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Prison Legal News: July, 2013

Issue PDF
Volume 24, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Arizona Prison System Plagued by Politics, Privatization and Prisoner Deaths (p 1)
  2. Louisiana Supreme Court Rejects Ex Post Facto Challenge in Sex Offender Supervision Case (p 13)
  3. From the Editor (p 15)
  4. Italian Prison Program Trains Female Prisoners in Fashion Industry (p 15)
  5. Pennsylvania DOC's Hepatitis C Protocol Challenged in Class-action Lawsuit (p 16)
  6. Sixth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Suit Due to Non-Exhaustion and Statute of Limitations (p 18)
  7. Sixth Circuit: Failed Cancer Diagnosis Not Deliberately Indifferent (p 19)
  8. Sixth Circuit Orders Judgment Against Three Defendants in Prisoner's Retaliation Case (p 20)
  9. A Prolonged Stay: The Reasons Behind the Slow Pace of Executions (p 22)
  10. Seventh Circuit: Summary Judgment Partially Reversed in Jail Death Caused by Medication Withdrawal (p 24)
  11. Oregon: Post-Escape Conduct Justifies Enhanced Escape Sentence (p 25)
  12. Oklahoma Prison Employees Disciplined (p 26)
  13. Valley Fever Declared a Public Health Emergency at Two California Prisons; Court Orders Prisoner Transfers (p 28)
  14. Congress Amends PLRA Physical Injury Requirement for Sexual Abuse Cases (p 30)
  15. $737,500 Settlement after Seventh Circuit Finds No Qualified Immunity for Prisoner's Suicide (p 32)
  16. Tennessee Judge Convicted Following Drug and Sex Scandal (p 32)
  17. Ninth Circuit: Enemy Combatant Detention/Torture Not Clearly Established (p 34)
  18. Prisoners Respond to Call for Prison Phone Justice; SCI-Huntingdon Delivers! (p 34)
  19. Illinois: Conditions Lawsuit Filed by Civilly Confined Sex Offenders Dismissed (p 36)
  20. Tenth Circuit: No Section 2241 Jurisdiction for BOP Supermax Challenge; Claims Must be Brought as Bivens Action (p 36)
  21. Arkansas: Sentencing Court Cannot Order Prison Treatment (p 37)
  22. CCA Loses Four Private Prison Contracts in One Month (p 38)
  23. California: Eastern District Jury Pool Alleged to be Biased Against Prisoners (p 38)
  24. Seventeen Years Pending Re-trial Fails to State Speedy Trial Violation under § 1983 (p 40)
  25. Collateral Consequences Weighed for Corporations, Not for Individuals (p 40)
  26. Re-incarceration Not Grounds to Dismiss Wisconsin Civil Commitment Petition (p 42)
  27. PLN Files Public Records Suit Against CCA in Vermont (p 42)
  28. Some Jails Turning to Video Visitation Only (p 44)
  29. Washington Sex Offender's Conviction for Failure to Report Reversed (p 45)
  30. California: Probation Condition Cannot Prohibit Court Access (p 46)
  31. Fourth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Case Challenging Virginia DOC Grooming Policy (p 46)
  32. Three New Mexico Jail Guards Convicted of Assault, Obstruction of Justice (p 47)
  33. South Carolina Sex Offender Registration Amendment Requires Actual Notice (p 48)
  34. Ninth Circuit: Idaho Ordered to Allow Viewing of all Stages of Execution (p 48)
  35. California Guard Fights Prisoner, Faces Charges for Falsifying Reports (p 49)
  36. Third Circuit: Prison Officials Liable for Failing to Protect Informant (p 50)
  37. Third Circuit Discusses FRCP 17(c) Guardian Appointment; Evidence of Incompetency Requires Sua Sponte Inquiry (p 52)
  38. Deadly Prison Fire Kills Hundreds in Honduras (p 52)
  39. Former Maryland Governor Acknowledges Politics Behind Life Means Life Policy (p 53)
  40. Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Illinois Prisoner's Lawsuit Related to Shooting (p 54)
  41. Former Mississippi Mayor Sent to Prison (p 54)
  42. South Dakota Non-profits Lose Cheap Prison Labor (p 55)
  43. News in Brief (p 56)

Arizona Prison System Plagued by Politics, Privatization and Prisoner Deaths

By the time Jan Brewer replaced Janet Napolitano as Arizona’s governor in 2009, it had been 22 years since the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) built the first prison in the United States designed exclusively for permanent lockdown – a prison that became the prototype for supermax facilities across the ...

