been an open secret that government officials go out of their way to hide from public view the true costs of the many, many different aspects of America’s top-heavy and constantly growing law enforcement system; and in no area are those efforts more devious than when ...

Attorney Fees Not Exempt from Disclosure Under California Public Records Act

The California Court of Appeal held on November 16, 2012 that billing and payment records reflecting the amount of money a government agency paid in attorney fees to defend against a pending civil rights action were not exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), Government Code § 6250 ...

PLN Files Censorship Suit Against Nevada DOC

On June 27, 2013, Prison Legal News filed suit in U.S. District Court against Nevada Department of Corrections (DOC) Director James G. Cox and other defendants, seeking to enjoin unconstitutional censorship by state prison officials.

The lawsuit contends that the Nevada DOC has engaged in “unlawful censorship of books ...

Traumatic Brain Injury Rate High Among Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

Studies have shown that the prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among adult prisoners is more than seven times higher than among non-incarcerated adults.

Traumatic brain injury occurs when a person suffers a disruption of brain function due to an injury – such as an impact from an ...

Debtors' Prisons Returning to America

As the United States was becoming an independent nation with its own values and form of government, it discarded an archaic English system that drove the poor into greater poverty. When the U.S. ended the practice of debtors’ prisons in 1833, it ensured that people would not be jailed ...

Hell on Earth: Sexual Victimization of the Criminally Insane

Jan Brewer is the governor of Arizona and one of her three sons, Ronald, was charged in 1989 with the sexual assault and kidnapping of a Phoenix woman. He was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and, in 1990, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to the ...

China Vows to Finance Incarceration with Public Funds, Not Prison Profits

Despite its atrocious human rights record, China says it is taking steps to ensure that its prison system is publicly financed and that prisoners receive rehabilitative opportunities.

Wu Aiying, China’s Minister of Justice, announced last year that profits from prison-run enterprises will now primarily fund rehabilitative programs rather than ...

PLN Challenges Postcard-only Policy at Tennessee Jail

On October 10, 2013, Prison Legal News filed a federal lawsuit against Sullivan County, Tennessee, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff J. Wayne Anderson, alleging that the county jail unconstitutionally censored books, magazines, letters and other correspondence sent to prisoners and failed to provide due process to the ...

Oregon Considers Subsidizing Prison Medical Costs Through Medicaid

With health care expenses for prisoners consuming more than $208 million of the biennial budget for the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) – a 67% increase since 2005 – prison officials are desperate to contain costs.

Correctional Health Partners (CHP), which provides medical services at ODOC facilities under a contract that lasts ...

Federal Justice Grants Favor Prosecution, Law Enforcement Over Indigent Defense

A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has confirmed what many criminal defendants too poor to afford an attorney have long suspected: While hundreds of millions in federal tax dollars go to support prosecutors, law enforcement and prisons each year, public defenders are left out in the cold.

Citing ...

Texas Prison Population Drops but Savings Evaporate

by Matt Clarke

The prospects for cost savings in the operation of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), now the nation’s largest state prison system, seemed optimistic in 2011 when the state made the unprecedented decision to close a prison. The closure of the 1,000-bed Central Unit ...

Minnesota Judge Condemns System that Jails Mentally Ill

A Minnesota state court judge blamed political indifference for a justice system that warehouses the mentally ill in county jails – a practice that may have resulted in the death of a guard ten weeks after he fought with a schizophrenic prisoner.

Hennepin County Mental Health and Probate Court Presiding Judge ...

Federal Prisoners Paid During Government Shutdown, but Not Prison Guards

One of the ironies of the recent 16-day federal government shutdown, which ended on October 16, 2013, is that prisoners in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) continued to receive their paychecks while BOP workers did not. FCI Forrest City, Arkansas prison employee and local union president Jeff Roberts, and ...

GEO Group Pulls out of Mississippi Prisons

by David M. Reutter

Last year, the GEO Group – the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company – announced that it was pulling out of its contracts to operate three Mississippi prisons. That development came shortly after a federal court announced sweeping changes at the GEO-run Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (WGYCF ...

Gun Found in Segregation Cell at Privately-operated Mississippi Prison

According to documents produced by the Mississippi Department of Corrections pursuant to a public records request, a semi-automatic pistol and other contraband was found at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville on September 13, 2013. The prison is operated by Management & Training Corporation (MTC), a for-profit company.

