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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: January, 1995

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Volume 6, Number 1

In this issue:

  1. Unconstitutionality of Florida's Outdoor Yard Policies for Close Management Prisoners (p 1)
  2. Pretrial Detainee Housed at Marion (p 3)
  3. Racist Guard Fired (p 3)
  4. Ban on Japanese Publications Struck Down (p 4)
  5. Frivolous Litigation (p 4)
  6. Kansas Ad-Seg Plan Clarified (p 5)
  7. Federal Courts Must Rule on State Law Claims in Beating (p 6)
  8. Discriminatory Jury Selection Reversed (p 6)
  9. No FLSA Protection for Prisoner Workers (p 7)
  10. Legal Papers Filed When Mailed (p 7)
  11. CA BPT Lawyer Sentenced (p 8)
  12. MS Bans Appliances (p 8)
  13. TX Guards Charged in Beating Murder (p 8)
  14. Limits on Contact Visits With Counsel Reversed (p 8)
  15. Jail Population Cap Affirmed (p 9)
  16. Prisoner Shot Dead (p 9)
  17. Warden Killed in Alabama (p 9)
  18. Law Library Access Not "Core" Bounds Requirement (p 10)
  19. WSR Guard Convicted of Soliciting Assault (p 11)
  20. WI Enacts Sex Predator Law (p 11)
  21. Tennis Shoes Cost US Taxpayers Over $8,000 (p 12)
  22. OK Early Release Law Legal (p 12)
  23. Lucasville 1994 "Spilt Milk" (p 13)
  24. Award for Prisoners Beaten by OH Guards (p 14)
  25. Did Warden Seek SOCF Riot? (p 14)
  26. News in Brief (p 15)
  27. Algerian Prison Uprising (p 16)
  28. From The Editor (p 16)
  29. Resource Info Wanted (p 17)
  30. From a Michigan Reader (p 17)
  31. CT's "Gang Problem" (p 17)
  32. Japan Uses Prison Slave Labor (p 17)
  33. U.S. Prisoner in Thailand Needs Info (p 18)
  34. From a California Reader (p 18)
  35. Activists Labeled "Security Threat" (p 18)
  36. AIDS Info Sought (p 19)
  37. Conditions in Thai Prisons for US Prisoners (p 19)
  38. Televisions in Prison (p 19)

Unconstitutionality of Florida's Outdoor Yard Policies for Close Management Prisoners

by William Van Poyck

The constitutional right, based upon the Eighth Amendment's proscription of cruel and unusual punishment, of long term Close Management (C.M.) prisoners to outdoor recreation exercise yard is long and well established, nation wide, going back more than two decades. Federal courts have universally and consistently held that long term confinement prisoners require a minimum amount of daily outdoor yard to allow vigorous, large muscle exercise and to thus ensure the maintenance of good physical, mental and emotional health. Put another way, prison officials who confine prisoners in long term confinement statuses in one man cells, including death row, while denying them outdoor yard, violate the Eighth Amendment as a matter of law. See: e.g., Lock v. Jenkins, 464 F.Supp. 541, 551 (N.D. Ind. 1978) ["confinement for long periods of time without the opportunity for regular exercise does as a matter of law constitute cruel and unusual punishment."]; Sinclair v. Henderson, 331 F.Supp. 1123 (E.D.La 1971) ["confinement of death row inmate for long period of time without opportunity for regular outdoor exercise violates Eighth Amendment as a matter of law."]; Taylor v. Sterret, 344 F.Supp. 411, 420 (N ...

Pretrial Detainee Housed at Marion

Most PLN readers are familiar with the US Penitentiary at Marion, IL. The prison was totally locked down in October of 1983 and has remained that way ever since. Prisoners are locked in their cells 23 hours a day in extremely harsh and punitive conditions which have been condemned by Amnesty International as violating fundamental human rights governing the treatment of prisoners. The federal courts have described conditions at Marion as being "sordid and ghastly" but not subject to constitutional challenge. A disproportionate number of the prisoners held at Marion are jailhouse lawyers, prison activists and political prisoners. Until now the prisoners at Marion had at least been convicted of a felony but now even that has changed. This case is of little relevance to most of our readership but we think it is important for its newsworthiness.

The presumption in American law is that a defendant is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Because of this courts have held that pretrial detainees, who have not been convicted of any crime, may not be punished but should only be held in conditions designed to assure their safety and presence at trial. Augusto Falcon is a pretrial detainee accused of ...

Racist Guard Fired

This case has little to do with prisoner rights litigation but we thought our readers would be interested in it. Ronald Lawrenz was a probationary prison guard at the Charlotte Correctional Institution (CCI) in Florida. On January 18, 1993, Lawrenz was at the home of another guard having a barbecue with four other CCI guards. The ostensible purpose of the gathering was to "celebrate" Martin Luther King (MLK) day. Lawrenz and another guard were wearing T-shirts with swastikas, labeled "White Power."

