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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: December, 1992

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Volume 3, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Physical Evidence Need Not be Preserved For Hearing (p 1)
  2. Officials Seek to End Politicization of Crime Debate (p 1)
  3. Beaten Jail Prisoner Entitled to Counsel (p 2)
  4. Incarcerated Juveniles Have Right to Court Access (p 2)
  5. Jail Inmates Entitled to Safe Cells (p 2)
  6. Medical Treatment Cannot Be Delayed to Coerce Confession (p 3)
  7. Unlawful to Knock Down Handicapped Prisoner (p 3)
  8. Prison Drug Test Survey (p 3)
  9. Prisoner Has No Right to Independent Drug Test (p 3)
  10. BOP Prisoners Don't Need to Exhaust Administrative Remedies (p 4)
  11. Due Process Requires Hearing Before Punishment (p 4)
  12. Hearing Officer Must Base Guilt Finding on Evidence (p 4)
  13. Resources for Incarcerated Parents (p 5)
  14. Government Entitled to Only One Qualified Immunity Appeal (p 5)
  15. Texas Death Row Prisoners on Hunger Strike (p 6)
  16. Magistrates Cannot Dismiss Civil Rights Suits (p 6)
  17. Prisoner Entitled to Appointment of Substitute Counsel (p 6)
  18. Animal Rights Movement Criminalized (p 6)
  19. Attention Artists (p 7)
  20. California HIV+ Prisoners on Medical Strike (p 7)
  21. U.S. Slammed on Death Penalty (p 7)
  22. Death Penalty Foes Boo Pennsylvania Governor (p 7)
  23. From The Editor (p 8)
  24. Crime and Punishment in America (p 8)
  25. From the Hole to the Street (p 9)
  26. Prison Press Reviews (p 10)
  27. Prison Slave Labor in the U.S. (p 10)
  28. Article Clarification (p 13)

Physical Evidence Need Not be Preserved For Hearing

Physical Evidence Need Not Be Preserved For Hearing

Eddie Griffin is a Pennsylvania state prisoner. During a cell search prison guards found about 15 gallons of fermented beverages in his cell. The guards ordered Griffin to flush the liquids down the toilet and Griffin complied. Griffin was infracted, found guilty at a disciplinary hearing and given sixty days in segregation.

Griffin filed suit under § 1983 claiming his right to due process had been violated because no samples of the liquid had been tested or preserved for the hearing. The district court agreed and ruled in his favor at 768 F. Supp 153 (ED PA, 1991) [ PLN , Vol. 2, No. 12] and granted summary judgement in Griffin's favor and awarded him $1.00 in nominal damages.

The prison officials appealed and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the lower court. Applying the Supreme Court's ruling in Arizona v. Youngblood , 488 US 51, 109 S. Ct 333 (1988), the court held that due process does not require prison officials to preserve evidence for disciplinary hearings unless there is a showing of bad faith by the guards in failing to do so.

The district court had applied the ...

Officials Seek to End Politicization of Crime Debate

Hundreds of public officials have signed a statement urging political candidates to refrain from "appeals to base human instincts and demagoguery" when discussing crime this election year. Furthermore, the statement criticizes past approaches to crime control, which it says have relied too heavily on prison as a criminal penalty.

The "Campaign for an Effective Crime Policy" was announced in Washington, D.C. press conference this summer. More than 350 officials have signed the one-page policy statement, and campaign leaders said they will continue to seek additional sponsors.

Not surprisingly, the sponsors include many criminal defense lawyers and others who might be expected to advocate limits on the growth of prisons. But the signatories also include the highest-ranking correctional officials of nearly 20 states, plus numerous wardens of individual institutions and other second and third tier corrections officials. Several former state corrections chiefs also have signed the statement. Other sponsors include present and former governors, attorneys general, prosecutors, police chiefs, judges, juvenile justice officials, academics, and legislators.

The statement reads, in part: "The cost of the criminal justice system, sustained mostly by state and local governments, has soared over the last decade and now threatens the ability to deliver many basic ...

