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Prison Legal News: September, 1996

Issue PDF
Volume 7, Number 9

In this issue:

  1. IMU Placement Implicates Due Process (p 1)
  2. Denial of Disciplinary Witnesses Upheld (p 3)
  3. Limited Interlocutory Appeals in Medical Cases (p 4)
  4. From the Editor (p 5)
  5. A Matter of Fact (p 6)
  6. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (p 7)
  7. Mass Transfer Madness (p 9)
  8. CBCC Struggle Ongoing (p 10)
  9. Phone Activist Seeks Info (p 10)
  10. Thanks from Thailand (p 10)
  11. The Price of Freedom (p 11)
  12. From the Home Front (p 11)
  13. Armed Guards in Illinois (p 11)
  14. Un-Happy Meals in Kansas (p 11)
  15. Elizabeth Alexander Named Director of ACLU National Prison Project (p 12)
  16. Washington Death Row Prisoners Get Habeas TRO (p 12)
  17. Florida Utilities Commission Refunds Phone Kickbacks (p 13)
  18. Texas Prisoners Build Their Own Cages (p 13)
  19. Challenging Evil That Ills This Society (p 14)
  20. Iowa State Court Rules on Forfeiture (p 15)
  21. BOP Phone Suit Settled (p 16)
  22. $43,410 in Attorney Fees Awarded in PC Case (p 17)
  23. NSP Double Celling Order Vacated (p 18)
  24. Supreme Court Closes Double Jeopardy Door (p 18)
  25. Warden Caught in Sex Sting (p 19)
  26. Rhode Island Fee Violates Ex Post Facto (p 19)
  27. Prisoner Has Right to Hunger Strike (p 20)
  28. Asbestos Exposure Violates Eighth Amendment (p 21)
  29. News in Brief (p 22)
  30. Job Denial Based on HIV Status May Violate ADA (p 23)

IMU Placement Implicates Due Process

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit held that an Oregon prisoner's transfer to an Intensive Management Unit (IMU) control unit may violate due process if done without procedural due process. The court also held that several control unit conditions stated a claim for constitutional violations. This ruling ...

Denial of Disciplinary Witnesses Upheld

The court of appeals for the first circuit vacated and remanded a Massachusetts district court ruling that had held that a prison policy denying witnesses from the prison's general population to segregated prisoners' disciplinary hearings was unconstitutional. Brendan McGuinness is a Massachusetts state prisoner who was infracted for allegedly ...

Limited Interlocutory Appeals in Medical Cases

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held that the law is clearly established that a heart transplant patient is entitled to reasonable medical care. Whether he actually received that care was a factual question it lacked jurisdiction to answer. In 1985 Edward Miller received a heart transplant. In ...

From the Editor

By now you should have noticed that we have a new mailing address and new subscription rates. While all mail sent to our Florida address will be processed for the next few months you will get faster results by sending all correspondence, donations, etc., to our Seattle address. The PLN ...

A Matter of Fact

The racial makeup of California prisoners is: 29% white, 33% black and 34% brown. But in California's supermax, Pelican Bay SHU, 14% are white, 17% are black and an astounding 60% are brown. In California's other SHU for male prisoners at Corcoran, 18% are white, 23% black and ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics

In the June issue of PLN, I discussed the defense of so-called "qualified immunity" that is available to public officers and employees sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This companion column discusses the other kind of immunity you may run into, so-called "absolute immunity" from a § 1983 suit. I ...

Mass Transfer Madness

by W. Wisely

On April 1, 1996, the California Department of Corrections began the first phase of its "180/270" transfer plan for Level IV prisoners. All prisoners housed in Level IV prisons have been classified for retention in either a "180" or "270" degree design facility. The initial wave ...

CBCC Struggle Ongoing

You printed "CBCC Prisoners Struggle" [in the Jan '96 PLN]. Well, prison authorities didn't like that too much. It was photocopied and passed around. It was hanging in every pod in close-custody, and the [guards] here were going around tearing it down, calling it unauthorized. Here's what's ...

Phone Activist Seeks Info

In late 1994 I asked you to publish a request for information regarding prisoners whose friends and families have had to pay for collect calls which the prisoners didn't make.

I received several replies, and ended up maintaining correspondence with one prisoner. With his help I filed suit in ...

Thanks from Thailand

Dear PLN Readers -- It's been over a year since we wrote. We received many thoughtful and kind responses from PLN readers--and we have wonderful news to share with you. Because of everyone's efforts on behalf of Americans incarcerated in Bangkok, the one kilo provision (which barred most of ...

The Price of Freedom

The Vermont DOC and its planning director Mr. John Perry, have developed a plan for charging all probationers, those under house arrest or on parole, and those who are under conditions of release of one form or another, to pay the Vermont DOC $30 per month to remain free. The ...

From the Home Front

I've been receiving PLN for a year now. I appreciate your work on behalf of prisoners and for the cause of truth telling in our society. PLN is a righteous satisfaction to read. Your editorials are especially excellently written, intelligent, articulate, radical and sane.

I think many of us ...