After drinking, one of the guards fired an AK-47 into the air. Police arrived and investigated the shooting during which the guards confessed to wearing the white power T-shirts to commemorate MLK day. After the local media reported the incident, the prison warden fired Lawrenz. Two of the other guards were reprimanded which was eventually dismissed on administrative appeal, the other two guards resigned.

Lawrenz filed suit claiming his firing violated his first amendment rights. The district court dismissed the suit holding prison officials had qualified immunity for firing a probationary employee and that the firing did not implicate first amendment rights because Lawrenz's speech did not implicate issues of public concern. See: Lawrenz v. James , 852 F ...

Ban on Japanese Publications Struck Down

Yu Kikumura is a member of the Japanese Red Army held at the US Penitentiary in Marion, IL. A Japanese national, he can read, speak or write very little English and Japanese remains his primary language. On more than 20 occasions Marion prison officials rejected publications which were sent to him solely because they were in Japanese, claiming that because they could not be read by prison staff, they posed a threat to prison security. Kikumura filed suit, claiming that the blanket ban violated his first amendment right to receive publications in a language he could read. Kikumura also raised an equal protection claim.  

The district court dismissed the suit holding that prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity for their actions because it was not clearly established that prisoners had a right to receive foreign language publications. The district court did not address Kikumura's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. The court of appeals for the seventh circuit affirmed the qualified immunity ruling but vacated and remanded the case for entry of declaratory and injunctive relief in Kikumura's favor.  

After the litigation began the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) modified its blanket ban on Japanese publications several times ...

Frivolous Litigation

People hear the term "frivolous" litigation and what comes to mind are the guys who sue over a train whistle keeping them awake at night in prison. All too often prisoners seeking justice don't find any, not because their claims are frivolous but because they are too poor to afford counsel and lack the skills and knowledge to wade through the procedural thicket of litigation. Robert Hudson fell victim to this common problem.

When Indianapolis police arrested Hudson they seized about $500 worth of his property. At the conclusion of the state court proceedings, a judge ordered the police to return the property to Hudson. The city, which was not a party to the criminal proceedings, was not notified. Hudson tried to track down his property and was ignored. In an attempt to enforce the state court order he filed suit in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that police had deprived him of his property without due process of law. The federal court denied Hudson's application to proceed in forma pauperis , without payment of costs, holding the suit was legally frivolous in light of Parrat v. Taylor , 451 U.S. 527, 101 S Ct ...

Kansas Ad-Seg Plan Clarified

In 1980 prisoners and prison officials in the Kansas state prison system entered into a consent decree designed to improve the living conditions of prisoners confined to administrative segregation (ad seg). In 1988 the case was reactivated when the prisoners sought the court's intervention claiming the defendants had not complied with the terms of the decree. The court ruled in the prisoners' favor, finding violations of both the decree and the constitution. In 1989 the court directed the defendants to develop further plans concerning ad seg prisoners. Specifically, mentally ill prisoners should be provided with more out of cell time, more appropriate treatment alternatives and less isolation. Protective custody (PC) prisoners were to have more out of cell time and more work, program and counseling opportunities. The long term plan required the defendants to meet minimum American Correctional Association standards for housing segregation prisoners. In 1990 the court approved the submitted plans.

In 1993 there were major uprisings at two Kansas state prisons which led to a big increase in the number of prisoners held in ad seg. At the El Dorado Correctional Facility 216 prisoners, one third of the total population, were held in ad seg when the ...

Federal Courts Must Rule on State Law Claims in Beating

Michael McLaurin is an Arkansas state prisoner. A prison guard accused McLaurin of stealing cigarettes from another prisoner despite assurances from both prisoners that McLaurin was only holding the cigarettes as a favor to the owner. The guard struck McLaurin on the side of the face which knocked him to the ground. The guard then infracted McLaurin and placed him in segregation pending a disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary hearing resulted in a dismissal of all charges 18 days later. McLaurin filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that his eighth amendment right to remain free from cruel and unusual punishment had been violated.

The district court held a trial which concluded that McLaurin had done nothing to warrant the assault and that the guard's blow was not made as good effort to maintain or restore discipline or order. McLaurin suffered pain but no permanent injury. On the day of trial McLaurin's appointed counsel orally moved to amend the complaint to add state law claims of assault, battery and outrage. The guard opposed the motion. The court decided not to rule on the state law claims because they weren't raised in the original pro se complaint ...

