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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: September, 2016

Issue PDF
Volume 27, Number 9

In this issue:

  1. Poor Parents Fail to Pay Child Support, Go to Jail (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 14)
  3. Third Circuit Reverses Dismissal of New Jersey Prisoner’s Suit (p 15)
  4. Securus Settles Lawsuit Alleging Improper Recording of Privileged Prisoner Calls (p 16)
  5. $81,200 for North Carolina Prisoner’s Estate in Breach of Duty Suit (p 17)
  6. Prison and Jail Officials Face New Challenge: Drones Used to Smuggle Contraband (p 18)
  7. Mentally Ill Oregon Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit Settles for $7.4 Million (p 20)
  8. Jail Prisoner’s Death Results in $1 Million Judgment against Texas County (p 21)
  9. Appeal Doesn’t Stay ODOC’s “Second Look” Release Plan Obligation (p 22)
  10. Obama Issues Another 214 Commutations for Federal Prisoners (p 22)
  11. Navy Nurse Refuses to Force-feed Guantanamo Prisoners (p 24)
  12. Sexual Assault Victim Awarded $1.5 Million in Lawsuit against Illinois Prison Guard (p 24)
  13. North Carolina Prisoners and Former Employees Describe “Boom-Boom Room” (p 26)
  14. The Fight for Comprehensive Prison Phone Reform Continues (p 26)
  15. Allegheny County Reaches $2.09 Million Settlement for Prisoner’s Death (p 27)
  16. Department of Justice Announces Plan to Phase Out For-profit Prisons (p 28)
  17. Mexico: Drug Cartel Used Prison to Dispose of Bodies (p 29)
  18. Juvenile Sexual Assault Victims of Dr. William Ayres: The Forgotten Victims (p 30)
  19. Massachusetts Prisoners Involved in Reform Efforts Transferred, Held in Solitary (p 32)
  20. Louisiana Sheriff Faces Recall Petition, Federal Indictments (p 33)
  21. California: Jail’s Unsolicited Publication Distribution Ban Upheld (p 34)
  22. Georgia Prosecutor Arrested for Political Ads; Had Previously Secured Indictment Against Judge (p 34)
  23. India’s Supreme Court Orders Prison and Jail Reforms (p 36)
  24. Michigan Courthouse Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 2 Injured (p 36)
  25. Sixth Circuit Holds PLRA’s Physical Injury Rule Inapplicable to First Amendment Claims (p 38)
  26. Wrongfully-convicted Former Prisoner Receives $13.2 Million in FBI Hair Analysis Case (p 38)
  27. Suicides Plague North Carolina Prison System (p 39)
  28. Women and Children First ... to be Held in Detention (p 40)
  29. Outcomes of California’s Proposition 47 (p 42)
  30. Family Connections Bill Signed into Law in Illinois (p 43)
  31. Despite Initial Approval, Belgian Prisoner Denied Euthanasia (p 44)
  32. Judge Denies Motion to Nullify Orleans Parish Prison Health Care Contract (p 44)
  33. A Victory in the Fight to Stop Prisoner Rape (p 45)
  34. Death Penalty Case Reveals Morgue Worker Had Sex with 100 Female Corpses (p 46)
  35. New York City’s Rikers Island Jail Agrees to Federal Consent Decree, Reforms (p 46)
  36. Private Prison Firms: Family Detention, Federal Contracts and For-profit Reentry Services (p 48)
  37. Registered Sex Offenders Fall Victim to “Vigilante Justice” (p 49)
  38. Advanced Correctional Healthcare’s Business Model Blamed for Prisoner Deaths, Injuries (p 50)
  39. Oklahoma DOC Creates “Dream Team” for Botched Executions with Hires from Arizona (p 52)
  40. Correctional Medical Care Illegally Practiced Medicine in New York (p 54)
  41. Prisoner’s Healthy Kidney Erroneously Removed; Surgeon Receives Probation (p 56)
  42. Condoms Now Available to Prisoners in Three States (p 56)
  43. Untreated Intoxication Death at Massachusetts Jail Results in $232,500 Settlement (p 57)
  44. Taxpayer-funded Drug Rehab Empire Collapses under Lawsuits, Indictments (p 58)
  45. Termination of Consent Decree at Mississippi Prison Denied; Facility to Close (p 60)
  46. Fourth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Virginia Prisoner’s Religious Freedom Suit (p 60)
  47. Oregon DOC Sees Spike in Gang-related Murders (p 62)
  48. News in Brief (p 63)

