Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: February, 1998

Issue PDF
Volume 9, Number 2

In this issue:

  1. Juvenile Crime Pays (p 1)
  2. Bureau of Prisons Gag Rule Enacted (p 3)
  3. From the Editor (p 4)
  4. Washington "Bulk Mail" Ban of PLN Struck Down (p 5)
  5. Where to Now For Prison Smoking? (p 6)
  6. Resources for Smoking Litigation: Health Effects of Smoking; Legal Cases on Smoking (p 7)
  7. Actual Injury Required in Legal Mail Claim (p 8)
  8. KS S.Ct. Affirms Trust Account "Service Fee" (p 8)
  9. No Immunity for Delaying Arthritis Treatment (p 9)
  10. Deaf Prisoners in Washington Seek Class-Wide Relief (p 9)
  11. Union Denounces Prison Labor (p 9)
  12. Florida PRIDE Employees Denied Minimum Wages (p 10)
  13. PRIDE Eyes Private Markets (p 10)
  14. No Immunity for Florida Private Jail (p 11)
  15. PLRA Requires Winning Prisoner to Pay 25% of Defendants' Atty Fees (p 12)
  16. Exposure to Cold States Claim Exhaustion Requirement of PLRA Not Retroactive (p 13)
  17. PLRA Attorney Fee Restrictions Not Retroactive (p 13)
  18. WSP Ban on Gift Subscriptions Enjoined (p 14)
  19. Trial Required in Oklahoma Beating Case (p 15)
  20. News in Brief (p 16)
  21. New York Prisoner Settles Excessive Force Case for $25,000 (p 17)
  22. Legal Papers Must be Returned to Owner; Prisoner Legal Mail Banned (p 17)
  23. 7th Circuit Defines "Serious Medical Needs" (p 18)
  24. Inadequate Prison Security Violates 8th Amendment (p 18)
  25. Damages Suit Stayed While Habeas Pursued in Disciplinary Hearing Challenge (p 19)
  26. Idaho Court Access Class Action Suit Proceeds (p 19)
  27. Iowa Prison Nurse Liable in Birthing (p 20)
  28. West Virginia Prisoners Lose Computers (p 20)
  29. Cold Cell Violates 8th Amendment (p 21)
  30. Grand Jury Indicts 45 Texas Prisoners (p 22)
  31. Rhode Island Ban on Royalties to Felon Authors Struck Down (p 22)
  32. Second Circuit Rules on Appointment of Counsel (p 22)

Juvenile Crime Pays

According to a study by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), from 1991 to 1995 the population of youthful offenders held in privately-operated facilities grew 10% to an estimated 35,600. The juvenile justice system has become enormously profitable as youths are channeled from the schoolhouse to ...

Bureau of Prisons Gag Rule Enacted

Effective June 20, 1997, the Department of Justice and its Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) enacted changes to 28 CFR (chapter V, subchapter A, Part 501) governing general management and administration of BOP prisons. The new rules allow the federal government to target BOP prisoners who are deemed to present ...

From the Editor

Greetings and welcome to another issue of PLN . Several readers have pointed out that PLN editorials are needlessly long. Naturally, my feelings were bruised. The truth hurts. From now on, though, the limit on PLN editorials is 500 words (a half-page) rather than 1,000.

So maybe I should get ...

Washington "Bulk Mail" Ban of PLN Struck Down

Since PLN began publishing in 1990 it has experienced sporadic attempts at censorship by the Washington DOC. This has ranged from a statewide ban of the first three issues to harassment of the editors. Unable to articulate a threat to "legitimate penological goals" that PLN might pose, censorship attempts have ...

Where to Now For Prison Smoking?

Where To Now For Prison Smoking?

By Paul Wright

As noted in last month's article, "Smoking, Lies and Hypocrisy," notes, the tobacco settlement between the states and the tobacco industry will have no impact on prisoners, assuming it is actually implemented. When the supreme court decided Helling v. McKinney ...

