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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: September, 1993

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Volume 4, Number 9

In this issue:

  1. Placing Con in Cell with Dying PWA Doesn't State Claim (p 1)
  2. Exposure to Secondary Smoke Can State Claim (p 1)
  3. AIDS Patient Released from Jail (p 2)
  4. NYC Jails Breeding TB (p 2)
  5. Women Prisoners Hold AIDS Walkathon (p 3)
  6. Washington Women in Prison (p 3)
  7. English Only Rule Not Applicable to Group Prayers (p 4)
  8. New Prisoner Resource Guide Available (p 4)
  9. Should You Tell a Potential Employer You're an Ex-Felon? (p 4)
  10. Harassment of Jailhouse Lawyer Violates Access to Courts (p 4)
  11. The Black Political Voice (p 5)
  12. Campaign of Repression (p 6)
  13. Freedom for Puerto Rican POWs (p 7)
  14. Prisoners as Workers: Court Defines Applicability of FLSA (p 8)
  15. Solidarity with Revolutionary Prisoners (p 8)
  16. Prisoners as Workers in Washington State: New Law Will Increase Exploitation (p 9)
  17. Editorial (p 10)
  18. CEML Update (p 11)
  19. The Telephone Game (p 11)
  20. News from Florida (p 12)
  21. FLA Death Penalty Games (p 12)
  22. Grievance Appeals Necessary (p 12)
  23. Prison Privatization in England (p 13)
  24. MI Phone Rip Off (p 13)
  25. The Collapse of the Brazilian Penal System (p 14)
  26. German Geriatric Prison (p 14)
  27. Guatemalan Prison Riot (p 16)
  28. Death Squads and Prison Protests in Ecuador (p 16)

Placing Con in Cell with Dying PWA Doesn't State Claim

Woodrow Johnson is a federal prisoner confined at FCI Talladega, Alabama. The suit was instituted pro se pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents , 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999 (1971), and 28 U.S.C. § 1331, wherein he alleged that he has been deprived of his constitutional rights by the actions of the defendant officials of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Johnson sought injunctive relief and monetary damages.

Johnson contended that the BOP violated his eighth amendment rights by housing him in the same cell with a prisoner who was dying from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). He alleged that his former cellmate tampered with his toothbrush, toothpaste, and razor blade; in addition, on several occasions, he observed his cellmate's blood on their sink, toilet and towels. He alleged that during the last few days prior to his cellmate's death, he was forced to "feed and sanitize" him. Johnson's cellmate subsequently died. While Johnson has tested negative for HIV, he complains that he was damaged psychologically because he was subjected to witnessing his celllmate's deteriorating condition.

In granting the government's ...

Exposure to Secondary Smoke Can State Claim

Donald McKinney was a Nevada state prisoner who filed a civil rights complaint against prison officials, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that his involuntary exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) from his cellmate's and other inmates' cigarettes posed an unreasonable risk to his health, thus subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth amendment. A federal magistrate granted the state's motion for a directed verdict, but the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed in part, holding that McKinney should have been permitted to prove that his ETS exposure was sufficient to constitute an unreasonable danger to his future health. It reaffirmed its decision after the Supreme Court remanded the case for further consideration in light of Wilson v. Seiter , 501 U.S. ___, in which the high court held that eighth amendment claims arising from confinement conditions not formally imposed as a sentence for a crime require proof of a subjective component, and that where the claim alleges inhumane confinement conditions or failure to attend to a prisoner's medical needs, the standard for that state of mind is the "deliberate indifference" standard of Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U ...

AIDS Patient Released from Jail

Gregory Scarpa is a pretrial detainee with full-blown AIDS. He is an alleged mafia captain awaiting trial on charges of racketeering, various murders, murder conspiracies, etc. While on bail previously he was involved in a shoot out and, according to the government, continued his loan sharking activities.

The court granted Scarpa's motion for release because of his poor health, inadequate medical facilities at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) and trauma to his family based on the prospect of his continued health decline in jail without adequate, humane care in the waning days of his life.

