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Prisoner Education Guide

Prison Legal News: May, 1997

Issue PDF
Volume 8, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. US Supreme Court: Oklahoma Pre-Parole Program Requires Hearing Before Removal (p 1)
  2. California PIA Employees Lose Minimum Wage Suit (p 3)
  3. Consent Decrees Create Enforceable Right (p 5)
  4. Notes from the Unrepenitentiary: " Schooling the generations in the politics of prison" (p 6)
  5. Matter of Fact (p 7)
  6. Sixth Circuit Defines Legal Mail (p 7)
  7. PLRA Codifies Injunction Standards in Conditions Case (p 8)
  8. PLRA Applied to Released Prisoners (p 9)
  9. Indiana Muslim Consent Decree Vacated under PLRA (p 9)
  10. PLRA Allows Sua Sponte Dismissal (p 9)
  11. PLRA Fee Requirements Not Applicable to Pending Suits (p 10)
  12. PLRA Confuses Courts; Applies Only to Prisoners (p 10)
  13. Ninth Circuit Affirms BOP Sentence Reductions (p 11)
  14. Drug Policy as Social Control (p 12)
  15. Virginia Warden Stabbed (p 13)
  16. Should Prisoners Have the Right to Strike? Some Union Leaders Say "Yes!" (p 14)
  17. Texas Prisoners Get Second-Rate Doctors (p 15)
  18. New Jersey Prison Guard Recruiting for KKK (p 15)
  19. Update on Washington Money Seizure Suit (p 16)
  20. Democracy, Racism and Disenfranchisement (p 17)
  21. Reviews (p 17)
  22. Illinois DOC Phone System Upheld (p 18)
  23. Moors Settle with Indiana DOC (p 18)
  24. Seventh Circuit Questions ADA Applicability to Prisons (p 19)
  25. Disciplinary Finding Must Be Supported by Reliable Evidence (p 20)
  26. Qualified Immunity for Infraction Suit (p 20)
  27. No Care for STD Violates Eighth Amendment (p 21)
  28. $1.65 Million Jury Verdict in Cell Assignment Case Affirmed (p 22)
  29. Racial Rioting Erupts in L.A. Jail (p 22)
  30. Mental Unhealth and Prisons (p 23)
  31. Guard Tower Scam (p 23)
  32. Do the Math (p 23)
  33. News in Brief (p 24)
  34. RFRA Allows Redaction of Religious Publication (p 25)
  35. TRO Granted in DC Smoking Suit (p 26)
  36. Washington EFV Ban Upheld (p 26)
  37. $75,000 Jury Verdict in Prisoner Attack Affirmed (p 26)

US Supreme Court: Oklahoma Pre-Parole Program Requires Hearing Before Removal

by Paul Wright

On March 18, 1997, justice Clarence Thomas released a ruling for a unanimous U.S. supreme court holding that an Oklahoma "pre-parole" program designed to relieve prison overcrowding was sufficiently similar to parole to require a due process hearing before participants could be removed from the program ...

California PIA Employees Lose Minimum Wage Suit

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit affirmed dismissal of a suit by California Prison Industrial Authority (PIA) prisoners who filed suit claiming they were entitled to the minimum wage under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201. The class action suit was filed ...

Consent Decrees Create Enforceable Right

A federal district court in South Carolina held that a consent decree created an enforceable due process right and a prisoner's § 1983 claim for violation of the consent decree was not barred by Sandin v. Conner, 115 S.Ct. 2293 (1995). As court's explore and define the full ...

Notes from the Unrepenitentiary: " Schooling the generations in the politics of prison"

Twentieth century prison conditions are like the conditions of slavery. Plantation owners prevented rebellion by denying the humanity of the Africans they enslaved; prisoners are dehumanized in San Quentin, Parchman Farm, and prisons all over the u.s. The outlawing of African religious rituals during slavery parallels the denial of ...

Matter of Fact

[Editor's Note: all of this month's facts were gleaned from one source: "Intended and Unintended Consequences: State Racial Disparities in Imprisonment," a January, 1997, report of The Sentencing Project. Copies of this 25-page report are available for $8 from: The Sentencing Project; 918 F St., NW, Suite 501 ...

Sixth Circuit Defines Legal Mail

The court of appeals for the sixth circuit has held that "legal mail" encompasses legal materials delivered to prisoners by any means, not just via the postal system. As such, the legal materials cannot be inspected outside the prisoner addressee's presence. Temujin Kensu is a Michigan state prisoner. A ...