Armed Guards in Illinois

In the article entitled No Specific Intent Required for 8th Amendment Claim [PLN Vol. 7 No. 3], you stated that to the best of [your] knowledge, Nevada and California are the only prisons which station armed guards within their housing units. Please be advised that Illinois also has armed guards ...

Un-Happy Meals in Kansas

On May 19, 1996, the Kansas DOC turned over the kitchens of all the prisons to Canteen Correctional Services (CCS), a private for-profit contractor. It is worth noting that despite the contract to feed the prisoners, prisoner labor is still required, and the prisoner kitchen workers are paid from 60 ...

Elizabeth Alexander Named Director of ACLU National Prison Project

The American Civil Liberties Union has announced that Elizabeth Alexander was appointed director of its National Prison Project, which has been in the forefront of the battle for prisoners' rights for 25 years. She succeeds Alvin J. Bronstein, who had been director since the start of the Project in 1972 ...

Washington Death Row Prisoners Get Habeas TRO

In the August, 1996, issue of PLN we reported the passage of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (habeas law). One of the new law's provisions is that it has an option whereby a state's death penalty cases can be placed on a judicial fast ...

Florida Utilities Commission Refunds Phone Kickbacks

The June, 1996, issue of PLN reported that the contract to provide phone services to Florida state prisoners was awarded without competitive bidding in circumstances strongly suggesting corruption. Since 1987 Florida prisoners have been allowed to make collect calls to friends and families, providing the proverbial captive market to phone ...

Texas Prisoners Build Their Own Cages

Texas increased its prison population over the past ten years from 37,000 to a soon-to-be 145,000. At one point, the lack of prison space kept a backlog of 35,000 state prisoners in county jails. All told, the state paid more than $650 million in court-imposed fines because ...

Challenging Evil That Ills This Society

The September 1995 New York State Prison Strike

[The following is reprinted from Peace Newsletter, 3/96.]

Musaa has served 13 years of a 20 year sentence in the NYS penal system. He has earned three degrees with an emphasis on political science and social critique. Until last fall Musaa ...

Iowa State Court Rules on Forfeiture

The Iowa supreme court recently ruled that civil forfeiture of cash proceeds from illegal drug sales was not punishment for double jeopardy application, reversing the district court's decision that dismissed the state prosecution of a drug charge, since it occurred after the forfeiture.

The state of Iowa brought a ...

BOP Phone Suit Settled

In the March and November, 1994 and March, 1995, issues of PLN we reported developments in Washington v. Reno, a class action suit filed by federal prisoners which challenged numerous aspects of a new phone system imposed by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). (Back issues are available for $5.00 ...

$43,410 in Attorney Fees Awarded in PC Case

A federal district court in New York awarded $43,410 in attorney fees to prisoners who sued over conditions in protective custody (PC) units in the New York state prison system. The litigation involved a class action suit filed by PC prisoners in 1976. In 1986 the Department of Correctional ...

NSP Double Celling Order Vacated

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held that a district court had to reconsider prisoners' double celling claims under the supreme court's ruling in Farmer v. Brennan, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (1994). This case arises from a class action suit filed by prisoners at the Nebraska State ...

Supreme Court Closes Double Jeopardy Door

"Counsel, are you trying to show contempt for this court?"

"No, your honor, I'm doing my best to conceal it."

-- Attributed to Clarence Darrow in the Scopes "Monkey Trial"

He had a point. Some days it's tough to conceal it. What should we feel about a court that ...

Warden Caught in Sex Sting

The Superintendent of Florida's Polk Correctional Institution resigned on the night of April 11, 1996, just hours after he was charged with propositioning an undercover sheriff's deputy at a local park.

Evon Alexis Colchiski, 39, was one of the twenty men arrested during a Polk County Sheriff's ...

Rhode Island Fee Violates Ex Post Facto

A federal district court in Rhode Island held that a DOC policy imposing a monthly supervision fee on probationers convicted before enactment of the statute allowing assessment of such fees violated the ex post facto provisions of the U.S. and Rhode Island constitutions. Rhode Island general laws § 42-56-38 provide ...

Prisoner Has Right to Hunger Strike

A Florida appellate court has ruled that a prisoner has a right to refuse forced feeding or medical treatment based on an interpretation of the privacy clause of the Florida State constitution.

In late 1994 Michael V. Costello, a Florida state prisoner who was the nominal plaintiff in the state ...

Asbestos Exposure Violates Eighth Amendment

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit held that exposing prisoners to asbestos violates the eighth amendment. Clarence Wallis is an Oregon state prisoner assigned to a cleanup crew. His work detail was ordered to remove asbestos hanging off pipes, without any type of protective clothing. When prison buildings ...

News in Brief

AL: On May 15, 1996, chain gang prisoner Abraham McCord was shot and killed by guards after he allegedly attacked another prisoner with a bush axe and disregarded a warning shot.

AR: The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that prisoners doing time in the Cross county jail in Wynne used police ...

Job Denial Based on HIV Status May Violate ADA

A federal district court in Florida held that a jail's denial of trustee status to an HIV+ prisoner would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 42 U.S.C. 12131. Johnnie Dean was held in the St. Lucie County jail when he requested trustee status. Dean was HIV ...