Beaten Jail Prisoner Entitled to Counsel

James Swofford is a pre-trial detainee in the Franklin County (IL) jail charged with aggravated sexual assault. Upon being booked into the jail Swofford was placed in a cell with ten other prisoners. During the night they beat, kicked and stomped Swofford, urinated on him and sodomized him with a broom handle. Despite his screams, the cell was not inspected until the next morning when he was taken to the hospital for treatment. Swofford filed suit under § 1983 claiming violation of his fourteenth amendment right to protection while in custody. He also requested appointment of counsel. The district court denied the motion for appointment of counsel and dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim.

Swofford appealed and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The court held that the allegations in the complaint were more that sufficient to state a claim. The due process clause protects pretrial detainees from deliberate exposure to violence and jail officials have a duty to protect prisoners if they learn there is a strong likelihood the prisoner will be assaulted. Because Swofford filed his suit pro se he is entitled to a liberal reading of his complaint.

The Court ...

Incarcerated Juveniles Have Right to Court Access

In a still developing area of the law, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that juvenile prisoners have a constitutional right of access to the courts. To make this right meaningful, the state must provide juveniles with access to attorneys. This opinion joins the First Circuit and a district court in Mississippi in reaching this conclusion.

John L. is a Tennessee juvenile in a secure prison. He filed suit under § 1983 claiming he was denied access to the courts. The case was converted into a class action suit. The district court granted summary judgement to the juveniles holding they had a constitutional right of access to the courts and the defendants had failed to provide meaningful, adequate and effective access. See: 750 F. Supp 299 (MD TN 1990). The district court issued an order that the state hire private attorneys to provide legal assistance to the juveniles and set out the issues the contract lawyers could pursue.

The state appealed and the court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the case. The court wrote a lengthy analysis of the right of access to the courts in the prison and non-prison context. Relying on prison cases ...

Jail Inmates Entitled to Safe Cells

Jail Inmates Entitled To Safe Cells

Two prisoners at the Birmingham, Alabama, jail committed suicide and their estates filed suit claiming violations of the detainees' eighth and fourteenth amendment rights. Both men hanged themselves with bed sheets hung from an iron bar across their cell window. In a two year period there were 57 suicide attempts at the jail, 4 were successful and 29 involved the iron bar. The district court granted summary judgement to the defendants. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for trial.

The court of appeals affirmed dismissal of the plaintiff's cause of action for failure to train jail staff by holding the defendants had a significant screening procedure to identify and segregate prisoners with mental health problems.

The court reversed dismissal of the deliberate indifference to the prisoners' safety claims. While noting prisoners do not have a right to a suicide proof cell, jail and prison officials can be held liable when they are aware a jail's construction makes it probable that prisoners will be able to commit suicide. The defendant county, county commission, commissioners, and sheriff were all responsible for the ...

Medical Treatment Cannot Be Delayed to Coerce Confession

Medical Treatment Cannot Be Delayed To Coerce Confession

Wesley Taylor is a Missouri state prisoner who suffered a ruptured appendix. Upon arriving at the prison hospital, vomiting blood and in extreme pain, the prison doctor asked him if he had swallowed any balloons of drugs. Taylor denied any such activity and requested treatment. Exploratory surgery was not performed until three days later, after Taylor was repeatedly questioned about drug laden balloons. Nearly two weeks later additional surgery had to be performed to drain abscesses caused by the initial improper treatment. Taylor filed suit claiming violation of his eighth amendment rights and violations of Missouri state negligence laws. The defendants filed for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, which the district court denied. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for trial.

The court held that withholding medical treatment from a prisoner in order to coerce a confession violates the eighth amendment. Prisoners have a right to medical treatment and such treatment cannot by conditioned upon confessing to illegal actions. In this case there was no evidence to imply Taylor had ingested any balloons or foreign objects to ...