Resources for Smoking Litigation: Health Effects of Smoking; Legal Cases on Smoking

Health Effects of Smoking: The American Lung Association offers a detailed, comprehensive series of booklets and reports which detail the negative health effects of smoking, exposure to second hand smoke, etc. Contact: ALA, 1740 Broadway, New York, NY 10019-4374. 1-800- Lung-USA.

Legal Cases on Smoking: Anyone litigating smoke related issues ...

Actual Injury Required in Legal Mail Claim

In the December, 1995, issue of PLN we reported Bieregu v. Reno , 59 F.3d 1445 (3rd Cir. 1995) where the third circuit held that a prisoner need not show harm to a court claim when the confidential) of his legal mail was repeatedly violated. After Bieregu was decided the ...

KS S.Ct. Affirms Trust Account "Service Fee"

KS S.Ct. Affirms Trust Account "Service Fee"

In two separate cases the Kansas supreme court affirmed a state DOC policy, KAR 44-5-115, which imposes a $1 monthly surcharge on prisoners for administering their prison trust accounts. A state district court held that assessing service fees violated the prisoners' due ...

No Immunity for Delaying Arthritis Treatment

Afederal district court in West Virginia held prisoners had a clearly established right in 1994 to prompt medical treatment and to have prescribed treatment followed. Oscar Finley, a West Virginia state prisoner suffers from arthritis and has a physician's recommendation that he not be placed in handcuffs. Despite the ...

Deaf Prisoners in Washington Seek Class-Wide Relief

by David C. Fathi, Jeff B. Crollard and Leonard J. Feldman

Lawyers representing two deaf prisoners in a lawsuit against the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) are seeking to broaden the suit into a class action on behalf of all deaf and hearing impaired prisoners in the custody of WDOC ...

Union Denounces Prison Labor

Iowa DOC officials are aggressively marketing prison labor to private firms, with a goal of placing prisoners in at least 650 private-sector jobs. Iowa prisoners currently make license plates, produce furniture for government offices, and do telemarketing to promote Iowa tourism.

They also make sandwiches for sale in vending machines ...

Florida PRIDE Employees Denied Minimum Wages

The court of appeals for the eleventh circuit affirmed summary judgment against Florida state prisoners who claimed entitlement to the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219. The court held that the private, non profit corporation established by statute, independent of ...

PRIDE Eyes Private Markets

Florida's prison industry program, known as PRIDE, is developing a pilot program to allow private manufacturers to "outsource" contracts that would have PRIDE furniture plant workers produce furniture for eventual sale on the open market.

Success there could lead to more "outsourcing" contracts which would have PRIDE workers doing ...

No Immunity for Florida Private Jail

The district court for the middle district of Florida held that the sheriff, the county and a private corporation operating the county jail were liable for detaining an arrestee for 30 days without a probable cause hearing. The court also held that monetary damages were the proper remedy and that ...

PLRA Requires Winning Prisoner to Pay 25% of Defendants' Atty Fees

In the first published ruling on this issue, a federal district court in New York required a winning prisoner to pay 25% of the reduced attorney fees assessed against the losing prison official defendants. Kevin Clark is a New York state prisoner who sued prison officials who had violated his ...

Exposure to Cold States Claim Exhaustion Requirement of PLRA Not Retroactive

A federal district court in Illinois held that a prisoner's allegations of exposure to extreme cold while confined to a cell states an eighth amendment claim. The court also declined to apply the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (PLRA) retroactively in ...

PLRA Attorney Fee Restrictions Not Retroactive

A federal district court in New York held that the restrictions imposed on recoverable attorney fees by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (PLRA) do not apply retroactively and are not applicable to claims by attorneys retained prior to the PLRA's enactment for work performed after it took ...

WSP Ban on Gift Subscriptions Enjoined

In two separate, unpublished rulings, different federal magistrates in Spokane, Washington, held that a Washington State Penitentiary policy requiring that prisoners purchase all magazine subscriptions and books from their prison trust accounts was unconstitutional. Both courts enjoined the policy. WSP Policy 450.100 states that prisoners can receive publications from ...

Trial Required in Oklahoma Beating Case

The court of appeals for the tenth circuit held that a prisoner's claim for declaratory and injunctive relief are mooted once he is released from incarceration and that questions of fact regarding the application of force by guards precludes summary judgment in their favor. The court also held that ...

