State Roundup

Scandal knocks Idaho State prison boss out of job

The State of Idaho's Correction's Director, James Spalding, resigned March 16, 2001 following the disclosure of widespread mismanagement and theft in the Division of Correctional Industries. According to a Spokesman-Review story by Betsy Z. Russell - and posted on Internet by Western Prison Project - a report released by Idaho Attorney General Al Lance's 22-month investigation documented "widespread instances of theft of division-manufactured furniture and lack of control over prison inmates assigned to the division. In one example, state prison inmates who were delivering furniture to North Idaho were taken to a strip club at (Washington/Idaho) State Line, and in another, an inmate spent a night in a North Idaho motel rather than in the required county jail cell."

The investigation found no evidence that Spalding or Correctional Industries Administrator Mike Yae profited from the irregularities. Amazingly, a separate Idaho State Police criminal investigation determined that criminal activity at Correctional Industries was limited to the inmates and their direct supervisors, and went no higher.

The investigation did find evidence of mismanagement, shoddy record keeping and inadequate supervision at Correctional Industries, as well as efforts throughout the department to stifle inquiries that questioned them. Some employees may have been penalized for raising questions, and, according to the Review's Russell, "the report suggested Yae may have tried to obstruct the investigation by firing workers who were under scrutiny."

From the investigation by Attorney General Lance's office, certain inmates controlled the accounting for furniture made at the prison industry center south of Boise and were diverting pieces to a storage unit in Idaho Falls where it could be sold for their profit by ex-convicts. The report also said inmates were essentially running the industry program and intimidating guards into letting them visit strip joints, use tobacco and alcohol, which are banned in the institution, and have conjugal visits with wives and girlfriends.

"By placing civilian CI truck drivers in charge of inmates on these trips, the drivers were successfully corrupted by the inmates,'' Lance's review said. The inmates also are believed to have smuggled cigarettes and drugs back into the prison from their furniture-delivering jaunts.

Spalding notified staff he was resigning effective in June and is on administrative leave until then. Yae submitted his resignation about a month ago as the investigation was winding down, effective in July. Spalding, who became director in 1993 after 28 years in the Washington State Department of Corrections, said his resignation was effective June 1, 2001, but department officials said Spalding's departure was immediate. Correction Board Chairman Ralph Townsend, a retired Air Force general who has been tapped for a number of assignments by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, will temporarily take over day-to-day operations of the department.

Kempthorne said, "We must remember that Correctional Industries was a very small element of the entire department. "This is serious,'' he said. "It is activity which should not have taken place, it is activity which has been put to an end.'' Kempthorne said that when he learned of the problems in 1999, he immediately ordered the external investigation by the Idaho State Police and attorney general Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower, according to published information, said that after reviewing the Idaho State Police investigation, he decided against filing any criminal charges. He considered filing charges against two inmates and one supervisor, but inadequate records at the furniture-manufacturing operation would have made the charges hard to prove. State Police Capt. Don Van Cleave said the investigation, which started in October 1999, found problems stretching back three years.

Correctional Industries is a business operated without tax support by the Corrections Department that employs hundreds of prisoners in Pocatello, Boise, Orofino and St. Anthony. It has a metal shop and furniture and license plate manufacturing operations. Yae was highly touted when he was hired by the department in 1997. He had a reputation for turning money-losing correctional industry programs into profit makers. A 1999 report by correction auditor Steve Bellomy on an audit of the furniture operation found inmates had control over warehouse inventory and maintained a separate tracking system from one introduced by Yae.

Van Cleave said the furniture was sold or given to inmates' families. "We ran into some difficulties with paper trails and so forth, resulting in the inability to determine how much property left that area. We did recover some valued at $2,600,'' he said. According to the attorney general's report on its investigation, then-South Idaho Correctional Institution Warden Larry Wright expressed concerns over Correctional Industries to Spalding, but was told, "If you mess with my administrator, you mess with my office.''

The report also stated, "Interviews with current and former CI management personnel suggest that Director Yae may have attempted to ob struct investigations by ordering the termination of CI employees under investigation prior to their being interviewed by investigators.' In one meeting, on Sept. 17, 1999, Yae is reported to have ordered former industries transportation chief Norm Mallonee to fire two drivers under investigation. Lt. Alan Lee of the South Idaho Correctional Institution and Mallonee objected, saying it would impede the review. Mallonee alleges he was fired for his reluctance and has filed suit.

Wright, the former warden, contends his firing last October after 14 years with the South Idaho Correctional Institution was in reprisal for his opposition to how an investigation of Correctional Industries was run. He also went to court. The attorney general's office has called for an even more in-depth examination of the Correction Department and its division.

The Kentucky state establishes an Industrial Hemp commission (IHC)

The Kentucky state legislature has passed a bill that establishes an Industrial Hemp Commission (IHC), and the bill was signed into law by Gov. Patton. The IHC will consist of 17 members including representatives of the governor, the state legislature, state universities, law enforcement and the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association. The bill also authorizes an industrial hemp research program to be conducted at one or more selected state universities.

