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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: December, 2016

Issue PDF
Volume 27, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. “This Man Will Almost Certainly Die” (p 1)
  2. Missouri County Settles Suit Over Jail Prisoner’s Suicide for $260,000 (p 13)
  3. From the Editor (p 14)
  4. Heck Satisfied if Ruling Fails to Address Issues but Reverses Conviction (p 15)
  5. Reforms at New Orleans Jail Slow to Materialize; Death Reporting Problematic (p 16)
  6. Michigan Prison Guards Fired Following Suicide Bet (p 19)
  7. Private Prison in Texas Closes after Riot Renders it Uninhabitable (p 20)
  8. Widespread Failures at Crime Labs Continue to Plague Criminal Justice System (p 22)
  9. Potential Class-action Suit over Domestic Violence “Victim Fees” in Georgia (p 25)
  10. Ninth Circuit Adopts Test to Excuse Exhaustion of Administration Remedies for Retaliatory Threats (p 26)
  11. Connecticut Prisoners File Suit Over Exposure to Radon Gas (p 26)
  12. Prison Rodeos: A Bunch of Bull? (p 28)
  13. New Mexico County Officials Settle Jail Prisoner’s Suit for $750,000 (p 28)
  14. Ninth Circuit Declines to Enforce Procedural Bar When Prison Officials Waive Rule (p 30)
  15. More Suicides, Overdoses and Murders in California Prisons, According to Death Review Report (p 30)
  16. $500,000 in Settlements after Utah Prisoner Dies when Medical Technician Doesn’t Show up for Work (p 32)
  17. Fifth Circuit Holds Louisiana Prisoner May Sue Over Failure to Credit Good Time (p 32)
  18. Missouri Governor Doesn’t Have to Serve as Public Defender (p 33)
  19. Attica Prison Guards Who Viciously Beat Prisoner Avoid Jail Time but Lose Jobs (p 34)
  20. California Prison Employees Reap Staggering Overtime Payments (p 35)
  21. Prominent Texas Capital Defense Attorney Suspended for a Year (p 36)
  22. If the Risk is Low, Let Them Go (p 38)
  23. Missouri: Habeas Corpus Granted to Prisoner Denied Jail Credit (p 41)
  24. Phoenix Fire Investigators and Insurance Company Implicated in Wrongful Prosecutions (p 42)
  25. Father of Four Dies in Privately-operated Texas Jail; Civil Suit Expected (p 43)
  26. Prison Survival Guides Find Audience Beyond Soon-to-be Prisoners (p 44)
  27. Merits Ruling on Procedurally Flawed Grievance Satisfies PLRA (p 44)
  28. New Study Documents Lower Pre-arrest Incomes for Prisoners (p 46)
  29. Are French Prisons Radicalizing Muslim Prisoners? (p 46)
  30. Corizon, CCA Settle Lawsuit Over Solitary Confinement of Elderly Woman (p 48)
  31. Tenth Circuit Rules on $3.38 Million Verdict in CCA Prison Sexual Abuse Case (p 48)
  32. Corizon Faces Suit for Failing to Administer Tube Feedings to Pennsylvania Prisoner (p 49)
  33. Former Warden, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace Charged in Texas Corruption Scandal (p 50)
  34. Tennessee District Attorney Ends Sterilization in Plea Bargains; Prosecutor Fired (p 50)
  35. Another Appeal in New York Post-Release Supervision Case (p 50)
  36. Ferguson, Missouri Under Fire for Revenue-based Criminal Justice System (p 54)
  37. Wardens “Retire” from Two California Women’s Prisons (p 55)
  38. Corrections Officials Stealing Prisoners’ Identities a Growing Problem (p 56)
  39. Photo of Prisoner Beaten by Georgia Gang Members Posted Online (p 58)
  40. Tennessee Sheriff’s Willful Denial of Public Records Merits PLN Attorney Fee Award (p 58)
  41. Private Jail Contractor’s Insurance Excludes Coverage of Detainee’s Death (p 60)
  42. South African Prison Evacuated Due to Squalor; Two Prisoners Die from Rat-Borne Disease (p 60)
  43. Pennsylvania: DA Apologizes for Undisclosed Gifts (p 61)
  44. News in Brief (p 63)

“This Man Will Almost Certainly Die”

Dozens of men have died in disturbing circumstances in privatized, immigrant-only prisons.
The Bureau of Prisons itself says there’s a problem. And yet the privatization scheme continues.

by Seth Freed Wessler, The Nation

Where Claudio Fagardo-Saucedo grew up, on the colonial streets of the Mexican city of Durango, migrating to ...

