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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: October, 2018

Issue PDF
Volume 29, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. Washington State: Jail Phone Rates Increase as Video Replaces In-Person Visits (p 1)
  2. Advocacy Groups Call for End to Ban on In-person Visits at Tennessee Jail (p 23)
  3. From the Editor (p 24)
  4. Solitary Confinement Reforms Sweeping the Nation but Still Not Enough (p 26)
  5. The Big Business of Prisoner Care Packages: Inside the Booming Market for Food in Pouches (p 28)
  6. Private Prison Company Pays to Play; Federal Election Commission Fails to Act (p 30)
  7. Editorial: The Case Against Florida’s Amendment 4 on Felon Voting Rights (p 32)
  8. Black Liberation Army Members Convicted of Murdering Cops Granted Parole (p 32)
  9. Oregon County Pays $2.85 Million for Dehydration Death of Mentally Ill Jail Prisoner (p 34)
  10. Arizona: Lawsuit Spurs Significant Reforms for Death Row Prisoners (p 34)
  11. North Carolina Fined $190,000 for Mismanagement of Prescription Medication (p 35)
  12. Fifth Circuit Upholds Convictions of Louisiana Jail Staff for Failing to Stop Abuse (p 36)
  13. Kentucky Law Requiring Abused Spouse to Pay for Abuser’s Divorce Attorney Abolished (p 36)
  14. Two Former Oklahoma Death Row Prisoners Obtain $3.15 Million Settlement (p 38)
  15. Florida Lawyer Arrested for Jail Porn Escapades (p 38)
  16. Jury Awards North Carolina Prisoner $15,000 for Staff Sexual Assault (p 39)
  17. Formerly Incarcerated Chef Plans to Revolutionize Ramen (p 40)
  18. $10 Million Class-action Lawsuit Against Virginia Jail Results in $725,000 Settlement (p 42)
  19. HRDC Files Censorship Suit Against New Mexico Jail; Court Orders Dismissal Based on Mootness (p 42)
  20. New Jersey County Pays $95,000 to Female Lawyer “Wanded” Between Legs at Jail (p 43)
  21. Kentucky Reluctantly Returns to Prison Privatization (p 44)
  22. Federal Jury Awards $6 Million to Epileptic Colorado Prisoner, but New Trial Ordered (p 44)
  23. U.S. Marshals Capture Fugitive Former Prison Guard After 10 Years on the Run (p 45)
  24. Landmark Stanford Prison Experiment Criticized as a Sham (p 46)
  25. Ninth Circuit Modifies Deliberate Indifference Analysis for Pretrial Detainees’ Inadequate Medical Care Claims (p 48)
  26. Lawsuit Over Prisoner Assault at Tennessee Jail Results in Settlement, Dismissal (p 48)
  27. New York: $100,000 to Settle Suit over Rape of Trans Prisoner Held in Men’s Prison (p 49)
  28. Low Pay, High Staff Turnover Drive Texas Prison Guard Shortage (p 50)
  29. Australian Woman Gives Birth in Cell After Guards Can’t Unlock the Door (p 51)
  30. Florida ICE Detention Center Restricts Detainees’ Observance of Ramadan (p 52)
  31. Rhode Island: Life-sentenced Prisoner is “Civilly Dead,” Cannot Pursue Tort Claim (p 53)
  32. Humanism to be Recognized as Approved Faith in North Carolina Prisons (p 54)
  33. Louisiana Jail Settles with DOJ Over HIV Discrimination (p 54)
  34. Pro se Texas Prisoner Wins $250,550 Default Judgment in Use of Force Case (p 55)
  35. Angola Prison Lawsuit Poses Question: What Kind of Medical Care do Prisoners Deserve? (p 56)
  36. California Attorney Specializes in Representing Prisoners Victimized by Fraud (p 57)
  37. Class-action Settlement in Mississippi “Debtors’ Prison” Case (p 58)
  38. Colorado Accused of Failing to Comply with Settlement in Mental Health Care Suit (p 58)
  39. Florida: Federal Prison Guard Sentenced for Accepting Bribe (p 59)
  40. Nebraska County, Jail Medical Provider Settle Suit Over Medication Denial for $10,000 (p 60)
  41. Iowa Prison Guard Wins $2 Million on Retaliation, Disability Accommodation Claims (p 60)
  42. News in Brief (p 62)

Washington State: Jail Phone Rates Increase as Video Replaces In-Person Visits

by Steve Horn and Iris Wagner

A comprehensive set of public records obtained by Prison Legal News from the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) and most of the state’s county jails indicates that the average cost of local and in-state phone calls made by Washington prisoners has steadily increased in ...

