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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: May, 1995

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Issue PDF
Volume 6, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Silencing the Oppressed: No Freedom of Speech for Those Behind the Walls (p 1)
  2. Jail Detainee Entitled to Hearing (p 9)
  3. NC DNA Testing Statute Upheld (p 9)
  4. Court Clerk Suable (p 10)
  5. IL DOC Confinement Policy Illegal (p 10)
  6. PI Granted to Satanist (p 11)
  7. Harassing Searches State Claim (p 12)
  8. Disciplinary Evidence Must be Reliable (p 12)
  9. Retaliatory Threats Illegal (p 13)
  10. DA Liable for Preventing Court Appearance (p 13)
  11. Prison Worker Compensation Law No Bar to Bivens (p 14)
  12. Prisoners Can't be Forced to Choose Between Law Library and Recreation (p 14)
  13. IL Visiting Rules Create Liberty Interest (p 15)
  14. MS Prison Rights Litigator Threatened (p 15)
  15. WY Trailer Visits Taken (p 16)
  16. Prisoners With Children (p 16)
  17. BOP Set to Stun Prisoners (p 16)
  18. Prisoners as NAFTA Export? (p 17)
  19. WA Civil Commitment Sham (p 17)
  20. TDCJ Grows & Grows (p 18)
  21. Tommy's Jobs Program (p 18)
  22. Alert: Danger in Using Bleach to Clean Needles (p 19)
  23. Venezuelan Prison Crisis Continues (p 19)
  24. The Political Base of the Death Penalty (p 20)
  25. Special Prison for Military Criminals in Chile (p 20)
  26. S&L Looters Do less Time than Petty Thieves (p 21)
  27. FL Ends Early Release (p 22)
  28. Editorial (p 22)
  29. WA Prisoners Help Elect Republican (p 23)
  30. Harsher Prison Measures Opposed: "Family Values" Stop Here (p 23)
  31. Armed and Dangerous (p 25)
  32. Correction on Clinton (p 27)
  33. Ohio Activist Needs Help (p 27)

Silencing the Oppressed: No Freedom of Speech for Those Behind the Walls

by Ronald Kuby and William Kunstler


On any given day in America, more than a million and a half people[1], in prisons and jails[2] spend their days subjected to the most rigorous censorship, denied the fundamental rights protected every-where else by the freedom of speech guarantees of the First Amendment.[3] They are denied reading material deemed objectionable by their captors, exposed to retaliation for expressing opinions at odds with those of their jailers, refused access to the news media, punished for possessing "radical" views, and rewarded for renouncing them. The prison authorities, more often than not, are persons of limited intellectual capacity and of authoritarian attitudes whose primary penological goal is to maintain order.

As this country abandons whatever liberal pretensions it once had about achieving an equal society, the population of prisons and jails has grown apace with the poor and the dispossessed. The United States now leads the world in per capita incarceration, having finally overtaken the Soviet Union.[4] Approximately 615,000 persons are confined to state and federal correctional institutions on any given day. [Editors' Note: that figure tops over one million now.] More than one million are confined to county or ...

Jail Detainee Entitled to Hearing

In 1986 Vincent McCann was a pretrial detainee in the mental health unit at the Orange County Correctional Facility (jail) in New York. A detainee complained to jail guards that other prisoners had thrown urine on him and were taunting him. After a cursory investigation McCann and several other detainees ...

NC DNA Testing Statute Upheld

Past issues of PLN have reported on the legal and political issues involved in DNA testing. Several states and the federal government have passed laws in the last five years which mandate the taking of blood from prisoners in order to compile a DNA database of convicted felons. So far all legal attempts in state and federal courts challenging these statutes have failed.

In 1993 the North Carolina legislature passed legislation authorizing the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to establish and maintain a data bank with DNA samples of certain felons. Only law enforcement agencies can access the information during an official investigation or with a court order. The DOC is the party responsible for collecting the actual blood samples.

North Carolina prisoners filed a class action suit challenging both the constitutionality of the statute and the fact that the DOC was using excessive force to collect blood samples from prisoners who refused to provide them voluntarily. The force used consists of a gang of guards spraying prisoners with mace, jumping on the prisoner, holding his arm in painful positions and taking the blood sample. The suit claimed that the statute violates the fourth amendment because the samples are taken ...

