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Prison Legal News: July, 2022

Issue PDF
Volume 33, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Mission Creep: Prison Telecoms Scramble to Extend Their Reach (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 10)
  3. U.S. Marshals Service Inspectors Find D.C. Central Jail Not Meeting Federal Detention Standards (p 10)
  4. $405,000 Paid to Prisoner Disabled and Left Untreated at LaSalle-Managed Louisiana Jails (p 12)
  5. Maryland Strips Governor’s Power to Overturn Parole Decisions (p 13)
  6. Boiling Behind Bars In Sweltering Texas, Prisons Without Air Conditioning Are About to Get a Lot Hotter (p 14)
  7. $1 Million Settlement Reached in Suicide of Mentally Ill Detainee at San Diego Jail (p 17)
  8. Lawsuits Filed Over Withheld Pain Medications That Left Ailing New York Prisoners in Agony (p 18)
  9. $3.8 Million Paid for Michigan Detainee’s Death from Alcohol Withdrawal After Sixth Circuit Affirms Denial of Summary Judgment to Jailers for Deliberate Indifference (p 20)
  10. Class Certified in Discrimination Suit by Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Georgia Prisoners (p 22)
  11. “Join Me in Holding Your Nose” Federal Judge Reluctantly Okays $750,000 Settlement in Ohio Pre-Trial Detainee’s Excessive Force Suit (p 22)
  12. Court Bars Electroshock Therapy for Incompetent California Prisoner Without Considering Whether He Would Consent If Competent (p 24)
  13. Guards Saluting Fascism on the Job—Literally (p 24)
  14. $805,000 Paid by Washington to Former Detainees at Juvenile Camp, But Sex Abuse Charges Dropped against Counselor (p 26)
  15. Russia Drops Charges Against Prison Torture Whistleblower (p 26)
  16. California Supreme Court Rules Proposition 57 Early Parole Review May be Denied for Any Violent Felony Conviction, Even If Not “Primary Offense” (p 28)
  17. Eleventh Circuit Reinstates Florida Detainee’s Excessive-Force Claim Against Cop Who Sucker-Punched Him in Cell (p 28)
  18. Suit Over California Detainee’s Suicide Survives Corporate Shell Game by Wellpath and HIG Capital (p 30)
  19. Seventh Circuit Reiterates That Threats and Withholding Grievance Forms Render Administrative Remedies Unavailable to Prisoner (p 32)
  20. Federal Court Upholds and Monitors Requirement for Tennessee Jail to Provide COVID-19 Vaccination for Detainees (p 34)
  21. Federal Courts Order Seizure of Canteen Funds for Restitution Owed by High-Profile Prisoners (p 34)
  22. “The Worst Kind of Work” Thai Prisoners Forced into Labor, Often Without Pay (p 36)
  23. Washington DOC Ends Use of Solitary Confinement (Sort of) (p 36)
  24. The Catalog of Carceral Surveillance: Monitoring Online Purchases of Inmates’ Family and Friends (p 38)
  25. Supreme Court Passes on Case of New York Sex Offender Imprisoned Past Release Date for Lack of Compliant Housing (p 38)
  26. Class of Juvenile Prisoners Certified in Suit Against Florida DOC (p 40)
  27. Eighth Circuit Reinstates Arkansas Prisoner’s Claim Over DOC’s Failure to Maintain Hearing Aids (p 40)
  28. Sixth Circuit Reinstates Suit of Kentucky Jail Detainee Impregnated by Guard, Finds Genuine Factual Dispute Over Consent (p 42)
  29. Former Arizona Corrections Chief Indicted After Drunken Armed Standoff with Tempe Police (p 43)
  30. The Impact of Criminalizing Abortion on Prisoners and Mass Incarceration (p 44)
  31. California Court Rules Bail Bond Companies Must Give Cosigners Financial Impact Notice (p 46)
  32. Virginia DOC’s Interference Hamstrings Local and Regional Jail Board (p 48)
  33. Oregon Nurse Federally Charged With Raping Prisoners After State Prosecutors Declined to Prosecute (p 49)
  34. $1 Million Paid After Indiana Jailers Fatally Beat and Taser Detainee, But Prosecutor Finds No Crime (p 50)
  35. “One of the Most Egregious Violations of Church-State Separation” Prisons Welcome Fundamentalist Christian Education Programs Despite Conflicts with the Constitution (p 50)
  36. Illinois Counties Fail in Challenge to State Statutory Ban on ICE Detention Contracts (p 52)
  37. Federal Judge Allows Wiretapping Case to Proceed Against CoreCivic for Recording Attorney-Client Conversations at Nevada Prison (p 53)
  38. Eighth Circuit Pulls BOP’s Hand Out of Prisoner’s Pocket Accumulated Prison Wages Not “Substantial Resources” Under Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (p 54)
  39. BOP Guard Terminated for Making Prisoner Do His Work, Union Blames Staff Shortages (p 54)
  40. Seventh Circuit Clarifies Calculation of Presumptive Parole Date for Federal Prisoner Sentenced Under Pre-1987 Law (p 56)
  41. Massachusetts Supreme Court Continues Trend of Easing Prison COVID-19 Protocols (p 56)
  42. COVID-19’s Impact on Prisoners Far Worse Than It Needed to Be (p 58)
  43. After Lengthy HRDC Litigation, GEO Group Gives Up Documents Revealing $10 Million Settlement for Death of Texas Prisoner (p 58)
  44. $150,000 Class-Action Settlement Reached Over Massive Scabies Outbreak at CoreCivic Tennessee Jail (p 60)
  45. Supreme Court of Kansas: Lower Court Did Not Have Authority to Revoke Probation Without a Warrant (p 61)
  46. Oregon Judge Invalidates Governor’s Clemency Grant to Dozens Sentenced to Life as Juveniles, Halting Parole Hearings (p 62)
  47. Nebraska Prison Staffing Crisis Sees Supervisors Take Demotions to Get Hourly Overtime Pay (p 63)
  48. News in Brief (p 63)

