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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: May, 1993

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Volume 4, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Search Victory for Women Cons (p 1)
  2. Prison Rule Banning Media Mail/Visits Held Unconstitutional (p 2)
  3. Sexually Harassing Pat Searches May Be Illegal (p 2)
  4. Comic Book Censorship Overturned (p 2)
  5. ACLU Challenges NJ DOC Censorship (p 2)
  6. Improved Jail Conditions Merits Attorney Fees (p 3)
  7. Due Process Protects Detainees from Violence (p 3)
  8. Unlawful to Read Legal Mail in Prisoner's Cell (p 3)
  9. Court Dissolves 1-800 Injunction (p 3)
  10. Court Enjoins Torture of Jail Prisoners (p 4)
  11. Guard Convicted of Beating Prisoner (p 4)
  12. Psych Prisoners Have Right of Court Access (p 5)
  13. Damages Awarded in PA Beating and Walk (p 5)
  14. Organizations Not "Persons" for IFP Status (p 5)
  15. DOC Guard Liable for Not Stopping Beating (p 5)
  16. Unsworn Declarations Admissible (p 6)
  17. Prison Officials Liable for Haircuts (p 6)
  18. Retaliatory Denial of Parole Actionable Under Section 1983 (p 6)
  19. Prison Officials Liable for Holding Inmate Past Release Date (p 7)
  20. Section 1983 Proper Remedy for Illegal Confinement (p 7)
  21. Court Bans Double Celling of New Prisoners (p 7)
  22. Transfers May Violate Eighth Amendment (p 8)
  23. WA Prisoners Lose Damages in Rectal Probe Suits (p 8)
  24. Road Kill For Washington Prisons (p 8)
  25. Minimum Wage for Cons Studied by Congress (p 8)
  26. PLN Editor Wins Retaliation Suit (p 9)
  27. Mentally Ill Entitled to Health Care (p 10)
  28. Monroe Double Celling Suit Lost (p 10)
  29. Failure to Treat Illness Violates Eighth Amendment (p 11)
  30. MANCI: The Aftermath (p 11)
  31. Minn. Prison Signs Contract for Puerto Rican Inmates (p 12)
  32. Editorial (p 12)
  33. Criminal Justice System Unfair to Radical Activist (p 13)
  34. Bombed-out German Prison to be Razed and then Rebuilt (p 15)
  35. Brazilian Cops Charged in Prison Massacre (p 16)

Search Victory for Women Cons

By Gini Faller

The long-awaited decision in Jordan v. Gardner, et. al. came down on February 25, 1993. The Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc held 7-4 that cross-gender non-suspicion clothed body searches violate the 8th Amendment:

In this case we are presented with the prospect of serious psychological suffering, the infliction of which is demonstrably `unnecessary' and, in the constitutional sense of the word, `wanton.' The 'standards of decency in modern society' do not permit the imposition of such needless harm." [Citation omitted]

Jordan v. Gardner, F.2d 1387, 1409 (1993), 52 Cr.L. 1556.

In July, 1989, the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) instituted a policy where, for the first time, male guards conducted non-emergency searches of female inmates. At the same time, searches became random and were much more intrusive than ever before. Searches became cross-gender because of the guard's union's claim that the same sex limitation was discriminatory even though every member of the prison's own mental health staff warned that, because 85% of the inmates had suffered abuse at the hands of males, these searches were apt to trigger severe psychological trauma.

The policy was only in effect for a couple of ...

Prison Rule Banning Media Mail/Visits Held Unconstitutional

Sabil Mujahid is a Hawaii state prisoner. He filed suit under § 1983 claiming that Hawaii prison regulations which prohibit prisoners from visiting or corresponding with members of the media, unless they knew each other on a personal basis prior to incarceration, were unconstitutional.

The district court granted summary judgement to Mujahid. The court employed the heightened scrutiny of prison rules announced in Procunier v. Martinez, 416 US 396, 94 S.Ct. 1800 (1974), to find that the Hawaii prison rules in question were unconstitutional. Even employing the more restrictive Turner v. Safely standard the court held the rules in question were still unconstitutional.

