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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: December, 1997

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Volume 8, Number 12

In this issue:

  1. Massachusetts Prisoner PAC Assailed by Governor, DOC (p 1)
  2. Prisoner PAC Announces Formation (p 2)
  3. Trial Required in Retaliation Claim (p 3)
  4. Arizona Holiday Package Decree Modified (p 3)
  5. Supreme Court Rulings Trickle Down: Washington Civil Commitment (p 5)
  6. From the Editor (p 5)
  7. Supreme Court Rulings Trickle Down: WA Good Time (p 5)
  8. Arizona Death Row Chain Gang Killing (p 5)
  9. Supreme Court Rulings Trickle Down: RFRA (p 5)
  10. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Summary Judgments) (p 6)
  11. Ohio Overtime Gravy (p 7)
  12. Leon County Employees Replaced by Slaves (p 7)
  13. Private Prisons Cheaper? (p 8)
  14. Jury Awards $201,501 to Raped Indiana Prisoner (p 8)
  15. AEDPA Applies to Prison Disciplinary Hearings (p 9)
  16. The Poor Get Poorer - The Rich Get Prisons (p 9)
  17. Uprisings in New York State Prisons (p 10)
  18. A Matter of Fact (p 11)
  19. NJ Guards Threaten Walkout Over Vests (p 11)
  20. Second Circuit Approves Disciplinary Hearing Surcharge (p 12)
  21. Utah Prisoners May Build Own Cages (p 12)
  22. AA Still Violates the Establishment Clause (p 13)
  23. U.S. and Russia Reaching Record Levels of Incarceration (p 13)
  24. Eleventh Circuit Approves and Applies the PLRA (p 14)
  25. Fifth Circuit Rules on Appeals to Denials of IFP Status (p 15)
  26. D.C. Prisoners Win No Smoking Injunction (p 16)
  27. More Ohio Jail Construction Corruption (p 17)
  28. Frivolous State Litigation (p 17)
  29. GAO Reports Available: Private and Public Prisons (p 18)
  30. GAO Reports Available: Federal and State Prisons (p 18)
  31. Pepper Spray Report (p 18)
  32. New York State Drug Sentencing Report (p 18)
  33. The Abuse of U.S. Women Prisoners (p 19)
  34. Qualified Immunity in Failure to Protect Claim (p 20)
  35. Montana Prisoners Have Liberty Interest in Classification Hearings (p 21)
  36. WA Officials Liable for Seizing Court Tape (p 21)
  37. VI Decree Modification Denied Under PLRA, DOC Held in Contempt (p 22)
  38. CCA Unveils Aggressive New Marketing Ploy (p 23)
  39. Federal Jail in NYC a Mob Social Club? (p 23)
  40. Peruvian Prisoners Rebel (p 24)
  41. Washington Sex Offender Notification Enjoined (p 25)
  42. DC DOC Official Convicted of Contempt (p 25)
  43. New Jersey Jail Brutality Settlement (p 26)
  44. Man Jailed for Saying 'No' to TB Drugs (p 26)
  45. Prisoner Awarded $30,001 in Beating Suit (p 27)
  46. More Evidence Required in Retaliatory Infractions (p 27)
  47. Counselor Liable in Failure to Protect Claim (p 28)
  48. Americans with Disability Act Applies to Jails (p 28)
  49. Alabama AG Moves to Dissolve 17 Consent Decrees (p 29)
  50. Knowledge of Risk May Establish 8th Amendment Liability (p 29)
  51. News in Brief (p 30)

Massachusetts Prisoner PAC Assailed by Governor, DOC

In mid-August, Acting Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci personally directed prison guards to conduct a shakedown of several state prisons. And what contraband were the guards instructed to root out? Weapons? Drugs? No, something much more sinister and threatening to public safety -- voter registration cards! Campaign literature!

Massachusetts is one of four states (along with Maine, Utah, and Vermont) with a state constitution allowing prisoners the vote. So it seemed natural for Joe Labriola, who is chairman of the Norfolk [state prison] Lifers Group, Inc., to decide that prisoners, their families, and supporters should engage in the political process by formally registering with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance to form a PAC.

Gauging from the reaction, however, to this seemingly trivial application of civic responsibility, you'd have thought that several battalions of armed revolutionaries had battled their way out of Massachusetts' prisons and were marching down Boston's Commonwealth Avenue bent on burning the state capitol.

Soon after word got out that prisoners were forming a PAC, the brouhaha began. Acting governor Celluci -- who stepped into the position after former-governor William Weld resigned and rode off to Washington in search of an Ambassadorship to Mexico -- called a ...

Prisoner PAC Announces Formation

We are proud to announce the creation of the Massachusetts Prisoners Association, a newly registered Political Action Committee working on behalf of the more than 20,000 prisoners currently confined within the Massachusetts Prisons and Houses of Correction and their family members, addressing the concerns of prisoners in the political arena.

In the coming months, the Association will be working on voter registration efforts to assist each and every eligible prisoner and family member to get registered to vote in the upcoming 1998 elections, as well as to encourage each prisoner and family member to participate in the electoral process. Additionally, we will be providing educational material to our members, informing them of the voting records of incumbent elected officials with respect to their stand on prisoner issues and public safety concerns.

As a registered Political Action Committee we are allowed to financially assist candidates for political office. It is our intention to support for political office any and all candidates no matter their political party affiliation, provided that they have either proven through their past performance that they have listened to the concerns of prisoners and their family members, or have shown a willingness to listen to both sides ...

Trial Required in Retaliation Claim

A federal district court in New York held prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity in a prisoner's lawsuit claiming he was retaliated against for suing them and that a trial was required to resolve the claims. Nathan Brown, a New York state prisoner, filed suit claiming prison guards harassed, threatened and race-baited him in retaliation for filing administrative grievances. The defendants moved for summary judgment which the court granted in part and denied in part.

"It is clear that threats directed at an inmate because he has filed administrative or judicial complaints violate the inmate's First Amendment rights and are actionable under §1983." The court noted that threats of physical harm to prisoners if they persist in judicial or administrative complaints are an impermissible restriction on the right of access to the courts. It is not necessary that the prisoner succumb to such threats in order to file suit. "It is enough that the threat was intended to impose a limitation upon the prisoner's right of access to the court and was reasonably calculated to that effect."

The court held Brown had not stated an eighth amendment claim against any of the defendants, so these ...

