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Prison Legal News: May, 1992

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Volume 3, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Prison Conditions in the United States (p 1)
  2. The Parole Board, a Step Nearer to Gone? (p 1)
  3. NJ Ad Seg Rules Create Liberty Interest (p 2)
  4. ABA Committee - Shift in Drug Strategy Needed (p 2)
  5. Jailhouse Lawyers Win One (p 3)
  6. Minor Injury in Prison Abuse Actionable (p 3)
  7. Prison Officials Cannot Delay Access to Case Law (p 3)
  8. Florida Visiting Rules Create Liberty Interest (p 3)
  9. U.S. Made Prison Products in China's News (p 4)
  10. Convict Heritage Comes Through in Australia (p 4)
  11. Court Upholds Pulling of Bear Teeth (p 4)
  12. Reviews (p 4)
  13. Editorial (p 5)
  14. Deportation Delays Criticized (p 5)
  15. Race Discrimination in Prison Job Assignments Condemned (p 5)
  16. U.S. Still Leads World's Incarceration Rate (p 6)
  17. Community Help Foundation Unlimited (p 6)
  18. Prison Overcrowding Crisis Continues, Says New Report (p 7)
  19. Can't Stop Con's Legal Help Due to Transfer (p 7)
  20. Guards Can't Be Prevented From Making Positive Recommendations To Parole Board (p 7)
  21. Iowa Visiting Rules Create Liberty Interest (p 8)
  22. Burmese Prisoners Used as Cannon Fodder (p 8)
  23. Delay of Legal Files States Claim (p 8)
  24. Retiring Judge Calls Sentencing Guidelines "Travesty of Justice" (p 8)
  25. Pregnant Con Miscarries After Taser Attack (p 8)
  26. Not All Are Frivolous (p 9)
  27. Court Must Rule on Discovery Before Dismissal (p 9)
  28. Dismissal of Religious Freedom Suit Reversed (p 9)
  29. PLN Benefit Tape (p 10)

Prison Conditions in the United States

Prison Conditions In The United States

Human Rights Watch, an international human and civil rights group, has issued the results of its investigation into prison conditions in the United States. Their investigation consisted of visits to more than 20 state and federal prisons and detention centers, prison litigation cases since 1984, and interviews with prisoners, lawyers, prison officials and prisoner relatives and advocates.

The report notes the increasing use of sensory deprivation by state and federal prisons in the U.S. and the resulting physical and mental harm such measures inflict on their victims. It notes that such control units violate international standards on the treatment of prisoners (i.e., corporal punishment, lockdown indoors, collective punishment, etc.). It notes the large number of Americans, more than one million, are affected by these conditions and that the U.S. imprisons a greater percentage of its citizens than any other country in the world.

The report lists a series of recommendations for prison officials to implement in order to meet minimal human rights standards in the prisons they control.

The report lists the findings and conclusions of the investigation into specific areas such as health, disciplinary measures, physical conditions, safety, death row ...

The Parole Board, a Step Nearer to Gone?

The Parole Board, A Step Nearer To Gone?

In 1981 Washington State legislature passed the Sentencing Reform Act. The SRA implemented determinate sentencing for all, and fixed a date for abolishing the parole board. The original principles of the SRA were fairly good, and may have worked well enough if the legislation had not been constantly tinkered with in the intervening years. The Washington courts have consistently resisted applying the SRA principles fairly and equitably to prisoners who were convicted prior to 1984 effective date of the act. The parole board has struggled to resist implementing the SRA as if its very life were being threatened ... no wonder, since the SRA would abolish the board! As a result of the pressure placed on it by the board, the courts, and various special interest groups, the state legislature has annually modified the SRA, and repeatedly extended the life of the parole board.

The original SRA sharply limited the criteria which could be taken into account when determining the length of an offender's punishment. The seriousness of the offense category and the circumstances of the particular crime, along with the extent of the offender's prior convictions were criteria which were ...