Poor Parents Fail to Pay Child Support, Go to Jail

Child support is an enormous issue in the United States. In August 2015, Mark Greenberg, the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, wrote that 1 in 4 children nationwide had an active child support ...

From the Editor

A lot has been written about mass incarceration and the role drug laws have played in boosting the nation’s prison and jail population. While it is intuitive to expect prisoners to be accused or convicted of criminal offenses, the reality is that tens of thousands of people – nearly all ...

Third Circuit Reverses Dismissal of New Jersey Prisoner’s Suit

On November 16, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a civil rights action brought by a former New Jersey state prisoner who was housed at a community corrections facility and allegedly mistreated when she was repeatedly returned to prison.

Alexandra Chavarriaga was in the custody ...

Securus Settles Lawsuit Alleging Improper Recording of Privileged Prisoner Calls

by Jordan Smith, The Intercept

Attorneys and advocates for people incarcerated in local jails in Austin, Texas have settled a federal lawsuit against telecommunications company Securus Technologies, with an agreement ostensibly designed to ensure that privileged legal communications between defense attorneys and their clients are not improperly recorded.

The suit, originally ...

$81,200 for North Carolina Prisoner’s Estate in Breach of Duty Suit

The North Carolina Industrial Commission awarded $81,200 to the estate of a prisoner who died after a guard at the Greene Corr. Institution denied him medical care.

The estate alleged that prisoner Thomas Sellars, 51, went to the officer’s station in the fall of 2010 and informed Sgt. Vickie ...

Prison and Jail Officials Face New Challenge: Drones Used to Smuggle Contraband

Drones are increasingly being used in attempts to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons worldwide. Previously, smugglers had to bribe guards, use their body cavities or have accomplices sneak forbidden items through prison visitation. All of that is now changing with the availability of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs ...

Mentally Ill Oregon Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Suit Settles for $7.4 Million

The family of a mentally ill Oregon prisoner who died due to complications from an untreated broken neck received $7.4 million to settle their claims.

In 2012, the Lane County Jail (LCJ) in Eugene, Oregon entered into a contract with Tennessee-based Corizon Health, Inc. to provide medical care. The ...

Jail Prisoner’s Death Results in $1 Million Judgment against Texas County

On October 22, 2015, a federal jury awarded $1 million to the survivors and estate of a prisoner who died in a Texas jail, finding jail employees were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.

Terry Lynn Borum, 53, was booked into the Swisher County jail on January 28, 2013. He ...

Appeal Doesn’t Stay ODOC’s “Second Look” Release Plan Obligation

The en banc Oregon Supreme Court held on October 22, 2015 that appealing a trial court order conditionally releasing a juvenile murderer who had served half his minimum sentence did not relieve prison officials of their statutory obligation to prepare the prisoner’s release plan.

Oregon juveniles who: 1) committed their ...

Obama Issues Another 214 Commutations for Federal Prisoners

President Obama announced 214 commutations on August 3, 2016, spurring hope that the pace will increase as he nears the end of his term in office. This latest batch, the largest number of commutations issued in a single day since 1900 according to the White House, brings the total during ...

Navy Nurse Refuses to Force-feed Guantanamo Prisoners

An unnamed Navy nurse at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that houses alleged terrorist detainees, who was facing expulsion from the Navy for his refusal to participate in force-feeding prisoners, has been allowed to return to his regular duties. The hunger-striking detainees at Guantanamo, imprisoned without ...