Mission Creep: Prison Telecoms Scramble to Extend Their Reach

by Alan Prendergast

In a news cycle dominated by reports of war, plague and insurrection, a single press announcement from Global Tel*Link (GTL) managed to convey some of the oddest news of all. Flash: The creators of the nation’s most beloved children’s television show are joining forces with GTL, the ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

PLN has been reporting on the prison phone industry for at least the past 30 years, from its inception to its current stranglehold on most means of human contact between prisoners and the outside world. This month’s cover story by Alan Prendergast reports on the public relations ...

U.S. Marshals Service Inspectors Find D.C. Central Jail Not Meeting Federal Detention Standards

by Casey J. Bastian

For decades, prisoners held by the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) have complained of inhumane conditions and mistreatment. Criticism of the 45-year-old main jail facility has also come from lawyers and judges, as well as detainees and their visitors. Yet it took a “flurry of complaints” ...

$405,000 Paid to Prisoner Disabled and Left Untreated at LaSalle-Managed Louisiana Jails

by Anthony W. Accurso

A man disabled in a Louisiana jail privately operated by LaSalle Corrections has settled claims of neglect and mistreatment he suffered there and at another lockup the firm ran, accepting $405,000 for the months he allegedly spent in debilitating pain without treatment for his condition, further ...

Maryland Strips Governor’s Power to Overturn Parole Decisions

by Ashleigh Dye

On December 7, 2021, Maryland lawmakers voted to override the governor’s veto and take away his power to overrule parole recommendations for state prisoners serving a life sentence.

After the bill, SB 202, passed earlier in the year, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed it in May 2021, ...

Boiling Behind Bars In Sweltering Texas, Prisons Without Air Conditioning Are About to Get a Lot Hotter

by Alleen Brown

This article was originally published by The Intercept on February 12, 2022. It is reprinted here with permission. The original, along with photos and maps, may be found at: https://theintercept.com/2022/02/12/prisons-texas-heat-air-conditioning-climate-crisis/

 

During the year Justin Phillips spent in an unair-conditioned segregation cell at the Coffield Unit, a ...

$1 Million Settlement Reached in Suicide of Mentally Ill Detainee at San Diego Jail

by Keith Sanders

 

People incarcerated at the San Diego County Jail have been suffering through a raging public health crisis. Unfortunately, this crisis has been as lethal or more so than COVID-19. Since 2006, over 200 people have died in custody at the California jail from abuse, neglect, and ...

Lawsuits Filed Over Withheld Pain Medications That Left Ailing New York Prisoners in Agony

by Ed Lyon

Two suits playing out in federal court in New York in mid-2022 will determine whether the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is held to account for a policy that denied pain-relieving medication to state prisoners for years.

Back in March 2016, as the opioid ...

$3.8 Million Paid for Michigan Detainee’s Death from Alcohol Withdrawal After Sixth Circuit Affirms Denial of Summary Judgment to Jailers for Deliberate Indifference

by Mark Wilson

On March 7, 2022, a federal court approved a $3.8 million settlement between a Michigan county and the estate of a detainee left to die of delirium tremens (DTs) in the county lockup.

The settlement followed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth ...

