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Prison Legal News: November, 1995

Issue PDF
Volume 6, Number 11

In this issue:

  1. WA Civil Commitment Law Ruled Unconstitutional (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 4)
  3. IN Passes Excrement Law (p 4)
  4. Double Jeopardy in Prison Not Clear (p 5)
  5. WA Doctor Fit Only for Prisoners (p 6)
  6. Judge gets Insight on Jail Reform (p 6)
  7. CA Prisoners Riot (p 7)
  8. Lethal Gas Execution Cruel and Unusual (p 7)
  9. Billing Prisoners for Medical Care Blocks Access (p 8)
  10. AZ Guards Rob and Kill (p 10)
  11. World's Longest Held Political Prisoner Released (p 10)
  12. Surveys (p 11)
  13. WA DOC Gets $745,366,000 (p 11)
  14. WSR Prisoner Murdered by Neglect (p 12)
  15. Medical Evidence Required to Win Delay Claim (p 13)
  16. Alaska Prisoners in Exile (p 14)
  17. SC Takes Weights (p 14)
  18. TX Death Row Protest (p 15)
  19. Nevada DOC Psychologist Moonlights as Pimp (p 15)
  20. Feeding at the Trough (p 15)
  21. Old Friends Only (p 16)
  22. AL Adds Rock Breaking to its Repertoire (p 16)
  23. New Statewide Data Show Prison Rape a Widespread Problem (p 17)
  24. OH Visitor Search Illegal (p 18)
  25. Sexual Abuse in Vermont Prisons (p 18)
  26. New Mexico Blood Money (p 19)
  27. Qualified Immunity for Hearing Officers (p 19)
  28. Time Barred Dismissal Reversed (p 20)
  29. Standard for Gender Discrimination Clarified (p 20)
  30. Detainees Entitled to Hygiene Items (p 21)
  31. News in Brief (p 22)
  32. TX Abolishes Furloughs (p 22)
  33. Prisoners Entitled to Safe Jail (p 23)

WA Civil Commitment Law Ruled Unconstitutional

In a tersely worded decision, Fed eral District Court Judge John C. Coughenour drove a stake into the heart of Washington's controversial civil commitment law (Wash. Rev. Code § 71.09). He ruled the statute unconstitutional on its face, citing: "the violation of the substantive due process component of the ...

From the Editor

Thanksgiving can be a tough holiday to celebrate inside a prison cage. This will be my fifteenth. The first few were mostly about self-pity. As I became more politically conscious, however, Thanksgiving took on a different meaning. It traditionally commemorates starving European conquerors giving thanks for the hospitality and life-saving ...

IN Passes Excrement Law

Senate Enrolled Act #56, which went into effect on July 1, 1995, added a new section to the Indiana Criminal Code which makes it a crime to "knowingly or intentionally in a rude, insolent, or angry manner place blood or another body fluid or waste on a Law Enforcement Officer ...

Double Jeopardy in Prison Not Clear

In the Oct. `95 issue of PLN we re ported Massachusetts v. Forte, an unpublished state court ruling dismissing a criminal indictment because the prisoner had previously been subjected to disciplinary action by prison officials. As a result, the trial court dismissed the criminal charges arising from the same conduct ...

WA Doctor Fit Only for Prisoners

In the July, 1995, issue of PLN we reported the disciplinary charges filed against Dr. James McGuire, the psychologist at the McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC) in WA. While practicing as a psychiatrist in Alaska McGuire entered into a sexual relationship with one of his patients, Karma VanGelder, an Alaska ...

Judge gets Insight on Jail Reform

Sol Wachtler was the former chief judge of New York state's highest court until he was convicted in 1993 of terrorizing, stalking and harassing his ex-lover, socialite Joy Silverman, after she broke off their affair. At one point Wachtler threatened to kidnap Silverman's daughter. Wachtler was arrested after ...

