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Prison Legal News: October, 2016

Issue PDF
Volume 27, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. Apples-to-Fish: Public and Private Prison Cost Comparisons (p 1)
  2. U.S. Department of Justice Finds Fault with Privatized Federal Prisons (p 22)
  3. Alabama Public Service Commission Enacts Prison, Jail Phone Reforms (p 24)
  4. From the Editor (p 26)
  5. Oregon Federal Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Release Debit Card Suit (p 28)
  6. Supreme Court: Sixth Amendment Prevents Pretrial Seizure of Untainted Assets (p 28)
  7. GEO Group Still Invests in Florida Politics (p 29)
  8. Wisconsin Prison Enters into Consent Decree to Correct Tainted Water (p 30)
  9. New Orleans Sheriff Ends Oversight of Electronic Monitoring Program (p 30)
  10. Massachusetts’ Anti-shackling Law Limits Restraints on Pregnant Prisoners but Problems Persist (p 32)
  11. Oregon Habeas Cognizable to Challenge Confinement in Florida and Colorado under Interstate Compact (p 34)
  12. Illinois: Exonerated Prisoner Calls $80,000 Award a Travesty, Retrial Ordered (p 36)
  13. Wisconsin: Wrongfully Convicted Former Prisoner Receives $6.5 Million (p 38)
  14. Ninth Circuit: Congress Can Criminalize Federal Sex Crimes Committed in State Facilities (p 38)
  15. Private Medical Contractors in Kentucky Not Entitled to Qualified Immunity (p 39)
  16. Drastic Sentence Reduction for Mentally Ill Former Tamms Prisoner (p 40)
  17. Federal Civil Procedure Rule 15 is Substantive, Not Chronological in Application (p 40)
  18. Los Angeles County Settles Jail Suicide Suit for $1.6 Million (p 41)
  19. Exonerated Prisoner Appointed to Connecticut’s Parole Board (p 42)
  20. Third Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Restraint Chair Case (p 42)
  21. South Carolina Sheriff Fires Whistleblower Instead of Jailer Who Assaulted Prisoner (p 44)
  22. Judge Orders End to Recording of Attorney-Client Meetings at CCA’s Leavenworth Detention Center (p 44)
  23. Class-action Suit Filed Against GEO Group for Violation of Job Applicants’ Rights (p 45)
  24. Second Chance Pell Pilot Program Will Bring College to 12,000 Prisoners (p 45)
  25. Seventh Circuit: Jailhouse Lawyer’s Help No Reason to Deny Appointment of Counsel (p 46)
  26. Federal Judge Clears Way for Civil Rights Suit in Oklahoma Jail Death (p 46)
  27. Eleventh Circuit Upholds Alabama DOC Short Hair Policy Following Remand from Supreme Court (p 47)
  28. Corporations, Colleges and Cities Dump Private Prison Stock (p 48)
  29. First Unconditional Release from Minnesota’s Sex Offender Program (p 49)
  30. Federal Court Finally Ends Oversight at Fulton County Jail (p 49)
  31. Presidential Candidates’ Current and Past Positions on Criminal Justice Issues (p 50)
  32. There is Talk of Prison Reform, but for the 150,000 People in Prison for Life, There is No Reform on the Horizon (p 54)
  33. Conservatives Try to Co-opt Criminal Justice Reform (p 56)
  34. Chicago Police Detective Accused of Brutality Used Similar Techniques at Guantanamo (p 57)
  35. U.S. Office of Special Counsel Assists BOP Whistleblowers (p 58)
  36. Sixth Circuit Vacates Denial of Qualified Immunity; Each Defendant’s Conduct Must be Individually Evaluated (p 58)
  37. Oregon Post-conviction Judgment Violates State Law (p 59)
  38. Book Review: The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (2nd Edition) (p 60)
  39. Studies Suggest Parental Incarceration is More Damaging to Children than Death of a Parent (p 60)
  40. New York Prisoner Exonerated after Serving 25 Years (p 61)
  41. DOJ Gives $179.7 Million to State Law Enforcement in FY 2016 Grant Funding (p 61)
  42. CCA Prison Not Reporting Valley Fever Cases among Hawaii Prisoners (p 62)
  43. Merger of Prisoner Transport Companies Delayed after Objections Filed (p 62)
  44. News in Brief (p 63)

Apples-to-Fish: Public and Private Prison Cost Comparisons

by Alex Friedmann*

It sounds like such a simple question: do private prisons save money? The answer, however, is dependent on a number of factors – including how “saving money” is defined.