Court Clerk Suable

Don Curry is an Illinois state prisoner who was convicted of sexual assault in 1990. He filed a notice of appeal in the county court. Illinois law requires, upon receipt of a notice of appeal, that the circuit court clerk prepare and deliver a copy of the record on appeal to the reviewing court and on request to the appellant. State court rules list 15 items that must be included in the appeal record.

Aurelia Pucinski was the court clerk who processed Currys appeal record and sent it to his attorney. Curry claimed that the record sent did not include important items required by the court rules. Curry sought production of his court record by filing a state Freedom of Information Act request which was unsuccessful. After his conviction was affirmed he filed suit against Pucinski pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 claiming that she had violated his right of access to the courts by not providing him with the requested court materials.

Pucinski filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court denied. The court notes that prisoners have a constitutional right of meaningful access to the courts. Al1en v. Duckworth, 6 F.3d 458 (7th Cir ...

IL DOC Confinement Policy Illegal

The director of the Illinois DOC (IDOC) has promulgated a regulation under which all prisoners that it receives must be held for at least 60 days before they are released. Ronald Rooding was convicted and sentenced to one year in jail. After deducting good time and earned time he should have served a total of 92 days in confinement. When he was transferred from the Cook County jail to an IDOC facility he had 21 days remaining to serve. Instead, the IDOC calculated his release at 60 days after he arrived in their custody. A week after he should have been released he filed a writ of habeas corpus in Cook County Circuit Court. The court granted the Writ and issued an order directing Roodings immediate release from custody. The court denied the states motion for reconsideration and refused to stay its ruling pending an appeal. Despite the fact that the court had granted the writ on December 22, 1993,  Rooding was not released until January 6, 1994, the day after a state appeals court denied an emergency motion to stay the lower court ruling.

Rooding then filed suit in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that ...

PI Granted to Satanist

Robert Howard is a federal prisoner at FCI Englewood in Littleton, CO. He is also a Satanist. Howard made several requests to prison officials seeking to practice satanic rituals. Prison officials denied his requests and Howard filed suit claiming that the denial of his requests violated his first amendment rights. After a lengthy hearing the district court granted a Preliminary Injunction (PI) to allow Howard to practice his rituals until the suit is resolved on the merits. While dealing with a specific religious faith, Satanism, this ruling contains numerous points of law and fact which would be useful to anyone litigating a free exercise of religion claim.

Readers should note that this is not a ruling on the merits but a preliminary ruling designed to protect Howards rights until the matter is resolved. Plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction must show there is a substantial likelihood they will prevail on the merits; that they will suffer irreparable injury unless the injunction is issued; the threatened injury outweighs whatever damage the proposed injury may cause the opposing party and the injunction, if issued, would not be contrary to the public interest. In its ruling the court focused on the likelihood of success ...

Harassing Searches State Claim

Alnoraindus Burton is an Illinois state prisoner. He filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that after he filed administrative grievances against prison guards who used racist slurs against him he was subjected to a widespread campaign of harassment and retaliation by the guards. This included guards opening and reading his legal mail, destroying his property in front of him, subjecting him to daily strip searches and shakedowns and punching him in the stomach. The defendants moved for summary judgment which the court denied on most claims.

The court dismissed the prison warden as a defendant because there was not sufficient evidence to show that he was aware of the actions by his subordinates. The court then discussed the claims against the remaining defendants.

The court held there was more than ample evidence to support Burtons claims that he was punched in the stomach by one of the defendant guards. The court held that the guard calling Burton a "nigger" and stating he would "kick [his] ass" was sufficient to show a malicious intent to inflict harm rather than to maintain or restore order and discipline in prison. Even though Burton did not suffer any permanent injury the ...

Disciplinary Evidence Must be Reliable

Michael Walsh is a New York state prisoner. He was infracted for allegedly exposing himself to and threatening a prison guard. At the disciplinary hearing, Walsh called as a witness another guard who had co-signed the infraction report. The guard testified that she was present on the occasion and did not see Walsh expose himself nor hear him threaten the other guard. Despite this, the hearing officer found Walsh guilty and sentenced him to six months in segregation and a loss of privileges. Walsh administratively appealed the hearing result and it was overturned due to the conflicting evidence at the hearing. Walsh then filed suit in federal court seeking money damages. He claimed that his right to due process was violated when he was found guilty of an infraction when contrary evidence was presented at the hearing.

