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Prison Legal News: June, 1997

Issue PDF
Volume 8, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. America's Private Gulag (p 1)
  2. Speedy Death Penalty Provisions Enjoined in California (p 5)
  3. Strange Bedfellows; CCA's Political Connections (p 5)
  4. Texas Sheriff Exploits Prisoner Labor (p 5)
  5. From the Editor (p 6)
  6. Grievance Retaliation Unconstitutional (p 7)
  7. Qualified Immunity for Strip Search (p 7)
  8. PLRA Not Enough for Fourth Circuit (p 8)
  9. Sixth Circuit Issues PLRA IFP Order (p 8)
  10. Fifth Circuit Holds that PLRA Requires Fees in All Pending Cases (p 9)
  11. Ninth Circuit: PLRA Doesn't Apply to Habeas (p 9)
  12. Massachusetts Court Avoids Ruling on Consent Decree Termination (p 9)
  13. Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Declaratory Relief) (p 10)
  14. Federal Parolees Kicked off Internet (p 11)
  15. Texas Prison Building Corruption, Problems and Dangers (p 12)
  16. A Matter of Fact (p 13)
  17. Jury Verdict in Prisoner Attack Affirmed (p 13)
  18. On the Edge of Midnight (p 14)
  19. CDC Consent Decree Contempt Vacated (p 15)
  20. California Prisoner Wins Judgment Against Guard in Shooting (p 16)
  21. PLN Readers Dissatisfied with Freedom Press (p 16)
  22. California Slave Labor Loses Money (p 17)
  23. Denial of Eyeglasses Violates Eighth Amendment (p 17)
  24. Swastika Carved on CDC Prison Guard Rifle (p 18)
  25. Illinois Jail Conditions Suit States Claim (p 18)
  26. FTCA Suit Not Barred by Prior Bivens Claim (p 19)
  27. Trial Required on ADA EFV Claim (p 19)
  28. California Prisoners Entitled to Contact Attorney Visits (p 20)
  29. No Frivolousness Review Allowed When Filing Fee Paid (p 20)
  30. Book Review - Privatization and the Provision of Correctional Services: Context and Consequences (p 21)
  31. Iowa Retaliation Verdict Affirmed (p 21)
  32. Pro Se Litigant Entitled to Defendant's Identity (p 22)
  33. Relation Back Period Suspended during IFP Application (p 22)
  34. 'Scared Straight' Youths Molested in Texas Prison (p 22)
  35. Prison NA Meetings Violate Establishment Clause (p 23)
  36. BOP Owes Duty of Care to Prisoners (p 23)
  37. TB Isolation May Violate RFRA (p 23)
  38. News in Brief (p 24)
  39. Habeas Petition Not Mooted by Segregation Release (p 25)
  40. BOP Can't Set Restitution (p 26)
  41. Wisconsin RFRA Jewelry Ruling Affirmed (p 26)
  42. Mississippi Detainees Awarded Damages in Disciplinary Suit (p 26)
  43. Prisoners' Spouses Challenge Washington 35% Law (p 27)
  44. Massachusetts Prisoners Awarded Back Pay (p 27)
  45. $7,500 Awarded in Guard Beating (p 27)

America's Private Gulag

What is the most profitable industry in America? Weapons, oil and computer technology all offer high rates of return, but there is probably no sector of the economy so abloom with money as the privately-run prison industry.

Consider the growth of the Corrections Corporation of America, the industry leader whose ...

Speedy Death Penalty Provisions Enjoined in California

A federal district court in San Francisco enjoined the state of California from putting its death row prisoners onto a federal court habeas "fast track." In the August, 1996, issue of PLN we reported enactment of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). One of the act's provisions ...

Strange Bedfellows; CCA's Political Connections

CCA's connection with local politics began when the Nashville-based company was formed during Governor Lamar Alexander's administration. When CCA made a bid to operate Tennessee's entire prison system in 1985, the governor's wife, Honey Alexander, was criticized for owning $5,000 of CCA stock. She realized ...

