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Prison Legal News: July, 2016

Issue PDF
Volume 27, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Betraying the Promise of Accreditation: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (p 1)
  2. Supreme Court Sets Aside Death Penalty Conviction on Batson Grounds (p 16)
  3. From the Editor (p 16)
  4. Congressional Black Caucus PAC Urged to Cut Ties with Private Prison Lobbyists (p 17)
  5. In California Death Row’s “Adjustment Center,” Condemned Men Wait in Solitary Confinement (p 18)
  6. Court Issues New Injunction Mandating Education for NYC Prisoners at Rikers Island (p 20)
  7. Ex-captain Sentenced for Raping Subordinate at Virginia Prison (p 21)
  8. Ninth Circuit Finds Accidental Amputation of Prisoner’s Fingertip Not a § 1983 Violation (p 22)
  9. U.S. Supreme Court: Prisoners Must Exhaust “Available” Administrative Remedies (p 22)
  10. Michigan State Prisoner Receives $1,250 for Interference with Visit (p 23)
  11. UK Security Company’s Long History of Controversy, Misconduct (p 24)
  12. Coroner: California Prisoner’s Death Due to Starvation (p 25)
  13. The Taste of Exploitation: Whole Foods Stops Carrying Products Made by Prisoners (p 26)
  14. Tennessee Enacts Contrary “Ban the Box” Bills (p 27)
  15. Breaking News: 18 Deaths in Six Months at Mississippi State Penitentiary (p 28)
  16. Ohio Prison Guards Cited for Sexual Misconduct with Prisoners (p 28)
  17. Florida Drug Court Judge’s Relapse Results in Removal from Bench (p 30)
  18. Supreme Court Allows Prisoner’s § 1983 Action after Dismissal of Federal Tort Claim (p 31)
  19. A Deadly Dust is Plaguing Hawaii Prisoners in Arizona (p 32)
  20. Overcrowding at South Dakota Prison Impacts Family Visitation Program (p 35)
  21. Defendants Claim Sexual Abuse by Arkansas Judge (p 35)
  22. Cities Re-evaluating Housing Bans for Former Prisoners (p 36)
  23. The End of Prison Visitation (p 38)
  24. California Jail Ordered to Restore Attorney-Client Contact Visits (p 41)
  25. Wisconsin Prisoner’s Civil Rights Action Alleging Verbal Harassment Reinstated (p 42)
  26. Multiple Suicides at Florida Jail a Cause for Concern (p 42)
  27. Demonstrators Protest Gates Foundation’s $2.2 Million Investment in GEO Group (p 44)
  28. Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Federal Prisoner’s Bivens Suit Over Medical Care (p 45)
  29. Indiana ACLU Announces Settlement to Help Mentally Ill Prisoners (p 46)
  30. Second Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Bivens Suit Due to Continuing Violation Doctrine (p 46)
  31. Indiana Prisoner Dies after Cell Extraction (p 47)
  32. Connecticut Prisoner Wins Motion for Sanctions over Destruction of Evidence; Case Settles for $40,000 (p 48)
  33. Contaminated Sites and Prisons in New Jersey (p 48)
  34. Mississippi DOC Guard Trainee Busted for Smuggling Contraband (p 49)
  35. Dallas Conviction Integrity Unit Gains National Notoriety (p 50)
  36. DC Prisoner Awarded $70,000 for ADA Violations at CCA-run Jail (p 50)
  37. Florida Courthouse Employees Commit Crimes with “Alarming Regularity” (p 51)
  38. Illinois Sheriff Demotes One, Fires 3, Suspends 10 after Death of Jail Detainee (p 52)
  39. Dekalb County Settles Lawsuit, Ends Debtors’ Prisons (p 52)
  40. Study Shows Modest Decline in Prison Populations (p 53)
  41. Crowdfunding Projects Present Opportunities for Prisoners (p 54)
  42. OIG Study: Bureau of Prisons Held Thousands of Prisoners Beyond Release Dates (p 54)
  43. Medical Statistical Model Used to Estimate Wrongful Conviction Rate in Death Penalty Cases (p 56)
  44. Canadian Prison Staff, Cellmate Charged in Prisoner’s Beating Death (p 56)
  45. Courts Divided on Confidentiality of Attorney-Prisoner Email (p 58)
  46. Pfizer Deals Blow to Lethal Injections (p 58)
  47. Private Prison Execs Continue to Make Much More than Guards (p 59)
  48. Pennsylvania: Woman Dies in Jail While Serving Sentence for Truancy Fines and Court Costs (p 60)
  49. Seventh Circuit Affirms Prison Policy Banning Adult Magazines, with Caveats (p 60)
  50. Georgia: Federal Court Finds Bond System Unfair to Indigent Defendants, Enters Injunction (p 62)
  51. Amnesty International: Sudanese Prisoners Housed in Shipping Containers (p 62)
  52. News in Brief (p 63)