The defendants moved for summary judgment on all the issues. The district court discussed the relevant standards that courts apply when reviewing prisoners civil rights claims arising from disciplinary hearings. Courts must only determine if "some" evidence supports the hearing committees finding of guilty, in practice this has come to mean 'any evidence. Thus, exculpatory evidence is irrelevant because "although it presumably could ...

Retaliatory Threats Illegal

Leon Burgess is a Missouri state prisoner. Burgess disrupted a prison disciplinary hearing and guards responded by holding him down, while he was handcuffed, as another guard tried to force a towel into his mouth. When that failed the guard wrapped the towel around Burgess neck and choked him into unconsciousness while screaming racial slurs. The prisons associate superintendent was present, witnessed the assault and did nothing. Burgess filed an administrative grievance over the assault and prison officials threatened him with retaliation if he did not drop the complaint. Burgess filed suit in federal court under 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 claiming that the choking violated his eighth amendment right to remain free from cruel and unusual punishment and the threat violated his first amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment to prison officials on all counts, dismissing the suit.

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the case to the lower court for trial. The appeals court held that summary judgment was inappropriate in this case because there were disputed issues of material fact. The dispute arose when the prison official defendants completely denied, under oath, choking or threatening ...

DA Liable for Preventing Court Appearance

Tobin Lemmons is an Oklahoma state prisoner. While in jail he filed a workers compensation complaint against his former employers with the aid of an attorney and law firm he hired for this purpose. On two occasions in 1991 the state judge before whom the compensation claim was pending issued writs of habeas corpus ad testificandum to secure Lemmonss presence in court so he could testify. On each occasion Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Denise Graham intervened and prevented execution of the writ. Lemmonss suit has languished ever since. Lemmons filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against both his attorney and Graham. The district court granted Lemmons in forma pauperis then, on its own motion, dismissed the suit as being legally frivolous stating that Lemmons could not establish federal jurisdiction for his malpractice claim against his attorney and Graham was entitled to absolute immunity.

The court of appeals for the tenth circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court affirmed dismissal of the claims against the attorney because while Lemons may be able to pursue a malpractice suit against him in state court there was no state action to give ...

Prison Worker Compensation Law No Bar to Bivens

Loren Bagola is a federal prisoner. He filed a Bivens suit against Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials claiming that he lost his right hand when he was forced to operate prison machinery that officials knew to be unsafe. He claimed that BOP officials knew of the faulty machinery and took no steps to repair it thus showing deliberate indifference to his eighth amendment rights. The district court dismissed the suit as being legally frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). The court of appeals for the seventh circuit reversed and remanded.

The lower court had held that 18 U.S.C. § 1426, a federal prison workers compensation statute, did not preclude Bivens suits against prison officials, but that it did provide the exclusive remedy for tort suits against the government. The appeals court affirmed this holding. "Section 1426 contains no specific provisions that abrogate the right to sue other prison employees. Thus, neither this statute nor the Federal Tort Claims Act, which specifically permits constitutional tort actions against Government employees, 28 U.S.C. § 2679(b)(2), bar Bagolas Bivens action against prison officials."

Analyzing the factual sufficiency of Bagolas lawsuit the appeals court held that he had adequately ...

Prisoners Can't be Forced to Choose Between Law Library and Recreation

John Allen is a Hawaii state prisoner held in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) after allegedly assaulting a guard. His SHU confinement was indefinite. While in SHU he could use the law library and outdoor recreation area only during limited times and had to be escorted to each area by prison guards. Prison officials sometimes scheduled prisoners opportunity to use the law library at times that coincided or overlapped with their opportunity for outdoor recreation. Allen claimed that he was frequently forced to go without outdoor recreation on days he had to use the prison law library. Allen filed suit claiming that his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated when he was forced to go without outdoor recreation. The defendants moved for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, claiming prisoners had no well established right not to be forced to choose between outdoor recreation and law library use. The district court denied the motion at 816 F. Supp.1501 (D HI, 1993), see , Vol 4, No. 8.

