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Prison Legal News: August, 1996

Issue PDF
Volume 7, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Supreme Court Reverses Court Access Case (p 1)
  2. ABA Wants Pro Se Litigation Info (p 4)
  3. Discovery and Proof in Police Misconduct (p 5)
  4. From the Editor (p 5)
  5. Notes from the Unrepenitentiary (p 6)
  6. Attorney Fees Awarded in Jail Suit for Attorney-Client Space (p 6)
  7. Prison Visitor Allowed to Refuse Search (p 7)
  8. A Matter of Fact (p 7)
  9. Anti-Terrorism Act Terrorizes Habeas Petitioners (p 8)
  10. Publications Review (p 10)
  11. 5th Circuit Bars Ad Seg Claims (p 10)
  12. Beating Shackled Prisoners States Claim (p 12)
  13. Canada's Prison Chief Resigns (p 12)
  14. U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Kansas Civil Commitment Case (p 13)
  15. BOP Ad Seg Rules Don't Create Liberty Interest (p 14)
  16. Women Prisoners Win Court Access Claim (p 14)
  17. New Washington Prison Needs Major Repairs (p 15)
  18. Canadian Prisoners Regain Voting Rights (p 15)
  19. Washington Money Seizure Suit Update (p 16)
  20. Wisconsin Property Policy Violates RFRA (p 17)
  21. VitaPro Update (p 18)
  22. Brig Fire Sparks Political Debate (p 18)
  23. $168,500 Awarded in Prisoner's Death (p 19)
  24. Guards' Smoke Violates Eighth Amendment (p 19)
  25. TVs for Justice (p 20)
  26. New Jersey MCU Suit Settled (p 20)
  27. Departing Visitor Cannot Be Searched -- Strip Search Okay (p 21)
  28. News in Brief (p 22)
  29. Settlement Reached in Alabama Chain Gang Suit (p 23)
  30. Photocopies Required for Court Access (p 23)

Supreme Court Reverses Court Access Case

In the June, 1995, issue of PLN we reported Casey v. Lewis, 43 F.3d 1261 (9th Cir. 1994) in which a unanimous panel of the ninth circuit court of appeals affirmed most of a lower court ruling designed to ensure Arizona prisoners' right of access to the courts. In ...

ABA Wants Pro Se Litigation Info

The Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded the American Bar Association a grant to develop a technical-assistance manual to limit the burdens of pro se prisoner litigation while maintaining prisoners' constitutional rights. The manual will include an assessment of the burdens which pro se inmate litigation is placing on courts ...

Discovery and Proof in Police Misconduct

Book Review

Review by Allan Parmelee

Litigating any issue against a police or prison official is tough based on the many loopholes built into the system for their benefit. Discovery & Proof in Police Misconduct Cases (D&PPMC) by Stephen Ryals, shows actual examples of the necessary elements of a complaint ...

From the Editor

Last month Paul announced our (much regretted) impending rate increase. A year ago we raised our Institutional rate from $35 to $50/yr, but our individual rate remained at $12/yr. This year, as of September 1, we are raising the individual rate. We are also splitting the individual rate ...

Notes from the Unrepenitentiary

[Editor's Note: With this issue of PLN we introduce a new columnist, Laura Whitehorn, whose column will appear quarterly (February, May, August, and November). Laura is an anti-imperialist prisoner of war confined in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. When most people think of imprisonment, they reflexively form a mental ...

Attorney Fees Awarded in Jail Suit for Attorney-Client Space

Criminal defense attorneys filed suit against the Washington County Jail in Oregon claiming that the space available for client consultation violated their clients right to counsel by inhibiting full and free consultation between clients and counsel; violated the attorneys' right to practice their profession according to the highest standard; and ...

Prison Visitor Allowed to Refuse Search

The court of appeals for the state of Maryland held that prison visitors cannot be searched once they agree to turn back from a guard booth; detention of a prison visitor requires probable cause based on a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the visitor has engaged in criminal activity.

Tyrone Gadson ...

A Matter of Fact

Since 1991, Ohio's corrections budget has grown by $527 million, a 110 percent increase. Ohio now spends three times more money on state prisons than it does on grade school students.

Of 20,088 Maryland prisoners in 1994, 15,457 were black -- a staggering 76.9 percent. Ninety percent ...

Anti-Terrorism Act Terrorizes Habeas Petitioners

[Editor's note: A future issue of PLN will report on the other aspects of the Counter-Terrorism bill.]

Every election year, politicians compete to be "tougher on crime" than their opponents. In the last couple of decades, federal habeas corpus has generally been spared from this battle only because judges ...

Publications Review

Periodically we like to inform our readers of other publications out there that are informative and helpful to those interested in prison issues. On the last page of each issue we plug those publications that are of interest to a national audience and focus on prisoner rights. One of the ...

5th Circuit Bars Ad Seg Claims

The court of appeals for the fifth circuit has held that in the wake of Sandin v. Connor, 115 S.Ct. 2293 (1995) administrative segregation does not constitute a deprivation of any constitutionally protected liberty interest. Rolando Pichardo is a Texas state prisoner. Prison officials placed him in administrative segregation ...

Beating Shackled Prisoners States Claim

A federal district court in Georgia held that the eighth amendment prohibits the beatings of handcuffed and shackled prisoners. Federal prison employees are not immune to state law claims of assault and battery. The case involves two federal prisoners at the US Penitentiary in Atlanta, GA. They were housed in ...

