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Prison Legal News: October, 1998

Issue PDF
Volume 9, Number 10

In this issue:

  1. Arizona DOC Paralegal Fraud: Law Libraries Closed, Replaced by Scam Artists (p 1)
  2. Arizona Paralegals Obstruct Court Access (p 3)
  3. Nine Florida Prison Guards Indicted, Fired (p 4)
  4. From the Editor (p 5)
  5. Loompanics Unlimited (p 5)
  6. Book Review: Project Censored: The News That Didn't Make the News (p 5)
  7. Texas State Symbol Sewn by Slaves (p 6)
  8. Anatomy of a Whitewash (p 7)
  9. Serious Crime Down Again (p 7)
  10. Corcoran Prison Sex, Lies, and Videotape (p 8)
  11. The Buck Stops Where? (p 11)
  12. Devil's Island Redux (p 12)
  13. Georgia Brutality Suit Settled for $283,500 (p 12)
  14. Georgia DOC Turns to Private Prisons (p 13)
  15. Ohio Sells Prison Records (p 13)
  16. PLRA Physical Injury Requirement Does Not Apply to Ex-Cons (p 14)
  17. No Administrative Exhaustion for Bivens Suit (p 14)
  18. FRCP 12(b)(6) Standard Applied to PLRA Dismissals (p 15)
  19. No Exhaustion Required for Money Damage Claims (p 15)
  20. Maryland Indigent Court Cost Suit Settled (p 16)
  21. Utah Porn Ban Rescinded; Suit Settled (p 16)
  22. Wisconsin Transfers Spark Protest (p 17)
  23. Ohio Union Officials Protest Prison Labor (p 17)
  24. Phone Profits 'Benefit' Jail Detainees (p 18)
  25. Manslaughter Charges Against Three TX Guards Dismissed (p 18)
  26. CT Prisoners Pinched for Cost of Imprisonment (p 18)
  27. Four Indicted in Videotaped Brazoria Jail Beatings (p 19)
  28. Sign Language Interpreters Required in Missouri (p 20)
  29. UNICOR Worker Receives $928.32 for Lost Hand (p 20)
  30. Private Health Care Providers Denied Qualified Immunity (p 21)
  31. FL DOC Violates Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (p 21)
  32. Sandin Analysis Hinges on Punishment Actually Imposed (p 22)
  33. New Trial After Magistrate Conducts Jury Selection (p 23)
  34. Trial Required in New Jersey Diabetic Care Suit (p 23)
  35. Prisoner Attendance at Depositions Discussed (p 24)
  36. California Lifers Covered by Tolling Statute (p 24)
  37. Garnishment Proceeding Part of Underlying § 1983 Action (p 25)
  38. Fifth Circuit Expands Qualified Immunity Defense (p 25)
  39. News in Brief (p 26)
  40. Kansas Prisoners Entitled to Halfway House Credits (p 27)
  41. Amnesty International Seeks Human Rights Abuse Info (p 27)
  42. Denial of Legal Materials Sent by Relatives Upheld (p 28)
  43. Failure to Protect in Prison Fight Violates 8th Amendment (p 28)
  44. Alabama Counties Not Liable for Jail Conditions (p 29)
  45. Nebraska Prisoners Have Right to Defend Against Suit (p 29)

Arizona DOC Paralegal Fraud: Law Libraries Closed, Replaced by Scam Artists

One year ago this month, PLN reported that 34 Arizona prison law libraries were permanently closed and replaced with visiting paralegals under contract with the state. [See: "Experiment in Access: Law Libraries Eliminated in Arizona Prisons" PLN , Vol. 8 No. 10]. The "experiment in access'' recently exploded in the faces ...

Arizona Paralegals Obstruct Court Access

by [AZ prisoner, name withheld by request]

The elimination of Arizona prison law libraries is an experiment that other states (and the courts) are watching. Does the contract paralegal system work? And does it provide constitutionally adequate access to the courts? After one year of this experiment, I'd say ...

Nine Florida Prison Guards Indicted, Fired

Nine Florida state prison guards were indicted July 10, 1998, on federal conspiracy and civil rights violation felony charges in the death of a prisoner who was chained, beaten, and left to bleed to death. A tenth guard, presumably the one who broke the "code of silence" to testify on ...

