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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: March, 2013

Issue PDF
Volume 24, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. Abuse in Los Angeles Jails Leads to Investigations, Lawsuits and Eventual Reforms (p 1)
  2. Colorado Seeks New Use for Empty Prison (p 12)
  3. From the Editor (p 14)
  4. Nevada Prison Industries Exploiting Businesses and Workers (p 14)
  5. The Color of Corporate Corrections: Overrepresentation of People of Color in the Private Prison Industry (p 16)
  6. British Call Center Fires Employees to Hire Prison Slave Labor (p 17)
  7. Why Are Prisoners Committing Suicide in Pennsylvania? (p 18)
  8. Federal Court Grants Six-Month Extension to Reduce CDCR Prison Population (p 24)
  9. Alaska Supreme Court Revives Prisoner’s “Shy Bladder” Suit (p 25)
  10. Historic $45 Million Settlement in Washington State Prison Phone Class-action Suit (p 26)
  11. China Pledges to Stop Harvesting Organs from Executed Prisoners (p 27)
  12. Prison Reforms Under Maine’s New DOC Commissioner (p 28)
  13. Former California Prison Guard Convicted of Lying about Injury Sustained at Sex Club (p 29)
  14. $2.6 Million Jury Award for Prisoner Beaten in Los Angeles County Detox Cell (p 30)
  15. Colorado: CCA Doctor Disciplined for Role in Prisoner’s Death (p 30)
  16. $4.1 Million Settlement for Cook County Jail Prisoners Shacked During Labor (p 31)
  17. California Prison Psychiatrists Reap Rewards from State Bidding War (p 32)
  18. Tennessee DOC Accused of Covering Up Violent Incidents (p 34)
  19. Prison Doctor’s Failure to Follow Prescribed Hernia Treatment States Claim (p 35)
  20. Second Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment for Non-Treatment of Prisoner’s HCV (p 36)
  21. 7th Circuit Reaffirms Voluntariness of BOP’s Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (p 36)
  22. DC Court Disbars Former Federal Prosecutor for Misconduct (p 38)
  23. Eighth Circuit: § 1997e(e) Bars Compensatory Damages for First Amendment Religious Claims; Qualified Immunity Upheld (p 38)
  24. Indigent Prisoner’s Damages Claim in Legal Mail Case Survives Summary Judgment (p 39)
  25. U.S. Citizens Mistakenly Snared, Deported by DHS and ICE (p 40)
  26. South Carolina Sex Offender’s Lifetime Satellite Monitoring Held Unconstitutional (p 41)
  27. Have the Media Stopped Covering Courts? (p 42)
  28. “Shocks the Conscience” Test Applied to Conditions at Civil Commitment Center (p 42)
  29. Unique Brazilian Prison Alternative Celebrates 40-Year Anniversary (p 44)
  30. Eleventh Circuit: No Right to Spanish-language RDAP Program (p 45)
  31. $2 Million Settlement in Mailman’s Death at New York City Jail (p 46)
  32. Former New York Prisoner Exonerated, Receives $2 Million Settlement (p 46)
  33. Fifth Circuit Reverses $659,300 Katrina-Related Jury Award (p 48)
  34. Equitable Tolling of AEDPA Includes Non-English Speaking Petitioners (p 48)
  35. Oregon ACLU Sues Jail over Mail Policy; County Quickly Capitulates (p 50)
  36. Illinois Woman Awarded $70,000 for Strip Search Based on Canine Alert (p 50)
  37. California Governor Approved Parole for 377 Life-Sentenced Murderers in 2012 (p 52)
  38. Eighth Circuit: Procedurally Defaulted Grievances Decided on Merits are Considered Exhausted (p 52)
  39. Eleventh Circuit: Corizon Policy Led to Prisoner’s Paralysis; $1.2 Million Verdict Upheld (p 54)
  40. Los Angeles County Settles Civil Detainee Wrongful Death Claim for $750,000 (p 55)
  41. Eighth Circuit Upholds Child Porn Supervised Release Condition (p 56)
  42. California Prison Town Files for Bankruptcy (p 56)
  43. Wisconsin Supreme Court Clarifies Sex Offender Registration for Homeless Prison Releasees (p 57)
  44. News in Brief (p 58)

Abuse in Los Angeles Jails Leads to Investigations, Lawsuits and Eventual Reforms

by Mike Brodheim and Alex Friedmann

WITH SEVEN FACILITIES THAT HOUSE from 15,000 to 18,000 prisoners, Los Angeles County’s jail system is the nation’s largest – and, arguably, among the most dangerous in terms of staff-on-prisoner violence.

