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Prison Legal News: February, 2013

Issue PDF
Volume 24, Number 2

In this issue:

  1. LaSalle Corrections: A Family-Run Prison Firm (p 1)
  2. Tenth Circuit: Terrorism Prisoners Lack Liberty Interest in Transfer to ADX (p 8)
  3. From the Editor (p 8)
  4. The Battle to Open Prisons to Journalists (p 10)
  5. Two Companies Acknowledge Exporting U.S. Prisoner-Made Goods to Canada (p 13)
  6. Reintroducing the Private Prison Information Act: An Interview (p 14)
  7. GAO Examines How BOP Can Reduce Prisoners’ Time in Prison (p 16)
  8. In Memory of Jon E. Yount (1938-2012) (p 18)
  9. Supreme Court Extends Qualified Immunity to Private Attorney (p 22)
  10. U.S. Imprisons the Most Women, Tops International List (p 22)
  11. Supreme Court Adopts Strickland Prejudice Standard for Rejected Plea Bargains (p 24)
  12. NY Federal Judge Deals Rare SHU Placement Defeat to BOP (p 24)
  13. Oregon Jail Guard Convicted of Assaulting Prisoner, Gets 30 Days in Jail (p 26)
  14. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Sets Aside Convictions Based on Actual Innocence (p 26)
  15. The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, by William J. Stuntz (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011). 432 pages, $35.00 (p 28)
  16. Illinois: Current Insurer Must Pay Wrongful Conviction Award after Exoneration (p 30)
  17. Pay-to-Stay Jail Programs Growing (p 30)
  18. Nevada DOC Audit: Doctors Work 5 Hours, Get Paid for 10 (p 31)
  19. Idaho Supreme Court Affirms Firing of PHS Medical Director (p 32)
  20. Oregon Prosecutor’s Son Escapes Mandatory Prison Time for Sexual Assault (p 32)
  21. Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption, by Nancy Mullane (Public Affairs Books, 2012). 384 pages, $26.99 (hard-cover) (p 33)
  22. Former California Prison Guard Resentenced Following Assault Conviction (p 34)
  23. Texas Supreme Court Rules Compensation Required in Schlup-type Innocence Cases (p 34)
  24. FBI Loses Prisoner’s Property but Sovereign Immunity Foils Recovery (p 35)
  25. Supreme Court: No Bivens Actions for Federal Prisoners in Private Prison (p 36)
  26. Pregnant Woman Suffers Needless Death in Oklahoma Jail (p 36)
  27. Seventh Circuit Approves Illinois Prison’s Rejection of PDR and Drug Guide (p 38)
  28. Alabama Law Meant to Ensure Transparency in Judicial Elections Not Enforced for 16 Years (p 38)
  29. Idaho DOC Settles 30-year-old Class-action Lawsuit (p 40)
  30. New York Jail Profits from TV Ads (p 41)
  31. Federal Prison Industries Contract Leads to Freeworld Job Losses (p 42)
  32. California: Denial of Kosher Diet to Messianic Jew Violates RLUIPA (p 44)
  33. New Hampshire: $450,000 Settlement in Suit Over Prisoner’s Opiate Detoxification Death (p 44)
  34. Ohio Supreme Court Sides with Defendant in Sex Offender Registration Case (p 45)
  35. FCC Finally Moves on Wright Petition After Almost a Decade of Inaction (p 46)
  36. TASER Liability Verdict Upheld, but Remittitur Granted (p 46)
  37. New York Court Limits Costs to $.25 per Page for Prison Medical Records Requests (p 47)
  38. Johnny Cash and His Prison Reform Campaign (p 48)
  39. News in Brief (p 50)

LaSalle Corrections: A Family-Run Prison Firm

by Matt Clarke

Unique circumstances have combined to make northern Louisiana a prime location for private prisons, as Louisiana sheriffs can profit by letting a private company build and operate facilities that house both local prisoners and prisoners from other jurisdictions.
Meanwhile, other parish prisons – especially those in the densely-populated ...

