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Prison Legal News: July, 1997

Issue PDF
Volume 8, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Edwards v. Balisok: A Partial Victory for Prisoners (p 1)
  2. Not All Things Considered (p 3)
  3. From the Editor (p 4)
  4. Ruchell Cinque Magee: Sole Survivor Still (p 5)
  5. Trouble Coming Every Day; ADX-The First Year (p 6)
  6. Prisoners Roasted Alive (p 9)
  7. Prison Pay Policy May Violate Court Access (p 9)
  8. Administrative Exhaustion Requirements Not Retroactive (p 10)
  9. Automatic Stay Provisions (p 10)
  10. PLRA Filing Fees Not Applicable to Habeas (p 10)
  11. Filing Fees Required in Civil Mandamus (p 10)
  12. Consent Decree Termination (p 10)
  13. Special Masters (p 10)
  14. 6th Circuit Upholds PLRA IFP Provisions (p 11)
  15. PLRA Doesn't Apply to Immigration Detainees (p 11)
  16. Physical Injury Requirement Not Retroactive (p 11)
  17. A Matter of Fact (p 12)
  18. New York Smoking Suit Set for Trial (p 12)
  19. Puerto Rican POW 'Graduated' from ADX Florence to USP Marion (p 13)
  20. Washington Prisoner Escapes from State's Most Secure Lockup (p 14)
  21. Private Prison Disciplinary Action Subject to Colorado Court Review (p 14)
  22. Judge Rules Texas Prisoner's Death a Result of Excessive Force (p 15)
  23. Prisoners of Colonialism: The Struggle for Justice in Puerto Rico (p 16)
  24. In Defense of Mumia (p 16)
  25. Death Blossoms (p 16)
  26. Suit Seeks to Expose BOP 'Suicide' Cover-up (p 17)
  27. Jury Trial May Require Plaintiffs' Presence (p 18)
  28. Hygiene and Retaliation Claims Require Trial (p 18)
  29. Lucasville Uprising: $4.1 Million Settlement (p 19)
  30. Plight of Undertrial Prisoners in India (p 20)
  31. News in Brief (p 21)
  32. State Must Pay for Prisoner Witnesses (p 22)

Edwards v. Balisok: A Partial Victory for Prisoners

by David C. Fathi

On May 19, 1997, the United States Supreme Court decided Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 117 S.Ct. 1584 (1997). Although the Court reversed a favorable decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, it also reaffirmed the ability of prisoners ...

Not All Things Considered

Award-winning poet Martin Espada was commissioned by National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" to compose a poem as part of the radio network's April observance of National Poetry Month. NPR suggested a poem focusing on a news story from one of the cities Espada was visiting during a ...

From the Editor

Prison population growth is an oft-cited statistic. Since most PLN readers are either imprisoned or otherwise closely involved with the U.S. "corrections" industry, it is easy for them to readily appreciate the concrete (and steel) meaning of prison population stats. Here is a familiar one: according to the Bureau ...

Ruchell Cinque Magee: Sole Survivor Still

Slavery is being practiced by the system under the color of law ... Slavery 400 years ago, slavery today; it's the same thing, but with a new name. They're making millions and millions of dollars enslaving Blacks, poor whites, and others - people who don't even know they're ...

Trouble Coming Every Day; ADX-The First Year

Society reflects itself in the microcosm of prison. From a class-based, economically driven, racially motivated construct devolves life as a series of Chinese boxes -- a set of boxes decreasing in size so that each box fits inside the next larger one. I am in the smallest box.

I am in ...

Prisoners Roasted Alive

A van carrying prisoners burst into flames alongside a Tennessee interstate highway, killing all six prisoners shackled inside a wire mesh cage in the back of the van.

The prisoners were being transported in a van operated by Federal Extradition Agency, a private Memphis-based company that transports prisoners. The driver ...

Prison Pay Policy May Violate Court Access

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held that a prison pay policy requiring prisoners to buy hygiene items and litigation supplies may violate prisoners right of access to the courts. Three Iowa state prisoners in administrative segregation (ad seg) challenged a prison policy that provides them with $7 ...

Administrative Exhaustion Requirements Not Retroactive

The court of appeals for the sixth circuit held that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), which requires prisoners to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit in federal court do not apply to cases pending on April 24, 1996, when the PLRA was signed into law, creating the exhaustion requirement ...

Automatic Stay Provisions

After a federal district court in Michigan found the Michigan DOC guilty of contempt for not complying with prior judicial orders on the prisoners' court access and educational opportunities, see: Glover v. Johnson, 934 F. Supp. 1360 (ED MI 1996), the defendants moved to immediately terminate the consent decree under ...

PLRA Filing Fees Not Applicable to Habeas

The tenth and eleventh circuit courts of appeals held that the PLRA's filing fee requirements for indigent prisoners do not apply to habeas corpus petitions. The five other circuits to consider this question have reached the same result. Thus, indigent prisoners need not pay the filing fee when filing ...

Filing Fees Required in Civil Mandamus

The court of appeals for the tenth circuit held that the PLRA's filing fee requirements apply when a prisoner litigant seeks a writ of mandamus in an ongoing civil suit. The court did not discuss whether this applied to writs of mandamus in criminal or habeas proceedings. The court ...

Consent Decree Termination

A federal district court in Indiana heard a motion by Lake County officials to dissolve a consent decree governing jail conditions. The motion sought immediate termination of the decree pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(2) and (3). The court gave an extensive discussion to the history of ...

Special Masters

The court of appeals for the ninth circuit held that 18 U.S.C. § 3626(f)(4), the portion of the PLRA which limits the hourly rates paid to special masters appointed to oversee court orders in prison litigation to $75.00 an hour paid for by the federal judiciary ...