Arizona Holiday Package Decree Modified

In the June, 1997, issue of PLN we reported the lengthy, tortured history of efforts by the Arizona DOC to eliminate holiday packages [On the Edge of Midnight]. The ruling cited in that article, Hook v. State of Arizona, 98 F.3d 1177 (9th Cir. 1997) has been withdrawn on the parties' motion for rehearing.

A 1973 consent decree set forth a comprehensive policy on the items Arizona prisoners could receive through the mail. This included three 25 pound food packages at Christmas. In 1992 the AZ DOC filed a motion to modify the decree to eliminate the food packages. The district court delayed ruling on the motion until 1995 while the parties engaged in settlement negotiations. During that period the court appointed a special master to monitor the DOC's compliance with the decree and their violations of the decree. When settlement discussions broke down the court ruled on the parties' motions and denied the DOC's motion to modify the decree and eliminate the food packages and granted the prisoners' motion to modify the decree to allow hot pots in their cells with which to cook food received in the food packages. The court of appeals affirmed in ...

Supreme Court Rulings Trickle Down: Washington Civil Commitment

Washington Civil Commitment La.: In the November, 1995, issue of PLN we reported Young v. Weston, 898 F. Supp. 744 (WD WA 1995) where a district court in Washington struck down as unconstitutional that state's civil commitment law. The case was on appeal when the supreme court decided Hendricks v. Kansas, 117 S. Ct. (1997) [PLN Aug. 1997]. The ninth circuit remanded Young to the district court for reconsideration in light of Hendricks. See: Young v. Weston, 122 F.3d 38 (9th Cir. 1997).

From the Editor

Greetings and welcome to another issue. Last May, PLN received two $10,000 grants to use for outreach mailings of sample issues to attract new subscribers. From May through November we printed and mailed an average of 7,000 extra copies per month. The resulting new subscription orders have not been numerous enough for us to have achieved our goal of doubling PLN's circulation. In order to accomplish that feat, we'll need to continue sample mailings through May of 1998.

The outreach mailings eat up money fast. But because most PLN subscribers renew, the cash we pour into outreach mailings isn't going into a sinkhole. It's an investment in PLN's long-term viability.

As of this writing, we have expended all of the grant money. In order to continue the sample mailings through May of next year, we'll have to rely on reader donations and new subscriptions. I think we can do it. And when I say "we" I am including the entire PLN family of editors, staff, volunteers, and subscribers.

If you have not already, you will soon receive PLN's annual fundraiser letter. Please watch for it and donate generiously. One of the ...

Supreme Court Rulings Trickle Down: WA Good Time

In the February, 1996, issue of PLN we reported Gotcher v. Wood, 66 F.3d 1097 (9th Cir. 1995) where the ninth circuit held that Washington prisoners have a protected liberty interest in their good time credits. The supreme court vacated Gotcher at 117 S.Ct. 1840 (1997) [PLN, July, 1997]. On remand, the ninth circuit ruled, in its entirety:

"The court has reconsidered its holding in Gotcher..., in light of Edwards v. Balisok, 117 S.Ct. 1584 (1997). We agree with Wood that Edwards forecloses Gotcher's entire compensatory claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because we do not reach the issue of whether Gotcher has a protectable liberty interest in receiving good time credits or remaining free of disciplinary segregation, we deny Gotcher's request to republish parts of our earlier decision. The district court's dismissal of Gotcher's claim is AFFIRMED." See: Gotcher v. Wood, 122 F.3d 39 (9th Cir. 1997).

In effect this ruling leaves Gotcher with no remedy for his claim that his good time credits were illegally seized as he has been out of prison for several years, having spent an additional 30 days in prison as a result of the ...

Arizona Death Row Chain Gang Killing

PLN has previously reported how the death row chain gang in Arizona has resulted in numerous incidents of violence, including prisoners being wounded by shotgun blasts to quell fighting.

On July 9, 1997, the violence took a bizarre and deadly turn. On that date, Rebecca Lynn Thornton, 38, who had recently moved to Arizona from Tacoma, Wash., and six months earlier in a prison ceremony married death row prisoner Floyd Bennet Thornton, Jr., 36, was killed by a prison guard.

Rebecca Thornton drove up to the chain link fence topped with razor wire which runs along the field where her husband labored on the chain gang at the Florence state prison. Through her car window she opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle then stepped from her vehicle firing with a pistol. As prisoners and guards scattered, her husband ran towards her, being wounded in the process by guards shooting rubber bullets. At the fence, according to ADOC spokeswoman Camilla Strongin, Thornton yelled to his wife, "Shoot me! I'm sorry things went wrong. Shoot me. Shoot me." His new bride took aim at him and fired. He later died at a local hospital. A guard then gunned down Rebecca ...

Supreme Court Rulings Trickle Down: RFRA

In the April, 1997, issue we reported the seventh circuit's ruling in O'Leary v. Mack, 80 F.3d 1175 (7th Cir. 1996) where the appeals court interpreted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The U.S. supreme court has vacated that ruling for reconsideration in light of City of Boerne v. Flores, 117 S.Ct. 2157 (1997) [PLN. Sep. 1997] which struck down as unconstitutional the RFRA. See: O'Leary v. Mack, 66 USLW. 3218 (10-7-97).

Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Summary Judgments)

By John Midgley

A tool used in many prison and jail cases, especially by defendants, is a summary judgment motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. If you lose a summary judgment motion brought by the defendant, you have lost your case (unless you can get the summary judgment ruling reversed on appeal). Therefore, it is very important that pro se prisoners know how to deal with summary judgment motions.

This is the first of two columns about summary judgment.

This column discusses summary judgment motions in general, the role of discovery in defending against summary judgment motions, and what is a "material fact" under the summary judgment rules. The next column will discuss what a "genuine issue" of material fact is under the summary judgment rules, and what materials and procedures are necessary to show a "genuine issue." In both columns, I will refer to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 as "Rule 56."

1. Summary Judgment Generally

Rule 56 provides for summary judgment by motion. "Summary judgment" means judgment made without the need for a trial and without waiting for a trial. Rule 56(c) provides that if a summary judgment motion is made, summary judgment shall ...

Ohio Overtime Gravy

According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch, overtime pay for Ohio state employees is expected to reach an all-time high of $72 million in 1997. Among the 68 Ohio state agencies, employees of the state's burgeoning prison system account for $23.7 million, about a third of the total.

