Even before Brewer assumed the governorship and brought Charles L. Ryan out of retirement to run the ADC, Arizona’s prisons were known to be ruthless and inhumane. Few other prison systems can claim the dubious distinction of leaving a mentally ill prisoner in an outdoor cage for hours in scorching summer heat until she literally baked to death. [See: PLN, Feb. 2010, p.32].
Yet by playing politics, contracting with for-profit prison healthcare companies and kowtowing to private prison firms, Governor Brewer and ADC Director Ryan have taken a prison system already infamous for its draconian conditions and unfettered incompetence and made it deadlier and even more vindictive and profit-driven than ever before.
The ADC, with a $1.1 billion budget in 2012, will soon open a new maximum-security facility with 500 solitary confinement cells at a prison complex in Buckeye, at a cost of $50 million. In ...
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 country.
Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Congress from passing any ex post facto law, such that "the legal definition of the offense or ... the nature or amount of the punishment imposed for its commission, should not be altered by legislative enactment, after the fact, to the disadvantage of the accused." Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 169-170, 46 S.Ct. 68, 68-69 (1925).
The case turned on the issue of whether the lifelong supervision provision of the amended statute constituted "punishment." The Louisiana Supreme Court considered the seven factors set forth in Kennedy ...
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 a sex offense involving a victim under thirteen years of age to be placed on community supervision for five years following their release from custody. By the time that Trosclair was released in November 2010, the statute had been amended by 2008 La. Acts 672 to require lifelong supervision for such offenders.
Ironically, while we are relocating to Florida, PLN remains subject to a statewide ban by the Florida DOC, ostensibly due to our advertising content. Our lawsuit challenging this blatant censorship is currently pending before the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee on cross-motions for summary judgment. Florida prison officials have censored PLN since 2009, claiming that our advertisements violate DOC policies. They had previously banned PLN over the same issue in 2002; after we filed suit, the Florida DOC changed its policy just before trial and told the court they would no longer censor PLN based on our ads. The court accordingly ...
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 about our relocation to Florida and being in an area with more organizational allies. Please note our new address and phone number; our email and website addresses remain the same. We always have opportunities for volunteers in our office in Lake Worth, so potential volunteers should contact us.
Soon to be marketed under the Sigillo (Seal) brand, the handbags, which sell for up to 40 Euros each (around $53), provide valuable work experience that participants hope will land them jobs once they're released. Prisoners currently earn about 150 Euros per month for working three afternoons a week. As the program continues to grow, it is anticipated that participants will earn close to 600 Euros per month, comparable to wages in the private garment industry.
Italian Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri has called her nation's prison system "not worthy of a civilized country," and observed that prisons are overcrowded and underfunded. Nanda Roscioli, a former justice ministry employee and current consultant for the Sigillo program, said the Italian prison system is geared more to the needs of male prisoners, leaving women to suffer conditions that are "harsher [and] more barbaric."
Roscioli sees hope in the new training program, though, noting that "the aim of the project is to ...
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.
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 to place a wager and guess which shell contains the ball. In most cases the con man wins because the game is rigged.
Thimblerig describes the game that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) is playing with state prisoners relative to hepatitis C (HCV) treatment – but unfortunately this game may cost some prisoners their lives.
On January 28, 2013, Jason E. Runkle, incarcerated at SCI Mercer, brought a class-action suit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the PDOC and various prison administrators and medical staff. Attorney John F. Mizner filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Runkle and a class of similarly-situated state prisoners.
The complaint alleges violations of prisoners' constitutional rights by the PDOC and requests injunctive relief consisting of testing and treatment for HCV without regard to the length of a prisoner's sentence.
In July 2010, Runkle ...
by Gregory Dober
On November 30, 2005, Michigan state prisoner Samuel Surles filed suit in federal court, alleging that prison officials at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility had confiscated his legal papers and computer disks on several occasions between April 4, 2004 and July 29, 2005.
The district court ordered Surles to show cause why his suit should not be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). He submitted documents showing that he had exhausted his remedies but the court dismissed the case anyway, without prejudice.