Texas Sheriff Exploits Prisoner Labor

Lubbock county sheriff Sonny Keesee runs an auto repair shop with a twist. Most of its customers are sheriff's deputies. The mechanics are jail-detainees hand-picked for their mechanic skills.

Andy Gentry, a Lubbock county sheriff's deputy, got the engine of his 1989 Toyota replaced for $250 in labor ...

From the Editor

The Bad News: In April of this year longtime PLN supporter Jerry Dreva died in his sleep from a heart attack. An artist and revolutionary, Jerry could always be counted on to help. Last year he made possible our 28 page issue commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 1986 uprising ...

Grievance Retaliation Unconstitutional

The court of appeals for the second circuit reaffirmed that prison officials violate the constitution when they retaliate against prisoners who file administrative grievances. The court discussed the standard of review in prison retaliation cases.

Patrick Graham is a New York state prisoner. After prison grievance representatives contacted Graham about ...

Qualified Immunity for Strip Search

In the July, 1994, issue of PLN we reported Canedy v. Boardman, 16 F.3d 183 (7th Cir. 1993) which reversed dismissal of a Muslim prisoner's suit claiming violation of his religious rights when guards of both sexes could see him naked. On remand the district court granted judgment ...

PLRA Not Enough for Fourth Circuit

One of the PLRA's stated purposes was to cut down on "frivolous" prisoner litigation by requiring full payment of filing fees and imposing a "three strikes" limitation on prisoners who have had more than three suits dismissed for being frivolous or not stating a claim. Apparently the PLRA isn ...

Sixth Circuit Issues PLRA IFP Order

On February 4, 1997, Boyce Martin, chief judge of the sixth circuit, issued an administrative order directing all circuit and district court judges in the sixth circuit to apply the In Forma Pauperis (IFP) provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) uniformly to all complaints or notices of appeal ...

Fifth Circuit Holds that PLRA Requires Fees in All Pending Cases

In two separate rulings, the court of appeals for the fifth circuit held that litigants must pay the filing fees in all civil cases pending on the date the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was signed into law on April 26, 1996. Louella Strickland filed suit challenging prison conditions and ...

Ninth Circuit: PLRA Doesn't Apply to Habeas

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit held that the filing fee requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) do not apply to habeas corpus proceedings. "We... hold that the forma pauperis provisions of the PLRA relating to prisoner civil actions and appeals do not apply to habeas ...

Massachusetts Court Avoids Ruling on Consent Decree Termination

A federal district court in Massachusetts avoided ruling on the constitutionality of the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) provisions requiring immediate termination of jail and prison consent decrees, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2), by refusing to vacate a jail consent decree but instead holding the decree would ...

Pro Se Tips and Tactics (Declaratory Relief)

One form of remedy available in federal court, including in some prison cases, is a "declaratory judgment." This column discusses what a declaratory judgment is, why you might want one in some cases, and the requirements for getting one.

What Is A Declaratory Judgment And When Should I Ask For ...

Federal Parolees Kicked off Internet

The U.S. Parole Commission has said that it was so disturbed by the amount of information available on the Internet about child sex rings, recipes for explosives, and plans for hate crimes that in December, 1996, without holding any public hearings, it approved restrictions on the use of computers ...

Texas Prison Building Corruption, Problems and Dangers

Of the prisons built in Texas over the past four years, in about a third of them the boilers don't meet the state safety standards because of installation and design mistakes, resulting in state regulators issuing at least 146 waivers of Texas' strict boiler safety laws - a record.

The ...

A Matter of Fact

Between 1984 and 1994, the number of non U.S. citizens serving time in a federal prison increased an average of 15 percent annually, from 4,088 to 18,929. The overall federal prison population, by contrast, increased an average of 10 percent annually, from 31,105 to 87,437 ...

Jury Verdict in Prisoner Attack Affirmed

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit affirmed a jury verdict of $10,000 in favor of a prisoner whose cell was opened by a guard in order for him to be attacked by other prisoners. Edward Paulick, an Illinois state prisoner, was a member of the Northsiders gang ...

