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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: September, 2017

Issue PDF
Volume 28, Number 9

In this issue:

  1. Opening the Door (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 12)
  3. Re-entry Program for Federal Prisoners on Supervised Release Has Low Participation (p 13)
  4. New York Parole Board Repeatedly Held in Contempt; One Case Reversed on Appeal (p 14)
  5. Los Angeles County Jail Faces Lawsuit Over Censorship of PLN (p 14)
  6. California Damage Suit Improperly Treated as Habeas Petition (p 15)
  7. Surgeon General’s Report: Substance Abuse Continues to Grow in America (p 16)
  8. Brennan Center Asks: “How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?” (p 16)
  9. Leader of Fraudulent Scheme Targeting Prisoners Convicted, Sent to Prison (p 18)
  10. Federal Judge Claims Three-year-olds Can Understand Immigration Law (p 18)
  11. Pretrial Diversion: Pay Not to Stay (in Jail) (p 20)
  12. Deaths at North Carolina Jail Due to Lack of Medical, Mental Health Care (p 20)
  13. Ohio State Criminal Convictions Threatened by Evidence Technician’s Misconduct (p 22)
  14. With General Inch in Charge, We Can Expect Further Militarization of the Prison System (p 24)
  15. Indiana Court Cannot Reduce 45-Day Filing Fee Time Limit (p 25)
  16. Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Automatic Disenfranchisement for all Felony Convictions (p 26)
  17. Stolen Credit Cards Laundered Through Global Tel*Link in Ohio Prisons (p 27)
  18. Private Prison Companies’ Plan to License “Baby Jails” Fails in Texas Legislature (p 28)
  19. No Private Prisons in King County, Washington (p 29)
  20. Federal Court Approves Landmark BOP ADX Mental Health Settlement (p 30)
  21. Exonerated Man Receives $6 Million in Malicious Prosecution Settlement (p 30)
  22. Numerous Lawsuits Filed Against Corizon Nationwide; Company Loses Contracts (p 32)
  23. FCC Chairman Called Out on Conflict of Interest Concerning Prison Phone Company (p 36)
  24. Almost 270 Die in Pre-trial Detention in Canadian Jails in Last Five Years (p 38)
  25. TN Prison Counselor Suspended for Posting Insults on Facebook (p 38)
  26. Ninth Circuit: Courtroom Deputy Entitled to Qualified, Not Absolute, Immunity (p 39)
  27. Seventh Circuit Vacates Summary Judgment in Retaliatory Discipline Case (p 40)
  28. $6.5 Million Jury Award in Oklahoma Jail Rape Lawsuit (p 40)
  29. Ninth Circuit Reinstates Wiccan Prisoner’s Consent Decree (p 42)
  30. Fifth Circuit Vacates Dismissal of Texas Grooming Policy RLUIPA Claim (p 43)
  31. HRDC/PLN Obtain Landmark Nationwide Censorship Settlement with Private Prison Company (p 44)
  32. Oregon Prison Officials Must Provide Post-release Disability Care (p 44)
  33. Missouri Prisoner’s IRA May be Seized for Incarceration Costs (p 45)
  34. Abuses at Louisiana Jail Investigated, Ten Deputies Plead Guilty (p 46)
  35. DOJ Publishes Ten-step Program for Halfway House Reforms (p 48)
  36. BJS Studies Show Number of Prisoners, Probationers Continues to Drop Slightly (p 49)
  37. HOPE and SCF Probation Programs Criticized in Study (p 50)
  38. Plastic Spoon Not a “Dangerous Weapon” Under Oregon Law (p 50)
  39. Utah Supreme Court Reverses Termination of Prisoner’s Parental Rights (p 51)
  40. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s Jail Under Fire for Deaths, Civil Rights Abuses (p 52)
  41. Extensive Contraband Found During Shakedowns at Mississippi Prisons (p 53)
  42. Third Circuit Vacates Summary Judgment on SHU Strip Search Claims (p 54)
  43. Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey Latest States to Pass Mugshot Extortion Laws (p 54)
  44. Oregon Prisoner’s Conversion Claim Against Guard Reinstated (p 55)
  45. Oregon Prosecutors and Cops Bully Parole Board into Improperly Rescinding Parole; Court Orders Release (p 56)
  46. Prison Mailbox Rule Applies to Alabama Sentence Reconsideration Motions (p 57)
  47. Mississippi Closes Troubled Former Youth Prison (p 58)
  48. Denver Man, Accused of Rape Due to Mishandled DNA, Has Lawsuit Dismissed (p 58)
  49. American University Removes Statue of Imprisoned Native American Activist (p 59)
  50. Oregon Parole Board Must Define Applicable Statutory Terms (p 60)
  51. California Prison Officials Shift Responsibility for Work Injuries to Prisoners (p 60)
  52. Prisoner Rights Event Prompts Florida Prison System Lockdown (p 61)
  53. News in Brief (p 63)