Surles filed a second complaint on August 23, 2007, alleging that between January 16, 2004 and October 21, 2005, prison officials "confiscated his legal documents, damaged or destroyed legal and religious papers and property, deprived him of court access, violated his First Amendment rights, retaliated against him and conspired to violate his rights." He attached copies of eight grievances to his complaint; each had been denied as untimely.
The district court ignored Surles's claim "that his attempts to ...
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 February 13, 2007, Mound Correctional Facility prisoner Joshua Reilly complained of a headache and swelling above his left eye. Dr. Seetha Vadlamudi recommended applying a warm compress to the eye; three days later, Reilly was told to take Tylenol and drink coffee for his headache.
Reilly again complained of a bump over his left eye in June 2007. Nurse Phillip Payne "concluded the bump was an innocuous calcium nodule, and recommended no treatment." Payne referred Reilly to an optometrist on October 7, 2007.
Over two months later, Nurse Terry Smith saw Reilly for "an eleven-month history of left eye problems." She reported "a small nodule" under Reilly's left eyebrow, "recommended he take Tylenol, and told him to report back if he experienced continued vomiting" due to his severe headaches. Soon after this examination, Reilly was released from prison.
An April 2008 CT scan "revealed the nodule was cancerous, and doctors ultimately diagnosed [Reilly] with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that develops in ...
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.
Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisoner Kevin King actively participated in ...
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.
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 unlikely to be any executions for three years, in part due to the shortage of appropriate lethal drugs. As a result, state prosecutors are calling for a return of the gas chamber.
Ohio, which is second only to Texas in the number of executions carried out since 2010, said it will run out of the drug it uses in executions, pentobarbital, on September 30. The state has two men scheduled for execution in November, and eight more set to be killed after that. Every state's supply of pentobarbital, which has been the principal execution drug, expires at the end of November 2013.
The shortage has forced death penalty states to scramble on two fronts: They are hunting for new suppliers or different drugs to use, and enacting changes to public records laws to keep the names of suppliers and manufacturers of those alternative drugs secret.
The lack of lethal ...
by Raymond Bonner, ProPublica
Wisconsin's La Crosse County Jail contracts with a private company, Health Professionals, Ltd. (HPL), to provide prisoner medical care. On-site doctor visits occurred only 2-4 hours, one day a week. The company's on-call physician, Dr. Stephen Cullinan, was based nearly 300 miles away in Peoria, Illinois.
John King suffered from serious health problems, including asthma, diabetes, a heart condition, high blood pressure, seizures, severe anxiety and other mental health issues when he was booked into the La Crosse County Jail on April 7, 2007.
King was taking "a daily regimen of medications that included five milligrams of alprazolam, a benzodiazepine." He entered the jail with "two grocery bags full of his medications, including a bottle with 115 one-milligram tablets of alprazolam."
Nurse Karen Mondry-Anderson called Dr. Cullinan because alprazolam was excluded from HPL's formulary of preferred drugs. "Obviously unable to examine King, and not bothering to obtain the details about [his] prescription," Dr. Cullinan ordered King to be weaned off the alprazolam ...
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.
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, Bennett committed a burglary and was re-arrested.
He pleaded guilty to burglary in August 2008 and to second-degree escape in July 2009. When Bennett was sentenced on the escape conviction, the court found that the presumptive sentence was 25-30 months but imposed a 50-month upward departure sentence based on the aggravating factor that he had committed a burglary while on escape status.
Bennett argued on appeal that the sentencing court erred in considering "conduct that occurs after the crime of conviction in determining whether there are substantial and compelling reasons to depart."
The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that Bennett's argument was "not supported by the text of [OAR 213-008-0002(1)] or the relevant caselaw." Noting that the list of mitigating and aggravating sentencing factors is a non-exclusive list, the appellate court observed that it had previously held in State v. Ceballos, 162 Or.App 477, 986 P.2d ...
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.
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 misconduct was serious enough to justify termination.
The newspaper had previously reported 23 disciplinary actions involving staff members at the DOC's three women's facilities. In addition, a number of prison doctors and other medical employees were found to have disciplinary records.
The investigation was triggered by a 2011 fire near the dog kennels at the Howard McLeod Correctional Center (HMCC), which revealed a more serious problem. The fire damage did not concern DOC officials so much as the coolers full of wild hog meat, stores of salt and flour, and knives and other tools which were evidence of feral hogs being trapped and butchered by prisoners at the minimum-security facility.
