Prisons

Dungeons Dragons dice.JPGPredictably, I used to play Dungeons & Dragons in high school. Just as predictably, I didn’t lose my virginity until I stopped. It’s an established fact that Dungeons & Dragons is a bigger threat to human reproduction than all the gay marriages in the world.

But I did not know until this day that D&D could also pose a security risk. A Wisconsin prisoner, Kevin T. Singer, sued Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution after the guards confiscated his D&D materials.

Why did the prison guards take away this guy’s D&D paraphernalia? I’ll let Judge John Tinder of the Seventh Circuit explain:

Waupun’s long-serving Disruptive Group Coordinator, Captain Bruce Muraski, received an anonymous letter from an inmate. The letter expressed concern that Singer and three other inmates were forming a D&D gang and were trying to recruit others to join by passing around their D&D publications and touting the “rush” they got from playing the game. Muraski, Waupun’s expert on gang activity, decided to heed the letter’s advice and “check into this gang before it gets out of hand.”

A gang? A gang that needs to be checked? I’ve never been to prison, but I have watched Oz. I’m forced to believe one of two things: (a) any D&D “gang” member would find themselves tossing salads faster than you can say “saving throw against horrific prison justice … fails,” or (b) if you could beat up the D&D kids in your high school, then you can go to Wisconsin, commit violent crimes with impunity, get sent to prison and live like a God.

Singer sued the prison for violating his First Amendment rights. The district court ruled for the correctional facility on summary judgment, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Does that mean we get to hear the Seventh Circuit argue that D&D is gang-like? Yes it does. Will that be hilarious? More fun than hacking through an encampment of goblins with a dwarven ax of immolation….

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Allen Stanford Sir Robert Allen Stanford.jpgSir Allen Stanford, financier / accused fraudster, has some issues with the conditions of his pretrial confinement.
Read more and comment over at our sister site, Dealbreaker.
Sir Stanford Takes Issue With Conditions Behind Bars [Dealbreaker]

plaquemines parish levee prisoner inmates.jpgAs was widely reported in yesterday’s coverage of Hurricane Gustav, quick thinking and brute manpower relieved the pressure on a private levee in Plaquemines Parish. The levee protected a subdivision of a couple of hundred homes.
Nearly 400 people participated in saving the levee. Their ranks included residents, first responders, the Army Corps of Engineers… and an unconfirmed number of prison inmates who were pressed into service.
Most of the prisoners from New Orleans and surrounding areas were evacuated well ahead of Gustav’s landfall. In Orleans Parish, about 300 municipal prisoners were simply delivered out of bondage. Only violent municipal offenders were kept in custody and moved with the 2500 inmates held on more serious charges.
Yet there were still enough prisoners on hand to help out when the Plaquemines Parish levee weakened.
We spoke with Pam Laborde, a spokeswomen for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. She could not tell us which parish’s prisoners were involved in the levee saving efforts. However she was not surprised that there was extra muscle on hand.

It’s not unusual in those types of emergencies to hold a few people on a work crew back so that they are able to help perform certain functions keeping the city government working. Whether they run the kitchen or as a work crew for cleaning the roads or that type of thing.

It’s one thing to scrub a latrine, but prisoners who helped to save a levee that protected homes — and potentially saved lives — should merit a “get out of jail free” card.
Laborde did not know the specifics involving efforts of these particular inmates (or their crimes), but she said that generally no such special consideration is given for state prisoners who stay behind and in harm’s way. She did say that if they were municipal prisoners, any time off would be given at the discretion of the individual Sheriffs’ departments.
Not surprisingly, Plaquemines Parish Sheriff “Jiff” Hingle could not be reached for comment.
Lawlessness can be a common occurrence during natural disasters, but apparently not all of it is bad.
Concerns about New Orleans-area levee ease [CNN]

* Fed cuts fed funds rate by 0.75%, but stocks are still lower. [AP; New York Times; Washington Post]
* Clinton and Obama get snippy with each other in debate, raising questions about each other’s legal work. [Washington Post; New York Times; WSJ Law Blog]
* SCOTUS denies review in gigantic Enron-related investors’ lawsuit. [SCOTUSblog via How Appealing]
* Statutory interpretation makes for strange bedfellows in 5-4 ruling in Ali v. Federal Bureau of Prisons. [SCOTUSblog (PDF) via How Appealing]
* New York City revisits the issue of forced disclosure of calorie counts by restaurants. [AP via Drudge]

Under Armour Under Armor underwear briefs Guantanamo Bay Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a quick follow-up to our prior coverage of the mysterious Under Armour briefs that somehow made their way into the hands, and onto the loins, of Guantanamo Bay detainees. From Reuters:

The U.S. military has ended an inquiry into who smuggled unauthorized underwear and a bathing suit to two prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without learning the source of the contraband skivvies, an attorney said on Wednesday.