Despite its ruling the court granted prison officials qualified immunity from money damages by holding prisoners' rights to communicate with the media were not clearly established law for immunity purposes. See: Mujahid v. Sumner, 807 F. Supp. 1505 (DC HI 1992).

Sexually Harassing Pat Searches May Be Illegal

Two Missouri state prisoners filed suit against a female prison guard. In their complaint they alleged that for a two month period the guard fondled their crotches during almost daily, routine pat down searches. After they told the guard they wanted to be searched by male guards she retaliated by citing them for false disciplinary violations. When they refused to be searched by the guard they were placed in segregation.

The district court dismissed the suit upon the guards' motion for summary judgement. The district court held that the prisoners had made broad, conclusory allegations of sexual harassment while the guard denied any improper conduct.

The appeals court for the eighth circuit reversed and remanded. The appeals court held that an issue of material fact, requiring resolution at trial, exists as to whether the plaintiffs were subjected to sexually harassing, physically intrusive pat down searches. The prisoners complaint contains sufficient allegations (time, place, manner of searches, complaints to prison officials, etc.) to avoid being "broad and conclusory." The court notes that while pat down searches of prisoners are permissible, such searches violate the fourth amendment if they are conducted in an unreasonable manner. See: Watson v. Jones, 980 F.2d ...

Comic Book Censorship Overturned

Everett Lyon is an Iowa state prisoner. He ordered several religious comic books which prison officials censored claiming they would be "disruptive and produce violence" because they were allegedly "anti-catholic and blatantly bigoted." After exhausting his administrative remedies Lyon filed suit under § 1983 claiming violation of his first amendment rights.

The district court found that the censorship of Lyon's comic books was arbitrary and capricious because one of the censored publications also appeared on the prison's approved publications list. Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses (which has resulted in a multi-million dollar contract being placed on Rushdie's head, the firebombing of stores selling the book, the murder of people involved in marketing the book, etc.) was available to prisoners in the prison library. None of the defendants could cite a single instance of problems arising from anti-catholic or religious criticism among prisoners.

The court gives an extensive and detailed explanation of the proper standard to be used in evaluating prison censorship. It lists numerous censorship cases that are useful to anyone litigating this issue.

The court upheld the facial validity of the Iowa censorship regulations but held that the regulations, as applied to Lyon's comic books ...

ACLU Challenges NJ DOC Censorship

The Newark, NJ, law firm of Crummy, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger and Vecchione, acting on behalf of the New Jersey ACLU, has filed a class action law suit challenging the censorship of political publications by New Jersey prison officials. The law suit, PSC Publications, et al., v. Fauver, et al., was filed in Middlesex County Superior Court and includes state law and federal law claims.

The suit states that New Jersey DOC officials have a practice of systematically censoring and confiscating all issues, regardless of specific content, of certain political publications. The publications affected include: Prison News Service, MIM Notes, Love and Rage, The Black Panther and Arm the Masses. Prison regulations state that if a publication is censored the objectionable portion should be removed and the remainder delivered to prisoners; this is not done, instead the whole publication is censored.

The plaintiffs include several prisoners located in Trenton and Rahway as well as the publishers of several of the affected publications. The defendants are various New Jersey prison officials. As a class action suit the complaint asserts the rights of all New Jersey state prisoners being affected by this pattern and practice of censorship.

The suit maintains that the ...

Improved Jail Conditions Merits Attorney Fees

Two Wood County, Texas, jail prisoners filed suit under § 1983 claiming the jail had practices of denying prisoners access to the courts, improper classification, punitive isolation without due process, inadequate medical care, denial of reading material and overall unacceptable jail conditions. The district court certified a class of present and future jail prisoners and appointed counsel.

A jury heard the individual claims and denied relief, ruling for the state (this despite being told by the judge that the jail conditions were unconstitutional). The judge then denied relief to the class claims. After a remand the district court again denied relief to the class and denied the plaintiffs any attorney fees. In yet another appeal the court of appeals for the fifth circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the case.

The appeals court paints a dismal picture of the Wood County Jail: run by untrained staff, raw sewage in showers and bathrooms, repeated violations of state jail standards, a constant state of semi darkness, no access whatsoever to legal materials, only allowing prisoners to read the bible (no other books, magazines or newspapers allowed), arbitrary isolation and denial of visits, among other things.

