The Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners do not lose all rights upon entering prison but rather retain those rights not inconsistent with incarceration, such as the right of access to the courts, the right to practice religion, the right to free speech, etc. See: Pell v. Procunier , 417 US 817, 94 S.ct 2800 (1974).
In Turner v. Safely , 482 US 78, 107 S.Ct 2254 (1987), the Supreme Court set forth the standards that courts should use in analyzing prison regulations that infringe upon prisoners constitutional rights. The rule being challenged must bear a rational relationship with legitimate penological interests but prison officials have wide latitude ...
Longtime readers of PLN will have followed our reports as PLN was censored at various prisons across the country. The role of prison, legal and political publications in prison is very important as it enables prisoners to learn, study and be in a better position to vindicate their civil and political rights. Prison officials have always used censorship of varying degrees to silence the voice of prisoners and of progressive change. As prisoners have challenged the censorship in the courts a body of case law dealing with the subject has been created.
Those charged are Darryl Coleman, Benny Galindez, Alfonso Giraldo, W.E. Jones and Joe Saenz. They acted as camp drill instructors and choked and beat the inmates with their fists, feet and broomsticks, said prosecutor Don Smyth.
The indictments capped an investigation that began in March and spanned 17 sessions of the grand jury in which 49 witnesses described life at the camp located north of Houston.
Authorities at the camp have numerous ways to discipline inmates without resorting to violence, including calisthenics, push ups and unpleasant work assignments.
None of the 27 inmates who testified before grand jurors complained about having to drill, exercise or participate in ceremonial activities at the camp, Smyth said.
"It was the physical abuse, not the physical training," he said. "It was what they called 'the laying on of hands.'"
Houston, Texas- Five Harris County, Texas, deputies were fired June 9 upon being indicted on felony charges for abusing inmates at the county's boot camp for first time offenders.
In the late 1980's, administrators at Waupun, Wisconsin's largest prison, devised a grand scheme to increase the difficulties facing any prisoner attempting to vindicate his rights in court. In May, 1988, the keep disbanded the Paralegal Base Committee (PBC), an organization made up of inmate paralegals who provided legal training and other assistance to prisoners. The PBC also conducted fundraising activities and used the money to purchase legal materials for the Waupun law library. As an excuse for disbanding the PBC, administrators said they were concerned that the group might become a front for gang activity.
In January, 1989, Waupun officials executed an even bolder stroke. They combined the prison's general library with the law library by physically moving the general library into the area previously used solely for the law library. Many law books and other legal materials were discarded in order to make room for Stephen King novels.
Combining the two libraries reduced the number of inmates that could be served by the facilities. Prior to the consolidation, the general library sent out 15 passes for each one hour period, and the law library sent out 20 passes for each period (in ...
By Adrian Lomax
Even after the money is spent to open new prisons and add beds in existing prisons, the system is likely to be operating well beyond its intended capacity, said DOC secretary Chase Riveland.
According to Riveland, "That leaves us with two options. We'll either have to build more prisons, or we will have to make some policy changes. We really need to decide who we need to put in prison and for how long."
The state's seven major prisons are now operating at 165 percent of their intended capacity.
On June 26, 1992, the system took in its 10,000th prisoner. If incarceration continues as projected, the state will have 14,000 prisoners by 1996.
Last year the state began work on 6 new prisons. The state legislature added $10.5 million to the DOC budget this year to open these prisons as fast as they could be built. The additional money is intended to speed the process up even more.
With the $10.5 million the state has just added 400 beds to the Coyote Ridge minimum ...
The Washington state DOC has been given an additional $15 million in emergency funding to ease overcrowding in state prisons.
The District Court granted Blanks leave to proceed In Forma Pauperis . The court notes that there may well be a constitutional limit to the number of searches that prison officials may conduct during a given time period. Thus, Blanks had stated a claim under the eighth amendment.
Readers should note that this is just a preliminary ruling determining that the suit is not frivolous. The defendants have not yet made an appearance, and the merits of the suit havn't been ruled. It clear if Blanks will get to trial or win the suit in the future. See: Blanks v. Smith , 790 F. Supp. 192 (ED WI 1992).