The investigators concluded more vigilance was needed to prevent contraband from entering the camp that holds 330 suspected al Qaeda operatives, said Capt. Pat McCarthy, the military’s chief lawyer for the detention operation at Guantanamo.

Is the inability to solve the Riddle of the Briefs a sad commentary on the state of military intelligence? Or is this perhaps a mystery that they didn’t want to be solved?
Mystery underwear stymies Guantanamo investigators [Reuters]
Earlier: Guantanamo Bay Perk Watch: Under Armor Briefs!

Under Armour Under Armor underwear briefs Guantanamo Bay Above the Law blog.jpgLife for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, while difficult, isn’t 100 percent grim. From yesterday’s Washington Post:

Undergarments from Under Armour, the sports apparel line, offer “all-day performance, delivered in a lightweight compression fit,” at least according to the company’ s promotional material. While “unprecedented” in its ability to deliver comfort, Under Armour underwear is not standard issue for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So when two men in detention there were found to possess the contraband briefs, the Navy attorney contacted their attorneys. One of the detainees in question is Shaker Aamer, whose release the British government wrote to request from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in August.

But before turning to the larger question of whether Aamer will stay or go, there’s the question of what he’s wearing. And as the recent exchange between the Navy lawyer and Aamer’s attorney Clive Stafford Smith illustrates, in the legal wrangling over detention, even details on intimates can lead to contentious debate…

You read excerpts from the hilarious correspondence, which showcase the dry British wit of Clive Stafford-Smith, over here.
But for those of you who like to look at original documents — and we know that, since you’re mostly lawyers, you love yourselves some primary docs — we’re pleased to present the complete correspondence (with original letterhead, signatures, etc.). Just click here (PDF). Enjoy!
Correspondence Between Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Navy, and Clive A. Stafford-Smith [PDF]
An Incursion of Briefs at Guantanamo [Washington Post]

egg hardboiled egg hard boiled egg vs man Above the Law blog.jpgIs this litigation kosher? You bet. From Vos Iz Neias (Yiddish: “What’s News”):

A New Hampshire prison inmate’s file drove a federal judge to rhyme to express himself.

A prison inmate protesting his [non-Kosher] diet attached a hard-boiled egg to documents sent by mail to U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead.

“I do not like eggs in the file. I do not like them in any style. I will not take them fried or boiled. I will not take them poached or broiled. I will not take them soft or scrambled Despite an argument well-rambled,” Muirhead wrote in his response to inmate Charles Wolffe.

Wolffe, 61, says he is an Orthodox Jew and has accused prison officials of refusing to feed him a kosher diet. He is seeking… proper foods and $10 million from the state. His case has been scheduled for a trial.

More discussion, plus the full text of Judge Muirhead’s order, after the jump.

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spanking small Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgRemember Judge Herman Thomas, the Alabama state court judge who allegedly spanked a number of prisoners? Now there’s a theme song for the scandal, entitled “Spank Me.” Check it out here.
The creator and artist, Jolene Roxbury, is a former paralegal who decided several years ago that comedy was her true calling. You can learn more about her over at her website. Nice work, Jolene!
Jolene Roxbury: Certified Verbal Conversationalist
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Herman Thomas

spanking Society of Janus spank Herman Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgMobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas is ATL’s Judge of the Day. He takes the prize for his innovative approach to sentencing. From the Mobile Press-Register:

Authorities are investigating allegations that now-suspended Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas periodically removed prisoners from Mobile County Metro Jail and spanked them in a room at the courthouse, according to courthouse sources involved in the inquiry.

Once inside the room, according to the sources, the judge would ask the young men to drop their pants and prepare to be spanked with what they described as a wooden or fraternity-like paddle.

To quote ex-inmate Paris Hilton, “That’s hot.” We agree with these commenters:

“[I]n San Francisco we have lots of people who pay $200 a session for that kind of treatment. Perhaps this judge has a bright future in Bay Area.”

“That’s some kinky place. I think Senator Larry Craig would like to break INTO that prison!”

More details — including a description of the secret six-by-eight room that allegedly served as the judge’s S-and-M dungeon — are available here.
Authorities investigating paddling allegations against Judge Thomas [Mobile Press-Register]
Judge Accused Of Paddling Inmates [WKRG.com]

meet an inmate Above the Law blog.jpgA relationship between a prisoner — falsely accused, natch — and a compassionate woman on the outside, crusading for his release. What could be more romantic?
Well, if the woman happens to be a court clerk, with responsibility for handling prisoner filings, the situation goes from romantic to problematic. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A deputy clerk at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has been fired after striking up a romantic relationship with – and trying to help win the release of – a Washington man serving life in federal prison, court documents show.

Jane Cross, 57, came under scrutiny in June, after she filed a Washington State Bar Association complaint against Kurt Hermanns, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tacoma who handled the prosecution of William G. Moore on methamphetamine and other charges in the mid-1990s. She was placed on leave and subsequently fired last week.

In the immortal words of Def Leppard: Love bites.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Practice Pointers: Clerks, Don’t Date the Prisoners”

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