The appeals court upheld the ...

Due Process Protects Detainees from Violence

Raul Valencia is a pre-trial detainee in Brewster County, Texas. During a jail disturbance guards smashed Valencia's head into cell bars, choked him into unconcioussness and, after handcuffing him, beat him. Valencia filed suit under§ 1983 claiming this treatment violated his constitutional rights. The defendants sought summary judgement on ...

Unlawful to Read Legal Mail in Prisoner's Cell

Robert Proudfoot is a Pennsylvania state prisoner. After anonymous informants stated Proudfoot was selling drugs from his cell, prison guards searched his cell three times in eight days. No drugs were found. During one of three cell searches guards opened sealed and stamped envelopes addressed to a federal judge and read the contents and checked them for contraband. Proudfoot filed suit under § 1983 and the court appointed counsel to represent him.

The court held that prison guards had violated Proudfoot's right of access to the courts by opening and reading his legal mail. The court gives a lengthy discussion of cases concerning the right to receive confidential legal mail. However, the court granted the guards qualified immunity from money damages because neither the third circuit nor the supreme court have squarely addressed the issue, and the guards' actions were not objectively unreasonable. The court held that even if the guards weren't entitled to qualified immunity that money damages would not be appropriate because Proudfoot had not proven he had suffered any damages.

In its conclusions of law the court holds that the first and sixth amendments prohibit prison officials from reading prisoners' outgoing legal mail or to "create ...

Court Dissolves 1-800 Injunction

Iowa state prisoners filed suit seeking preliminary and injunctive relief against an Iowa prison policy prohibiting them from calling their attorneys toll free 1-800 numbers. They claimed this practice violated their right of access to the courts.

The district court agreed and granted a preliminary injunction. Prison officials appealed and the court of appeals for the eighth circuit vacated and remanded.

The appeals court held that the lower court had abused its discretion in granting the injunction because the prisoners had shown neither irreparable harm nor prejudice from the prisons toll free number policy. Court access is viewed as a whole rather than in parts. The appeals court held that because the prisoners ability to file papers in court, meet deadlines and process litigation was not affected, they were not entitled to a preliminary injunction. The case was remanded back to the lower court for further proceedings. See: Aswegan v. Henry, 981 F.2d 313 (8th Cir. 1992).

Court Enjoins Torture of Jail Prisoners

Two Mississippi jail prisoners tried to escape from the jail by smashing their way out. Their attempt failed and guards secured and restrained them in an interrogation cell. The sheriff questioned the two men as to the location of their escape tools, which had not been used in the attempt. When they did not cooperate he obtained a piece of coaxial cable and began beating them. They told the sheriff the escape tools were in a communal cell.

The sheriff and jail guards ordered the prisoners in the cell to produce the escape tools. When they refused the sheriff and guards searched their cell and found the tools. The sheriff ordered the five prisoners to strip naked from the waist down and whipped them for 10-15 minutes with the cable.

The prisoners filed suit claiming violation of their constitutional rights. They sought an injunction from the court enjoining beatings and torture.

The magistrate judge held an evidentiary hearing. The defendants did not deny or dispute torturing the prisoners. Rather they claimed that jail officials can torture prisoners to coerce information needed to discover contraband or relevant to jail security. The court was not persuaded by this argument.

The court notes ...

Guard Convicted of Beating Prisoner

As a general rule PLN doesn't report criminal cases. This is an exception because it directly pertains to prisoner civil rights and because its so unusual for prison staff to be charged, much less convicted, of assaulting prisoners.

Michael Newman was a jail guard in Providence, Rhode Island. He handcuffed a prisoner who was making noise to the bars of his cell and beat and kicked him. The prisoner suffered injuries to his face, nose, eyes and inner ear and required hospitalization for a week. Newman was indicted, tried and convicted of violating the prisoner's civil rights under color of law and sentenced to 60 months in federal prison with two years of supervised release afterwards.

The court of appeals for the first circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence. See: United States v. Newman, 982 F.2d 665 (1st Cir. 1992).