Travis Blanks, a Wisconsin state prisoner, filed suit under 1983 claiming his 8th amendment rights had been violated by prison officials searching his cell nearly everyday for a 2 week period.
The district court held that prisoners do not have a First Amendment ...
George Goff is an Iowa prisoner who was infracted for verbally abusing a guard. He was found guilty at a disciplinary hearing and filed suit under § 1983 claiming violation of his rights to free speech and due process.
Donnie Jones is a New York state prisoner who was beaten by prison guards after refusing to follow orders to go to a transit dorm. Jones was taken to the dorm in a headlock and arm hold and beaten some more ...
Guard Liable For Not Stopping Beating by Other Guards
Cornwell filed suit claiming violation of his fourth and eighth amendment rights. After a jury trial the jury returned verdicts in his favor on the fourth amendment claim for violation of his privacy and dismissed his eighth amendment claim. The district court awarded attorney fees as well. On appeal the court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part for a new trial.
The court of appeals held that claims of excessive force under the fourth amendment do not require allegations of assault and being made to lie on the cold ground constitutes excessive force. The court then went on to hold ...
Michael Cornwell is an Ohio state prisoner. In February, 1987, while in prison in Mansfield, he participated in a sit down strike with 76 other prisoners protesting a cutback in recreation time. Dahlberg, the prison warden, ordered guards to use force to terminate the peaceful strike. After firing warning shots the prisoners were handcuffed and made to lie face down in a cold muddy area, where the temperature was 40 degrees. Prior to transporting the prisoners to another prison the prisoners were strip searched outdoors; the strip searches were observed by female guards.
By Paul Wright
Welcome to another issue of PLN. We are enclosing a PLN subscription form with this issue. If you are receiving PLN and have not yet donated, please take this opportunity to do so. Otherwise, you might miss some issues. We would also appreciate it if you could copy and then distribute our flyer to other prisoners, their friends, families and people interested in what we have to say. We are trying to build up our subscription base and we need your help. Let folks know that we're here!
In an effort to make PLN available to more prisoners we sent a sample copy to the prison law libraries of every medium and max prison in the US, about 600 total. So far the response has been underwhelming, with only some eight law libraries subscribing. Apparently the state has plenty of money for new prisons, razor wire, fences, etc., but not for resources to put in its libraries. All told we think it was a success in that more prisoners became aware of PLN.
We plan to conduct other mass mailings to potential subscribers at some point soon. Please let us know if you ...
From the Editor
Lawrence Hill is an Ohio state prisoner. While in the Cincinnati jail Hill tested positive for tuberculosis and was prescribed medication to prevent it from becoming active and to eradicate it. The medication had to be taken continuously for one year otherwise the bacteria may develop an immunity to the ...
For ordering information write: Clark Boardman, 155 Pfingsten Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015.
Clark Boardman has published Prisoner Collateral Attacks , a guide to bringing or defending against inmates lawsuits challenging their confinement. Topics include: prisoner challenges to state and federal convictions; the exhaustion of state remedies requirement; appealing a district court decision, procedural default; showing cause and prejudice; the miscarriage of justice exception; and other matters.
The book costs $19.95 to the general public and $8.95 to members of Creations .Creations is a prisoner rights group that also publishes a newsletter and is active in various projects, including challenges to the shoddy telephone service given to prisoners. To order the directory, or for more information about it, write to: Creations, P.O. Box 2403, Burlington, NC 27216.
The Creations Connection is an offender/ex-offender reference directory listing hundreds of groups, organizations and publications in all 50 states that deal with and are concerned with prisoner rights. It also includes useful addresses such as those of the federal courts, governors, federal and state agencies with prisoner assistance programs, etc. It is organized by state and will be a useful addition to any prisoner rights activist's collection or for libraries and such.
Rap Singer Ice-T has recently been in the news because one his latest albums, "Body Count" has a song on it called "Cop Killer". Nationally the swine have mounted a campaign to get the record's producer and distributor, media conglomerate Time-Warner, to pull the album and the song from distribution. Police groups have criticized the song non stop since its release and have called for boycotts of Time Warner and pressured numerous retail outlets to stop selling "Body Count" and have urged city pension funds to divest themselves of Time Warner stock.