Discriminatory Jury Selection Reversed

In the September, 1994, issue of PLN we reported on the unconstitutionality of racially discriminatory jury discrimination with regards to criminal trials. The right to a jury composed of members of the community also applies to civil rights suits. Frederick Davidson, a black Missouri state prisoner, sued prison officials claiming they had used excessive force against him and denied him medical care. The case went to trial and the state attorney general eliminated all black jurors (four out of four) from the jury. The all white jury subsequently returned a verdict in favor of the prison official defendants. Davidson appealed contending that the elimination of all black jurors violated his right to a fair jury. The court of appeals for the eighth circuit agreed and reversed and remanded the suit for a new trial.

In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 US 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712 (1986) the supreme court held that improperly excluding blacks from the juries of criminal defendants violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the fourteenth amendment. In this case, the court notes that Batson applies to private litigants in civil cases, see: Edmondson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 500 US 614, 111 S.Ct. 2077 ...

No FLSA Protection for Prisoner Workers

Past issues of PLN have extensively reported on the struggles by prisoners to obtain the minimum wage for industrial and production work performed in prison. Much of this litigation has focused on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 29 U.S.C. § 201-219 which mandates that workers be paid the minimum wage. Another focus has been the Ashurst-Sumners Act (ASA), 18 U.S.C. § 1761-62, which prohibits the interstate transportation of prisoner made goods unless the prisoners have been paid the minimum wage.  In the past, these efforts have met with extremely limited success. The eighth circuit has turned back yet another attempt by prisoner workers to receive minimum wages.

Minnesota state prisoners employed in the manufacture of auto parts, file folders and clothing and in data entry and telemarketing services filed suit under FLSA and the Ashurst-Sumners Act (ASA) seeking the minimum wage for their labor. The prisoners are currently paid between $0.50 -$0.75 an hour. Minnesota prisoners are required to work by state statute or they forfeit good time, resulting in an increase in their prison sentence. The district court dismissed the suit, holding that prisoners were not entitled to minimum wage. See: McMaster v ...

Legal Papers Filed When Mailed

Prisoner litigants representing themselves face greater problems when litigating than do most ordinary litigants. Not only are they usually untrained in the law but they lack control over basic things such as the mail. Courts operate on deadlines which often result in penalties for a party whenever they miss the deadline. This has an especially harsh effect on prisoner litigants who are forced to rely on prison officials to forward their pleadings to the post office for mailing. In Houston v. Lack, 487 US 266, 108 S.Ct. 2379 (1988) the supreme court held that a prisoner litigant's papers were deemed "filed" when they were given to prison officials for mailing rather than when they were actually received in court.  Since then courts have gradually extended Houston to apply to various other legal documents, i.e. appeals, bankruptcy petitions, motions, objections, etc.

Lawrence Caldwell is a federal prisoner in Lewisburg, PA, who sued the US marshals in Oregon over damage to his personal property during a search of his home.  The lower court ruled against him and Caldwell filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV).  The lower court held the motion was untimely because it was received ...

CA BPT Lawyer Sentenced

David Eugene Brown was the chief counsel for the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT) from 1982 until June, 1994. He worked his way up through the prison system's ranks, starting as guard, then captain and going to law school, after which he was appointed to serve on the BPT.  On September 7, 1994, Brown was sentenced to a year in jail after he pled guilty to seven misdemeanor charges of violating probation terms stemming from his 1991 conviction of stalking his former girlfriend. He also violated a restraining order that the girlfriend, Sacramento City Unified School District Trustee Mary Wimberly, had placed against him. In exchange for his guilty plea, two counts of felony stalking and one count of annoying phone calls where dropped.

Brown's first conviction in 1991 was for vandalizing Kimberly' s car and making threatening phone calls to her. Despite his criminal conviction and probation status, Brown continued to serve as the BPT's chief counsel. Brown's latest criminal conviction results from again stalking Kimberly. She stated that since his 1991 conviction he would call her 10 to 15 times a day at home and work. She said she received more than 100 ...

MS Bans Appliances

In August, 1994, the Mississippi state legislature held a special session to deal with prison overcrowding. Rather than deal with that issue, the legislature soon became embroiled in a debate on how to worsen prison conditions even more. Proposals were made to "restore fear to prison," of canings, of making prisoners "smell like a prisoner," of burning and frying prisoners, of returning executions to the county seat and, as Republican governor Kirk Fordice put it, "making Mississippi the capital of capital punishment."

Instead the legislature settled for banning weight lifting equipment, televisions, radios, record players, tape decks, compact disk players, computers and stereos. Prisoners will also be forced to wear striped uniforms with "convict" written on the back. State Representative (D) Mack McInnis, the ranking intellectual of the legislature, told his colleagues: "When you see one of these boogers aloose, you'll say, 'I didn't know we had zebras in Mississippi.'"