Psych Prisoners Have Right of Court Access

Lonnie Hatch is a patient confined in the Arkansas state hospital following his acquittal, by reason of insanity, of criminal charges. Hatch filed suit under § 1983 claiming hospital officials had violated his right of access to the courts by denying him law books, advice from patient advocates, writing materials, stamps ...

Damages Awarded in PA Beating and Walk

William Giroux is a Pennsylvania state prisoner. He filed suit claiming that his eighth amendment rights were violated when prison guards beat him and made him walk a lengthy distance in manacles and chains, knowing he had a heart condition. After a bench trial the court ruled in Giroux's ...

Organizations Not "Persons" for IFP Status

The Men's Advisory Council is a group of elected representatives of prisoners at a prison in California. When the prison discontinued the practice of providing free tobacco to indigent inmates the Council filed a civil rights complaint in federal court. They sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The district court denied the IFP motion, holding that there was an inadequate showing of indigency. The Council appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in their favor on the in forma pauperis issue. The appeals court held that a "person" who may be authorized by a federal court to proceed in forma pauperis under § 1915(a) may be an "association" under a definition provided in the Dictionary Act contained in Title 1 U.S.C. § 1. Since prison regulations prohibited the Council from owning property or maintaining a bank account, the court granted them IFP status. The state appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Writing for the court, Justice Souter held that only a natural person may qualify for granting in forma pauperis status under § 1915. This conclusion was reached on the basis of his interpretations of the relevant ...

DOC Guard Liable for Not Stopping Beating

Roger Buckner is a Missouri state prisoner. He was transported from the Jackson county jail for commitment to the Missouri DOC prison at Fulton. Larry Hollins was a jail guard transporting Buckner. Once at Fulton, Hollins stripped Buckner naked, handcuffed him and then beat, kicked and stomped him. This occurred in a Fulton cell that only DOC guard Robert Veltrop had keys to. Veltrop witnessed the attack and did not intervene. Buckner sued both Hollins and the jail guards who assaulted him and Veltrop for failing to stop the assault, claiming all had violated his eighth amendment rights.

The guards sought summary judgement on the merits as well as on qualified immunity grounds. The district court denied both. The court of appeals for the eighth circuit affirmed.

Veltrop claimed he was not liable because he had no duty or obligation to stop the assault because Buckner was not legally under DOC control yet. The appeals court rejected this argument by noting only Veltrop had the keys to Buckner's cell and that it was Buckner's assignment to the DOC that was the reason he was delivered to Fulton on the day in question.

The court holds that by failing ...

Unsworn Declarations Admissible

This is a case that will be useful to prisoners in control units or smaller prisons where public notary services are difficult to obtain. Sam Williams is a Michigan state prisoner convicted of murder who was transferred from a max to medium security prison. After a newspaper reported the transfer one of his victim's relatives contacted her congressman who complained to the DOC. As a result of the complaint the prisoner was transferred back to a max prison. Williams filed suit claiming the transfer and a beating he received from prison guards violated his rights. The district court dismissed the suit on summary judgement and the court of appeals for the sixth circuit affirmed.

The appeals court gives a good explanation of how prisoners' complaints, unnotarized but signed under penalty of perjury, are admissible and can place material facts into issue and controvert sworn affidavits. The court gives an extensive discussion of the history of 28 U.S.C. § 1746 which allows the use of unnotarized pleadings and documents in federal court. Thus, either a typed or handwritten complaint sworn under penalty of perjury would have the same effect as a notarized affidavit. See: Williams v. Browman, 981 F ...

Prison Officials Liable for Haircuts

Four prisoners at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP) with shag haircuts (where the hair is long in back and short in the front and on the sides) were ordered to get haircuts by prison officials. Two of the prisoners agreed to the haircuts, the other refused and were placed in ...

Retaliatory Denial of Parole Actionable Under Section 1983

Isa Shabazz is an Oklahoma state prisoner. He filed suit under § 1983 alleging that the Oklahoma parole board has a policy, practice and custom of denying parole to prisoners who choose to exercise their civil rights by suing prison officials. He claimed he was denied parole in retaliation for having sued prison officials for past religious discrimination. The district court dismissed the suit as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (d). The court of appeals for the tenth circuit reversed and remanded.