A large portion of that overtime gravy, however, goes to pay guards while they are not even working. Ohio prison guards are required to attend a roll call meeting 10 minutes before their shift begins. However, they receive 30 minutes of overtime pay for showing up 10 minutes early. Guards, whose pay averages $10 an hour, get $75 in extra roll call gravy for five overtime hours every two weeks.

Leon County Employees Replaced by Slaves

Leon County, Florida, sheriff Larry Campbell beamed with pride as he watched one of his campaign promises come true. Fourteen zebra-striped prisoners filed onto a bus waiting to take them to their first day of forced labor clearing brush along county roads. Campbell was especially proud of the lurid black and white striped convict uniforms, saying that he hopes the outfits will be a deterrent for people who might commit the kind of crimes that land them in jail.

"I don't want people working for an honest living being confused with prisoners," he said. "I don't want these [prisoners] to like these suits. I think it's going to be in the best interests of the citizens overall."

The prisoners will take the place of 10 county public works jobs slots resulting from a hiring freeze lasting more than a year. In order to avoid the appearance of "people working for an honest living" being replaced by unpaid slaves in striped suits, the public works jobs were eliminated through "normal attrition," explained Jesse Sasser, director of operations for the Leon County Department of Public Works.

The county will save about $224,000 a year. For the same duties ...

Private Prisons Cheaper?

The New Mexico state DOC contends that Corrections Corporation of America has overcharged the state by nearly $2 million since the CCA-operated Women's Correctional Facility at Grants N.M. opened some eight years ago. State officials also say that CCA is not living up to a deal struck in the 1997 legislative session to lower costs at the Grants prison.

CCA bills the state $95 a day for most of the women it imprisons at the Grants facility, about double what the state pays to house overflow New Mexico male prisoners in Texas rent-a-jails.

"Frankly, it's absurd," NM DOC chief Rob Perry said of the CCA rate.

But CCA denies there have been any overcharges in the past, and corporate PR flack Susan Hart said the company "did not agree to any sort of price decrease" for the 1997 fiscal year.

CCA claims the higher rate it charges at the Grants prison is due to extra services needed by female prisoners and a high debt service on the prison. CCA says that $22 per prisoner per day is assessed to service the debt.

"We are continuing discussions with both the corrections department and the legislative finance committee and ...

Jury Awards $201,501 to Raped Indiana Prisoner

By John Emry

Graylon Bell was placed in the Plainfield Correctional Facility operated by the Indiana Department of Correction in January of 1994. Shortly after, another prisoner, Grady Vaxter, started hitting on Bell hinting Vaxter was interested in Bell and wanting Bell to cooperate. Bell did what he could to ...

AEDPA Applies to Prison Disciplinary Hearings

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), Public Law No. 104-132, which amended the federal habeas corpus statutes, applies to habeas petitions challenging prison disciplinary hearings. The court also held Indiana prisoners have a state created liberty interest in their good time credits.

Norman Sweeney is an Indiana state prisoner who was infracted and found guilty of tampering with the lock on his cell door. After exhausting his administrative remedies Sweeney filed a petition for habeas corpus claiming his right to due process was violated when the disciplinary hearing officer denied him witnesses and documentary evidence. The district court denied relief and the appeals court affirmed.

The court of appeals relied on Meeks v. McBride, 81 F.3d 717, 719 (7th Cir. 1996)[PLN, May, 1996] which held "Under Indiana law, state prison inmates have a protected liberty interest in earned time credits.... The state may not deprive inmates of good time credits without following constitutionally adequate procedures to insure that the credits are not arbitrarily rescinded." Thus, under Sandin v. Connor, 115 S.Ct. 2293 (1995)[PLN, Aug. 1995] the court held Sweeney was entitled to due process ...

The Poor Get Poorer - The Rich Get Prisons

Wall Street recently celebrated an initial public offering (IPO) and welcomed the addition of a spanking new growth-oriented corporation: CCA Prison Realty Trust.

This Nashville-based corporation is a spin-off of the world's largest private prison corporation -- another Wall Street darling, Corrections Corporation of America -- whose stock is one of the top performers on the NYSE (doubling in value in just the first six months of 1997). CCA Prison Realty Trust is the nation's first real estate investment trust (REIT) that will focus solely on buying prisons.

As reported by Gregg Wirth in Left Business Observer, CCA Prison Realty sold 18.5 million shares in its IPO, 1.5 million more than originally planned, at a price of $21 a share, a dollar above initial projections, so hot was Wall Street for a piece of the imprisonment action. The deal was underwritten by investment bank J.C. Bradford & Company, also based in Nashville, and a fleet of co-managing firms, including heavyweights Lehman Brothers and PainWebber.

In a research paper, Equitable Securities (yet another Nashville firm), estimated that the U.S. prison population will reach 3.5 million over the next ten years, more than double the 1995 warm-body count of 1.6 million prisoners. In an SEC filing in advance of the IPO, Equitable Securities wrote: "As a result of the number of crimes committed each year and the corresponding number of arrests, incarceration costs generally grow faster than any other part of a government's budget. In an attempt to address these pressures, government agencies responsible for the operation of correctional and detention facilities are increasingly privatizing such facilities."

The malodorous language of corporate profiteering on the commodification of the imprisoned is bad enough. But as Wirth points out in LBO, the real stench of this IPO rises from the revelation that CCA Prison Realty will make its first incestuous purchase of nine prisons from its parent corporation, Corrections Corporation of America, for $308.1 million. Unsurprisingly, many of the top executives of CCA are also running CCA Prison Realty. Doctor R. Crants, CEO of CCA, is also chairman of CCA Prison Realty. While some Wall Street analysts pointed out this apparent conflict of interest, that didn't deter eager investors from scooping up the shares.

CCA Prison Realty will hand over $308.1 million -- cash to its parent and then lease the nine prisons back to CCA. With the $80 million left over, CCA Prison Realty will be shopping for more prisons -- most likely from CCA, which has five new prisons under construction.

And CCA, flush with over $300 million in cash, will be looking to boldly expand the frontiers of prison privatization, no doubt lobbying state and federal lawmakers for tougher crime bills and longer sentences in the process.

Left Business Observer (ISSN 1042-0134), the principal source for this article, is available for $22/yr ($55/yr for institutional/high income) from: LBO; 250 W 85 Street; New York, NY 10024-3217. Doug Henwood's book, Wall Street, can be ordered by calling 1-800-233-4830, or by visiting a bookstore.