The court gave a detailed discussion of the relevant law concerning release of accused defendants on bail. Applying the law to the facts the court held Scarpa's release was warranted. The court noted terminally ill patients are on a different calendar than healthy defendants and the effect their suffering has on their families. Despite his proven dangerousness Scarpa was released on a $1.2 million bond as long as he paid for at least 2 US Marshals to guard him 24 hours a day, seven days a week at $15.00 an hour.

The court held:" Overriding principles of our system of justice ...

NYC Jails Breeding TB

New York City's jails are a breeding ground for tuberculosis, with inmates 10 times as likely to catch the disease as the general public, according to a city report.

"The New York City jail system may be an important amplification point in the ongoing tuberculosis epidemic," wrote Dr. Eran Y. Bellin, the director of infectious disease control at Rikers Island.

His study was published early last month in the Journal of the Medical Association .

Bellin conducted his study among 2,636 inmates who tested negative for tuberculosis upon admission at Rikers over a one-year period. Follow-ups were conducted on all the inmates to determine if they contracted the disease after their jailing.

While the rate of tuberculosis infection among the general city population is about 50 per 100,000, the 1991 rate among the study group was 500 per 100,000, said Bellin. The study ran through 1992.

Inmates who spent one full year in Rikers were 2.2 times as likely to contract tuberculosis as those jailed for the average stay of 65 days, the study showed. Inmates above the age of 30 were 2.4 times as likely; inmates sent to the detoxification unit were 4.3 ...

Women Prisoners Hold AIDS Walkathon

The April 24, 1993," Fight AIDS" Walkathon, held at the women's maximum security Shawnee Unit of the federal prison in Marianna, FL, was a great success. Eighty women participated, walking 1636 laps, over 300 miles. Over 90% of the prisoners joined in the effort, even the three women in segregation walked, pacing in their punishment cells. To date we have raised $3,232.00 for Bay AIDS Services and Information Coalition (B.A.S.I.C.) in Panama City, Florida.

For the afternoon, we were joined by Mike Lester and Star, two members of the organization and Persons With AIDS (PWAs). They spent the time talking to small groups of women about living with HIV/AIDS and strategies for survival.

For the women of Shawnee, participation in the Walkathon was an expression of solidarity with their fellow prisoners infected with the virus; an act that united the unit family behind the fight to defeat this disease and the rejection of the fear and ignorance that often characterize the reaction to the presence of HIV+ individuals in prison.

The high level of participation and the interest expressed by the women in future activities has given our group a stronger foundation ...

Washington Women in Prison

by V.M.

This has been called "The Year of the Woman" in the field of politics, but apparently those politics extend only as far as the media. Certainly there is no evidence of discrimination or abuse coming to a halt within the confines we live in here.

Since the beginning of the year, and the "christening" of the female superintendent we now have "in power" here, our hopes that there would finally be some recognition of the obstacles we face here, have all but been systematically murdered.

For years we have had to deal with receiving the "trickle down" from the monies allocated to the men's institutions regarding funding for the programs we need. It has always been a battle for us to receive any type of educational or vocational training beyond a GED, and now with the new administrative take over we've been forced to endure, a new policy has gone into effect stating that once a GED has been acquired by an inmate, her educational needs are secondary to working in an assigned institutional job. These "jobs" consist of janitorial, gardening and kitchen work. We here at WCCW are wondering how many employers would jump ...

English Only Rule Not Applicable to Group Prayers

Aprison rule requiring prisoners to communicate in the "English language only" can not reasonably be construed to apply to prayers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in a civil rights case. Therefore, the court concluded, prison officials violated a prisoner's due process rights when they punished him for praying aloud in Arabic. The prisoner, a convert to Islam, was praying in unison with another when he refused a guard's order to follow the "English only" rule; as punishment, he was confined in disciplinary segregation for two weeks. The plain meaning of the rule, the court said, forbids non-English interchange of information between or among humans, not between humans and God. If the rule were intended to apply to communications with divine beings, the term "prayer" would have been used. Finally, the court noted that if the rule could be stretched to include prayer, it would provide inmates insufficient notice and would therefore violate due process. See: Conner v. Sakai , 53 CrL 1242 (6-16-93), ___ F.2d ___ (1993).

