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Prison Legal News: June, 2013

Issue PDF
Volume 24, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. Fourth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Bail Bondsmen; $100,000 Damages Award Upheld (p 1)
  2. Slowly Closing the Gates: A State-by-State Assessment of Recent Prison Closures (p 1)
  3. Solidarity and Solitary: When Unions Clash with Prison Reform (p 12)
  4. TN Court of Appeals Rules Against CCA for Second Time in PLN Public Records Case (p 14)
  5. From the Editor (p 16)
  6. New York Commission of Correction Says Jails Don't Need Law Libraries (p 16)
  7. How the Prison - Industrial Complex Destroys Lives (p 18)
  8. Charting a New Justice Reinvestment (p 21)
  9. Oregon Juvenile Department Employee Gets Jail Time for Sexualizing Booking Photos (p 23)
  10. Florida Proceeds with Privatization of Prison Medical Care (p 24)
  11. New Law Gives Parents Behind Bars in Washington State a Way to Hold onto Their Children (p 26)
  12. U.S. Supreme Court Reinstates BOP Prisoner's FTCA Suit (p 28)
  13. Reprieved Oregon Prisoner Wages Legal Fight to be Executed (p 30)
  14. Eighth Circuit: Heck Bars False Imprisonment Claim (p 31)
  15. Research Study Finding Benefits from Prison Privatization Funded by Private Prison Companies (p 32)
  16. CCA Pays $100,000 after Exiting Contract to Operate Florida Jail (p 32)
  17. TransCor May Face Punitive Damages for Prisoner's Death (p 34)
  18. New York DOCCS Settles Statewide PLN Censorship Suit for $155,000 (p 34)
  19. Sixth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner's Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suit (p 36)
  20. Plata and Coleman Showdown in California (p 36)
  21. New Hampshire Cancels Private Prison Bids, but Bill Prohibiting Prison Privatization Fails to Pass (p 38)
  22. Oregon Rape Victim's Rights Clash with Rights of Accused Rapist (p 40)
  23. PLN Prevails in Challenge to Postcard-only Policy at Oregon Jail (p 42)
  24. Oklahoma: Hospital Sues Sheriff over Unpaid Medical Bills, for Third Time (p 42)
  25. Former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Held Liable for Targeting Gay Student (p 43)
  26. Maryland Repeals Death Penalty (p 44)
  27. Millions Owed in Unpaid Restitution in Oregon (p 44)
  28. Canadian Prisoners Escape via Helicopter (p 45)
  29. Supermax: Controlling Risk Through Solitary Confinement, by Sharon Shalev (Willan Publishing, September 2009). 346 pages, $39.95 (p 46)
  30. Prison Legal News Files Public Records Suit Against CCA in Texas (p 46)
  31. Oregon Pays Record $5.85 Million for Abuse of Foster Child and Abuser's Death in Prison (p 48)
  32. Florida Legislator Resigns in Wake of Texting Scandal (p 48)
  33. Pennsylvania Prison Guards, Sergeants Out-earn Supervisors (p 50)
  34. Survey Finds Disturbing Trends in Childhood Violence, Racial Dynamics for Juvenile Lifers (p 50)
  35. Oregon State Police Handwriting Analysis Unit Closed, under Investigation (p 52)
  36. Former Halfway House Director Sentenced to 18 Months (p 52)
  37. Oklahoma Escapee Surrenders to Police after 14 Years on the Run (p 53)
  38. CDCR to Open New Mental Health Facility (p 54)
  39. Tennessee Supreme Court: No Separate Parole Dates for Consecutive Sentences (p 55)
  40. News in Brief (p 56)

Fourth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Bail Bondsmen; $100,000 Damages Award Upheld

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a jury verdict and $100,000 damages award, concluding that bail bondsmen are not entitled to qualified immunity.

South Carolina bail bondsman Jon E. Ham, through his company Quick Silver Bail Bonds LLC, posted a $20,000 bond for Tyis Rose; however ...