Betraying the Promise of Accreditation: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Widespread disdain for people held in prisons and jails, public apathy for humane conditions in detention facilities, tough-on-crime political rhetoric and the privatization of correctional services by for-profit companies have taken a collective toll on the quality of our nation’s criminal justice system. Outwardly, organizations like the American Correctional Association ...

Supreme Court Sets Aside Death Penalty Conviction on Batson Grounds

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-1 decision, left no doubt that it did not believe prosecutors’ assertions that race was not a factor during jury selection in a death penalty case. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority in a May 23, 2016 decision, found that prosecutors ...

From the Editor

Over the years PLN has reported extensively on the ACA and NCCHC, and the “accreditation” scams they run using taxpayer money to promote mass incarceration and the prison industry. They are not alone; many other groups like the American Jail Association and National Sheriffs’ Association represent the interests of those ...

Congressional Black Caucus PAC Urged to Cut Ties with Private Prison Lobbyists

The Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBC PAC) says that it works to increase the number of African-Americans in the U.S. Congress, support non-black candidates who champion black interests, and promote African American participation in the political process.

However, Color of Change (CoC), the nation’s largest online civil ...

In California Death Row’s “Adjustment Center,” Condemned Men Wait in Solitary Confinement

by Alyssa Stryker, Solitary Watch

“When we were sentenced to death,” wrote Carlos M. Argueta from death row in California, “we weren’t sentenced to be mistreated, humiliated, discriminated against, psychologically tortured and kept in solitary dungeons until the day of our executions. Never once did the judge say that was to ...

Court Issues New Injunction Mandating Education for NYC Prisoners at Rikers Island

Prisoners’ rights advocates know that education is a key element of reducing recidivism, and the federal Bureau of Prisons and most state departments of corrections agree. However, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has had to continue its decade-long oversight of the infamous Rikers ...

Ex-captain Sentenced for Raping Subordinate at Virginia Prison

Lloyd G. Samuels, a former captain employed by the Virginia Department of Corrections and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Jamaica, was sentenced on March 11, 2016 to 10 years in prison with six years suspended for raping a fellow prison employee in a staff barracks. Samuels’ unidentified victim has ...

Ninth Circuit Finds Accidental Amputation of Prisoner’s Fingertip Not a § 1983 Violation

The tip of pretrial detainee Cherie Harding’s little finger was accidentally severed in her cell’s door frame when a guard at a San Francisco jail opened the door to commence a pat-down search. Harding claimed that even though her finger was bleeding profusely, she was shackled for transport to the ...

U.S. Supreme Court: Prisoners Must Exhaust “Available” Administrative Remedies

Shaidon Blake, a Maryland prisoner, claimed that he was punched in the face and had his head slammed into a wall by guard James Madigan while handcuffed during a move to a segregation cell – an assault that he reported to the prison system’s Internal Investigative Unit (IIU). The IIU ...

Michigan State Prisoner Receives $1,250 for Interference with Visit

Michigan state prisoner Kevin King was awarded $1,250 in punitive damages and $1 in compensatory damages after a federal jury found that a guard had intentionally interfered with a visit with his wife. The court determined that the guard, Tiffany Williams, had violated the civil rights of both King ...

UK Security Company’s Long History of Controversy, Misconduct

According to its website, G4S is the world’s “leading global integrated security company.” Besides providing security services, it also operates private prisons and immigration detention centers, provides electronic tagging (monitoring) for offenders on community supervision and has a prisoner transport service – mostly in the United Kingdom. G4S also ...

Coroner: California Prisoner’s Death Due to Starvation

Ann Marie Patrick wants an investigation into the death of her son at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. Michael Stanley Galliher, 49, was found dead six days after he was transferred to the prison from a state mental hospital. A coroner’s report released on March 8, 2016 following a ...