The appeals court held that the district court erred by weighing the facts in Shabazz's complaint. The district court can dismiss complaints under § 1915 (d) only if they contain clearly baseless factual allegations which are "fantastic or delusional." The district court cannot resolve material disputed factual findings and allegations. "[A] plausible factual allegation, even if it lacks evidentiary support, is not `frivolous' as contemplated by § 1915 (d), even though it may not survive a motion for summary judgement." See: Shabazz v. Askins, 980 F.2d 1333 (10th Cir. 1992).

Prison Officials Liable for Holding Inmate Past Release Date

Gentry Slone is a Missouri state prisoner. He was sentenced to prison and once in prison his sentencing judge suspended Slone's sentence, effective December 21, 1989, and placed him on probation. The state did not appeal the judges order which then became final and non appealable on December 11, 1989.

Prison officials wrote to the judge to inform him they had decided not to release Slone because they did not believe Missouri statutes authorized his release. The judge told them Slone's release was indeed authorized and that he expected the DOC to execute his order. Eight months after Slone should have been released the court convened a court hearing, had Slone brought to court and released him from the court.

Slone then filed suit under § 1983 contending that prison officials had violated his right to due process. Prison officials sought summary judgement on qualified immunity which the district court denied. The court of appeals affirmed the denial of qualified immunity and remanded the case for trial.

The appeals court gives an explanation of the qualified immunity doctrine. The court held that as soon as the state's judge's order releasing Slone became nonappealable the state lost its ...

Section 1983 Proper Remedy for Illegal Confinement

Spencer Parker is a Texas state prisoner. He filed suit under § 1983 claiming he was arrested and indicted for a burglary even though no evidence linked him to the crime. After nine months in jail the charges were dropped and he was released. While in jail he had suffered severe injuries. The district court dismissed Parker's suit as being frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (d), the in forma pauperis (IFP) statute.

The court of appeals for the fifth circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.

The appeals court gives a detailed discussion of the difference between dismissals under § 1915 (d) (frivolous with no arguable basis in fact or law) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b) (6) (failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted). The appeals court reviews § 1915 (d) dismissals for abuse of discretion by the lower court.

The district court had dismissed Parker's suit by ruling that because he was challenging the validity of his confinement his only remedy under law was the writ of habeas corpus. The appeals court disagreed. It holds that because Parker is not challenging his present confinement he is free to use § 1983 ...

Court Bans Double Celling of New Prisoners

Prisoners at the Nebraska State Penitentiary filed a class action suit challenging numerous conditions of confinement at the penitentiary. Most of the claims relate to overcrowding and the overall poor living conditions which include: excessive noise, lack of ventilation, inadequate staff, assaults and violence, contraband rules, lack of privacy, excessive time in cells, double celling, etc. After a lengthy bench trial the court ruled in plaintiffs' favor only on the double celling issue as it pertained to new, arriving prisoners.

The court gives a lengthy factual background of the case and conditions at the penitentiary. It cites numerous cases supporting its rulings on the above issues.

Holding that the prisons' contraband rule (where both cellmates are punished for contraband found in the cells) was not per se unconstitutional, the court notes that its application could potentially lead to incorrect guilty findings at prison disciplinary hearings.

The court ruled that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to prisoners' right to safety by double celling newly arrived prisoners with no type of classification or screening. The lack of classification before double celling the prisoners showed a reckless disregard to prisoners' rights.

Despite this ruling, the court went on to grant defendants qualified immunity ...

Transfers May Violate Eighth Amendment

Timothy Taylor is a small, mentally retarded Michigan state prisoner. While at the Jackson state prison Taylor was transferred to a camp where he was raped. After being raped prison officials labeled him a homosexual and he was denied a job and resident home application. He claims that the screening process used to transfer prisoners violates the eighth amendment because it does not include an adequate review of prisoners' files in order to separate the prey from the predators.