According to emails from MTC officials, an anonymous phone call to the facility indicated that contraband was going to be “thrown over the fence on the south end of the prison which house [sic] Long Term Segregation offenders and there was to be a gun in the package.” The fence line was “walked twice” before a package with contraband was located, which contained three cell phones and tobacco but no firearm.

Based on the anonymous call, staff located a broken cell window in G Pod. A search of the cell resulted in the discovery of a semi-automatic Model MP .25 pistol in the possession of a prisoner. Other contraband found in the cell included tobacco, a cell phone charger and a “6 in. sharpened weapon made of the cell light fixture.”

There was no indication how the firearm ended up inside the segregation cell. The gun was found in the cell of Isaac Garner; another prisoner, Gary Long, was reportedly implicated ...

New York City Jail Chaplain Fined for Accepting Bribe, Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

A politically-connected New York City jail chaplain was fined for accepting a gift from a prisoner’s family, then charged with stealing federal housing funds in an unrelated case. He was ordered to serve 45 days in federal prison.

Rabbi Leib Glanz, 54, admitted accepting a silver wine goblet and ...

New Exonerations Registry Catalogs Over 2,400 Wrongful Convictions

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, more than 1,230 criminal defendants who were wrongfully convicted have been exonerated since 1989. Another 1,170 cases involving wrongful convictions were not included in the Registry’s database because they were “collective exonerations” in police misconduct scandals in which officers fabricated ...

New Hampshire Supreme Court Revives Prisoner's Negligence Action

Last year the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a prisoner’s negligence claims, finding they were permitted under RSA 507-B:2.

On September 9, 2007, New Hampshire county prisoner Dana Chatman was part of a work crew assigned to clean the Lee County Fair ...

Prisoners in Texas Jail Providing Less Slave Labor

According to Taylor County, Texas Sheriff Les Bruce, prisoners at the county jail in Abilene are performing less free labor than in the past.

Bruce allowed low-risk prisoners convicted of non-violent offenses to perform work for the county in exchange for three days of good conduct time for each day ...

Book Review: Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

by Allen M. Hornblum, Judith L. Newman
and Gregory J. Dober

(Palgrave MacMillan, 2013). 266 pages. $27.00

Book review by Christopher Zoukis

According to Oswald Spengler, writing in The Decline of the West, “Moral is a conscious and planned causality of conduct, apart from all particulars of actual life ...

Second Circuit: Bankruptcy Automatic Stay is No Excuse for Non-payment of Restitution

Philip Colasuonno, a defendant in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was resentenced to 4 months in prison after the court found he had “willfully violated probation by failing to pay ordered restitution.” Colasuonno filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy following his initial sentencing, then ...

Third Circuit Reverses More Stringent Conditions of Supervised Release

In 2004, Charles F. Murray was sentenced to 95 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography and traveling interstate to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. As part of his sentence he was required to comply with “various special conditions of supervised release ...

Best Criminal Defense Pleading Ever!

PLN primarily reports on civil litigation involving prisons and jails rather than criminal cases. There are other resources that address criminal law; for example, Punch & Jurists (www.fedcrimlaw.com), which covers issues related to federal criminal cases.

However, when we ran across a pleading filed in a criminal court proceeding ...

Connecticut Supreme Court Reverses FOIA Disclosure of NCIC Printout

The Connecticut Supreme Court held on September 27, 2012 that a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) printout was exempt from production under the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), because a federal regulation barred its disclosure.

Rashad El Badrawi was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in ...

California: No-Gang-Contact Probation Condition Struck Down

On October 24, 2012, the California Court of Appeal modified a no-gang-contact condition of probation placed on a defendant who had pleaded no contest to possessing methamphetamine. The appellate court held that because neither the defendant nor his family had any ties to gangs, and the defendant’s criminal history ...

Four West Virginia Officials, including Circuit Court Judge, Face Federal Charges

A former West Virginia judge is facing up to ten years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges that he conspired to protect a county sheriff from allegations of drug-related activity.

Former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury, 57, pleaded guilty on October 2, 2013 in the U ...

Ninth Circuit: Adam Walsh Detention Doesn’t Toll Term of Supervised Release

In a case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the period of time spent in civil confinement under the Adam Walsh Act does not constitute “imprisonment,” and that a defendant’s period of supervised release is thus not tolled and continues to run during that ...

Eighth Circuit Upholds North Dakota Transient’s Failure-to-Register Conviction

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a sex offender who failed to register because he temporarily had no permanent address.