Uprisings in New York State Prisons

By Julia Lutsky

Brutality by guards lay behind a major uprising at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in upstate New York in July 1997. Josea Benefield, a 22 year-old African-American prisoner in solitary confinement was reported to have hung himself with a bed sheet on Thursday, July 17. He had been scheduled for release on parole in 90 days. Former prisoners say there is nothing from which to hang anything in "the box" -- only a bed and minimal toilet facilities. There is not even a light switch; cell lighting is controlled from the outside. The following day prisoners demonstrated rejection of the official explanation by dressing identically in their "full green" and staging food strikes at both lunch and supper.

During the afternoon of July 18 at least 100 prisoners witnessed the open beating of a handcuffed prisoner, and later, after the supper hour when they were congregated in the recreation yard, the beating of another prisoner. At this second beating, a number of prisoners attacked the guard. Over a hundred guards were brought in from nearby prisons and, by the time control was returned to the administration, 10 guards had been hurt. The New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS ...

A Matter of Fact

The U.S. adult population increased 19 percent from 1980-95 (from 163.5 million to 194 million), while the U.S. adult prison population increased 237 percent during the same period (from 319,598 to 1,078,545).

According to Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) figures, "drug offenders" constituted 26 percent of all state and federal prisoners in 1993, whereas this segment accounted for only 8 percent of all prisoners in 1980.

According to Robert Gangi, Executive Director of New York's Correctional Association, more than 21,500 drug offenders were locked up in New York state prisons under the state's tough mandatory sentencing laws.

The 1996 payroll for Ohio state workers topped $2.35 billion. Salaries and overtime helped at least 109 state workers earn more than $100,000 in 1996. All but three of the state's 42 highest-paid employees were either psychiatrists or physicians working in Ohio prisons. While doctors dominated the highest-paying positions, prison guards accounted for the largest share of overtime.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that between l99l and 1996, 184 visitors and 13 prison employees were arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into prisons. The amounts smuggled by visitors are usually ...

NJ Guards Threaten Walkout Over Vests

On July 31, 1997, New Jersey state prisons were locked down after a guard was fatally stabbed and angry union leaders told guards for the next shift not to report for work unless the state agreed to purchase body armor vests.

Bayside State Prison guard Fred Baker, 35, was stabbed once in the back with a handmade weapon similar to an ice pick while sitting at a desk in a common area leading to a courtyard. New Jersey state prisoner Steven Beverly, 38, was charged with murder, aggravated assault, and weapons charges. The killing was the first of a guard in the state prison system since 1972.

Within hours of the attack, the union representing 5,000 NJ prison guards urged members not to report to work for the day's second shift unless the state agreed to provide "knife-resistant protective vests."

Two hours later, NJ governor Christie Whitman ordered the immediate purchase of 6,500 vests. The cost was estimated at between $2.6 and $2.8 million.

According to Police Benevolent Association Local 105 president Thomas Little, if the vests had been ordered when the union demanded them following the non-fatal stabbing of a Riverfront State Prison guard ...

Second Circuit Approves Disciplinary Hearing Surcharge

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that the imposition of a mandatory surcharge against prisoners found guilty of certain rule violations did not violate due process, that the failure to provide a hardship waiver for indigents did not violate equal protection, and that the surcharge satisfied a legitimate penological purpose. The court declined to address whether there was a proper statutory basis for the surcharge. The court further decided that withholding a portion of prisoner wages does not violate due process, the takings clause, nor the contract clause of the federal constitution.

In December, 1991, the New York DOCS promulgated a regulation imposing a mandatory five dollar surcharge on prisoners adjudicated guilty at Tier II and III disciplinry hearings. This surcharge was implemented "to help balance the state's budget and to defray the costs of the disciplinary process."

As of January 1, 1992, the DOCS implemented a new policy mandating that 20 percent of prisoners' wages be withheld over a period of fifteen weeks. This pay lag was intended to ensure that prisoners would have at least $40 available to them upon their release from prison.

In 1992 and 1993 numerous prisoners confined to Green Haven ...

Utah Prisoners May Build Own Cages

In a 1997 Utah state budget bill, the legislature directed that an "inmate construction and building maintenance" program be developed.

"The purpose of this program should be to expand inmate employment in construction-related fields in order to provide training for the inmate and a cost savings to the state," according to the bill.

As a result of that legislation, an 18-member committee was impaneled to study the issue. The committee issued its draft report in May. The report's recommendations include constructing a facility at the Draper prison that would manufacture precast concrete panels, and a metal fabrication plant where prisoners would make cell furniture and fixtures. Finally, work crews of prisoners would be used on-site for specific portions of construction.

"Throughout the committee meetings,'' the draft report said, "members were sensitive to possible concerns that private-sector businesses and workers might be negatively impacted by utilization of inmates in prison construction. It appeared, however, that there was broad support for expanding the Department of Corrections involvement in prison construction utilizing inmate labor."

Utah correctional industries director Richard Clasby said Utah's current construction boom, including the massive rebuilding of Interstate 15 through Salt Lake county, has blunted any competitive jockeying ...

AA Still Violates the Establishment Clause

A federal district court in New York reaffirmed its earlier decision holding that a condition of probation requiring an atheist to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. A nominal damage award of $1 was reinstated.

This case was initially reported in the July 1995 ...

U.S. and Russia Reaching Record Levels of Incarceration

A new 59-nation study by The Sentencing Project reveals that Russia and the United States have reached record levels of incarceration and are far ahead of other nations in their use of imprisonment.

The study also found that a 92% increase in the U.S. rate of incarceration had little overall impact on crime rates in the ten-year period between 1985 and 1995. Despite declines in crime in the last several years, overall crime rates in 1995 remained virtually the same as in 1985 and violent crime was up by 23%.

Although the study focused on the 1985-95 decade, an analysis of preliminary crime data for 1996 indicates that while murder rates declined by 8% since 1985, overall crime rates remained essentially unchanged and violent crime was still higher by 14%.

While incarceration has some impact on crime, according to the report, the declines of the past several years are also related to more recent factors, including changes in the drug trade, demographics, policing strategies, and community behaviors.

The study, "Americans Behind Bars: U.S. and International Rates of Incarceration, 1995," is the fourth in a series conducted by The Sentencing Project since 1991. The study found that the rate ...