From the Editor

Not too long ago I viewed two one-hour Nightline prime-time specials back-to-back. The first hour featured non-stop spin control about the day's Tomahawk cruise missile attacks on "terrorist camps" in Afghanistan and (most mind-boggling of all!) a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.

Just weeks before, the television had beamed stark ...

Loompanics Unlimited

Loompanics modestly bills itself as "the best book catalog in the world." If it's not the best it is certainly the most diverse, having all the books you've heard about but probably haven't seen in the neighborhood bookstore. Loompanics is a publisher and vendor that pushes the ...

Book Review: Project Censored: The News That Didn't Make the News

Washington on $10 Million a Day: How Lobbyists Plunder the Nation by Ken Silverstein. Common Courage Press

Project Censored: The News That Didn't Make the News, by Peter Phillips and Project Censored. Seven Stories Press.

Prison activists and others who seek reforms within the current political-economic structure have to ...

Texas State Symbol Sewn by Slaves

Designers of the Texas state flag meant for its red, white and blue colors to represent bravery, loyalty and purity. But the flag of the Lone Star state also represent modern-day prison slavery.

For more than 20 years, female prisoners at the Hilltop Unit (prison) near Gatesville have been the ...

Anatomy of a Whitewash

"Authority is never without hate" --Euripides

In a decision that was as remarkable as it was predictable, the Greene County DA, David Pollock, announced his office would take no criminal action against prison guards who were viewed on videotape, "roughing up" men in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) of the ...

Serious Crime Down Again

For the sixth year in a row, serious crime rates fell during 1997, particularly in the Northeastern states, and big cities, according to recent Justice Department figures.

In a survey of 16,000 city, county and state agencies, the overall rate of serious crime fell by 4 percent. Violent crimes ...

Corcoran Prison Sex, Lies, and Videotape

by W. Wisely

Iheard yelling and screaming. I heard batons hitting," Connie Foster told California lawmakers at a joint legislative hearing into brutality at Corcoran prison July 28, 1998. Foster, who worked at the prison from 1987 to 1996, spoke quietly about watching guards beat a prisoner lying face down ...

The Buck Stops Where?

When Georgia prisoner Stanley Reed filed a federal habeas petition in January 1997 he probably didn't expect the response he received: The warden refused to answer the petition, raising the possibility that Reed might be released by default. The reason? Reed, although a state prisoner, was doing time at ...

Devil's Island Redux

Devil's Island Redux?

Tucked away in the mammoth $238 billion 1997 defense spending authorization bill was a four paragraph section, approved by the House Armed Service Committee, that asked the Pentagon to study the feasibility of imprisoning drug offenders on isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean.

According to the ...

Georgia Brutality Suit Settled for $283,500

In a brief hearing on April 23, 1998, U.S. district judge Harold Murphy finalized an agreement that allowed 14 prisoner plaintiffs and their attorneys to receive $283,500. After approving the settlement judge Murphy was quoted as saying, "The settlement is fair, responsible and in the public interest."

The ...

Georgia DOC Turns to Private Prisons

According to a report by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, by July 2003 the state will have just 42,000 prison beds for a projected 55,000 state prisoners. This imbalance is primarily due to a "two strikes" law that took effect on January 1, 1995 and a ...

Ohio Sells Prison Records

The state of Ohio has sold its state prison records, dating back to 1972, to the on-line information service Lexis-Nexis. Other states are expected to follow.

Lexis-Nexis is a private on-line computer service that provides news, business and legal information. The service also features on-line access to vast databases, to ...

PLRA Physical Injury Requirement Does Not Apply to Ex-Cons

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that the PLRA's physical injury requirement does not apply to suits filed after a prisoner is released from prison. The court also held that secular substance abuse programs do not violate the constitution.

When the PLRA was enacted it created ...

No Administrative Exhaustion for Bivens Suit

No Administrative Exhaustion for Bivens Suits

The court of appeals for the Ninth and Tenth circuits held that federal prisoners filing Bivens suits for money damages against Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials need not exhaust administrative remedies where congress has made no provision for an award of money damages. The ...

FRCP 12(b)(6) Standard Applied to PLRA Dismissals

The court of appeals for the Fifth circuit held that district court dismissals of prisoner lawsuits for failure to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c) are subject to de novo review on appeal under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 12(b)(6) standard. Timothy ...