PLRA Codifies Injunction Standards in Conditions Case

In the December, 1995, issue of PLN we reported Smith v. Arkansas DOC, 877 F. Supp. 1296 (ED AR 1995) in which the district court ordered increased staffing levels in open bay barracks prisons in Arkansas. The defendants appealed and the eighth circuit court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed ...

PLRA Applied to Released Prisoners

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that appeals filed after the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was enacted on April 26, 1996, were subject to dismissal unless a former prisoner paid the filing fees based on the funds he had in his prison account prior to his ...

Indiana Muslim Consent Decree Vacated under PLRA

A federal district court in Indiana applied the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) to immediately terminate a consent decree judgment governing prisoners' religious rights. In 1982 prisoners at the Indiana State Prison entered into a consent decree with prison officials to settle a suit involving religious discrimination. Under the decree ...

PLRA Allows Sua Sponte Dismissal

A federal district court in Illinois held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) allows courts to assess filing fees and then dismiss prisoner petitions prior to service on the defendants if they fail to state a claim. Deangelo Jones is an Illinois state prisoner who protested being removed from ...

PLRA Fee Requirements Not Applicable to Pending Suits

PLRA Fee Requirements not Applicable To Pending Suits

A federal district court in California held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) In Forma Pauperis (IFP) filing fee provisions are not retroactive to suits filed before the law's April 26, 1996, enactment. Tenance Rodgers, a California state prisoner ...

PLRA Confuses Courts; Applies Only to Prisoners

To illustrate how poorly written the PLRA is, the court of appeals for the sixth circuit held that 28 U.S.C. § 1915 still "allows individuals who are not prisoners to litigate a case without the prepayment of filing fees." In their haste to kick prisoners out of court, Congress ...

Ninth Circuit Affirms BOP Sentence Reductions

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit affirmed a district court granting of habeas relief to a federal prisoner who had been denied a one year sentence reduction after completing a drug treatment program. This also implicates two other district court cases on the same issue. In Downey v ...

Drug Policy as Social Control

In the typical third world society, like Colombia, or India, or Mexico or Egypt -- they are all more or less the same there is a sector of great wealth, enormous wealth, there are large numbers of people who live somewhere between suffering and misery, and then there is a sector ...

Virginia Warden Stabbed

In the December 1996 issue of PLN we reported, "Botched Escape Sparks Rebellion," about an attempted escape and prison uprising at the Nottoway Correctional Center in Virginia. Cited in that article was the high level of tension in the Virginia prison system due, in part, to the January 1, 1997 ...

Should Prisoners Have the Right to Strike? Some Union Leaders Say "Yes!"

Should Prisoners Have the Right to Strike? Some Union Leaders Say "Yes!"

by Phil Wilayto

On Feb. 17, 1997, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO opened its annual mid-winter meeting in Los Angeles. As the first item of business, the 54-member council voted to "support and encourage aggressive organizing campaigns ...

Texas Prisoners Get Second-Rate Doctors

Texas prisons have become a refuge for several doctors with troubled pasts. The Dallas Morning News identified eight physicians working in state prisons after having been disciplined by medical review boards.

The state of Michigan in June 1990 revoked Dr. Robert A. Komer's medical license for sexually abusing six ...

New Jersey Prison Guard Recruiting for KKK

State and federal authorities launched an investigation in 1996 to probe the extent of the Ku Klux Klan involvement at New Jersey's Bay State Prison. On June 5, 1996, the New Jersey DOC fired Wayne Keller, 45, who was described by a newspaper as a 'senior corrections officer," for ...

Update on Washington Money Seizure Suit

In the June, August and December, 1996, issues of PLN we reported the history and developments in Wright v. Riveland, the Washington class action lawsuit challenging the legality of RCW 72.09.480, a state statute that allows the DOC to seize 35% of all funds sent to state prisoners ...

Democracy, Racism and Disenfranchisement

One in seven black men are currently or permanently prevented from voting because they are imprisoned or are ex-felons, according to a report released in January, 1997, by the Sentencing Project in Washington DC.

There are an estimated 10.4 million voting age black men in the U.S. An ...

Reviews

Prison Connections is a 12 page quarterly "newsletter of prison activism in New England." Each issue reports news and information relating to prison issues in the New England states. Recent issues have discussed jail conditions, education cutbacks, rallies protesting DOC policies in MA, the lack of DOC accountability, litigation updates ...

Illinois DOC Phone System Upheld

A federal district court in Illinois held that the phone system used in the Illinois DOC does not violate the first amendment. Four Illinois state prisoners at the Western Illinois Correctional Center (WICC) filed suit against several prison officials and AT&T claiming the prison phone system violated their first amendment rights.

