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Prison Legal News: December, 1994

Issue PDF
Volume 5, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Federal Crime Bill Passes (p 1)
  2. Altered Disciplinary Evidence Violates Due Process (p 7)
  3. Prisoners Lose Pell Grants (p 7)
  4. No Help for Disciplinary Hearings (p 8)
  5. BOP Can't Punish Detainees (p 8)
  6. MI DOC Creates Liberty Interest in Seg Release (p 9)
  7. Attorney Fee Awards Analyzed (p 9)
  8. Pro Se Litigants Subject to Rule 11 Sanctions (p 10)
  9. Obtaining Prisoner Witnesses (p 10)
  10. Court Orders Return of Disks (p 11)
  11. Women Prisoners Entitled to Equal Education (p 11)
  12. Women Prisoners Lose Equal Protection Suit (p 12)
  13. S.Ct. Grants Review in Prison Disciplinary Case (p 13)
  14. VA Repressive Sentencing Law Results in Uprisings (p 13)
  15. Fast Food Style Death Penalty Defense (p 14)
  16. Houston - Death Penalty Capital of USA (p 15)
  17. From the Editor (p 16)
  18. Death Penalty Deterrents? (p 16)
  19. One and Two Strike Laws Passed (p 17)
  20. PI Issued for Prisoner Transfer (p 18)
  21. News in Brief (p 18)
  22. Russian Jails in Crisis (p 19)
  23. Kurdish Prisoners Resist (p 19)
  24. Ex-Prison Boss Assassinated in Turkey (p 19)

Federal Crime Bill Passes

By Paul Wright

In the October and November, 1993, issues of PLN, I wrote articles about the "anti-crime" proposals that had been submitted in the US Congress by democrats and republicans, respectively. I predicted then the most repressive aspects of both proposals would likely wind up in the final version ...

Altered Disciplinary Evidence Violates Due Process

John Grillo is a New York state prisoner. He was infracted after a urinalysis allegedly showed he was positive for the use of opiates. He was found guilty at the disciplinary hearing and sentenced to 360 days in segregation and the loss of privileges. Prior to the hearing Grillo was ...

Prisoners Lose Pell Grants

A provision of the $30.2 federal anti-crime bill was the elimination of prisoners from eligibility for federal Pell Grants. Much attention was given to this portion of the debate by the mainstream media. Senators and Congressional Representatives know a good sound bite when they see one. Junk-food journalism shows like ...

No Help for Disciplinary Hearings

Ronald Kulow is an Iowa state prisoner. Kulow suffers from brain damage, has an IQ between 70 and 74 and borderline intellectual functioning. After having an altercation with another prisoner he was placed in involuntary protective custody where he received numerous disciplinary infractions. At the disciplinary hearings he requested assistance ...

BOP Can't Punish Detainees

Vladimir Collazo-Leon is a pretrial detainee in Puerto Rico, held by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). While going to a visit he allegedly offered a jail guard a bribe if the guard would help him escape. The guard infracted Collazo and at a disciplinary hearing Collazo was found guilty ...

MI DOC Creates Liberty Interest in Seg Release

Wendell Mackey is a Michigan state prisoner. He was found guilty of possessing contraband and assaulting another prisoner and placed in administrative segregation. After spending nearly one year in segregation, he was reclassified and scheduled to be released to general population. Citing a shortage of bed space, prison officials kept ...

Attorney Fee Awards Analyzed

Larry Jones is an Arkansas state prisoner. He filed suit against various state prison officials claiming deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, use of excessive force by guards and inadequate staff supervision. The case went to trial and a jury found in favor of Jones but awarded him only ...

Pro Se Litigants Subject to Rule 11 Sanctions

Lee Warren is a former Washington state prisoner. While confined at the McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC) he claims he was assaulted by a staff cook. He filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in US district court in Seattle in 1992. In his complaint, when asked by the court ...

Obtaining Prisoner Witnesses

This case involves an effort by state government defendants in a civil rights suit to obtain the presence of a witness to testify on their behalf. The case provides a useful discussion of writs of habeas corpus ad testificandum, whereby parties to civil or criminal actions can ask the court ...

Court Orders Return of Disks

Charles Oropallo is a New Hampshire state prisoner. Pursuant to prison regulations, in 1991 Oropallo ordered a Smith Corona word processor with disk storage capacity. In 1992, prison rules changed, prohibiting the possession of "computers" with a memory storage capacity. As a result, his disks were confiscated by prison officials. ...

Women Prisoners Entitled to Equal Education

This is a precedent setting case that should be read and studied by women prisoners who are denied educational opportunities comparable to those offered to male prisoners. This ruling applies to state prisons who receive federal funding and who provide educational programs. Since virtually all state prison systems do both, ...

Women Prisoners Lose Equal Protection Suit

In the December, 1993, issue of PLN, we reported on Klinger v. Nebraska Department of Corrections, 824 F. Supp. 1374 (D Neb. 1993) which had resulted in a significant victory for Nebraska's female prisoners who had filed a class action suit claiming they were denied equal protection of the law ...

S.Ct. Grants Review in Prison Disciplinary Case

On October 7, 1994, the US Supreme Court announced that it had granted certiori in Sandin v. Conner, Case No. 93-1911. The case involves a Hawaii state prisoner who was infracted and found guilty of praying in Arabic. The district court dismissed the case and the court of appeals affirmed ...

VA Repressive Sentencing Law Results in Uprisings

The feature attraction in this summer's media/political crime-hype circus in Virginia was the coverage of "Proposal X," Republican Gov. George Allen's repressive new sentencing bill. The bill, signed into law by Allen on October 17th, 1994, calls for tougher sentencing, the abolition of parole, and the construction of 22 - ...

Fast Food Style Death Penalty Defense

Harris County, Texas, which encompasses Houston, is the death-penalty capital of the U.S. [See: Houston, Death Penalty Capital of USA on page 15 of this issue]. What better place for a lawyer to develop and market the same techniques that made fast food a commercial success in this country?

Joe ...

Houston - Death Penalty Capital of USA

In one week this September, six separate capital murder cases were being tried in Harris County, Texas, of which Houston is the main city. Some legal observers consider this to be a national record.

"They may have done this in the Old West, but there's been nothing like this in ...

From the Editor

By Paul Wright

Welcome to another issue of PLN. Everyone at PLN would like to extend our thanks to the Peradam Foundation for their generous grant to PLN of $3,900 which will enable us to buy computer equipment necessary for the magazine' s production. As everyone knows, computer equipment is ...

Death Penalty Deterrents?

Former California Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown, in his book, Public Justice, Private Mercy, recounts how a plumber convicted of robbery was among the prisoners who built California's gas chamber at San Quentin. He helped to install it and watched test pigs die as the chamber's effectiveness was tested.

That experience ...

One and Two Strike Laws Passed

By Paul Wright

In the June, 1994, issue of PLN, my article "Three Strikes Racks 'em Up" made reference to then pending proposals to pass a "Two Strikes" law in Georgia and a "One Strike" law in California for sex offenders. I am sad to say that both laws passed. ...

PI Issued for Prisoner Transfer

Elmer Geronimo Pratt is a political prisoner in the California state prison system. A former Black Panther imprisoned since 1972, Pratt has achieved prominence by vigorously claiming his innocence and that he was framed by the FBI for a murder he did not commit as part of the agency's notorious ...

News in Brief

France: A French prison worker's union said it was suing 100 prisoners and detainees as a symbolic protest of under staffing in France's crowded jails. The unions said its members wouldn't be overworked if prisoners had respected the law and stayed out of jail.

Jamaica: Three prisoners convicted of robbing ...

Russian Jails in Crisis

For decades the United States government used its propaganda machine to rail about the former Soviet Union's prison system. That the American government is silent about the new Russian prison system is more an indication of the fact that Russia has formally restored capitalism and reached an accommodation with foreign ...

Kurdish Prisoners Resist

Kurdish political prisoners at the Diyarbakir maximum security prison in Turkey battled soldiers on October 4, 1994, in an attempt to block the torture and interrogation of another prisoner. Turkish soldiers fired shots into the air and tear gassed the prisoners, who responded by throwing broken glass and rocks. About ...

Ex-Prison Boss Assassinated in Turkey

Mehmet Topac was a former minister of justice from 1988-89 in Turkey as a member of the right wing Motherland Party. While he held that position, which controls the Turkish prison system, he instituted rules requiring leftist political prisoners to wear uniforms and limiting visits from attorneys and relatives. Hundreds ...