Missouri County Settles Suit Over Jail Prisoner’s Suicide for $260,000

Last year, Lincoln County, Missouri agreed to pay $260,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a jail prisoner who committed suicide in 2011.

On August 21, 2011, police from the City of Troy responded to a domestic disturbance call at the home of Terry L. Marler ...

From the Editor

The 2016 elections are only a few weeks old and many people seem surprised that Donald Trump was elected president. What this means for prisoners at this point is a bit early to say, more so when juxtaposed against what might have happened had Hillary Clinton been elected.

In any ...

Heck Satisfied if Ruling Fails to Address Issues but Reverses Conviction

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held an order vacating a sentence imposed by a lower court constitutes a favorable termination of proceedings under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) [PLN, Sept. 1994, p.12], despite the fact that the order failed to expressly address the specific legal ...

Reforms at New Orleans Jail Slow to Materialize; Death Reporting Problematic

Federal monitors overseeing implementation of a consent decree concerning conditions at the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) in New Orleans said they were “very concerned” about the lack of progress in implementing the agreement’s provisions. Forty-nine prisoners died at OPP between April 2006 and November 2016, including several deaths that were ...

Michigan Prison Guards Fired Following Suicide Bet

Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) guards Dianna Callahan and Kory Moore were suspended and subsequently fired on March 10, 2016 following the suicide of prisoner Janika Nichole Edmond, 25, at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in November 2015.

David S. Steingold, an attorney who represents Edmond’s family, is investigating ...

Private Prison in Texas Closes after Riot Renders it Uninhabitable

On February 20, 2015, an uprising occurred at the Willacy County Correctional Center (WCCC), a private prison located in Raymondville, Texas that was operated by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation (MTC). The facility primarily housed criminal immigrant prisoners for the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The riot lasted two days ...

Widespread Failures at Crime Labs Continue to Plague Criminal Justice System

Crime labs nationwide continue to face seemingly intractable problems – particularly in terms of unreliable forensic evidence testing and being influenced by law enforcement and prosecutorial bias. Despite efforts at reform, and efforts to implement technological advances, the field of criminal forensic science seems mired in incompetence and corruption.

In ...

Potential Class-action Suit over Domestic Violence “Victim Fees” in Georgia

The Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) and Columbus, Georgia attorney Mark C. Post filed a federal lawsuit on October 5, 2016 on behalf of Cleopatra Harrison and a potential class of other women who were charged controversial “victim fees” and threatened with jail if they failed to pay ...

Ninth Circuit Adopts Test to Excuse Exhaustion of Administration Remedies for Retaliatory Threats

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals joined other circuits in holding that a prisoner’s fear of retaliation may be sufficient to render the grievance procedure unavailable. The Court adopted a test that requires both a subjective and objective basis for such claims.

The case involved the dismissal of a civil ...

Connecticut Prisoners File Suit Over Exposure to Radon Gas

This summer, prisoners at the Garner Correctional Institution (GCI) in Newtown, Connecticut responded to more than two decades of radon exposure at the facility by filing a class-action lawsuit.

“The length of time this went on didn’t have to happen,” said Lori Welch-Rubin, an attorney representing the prisoners along ...

Prison Rodeos: A Bunch of Bull?

Rarely does the public find anything entertaining about a person who has been convicted of a crime and sent to prison. That is not the case with prison rodeos, however, which draw people from all over the U.S. and even other countries.

Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas have all operated ...

New Mexico County Officials Settle Jail Prisoner’s Suit for $750,000

A man who was incarcerated in a New Mexico jail for 18 days settled his lawsuit against county commissioners and jail officials for $750,000 in December 2015.

Michael Faziani, who lives in Tennessee, moved temporarily to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico to receive treatment for his severe back pain ...

Ninth Circuit Declines to Enforce Procedural Bar When Prison Officials Waive Rule

In a January 12, 2016 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoner successfully exhausts “such administrative remedies as are available” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) “despite failing to comply with a procedural rule if prison officials ignore the procedural problem and render a decision ...

More Suicides, Overdoses and Murders in California Prisons, According to Death Review Report

While California’s prison population is down, homicides among state prisoners in 2013 were up sharply over previous years. Deaths from drug overdoses in California prisons were up, too, and the suicide rate among state prisoners was more than 40% above the national average.

That was the analysis of the federal ...

$500,000 in Settlements after Utah Prisoner Dies when Medical Technician Doesn’t Show up for Work

On April 5, 2015, Ramon C. Estrada, 62, incarcerated since 2005, died at the Utah State Prison due to an apparent heart attack related to renal failure. His death was preceded by two days of missed dialysis treatments because a medical technician had failed to show up for work. Estrada ...

