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Prison Legal News: April, 1993

Issue PDF
Volume 4, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Three Strikes and You're Out, Again (p 1)
  2. Release Not Appropriate Relief for Beatings (p 2)
  3. Prison Escapes and Killings Down (p 2)
  4. 24 Cops Killed in First Half of 1992 (p 2)
  5. Inquiry Stepped up in Georgia Prison Sex Case (p 3)
  6. VA Builds More Prisons (p 3)
  7. NY Corrections Commissioner Pleads Guilty (p 3)
  8. NYC Claims Prisoners Shoot Themselves to File Suit (p 3)
  9. Death Row Prisoners Can Marry (p 3)
  10. Denial of Winter Clothing Cruel and Unusual (p 4)
  11. Punishment of Pretrial Detainees Unlawful (p 4)
  12. Change in IFP Status Does Not Require Fee Payment (p 4)
  13. Right to Religious Diet Clearly Established (p 4)
  14. Confiscation of Law Books States Claim (p 5)
  15. Infraction Suits Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies (p 5)
  16. Wisconsin Lacks Adequate State Remedies for Due Process Violations (p 5)
  17. Nominal Damages Awarded in Prison Rape Case (p 5)
  18. State Liable for County Jail Overcrowding (p 6)
  19. Damages Awarded to HIV+ Jail Prisoner (p 6)
  20. Blind Pretrial Detainees Entitled to Treatment (p 6)
  21. DOC Phone Rip Off (p 7)
  22. From The Editor (p 8)
  23. AT&T Exploits Prison Labor (p 8)
  24. Peruvian Political Prisoners Mistreated (p 9)
  25. Prison Riot Crushed in Venezuela (p 9)
  26. New Video Tape Available (p 10)
  27. Article Clarification Revisited (p 10)

Three Strikes and You're Out, Again

Their baaack! And this time with both barrels. Ida (now Republican state representative from Mercer Island) Ballasiotes and her fellow victims' rights cronies have reintroduced the so-called "three strikes and you're out" initiative. In addition to Citizens' Initiative 593, this group and a bunch of reactionary legislators have introduced ...

Release Not Appropriate Relief for Beatings

Samuel Brown is a New York state prisoner. Brown was convicted of three counts of felony murder arising from an armored car robbery in upstate New York by the Revolutionary Armed Task Force. Brown became an FBI informant and was later tried and convicted.

This case is Brown's federal ...

Prison Escapes and Killings Down

Incarceration rates in the United States and Canada are on the rise. Overcrowded conditions are being felt by more and more prisons. Despite all this, the number of prison escapes and homicides has decreased. Fifty state systems, the District of Columbia, and the federal Bureau of Prisons responded to a ...

24 Cops Killed in First Half of 1992

FBI Director William S. Sessions announced that 24 law enforcement officer were killed feloniously in the line of duty during the first six months of 1992, a sharp reduction from the 44 officer slain during the first half of 1991. Another 29 officers were killed by accidents that occurred during ...

Inquiry Stepped up in Georgia Prison Sex Case

Authorities in Georgia said they have intensified an investigation into alleged sexual abuse at a Georgia women's prison after 14 current and former state corrections employees were indicted on rape and sexual assault charges.

A grand jury returned the indictments after prosecutors laid out the accusations in graphic detail ...

VA Builds More Prisons

A projected 38 percent increase in the states prison population within the next five years has prompted Governor Douglas Wilder to propose a $111.7 million prison construction project. The proposal includes construction of a 1,046 bed women's prison, a 697 bed men's prison, a 100 bed ...

NY Corrections Commissioner Pleads Guilty

William Jenkins, a former assistant corrections commissioner pleaded guilty in January to charges that he extorted money from a janitorial supplies company which served the city's jails. Jenkins, who was responsible for the Corrections Department's assets management, is scheduled to be sentenced March 19, 1993. Prosecutors said Jenkins ...

NYC Claims Prisoners Shoot Themselves to File Suit

New York City commissioners claim that for the last several years prisoners have paid jail guards to smuggle guns in to them, whereupon they shoot themselves and then sue the city for failing to protect them. A city official claims "There are at least five lawsuits presently pending against the ...