The Mississippi DOC is seeking an advisory opinion from that state's attorney general, in the meantime it is not enforcing the new laws. The new Mississippi law also bans "personal air conditioners for prisoners," despite the fact that no prisoners actually have air conditioners. This indicates the ...

TX Guards Charged in Beating Murder

On October 7, 1994, 15 of about 300 prisoners in the recreation yard of the Terrell Prison Unit in Livingston, TX, attacked prison staff.  One guard suffered a broken nose. Prison guards beat several prisoners in retaliation for the attack. On October 9, 1994, Michael McCoy died in a hospital after being found in his cell unconscious with head injuries. He was serving a six year sentence for burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

On October 12, 1994, prison guards Alex Torres and Joel Lambright were charged with murder in McCoy's death and released on $50,000 bail. Both guards were relatively new guards, hired in January and February, 1994, respectively. The prison opened in December, 1993. Andy Collins, Texas prison boss, was quoted stating that the murder charges against the guards show "we will not tolerate unnecessary force" against prisoners.

Six prisoners face charges resulting from the initial melee. Prison officials stated that additional charges were expected against as many as a dozen other guards at the prison arising out of McCoy's death and the beatings of other prisoners.

Limits on Contact Visits With Counsel Reversed

Lee Barnett is a California state prisoner on death row. He filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that prison officials had retaliated against him for filing civil rights suits against them; that he was denied contact visits with his attorney in violation of his right of access to the courts; that he was denied property without due process and that he was denied contact visitation privileges. The district court dismissed the suit in its entirety for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court of appeals for the ninth circuit affirmed in part, reversed and remanded with regards to the denial of contact visits with counsel.

Prisoner's right of access to the courts includes contact visits with their attorneys. Prison officials can limit this right if they can show that the limitations are reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. The appeals court reversed because in this case the defendant prison officials made no such showing. The case was remanded for further consideration by the district court. The court affirmed dismissal of the other claims. See: Barnett v Centoni, 31 F.3d 813 (9th Cir. 1994)

Jail Population Cap Affirmed

Prisoners and detainees in the Angelina county jail in Texas filed a class action suit claiming that overcrowding at the jail violated their constitutional rights. The district court agreed and entered an injunction imposing a population cap on the jail. The defendant county jail and sheriff also filed a third party suit in this action against the state of Texas and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) claiming it was responsible for the overcrowding by not promptly taking sentenced prisoners out of the jail. This backlog of sentenced prisoners was one of the causes of overcrowding, they claimed. The district court dismissed the county's suit holding that the eleventh amendment prohibits state government entities from suing the state. The court of appeals for the fifth circuit affirmed.

The appeals court discussed the legal questions reviewing courts must determine when examining claims that jail (as opposed to prison) conditions are unconstitutional. Pretrial detainees are protected by the fourteenth amendment while convicted felons are protected by the eighth amendment. Detention conditions for detainees will be found to violate their right to liberty without due process if they amount to punishment of the detainee. While detainees' confinement necessarily involves a loss ...

Prisoner Shot Dead

On September 30, 1994, death row prisoner Timothy Pride was shot dead by San Quentin, California, prison guards after being involved in a fight with another prisoner. According to witnesses,  Pride was backing away from the other prisoner when shot. A prison spokesperson justified the killing saying: "From the taxpayers viewpoint, was the death of Timothy Pride a loss for society?  Huge amounts of tax dollars are spent on appeals. This will probably free up a million dollars that can be spent for a childs education."

Over the past ten years California prison guards have shot dead 34 prisoners, over three times as many of those killed in all other states combined. In at least two other cases mentally ill prisoners have died after being shot repeatedly with electric stun guns. The Prison Law Office described Prides killing as "a clearly unwarranted use of deadly force." None of the prisoners who witnessed the killing were interviewed. Any money saved by Prides murder will only go towards fueling Californias billion dollar prison building machine, even as large sums of money are cut from childrens education.

Socialist Worker

Warden Killed in Alabama

In Mid-October, 1994, Kelvin Washington, 27, was arrested and charged with the murder of Charles Farquhar, the warden of a state prison cattle ranch in Greensboro, Alabama, his wife and two prisoners. The bodies believed to be that of Farquhar and his wife were found bludgeoned in his brick ranch house that had been set ablaze. Both the prisoners had been shot to death. The bodies were burned beyond recognition in the blaze and were delivered to the states forensic scientists for positive identification.

Farquhar had been employed by the Alabama DOC for more than 30 years and the prison was named after him. Washington was serving a 20 year sentence for theft and assault. No motive was given in the killings.