David L. Meador moved to North Dakota and was required to register as a sex offender. He lived in his truck in a gas station ...

U.S. Department of Justice Reports Statistics on State Prosecutors

by Matt Clarke

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) of the U.S. Department of Justice has released the most recent in a series of statistical reports on state prosecutors.

The report covers 2,330 prosecutors’ offices serving judicial districts in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Other ...

California: Enhanced Presentence Conduct Credits Not Available to Defendants Who Committed Crimes Before Statute’s Effective Date

In an October 15, 2012 unpublished ruling, the California Court of Appeal rejected a claim that the denial of enhanced presentence conduct credits to a defendant who committed his offense before October 1, 2011 – the effective date of an amendment to Penal Code section 4019 which doubled the rate at ...

Philippines Prison Suspends Thriller Dancers

On February 24, 2012, guards at a maximum-security facility in the Philippines were so spooked following an incident involving a prisoner with a homemade weapon that they temporarily suspended the prison’s dance troupe, which became internationally famous for its 2007 choreographed homage to Michael Jackson’s hit song, “Thriller ...

California: State Not Liable for Failure to Provide Needed Treatment so Long as Medical Care is Summoned

On January 15, 2013, the California Court of Appeal held that state prison officials were immune from liability, as a matter of law, for decisions that resulted in a prisoner failing to receive the medical treatment he needed. Those decisions led to the amputation of the prisoner’s penis after ...

ICE Directive May Limit Solitary Confinement of Immigrant Detainees

Many human rights activists have noted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is protected by draconian post-9/11 legislation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule-making power, has been prone to abusive detention practices – especially in the area of solitary confinement. However, courts have been reluctant to ...

Denial of Contraceptive Pill to Prisoner States Cause of Action

A U.S. District Court in Florida has held that the denial of a prisoner’s access to a contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy, based on a jail employee’s religious beliefs, states a cause of action.

The plaintiff in the case, identified only as R.W., was raped on ...

Anonymous PREA Hotlines Not So Anonymous

Following a decade of delays, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Justice, went into effect in August 2013. [See: PLN, September 2013, p.1].

One of the PREA rules, 115.51, states that correctional agencies “shall provide multiple internal ways for inmates ...

Montana Jail Fresh Air/Exercise Lawsuit Certified as Class Action, Then Settles

The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana granted class certification in a lawsuit alleging that the Missoula County Detention Facility (MCDF) deprives prisoners of fresh air and outdoor exercise. Following the class certification, the suit settled a year later in October 2013.

The plaintiffs in the case ...

D.C. Circuit Clears Terrorism Suspect after 11-Year Ordeal

An October 16, 2012 decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ended the lengthy ordeal of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was originally captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and detained at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after he was accused of being an “unlawful ...

Audit Reveals Federal Prison Industries Faces Declining Revenue, Job Losses

A recent audit by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice highlights the many challenges the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and its wholly-owned government corporation, Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI), face with respect to the FPI’s increasing financial problems. The audit, which covers ...

Fifth Circuit: No Right to RDAP for Non-citizen Federal Prisoner

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held last year that a non-citizen federal prisoner had no constitutional right to participate in a substance abuse rehabilitation program that could reduce his sentence by up to a year.

Ricardo Gallegos-Hernandez, a federal prisoner and Mexican national who had an Immigration and Customs ...

Prison Sentence Imposed for Sole Purpose of Drug Treatment Vacated by Eighth Circuit

In a “plain error” reversal of a district court’s order imposing a 24-month sentence on a defendant who violated the terms of his supervised release for the sole purpose of ensuring that he could participate in a prison-based substance abuse program, the Eighth Circuit reasserted the rule set forth ...

Court Baffled by BOP's Steel-toe Boot Requirement for Prisoners

In reviewing the appeal of federal prisoner York Wilson, convicted by a jury of “assault resulting in serious bodily injury,” the Seventh Circuit criticized the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) policy that requires most prisoners to wear steel-toe boots. This mandate, according to the appellate court, could have resulted in the ...

News in Brief

California: Reggie Alcantar, 31, was charged with felony battery and elder abuse on May 14, 2013 following an incident at the popular Tom’s Farms attraction near Corona. An investigation determined that Alcantar pushed a 71-year-old security guard to the ground, causing him to suffer a broken wrist. Alcantar was ...

 

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