Unlawful to Knock Down Handicapped Prisoner

Unlawful To Knock Down Handicapped Prisoner

Laneer Winder is a handicapped Illinois pretrial detainee in the Chicago jail. Due to a back injury Winder cannot walk more than short distances and needs leg braces to walk at all. While going from his cell to recreation he paused to rest. A jail guard told him to get moving, and, while Winder tried to explain his handicap, the guard pushed him from behind causing him to fall. After Winder filed a grievance over the incident the same guard infracted him for allegedly refusing to obey orders, threatening staff, etc. At his hearing Winder was not allowed to call witnesses and was found "guilty" and placed in isolation.

Winder filed suit under § 1983 claiming he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being pushed to the floor. He also claimed his rights were violated by being infracted in retaliation for using the grievance system and being denied an opportunity to call witnesses at his disciplinary hearing.

On the defendants' motion for summary judgement the court dismissed Winder's retaliation claim by holding it was not proven that retaliation was a "custom or usage" by jail officials. The court held that because the ...

Prison Drug Test Survey

Drug testing of prison inmates has become a standard practice in federal and state institutions, with hundreds of thousands of urinalysis tests conducted over the course of a year; and a significant portion of the tests turn up positive, according to a major study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Of the 957 state prisons that participated in the BJS survey, 83 percent reported conducting urine tests on prisoners. In community-based facilities where offenders are allowed to come and go, such as work release and pre-release centers, urinalysis is relied on even more heavily for drug enforcement; 98 percent of those facilities reported drug testing of offenders. In addition, all of the 80 federal prisons across the country reported conducting drug tests of prisoners.

Nearly 600,000 urine specimens were collected from 468,000 offenders in the year ending June 30, 1990, BJS reported. In state prisons, 5.8 percent of the tests for marijuana came up positive, as well as 1.4 percent of the test for cocaine, 1.0 percent of the heroin tests, and 2.3 percent of the methamphetamine tests.

More than half of the prisons test inmates randomly, and nearly three-quarters test individual ...

Prisoner Has No Right to Independent Drug Test

Prisoner Has No Right To Independent Drug Test

Rick Koenig is an Arizona prisoner who tested positive for marijuana use in an ADx urine test. He was infracted for drug use. Prior to his disciplinary hearing Koenig requested a gas liquid chromatography-mass spectrometer test (a method that is 100 percent accurate) preformed by an independent laboratory, at his expense, to confirm the ADx test results. Prison officials denied the request and found Koenig guilty.

Koenig filed suit in federal court under § 1983 claiming that denial of his request for an independent drug test violated his due process rights. The district court dismissed the suit and he appealed.

The Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the suit by adopting the reasoning of Pella v. Adams , 702 F. Supp. 244, 248 (DC NV 1988), modified 723 F. Supp. 1394 (DC NV 1989). The court in Pella upheld denial of a prisoner's request for an independent drug test by claiming it would have a "ripple effect" among other prisoners and impose a significant administrative burden on prison officials. Another reason for the decision is that not every prisoner could afford an independent test.

Essentially, this ruling makes it impossible ...

BOP Prisoners Don't Need to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

BOP Prisoners Don't Need To Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Donald Cooney is a federal prisoner who was infracted for insolence to a staff member, found guilty and removed from his job position as a sanction. Cooney began an administrative review of the decision but abandoned it by filing suit under Bivens in federal court claiming violation of his right to due process. The district court dismissed the complaint because Cooney had not exhausted his administrative remedies. The court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded the case back to the district court.

The court of appeals held that whether a prisoner is required to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit is a question of law reviewed de novo by the appeals court.

The court held, based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCarthy v. Madigan , 112 S. Ct 1081 (1992), that federal prisoners are not required to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit in federal court. Thus the court vacated the lower court's dismissal of the suit and remanded the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. See: Cooney v. Edwards , 971 F.2d 345 (9th Cir. 1992).