Louisiana Supreme Court Rejects Ex Post Facto Challenge in Sex Offender Supervision Case

The Louisiana Supreme Court has reversed the judgment of a state appellate court and reinstated the "lifelong supervision" of Rudy Trosclair, who had contested that condition on ex post facto grounds. At the time of Trosclair's conviction, La. Rev. Stat. Section 15:561.2 required any person convicted of ...

From the Editor

The June and July issues of PLN are being mailed later than usual due to our move from Vermont to Florida; however, we expect to be back on schedule with the August issue. We apologize to our readers for any inconvenience, but this is a one-time event. We are excited ...

Italian Prison Program Trains Female Prisoners in Fashion Industry

Leave it to the Italians to extend their love of fashion to a women's prison. At the Rebibbia facility in Rome, the well-known fashion house of Fendi is supporting a voluntary training program where women prisoners manufacture handbags.

Soon to be marketed under the Sigillo (Seal) brand, the handbags ...

Pennsylvania DOC's Hepatitis C Protocol Challenged in Class-action Lawsuit

by Gregory Dober

There is an old game known as Thimblerig. Most people know it as the shell game. It's when a con man places a small round ball, about the size of a pea, under three shells and quickly shuffles them around. He then asks if anyone wants ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Suit Due to Non-Exhaustion and Statute of Limitations

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's summary judgment order that erroneously dismissed a Michigan prisoner's lawsuit for non-exhaustion and because it was time-barred.

On November 30, 2005, Michigan state prisoner Samuel Surles filed suit in federal court, alleging that prison officials at the Gus ...

Sixth Circuit: Failed Cancer Diagnosis Not Deliberately Indifferent

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court's denial of qualified immunity to a Michigan prison doctor and nurse accused of failing to diagnose a prisoner's bone cancer.

On February 13, 2007, Mound Correctional Facility prisoner Joshua Reilly complained of a headache and swelling above ...

Sixth Circuit Orders Judgment Against Three Defendants in Prisoner's Retaliation Case

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated judgments in favor of three prison officials in a prisoner's lawsuit alleging a retaliatory transfer, and ordered that judgment be entered against them. The district court then awarded damages on remand.

Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisoner Kevin King actively participated in ...

A Prolonged Stay: The Reasons Behind the Slow Pace of Executions

by Raymond Bonner, ProPublica

States that impose the death penalty have been facing a crisis in recent years: They are short on the drugs used in executions.

In California, which has the country's largest death row population, the chief justice of the state supreme court has said there are ...

Seventh Circuit: Summary Judgment Partially Reversed in Jail Death Caused by Medication Withdrawal

On May 25, 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a grant of summary judgment to two defendants in a case involving a jail detainee who died after his prescribed medication was abruptly discontinued.

Wisconsin's La Crosse County Jail contracts with a private company, Health Professionals, Ltd. (HPL ...

Oregon: Post-Escape Conduct Justifies Enhanced Escape Sentence

The Oregon Court of Appeals has held that criminal conduct committed after an escape justifies the imposition of an enhanced sentence on the escape conviction.

Donald A. Bennett was an Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) prisoner when he escaped from the South Fork Forest Camp, a minimum-security facility. After absconding ...

Oklahoma Prison Employees Disciplined

by Matt Clarke

An investigation by the Tulsa World newspaper revealed that more than 130 disciplinary actions were taken against Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) employees at men's prisons from 2009 through mid-2011. Most of the disciplined employees received a few days suspension without pay, though for 40 the ...

Valley Fever Declared a Public Health Emergency at Two California Prisons; Court Orders Prisoner Transfers

by John E. Dannenberg

On April 25, 2013, Dr. John Galgiani, an expert hired by attorneys representing prisoners in the long-running Plata v. Brown class-action lawsuit over medical care in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), filed an 80-page affidavit with the federal court overseeing the case in ...

Congress Amends PLRA Physical Injury Requirement for Sexual Abuse Cases

The federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was renewed and broadened in February 2013, after much controversy involving Republican opposition to provisions extending certain of the statute's protections to LGBT persons, Native Americans living on reservations and undocumented immigrants.

Lost in those debates was the fact that the broadened ...

