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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: April, 2015

Issue PDF
Volume 26, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Crime Labs Still in Crisis (p 1)
  2. Lost and Improperly Destroyed Evidence Thwarts Post-Conviction DNA Testing (p 16)
  3. From the Editor (p 18)
  4. Tennessee County Not Required to Pay for Medical Costs after Prisoner’s Release (p 19)
  5. Tenth Circuit Misses Chance to Limit Long-Term Solitary Confinement (p 20)
  6. The Spread of Electronic Monitoring: No Quick Fix for Mass Incarceration (p 22)
  7. California Prisoner’s Conviction for Smuggling Tobacco Overturned (p 25)
  8. Philadelphia Traffic Court Abolished; Seven Judges Convicted (p 26)
  9. Unexhausted Oregon Parole Claims Not Cognizable (p 28)
  10. Maryland Cannot Compel Retroactive Sex Offender Registration (p 28)
  11. Forty Defendants, Including 24 Guards, Convicted in Widespread Corruption Scandal at Baltimore City Jail (p 30)
  12. Sixteen Maryland Prison Guards Sentenced for Severely Beating Prisoner (p 33)
  13. Oregon: State Must Prove Defendant’s Ability to Pay Attorney Fees (p 34)
  14. Unauthorized Oregon “Offense Surcharges” Reversed (p 34)
  15. New York Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of Rikers Island Wrongful Death Suit (p 35)
  16. Second Circuit Affirms Muslim Prisoner’s Right Not to Drink Water during Ramadan (p 36)
  17. Washington Enacts Wrongful Conviction Compensation Law; County Reneges on $10.5 Million Settlement with Exonerated Prisoners (p 37)
  18. Second Circuit: Requiring Pretrial Detainees to Perform Forced Labor Unconstitutional; $15,000 Settlement on Remand (p 38)
  19. Oregon Prison Guard Union Sues Mentally Ill Prisoners (p 38)
  20. Doctor of Death: Former Jail Physician Leaves Trail of Prisoner Deaths, Injuries (p 40)
  21. Pharmacist Associations Take Stand Against Death Penalty (p 40)
  22. Report Highlights Health Concerns Related to Coal Ash Dump at Pennsylvania Prison (p 42)
  23. Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, by Maya Schenwar (p 42)
  24. $12,500 Settlement for Pennsylvania Prisoner Denied Medication (p 44)
  25. Overdose, Taser and Restraint Chair Combine to Kill Washington Prisoner (p 44)
  26. Fifth Circuit Dismisses Female Immigration Detainees’ Sexual Assault Claims (p 46)
  27. Video Shows Tulsa Jail Prisoner Subjected to “Horrific” Treatment Prior to Death (p 46)
  28. Tasering Detainee as Corporal Inducement Violates Eighth Amendment (p 47)
  29. Dismissal of Wrongfully Convicted Prisoner’s Fabricated Evidence Claims Upheld on Appeal (p 48)
  30. New York Settles Wrongful Conviction Claim for $2.7 Million (p 48)
  31. $1.56 Million Settlement for Texas Jail Death Due to Drug Withdrawal (p 50)
  32. San Antonio, Texas Leads the State in Jail Suicides (p 50)
  33. Book Review: Abolishing the Broken U.S. Juvenile Justice System (p 52)
  34. Third Circuit: No Supervisory Qualified Immunity for Prisoner Suicide (p 54)
  35. $345,000 Settlement in Michigan Detainee’s Suicide (p 54)
  36. Reading Death Row Prisoner’s Legal Mail States Sixth Amendment Claim (p 55)
  37. Civilly Committed Sex Offenders Increasingly Released in Wisconsin (p 56)
  38. Lawsuit Over Suicide of Oregon Prisoner Settles for $100,000 (p 56)
  39. Oregon Courts Must Give Notice before Amending Judgment (p 57)
  40. Dismissal of Challenge to Texas City’s Sex Offender Restrictions Reversed (p 58)
  41. Seventh Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s Eighth Amendment Suit; $26,875 Settlement on Remand (p 58)
  42. Deferred Sentence Completion Automatically Restores Civil Rights in New Mexico (p 59)
  43. California Supreme Court Restricts Life Without Parole Sentences for Juveniles (p 59)
  44. Nebraska Supreme Court Upholds One-Hour Law Library Access (p 60)
  45. New York: Companies Settle Claims for Discriminating against Ex-Felons (p 60)
  46. Third Circuit: Lack of Training for Jail Guards Bars Summary Judgment; $150,000 Settlement (p 62)
  47. Maine Jail Raises Pigs to Feed Prisoners, Expands Organic Farm (p 62)
  48. News in Brief (p 63)