New Prisoner Resource Guide Available

The Prisoner Rights Union in California has published their 1993-94 Resource Guide. While the guide will be especially useful to prisoners in California it contains a lot of helpful information for prisoners anywhere. It is 56 pages long and literally filled with information.

For those located in California it contains information like the addresses of all prisons, courts, public defenders, etc., in the state. Of interest and use to prisoners everywhere is the national listings of AIDS resources, arts, death penalty, gay/lesbian services, legal assistance, publications, parolee services, veteran assistance, visiting, pen pal programs, women's services and much more. The guide also has a table of contents and an index which allows easy use to locate specific programs and such.

The Guide is only $10.00 apiece for 1-5 copies. It is available at lower prices for bulk purchases. Well worth checking out. This document is an excellent addition to prison law library reference sections. Write: PRU, P.O. Box 1019, Sacramento, CA. 95812-1019.

Should You Tell a Potential Employer You're an Ex-Felon?

By John Adams

I'm a prisoner at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington, as well as a student at the Walla Walla Community College currently working for my AAAS degrees in Business Management and Bookkeeping. All the business courses I've taken are designed to teach you how to find a job in the business world; however, for an ex-convict there is much more to gaining employment and keeping your job than is taught from a textbook.

The reality of the situation is that you will be an ex-convict. That label will never leave you. Potential employers may not want to hire you because of that label. You may already realize this. When you are released and it comes time to get a job you are going to have to ask yourself: Should I tell a potential employer that I'm an ex-felon? Since the law pretty much controls our (prisoner's) lives, let's see what the law has to say about ex-offenders employment rights.

RCW 49.60.010 provides that practices of discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, age or handicap are a matter of state concern. The statute recognizes ...

Harassment of Jailhouse Lawyer Violates Access to Courts

Aprison guard's harassment of inmate paralegals is actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as a violation of other prisoners' right of access to the courts, which was recognized as a constitutional right in Bounds v. Smith , 430 U.S. 817 (1977), declared a U.S. district court in New Jersey. Assuming that the prisoners' factual allegations are true, the court said that if the prison paralegals are necessary for the prison to meet its obligation under Bounds , then their harassment violates the fourteenth amendment's due process clause. The court said further submissions on the nature of the assistance provided by the jailhouse lawyers would be necessary before the issue can be resolved. Also in need of further review is the question of whether the Prisoners' Legal Association (PLA), a group of prisoners to which the paralegals belonged, has standing to assert the prisoners' due process claim. The court appointed an attorney for the association to brief this question.

Members of the PLA are trained by the prison to serve as paralegals for other prisoners. Without ruling definitively on the question, the court hinted strongly that the prison could not meet its Bounds obligations without the legal assistance ...

The Black Political Voice

by Gerald D. Fuller

Maryland's disenfranchisement statute has its roots in the federal constitution. The state would have its citizens believe that Maryland's election laws which govern disenfranchisement are fair and impartial and are not discriminatory where blacks are concerned. It is precisely because a citizen can lose his franchise rights due to criminal conviction that Maryland's law would be unconstitutional, for the reason that blacks are disproportionately subjected to criminal convictions, and are targets for disenfranchisement. Maryland has a historic pattern of incarcerating blacks in greater numbers than any other racial group. Their incarceration occurs at from a 2-1 ratio to a 3-1 ratio to that of whites.

In 1990 there were 17,057 people incarcerated in Maryland. Of that number 12,695 were black. That is a disproportionate representation of blacks within the Division of Correction. In 1988, an election year, Maryland incarcerated 7,486 people, of that number 4,649 were black people. You would think that blacks outnumbered whites in the state, or were responsible for more crime than whites. The 1984 election year incarceration was hardly any different, Maryland incarcerated 3,592 in that year, of that number 2,358 were black ...