$737,500 Settlement after Seventh Circuit Finds No Qualified Immunity for Prisoner's Suicide

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court's partial denial of qualified immunity in a case involving the suicide of a Wisconsin prisoner.

"Jessie Miller led a tragically short and troubled life. Exposed to cocaine while in utero, Miller was born into a broken home on ...

Tennessee Judge Convicted Following Drug and Sex Scandal

During courtroom recesses, a Tennessee judge had sex with and bought drugs from his mistress, who was a felon on probation, according to a report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Judge Richard Baumgartner, 66, who became a Criminal Court Judge in Knoxville in 1992, was one of three Knox ...

Ninth Circuit: Enemy Combatant Detention/Torture Not Clearly Established

Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent compelled it to conclude that federal officials were entitled to qualified immunity for the treatment of enemy combatants detained after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, because the law was not clearly established at ...

Prisoners Respond to Call for Prison Phone Justice; SCI-Huntingdon Delivers!

In June 2012 we posted the first advertisement for the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice in Prison Legal News. We asked you, our readers, to send letters to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) describing how you and your families have been impacted by the high cost of prison telephone calls ...

Illinois: Conditions Lawsuit Filed by Civilly Confined Sex Offenders Dismissed

Civilly committed sex offenders confined pursuant to Illinois' Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, 725 ILCS 207/1-99, filed suit in federal court in 2007 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the conditions of their confinement at the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center (Rushville).

After the district court dismissed ...

Tenth Circuit: No Section 2241 Jurisdiction for BOP Supermax Challenge; Claims Must be Brought as Bivens Action

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held on May 1, 2012 that a federal prisoner's transfer to supermax custody must be brought as a Bivens action rather than as a federal habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

Jesus Hector Palma-Salazar, a Mexican citizen, was indicted on ...

Arkansas: Sentencing Court Cannot Order Prison Treatment

The Arkansas Supreme Court has held that a sentencing court lacks authority to order a defendant to complete sex offender treatment in prison.

In 2011, Chad Lee White was convicted of rape and second-degree battery for anally penetrating a neighbor's two-year-old son while babysitting him. The trial court imposed ...

CCA Loses Four Private Prison Contracts in One Month

On June 18, 2013 the Idaho Board of Correction voted not to renew the state's $29.9 million contract with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) – the nation's largest for-profit prison company – to operate the 2,104-bed Idaho Correctional Center (ICC). The state's contract with CCA will be ...

California: Eastern District Jury Pool Alleged to be Biased Against Prisoners

Defense attorneys representing two prisoners accused of murdering a federal prison guard have argued that the jury pool in the region – the Central Valley of California – is biased against prisoners due to the numerous correctional facilities that dot the landscape.

The Fresno Division of the U.S. District Court for ...

Seventeen Years Pending Re-trial Fails to State Speedy Trial Violation under § 1983

Seventeen Years Pending Re-trial Fails to State Speedy Trial Violation under § 1983

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a pretrial detainee did not suffer a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial despite being imprisoned for 17 years after a state appellate court reversed ...

Collateral Consequences Weighed for Corporations, Not for Individuals

In case you had any doubt that federal prosecutors favor corporations over individuals, check out Mythili Raman's testimony before a House hearing on May 22, 2013.

Raman is the acting chief of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. She appeared before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of ...

Re-incarceration Not Grounds to Dismiss Wisconsin Civil Commitment Petition

On June 29, 2012, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that Wisconsin Statutes chapter 980 (2005-06), the state's sex offender civil commitment law, does not require that a pending commitment petition be dismissed when the person subject to civil commitment is re-incarcerated due to revocation of their parole or extended ...

PLN Files Public Records Suit Against CCA in Vermont

On June 7, 2013, Prison Legal News, represented by the ACLU of Vermont, filed a lawsuit in state court after submitting a public records request seeking information about legal settlements involving Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) – the nation's largest for-profit prison firm. The Vermont Department of Corrections contracts with ...

Some Jails Turning to Video Visitation Only

by Matt Clarke

The Weber County Jail in Ogden, Utah has joined a growing trend – moving to video visits for prisoners – and has also started charging prisoners' families for "extra" visitation time.

In 2009 the jail replaced in-person, no-contact visits with video visits, using visitation and scheduling programs provided by ...

Washington Sex Offender's Conviction for Failure to Report Reversed

The en banc Washington State Supreme Court has reversed a defendant's conviction for failure to report as a sex offender, finding that the reporting statute was ambiguous and the evidence presented was insufficient to support the conviction.