Crime Labs Still in Crisis

Crime Labs Still in Crisis

by Matt Clarke

The October 2010 Prison Legal News cover story, “Crime Labs in Crisis: Shoddy Forensics Used to Secure Convictions,” provided an extensive examination of problems at crime labs nationwide. Apparently, and unfortunately, little has changed since that time.

In 2012, the U ...

Lost and Improperly Destroyed Evidence Thwarts Post-Conviction DNA Testing

Lost and Improperly Destroyed Evidence Thwarts Post-Conviction DNA Testing

by Matt Clarke

While crime labs across the country have been in the news for improper testing of forensic evidence in criminal cases, the problem with misplaced and improperly destroyed evidence is much more widespread.

Not just crime labs, but local ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

In 25 years of publishing Prison Legal News, we have reported a number of recurring themes where the only specifics that change are the names, dates and locations. But the broader issues – prison slavery, government corruption, guards raping prisoners, brutality, medical neglect, etc ...

Tennessee County Not Required to Pay for Medical Costs after Prisoner’s Release

Tennessee County Not Required to Pay for Medical Costs after Prisoner’s Release

by David Reutter

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has held that a prisoner does not have a private right of action for being released early from jail, in a case in which a prisoner alleged he was freed ...

Tenth Circuit Misses Chance to Limit Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Tenth Circuit Misses Chance to Limit Long-Term Solitary Confinement

by Derek Gilna

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a prisoner’s more than three-decades-long stint in solitary confinement, sidestepping an opportunity to meaningfully address the appropriateness of such long-term isolation.

Thomas Silverstein, 62, has been held in solitary confinement ...

The Spread of Electronic Monitoring: No Quick Fix for Mass Incarceration

The Spread of Electronic Monitoring: No Quick Fix for Mass Incarceration

by James Kilgore

In a troubled criminal justice system desperately looking for alternatives to incarceration, electronic monitoring is trending. North Carolina has tripled the use of electronic monitors since 2011. California has placed 7,500 people on GPS ankle ...

California Prisoner’s Conviction for Smuggling Tobacco Overturned

California Prisoner’s Conviction for Smuggling Tobacco Overturned

by Lonnie Burton

A California state prisoner convicted of a felony offense for smuggling tobacco into prison has had his conviction reversed by a California appellate court, although a related conviction for smuggling cell phones was affirmed.

In September 2011, Sherman Redd, incarcerated ...

Philadelphia Traffic Court Abolished; Seven Judges Convicted

Philadelphia Traffic Court Abolished; Seven Judges Convicted

The first black woman to be named president judge of Philadelphia’s Traffic Court has been sentenced to two years in federal prison in connection with a widespread ticket-fixing scandal that also led to the convictions or guilty pleas of six other judges. Another ...

Unexhausted Oregon Parole Claims Not Cognizable

Unexhausted Oregon Parole Claims Not Cognizable

by Mark Wilson

On March 19, 2014, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that a pro se prisoner’s parole decision claims were not cognizable on appeal because he failed to raise those issues in his administrative review request.

The Oregon Board of Parole and ...

Maryland Cannot Compel Retroactive Sex Offender Registration

Maryland Cannot Compel Retroactive Sex Offender Registration

he Maryland Court of Appeals held in June 2014 that circuit courts have the power to order the removal of sex offenders from the state’s registry, thereby impacting federal databases as well; the decision followed a prior ruling in which the Court found ...

Forty Defendants, Including 24 Guards, Convicted in Widespread Corruption Scandal at Baltimore City Jail

Forty Defendants, Including 24 Guards, Convicted in Widespread Corruption Scandal at Baltimore City Jail

by Christopher Zoukis

The confessed leader of a powerful gang inside the Baltimore City Detention Center was the government’s star witness at the trial of eight remaining defendants in a widespread racketeering, drug smuggling, bribery, extortion ...