Class Certified in Discrimination Suit by Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Georgia Prisoners

by Mark Wilson

On December 29, 2021, a federal court in Georgia granted a group of deaf and hearing-impaired state prisoners class certification in their suit against state prison and parole officials, challenging the adequacy of available hearing-related accommodations and services.

Seven deaf and hearing-impaired prisoners brought suit in federal ...

“Join Me in Holding Your Nose” Federal Judge Reluctantly Okays $750,000 Settlement in Ohio Pre-Trial Detainee’s Excessive Force Suit

by Keith Sanders

On December 6, 2021, the Board of Commissioners of Clermont County, Ohio, voted to pay $750,000 to settle a suit brought by a former pretrial detainee allegedly subjected to unconstitutional mistreatment at the county jail. The vote ratified an earlier agreement reached between the parties, after a ...

Court Bars Electroshock Therapy for Incompetent California Prisoner Without Considering Whether He Would Consent If Competent

by Jacob Barrett

On January 11, 2022, the Court of Appeal for the State of California, Fourth District, vacated a lower court’s authorization of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for a state prisoner, saying it must first consider whether, when competent, he had expressed any preferences, views, or beliefs that would operate ...

Guards Saluting Fascism on the Job—Literally

by Ed Lyon

Prison guards in Arizona, Utah and West Virginia have recently been reported indulging white supremacist and anti-prisoner views on the job.

Most recently, members of the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) Special Tactics and Operations team proudly sported patches bearing a skull and crossbones, eerily reminiscent of ...

$805,000 Paid by Washington to Former Detainees at Juvenile Camp, But Sex Abuse Charges Dropped against Counselor

Between May and July 2021, the state of Washington paid a total of $805,000 to settle a quartet of sexual abuse claims brought by former detainees at the state’s Naselle Youth Camp. However, criminal charges were dropped against their alleged abuser, a former counselor at the camp, for lack of ...

Russia Drops Charges Against Prison Torture Whistleblower

by Ed Lyon

Here’s a story with a familiar ring to it: A massive prison bureaucracy, which regularly clears its staff when prisoners are brutally abused, is forced by leaked video to finally hold someone to account—so it goes after the whistleblower.

This is the basic outline of what happened ...

California Supreme Court Rules Proposition 57 Early Parole Review May be Denied for Any Violent Felony Conviction, Even If Not “Primary Offense”

by Douglas Ankney

On January 3, 2022, the Supreme Court of California held that the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) did not abuse its authority when it promulgated regulations excluding from nonviolent-offender parole review any prisoner currently serving a sentence for a violent felony, even one not designated ...

Eleventh Circuit Reinstates Florida Detainee’s Excessive-Force Claim Against Cop Who Sucker-Punched Him in Cell

by Kevin Bliss

On November 19, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned a lower court’s decision to rule there was sufficient evidence requiring a jury finding in a case against the City of Miami Beach and one of its police officers, who is accused of ...

Suit Over California Detainee’s Suicide Survives Corporate Shell Game by Wellpath and HIG Capital

by Jacob Barrett

On February 7, 2022, the federal court for the Eastern District of California allowed claims to proceed against Nevada County and a group of its jail guards for the 2019 suicide of detainee Linda Miller, who died just five days after a transfer back to the jail ...

Seventh Circuit Reiterates That Threats and Withholding Grievance Forms Render Administrative Remedies Unavailable to Prisoner

by Mark Wilson

On January 24, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the dismissal of a federal prisoner’s suit and remanded the case to the district court, after finding that prison officials failed to carry their burden of proof that administrative remedies were actually available ...

Federal Court Upholds and Monitors Requirement for Tennessee Jail to Provide COVID-19 Vaccination for Detainees

by David M. Reutter

On February 22, 2022, an inspector appointed by the federal court for the Western District of Tennessee reported that the Shelby County Jail remained understaffed even as a surge in bookings drove up the number of prisoners and detainees held there, frustrating efforts to fully vaccinate ...

Federal Courts Order Seizure of Canteen Funds for Restitution Owed by High-Profile Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

In two recent cases, federal courts have granted orders to seize funds from prisoners after sizable balances in their canteen accounts came to prosecutors’ attention.

In federal court for the Western District of Michigan on August 19, 2021, Judge Janet T. Neff granted prosecutors’ motion to ...

“The Worst Kind of Work” Thai Prisoners Forced into Labor, Often Without Pay

by Ed Lyon

In February 2022, watchdog groups called for a U.S. ban on imports of fishing nets from Thailand, after a December 2021 report by Thomson Reuters Foundation that found some of that country’s 280,000 prisoners are being forced to make the nets by hand under threat of punishment ...