Due Process Requires Hearing Before Punishment

Keith Brown-El is a prisoner at the Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP). He was infracted for staying in bed during count and staying in the shower too long. He was found guilty at a disciplinary hearing and sentenced to segregation, transferred to another prison and placed in administrative segregation. The only reason listed for his ad seg placement were the infractions received at MSP months before. Brown-El filed suit under § 1983 claiming his ad seg placement violated the fourteenth amendment's due process provisions. He also claimed being given cold food violated the eighth amendment and that a policy prohibiting him from using inmate-staff paper, when no other paper was available, obstructed his use of the mail and denied his access to the courts. The defendant prison officials moved for summary judgement which the district court granted, dismissing the suit.

Brown-El appealed and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affimed in part, reversed in part and remanded.

The court of appeals affirmed dismissal of the claims pertaining to the cold food and inmate staff paper as being frivolous.

The court reversed dismissal of the segregation claims by noting "...a prisoner cannot be punished for a conduct violation without the ...

Hearing Officer Must Base Guilt Finding on Evidence

Hearing Officer Must Base Guilt Finding On Evidence

Frank Zavaro is a New York state prisoner who was infracted for participating in a riot and assault on guards. A riot had broken out in a mess hall with several guards being attacked. The guards infracted everyone in the mess hall ...

Resources for Incarcerated Parents

The Child Custody Advocacy Services (CHICAS) Project is a part of the Family Reunification component of the Pacific Oaks Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents. The project offers child custody and placement advocacy to jailed or imprisoned parents and their families.

Up to 38% of imprisoned parents have lost temporary or permanent custody of their children. The largest proportions of all terminations of parental rights involve incarcerated parents, and this number is growing. Approximately 15% of prisoner's children are in the foster care of strangers.

Longitudinal studies have documented the negative effects of family separations and multiple out-of-home placements for children. These are two common, critical factors in the experience of children of offenders for the following reasons: 1) this population has low levels of income and education, and less access to assistance and resources in working with the child dependency system; 2) the criminal adjudication and incarceration processes conflict with dependency procedures; 3) family reunification legislation and guidelines, created to insure speedy return of children removed by the court to their parents, discriminate against prisoners; and 4) incarceration and its aftermath prevent parents from meeting reunification requirements.

The main objective of the CHICAS Project is preservation of the ...

Government Entitled to Only One Qualified Immunity Appeal

Government Entitled To Only One Qualified Immunity Appeal

In Mitchell v. Forsyth , 472 US 511, 105 S. Ct. 2806 (1982), the US Supreme Court clarified its prior rulings on qualified immunity. Government officials performing discretionary functions (such as prison officials, law enforcement personnel and most government officials) are entitled to a "qualified immunity" from suit. This means that unless the law is clearly established at the time of the violation so that the official would know his/her conduct was unlawful, the official is entitled to dismissal of suits for money damages against them. The qualified immunity doctrine does not affect suits seeking only injunctive and/or declaratory relief. Mitchell authorizes qualified immunity dismissal of suits for money damages on either a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment before any discovery is conducted. Mitchell also authorizes the government defendants to immediately appeal the denial of any motions for qualified immunity by a lower court.

 Prison officials routinely raise qualified immunity defenses when sued. This case is not a prison case but the legal principles it announces are just as applicable to prison cases.

This case involves the bank manager of a savings and loan who was dismissed ...

Texas Death Row Prisoners on Hunger Strike

Texas Death Row Prisoners On Hunger Strike

Since July 19, 1992, more that 50 condemned prisoners on Texas's death row commenced a chain hunger strike. They are fasting in pairs for three days at a time, consuming only liquids, when the strike is taken over by another pair. The prisoners state in part:

"We have initiated this action to protest and dramatize the discriminatory application of the death penalty to minorities and to workers and the poor and because of the ongoing use of unethical and corrupt law enforcement and prosecutorial tactics prevalent in an overwhelming and alarming number of capital cases in the U.S. and because of the demoralizing confinement and treatment of condemned prisoners.

"We assert, that no matter what reason the government gives for killing prisoners in its custody, and no matter what method of execution is used, the application of the death penalty upon us, the condemned, is a heinous violation of our human rights, and that state sanctioned executions have become, like piracy and slave trading from the days of old, an enemy of all humanity."