Slowly Closing the Gates: A State-by-State Assessment of Recent Prison Closures

by Christopher Petrella and Alex Friedmann

After nearly 40 years of unprecedented growth, our nation's expanding prison population has finally begun to sputter. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010 marked the first year since 1972 in which, taken together, state and federal correctional populations declined slightly – a ...

Solidarity and Solitary: When Unions Clash with Prison Reform

by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella

On January 4, 2013, Tamms supermax in southern Illinois officially closed its doors. The prison, where some men had been in solitary confinement for more than a decade, had become notorious for its brutal treatment of prisoners with mental illness – and for driving sane ...

TN Court of Appeals Rules Against CCA for Second Time in PLN Public Records Case

In February 2013, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its second ruling in a long-running lawsuit filed under the state's Public Records Act against Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit private prison company. The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the lower court, holding ...

From the Editor

Please note that as of June 10, 2013, Prison Legal News and its parent organization, the Human Rights Defense Center, will have a new mailing address: P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460. Our website and e-mail addresses remain the same, and our new phone number is (561) 360-2523 ...

New York Commission of Correction Says Jails Don't Need Law Libraries

According to the Albany Legislative Gazette, the New York State Commission of Correction will no longer require the county jails it oversees to provide law libraries for detainees, effective May 18, 2013.

Although jails must provide prisoners with access to legal resources, they will not have to supply a physical ...

How the Prison - Industrial Complex Destroys Lives

by Mark Karlin, Truthout

Marc Mauer is the Executive Director of The Sentencing Project and the author of Race to Incarcerate, which has just been released in graphic format, illustrated by Sabrina Jones, as Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling (The New Press).

Mauer's knowledge about the prison-industrial ...

Charting a New Justice Reinvestment

by Nicole D. Porter, The Sentencing Project

For more than forty years, the correctional system has been dominated by growth. In 1969, the crime rate was 3,680 per 100,000 population and the incarceration rate was 97 state and federal prisoners per 100,000 population. Today the crime rate ...

Oregon Juvenile Department Employee Gets Jail Time for Sexualizing Booking Photos

"A jail sentence is called for," declared Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey S. Jones when sentencing a former Oregon Juvenile Department employee to two days in jail for altering mugshot photos of juvenile offenders to make them look sexually provocative. "It's an important symbol in light of his ...

Florida Proceeds with Privatization of Prison Medical Care

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) is moving forward with a legislative mandate to privatize its entire medical system. Whether the plan is implemented, however, may depend on the outcome of a lawsuit filed by prison health care workers challenging the FDOC's outsourcing of medical services for prisoners.

During ...

New Law Gives Parents Behind Bars in Washington State a Way to Hold onto Their Children

by Victoria Law, Truthout

On May 8, 2013, Washington State governor Jay Inslee signed SHB1284, or the Children of Incarcerated Parents bill, into law. The law guides the courts' discretion to delay the termination of parental rights if the parent's incarceration or prior incarceration is a significant factor ...

U.S. Supreme Court Reinstates BOP Prisoner's FTCA Suit

On March 27, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified that the scope of the Federal Tort Claims Act's waiver of sovereign immunity for certain intentional torts committed by federal law enforcement officials was not limited to executing searches, seizing evidence or making arrests.

Federal prisoner Kim Millbrook filed ...

Reprieved Oregon Prisoner Wages Legal Fight to be Executed

As previously reported in PLN, on November 22, 2011, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber imposed a moratorium on the death penalty for the remainder of his term in office. In doing so he canceled the scheduled execution of Gary Haugen, 50, who had waived his appeals and asked to be put ...

Eighth Circuit: Heck Bars False Imprisonment Claim

In an April 19, 2012 decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a federal district court that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) [PLN, Sept. 1994, p.12] barred a Minnesota prisoner's claim that prison officials unlawfully confined him for 375 days beyond his supervised ...