Prison officials appealed the ruling and the court of appeals for the ninth circuit affirmed. The sole issue on appeal was whether the district court correctly held that ...

IL Visiting Rules Create Liberty Interest

Prisoners have no constitutional right to visit, thus any such right which can be enforced in court must be created by the state. In the March, 1994, issue of we gave an ample discussion to visiting rights and privileges with numerous case citations.  [Back issues are still available for $1.]  Many state prison visiting regulations do not create a liberty interest. Eddie Gavin filed suit claiming that Illinois prison officials deprived him of his civil rights when they refused to allow his relatives to visit him on several different occasions over a six month period. The court eventually dismissed the suit but not before giving a good analysis of Illinois visiting regulations and the case law pertaining to prison visiting.

Analyzing Illinois Revised Statute chapter 38, para. l003-7-2(f) which states: "All of the institutions and facilities of the Department shall permit every committed person to receive visitors, except in case of abuse of the visiting privileges or when the chief administrative officer determines that such visiting would be harmful or dangerous to the security, safety or morale of the institution or facility. Clergy, religious chaplain and attorney visiting privileges shall be as broad as the security of the institution ...

MS Prison Rights Litigator Threatened

Julio Wicks is a pro se litigator who has been struggling for years to improve conditions at Mississippis Parchman Penitentiary, which he characterizes as a "Plantation." As he puts it, "There are 8,000 Black slaves [of a total prison population of 10,000] on this plantation! 6,500 Black slaves are functionally illiterate. They work in the field approximately 12 hours a day with a white man on a horse, a shotgun cradled in his arms."  

Julio has tried to expose the racism, oppression and corruption at Parchman. "The corruption here starts at the top. Marijuana, crack cocaine, etc. could not get in this prison in the volume it does without approval from the top. Once in a while they will think its time to sacrifice an employee and they will. Right... they sacrifice a Black officer. Something to appease the public... There is something very sinister about this prison. Ive come to that conclusion by observing activities here. I cant put my finger on it... everything associated with this joint stinks real bad."  

Julios perception is substantiated by the Jackson Advocate newspaper which stated that eleven prison officials have been charged with perpetrating and or covering up the ...

WY Trailer Visits Taken

Wyoming penitentiary warden, Duane Shillinger, issued a memorandum to "All Inmates" notifying them that the "Family Visiting Center" would be closed effective April 1, 1995. The warden said he regrets making this difficult decision. The reasons stated in the memo for terminating the trailer visit program are "times and conditions have changed since the program was first implemented. With the increasing population, greater security responsibilities, and limited budget, utilizing employees and other resources to maintain the family visiting program can no longer be justified. Penitentiary employees are now hard pressed just to locate living space for the increasing population."  

A Wyoming prisoner writes that "the real reason is because they want to convert the three trailers into trustee living units."

Prisoners With Children

The Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents [CCIP] was created to produce documentation on and demonstrate model services for these special children and their families. CCIP has four components which include 17 individual projects.

The Information Component conducts research, provides technical assistance and produces publications. One project of this component, THE CLEARINGHOUSE at Pacific Oaks has a collection of over 3500 documents and audiovisual items, including items such as the Prison MATCH Parenting Series and publications for children. Over 300 of these items are available free to prisoners and their families.

The Education Component conducts seven different training projects for incarcerated parents, probationer parents, parents in recovery from substance dependency and care givers of prisoners' children. The Prison Parents' Education Project is a 32 week correspondence course offered nationally to any state or federal prisoner. Curriculum manuals for all CCIP training projects are sold through THE CLEARINGHOUSE.

The Family Reunification Component includes a mentoring program for pregnant, jailed women; an assessment and referral project for local families with children in the juvenile justice system and a child custody advocacy project. The CHICAS [Child Custody Advocacy Services] Project assists incarcerated parents throughout the US with child custody issues.

The Therapeutic Component ...