Consider that in 2013, the nation’s largest for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made $300.8 ...

U.S. Department of Justice Finds Fault with Privatized Federal Prisons

Privately-operated federal prisons, also known as contract prisons, have more violence, use-of-force incidents and contraband seizures than facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), among other findings in an August 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The 86-page report ...

Alabama Public Service Commission Enacts Prison, Jail Phone Reforms

Over the past several years, the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued a series of orders that revise an October 2013 order related to rule changes for Inmate Calling Services (ICS). The PSC issued its most recent directive in February 2016, adopting rate caps set by the Federal Communications ...

From the Editor

PLN has opposed the private prison industry since we began publishing in 1990; back then the industry was in its infancy, having started in 1983 in its modern incarnation. Besides the political and moral implications of farming out correctional functions to for-profit corporations, there has been the well-documented reality that ...

Oregon Federal Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Release Debit Card Suit

On August 25, 2016, a federal district court in Oregon denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former prisoner Danica Love Brown, who had filed a class-action complaint naming Stored Value Cards, Inc. d/b/a Numi Financial and Central National Bank and Trust Company as defendants.

Brown’s ...

Supreme Court: Sixth Amendment Prevents Pretrial Seizure of Untainted Assets

On March 30, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had permitted the federal government’s pretrial seizure of a criminal defendant’s untainted assets. Sila Luis, charged with health care fraud, possessed approximately $2 million in assets that were unconnected to her alleged crime, and wanted ...

GEO Group Still Invests in Florida Politics

Prison Legal News has long reported on the financial partnership between for-profit prison firm GEO Group and Florida politicians – a “legacy of corruption,” as detailed in PLN’s March 2011 cover story. GEO’s Political Action Committee (PAC) in Florida, where the company is headquartered, was disbanded in 2011 after ...

Wisconsin Prison Enters into Consent Decree to Correct Tainted Water

In 2014, Wisconsin’s Fox Lake Correctional Institution (Fox Lake) executed a consent decree with the state Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) in response to complaints about high levels of copper and lead in the prison’s water supply.

WDNR had first given Fox Lake a Notice of Noncompliance in December 2008 ...

New Orleans Sheriff Ends Oversight of Electronic Monitoring Program

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office’s (OPSO) administration of New Orleans’ Electronic Monitoring Program (EMP) was an almost “total failure,” according to the city’s Inspector General, Ed Quatrevaux, who found deficiencies in the program compromised public safety and wasted money.

OPSO Sheriff Marlin Gusman took control of the EMP in ...

Massachusetts’ Anti-shackling Law Limits Restraints on Pregnant Prisoners but Problems Persist

by Joe Watson and Matt Clarke

Being pregnant is stressful – just ask any woman who has been pregnant. Incarceration adds to that stress and removes support systems, so prisoners face problems during their pregnancy, birthing and postpartum recovery that are difficult for outsiders to imagine.

The situation can be ...

Oregon Habeas Cognizable to Challenge Confinement in Florida and Colorado under Interstate Compact

In a pair of rulings, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that prisoners incarcerated in other states under the Interstate Corrections Compact (ICC) may challenge the conditions of their confinement in habeas corpus actions against Oregon prison officials.

In 1979, the Oregon legislature voted to codify the ICC under state ...

Illinois: Exonerated Prisoner Calls $80,000 Award a Travesty, Retrial Ordered

Nathson E. Fields spent 18 years in prison due to a conveniently “lost” file that would have cleared him. Fields was a member of the El Rukn street gang when he was convicted of a double homicide in 1986. After a dozen years on death row and another six in ...

Wisconsin: Wrongfully Convicted Former Prisoner Receives $6.5 Million

Chaunte D. Ott received a $6.5 million settlement from the City of Milwaukee for spending over 12 years in prison on a wrongful murder conviction, after being cleared by DNA evidence that connected the crime to a serial killer.

Ott, now 42, was convicted of the August 1995 murder ...

Ninth Circuit: Congress Can Criminalize Federal Sex Crimes Committed in State Facilities

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held in August 2015 that Congress is authorized to criminalize sexual assaults in facilities where federal prisoners are held by agreement with state and local governments.

On March 5, 2009, Sabil Mumin Mujahid drove to Anchorage, Alaska’s Nesbett Courthouse for a bail hearing on ...

Private Medical Contractors in Kentucky Not Entitled to Qualified Immunity

The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that a trial court improperly granted summary judgment to the defendants in a civil action alleging a prisoner received negligent medical care at the Hardin County Detention Center (HCDC).

HCDC contracts with Southern Health Partners, Inc. (SHP), a for-profit company, to provide medical care ...

