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Prison Legal News: June, 2014

Issue PDF
Volume 25, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. Consequences of California’s Realignment Initiative (p 1)
  2. Ninth Circuit Revives Prison Trust Account Seizure Claim; Disputed Ownership Requires Due Process Protections (p 10)
  3. From the Editor (p 12)
  4. Florida Prisoner Awarded $1.2 Million for Burn Injuries (p 13)
  5. Are We Really Witnessing the End of Mass Incarceration? (p 14)
  6. Lawsuits Challenge Conditions at Tennessee Jail; Five Charged in Bribery and Smuggling Scheme (p 19)
  7. Jails Face Backlash, Class-action Lawsuits Over Debit Card Fees (p 20)
  8. Despite Reforms, Juvenile Offenders in Texas Remain Endangered (p 22)
  9. Ex-football Star Exonerated a Decade after Rape Conviction (p 24)
  10. U.S. Citizens without Remedy in Military Torture Case (p 26)
  11. Scared Straight Programs Remain Popular Among Parents Despite Warnings (p 28)
  12. Seventh Circuit: Atheism Considered a Religion; Survey of Prisoner Interest Required (p 30)
  13. Amount of Drugs a Factor for Departure Sentence in Kansas Prison Contraband Conviction (p 31)
  14. Utah Prisoner Awarded $200 for Violation of Religious Rights (p 32)
  15. California’s Lethal Injection Protocol Deemed Invalid by State Court (p 34)
  16. Oregon Garnishment Exemption Protects Funds in Prisoners’ Accounts (p 34)
  17. Second Circuit: RLUIPA Disallows Individual Capacity Suits (p 36)
  18. Ninth Circuit: Heck Allows § 1983 Parole Condition Challenges (p 36)
  19. California: Lack of Insight Cannot be Inferred when Prisoner Accepts Responsibility for Crime and Expresses Genuine Remorse (p 38)
  20. Washington Appellate Court Addresses Right to Public Hearings in Civil Cases (p 38)
  21. Arkansas Jail Prisoner Can Proceed on Failure to Protect Claim Against Guard (p 39)
  22. 5.85 Million People Disenfranchised in Supposedly Democratic America (p 40)
  23. Bureau of Prisons Mistakenly Served Meat Intended as Pet Food (p 42)
  24. European Court of Human Rights Ruling Rebukes U.S. Prison System (p 42)
  25. DOJ Intervenes in Class-action Suit Challenging New Orleans Jail Conditions; Consent Judgment Entered (p 44)
  26. D.C. Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s FOIA Suit (p 46)
  27. Florida Guards Sentenced in Bribery Scheme (p 46)
  28. CCA Guard Killed During Riot was on Prisoners’ “Hit List” (p 48)
  29. Cook County Detainee’s Suit Alleging Deliberate Indifference to Safety Survives Summary Judgment (p 49)
  30. Prison Officials Praise Industry Programs Despite Downsides (p 50)
  31. Ohio Community Corrections Program Hires Former Prisoners to Work at Supermax (p 51)
  32. Seventh Circuit: Jail Social Worker Ignored Detainee’s Suicide Risk (p 52)
  33. Nebraska County Attorney’s Conviction Reversed for Theft from Pretrial Diversion Program (p 52)
  34. Mandamus Petition May Constitute Prison Conditions Litigation in Pennsylvania (p 53)
  35. For Sale: New York Lakefront Property with Garage, Pig Farm and 736 Prison Cells (p 54)
  36. News in Brief (p 56)

Consequences of California’s Realignment Initiative

Consequences of California’s Realignment Initiative

by Christopher Petrella and Alex Friedmann

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the City University of New York, writes that “capitalism never resolves its problems; it simply rearranges them geographically.” The same can be said of California’s almost three-year-old Public Safety ...

Ninth Circuit Revives Prison Trust Account Seizure Claim; Disputed Ownership Requires Due Process Protections

Ninth Circuit Revives Prison Trust Account Seizure Claim; Disputed Ownership Requires Due Process Protections

In an unpublished ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district court’s sua sponte dismissal of a California prisoner’s claims that prison officials improperly removed money from his trust account without adequate due ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

When Prison Legal News first started publishing in 1990, the Internet only existed for the military and a few academic institutions. PLN made its first online appearance in 1998 on what was a fairly simple website by today’s standards. We have gone through several ...

Florida Prisoner Awarded $1.2 Million for Burn Injuries

Florida Prisoner Awarded $1.2 Million for Burn Injuries

A Florida jury has awarded a prisoner $1.2 million in a negligence suit against the GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company, following a trial that was delayed more than a year after a juror said he was afraid ...

Are We Really Witnessing the End of Mass Incarceration?

Are We Really Witnessing the End of Mass Incarceration?

by James Kilgore

“This is the beginning of the end of mass incarceration.” – Natasha Frost, associate dean of Northeastern University’s school of criminology and criminal justice

 

After more than three decades of “tough on crime,” the New ...