The Taste of Exploitation: Whole Foods Stops Carrying Products Made by Prisoners

Visit the website for Haystack Mountain, a Colorado-based goat cheese manufacturer, and you will find information about fancy chèvre and other tasty products. The “Our People” section includes profiles on cheesemaker Jackie Chang and other staffers at the 25-year-old company. The site also mentions their incarcerated workers – Colorado prisoners ...

Tennessee Enacts Contrary “Ban the Box” Bills

On March 14, 2016, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill to eliminate a question on state government job applications that asks about an applicant’s criminal history. The measure, commonly called “Ban the Box,” was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on April 14.

The move to help applicants ...

Breaking News: 18 Deaths in Six Months at Mississippi State Penitentiary

Prison Legal News has learned through a public records request that 18 prisoners died at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman in just over a six-month period. The most recent reported death was that of Terry Echols, who passed away in May 2016 due to complications related to morbid obesity ...

Ohio Prison Guards Cited for Sexual Misconduct with Prisoners

Several Ohio state prison guards have been disciplined following at least 19 allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate relationships with female prisoners between 2012 and 2013. Most of the allegations arose shortly after the Dayton Correctional Institution (DCI) switched from a male-only to an all-female prison in 2012, but ongoing ...

Florida Drug Court Judge’s Relapse Results in Removal from Bench

In an ironic twist, a Florida drug court judge was removed from the bench after enrolling in a substance abuse treatment program herself.

In December 2013, Broward County Judge Gisele Pollack, 57, took a two-week leave to participate in a substance abuse program after admitting to consuming alcohol before work ...

Supreme Court Allows Prisoner’s § 1983 Action after Dismissal of Federal Tort Claim

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held on June 6, 2016 that a federal prisoner, Walter J. Himmelreich, could file a § 1983 federal civil rights complaint after the dismissal of his Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claim, under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2674 ...

A Deadly Dust is Plaguing Hawaii Prisoners in Arizona

Valley fever is widespread in the Southwest, yet Hawaii prison officials haven’t paid much attention to it, despite the recent deaths of at least two prisoners who had the disease.

by Rui Kaneya, Civil Beat

In the spring of 2014, Melvin Wright was among a crew of prisoners who manned ...

Overcrowding at South Dakota Prison Impacts Family Visitation Program

A surge in female prisoners incarcerated on low-level drug charges led to the temporary shutdown of a program at the South Dakota Women’s Prison that helps prisoners maintain family ties and relationships. The Parent and Children Together (P.A.C.T.) program provides extended visitation for imprisoned mothers and their ...

Defendants Claim Sexual Abuse by Arkansas Judge

Three alleged victims of an Arkansas judge filed a lawsuit in May 2016, claiming that Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann had sexually abused them. Attorney Gary Green said on May 11, 2016 that a fourth man had joined the suit as a plaintiff against Boeckmann, who resigned earlier ...

Cities Re-evaluating Housing Bans for Former Prisoners

In the 1990s, high crime rates in public housing – especially the infamous “projects” – led many cities to adopt a one-strike policy that banned anyone with a felony conviction from public housing. Now, with declining crime rates and the demolition of many massive housing projects, some cities are re-evaluating ...

The End of Prison Visitation

by Jack Smith IV, Mic

A new system called “video visitation” is replacing in-person jail visits with glitchy, expensive Skype-like video calls. It’s inhumane, dystopian and actually increases in-prison violence – but god, it makes money.

Losing Connection

The only way Lauren Johnson could see Ashika Renae Coleman at the Travis ...

California Jail Ordered to Restore Attorney-Client Contact Visits

The Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in Nevada County, California changed its rules in 2013 to prohibit defense attorneys from having contact visits with their clients, allegedly due to security and cost concerns. Several prisoners filed suit, and a superior court ruled against the county and reinstated the contact visits. The ...

Wisconsin Prisoner’s Civil Rights Action Alleging Verbal Harassment Reinstated

Ronald J. Beal, a Wisconsin state prisoner, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights by Department of Corrections (DOC) staff who had subjected him to verbal harassment. After his complaint was dismissed by a magistrate judge during the initial screening process ...