"These guys I guess just took it upon themselves to hunt these wild hogs," said HMCC Warden Bruce Howard. "How they were planning to cook it, I really don't know."
They were probably planning to use a ...
by Matt Clarke
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 which he described conditions at Central California facilities where prisoners have been afflicted by a disease known as Valley Fever.
Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a potentially fatal fungal infection that causes flu-like symptoms. It is contracted by inhaling spores from infected soil, but is not contagious once a person is infected. The spores frequent the southwestern United States, with about a quarter of reported infections occurring in California and over 70 percent in Arizona, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease has been an ongoing problem at the CDCR's Pleasant Valley and Avenal State Prisons, where the soil contains Valley Fever spores that are spread through dust and when the dirt is disturbed. [See: PLN, July 2010, p.22; June 2008, p.22; Aug. 2007, p.1]. Other state prisons are located in the area where Valley Fever is prevalent but have not experienced as ...
by John E. Dannenberg
Lost in those debates was the fact that the broadened VAWA also included a significant amendment to the physical injury requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).
As initially enacted, the PLRA, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), provided that "No Federal civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury."
Courts have held that this provision does not actually bar claims that do not involve physical injury, but prevents the plaintiff from recovering compensatory damages for those claims. See, e.g., Thompson v. Carter, 284 F.3d 411, 418 (2d Cir. 2002) [PLN, May 2003, p.27]. A few courts have held that it bars both compensatory and punitive damages. See, e.g., Al-Amin v. Smith, 637 F.3d 1192, 1199 (11th Cir. 2011).
The effect of the PLRA's physical injury requirement has ...
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.
"Jessie Miller led a tragically short and troubled life. Exposed to cocaine while in utero, Miller was born into a broken home on ...
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.
Judge Richard Baumgartner, 66, who became a Criminal Court Judge in Knoxville in 1992, was one of three Knox County judges who heard criminal cases. Suffering from pancreatitis due to chronic alcoholism, Baumgartner eventually became addicted to prescription painkillers.
Many people did not realize that Baumgartner had a problem until he stepped down from the bench in March 2011, entered drug treatment, was disbarred and pleaded guilty to a single count of official misconduct. A special state court judge later imposed a sentence that allowed Baumgartner to avoid jail time, keep his pension and have the conviction expunged if he avoided further legal trouble. [See: PLN, Sept. 2012, p.50].
It wasn't until the results of an investigation were released in November 2011 that the full extent of Baumgartner's drug problem was revealed. That investigation raised questions about whether Baumgartner had been sober enough to sit as a judge during his final two years on the bench, and led to federal charges being filed against him in ...
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.
In May 2002, Jose Padilla, also known as Abdullah al-Muhajir, was detained on a material witness warrant. President George W. Bush then issued a June 9, 2002 order declaring Padilla an "enemy combatant" for allegedly plotting a "dirty bomb" attack. As a result, Padilla was held in military custody for three-and-a-half years. He was denied all contact with family and legal counsel for 21 months.
Padilla was later tried on federal criminal charges unrelated to the "dirty bomb" allegations used to justify his military detention. A jury convicted him in August 2007 and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed his conviction but vacated his 208-month prison sentence as being "unreasonably low." See: United States v. Jayyousi, 657 F.3d 1085 (11th Cir. 2011).
Meanwhile, in February 2007, Padilla and his mother, Estela Lebron, filed a federal lawsuit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Attorney General John Ashcroft and ...
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 the time.
One year later, close to 100,000 people and organizations have submitted comments or signed on to petitions filed with the FCC asking the Commission to act on the "Wright Petition" to lower the cost of interstate prison phone calls.
Between July 2012 and June 2013, prisoners submitted or signed on to 1,754 letters or comments filed with the FCC regarding the Wright Petition.* It is clear that many prisoners have been hard at work, organizing to inundate the FCC with stories of unfair phone rates, financial hardship and the struggle to maintain connections with their families.
Pennsylvania prisoners contributed more than 540 letters to the FCC, making up almost a third of the total prisoner filings. Pennsylvania was the only state where more than one letter was submitted per 100 prisoners statewide.