Research Study Finding Benefits from Prison Privatization Funded by Private Prison Companies

In April 2013, two professors at Temple University in Philadelphia released a study, titled "Cost Analysis of Public and Contractor Operated Prisons," that alleged financial savings through prison privatization and equal or better performance by private prison companies.

According to an April 29, 2013 press release issued by Temple University ...

CCA Pays $100,000 after Exiting Contract to Operate Florida Jail

A mediation agreement between Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Hernando County, Florida has resolved a dispute over $1.86 million after CCA and the county ended their contract for operation of the Hernando County Detention Center (HCDC), which CCA had managed for 22 years.

When the county declined to ...

TransCor May Face Punitive Damages for Prisoner's Death

TransCor America, LLC, a for-profit prisoner transportation company and subsidiary of Corrections Corporation of America, may be held liable for punitive damages if it is found responsible for the death of a prisoner who died while being transported in a TransCor van.

U.S. District Court Judge James F. Holderman ...

New York DOCCS Settles Statewide PLN Censorship Suit for $155,000

The New York state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYDOCCS) has settled a federal lawsuit filed by Prison Legal News that challenged the censorship of PLN's monthly publication, books and correspondence at New York prisons statewide.

PLN claimed in its complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner's Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suit

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court's dismissal of a prisoner's lawsuit alleging discrimination based on his sexual orientation.

Ricky Davis, a gay, insulin-dependent diabetic Michigan state prisoner, was screened, medically cleared and hired by an off-site public-works program.

He was the only openly ...

Plata and Coleman Showdown in California

by John E. Dannenberg

A three-judge federal court tightened the noose around the neck of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in April 2013 when it issued a lengthy order denying a motion by state officials to delay or modify the court's prison population reduction order that ...

New Hampshire Cancels Private Prison Bids, but Bill Prohibiting Prison Privatization Fails to Pass

After the state of New Hampshire hired a consulting group last year to help evaluate bid proposals for the "construction, operation and potential privatization" of the state's entire prison system, it was determined that all of the bids "had deficiencies from an operational standpoint," according to a report issued ...

Oregon Rape Victim's Rights Clash with Rights of Accused Rapist

The Oregon Supreme Court, sitting en banc, has dismissed a rape victim's interlocutory appeal of a trial court's order allowing her accused rapist to review her Internet search history on her personal computer as part of his defense.

In 1999, voters amended the Oregon Constitution to grant certain ...

PLN Prevails in Challenge to Postcard-only Policy at Oregon Jail

On April 24, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon held that a postcard-only policy at the Columbia County Jail, which restricted mail sent to and from detainees at the facility to postcards, was unconstitutional. The court therefore permanently prohibited enforcement of the policy – the first ...

Oklahoma: Hospital Sues Sheriff over Unpaid Medical Bills, for Third Time

For the third time in the past eight years, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel has been sued for damages by a local hospital, which accuses him of releasing dozens of jail prisoners to avoid having to pay their medical bills.

Prior lawsuits involving Whetsel's handling of detainee medical costs ...

Former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Held Liable for Targeting Gay Student

On August 16, 2012, a federal jury in Detroit found Andrew Shirvell, a homophobic former Michigan Assistant Attorney General, guilty of stalking, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy in a civil lawsuit filed by Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan’s first openly gay student body ...

Maryland Repeals Death Penalty

On May 2, 2013, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to abolish the death penalty, and the 18th state – along with the District of Columbia – that has rejected capital punishment. Maryland is the first Southern state to forgo executions in nearly half a century, joining West Virginia, with ...

Millions Owed in Unpaid Restitution in Oregon

As of early 2012, medium- and high-risk offenders in three of Oregon's 36 counties owed almost $155 million in unpaid restitution, with an average of just 16 percent of offenders statewide complying with restitution orders, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) and Oregon Judicial Department.

"We don ...

Canadian Prisoners Escape via Helicopter

by John E. Dannenberg

Two Canadian prisoners, Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and Danny Provençal, escaped from a St. Jérôme, Quebec correctional facility on March 17, 2013 when a helicopter hovered over the yard and lowered a rope for them. They clambered up, with one holding onto the undercarriage and the other hanging ...