The defendants moved for summary judgement, which the court denied in part. The court notes that failing to segregate violent and non-violent prisoners has been held to constitute deliberate indifference, in violation of the eighth amendment, where it can be shown that a pervasive risk of harm exists or where the victim belongs to an identifiable group of prisoners for whom the risk of assault is a serious problem of substantial dimension. The courts ruled the warden was entitled to neither summary judgement nor qualified immunity. See: Taylor v. Foltz, 803 F. Supp 1261 (ED MI 1992).

WA Prisoners Lose Damages in Rectal Probe Suits

In the mid 80's the Washington DOC built two control units called Intensive Management Units (IMU's). One of the policies they implemented was a mandate that all prisoners entering or leaving the IMUs would be subjected to a rectal probe (also known as digital rape) supposedly to search for contraband. Over 2,000 such "probes" were conducted before the practice was finally halted. No contraband was ever found. There has been extensive litigation on this issue with over a hundred prisoners filing suit over being probed; several went to trial and won.

Prison officials had earlier sought and been denied qualified immunity for their actions. See Tribble v. Gardner, 860 F.2d 321 (9th Cir. 1988). In considering a consolidated appeal of eight probe cases that went to trial, including Wetmore v. Gardner, 735 F. Supp. 974 (ED WA 1990), the ninth circuit ruled that prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from money damages because they could have "reasonably believed" that a policy of blanket probes of all IMU prisoners, without individualized suspicion, was legal. This ruling will dispose of all claims for money damages arising out of the probes.

The reason the court gives for its ...

Road Kill For Washington Prisons

Prison food has been the subject of jokes and commentary for ages. Given its general low quality and often unidentifiable nature, meat dishes are often referred to as "road kill" or "mystery meat." If Washington state Representative Steve Fuhrman, (R) Kettle Falls, has his way these comments will be true, literally.

Fuhrman has sponsored a bill in the House Fisheries and Wildlife Committee that would overhaul the system of removing dead deer and elk from roads and make them available to state prisons. State law already allows for road kill to be placed on the prison menu and some Washington prisons already do so. The state Department of Transportation is responsible for removing dead animals from the roads. Supposedly the animal must not have been dead more than 4 hours and must be properly inspected and processed by a licensed state processor.

Fuhrman wants the state Department of Wildlife to coordinate pickup and distribution. Whichever agency winds up with the job will have to offer the animal corpses to the DOC.

Given the recent E. Coli outbreak some people question whether serving road killed animals is safe. Gary Plews, of the Dept. of Health's Office of Community Environmental Health ...

Minimum Wage for Cons Studied by Congress

In an effort to reverse a federal court ruling that would allow inmates holding prison jobs to be paid the minimum wage of $4.25 an hour, members of congress and state prison directors have launched an effort to reverse the ruling, in Hale v. Arizona, Nos 88-15785 and 89-15162, handed down by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires minimum wage payments to employees, with exceptions specified in the law. The law did not list prison inmates as an exception.

If the ruling is not overturned, prison job programs may become too costly to support and will close, leaving idle inmates, risking unrest and violence, and damaging rehabilitation efforts [Editor's Note: you can see how harmful it would be for us if the state were to pay us something approaching a fair wage].

Since the ruling mentions such traditional prison jobs as manufacturing license plates, prison officials are concerned that all prison jobs would be affected, including those in prison industry programs which sell goods in interstate commerce, other prison industries jobs and even jobs in areas such as prison laundries, food service and janitorial work.

The ruling would ...

PLN Editor Wins Retaliation Suit

Over the years PLN readers have read the periodic reports we have published about the legal struggle against double calling at the Washington State Reformatory (WSR) in Monroe, Washington. Not all of the struggle took place in the courtroom. When the state first announced plans to doublecell us in 1988 there was a lot of debate amongst prisoners over whether or not to seek enforcement of our consent decree, mandating single celling. Like most issues, there were two sides. One side, which I was on, sought enforcement of the single celling provisions of the consent decree. We saw it as necessary to hold the line on that issue to prevent a return to the overcrowding, with attendant ills, of the past. (This is in the context that at the time the DOC wanted to double cell us there was a surplus of state cells and some 2,000 cells were being rented out to the federal government and other states.) The other side, advocated by the administration's lackeys and collaborators, not surprisingly, pushed for total capitulation and not litigating the matter. At the time it was duly noted that most of the advocates of double celling in fact had ...