The most filings of any prison or jail came from SCI-Huntingdon in Huntingdon, PA, with 174 ...
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.
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 their claims, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals considered two issues: whether due process required input from health professionals prior to restricting personal contact among detainees at the facility, and whether the First Amendment entitled detainees to use the internal mail system at Rushville to exchange letters with other detainees. Finding no genuine dispute as to material facts, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal.
The Court of Appeals noted that "persons who have been involuntarily committed are entitled to more considerate treatment and conditions of confinement than criminals whose conditions of confinement are designed to punish," citing Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307 (1982). According to the Seventh Circuit, this case appeared to arise due to "dissatisfaction with Rushville's basic setup," as civil detainees previously "were held at a facility in Joliet that allowed them to mix more freely."
Rushville is divided into six units, with patients separated ...
Jesus Hector Palma-Salazar, a Mexican citizen, was indicted on drug charges by a California federal court in December 1995.
Mexican authorities arrested Palma-Salazar in June 2002 and extradited him to the United States five years later. He pleaded guilty in February 2008 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison plus a five-year term of supervised release.
Between January 2007 and June 2008, Palma-Salazar resided in three U.S. prisons without incident. On June 18, 2008, however, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) notified him of his pending transfer to the Administrative Maximum Prison (ADX), a supermax facility in Florence, Colorado.
The notice alleged that Palma-Salazar's leadership in the Sinaloa Cartel and his previous involvement in serious cartel-related crimes created a threat to prison security.
At his June 24, 2008 transfer hearing, Palma-Salazar "claimed there was no evidence to support the allegations made in the notice." Nevertheless, the next day he received a BOP report that concluded he satisfied ...
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.
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 a life sentence and ordered White to complete a sex offender treatment program while incarcerated.
Relying on its earlier decision in Richie v. State, 2009 Ark. 602, 357 S.W.3d 909 (Ark. 2009), the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed with White that the sentencing court erred in ordering him to complete sex offender treatment in prison.
The Court observed that in Richie, it held that "pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 5-4-303, a circuit court may clearly place conditions on a defendant when the court suspends the imposition of sentence or places the defendant on probation, but that 'there is no similar provision in section 5-4-104(d) that would allow a court to place specific conditions on a sentence of incarceration.'" The Richie decision explained that the Department of Corrections, not the court, had authority "to determine any conditions of incarceration, such as whether the defendant will undergo ... treatment."
As such ...
The Arkansas Supreme Court has held that a sentencing court lacks authority to order a defendant to complete sex offender treatment in prison.
The Board's decision to let the contract expire marks the fourth private prison contract that CCA has lost since mid-May, including two in Texas and one in Mississippi.
On June 10, 2013, CCA was notified by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that the state would not renew contracts to house prisoners at the company's 2,216-bed Dawson State Jail and 2,103-bed Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility, effective August 31, 2013. The Texas legislature had cut $97 million from the state's budget in anticipation of removing prisoners from the facilities. [See: PLN, June 2013, p.1].
The Dawson State Jail has been a source of controversy for CCA after several prisoners died amid allegations of medical neglect. Pam Weatherby, serving a one-year sentence ...
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 rebid once it expires on June 30, 2014, though the Idaho Department of Correction will not be allowed to submit its own bid.
The Fresno Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California is home to 20 state and federal facilities plus three large county jails, the attorneys noted. The District's Sacramento Division includes 11 state and federal prisons as well as the headquarters of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association – the union that represents state prison guards.
"All this means the Eastern District has among the largest, if not the largest, concentration [of] prisons, jails, detention centers, and corrections administration offices in the nation," the defense attorneys wrote in a March 28, 2013 court filing.
"There is a significant demographic bias in the Eastern District of California that manifests itself in litigation involving correctional officers and the operation of prisons," said the attorneys for federal prisoners Joseph Cabrera Sablan and James Ninete Leon Guerrero. Charged with capital murder, Sablan and Leon Guerrero are accused of killing prison guard Jose Rivera, 22, at USP Atwater in June ...
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 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 his conviction and remanded the case to the trial court.