Until recently Time Warner fended off the attacks by claiming to stand for artistic freedom and integrity, i.e. if it makes a buck for their corporate coffers they'll sell it. On July 28, 1992, Ice T announced he would voluntarily drop "Cop Killer" from his album and to show it was not a matter of making money he would distribute the song for free at his concerts.
This isn't the first time that rappers have run afoul of the police state. Rap group N.W.A.'s hit song "Fuck the Police" brought letters from the FBI and ...
Killer Cops Whine About "Cop Killer"
MANSFIELD, OHIO - On June 27, 1992, a black guard named Davis was beaten and stabbed. A white prisoner named Roy Slieber was picked up for the assault, beaten and shipped to the J1 SuperMax control unit in Lucasville, Ohio, within hours.
On June 28, 1992, Davis died of the stab wounds. Within hours the prison was locked down and the administration fabricated a story that the killing was a contract hit by the Aryan Brotherhood. Fellow prisoners Jay Hill, Redbone Hall, Mark Headley, Mullette, Jarrett, Ford, Moore and Trocadoro were picked up and shipped to the hole at Lucasville, first for allegedly being gang leaders, later changed to being involved in drug trafficking, extortion and assault for hire rings. These prisoners have been placed in isolation at Lucasville based on these bald allegations by MANCI warden David Baker.
What the MANCI administration isn't saying is that for the past six months black and white prisoners had filed grievances and kites against Davis complaining of his malicious harassment and disrespect for prisoners and saying that if something wasn't done the guard was bound to get hurt as a result of his own actions. Prisoncrats used the ...
By John Perotti
Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas- On May 11, 1992, the military prisoners at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Ft. Leavenworth [Editors Note: the USDB is a separate prison from the federal prison also located in Leavenworth.] revolted in protest against the conditions at the prison. A result of longterm and deeply felt grievances by the prisoners, the protests involved a non-violent sit down strike and work stoppage. No one was injured in the protests, although prisoners in two prison wings did destroy approximately $50,000 worth of property.
Over the course of the previous 7 weeks, the prison had implemented new rules prohibiting the use of Spanish, banning colored head bands, requiring inmates to stand when an officer enters the room, and tightening the smoking regulations. These changes, on top of the long term grievances against the harshly punitive parole rules and the fact that most inmates were forced to work without pay, increased tensions to a breaking point.
The precipitating incident of the revolt was a fight between an African American and a Euro American inmate. After the fight was broken up, 58 primarily African American inmates refused to be locked down. There was no threat ...
By Carolyn Dock
"When a prisoner is released... the [prison] shall return to the prisoner everything of value taken upon commitment,... or thereafter received by the prisoner."
The prisoners argued that they had in their possession property they had lawfully "received" while in prison, and that under the said statute the DOC would have to store this material until the inmates were released. The state trial court agreed with the prisoners and the state appealed. The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the lower court.
The appeals court held that the new policy, "Insofar as it requires inmates to dispose of property previously accepted into the prison system as authorized property" violates the statute. The Court said: "Any such items disallowed from immediate possession, which were previously authorized, must ...
The state of Arizona adopted a new inmate personal property policy that made contraband many items that prisoners were previously allowed to possess, including the amount of personal clothing a prisoner could own. Inmates affected by the new policy filed a complaint seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to prevent implementation of the policy. The suit was filed in Arizona state court. The prisoners alleged that the new policy conflicted with a state statute which provides:
The appeals court upheld the dismissal, quoting a Latin proverb: De minimus non curiat lex (the law cares not for small things). "Any error," the court found, "is harmless because the amount of actual damages is insignificant." The court found the appeal also frivolous, and assessed damages against the plaintiff inmate of $1420, "which equals ten times the taxable costs." See: Smith v. Stevens , 822 S.W.2d 152 (Tex.App. 1991).
Astate prison inmate sued a prison guard for $3.55 in actual damages, an injunction, and a declaratory judgement. His claim was that the guard took his coffee bag and two packs of cigarettes. Six days after the suit was filed, the trial court found the suit to be frivolous and dismissed it with prejudice. The inmate appealed.
