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Prison Legal News: February, 2015

Issue PDF
Volume 26, Number 2

In this issue:

  1. Prison Legal News Interviews Musician Wayne Kramer (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 12)
  3. Dialing with Dollars: How County Jails Profit From Immigrant Detainees (p 14)
  4. Texas: $100 Medical Copay for Prisoners Generates Less Revenue than Expected (p 18)
  5. Washington DOSA Revocation Requires Credit for Community Custody Time (p 19)
  6. Five Deaths in Eleven Months at California Jail Spark Grand Jury Probe (p 20)
  7. Wisconsin Prison Guard Union Faces Challenges (p 22)
  8. Eighth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Jail Prisoner Raped in Unlocked Cell; $60,000 Verdict at Trial (p 23)
  9. Court Finds PLN’s Rights Violated by Arizona Jail; Case Settles for $15,293 (p 24)
  10. Eighth Circuit: Deliberate Indifference Standard GovernsMedical Care for Civilly Committed Detainees (p 24)
  11. Life Sentences Spike in Recent Years – Especially in Utah (p 26)
  12. Montana: Extradition Costs Not Recoverable as Restitution (p 27)
  13. California: Local Ordinances Banning Sex Offenders from Parks Invalidated (p 28)
  14. United States, Britain Offer Training to “Improve” Prison Conditions in Afghanistan (p 30)
  15. Seventh Circuit: Dismissal due to Nonpayment of Filing Fee Requires Assessment (p 31)
  16. Eighth Circuit: Jail Guards Denied Summary Judgment for Use of Force against Detainees (p 32)
  17. Eighth Circuit: Ruling Required on Prison Officials’ Qualified Immunity Defense (p 34)
  18. Second Circuit: Brady Claim Not Barred by Heck (p 35)
  19. Book Review: Burning Down the House, by Nell Bernstein (The New Press, June 2014). 384 pages, $26.95 (p 36)
  20. For Shame! Public Shaming Sentences on the Rise (p 38)
  21. Ninth Circuit: Indefinite Stay and Denial of Guardian was Abuse of Discretion (p 42)
  22. Native American Prisoners Have Right to Tobacco in Religious Ceremonies (p 42)
  23. Georgia’s Execution Drug Secrecy Law Found Constitutional (p 43)
  24. Misconduct at Washington State Civil Commitment Center as Concern Grows Over Releases (p 44)
  25. Eighth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s ADA/RA Claims (p 46)
  26. Prison Violence in Brazil Connected to Abuse, Gangs, Overcrowding (p 46)
  27. Private Prison Companies Reject Resolutions to Fund Rehabilitative, Reentry Programs (p 48)
  28. Fifth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s Suit Claiming Lack of Medical Care (p 48)
  29. GEO Group Rescinds $6 Million Donation to Name Stadium at Florida University (p 50)
  30. Georgia’s High Court Finds No Categorical Right to Counsel in Civil Contempt Proceedings (p 51)
  31. Eighth Circuit: Atheist Prisoner States Coerced Religious-Based Treatment Claim (p 52)
  32. Change in Florida Jail Policy Leads to Increased Homelessness (p 52)
  33. Tennessee Jail Breached Duty to Provide Medical Care; Damages Trial Ordered (p 54)
  34. Ninth Circuit: Abstention Inapplicable in First Amendment Cases (p 54)
  35. News in Brief (p 56)

Prison Legal News Interviews Musician Wayne Kramer

Prison Legal News Interviews Musician Wayne Kramer

On October 13, 2014, PLN editor Paul Wright interviewed Wayne Kramer at his office in Los Angeles. Mr. Kramer is a musician, singer, songwriter and producer; he also served more than two years in federal prison in the 1970s. He has released a ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

It has been said that freedom of the press is neither free nor cheap. On January 5, 2015, a trial commenced in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee, Florida. Prison Legal News is suing the Florida Department of ...

Dialing with Dollars: How County Jails Profit From Immigrant Detainees

Dialing with Dollars: How County Jails Profit From Immigrant Detainees

County jails charge excessive rates for phone usage – a huge barrier for immigrant detainees fighting deportation.

by Leticia Miranda

Arali was at home with her three-year-old son, Jose, when she got a call from Suffolk County Jail, a correctional ...

Texas: $100 Medical Copay for Prisoners Generates Less Revenue than Expected

In October 2011, when Texas enacted a law instituting a $100 annual copay for state prisoners seeking medical care, it was estimated the measure would generate $5.7 million in 2012 and help the cash-strapped state deal with a budget crisis. [See: PLN, Oct. 2012, p.42]. Instead, only $2 ...

Washington DOSA Revocation Requires Credit for Community Custody Time

Washington DOSA Revocation Requires Credit for Community Custody Time

by Mark Wilson

On November 26, 2013, the Washington State Court of Appeals held that when a “drug offender sentencing alternative” (DOSA) is revoked, the court must award credit for time the offender served in community custody.

In June 2012, Gabriel ...

Five Deaths in Eleven Months at California Jail Spark Grand Jury Probe

Five Deaths in Eleven Months at California Jail Spark Grand Jury Probe

A Santa Cruz County, California grand jury investigation concluded that a multitude of breakdowns contributed to the deaths of five jail detainees over an 11-month period between August 2012 and July 2013.

Four of the deaths occurred after ...

Wisconsin Prison Guard Union Faces Challenges

Wisconsin Prison Guard Union Faces Challenges

by Derek Gilna

A 2013 memo issued by then-incoming Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Edward F. Wall, in which he warned DOC employees to stop spreading rumors, was apparently another example of contentious relations between the state and its prison guards, and among ...

Eighth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Jail Prisoner Raped in Unlocked Cell; $60,000 Verdict at Trial

Eighth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Jail Prisoner Raped in Unlocked Cell; $60,000 Verdict at Trial

by Mark Wilson

On May 20, 2014, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of qualified immunity to a Missouri jail administrator in a case involving the rape of a pretrial ...

Court Finds PLN’s Rights Violated by Arizona Jail; Case Settles for $15,293

Court Finds PLN’s Rights Violated by Arizona Jail; Case Settles for $15,293

A federal district court in Arizona held that officials at the Pinal County Jail (PCJ) in Florence, Arizona violated Prison Legal News’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by censoring PLN publications. The court denied qualified immunity to ...

Eighth Circuit: Deliberate Indifference Standard GovernsMedical Care for Civilly Committed Detainees

Eighth Circuit: Deliberate Indifference Standard GovernsMedical Care for Civilly Committed Detainees

by Mark Wilson

On February 4, 2014, the Eighth Circuit reversed a district court’s denial of qualified immunity, finding that it had applied the wrong constitutional standard.

Daniel J. Scott was involuntarily committed to the Iowa Civil Commitment Unit ...

Life Sentences Spike in Recent Years – Especially in Utah

Life Sentences Spike in Recent Years – Especially in Utah

A recent research study and news reports have revealed an increase in the number of prisoners across the nation – and particularly in Utah – sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

In a report released in ...

Montana: Extradition Costs Not Recoverable as Restitution

Montana: Extradition Costs Not Recoverable as Restitution

by Mark Wilson

The Montana Supreme Court has unanimously held that a restitution order for extradition costs is invalid.

Mark M. Macy, Jr. was convicted of various felony offenses in Montana. He was transferred to a pre-release center in October 2010, but absconded ...

California: Local Ordinances Banning Sex Offenders from Parks Invalidated

California: Local Ordinances Banning Sex Offenders from Parks Invalidated

by Mark Wilson

On April 23, 2014, the California Supreme Court refused to review two lower court decisions that invalidated local ordinances barring sex offenders from parks and other public places.

In 2006, California voters passed Jessica’s Law, which, among other ...

United States, Britain Offer Training to “Improve” Prison Conditions in Afghanistan

United States, Britain Offer Training to “Improve” Prison Conditions in Afghanistan

While attempting to liberate Afghanistan from the tyranny of the Taliban, the U.S. and Great Britain have given the Afghans incarceration-related tools and training, ostensibly to improve conditions in that nation’s prisons.

Since 2011, the U.S. State ...

Seventh Circuit: Dismissal due to Nonpayment of Filing Fee Requires Assessment

Seventh Circuit: Dismissal due to Nonpayment of Filing Fee Requires Assessment

by Mark Wilson

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held in March 2014 that a district court had abused its discretion when it dismissed a prisoner’s suit for failure to pay a filing fee without determining his ability to ...

Eighth Circuit: Jail Guards Denied Summary Judgment for Use of Force against Detainees

Eighth Circuit: Jail Guards Denied Summary Judgment for Use of Force against Detainees

by David Reutter

On April 24, 2014, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of summary judgment to jail guards accused of using excessive force on pre-trial detainees while quelling a riot. However, the appellate ...

Eighth Circuit: Ruling Required on Prison Officials’ Qualified Immunity Defense

Eighth Circuit: Ruling Required on Prison Officials’ Qualified Immunity Defense

by Mark Wilson

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a district court erred in failing to resolve a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity with respect to a prisoner’s claims related to interference with his mail ...

Second Circuit: Brady Claim Not Barred by Heck

Second Circuit: Brady Claim Not Barred by Heck

by Mark Wilson

The en banc Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a Brady claim is not Heck-barred when a defendant’s conviction is vacated but he subsequently pleads guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for immediate release.

During ...

Book Review: Burning Down the House, by Nell Bernstein (The New Press, June 2014). 384 pages, $26.95

by Hannah K. Gold

By the time I was 7 years old I knew drugs were bad. I didn’t need a parent to sit me down on their knee and tell me this because Saturday morning cartoons were frequently interrupted by an advertisement brought to me by Partnership for a ...

For Shame! Public Shaming Sentences on the Rise

For Shame! Public Shaming Sentences on the Rise

by David M. Reutter

Punishments intended to shame offenders for wrongdoing, popular throughout history, are once again on the rise – particularly as penalties imposed by judges who enjoy seeing their names in the newspaper or on television due to their “creative” ...

Ninth Circuit: Indefinite Stay and Denial of Guardian was Abuse of Discretion

Ninth Circuit: Indefinite Stay and Denial of Guardian was Abuse of Discretion

by Mark Wilson

On March 24, 2014, the Ninth Circuit held that a district court had abused its discretion in refusing to appoint a guardian ad litem for a pro se prisoner who was legally incompetent.

California state ...

Native American Prisoners Have Right to Tobacco in Religious Ceremonies

Native American Prisoners Have Right to Tobacco in Religious Ceremonies

by David Reutter

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a South Dakota federal district court’s order holding that Native American prisoners have a right under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to use tobacco during ...

Georgia’s Execution Drug Secrecy Law Found Constitutional

Georgia’s Execution Drug Secrecy Law Found Constitutional

by David Reutter

In a 5-2 ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court held on May 19, 2014 that it is not unconstitutional for the state to keep secret the names and other identifying information of persons and entities involved in executions, including those who ...

Misconduct at Washington State Civil Commitment Center as Concern Grows Over Releases

Misconduct at Washington State Civil Commitment Center as Concern Grows Over Releases

by David M. Reutter

Washington state’s Special Commitment Center (SCC), which was created to house and treat prisoners classified as violent sexual predators, has become the focus of investigations into staff misconduct. Additionally, the growing number of releases ...

Eighth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s ADA/RA Claims

Eighth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s ADA/RA Claims

by Mark Wilson

The Eighth Circuit has reversed in part the dismissal of a Missouri prisoner’s claims related to accommodation of his disabilities.

In 2004, Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisoner Robert Dinkins began suffering blackouts, weakness and difficulty walking. The ...

Prison Violence in Brazil Connected to Abuse, Gangs, Overcrowding

Prison Violence in Brazil Connected to Abuse, Gangs, Overcrowding

A wave of riots and killings is sweeping inside and outside prisons in Brazil, but authorities and observers differ on whether the violence is the fault of rival gangs competing for the lucrative drug trade, a protest against horrific conditions in ...

Private Prison Companies Reject Resolutions to Fund Rehabilitative, Reentry Programs

Private Prison Companies Reject Resolutions to Fund Rehabilitative, Reentry Programs

On December 23, 2014, GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison firm, demonstrated it was a “grinch” by objecting to a shareholder resolution that would require the company to spend just 5% of its net income “on programs and services ...

Fifth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s Suit Claiming Lack of Medical Care

Fifth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s Suit Claiming Lack of Medical Care

by Matt Clarke

On March 12, 2014, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a prisoner who was denied medical treatment after he fell and was injured ...

GEO Group Rescinds $6 Million Donation to Name Stadium at Florida University

GEO Group Rescinds $6 Million Donation to Name Stadium at Florida University

by David M. Reutter

A student-led coalition against naming the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) football stadium after private prison firm GEO Group claimed victory in April 2013, when the company withdrew its $6 million donation to the school ...

Georgia’s High Court Finds No Categorical Right to Counsel in Civil Contempt Proceedings

Georgia’s High Court Finds No Categorical Right to Counsel in Civil Contempt Proceedings

by David Reutter

The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed an appellate court’s ruling that decertified a plaintiff class of indigent parents who were jailed without being provided counsel following civil contempt proceedings brought by the state Department of ...

Eighth Circuit: Atheist Prisoner States Coerced Religious-Based Treatment Claim

Eighth Circuit: Atheist Prisoner States Coerced Religious-Based Treatment Claim

by Mark Wilson

On March 28, 2014, the EighthCircuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s sua sponte dismissal of a prisoner’s coerced religious-based treatment claim.

Missouri prisoner Randall Jackson is an atheist who was required to attend the Offenders Under ...

Change in Florida Jail Policy Leads to Increased Homelessness

Change in Florida Jail Policy Leads to Increased Homelessness

by David M. Reutter

For those without resources or help from family or friends, being released from jail has always been difficult. A change in policy in Broward County, Florida is leaving even those who have someplace to go stranded and ...

Tennessee Jail Breached Duty to Provide Medical Care; Damages Trial Ordered

Tennessee Jail Breached Duty to Provide Medical Care; Damages Trial Ordered

by David Reutter

he Tennessee Court of Appeals has held the Tipton County Jail (TCJ) breached its duty of care by failing to provide a pre-trial detainee with proper medical treatment. The ruling reversed a trial court’s judgment following ...

Ninth Circuit: Abstention Inapplicable in First Amendment Cases

Ninth Circuit: Abstention Inapplicable in First Amendment Cases

by Mark Wilson

On April 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court had improperly abstained from hearing a claim that a state court violated the First Amendment by denying prompt access to newly-filed complaints.

Courthouse News ...

News in Brief

News in Brief

Arizona: Ruth Alvarez was battling breast cancer when she was arrested and jailed in Maricopa County for working under a false identity and being in the country illegally. In an unprecedented plea deal, Alvarez was released on April 17, 2014 so she could continue the cancer treatments ...