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Prison Legal News: January, 1994

Issue PDF
Volume 5, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. Ninth Circuit Approves Oregon Control Unit Conditions (p 1)
  2. Outgoing Mail May Contain Slander (p 2)
  3. Bankruptcy Appeal Filed When Mailed (p 3)
  4. Discipline For Rude Letter Struck Down (p 3)
  5. WI Prisoners Not Entitled to Minimum Wage (p 3)
  6. Law of Medical Treatment Explained (p 4)
  7. Conditions Habeas Requires Administrative Exhaustion (p 4)
  8. WA State DOC "Work Ethic" Program: Capitalist Training Camp, or Liberal Rehabilitation Scheme? (p 5)
  9. Court Declines to Define "Frivolous" Suits (p 6)
  10. Exposure to Cold Weather States Claim (p 6)
  11. Death Row Prisoners Entitled to Limited Contact Attorney Visits (p 7)
  12. Prisoner's Assault Claim Must Go to Trial (p 7)
  13. MI Hearing Officers Have Absolute Immunity (p 7)
  14. Only One Appeal on Qualified Immunity (p 8)
  15. Classification Chief Liable for Attack (p 8)
  16. Making Con Drink from Toilet States Claim (p 9)
  17. Parole Commission Guidelines Not Ex Post Facto (p 9)
  18. Visitor Cannot Withdraw Consent to Search Once Search Has Begun (p 9)
  19. Common Law Right to Inspect Court Records (p 9)
  20. Nominal Damages in Eighth Amendment Claim Upheld (p 10)
  21. No Cause of Action in Reversed Disciplinary Sanction (p 10)
  22. "Tough On Crime" Law Increases Michigan Crime Rates (p 11)
  23. Reviews (p 11)
  24. WA DNA Identification Statute Upheld by District Court (p 12)
  25. Editorial (p 12)
  26. BOP Must Disclose Program Statement (p 12)
  27. Weed and Seed: The Fortress Culture (p 13)
  28. Disastrous Conditions in Vermont Prisons (p 14)
  29. Materials on Prison Rape Survival Available (p 14)
  30. Dime Down (p 15)

Ninth Circuit Approves Oregon Control Unit Conditions

By Paul Wright

This is a case which challenged numerous conditions of confinement at the Oregon State Penitentiary's Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU), which is a control unit. The ruling does not bode well for prisoners seeking to question such conditions.

The sole plaintiff is Samuel Lemaire. The district court ...

Outgoing Mail May Contain Slander

Aprisoner at the Iowa Men's Reformatory received a major disciplinary infraction for "verbal abuse" as a result of comments included in a letter he had written to his brother. The prisoner, Rick Bressman, wrote: "yeah, their (sic) real assholes, my counselor is a dick head, the officers working here ...

Bankruptcy Appeal Filed When Mailed

Three Pennsylvania state prisoners appealed the dismissal of their appeals from bankruptcy court after the district court held the appeal was untimely. Bankruptcy appeals must be filed within ten days, and in this case the prisoners gave their appeals to prison officials within the ten days, but they were not ...

Discipline For Rude Letter Struck Down

Lobester Loggins is a Missouri State prisoner. In 1989 he sent his brother a letter. Pursuant to prison policy a prison mail clerk opened and read the letter, which stated in part that "there's a beetle eyed bitch back here who enjoys reading people's mail." The letter continued ...

WI Prisoners Not Entitled to Minimum Wage

In part of the continuing struggle to obtain minimum wages for their labor, five Wisconsin prisoners filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. The Wisconsin prison industries program, under the name of Badger State Industries (BSI) operates a vehicle and bicycle ...

Law of Medical Treatment Explained

By Ed Mead

Case Goes to Trial Over $12.40 Pair of Glasses

Aprisoner at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP), Dean Benter, filed a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth amendment. Benter claimed his captors ...

Conditions Habeas Requires Administrative Exhaustion

Raleigh Irby is a prisoner at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago. He petitioned the district court for release under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (the habeas corpus statute) because he was not receiving adequate medical treatment for severe congenital disk disease.

The district court held that Irby ...

WA State DOC "Work Ethic" Program: Capitalist Training Camp, or Liberal Rehabilitation Scheme?

WA State DOC "Work Ethic" Program: Capitalist Training Camp, or Liberal Rehabilitation Scheme?

By P. L. G.

During the last session of the Washington State legislature, there was a bill passed mandating that DOC implement a "Work Ethic Program" by November 1, 1993. The McNeil Island Annex, a minimum security ...

Court Declines to Define "Frivolous" Suits

Anthony Brown is a Maryland state prisoner. After telling prison medical staff he had already been vaccinated, he was given another tuberculosis inoculation and broke out in a rash. Brown filed suit under §<%0> 1983 claiming that the vaccination violated his eighth amendment rights. The district court granted Brown leave to ...

Exposure to Cold Weather States Claim

Ronald Chandler is a Missouri state prisoner. He filed suit claiming that prison officials violated his constitutional rights by providing a dining room too small to accommodate all the prisoners in his housing unit at once; poorly supervising the noisy and chaotic dining room; not providing enough salt and pepper ...

Death Row Prisoners Entitled to Limited Contact Attorney Visits

This case involves a class action suit filed by Oklahoma death row prisoners and prisoners in the control unit of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. The case provides a revealing look at the mentality driving the construction of control units.

The OSP control unit is called H Unit. It was opened ...