Supermax: Controlling Risk Through Solitary Confinement, by Sharon Shalev (Willan Publishing, September 2009). 346 pages, $39.95

Book review by Julie Etter

Without exaggeration, Sharon Shalev's examination of supermax prisons and the dynamics of solitary confinement in the United States illustrates the consequences of bureaucratic dictates on the human soul. While not concealing her own moral judgment as to the practice of solitary confinement, Shalev evenly ...

Prison Legal News Files Public Records Suit Against CCA in Texas

In a lawsuit filed in state court on May 1, 2013, Prison Legal News, represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), alleges that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is concealing information about CCA-run correctional facilities by failing to respond to a public records request.

To obtain information about CCA ...

Oregon Pays Record $5.85 Million for Abuse of Foster Child and Abuser's Death in Prison

The State of Oregon has paid $3.75 million to a little girl who was injured by an abusive foster parent. Then, in an ironic twist, state officials agreed to pay another $2.1 million to the family of the man who committed the abuse, to settle a wrongful death ...

Florida Legislator Resigns in Wake of Texting Scandal

A Florida state lawmaker who supported harsher criminal penalties for stalkers and people who commit sexual offenses using electronic means has resigned in the wake of a texting scandal.

In August and September 2011, Democratic state representative Richard L. Steinberg used a disguised Yahoo account to send text messages to ...

Pennsylvania Prison Guards, Sergeants Out-earn Supervisors

by David M. Reutter

Life in prison has alwayss been far different than life in the free world. An investigation by the Pittsburgh-Gazette into the wages of Pennsylvania prison employees revealed one of those differences – an Alice-in-Wonderland quality to the Department of Corrections' (DOC) pay scale.

Typically, an employee's ...

Survey Finds Disturbing Trends in Childhood Violence, Racial Dynamics for Juvenile Lifers

An overwhelming majority of prisoners serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed as juveniles were exposed to domestic violence and lived in poverty, while significant numbers failed in school, were influenced by friends in trouble with the law and grew up in a home missing at least one parent ...

Oregon State Police Handwriting Analysis Unit Closed, under Investigation

"We don't know if it's one isolated case or there are going to be others," said Oregon State Police (OSP) Lt. Gregg Hastings, when he announced that OSP handwriting examiners had made a mistake in a criminal case.

In March 2012, OSP's Forensic Services Division's handwriting ...

Former Halfway House Director Sentenced to 18 Months

A former halfway house director, who embezzled up to $213,787 from a federally-funded non-profit Oregon halfway house, pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

As previously reported in PLN, Laura Marie Edwards, 39, served as executive director of the Oregon Halfway House (OHH), now known ...

Oklahoma Escapee Surrenders to Police after 14 Years on the Run

On April 26, 2013, David Lee Kemp, 43, turned himself into the Comanche County, Oklahoma Sheriff's Office. He was actively being sought by the FBI, U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies for escaping from the Comanche County Jail 14 years earlier. "He said that he was just ...

CDCR to Open New Mental Health Facility

In response to intense pressure from the Plata v. Brown and Coleman v. Brown federal lawsuits demanding improved medical and mental health care for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisoners, a new 50-bed mental health facility is scheduled to open in July 2013 at the California Men's ...

Tennessee Supreme Court: No Separate Parole Dates for Consecutive Sentences

by Matt Clarke

On May 25, 2012, the Supreme Court of Tennessee held that prisoners with consecutive sentences are not entitled to separate parole eligibility dates for each sentence. The Court also clarified that a prisoner may only challenge the calculation of a release eligibility date by the Tennessee Department ...

News in Brief

Australia: Benjamin Lord pleaded guilty in Victoria County Court on January 21, 2013 to two counts of impersonating a public official with the intention of obtaining sexual services and two counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception. While incarcerated, Lord, 31, had victimized a fellow prisoner by pretending to ...