Sexual Assault Victim Awarded $1.5 Million in Lawsuit against Illinois Prison Guard

A longtime Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) guard was ordered to pay $1.5 million to a female prisoner he had raped, though he did not face criminal charges for the assault.

Timothy Ware, 40, a former guard at the Decatur Correctional Center (DCC), sexually assaulted 25-year-old prisoner Ashley Robinson ...

North Carolina Prisoners and Former Employees Describe “Boom-Boom Room”

Inside the Lumberton Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison near Fayetteville, North Carolina, there is said to be an isolated office known as the “boom-boom room.”

There, according to prisoners and former staff members alike, unlucky prisoners were taken by guards to be beaten under orders from prison supervisors, often ...

The Fight for Comprehensive Prison Phone Reform Continues

As previously reported in PLN, the prison telecom industry has been successful so far in delaying implementation of the rate caps ordered by the FCC in October 2015. [See: PLN, May 2016, p.36; Dec. 2015, p.40]. And while the limits on ancillary fees were implemented in prisons in ...

Allegheny County Reaches $2.09 Million Settlement for Prisoner’s Death

A $2.09 million settlement was reached in a lawsuit stemming from the death of a prisoner who was denied medical care at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County Jail.

Derek E. Black, 28, was involved in an April 16, 2012 altercation with another prisoner and placed in solitary confinement. Several days later ...

Department of Justice Announces Plan to Phase Out For-profit Prisons

On August 18, 2016, the Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced, via a memo to the acting director of the federal Bureau of Prisons, that the DOJ plans to phase out contracts with private, for-profit prisons.

The memo cited a scathing report by the ...

Mexico: Drug Cartel Used Prison to Dispose of Bodies

Mexico’s national defense department calls the Zetas “the most formidable death squad to have worked for organized crime in Mexican history.” U.S. officials agree, saying the gang is “the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico.”

One of the Zetas’ most gruesome atrocities was ...

Juvenile Sexual Assault Victims of Dr. William Ayres: The Forgotten Victims

In 1983, a troubled 14-year-old boy named Richard S. ran away from his group home in San Mateo, California. Richard – who never knew his father and whose mother died when he was a small child – was in desperate need of an adult he could trust. A juvenile judge ...

Massachusetts Prisoners Involved in Reform Efforts Transferred, Held in Solitary

Three Massachusetts state prisoners have been placed in segregation in apparent retaliation for their prison reform activism.

Timothy Muise, Shawn Fisher and Steven James, all incarcerated at the medium-security prison MCI Shirley, were taken from their cells late at night on March 23, 2016 and transferred to three different Massachusetts ...

Louisiana Sheriff Faces Recall Petition, Federal Indictments

Organizers hope that a petition circulating throughout Louisiana’s Iberia Parish will result in the recall of Sheriff Louis Ackal. According to Donald Broussard, the activist who started the petition, a “dark cloud is being cast over Iberia Parish” due to corruption attributed to Ackal and his staff. The petition needs ...

California: Jail’s Unsolicited Publication Distribution Ban Upheld

A California federal district court held in May 2015 that jail officials did not violate the First Amendment by refusing to distribute unsolicited publications to prisoners.

Crime, Justice & America, Inc. (CJA), founded by former bail bondsman Ray Hrdlicka, publishes a weekly 36- to 40-page magazine of the same name ...

Georgia Prosecutor Arrested for Political Ads; Had Previously Secured Indictment Against Judge

Northern Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Parks White surrendered to the Hart County Sheriff’s Office to be booked and fingerprinted on June 20, 2016, before being released on a $1,000 signature bond. Senior Superior Court Judge Robert Struble had signed an arrest order for White on a felony charge ...

India’s Supreme Court Orders Prison and Jail Reforms

The United States is not the only nation that has serious problems with the operation of its jails and prisons. Recently, an amicus curiae made a number of recommendations in a case being considered by the Supreme Court of India, noting poor conditions in Indian prisons. Gaurav Agrawal, who was ...

