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Prison Legal News: August, 1995

Issue PDF
Volume 6, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Supreme Court Guts Due Process for Prisoners (p 1)
  2. Pelican Bay Ruling Issued (p 3)
  3. WA Passes Record Anti-Prisoner/Defendant Legislation (p 9)
  4. IFP Dismissal Reversed (p 13)
  5. Martinez Hearing Reversed (p 14)
  6. INS Deportation Hearings Required Prior to Release (p 14)
  7. Qualified Immunity RA Defense (p 14)
  8. Shackled Litigant Denied Due Process (p 15)
  9. ID Rider Program Creates Liberty Interest (p 15)
  10. 8th Amendment Discussed (p 16)
  11. Outgoing Mail Censorship Illegal (p 17)
  12. Translators Required for Medical Interviews (p 17)
  13. Detainees Entitled to Non-Punitive Conditions (p 17)
  14. No Immunity for Smoke Exposure (p 18)
  15. OR DOC To Ban Smoking (p 19)
  16. Hearing No Substitute for Trial (p 19)
  17. Fear Constitutes Actual Injury (p 20)
  18. From The Editor (p 20)
  19. News in Brief (p 21)
  20. Police, Death and Inquests (p 21)
  21. From Senegal in Struggle (p 23)

Supreme Court Guts Due Process for Prisoners

On June 20, 1995, the supreme court issued its five to four ruling in Sandin v. Conner. The ruling appears to be the most devastating legal setback prisoners have suffered in the Supreme Court since Turner v. Safley was decided in 1987. In doing so the court abandoned, without specifically ...

Pelican Bay Ruling Issued

One prisoner publication hailed it as "A Moral Victory for Prisoners." The headline in a correctional trade magazine proclaimed "State Wins Pelican Bay Suit." Interpreting the 345-page Madrid v. Gomez opinion is difficult at best, and as shown by the contrasting headlines above, a reader's interpretation can easily be swayed ...

WA Passes Record Anti-Prisoner/Defendant Legislation

By Paul Wright

In the March, 1995, issue of PLN I gave a rundown on most of the anti-prisoner and defendant legislation then pending in the legislature. After we had gone to press for that issue Ida Ballasiotes, the rabid chair of the House Acorrections committee (See PLN, March, 1995,) ...

IFP Dismissal Reversed

District courts reviewing a plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) must first review the complaints and decide whether they are legally or factually frivolous before they can demand partial payment of the filing fees. Bonnie McCaslin, a Nebraska state prisoner, filed nineteen lawsuits simultaneously and requested IFP status ...

Martinez Hearing Reversed

The tenth circuit has approved a process whereby district courts conduct hearings to develop the record and determine whether there is any legal or factual basis to claims brought by pro se prisoner litigants. See: Martinez v. Aaron, 570 F.2d 317 (10th Cir. 1978). In this ruling the court specifically ...

INS Deportation Hearings Required Prior to Release

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a lower court decision that denied relief to an alien inmate convicted of an aggravated felony who claimed the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was not taking steps to give him an expedited deportation hearing. The decision in Garcia v. ...

Qualified Immunity RA Defense

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit has held that the affirmative defense of qualified immunity is available to government officials sued under the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. '794(a). McKinley Lue is a blind Missouri state prisoner who filed suit claiming he was given inadequate medical care and ...

Shackled Litigant Denied Due Process

The court of appeals for the second circuit has reaffirmed that trial courts deny pro se litigants a fair trial when litigants are shackled before the Jury and no hearing on the need for restraints is held. Ronald Davidson is a New York state prisoner who sued prison officials for ...

ID Rider Program Creates Liberty Interest

The ninth circuit has held that prisoners have a due process liberty interest in accurate and reliable rehabilitation reports. In 1972 Idaho created the ARider Program@ whereby convicted felons were sent to prison to be evaluated for potential release on probation, the sentencing court retained jurisdiction for a 120-180 day ...

8th Amendment Discussed

In a lengthy ruling a district court in Iowa gave an extensive discussion of the history of the eighth amendment and numerous cases regarding its application to medical neglect cases. This case is useful not so much for the facts or issues presented in the underlying case but because of ...

Outgoing Mail Censorship Illegal

A district court has reaffirmed the long-standing principle that the censorship of outgoing prisoner mail rarely implicates prison security interests. Donald Gee, a Wyoming state prisoner, wrote a letter to his brother about his conditions of confinement, that he was being retaliated against by prison officials and that he might ...

Translators Required for Medical Interviews

Pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners held in the Kern County, CA jail filed a class action suit challenging the jail's use of padded safety cells for violent and suicidal prisoners and other jail conditions. The district court held that the safety cells, consisting of bare cells with no furniture and ...

Detainees Entitled to Non-Punitive Conditions

Pretrial detainees, who have not been convicted of any crimes, may not be punished in any manner. This includes housing them in jail conditions that could be construed as punitive. Dale Miller filed suit over conditions at the Cook County (Chicago) Jail. He claimed that jail cells lacked adequate ventilation ...

No Immunity for Smoke Exposure

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has affirmed a lower court ruling denying prison officials qualified immunity from money damages for exposing a prisoner to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). George Weaver, a Nebraska state prisoner, was placed in a cell with a heavy smoker. He complained to prison ...

OR DOC To Ban Smoking

The Oregon DOC has announced plans to ban smoking in all its facilities by October 1, 1995. The ban will be implemented in a four phase plan which gradually limits, then eliminates, the areas in which prisoners may smoke. The DOC will offer smokers educational material and classes on how ...

Hearing No Substitute for Trial

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit has held that a district court evidentiary hearing cannot serve as a substitute for a full trial, doing so violates a prisoner's seventh amendment right to a jury trial. Harold Hobbs, an Arkansas state prisoner, was held in solitary confinement under orders ...

Fear Constitutes Actual Injury

A district court in Illinois has held that the fear a prisoner experiences when attacked by another prisoner, in the absence of any physical injury, is sufficient injury to state a claim for compensatory damages under section 1983. Anthony Jones is an Illinois state prisoner in protective custody. He claimed ...

From The Editor

From the Editor

By Paul Wright

Welcome to another issue of PLN. Readers may recall that in the July, 1994, issue we ran an article concerning the suit filed by Ed Mead (PLN's former co-editor) and myself against the Washington state parole board. After being released from prison in 1993 ...

News in Brief

Canada: On May 10, 1995, a government panel investigating why more than 11,000 Canadians, most of them hemophiliacs, contracted AIDS and hepatitis in the 1980's, announced that it had traced the illness to blood products made with blood from Arkansas state prisoners, many of whom later tested positive for the ...

Police, Death and Inquests

David Urban, 35 years old, was serving a 30-day sentence in the Winnebago County Jail in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when, at 1:00 pm on January 13, he began complaining to guards that he felt ill and needed medical attention. The sheriff's deputies who run the jail thought Urban was faking. Twenty ...

From Senegal in Struggle

The West-African state of Senegal was created by it's former French colonial rulers, who upon  granting "Independance" to the country, set up a puppet government subservient to both its  former French masters and the multinational corporations, who perpetuate the looting of  Senegal's raw materials and exploitation of cheap labor as ...