Sixteen Maryland Prison Guards Sentenced for Severely Beating Prisoner

Sixteen Maryland Prison Guards Sentenced for Severely Beating Prisoner

Sixteen guards formerly employed atthe Roxbury Correctional Institution (RCI) near Hagerstown, Maryland have received sentences ranging from probation to five years in prison in connection with two assaults on a prisoner and conspiring to cover up those incidents. Fourteen of the ...

Oregon: State Must Prove Defendant’s Ability to Pay Attorney Fees

Oregon: State Must Prove Defendant’s Ability to Pay Attorney Fees

by Mark Wilson

On July 23, 2014, the Oregon Court of Appeals vacated $36,000 in court-appointed attorney and indigent contribution fees, as there was no evidence the defendant had the ability to pay them.

Oregon law authorizes trial courts ...

Unauthorized Oregon “Offense Surcharges” Reversed

Unauthorized Oregon “Offense Surcharges” Reversed

by Mark Wilson

On June 11, 2014, the Oregon Court of Appeals vacated $140 in “offense surcharges” imposed on crimes committed prior to the date the surcharges were authorized.

An Oregon law (Ore. Laws 2009, ch 659, § 2(3)) allows a sentencing court to ...

New York Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of Rikers Island Wrongful Death Suit

New York’s Appellate Division, First Department, has reversed a Bronx County supreme court’s dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint that also raised claims of negligence and medical malpractice.

The suit was filed by the estate of Eva Luckey, 46, who died at a Rikers Island jail ...

Second Circuit Affirms Muslim Prisoner’s Right Not to Drink Water during Ramadan

Second Circuit Affirms Muslim Prisoner’s Right Not to Drink Water during Ramadan

by Lonnie Burton

Darryl Holland, a Muslim prisoner at the Wende Correctional Facility in New York, was faced with a tough choice on November 20, 2003. Unable to provide a urine sample when ordered to do so by ...

Washington Enacts Wrongful Conviction Compensation Law; County Reneges on $10.5 Million Settlement with Exonerated Prisoners

Washington Enacts Wrongful Conviction Compensation Law; County Reneges on $10.5 Million Settlement with Exonerated Prisoners

Washington has joined the list of states that provide compensation for defendants who were wrongfully convicted and subsequently exonerated. Governor Jay Inslee signed the legislation on May 10, 2013, and it went into effect ...

Second Circuit: Requiring Pretrial Detainees to Perform Forced Labor Unconstitutional; $15,000 Settlement on Remand

Second Circuit: Requiring Pretrial Detainees to Perform Forced Labor Unconstitutional; $15,000 Settlement on Remand

by Matt Clarke

On August 3, 2012, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held it is unconstitutional to force a pretrial detainee to perform labor other than that associated with personal housekeeping chores.

Finbar Patrick ...

Oregon Prison Guard Union Sues Mentally Ill Prisoners

Oregon Prison Guard Union Sues Mentally Ill Prisoners

Oregon prison officials report that around 16 percent of the state’s 14,500 prisoners are “severely mentally ill.” In 2013 the union representing Oregon guards began suing some of those prisoners, in part to “hold them accountable” for physical altercations involving ...

Doctor of Death: Former Jail Physician Leaves Trail of Prisoner Deaths, Injuries

Doctor of Death: Former Jail Physician Leaves Trail of Prisoner Deaths, Injuries

by Matt Clarke

An Illinois doctor whose medical care – or lack thereof – was linked to the deaths of prisoners in multiple states has lost his license to practice medicine, has been fined at least $50,000 ...

Pharmacist Associations Take Stand Against Death Penalty

Pharmacist Associations Take Stand Against Death Penalty

by Greg Dober

On March 2015, two professional associations that represent pharmacists urged their members to stop providing drugs used in executions.

The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists issued a statement to its membership that the organization’s Board of Directors had adopted a ...

Report Highlights Health Concerns Related to Coal Ash Dump at Pennsylvania Prison

A preliminary report by two human rights organizations concluded that a toxic fly ash dump which surrounds State Correctional Institution (SCI) Fayette in Pennsylvania may be causing cancer and other serious health ailments to both prisoners and staff at the facility. While more study is needed to empirically prove the ...

Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, by Maya Schenwar

Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, by Maya Schenwar

(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2014). 214 pages, $15.00-$25.00 paperback

Book review by Gary Hunter

Few books achieve that delicate balance between being equally empathetic and educational. In Locked Down, Locked Out: Why ...