Fifth Circuit Holds Louisiana Prisoner May Sue Over Failure to Credit Good Time

On January 1, 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Louisiana prisoner may sue prison officials for failing to credit him with good conduct time which would have shortened his sentence.

State prisoner Kenneth Owens was sentenced to thirty years at hard labor on January 4, 1989 ...

Missouri Governor Doesn’t Have to Serve as Public Defender

In a letter dated August 2, 2016, the director of Missouri’s Public Defender System called for Governor Jay Nixon – a licensed lawyer who was a four-term Attorney General before being elected governor – to represent an indigent defendant in Cole County. State Public Defender Michael Barrett cited MRS Section ...

Attica Prison Guards Who Viciously Beat Prisoner Avoid Jail Time but Lose Jobs

George Williams, now 33, was in his prison cell watching TV as the scene that would lead to his brutal beating unfolded below him. Williams’ ordeal began during mail call in New York’s Attica Correctional Facility. On August 9, 2011, dozens of prisoners talking loudly at the same time filled ...

California Prison Employees Reap Staggering Overtime Payments

These are flush times for California prison workers. In 2014, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employees hit a six-year high for overtime pay, receiving $575 million in overtime despite a major decline in the state’s prison population.

Over a third of CDCR guards (more than 8,000) were ...

Prominent Texas Capital Defense Attorney Suspended for a Year

David Dow has near-legendary status among death penalty attorneys in Texas. He works pro bono for clients whose lives literally depend on him; he takes their cases after they arrive on death row, often seeking to right the wrongs committed by their trial lawyers. Because the Court of Criminal Appeals ...

If the Risk is Low, Let Them Go

by Renee Feltz, The Indypendent

Back in 1978, Mujahid Farid had already decided to turn his life around when he entered the New York prison system to begin a 15-year-to-life sentence for attempted murder of an NYPD officer. 

Held in Rikers Island while his trial was pending, Farid ...

Missouri: Habeas Corpus Granted to Prisoner Denied Jail Credit

A Missouri Court of Appeals granted a prisoner’s writ of habeas corpus and ordered him “immediately released from custody.”

Before the state appellate court was the habeas petition of Andrew Kory. Kory was imprisoned on July 2, 2014 and charged with the rape of a minor. Those charges were ...

Phoenix Fire Investigators and Insurance Company Implicated in Wrongful Prosecutions

Following a decision by Arizona prosecutors not to criminally charge a pair of Phoenix Fire Department (PFD) investigators who allegedly lied under oath and trained a dog to implicate innocent people, victims have pursued justice through civil litigation. During the course of one of those lawsuits, a wrongfully-accused woman found ...

Father of Four Dies in Privately-operated Texas Jail; Civil Suit Expected

On October 5, 2016, the Huffington Post released disturbing video from inside a private prison in Texarkana, Texas that showed Michael Sabbie, a 35-year-old father of four, being violently flung to the ground by a group of six guards. Surveillance cameras recorded as Sabbie was then pepper-sprayed; he cried out ...

Prison Survival Guides Find Audience Beyond Soon-to-be Prisoners

Those people unfortunate enough to have been incarcerated are all too aware of the harsh realities of life “on the inside.” Thanks to America’s fascination with prison as a solution for all anti-social behavior, as well as draconian sentences and the avarice of the private prison industry, more and ...

Merits Ruling on Procedurally Flawed Grievance Satisfies PLRA

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that district courts may not enforce a prison’s procedural rule to find a failure to exhaust administrative remedies after prison officials declined to enforce the rule themselves. The Court also found the district court failed to undertake the proper two-step process to ...

New Study Documents Lower Pre-arrest Incomes for Prisoners

A study released last year, prepared by the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), documented what most criminal justice experts have long suspected – that offenders’ pre-arrest incomes are significantly lower than the incomes of people who are not incarcerated. Interestingly, the research did not require a new statistical study; it utilized ...

Are French Prisons Radicalizing Muslim Prisoners?

The demographics inside French prisons have become a hot-button issue in the aftermath of eleven terrorist attacks that have occurred in France since January 2015. At least six individuals involved in those attacks are believed to have been inducted into radical Islam while they were incarcerated in France or Belgium ...

Corizon, CCA Settle Lawsuit Over Solitary Confinement of Elderly Woman

Corizon Health and for-profit prison firm Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) have settled a lawsuit over the solitary confinement of a then-70-year-old prisoner following an alleged false positive drug test caused by Zantac, a heartburn medication.