Law Library Access Not "Core" Bounds Requirement

In a major setback for Washington state prisoners the ninth circuit has held that prisoners do not have a right of access to prison law libraries. William Vandelft was infracted while at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. He served a sanction of segregation and filed a state Personal Restraint Petition (PRP) challenging the infraction. In the meantime he was transferred to the Clallam bay Corrections Center (CBCC). The DOC responded to the PRP and Vandelft had 20 days in which to respond His response was due on May 13, 1991. On May 21 he was placed in protective custody, i.e. segregation. While in segregation Vandelft was denied access to legal reference materials which could not be checked out of the prison law library and to any hard bound books. He did receive copies of exactly cited cases which he had requested. On July 16 Vandelft was transferred to another prison and released from segregation. His PRP was dismissed a month later by a state court.

Vandelft filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that CBCC officials had violated his right of access to the courts. His lawsuit dealt with four factual issues: 1) he was denied ...

WSR Guard Convicted of Soliciting Assault

On June 3, 1994, Washington State Reformatory (WSR) guard Roger Wallace, 28, was arrested at the Monroe, Washington, prison on charges of soliciting a prisoner, Samuel McNeal, to assault Gerald "J.D." Enquist, another prisoner. On June 9, 1994, Wallace was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with solicitation to commit second degree assault.

The Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by Deputy Prosecutor James Townsend in Case No. 94-1-00760-7, states: "On 6/3/94, Mr. McNeal agreed to wear a wire and record a conversation with the defendant during the defendants work shift at the Washington State Reformatory. The recording was authorized by Judge Kathryn Trumbull. During the recorded conversation the defendant indicated the other guard wanted Mr. Enquist to be killed but that he did not think homicide would be such a good idea. The defendant finally indicated he wanted Mr. Enquist to suffer a broken bone or bones. The defendant indicated he would pay a sum of $200 in exchange for Mr. Enquists suffering a broken arm." "Department of Corrections have confirmed long term disputes have existed between Mr. Enquist and the other guard."

According to Townsends affidavit, the offer was first made in May, 1994, when Wallace ...

WI Enacts Sex Predator Law

By Jan Starks

On May 26, 1994, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson enacted a Sexual Predator Law, officially called 1993 Wisconsin Act 479. It was designed especially for two current prisoners: Gerald Turner, who in 1973 killed 9 year old Lisa French on Halloween night and Raymond Matzker, who in 1982, was convicted of five counts of enticing and sexually assaulting 8-12 year old boys. He was then the Director of the Winnebago Mental Health Institution under an assumed name.

The law originated because Turner was released on Mandatory Release (MR), but was later returned to prison from a Milwaukee half way house due to pressure applied on the DOC by the general public. Matzker was slated for release on June 7, 1994.

Matzker is the first person to be tried under the new law and is scheduled for trial on July 5, 1994. According to the new law, if a jury of 12 finds against him, he will be committed to prison in twelve month increments. After six months he can petition the court for release. If the court denies his petition, a jury trial will again be held in July, 1995. The law currently affects only 12 individuals.

The ...

Tennis Shoes Cost US Taxpayers Over $8,000

Though this is an unpublished case, and one we might ordinarily consider of small consequence, the prisoner litigant - David Cerullo - provided PLN with extensive information and background on the case that lends a very unusual perspective.

David Cerullo knew he was going to do some federal time. Two months before his sentenced started, on advice of his pretrial services officer, he purchased a $37.45 pair of tennis shoes from a K-Mart in Denver, Colorado.  On April 1, 1993, he self-surrendered to the Federal Prison in Littleton, Colorado to begin serving his sentence. He wore his new tennis shoes "in" hoping that he would thus have decent tennis shoes to wear for the first year for two of his sentence.

On April 14,1993, he was ordered to accompany a guard to a loading dock area. Cerullo was wearing his tennis shoes, and was unaware that he was being escorted to a work detail. He was taken to a dumpster and ordered to clean it and the adjoining loading dock with a pressure cleaning machine. Shortly into the task, and soaking wet, Cerullo asked the guard for permission to go change into work boots. Despite the fact that Federal Bureau ...

OK Early Release Law Legal

In response to prison overcrowding, the Oklahoma state legislature has passed the Oklahoma Prison Overcrowding Emergency Powers Act, Oklahoma Statute 57, § 570-576. The act permits the prison system to release prisoners with less than medium custody convicted of lesser crimes in order to free up prison space. Timothy Keeton, an Oklahoma state prisoner, filed suit against the state claiming that the statute was unconstitutional because only certain classes of prisoners were eligible for early release.

The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim. The court of appeals for the tenth circuit affirmed the dismissal. The court held that because the suit did not claim discrimination due to a suspect classification, i.e. race or gender, it would be examined as to whether it held a rational relationship to a legitimate state interest.