BOP Set to Stun Prisoners

A Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reader sent us a photocopied BOP Policy Statement (P.S. 5558.10) dated September 30, 1994. The policy statement authorizes the BOP to force "maximum custody inmates" to wear what it describes as a "Remote Electronically ACtivated Technology (REACT) Stun Belt" as a custody control tool to be used within the BOP. Prisoners will be "asked" to sign the "Inmate Notification Of Custody Control Belt Use" form which is quoted in full below:

"You are hereby advised that you are being required to wear an electronic restraint belt. This belt discharges 50,000 volts of electricity. By means of a remote transmitter, an attending officer has the ability to activate the stun package attached to the belt, thereby causing the following results to take place:

1. Immobilization causing you to fall to the ground.

2. Possibility of self-defecation.

3. Possibility of self-urination.


The belt could be activated under the following actions on your behalf and notification is hereby made:

A. Any tampering with the belt.

B. Failure to comply with staffs verbal order to halt movement of your person.

C. Any ...

Prisoners as NAFTA Export?

Worried about the cost of California's new Three Strikes And You're In Law--recently made a constitutional amendment by the success of Prop 184?  Some say it will bankrupt California as we convert the State into a 21st Century Gulag. The voters pamphlet conservatively predicted that $20 billion will be spent for new prisons in the next 30 years, and operating costs will rise by $3-$6 billion a year over that time, over the already skyrocketing incarceration rate increases. It's safe to say that those estimates are way too low. We haven't even scratched the surface of the Tough-On-Crime mentality. There's an endless supply of "criminals"soon to include 10 year olds who refuse to wear bike helmets and high schoolers who protest school policies.  Where will the State get all that prison money? Education? Not education!  What will we do?  What will we do?

Not to worry, Bippy. A newly elected Georgia congressman who is a retired cop and ex-Newt Gingrich top aide is already at work on the Real American Solution: a NAFTA-inspired bill that would sub-contract long term incarceration to Mexico at bargain rates. He says he's already spoken to the ...

WA Civil Commitment Sham

In 1989 Washington State passed a controversial "Sex Predator Law" (RCW 71.09) to allow for the "civil commitment" (indefinite incarceration) of "dangerous sexual predators." The law allows the state to file commitment papers on prisoners who have completed their maximum terms of incarceration and are due to be released from prison. The prisoner is afforded a jury trial in civil court where the state must show that he suffers from a "mental abnormality or personality disorder" that predisposes him to commit sex crimes and that a high likelihood exists that if released from prison he would commit predatory sexual offenses in the future.  

Opponents of the law claim that it violates prohibition against double jeopardy, ex post facto, self-incrimination, and vagueness of content. Opponents also claim that the statute violates equal protection and due process and that the law sets up an Orwellian "dangerousness courts" masquerading as mental health treatment. David Summers, writing on behalf of the Washington State Psychiatric Association in an amicus brief, states that the "Sex Predator Law" is based on an invented pseudo-science that encourages the ad hoc invention of psychiatric disorders to achieve a social end.  

Although those who are found to be sexual ...

TDCJ Grows & Grows

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) had a 1994 budget of $1.84 million dollars. According to the Texas Comptroller that is slated to grow to $3 billion by the year 2000. Texas currently has an incarceration rate of 553 per 100,000 (the highest in the country) and this is projected to grow to 1,428 incarcerated Texans per 100,000 which translated to one out of every 70 Texans. That figure is expected to include one out of nine black Texan men. One of every 18 Texan men is currently locked up.

While blacks make up 12 percent of Texas general population they composed 48% of its prison population in 1992. Whites make up 61% of the state population and 29% of the prison population, for Hispanics the figures are 23% in prison and 26% outside.

State Representative Wilhelmina Delco of Austin, and vice chair of the Texas House Corrections Committee, says: "Prison and criminal justice are the only growth industries in Texas."  By 1996 the state will have 128,000 prison beds which is double the number it had in 1992. Construction costs alone, which are not reflected in the TDCJs operating budget above, will total ...

Tommy's Jobs Program

Gov. Tommy Thompson recently unveiled his startling plan to put inmates to work in Wisconsin prisons. Thompson wants to allow private businesses to construct production facilities inside state prisons and employ inmates as laborers.