Eleventh Circuit Approves and Applies the PLRA

By James Quigley

The court of appeals for the eleventh circuit held that the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) apply to cases pending prior to its enactment; that the filing fee requirements of the Act do not violate equal protection; and to the extent that the filing fee requirements conflict with Rule 24(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP), the PLRA's provisions control. The court further held that appellate review of dismissals under the Act for failure to state a claim are governed by the same standard applied for dismissals under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

In December 1995, Henry Mitchell, a Florida state prisoner confined to Hendry Correctional Institution (HCI), wrote to the NAACP complaining of a dearth of "black culture" religious services at the prison. Copies of this letter were sent to the HCI superintendent, David Farcass, and several other prison officials. The following month Mitchell submitted a "request" (DC3-005 form) to Farcass inquiring why "no black culture churches were being allowed to come into [HCI] like the [S]panish culture churches and the white churches." Mitchell also claimed to have encouraged 80 other HCI prisoners to submit similar ...

Fifth Circuit Rules on Appeals to Denials of IFP Status

The court of appeals for the fifth circuit held that prisoners denied In Forma Pauperis (IFP) status in the district courts and whose lawsuit is dismissed as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 can appeal that ruling. The court also backed away from recent rulings it had made holding that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) had repealed Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) 24(a) which allowed indigent litigants to carry their IFP status over from the district to the appeals court.

Robert Baugh, a Texas state prisoner in the Galveston county jail, filed suit claiming jail officials violated his eighth amendment rights by failing to protect him from attacks by other prisoners and because he contracted tuberculosis, due to massive overcrowding, while in the jail. The district court initially granted Baugh IFP status, then dismissed his lawsuit as frivolous. Baugh filed a motion to proceed IFP on appeal, which the district court denied. The district court then certified that Baugh's appeal was not taken in good faith.

The court of appeals vacated and remanded. The court held that under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b) "A prisoner litigant who has been denied IFP status for appeal ...

D.C. Prisoners Win No Smoking Injunction

In the May, 1996, issue of PLN we reported Crowder v. Kelly, 928 F. Supp. 2 (D DC 1996) where the district court granted a preliminary injunction ordering District of Columbia prison officials to place the prisoner plaintiffs in non smoking living quarters and to enforce its no smoking policy. This ruling, made after a bench trial, makes the preliminary injunction permanent. The ruling is significant because it is a post Prison Litigation Reform Act conditions of confinement injunction.

The court notes that up to 95% of all D.C. prisoners smoke, exposing non smoking prisoners to "the poisonous toxins from countless cigarettes." While the DOC has policies prohibiting smoking in various areas, those policies are ignored. The three plaintiffs in this case all have underlying medical conditions aggravated by exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), AKA second hand smoke. At trial the plaintiffs presented expert medical testimony that non smokers regularly contract lung cancer and respiratory disease from ETS exposure and that ETS aggravates diabetic, asthma and other existing health problems in non smokers.

In Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 113 S.Ct. 2475 (1993) [PLN, Sep. 1993] the U.S. supreme court held that exposure to ...

More Ohio Jail Construction Corruption

In the April '97 issue of PLN we reported "Ohio Jail Construction Corruption?" about questionable contract provisions and cost overruns by a construction firm owned by Ohio governor George Voinovich's brother. That article was about the firm's $9 million renovation of the Franklin county jail.

The construction company, the V Group, owned by Paul Voinovich, terminated another jail construction contract in July with Jefferson county, amid charges of breach of contract and counter charges of corruption and cost overruns.

Jefferson county elections board member Vincent Zumpano was convicted of attempted bribery. Zumpano pleaded guilty to trying to bribe a county commissioner in 1993 to obtain the jail construction contract for the V Group. Paul Voinovich was not charged and has denied soliciting a bribe or asking Zumpano to solicit one for him .

Jefferson county began withholding monthly payments to the V Group of more than $27,000 in August, 1996, charging that the V Group was slow to respond to construction problems and has contributed to a $6 million cost overrun on the originally-bid $16 million 140-bed jail project. [Editor's Note: $22 million for a 140-bed facility is $157,143 per bed space -- about three times the ...

Frivolous State Litigation

By Paul Wright

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held that a prisoner's demotion from administrative to punitive segregation did not implicate any federal due process liberty interest. We would not normally report this case because it involves no new or novel legal concepts, what makes this case noteworthy is how well it typifies frivolous DOC litigation.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was passed amid claims it would reduce or eliminate "frivolous" prisoner litigation. Past issues of PLN have discussed the outright lies and demagoguery that accompanied this campaign. One of the PLRA's cornerstones is requiring prisoners to pay the full filing fees in lawsuits and appeals, ostensibly to require prisoners to make the "real world" financial decision of whether their legal claims are worth spending their limited resources on. The problem with this is that only prisoners have to pay such fees. Prison employees are typically represented by the attorney generals office of their respective state or the federal government and even when found liable for violating the constitutional rights of prisoners they personally pay neither damages nor litigation costs.

Jeremy Kennedy, an Arkansas state prisoner was infracted and placed in punitive segregation for ...

GAO Reports Available: Private and Public Prisons

By Julia Lutsky 

GAO Reports Available

Federal and State Prisons: "Inmate Populations, Costs and Projection Models," November 1996, GAO/GGD-97-15

Private and Public Prisons: "Studies Comparing Operational Costs and/or Quality of Service," August 1996, GAO/GGD-96-158

Reflecting both the relatively recent "get tough on crime" and the age-old theme of corporate profit there are two new GAO reports, one written as if in response to questions raised by the other. Approximately 1.1 million people were incarcerated in 1995. Assuming the sentencing policies in effect in 1994, there will be 1.4 million in prisons by the year 2000. This estimate is based on the average annual increase of 8.5 percent experienced between 1980 and 1995, the period covered by the report on federal and state prisons. If all states opted to use truth-in-sentencing laws which require prisoners to serve 85 percent of their sentences however, the number of prisoners could reach 1.6 million. Other estimates predict as many as 2 million by 2002.

All of this comes at a not inconsiderable cost to the taxpayer. In 1980, $3.1 billion was spent on prisons. In 1994 that sum had increased to $17.7 billion. By the ...