Mentally Ill Entitled to Health Care

H.B. is a woman prisoner in the Arizona DOC. She suffers from schizophrenia and becomes hostile and threatening when she doesn't take her medication. HB's legal guardian filed suit on her behalf claiming that the DOC's pattern of placing HB in lockdown constituted deliberate indifference to her medical needs because psychiatrists did not authorize her lockdown, and while locked-down she deteriorated to a point that constituted a psychiatric emergency. After a bench trial the district court ruled in favor of HB and granted injunctive relief.

With the increasing number of mentally ill being warehoused in this country's prison system, which is not equipped to handle such people, lawsuits of this type will become more common. The district court's findings of fact included: that the DOC neglected treating HB's mental illness, that they punished her for behavior resulting from her illness; the DOC didn't monitor HB's medications; the DOC failed to transfer her to an appropriate facility for treatment; that the DOC's health care system is inadequate to meet her medical needs; that the DOC knew HB was being harmed by their failure to treat her illness and did nothing to ...

Monroe Double Celling Suit Lost

By Ed Mead

In 1981 prisoners at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe entered into a judicially enforceable consent decree with their captors that would have permanently eliminated double celling at the prison. The original complaint, filed in 1978, challenged a number of prison conditions on constitutional grounds, especially the issue of double bunking. As the litigation slowly wound its way toward trial, the state elected not to test its position in court, and instead entered into a consent decree with prisoners. The decree contained a number of provisions, but central to the agreement was a promise to limit the number of prisoners confined at the Reformatory to the number of single cells at that facility. While it took the state until 1987 to finally comply with the promises it made in the consent decree, and then only when compelled to do so by a federal court order, the Reformatory has been single celled since.

No sooner had the ink dried on the agreement than the state initiated litigation trying to sleaze out from under the decree. Three trips to the Court of Appeals later, the district court has entered an order setting aside the decree. The magistrate's recommendation ...

Failure to Treat Illness Violates Eighth Amendment

Derrick Williams is an Illinois state prisoner. As a result of a car accident he suffers from chronic infectious inflammation of the bone marrow. After being imprisoned a DOC doctor examined Williams and prescribed medication and a course of treatment. Prison officials did not carry out the doctor's prescribed treatment nor give Williams the appropriate medication. Williams condition deteriorated to the point he was hospitalized. After recovering a bit he was returned to the DOC and placed in segregation and again denied the treatment prescribed by his treating physician. This process continued for a 28 month period. Williams filed suit claiming this lack of effective medical treatment violated his eighth amendment rights.

The defendants moved for summary judgement which the district court granted in part and denied in part.

The court discusses the legal standards of medical eighth amendment claims. The infliction of suffering on prisoners violates the eighth amendment only if it is deliberate or reckless in the criminal law sense. Liability turns on the defendants subjective mental state, not on what the defendant should have known. Using this standard the court found the prison doctors who "treated" Williams were liable for his lack of care. While Williams ...

MANCI: The Aftermath

By John Perotti

In June, 1992, MANCI guard Thomas Davis was stabbed in the back shoulder. Prisoner Roy Slider was accused of the stabbing. Davis died at a Mansfield hospital the next day. This began a series of retaliatory transfers and total lockdown of the prison for one month and semi restricted movement lasting until February, 1993. The guards' union demanded a continuous lockdown but were pacified when the security of the prison was changed from max-close to close and over 300 max prisoners sent to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio.

The prisoners transferred immediately after Davis died were placed in Administrative Control (AC) at the SOCF. An internal investigation absolved all of them of any involvement in the death of Davis. SOCF warden, Art Tate, apologized to the men, released them from AC and told them they would return to MANCI within 30 days, as their former security status was reinstated.

As of this date none of the prisoners have been returned to MANCI. One of the prisoners, Jay Hill, is a co-plaintiff in our suit challenging several conditions as well as retaliation. He was transferred to SOCF just one day after a telephone status ...