Opening the Door

by Jean Casella and Aviva Stahl, Solitary Watch

What will it take to end long-term solitary confinement in America’s prisons? Colorado could be the first to find out.

For 13 of his 22 years in prison, Cero Smith spent 23 hours a day alone in a small concrete cell. Three ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

The past 40 years have seen a massive rise in the use of solitary confinement throughout the United States as a means of psychological torture to destroy people. As federal courts enjoined official means of physical torture (prisoners were being flogged in the yard of the Tennessee ...

Re-entry Program for Federal Prisoners on Supervised Release Has Low Participation

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is trying to beef up its Court-Assisted Re-entry Program (CARE), which is available to federal prisoners placed on supervised release after they serve their prison term. The program’s newest effort is called the Cooperatively Arranged Re-entry Services (CARES).

CARE ...

New York Parole Board Repeatedly Held in Contempt; One Case Reversed on Appeal

In May 2016, the New York Supreme Court in Dutchess County held the State Parole Board (the Board) in contempt for failing to follow a court order governing a parole review.

New York state prisoner John Mackenzie, 69, was convicted in 1975 of the murder of a police officer during ...

Los Angeles County Jail Faces Lawsuit Over Censorship of PLN

On July 5, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), which publishes Prison Legal News, filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Jail alleging civil rights violations. The jail holds the largest number of pre-trial detainees in the United States, and was previously the subject of a federal investigation ...

California Damage Suit Improperly Treated as Habeas Petition

The California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, reversed a lower court’s orders treating a prisoner’s damages action as a habeas corpus petition and then denying relief.

California prisoner Ernest L. Cox filed a civil suit in state court against various prison officials, alleging sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional ...

Surgeon General’s Report: Substance Abuse Continues to Grow in America

by Derek Gilna

A new report from the federal government documents what many already know: that the problem of substance abuse addiction continues to expand, now affecting an estimated 20.8 million Americans. That’s more than the total number of people in the U.S. with cancer.

Prisoners at the ...

Brennan Center Asks: “How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?”

by Derek Gilna

After three years of research, the highly-respected, non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law published an extensive report in December 2016 which concluded that while “mass incarceration has emerged as an urgent national issue to be addressed, the reforms currently offered are ...

Leader of Fraudulent Scheme Targeting Prisoners Convicted, Sent to Prison

by Christopher Zoukis

Qadir Shabazz, aka Deangelo Moore, aka Deangelo Muhammad, a 41-year-old Atlanta man, was convicted in January 2016 of charges related to a fraudulent scheme that sold false hope to prisoners and stole millions from the U.S. government.

Shabazz opened a “charity” called Indigent Inmate in 2009 ...

Federal Judge Claims Three-year-olds Can Understand Immigration Law

by Christopher Zoukis

In a deposition taken in a federal lawsuit challenging the lack of legal representation for children in deportation hearings, a longtime immigration judge caused the Justice Department to distance itself from his claim that he had “taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds” well enough to ...

Pretrial Diversion: Pay Not to Stay (in Jail)

by Christopher Zoukis

As government authorities come to grips with the massive and costly incarceration problem in the United States, efforts to find alternatives to expensive prison and jail sentences are underway. Pretrial diversion, an old favorite, is once again gaining popularity across the country in conjunction with bail reform ...

Deaths at North Carolina Jail Due to Lack of Medical, Mental Health Care

The deaths of four pre-trial detainees at the Durham County Jail in North Carolina are under investigation. Over the past 16 years, 10 other prisoners have died at the facility. Officials are remaining mum, referring questions to the jail’s medical contractor, Correct Care Solutions, which also is not commenting.

Dennis ...

Ohio State Criminal Convictions Threatened by Evidence Technician’s Misconduct

by Derek Gilna

Recent court filings make it clear that G. Michele Yezzo, an evidence technician for 33 years with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), had a long history of behavioral problems that put the credibility of her findings in criminal cases in doubt.