The Governor assures us that his plan will accomplish several laudable goals.  Instead of sitting idle in prison, inmates can learn skills that will help them land jobs on the outside after their release.  Merely becoming accustomed to the discipline of getting up and going to work each morning will be a step in the right direction for many prisoners, Thompson reasons. Furthermore,  the Department of Corrections would be able to seize the wages paid to inmates and apply those funds to offset the cost of operating the prisons. The Governor estimates that his program could raise $50 million per year from inmate labor.

Thompson's plan disturbingly resembles the prison-labor practices in China and other countries whose human-rights records Wisconsin should not seek to emulate, and the plan has been roundly criticized on that point. But the purely racial implications of the Governor's plan, which have been over-looked by the mainstream media, are striking as well.

The unemployment rate for African Americans in Wisconsin ...

Alert: Danger in Using Bleach to Clean Needles

The standard method to clean injection drug equipment that has been widely promoted turns out NOT to work. The three squirts in and out with household bleach (10% solution) followed by three squirts in and out with water looked promising in the laboratory. But now results have come back from actual use in the field: those injection drug users (IDUs) saying they used this method all the time had the same high HIV seroconversion rates as those who never used it. The problem is that HIV is a lot harder to kill in human blood, especially with the problem of clotting inside works, than in laboratory cultures. The CDC summarized the research in their report, issued along with the CSAT and NIDA, of April 19, 1993. Current research now suggests using full strength bleach (100% solution) and leaving the bleach inside the needle and syringe for a full 30 seconds each time (to be followed with the cleaning out with water). Shaking and tapping the syringe when it is filled with pre-bleach wash water, with the bleach, and with the rinse water are also recommended to improve effectiveness. This method does not guarantee sterilization but can play a role in ...

Venezuelan Prison Crisis Continues

Past issues of PLN have reported the massive crisis overwhelming the Venezuelan prison system. This has ranged from riots leaving hundreds of dead, mass escapes, protests and more. Human rights groups claim that Venezuela has the worst prisons in the hemisphere. On December 19, 1994, 41 prisoners at the Tocuyito prison in Carabobo stabbed and slashed themselves to protest conditions in the segregation cells they were placed in after a recent escape attempt. [See PLN, Vol. 5, No. 12].

Prison guards broke up the protest and all the prisoners were treated in a hospital. Prison officials stated that many of the prisoners were seriously injured with stomach wounds and cuts to their necks and wrists. Reporters were able to speak to the prisoners who were in cells covered with blood. The prisoners stated they were being subjected to inhumane living conditions, confined to cells without water or light. Eight prisoners were jammed into cells measuring two square meters. Luis Lugo, police inspector of the Carabobo police stated "It's tough in there, all concrete and very little space. They are not allowed out for exercise "

On December 28, 1994, Justice Minister Ruben Creixems announced that the National Guard would be ...

The Political Base of the Death Penalty

The experiences of murder and punishment change enormously in different places and different times.  All of us know that in our time the United States ranks very high in number of murders and prisoners, in length of incarceration, and in death sentences.

We may be hardened to comparisons with apartheid South Africa, and we may not even believe the similarities that are pointed out between our center of Western democracy and the tyrannies of lands we consider much less "civilized."  Yet the facts are evident and they are upsetting. Why do we have so much violent crime?  Why do we believe that violent punishment is the cure?  Could other solutions be accepted in our country?  And, are these issues religious, political, or psychological?

While the questions can be profitably viewed from all angles, I believe the issue we must face more frankly is not individual guilt or individual compassion, but the collective responsibility of our society to provide the possibility of a decent life. There will always be deviations from society's norms; the question must be: Is the norm available to all at us? Do we insist that our government provide for the general welfare and the chance of ...

Special Prison for Military Criminals in Chile

The Chilean government is faced with the prospect of some high ranking military and police officials going to prison for committing crimes against humanity during almost 20 years of U.S. backed fascist military rule. In response, it has announced plans to build a special prison to house military and police prisoners. Historically, when Latin American military men have been convicted of heinous crimes against their citizens they have spent a few years in house arrest or held in luxurious conditions on military bases, etc. before receiving pardons.