NJ Ad Seg Rules Create Liberty Interest

Salvatore Gerardi is a New Jersey State prisoner who was suspected by prison officials of being part of a drug trafficking ring. Gerardi claimed his right to due process was violated when prison officials placed him in the Maximum Control Unit (MCU) and failed to provide him a hearing within ...

ABA Committee - Shift in Drug Strategy Needed

A national drug strategy that relies on the criminal justice system to solve the drug crisis won't work and diverts attention and resources from other needed approaches such as prevention, education and treatment, according to a report released by the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section's Ad Hoc Committee on the Drug Crisis.

The report calls for an immediate shift in the allocation of national drug strategy dollars "away from 70 percent emphasis on law enforcement and towards prevention and treatment."

Among the committee's recommendations: "mandatory treatment of incarcerated drug abusers" and "increased use of intermediate sanctions - those not involving conventional prison sentences."

Source: American Bar Association

Jailhouse Lawyers Win One

On January 14th the U.S. Supreme Court issued a modest victory for jailhouse lawyers and other poor litigants, ruling that a technical problem with filing a legal appeal does not necessarily void a court from considering the case.

The court, in a unanimous ruling, said a lawsuit brought by William Smith against Maryland prison officials can proceed, despite his failure to file the proper papers with the U.S. court of appeals for the fourth circuit.

Smith, a non-lawyer who claims that the state's refusal to give him a wheelchair in prison constituted cruel and unusual punishment, sent the fourth circuit an "informal brief" of his case rather than a formal notice of appeal within the allotted time after trial.

The court of appeals then refused to hear the appeal, contending Smith had failed to follow specific rules. But the high court said an improperly filed appeal by a litigant acting on his own can still be considered a technical notice of appeal if it contains adequate information.

"The notice afforded by a document," the court said, "not the litigant's motivation in filing it, determines the document's sufficiency as a notice of appeal.

Justice Scalia filed ...

Minor Injury in Prison Abuse Actionable

Minor Injury In Prison Abuse Actionable

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that use of excessive force against a prison inmate may constitute unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, even if the prisoner does not suffer a serious injury. To rule otherwise, the court said, "would permit any physical punishment, no matter how diabolic or inhuman, inflicting less than some arbitrary quantity of injury. Such a result would have been as unacceptable to the drafters of the Eighth amendment as it is today."

The 7-2 ruling in Hudson v. McMillian, handed down on February 25, was noteworthy both as a matter of new case law and as an early indication of Justice Clarence Thomas's views on the role of the courts and federal constitution. In a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Thomas wrote that the court was extending the eighth amendment "beyond all reasonable limits" and criticized "the pervasive view that the federal Constitution must address all ills in our society."

The case began in 1983 when Keith Hudson, an inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, argued with correctional officer Jack McMillian. McMillian and another officer then placed Hudson in handcuffs and shackles, took ...

Prison Officials Cannot Delay Access to Case Law

Prison Officials Cannot Delay Access To Case Law

Washington state prisoner Mark Larue was transferred out of state to the Illinois DOC while pursuing a collateral attack on his conviction. The lawyer representing Larue withdrew from the case and the state court of appeals set a deadline for Larue to pursue his appeal. To enable Larue to file his appeal the Washington DOC provided Larue with a microfiche of Washington case law. The microfiche arrived in Illinois but was not made available to him by Illinois DOC officials until after the appeal had been dismissed for lack of prosecution. Larue then filed suit under §1983 claiming denial of his right of access to the courts. The defendants moved for summary judgement and qualified immunity which the court denied.

The court held that while prison officials need to provide prisoners with a lawyer or a law library they cannot provide one means of access (a law library) and then intentionally delay use of that means until it is effectively too late.

Because Larue had not chosen to proceed without counsel he was entitled to a law library of Washington law with which to challenge his conviction. Illinois prison officials violated his ...