No Exhaustion Required for Money Damage Claims

A federal district court in Illinois held that where prison administrative remedies do not provide for money damages there is no administrative remedy available for prisoner plaintiffs to exhaust within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a) of the PLRA. Section 1997e(a) requires that any available administrative ...

Maryland Indigent Court Cost Suit Settled

On July 1, 1997, U.S. district court judge Marvin Garbis approved the settlement of a class action suit involving the collection of previously waived indigent court costs. In 1991 the Maryland legislature enacted a Budget Reconciliation Act, 1991 Md. Laws, Ch. 3, § 6, which stated:

"Notwithstanding any other provision ...

Utah Porn Ban Rescinded; Suit Settled

In 1997 Utah prison officials wrote a policy which prohibited prisoners in that state from ordering, receiving or possessing any written or printed materials that contained "sexually explicit materials." The policy also prohibited prisoners from receiving or possessing any written or printed materials that contained depictions of nudity or partial ...

Wisconsin Transfers Spark Protest

On Sunday June 28, 1998, prisoners at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution staged a protest against the scheduled transfer of 160 Wisconsin prisoners to a private prison in Oklahoma.

According to eye-witnesses, about 155 prisoners refused orders to return to their cells from a recreation area. Emergency response [goon] units ...

Ohio Union Officials Protest Prison Labor

Ohio state prisoners performed 2.9 million hours of unpaid "community service" labor in 1997 at schools, fairgrounds, churches and other locations. But when the St. Clairsville, Ohio, Board of Education recruited unpaid prison labor in the construction of an outdoor classroom, representatives of the Upper Ohio Valley Building and ...

Phone Profits 'Benefit' Jail Detainees

The Stanislaus County (CA) Jail has a contract with Correctional Communication Corp., a private telephone company that caters to the Prison-Industrial Complex, to provide phone service to the jail's 1,100 captive consumers. There are more than 100 phones in the county's jails. More than 25,000 collect ...

Manslaughter Charges Against Three TX Guards Dismissed

In the July '97 issue of PLN we reported the beating death of Texas prisoner Gary Crenshaw, 31, at the hands of French Robertson unit guards. On June 30, 1997, a Jones County grand jury indicted Sgt. Monte Baker and guards Michael Helms and Bradley Johnson on manslaughter charges [See ...

CT Prisoners Pinched for Cost of Imprisonment

A1995 "get tough" state law mandated that the Connecticut Department of Correction write a regulation for assessing prisoners for the cost of their incarceration In 1997, that mandate was codified into sections 18-85a-1 to 18-85a-4 of the "Regulations of State Agencies: cost of incarceration, services and programs."

"The inmate's ...

Four Indicted in Videotaped Brazoria Jail Beatings

FBI agents arrested three current and former Brazoria County jailers indicted July 29, 1998, on charges stemming from the infamous videotaped shakedown of Missouri prisoners in the Brazoria County "Rent-A-Jail." The three, Lester Arnold, David Cisneros and Robert Percival, along with former Capital Correctional Resources Inc. (CCRI) guard Wilton Wallace ...

Sign Language Interpreters Required in Missouri

Sign Language Interpreters Required In Missouri

The federal district court in Missouri granted a deaf prisoner injunctive relief and partial summary judgment for prison officials' failure to provide a sign language interpreter at disciplinary hearings, routine medical visits, classification hearings, and educational programs.

Ronnie Randolph, a hearing impaired Missouri state ...

UNICOR Worker Receives $928.32 for Lost Hand

The court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a prisoner could bring a Bivens claim separate from any claim brought under a workers' compensation scheme. However, because the evidence of the prison officials' failure to protect did not rise to the level of deliberate indifference, summary judgment against ...

Private Health Care Providers Denied Qualified Immunity

Afederal district court in Alabama held that private party doctors and health care providers are not entitled to qualified immunity when sued by prisoners for Eight Amendment violations. The court further held that the existence of an on-going class action involving similar claims did not preclude the plaintiff's individual ...

FL DOC Violates Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Afederal district court in Florida held that § 944.801(4), Fla. Stat. (1997), which permits prisoners under 22 years of age, who qualify for special educational services and programs pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1415, to request a post-depri- vation due process ...