In 1988, Buxton Craig Heyerman was found guilty in Calhoun County, Michigan of one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison, but the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed his conviction on June 8, 1989. Heyerman was advised of the ruling by his appellate counsel, and the trial court and prosecutor were informed by the appellate court the day the opinion was released.
However, nothing further occurred with Heyerman's case until he filed a habeas petition in 2007. Court and prosecutorial officials had no idea the case had slipped through the cracks of the judicial system. In the wake of his petition, Heyerman was appointed counsel and his attorney moved to dismiss the charge on speedy trial grounds. Following a series of hearings, the trial court entered an order on May ...
Seventeen Years Pending Re-trial Fails to State Speedy Trial Violation under § 1983
Raman is the acting chief of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. She appeared before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.
The title of the hearing – "Who Is Too Big to Fail: Are Large Financial Institutions Immune from Federal Prosecution?"
In a nutshell, the answer is – Yes they are immune from federal prosecution.
But it's not just them.
It's the vast majority of major corporate criminals, which now are granted deferred and non-prosecution agreements when twenty years ago they were forced to plead guilty.
This sea change in corporate crime practice was ushered in by then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in 1999 when he drafted the Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations. (Holder has been through the revolving door since – over to Covington & Burling to defend the corporations he's now charged with prosecuting, then back to the Justice Department as Attorney General under President Obama. And no doubt, soon back to Covington).
Under the subsequent rewrites of the Holder memo, federal prosecutors must now take into consideration the collateral consequences of a criminal prosecution on a major corporation, including "whether there is disproportionate harm to shareholders, pension holders, employees, and others not proven personally culpable, as well as impact on the public arising from the prosecution."
And this, along with the eight other factors that prosecutors must take into account before prosecuting a corporation, tilts the balance away from prosecution and toward deferred and non-prosecution agreements.
Raman made it a point to emphasize twice during her testimony that individuals are not given the same consideration.
"For individuals, collateral consequences never enter into the equation," Raman said.
After all, collateral consequences for individuals can be devastating.
According to the American Bar Association Task Force on Collateral Consequences, the individual convict "may be ineligible for many federally-funded health and welfare benefits, food stamps, public housing, and federal educational assistance."
"His driver's license may be automatically suspended, and he may no longer qualify for certain employment and professional licenses. If he is convicted of another crime he may be subject to imprisonment as a repeat offender. He will not be permitted to enlist in the military, or possess a firearm, or obtain a federal security clearance. If a citizen, he may lose the right to vote. If not, he becomes immediately deportable."
And Raman says that federal prosecutors can't take these into consideration, but must take the collateral consequences of a corporate conviction into consideration.
Why the difference?
Because the corporate crime lobby has marinated the justice system. And morphed our criminal justice system from one that was meant to deliver equal justice for all to one where corporate criminals reign supreme.
"You can imagine why, when I see some of the biggest banks in the world, who get a slap on the wrist, for laundering drug money from the drug cartels, and [their executives] are not going to jail," Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California) told Raman at the hearing. "And then we have all of these young people getting arrested, some of them not criminal, just stupid, getting involved with small amounts of cocaine. And yet we have some of the richest, most powerful banks in the world laundering drug money from the drug cartels. Why don't they [the bank executives] go to jail?"
Raman started to answer and Waters cut her off.
"We know what you do," Waters said. "It's what you do that we don't like. What you do is – they get fined. And it's a cost of doing business."
Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter (www.corporatecrimereporter.com), which published this article on May 24, 2013; it is reprinted with permission.
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.
The Court issued its ruling in consolidated appeals filed by Carl C. Gilbert, Jr. and Price T. Hunt, who were convicted of second- and third-degree sexual assault, respectively. Hunt also was convicted of misdemeanor battery. Gilbert received a ten-year prison sentence while Hunt was sentenced to five years in prison and five years extended supervision.
The day before Gilbert was released on parole, the state's petition to have him civilly committed was granted. When paroled the next day, Gilbert was sent to the Wisconsin Resource Center (WRC), a civil commitment facility operated by the Department of Health Services, pending the outcome of the petition. Likewise, Hunt was transferred to the WRC to complete his extended supervision after the state's civil commitment petition was granted.
Gilbert and Hunt violated the terms of their supervised release, were returned to prison due to the violations, and were subsequently ordered to ...
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 supervision.