Florida Visiting Rules Create Liberty Interest

William Van Poyck is a Florida death row prisoner convicted of killing a prison guard while helping another prisoner escape. While Van Poyck was awaiting trial in the Palm Beach County jail he met Deborah Chisholm, a nurse at the jail. After he was convicted and sent to Florida State Prison at Starke he sought to put Chisholm on his visiting list. The request was denied by prison officials who claimed Chisholm's prior employment as a jail nurse made her a security risk.

Van Poyck exhausted his administrative remedies and filed suit under §1983 claiming his rights to due process, association and equal protection had been violated. The defendants moved for summary judgement which the district court granted in part and denied in part. The court dismissed the association claim by noting prisoners have no absolute right to visitation.

However, the court held that Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 33.5.006 and 33-500.7 create a due process liberty interest which can be enforced in federal court. The FAC sets forth an objective criteria which limits prison officials discretion in denying prisoners access to visitors. The Court discusses the legal standard used to determine if a prison policy creates ...

U.S. Made Prison Products in China's News

U.S. Made Prison Products In China's News

China, taking the offensive in its spat with Washington over prisoner-made products, recently saturated its national media with an American magazine's account of U.S. industry's profitable exploitation of American prisoners.

China's national television news and most major newspapers gave prominent coverage to an account about American-style prison labor published in the February 17th issue of Business Week. " U. S. companies are taking two primary advantages of prison labor: coercion and low wages," the reports quoted Business Week as saying.

The Chinese reports carried the strong suggestion that the U.S. government, which accuses China of exporting prisoner-made goods to the United States in violation of U.S. law, should practice what it preaches or change the sermon. "The [Business Week] article said at the end that those who criticize prison labor in other countries might be missing what happens in their own country," the reports said.

The reports cited the magazine as saying U.S. firms were profiting handsomely from the labors of thousands of American prisons and using cheap prison labor to undersell foreign competitors. "U.S. private companies are using cheap prison labor to make ...

Convict Heritage Comes Through in Australia

Convict Heritage Comes Through In Australia

In an article on the abrasive, hard-edged world of Australian journalism, a Christian Science Monitor writer notes that the continent's "convict heritage...also acts to restrict the press. Once a convict was given `ticket of leave,' allowing a new life, the press could no longer refer to the individual as a former convict."

"Any reference to the convict heritage could result in a defamation lawsuit. The laws are very strict. You can't just print something because it is true, you must show that it is in the public interest -- that there is a reason," says Carol Dance, executive director of the Australian Commercial Disputes Center.

Australia's convict heritage refers to the extensive role prisoners sent to the nation from England and Ireland 200 years ago played in settling the island continent.

From: Corrections Compendium

Court Upholds Pulling of Bear Teeth

A native American inmate does not have a right to wear a sharp bear tooth necklace, even if it is religiously motivated, according to a federal appeals court.

Kenneth Hall sued Oklahoma prison officials after they confiscated his necklace, arguing this violated his constitutional right to free exercise of his religion.

The court ruled that although inmates retain the fundamental right to practice their religion in prison, a prison regulation may constitutionally infringe on this right if "the regulation is reasonably related to legitimate penological interest." The court went on to find that prohibiting inmates from possessing sharp objects or items that could be worn around the neck was reasonably related to the prison's need to protect the safety of other inmates and prison personnel and to prevent suicide attempts. See, Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F. 2d 1106 (10th Cir. 1991)

Reviews

Bulldozer is a bi-monthly tabloid that has excellent coverage of the US and Canadian prison systems. It also covers native and anti-imperialist struggles from an antiauthoritarian point of view. The latest issue (#34) is the special supplement on women and prison with many good articles by women prisoners concerning the role of prisons in a sexist society, AIDS education in prison, as well as articles concerning struggle in Indiana control units and elsewhere. Highly recommended. Write to: Prison News Service, P.O. Box 5052, Sta. A, Toronto, Ont. M5W 1W4, Canada.