The jail system, operated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department ...

Colorado Seeks New Use for Empty Prison

WHEN COLORADO GOVERNOR JOHN Hickenlooper announced the closure of the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility in Las Animas, Brent County officials became despondent. The prison was an economic mainstay of the tiny county.

“There’s no question the jobs leaving the community are some of the highest-paying jobs we have,” said ...

From the Editor

OBSERVANT READERS WILL NOTICE A number of changes in this issue of Prison Legal News. First, we have changed our layout design. It has been well over a decade since we last made significant changes to PLN’s layout, and it was time for a new look. Lansing Scott at ...

Nevada Prison Industries Exploiting Businesses and Workers

THE USE OF PRISON LABOR HAS BEEN increasing throughout the nation for the past fifteen-plus years. More and more factories are being built behind prison fences, with thousands of prisoner-made products sold to consumers annually – including apparel, processed foods, electronics, cabling, automotive and aircraft wiring, flooring, motorcycles, furniture, modular office ...

The Color of Corporate Corrections: Overrepresentation of People of Color in the Private Prison Industry

by Christopher Petrella and Josh Begley

While data generated by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and state departments of corrections (DOCs) have long demonstrated persistent racial disparities in rates of incarceration, no comparative study until now has considered the racial composition of select state-contracted, privately-operated prisons around the nation ...

British Call Center Fires Employees to Hire Prison Slave Labor

A British company in Wales reportedly fired 17 of its call center employees to make room for prisoners that it pays just £3 a day—or less than $5.00.

Beginning in December 2011, at least 23 prisoners were bussed in from the minimum-security HMP Prescoed in Monmouthshire to work ...

Why Are Prisoners Committing Suicide in Pennsylvania?

By the time John McClellan, Jr. was found dead inside Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Cresson in May 2011, he had long been categorized as “special needs” for his history of addiction and mental instability. Yet prisoners and staff say McClellan, 42, was not living in one of the ...

Federal Court Grants Six-Month Extension to Reduce CDCR Prison Population

The three-judge federal court over a long-standing prison healthcare class-action suit against California took a slight turn on January 29, 2013, when the court gave the state a six-month extension to achieve the prison population reduction it had ordered previously.

The court had required the California Department of Corrections and ...

Alaska Supreme Court Revives Prisoner’s “Shy Bladder” Suit

On August 31, 2012, the Alaska Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a prisoner’s paruresis (i.e., “shy bladder”) and visiting rule claims.

Alaska state prisoner Loren J. Larson, Jr. suffers from paruresis, a condition that makes it physically impossible for him to urinate while another ...

Historic $45 Million Settlement in Washington State Prison Phone Class-action Suit

by Matt Clarke

In January 2013, A $45 million settlement was reached in a long-standing lawsuit that challenged the failure of prison phone service companies to provide rate information to people who accepted calls from prisoners in Washington State.

Previously, on February 23, 2012, a King County superior court had ...

China Pledges to Stop Harvesting Organs from Executed Prisoners

On March 23, 2012, government officials in China said they plan to stop harvesting organs from the thousands of prisoners who are executed each year. However, many doubt the practice will entirely cease because the need for organs is too great.

“It’s not clear to me the government is ...

Prison Reforms Under Maine’s New DOC Commissioner

Several weeks after firing Maine State Prison warden Patricia Barnhart on January 10, 2013, and two years after taking over the Department of Corrections (DOC), Commissioner Joseph Ponte appears determined to continue – and ramp up – his forceful program of reform.

In an interview at the DOC’s Augusta headquarters, the ...

Former California Prison Guard Convicted of Lying about Injury Sustained at Sex Club

In March 2012, an ex-prison guard and his wife were convicted of attempted perjury for trying to swindle California’s workers’ compensation system by claiming that injuries the guard sustained at a San Francisco sex club were job-related.

On April 27, 2008, John Alfonzo Smiley, 47, then employed by the ...

$2.6 Million Jury Award for Prisoner Beaten in Los Angeles County Detox Cell

by Matt Clarke

On June 13, 2012, a federal jury awarded over $2.6 million to a man who was brutally assaulted by another prisoner while being held in a detoxification cell in a West Hollywood, California jail.

Jonathon Michael Castro was arrested late one evening for public drunkenness by ...

Colorado: CCA Doctor Disciplined for Role in Prisoner’s Death

In December 2012, the Colorado Medical Board concluded its inquiry into a complaint filed against Dr. David Mark Sakai Oba, who provided medical services at the CCA-operated Bent County Correctional Facility (BCCF), and issued an admonishment.

Terrell D. Griswold, 26, was incarcerated at BCCF in September 2009 when he filed ...

