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Prison Legal News: May, 2014

Issue PDF
Volume 25, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. A Home of Their Own (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 10)
  3. Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s 99-Page Complaint (p 10)
  4. California Improves Compensation Process for Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners (p 12)
  5. North Dakota Courtroom Shackling Requires Independent Assessment by Judge (p 12)
  6. Florida Prison System Ordered to Provide Kosher Meals (p 14)
  7. Ninth Circuit: County May be Liable for Wrongful Conviction Even if District Attorney Enjoys Absolute Immunity (p 16)
  8. California: Sexually Violent Predators May be Conditionally Released from Custody Even if Homeless (p 16)
  9. Book Review: Banking and Financial Management Course (1st Ed.), by Prisoner Assistant (p 18)
  10. Seventh Circuit Clarifies Standard for Recruiting Counsel in Pro Se Cases (p 20)
  11. Second Circuit: Federal Prisoner States Conditions of Confinement Claim (p 21)
  12. Witness Protection Program Termination Unreviewable; 188 Days in SHU Triggers Due Process Protections (p 22)
  13. Former Colorado DOC Official Pleads Guilty to Felony Menacing Charges (p 23)
  14. Warden Granted Qualified Immunity for Two-year Visitation Suspension (p 24)
  15. Massachusetts: Order Relieving Sex Offender of Registration Not Vacated Upon Probation Violation (p 24)
  16. Pay Tel Receives Waiver of Prison Phone Rate Caps (p 26)
  17. Oregon Judge Scolded for Courtroom Rant (p 27)
  18. Research Finds that Conjugal Visits Correlate with Fewer Sexual Assaults (p 28)
  19. Cancellation of BOP Elderly Offender Pilot Program Moots Appeal (p 29)
  20. California Prison Regulation Governing Gang Validation Upheld by Ninth Circuit (p 30)
  21. Wisconsin DOC Equips Guards with Pepper Spray, Tasers (p 30)
  22. Oregon PPS Sanctions May Not Exceed 180 Days; Prior Contrary Ruling Overturned (p 31)
  23. Connecticut Town Raises Stink Over Sewage Discharged by State Prison (p 32)
  24. California: Trial Court Cannot Abdicate its Responsibility to Examine Peace Officer Personnel Records (p 32)
  25. Prison Education Programs Threatened (p 34)
  26. States Adopt Sentencing Changes Following Supreme Court Ruling on Juvenile Lifers (p 38)
  27. Reports on Elderly Prisoners Spur Call for Reforms (p 40)
  28. Idaho Supreme Court Vacates Summary Judgment for Pepper Spray Manufacturer (p 42)
  29. No “Reasonable Efforts” to Reunite Oregon Sex Offender with His Son (p 42)
  30. Pennsylvania Warrantless, Suspicionless Search Probation Condition Held Invalid (p 43)
  31. Lawsuit Against Missouri Jail Proceeds as Two Guards Plead Guilty (p 44)
  32. D.A. Drops Charges Against Oklahoma Parole Board Members (p 46)
  33. Kansas: Prison Healthcare Officials Engaged in Continued Deliberate Indifference (p 47)
  34. Report: Increase in Federal Prison Population, Overcrowding (p 48)
  35. Liberty Interest Necessary to Trigger Arkansas Judicial Review (p 49)
  36. Seventh Circuit: Prisoner with Back Condition Stated Claim for Fall from Upper Bunk (p 50)
  37. High-Ranking Illinois Prison Official Fired due to Criminal History (p 50)
  38. California: Surety Entitled to Exoneration of Bail Bond Forfeited as a Result of Defendant’s Deportation (p 51)
  39. DC Circuit: Federal Prisoner not Limited to Seeking Relief via Habeas Corpus (p 52)
  40. Philadelphia Sued Over Rejection of Ad Criticizing U.S. Incarceration Policies (p 52)
  41. Massachusetts DOC, Hospital Officials Disciplined in Prisoner’s Death (p 53)
  42. Washington County Jail Remains Closed after Voters Reject Tax Hike (p 54)
  43. News in Brief (p 56)

A Home of Their Own

A Home of Their Own

 

by Lisa Riordan Seville and Graham Kates

 

Recovery is work that Terrance Streeter knows.

At 56, he is clean. No more drinking, no more drugs. After graduating from an alcohol recovery program two years ago, he went looking for a home. In New ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

 

by Paul Wright

 

This month’s issue of Prison Legal News marks 24 years and 284 issues, which makes PLN the longest continuously-published prisoners’ rights publication in U.S. history. We have grown significantly from a ten-page, hand-typed newsletter to our current 64-page magazine format. While ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s 99-Page Complaint

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s 99-Page Complaint

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court’s finding that a prisoner’s “99-page complaint defies understanding, rendering it unintelligible and subject to dismissal on that basis.”