The court held that states have a legitimate interest in reducing prison overcrowding.Iin doing so, the state may release only those prisoners convicted of lesser crimes who may pose less of a threat. "Consequently, since there is no evidence that Appellant is being treated differently than similarly situated prisoners, i.e., prisoners with the same or similar classification, and the Act is constitutional ...

Lucasville 1994 "Spilt Milk"

By John W. Perotti

It's been almost two years since the 11-day siege at the southern Ohio Correctional Facility located in Lucasville, Ohio. The problem?  "Spilt milk" is just the beginning.

Millions of dollars have been spent on reconstruction of the prison and prosecution of the prisoners that the state said committed criminal acts during the siege. Steel encased control booths with double doors controlled electronically have been constructed in each cellblock with an escape ladder and hatch built in so that the guards can escape to the roof should the security of the double doors be breached. The back walls of the cellblock have been encased in steel so the concrete can't be broken out to get to anyone hiding in the back stairwell. TVcameras have been strategically located outside all the doors and in the hallways to monitor movement. Prisoners are only permitted out of their cells for meals and one hour recreation per day, one range at a time and under constant escort and surveillance by Disturbance Control Teams (Ninja Turtles) guards, dressed in black T shirts and fatigues. This is supposed to instill fear, a psychological tactic when actually they're just trying to ...

Award for Prisoners Beaten by OH Guards

In April of 1993, the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) at Lucasville, Ohio, erupted in one of the longest, costliest, and most violent prisoner rebellions in recent history. The rebellion brought Lucasville to national attention, but Ohio prisoners and prisoncrats had long been aware of problems leading up to the ...

Did Warden Seek SOCF Riot?

In April, 1993, prisoners at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) rebelled in what became the longest 2>prison siege in US history that left 10 dead. PLN has provided extensive coverage of the rebellion, its origins and its aftermath. Some SOCF prisoners have claimed that the rebellion was deliberately provoked by SOCF warden Arthur Tate in an effort to build a higher security prison at SOCF.

recently received a copy of a March 22, 1993, memo, "RE: Request to Construct a Maximum Security Unit at SOCF," sent by Tate to Eric Dahlberg, the Ohio DOC's South Region Director. In the memo Tate reiterates his view that a newer, higher security control unit type prison needs to be built at SOCF to house maximum security prisoners. He states: "I am fully cognizant of our department's inability to finance a serious building project at this time, however, the attached project would require significantly less of an expenditure but create a high security unit that would enable us to more effectively handle inmates requiring this level of security." ".. I cannot stress enough our need for a unit of this nature. We are suggesting that this unit be constructed in the ...

News in Brief

Since June, 1994, 8 prisoners at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) were placed in segregation after they allegedly gave friends and relatives a state toll free number at which to call them. The DOC operates a boiler room operation at CBCC which contracts with other state agencies and private businesses to do phone work. The Department of Ecology operates a toll free phone service at CBCC which employs prisoners to answer basic questions about the states emissions control program. The line receives 10,000 calls a month at 62 cents a call. Prison investigators are trying to determine how many prisoners received calls from friends and relatives and for how long. Given the fact that the Washington DOC charges its captives extortionate phone rates it is hardly surprising that prisoners would seek to cut their families phone bills...

 NY: On November 7, 1994, four prisoners escaped from the Wallkill maximum security prison. One tried to walk out the front door and was caught, three others escaped by climbing over the fence. All three were caught within a matter of hours, barely conscious due to blood loss from razor wire cuts. All four prisoners had been housed in the control ...

Algerian Prison Uprising

On November 13, 1994, 700 fundamentalist Muslim prisoners on death row, joined by 100 other prisoners, seized control of the Berrouaghia prison for several hours and tried to take guards hostage. The prison, located outside the capital of Algiers, holds several thousand prisoners. Many of the prisoners are members of the Islamic Salvation Front which has been battling the military junta that took power after the Muslims won the 1991 elections held in Algeria.

The prisoners were armed with knives and set their cells, beds, kitchen and nursing room on fire. Prison guards stormed the prison and retook it in a hail of gunfire that left 8 prisoners dead and 58 wounded. Two guards were reported injured. This follows on the March, 1994, jailbreak by several hundred prisoners in the Tazoult prison, see: ,  June, 1994.

From The Editor

by Dan Pens  

Keeping these twenty pages filled and mailed out to 1,200 readers is no small task. Each month  I mail out about 50 letters, 75 post cards and a dozen or so invoices to PLN subscribers. I  generate most of the "routine" correspondence. Paul answers most of the personal and business  oriented mail. He sends out as much or more mail as me.  