$4.1 Million Settlement for Cook County Jail Prisoners Shacked During Labor

Cook County Illinois has agreed to pay a $4.1 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit that challenged the shackling of pregnant prisoners at the Cook County Jail during labor, delivery or after giving birth, from December 4, 2006 through February 14, 2011.

The May 2012 settlement provides cash payments ...

California Prison Psychiatrists Reap Rewards from State Bidding War

Following a competitive bidding war between California state mental hospitals and state prisons, both seeking psychiatrists to treat their mentally ill patients, the prison system has emerged as the winner – largely due to a federal court order to improve prisoner mental health care. However, the term “winner” is misleading because ...

Tennessee DOC Accused of Covering Up Violent Incidents

As previously reported in Prison Legal News, the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) has been experiencing higher levels of prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff violence since Commissioner Derrick Schofield was appointed in January 2011.

The increased violence coincides with a number of policy changes implemented by Schofield that are widely perceived as ...

Prison Doctor’s Failure to Follow Prescribed Hernia Treatment States Claim

On May 25, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a prisoner’s civil rights complaint, finding he had alleged facts that showed a prison doctor had diagnosed a hernia but failed to implement the prescribed treatment. While those actions demonstrated deliberate indifference to the prisoner ...

Second Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment for Non-Treatment of Prisoner’s HCV

On March 9, 2012, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a New York prisoner’s claims related to denial of hepatitis C (HCV) treatment. The Second Circuit also determined that the district court had misinterpreted a settlement agreement’s cost recovery provisions.

The New York State ...

7th Circuit Reaffirms Voluntariness of BOP’s Inmate Financial Responsibility Program

In a ruling of significance to the approximately 218,000 prisoners in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Seventh Circuit has reaffirmed that a federal prisoner cannot be ordered by his or her sentencing court to participate in the BOP’s Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP).

Federal prisoner Ondray McKnight ...

DC Court Disbars Former Federal Prosecutor for Misconduct

On March 8, 2012, for the first time in over ten years, a former federal prosecutor was disbarred for “egregious” misconduct during the prosecution of several high-profile murder cases in the 1990s.

According to a 2010 investigation by USA Today, at that time there had been “201 documented cases since ...

Eighth Circuit: § 1997e(e) Bars Compensatory Damages for First Amendment Religious Claims; Qualified Immunity Upheld

Eighth Circuit: § 1997e(e) Bars Compensatory Damages for First Amendment Religious Claims; Qualified Immunity Upheld

On March 19, 2012, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) bars compensatory damages for a South Dakota prisoner’s exercise of religious freedom claims. The appellate court ...

Indigent Prisoner’s Damages Claim in Legal Mail Case Survives Summary Judgment

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has reversed a grant of summary judgment to defendant prison officials in a civil rights case challenging a policy that requires indigent prisoners to leave their legal mail unsealed for inspection.

The June 6, 2012 ruling came in an appeal by Kentucky ...

U.S. Citizens Mistakenly Snared, Deported by DHS and ICE

An increasing number of American citizens have been questioned, detained and even deported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as a result of databases that incorrectly identify them as undocumented immigrants.

According to the New York Times, “Detentions of citizens are ...

South Carolina Sex Offender’s Lifetime Satellite Monitoring Held Unconstitutional

The South Caroline Supreme Court held on May 9, 2012 that court-ordered lifetime satellite monitoring violated a sex offender’s due process rights.

Jennifer Rayanne Dykes, 26, was convicted of a sex offense for having an eight-month relationship with a 14-year-old girl. The court imposed a suspended 15-year prison term ...

Have the Media Stopped Covering Courts?

by Joshua Gerstein

Big legal showdowns between the press and courts often draw attention, as news organizations battle for the right to cover hearings and trials, for access to court records and to be allowed to take cameras into the courtroom.

These battles are important, indeed vital, to making sure ...

“Shocks the Conscience” Test Applied to Conditions at Civil Commitment Center

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the “shocks the conscience” standard, as opposed to the “professional judgment” standard, is the proper analysis when determining an alleged due process violation based on the treatment and discipline of a civilly committed sex offender.

Following a six-day bench trial in ...

Unique Brazilian Prison Alternative Celebrates 40-Year Anniversary

Brazil has long been home to the largest prison population in the region. As of December 2011, the population stood at 514,582, with 37% of the incarcerated being pretrial detainees. In addition to its sheer size, the Brazilian penal system is infamous for nightmarish conditions, discriminatory incarceration, harrowing police ...