In 2011, federal prisoner Jurijus Kadamovas, who ...

California Improves Compensation Process for Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners

California Improves Compensation Process for Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners

 

On October 13, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 618, legislation that streamlines the process for providing financial compensation to people who are wrongfully convicted, exonerated and released from prison. The bill had been introduced by state ...

North Dakota Courtroom Shackling Requires Independent Assessment by Judge

North Dakota Courtroom Shackling Requires Independent Assessment by Judge

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The North Dakota Supreme Court has held that a lower court abused its discretion by failing to independently assess the need for shackling a defendant during a civil commitment discharge hearing.

On January 11, 2006, Robert ...

Florida Prison System Ordered to Provide Kosher Meals

Florida Prison System Ordered to Provide Kosher Meals

 

A U.S. District Court has ordered the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) to begin serving kosher meals to hundreds of Jewish prisoners, following legal challenges after the FDOC discontinued its kosher meal program in 2007. Additionally, an Islamic advocacy group ...

Ninth Circuit: County May be Liable for Wrongful Conviction Even if District Attorney Enjoys Absolute Immunity

Ninth Circuit: County May be Liable for Wrongful Conviction Even if District Attorney Enjoys Absolute Immunity

 

On May 8, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the County of Los Angeles could be held liable for its failure to establish policies regarding the use of jailhouse informants ...

California: Sexually Violent Predators May be Conditionally Released from Custody Even if Homeless

California: Sexually Violent Predators May be Conditionally Released from Custody Even if Homeless

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, has held that a person committed as a sexually violent predator (SVP) may be conditionally released into the community even if he or she has ...

Book Review: Banking and Financial Management Course (1st Ed.), by Prisoner Assistant

Banking and Financial Management Course (1st Ed.), by Prisoner Assistant

(CreateSpace Independent Publishing, July 2013). 119 pages, $30.00

 

Book review by Gary Hunter

 

Life outside prison crosses the minds of most prisoners daily, but how many times do those thoughts include the direction of their financial ...

Seventh Circuit Clarifies Standard for Recruiting Counsel in Pro Se Cases

Seventh Circuit Clarifies Standard for Recruiting Counsel in Pro Se Cases

 

by David Reutter

 

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an Illinois federal district court, like many federal courts in Northern Illinois, used an improper standard when refusing to exercise its discretion to recruit counsel ...

Second Circuit: Federal Prisoner States Conditions of Confinement Claim

Second Circuit: Federal Prisoner States Conditions of Confinement Claim

 

by David Reutter

 

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a federal prisoner sufficiently stated a claim alleging the conditions of his confinement violated the Eighth Amendment.

The case involved an appeal from a New York ...

Witness Protection Program Termination Unreviewable; 188 Days in SHU Triggers Due Process Protections

Witness Protection Program Termination Unreviewable; 188 Days in SHU Triggers Due Process Protections

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that claims related to termination from a federal witness protection program are not judicially reviewable. The Court reinstated an administrative segregation claim, however, holding ...

Former Colorado DOC Official Pleads Guilty to Felony Menacing Charges

Former Colorado DOC Official Pleads Guilty to Felony Menacing Charges

 

Ex-Colorado prison official Mark Edward McKinna, 63, pleaded guilty in May 2013 to six counts of felony menacing with a deadly weapon.

McKinna, once a regional director for the Colorado Department of Corrections who served as warden at the ...

Warden Granted Qualified Immunity for Two-year Visitation Suspension

Warden Granted Qualified Immunity for Two-year Visitation Suspension

 

by David Reutter

 

A prison official who suspended a prisoner’s visitation privileges was entitled to qualified immunity because, under the facts of the case, the prisoner did not have a clearly established right to visitation, the Fourth Circuit Court of ...

Massachusetts: Order Relieving Sex Offender of Registration Not Vacated Upon Probation Violation

Massachusetts: Order Relieving Sex Offender of Registration Not Vacated Upon Probation Violation

 

by David Reutter

 

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that once a judge relieves a sex offender of the requirement to register, a different judge lacks the authority to order the offender to register following ...

Pay Tel Receives Waiver of Prison Phone Rate Caps

Pay Tel Receives Waiver of Prison Phone Rate Caps

 

On January 8, 2014, Pay Tel Communications, a North Carolina company that provides phone services at correctional facilities in 13 states, filed a petition requesting a waiver of the rate caps on interstate (long distance) prison phone calls imposed by ...