Creations is a small monthly newsletter that covers a variety of issues of interest to prisoners. Lately their main focus has been on the telephone service (or lack thereof) to prisoners by telephone monopolies. Each issue contains a listing of resources, articles and information useful to prisoners. Rates are $4.00 a year. Write to: Creations, P.O: Box 2403, Burlington, NC 27216-2403.

Editorial

Editorial Comments

By Ed Mead

Paul and I are now in our third year of publishing the Prisoners Legal News . It has been a good experience for both of us, and hopefully for you, too. I know that we have learned a lot in the process of putting the paper out each month. Our primary goals for the last publishing year have been largely met. We wanted to keep our circulation at the previous year's level, while at the same time focusing on getting our tax exempt status, which would qualify the newsletter for a substantially less expensive bulk mailing rate. With that now achieved, and with the paper continuing to almost pay for itself, we are finally positioned to experiment with a modest increase in our circulation figures.

Next month readers like you will be receiving a PLN subscription flyer that will be enclosed with the newsletter when it is delivered to you. We will be asking you to pass this leaflet on to any friends or relatives who might be interested in receiving this paper. Paul and I will have more to say on this for you in our next issue. For now I merely want to ...

Deportation Delays Criticized

Editorial Comments

By Ed Mead

Paul and I are now in our third year of publishing the Prisoners Legal News. It has been a good experience for both of us, and hopefully for you, too. I know that we have learned a lot in the process of putting the paper out each month. Our primary goals for the last publishing year have been largely met. We wanted to keep our circulation at the previous year's level, while at the same time focusing on getting our tax exempt status, which would qualify the newsletter for a substantially less expensive bulk mailing rate. With that now achieved, and with the paper continuing to almost pay for itself, we are finally positioned to experiment with a modest increase in our circulation figures.

Next month readers like you will be receiving a PLN subscription flyer that will be enclosed with the newsletter when it is delivered to you. We will be asking you to pass this leaflet on to any friends or relatives who might be interested in receiving this paper. Paul and I will have more to say on this for you in our next issue. For now I merely want to ...

Race Discrimination in Prison Job Assignments Condemned

Race Discrimination In Prison Job Assignments Condemned

A black prisoner's allegation that white prisoners were given work assignments without completing any training while he was required to take 90-days of training for an electrician assignment, despite the fact that he was an electrician by trade, stated a claim for racial discrimination.

The black inmate filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that he was subjected to racial discrimination when he put in a request for a prison work assignment as an electrician. Although he was an electrician by trade prior to incarceration, he was purportedly told that he had to complete 90 days of training before he could become eligible for the maintenance electrician program.

He also claimed that a white inmate who arrived at the prison on the same day and on the same bus as him, was given a program assignment without having to complete any 90-day training, and that two other white inmates who had arrived the previous week had also received assignments without having to complete 90 days of training. Further, he stated that no black inmates at all had been assigned to the maintenance electrician program for a period of ten years.

A federal ...

U.S. Still Leads World's Incarceration Rate

The U.S, has widened its lead as the nation with the highest incarceration rate, according to figures complied by the Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C. based organization that conducts research on criminal justice issues.

A year ago, the Sentencing Project reported that only South Africa came close to the United States in incarceration. But since then, the U.S. rate has climbed 6.8 percent, to 455 per 100,000 population, while South Africa's rate declined somewhat, to 311 per 100,000. Other nations were reported to have much lower rates, such as 111 per 100,000 in Canada, 46 per 100,000 in the Netherlands, 44 per 100,000 in Sweden, and 42 per 100,000 in Japan.

The Sentencing Project Assistant Director Marc Mauer, who conducted the study, estimated the United States' cost of incarcerating 1.1 million inmates at $20.3 billion per year. " Although we've tripled our prison population since 1973 and will add 30 percent more prisoners by 1995, these policies have failed," he said. " It's time we joined the many other nations which are questioning the usefulness of incarceration."