On the Edge of Midnight

by Mr.Wolf

An extraordinary ruling by the ninth circuit court of appeals in Hook v. State of Arizona, 98 F.3d 1177 (9th Cir. 1996), brought the Arizona prison system to the brink of disaster during the 1996 holiday season. The ruling is indicative of the folly being exhibited ...

CDC Consent Decree Contempt Vacated

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit held that before a party can be held in contempt for violating a consent decree, the decree must set forth the required conduct in specific detail. Prisoners at the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville filed suit challenging inadequate medical and psychiatric ...

California Prisoner Wins Judgment Against Guard in Shooting

Herbert Green, a 51 year old African-American prisoner, filed a pro se §1983 action against Robert Konkel, a prison guard at Calipatria State Prison, alleging that Konkel violated his eighth amendment rights by shooting him. The case proceeded to trial where a jury awarded Greene $1 in compensatory damages and ...

PLN Readers Dissatisfied with Freedom Press

For several years PLN ran a free ad for Freedom Press, a post-conviction paralegal service based in Virginia and headed by James Gossard. After receiving a couple of complaints about their service, PLN discontinued the ad in May of 1995. We contacted Gossard and presented him with the complaints we ...

California Slave Labor Loses Money

In California there is a prisoner work program that is supposed to save taxpayers up to $50 million a year. However, a new study has shown that taxpayers are shelling out $180,000 annually. The program generates about $340,000 a year for the state, but costs the state $520 ...

Denial of Eyeglasses Violates Eighth Amendment

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that a vision impaired prisoner who is denied medically prescribed eyeglasses states a claim for violation of the eighth amendment. The court also gave some interesting comments that this case should not be confused with "frivolous" litigation cited by anti-prisoner propagandists ...

Swastika Carved on CDC Prison Guard Rifle

In January of 1997 authorities at California's Folsom State Prison launched an investigation to find out who carved a swastika and a "white power" insignia into the stock of a staff rifle.

Sgt. Jim Cook, president of the Folsom chapter of the CA prison guard's union (CCPOA) speculated ...

Illinois Jail Conditions Suit States Claim

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held a district court erred in dismissing a pretrial detainee's conditions of confinement suit for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The court also held it was error to dismiss defendants not properly served ...

FTCA Suit Not Barred by Prior Bivens Claim

In a case of first impression the court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that a plaintiff who files and loses a Bivens suit against federal officials is not automatically barred from filing a tort suit against the United States over the same facts. David Sterling is a federal ...

Trial Required on ADA EFV Claim

A federal district court in California held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132 and the Rehabilitation Act (RA) of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, apply to state prisons and were violated when an HIV+ prisoner and his HIV+ wife were denied Extended Family ...

California Prisoners Entitled to Contact Attorney Visits

The California state court of appeals affirmed a superior court granting a writ of habeas corpus to a prisoner who was denied contact visits with his attorney.

Alan Roark is a California state prisoner represented by Charles Lindner in his direct criminal appeal. Lindner has a precision made prosthetic leg ...

No Frivolousness Review Allowed When Filing Fee Paid

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held that a district court erred when it dismissed portions of a pro se prisoner's complaint after the filing fee had been paid. The lower court also erred when it instructed the defendants not to respond to the suit unless instructed ...

Book Review - Privatization and the Provision of Correctional Services: Context and Consequences

Edited by G. Larry Mays and Tara Gray; Anderson Publishing (1996)

This 185 page overview of prison privatization issues presents a thorough examination of the topic without coming down on one side or the other of the privatization question. With that said, the many problems and pitfalls revealed in its ...

Iowa Retaliation Verdict Affirmed

In the March, 1994, issue of PLN we reported Goff v. Burton, 7 F.3d 734 (8th Cir. 1993) in which the eighth circuit court of appeals reversed a district court ruling in favor of George Goff, an Iowa prisoner who was retaliated against by prison officials for his legal ...