Every business day another batch of reader mail arrives from our P.O. Box in Florida If we  only get one piece of mail a year from 1,200 readers... well, you work out the math I keep  several piles of letters, magazines, newsletters, half-written articles, clippings, submissions by  readers, and wire-service clippings in my cell. If I try and kick back and take it easy for a day or two, the piles tip over and I have to start pulling the plow again.  

We have corresponded with others in the small press trade. Most have said that when the mailing list reaches about 1,200 you either cut, fold or get your act together. We're in the  process of getting our act together.  

Thanks to a generous grant from the Paradam Foundation ...

Resource Info Wanted

I am in the process of compiling information for a prison resource directory. Send any info that you feel would be of benefit to prisoners, their families, ex-offenders and those working in the criminal justice arena. Any type of info can be used, i.e. legal services, educational services, medical services, support groups, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, etc. Any type of information that a prisoner could use will work for this directory.

This directory is for prisoners and their families. I hope to expand it in the future to have a section that prisoners can sound off in. Send your info and let me know if you would like to be contacted when the project is done. Editor 's Note: PLN will plug the directory once it is completed and available for distribution.]

Send submissions to:

RAID (Resource Assistance Informational Data) Directory,
P.O. Box 1, Milton, WI. 53563.

From a Michigan Reader

I was curious as to how you get your stories. They are very interesting, and that one in the Sept. issue about Emmett Jones and jury rigging in Michigan really hit close to home. I might have a story for you. I recently got fired from my job as prison law library clerk for assisting another prisoner in pursuing his appeal. They've come out with their own little memorandum that prison law library clerks cannot assist other prisoners in any way. They have put me on detention for twelve days specifically for this. The man I was trying to help doesn't even have a G.E.D. His conviction was affirmed in the MI Court of Appeals, and as a matter of course his appointed appellate attorney sent him an application to the MI Supreme Court, told him to fill it out and abandoned him. Basically, they are trying to stem the free-flow of information in the law library here, impeding and penalizing prisoner law clerks who try to help other prisoners. I am not the first one here who has gotten fired for this, even though it's a relatively new inter-prison law library rule. However, this ...

CT's "Gang Problem"

CT's "Gang Problem"

The RICO concept of guilt by association has recently moved from the statute books and has now made its appearance into prison management. Within the past year or so Connecticuts Department of Corrections adopted a gang management policy. The policy designates gangs and gang members, and implements a particularly draconian housing and management policy for prisoners so designated. However the policy has recently come under attack in state court as being illegal with respect to one aspect, and that is the exemption of prisoners designated as gang members from being eligible to earn statutory good time.

Previously all anprisoner in Connecticut had to do was not receive any disciplinary tickets and good time would automatically accrue at the rate of ten days per month per statute. The only way an prisoner could lose good time was for discreet acts of misconduct, and then a fixed number of days would be deducted from the good time already earned. However under the gang policy, gang members are not allowed to earn good time for an indefinite length of time.

The DOC claims that being a member of a gang is akin to a "continuing ongoing violation" of the ...

Japan Uses Prison Slave Labor

While the use of prison slave labor by China has been widely criticized by the US, less well known is the fact that Japan also has a similar system. In July, 1994, congressman Gary Ackerman (NY Dem), head of the foreign affairs subcommittee on Asia, told reporters that Japan should account for all goods produced under its system of forced prisoner labor and halt the practice. Ackerman said that forcing prisoners to work more than eight hours a day violated the International Labor Organization's conventions.

Japan bans the export of its prison produced goods to the United States but not to other countries. Thus, there is no way of knowing whether prison goods enter the US through third countries.

Japanese prison slave labor practices were reported to Ackerman by Christopher Lavinger, a constituent who spent 16 months in a Japanese prison. Lavinger claims he was forced to make shopping bags with trademarks for Mizuno Sporting Goods, Burberry's of London and Japanese department stores. He also made pinball machines, electronic devices and toys. He was paid three to twenty cents an hour. Ackerman said "Companies that participate in this type of program are promoting indentured servitude." Not mentioned by ...

U.S. Prisoner in Thailand Needs Info

I was arrested in June of 199l and charged with possession of narcotics and intent to export. The drugs weighed slightly more than five kilos. I was given "legal counsel" - I think. I was told by a man who spoke very little English, "Plead guilty. If not plead guilty I guarantee you get death sentence."  I never saw the man again.

Apparently, I was tried by "due process." I was taken to a room where three men were sitting behind a desk. They literally screamed at me in Thai, which I did not understand. I was then taken downstairs and placed in a cell by myself. One of the guards told me I had received a life sentence.

Does the U. S. government recognize or acknowledge a sentence or verdict handed down by a tribunal, in effect a court martial? Thailand was under martial law at the time of my arrest. As a first offender, what length of sentence would I have received under U.S. law?  I would like to know both the maximum and minimum sentences and the time I could reasonably expect to send in the U.S.