The prisoners demand a moratorium on all executions and that the death penalty be declared unconstitutional because ...

Magistrates Cannot Dismiss Civil Rights Suits

Johnnie Reynaga is a California state prisoner who filed a § 1983 suit against a public defender, district attorney, deputy district attorney and state trial judge seeking damages and injunctive relief on the ground they had denied him his right to a fair trial. The suit was referred to a Magistrate who ruled the defendants were immune from damages and that Reynaga's request for injunctive relief, his early release from prison, was not available under § 1983 but only under the federal habeas corpus statutes. The Magistrate then stayed the action until Reynaga had exhausted his state remedies.

Reynaga appealed. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the magistrate's ruling and remanded the case. The court held that the Magistrate had clearly exceeded his statutory authority, granted by 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b) (1) (A), by staying the suit. The magistrate was only authorized to make a recommendation to the district judge who does have the authority to dismiss or stay suits.

The court of appeals held it did have jurisdiction to hear the appeal of the magistrate's order where the latter had exceeded his jurisdiction. To do so the court converted Reynaga's appeal into ...

Prisoner Entitled to Appointment of Substitute Counsel

Richard Rayes is a Nebraska state prisoner. Rayes filed suit under § 1983 claiming prison guards had slammed a steel door on his hand breaking a finger, that medical staff refused to treat him, and guards confiscated his finger splints on three separate occasions which interfered with his medical treatment and caused him more pain. He also claimed that on another occasion two guards slammed an outer door on his arms which were stuck in the food slot of an inner sliding door. The district court appointed counsel to represent Rayes. The attorney withdrew from the case citing irreconcilable differences with Reyes. The district court refused to appoint substitute counsel. The case went to a jury trial and Rayes lost.

On appeal the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court begins by noting that civil litigants have no right to a court appointed attorney. If counsel is appointed, indigent litigants cannot "shop around" for appointed counsel or fire one lawyer in hopes of getting a better one.

In this case however, the lower court abused its discretion by not appointing substitute counsel. The court held that because the case had merit, was complex and Rayes was ...

Animal Rights Movement Criminalized

With little fanfare by the mainstream media George Bush has signed S. 544, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-346) into law. The Act creates a new offense entitled "animal enterprise terrorism", defined as traveling in interstate or foreign commerce, of using the mail or any facility in interstate or foreign commerce, to cause physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise by intentionally stealing, damaging or causing the loss of any property (including animals or records) used by the animal enterprise. The term "animal enterprise" is defined as: (1) a commercial or academic enterprise that uses animals for food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing; (2) a zoo, aquarium, circus, rodeo, or lawful competitive animal event; or (3) any fair or similar event intended to advance agriculture arts and sciences.

This is a direct response to the growing efforts of the animal rights movement to challenge those businesses that make a profit from the exploitation and suffering of animals. This law targets actions such as freeing of lab animals, destruction of fur and factory farms, etc. Only by taking the profit out of these hideous enterprises will they be limited within the current economic ...

Attention Artists

FUSPPP (Free U.S. Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War) is sponsoring an art show of art by prisoners. They are seeking to gather art from around the country, in all different forms, including poetry and other writing, to draw attention to the stories of various prisoners, their political work and the persecution they have faced from the U.S. government. They will hold the display in April, 1993, in a local art gallery. If you want to sell your art the gallery takes 10 percent and the rest goes to you. There is a loose deadline of January or February to get the art to them.

For more information contact:
P.O. Box 565
Madison, WI 53701  

or call Melissa Froiland (608) 256-7005 or Shani Handel (608) 251-5298.

California HIV+ Prisoners on Medical Strike

California HIV+ Prisoners On Medical Strike

The rate of HIV (the virus believed to cause AIDS infection) in prisons is higher than in all other institutions in the U.S. National studies have shown that prisoners with AIDS live half as long as people with AIDS on the outside. Even in the face of this damning reality the California DOC refuses to implement a comprehensive, state-wide humane treatment plan for the more that 6,000 prisoners with HIV/AIDS in the California prison system. As a result the prisoners suffer discrimination, segregation, and substandard health care. In effect they are sentenced to death. The California DOC segregates all HIV/AIDS prisoners.

