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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: December, 2014

Issue PDF
Volume 25, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Prison Bankers Cash in on Captive Customers (p 1)
  2. Report Spurs Investigation of Bank of America, JPMorgan Prison Deals (p 12)
  3. The Best 500 Nonprofit Organizations for Prisoners and Their Families (2nd Ed.), edited by George Kayer (p 14)
  4. JPay Fined in Pennsylvania, Michigan for Operating without a License (p 14)
  5. From the Editor (p 16)
  6. Massachusetts: Sex Change Ordered for Transgender Prisoner; Court Finds that Two DOC Commissioners Lied (p 18)
  7. California Law Denying Good Time Credits to Gang Members in SHUs Held Constitutional (p 20)
  8. $350,000 Settlement in PLN Censorship Suit Against Ventura County, California (p 20)
  9. Battling the Administration: An Inmate’s Guide to a Successful Lawsuit, by David J. Meister (p 21)
  10. Texas Prison Homicides Rise Sharply in 2012, Decline in 2013 (p 22)
  11. Overtime Pay for New York Prison Guards, Nurses “Out of Control” (p 22)
  12. Los Angeles County Jail Exploits Prisoners, Families with High Phone Costs (p 24)
  13. Ethics Charge Against Former U.S. Marshal Ends in Pre-Trial Diversion (p 24)
  14. Ninth Circuit: Prisoner Validated as Gang Member May Challenge Debriefing Procedures (p 26)
  15. Washington Ad Seg Prisoner Improperly Denied Earned Time (p 26)
  16. New York False Imprisonment Claim Revived; Administratively-Imposed PRS Term Invalid (p 27)
  17. $690,000 Settlement in HRDC Suit Over Death of Prisoner’s Baby at CCA Jail (p 28)
  18. Despite Reforms, Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners Persists (p 30)
  19. Disabled California Juvenile Detainees Entitled to Special Education Services in Jail (p 32)
  20. Former Florida Guard Accused of Workers’ Comp Fraud Dies Before Trial (p 35)
  21. Debtors’ Prisons Prevail in Las Vegas, Thanks to Prosecutors and Casino Markers Law (p 36)
  22. Ninth Circuit Affirms Preliminary Injunction in Challenge to California’s CASE Act (p 37)
  23. Education is Better than Punishment: Something We Can All Support! (p 38)
  24. Reenergized D.C. Corrections Information Council Targets Jail and Prison Conditions (p 40)
  25. Agreement to Limit Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons Applauded (p 42)
  26. When Attorneys Fumble, Defendants Face Consequences (p 44)
  27. Audit Finds Significant Increase in Fraudulent Tax Returns Filed by Prisoners (p 46)
  28. Texas Prison Population Drops as Guard Shortage Persists (p 48)
  29. BOP Criticized for Denying Most Compassionate Release Requests (p 50)
  30. Washington Undersheriff Sentenced to Six Months for Stealing Bail Money (p 52)
  31. Deportations Still High Despite Decline from Record Levels (p 52)
  32. D.C. Jail Guard Suicidal after Feces Thrown in Face, Sues DOC (p 53)
  33. Oklahoma Supreme Court Remands Consolidated Sex Offender Registration Case (p 54)
  34. Florida Court of Appeals: Prison Guards Can Raise “Stand Your Ground” Defense (p 54)
  35. News in Brief (p 56)

Prison Bankers Cash in on Captive Customers

Prison Bankers Cash in on Captive Customers

by Daniel Wagner

Pat Taylor doesn’t believe in going into debt. She keeps her bills in a freezer bag under her bed, next to old photo albums, and believes in paying them on time religiously. For Taylor, living within your means is part ...

Report Spurs Investigation of Bank of America, JPMorgan Prison Deals

Report Spurs Investigation of Bank of America, JPMorgan Prison Deals

Government auditors are investigating exclusive contracts held by Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to provide financial services inside federal prisons.

by Daniel Wagner

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s inspector general, Eric Thorson, will audit ...

The Best 500 Nonprofit Organizations for Prisoners and Their Families (2nd Ed.), edited by George Kayer

The Best 500 Nonprofit Organizations for Prisoners and Their Families (2nd Ed.), edited by George Kayer

(CreateSpace Independent Publishing, July 2014). 130 pages, $18.99

Book review by Gary Hunter

Help! For prisoners and their families, “help” is a word that’s all too familiar. And while many share problems ...

JPay Fined in Pennsylvania, Michigan for Operating without a License

JPay Fined in Pennsylvania, Michigan for Operating without a License

As indicated in this issue’s cover story, JPay, a company incorporated in Delaware and based in Miami, Florida, and the industry leader in prison money transfer services, has been fined $408,500 for operating without a license in at least ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

Welcome to the last issue of Prison Legal News for 2014. By now, all PLN subscribers should have received our annual fundraiser letter, which includes our last annual report. If you have not yet made a donation, please do so. Unlike many other non-profit ...