Eleventh Circuit: No Right to Spanish-language RDAP Program

In an April 2, 2012 unpublished per curiam ruling, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a federal prisoner’s lawsuit seeking reinstatement of a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Spanish-language substance abuse program.

The suit claimed that the BOP had eliminated its Spanish-language Residential Drug Abuse Program ...

$2 Million Settlement in Mailman’s Death at New York City Jail

The City of New York has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that deliberate indifference resulted in the death of a pretrial detainee.

The settlement came in a federal civil rights action filed by the estate of Oswald Livermore. Livermore, 51, was booked into the Manhattan ...

Former New York Prisoner Exonerated, Receives $2 Million Settlement

A man whose conviction was overturned after spending 10 years in prison has settled his wrongful conviction suit against the State of New York for $2 million.

Michael Clancy, 25, was working as an apprentice elevator mechanic when he was arrested for the March 30, 1997 murder of John Buono ...

Fifth Circuit Reverses $659,300 Katrina-Related Jury Award

by Matt Clarke

In March 2012, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a $659,300 jury award in favor of two men who were arrested for public intoxication in New Orleans two days before Hurricane Katrina struck, and were then incarcerated for a month – sometimes under deplorable living conditions ...

Equitable Tolling of AEDPA Includes Non-English Speaking Petitioners

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a language inability, when combined with denial of legal or translation assistance, can be an extraordinary circumstance for equitable tolling purposes in habeas cases.

The issue was before the Third Circuit following a federal district court’s order dismissing as untimely ...

Oregon ACLU Sues Jail over Mail Policy; County Quickly Capitulates

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon filed a federal lawsuit against a county jail in June 2012, challenging a policy that prevented prisoners from receiving ACLU correspondence. County officials quickly agreed to change the policy and the suit was resolved within four months.

As previously reported in PLN, the ...

Illinois Woman Awarded $70,000 for Strip Search Based on Canine Alert

On June 28, 2012, an Illinois federal jury awarded a woman $70,000 for a strip search that occurred after a drug detection canine alerted on her car following a traffic stop for an unrelated warrant for failure to appear in court.

Officers Terry Rogers and Dee Burgin ordered a ...

California Governor Approved Parole for 377 Life-Sentenced Murderers in 2012

by John E. Dannenberg

Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown approved four out of every five parole grant decisions by the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) for prisoners convicted of murder and sentenced to life with parole. Totaling parole grants for 377 lifers, Brown’s record dwarfs the scanty parole ...

Eighth Circuit: Procedurally Defaulted Grievances Decided on Merits are Considered Exhausted

On June 15, 2012, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of a prisoner’s claims related to inadequate medical care.

Missouri state prisoner Mark E. Hammett, while housed at the Jefferson County Correctional Center, filed a federal lawsuit alleging insufficient medical care, retaliation and harassment ...

Eleventh Circuit: Corizon Policy Led to Prisoner’s Paralysis; $1.2 Million Verdict Upheld

In a September 6, 2012 unpublished ruling, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict that found Corizon Health, Inc., formerly Prison Health Services (PHS), had a policy or custom of refusing to send prisoners to hospitals. The appellate court also held it was reasonable for the jury ...

Los Angeles County Settles Civil Detainee Wrongful Death Claim for $750,000

On August 1, 2012, the County Counsel for the County of Los Angeles, California recommended settlement of a lawsuit filed by the survivors of a civil detainee who died as a result of an accident while working on a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department work crew. The settlement amount was ...

Eighth Circuit Upholds Child Porn Supervised Release Condition

On May 7, 2012, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a supervised release condition imposed on a federal prisoner convicted of a non-sex offense that prohibited possession of child pornography or photographic depictions of child nudity.

A Nebraska federal court convicted A.J. Kelly of being a felon in ...

California Prison Town Files for Bankruptcy

by John E. Dannenberg

The City of Stockton, California, which hosts two youth correctional facilities and is the site of current construction for a new $700-750 million prison hospital for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on June 27, 2012. It is the ...

Wisconsin Supreme Court Clarifies Sex Offender Registration for Homeless Prison Releasees

William Dinkins, Sr. was about to be released from a Wisconsin state prison, having completed a ten-year sentence for a sex offense, when he was informed that at least 10 days before his release he must register the address where he would be residing or he would be guilty of ...

News in Brief

ARIZONA: Five Pima County Jail guards were fired following a September 19, 2012 fight outside the Buffet Bar in Tucson. John Hyatt, 30; Matthew Garcia, 24; Anthony Bonfiglio, 25; Angel Castaneda, 23; and Steven Haglund, 26 were arrested on felony aggravated assault charges following a “brutal unprovoked attack” on four ...

 

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