According ...

With General Inch in Charge, We Can Expect Further Militarization of the Prison System

by Brian Dolinar, Truthout

The appointment of retired Army General Mark S. Inch to head the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is a major blow to those working for prison reform under Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on August 1, 2017 that Inch would be taking over the position ...

Indiana Court Cannot Reduce 45-Day Filing Fee Time Limit

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of an indigent prisoner’s lawsuit for failing to pay the filing fee within 30 days, when he had complied with state law by paying within 45 days.

Indiana prisoners are required to pay a partial filing fee for state court actions. If ...

Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Automatic Disenfranchisement for all Felony Convictions

by Matt Clarke

In a June 30, 2016 opinion, the Iowa Supreme Court held that all felonies were “infamous crimes” under the voter disqualification provision of the state’s constitution.

Kelli Jo Griffin was convicted of the class C felony of delivery of 100 grams or less of cocaine in 2008 ...

Stolen Credit Cards Laundered Through Global Tel*Link in Ohio Prisons

by Christopher Zoukis

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, which investigates all manner of crimes in Ohio, launched an investigation in November 2016 into the use of stolen credit card numbers to fund commissary accounts in the state prison system.

Three prisoners and a woman who lives in Cincinnati may be ...

Private Prison Companies’ Plan to License “Baby Jails” Fails in Texas Legislature

by Bob Libal

Legislation developed by private prison corporation GEO Group that would have licensed immigrant family detention centers as “child care facilities” failed in the Texas legislature in May 2017 following widespread opposition by child welfare, medical and immigrant rights organizations.

Companion bills filed in the Texas House (HB ...

No Private Prisons in King County, Washington

On August 14, 2017, the King County Council in Washington State voted 8-1 to pass an ordinance prohibiting the county from contracting with private prison companies. The county does not currently use for-profit prisons and has contingency arrangements with other counties should additional jail beds be required.

Councilmember Dave Upthegrove ...

Federal Court Approves Landmark BOP ADX Mental Health Settlement

by Derek Gilna

Following a two-day hearing, Colorado federal district court judge Richard P. Matsch approved a landmark settlement in December 2016 that ended a five-year class-action lawsuit over the horrendous mistreatment of mentally ill prisoners. As a result of the settlement, federal prison officials agreed to sweeping changes in ...

Exonerated Man Receives $6 Million in Malicious Prosecution Settlement

by Christopher Zoukis

Derrick Deacon spent more than 24 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. After having his conviction thrown out by an appeals court and being found not guilty in a subsequent retrial, Deacon, 61, sued the City of New York for malicious prosecution.

 On ...

Numerous Lawsuits Filed Against Corizon Nationwide; Company Loses Contracts

by Matt Clarke

Corizon Health is one of the nation's largest for-profit medical providers for prisons and jails. Recent lawsuits against the company, however, call into question the quality, and even the availability, of the healthcare services it is supposed to provide. Further, a former New Mexico prison employee ...

FCC Chairman Called Out on Conflict of Interest Concerning Prison Phone Company

by Carrie Wilkinson

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) submitted a formal comment on three Federal Communications Commission dockets on August 9, 2017, accusing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who formerly represented prison telecom giant Securus Technologies, Inc., of having a conflict of interest. In its filings, HRDC noted that “not ...

Almost 270 Die in Pre-trial Detention in Canadian Jails in Last Five Years

by Derek Gilna

According to data gathered by the Reuters news agency, which culled records from various Canadian provincial governments, almost 270 prisoners awaiting trial have died over the past five years. Apparently pretrial bail practices in our northern neighbor are in serious need of reform, according to prisoners’ rights ...

TN Prison Counselor Suspended for Posting Insults on Facebook

by Joe Watson

A counselor at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX), a close-security prison located in southwestern Tennessee, was suspended for three days after she posted profanity-laced insults on the Facebook page for the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) in April 2017, in the wake of an assault on ...

Ninth Circuit: Courtroom Deputy Entitled to Qualified, Not Absolute, Immunity

The Ninth Circuit has held that a courtroom deputy was not entitled to absolute immunity for shoving a bail enforcement agent from a courtroom. The appellate court also found, however, that the deputy was entitled to qualified immunity.