The incarceration rate for black males is especially high, the ...

Community Help Foundation Unlimited

Community Help foundation Unlimited

By Beryl P. Sanders Director

This article is in response to the March 1992 Prisoners' Legal News article, "The continuing Racism Against Black Pre-SRA Offenders," By Leland Jordan. As prisoners advocates and leaders of the African-American community, we have well distributed Mr. Jordan's article and letter that was received. We all need to continue the support his request and plea for all prisoners to be put under the new sentencing standards - the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) which is determinate sentencing and maintains equality for all. The men/women still under the 'old guidelines' sentencing structure are under the jurisdiction of Ms. Kit Bail, Chair of the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board (ISRB). Consequently there are two sentencing structures in progress or what we are protesting "the dual-sentencing" in Washington state. Mr. Jordan speaks for the entire Afro-American inmate population throughout the state and he is valid in what he has written. According to several studies, the facts of "racial and ethnic disparities in Washington imprisonment" have and still exist to date. The prisons are filled to capacity and the situation continues to escalate, consequently Governor Booth Gardner requested the Sentencing Guidelines Commission to consider "alternatives ...

Prison Overcrowding Crisis Continues, Says New Report

Forty states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, are under court order to reduce prison overcrowding and/or to remedy unconstitutional conditions, according to a new Status Report released Feb. 27 by the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In each case, conditions of confinement and /overcrowding in the facilities were found to violate the ban against cruel and unusual punishment of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, the report shows an increase in the number of pending cases. At the time of the last Status Report in January 1990, litigation was pending in nine states. Since then, major statewide litigation has been filed against the Pennsylvania and Arizona Departments of Corrections and numerous suits have been filed against individual facilities in states where court orders are already in affect, bringing the number to 11.

Overcrowding lies at the root of most of these lawsuits as the nation's prison population swells by 1,160 inmates per week. The Pennsylvania system, for instance, currently houses 22,787 inmates in facilities designed for 15,516, rendering services such as medical care inadequate and contributing to a rise in ...

Can't Stop Con's Legal Help Due to Transfer

Can't Stop Con's Legal Help Due To Transfer

A New York prisoner incarcerated at Attica was granted authorization to provide legal assistance to two other inmates after completing a law clerk training program sponsored by the Department of Correctional Services. When he was transferred to another prison, he continued to provide legal assistance to the two inmates through the mail.

He was subsequently charged with violation of prison rules regarding providing legal assistance to other inmates and found guilty. He challenged this action in court, seeking the right to continue to provide legal assistance to the two inmates.

The court noted that "without question" prison authorities had the right to grant or deny permission to an inmate seeking to serve as an inmate law clerk. "However, once such permission has been granted, it cannot be withdrawn without a rational basis, nor can it be withdrawn in an arbitrary and capricious manner."

The court found that the mere fact that the prisoner had been transferred to another facility did not, in and of itself, provide sufficient grounds for terminating his authorization to serve as a law clerk. Allowing a transfer to serve as the basis for terminating an inmate ...

Guards Can't Be Prevented From Making Positive Recommendations To Parole Board

A policy prohibiting correctional employees from making recommendations directly to the parole board could be challenged by inmate asserting correctional employee's first amendment rights; such communications were not "purely personal," the court held, but rather involved matters of "public concern."

The case started when an inmate in a Georgia prison complained that the state Department Of Corrections' policies prohibited prison employees from communicating directly with the parole board concerning their recommendations as to granting parole of particular prisoners.

Under the policy, corrections employees may submit written communications to the warden "for his endorsement," after which they are forwarded to the parole board. The defendant prison officials argued, in their response to the prisoner's suit, that an employee's interest in making a recommendation to the parole board regarding a particular inmate was a purely personal matter, and that such direct communications would violate the chain of command and "may in fact compromise individual employees."

A federal appeals court disagreed, noting that decisions made by parole boards regarding the release of convicted criminals into society "are of great public concern." The fact that the comments "are directed to the merits of one particular inmate's case rather than to ...