Chilean leftists believe that the special prison idea is part of a deal reached by the Chilean government with the military, which still rules the country behind the scenes, to allow some of its members to be tried by the courts in the first place. The sentences handed down are very light, i.e. the former head of the secret police and an army general were sentenced to 6 and 7 years for ordering the murder by car bomb of Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean defense minister, and his America assistant in Washington D.C. By contrast, communist prisoners are held in harsh repressive, control units modeled on Marion in the U ...

S&L Looters Do less Time than Petty Thieves

S&L Looters Do Less Time than Petty Thieves

by Paul Wright

Fraud in the Savings and Loan Industry: White Collar Crime and Government Response was written by University of California, Irvine, criminology professor Henry Pontell and associate professor Kitty Calavita. The three year study was commissioned by the Department of Justice.  The report found that not only do most Savings and Loan (S&L) thieves go unpunished but the ones who are punished typically receive shorter prison terms than car thieves and common burglars.

The Savings and Loan industry collapsed in the mid 80s after the federal government deregulated the industry. This resulted in high risk, speculative investments that led to massive losses. The U.S. taxpayers are going to pick up the tab for the S&L collapse and it will cost at least $500 billion to pay off over the next 20 years. Pontell states that at least 25 percent of their industry losses are directly attributed to fraud by their owners and mangers. This included high salaries, luxurious living amid other squandering of thrift resources in addition to outright theft.

The study found that of 580 people convicted of S&L fraud only 78 percent were ...

FL Ends Early Release

On December 9, 1994, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles announced that the state was ending its gain time program.  The program was instituted in 1987 by then Governor Bob Martinez (R) to comply with a federal court order designed to limit Floridas extreme prison overcrowding. Under the program prisoners received up to a two thirds time reduction in their sentences.

Florida state prisoners will still receive time off for good behavior, up to 25 days a month for less serious crimes and 20 days a month for serious crimes. As of September, 1994, Florida prisoners would serve 45 percent of the sentence imposed. This is up from 33% served in 1990.

The change is due mainly to Floridas massive prison building program which will add 4,000 prison beds by December 31, 1994, and another 8,000 beds by July 1, 1995. The enactment of recent sentencing guidelines [See Vol. 5, No. 5] which resulted in reducing the numbers of property and drug offenders sent to prison. In 1990,  4,000 new prisoners a month were entering the state prison system, by December 1994, that had been reduced to 2,000 per month.


by Dan Pens  

Welcome to the special 28-page 5th anniversary issue of PLN. With this issue we begin our sixth year of continuous publishing. Our first issue was ten pages, typewritten, photocopied and mailed 1st class to 75 readers. A lot has happened over five years. As we have grown, the workload has increased enormously. It has turned into a full-time job for both Paul and me. In addition, we rely on the efforts of an increasing number of volunteers to keep us going.  

A special thanks go to Dan and Sandy who have helped with the desktop publishing, mailings and a hundred other details. Thanks also to Rollin, our publisher, who manages the Florida PO Box and handles the PLN bank account. Allan does the OCR scanning, is a valuable computer consultant, and has contributed a lot of time and money to do photocopying for us. Another Dan is our gateway to the Internet. He surfs the net and downloads news items of interest for Paul and I to scan through. Dan has also helped us keep up on the activities of the legislature and is an invaluable computer consultant. Ellen contributed much of the software we use and ...

WA Prisoners Help Elect Republican

By Paul Wright

From 1981 to 1993 Jack Metcalf held office in the Washington state Senate. In 1994 he was elected on the Republican ticket to represent Washingtons second congressional district. This is a story about prison slave labor, opportunism and hypocrisy by politicians and prisoners and media collusion. Metcalf is extreme right wing even by current Republican standards. In 1987 Metcalf launched Referendum 41 challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve System. In its coverage of the referendum the Wall Street Journal commented that Metcalf was a "frequent speaker at right wing rallies and conferences across the country, [who] keeps company with gold bugs, tax protesters, and conspiracy theorists." Right wingers have long attacked the Federal Reserve as a tool of the "Jewish Banking Conspiracy."  

In 1988 Metcalf was criticized in a hate group report issued by the Center for Democratic Renewal. The report stated that Metcalf had been a speaker at the 1984 convention of the neofascist Populist Party. Readers may recall that in 1988 the Populist Party nominated David Duke for president. In 1994 Metcalf was listed on the masthead of the National Educator, an anti-Semitic and racist magazine published by James Townsend. Metcalf states he has ...