Advocacy Groups Call for End to Ban on In-person Visits at Tennessee Jail

A recent report on a ban on in-person visitation at the jail in Knox County, Tennessee concluded that the ban “makes the jail more dangerous, does nothing to stop the flow of contraband, and strips money from the pockets of families.”

In April 2014, the Knox County Jail (KCJ ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

In 1992, the Washington Department of Corrections signed its first prison phone contract with AT&T that required the company to give the DOC a “commission” kickback in exchange for the monopoly contract. Previously, AT&T provided phone services to the DOC with no kickback, using live operators. I ...

Solitary Confinement Reforms Sweeping the Nation but Still Not Enough

by Christopher Zoukis

Solitary confinement is “worse than any torment of the body” – so said famous British author Charles Dickens. French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American prisons in 1831, added that solitary “devours the victim incessantly and unmercifully; it does not reform, it kills.”

The U ...

The Big Business of Prisoner Care Packages: Inside the Booming Market for Food in Pouches

by Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge, The Marshall Project

Ed. Note: PLN’s August 2018 cover story examined prison food and commissary services. This article looks at prison and jail package services supplied by private vendors – some of which, like Keefe, also provide commissary services.

It’s the holiday season, but many ...

Private Prison Company Pays to Play; Federal Election Commission Fails to Act

by Christopher Zoukis

GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison companies, donated $225,000 to the pro-Trump Super PAC Rebuilding America Now during the 2016 election cycle. Within a few months after President Trump’s inauguration, in April 2017, GEO was awarded a $110 million federal contract to build ...

Editorial: The Case Against Florida’s Amendment 4 on Felon Voting Rights

by Paul Wright

Florida leads the nation with over 1 million citizens disenfranchised and unable to vote due to felony convictions. The path to having their voting rights restored is long and difficult, and has been found unconstitutional by a federal judge. This November, Floridians who are able to vote ...

Black Liberation Army Members Convicted of Murdering Cops Granted Parole

by Christopher Zoukis

Herman Bell served 46 years behind bars in New York. The 70-year-old was convicted of the 1971 murders of two NYPD officers, and received a sentence of 25 years to life. Denied parole on seven previous occasions, Bell, who long argued he was a political prisoner, was ...

Oregon County Pays $2.85 Million for Dehydration Death of Mentally Ill Jail Prisoner

by Dale Chappell

Lincoln County, Oregon agreed to pay $2.85 million to settle a wrongful death suit filed by the family of a 55-year-old mentally ill prisoner who died of dehydration at the county jail.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in 2016, claimed that jailers had violated Bradley ...

Arizona: Lawsuit Spurs Significant Reforms for Death Row Prisoners

by Derek Gilna

A federal lawsuit that settled in March 2017 resulted in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) drastically improving conditions of confinement for death row prisoners. Pursuant to the settlement, most of the state’s 120 condemned prisoners were moved from solitary confinement in the Browning Unit at the ...

North Carolina Fined $190,000 for Mismanagement of Prescription Medication

by Monte McCoin

On July 11, 2018, Robert Higdon, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announced that a $190,000 settlement had been reached with the state’s prison system over its failure to properly document the distribution of prescribed controlled substances at the Central ...

Fifth Circuit Upholds Convictions of Louisiana Jail Staff for Failing to Stop Abuse

by Matthew Clarke

In February 2018, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a former Louisiana jail lieutenant’s conviction for depriving a prisoner of his civil rights under color of state law in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. Specifically, the ex-jailer had pleaded guilty to failing to ...

Kentucky Law Requiring Abused Spouse to Pay for Abuser’s Divorce Attorney Abolished

The Kentucky legislature has closed a loophole in a statute that required a victim of domestic violence to pay the cost of an attorney for their incarcerated abuser when seeking a divorce.

Kentucky law requires a person suing a prisoner to cover the cost of their attorney when the prisoner ...

Two Former Oklahoma Death Row Prisoners Obtain $3.15 Million Settlement

by Derek Gilna

Last year, Yancy L. Douglas, 43, and Paris Lapriest Powell, 44, former death row prisoners in Oklahoma, accepted a total $3.15 million settlement in their federal civil rights lawsuits brought against their prosecutor and the State of Oklahoma. Douglas and Powell were exonerated, and their wrongful ...

Florida Lawyer Arrested for Jail Porn Escapades

In December 2017, a Florida attorney was caught in a private visitation room at the Pinellas County jail with his pants down as he prepared to engage in a sexual act with a female pretrial detainee. According to jail officials, lawyer Andrew B. Spark, 54, was filming the act for ...