Prisoner's Assault Claim Must Go to Trial

Prisoner's Assault Claim Must Go To Trial

William Moore is a prisoner at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville. He filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that his eighth amendment rights were violated when prison guards came to his cell, handcuffed him, and proceeded ...

MI Hearing Officers Have Absolute Immunity

James Sullivan is a Michigan state prisoner. He was infracted for having a urinalysis test that indicated marijuana use. At his disciplinary hearing he stated he had been using the legal pain killer and anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen, which was sold in the inmate store. He sought to introduce evidence showing Ibuprofen ...

Only One Appeal on Qualified Immunity

Only One Appeal On Qualified Immunity

This case involves a taxpayer suing an IRS agent claiming her constitutional rights were violated when the agent garnished her wages and seized her house, even though he knew she owed no taxes. While this is not a prison case, the legal issue presented ...

Classification Chief Liable for Attack

Classification Chief Liable For Attack

Israel Nelson was convicted in an Ohio court of assaulting his common law wife and was sent to a medium security prison. His wife contacted him and informed him that her brother, a major cocaine dealer, was plotting to have him attacked by associates at ...

Making Con Drink from Toilet States Claim

Making Con Drink From Toilet States Claim

Apro se prisoner at the Indiana State Prison, Craig Thomas, filed a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint raised a number of issues, only one of which survived the state's motion for summary judgement. The surviving claim ...

Parole Commission Guidelines Not Ex Post Facto

The federal prisoner in this case, Noble Simpson, filed a pro se habeas corpus petition against the U.S. Parole Commission. Simpson's suit challenged, on ex post facto grounds, the Commission's application at his second parole hearing of it's guidelines which were not in effect at the ...

Visitor Cannot Withdraw Consent to Search Once Search Has Begun

Visitor Cannot Withdraw Consent To Search Once Search Has Begun

This prison case comes to us via a suppression of evidence hearing in a federal drug prosecution.

Arthur Spriggs went to visit a prisoner at the Lorton Reformatory, a District of Columbia prison. Prior to entering the prison all visitors ...

Common Law Right to Inspect Court Records

This is not a prison case but it involves a net maker's suing a competitor for theft of trade secrets. In the course of the litigation various documents were submitted under seal and protective order to the court. That litigation was settled. A shareholder in Applied Extension Technologies (AET ...

Nominal Damages in Eighth Amendment Claim Upheld

Rederick Cummings was accused of attempting to rape a prison employee. During the course of "investigating" the rape allegations prison officials beat Cummings several times. Cummings filed suit alleging that the beatings violated his eighth amendment rights. At trial a jury found two of the defendants liable and awarded him ...

No Cause of Action in Reversed Disciplinary Sanction

Victor Sowell is a New York state prisoner. He was infracted for inciting a riot, assault and disobeying a direct order. He was transferred to a different prison and placed in segregation prior to his disciplinary hearing. At the hearing Sowell requested that the infracting guard be present, that a ...

"Tough On Crime" Law Increases Michigan Crime Rates

Despite the increased use of prison as a criminal sanction, nearly every category of violent crime rose from 1981 to 1991. In the past decade, Michigan's legislature has passed many "tough on crime" laws and quadrupled the state's corrections budget, according to a study by the Michigan Council ...

Reviews

La Patria Radical is a bi-lingual (English and Spanish) tabloid published by the MLN (Movimiento de Liberacion Nacional, a Puerto Rican independence party). Each issue provides information about the Puerto Rican independence movement, community activism, government repression of the movement and updates on the numerous Puerto Rican political prisoners and ...

WA DNA Identification Statute Upheld by District Court

The state of Washington has adopted legislation requiring prisoners convicted of sex offenses or violent crimes to submit to a blood draw in order to provide officials with DNA identification information. Joe Ryncarz filed a pro se 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging the forcible extraction of his ...

Editorial

Editorial Comments

By Ed Mead

Well, at long last here I am writing my very first editorial from the streets! Regular PLN readers will remember that some month ago I initiated a campaign to get myself free. For reasons I still don't quite understand, I am finally out here ...

BOP Must Disclose Program Statement

George Cowsen-El is a federal prisoner at Marion, Illinois. He filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) seeking disclosure of BOP program statement 5511.2, which deals with stand up counts. He also sought disclosure, under the Privacy Act (PA), of his own ...

Weed and Seed: The Fortress Culture

America's inner cities are being militarized. And Operation Weed and Seed, initiated in 1991 by the Bush administration in order to subordinate social spending to the agenda of the Justice Department, lies at the heart of the assault.

Michael Zinzun of Los Angeles's Coalition Against Police Abuse puts ...

Disastrous Conditions in Vermont Prisons

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project who have just visited four Vermont Prisons announced today that they plan to extend and deepen their investigation into unconstitutional prison conditions there. Attorney Edward Koren, team member and veteran litigator in major prison conditions cases around the country ...

Materials on Prison Rape Survival Available

The Safer Society Program has recently produced and published a series of audio tapes made by ex-prisoners specifically for men confined in jails and prisons. Rape in prison is an important issue that has received all too little attention due to the stigmas attached to the subject. With virtually no ...

Dime Down

By Bill Dunne

The lockdown at the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, is now a decade old. The magnitude of the decades in human experience is obvious in the marking of cultural epochs--the sixties, the fifties, the eighties. It even emerges in popular music as the definition of a ...