Campaign of Repression

By Mumia Abu Jamal

The most repressive regime in America just got more repressive. In November, 1992, the Pennsylvania (PA) Department of Corrections implemented revised administrative directives 801/802. [ Editors Note: These rules affect only prisoners in administrative and disciplinary segregation. ]

With planned restrictions barring all but personal and legal mail and a ban on all books (save a Bible or Qur'an), it is a broad based attack on the mind.

Most insidious are the provisions governing legal material. They suggest the other regulations are mere smokescreens designed to divert attention from the state's principle objective: the stripping of jailhouse lawyers. For the legal materials sections of the PA regulations govern all prisoners in the hole, whether for disciplinary or administrative reasons.

There is solid support, from scholars and statistical analysis, for the notion that jailhouse lawyers are the targets of the new rules. In 1991, one of the most exhaustive studies to date on the targets of the prison disciplinary system were released. The report, titled The Myth of Humane Imprisonment , [ Editors Note: the report is still available for $5.00 from the Prisoner Rights Union, P.O. Box 1019, Sacramento, CA. 95812-1019. ] found there is a ...

Freedom for Puerto Rican POWs

Today the United States government holds in its custody many Puerto Rican women and men, criminalizing them for having fought for the independence of their country. Like George Washington in his day, they are anti-colonial combatants. Washington's contemporary, Thomas Paine, defended in Common Sense the choice to take up arms against the British colonizer: "It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms" They are like Nelson Mandela in our day, who told the court when faced with life in prison for his role in a conspiracy to use force to overthrow the apartheid regime,

A time comes in the life of any nation, where there remains only two choices--submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defense of our people, our future, our freedom."

And also like Mandela, they are serving the equivalent of life in prison.

Most of the prisoners are convicted of seditious conspiracy and ...

Prisoners as Workers: Court Defines Applicability of FLSA

By Ed Mead

 

Court Defines Applicability of Fair Labor Standards Act

Many years have passed since the era of liberal court rulings in the field of prisoners' rights. These ground-breaking decisions were handed down in the wake of a budding prisoners' movement, a movement led by the likes of George Jackson and the Attica Brothers, a movement that challenged the very legitimacy of capitalist rule. The forward progress made on the legal front during those years took place in direct proportion to the strength of that movement. When we were advancing, when our political strength was growing, then the courts were more favorably disposed toward the legal positions being advanced by prisoners.

Before the advent of the prisoners' struggle of the late 1960s and early 1970s the status of prisoner rights litigation in the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere within the federal appeals courts was discouraging. One of the more widely known of the early prisoner rights litigators to set a modern day standard of reality was the so called Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud. In the Ninth Circuit Stroud v. Swope, 187 F.2d 850 (9 Cir. 1951), stood for the proposition that prisoners have no rights the state is ...

Solidarity with Revolutionary Prisoners

Solidarity With Revolutionary Prisoners

We are a committee formed by two Italian political groups (Il Bollettino and Solidarieta Proletaria), which have been focusing on revolutionary political prisoners for a number of years, since the early eighties.

Our activity of support for political prisoners not disassociated from the class struggle develops on several levels and goes from the publication (through a bimonthly magazine and a quarterly information paper) of documents, political analysis written by the prisoners to various material activities (medical treatment, sending of money, books, magazines, etc.) and political support such as counterinformation meetings, solidarity festivals, struggles supporting the demands of prisoners, etc.

We believe that this solidarity activity is of great importance and, while not being the primary task of communists, does belong to the communist and revolutionary movement because political prisoners are a part, the product and the living memory of this movement.

Throughout the years we were interested not only in the political prisoners of our country but also, as far as possible, in the conditions and struggles of political prisoners in other countries, especially of the European countries due to the greater homogeneity of the political struggles and of the counter insurgency policies in this area ...