Tenth Circuit: Terrorism Prisoners Lack Liberty Interest in Transfer to ADX

Omar Rezaq, Mohammed Saleh, El-Sayyid Nosair and Ibrahim Elgabrowny, convicted of terrorism-related offenses and confined at the federal supermax ADX facility in Florence, Colorado, filed suit contending they had a liberty interest in “avoiding transfer without due process to the high-security prison.” The district court denied relief, which was affirmed ...

From the Editor

I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the Human Rights Defense Center/Prison Legal News annual fundraiser. As of mid-January 2013 we had raised a little over $29,000 of our $60,000 goal to continue the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, and still need more support ...

The Battle to Open Prisons to Journalists

Many states make it extremely difficult for journalists to visit their prisons, interview prisoners and report with any regularity or authority on what goes on inside America’s prison system.

Take the case of Illinois.

In March 2012, after hearing reports of black mold, insect and vermin infestations, and busted-out ...

Two Companies Acknowledge Exporting U.S. Prisoner-Made Goods to Canada

by David M. Reutter

South Carolina-based Anderson Hardwood Floors formally announced in January 2012 that it had been violating Canadian law by exporting products partly manufactured by prisoners into Canada for the past 15 years. The announcement implicitly means the company also violated U.S. law by failing to clearly ...

Reintroducing the Private Prison Information Act: An Interview

Christopher Petrella and Alex Friedmann are leading a coalition of organizations urging U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to reintroduce the Private Prison Information Act during the 113th Congress. I reached them both on the phone on a busy afternoon on January 9, 2013. Alex spoke from his office ...

GAO Examines How BOP Can Reduce Prisoners’ Time in Prison

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a study on the Bureau of Prisons’ authority to shorten a federal prisoner’s sentence. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was found to have three principal authorities with respect to sentence reduction: prisoners can earn up to twelve months off for ...

In Memory of Jon E. Yount (1938-2012)

Sometime in the early morning of April 26, 2012, in his cell in a remote Pennsylvania prison, a 74-year-old jailhouse lawyer serving a life sentence hung himself. He was a quiet man who avoided taking credit for his work, so many people in and outside of prison don’t know ...

Supreme Court Extends Qualified Immunity to Private Attorney

The U.S. Supreme Court has extended qualified immunity to a private lawyer who was retained by a city to serve as an internal affairs investigator.

In August 2006, Rialto, California firefighter Nicholas Delia became ill while responding to a fire. His doctor ordered him to take three weeks off ...

U.S. Imprisons the Most Women, Tops International List

It’s almost a cliché that the world’s freest country imprisons by far the most people. And yet the pure mathematics of the issue remain cruelly ironic, especially for America’s female prisoners.

The second edition of the World Female Imprisonment List, released in March 2012, reveals that the ...

Supreme Court Adopts Strickland Prejudice Standard for Rejected Plea Bargains

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, has extended Strickland guarantees of effective legal representation to defendants entering into plea bargains. According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who delivered the majority opinion of the Court, “The reality is that plea bargains have become so central to the administration of ...

NY Federal Judge Deals Rare SHU Placement Defeat to BOP

Viktor A. Bout, a Russian international arms dealer ensnared in a DEA sting in 2008, extradited from Thailand and held in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York, won a court order compelling the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to transfer him to ...

Oregon Jail Guard Convicted of Assaulting Prisoner, Gets 30 Days in Jail

On April 6, 2012, a jury convicted a former Oregon jail guard of assaulting a prisoner. The following month he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a two-year term of probation.

One day before his 65th birthday, in August 2010, Gary Willis Baumgardner was arrested for DUI and ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Sets Aside Convictions Based on Actual Innocence

by Matt Clarke

In a 7-0 opinion with two judges not participating, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held on February 15, 2012 that a former prisoner who claimed exculpatory evidence was withheld in his case, and who raised a free-standing claim of actual innocence based on the recantation of ...