CA Prisoners Riot

On July 7, 1995, more than 250 prisoners at the Sierra Conservation Center (SCC), near Jamestown, CA, engaged in a brawl and riot at the 5,900 bed minimum security prison. The fight took place in the yard and housing units between white and Latino prisoners and left many injured ...

Lethal Gas Execution Cruel and Unusual

Derek Humphry, President of the Hemlock Society, and Judge Marilyn Hall Patel have differing views on the virtues of inhaling lethal gas. Humphry, in his how-to-suicide-it manual Final Exit, recommends the use of potassium cyanide as a quick and "humane", although not entirely peaceful, way of dying with dignity, which ...

Billing Prisoners for Medical Care Blocks Access

by Mark Lopez and Kara Chayriques

In 1976, the Supreme Court established in Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), that the government has an obligation to provide medical care for prisoners. This fundamental premise has been upheld in subsequent cases and establishes a prison's obligation to provide ...

AZ Guards Rob and Kill

On February 16, 1995, police ar rested a retired cop and three Arizona prison guards in the robbery of an armored car and the killing of a Wells Fargo driver. On November 28, 1994, an armored car was hijacked and robbed with between $200,000 and $900,000 taken. The ...

World's Longest Held Political Prisoner Released

On August 15, 1995, Kim Sun Myung was released from a South Korean prison after spending more than 43 years in captivity. Kim had the unhappy distinction of being the world's longest held political prisoner. Kim was captured 43 years and ten months ago in 1951 by American military ...

Surveys

- Prisoners Convicted by Drugging is conducting a survey to determine the number of criminal defendants who have gone to trial or been tried while they were under the influence of psychotropic drugs. Anyone desiring a questionnaire should write: B. Buechler, 825 Battery St. 1st Fl. San Francisco, CA. 94111.

- I ...

WA DOC Gets $745,366,000

In the August, 1995, issue of PLN we discussed the myriad anti-prisoner and -defendant legislation passed by the Washington State legislature in its 1995 session. The 1995 session was the longest in state history, running several months past its scheduled closing. Because the legislature squandered its time and resources on ...

WSR Prisoner Murdered by Neglect

On December 12, 1994, Stanley Watson died of a heart attack at the Washington State Reformatory (WSR) in Monroe, WA. While heart attacks do happen and can be fatal Watson's death could have been easily prevented, so easily that his death amounts to negligent homicide. On December 11, 1994 ...

Medical Evidence Required to Win Delay Claim

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit has held that in order to prevail on an eighth amendment deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim, the prisoner plaintiff must submit verifying medical evidence at the summary judgment stage. Larry Beyerbach, a Missouri state prisoner, caught his hand in a ...

Alaska Prisoners in Exile

I would like to respond to a News in Brief segment of your February 1995 issue of PLN concerning the shipment of Alaska state prisoners to the Penal Detention Center [a private prison operated by the Corrections Corporation of America] in Florence, AZ, supposedly to ease overcrowding and avoid fines ...

SC Takes Weights

Joining Wisconsin, Mississippi and Arizona the South Carolina DOC banned weight lifting in its prisons in early July, 1995. All weight lifting equipment was removed from that state's prisons and will be made available to prison guards and students at the state Criminal Justice Academy. Prior to this South ...

TX Death Row Protest

On June 28, 1995, two wings of Texas death row prisoners demonstrated for an hour against a scheduled execution. The prisoners shouted, set fires and banged on the bars. The execution was stayed by a court order. One hundred prisoners have been executed in Texas since 1982, by far more ...

Nevada DOC Psychologist Moonlights as Pimp

In the July, 1994, issue of PLN we reported the saga of William Knapp, the chief psychologist of the Nevada DOC whose ambition was to open up a Western theme brothel. We mentioned the case, Knapp v. Miller, 843 F. Supp. 633 (DC NV 1993), as a somewhat humorous aside ...