As part of its reporting on conditions in private prisons, PLN had submitted a public records request to CCA in the fall of 2012 that sought information about the resolution of lawsuits filed by Vermont prisoners housed in CCA-operated prisons. The company ignored the request as well as a subsequent administrative appeal.
"The public needs to know how prisoners are treated and to understand how the for-profit prison industry works," said PLN editor Paul Wright. "By reviewing CCA's litigation settlements, Prison Legal News can report on the ways in which Vermont prisoners are being injured at CCA facilities and suffering violations of their constitutional rights, and how much CCA is willing to pay for the misconduct of its employees."
"This is an important case for Vermont public records law," stated Allen Gilbert, executive director of the ACLU of 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 CCA to house hundreds of Vermont prisoners in out-of-state facilities.
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 Renovo Software. According to Renovo's website, the company "has provided over 100 correctional facilities with an innovative and comprehensive set of tools to manage, schedule, and automate their inmate visitation environments."
The arrangement at the Weber County Jail requires visitors to access the Internet to register and schedule a visit. The jail allows one or two free 25-minute video visits per week depending on a prisoner's classification level, not including attorney visits, which are still in-person visits. Prisoners participate in video visitation via terminals located throughout the jail.
In 2011, Renovo Software developed a pay-to-visit option, and approached jail officials with the idea of allowing additional visits for a fee.
"As a result of using our visitation management system, Weber's jail has become so efficient that they are able to generate revenue by offering extra personal visits for a fee – this is a common theme among our ...
by Matt Clarke
Prior to 2010, Washington law required all Level II or III sex offenders to report to the county sheriff every 90 days pursuant to RCW 9A.44.130(7). Failure to report was a felony offense.
Michael Edward Caton registered as a sex offender with the Lewis County Sheriff's Office on May 19, 2009. He was notified of the 90-day reporting requirement and received a June 16, 2009 reporting date.
On June 9, 2009, Caton was arrested for a driving offense. After he was released from jail the following day, Caton reported to the sheriff's office because he believed "that as a registered sex offender he was required to report to the sheriff after his release from confinement for any offense." However, his June 16, 2009 reporting date remained unchanged.
When Caton reported on June 17, 2009 instead of June 16, he was charged with failing to report. The superior court found him guilty of violating RCW 9A.44.130 ...
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.
In 2010, California juvenile offender Jose N. was made a ward of the juvenile court when he admitted to participating in a criminal street gang. When Jose subsequently committed first-degree burglary, he was continued as a ward of the court on April 5, 2011.
One of the conditions of his probation, described as the "courthouse prohibition," directed that he was "not to appear in or about any court" unless he was a party to a proceeding or subpoenaed to appear at a hearing. The purpose of the condition apparently was to prevent gang members from trying to intimidate witnesses who appear in court.
Although Jose did not object to the condition when it was imposed, he argued on appeal that it was unconstitutionally overbroad and violated the California Constitution. The Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, noted that the state did not argue that Jose had waived his argument by failing to object. The state also agreed that a narrower condition was warranted.
The appellate court found the parties' "primary ...
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 1999, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) adopted ...
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.
Five MDC guards were arrested in connection with the assault or the subsequent attempted cover-up, including three charged in federal court.
Shields, who had been arrested for DUI, was verbally uncooperative during the booking process, which resulted in the beating. He was taken to a shower area where there were no cameras; later, another prisoner had to clean blood from the walls and floor of the shower room.
MDC guard Demetrio Juan Gonzales, 40, who had choked and assaulted Shields, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in January 2013 to 33 months in federal prison.
Former guard Matthew Pendley, 26, pleaded guilty on February 20, 2013 to obstruction of justice charges for lying during an investigation into the assault. He was sentenced on July 2, 2013 to five years probation.
A third MDC guard, Kevin James Casaus, 25, went to a jury trial on March 4, 2013 and was convicted of obstruction of justice and falsification of records. He had also lied about the incident, and was accused of hitting and ...
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].
In 2002, Zeb Eron Binnarr was convicted of sex crimes in South Carolina and required to register annually under the state's Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA).
Binnarr registered in February 2006 and was given notice of his obligation to register again the following year. Effective July 1, 2006, however, SORA was amended to require biannual registration, requiring Binnarr to re-register in August 2006.