Nevada bail enforcement agent Adam Brooks owns Las Vegas Fugitive Recovery. Brooks ...

Seventh Circuit Vacates Summary Judgment in Retaliatory Discipline Case

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for the defendants on a prisoner’s retaliatory discipline claim, finding the district court erred in failing to compel prison officials to produce a security video which would have been dispositive evidence.

Illinois state prisoner Kenneth Ogurek was charged with a disciplinary ...

$6.5 Million Jury Award in Oklahoma Jail Rape Lawsuit

by Matt Clarke

A federal jury awarded an Oklahoma woman $6.5 million after she was sexually assaulted by a Hollis, Oklahoma assistant police chief while held at the Harmon County jail.

Tiffany Ann Glover, 33, filed a federal civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ...

Ninth Circuit Reinstates Wiccan Prisoner’s Consent Decree

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has sharply criticized a district court’s handling of a Wiccan prisoner’s lawsuit, and reinstated a longstanding consent decree in the case.

In 1993, California state prisoner William Rouser filed suit on behalf of himself and thirty other prisoners, seeking to compel prison officials to ...

Fifth Circuit Vacates Dismissal of Texas Grooming Policy RLUIPA Claim

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has reversed the dismissal of a challenge to a prison grooming policy filed by Native American prisoners.

Texas state prisoners Teddy Norris Davis and Robbie Dow Goodman alleged their religious freedoms had been curtailed by TDCJ policies related to pipe ceremonies, medicine ...

HRDC/PLN Obtain Landmark Nationwide Censorship Settlement with Private Prison Company

by Derek Gilna

On July 24, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization and publisher of Prison Legal News, entered into a settlement with private prison firm Management and Training Corp. (MTC), which has contracts to operate detention centers nationwide. The settlement agreement resolved what HRDC argued ...

Oregon Prison Officials Must Provide Post-release Disability Care

An Oregon federal district court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining prison officials from releasing a disabled prisoner without assistance.

Oregon state prisoner Steven Fox was an able-bodied person when he entered prison in 2010. Due to the neglect of prison officials, however, he sustained injuries that severely limited his mobility ...

Missouri Prisoner’s IRA May be Seized for Incarceration Costs

The Missouri Court of Appeals has held that a trial court erred as a matter of law in finding that a federal statute pre-empted the Missouri Incarceration Reimbursement Act (MIRA) and precluded attachment of a prisoner’s Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

MIRA, §§ 217.825-.841, authorizes the Missouri Department of ...

Abuses at Louisiana Jail Investigated, Ten Deputies Plead Guilty

by David M. Reutter

A federal investigation into the abuse of pretrial detainees at Louisiana’s Iberia Parish Jail resulted in guilty pleas by ten sheriff’s deputies. A trial is pending for an 11th deputy who did not plead guilty, Mark Frederick. Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal was also charged but ...

DOJ Publishes Ten-step Program for Halfway House Reforms

Halfway houses, known as Residential Reentry Centers (RRCs), are the last stop for federal prisoners before they are released from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). According to a recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) memorandum on the subject, the BOP “maintains agreements with 103 different contractors to operate 181 ...

BJS Studies Show Number of Prisoners, Probationers Continues to Drop Slightly

by Derek Gilna

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has published three new studies based on calendar year 2015 data, with one indicating the total number of prisoners nationwide declined to the lowest level since 2005. The number of people on probation also decreased slightly, but the number ...

HOPE and SCF Probation Programs Criticized in Study

Although incarceration levels in the U.S. have receded slightly this decade – to around 2.2 million people in 2016, according to the Prison Policy Initiative – the number of offenders on some form of probation or community supervision has increased. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates ...

Plastic Spoon Not a “Dangerous Weapon” Under Oregon Law

The Oregon Court of Appeals has held that a prisoner was entitled to dismissal of a dangerous weapon charge because a plastic spoon with a slightly sharpened handle was not a dangerous weapon. The Court also held an “attempt” jury instruction should have been given.

Oregon state prisoner Sean Coby ...

Utah Supreme Court Reverses Termination of Prisoner’s Parental Rights

On December 6, 2016, the Supreme Court of Utah reversed the termination of a prisoner’s parental rights because the juvenile court had interpreted a state statute as prohibiting the appointment of counsel for the prisoner.

C.B.S. is a Utah prisoner who gave birth to E.K.S. while ...