Washington DOC Ends Use of Solitary Confinement (Sort of)

by Jacob Barrett

On September 16, 2021, headlines trumpeted the end of solitary confinement in Washington state prisons, even quoting Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to call it “the right thing to do.” So come March 2022, why was the state Department of Corrections (DOC) still holding some 600 prisoners in ...

The Catalog of Carceral Surveillance: Monitoring Online Purchases of Inmates’ Family and Friends

by Cooper Quintin and Beryl Lipton

This article was first published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on September 7, 2021. It is reprinted here with permission.

 

Prison wardens and detention center administrators have, for years, faced what they believe to be a serious problem. While they can surveil every ...

Supreme Court Passes on Case of New York Sex Offender Imprisoned Past Release Date for Lack of Compliant Housing

by Jory Smith and Chuck Sharman

On February 22, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a writ of certiorari to hear an appeal by an impoverished New York sex offender who was forced to remain in prison two years after his release because state restrictions made finding housing ...

Class of Juvenile Prisoners Certified in Suit Against Florida DOC

by Kevin Bliss

O

n October 22, 2021, federal Judge Robert Hinkle of the Northern District of Florida certified a class of plaintiffs in a suit accusing the state Department of Corrections (DOC) of housing juveniles and juveniles with disabilities in solitary confinement under unconstitutional conditions.

G.H. and R.L. are ...

Eighth Circuit Reinstates Arkansas Prisoner’s Claim Over DOC’s Failure to Maintain Hearing Aids

by Matt Clarke

On January 10, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that an Arkansas prisoner had not failed to state an actionable claim against prison medical officials when he accused them of not maintaining his bilateral hearing aids. The decision reversed a ruling by ...

Sixth Circuit Reinstates Suit of Kentucky Jail Detainee Impregnated by Guard, Finds Genuine Factual Dispute Over Consent

by Matt Clarke

On November 18, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reinstated a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by a former Kentucky jail prisoner who had sex with a transport guard, finding a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether she consented to the ...

Former Arizona Corrections Chief Indicted After Drunken Armed Standoff with Tempe Police

by Jo Ellen Nott

In Phoenix on April 26, 2022, the Maricopa County State Attorney’s Office indicted Charles Lee Ryan, former Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, on two felony charges stemming from an armed standoff with Tempe police officers on January 6, 2022, after which Ryan admitted he ...

The Impact of Criminalizing Abortion on Prisoners and Mass Incarceration

by Paul Wright

Over the course of its 233-year history, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has reversed its prior decisions on occasion. Until now those reversals have generally been to expand constitutional rights for the populace, not to take them away. On June 24, 2022, when the SCOTUS issued ...

California Court Rules Bail Bond Companies Must Give Cosigners Financial Impact Notice

by David M. Reutter

On December 29, 2021, the Court of Appeal for the First District of California decided that a “bail bond premium financing agreement” is a consumer credit contract and, under California Civil Code § 1799.91, is unenforceable against any cosigner to whom the statutory notice is not ...

Virginia DOC’s Interference Hamstrings Local and Regional Jail Board

by Kevin Bliss

When the Virginia Board of Local and Regional Jails (BLRJ) met unannounced and in closed session on April 20, 2022—in plain violation of the state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)—Executive Director Ryan McCord shrugged it off as a “typo” on the calendar.

But BLRJ has an enormously ...

Oregon Nurse Federally Charged With Raping Prisoners After State Prosecutors Declined to Prosecute

by Mark Wilson

On March 14, 2022, a federal grand jury in Oregon issued a 25-count indictment against a former nurse at the state’s only women’s prison, accusing him of sexually assaulting a dozen prisoners there from 2016 to 2017. Three days later, Tony Daniel Klein, 37, was fired by ...

$1 Million Paid After Indiana Jailers Fatally Beat and Taser Detainee, But Prosecutor Finds No Crime

by Keith Sanders and Benjamin Tschirhart

When a caregiver fails to seek medical attention for a person during an emergency, inflicting instead additional pain and suffering and looking on while that person dies, a reasonable person might conclude that the caretaker has committed criminal neglect. In fact, on October 22, ...

“One of the Most Egregious Violations of Church-State Separation” Prisons Welcome Fundamentalist Christian Education Programs Despite Conflicts with the Constitution

by Jacob Barrett

At a graduation ceremony held in the Nash Correctional Institution gym on December 15, 2021, a degree in pastoral ministry was awarded to 24 twenty-four North Carolina prisoners. Offered by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the four-year, in-person program is the only one so far available from an ...

