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Prison Legal News: August, 2015

Issue PDF
Volume 26, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Greenwashing Washington State’s Prison System in a River of Sewage (p 1)
  2. Persistent, Ongoing Environmental Violations at Washington’s Walla Walla Prison (p 12)
  3. From the Editor (p 14)
  4. Inside the Shadowy Business of Prison Phone Calls (p 16)
  5. Michigan: $8 Million Settlement after Prisoner’s Baby Born with Brain Damage (p 21)
  6. Minnesota DOC Sued Over Failure to Provide New Hepatitis C Treatment Protocol (p 22)
  7. UK Prison Cook Awarded $160,000 for Back Injury (p 22)
  8. $750,000 Settlement in New Mexico “Controlled Seating” Lawsuit (p 24)
  9. West Virginia City Settles Suit over Jail Prisoner’s Death for $460,000 (p 24)
  10. Alabama Courts Must Review Substance of Claim Despite Pleading’s Title (p 25)
  11. Second Circuit Unseals Jail Conditions Settlement Compliance Reports; Public Has First Amendment Right of Access (p 26)
  12. $3,000 Jury Award to Arizona Prisoner Denied Prostate Care (p 27)
  13. Nebraska Returns Ex-Offenders to Prison after Sentence Miscalculation Scandal (p 28)
  14. Supreme Court Voids ACCA’s Residual Clause in Landmark Decision (p 30)
  15. San Diego Deputies Faulted for Jail Death (p 30)
  16. Peer-Review Reports Must be Disclosed in Philadelphia Jail Conditions Suit (p 31)
  17. Pell Grants for Prisoners: New Bill Restores Hope of Reinstating College Programs (p 32)
  18. Two Names Added to Monument Memorializing Slain Prosecutors (p 36)
  19. North Carolina Prisoner, Victim of Sexual Assault, Awarded One Dollar in Damages (p 38)
  20. UN Commission Approves Mandela Rules on Treatment of Prisoners (p 38)
  21. Jury Awards $12,000 to Connecticut Prisoner for Unsanitary Mattress (p 39)
  22. Virginia Must Improve Prison Medical Care Under Proposed Class-action Settlement (p 40)
  23. $1.15 Million for Florida Pretrial Detainee’s Death (p 42)
  24. Report Finds Two-Thirds of Private Prison Contracts Include “Lockup Quotas” (p 42)
  25. Tenth Circuit: Ignoring Prisoner’s Severe Pain Precludes Qualified Immunity (p 44)
  26. Supreme Court Rules Qualified Immunity Shields Prison Officials from Suicide Claim (p 44)
  27. Who Owns Private Prison Stock? (p 46)
  28. Controversy Surrounds Shackling of Dying and Comatose Prisoners in UK (p 48)
  29. Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Short Beard for Muslim Prisoner (p 50)
  30. Alaska High Court Reaffirms Negligence Standard to Protect Prisoners from Harm (p 50)
  31. Ninth Circuit Finds that ICE Detention After Indictment Counts Against Sentence (p 51)
  32. Failure to State Rationale in Denying Appointment of Counsel was Abuse of Discretion (p 52)
  33. Vermont: Retaliatory Furlough Denial Reviewable on Rule 75 Motion (p 52)
  34. Three Strikes Litigant Required to Show Ongoing “Imminent Danger” to Proceed on Appeal (p 53)
  35. Nebraska Law Unconstitutionally Forfeits Good Time for Refusal to Submit DNA Sample (p 54)
  36. Does Political Spending by Private Prison Firms in Oklahoma Influence Prison Reform? (p 54)
  37. Ninth Circuit Finds Graham v. Florida Retroactive; 254-Year Sentence Unconstitutional (p 56)
  38. Notorious Psych Ward at Miami-Dade Jail Finally Shuttered (p 56)
  39. Kentucky Jail Prisoners Make Mattresses (p 57)
  40. Tennessee Prisoners Suing Private Prisons Not Required to File in Local Venue (p 58)
  41. Investigation Forces Arizona Clemency Board Chairman to Resign (p 58)
  42. Prisoners Released When Jails Can’t Feed Them (p 59)
  43. Final Class-Action Settlement Pending in “Kids for Cash” Scandal (p 60)
  44. CA: Persons on Community Supervision Eligible to Seek Transfer to Another State (p 61)
  45. News in Brief (p 63)