Prisoners as Workers in Washington State: New Law Will Increase Exploitation

By Ed Mead

The 1993 session of the Washington State Legislature has passed a new law that will dramatically increase the number of prisoners working in this state's institutional industries. Governor Lowry should have signed Senate Bill 5989 into law by the time you read this. In addition to increasing the number of industrial workers, the new legislation authorizes the state to take more than 50 percent of the wages earned by inmate workers.

The bill requires that state agencies purchase goods and services produced in whole or in part by industrial work programs operated by the Department of Corrections, provided that such prisoner-produced products meet the requirements of the purchasing agency or department, are equal to or better quality than can be obtained elsewhere, and that the price is not higher than can be found in the private sector.

The act requires that the secretary of corrections deduct from the gross wages of all prisoners working in either class I or class II industries, or any prisoner earning more than the state minimum wage, the following amounts:

1.Ten percent to the crime victims' compensation account.

2.Ten percent to a personal savings account until the amount of ...

Editorial

RESIST GRANT: In my last editorial comments I waxed eloquent on the increased cost of our current publishing format and the need for us to obtain new readers in order to sustain the cost of these increased pages. More paying subscribers, I pointed out, would ensure that we were able to bring printing costs down. That's because the more copies we have made the cheaper the printing is. Well, I am not yet sure how that appeal is going to work out, but we do have one bit of very good news. Resist gave us an $800 grant, an amount that should tide us over the worst part of this format transition. We send our thanks and a tip of the hat to the folks at Resist for their help.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Readers in the Seattle area, or those on the inside who have loved ones residing in Seattle, are urged to assist our outside volunteers in the production of PLN. This task consists of two phases: The folding and stapling that takes place before the regular mailing at the Capitol Hill home of a volunteer. And the general mailing that consists of adding address labels and sorting the ...

CEML Update

[CEML is the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown, an anti-control unit group. PLN recently received the following letter from CEML concerning their activities. ]

This has been the busiest of times for CEML. First, work continues to prevent the opening of the new control unit at Florence, Colorado, or at least to alter its destructive impact. The bulk of the work is being done by the Coalition to Shut Down Control Units, a statewide organization in Colorado (they also publish an excellent newsletter, Shut Them Down , available for $10.00 from the Rocky Mountain Peace Center, P.O. Box 1156, Boulder, CO 80306). CEML is continuing to press this work as well as trying to find sympathetic audiences within the new administration. Additionally, we along with the folks in Colorado are continuing our petition campaign. We now have over 4,000 signatures but would like to double that number. Please write for copies of the petition.

Second, our work continues to combat the control unit prison in nearby Westville, IN. As if the brutality of that prison were not enough, the comparatively tiny state is apparently now planning to build a second control unit since the first has not succeeded ...

The Telephone Game

Nearly a year and a half after a scandal about purchasing involving the North Carolina Coin Tel Company has passed. The grand jury has finally indicted two people in the illegal activities.

The indictments handed down against D.R. Hursey and Michael A. Weaver focus on a $1.2 million dollar contract for maintenance of prison pay phones used by prisoners.

Hursey is the correction department's former director of departmental services, which controlled all purchasing for state prisons. Weaver was an AT&T account executive and one of the owners of Coin Tel Inc., the company that received the maintenance contract.

Auditors said the purchasing irregularities cost tax payers $7.2 million in wasted or misspent funds.

Former Corrections Secretary Aaron Johnson resigned last year in the wake of the purchasing problems. Six other officials either resigned, retired or were transferred to other state jobs.

According to the indictments handed down by the Wake County grand jury, Hursey and Weaver engaged in a bid rigging conspiracy between January, 1989, and September, 1992, that involved contracts for the purchase of telephones and telephone services. These included the collection of coins from prison pay phones, prison pay phone maintenance and management ...