Illinois Counties Fail in Challenge to State Statutory Ban on ICE Detention Contracts

by Matt Clarke

In a decision handed down on December 6, 2021, a federal court in Illinois decided that the Constitution’s proscription against the federal government’s efforts to “commandeer” functions that rightfully belong to individual states outweighs the “supremacy clause” of Article VI, which makes federal law “the supreme law ...

Federal Judge Allows Wiretapping Case to Proceed Against CoreCivic for Recording Attorney-Client Conversations at Nevada Prison

by Kevin W. Bliss

On January 14, 2022, Judge Jennifer Dorsey ruled for the federal court for the District of Nevada that it has jurisdiction over a nationwide potential class of defendants in a suit by attorney Kathleen Bliss, who alleged her rights were violated when private prison operator CoreCivic ...

Eighth Circuit Pulls BOP’s Hand Out of Prisoner’s Pocket Accumulated Prison Wages Not “Substantial Resources” Under Mandatory Victim Restitution Act

by Casey J. Bastian

In a decision published on January 10, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that accumulated prison wages constitute neither “substantial resources” nor a “material change” to a prisoner’s resources that would allow the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to confiscate them ...

BOP Guard Terminated for Making Prisoner Do His Work, Union Blames Staff Shortages

by Casey Bastian

As of March 31, 2022, nearly one-third of guard positions were vacant in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), leaving the remaining guards’ duties “augmented” with additional prisoner supervision. Cooks, nurses, teachers, counselors, and case managers have also had prisoner security added to their workloads.

The union ...

Seventh Circuit Clarifies Calculation of Presumptive Parole Date for Federal Prisoner Sentenced Under Pre-1987 Law

by Anthony W. Accurso

In a decision reached on December 6, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit clarified calculation of the presumptive parole release date for a federal prisoner sentenced to several consecutive sentences, including a term of “life,” under pre-1987 sentencing law.

For murdering two ...

Massachusetts Supreme Court Continues Trend of Easing Prison COVID-19 Protocols

by Ed Lyon

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted and more variants appeared in late 2021, courts were steadily easing restrictions to mitigate its spread in prisons. A case in point: Massachusetts, where initially strong rulings by the state Supreme Court eroded over time.

As early as January 2020, before ...

COVID-19’s Impact on Prisoners Far Worse Than It Needed to Be

by Kevin Bliss and Ed Lyon

In September 2021, a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit research and advocacy group Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) gave a failing grade to 42 U.S. states for their efforts to mitigate the spread of the disease in their prisons and ...

After Lengthy HRDC Litigation, GEO Group Gives Up Documents Revealing $10 Million Settlement for Death of Texas Prisoner

by Matt Clarke

On March 8, 2022, PLN finally obtaineddocuments revealing that private prison operator GEO Group, Inc., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., paid $10 million to settle two lawsuits brought by the family of a prisoner who was murdered at a Texas jail the firm operated. The family ...

$150,000 Class-Action Settlement Reached Over Massive Scabies Outbreak at CoreCivic Tennessee Jail

by Jacob Barrett

CoreCivic, the nation’s second-largest for-profit private prison operator, settled a class-action suit filed by former prisoners at the company’s Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility (MDDF) in Nashville on November 30, 2021. After deductions for costs and attorney’s fees, the $150,000 settlement fund provided payouts to each class member ...

Supreme Court of Kansas: Lower Court Did Not Have Authority to Revoke Probation Without a Warrant

by David M. Reutter

On January 28, 2022, the Supreme Court of Kansas held that a state court has no authority to revoke and remand a state probationer to prison except by an action that is timely initiated with a warrant or notice to appear. Since the proceedings against probationer ...

Oregon Judge Invalidates Governor’s Clemency Grant to Dozens Sentenced to Life as Juveniles, Halting Parole Hearings

by Mark Wilson

On March 1, 2022, a lawsuit challenging clemency orders by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) was mostly rejected in Marion County Circuit Court. However, in ruling on the commutations for former offenders sentenced as juveniles, Judge David Leith decided in favor of district attorneys and ruled that ...

Nebraska Prison Staffing Crisis Sees Supervisors Take Demotions to Get Hourly Overtime Pay

by Kevin Bliss

Despite a watchdog report finding state prisons so short-staffed that some guard supervisors sought demotions to take advantage of ballooning hourly overtime pay, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) will not see any help from lawmakers this session, after an ambitious prison overhaul bill died in ...

News in Brief

 

Alabama:The Birmingham News reported that a jail guard in Mobile was arrested on May 17, 2022, for smuggling adult movies intoMobile County Metro Jail. The guard, Fredrick Johnson, 37, was charged with 21 counts of promoting contraband that included a camera, phone chargers, and flash drives, as ...