Massachusetts: Sex Change Ordered for Transgender Prisoner; Court Finds that Two DOC Commissioners Lied

Massachusetts: Sex Change Ordered for Transgender Prisoner; Court Finds that Two DOC Commissioners Lied

The en banc First Circuit Court ofAppeals is considering whether to order the Massachusetts Department of Correction (MDOC) to comply with a federal district court’s order requiring that a transgender prisoner suffering from Gender Identity Disorder ...

California Law Denying Good Time Credits to Gang Members in SHUs Held Constitutional

California Law Denying Good Time Credits to Gang Members in SHUs Held Constitutional

by David Reutter

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held on April 25, 2014 that a California law which denies good conduct credits to prisoners who are validated gang members held in a Security Housing Unit (SHU ...

$350,000 Settlement in PLN Censorship Suit Against Ventura County, California

$350,000 Settlement in PLN Censorship Suit Against Ventura County, California

by Derek Gilna

In a victory for the First Amendment rights of prisoners and those who correspond with them, Prison Legal News recently obtained a substantial settlement in a lawsuit filed against the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in California ...

Battling the Administration: An Inmate’s Guide to a Successful Lawsuit, by David J. Meister

Battling the Administration: An Inmate’s Guide to a Successful Lawsuit, by David J. Meister

(Wynword Press, April 2014). 566 pages, $34.95 paperback

Book review by Gary Hunter

When asked what the first step would be in challenging a disciplinary charge, prisoners will give a variety of answers. Some say ...

Texas Prison Homicides Rise Sharply in 2012, Decline in 2013

Texas Prison Homicides Rise Sharply in 2012, Decline in 2013

Texas officials said they were at a loss to explain an unexpected surge in prison homicides during 2012, when the number of murders rose to the highest level in more than a decade. But others pointed to understaffing, inexperienced guards ...

Overtime Pay for New York Prison Guards, Nurses “Out of Control”

Overtime Pay for New York Prison Guards, Nurses “Out of Control”

Some blame prison understaffing on a weak talent pool or an inability to hire sufficient staff in the rural areas where prisons are often located. Others theorize the problem is more systemic, arguing that corrections departments and private prison ...

Los Angeles County Jail Exploits Prisoners, Families with High Phone Costs

Los Angeles County Jail Exploits Prisoners, Families with High Phone Costs

by Derek Gilna

Officials with Los Angeles County’s jail system have been criticized by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky for exploiting prisoners and their families by charging excessive phone rates. “Everyone’s making a lot of money at the expense of ...

Ethics Charge Against Former U.S. Marshal Ends in Pre-Trial Diversion

Ethics Charge Against Former U.S. Marshal Ends in Pre-Trial Diversion

by Derek Gilna

A criminal ethics charge filed against a former U.S. Marshals Service agent in Arizona who had applied for a job with a private prison company he previously monitored has been dropped, and prosecutors let him ...

Ninth Circuit: Prisoner Validated as Gang Member May Challenge Debriefing Procedures

Ninth Circuit: Prisoner Validated as Gang Member May Challenge Debriefing Procedures

by Mark Wilson

On January 15, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a prisoner’s claim related to “debriefing” with respect to his alleged gang affiliation.

In 2007, California prisoner Ricky Gonzales was validated as ...

Washington Ad Seg Prisoner Improperly Denied Earned Time

Washington Ad Seg Prisoner Improperly Denied Earned Time

by Mark Wilson

On December 30, 2013, the Washington State Court of Appeals held that prison officials had improperly denied earned time credit to a prisoner held in administrative segregation (ad seg).

Washington law authorizes sentence reductions for “earned time,” which ...

New York False Imprisonment Claim Revived; Administratively-Imposed PRS Term Invalid

New York False Imprisonment Claim Revived; Administratively-Imposed PRS Term Invalid

by Mark Wilson

On December 26, 2013, a New York appellate court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a prisoner’s false imprisonment claim.

In 2000, Francis Moulton was sentenced to 42 months in prison on a robbery conviction. The trial ...

$690,000 Settlement in HRDC Suit Over Death of Prisoner’s Baby at CCA Jail

$690,000 Settlement in HRDC Suit Over Death of Prisoner’s Baby at CCA Jail

by Derek Gilna

In August 2014, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit prison firm, settled a federal lawsuit filed by PLN’s parent organization, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), on behalf of a ...

Despite Reforms, Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners Persists

Despite Reforms, Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners Persists

In 2011, Valerie Nabors was serving a sentence at Nevada’s Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in Las Vegas for stealing more than $250 in casino chips. She was pregnant and went into labor while incarcerated. Nabors was handcuffed and taken to an ambulance ...

Disabled California Juvenile Detainees Entitled to Special Education Services in Jail

Disabled California Juvenile Detainees Entitled to Special Education Services in Jail

by Mark Wilson

The California Supreme Court held on December 12, 2013 that state law requires disabled juvenile offenders to continue receiving special education services while incarcerated.

Under California Education Code § 56041, juveniles between 18 and 22 years ...

Former Florida Guard Accused of Workers’ Comp Fraud Dies Before Trial

Former Florida Guard Accused of Workers’ Comp Fraud Dies Before Trial

Less than eight weeks before a former Florida prison guard was scheduled to go to trial on charges of fraudulently collecting nearly $3 million in workers’ compensation, he died in a Tampa hospital. Doctors listed his cause of death ...