Greenwashing Washington State’s Prison System in a River of Sewage

Greenwashing Washington State’s Prison System in a River of Sewage

by Rick Anderson

Greenwashing: When an agency or company spends more on marketing and public relations to promote the perception they are environmentally conscious than they spend on implementing environmentally conscious practices and policies.

In 2005, embarking on a new-found ...

Persistent, Ongoing Environmental Violations at Washington’s Walla Walla Prison

Persistent, Ongoing Environmental Violations at Washington’s Walla Walla Prison

by Panagioti Tsolkas

Walla Walla State Penitentiary (WSP) in Washington State has a long history of contaminating the surrounding land, water and neighboring communities. Recent reports obtained this year from a public records request submitted by Prison Legal News to the ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

For several decades PLN has reported on the intersections between mass imprisonment, the criminal justice system and the environment. Most specifically, the environmental destruction and degradation that prisons impose on surrounding communities – whether it entails building prisons in pristine environments like the High ...

Inside the Shadowy Business of Prison Phone Calls

Inside the Shadowy Business of Prison Phone Calls

An IBTimes investigation into the secretive world of selling phone calls to prisoners and their families.

by Eric Markowitz

Joanne Jones, an occupational therapist from Warwick, Rhode Island, has made an unlikely foe in the past year: Securus Technologies, a billion-dollar prison ...

Michigan: $8 Million Settlement after Prisoner’s Baby Born with Brain Damage

Michigan: $8 Million Settlement after Prisoner’s Baby Born with Brain Damage

by Shepherd Litsey

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, plaintiff Chelsie Barker (identified as C.B. in the pleadings), a minor, through her conservator, Howard T. Linden, settled a civil rights lawsuit against ...

Minnesota DOC Sued Over Failure to Provide New Hepatitis C Treatment Protocol

Minnesota DOC Sued Over Failure to Provide New Hepatitis C Treatment Protocol

by Greg Dober

On May 1, 2015, two prisoners at MCF-Stillwater filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Centurion Managed Care (a division of Centene Corporation), DOC Commissioner Tom Roy and several physicians. The ...

UK Prison Cook Awarded $160,000 for Back Injury

UK Prison Cook Awarded $160,000 for Back Injury

by Derek Gilna

HM Swansea Prison catering manager Susan Cox, 46, was awarded over £100,000 (about $160,000) following an incident in which a sack of rice accidentally fell on her back. A court in Swansea, Wales had initially rejected ...

$750,000 Settlement in New Mexico “Controlled Seating” Lawsuit

On September 2013, a proposed settlement was filed in a lawsuit over forcibly seating prisoners “nuts-to-butts” for hours at a time at a New Mexico state prison – a practice also known as “controlled seating.” The settlement provides $750,000 to be divided among the class members after incentive ...

West Virginia City Settles Suit over Jail Prisoner’s Death for $460,000

West Virginia City Settles Suit over Jail Prisoner’s Death for $460,000

by Matt Clarke

On June 10, 2013, following a $460,000 settlement, a West Virginia federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the estate of a prisoner who died at the Bluefield City Jail.

According to the complaint ...

Alabama Courts Must Review Substance of Claim Despite Pleading’s Title

Alabama Courts Must Review Substance of Claim Despite Pleading’s Title

by David Reutter

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held on August 1, 2014 that a trial court should treat pleadings according to their substance rather than their captions. Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the dismissal of a criminal action ...

Second Circuit Unseals Jail Conditions Settlement Compliance Reports; Public Has First Amendment Right of Access

Second Circuit Unseals Jail Conditions Settlement Compliance Reports; Public Has First Amendment Right of Access

by Mark Wilson

On August 18, 2014, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held “that the public’s fundamental right of access to judicial documents ... was wrongly denied” when a federal district court sealed settlement compliance ...

