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Prison Legal News: May, 1995

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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.] ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...


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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...