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s Jail Under Fire for Deaths, Civil Rights Abuses

by Christopher Zoukis

At least four people, including a newborn, have died in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County Jail since April 2016. The facility, run by Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., houses about 950 detainees daily. The string of deaths has raised concerns about conditions at the jail, including whether adequate medical ...

Extensive Contraband Found During Shakedowns at Mississippi Prisons

A surprise predawn shakedown on March 3, 2017 yielded an “excessive amount of contraband” at one of Mississippi’s three privately-operated prisons, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) Interim Commissioner Pelicia Hall. The search at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility was the start of “Operation Zero Tolerance,” which includes ...

Third Circuit Vacates Summary Judgment on SHU Strip Search Claims

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a summary judgment order in favor of prison officials who subjected prisoners in segregation to visual body-cavity searches three times a day.

While confined in a Secured Housing Unit (SHU) cell at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Delaware prisoner Donald ...

Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey Latest States to Pass Mugshot Extortion Laws

On June 16, 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation to regulate the online mugshot industry, preventing websites that publish booking photos from charging a fee to remove them.

South Carolina passed a similar law, known as the “Mugshot Extortion Bill,” in February 2016. As former state Senator Paul ...

Oregon Prisoner’s Conversion Claim Against Guard Reinstated

The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a prisoner’s handwritten, pro se filing for failure to state a claim.

Oregon prisoner Michael Spillino filed a handwritten petition in circuit court, claiming that Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) lieutenant Hogeland wrongfully took his personal property, valued at ...

Oregon Prosecutors and Cops Bully Parole Board into Improperly Rescinding Parole; Court Orders Release

The Oregon Court of Appeals held last year that a prisoner’s release date had been improperly rescinded due to a public outcry, contrary to state law.

Oregon prisoner Sidney Dean Porter was sentenced to life imprisonment for beating police officer Frank L. Ward to death in 1992. Porter’s blood alcohol ...

Prison Mailbox Rule Applies to Alabama Sentence Reconsideration Motions

The Alabama Supreme Court held last year that the prison mailbox rule applies to a motion for sentence reconsideration under former state law.

Alabama Code § 13A-5-9.1 authorized the filing of a motion for sentence reconsideration, but the state legislature repealed that provision effective March 13, 2014. The repeal ...

Mississippi Closes Troubled Former Youth Prison

Citing budgetary cuts, the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) finally closed the troubled, privately-operated Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGCF) on September 15, 2016.

As previously reported in PLN, Walnut Grove had been under a federal consent decree since 2012 over allegations of guards smuggling drugs and having sex with youthful ...

Denver Man, Accused of Rape Due to Mishandled DNA, Has Lawsuit Dismissed

by Derek Gilna

Shawnnon Hale, 24, wrongful accused of felony rape and jailed for 61 days, was released from custody in Denver, Colorado in early 2015 when the police crime lab acknowledged it had mislabeled a DNA sample that incorrectly identified him as the perpetrator. As a result of his ...

American University Removes Statue of Imprisoned Native American Activist

by Derek Gilna

American University, a private college in Washington, D.C., bowed to pressure from a federal law enforcement group and removed a statue of Native American activist and prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of the 1975 murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation ...

Oregon Parole Board Must Define Applicable Statutory Terms

The Oregon Court of Appeals has held that a prisoner was improperly denied an early parole consideration hearing when the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision (Board) failed to define “reasonable cause” before applying that statutory term.

In 1986, George W. Nulph was convicted of several crimes and the trial ...

California Prison Officials Shift Responsibility for Work Injuries to Prisoners

by Derek Gilna

California state prisons are known to be dangerous and violent places, but prisoners employed in industry programs at those facilities are also at serious risk of work-related injuries, as indicated by records maintained by the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA).

According to CALPIA, there have been over ...

Prisoner Rights Event Prompts Florida Prison System Lockdown

by Derek Gilna

The "Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March," held in Washington, D.C. on August 19, 2017, apparently prompted a statewide lockdown by the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) to prevent any displays of solidarity with the free-world marchers, according to prisoners’ rights advocates. The protest in the ...

News in Brief

Alaska: A former prison guard convicted of smuggling drugs into the Goose Creek Correctional Center was sentenced on April 24, 2017 to eight months in federal prison. Adam Jason Spindler, 33, pleaded guilty to one count each of drug conspiracy and possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute ...


 

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