Minn. Prison Signs Contract for Puerto Rican Inmates

Minn. Prison signs Contract for Puerto Rican Inmates

St. Paul, Minn. - about 500 prisoners from Puerto Rico will come to Minnesota as early as this month under a deal that finally will fill a privately operated prison in Appleton built to create jobs.

Appleton officials said they had signed a multi-year contract to board prisoners from the commonwealth of Puerto Rico at the new Prairie Correctional Facility, the $28.5 million medium-security penitentiary that has been standing empty for four months.

Ninety-three Puerto Rican prisoners were flown to a prison in Florida, where they will be held while supervisors of the Appleton prison make final preparations, which include offering Spanish lessons to prison guards and arranging for a local cable-television company to bring Spanish-language television programming to the prisoners' cells. Officials will also hire 70 more workers for a payroll that already includes 85 people.


Editorial Comments

With this issue we start our fourth calendar year of printing PLN (we began our fourth publishing year back in January). Paul and I have been looking back on what we've been able to accomplish during this period and we feel pretty good about the newsletter's progress. The number of readers has slowly increased, our format has become increasingly more professional, and we believe the quality of information we've been able to provide you with has also improved. There is more we would like to have done, yet, considering the conservative national mood, we are fortunate to have even survived as a publication this long. There are two central reasons for this longevity--our readers and our volunteers.

First, our readers have consistently voted for our continued existence with their pocket books. Without your ongoing financial support we would have been history long ago. As it is, we enjoy a certain measure of economic security. When there has been extra money we've passed it on to you in the form of extra pages.

Secondly, even with your ongoing financial assistance, we would not have been able to be with you this long if it had ...

Criminal Justice System Unfair to Radical Activist

By Jon George

"Toiling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail, An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail."

Bob Dylan, Chimes of Freedom

In 1978, Ed Mead said, "I feel a lot of interior conflicts. One side of me feels the need to stay here and build programs; the other side of me feels I'd rather get the fuck out or be dead. I'm in prison now because I tried to help prisoners." It's now 15 years later, and Ed Mead has decided he wants out.

Ed Mead is a prisoner in the Washington State Reformatory at Monroe, and he has just spent more than 17 years of his life serving time for his political beliefs and the actions they led to. Ed took up arms against the state, and the state will neither forgive nor forget, suspending the justice it claims to serve in favor of its ongoing persecution of radical activists.

Ed's first experience of prison life came at age 18, when he was sentenced to three years for burglarizing a cigarette machine. He spent the decade of the '60s passing in and out of similar institutions, paying his ...

Bombed-out German Prison to be Razed and then Rebuilt

Darmstadt, Germany - Bombs set off by guerrillas on March 26th at a new prison in Darmstadt caused such extensive damage that it will have to be razed, a justice official said. There were no injuries.

The federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe said a letter found in a getaway car claimed a Red Army Faction commando had carried out the bombings.

The leftist Red Army Faction guerrilla group has carried out numerous bombings, assassinations and other attacks against NATO, government and industrial targets in Germany over the past two decades.

The $153 million prison, 18 miles south of Frankfurt, had been scheduled to open the following Thursday. But the Hesse state justice minister, Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, told reporters it would have to be torn down and rebuilt.

Police said the bombings caused $60 million in damage.

Five masked and armed people entered the prison complex, tied up the 11 workers and drove them to nearby woods. The attackers then detonated several bombs, destroying the administrative building and four cell blocks, said Hans-Juergen Foerster, federal prosecutor's spokesman.

Foerster said the attackers fled in a car owned by one of the prison employees and abandoned it at the town of Waldorf, nine ...

Brazilian Cops Charged in Prison Massacre

In Brazil 121 police officers have been formally charged with the murder of at least 111 prisoners at Carandiru prison in Sao Paulo on October 2, 1992, when they invaded the prisons cell block 9 on the pretext of quelling a riot. [PLN, Vol. 4, No. 1.]

Former commander of the Metropolitan Police Ubiritan Guimaraes was charged with principal responsibility in the massacre; he could receive up to 30 years in prison if found guilty. Among those charged are 87 high ranking officers. [Editors Note: Compare this to Attica where no government officials were ever charged or convicted of their crimes that left 42 dead and hundreds of prisoners beaten, tortured and mistreated afterwards.]
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