News from Florida

News From Florida

It seems that the governor of this state [Florida] is trying to pass a 25¢ tax on every pack of cigarettes to raise money for the construction 21,000 additional prison beds to keep the violent offenders behind bars longer and, if possible, not to let them out ever again.

The governor has been hemming and hawing about the fact that there will be a gridlock and the prison system will run out of prisoners to release early due to the mandatory and habitual statutes they have been sentenced under, yet it was the governor and the legislature that passed both of these statutes when they were getting tough on crime in this state.

The governor has called the legislature back into special session to fix this so called gridlock problem by creating a bill or bills to fund the construction of the prison beds the governor wants. Yet the governor never called for any prison beds in the last couple of years after passing the habitual and minimum mandatory statutes. The word so far is that the legislature is about to compromise and allow the funding of 10,000 prison beds due to the finding of ...

FLA Death Penalty Games

I'm in the midst of challenging the reappointment of a guy named Spalding to the Capital Collateral Representative (CCR) post of Florida (that's the state funded agency that handles collateral appeals for indigent capital/condemned prisoners). I'm still on direct appeal, but I feel that I have standing as a prospective client, not to mention the sure standing of those who are actually represented by CCR, especially because his post is statutorily created and he's my attorney in waiting so to speak. Anyway, this character (who just so happens to be pro death penalty) made a deal with the Governor's office in late 1990 to abide by an unpromulgated one year timetable for filing 3.850 (ineffective assistance of counsel) appeals in exchange for more funding and no warrants being signed in that one year; he's forced his staff to abide by this since that time and forced out anyone who opposed it (by law we have two years to file). He never informed death row, never offered a counter proposal of his own on our behalf, nor did he inquire of death row if we had a viable counter proposal to offer.

In ...

Grievance Appeals Necessary

Being incarcerated now for over nine years between the federal BOP and the state of Alaska, I have found that many prisoners who file grievances do not follow up on them. Many get "pissed off" and go with that attitude when initially filing grievances against their keepers. When the grievance is denied they do not appeal it to the next highest level.

The error in this approach is that it does not get information about the problem out of the institution. All joints will try their best to retain their wrong-doings within their own walls. One must at least appeal a grievance to the next step and further if possible. If enough wrong-doing information gets to regional or state capitol offices, the higher ups will think there is a problem and maybe correct it.

If a prisoner was done wrong and gets no adequate relief, most states prisoners can appeal their grievances, and even their disciplinaries into their own state court system. It's a civil matter which could be found in the state's "Rules of Administrative Procedure" or "Administrative Code." All state have them. Along with the codes, many states have additional instructions on how to litigate pro ...

Prison Privatization in England

The British government's "privatization program" for prisons and prison service is proceeding fast. After the contracting out of the Wolds prison in Humberside to Group 4 security, Blakehurst, a new prison in Worcestshire, has been tendered out to UK Detention Services. Meanwhile bids have just closed for the contract to run the rebuilt Strangeways prison. A new prison in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, will be contracted out later this year. In February parliament voted to extend the original plan which allowed only for new prisons to be "privatized," to mean that the running of existing prisons could be contracted out.

As usual, the private companies competing for the market in private prisons are linked very close to the Conservative Party and to ex-civil servants, ex top cops and ex army chiefs. For instance, Norman Fowler, an original member of the government team that recommended the privatization program after the 1986 inspection tour of US private prisons, is a non-executive director of Group 4 Remand Services. Ex metro police commissioner Peter Imbert is a non executive director of Securicor, who are to bid for the new Doncaster prison. UK Detention Services is partly owned by McAlpine and Son: Lord McAlpine is ...

MI Phone Rip Off

I have read the article which appeared in PLN (Vol. 4, number 4) by Paul Wright about the prison telephone system. I was amazed to learn that the Washington DOC telephone contract states that the commission checks are sent to each institution and made payable to the Inmate Welfare Fund. That is not the case in Michigan.

The Michigan DOC keeps" all commissions paid by the telephone companies in spite of our protests. The Inmate Benefit Fund does not receive a single penny. We are currently litigating the matter and we hope to be successful.