Carol Lester, a former New Mexico state prisoner and a grandmother, filed a federal ...

Tenth Circuit Rules on $3.38 Million Verdict in CCA Prison Sexual Abuse Case

In February 2012, a federal jury in New Mexico awarded $3.38 million to three female prisoners who were raped by Anthony Townes, a guard at the Camino Nuevo Women’s Correctional Facility, which was operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Townes, who had previously pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting ...

Corizon Faces Suit for Failing to Administer Tube Feedings to Pennsylvania Prisoner

Christopher Wallace, 30, was arrested on February 12, 2015 on charges of robbing two banks. According to his attorney, Wallace committed the crimes in a desperate attempt to secure funds to pay for feeding tubes he required because his esophagus had been severed from his stomach in a shooting incident ...

Former Warden, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace Charged in Texas Corruption Scandal

Elberto Esquiel Bravo, 55, the former warden at the East Hidalgo County Detention Center, was arrested in January 2015 and charged with acting as an accessory after the fact in a conspiracy to bribe Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Jose Ismael “Melo” Ochoa to reduce the bond of a ...

Tennessee District Attorney Ends Sterilization in Plea Bargains; Prosecutor Fired

The District Attorney for Davidson County, Tennessee has banned the practice of seeking sterilization as part of plea bargains in criminal cases. The policy was implemented after an assistant prosecutor refused to discuss a plea unless a mentally ill defendant agreed to be sterilized.

When Glenn Funk, who had worked ...

Another Appeal in New York Post-Release Supervision Case

On October 14, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin held she would retain jurisdiction over a class-action civil rights lawsuit in order to determine the damages to be awarded former prisoners for the imposition or continuation of post-release supervision (PRS) by parole and prison officials after that practice ...

Ferguson, Missouri Under Fire for Revenue-based Criminal Justice System

Following 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri ignited by the killing of an unarmed black youth by a white police officer, some local law enforcement practices have been changed. The reforms were spurred, in large part, by a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report that found Ferguson’s police department and ...

Wardens “Retire” from Two California Women’s Prisons

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) called the July 29, 2016 “retirement” of wardens at two state women’s prisons a “coincidence.” However, Colby Lenz, a legal advocate with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, commenting on the abrupt departures of the wardens at the Central California Women’s ...

Corrections Officials Stealing Prisoners’ Identities a Growing Problem

Corrections officials tend to have a single-track mindset: guards oversee prisoners in an attempt to maintain security and order. But what if the looking glass needs to be reversed and the jailers need to be overseen instead? With identity theft perpetrated by prison and jail employees on the rise, that ...

Photo of Prisoner Beaten by Georgia Gang Members Posted Online

Prisons are designed to be closed institutions, cut off from the rest of the world. Contraband cell phones, however, are opening them up and exposing the reality of what happens behind the walls. When Demetria Harris saw a photo of her son, incarcerated at the Burruss Correctional Training Center (BCTC ...

Tennessee Sheriff’s Willful Denial of Public Records Merits PLN Attorney Fee Award

On June 24, 2015, a Tennessee appellate court found the sheriff of Marshall County had willfully denied access to public records requested by Prison Legal News, and held that PLN was entitled to attorney fees after filing suit to obtain the records.

As previously reported, in February 2014, PLN managing ...

Private Jail Contractor’s Insurance Excludes Coverage of Detainee’s Death

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an insurance company is not required to defend or indemnify a private prison contractor in the death of a pretrial detainee at a Texas jail.

Mario Garcia was confined at the Brooks County Detention Center, operated by LCS Corrections Services, Inc. (LCS ...

South African Prison Evacuated Due to Squalor; Two Prisoners Die from Rat-Borne Disease

As bad as it gets in some U.S. prisons, conditions at the notorious Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, South Africa are so abysmal that the government was forced to temporarily close the facility and evacuate prisoners after two contracted a fatal rat-borne disease.

In 2015, around 4,000 prisoners ...

Pennsylvania: DA Apologizes for Undisclosed Gifts

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams belatedly reported $160,050 in gifts from political and legal connections, raising conflict of interest concerns and prompting an August 19, 2016 apology from the prosecutor to his staff.

In an email, Williams apologized for any “distractions” created by the “adverse publicity” surrounding his unreported ...

News in Brief

Alabama: St. Clair Correctional Facility guard Deandre Price resigned just after his July 5, 2016 arrest for possession of a controlled substance and promoting contraband within a state correctional facility. Price was caught with drugs and other contraband as he reported for work; Alabama Department of Corrections officials said he ...


 

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