Canada's Prison Chief Resigns

The head of Canada's prison service resigned immediately after a report was released April 1, 1996, about the abuse of female prisoners at the Kingston Prison for Women in April of 1994. "I have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership would be the best course of ...

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Kansas Civil Commitment Case

In 1990, the year PLN began publishing, the Washington State legislature passed the country's first civil commitment law. Dubbed the 'Sexual Predator Law," it empowered the state to institute civil proceedings against prisoners nearing the end of their terms of confinement. The civil proceeding is used to determine if ...

BOP Ad Seg Rules Don't Create Liberty Interest

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) rules do not create a liberty interest in federal prisoners not being placed in administrative segregation and once in segregation federal prisoners are not entitled to periodic reviews or hearings on their status. Jerome Crowder ...

Women Prisoners Win Court Access Claim

Past issues of PLN have reported the class action suit filed by women prisoners in Nebraska concerning a wide range of prison conditions. See: Klinger v. Nebraska DOC, 824 F. Supp. 1374 (D NE 1993); 31 F.3d 727 (8th Cir. 1994) and 887 F. Supp. 1281 (D NE 1995 ...

New Washington Prison Needs Major Repairs

Washington's newest prison, Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC), constructed in 1993 at a cost of $113 million, was originally slated to open in November, 1993, but the Washington DOC decided to delay opening the prison for nearly a year in order to save money in operating costs. [See: "Airway ...

Canadian Prisoners Regain Voting Rights

On December 27, 1995, Canadian prisoners won another round in an on-going legal battle for their fundamental right to vote in Canadian federal elections. A Canadian federal court declared unconstitutional the latest federal ban on prisoner voting. The Canadian government plans to appeal the ruling.

This latest ruling follows on ...

Washington Money Seizure Suit Update

In the June, 1996, issue of PLN we reported that Washington prisoners at Clallam Bay had protested the implementation of a statute which will seize 35% of all funds received by prisoners from sources outside prison. In the August, 1995, issue of PLN we reported that the Washington legislature had ...

Wisconsin Property Policy Violates RFRA

A federal district court in Wisconsin held that a state DOC policy sharply restricting prisoner property violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) when it prohibits prisoners from wearing religious jewelry. The court held that the policy did not violate the RFRA in that it restricted the number of publications ...

VitaPro Update

Over the past year PLN has published several articles about events revolving around a $33.7 million contract between the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and Canadian-based VitaPro Foods, Inc. Since our last report, several developments have come to light.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that Montreal businessman Yank Barr ...

Brig Fire Sparks Political Debate

On March 29, 1996, several "illegal aliens" allegedly used electrical wire to ignite toilet paper, sheets and mattresses at a military brig at Miramar Naval Air Station in California. The resulting fire, and especially the smoke, created havoc. Panicked prisoners began to riot.

"What they did not calculate is that ...

$168,500 Awarded in Prisoner's Death

Gregory Stampley, 46, was convicted in 1993 of kidnapping and making terroristic threats. He was sentenced to eight years and sent to the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater. Prison doctors who examined him diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, aggressive-personality disorder and bipolar disorder.

According to court documents, on Jan. 13 or 14 ...

Guards' Smoke Violates Eighth Amendment

A federal district court in Illinois held that a guard deliberately blowing smoke into the face of a prisoner with respiratory ailments violates the eighth amendment. Clarence Walker is a 65 year old Illinois state prisoner who has emphysema, asthma and diabetes, among other medical problems. Walker went to the ...

TVs for Justice

According to a Tulsa newspaper, Oklahoma prisoner Bruce Hawkins filed a suit in which he claimed he was assaulted and abused by prison guards and then denied medical treatment. Federal district court judge Ralph Thompson held there was no merit to the case and ordered Hawkins to pay $5,567 ...

New Jersey MCU Suit Settled

On December 22, 1995, the federal district court in New Jersey signed a settlement order dismissing a class action suit filed by prisoners in New Jersey's Management Control Unit (MCU). The plaintiff class in the suit was composed of all black prisoners in the MCU since 1990. The settlement ...

Departing Visitor Cannot Be Searched -- Strip Search Okay

In the February, 1995, issue of PLN we reported Spear v. Sowders, 33 F.3d 576 (6th Cir. 1994) in which the court of appeals for the sixth circuit held that both the strip search and the car search of a prison visitor were unconstitutional and their unconstitutionality was clearly ...

News in Brief

CA: On May 10, 1996, El Cajon jail guard Gerald Thomas Williams was sentenced to a year in jail for having sex with a 14 year old girl he met on the Internet. Williams used the nickname "Lonely Me" when he met the girl in an on-line "chatroom."

CA: On ...

Settlement Reached in Alabama Chain Gang Suit

A year after Alabama became the first state in the nation to revive the use of chain gangs, state officials have agreed to end the practice permanently. As this issue goes to press details are sketchy and it is unclear whether the state has agreed to abandon chain gangs altogether ...

Photocopies Required for Court Access

A federal district court in Ohio held that a prison policy which charges prisoners 35 cents per copy and does not allow a credit system violates prisoners' right of access to the courts. Scott Giles, an Ohio state prisoner, filed suit challenging the Ohio prison system's practice of charging ...