News in Brief

CA : Joe Sandoval, 60, resigned as secretary of California's Youth an Adult Correctional Agency on August 15, 1997, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. Upon his resignation governor Pete Wilson appointed Sandoval to the state's Narcotic Addict Evaluation Authority. The position pays $38,000 ...

New York Prisoner Settles Excessive Force Case for $25,000

Michael Slater, a New York State prisoner, will receive $18,000 in settlement of an excessive force civil rights claim against two guards at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. The settlement also provides for an additional $7,000 in attorney fees and costs to be paid to Prisoners ...

Legal Papers Must be Returned to Owner; Prisoner Legal Mail Banned

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held a district court erred when it ordered prison officials to allow prisoner co-plaintiffs to correspond with each other about their case. The court affirmed an injunction requiring prison officials to return to its owner legal papers in the possession of jailhouse ...

7th Circuit Defines "Serious Medical Needs"

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit announced that medical conditions that cause pain, but are not life threatening, constitute serious medical needs for eighth amendment purposes. In doing so, the court clarified this area of law for the seventh circuit.

Carlos Gutierrez is an Illinois state prisoner who ...

Inadequate Prison Security Violates 8th Amendment

Afederal district court in Puerto Rico held a prison security officer could be held liable for a prisoner's murder when he knew of inadequate staff supervision and non functioning cell locks, among other things, and did nothing to improve security. Angel Orta Fernandez, a Puerto Rico prisoner, was killed ...

Damages Suit Stayed While Habeas Pursued in Disciplinary Hearing Challenge

As the courts grapple with the question of when prisoners can sue for money damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when challenging disciplinary hearings that result in lost good time and when they must pursue habeas corpus remedies, the seventh circuit issued a clarifying ruling on the sequencing of ...

Idaho Court Access Class Action Suit Proceeds

Afederal district court in Idaho denied prison officials' motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging inadequate court access and to decertify the case as a class action suit. In 1992 Idaho prisoners at two prisons filed a class action suit challenging the operation of prison law libraries. The defendants claimed that ...

Iowa Prison Nurse Liable in Birthing

The court of appeals for the eighth circuit held a prison nurse was properly found liable for ignoring a prisoner's complaint that she was in labor. The appeals court affirmed an award of $1,000 in compensatory damages but vacated an award of $3,500 in punitive damages.

Gloria ...

West Virginia Prisoners Lose Computers

Following the lead of prisoncrats in Washington, New Jersey, Wyoming, and Alaska, West Virginia DOC officials ordered the removal of all prisoner-owned personal computers from state prison cells.

Corrections Commissioner Bill Davis, who took office August 1, 1997, issued a memorandum to all state prison administrators in which he said ...

Cold Cell Violates 8th Amendment

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit held that extremely cold prison cells violate the eighth amendment but poor cell ventilation in summer does not. Anthony Dixon is an Illinois state prisoner in protective custody at Stateville. He filed suit claiming that in winter his cell was so cold ...

Grand Jury Indicts 45 Texas Prisoners

A Jones County, TX, grand jury indicted 45 French Robertson and Middleton Unit prisoners in October, 1997, for felony crimes allegedly committed in prison during the previous two years.

Among the indicted were prisoners Michael Dwayne Purnell and Maximiliano Sanchez III, accused of assaulting French Robertson guard Michael D. Helms ...

Rhode Island Ban on Royalties to Felon Authors Struck Down

The supreme court of Rhode Island held that the state's Criminal Royalties Distribution Act (CRDA) of 1983, Title 12, chapter 25.1 of the general laws of Rhode Island, is unconstitutional. The CRDA requires that any funds felons receive from films, books or articles must be placed in a ...

Second Circuit Rules on Appointment of Counsel

The court of appeals for the second circuit held that a district court abused its discretion by denying a pro se prisoner's motion to appoint counsel under a local court rule that conditioned such appointment on the prisoner's claim surviving a motion for summary judgment. Burnell Hendricks, a ...