The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, by William J. Stuntz (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011). 432 pages, $35.00

Book review by Derek Gilna

The late William J. Stuntz, a Harvard law professor who conducted extensive research into the “rule of law” in American society, authored a tome that attempts to explore how the U.S. justice system has arrived at its current state. His posthumously published book, The ...

Illinois: Current Insurer Must Pay Wrongful Conviction Award after Exoneration

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a federal district court’s determination “that, under Illinois law, the issuer of the policy in force on the date a convict is exonerated must defend and indemnify an insured whose law-enforcement personnel violate the constitution (or state law) in the process ...

Pay-to-Stay Jail Programs Growing

Due in part to stressed government budgets, “pay-to-stay” fees imposed on prisoners in county jails are becoming more prevalent. Two counties, one in Ohio and the other in California, are now collecting incarceration costs from detainees.

After Keller Blackburn became prosecutor for Athens County, Ohio, the county achieved its largest ...

Nevada DOC Audit: Doctors Work 5 Hours, Get Paid for 10

The Nevada Department of Corrections (DOC), which houses 12,750 prisoners, employs 23 full-time physicians who are paid a salary that presumes they work four 10-hour shifts per week. Accordingly, they receive their full wages regardless of the hours they actually put in. The DOC’s eight part-time doctors work ...

Idaho Supreme Court Affirms Firing of PHS Medical Director

The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a prison doctor’s challenge to his job termination, stemming from his abusive treatment of a prisoner.

Dr. John F. Noak was the medical director for Prison Health Services (PHS), which provided medical care for the Idaho Department ...

Oregon Prosecutor’s Son Escapes Mandatory Prison Time for Sexual Assault

Commit sexual abuse in Oregon and you face a mandatory prison sentence of 75 months – unless your father happens to be a prosecutor, apparently.

In December 2011, Jacob Frasier, 17, the son of Coos County District Attorney Paul R. Frasier, and four other co-defendants were arrested on allegations that they ...

Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption, by Nancy Mullane (Public Affairs Books, 2012). 384 pages, $26.99 (hard-cover)

Book review by John E. Dannenberg

With a gripping meld of investigative journalism and personal involvement, author Nancy Mullane digs into the true meaning of “life with the possibility of parole” for California murderers. Tracking the cases of five lifers who have done much more time than their minimum sentences ...

Former California Prison Guard Resentenced Following Assault Conviction

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated a 51-month sentence imposed on a former California prison guard convicted of assaulting two prisoners, on the ground that during sentencing the district court had relied on unreliable allegations made by a jailhouse informant in violation of the guard’s due process ...

Texas Supreme Court Rules Compensation Required in Schlup-type Innocence Cases

by Matt Clarke

On May 18, 2012, the Supreme Court of Texas held that a former prisoner whose murder conviction was reversed due to ineffective assistance of counsel after he proved that he was likely actually innocent was entitled to compensation.

Billy Frederick Allen was convicted of a double homicide ...

FBI Loses Prisoner’s Property but Sovereign Immunity Foils Recovery

On May 29, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals barred Galo Alejandro Ordonez from compensation after the FBI and the federal government acknowledged that property that had been previously seized from him and ordered returned was “presumed to be lost or destroyed.” The appellate court held the government had ...

Supreme Court: No Bivens Actions for Federal Prisoners in Private Prison

by Matt Clarke

In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that federal prisoners housed in privately-managed prisons may not file Bivens-style federal lawsuits against private prison employees alleging lack of medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Richard Lee Pollard was a federal prisoner incarcerated ...

Pregnant Woman Suffers Needless Death in Oklahoma Jail

Jamie Lynn Russell (a.k.a. Jamie Fisher), 33, who was pregnant and experiencing severe abdominal pain, sought medical care at a hospital in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma on January 3, 2013. She was difficult and “not cooperating,” according to nurses, who summoned a nearby police officer to assist.

Medical staff ...