Iowa Visiting Rules Create Liberty Interest

Iowa prison officials doubled the population in a minimum-security facility from 65 to 120 prisoners. To house the additional prisoners the visiting room was converted into a dormitory and visiting was cut in half, from every weekend to every other weekend.

William Patachette filed suit on the diminished visiting claiming prisoners had a liberty interest in the existing visit schedule. He also claimed that the overcrowded conditions, especially concerning the number of toilets available, violated the 8th amendment. The district court ruled in Patachette's favor on the visiting schedule but found no 8th amendment violation.

On appeal the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling. The Court affirmed that the Iowa Administrative Code had created a liberty interest in weekend visitation which limited prison officials discretion in altering visiting hours. The prison officials had acted out of their own administrative convenience rather than out of fair interpretation of their own policies.

The court also affirmed dismissal of the 8th amendment claim noting that while overcrowding creates problems, it does not rise to a "wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain" needed to violate the 8th amendment. This conclusion was also supported by the fact overcrowding had not led to ...

Burmese Prisoners Used as Cannon Fodder

Burmese Prisoners Used As Cannon Fodder

Phobahta, Burma. The Burmese army has been emptying out its prisons to use social prisoners to clear landmines and act as porters in its current military offensive. Burma has been ruled by military governments since 1960. After the civilian National League for Democracy won elections in 1990 Burma has been ruled by a military junta. This has been met by widespread resistance among students and workers who have joined the resistance efforts of ethnic minorities who have long fought for independence. The military has sought to crush all rebellion by several large military offensives.

According to escaped prisoners, at least 6,000 social prisoners have been used by the army to clear minefields by walking in front of advancing infantrymen. According to one prisoner, more than 300 unarmed prisoners were killed in one battle alone leaving the jungle littered with blood and dead bodies. When not acting as minesweepers, the prisoners must carry heavy packs of supplies including artillery shells, through the steaming jungles.

Many of the prisoners have escaped and joined the rebel forces saying they would rather die than return to the government control. One prisoner said, "I only had two months ...

Delay of Legal Files States Claim

Delay Of Legal Files States Claim

A Washington D.C. prisoner was transferred to various state and federal prisons. In the course of the transfers Lorton prison officials delayed and refused to send the plaintiff, Crawford El, his property containing his legal materials. Crawford El filed suit under §1983 claiming his right of access to the courts had been violated.

Prison officials filed a motion for summary judgement on qualified immunity grounds. The district court denied their motion and they appealed.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that Crawford El had satisfied the heightened pleadings requirement the D.C. Circuit imposes on §1983 and Bivens claims. The court cites numerous cases showing a prisoners right to his legal materials was well established in 1989 if prison officials knew the property contains legal materials and then intentionally delay it's delivery and mailing.

However, the Court of Appeals held that before Crawford El would be entitled to relief he would have to point to specific injury showing his right of access to the courts had actually been impaired because of the delays in forwarding his property to him.

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the ...

Retiring Judge Calls Sentencing Guidelines "Travesty of Justice"

Retiring Judge Calls Sentencing Guidelines "Travesty of Justice"

In retiring from the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals January 1, Chief Justice Donald P. Lay said that "the greater disappointment" of his experience was the law's failure to deal with fair sentencing of those convicted of crimes and the parallel failure to provide humane conditions of confinement.

Lay, who served on the court for 25 years and as its chief justice for the last 12, said that the congressional implementation of federal guideline sentencing "is the greatest travesty of justice in our legal system in this century."

The guidelines, he said, have inundated the courts with wasteful procedures and created a far greater disparity of sentencing than ever existed before.

"It is said that we need to study and reevaluate guideline sentencing" the judge continued, but "this all takes time. The thousands of lives that lie in the balance and the vast economic waste in both our court and prison systems do not justify study. [The guidelines] should be abolished today."