GAO Reports Available: Federal and State Prisons

Federal and State Prisons: "Inmate Populations, Costs and Projection Models," November 1996, GAO/GGD-97-15

Private and Public Prisons: "Studies Comparing Operational Costs and/or Quality of Service," August 1996, GAO/GGD-96-158

Reflecting both the relatively recent "get tough on crime" and the age-old theme of corporate profit there are two new GAO reports, one written as if in response to questions raised by the other. Approximately 1.1 million people were incarcerated in 1995. Assuming the sentencing policies in effect in 1994, there will be 1.4 million in prisons by the year 2000. This estimate is based on the average annual increase of 8.5 percent experienced between 1980 and 1995, the period covered by the report on federal and state prisons. If all states opted to use truth-in-sentencing laws which require prisoners to serve 85 percent of their sentences however, the number of prisoners could reach 1.6 million. Other estimates predict as many as 2 million by 2002.

All of this comes at a not inconsiderable cost to the taxpayer. In 1980, $3.1 billion was spent on prisons. In 1994 that sum had increased to $17.7 billion. By the year 2000, prisons could drain $25 ...

Pepper Spray Report

Research Review: "Use of Force Policies and Training Recommendations: Based on the Medical Implications of Oleoresin Capsicum," by Darrell Ross, PPCT Director of Research.

Oleoresin Capsicum (OC; pepper spray) is now widely used by police departments throughout the country for the control of "resistant individuals." Spicy oils have been used in sprays designed for such control since about 1977 and have, since the early 1980s, come to be viewed more and more as viable alternatives to the use of more deadly force. The manufacturers of OC claim that it is safe, non-toxic and that it does not cause permanent or long term health problems. When the researchers of this report contacted 16 OC manufacturers with a questionnaire relative to their medical studies, not one of them returned it, nor did any provide medical documentation. Instead they cited a highly questionable 1989 FBI study and, according to the report, "the assumption that [OC is] a byproduct of chili peppers." Their claim as to the safety of the spray is at least open to question since, in the words of the report, "both short term and long term medical research is non existent and recent discovered medical literature research reveals the existence ...

New York State Drug Sentencing Report

Angela Thompson, a 17-year-old with no prison record participated in a single sale of 2 oz and 33 grains of crack cocaine to an undercover officer for which she received a 15-year-to-life sentence.

Cruel and Usual : "Disproportionate Sentences for New York Drug Offenders," A Human Rights Watch Report, March 1997, looks at some of the most punitive drug legislation in the United States. A first offender caught carrying 4 - or selling 2 - ounces of controlled substance in New York State automatically receives a minimum sentence of 15 years to life. Possession of 2 ounces by a first offender carries a minimum of 3 to 8 1/3 years - but 6 to 12? years for a second offender. That the sentences are mandatory means that all discretion is transferred from judge to prosecutor: If found guilty the offender's sentence is automatic. Each year, 30,000 people are indicted in New York on drug charges and 10,000 go to prison. Of these, approximately 9,000 are Blacks or Latinos.

Drug felonies are classified according to the weight of the drug involved. This means simply that the drug syndicate kingpins learned early - the New York laws were enacted in 1973 - never ...

The Abuse of U.S. Women Prisoners

It is really like this dirty little secret that everyone in corrections knows about and doesn't want to talk about. It is a huge problem." The words are those of Brenda Smith, senior counsel of the National Women's Law Center quoted in the December 1996 Human Rights Watch report, All Too Familiar: Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S. State Prisons. The study, carried out between March 1994 and November 1996, covered 11 state prisons in five states: California, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and New York and the District of Columbia. In all of the states women prisoners who had alleged sexual abused were interviewed; this was not passable in the District of Columbia because litigation1 was then in progress; the women plaintiffs were under court order concealing their identities. Interviews were also conducted with both federal and state correction personnel, district attorneys, guards, lawyers, prisoner aid organizations and former prisoners.

An opening chapter of summary and recommendations precedes a chapter of necessary historical and legal background information. Between 1980 and 1994 the number of women entering all US prisons increased almost four-fold. Notwithstanding this considerable increase, the approximately 96,000 women in prison still constitute only about six ...

Qualified Immunity in Failure to Protect Claim

By James Quigley

The court of appeals for the fourth circuit, sitting en banc, held that there is no constitutional violation when unarmed prison guards fail to immediately intervene to protect a prisoner from assault by an armed prisoner; that the failure of prison officials to immediately confiscate the alcoholic beverages which precipitated the attack did not violate the Eighth Amendment; and that appellate courts may conduct a de novo review of the evidence when examining the propriety of a summary judgment decision rejecting qualified immunity for government officials.

In this case, several Virginia state prisoners were drinking alcoholic beverages in a cell when a dispute erupted between two of them. After a brief scuffle, at least six prison guards arrived on the scene. But rather than take affirmative steps to secure the situation, the supervising guard ordered all the guards to withdraw from the area, with the exception of two, who remained on the tier outside of the aggressor's cell.

Although the two prisoners involved in the dispute returned to their respective cells, which were only three cells apart, the guards made no attempt to secure the cell doors of either prisoner. As a result, the aggressor was ...

Montana Prisoners Have Liberty Interest in Classification Hearings

By Danny Arledge

The Montana state supreme court held that state law creates a liberty interest for prisoners accused of misconduct in prison classification hearings. Daniel Orozco, a prisoner at the Montana State Prison, was accused of conspiring to traffic in drugs. He was given a "Due Process Notification" and placed in temporary lock up in maximum security for investigation purposes pursuant to MSP Policy 15-002. The notice stated that a classification hearing would be held to address Orozco's custody level and job assignment and that at the hearing he could present evidence on his own behalf.

Orozco was not provided with a hearings investigator to assist in his defense at the classification hearing. As a result of the hearing, Orozco was reclassified to maximum security and was unable to continue earning thirteen days of good time credits per month.

With my assistance, Orozco subsequently filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action in state district court against several prison officials. Orozco requested a declaratory judgment that the defendants had violated his due process rights under the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. constitution by failing to assign a hearings investigator to assist in his ...

WA Officials Liable for Seizing Court Tape

In an unpublished ruling, the court of appeals for the ninth circuit held prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for intentionally withholding a prisoner's video taped court transcript. Robert Wrinkle a Washington state prisoner at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, sought to submit a pro se brief to supplement that of his attorney in his direct criminal appeal. To do so he needed to review his video taped trial (many counties in WA video tape rather than transcribe trials resulting in a tape rather than a written transcript). The tape were duly sent to the prison where unit supervisor Michael Leahy put it in his desk and let it sit there for over a year, depriving Wrinkle of the ability to file his supplemental brief.