In an encouraging decision, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that prisoners employed by the industry program in Arizona state prisons must be paid minimum wage.
Arizona prisoners are required by statute to "engage in hard labor for not less than forty hours per week." Ten percent of Arizona's prisoners are employed by Arizona Correctional Industries (ARCOR). ARCOR employees produce a variety of goods, from hogs to license plates. Many ARCOR products are sold on the open market. By statute, ARCOR is deemed to be a private business subject to all laws governing business enterprises.
ARCOR employees are paid fifty cents an hour. Several ARCOR employees sued the state of Arizona, claiming that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) required that they be paid the federal minimum wage of $4.25.
State officials argued that the FLSA was not intended to apply to prisoners. However, the court noted that one of the purposes of the FSLA "was to eliminate unfair competition between employers and between workers seeking employment." According to the court, Congress intended to protect both private businesses and employees from being driven out of work by competing products made ...
By Adrian Lomax
Richard sends us a letter from the lawyer handling the case advising that U.S. Sprint had halted the practice of announcing that calls were originating from prisons. This is a major victory! Readers should note that Richard also sued U.S. Sprint (the telephone service provider) under the Federal Communications Act (FCA) of 1934 for their participation in the South Carolina DOC's phone announcements. Apparently corporate lawyers are more willing to stop an unlawful practice than state attorney generals. When corporate lawyers litigate it costs their shareholders money and there is accountability. When the attorney generals office litigates losers into the ground there is no accountability and, as a lieutenant at Walla Walla once told me about litigation costs "it's just taxpayers money anyway."
Any suits challenging telephone service and provisions should include the telephone company as well and ...
PLN recently reported that Creations , a prisoner rights group in North Carolina, had filed suit concerning the practice of U.S. Sprint operators of announcing the fact that a call was originating in a prison and the limitations on phone services available to prisoners. We have recently received an update from Richard Davis, the plaintiff in the suit.
Even though its interim recommendations focused on opening new prisons, the panel said its final report will address a wide range of issues. "The task force rejects the notion that the problem of prison crowding can be solved merely by building more prisons," the report said.
Between 1978 and 1991, the state spent $408 million to build 14 new prisons with more than 11,000 additional bed spaces. "But even the unprecedented--and expensive--building program did not keep pace with the surging inmate population," the task force said. The state currently houses more than 30,000 inmates in a system designed to hold about 20,000.
The inmate population is nearly five times what it was in 1973, the task force ...
The Illinois prison system is rapidly becoming one of the nations most severely overcrowded, and the states prisons are becoming increasingly dangerous places for both inmates and staff, according to a task force established by Gov. Jim Edgar. The crowding could reach a crisis level as early as next April, the task force warned, and solutions will not be easy to find, because the state already has taken advantage of stopgap measures such as double celling and early release policies.
Just a note to inform you of my recent change of address. While in my 4th year of being held in the control unit at Trenton, N.J., state prison. I applied for a contact visit with my children, who were to be brought down from Maine by two friends who had just returned from Cuba. My visit was denied, and on the day I'd requested, April 23rd (one day short of 7 years of captivity), I was told I was being remanded for court, and was promptly chained up and shipped out of the prison and conveyed (U.S. marshals, state police, prison guards) to Maguire Air Force base, from where I was lear jetted to Marion federal Penitentiary (the last time I'd been loaded onto a lear jet on this military base, Ed Mead was already aboard, when we were flown up to New England for the Ohio-7 Sedition Conspiracy Trial).
So here I am, not knowing what my status is, whether I'm doing my federal sentence (53 years for anti-imperialist bombings and conspiracy) or my state sentence (double life plus twenty) for the self-defense killing a N.J. state ...
Tom Manning Moved To Marion
Gerald J. Mose #555 499
P.O. Box 4500
Tennessee Colony, TX 75886-4500
National Association of Legal Assistances (sic) Certified Paralegal. Graduate of Southern Career Institute, seeks other S.C.I. graduates, and incarcerated paralegals, and everyone interested in prisoners' rights, prison reform, and civil rights to join me in establishing a monthly newsletter, and a network of paralegals for the exchanging of legal knowledge, case law, and the edification of our profession. Write to: