Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: July, 1994

Issue PDF
Volume 5, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Supreme Court Defines "Deliberate Indifference" in Prison Rape Case (p 1)
  2. Lockdown May Be Unconstitutional (p 3)
  3. Media Hype Exposed (p 3)
  4. NM Visitors May Refuse Searches (p 3)
  5. 2nd Cir. Declines to Rule on Informant Testimony (p 4)
  6. Prisoners Retain Right Against Self-Incrimination (p 4)
  7. Prison Industries Supervisor Liable for Attack (p 5)
  8. Prisoners Denied Right to Vote (p 5)
  9. WA Prisoners Must Exhaust State Remedies (p 5)
  10. WA S.Ct. Upholds Sex Offender Registration (p 6)
  11. Cross Gender Strip Searches Illegal (p 6)
  12. English Only Rule for Prayer Illegal (p 7)
  13. CO Ad Seg Rules Don't Create Liberty Interest (p 7)
  14. Non-English Mail Okay (p 8)
  15. Filthy Cell Standards Clarified (p 8)
  16. Change in Parole Hearings Violates Ex Post Facto (p 9)
  17. Delay in Treatment States Claim (p 9)
  18. No Right to Self-Defense in Prison (p 10)
  19. Shackling States Claim (p 10)
  20. Prisoners Have Right to Jury from Community (p 11)
  21. Court is Ultimate Arbiter of Consent Decree (p 11)
  22. Urinalysis is Search (p 11)
  23. Administrative Exhaustion May Be Required (p 11)
  24. RFRA Supersedes O'Lone (p 12)
  25. RFRA Has Retroactive Application (p 12)
  26. Court Upholds Denial of Prisoner Witness Fees (p 12)
  27. Transport of Prison Made Goods Illegal (p 13)
  28. Photos Unlawful (p 13)
  29. FL DOC to Deport Aliens (p 13)
  30. Suit Filed Against "Shoot to Wound" Policy (p 14)
  31. Texas Prison Reform Suit May Reopen (p 14)
  32. The ACLU Takes Indiana Prison Officials to Court (p 15)
  33. From The Editor (p 16)
  34. PLN Suit Filed Against ISRB (p 17)
  35. Drug Use Legalized in Columbia (p 17)
  36. Prisoner Dies at Purdy (p 18)
  37. News in Brief (p 18)
  38. Prison Psychologist Opens Brothel (p 19)
  39. HIV+ Cellmate Doesn't State Claim (p 19)
  40. Prison Overcrowding Crisis Continues, Says ACLU Report (p 19)
  41. OH Double Standard (p 19)

Supreme Court Defines "Deliberate Indifference" in Prison Rape Case

The US Supreme Court heard only one prison related case in its 1994 term, and it resulted in a win for the prisoner. In Farmer v. Brennan the court was asked to answer what constitutes "deliberate indifference" to a prisoner's safety. The case involves Dee Farmer, a transsexual federal ...

Lockdown May Be Unconstitutional

Danny Eason is a Texas state prisoner. After two disturbances, in which he was not involved, the prison he was housed in was locked down for a total of 25 days. He claimed that during this period he was denied access to the prison law library and was only served ...

Media Hype Exposed

Anyone who watches TV or reads corporate media publications is well aware of the unrelenting propaganda barrage of hysterical stories attacking prisoners, criminal suspects, etc., as part of a "crime wave." With the collapse of the former USSR the ruling elite has been in desperate search of villains and enemies ...

NM Visitors May Refuse Searches

Diane Castro is married to a New Mexico state prisoner. Prison officials received an anonymous telephone call stating that Castro was smuggling drugs to her husband at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility (SNMCF). Upon her next visit Castro was taken to a conference room and asked by the deputy ...

2nd Cir. Declines to Rule on Informant Testimony

Jerome Russell is a New York state prisoner. He was infracted for allegedly assaulting another prisoner. At the disciplinary hearing the hearing, officer questioned the investigating guard who had provided statements from the victim and three informants who identified Russell as the assailant. At the hearing, Russell requested the victim ...

Prisoners Retain Right Against Self-Incrimination

Coy Phelps is a patient involuntarily committed in a Federal Medical Center (FMC) after having been acquitted of criminal charges by reason of insanity. He filed suit challenging both the statutes allowing his commitment and the conditions of confinement he was subjected to. He claimed that prison officials held, without ...

Prison Industries Supervisor Liable for Attack

Jay Holloway is a prisoner at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP). He was assigned to work in the prison industries building under the supervision of Ray Miller. While at work Holloway was attacked by four other prisoners who believed he had summoned a guard to the work area where they ...

Prisoners Denied Right to Vote

By Paul Wright

In the May, 1994, issue of PLN we ran an article, "Giving Cons and Ex-Cons The Right to Vote" which outlined a litigation strategy to obtain just such a right. Nine New York state prisoners at the Green Haven prison filed suit under a strategy similar to ...

WA Prisoners Must Exhaust State Remedies

John Dewyer is a Washington state prisoner. He is serving a determinate, SRA sentence. At a prison disciplinary hearing he was found guilty of an unspecified offense and sanctioned by 15 days of segregation and 30 days loss of good time, the latter extended his prison sentence. Dewyer then filed ...

WA S.Ct. Upholds Sex Offender Registration

In 1990 the Washington state legislature passed RCW 9A.44.130(1) which requires that all persons who have been convicted of a sex offense and reside in Washington to register with the sheriff in the county in which they reside. Two sex offenders who had been convicted prior to ...

Cross Gender Strip Searches Illegal

David Canedy is a Wisconsin state prisoner. He filed suit claiming that during a shakedown of his housing unit female guards strip searched him, causing him embarrassment, humiliation and mental distress. Male guards were readily available and could have conducted the search. He also claimed that female guards routinely observed ...

English Only Rule for Prayer Illegal

DeMont Conner is a Hawaii state prisoner. He filed suit under section 1983 claiming prison officials had violated his due process rights by punishing him for praying in Arabic with another prisoner and that the disciplinary hearing itself did not comport with due process. The district court dismissed the suit ...

CO Ad Seg Rules Don't Create Liberty Interest

Vernon Templeman is a Colorado state prisoner. After spending seven years in administrative segregation (ad seg) he was placed in a maximum security general population. A year later he was again placed in ad seg. Despite requesting a three member panel, only one hearing officer conducted the hearing and ordered ...

Non-English Mail Okay

Khannfeuang Thongvanh is an Iowa state prisoner. Thongvahn is a native Laotian whose primary language is Lao, though he speaks some English. Prison rules mandate that all incoming and outgoing prisoner correspondence be in English to allow for censorship. Prison officials at the Iowa State Reformatory (ISR) exempt Spanish and ...

Filthy Cell Standards Clarified

Two Nebraska jail prisoners, one convicted of a crime, one not yet convicted were moved into a jail cell containing a "toilet... covered with dried feces on both the inside and outside, the sink was covered with hair and vomit, the floor was covered with garbage and rotting food, and ...

Change in Parole Hearings Violates Ex Post Facto

PLN readers may recall that in the December, 1993, issue we reported on the conflict within the ninth circuit on whether changing the frequency of parole board hearings violates the Ex Post Facto provisions of the constitution. In Powell v. Ducharme, 998 F.2d 710 (9th Cir. 1993) the ninth ...

Delay in Treatment States Claim

Dean Delker is an Oregon state prisoner. He filed suit under § 1983 seeking injunctive and monetary relief from prison officials who refused to authorize surgery to treat his inguinal hernia (this is a hole in the abdominal wall where the intestine pokes through; it is easily treated but left untreated ...

No Right to Self-Defense in Prison

John Rowe is an Indiana state prisoner. A prisoner named Michael Evans was moved into a cell next to Rowe and Rowe complained to staff, who did nothing. Evans sent Rowe a note demanding sexual favors. The next morning Evans entered Rowe's cell and attempted to rape him, Rowe ...

Shackling States Claim

Jerome Williams is a Michigan state prisoner. After damaging the toilet in his cell, Williams was removed from his cell and placed in restraints where he was fully restrained by chains and shackled to his bed; where he remained for 73 hours. He was allowed to smoke and use the ...

Prisoners Have Right to Jury from Community

Emmanuel Mitchell is a Tennessee state prisoner. He sued prison officials claiming excessive use of force and placement in an unsanitary cell. After a jury trial judgment was entered in favor of prison officials, Mitchell filed a motion for a new trial claiming that the verdict went against the weight ...

Court is Ultimate Arbiter of Consent Decree

In 1984 the United States government and the state of Michigan entered into a consent decree which required improvements in Michigan penal facilities so that they would comport with minimal constitutional standards. After several years of improvements and monitoring the parties filed a joint motion in 1992 requesting that the ...

Urinalysis is Search

Anthony Lucero is a Colorado state prisoner. He refused prison official's order to submit a urine sample for urinalysis testing and was infracted, found guilty and punished for refusing to obey an order. Lucero filed suit under § 1983 claiming that the urinalysis violated his rights to be free from ...

Administrative Exhaustion May Be Required

Leopold Pedraza is a Texas state prisoner. He filed suit under § 1983 claiming prison officials harassed him because of his race, national origin and prior litigation. At no time did Pedraza file grievances or complaints with prison officials concerning his allegations. A magistrate ordered the suit stayed for ninety days ...

RFRA Supersedes O'Lone

O'Lone


As reported in PLN, Vol. 5, No. 6, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was signed into law by President Clinton in November, 1993. It forbids government infringement of religious rights and claims. The RFRA is already being applied to prisoner civil rights actions with initial victories for ...

RFRA Has Retroactive Application

Adherents of the Hebrew Israelite faith challenged Florida prison regulations which forbade their receipt of Hebrew Israelite literature. A class action suit challenging the censorship culminated with a victory for the prisoners at 641 F. Supp 312 in 1986. The court of appeals for the 11th circuit affirmed in part ...

Court Upholds Denial of Prisoner Witness Fees

In 1991 a unanimous Supreme Court held in Demarest v. Manspeaker, 111 S.Ct. 599 (1991) that prisoners were entitled to witness fees whenever they testified in federal courts. Just before leaving office George Bush signed into law a modification of 28 U.S.C. § 1821 which forbade paying prisoners ...

Transport of Prison Made Goods Illegal

Preston Glove Company is a Mississippi textile manufacturer who entered into a contract with Magnolia State Enterprises, a quasi governmental business incorporated pursuant to the Mississippi Prison Industries Act of 1990, for the use of prison laborers and Magnolia facilities. Under the contract Preston Glove provided the materials and paid ...

Photos Unlawful

Scott Lattany was a federal pretrial detainee representing himself pro se on criminal charges in Philadelphia. Lattany was taken from his cell to the jail parking lot where he and other prisoners were photographed by U.S. Marshalls. Lattany protested the picture taking as illegal and racist, one of the ...

FL DOC to Deport Aliens

Florida Governor Lawton Chiles announced on March 17, 1994, that he hopes to persuade federal immigration officials to let the state release foreign felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and then ship them home. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has identified 2,700 Florida state prisoners as undocumented immigrants, while ...

Suit Filed Against "Shoot to Wound" Policy

Suit Filed Against "Shoot to Wound" Policy

The American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, based in Washington, D.C., and Reno attorney Donald Evans filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court on May 16th, 1994 against the governor of Nevada and officials of the ...

Texas Prison Reform Suit May Reopen

In 1972, a Texas state prisoner, David Ruiz, filed a lawsuit in Federal Court alleging many conditions in the Texas prison system violated the constitutional rights of those incarcerated. The suit was consolidated with other Texas prisoners' complaints and certified as a class action suit. It would become one of ...

The ACLU Takes Indiana Prison Officials to Court

Mentally ill prisoners shackled to their beds, sick prisoners denied treatment, indigent prisoners forced to pay for medication or do without -- these and other deplorable conditions at the Westville Correctional Center have forced attorneys for the prisoners to return to the US District Court to ask Judge Allen Sharp to ...

From The Editor

From the Editor

By Paul Wright

Welcome to another issue of PLN. We apologize to our readers for the delays caused in recent months. Our new printer is working out quite well and as a result we are able to bring you more pages for the same amount of money ...

PLN Suit Filed Against ISRB

By Paul Wright

Readers may recall that former PLN coeditor Ed Mead was released from prison in October, 1993, after serving nearly 18 years in prison. The day after he was released he was required to sign a standard conditions of release document for the Washington state Indeterminate Sentence Review ...

Drug Use Legalized in Columbia

On May 5, 1994, Columbia's Constitutional Court (the equivalent of the US Supreme Court) voted five to four that a 1986 law permitting the arrest of someone for carrying a "personal dose" of drugs was a violation of the country's new constitution. Court president Jorge Arango explained that ...

Prisoner Dies at Purdy

In the April, 1994, issue of PLN we reported Hallett v. Payne, a class action suit filed by prisoners at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) at Purdy. The suit contends medical care is wholly inadequate to meet the medical needs of prisoners. On May 16, 1994, Gertrude Barrow ...

News in Brief

KS: The state legislature enacted a death penalty law that becomes effective July I, 1994. The law restored the death penalty in Kansas for the first time since 1972 when the US Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional Kansas' death penalty statute. Governor Joan Finney allowed the bill to become ...

Prison Psychologist Opens Brothel

While this case has little bearing on prison litigation per se we thought our readers would find it informative and amusing. William Knapp is the Principal Psychologist for the Nevada Department of Prisons. He was fired from his job after initiating and pursuing a venture to open a "western theme-park ...

HIV+ Cellmate Doesn't State Claim

This is yet another addition to the growing area of HIV/AIDS in prison case law. Andrew Marcussen is an Iowa state prisoner. He filed suit claiming prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his safety by assigning an HIV+ prisoner to his cell, thus, he claimed, exposing him to possible ...

Prison Overcrowding Crisis Continues, Says ACLU Report

Washington,  D.C.  - February 14, 1994- Thirty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, are under court order to reduce prison overcrowding and/or to remedy unconstitutional conditions, according to the new Status Report released today by the National Prison Project of the American Civil ...

OH Double Standard

Last year numerous prisoners filed small claims actions for personal properly damaged and/or destroyed during the April 11, 1993, insurrection at SOCF Lucasville, Ohio, claiming that the fault was with prison officials whose actions precipitated the riot and further knew or should have known that a riot was imminent ...