Binnarr did not register in August 2006 and he was arrested in March 2007 for failing to register biannually.
At trial the state called Detective Denise Catlett, who testified that she managed the county's sex offender registry and was responsible for notifying offenders of the 2006 SORA amendment. Catlett claimed that the amendment was "all over the news" and "in the newspaper" for months, and "that she 'generally' sent letters via first-class mail to ... more than 800 registered sex offenders." She claimed Binnarr's letter "was not returned as undeliverable," though "the State failed to produce a copy of the actual letter."
Binnarr testified that he "did ...
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 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 [he] enters the execution chamber through, to and including, the time [he] is declared dead."
The June 8, 2012 ruling came in the appeal of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit filed by the Associated Press and a coalition of other media organizations after Idaho issued a warrant for the execution of death row prisoner Richard A. Leavitt. Prior to filing suit the plaintiffs had asked Idaho officials to alter the state's execution procedure, without success.
The procedure only allowed witnesses to view the final portion of an execution, "beginning with the reading of the death warrant and concluding with the pronouncement of death." It did not let witnesses see the first part of the execution process, including the insertion of intravenous lines for the lethal injection drugs.
The plaintiffs asserted that as media organizations they were surrogates for the public and had a First Amendment right to ...
by David M. Reutter
In April 2012, state prison guard Christopher Cruse, 41, pleaded not guilty to six felony charges arising from a February 23, 2011 fight with prisoner Frances Allen on the "hard yard" of Facility D at Kern Valley State Prison. Cruse was charged with filing a false peace officer's report, as well as filing false insurance claims after going on stress leave following the incident.
An internal affairs investigation found that Cruse had challenged Allen to fight following a brief argument. A tower guard allowed them onto the yard, where they exchanged blows. Cruse quickly found himself on the losing end of the brawl.
A second guard, identified only as "Officer Murphy," then stepped in to stop the fight. When Cruse and Murphy realized that others had witnessed the incident, and that Cruse's injuries would be hard to explain, they tried to frame Allen by tackling him in an empty hallway and reporting that he had attacked Cruse without provocation.
Allen, facing a possible life sentence for a "third ...
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.
The appeal was filed by employees of the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Philadelphia. At issue was a 108-page, 19-count second amended complaint filed by former FDC prisoner Peter Bistrian. The first five counts alleged violations of Bistrian's Fifth Amendment substantive and procedural due process rights, counts six through nine related to Eighth Amendment violations, count ten was a First Amendment retaliation claim and counts 11 through 19 were brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
The district court dismissed 13 of the 19 counts, which Bistrian did not challenge. Moreover, he streamlined the case on appeal by reducing his claims to five counts involving 13 defendants. That left the Third Circuit to consider four Fifth Amendment claims – two for failure to protect, one for punitive detention and one for procedural due process violations – plus the First Amendment retaliation claim.
Bistrian, a federal pretrial detainee, became ...
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 motion to dismiss.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 17(c) requires the appointment of a guardian ad litem to protect an incompetent, unrepresented litigant. However, few courts have considered the issue. FRCP 17(c) sets forth a duty of inquiry but the factors that trigger that duty are unclear.
Pennsylvania prisoner Kevin Powell filed a federal lawsuit in December 2007. He was granted numerous extensions of time and filed ten motions for appointment of counsel, citing "his rudimentary education and his difficulties obtaining legal assistance while in prison."
Powell was charged with threatening the President while the case was pending, and the district court over his criminal case ordered him to be sent to a psychiatric facility for four months. A court-appointed psychiatrist found Powell delusional, unable to control his conduct and of "somewhat limited cognitive abilities." The psychiatrist also stated that Powell's "persistent serious mental illness ... chronically alters his reality and his ability to conduct himself within the confines of the law." As a result, the ...
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."
"There was no mechanism to extinguish fires, no evacuation plan. The firefighters were not allowed to get there quickly and the guards, instead of acting appropriately, only fired shots in the air, supposedly because that is the established procedure in case of escapes," said prosecutor German Enamorado.