Multiple Suicides at Florida Jail a Cause for Concern

Suicide is the leading cause of death among jail detainees according to an August 2015 report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. While 80% of jails in the U.S. reported no deaths in 2013, six percent reported two or more. Florida’s Alachua County Jail (ACJ) fell into ...

Demonstrators Protest Gates Foundation’s $2.2 Million Investment in GEO Group

About two dozen immigrants’ rights advocates picketed outside the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle on April 10, 2014, protesting the Foundation’s investments in the GEO Group, the second-largest private prison company in the U.S.

The demonstrators urged the Gates Foundation – whose co-chairman, Microsoft ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Federal Prisoner’s Bivens Suit Over Medical Care

Ryan K. Mathison, incarcerated at FCI Pekin, a federal prison near Peoria, Illinois, suffered from high blood pressure. One morning he awoke at 3 a.m. with a sharp pain in his chest; he summoned a guard, who called a lieutenant, who in turn contacted the duty nurse. Although the ...

Indiana ACLU Announces Settlement to Help Mentally Ill Prisoners

In 2008, long before the issue became a focus of national attention, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a federal civil rights suit against the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC), challenging inadequate treatment of mentally ill prisoners. After years of litigation, the ACLU won a significant settlement ...

Second Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Bivens Suit Due to Continuing Violation Doctrine

Esteban Gonzalez, while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan and the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, was confined to the Special Housing Unit (SHU) for stabbing another prisoner “with a knife-like object.” After being held in the SHU at both facilities for “an extended period ...

Indiana Prisoner Dies after Cell Extraction

In 2012, Pendleton Correctional Facility prisoner Justin Addler was one of 40 people charged in connection with a cell phone smuggling ring at three Indiana prisons. The phones were used to arrange sales of methamphetamine, heroin and LSD outside the facilities. [See: PLN, Dec 2012, p.50].

Addler, 32, died ...

Connecticut Prisoner Wins Motion for Sanctions over Destruction of Evidence; Case Settles for $40,000

Connecticut state prisoner Tye Thomas won an important pretrial motion that found employees of the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) were “grossly negligent” in failing to preserve key video surveillance footage of assaults he suffered on the recreation yard and in cells at the Northern Correctional Institution. On April 29 ...

Contaminated Sites and Prisons in New Jersey

When journalist Raven Rakia embarked on an investigation of “the Superfund State” of New Jersey, she found another layer to the environmental justice disaster that sits just south of New York City. While New Jersey leads the nation in federally-designated Superfund sites, with 113 listed for pending clean-up, there are ...

Mississippi DOC Guard Trainee Busted for Smuggling Contraband

Sherrice Richardson, a guard trainee at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, was arrested on January 25, 2016 and charged for her role in a major contraband smuggling ring at the facility. Richardson, 22, admitted to prison officials that she had been paid about $700 by prisoners’ relatives to bring contraband ...

Dallas Conviction Integrity Unit Gains National Notoriety

The word “first” was applied to Craig M. Watkins multiple times after his election to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in 2006. He was the county’s first black D.A., the first D.A. who had been a public defender before being elected prosecutor and the first D.A ...

DC Prisoner Awarded $70,000 for ADA Violations at CCA-run Jail

William Pierce, a prisoner held by the District of Columbia’s Department of Corrections (DCDOC), has won a $70,000 jury verdict for repeated violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Pierce, who suffers from severe hearing loss, was denied hearing aids and sign-language interpreters while he was held at ...

Florida Courthouse Employees Commit Crimes with “Alarming Regularity”

A local news station reported on March 29, 2016 that Joseph Safonte, 72, was placed on desk duty after becoming the target of an internal investigation into the theft of items from the lost and found at the courthouse in Broward County, Florida.

The veteran bailiff and president of the ...

Illinois Sheriff Demotes One, Fires 3, Suspends 10 after Death of Jail Detainee

Lake County, Illinois Sheriff Mark C. Curran, Jr. demoted a jail supervisor and suspended ten guards over an incident in which a prisoner was paralyzed after an altercation with jailers and later died. Three other guards were fired. Curran took the disciplinary actions after an almost $2 million settlement in ...

Dekalb County Settles Lawsuit, Ends Debtors’ Prisons

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union reached a settlement that will end debtors’ prisons in Dekalb County, Georgia. The settlement is the latest in a string of lawsuits challenging contracts involving for-profit probation company Judicial Correction Services (JCS). [See: PLN, Jan. 2014, p.18].