Oregon Judge Scolded for Courtroom Rant

Oregon Judge Scolded for Courtroom Rant

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The Oregon Supreme Court has publicly censured a trial court judge for a profanity-laced tirade during a sentencing hearing.

In October 2011, Richard Lee Taylor, 60, was convicted of 21 sex offenses involving two 12-year-old boys. Evidence of his ...

Research Finds that Conjugal Visits Correlate with Fewer Sexual Assaults

Research Finds that Conjugal Visits Correlate with Fewer Sexual Assaults

 

A study conducted by researchers at Florida International University (FIU) found that state prison systems that permit conjugal visits report fewer rapes and sexual assaults than those where such visits are prohibited – a finding that the researchers said ...

Cancellation of BOP Elderly Offender Pilot Program Moots Appeal

Cancellation of BOP Elderly Offender Pilot Program Moots Appeal

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

On July 11, 2013, in an amended ruling, the Ninth Circuit dismissed as moot the appeal of a federal prisoner who had been denied entry into a pilot program that allowed the Bureau of Prisons (BOP ...

California Prison Regulation Governing Gang Validation Upheld by Ninth Circuit

California Prison Regulation Governing Gang Validation Upheld by Ninth Circuit

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

Last year the Ninth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of a California prison regulation that guides state prison officials in determining whether or not a prisoner should be classified as gang-affiliated.

In California, a prisoner affiliated ...

Wisconsin DOC Equips Guards with Pepper Spray, Tasers

Wisconsin DOC Equips Guards with Pepper Spray, Tasers

 

A report compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) found there were 351 assaults, attempted assaults and assault-related injuries involving prison staff from mid-2012 to mid-2013.

In response, Corrections Secretary Ed Wall announced in December 2013 that he was equipping ...

Oregon PPS Sanctions May Not Exceed 180 Days; Prior Contrary Ruling Overturned

Oregon PPS Sanctions May Not Exceed 180 Days; Prior Contrary Ruling Overturned

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The Oregon Court of Appeals has held that the Parole Board lacks authority to impose incarceration sanctions in excess of 180 days for post-prison supervision (PPS) violations for life-sentenced offenders convicted of murder ...

Connecticut Town Raises Stink Over Sewage Discharged by State Prison

Connecticut Town Raises Stink Over Sewage Discharged by State Prison

 

The town of Cheshire, Connecticut has decided that if it has to take more crap from the Connecticut Department of Correction (CDOC), then it wants help to pay for it.

Discussions are underway between town and state officials to ...

California: Trial Court Cannot Abdicate its Responsibility to Examine Peace Officer Personnel Records

California: Trial Court Cannot Abdicate its Responsibility to Examine Peace Officer Personnel Records

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

On May 6, 2013, the California Court of Appeal held that a trial court conducting an in camera review of peace officer personnel records must examine the records itself, and cannot abdicate ...

Prison Education Programs Threatened

Prison Education Programs Threatened

 

by Matt Clarke

 

Corrections officials across the country fear that two recent developments will drastically limit educational opportunities for prisoners – a scenario that research indicates could lead to higher recidivism rates.

First, Congress failed to renew federal funding in 2011, 2012 and 2013 ...

States Adopt Sentencing Changes Following Supreme Court Ruling on Juvenile Lifers

States Adopt Sentencing Changes Following Supreme Court Ruling on Juvenile Lifers

 

A wave of legal maneuvering is sweeping across the nation due to a deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding juveniles serving mandatory sentences of life without parole, and a number of states have taken action as ...

Reports on Elderly Prisoners Spur Call for Reforms

Reports on Elderly Prisoners Spur Call for Reforms

 

An increasing number of advocacy groups are calling for reforms in the wake of three reports that found the nation’s aging prison population is reaching record levels at growing expense to taxpayers, mostly due to the high cost of medical care ...

Idaho Supreme Court Vacates Summary Judgment for Pepper Spray Manufacturer

Idaho Supreme Court Vacates Summary Judgment for Pepper Spray Manufacturer

 

by Mark Wilson

 

On August 27, 2013, Idaho’s Supreme Court held that a lower state court improperly granted summary judgment to a pepper spray manufacturer on a prison guard’s product liability and inadequate warning label claims.

While on ...

No “Reasonable Efforts” to Reunite Oregon Sex Offender with His Son

No “Reasonable Efforts” to Reunite Oregon Sex Offender with His Son

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The Oregon Court of Appeals held on July 3, 2013 that a juvenile court improperly assessed whether the Department of Human Services (DHS) had made reasonable efforts to reunite an incarcerated sex offender with ...