Prior to 2010, Washington law required all Level II or III sex ...

California: Probation Condition Cannot Prohibit Court Access

The California Court of Appeal has held that a condition of probation barring a juvenile offender's access to the courthouse was unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment.

In 2010, California juvenile offender Jose N. was made a ward of the juvenile court when he admitted to participating ...

Fourth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Case Challenging Virginia DOC Grooming Policy

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor joined a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, by designation, in finding that a district court had erred in upholding a Virginia prison grooming policy that prohibited prisoners from wearing beards.

In 1999, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) adopted ...

Three New Mexico Jail Guards Convicted of Assault, Obstruction of Justice

As previously reported in PLN, prisoner Christopher Shields was beaten by guards at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) on December 21, 2011. [See: PLN, April, 2012 p.50].

Five MDC guards were arrested in connection with the assault or the subsequent attempted cover-up, including three charged in federal ...

South Carolina Sex Offender Registration Amendment Requires Actual Notice

The South Carolina Supreme Court has reversed a sex offender's conviction for failing to register, because the state did not provide actual notice of new registration requirements.

In 2002, Zeb Eron Binnarr was convicted of sex crimes in South Carolina and required to register annually under the state's ...

Ninth Circuit: Idaho Ordered to Allow Viewing of all Stages of Execution

by David M. Reutter

In reversing and remanding an Idaho federal district court's denial of a preliminary injunction, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals directed the lower court to enter an order requiring the State of Idaho to allow witnesses to observe a prisoner's execution "from the moment ...

California Guard Fights Prisoner, Faces Charges for Falsifying Reports

A California prison guard who challenged a prisoner to a fight, then engaged in a cover-up to avoid getting in trouble, is now facing criminal charges for filing false reports.

In April 2012, state prison guard Christopher Cruse, 41, pleaded not guilty to six felony charges arising from a February ...

Third Circuit: Prison Officials Liable for Failing to Protect Informant

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held on September 24, 2012 that prison officials may be held liable for failing to protect an informant held in a Special Housing Unit (SHU). The appellate court affirmed in part and reversed in part a Pennsylvania federal district court's order on a ...

Third Circuit Discusses FRCP 17(c) Guardian Appointment; Evidence of Incompetency Requires Sua Sponte Inquiry

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held that "a court is not required to conduct a sua sponte determination whether an unrepresented litigant is incompetent unless there is some verifiable evidence of incompetence."

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 17(c) requires the appointment of a guardian ad litem ...

Deadly Prison Fire Kills Hundreds in Honduras

They screamed from their dilapidated cells as a scorching fire swept through the prison where they were held. But the cries of prisoners burning alive inside the overcrowded Comayagua National Penitentiary in Honduras on February 14, 2012 were met by gunshots fired by guards trying to prevent their escape from ...

Former Maryland Governor Acknowledges Politics Behind Life Means Life Policy

Parris Glendening, who served as Maryland's governor from 1995 through 2002, has acknowledged, around a decade later, the role that politics played in his adoption of a "life means life" policy that effectively ended early release for prisoners sentenced to life with parole. [See: PLN, June 1996, p.7 ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Illinois Prisoner's Lawsuit Related to Shooting

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a lower court erred in dismissing an Illinois prisoner's excessive force, deliberate indifference and retaliation claims.

On May 16, 2009, an unidentified Stateville Correctional Center guard fired two rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun to break up a fight between two ...

Former Mississippi Mayor Sent to Prison

A federal judge in Mississippi has sentenced William Grady Sims, 61, the former mayor of Walnut Grove who also served as warden of a privately-operated correctional facility, to 7 months in federal prison for telling a prisoner to lie to investigators about a sexual encounter.

Sims served as mayor of ...

South Dakota Non-profits Lose Cheap Prison Labor

Many states have gotten the message that there are viable alternatives to incarceration that cost less and are equally effective in terms of reducing crime rates, but some non-profits like the Salvation Army are suffering because declining prison populations mean fewer low-or-no-cost prisoner workers.

Most state DOCs have work release ...

News in Brief

Arizona: Approximately 400 prisoners were involved in a March 3, 2013 fight that resulted in a lockdown at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Tucson. Guards quickly responded to stop the mass brawl in the Whetstone Unit, according to Arizona DOC spokesman Bill Lamoreaux. Two staff members suffered minor injuries and 5 ...