The suit, filed in January ...

Study Shows Modest Decline in Prison Populations

A February 2016 study by The Sentencing Project, “U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2014: Broad Variation Among States in Recent Years,” found there has been a 2.9% average decline in the number of state prisoners during that period. Over those 15 years, 39 states experienced declines and 11 ...

Crowdfunding Projects Present Opportunities for Prisoners

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding websites provide an interesting option for prisoners with imagination and originality to explore career-expanding opportunities, raise money and gain access to a commodity often in short supply behind bars – hope.

Basically, crowdfunding involves developing online campaigns for specific projects, charitable causes or services, or to ...

OIG Study: Bureau of Prisons Held Thousands of Prisoners Beyond Release Dates

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), pilloried by one Congressional study that found it was unable to follow its own compassionate release policy, and by yet another criticizing endemic overcrowding, has again been called to task for failing to release prisoners at the conclusion of their sentences. The Justice Department’s ...

Medical Statistical Model Used to Estimate Wrongful Conviction Rate in Death Penalty Cases

An interesting collaboration between medical and law professionals, under the leadership of University of Michigan Law School professor Samuel R. Gross, led to the application of medical statistical analysis to exonerations of death-sentenced prisoners, in order to estimate the number of innocent defendants who receive the death penalty. The report ...

Canadian Prison Staff, Cellmate Charged in Prisoner’s Beating Death

An understaffed, poorly-designed prison in Ontario, Canada has been under close scrutiny over the past three years after a prisoner serving a 165-day sentence was bludgeoned to death on Halloween night by a possibly intoxicated cellmate with a history of violent attacks on other prisoners.

Adam Kargus, 29, was two ...

Courts Divided on Confidentiality of Attorney-Prisoner Email

The fact that prosecutors and corrections officials read emails between prisoners and their lawyers comes as no surprise to most defense attorneys, many of whom find it ironic that the very public officials paid to enforce the laws do not hesitate to disregard long-established professional confidentiality standards when it suits ...

Pfizer Deals Blow to Lethal Injections

Pfizer, Inc., the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, recently announced new restrictions on the distribution of drugs used to execute prisoners.

The May 13, 2016 announcement detailed “distribution restrictions” that the company is placing on certain drugs used in lethal injection protocols, including pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, propofol, midazolam, hydromorphone, rocuronium ...

Private Prison Execs Continue to Make Much More than Guards

Information collected by the federal government has revealed the conspicuous inequality between private prison executives and the guards that their corporations employ. According to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for private prison and jail guards in 2015 was $32,290. One ...

Pennsylvania: Woman Dies in Jail While Serving Sentence for Truancy Fines and Court Costs

A 55-year-old mother of seven died in a Pennsylvania jail cell on June 7, 2014 while serving a 48-hour sentence for failure to pay truancy fines and court costs that totaled about $2,000.

Eileen DiNino was jailed by Berks County District Judge Dean Patton for debts that had been ...

Seventh Circuit Affirms Prison Policy Banning Adult Magazines, with Caveats

Tobias Payton, a prisoner at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois, was denied access to a number of adult magazines depicting naked or scantily clad women, and filed suit in federal court alleging violation of his First Amendment rights. Those rights, he argued, included “access to, as well as creation ...

Georgia: Federal Court Finds Bond System Unfair to Indigent Defendants, Enters Injunction

Maurice Walker, 54, was arrested in the City of Calhoun, Georgia for public intoxication in September 2015, and told that if he posted a $160 bond he could go free until his first court date. Unfortunately Walker was indigent, living on a small fixed income and could not afford to ...

Amnesty International: Sudanese Prisoners Housed in Shipping Containers

On May 27, 2016, Amnesty International reported that the South Sudan was using repurposed shipping containers to house prisoners at a detention site in Gorom. Amnesty’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Muthoni Wanyeki, warned that detainees were ” suffering in appalling conditions and their ...

News in Brief

Alabama: Federal and state officials raided the Sumter County Jail on March 8, 2016 as part of an investigation into the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department. The search led a grand jury to recommend the impeachment of Sheriff Tyrone Clark and issue an indictment against him the next month. A report ...