Jury Awards North Carolina Prisoner $15,000 for Staff Sexual Assault

A federal jury awarded $15,000 to a North Carolina prisoner who claimed a prison employee sexually abused him and “seduced” him to sell drugs and other contraband.

Prisoner Timothy R. King’s civil rights complaint alleged that between September 2010 and July 2011, he and prison behavioral health specialist Chariesse ...

Formerly Incarcerated Chef Plans to Revolutionize Ramen

by Steve Horn

When Ron Freeman was released from prison in 1998, he returned to doing the two things he enjoyed the most: cooking and eating. He decided, after being incarcerated for nearly three years for drug possession at the Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California, to put those ...

$10 Million Class-action Lawsuit Against Virginia Jail Results in $725,000 Settlement

by R. Bailey

A class-action complaint against the Central Virginia Regional Jail (CVRJ) has ended with a $725,000 settlement. The lawsuit alleged that jail staff violated detainees’ Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and subjected them to excessive pain and suffering by refusing to enforce written policies and placing cost ...

HRDC Files Censorship Suit Against New Mexico Jail; Court Orders Dismissal Based on Mootness

by Steve Horn

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), which publishes Prison Legal News, filed a federal lawsuit on April 16, 2018 against the San Miguel County Detention Center in Las Vegas, New Mexico for censoring PLN publications in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Beginning in February 2016 ...

New Jersey County Pays $95,000 to Female Lawyer “Wanded” Between Legs at Jail

by Christopher Zoukis

Bonita Bourke is a 56-year-old attorney and former president of the Warren County, New Jersey Bar Association. She regularly visits clients at the Sussex County jail, and as with all visitors to the facility, must pass through security before entering. One day in August 2014, Bourke said ...

Kentucky Reluctantly Returns to Prison Privatization

Overcrowding in Kentucky’s corrections system has spurred renewed interest in private prisons. Despite abandoning privately-operated prisons five years ago due to a number of problems, including sexual abuse of female prisoners by private prison guards, Kentucky officials have returned to privatization to relieve the state’s overcrowded prisons.

“This is simply ...

Federal Jury Awards $6 Million to Epileptic Colorado Prisoner, but New Trial Ordered

by Matthew Clarke

On March 7, 2018, a Colorado federal jury awarded $6 million to a prisoner in a lawsuit over his mistreatment by a guard while he was experiencing an epileptic seizure.

Jayson M. Oslund, a Colorado state prisoner, had a history of epilepsy and was taking anti-seizure medication ...

U.S. Marshals Capture Fugitive Former Prison Guard After 10 Years on the Run

by Monte McCoin

William F. Lawrence, a former Utah Department of Corrections guard, apparently thought that hiding out in a tropical paradise would spare him from a prison term after he pleaded guilty to forcible sexual abuse in December 2007. Prior to his sentencing hearing, Lawrence fled Utah and resettled ...

Landmark Stanford Prison Experiment Criticized as a Sham

by Steve Horn

It’s a study widely taught in high school and college psychology textbooks as a prime example of how, as Lord Acton put it, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s also a study whose findings may very well have been falsely represented.

The study ...

Ninth Circuit Modifies Deliberate Indifference Analysis for Pretrial Detainees’ Inadequate Medical Care Claims

by Matt Clarke

On April 30, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held it was error to apply a subjective standard to a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim alleging inadequate medical care that resulted in the death of a pretrial detainee.

Matthew Shawn Gordon was arrested on ...

Lawsuit Over Prisoner Assault at Tennessee Jail Results in Settlement, Dismissal

by Kevin Bliss

A civil rights complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of a pretrial detainee who was severely beaten by his cellmate at the Rutherford County jail, was dismissed in May 2018 following a settlement by the county defendants ...

New York: $100,000 to Settle Suit over Rape of Trans Prisoner Held in Men’s Prison

by Christopher Zoukis

The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a male-to-female transgender prisoner who was raped while housed in a men’s prison. The February 5, 2018 settlement included no admission of liability.

LeslieAnn Manning is ...

Low Pay, High Staff Turnover Drive Texas Prison Guard Shortage

by Matthew Clarke

Of the 26,000 guards who work in Texas’ 104 state prisons, 28 percent left their jobs in 2017 – an increase from the prior year’s 22.8 percent turnover rate and “the highest in recent memory,” according to Bryan Collier, executive director of the Texas ...

Australian Woman Gives Birth in Cell After Guards Can’t Unlock the Door

by Monte McCoin

In January 2018, an unnamed prisoner at Western Australia’s Bandyup Women’s Prison was forced to give birth alone and crying for help while guards struggled to unlock the door to her cell.