Seventh Circuit Approves Illinois Prison’s Rejection of PDR and Drug Guide

On March 9, 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a prisoner’s civil rights action that alleged violation of his constitutional rights due to the censorship of two books by prison officials.

James Munson, an Illinois state prisoner serving a life sentence, suffers from a ...

Alabama Law Meant to Ensure Transparency in Judicial Elections Not Enforced for 16 Years

An Alabama law that became effective in 1996, designed to remove any appearance of impropriety in the funding of judicial election campaigns, has languished while all three branches of state government have failed to implement the statute, codified at Alabama Code §§ 12-24-1 and 12-24-2.

According to the Birmingham News, “The ...

Idaho DOC Settles 30-year-old Class-action Lawsuit

Idaho officials first tried to suppress what they called an “inflammatory” and “libelous” report filed by a court-appointed expert in a longstanding suit involving the state’s prison system. They then finally agreed to settle the 30-year-old litigation based upon the report’s findings.

In 1981, a flood of federal ...

New York Jail Profits from TV Ads

How does a small business like Chico’s Bail Bonds increase its odds of reaching its target demographic? By advertising to people who have just been arrested and jailed, of course.

While being booked and photographed within hours of their arrest, prisoners at the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo ...

Federal Prison Industries Contract Leads to Freeworld Job Losses

The loss of a $45 million contract to produce military clothing has caused Tennessee-based Tennier Industries to lay off around 100 workers. The contract was awarded to Federal Prison Industries (FPI), also known as UNICOR, which will use prisoner slave labor to manufacture the clothing that otherwise would have been ...

California: Denial of Kosher Diet to Messianic Jew Violates RLUIPA

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, has held that the denial of a prisoner’s request to participate in the state prison system’s Jewish Kosher Diet Program (JKDP), on the sole ground that he was a Messianic Jew, violated the prisoner’s rights under the Religious Land Use ...

New Hampshire: $450,000 Settlement in Suit Over Prisoner’s Opiate Detoxification Death

On August 9, 2011, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire settled a lawsuit filed by the parents of a jail prisoner who died due to dehydration while undergoing unsupervised opiate detoxification.

Kevin McEvoy, 24, was arrested in August 2008 on two misdemeanor shoplifting charges for stealing video games; unable to post $3 ...

Ohio Supreme Court Sides with Defendant in Sex Offender Registration Case

On May 8, 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wesley Lloyd, who was convicted of a sex offense in Texas and then moved to Ohio in 2005. He was arrested and convicted in Ohio for failing to register as Tier III sex offender “within three days” of ...

FCC Finally Moves on Wright Petition After Almost a Decade of Inaction

On December 28, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took a major step in a process that could lead to “just and reasonable” interstate phone rates for calls made from prisons, jails and other detention centers.

“Today, we officially answer the call from tens of thousands of consumers who have ...

TASER Liability Verdict Upheld, but Remittitur Granted

A North Carolina U.S. District Court has held, in ruling on a post-trial motion, that a jury’s liability verdict against TASER International related to the death of a juvenile shocked by one of the company’s TASER devices was reasonable, but granted remittitur of the $10 million jury ...

New York Court Limits Costs to $.25 per Page for Prison Medical Records Requests

A New York appellate court has upheld a lower court’s decision that the cost for medical records requested by prisoners or their representatives under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) is no more than $.25 per page.

The Legal Aid Society (LAS) sought disclosure of certain medical records from ...

Johnny Cash and His Prison Reform Campaign

On July 26, 1972, three grizzled-looking men dressed uneasily in suits gave evidence at a U.S. Senate subcommittee on prison reform. Two of the men were former prisoners of some of the toughest prisons in the U.S. – the third was the country and western singer, Johnny Cash.

Cash ...

News in Brief

Florida: When Jack Bates Rider III signed up for a training class to become a corrections officer, he likely didn’t expect to be arrested. He should have, though, as he was wanted in connection with the 2007 strangulation death of a woman in Arizona. The U.S. Marshals Service ...