A Judge’s Crime

By Rhonda Turpin    It is a clear violation of Ohio Revised Code and the Code of Ethics for a Judge to represent a criminal defendant in any capacity.  The Ohio Revised Code holds: “A person that is a candidate for public office, or nominated, or has filed a petition or…

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Videos Show Brutal Treatment of Prisoners with Mental Illness

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Recently, a video was released that reveals relentless brutality in the Denver City jail by correctional officers. The inmate, Mr. Moreno, is mentally-ill, suicidal, and the victim of extreme violence that is unnecessary.

Correctional officers attempt to control Moreno by forcing him to strip down to nothing and placing him in a suicidal garment appropriately named a “turtle suit” that is too small for Moreno. The sardonic purpose of the suit is to protect Moreno from self-harm. Moreno has been evicted of any self-pride or dignity he might have left. He is powerless.     

The 45-minute footage — obtained September of 2013 by The Colorado Independent through an open records request — depicts Moreno sitting on a cold cement bench that doubles as a bed inside an isolation cell not much bigger than a dog kennel. Moreno’s 45-minutes of hell on tape begin with him bewilderedly looking around the cell. Immobilized and stifled from the combination of constricted attire and cramped quarters, Moreno fidgets with his “turtle suit” and mimics a caged animal by pacing back in forth and shifting his body from side to side. His only means for expressing his pent up anger and frustration is to bang his head against the cement cinder-block wall.  

Eight officers assemble outside the cell with a restraint-chair that is supposedly designed to stop Moreno from harming himself. Not knowing what else to do, Moreno resumes hitting his head on the cell wall. After several minutes a correctional officer asks Moreno to stop pounding his head against the wall Moreno’s only possible response to the emotional horror he is going through.  Moreno lets the officer know he doesn’t care about anything and resorts to yelling obscenities.

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You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Love a Kosher Prison Meal

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Tired of prison food? Claim Judaism.

Frequent flyers have been doing it for years. After all, kosher food tastes better.

Gentile prisoners have caught on to what they have to do to exchange mundane fare for a decadent spread. The new trend is to pass for Jewish to legally order a meal as close to gourmet as it gets behind bars.

Even prison gang members are now going Kosher so they can partake in private dining with other gang members and quietly make plans around the meal table. Kosher meal subscribers are seated together for religious reasons.

Pleading Judaism to swap out a tray of mediocre food for fresh tastier morsels is a no brainer as long as you are not an inmate incarcerated in a Florida prison. Despite Florida having the third largest prison system in the U.S., it is one of only 15 states that no longer offers inmates a kosher diet system wide.

Serving kosher food in prison to suitable inmates has become a court approved contemporary practice in most states, however, the latest boom in non-Jewish inmates ordering kosher cuisine has alerted prison authorities and spoiling chow time for some main line diners.

Michael D. Crews, upcoming secretary of the Department of Corrections is already expressing concerns about the expense of religious meals. He predicts the last staggering calculation of 4,417 inmate requests for special meals will multiply if the program is delivered. This prophecy has Senator Greg Evers, the Republican chairman of the Senate Justice Committee inquiring, “Is bread and water considered kosher? Just a thought. Just a thought.”

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Los Angeles Jail Reforms

By Mike Brodheim and Alex Friedmann

WITH SEVEN FACILITIES THAT HOUSE from 15,000 to 18,000 prisoners, Los Angeles County’s jail system is the nation’s largest – and, arguably, among the most dangerous in terms of staff-on-prisoner violence.

The jail system, operated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), is facing an investigation by the FBI into allegations of corruption and abuse, as well as multiple lawsuits. Sheriff Leroy David “Lee” Baca, 70, has committed to numerous reforms following a report and recommendations by the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, but people familiar with long-standing problems in the county’s jails remain skeptical.

A Continuing Culture of Violence

THE LASD JAIL SYSTEM HAS BEEN UNDER federal court oversight since the 1970s when, following a 17-day trial, an injunction was issued that ordered the county to improve jail conditions – including overcrowding, inadequate exercise, and lack of clean clothing and telephone access. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had initially sued Los Angeles County in 1975, alleging that overcrowded conditions, systematic abuse of prisoners by sheriff’s deputies and inadequate medical care violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. See: Rutherford v. Baca, U.S.D.C. (C.D. Cal.), Case No. CV 75-04111 DDP. [PLN, March 2007, p.35].

A renewed deterioration of jail conditions led to the reopening of the case in 1984. Since then, a number of court-appointed parties and experts, including the ACLU, have been monitoring conditions within the county’s jail system. Other oversight agencies include the Office of Independent Review (OIR) and Special Counsel to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

In December 2010, the ACLU asked the federal court to order a new trial in the case based on what it described as “an escalating crisis of deputy violence, abuse, and inmate suicides.” Between 2006 and 2011 there were 5,630 use of force incidents reported in county jail facilities, and according to the LASD’s own data, deputies are more likely to use force against mentally ill prisoners. Of the 582 use of force incidents reported in 2011, about one-third involved prisoners with mental health problems.

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Vegan Diet Impacts Recidivism

By Dianne Frazee-Walker Most cynics would say, “Prisoners don’t deserve good food. They committed a crime; just keep feeding them slop because we don’t want our tax dollars going to feed those criminals!” Unless one is familiar with a prison 120 miles northeast of Los Angeles, California, they would agree…

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Prison Disciplinary Hearings: Lack of Notice, a Valuable Defense

By Christopher Zoukis The vast majority of inmates incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons will one day face a disciplinary proceeding.  These proceedings could be the result of a serious allegation of misconduct (e.g., fighting or brewing alcohol) or a less serious allegation (e.g., feeding the birds, or not…

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Federal Court Grants Six-Month Extension to Reduce CDCR Prison Population

By Prison Legal News The three-judge federal court over a long-standing prison healthcare class-action suit against California took a slight turn on January 29, 2013, when the court gave the state a six-month extension to achieve the prison population reduction it had ordered previously. The court had required the California…

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Japan’s Philosophy: Shockingly Orderly

By Christopher Zoukis On February 23, 2013, The Economist ran a story entitled “Japan’s Prisons: Eastern Porridge.”  This article explained how well-mannered and orderly Japanese prisoners appear to outsiders, and how the age-old concepts of respect and duty still seem to apply to their modern, incarcerated class.  Since these values…

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ADX Prisoner Not Allowed to Communicate with Family Members or Receive Publications under SAMs

By Christopher Zoukis In another series of court rulings upholding the use of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), a prisoner at the federal ADX supermax facility in Florence, Colorado was prohibited from receiving certain publications and communicating with his nieces and nephews. The federal Bureau of Prisons’ use of SAMs originated in a…

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Jailhouse Litigators: A New Name for a New Age

By Christopher Zoukis The term “jailhouse lawyer” has been a polarizing one for many years.  To some, these men and women are the saviors of those who lack funds or legal wherewithal to mount a collateral attack upon an unjust criminal conviction or sentence.  They are considered the champions of…

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