Wrinkle filed suit claiming denial of the tape violated his right of access to the courts. The federal district court in Tacoma dismissed the suit. The court of appeals reversed and remanded, holding that Wrinkle had shown actual injury to his right of court access. The court also held that Leahy and prison warden Robert Wright were not entitled to qualified immunity from money damages because Wrinkle had produced circumstantial evidence that ...

VI Decree Modification Denied Under PLRA, DOC Held in Contempt

A federal district court in the Virgin Islands made specific factual findings under the terms of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) holding that prison and jail conditions on the island were unconstitutional and required federal court intervention to resolve via enforcement of an existing consent decree. While many observers ...

CCA Unveils Aggressive New Marketing Ploy

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) plans to build a 2,000-bed prison in California's Mojave Desert -- on speculation. CCA President David L. Meyers said his private prison corporation has no guarantee the California Department of Corrections (CDC) will send prisoners the proposed facility, nor has CCA yet held any discussions with the state of California.

Meyers, officials from California City (population 8,000) and state senator Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) held a July 31, 1997, news conference in Sacramento to announce plans to open the "top-of-the-line" medium security prison within two years. And California might be the perfect location to exploit this new "build it and they will come" corporate strategy.

The state prison system, already overcrowded at nearly double its design capacity, is expected to exhaust all possible bed space by 2000, Polanco said. California voters have rejected general obligation bonds for more prison construction, and the legislature has defeated the use of lease revenue bonds.

"We don't know enough about it to have a position one way or another," said CDC media-wrangler Tip Kindel. However he added: "If someone comes and says 'Hey, we've got some beds,' we're always open to talk about ...

Federal Jail in NYC a Mob Social Club?

Reputed Mafia mobsters reportedly turned Brooklyn's Federal Metropolitan Detention Center (M.D.C.) into a cozy social club -- with the help of corrupt guards. Detainees hosted visiting business associates and dined in high style with smuggled in meatballs, manicotti and chicken cutlets, washed down with vodka and wine, according to federal investigators.

In May, 1997, federal authorities announced the arrest of eleven M.D.C. guards and nine civilians in what one official called the worst corruption case in U.S. prison history. The arrest culminated a 10-month sting operation dubbed "Operation Badfellas."

Court papers described how a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) guard allowed a prisoner cooperating with the sting operation to retrieve from a computer at the jail "the names and locations of all persons involved in his case." The prisoner, who in this instance would certainly be characterized by his fellow detainees as a "rat," had told the guard "he was looking for the name and location of the 'rat' in his case."

One of the arrested guards reportedly collected $500 a week in bribes to arrange "special visits by organized crime associates," the purpose of which was "to facilitate the conducting of organized crime business" at ...

Peruvian Prisoners Rebel

By Dan Axtell

On June 20, 1997, over 5,000 prisoners in Lurigancho prison in Peru took over the prison during the course of a riot. According to Peruvian congressman Daniel Espichán Tumay, the riot was triggered by overcrowding, outcry over illegal transfers, and bad food. Espichán, president of the Congressional Human Rights Commission, said that: "These riots are constantly repeated. I believe that their motives are understandible, they can be solved, and I have promised to continue visiting the prison."

Some prisoners attempted to escape over a wall and were meet with gunfire that resulted in the death of prisoner Marcos Malca Toledo and the wounding of 6 others.

Overcrowding was the most serious issue; the prison was designed to hold 1,400 prisoners and in fact holds 6,010. Prisoners were also angry over the recent legislation, Supreme Decree 003 which facilitates transfers of prisoners far away from their families, and the delays of the courts in sentencing, which is supposed to take 30 to 60 days, but which now takes six months.

Prison conditions in Peru are notorious, including overcrowding and a desperate lack of food, water, light, heat and clothing. For example, in Yanamayo prison water ...

Washington Sex Offender Notification Enjoined

The federal district court for the western district of Washington has issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the state from retroactively applying the provision of Washington's Community Protection Act of 1990 calling for the "community notification" of recently released sex offenders.

The plaintiff, identified only as "John Doe," was recently released from a Washington prison, having been convicted of rape in 1985. He petitioned the court to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the state from disseminating a bulletin to community groups, block watch captains, libraries, media outlets and by various other means. The bulletin included his name, photo, crime of conviction, as well as a "narrative history" of his criminal activities including crimes for which he was never charged, much less convicted and an assessment that he was "dangerous" and "likely to reoffend."

Though the court's action is merely an order on motion for preliminary injunction, the ruling provides extensive analysis, background and case citations that will be of interest to anyone litigating the dissemination of criminal history information to the public through bulletins, the media, or even on the Internet.

At issue in this instance is whether the effect of community notification is punitive, and thus presents a ...

DC DOC Official Convicted of Contempt

The court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the criminal contempt conviction of District of Columbia official Sylvia Young. Young was convicted after she harassed and retaliated against women DOC employees who had filed suit claiming that sexual harassment and retaliation against women employees was rampant throughout the DC DOC. See: Bonds v. District of Columbia, 93 F.3d 801 (DC Cir. 1996). The district court had issued an order enjoining DOC employees from retaliating against witnesses and plaintiffs in the case.

Young promptly violated the order by tormenting Yvonne Brown, a guard claiming she was sexually harassed by a friend of Young's who was a prison lieutenant. Young threatened to slap and beat Brown, called her demeaning names, tripped her and otherwise made her life miserable.

Brown then sought a court order to hold Young in contempt. After a two day bench trial the court entered a guilty verdict and sentenced Young to 180 days in jail. The appeals court affirmed the conviction, holding the court order was specific enough to put Young on notice that her conduct was contemptible. See: U.S. v. Young, 107 F.3d 903 (DC Cir. 1997).

Normally a case ...

New Jersey Jail Brutality Settlement

Seventeen former detainees of the Sussex County (NJ) Jail settled a lawsuit alleging a pattern and practice of guard brutality, inadequate medical and psychiatric care, and inadequate legal access. As part of the settlement, the county agreed to pay $372,000; install video surveillance cameras throughout the jail, including in ...

Man Jailed for Saying 'No' to TB Drugs

An Olympia, WA, man was jailed in mid-March 1997, for refusing to take his tuberculosis medicine. Kenneth Elkins, 44, was living homeless in Olympia after having been released from McNeil Island Corr. Ctr. in the summer of 1996.