Harsher Prison Measures Opposed: "Family Values" Stop Here

By Dan Tennenbaum and Davis Oldham

Seattle WA -- On March 20th, about 30 people braved a heavy downpour and strong winds to demonstrate against state Republican efforts to curtail prisoner rights. Friends and family members of prisoners, as well as prison activists, came to the King County Jail to protest proposed legislation that would severely restrict the Extended Family Visit [EFV] program, access to televisions and weightlifting equipment, and other "privileges" accorded prisoners.  

The main target was state House Bill 2010, known as "The Omnibus Prisoner Responsibility Act" an amalgamation of several smaller bills.  

The first thing HB 2010 calls for is full employment for all prisoners and a mandatory program to bring all prisoners to the same minimum educational level. Currently, however, there isnt enough work to keep all prisoners employed full-time. The work available often pays much less than minimum wage--as low as 25 cents an hour. As for education, some is available, but what is a lifer going to do when hes already got three A.A. degrees? Under HB 2010, prisoners who cant scrape together 40 hours of work or school will be disqualified from EFVs and from owning televisions. Cable TV will not be installed ...

Armed and Dangerous

By Raymond Luc Levasseur

When I was transferred to the U.S. penitentiary in Marion, Illinois in December, 1989, Panama was being invaded by U.S. forces. Amidst the wholesale destruction, mass graves, and lies by U.S. politicians and military leaders was an awesome display of American firepower designed to impose its will on yet another Central American nation. Weapons systems from land, sea, and air were utilized, along with the basic M-16 to kill whoever stood in the line of fire. Whether technologically advanced or as simple as a grenade, this war material is made in the U.S.A.--some of it by federal prisoners.

The Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR) is one of the manufacturers that supplies military equipment to the bloated U.S. war machine. UNICOR has served this function since 1934 under contract to the War Department, now known euphemistically as the Department of Defense. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) boasts that the slave labor of prisoners, under hazardous conditions, and at an entry level wage of $.23 an hour has and continues to make significant contributions towards supplying the military's needs. It also boasts of using UNICOR to control prisoners within ...

Correction on Clinton

I am writing about the article on page 11 of the October issue of PLN (Vol.5 No.10), "Bias in Military Death Penalty."  While I agree with your prediction that Clinton will sign the death warrants [to execute military prisoners], your article stated, "As Governor of Arkansas, Clinton never granted a petition for clemency." This is not accurate.

Clinton was against the death penalty when he won his first term as Governor. During that term he granted clemency (and had released from prison) a man who [later] committed a few very brutal murders. He was lambasted by the media on this issue, and lost the bid for a second term. When he ran again and won he then supported the death penalty.

To me the above information makes his support (during the Presidential campaign) for the execution of a mentally retarded man even more contemptible because he knows better!

Bush did a similar about-face on pro-choice in 1980 when he was running for the Republican nomination. He was strongly pro-choice. As soon as Reagan got the nomination and asked him to be Vice President, he flip flopped to the anti- choice position. (I refuse to buy into the term ...

Ohio Activist Needs Help

Readers of this paper will recall my article "Spilt Milk", detailing human rights abuses at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (Luke) located in Lucasville, OH and how I was set up in retaliation for witnessing the beating of an inmate and writing about it. This retaliation was also due to my working with my Brother, Little Rock Reed, in exposing the Ohio DOCs instigation of the Easter 1993 uprising here, resulting in an l l day siege where 9 prisoners and 1 guard died.

As a result, Ohio got the FBI to arrest Little Rock in New Mexico, on a Governors Warrant, and fabricated charges against me in order to place me in isolation. Your response to this set up, combined with my unger strike, and a filing of a Motion For a Temporary Restraining Order with Federal Judge S. Arthur Spigal, resulted in a reversal of the infraction and my being released back into population.  

In the meantime, we assisted Little Rock by obtaining affidavits showing that his life would be in danger if he was returned to Ohio, as well as providing him case law. 8th Dist. Federal Judge Nelson granted Little Rocks Writ of Habeas Corpus, releasing ...


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