$12,500 Settlement for Pennsylvania Prisoner Denied Medication

$12,500 Settlement for Pennsylvania Prisoner Denied Medication

by David Reutter

Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) agreed to pay $12,500 to settle two lawsuits claiming guards and medical staff had failed to treat a prisoner’s epilepsy.

The suits involved the treatment of prisoner Tonja Jackson at ACJ. Following her ...

Overdose, Taser and Restraint Chair Combine to Kill Washington Prisoner

Overdose, Taser and Restraint Chair Combine to Kill Washington Prisoner

Authorities in Washington State have said no charges will be filed in the death of a 33-year-old diabetic prisoner at the Spokane County Jail, even though his death was ruled a homicide after he was tased twice and placed in ...

Fifth Circuit Dismisses Female Immigration Detainees’ Sexual Assault Claims

Fifth Circuit Dismisses Female Immigration Detainees’ Sexual Assault Claims

by Matt Clarke

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held on May 6, 2014 that federal employees responsible for overseeing immigration detainee contracts were entitled to qualified immunity even if they knew that female detainees were being transported by a single ...

Video Shows Tulsa Jail Prisoner Subjected to “Horrific” Treatment Prior to Death

Video Shows Tulsa Jail Prisoner Subjected to “Horrific” Treatment Prior to Death

An Oklahoma federal district court denied a request to modify a protective order to allow the release of video footage of the treatment of a prisoner prior to his death at the Tulsa County Jail (TCJ). The court ...

Tasering Detainee as Corporal Inducement Violates Eighth Amendment

Tasering Detainee as Corporal Inducement Violates Eighth Amendment

by David Reutter

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held a pre-trial detainee’s claim that a guard used excessive force could proceed where a jury could find the guard used a Taser on a non-aggressive detainee as corporal inducement to comply ...

Dismissal of Wrongfully Convicted Prisoner’s Fabricated Evidence Claims Upheld on Appeal

Dismissal of Wrongfully Convicted Prisoner’s Fabricated Evidence Claims Upheld on Appeal

by David Reutter

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a grant of judgment on the pleadings to two officers from North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in a civil rights case that alleged they had fabricated evidence.

In ...

New York Settles Wrongful Conviction Claim for $2.7 Million

New York Settles Wrongful Conviction Claim for $2.7 Million

by Michael Brodheim

On November 2012, the State of New York agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle a claim filed by a woman who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for over 13 years.

Lynn DeJac was convicted in ...

$1.56 Million Settlement for Texas Jail Death Due to Drug Withdrawal

$1.56 Million Settlement for Texas Jail Death Due to Drug Withdrawal

by Matt Clarke

One day before a trial was scheduled to begin in a Texas federal district court, Gregg County officials agreed to settle a case involving the death of a prisoner who was denied the prescription medications ...

San Antonio, Texas Leads the State in Jail Suicides

San Antonio, Texas Leads the State in Jail Suicides

by Matt Clarke

A 2013 study of jail deaths in four densely-populated Texas counties found that Bexar County leads the state in the number of prisoners who commit suicide. From 2009 through 2013, Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, reported 12 ...

Book Review: Abolishing the Broken U.S. Juvenile Justice System

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 Drug-Free ...

Third Circuit: No Supervisory Qualified Immunity for Prisoner Suicide

Third Circuit: No Supervisory Qualified Immunity for Prisoner Suicide

by Mark Wilson

On September 5, 2014, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of qualified immunity to supervisory prison officials for inadequate third-party medical care resulting in a prisoner’s suicide.

The Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) operates the ...

$345,000 Settlement in Michigan Detainee’s Suicide

$345,000 Settlement in Michigan Detainee’s Suicide

by David M. Reutter

A $345,000 settlement was reached between Wayne County, Michigan, the City of Detroit and the estate of a prisoner who committed suicide at the Wayne County Jail (WCJ).

Jason L. Smith was arrested on April 29, 2009 and ...

Reading Death Row Prisoner’s Legal Mail States Sixth Amendment Claim

Reading Death Row Prisoner’s Legal Mail States Sixth Amendment Claim

by David Reutter

The Ninth Circuit has held that a prison guard’s act of reading a prisoner’s legal mail – not merely inspecting or scanning it – constitutes a Sixth Amendment violation.

The Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s ...

Civilly Committed Sex Offenders Increasingly Released in Wisconsin

Civilly Committed Sex Offenders Increasingly Released in Wisconsin

by Matt Clarke

he State of Wisconsin is releasing more violent sex offenders who were civilly committed following their prison sentences, in part, officials say, because the state’s treatment program is working and the offenders are less likely to recidivate than previously ...

Lawsuit Over Suicide of Oregon Prisoner Settles for $100,000

Lawsuit Over Suicide of Oregon Prisoner Settles for $100,000

by Mark Wilson

The mother of an autistic Oregon prisoner who committed suicide shortly before his scheduled release accepted $100,000 to settle her suit against state prison officials.

As previously reported in Prison Legal News, Richard Gifford, 22, suffered ...

Oregon Courts Must Give Notice before Amending Judgment

Oregon Courts Must Give Notice before Amending Judgment

by Mark Wilson

On August 6, 2014, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s second amended judgment that reinstated a former prisoner’s lifetime term of post-prison supervision (PPS). The lower court lacked authority to amend the judgment, because the parties ...

Dismissal of Challenge to Texas City’s Sex Offender Restrictions Reversed

Dismissal of Challenge to Texas City’s Sex Offender Restrictions Reversed

by Matt Clarke

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the dismissal of a challenge to the constitutionality of a city’s sex offender residency restrictions.

In 2008, Lewisville, Texas enacted an ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders whose offenses involved ...

Seventh Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s Eighth Amendment Suit; $26,875 Settlement on Remand

Seventh Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s Eighth Amendment Suit; $26,875 Settlement on Remand

by Lonnie Burton

n July 17, 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit filed by a mentally ill Wisconsin prisoner who claimed he was subjected to months of cruel and inhumane living conditions.

While incarcerated ...

Deferred Sentence Completion Automatically Restores Civil Rights in New Mexico

Deferred Sentence Completion Automatically Restores Civil Rights in New Mexico

by Mark Wilson

n May 1, 2014, the New Mexico Supreme Court held that satisfaction of the conditions of a deferred sentence fully restores a defendant’s civil rights by operation of law, without the need for a gubernatorial pardon.

In ...

California Supreme Court Restricts Life Without Parole Sentences for Juveniles

California Supreme Court Restricts Life Without Parole Sentences for Juveniles

The California Supreme Court has held that mandatory sentences of life without parole can no longer be applied to juvenile offenders. Even cases involving juveniles convicted of homicide must undergo intense scrutiny before a term of life without parole can ...

Nebraska Supreme Court Upholds One-Hour Law Library Access

Nebraska Supreme Court Upholds One-Hour Law Library Access

by Mark Wilson

On June 13, 2014, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that a prisoner did not state a cognizable access to court claim because he failed to show actual injury resulting from a one-hour daily law library limitation.

Prisoners at Nebraska’s ...

New York: Companies Settle Claims for Discriminating against Ex-Felons

New York: Companies Settle Claims for Discriminating against Ex-Felons

by Gary Hunter

National retailer Bed Bath & Beyond forked over a large settlement in April 2014 after New York’s Attorney General caught the company illegally discriminating against ex-offenders seeking employment. The housewares mega-chain, which operates 62 stores in New York ...

Third Circuit: Lack of Training for Jail Guards Bars Summary Judgment; $150,000 Settlement

Third Circuit: Lack of Training for Jail Guards Bars Summary Judgment; $150,000 Settlement

by Mark Wilson

On April 11, 2014, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a jail’s failure to train guards in conflict de-escalation and intervention techniques precluded summary judgment on a failure-to-train claim. The case ...

Maine Jail Raises Pigs to Feed Prisoners, Expands Organic Farm

Maine Jail Raises Pigs to Feed Prisoners, Expands Organic Farm

The slop at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, Maine is quite popular, at least among the jail’s porcine residents.

To help feed the facility’s prisoners and cultivate the New England soil, officials decided to raise eight Yorkshire pigs ...

News in Brief

News in Brief

Arizona: The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced on May 28, 2014 that it would not seek criminal charges against state prison guard Jesse Dorantes for the death of his K9 service dog, Ike, who was left in an unattended vehicle in the summer heat for seven hours ...


 

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