Sandin Analysis Hinges on Punishment Actually Imposed

The court of appeals for the Second circuit held that an analysis of whether due process is required for disciplinary hearings where segregation was imposed as punishment will turn on the punishment actually imposed, not the potential penalty. The court also held that a lower court erred when it considered ...

New Trial After Magistrate Conducts Jury Selection

The court of appeals for the Eleventh circuit held that a magistrate presiding over jury selection, when the plaintiff objects, constitutes reversible error and is not subject to a harmless error analysis. Albert Thomas, a Georgia state prisoner, sued state prison officials. When the case went to trial a magistrate ...

Trial Required in New Jersey Diabetic Care Suit

Afederal district court denied New Jersey prison authorities their motion for summary judgment against diabetic prisoners' class action suit under 42 USC § 1983. The prisoners' complaint was that the medical care provided by the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC) to treat their diabetic conditions is "uniformly and grossly inadequate ...

Prisoner Attendance at Depositions Discussed

The court of appeals for the Sixth circuit held that a district court erred when it issued an order permitting a prisoner plaintiff to attend the pretrial deposition of prison officials conducted by his lawyer. In doing so, the court set forth standards lower courts should consider when reviewing motions ...

California Lifers Covered by Tolling Statute

The court of appeals for the Ninth circuit held that California prisoners serving sentences of life with the possibility of parole fall within California Civil Procedure Code § 352(a)(3), which tolls the statute of limitations for persons "in execution under the sentence of a criminal court for a term ...

Garnishment Proceeding Part of Underlying § 1983 Action

The court of appeals for the Seventh circuit held that proceedings to garnish the wages of civil rights defendants against whom judgment has been entered are part of the underlying civil rights actions and district courts retain jurisdiction to enforce the judgment.

While not a prison case this ruling will ...

Fifth Circuit Expands Qualified Immunity Defense

In a lengthy opinion which may have dire consequences for prisoners seeking to resist qualified immunity defenses, the Fifth Circuit held that city jail guards had a duty, which was clearly established in 1989, to protect prisoners from suicide. However, the court also held that intentionally leaving a blanket used ...

News in Brief

AZ : In early 1998, 16 DOC guards were fired or quit for sexually harassing other employees or engaging in sexual misconduct with other employees at the Florence prison complex. Eight other guards were disciplined. The misconduct included guards having sex with each other in towers; making obscene phone calls; putting ...

Kansas Prisoners Entitled to Halfway House Credits

The Kansas court of appeals held that prisoners whose halfway house status is revoked are entitled to credit for the time spent in the facility, but are not entitled to credit for time spent on house arrest. Bradley Cordill, a Kansas state prisoner, was assigned to a community corrections program ...

Amnesty International Seeks Human Rights Abuse Info

Amnesty International Seeks Human Rights Abuse Info 

Amnesty International (A.I.) is working on a comprehensive report on human rights in the United States, inclusive of prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers. The primary purpose of this report is to document where there is systemic violation of human rights.

This ...

Denial of Legal Materials Sent by Relatives Upheld

The court of appeals for the Eighth circuit, sitting en banc, held that Missouri prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from money damages for denying a prisoner a package of legal materials sent by a relative. The court held it was immaterial that the policy was only randomly applied ...

Failure to Protect in Prison Fight Violates 8th Amendment

Failure To Protect In Prison Fight Violates 8th Amendment

In 1994, the duty of guards to protect prisoners in prison fights was clearly established by Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994) according to a federal district court in Texas. The survivors of Randy Payne, a Texas prisoner who ...

Alabama Counties Not Liable for Jail Conditions

The court of appeals for the eleventh circuit, sitting en banc, held that Alabama counties cannot be held liable for the operation of county jails. In doing so the court overturned prior circuit precedent on this issue.

Phillip Turquitt was killed by another prisoner while being held in the Jefferson ...

Nebraska Prisoners Have Right to Defend Against Suit

The Nebraska court of appeals held that prisoners have a due process right to defend themselves against lawsuits. Frances Thompson, an animal rights activist, and PLN subscriber, imprisoned in Nebraska, was sued by the University of Nebraska for unpaid student loans. Thompson filed a timely, pro se, answer to the ...