What is the usual or average length of time ...

From a California Reader

Governor Pete Wilson is constantly passing legislation that is cutting away at the Prisoner Bill of Rights, and has done away with conjugal visits for prisoners with certain sex convictions, and has recently signed a Bill that limits good time/work time credits to 15% (down from 33.3% -50%) for prisoners with violent convictions and some sex convictions. I have not heard if he was going to try to make this retroactive, but I don't think so because ex post facto would preclude doing so.  

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) is currently putting a policy into effect that would require charging prisoners a $5.00 fee for all "nonemergency" medical services. I believe this can be defeated in light of other cases concerning this issue, i.e. Collins v. Romer , 962 F.2d 1508, wherein a $3.00 fee was unacceptable.  

CDC currently has a "zero tolerance" indigency plan, i.e. if you have any money on your account you are not entitled to postage-paid envelopes, paper, pencil, etc. I am currently preparing a Civil Rights Action (42 U.S.C. §1983) challenging this policy, in light of the holdings in Casey v. Lewis III , 834 F ...

Activists Labeled "Security Threat"

Being labeled as a "Security Threat Group" (gang) means anyone that is organizing and whose actions are considered disruptive to the prison system. For the most part the state [OH] is not focusing on real gangs, but rather focusing on prison activists and jailhouse lawyers. Every activist and jailhouse lawyer I know has been labeled as a Security Threat Group (STG). So basically its focus is to repress the movement struggling for prisoners rights and prison reform.

In my case I was helping to organize a letter writing campaign to state legislators in opposition to Ohios super max prison. The Rules Infraction Board here determined that my activities were "organized" and "disrupted" the legislators! That was it.

In speaking with the Gang Coordinator here, I was told that gang activity (SGT ) includes anything prison officials deem to be a problem for the Department of Corrections.

D.C., Lebanon,Ohio

AIDS Info Sought

Hi, my name is Jeannie Pejko and I am a former prisoner, having spent five years in Dwight Penitentiary in Illinois. I live in Chicago and work with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT Up), an organization fighting to end the AIDS crisis. ACT Up/Chicago's Prison Issues Committee is currently working to put pressure on the state of Illinois to improve its AIDS services in state prisons. An integral part of our carnpaign is gathering input and information from prisoners. I would greatly appreciate it if you would write to me and let me know what the situation is in your prison.

Any information you have about AIDS in prison will be useful, particularly about education prograrns, support groups, prisoner led programs, drug treatment programs, medical care, pre-release programs, etc. We are interested in the availability of medical treatment and in how prisoners with HIV/AIDS are treated by other prisoners and by staff. We can also provide prisoners with inforrnation on safer sex and medical treatment issues. Please let me know if there is any particular information you need and I'll do my best to get it to you. Confidentiality in all areas will be ...

Conditions in Thai Prisons for US Prisoners

Right now there are 31 American women and approximately the same number of men incarcerated in Thailand prisons on drug charges. Justice and impartial legal representation are not part of the equation here. Trials take years; guilt is assumed upon arrest. You can't win even if you are innocent. There are Americans here who have even received the death sentence! Some people didn't even have drugs in their possession, and most of us are first time offenders.

The USA has enforced a limitation that bans anyone having more than one kilo from ever using the treaty, and Thailand has a mandatory minimum length of stay enforced on us: eight years for those with a life sentence (most of us were sentenced to life) and four years for those with a lesser sentence.

Conditions are horrendous. Treatment is barbaric, and the language barrier is almost insurmountable. Imagine sleeping quarters like cattle holding pens. This is a "pay as you go" prison. Nothing is free, not even food, soap, or toilet paper. Mental health care for severely disturbed people like paranoid schizophrenics consists of exorcism. Yes, exorcism is still considered a valid medical treatment in Thailand. For example, this past ...

Televisions in Prison

Your article, Prisons TV: Luxury or Management Tool? [Vol.5 No.9, Sept. '94], raises an issue that has been debated by myself and some other prisoners here in Wisconsin. I believe that Wardens and others within the DOC have a perception that televisions are assisting them in minimizing static and disruption. DOC officials believe that by permitting televisions, they are in possession of a tool by which they can use to pacify the prisoners into conforming - rather than concentrating their efforts and time in fighting these people legally, educationally, and otherwise.

I believe that television can consume a man who is forced to live in a prison cell all day and all night. I agree that rather than read a law book or study math, most men in prison simply sit in their cells glued to the TV set - probably believing much of what he hears and sees.

I defy anyone to prove to me that thirty years ago, when prisons did not allow television sets, that the prisoners were any more educated, intelligent, or non-passive. Its a matter of choice. A prisoner who wants to read and learn and study will. One has to make these choices.

People ...


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