Death Row Prisoners Can Marry

Roger Buehl is a Pennsylvania state prisoner on death row. In 1990 Buehl requested permission for a special one time visit in order to marry his girlfriend, Deborah Ayres. Prison officials denied the request citing a 1985 incident where Ayres had been caught smuggling three balloons of marijuana to another ...

Denial of Winter Clothing Cruel and Unusual

In February, 1990, several Iowa prisoners were placed outdoors without hats or gloves for an hour while guards searched their living unit. The temperature was about 30 degrees F. The prisoners did not suffer any long term injury from the experience. The prisoners filed suit and the district court ruled ...

Punishment of Pretrial Detainees Unlawful

Spencer Parker is a pretrial detainee in Texas. While awaiting trial in the jail's minimum security section he was moved to the violent offenders section in retaliation for arguing with a guard. As a result of the transfer he was assaulted and lost his right eye and was denied ...

Change in IFP Status Does Not Require Fee Payment

Michael Murphy is a Missouri state prisoner who filed suit claiming his religious rights had been infringed by prison officials. At the time he filed suit he earned $30 a month at his prison job and had $53 in his prison account. To file his suit he sought, and was ...

Right to Religious Diet Clearly Established

Warren Bass is a Jewish New York state prisoner. Despite the recommendation of the prison rabbi that Bass was sincere in his religious beliefs and should receive a kosher diet, prison officials refused to provide Bass with a kosher diet. Bass filed suit under § 1983 claiming the denial of a ...

Confiscation of Law Books States Claim

Tyrone Chavers is a Wisconsin state prisoner. He filed suit under § 1983 after prison officials confiscated his lawbooks. This case is the district court's ruling on Chavers' In Forma Pauperis (IFP) request. The defendants had not yet been served in the case.

The court held that Chavers had adequately ...

Infraction Suits Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies

L. Markham is an Indiana state prisoner. He lost 243 days of earned good time in a series of disciplinary proceedings. Under Indiana DOC regulations prisoners can appeal the loss of good time credits to prison officials within 10 days of the hearing, which Markham did not do. Indiana state ...

Wisconsin Lacks Adequate State Remedies for Due Process Violations

Varees Smith is a Wisconsin state prisoner. He was infracted for allegedly charging another prisoner to do legal work. He filed suit under § 1983 claiming his due process rights were violated when a disciplinary hearing was held without notice and he was not allowed to present witnesses or evidence on ...

Nominal Damages Awarded in Prison Rape Case

Four Missouri state prisoners were repeatedly raped by other prisoners. Before and after the rapes they were unable to check into Protective Custody (PC). They filed suit against prison officials claiming the rapes violated their eighth amendment rights. After a trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff's nominal damages of ...

State Liable for County Jail Overcrowding

Jail prisoners in the Harris County Jail, Texas, filed suit against county and state officials claiming that overcrowding at the jail violated the eighth amendment. The district court found that it did and that both state and county officials had acted with deliberate indifference towards jail prisoners.

The defendants appealed ...

Damages Awarded to HIV+ Jail Prisoner

Louise Nolley is an HIV+ prisoner held in the Erie County Jail in New York. She filed suit under § 1983 contending that various jail practices violated her rights. The objectionable practices included: automatically segregating HIV+ prisoners; denying HIV+ prisoners law library and religious service access; and placing red stickers on ...

Blind Pretrial Detainees Entitled to Treatment

Anthony Harris was a pretrial detainee in the Cook county jail (Chicago). He is legally blind. While at the jail he repeatedly requested medical treatment for his blindness and frequent eye infections. He also requested special handicapped housing to prevent dangerous situations. Jail officials ignored his requests. As a result ...

DOC Phone Rip Off

On March 16, 1992, the Washington DOC signed a contract with AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph) for the latter to provide telephone services to all the prisons in the Washington prison system. AT&T in turn has subcontracted with three Local Exchange Companies (LEC's) to provide local telephone service.

The contract covers two types of LEC public telephones. One is services for prisoners who can only make collect calls. The others are public phones for use by staff and visitors which can make collect and pay calls.