Drastic Sentence Reduction for Mentally Ill Former Tamms Prisoner

When Anthony Gay, then-19 years old, was sentenced by an Illinois court for a 1993 probation violation and strong arm robbery that netted a hat and a dollar bill, he was sent to prison for 7 years. But his actions while incarcerated, driven by his mental illness, resulted in years ...

Federal Civil Procedure Rule 15 is Substantive, Not Chronological in Application

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held on November 23, 2015 that Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 operates substantively, not chronologically, allowing a plaintiff to amend in whatever order he or she deems fit, provided there is compliance with the requirements of the rule.

Before the court was the appeal ...

Los Angeles County Settles Jail Suicide Suit for $1.6 Million

Almost two years after a prisoner committed suicide at the Los Angeles County Jail, the county settled a lawsuit brought by his parents for $1.6 million. [See: PLN, March 2016, p.1].

Austin Losorelli hung himself at the jail despite the fact that both he and his father, Los ...

Exonerated Prisoner Appointed to Connecticut’s Parole Board

In an unusual turn of events, a former prisoner was appointed to Connecticut’s Parole Board. While ex-prisoners are typically not considered as parole board members, state officials decided that Kenneth F. Ireland was a qualified candidate.

In 1989, when he was 18 years old, Ireland was convicted of raping and ...

Third Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Restraint Chair Case

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a lower court did not follow controlling Supreme Court precedent when granting summary judgment to prison officials on a mentally ill prisoner’s restraint chair-related claim.

Since childhood, Pennsylvania prisoner Leonard G. Young, Jr. has suffered from severe bipolar and schizoaffective disorders. He ...

South Carolina Sheriff Fires Whistleblower Instead of Jailer Who Assaulted Prisoner

After a guard at a South Carolina jail repeatedly struck a prisoner who was being strapped into a restraint chair, York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant took decisive action. He fired the jailer who told a television station and state investigators about a video recording of the incident. Nothing was done ...

Judge Orders End to Recording of Attorney-Client Meetings at CCA’s Leavenworth Detention Center

The Kansas Federal Public Defenders’ Office has challenged a scheme whereby officials at a detention center in Leavenworth, Kansas operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) secretly video-recorded confidential attorney-client meetings. As a result, on August 10, 2016 a Kansas federal district court ordered the practice to “cease and desist” ...

Class-action Suit Filed Against GEO Group for Violation of Job Applicants’ Rights

GEO Group and Accurate Background, Inc. have been sued in federal court in New York for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducting criminal background checks on GEO job applicants. The suit, filed on October 30, 2015, seeks class-action status.

The FCRA requires employers taking an “adverse action” ...

Second Chance Pell Pilot Program Will Bring College to 12,000 Prisoners

On June 24, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced that 67 colleges and universities had been selected to offer courses to imprisoned students at over 100 federal and state prisons through the DOE’s recently-implemented Second Chance Pell Pilot Program.

The majority of the courses will be provided ...

Seventh Circuit: Jailhouse Lawyer’s Help No Reason to Deny Appointment of Counsel

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court ruling that denied appointment of counsel to a prisoner because he received legal help from another prisoner.

Ladell Henderson had a fifth grade education and had been diagnosed with a low IQ when he filed suit against ...

Federal Judge Clears Way for Civil Rights Suit in Oklahoma Jail Death

Medical Cell #1 became a “burial crypt” inside the David L. Moss Detention Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma when Elliot Williams, a mentally-ill 37-year-old veteran, lay paralyzed with a broken neck on the concrete floor, naked, cold and hungry, as he pleaded for medical attention for five days in October 2011 ...

Eleventh Circuit Upholds Alabama DOC Short Hair Policy Following Remand from Supreme Court

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) does not overcome the Alabama Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) “short hair policy” for prisoners, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held.

The ruling was issued on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court in light of its opinion in Holt v ...

Corporations, Colleges and Cities Dump Private Prison Stock

Opponents of mass incarceration have notched several small but significant victories by successfully pressuring backers of the private prison industry to divest almost $60 million from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies in the United States. Both firms trade on the ...

First Unconditional Release from Minnesota’s Sex Offender Program

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank ruled in June 2015 that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) was unconstitutional for indefinitely confining offenders who had completed their prison terms. In August 2016, a state Supreme Court panel ordered sex offender Eric Terhaar’s release after six years in the MSOP ...