On September 19, 1992, more than 100 prisoners in T and U wings at the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville initiated a medical strike. Many of the prisoners risk serious illness for participating in the strike. The prisoners demand that HIV related dementia be treated as a medical rather than a disciplinary problem; that staff physician Ezaz be removed and replace by Dr. Foster; that the number of hospital beds be increased to accommodate the level of need; and that standards of care and programming be restored to ...

U.S. Slammed on Death Penalty

While a growing number of countries are abolishing the death penalty as a form of justice for convicted criminals, the United States is executing convicts at a faster rate than ever before, the head of Amnesty International recently said.

America's insistence on upholding the death penalty contradicts its policy of advocating international human rights, said Amnesty International Secretary General Ian Martin.

"It is our belief that at the same time the U.S. government proclaims its commitment to promoting human rights around the world, that same government and a large number of state authorities are by their actions undermining the respect for human rights," Martin told Amnesty U.S. chapter members at their annual meeting.

Ten states have executed 26 prisoners since January, Martin said. Four of the states had not had an execution in 25 years, and one, Delaware, had not executed a prisoner in 46 years.

Death Penalty Foes Boo Pennsylvania Governor

By Paul Wright

Robert Casey is the governor of Pennsylvania. He claims to be "pro-life" because he opposes a woman's right to choose abortion and has signed into law one of the more restrictive abortion laws in the U.S. (which was recently affirmed by the Supreme Court). Like most of the "pro-life" crowd Casey is also an avid fan of the death penalty. Pennsylvania now has more than 100 prisoners sitting on death row, the majority of them black. Casey claims to be concerned about life before it's born but that after that people are on their own.

Casey wasn't allowed to speak at the Democratic Party's recent convention in New York because of his anti-abortion stance. To remedy this some "liberals" in New York decided to have Casey as a speaker on the topic of being a "pro-life liberal."

Mumia Abu Jamal is a former Black Panther now on death row in Pennsylvania, convicted of killing a cop despite evidence proving his innocence. He is the only political prisoner on death row in the U.S. [See PLN , Vol. 2, No. 5] and his case has brought widespread attention from human rights and legal ...

From The Editor

By Paul Wright

Welcome to our last issue of PLN for this year. This makes 32 consecutive issues of PLN published. This isn't bad in a business where many newsletters, not just prison ones either, count their number of issues in the single digits. Looking back over the past year I'm pretty pleased at what we were able to accomplish, from getting our non-profit mail status to a computerized mailing list system to wonderful new outside volunteers to help in PLN's production. We've had our ups and downs to be sure, but overall things turned out for the better.

In October we sent sample copies of PLN to prison and human rights groups across the U.S. With so many Americans behind bars there is an increasing number of concerned citizens on the outside interested in prison issues and struggles. Right now there isn't as much communication between us as there should be. I think a big reason for this is the fact that it's hard to learn about who is out there due to the fact the prison struggle is marginalized by the mainstream media. The alternative press, like PLN, is cut off ...

Crime and Punishment in America

Crime And Punishment In America

By Paul Wright

The October 7, 1992, edition of the Seattle Times reported that in Carson, CA a homeless man had been acquitted by a jury of stealing aluminum cans from a recycling bin. The man was charged with misdemeanor theft and the trial lasted four days. Faced with public criticism over the expense of the trial, Taylor Fitzmaurice, the prosecutor, is quoted as saying: "You can't steal someone else's property just because you want to eat...I feel the law must be applied equally."