Michigan Courthouse Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 2 Injured

Larry Darnell Gordon, 45, was being transported to a Berrien County court proceeding on July 11, 2016 when he overpowered a deputy, stole his gun and tried to take hostages during an escape attempt. Gordon fatally shot two bailiffs in the ensuing chaos and wounded a sheriff’s deputy and a ...

Sixth Circuit Holds PLRA’s Physical Injury Rule Inapplicable to First Amendment Claims

On June 1, 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held “that deprivations of First Amendment rights are themselves injuries, apart from any mental, emotional, or physical injury that might also arise from the deprivation, and that [42 U.S.C.] § 1997e(e) does not bar all relief for ...

Wrongfully-convicted Former Prisoner Receives $13.2 Million in FBI Hair Analysis Case

A 55-year-old man who was convicted based upon the now-discredited “science” of forensics hair analysis has been awarded $13.2 million by District of Columbia Superior Court Judge John M. Mott. This was just the latest in a long line of cases where pseudo-scientific testimony by the FBI crime lab ...

Suicides Plague North Carolina Prison System

Four suicides occurred in North Carolina state prisons during a 17-day period from April 19 to May 5, 2016, bringing the total number of self-inflicted prisoner deaths to five this year and surpassing last year’s total of three. An investigation by The Charlotte Observer found several guards had been fired ...

Women and Children First ... to be Held in Detention

In the summer of 2014, a surge of tens of thousands of immigrant refugees from Central America brought unprecedented attention to the incarceration of families and unaccompanied children in so-called residential centers – many run by for-profit prison companies – as they sought asylum in the United States.

Human rights ...

Outcomes of California’s Proposition 47

The passage of California’s Proposition 47 in November 2014 – which reduced many felony drug possession and property crimes to misdemeanors – might be a harbinger of criminal justice reform nationwide. But for now, reform advocates have gladly accepted the release of as many as 10,000 California state prisoners ...

Family Connections Bill Signed into Law in Illinois

Illinois Governor Bruce V. Rauner signed HB 6200, the Family Connections Bill, into law on August 22, 2016. Under the provisions of that legislation, domestic prison phone rates within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and Department of Juvenile Justice will be capped at $0.07/min. while the rate ...

Despite Initial Approval, Belgian Prisoner Denied Euthanasia

Belgian prisoner Frank Van Den Bleeken, who in 1989 raped and killed Christiane Remacle, a student from Antwerp, was sentenced to life and has spent over 30 years in prison. Most European countries, unlike the United States, have abolished the death penalty. Belgium did so in 1996, though the last ...

Judge Denies Motion to Nullify Orleans Parish Prison Health Care Contract

The Louisiana federal district court overseeing the consent decree related to conditions at the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) has denied a motion by the City of New Orleans to nullify a contract to provide prisoner health care at the facility. The motion was the latest skirmish between city officials and ...

A Victory in the Fight to Stop Prisoner Rape

In 2012, Cornelius, a prisoner at a Florida state prison, wrote a letter to a nearby rape crisis center. Cornelius had been sexually assaulted multiple times while incarcerated. The first time was a gang rape that had happened 17 years earlier at a boot camp, when he was just 19 ...

Death Penalty Case Reveals Morgue Worker Had Sex with 100 Female Corpses

In another development in the macabre murder, rape and death penalty case of convicted killer David Steffen, a former Hamilton County, Ohio morgue worker admitted to engaging in sex with around 100 female corpses.

Kenneth Douglas acknowledged in a deposition that he had sex with the bodies – among them ...

New York City’s Rikers Island Jail Agrees to Federal Consent Decree, Reforms

The Rikers Island jail complex in New York City is notorious for excessive use of force against prisoners. It has been sued dozens of times by prisoners, prisoners’ rights organizations and even the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Prison Legal News has reported extensively on the numerous problems at ...

Private Prison Firms: Family Detention, Federal Contracts and For-profit Reentry Services

by Bob Libal, Holly Kirby and Cristina Parker

In July 2016, executives from private prison companies Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group (GEO) held investor calls to report on second quarter earnings and to discuss their financial outlook going forward.