$3,000 Jury Award to Arizona Prisoner Denied Prostate Care

$3,000 Jury Award to Arizona Prisoner Denied Prostate Care

by David M. Reutter

An Arizona federal jury awarded $3,000 to a prisoner in a case involving the delay or denial of medical care. Post-trial, the district court awarded $3,908.25 in attorney fees and costs, but found ...

Nebraska Returns Ex-Offenders to Prison after Sentence Miscalculation Scandal

Nebraska Returns Ex-Offenders to Prison after Sentence Miscalculation Scandal

by Matt Clarke

Nebraska authorities have re-incarcerated nearly two dozen state prisoners who were released early because officials miscalculated their release dates. The state decided not to pursue hundreds of other offenders who had also been released prematurely.

Two Nebraska Department ...

Supreme Court Voids ACCA’s Residual Clause in Landmark Decision

Supreme Court Voids ACCA’s Residual Clause in Landmark Decision

by Derek Gilna

In a landmark decision authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, on June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1 ...

San Diego Deputies Faulted for Jail Death

San Diego Deputies Faulted for Jail Death

by Christopher Zoukis

A civilian review board found that sheriff’s deputies lied and failed to take steps that could have saved a prisoner who swallowed meth before being booked into a San Diego Jail.

A sheriff’s official said jail staff thought Bernard Victorianne ...

Peer-Review Reports Must be Disclosed in Philadelphia Jail Conditions Suit

Peer-Review Reports Must be Disclosed in Philadelphia Jail Conditions Suit

by David Reutter

A Pennsylvania federal district court held on November 4, 2014 that medical care contractor Corizon Health has to produce mortality and sentinel event reviews in a class-action suit filed by prisoners in the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS ...

Pell Grants for Prisoners: New Bill Restores Hope of Reinstating College Programs

Pell Grants for Prisoners: New Bill Restores Hope of Reinstating College Programs

by Christopher Zoukis

It’s been over 20 years since Jon Marc Taylor, Ph.D., a Missouri state prisoner and author of the Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada, published an op-ed in ...

Two Names Added to Monument Memorializing Slain Prosecutors

Two Names Added to Monument Memorializing Slain Prosecutors

by Matt Clarke

Two more names will be added to the National Prosecutor Memorial in Columbia, South Carolina to mark the deaths of two Texas prosecutors, murdered within months of each other by a former Justice of the Peace who sought vengeance ...

North Carolina Prisoner, Victim of Sexual Assault, Awarded One Dollar in Damages

North Carolina Prisoner, Victim of Sexual Assault, Awarded One Dollar in Damages

Shane Smith was incarcerated at North Carolina’s Craggy Correctional Center (CCC) when he was sexually assaulted multiple times by a prison supervisor. Even though he presented evidence of the assaults, even though he had requested a transfer and ...

UN Commission Approves Mandela Rules on Treatment of Prisoners

UN Commission Approves Mandela Rules on Treatment of Prisoners

by David Fathi [1]

May 22, 2015 was a milestone in the global movement for prisoners’ rights. On that day, the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, meeting in Vienna, unanimously approved the Mandela Rules on the treatment of prisoners ...

Jury Awards $12,000 to Connecticut Prisoner for Unsanitary Mattress

Jury Awards $12,000 to Connecticut Prisoner for Unsanitary Mattress

by David M. Reutter

A Connecticut federal jury awarded $12,000 in damages to a prisoner who was forced to sleep on an unhygienic mattress that was missing much of its stuffing.

The case involved a civil rights action alleging ...

Virginia Must Improve Prison Medical Care Under Proposed Class-action Settlement

Virginia Must Improve Prison Medical Care Under Proposed Class-action Settlement

by David Reutter

The Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) has agreed to let a court-appointed monitor examine medical policies at all state prisons, and to allow a third-party physician to oversee health care at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women ...