Pennsylvania Warrantless, Suspicionless Search Probation Condition Held Invalid

Pennsylvania Warrantless, Suspicionless Search Probation Condition Held Invalid

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a condition of probation authorizing warrantless, suspicionless searches of a probationer’s home was invalid, and remanded the case for resentencing.

On September 1, 2007, Philadelphia police witnessed David A. Wilson point ...

Lawsuit Against Missouri Jail Proceeds as Two Guards Plead Guilty

Lawsuit Against Missouri Jail Proceeds as Two Guards Plead Guilty

 

Attorneys representing current and former prisoners at the city workhouse in St. Louis, Missouri are moving forward with a federal lawsuit that alleges cruel and unusual punishment at the jail, including guards forcing prisoners to take part in “gladiator-style” ...

D.A. Drops Charges Against Oklahoma Parole Board Members

D.A. Drops Charges Against Oklahoma Parole Board Members

 

by Christopher Zoukis

 

Five members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board (Board) will not face trial for criminal violations of the state’s Open Meeting Act, after signing a statement acknowledging that they had conducted business without listing and ...

Kansas: Prison Healthcare Officials Engaged in Continued Deliberate Indifference

Kansas: Prison Healthcare Officials Engaged in Continued Deliberate Indifference

 

by Robert Warlick

 

The Kansas Court of Appeals held that employees of Correct Care Solutions at the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF) committed continuing Eighth Amendment violations by withholding a prisoner’s medical restrictions.

LCF prisoner Ernest Lee Thomas, Jr., 61 ...

Report: Increase in Federal Prison Population, Overcrowding

Report: Increase in Federal Prison Population, Overcrowding

 

by Derek Gilna

 

A government study revealed that overcrowding in the federal prison system worsened over the five-year period from 2006 through 2011, affecting facilities of all security levels.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), warned ...

Liberty Interest Necessary to Trigger Arkansas Judicial Review

Liberty Interest Necessary to Trigger Arkansas Judicial Review

 

by Mark Wilson

 

The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a prisoner’s state judicial review action because he failed to assert a constitutional violation.

Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) prisoner James Chadwick Renfro said he had entered into ...

Seventh Circuit: Prisoner with Back Condition Stated Claim for Fall from Upper Bunk

Seventh Circuit: Prisoner with Back Condition Stated Claim for Fall from Upper Bunk

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoner who suffers from scoliosis stated a claim for deliberate indifference when he alleged that he fell and injured himself trying to climb ...

High-Ranking Illinois Prison Official Fired due to Criminal History

High-Ranking Illinois Prison Official Fired due to Criminal History

 

According to court records obtained by the Chicago Sun Times, Xadrian R. McCraven, 44, has a lengthy criminal history that includes a 1987 conviction for disorderly conduct, a 1989 conviction for illegal possession of a handgun and a conviction in ...

California: Surety Entitled to Exoneration of Bail Bond Forfeited as a Result of Defendant’s Deportation

California: Surety Entitled to Exoneration of Bail Bond Forfeited as a Result of Defendant’s Deportation

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

The California Court of Appeal has held that a bail surety did not forfeit the bond it posted for a defendant who was deported before he could appear in court ...

DC Circuit: Federal Prisoner not Limited to Seeking Relief via Habeas Corpus

DC Circuit: Federal Prisoner not Limited to Seeking Relief via Habeas Corpus

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a federal prisoner may seek relief via means other than habeas corpus, so long as success on the merits of the claim ...

Philadelphia Sued Over Rejection of Ad Criticizing U.S. Incarceration Policies

Philadelphia Sued Over Rejection of Ad Criticizing U.S. Incarceration Policies

 

by Michael Brodheim

 

On May 20, 2013, a federal district court in Pennsylvania denied the City of Philadelphia’s motion to dismiss in a case brought by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and ...

Massachusetts DOC, Hospital Officials Disciplined in Prisoner’s Death

Massachusetts DOC, Hospital Officials Disciplined in Prisoner’s Death

 

by Derek Gilna

 

An investigative report ordered by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick into what he termed the “disgusting” death of a mentally-ill prisoner at Bridgewater State Hospital found not only numerous policy violations, but also evidence of a cover-up of ...

Washington County Jail Remains Closed after Voters Reject Tax Hike

Washington County Jail Remains Closed after Voters Reject Tax Hike

 

Officials in Yakima County, Washington say a deal struck with the city of Fife, near Tacoma, to house the city’s prisoners will help make up for lost income from an empty county jail that failed to win the support ...

News in Brief

News in Brief

 

District of Columbia: Before sending former jail guard Jonathan Womble to prison for just over three years on October 9, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton called Womble’s crime “reprehensible and one of the most serious anyone could commit.” Heroin, marijuana, and a ...