6th Circuit Upholds PLRA IFP Provisions

The court of appeals for the sixth circuit rejected the first extensive constitutional challenge made to the In Forma Pauperis (IFP) provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). The PLRA changes to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the IFP statute, were detailed in the July, 1996, issue of PLN ...

PLRA Doesn't Apply to Immigration Detainees

The court of appeals for the fifth circuit held that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) does not apply to immigration detainees. Anthony Ojo was convicted of a drug offense, sentenced to five years in prison and after completing that sentence the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) began deportation proceedings ...

Physical Injury Requirement Not Retroactive

A federal district court in New York held that 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), a section of the PLRA which requires prisoners to sustain physical injury before they can seek money damages, is not retroactive to claims arising before the PLRA's April 26, 1996, enactment. The court also ...

A Matter of Fact

A 15-year study of 1,300 sex offenders who were arrested in 1973, conducted by the California Dept. of Justice, found that 19.7 percent were re-arrested for a subsequent sex-offense. That figure may seem low, so in a dazzling example of statistical hocus-pocus, the study concluded that "sex offenders ...

New York Smoking Suit Set for Trial

A federal district court in New York held that prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for exposing prisoners to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), also known as second hand smoke, and scheduled a trial to determine prison officials' liability. Several New York state prisoners at Sing Sing filed suit ...

Puerto Rican POW 'Graduated' from ADX Florence to USP Marion

On November 8, 1996, Puerto Rican prisoner of war Oscar Lopez Rivera was transferred from ADX Florence to USP Marion after completing the 36-month "step program" at ADX in just 23 months. He received no disciplinary infractions while at ADX and was among the control unit's first "graduates." Lopez ...

Washington Prisoner Escapes from State's Most Secure Lockup

In July, 1996, John Allen Lamb, 33, hijacked a prison truck at knife point and attempted to ram the truck through security fencing at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) at Walla Walla [later reported in PLN's News In Brief]. The unsuccessful escape attempt earned Lamb an extended stay in ...

Private Prison Disciplinary Action Subject to Colorado Court Review

The Colorado court of appeals held that state prison disciplinary codes apply to private prisons and are subject to judicial review. Patrick Murphy, a Colorado state prisoner, was placed in the Bent County Correctional Facility (BCCF), a privately owned and operated prison. Murphy was infracted for possession of heroin and ...

Judge Rules Texas Prisoner's Death a Result of Excessive Force

On January 27, 1997, a guard at the French Robertson Unit in Abilene, TX, showed up to search Gary Lee Crenshaw's cell. Crenshaw, 31, serving a 45-year sentence for possession with intent to deliver cocaine, returned from the shower and reportedly "became irate" when he saw his cell being ...

Prisoners of Colonialism: The Struggle for Justice in Puerto Rico

Review by Daniel Burton-Rose

This work by Ronald Fernandez provides a history of Puerto Rico's efforts to free itself from the imperial rule of the United States, from the time it was "won" from the Spanish in 1898 to the present state of affairs. It concentrates on the four ...

In Defense of Mumia

Review by Daniel Burton-Rose

This work, edited by S.E. Anderson and Tony Medina, is a powerful compilation of graphic art, prose, and poetry inspired by political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal's struggle for freedom from PA's death row, the 1985 bombing of the radical MOVE organization by the city ...

Death Blossoms

Review by Mark Cook

Mumia Abu Jamal's Death Blossoms walks the reader through a hallway of mirrors reflecting the thoughts of a prisoner of conscience contending with the oppressive diversion of a death sentence. Death Blossoms evades the State's attempt to silence him. In an effort to silence ...

Suit Seeks to Expose BOP 'Suicide' Cover-up

A former U.S. Congressman and his organization are offering a $10,000 reward in the death of Kenneth Michael Trentadue. Congressman George Hansen says the U.S. Citizens Human Rights Commission is offering the money for the identification, indictment and conviction of the people responsible for Trentadue's death ...

Jury Trial May Require Plaintiffs' Presence

The court of appeals for the fifth circuit held that a district court erred in not allowing two pro se prisoner litigants to be present when their case went to a jury trial. The court also found error in the manner in which the trial was conducted. [Editors' Note: Anyone ...

Hygiene and Retaliation Claims Require Trial

The court of appeals for the tenth circuit held that a prisoner's retaliation claim and claim that he had been denied hygiene items required a trial. The court affirmed dismissal of claims regarding inadequate law library access and his placement in administrative segregation (ad seg). Donald Penrod, a Colorado ...

Lucasville Uprising: $4.1 Million Settlement

In January, 1997, a settlement was filed in federal court in the three-year-old class action based on injuries stemming from the 1993 Easter Day uprising and 11-day siege at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) at Lucasville, OH. The settlement establishes a $4.1 million fund to pay prisoner damage ...

Plight of Undertrial Prisoners in India

In India there are 85 central prisons, 252 district prisons, 14 women's prisons, and about 547 sub-jails. The exact number of prisoners in the country is not known. At the end of 1993, according to one estimate, there were about 200,000 prisoners throughout India. Of that number, about ...

News in Brief

CA: On May 8, 1997, 11 year Sacramento County deputy district attorney Pete Harned was charged in federal court with 19 counts of receiving, transporting and possessing child pornography over the Internet. This included felony receipt of a CD Rom titled "The Boy Lovers." A search of his home revealed ...

State Must Pay for Prisoner Witnesses

A federal district court in California held that courts may issue writs of habeas corpus ad testificandum to ensure prisoner witnesses are produced to testify in court on behalf of a prisoner plaintiff. The court also held that the cost of transporting and producing prisoner witnesses was properly borne by ...