Source: Lincoln, Neb., Journal

Pregnant Con Miscarries After Taser Attack

Afemale parole violator was told to submit to a strip search, but refused, noting five male officers were present right outside the cell. She stated that she would allow the strip search if she were taken to another cell, outside the view of the male officers. A guard then shot ...

Not All Are Frivolous

I wanted to write about something in the March issue of the PLN. On page 6, an article addressing an absurdly frivolous lawsuit filed by a couple of idiots here about lottery tickets, says: "Wisconsin prisoners answered the question by filing suit alleging that they were constitutionally entitled to purchase lottery tickets." Actually, two Wisconsin prisoners filed that case, X and Y. I'll tell you something. I work in the law library here in Waupun, and those two guys are the two most frivolous. I've tried to dissuade them from filing idiotic suits, to no avail.

The article about the lottery suit was very good, and right on the money. But I was just slightly upset in that it seemed to make all Wisconsin cons sound like a bunch of idiots. I hate to sound vain, but I've been locked up in this state since 1980, and I've spent the entire time struggling against the tyranny of prison officials and the injustice of the court system. I've won some important victories in that time, and I've certainly never filed a frivolous or ridiculous action. There are a few other guys around who have done ...

Court Must Rule on Discovery Before Dismissal

Court Must Rule On Discovery Before Dismissal

John Dean was awaiting trial in an Alabama jail when he got into a dispute with a former death row inmate awaiting a retrial. Dean was stabbed and slashed several times and had his head pounded into the concrete repeatedly. He filed suit claiming his 8th and 14th amendment rights had been violated by a lack of adequate security at the jail and the lack of an inmate classification system. The district court dismissed the suit on defendant's motion for summary judgement without ruling on a motion to compel discovery that Dean had filed.

The Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed in part, vacated and remanded the case back to the lower court. The court held that by ignoring Deans motion to compel discovery the district court had abused its discretion. The court held that while the defendants had responded to discovery their responses were not adequate. A pro se litigant must be given a chance to develop his case in order to oppose defendants summary judgement motion. Without an adequate record summary judgement is improper and must be vacated.

The Court of Appeals also held the district court had ...

Dismissal of Religious Freedom Suit Reversed

Dismissal Of Religious Freedom Suit Reversed

Robert McKinney is an Oklahoma state prisoner who was infracted for refusing to cut his hair and who was not allowed to practice his Native American religion. His religious beliefs forbid him from cutting his hair. McKinney then filed suit under §1983 claiming that his First Amendment right to practice his religion had been violated by prison officials punishing him for having long hair, confiscating his medicine bag and not having a sweat lodge at the prison. The district court dismissed the suit as being frivolous.

The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the case had not become moot by McKinney's transfer to preparole status as his claims for monetary and injunctive relief were still valid and his circumstances could change resulting in his re-imprisonment.

The court then went on to vacate the dismissal and remanded the case back to the lower court. The court held that the suit was not frivolous as McKinney claimed he was being denied all opportunity to practice his religion. The court also notes that a number of prisons operate Native American sweat lodges with no security risks. The court held that dismissal for frivolousness ...

PLN Benefit Tape

The long awaited "PLN Benefit Tape" is now available! It features the avant garde industrial and rock music of the bands Insomnia, Serena Slab, La Runcion de Repulsa, Chemical Plant, Nux Vomica, Operation Mind Control, Gustavo Pastre, Symboliks, Thru Black Holes Band, Factor X, and Cervis. Each tape comes with an 18 page booklet containing the "Best of PLN" and dozens of addresses of prison support groups around the world.

This fantastic tape and booklet is yours for the bargain basement price of only five dollars. It's almost a crime to be able to buy a great tape like this for such a low price! All profits will be donated to the PLN to support its continued publishing.

To obtain your copy of this outstanding tape send a $5.00 money order to:

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P.O. Box 23061
Knoxville, TN 37933-1061.