In November, 1996, Elkins was diagnosed with infectious TB and the state paid to quarantine him in a motel while a nurse visited him daily to give him antibiotics. But, according to court documents, Elkins would "escape" from his motel room for trips to a discount store, the motel office, and downtown Olympia.

As a result, the county confined him in Western State Hospital (an insane asylum) for more than two months until he was no longer considered contagious. After his release from Western State on February 12, Elkins was supposed to go to the health department to take his pills.

Health officials say Elkins didn't keep those appointments and successfully petitioned the court to have him jailed. He was arrested and placed in the general population section of the Thurston County Jail.

"I didn't know it was that dangerous," said Elkins, a partially paralyzed, insulin-dependent diabetic. "I didn't know it [TB] could kill someone. They might have given ...

Prisoner Awarded $30,001 in Beating Suit

A federal jury in Bangor, Maine, awarded damages to 25-year-old Billy Williams for being beaten by two guards while imprisoned in Maine's Supermax prison in 1994. A seven-member jury deliberated for two and a half hours before deciding to award $30,000 in punitive damages. They also awarded $1 ...

More Evidence Required in Retaliatory Infractions

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit held that when guards falsely accuse prisoners of misconduct in retaliation for the exercise of constitutional rights, the guard's accusation is not entitled to deference under the "some evidence" standard of review normally used in prison disciplinary decisions. The court also ...

Counselor Liable in Failure to Protect Claim

A federal district court in Illinois held a prison counselor could be found liable for denying a prison snitch protective custody when the informant was later attacked by his many enemies. Hubert Hill is an Illinois state prisoner who has informed on numerous prison gang members on many occasions over the past 13 years. The court paints a sordid picture of the professional jailhouse snitch who is in general population long enough to inform on other prisoners and who is then placed in Protective Custody (PC) and transferred. In 1992 Hill arrived at Stateville prison where he requested protective custody. Counselor Mark Franklin denied the request because of Hill's size and his inability to identify any specific prisoners who posed a threat to him.

Hill was placed in a special unit as he appealed the denial of PC. While there he was attacked by other prisoners and suffered a broken nose. Hill filed suit claiming his eighth amendment rights were violated when Franklin denied him PC. The court denied Franklin summary judgment, holding a trial was required to determine if he had shown deliberate indifference to Hill's safety.

The court note prisoners have a right to be protected ...

Americans with Disability Act Applies to Jails

In two separate rulings, federal district courts in Ohio and Michigan held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 42 U.S.C. § 12131 and the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. § 794, apply to county jails.

Leonard Raufman was imprisoned in the Kalamazoo county jail on a parole violation warrant, he is missing both legs. Kaufman filed suit claiming his ADA, RA and eighth amendment rights were violated when he was denied rubbing alcohol and bandage wraps for his stumps, which resulted in swelling that made it impossible for him to use his prosthetic legs. The jail shower was not wheelchair accessible, as a result, he fell and injured himself and was unable to maintain his personal hygiene. He was also unable to use the toilets and water fountains in the jail. The defendants sought summary judgment which the court denied in part and granted in part.

The court held Kaufman had waived his eighth amendment claims by not objecting to a magistrate's report recommending their dismissal. Deciding the issue was important, the court reviewed the claims and dismissed them with regards to the county and sheriff but did not dismiss the eighth amendment claim against the ...

Alabama AG Moves to Dissolve 17 Consent Decrees

Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor and state Prison Commissioner Joe Hopper went into federal courts across the state July 2, 1997, moving (under provisions of the PLRA) to dissolve consent decrees governing conditions at three state prisons and 14 county jails. This action was accompanied by an orchestrated campaign of press releases, press conferences and television appearances wherein the two cited "outrageous" provisions of the decrees including: mandatory movies on weekends at the Tutwiler women's' prison, a separate law library for death row prisoners at the Holman prison, exercise equipment and TVs at the Tallapoosa county jail, etc.

Pryor said state and county officials agreed to consent decree provisions in the 1970's and '80s because the climate in federal courts and in congress was different then. Passage of the PLRA and several supreme court rulings in recent years have altered that "climate" significantly. Pryor said he had not consulted with county officials in all of the counties before including them in the legal action, but the PLRA gave him authority to proceed on their behalf.

Rhonda Brownstein, Senior Staff Attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, represents Holman prisoners. She informed PLN that a preliminary ruling by the ...

Knowledge of Risk May Establish 8th Amendment Liability

The court of appeals for the sixth circuit held that a prison investigator's report indicating a prisoner was at risk of attack was sufficient to establish eighth amendment liability on the part of supervisory prison officials, if they read it. The court also held that a prison warden's efforts to improve prison conditions will defeat a prisoner's deliberate indifference to safety claim. The court also affirmed several evidentiary rulings by the district court.

Larry Billups was a Michigan state prisoner at the Jackson State Prison who was killed by members of the Melanic Islamic Palace of the Rising Sun in retaliation for assaulting and robbing his cellmate at the Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) less than a month before. Billups was also a Melanic. Billup's mother, Margaret Woods, filed suit claiming prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Billup's eighth amendment rights by failing to prevent his death. The case went to trial against defendants Art Tessman, a deputy warden at KCF from where Billups was transferred, and John Jabe, warden of the prison at Jackson. After Woods rested her case, the court granted the defendants a motion for judgment as a matter of law under Fed ...

News in Brief

AK: In October, 1997, Alaska state police announced they were searching for Virginia parolee Wil Adams, AKA Skip Adams Taylor, on felony gun charges. Adams served 16 years in Virginia prisons for murdering a young woman. Paroled in 1995 Adams moved to Barrow and was hired as a clerk in the local probation office to monitor Alaska felons. Adams' past was discovered when he wrote a local newspaper criticizing an Eskimo seal hunt. Eskimo leaders claimed Adams wrote the letter on his state computer. A background check then discovered his felony conviction and Adams went on the run. The state DOC announced they would conduct background checks before hiring probation and parole clerks.

CA: In July, 1997, Wackenhut Corrections Corp. was awarded the largest ever privatization contract for a prison-a 2,048 bed minimum security prison in Taft. The contract is expected to generate some $300 million in revenues over the next ten years.

CA: On July 23, 1997, Castroville jail prisoner Gregory Lucas had his legs severed when a speeding car crashed into a jail truck being loaded with litter by prisoners. The car driver and two other prisoners were injured.

CO: In July, 1997, the small farming town ...


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