The calls demonstrated that policy reforms that ...

Registered Sex Offenders Fall Victim to “Vigilante Justice”

According to prosecutors, an Anchorage man assaulted and robbed three men on Alaska’s sex offender registry, keeping a notebook that listed the names of his victims and the items he stole from them. Jason Christian Vukovich, 41, allegedly plotted the attacks as revenge for his victims’ “past crimes,” and ...

Advanced Correctional Healthcare’s Business Model Blamed for Prisoner Deaths, Injuries

The business model of Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. (ACH) includes “severe cost control measures” and reliance on the company’s insurance provider to cover liability verdicts that result from inadequate medical care, according to lawsuits filed by the estates of three pretrial detainees who died of easily treatable maladies at Alabama’s ...

Oklahoma DOC Creates “Dream Team” for Botched Executions with Hires from Arizona

If Oklahoma was hoping to establish a tradition or trend of botched executions, it brought in the right people to carry them out.

Just days after overseeing a disturbing execution at Arizona’s Florence prison complex in July 2014, former warden Lance Hetmer was hired as a special assistant to Oklahoma ...

Correctional Medical Care Illegally Practiced Medicine in New York

The New York Attorney General found that Correctional Medical Care, Inc. (CMC) violated state law by engaging in the “corporate practice of medicine.” The finding resulted in a September 2014 settlement agreement that required the for-profit prison and jail medical care provider to restructure, hire an independent monitor and ...

Prisoner’s Healthy Kidney Erroneously Removed; Surgeon Receives Probation

The California Medical Board placed a doctor on three years’ probation for removing the wrong kidney during surgery on a federal prisoner.

The unidentified 59-year-old prisoner, held at FCI Terminal Island, was diagnosed with a cancerous left kidney following a September 18, 2011 CAT scan. He was referred to Dr ...

Condoms Now Available to Prisoners in Three States

Legislation in California, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014, allows prisoners in the state’s 34 adult correctional facilities access to condoms.

With the signing of Assembly Bill 999 – also known as the Prisoner Protections for Family and Community Health Act – California became the third ...

Untreated Intoxication Death at Massachusetts Jail Results in $232,500 Settlement

The City of Lowell, Massachusetts agreed to a $232,500 settlement in a civil rights action related to the alcohol poisoning death of a woman in the Lowell Police Department (LPD) lockup.

Police officers arrested Alyssa Brame, 31, on January 12, 2013 for allegedly offering sex for money. She “was ...

Taxpayer-funded Drug Rehab Empire Collapses under Lawsuits, Indictments

A purportedly non-profit organization run by a father-and-son team that operated methadone clinics and so-called “sober houses” across New York City faced indictments in October 2014 for stealing millions of dollars in public funds and fraudulent insurance claims.

Alan Brand, 64, and his son Jason, 35, who ran Narco Freedom ...

Termination of Consent Decree at Mississippi Prison Denied; Facility to Close

Ongoing violations of prisoners’ rights at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGCF) led a federal district court to deny the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) motion to terminate a consent decree. The evidence, the court held on June 10, 2015, painted “a picture of a facility struggling with disorder, periodic ...

Fourth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Virginia Prisoner’s Religious Freedom Suit

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a Virginia prisoner’s civil rights action that raised claims related to his religious practices and medical care.

Prisoner Jesus Emmanuel Jehovah’s complaint alleged prison officials violated his free exercise rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and ...

Oregon DOC Sees Spike in Gang-related Murders

“This is a systemic problem,” said attorney Dennis Steinman, who represented the widow of an Oregon prisoner murdered in his cell. “This is not only about Snake River. This is about the prisons statewide.” Steinman appears to be correct, given that at least seven Oregon prisoners were killed ...

News in Brief

Alabama: U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. called Chris Miles, the former assistant police chief for the town of Tallassee, Alabama, a “maverick” when Miles was sentenced on March 25, 2016 for beating a suspect during an interrogation, making false statements to the FBI and selling drugs. Miles had ...


 

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