Professor Neil Morgan, the Independent Inspector of Custodial Services, said, “This was potentially a dangerous ...

Florida ICE Detention Center Restricts Detainees’ Observance of Ramadan

by Steve Horn

In the midst of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for those of the Islamic faith, the Glades County Detention Center in Florida implemented a policy that banned some Muslim prisoners from participating in the religious observance.

One of the most fundamental parts of Ramadan is ...

Rhode Island: Life-sentenced Prisoner is “Civilly Dead,” Cannot Pursue Tort Claim

by Christopher Zoukis

The Rhode Island Supreme Court, citing an antiquated law that declares life-sentenced state prisoners legally “dead in all respects,” affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a prisoner’s negligence claim for damages suffered when he was attacked by another prisoner.

Dana Gallop was convicted of first-degree murder ...

Humanism to be Recognized as Approved Faith in North Carolina Prisons

by Kevin Bliss

On March 28, 2018, a federal district court entered a summary judgment order that held Humanism was in fact a faith group that must be recognized by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Kwame Jamal Teague, incarcerated at the Lanesboro Correctional Institution, continually asked prison ...

Louisiana Jail Settles with DOJ Over HIV Discrimination

by Dale Chappell

The Union Parish Detention Center (UPDC) in Farmerville, Louisiana reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in March 2018 to stop discriminating against HIV-positive prisoners, plus the parish agreed to pay $27,500 to one detainee held in segregation for six months due ...

Pro se Texas Prisoner Wins $250,550 Default Judgment in Use of Force Case

by Ed Lyon

William Gerald Fitzgerald was a pre-trial detainee at a jail in Harris County, Texas when, on May 18, 2013, he was attacked from behind by jailer Myron Nelson. Nelson struck Fitzgerald in the right eye hard enough to dislodge the lens, tearing both the iris and cornea ...

Angola Prison Lawsuit Poses Question: What Kind of Medical Care do Prisoners Deserve?

by Amanda Aronczyk & Katie Rose Quandt, WNYC Radio

In 2005, Francis Brauner was a quarter of the way through a 20-year prison sentence at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana, when he had an accident.

Brauner was imprisoned for a rape conviction, which he maintains was wrongful and ...

California Attorney Specializes in Representing Prisoners Victimized by Fraud

by Monte McCoin

Peter Borenstein graduated from law school in 2014 with a burning passion for criminal justice reform ignited by his 20-year pen-pal relationship with a federal prisoner who had been a client of his father’s. He began volunteering at Francisco Homes, a halfway house, as a legal consultant ...

Class-action Settlement in Mississippi “Debtors’ Prison” Case

by Derek Gilna

In April 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced a settlement in a federal class-action suit filed against the city of Corinth, Mississippi that accused the municipality and its chief Municipal Court judge, John C. Ross, of running a “modern day debtor’s prison” that discriminated against ...

Colorado Accused of Failing to Comply with Settlement in Mental Health Care Suit

by Derek Gilna

On June 13, 2018, attorneys representing mentally ill defendants held in Colorado jails moved to reopen a 2012 class-action settlement in which the state agreed to cease “warehousing” mentally ill prisoners and provide them with timely evaluations. According to plaintiffs’ counsel, “Under the terms of [that] settlement ...

Florida: Federal Prison Guard Sentenced for Accepting Bribe

by Monte McCoin

Former FCC Coleman guard Albert Larry Harris, Jr., 27, was sentenced to 24 months in prison on February 15, 2018 after Senior U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore accepted his guilty plea for taking a bribe as a public official.

According to a press release ...

Nebraska County, Jail Medical Provider Settle Suit Over Medication Denial for $10,000

by Matt Clarke

In April 2018, Saunders County, Nebraska and Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. (ACH) agreed to pay $10,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former jail prisoner who was denied medication for a brain tumor.

When John Gillock, 43, was arrested on a misdemeanor theft charge, he ...

Iowa Prison Guard Wins $2 Million on Retaliation, Disability Accommodation Claims

by Ed Lyon

Kristine Sink began working as a guard at the old Iowa State Penitentiary in 2003. She was initially assigned to a Clinical Care Unit that housed mentally ill prisoners, sex offenders and prisoners with behavioral problems.

Sink noticed that offenders in the Clinical Care Unit often watched ...

News in Brief

Alaska: On January 17, 2018, a 43-man riot flared and quickly dissipated on the yard of the maximum-security Spring Creek Correctional Center, leaving five prisoners with injuries and resulting in a facility-wide lockdown. Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Megan Edge said guards deployed pepper spray when the prisoners became “combative ...


 

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