The final body count totaled 362 – mostly prisoners, but also family members participating in conjugal visits and a woman who was inside the facility illegally. Many bodies were burned beyond recognition; other victims died due to smoke inhalation. The Comayagua blaze was the world's worst prison fire in a century.
Investigators initially speculated that the fire was started either by a prisoner who set his mattress alight or by a short circuit in the facility's electrical system. Some prisoners and their families, however, said the fire was neither an accident nor the work of an individual, telling reporters they ...
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 the inferno.
In an e-mail and interview with The Baltimore Sun, Glendening, a Democrat, expressed a measure of regret over his lifer policy, at least to the extent that he had "made it absolute." Glendening explained that the perception among legislators and the public at the time was that criminals sentenced to life or long terms of incarceration were being released after serving only a few years, and then threatening the same people they had originally victimized. He acknowledged, however, there was little hard evidence that that had actually occurred.
Glendening's comments came in response to an editorial supporting a measure to take the governor – and politics – out of the parole process, leaving such decisions to the Maryland Parole Commission. Maryland is one of three states where the governor can overturn parole recommendations for lifers. Glendening indicated he would "not have a problem" with such a change in state law. "Bottom ...
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].
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 unarmed prisoners.
Raul C. Gomez, his cellmate and another prisoner were not involved in the altercation but were hit with shotgun pellets.
Gomez was struck in the right upper arm, causing bruising and bleeding. Shortly after the incident, a medical technician (MT) examined the wound and asked to treat Gomez in the infirmary. The prison was on lockdown, however, and guards refused to move Gomez so he could receive medical treatment.
The MT said she would bring Gomez some medical supplies, but never returned. Eight hours later, Gomez saw the MT again and asked about the medical supplies. She said she wanted to help him but security staff did not want to document any prisoner medical treatment for gunshot wounds. When Gomez asked for her name, she laughed and walked away, according to an emergency grievance that he filed.
Gomez washed the wound himself and removed a small piece of ...
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.
Sims served as mayor of Walnut Grove, population of about 1,900, on a part-time basis from his 1981 election until his forced resignation upon pleading guilty to federal charges. The February 14, 2012 plea bargain bars Sims from ever holding public office again.
His plea to a charge of witness intimidation also resulted in the dismissal of a sexual assault charge stemming from when Sims was employed as warden of the Walnut Grove Transition Center, which was operated by private prison firm GEO Group at the time.
On or about November 26, 2009, Sims took a female prisoner at the facility to a hotel in the nearby town of Carthage and had sex with her. The woman's name was not revealed; Sims was secretly recorded in March 2010 telling her "to lie to investigators," which led to the witness intimidation charge. [See: PLN, Aug. 2012, p.45; April 2012, p.1].
At his ...
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.
Most state DOCs have work release programs whereby low-security prisoners are released during the day for job assignments outside the facility, and then return in the evening; most prisons also provide work crews for local communities.
Prison Legal News has previously reported on companies objecting to the use of prisoner labor to produce goods and services, as prisons enjoy an unfair advantage by paying low wages and providing no benefits to prisoner workers. [See, e.g., PLN, March 2013, p.14; Feb. 2012, p.38; May 2012, p.1; March 2010, p.1].
However, declines in prison populations have negatively impacted non-profit organizations that rely on low-cost prisoner labor.
For example, in the northern Great Plains, oil-related jobs have absorbed many formerly unemployed or under-employed workers, creating a labor shortage that non-profits are hard pressed to deal with.
According to Sioux Falls, South Dakota Major Betty Bender, "Normally, in the [Salvation Army] thrift store, we would ...
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.
Australia: An infection and immunity study by researchers from the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales examined a practice performed by prisoners that involves the placement of foreign objects under the skin of their penises. A survey revealed that almost 6% of male prisoners in Queensland and New South Wales correctional facilities had penile implants – made of melted toothpaste caps, buttons, dice and even deodorant roller balls. The study, published in January 2013, concluded that "Penile implants appear to be fairly common among prisoners and are associated with risky sexual and drug use practices. As most of these penile implants are inserted in prison, these men are at risk of blood borne viruses and wound infection."
California: Tickets to an LA Kings hockey game, gift certificates for spas and restaurants, introductions to women and VIP treatment at local cafés were ...
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 prisoners were reportedly transported to local hospitals.