Pro Se Litigant Entitled to Defendant's Identity

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that a pro se litigant is entitled to court appointed counsel in order to discover the identity of defendants and the statute of limitations was subject to equitable tolling while discovery took place. James Donald was arrested by Chicago police and ...

Relation Back Period Suspended during IFP Application

The court of appeals for the third circuit held that the 120 day period allowed for amending complaints under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) is suspended while a district court makes an In Forma Pauperis (IFP) determination under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Donald Urrutia, a Pennsylvania state prisoner ...

'Scared Straight' Youths Molested in Texas Prison

On Valentines Day, 1997, fifteen youngsters from a residential treatment center for boys and girls with psychiatric and substance-abuse problems were touring the Eastham Unit prison in Texas as part of a "scared straight" visitation program. Five of the youths later reported they were sexually molested by prisoners during the ...

Prison NA Meetings Violate Establishment Clause

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that a prisoner's forced attendance at a religion based substance abuse counseling program violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. James Kerr is a Wisconsin state prisoner in a minimum security prison. Prison policy required prisoners with drug abuse ...

BOP Owes Duty of Care to Prisoners

The court of appeals for the third circuit held that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) owes federal prisoners a duty of care and that a district court erred in ruling otherwise. Rother Jones is a federal prisoner who filed a negligence suit against the United States after BOP officials denied ...

TB Isolation May Violate RFRA

A federal district court in Indiana held that a prison policy of isolating Muslim prisoners who refused tuberculosis screening tests may violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb(b)(1) and the eighth amendment. Indiana prisoners who refuse TB tests involving the injection of TB ...

News in Brief

Brazil: On February 28, 1997, police stormed the Anibal Bruno prison in Recife where three prisoners were holding two guards and 20 prison visitors hostage in an escape attempt. When negotiations stalled the prisoners killed the guard hostages after which police stormed the prison, killing the prisoners and one hostage ...

Habeas Petition Not Mooted by Segregation Release

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that when a prisoner challenges a disciplinary hearing via federal habeas corpus collateral consequences will be presumed by the court. Martin Bryan is an Indiana state prisoner. He was infracted for allegedly reaching through his cell bars and attempting to hit ...

BOP Can't Set Restitution

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that federal district courts may not delegate to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) the responsibility to devise a restitution payment schedule pursuant to the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP), 28 C.F.R. § 545.10. Daniel Mortimer was convicted of various ...

Wisconsin RFRA Jewelry Ruling Affirmed

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that a prison policy prohibiting prisoners from wearing crucifixes and all other religious jewelry violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb. In the August, 1996, issue of PLN we reported Sasnett v. Sullivan, 908 F. Supp ...

Mississippi Detainees Awarded Damages in Disciplinary Suit

A federal district court in Mississippi held that the due process rights of two pre trial detainees were violated when they were placed in disciplinary segregation without a hearing. The court awarded each detainee $600 in damages. The court also taxed litigation costs against the defendants.

Percy Dean and Charles ...

Prisoners' Spouses Challenge Washington 35% Law

Past issues of PLN have detailed the litigation in Wright v. Riveland, the federal class action suit challenging the legality of RCW 72.09.480, a Washington state statute that mandates the seizure, without exceptions, of 35% of all funds sent to prisoners. On May 16, 1997, a class action ...

Massachusetts Prisoners Awarded Back Pay

A Mass. superior court judge ruled the state owes 2,253 current and former state prisoners about $1 million because they were not given a pay raise mandated by DOC regulations.

In April 1991, new DOC regulations were issued that raised the top rate for full-time workers from $1 to ...

$7,500 Awarded in Guard Beating

A federal district court in Delaware awarded a prisoner $7,500 in damages after ruling the prisoner was beaten without provocation by a prison guard. Augustus Evans, a Delaware state prisoner was in segregation and repeatedly asked guards to turn off his cell light. When they refused he became loud ...