B.K. Jackson, MI.

The Collapse of the Brazilian Penal System

By Jayme Brenner

[Editors Note: This article was translated by Paul Wright from El Dia Latinoamericano , a regional bi-weekly published in Mexico. While most American readers of PLN are familiar with the prison crisis facing the US, the fact is that virtually all of the capitalist countries are in the midst of a severe prison crisis as a result of relying on prisons as a means of social control for their populations. The result of neo liberal, "free trade" policies with the resulting impoverishment of large sectors of the world's population has created an explosion in prison systems around the world. The US prison crisis is just part of the puzzle .]

The report issued in May, 1993, by Amnesty International concerning the massacre of 111 detainees in the Carandiru prison in Sao Paulo uncovers a new chapter in the history of police violence in Brazil.

Beyond the considerable damage to the electoral pretensions of the Governor of Sao Paulo, Luis Antonio Fluery, who sought to present himself as a "centrist alternative" in the 1994 presidential elections, the situation around these events reveal a true collapse of the Brazilian penal system.

Sao Paulo.- In May, 1993, Amnesty International released a ...

German Geriatric Prison

Germany may have the most humanitarian prison in existence today. [ Editors note: They may also have the most inhumane prison as well, the notorious Stammheim prison is where the sensory deprivation isolation now in widespread use across the world was first developed in the mid-70's against German political prisoners. ] Although you must be over 50 years of age to do time in this prison, it is a prison with a heart and does rehabilitate prisoners. Virtually no repeat offenders from its populace have come back into the prison system. The prison is located at Singen, Germany. Conditions for getting into this prison are predictably tough. Prisoners must be over 50, must be socially acceptable and not be dangerous. It is not a retirement home but arguably some people might think so. There are no cells only rooms where each prisoner has his own key. There are no locked doors in the prison itself. The prisoners are free to go anywhere they please. They may walk down the plant lined corridors to the gymnasium, library or courtyard with lawn and fish pond.

Each prisoner has his own seven square meter room, usually decorated with plants and pictures of family. He ...

Guatemalan Prison Riot

Some 1,000 prisoners of Pavocinto penitentiary near Guatemala City who took over the prison grounds on April 11, 1993, allowed authorities back in on April 13, 1993, after a 30 hour standoff. In exchange, the government promised that living conditions in the prison would be improved. Nine prisoners escaped, five were killed and 25 people were wounded during the riots. During negotiations with Guatemala's vice minister of the interior, the national police chief and the national penitentiary system director, the prisoners made about 12 demands which included a stop to physical abuse and corruption in the prison. The prisoners accused prison employees of selling food which was brought to them by their friends and family [ Editors Note: the practice in most Latin American countries is that prisoners families must feed and clothe the prisoners, the government does not do so. ], and demanded guarantees that the food would reach them. Responding to another prisoner demand, officials promised to investigate the death of an inmate who was beaten by guards seeking information on the escape of nine other prisoners on April 10, 1993.

-Weekly News Update

Death Squads and Prison Protests in Ecuador

According to a note sent to the police in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 12, 1993, a death squad called the "Anti-Crime Clean Up Squad" has claimed responsibility for the death of six common criminals and promised the shooting of another seven. The six victims had criminal records and were shot and their bodies dumped outside Guayaquil. In the right hand of one of the victims was a prison release form, in an apparent message about the illegal releases from jail of numerous criminals. Six police commissioners in Quito (the capital of Ecuador) have been indicted for the illegal imprisonment of people to extort money from them, and for the illegal release of convicted criminals.

About 600 prisoners of Quito's jail taped their lips shut in a hunger strike on April 12, 1993, to protest lengthy delays in legal processes. Last March, prisoners held a hunger strike for the same reasons. In the meantime, political disagreements have been keeping Ecuador's 16 high courts from resuming their regular activities. Recent attempts to depoliticize the justice system have so far been unsuccessful.

Weekly News Update

 

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