Lawsuits Challenge Conditions at Tennessee Jail; Five Charged in Bribery and Smuggling Scheme

Lawsuits Challenge Conditions at Tennessee Jail; Five Charged in Bribery and Smuggling Scheme

In the wake of a Tennessee federal district court hearing in a lawsuit challenging conditions at the Maury County Jail (MCJ), the number of suits filed by prisoners against the jail has nearly doubled.

At a September ...

Jails Face Backlash, Class-action Lawsuits Over Debit Card Fees

Jails Face Backlash, Class-action Lawsuits Over Debit Card Fees

by Matt Clarke

The sheriff of Dallas County, Texas had a good reason for giving prepaid debit cards to prisoners containing the balance of their trust fund accounts when they were released from jail.

“There was too much money handling,” ...

Despite Reforms, Juvenile Offenders in Texas Remain Endangered

Despite Reforms, Juvenile Offenders in Texas Remain Endangered

by Matt Clarke

Two studies by the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin found that juveniles held in Texas jails while awaiting trial as adults are often isolated with no access to education programs, and that ...

Ex-football Star Exonerated a Decade after Rape Conviction

A California high school football star who was exonerated after serving five years in prison for kidnapping and raping a classmate has fulfilled his dream of playing for the NFL, and there are now plans to make a movie about his ordeal. Meanwhile, the woman who falsely accused him has ...

U.S. Citizens without Remedy in Military Torture Case

U.S. Citizens without Remedy in Military Torture Case

by Derek Gilna

In an 8 to 3 decision, the en banc Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by Illinois U.S. District Court Judge Wayne Anderson, as well as an appellate panel that had partly affirmed that ruling ...

Scared Straight Programs Remain Popular Among Parents Despite Warnings

Scared Straight Programs Remain Popular Among Parents Despite Warnings

by Elly Yu

"I feel like I’m at my wit’s end,” says a mother about her two kids on the A&E reality TV show “Beyond Scared Straight.” It’s a feeling many parents relate to before sending their kids to ...

Seventh Circuit: Atheism Considered a Religion; Survey of Prisoner Interest Required

Seventh Circuit: Atheism Considered a Religion; Survey of Prisoner Interest Required

by Mark Wilson

On August 16, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held for the second time that a prisoner’s request to form an atheist study group must be given the same consideration as other religious study groups ...

Amount of Drugs a Factor for Departure Sentence in Kansas Prison Contraband Conviction

Amount of Drugs a Factor for Departure Sentence in Kansas Prison Contraband Conviction

by David M. Reutter

The Kansas Supreme Court reversed a prisoner’s sentence for possession of contraband – a small amount of marijuana – after it held the sentencing court misinterpreted its statutory authority by concluding it could ...

Utah Prisoner Awarded $200 for Violation of Religious Rights

Utah Prisoner Awarded $200 for Violation of Religious Rights

A federal district court awarded $200 to a Utah prisoner who sued on the grounds that prison officials interfered with his right to freely exercise his religion. However, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed part of the prisoner’s appeal because ...

California’s Lethal Injection Protocol Deemed Invalid by State Court

California’s Lethal Injection Protocol Deemed Invalid by State Court

by Michael Brodheim

In May 2013, a California appeals court invalidated regulations promulgated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) regarding the manner in which the state executes condemned prisoners. The appellate court held that the CDCR had “substantially ...

Oregon Garnishment Exemption Protects Funds in Prisoners’ Accounts

Oregon Garnishment Exemption Protects Funds in Prisoners’ Accounts

by Mark Wilson

An Oregon judge has held that a prosecutor improperly seized money from a prisoner’s trust account to pay a court-ordered “compensatory fine.”

In 2006, Norman Earl Schlunt was convicted of poisoning and suffocating his business partner and sentenced ...

Second Circuit: RLUIPA Disallows Individual Capacity Suits

Second Circuit: RLUIPA Disallows Individual Capacity Suits

by David M. Reutter

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in September 2013 that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) does not create a private right of action against state officials in their individual capacities.

Anthony Washington, incarcerated at ...

Ninth Circuit: Heck Allows § 1983 Parole Condition Challenges

Ninth Circuit: Heck Allows § 1983 Parole Condition Challenges

by Mark Wilson

On July 31, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Seventh Circuit in holding that the Heck doctrine does not bar all parole condition challenges brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

California’s Sexual Predator ...

California: Lack of Insight Cannot be Inferred when Prisoner Accepts Responsibility for Crime and Expresses Genuine Remorse

California: Lack of Insight Cannot be Inferred when Prisoner Accepts Responsibility for Crime and Expresses Genuine Remorse

by Michael Brodheim

In the wake of the California Supreme Court’s ruling in In Re Shaputis, 53 Cal. 4th 192 (Cal. 2011) [PLN, Aug. 2012, p.16], lower courts in California continue to ...

Washington Appellate Court Addresses Right to Public Hearings in Civil Cases

Washington Appellate Court Addresses Right to Public Hearings in Civil Cases

by Mark Wilson

On September 19, 2013, the Court of Appeals of Washington held that the state constitution creates a right of public access to the courts shared by civil litigants and the general public. It also held, however ...