Prior to November, 1994, Illinois prisoners could place operator assisted collect calls anywhere in the United States. The prisoners did not have to provide prison officials with the names or phone numbers of the people they were calling. In November, 1994, the prison began using a new collect call phone system.

The new system allows prisoners to access the phones through a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Prisoners must provide their keepers with a list of up to 30 people they wish to call; the list can be amended on a weekly basis ...

Moors Settle with Indiana DOC

As a result of more than 15 years of struggle and litigation, the Moorish Science Temple and the Indiana Department of Corrections entered into a settlement agreement stemming from a suit filed by Granville Radford-Bey and Spencer Caldwell-Bey.

On August 30, 1996, the Moors at Plainfield Correctional Facility were allowed ...

Seventh Circuit Questions ADA Applicability to Prisons

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit issued its first ruling on the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to prisoners. In doing so it held that claims of incompetent medical treatment are not cognizable under the ADA. It also held a district court must notify pro ...

Disciplinary Finding Must Be Supported by Reliable Evidence

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that while only "some evidence" is required to uphold a finding of guilt in a prison disciplinary hearing, that evidence must be reliable. Michael Meeks is an Indiana state prisoner who was infracted for allegedly smoking marijuana. After a urinalysis test ...

Qualified Immunity for Infraction Suit

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held that a district court erred when it found prison officials liable and awarded a prisoner damages after the court found no evidence supported a disciplinary committee's finding of guilt. The court also held that prisoners challenging disciplinary hearing results can ...

No Care for STD Violates Eighth Amendment

A federal district court in Texas held that a jail prisoner had stated a claim for violation of his eighth amendment right to medical treatment when he was not provided with medical treatment for a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) he had sought treatment for. Thaddeus Jolly was arrested and taken ...

$1.65 Million Jury Verdict in Cell Assignment Case Affirmed

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit affirmed a jury verdict against prison official defendants finding that they were deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's safety by leaving him in a cell with a mentally ill prisoner who later tried to kill him. In doing so, the court clarified ...

Racial Rioting Erupts in L.A. Jail

Two days of bloody fighting between black and Latino prisoners at Los Angeles County jails left 200 injured, 188 with serious wounds and 26 with minor scraps and bruises. Three deputies were also hurt in the eight incidents at the Pitchess Detention Center facilities in Saugus, November 21, 1996.

Sheriff ...

Mental Unhealth and Prisons

Thanks for publishing information about mental health issues and prisoners. We expect to see a major increase in forensic [mentally ill] prisoners as we roll into the future and close down more state hospitals while simultaneously underfunding community resources for the mentally disabled.

As they say, "shit happens" and in ...

Guard Tower Scam

In the January PLN, Paul Wright described the ordeal of the guards' union in Washington state successfully fighting the DOC's effort to reduce staffing of the guard towers in Washington's prisons. While it's clear that the public-employee unions representing turnkeys fight tooth-and-nail to keep positions from being ...

Do the Math

I read an article in the Wisconsin State Journal about Wisconsin sending prisoners to Texas. There are going to be 700 prisoners shipped there (40 per week, which will take 17.5 weeks) at a cost of $39.36 per day for their housing once they are there.

Using a ...

News in Brief

AZ: On March 7, 1997, prison guard Brent Lumley, 33, was found stabbed to death in the control room of the Perryville state prison. A shank, presumably the murder weapon, was sticking out of Lumley's neck. Seven prisoners were considered suspects in the case.

CA: In February, 1997, officials ...

RFRA Allows Redaction of Religious Publication

The court of appeals for the eleventh circuit held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, is not violated when prison officials censor only portions of a religious publication. This is the first eleventh circuit ruling to interpret the RFRA in the prison context. It ...

TRO Granted in DC Smoking Suit

A federal district court in the District of Columbia granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) requiring non-smoking D.C. prisoners to be moved to non-smoking quarters and for D.C. DOC officials to enforce prison no smoking policies by disciplining guards and prisoners who violate the policy. The court also ...

Washington EFV Ban Upheld

In an unpublished opinion the ninth circuit court of appeals affirmed dismissal of a Washington prisoner's challenge to a prison policy restricting participation in the Extended Family Visiting (EFV) program. Jerry Harrison was a Washington state prisoner with a prior domestic violence conviction. He filed suit after, due to ...

$75,000 Jury Verdict in Prisoner Attack Affirmed

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit affirmed a jury verdict awarding a prisoner $75,000 in compensatory damages and $55,262.42 in attorney fees after the prisoner was threatened then beaten by other prisoners. Gregory Pope, an Illinois state prisoner, was threatened by three other prisoners. Pope ...

 

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