Feeding at the Trough

The highest paid state employee in California isn't the governor, it is Darryl Andrade, a DOC lieutenant at the Avenal State Prison who earned gross wages of $108,989 in 1994. Andrade was one of 702 California prison guards, sergeants and lieutenants who made more than $75,000 in ...

Old Friends Only

The public pays $25,000 a year to keep each of Wisconsin's 9,500 adult prisoners locked away. Part of what society expects to get for that considerable investment is prisoners who are changed for the better by the time they get out.

One of the changes I've ...

AL Adds Rock Breaking to its Repertoire

Recent issues of PLN have re ported on plans by the Alabama Department of Corrections to dress alleged exhibitionist prisoners in hot pink outfits, to reinstitute chain gangs and to chain those prisoners who refuse to work on the chain gangs to steel rails outdoors. Apparently these measures aren't ...

New Statewide Data Show Prison Rape a Widespread Problem

Over a fifth of male prisoners are sexually victimized behind bars according to a newly released survey of an entire state's prison system. A summary of results from the spring, 1994 survey, which covered all four Nebraska prisons and was conducted by University of South Dakota psychology professor Cindy ...

OH Visitor Search Illegal

The Franklin County Court of Appeals in Ohio has held that an anonymous letter alleging drug smuggling by a prison visitor is insufficient to constitute "reasonable suspicion" which would authorize a strip search of the visitor. Terry Morris, the warden of the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, received an anonymous letter from ...

Sexual Abuse in Vermont Prisons

Lawyers from the ACLU's National Prison Project filed a motion in federal court on August 25, 1995, asking the judge to issue a preliminary injunction to end physical and sexual abuse of prisoners in Vermont's sex offender behavior modification program. Affidavits filed by several prisoners allege that a ...

New Mexico Blood Money

For two days in February, 1980, New Mexico prisoners seized control of the state penitentiary in Santa Fe. When it was over, 33 prisoners were dead, hundreds more were hurt, the gym was burned to a shell and the cell blocks, offices and other areas were extensively damaged. Elected and ...

Qualified Immunity for Hearing Officers

The second circuit court of appeals has reaffirmed that prison disciplinary hearing officers are only entitled to qualified immunity, not absolute immunity from suit. As part of a pilot project the New York Department of Corrections in 1986 instituted the Inmate Hearing Officer program whereby the DOC hires private lawyers ...

Time Barred Dismissal Reversed

The court of appeals for the tenth circuit has held that a district court erred when it dismissed a prisoner's suit as being time barred when it was not clear from the face of the complaint if the applicable time limits had been tolled. David Fratus, a Utah state ...

Standard for Gender Discrimination Clarified

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit has held that heightened judicial scrutiny may be appropriate in equal protection claims brought by female prisoners. This ruling will be of special interest to female prisoners. Women prisoners in Iowa filed a class action suit contending their right to equal protection ...

Detainees Entitled to Hygiene Items

A district court in Illinois has held that pretrial detainees are entitled to clean linen and clothes on a regular basis as well as adequate ventilation, medical treatment and food. The court begins its ruling with a quote by Dr. Karl Menninger who described American jails, including he Cook County ...

News in Brief

PA: On August 2, 1995, SCI Graterford prison guards Keith Robertson and Martin Williams were arrested for drug possession with intent to deliver. Both guards were seen, during an investigation, dumping drugs behind vending machines and trash bins within the prison.


FL: Israel Martinez was charged with breaking into the ...

TX Abolishes Furloughs

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) administratively abolished furloughs for prisoners on July 1, 1995. In doing so it acted three months before a recently enacted state law eliminated all the furloughs, effective September 1, 1995. Under the state law only emergency furloughs are allowed.

The furloughs being abolished ...

Prisoners Entitled to Safe Jail

The eleventh circuit court of appeals has reaffirmed that county officials can be held liable for failing to protect jail detainees from violence by other detainees. In 1990 Larry Hale was held in the Tallapoosa County Jail in Alabama after failing to appear in court on a marijuana charge. The ...