 This amply illustrates what the poor have known for centuries: that laws in a capitalist society serve to safeguard the property and interests of the ruling class, i.e. those with the money. It wasn't that long ago when stealing a loaf of bread to feed your kids was a capital offense in England, as was poaching game on the huge estates of royalty. Fitzmaurice's argument has been avidly used for centuries, that wanting to eat is no excuse to steal. Whether it's a homeless man in California, landless peasants in Latin America, unemployed workers in Europe, they all run up against the "laws" of ...

From the Hole to the Street

Whatever happened to the practice of gradual reintegration of prisoners back into society? Corrections rhetoric for years has included the concept that gradual reintegration is conducive to better psychological adjustment to freedom, thereby reducing recidivism. Theoretically, inmates were to be carefully transferred from maximum security facilities to medium, then to minimum and then to a halfway house prior to supervised paroleand I believe that was primarily the norm to a large extent. Not any more.

At Taycheedah Correctional Institution (TCI), women are being given parole grants in Program Segregation--also known as "the hole" or punitive solitary confinement--the most maximum security environment possible. What this means is that women are going from the hole directly to the streets. Is it any wonder they are unable to cope after they are released?

Why, you may ask, does this happen? Since all of these policies are intentionally esoteric, it is no surprise that the public does not understand what is going on. It happens because despite a Wisconsin Court of Appeals' decision that prohibits a "no-step" restriction ( Jaworski v. Kolb , #891469, District 4, January 25, 1990), TCI Superintendent Switala imposes a "no-step" policy upon any woman convicted of any institutional offense that is ...

Prison Press Reviews

By Paul Wright

There are a number of excellent publications that deal with the American prison system. We exchange with most of them and try to inform our readers of these publications by periodically reviewing them. Because we have had a large increase in new readers, I am going to list some publications that we have reviewed in the past but which are still timely and good sources of information.

Many prisons have "prison newspapers" and I am not including them in my review. While most of these papers are of excellent technical quality, the problem is that the prison administration foots the printing bill and censors the content before it is published. Like they say: "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." Which results in a lot of coverage about the local prison football game, the latest pearls of wisdom from the warden, but generally little of substance. For example, the cell houses can be burning, tear gas wafting through the yard and the national guard storming the prison and not a word will appear in the prison paper. Complaints of brutality, abuses, etc., seldom see the light of day because those committing the abuses review ...

Prison Slave Labor in the U.S.

Prison Slave Labor In The U.S.

By Joe Mowish

[The following is a letter to Business Week concerning an article they published on prison slave labor in China. ]

Ihave read your article of December 30, 1991 and I agree the use of slave labor anywhere is deplorable and the content of the article exposes a problem of serious magnitude.

However, as well as in China, there is an equally egregious situation currently in existence in our own country here and now , only with a different, more sophisticated structured approach comprised of psychological and behavioral mental brainwashing and the elimination of all alternatives, which forces the federal inmate into Federal Prison Industries' system of slave labor as opposed to China's "physical abuse" approach of converting human beings into prison slaves.

Quoting your article in part "...Prisoners in federal jails (USA) make everything from army helmets to office furniture, but they have only one buyer: The Federal Government, and the work programs at U.S. prisons are geared toward giving inmates skills." I would like for you to consider the following:

(1) Have any of you ever been to a Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) factory and observed the assembly line ...

Article Clarification

J.D., Lompoc, CA

Received your August issue and as good as ever, but one story had me a little uncomfortable. The article about the Lompoc Prison Strike...the source Out of Time (3543 18th St. San Francisco, CA) [ PLN , vol. 3, #8 August]

The United States Penitentiary Lompoc and the F.C.I. Lompoc are two different facilities but located in close proximity of each other. In March several organized prisoners within Lompoc Penitentiary got together and coordinated a work stoppage, through covert tactics. It was a general consensus by those participating in this organized stoppage that over 80% of the general population would not participate, as rumor of such protests were always the order of the day. It was decided that through disinformation and a little pressure by tactically placed groups within the institution to dissuade the weak from reporting for work would get the message across. This was the only way to get the message across that there were observers and those who went to work would be chastised by the other convicts. In so far as solidarity and unity within U.S.P., there never was any and never will be as the inmates are not ...


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