Federal Court Finally Ends Oversight at Fulton County Jail

Three years ago, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) moved to dismiss its federal contempt of court proceeding that cited staff shortages, broken locks and an overcrowding problem that resulted in prisoners sleeping on the floor at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia. Since that October 2013 filing ...

Presidential Candidates’ Current and Past Positions on Criminal Justice Issues

A great deal of ink is being spilled on the upcoming presidential election in November, but only a small amount of media coverage has been devoted to the candidates’ positions on criminal justice-related issues. Thus, in the interest of providing PLN readers with information they can use to make informed ...

There is Talk of Prison Reform, but for the 150,000 People in Prison for Life, There is No Reform on the Horizon

Life and life without parole sentencing, like mass incarceration itself, needs a reexamination.

by Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Almost 160,000 prisoners are currently serving life sentences in the United States; nearly 50,000 incarcerated people are serving terms of life without parole. While mass incarceration has become a frequent national talking ...

Conservatives Try to Co-opt Criminal Justice Reform

After decades of driving prison expansion by espousing tough-on-crime sentencing laws, advocating for policies to lock up criminals and throw away the key, and exploiting the public’s fear of crime, conservative lawmakers have finally discovered criminal justice reform. Like European explorers being met on the beach by throngs of Native ...

Chicago Police Detective Accused of Brutality Used Similar Techniques at Guantanamo

In an ironic twist of fate, a former Chicago police detective accused of acts of brutality against suspects in police custody has been cited for using similar tactics at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to the London-based Guardian newspaper, former detective Richard Zuley stands accused ...

U.S. Office of Special Counsel Assists BOP Whistleblowers

The federal Bureau of Prisons’ culture of retaliation against whistleblowers appears to be alive and well, at least in the case of Linda Thomas, a BOP employee who was punished for revealing the unearned compensation of her superior. When Thomas reported that malfeasance to the Department of Justice’s Office of ...

Sixth Circuit Vacates Denial of Qualified Immunity; Each Defendant’s Conduct Must be Individually Evaluated

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated a district court’s denial of qualified immunity because an individualized inquiry into the defendants’ role during an illegal body cavity search was not conducted.

Felix Charles Booker was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by Oak Ridge, Tennessee police officer Daniel ...

Oregon Post-conviction Judgment Violates State Law

Last year the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s judgment denying a prisoner’s collateral appeal, because the judgment violated state law.

Following the direct appeal of a conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court, Oregon prisoners may file a collateral appeal. Generally, claims ...

Book Review: The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (2nd Edition)

The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (2nd Edition), by Brandon Sample and Alissa Hull (PLN Publishing, 2016). 275 pages, $49.95 (softcover)

Book review by Christopher Zoukis

The much-anticipated second edition of The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, by Brandon Sample and Alissa Hull, is the fifth book ...

Studies Suggest Parental Incarceration is More Damaging to Children than Death of a Parent

A study published in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found much higher rates of significant health and behavioral problems among children of incarcerated parents as opposed to children with similar demographic, socioeconomic and familial characteristics. The research, conducted by Prof. Kristin Turney at ...

New York Prisoner Exonerated after Serving 25 Years

On March 10, 2016, Andre Hatchett, 49, became the 19th person exonerated since Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson strengthened a conviction review unit when he took office in 2014.

Hatchett had been convicted of second degree murder for the 1991 death of Neda Mae Carter. His conviction was based on ...

DOJ Gives $179.7 Million to State Law Enforcement in FY 2016 Grant Funding

When the Consolidated Appropriations Act was enacted by Congress in 2005, the U.S. economy was growing, tax collections were rising and law enforcement’s gravy train of funding was gaining momentum. Although more recently the economy has finally started to recover from the Great Recession, prisoner populations have dropped and ...

CCA Prison Not Reporting Valley Fever Cases among Hawaii Prisoners

Coccidioidomycosis is the medical term for valley fever, an airborne fungal disease that led to more than 5,600 reported infections in Arizona in 2014; the disease is also prevalent in some areas of California. PLN has previously reported on valley fever cases among Hawaii prisoners housed at the privately-operated ...

Merger of Prisoner Transport Companies Delayed after Objections Filed

Prisoner Transportation Services, also known as PTS of America, LLC, bills itself as the “largest prisoner extradition company and one of the largest national transporters of detainees” in the United States.

The firm, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, was recently advised by the Surface Transportation Board (STB), a federal regulatory agency ...

News in Brief

Arizona: The U.S. Department of Justice declared April 24 to 30, 2016 to be the inaugural National Reentry Week in an effort to recognize the plight of the more than 600,000 prisoners who are released annually from federal and state prisons, plus 11.4 million others who cycle ...