States Act to Protect Detainees from Frisky Officers

Police can take people into custody for various reasons, and numerous laws limit and define what can happen after. The legislatures and governors of two states recently acted to place one significant new restriction on police-detainee interactions: having sex has been legislated to be taboo, something detainees cannot legally consent to. It’s not as though

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At an Oregon Prison Skimping on Flu Shots, One Inmate Dies, 44 Get Sick

According to federal health officials, the recent flu season is proving to be the worst since 2009’s devastating H1N1 swine flu pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)estimate the current flu season, with its dominant H3N2 strain, will be at least as bad as what they term the “moderately severe” 2014-15 flu season,

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Abuse by Oregon Jail Guard Nets Probation; Defense Attorney Blames Victim

A former Oregon jail guard was sentenced to probation for sexually abusing a female prisoner after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge; his defense attorney blamed the incarcerated victim while the prosecutor defended the light sentence. The guard, Eddie James Miller, 60, was later accused of sexually harassing a co-worker. As previously reported in PLN,

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Oregon Garnishment Exemption Protects Funds in Prisoners’ Accounts

By Mark Wilson An Oregon judge has held that a prosecutor improperly seized money from a prisoner’s trust account to pay a court-ordered “compensatory fine.” In 2006, Norman Earl Schlunt was convicted of poisoning and suffocating his business partner and sentenced to life in prison. He also was ordered to pay a $20,000 “compensatory fine”

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Prison News in Brief: Kansas through Texas

By Prison Legal News

Kansas Prison News

Former Sedgwick County Jail guard David Kendall, 23, was charged with crimes ranging from aggravated sodomy to misdemeanor sexual battery for raping two prisoners and sexually propositioning four others.  These prisoners have collectively filed claims totaling over $20 million against Sedgwick County.  Kendall posted $500,000 bond and was released from the Sedgwick County Jail with a GPS monitoring system.  At an August 30, 2013 hearing, testimony was presented that one of the prisoners accusing Kendall of rape had had consensual sex with him, then fabricated the rape claim to cash in on a civil suit.

Michigan Prison News

Former Michigan Department of Corrections employee Michael Paul Salyers pleaded no contest on August 2, 2013 to a lesser charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct; he was originally charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct of a state prisoner.  Police said that since 2006, Salyers had a sexual relationship with a female Michigan state prisoner who has since been released.  At the time, Salyers was a mechanic at the now-closed Camp Brighton facility.

Minnesota Prison News

A nurse working for a private medical contractor, Advanced Correctional Healthcare/Diamond Pharmacy Services, was charged with illegally obtaining prescriptions for oxycodone for personal use by using the names of prisoners in her care at the Isanti County Jail.  Cara Sue Lindgren was charged with felony fifth-degree drug possession by fraud or deceit on August 9, 2013.  An investigation into the wrongdoing at the Isanti County Jail remains ongoing.

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PLN Prevails in Challenge to Postcard-only Policy at Oregon Jail

By Prison Legal News

On April 24, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon held that a postcard-only policy at the Columbia County Jail, which restricted mail sent to and from detainees at the facility to postcards, was unconstitutional. The court therefore permanently prohibited enforcement of the policy – the first time that a jail’s postcard-only policy has been struck down following a trial on the merits.

The ruling, by federal judge Michael H. Simon, was entered in a lawsuit against Columbia County and Sheriff Jeff Dickerson filed by Prison Legal News. PLN sued in January 2012 after Columbia County jail employees rejected PLN’s monthly publication and letters sent to detainees. Further, the jail had failed to provide PLN with notice or an opportunity to appeal the jail’s censorship of its materials. [See: PLN, March 2013, p.50].

The rejection of PLN’s publications and letters was attributed to the jail’s postcard-only policy and a policy or practice that prohibited prisoners from receiving magazines. PLN contended that such policies violated its rights under the First Amendment, and that the lack of notice and opportunity to appeal was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

During the litigation the defendants admitted “that inmates have a First Amendment right to receive magazines and inmates and their correspondents have a Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process.” However, the jail defended its postcard-only policy and claimed there was no official policy that banned magazines at the jail.

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Oregon Prisoner Wages Legal Fight to be Executed

By Prison Legal News

As previously reported in PLN, on November 22, 2011, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber imposed a moratorium on the death penalty for the remainder of his term in office. In doing so he canceled the scheduled execution of Gary Haugen, 50, who had waived his appeals and asked to be put to death. [See: PLN, Dec. 2012, p.47].

Haugen initially praised Governor Kitzhaber’s decision, saying the news was especially gratifying given that he had repeatedly criticized, at court appearances and in letters, some of the same flaws in capital punishment that Kitzhaber cited when imposing the moratorium, which the governor said was arbitrary, costly and “fails to meet basic standards of justice.”

Upon further reflection, however, Haugen’s praise and gratitude turned to spite. “I feel he’s a paper cowboy. He couldn’t pull the trigger,” Haugen said. Governor Kitzhaber “basically pulled a coward’s move” in granting the reprieve, he stated.

While Haugen said he agreed with the moratorium, he criticized the governor’s decision to temporarily stop executions without implementing reforms. “You’re not going to execute people, but you’re going to continue to allow people to litigate in a broken system?” he asked, referring to the 37 other prisoners who remain on Oregon’s death row, pursuing their appeals.

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Prison Parenting Program Boosts Visitation

Dianne-Frazee Walker

The most significant benefit of the Inside Out Parenting Program offered in Oregon prisons is increased visitation which results in a lower recidivism rate. Research has proven that inmates who receive abundant visitation are less likely to reoffend when they return to the community.   Photo courtesy

Parenting Inside Out (PIO) is a parenting program offered in Oregon prisons for over ten years. The program was initiated by the Oregon Social Learning Center and the Oregon Department of Corrections. The reason why PIO works is the program encourages individuals to visit incarcerated family members often. The positive outcome is family relationships are nourished, which provides motivation for incarcerated parents to reconnect with their children.

The Oregon Social Learning Center conducted a randomized controlled study to test the outcomes of (PIO) participants. Empirical results of the study provided the impact PIO has on incarcerated parents. The study presents evidence that both male and female inmate parents who took PIO classes improved their parenting skills and relationships with their children.

359 incarcerated parents participated in the experiment. Both mothers and fathers were randomly divided into two groups. Half of the parents participated in parenting classes and the other half did not.

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