Debtors’ Prisons Prevail in Las Vegas, Thanks to Prosecutors and Casino Markers Law

Debtors’ Prisons Prevail in Las Vegas, Thanks to Prosecutors and Casino Markers Law

by Derek Gilna

Anyone who has ever been threatened with jail or actually locked up for passing a bad check or failing to pay a debt knows that so-called “debtors’ prisons” are alive and well in the ...

Ninth Circuit Affirms Preliminary Injunction in Challenge to California’s CASE Act

Ninth Circuit Affirms Preliminary Injunction in Challenge to California’s CASE Act

On November 7, 2012, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining the implementation of parts of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (“CASE Act”), passed by voters as Proposition 35, which requires registered sex offenders (RSOs ...

Education is Better than Punishment: Something We Can All Support!

Education is Better than Punishment: Something We Can All Support!

by Vivian D. Nixon

I learned in the harshest way possible that in the United States of America, every felony conviction, no matter what the judge officially assigns in months or years, quite literally results in a life sentence. As ...

Reenergized D.C. Corrections Information Council Targets Jail and Prison Conditions

Reenergized D.C. Corrections Information Council Targets Jail and Prison Conditions

by Derek Gilna

The number of suicides at the District of Columbia Jail was cited as the top concern of an independent agency whose mission is to monitor conditions for thousands of incarcerated D.C. offenders housed in the ...

Agreement to Limit Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons Applauded

Agreement to Limit Solitary Confinement in New York State Prisons Applauded

Civil rights groups and New York State officials are hailing as “historic” an agreement to enact sweeping reforms in the way the state’s prison system uses solitary confinement as a means of punishing prisoners.

Under the unprecedented February 2014 ...

When Attorneys Fumble, Defendants Face Consequences

When Attorneys Fumble, Defendants Face Consequences

by David M. Reutter

The right of defendants facing criminal charges to be represented by counsel is the bedrock of our criminal justice system, expressly enshrined in the Sixth Amendment.

An underlying doctrine to that right holds that counsel becomes an agent of the ...

Audit Finds Significant Increase in Fraudulent Tax Returns Filed by Prisoners

Audit Finds Significant Increase in Fraudulent Tax Returns Filed by Prisoners

Prisoners are filing phony federal income tax returns in record numbers and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to pay refunds despite repeated warnings from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Inspector General J. Russell George told a ...

Texas Prison Population Drops as Guard Shortage Persists

Texas Prison Population Drops as Guard Shortage Persists

by Matt Clarke

In spite of a three-year downward trend, Texas continues to lead the nation with the largest state prison population. At the same time, the state has pursued a variety of incentives to address a chronic shortage of prison guards ...

BOP Criticized for Denying Most Compassionate Release Requests

BOP Criticized for Denying Most Compassionate Release Requests

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is operating under revised guidelines intended to expand the circumstances under which federal prisoners can seek a reduction in their sentences through the agency’s Compassionate Release Program, following two scathing reports that took the BOP to ...

Washington Undersheriff Sentenced to Six Months for Stealing Bail Money

Washington Undersheriff Sentenced to Six Months for Stealing Bail Money

Claims of substance abuse problems and poor physical health don’t often help criminal defendants trying to mitigate their prison sentences. Carole J. Lepiane, the former undersheriff for Walla Walla County, Washington, is apparently an exception.

Lepiane, 59, who used a ...

Deportations Still High Despite Decline from Record Levels

Deportations Still High Despite Decline from Record Levels

by Derek Gilna

s political efforts to reform the nation’s immigration laws continue to falter despite garnering headlines and generating contentious public debate, the latest statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveal that undocumented immigrants continue to be deported in large ...

D.C. Jail Guard Suicidal after Feces Thrown in Face, Sues DOC

D.C. Jail Guard Suicidal after Feces Thrown in Face, Sues DOC

A former guard with the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DOC) sued his ex-employer in November 2012, claiming he developed PTSD and suicidal tendencies after a prisoner threw feces in his face.

Guard Walter Sampson’s altercation with ...

Oklahoma Supreme Court Remands Consolidated Sex Offender Registration Case

Oklahoma Supreme Court Remands Consolidated Sex Offender Registration Case

by Shepherd Litsey

On November 19, 2013, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings a case involving a registered sex offender required to register for life due to an amended state law ...

Florida Court of Appeals: Prison Guards Can Raise “Stand Your Ground” Defense

Florida Court of Appeals: Prison Guards Can Raise “Stand Your Ground” Defense

by Matt Clarke

On March 28, 2014, a Florida Court of Appeals held that a former Department of Corrections guard charged with aggravated battery for assaulting a prisoner was entitled to pursue a “stand your ground” defense pursuant ...

News in Brief

News in Brief

Alabama: Six people, including an Alabama state prison guard and two prisoners, were arrested on April 10, 2014 for their roles in a large-scale meth operation. Phillip Burgin, 23, was employed at the Kilby Correctional Facility before being stopped in Oklahoma while transporting 30 pounds of the ...


 

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