$1.15 Million for Florida Pretrial Detainee’s Death

$1.15 Million for Florida Pretrial Detainee’s Death

by David M. Reutter

A Florida federal jury awarded $975,000 to the estate of a woman who was denied medical and mental health treatment while held at the Pinellas County Jail (PCJ), and the parties later settled the case for $1 ...

Report Finds Two-Thirds of Private Prison Contracts Include “Lockup Quotas”

Report Finds Two-Thirds of Private Prison Contracts Include “Lockup Quotas”

by Joe Watson

An analysis of private prison contracts from across the United States reveals that state and local governments commonly enter into agreements that require them to keep prisons filled or pay for unused, empty beds.

In the Public ...

Tenth Circuit: Ignoring Prisoner’s Severe Pain Precludes Qualified Immunity

Tenth Circuit: Ignoring Prisoner’s Severe Pain Precludes Qualified Immunity

by Mark Wilson

On August 12, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prison nurse who refused to examine a prisoner suffering from severe abdominal pain was not entitled to qualified immunity.

At about 8:35 p.m ...

Supreme Court Rules Qualified Immunity Shields Prison Officials from Suicide Claim

Supreme Court Rules Qualified Immunity Shields Prison Officials from Suicide Claim

by Derek Gilna

In what can only be considered a step backward for holding corrections officials accountable for the preventable suicide of prisoners in their custody, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the doctrine of qualified immunity ...

Who Owns Private Prison Stock?

Who Owns Private Prison Stock?

by Alex Friedmann

The nation’s two largest for-profit prison companies, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Florida-based GEO Group (GEO), are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Other private prison firms, including Management & Training Corporation (MTC), Community Education Centers (CEC), LaSalle ...

Controversy Surrounds Shackling of Dying and Comatose Prisoners in UK

Controversy Surrounds Shackling of Dying and Comatose Prisoners in UK

by Matt Clarke

Authorities at Great Britain’s HM Prison Frankland pledged to change the way ill and dying prisoners are shackled in the aftermath of a scathing report by the UK’s prison ombudsman concerning a prisoner who died while chained ...

Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Short Beard for Muslim Prisoner

Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Short Beard for Muslim Prisoner

by Derek Gilna

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found a restriction imposed on a Muslim prisoner who wanted to grow a short beard for religious reasons violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ...

Alaska High Court Reaffirms Negligence Standard to Protect Prisoners from Harm

Alaska High Court Reaffirms Negligence Standard to Protect Prisoners from Harm

by David Reutter

The Alaska Supreme Court, in a negligence suit filed by a former prisoner, reaffirmed its standard that a jailer has a duty to protect prisoners from all reasonably foreseeable harm. As to the merits of the ...

Ninth Circuit Finds that ICE Detention After Indictment Counts Against Sentence

Ninth Circuit Finds that ICE Detention After Indictment Counts Against Sentence

by Derek Gilna

Petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 are used to challenge federal sentencing calculations, and Daniel Alejandro Zavala did just that, arguing that he was entitled to credit for the time he spent in Immigration ...

Failure to State Rationale in Denying Appointment of Counsel was Abuse of Discretion

Failure to State Rationale in Denying Appointment of Counsel was Abuse of Discretion

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held in July 2014 that the denial of a prisoner’s motions for appointment of counsel in a civil rights action was an abuse of discretion. It also stated the district court ...

Vermont: Retaliatory Furlough Denial Reviewable on Rule 75 Motion

Vermont: Retaliatory Furlough Denial Reviewable on Rule 75 Motion

by Mark Wilson

The Vermont Supreme Court has reversed a lower court’s denial of a prisoner’s motion to reopen his post-conviction relief case alleging the retaliatory denial of a furlough.

Before 2001, furlough eligibility for Vermont prisoners was not contingent on ...

Three Strikes Litigant Required to Show Ongoing “Imminent Danger” to Proceed on Appeal

Three Strikes Litigant Required to Show Ongoing “Imminent Danger” to Proceed on Appeal

by Lonnie Burton

On January 7, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a pro se prisoner litigant who had accumulated three strikes under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) for filing frivolous lawsuits ...