The subcontractors and the facilities they service are: GTE for the Washington State Reformatory, Twin Rivers, Indian Ridge and the Special Offender Center. PTI does Clallam Bay, Purdy, Olympic CC, Pine Lodge Pre Release and Coyote Ridge. USWC does Shelton, Walla Walla, McNeil Island, Airway Heights, Tacoma Pre Release, Cedar Creek and Larch.

The DOC does not own the telephone monitoring and recording equipment it has installed. Rather, as part of the contract each telephone company is being contracted to provide and maintain: public telephone sets, all associated equipment, lines, dictaphone recording/monitoring equipment, call timing and call blocking software. Title to all the phones, recording equipment, etc., remains with the contractor. The DOC has agreed to defend against any and all litigation challenging the contractor's provision of call recording and call monitoring equipment. That provision will extend beyond the actual life of the contract, which is for five years.

Each contractor provides the superintendent of each prison with a monthly report that details, by institution, the date, time, payphone number, called number and length of each call made from a prison telephone. Using this information prison officials can target specific phone numbers called or dates and times to choose which calls to listen to after they have been recorded. The Washington DOC policy on phone recording, DOC Policy 450.200, states that the tapes of all phone calls will be maintained for at least a one year period.

With regards to the kickback that the DOC receives from prisoner phone calls the contract states: "7.A In return for the right to provide Inmate and Public Telephone Service under this agreement, Contractor GTE, PTI and USWC shall each pay to the department on a monthly basis the commissions set forth in attachment 1 to this agreement. Each carrier's monthly commission checks shall be sent to the superintendent of each covered correctional institution or work release program, made payable to the Inmate Welfare Fund, unless and until the Department shall specify a different payee for the carriers commission checks."

The commission rates that the contract specifies is 24% of billed revenues from calls carried by ATT, 27% for those calls carried by GTE and PTI, and a whopping 35% for all calls carried by USWC. Needless to say, the telephone companies aren't giving the DOC these commissions out of their profit margin, rather they are adding this on as a surcharge to what they bill the people we call.

The contract states that it is the responsibility of the contractor to abide by the rates established by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). I've done some preliminary research into this matter and it seems that 47 U.S.C. § 202-207, which prohibits telephone carriers from discriminating among their clients and charging them more, would provide a means by which to challenge this. 18 U.S.C. § 2510 and 2511, limit the conditions in which phones can be tapped or recorded by the government. The law applies to prisons, See: Kimberlin v. Quinlan, 774 F. Supp 1 (DC DC 1991); United States v. Amen, 831 F.2d 373 (2nd Cir. 1987); but has been held not to apply to prisoners' calls because prison officials are considered law enforcement personnel. See: United States v. Noriega, 917 F.2d 1543 ...

From The Editor

From the Editor

Welcome to another issue of PLN. We are still working on our 1994 prison calendar and we still need graphics and drawings. Any prison artists interested in participating should send us a copy of their work for us to check out, if we want to use it ...

AT&T Exploits Prison Labor

The phone company has found a way to dump union workers, save big money and exploit the labor of prisoners, all at once. According to reports from the Communications Workers, AT&T is contracting out telemarketing jobs to firms that provide labor practically free through the prison system. The company ...

Peruvian Political Prisoners Mistreated

In past issues of PLN we have reported on events in Peru affecting the political prisoners of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP). In May of 1992 the Peruvian government stormed the Canto Grande maximum security prison killing and wounding dozens of PCP prisoners; many were killed after surrendering to ...

Prison Riot Crushed in Venezuela

On January 12, 1993, Venezuelan police used tear gas to quell a riot in Fort Tiuna of about a hundred soldiers and civilians, who were tried for rebellion for their participation in a November 27, 1992, coup attempt. The riot was crushed with tear gas by police and Virginia Contreras ...

New Video Tape Available

Last October over a thousand people attended the International Tribunal of Indigenous Peoples and Oppressed Nations in the USA. The event, sponsored and organized by a coalition of 30 organizations, was part of the counter-Columbus quincentennial activities throughout the country. The Tribunal put the U.S. Government on trial for ...

Article Clarification Revisited

by R.K., McNeil Island, WA

In response to J.D., Lompoc CA, "Article Clarification" Vol. 3 #12, December 1992:

I understand J.D. being pissed off about 80% of the population not taking part in the strike. But when I think back to all the strikes I took part ...