Arkansas Jail Prisoner Can Proceed on Failure to Protect Claim Against Guard

Arkansas Jail Prisoner Can Proceed on Failure to Protect Claim Against Guard

by David M. Reutter

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the denial of summary judgment to a guard who was aware of a threat of harm to a pretrial detainee, but reversed as to a jail ...

5.85 Million People Disenfranchised in Supposedly Democratic America

5.85 Million People Disenfranchised in Supposedly Democratic America

by David M. Reutter

The United States is billed as the world’s largest and greatest democracy. However, it is also “one of the world’s strictest nations when it comes to denying the right to vote to citizens convicted of crimes,” ...

Bureau of Prisons Mistakenly Served Meat Intended as Pet Food

Bureau of Prisons Mistakenly Served Meat Intended as Pet Food

by Derek Gilna

A Texas meat manufacturer has pledged to adopt new procedures to ensure compliance with food safety laws and paid almost $400,000 to resolve a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigation into mislabeled meat that was ...

European Court of Human Rights Ruling Rebukes U.S. Prison System

European Court of Human Rights Ruling Rebukes U.S. Prison System

by Derek Gilna

A suspected terrorist diagnosed as mentally ill will not be extradited from Britain to the United States to face charges that he conspired to establish a terrorist training camp in the U.S., a European court ...

DOJ Intervenes in Class-action Suit Challenging New Orleans Jail Conditions; Consent Judgment Entered

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in a class-action lawsuit that alleged “abusive and unconstitutional conditions of confinement” at the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) in New Orleans, Louisiana. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), resulted in a consent judgment ...

D.C. Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s FOIA Suit

D.C. Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s FOIA Suit

by Derek Gilna

Carlos Marino, incarcerated for a 1997 drug conspiracy conviction, submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), seeking the agency’s investigative file for a co-conspirator who had testified against him at trial. The DEA ...

Florida Guards Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

Florida Guards Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

Three former Florida prison guards, including a security chief, were sentenced to probation and ordered to perform community service after entering guilty or no contest pleas to charges that they accepted bribes to perform favors for prisoners, including supplying contraband, providing special treatment and ...

CCA Guard Killed During Riot was on Prisoners’ “Hit List”

CCA Guard Killed During Riot was on Prisoners’ “Hit List”

by Matt Clarke

A federal lawsuit filed by the family of a guard murdered during a riot at a Mississippi facility claims that prison officials knew the guard was on a “hit list” compiled by prisoners when he was called ...

Cook County Detainee’s Suit Alleging Deliberate Indifference to Safety Survives Summary Judgment

Cook County Detainee’s Suit Alleging Deliberate Indifference to Safety Survives Summary Judgment

by David M. Reutter

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment to a jail guard accused of being deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s safety.

The case involved an incident that ...

Prison Officials Praise Industry Programs Despite Downsides

Prison Officials Praise Industry Programs Despite Downsides

by David M. Reutter

As the U.S. economy remains sluggish and companies consider layoffs to cut costs, the outlook for prison industry programs is mixed, with some reporting increased revenue and others reporting net losses.

Prison industries are big business according to ...

Ohio Community Corrections Program Hires Former Prisoners to Work at Supermax

Ohio Community Corrections Program Hires Former Prisoners to Work at Supermax

The closure of a minimum-security facility in Ohio created temporary jobs for prisoners who are being released, through a pilot program to help integrate them into society while saving the state money. The catch? The former prisoners work at ...

Seventh Circuit: Jail Social Worker Ignored Detainee’s Suicide Risk

Seventh Circuit: Jail Social Worker Ignored Detainee’s Suicide Risk

On August 12, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a jail social worker could be held liable for ignoring a detainee’s obvious risk of committing suicide.

Algerian citizen Hassiba Belbachir, 27, entered the United States as a visitor ...

Nebraska County Attorney’s Conviction Reversed for Theft from Pretrial Diversion Program

Nebraska County Attorney’s Conviction Reversed for Theft from Pretrial Diversion Program

by David M. Reutter

The Nebraska Supreme Court has reversed the theft conviction of a county prosecutor who stole funds from a pretrial diversion program he created.

When John Blake Edwards took office as the county attorney for Keith ...

Mandamus Petition May Constitute Prison Conditions Litigation in Pennsylvania

Mandamus Petition May Constitute Prison Conditions Litigation in Pennsylvania

by David M. Reutter

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held on July 9, 2013 that a mandamus petition related to an underlying complaint concerning prison conditions itself constitutes prison conditions litigation within the meaning of the state’s Prison Litigation Reform Act ...

For Sale: New York Lakefront Property with Garage, Pig Farm and 736 Prison Cells

For Sale: New York Lakefront Property with Garage, Pig Farm and 736 Prison Cells

What New York State is doing with some of its closed prisons is like dragging an old, unwanted couch out to the dumpster and then slapping a price tag on it.

In an effort to address ...

News in Brief

News in Brief

Arizona: Former state prison guard Robert Joseph Hamm, 34, was sentenced on September 9, 2013 to 11 years in prison for having a sexual relationship with a Tucson teenager. He had previously served a year in prison after pleading guilty in 2011 to having sex with the ...