Nebraska Law Unconstitutionally Forfeits Good Time for Refusal to Submit DNA Sample

Nebraska Law Unconstitutionally Forfeits Good Time for Refusal to Submit DNA Sample

by David M. Reutter

The Nebraska Supreme Court has held that a retroactive state law which requires prisoners to submit DNA samples violates the Ex Post Facto Clause for increasing “the quantum of punishment” when a prisoner refuses ...

Does Political Spending by Private Prison Firms in Oklahoma Influence Prison Reform?

Does Political Spending by Private Prison Firms in Oklahoma Influence Prison Reform?

by Joe Watson

Three private prison corporations, including the nation’s two largest, have contributed more than a combined $400,000 to political candidates in Oklahoma since 2004, prompting at least one prominent state legislator to question the correlation ...

Ninth Circuit Finds Graham v. Florida Retroactive; 254-Year Sentence Unconstitutional

Ninth Circuit Finds Graham v. Florida Retroactive; 254-Year Sentence Unconstitutional

by Mark Wilson

On August 7, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held the Supreme Court’s categorical ban on life without parole (LWOP) sentences for non-homicide juvenile offenders applied retroactively on collateral review.

Roosevelt Brian Moore sexually assaulted four ...

Notorious Psych Ward at Miami-Dade Jail Finally Shuttered

Notorious Psych Ward at Miami-Dade Jail Finally Shuttered

by David Reutter

In a historic culmination to decades of “horrific” living conditions and a pattern of constitutional violations, the Miami-Dade County Jail in Florida has finally closed the “Forgotten Floor” – the notorious ninth floor at the facility that was used ...

Kentucky Jail Prisoners Make Mattresses

Kentucky Jail Prisoners Make Mattresses

by David Reutter

The Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC) in Western Kentucky has a program that uses prisoners to manufacture mattresses. The program is expected to save the 700-bed facility $10,000 a year and provide a service to the local community.

Previously, DCDC purchased ...

Tennessee Prisoners Suing Private Prisons Not Required to File in Local Venue

Tennessee Prisoners Suing Private Prisons Not Required to File in Local Venue

by David Reutter

The Tennessee Supreme Court has held that a state statute requiring a local venue for lawsuits filed by indigent prisoners does not apply to actions that accrued while a prisoner “was housed in a correctional ...

Investigation Forces Arizona Clemency Board Chairman to Resign

Investigation Forces Arizona Clemency Board Chairman to Resign

by Joe Watson

A Republican political consultant who was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer to head Arizona’s Board of Executive Clemency (Board) said he was “forced out” of the position after a discrimination complaint filed against him resulted in a state investigation ...

Prisoners Released When Jails Can’t Feed Them

Prisoners Released When Jails Can’t Feed Them

by Mark Wilson

"We didn’t have food for them and we don’t want to violate anyone’s rights when they are here,” said Wellston, Missouri Police Chief G. Thomas Walker, explaining why he released all of the prisoners from the city jail. “To ...

Final Class-Action Settlement Pending in “Kids for Cash” Scandal

Final Class-Action Settlement Pending in “Kids for Cash” Scandal

A class-action suit is on the verge of being settled by the co-owner of two for-profit juvenile detention facilities in Pennsylvania, who was sued after a pair of state court judges accepted bribes to improperly funnel juvenile offenders into the facilities ...

CA: Persons on Community Supervision Eligible to Seek Transfer to Another State

CA: Persons on Community Supervision Eligible to Seek Transfer to Another State

by Lonnie Burton

Reversing a lower court’s ruling to the contrary, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth District of California held on October 22, 2014 that a defendant released into the community as part of a prison ...

News in Brief

News in Brief

Alabama: Alabama’s grossly overcrowded prison system was already facing lawsuits over poor medical treatment for prisoners when Pam Barrett of the Alabama Department of Public Health announced on August 13, 2014 that nine active cases of tuberculosis had been diagnosed in state prisoners. That number doesn’t sound ...