HB 100 was passed by the Kentucky House on February 14th by a vote of 66-32. On March 8th the bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 68-28. HB 100 was signed into law by Kentucky governor Paul E. Patton on Tuesday March 20th. The full text of the bill can be viewed at:

The consideration and passage of this bill was the result of a major effort by the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative, former Gov. Louie B. Nunn and many other dedicated hemp supporters. We congratulate them for their efforts and perserverance.

Gov. Ryan of Illinois recently vetoed a hemp study bill after intense pressure and misinformation from anti-drug groups.

Please write Gov. Patton to let him know you support his common sense action. You can easily send a pre-written and addressed letter to Gov. Patton by visiting the Vote Hemp action Alert page at:

Mississippi bans aerial spraying of herbicides

On an original story by Arnold Lindsay, staff writer of the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi, the State's Department of Agriculture and Commerce imposed restrictions on aerial spraying of three herbicides in the Mississippi Delta and some adjacent counties on March 15 and in effect until April 30. One restricted herbicide is the well-known Roundup, the same herbicide used by US/Colombian military forces spraying food, streams, people and coca crops indiscriminately in Colombia, South America.

During that same period of time in 2000, 98 complaints of herbicide drift were received, according to the state agency. That was the most concentrated number of such complaints on record, the department said. Farmers whose crops had been damaged or destroyed by drifting herbicides lodged the complaints, said Keith Davis, branch director of enforcement and compliance programs for the state agency.

According to the news reports, the complaints filed last year claimed winds carried the mist for miles in some cases, killing off significant portions of crops of rice, soybeans and corn, officials said. In some cases, lawns and shrubbery were damaged, Davis said.

In 2000, 148 complaints of crop damage were filed, with 98 occurring between March 15 and April 30, the early end of planting season, Davis said.

Counties affected by the restriction are Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Grenada, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.

Will McCarty, Extension Service cotton specialist at Mississippi State University, said applications made under "fairly calm" wind conditions are safe, with some wind drift. But last year's severely damaged crops were hit by a more concentrated dosage of the plant killers selling under the trade names of Roundup, Gramoxine and Touch Down, he said.

"The measure was put into place to try and protect nontargeted landowners," McCarty said. "There has been some significant damage and there will be some lawsuits filed from some drift that occurred last year."

Davis said 72-hour emergency permits are currently being issued to farmers or consultants for aerial applications when field conditions are too wet to apply herbicides by tractor.

The permits will allow officials to pinpoint any wind drift damage to a specific pilot, said Gibb Steele, part-owner of Longwood Flying Service in Hollandale. "Being they granted us these permits that you have to call in on a field by field basis, they can know where to look," Steele said, adding that the restrictions will have a minimal effect on business.

The complaints, which were verified through lab tests, were valid, Davis said. "Last year we picked up some three to five miles away from the application. Can it drift that far? Can you detect it in a plant? Yes, you can," he said.

South Dakota: The Emperor's Tailor

By Bob Newland, a writer/publisher who lives near the Black Hills.

Last July, Sioux Falls police arrested quadriplegic Matthew Ducheneaux at a concert in Yankton Trail Park when he lit a joint. Ducheneaux said he was using the marijuana as medicine, and produced a note written on a medical prescription sheet by Sioux Falls physician Robert Seidel: "Matthew is a quadriplegic. He uses marijuana for muscle spasms caused by his paralysis."

Sixteen years ago, Ducheneaux broke his neck in a car wreck. He can speak well and make facial expressions. Aside from that, the only intentional movement he can make is with a couple of fingers on his right hand. He functions with the aid of friends and some pretty amazing technology.

"Spastic paralysis syndrome" is common among the paralyzed. The nearly-completely-severed spinal cord sends erratic messages to numb muscles, which then sometimes contract so violently that they dislocate joints and tear muscles. For Matthew, as for thousands of other "'plegics", smoking cannabis - marijuana - makes the tremors stop almost instantly. No one denies this.

After his 1985 accident, Ducheneaux was prescribed prescription drugs, like Valium, which stops the tremors. Valium has side effects such as stupor, hair loss, and liver toxicity. Other drugs effective for spastic paralysis are even more toxic. No one denies this.

He learned of the therapeutic value of cannabis. Cannabis stops the tremors and makes him feel better. Cannabis has no known toxicity. It doesn't make one's hair fall out. To the degree Matthew Ducheneaux can function in society with his paralysis, cannabis is an aid. Almost no one denies this.

Three medical cannabis users testified to South Dakota legislative committees less than two months ago about their personal knowledge of cannabis' ability to reduce nausea from cancer radiation therapy, reduce general pain due to a dislocated spine, and reduce anxiety and seizures associated with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

A credible poll of South Dakota voters in January 2001 found that 81per cent believe that South Dakota law should reflect the obvious common sense in allowing sick, disabled and dying people - under a doctor's recommendation - to use whatever medicine works for them, including marijuana. Ninety-five per cent said that medical cannabis users should not be jailed for such use. A just-released poll in New Mexico, commissioned by the Lindesmith Center, found remarkably-similar results.

In 1988, Matthew Ducheneaux applied to the Drug Enforcement Agency for consideration as a "compassionate use" exemption from government's official position that "marijuana has no known medical use". That program currently supplies 300 government-grown joints per month to each of eight patients in the U.S. He was accepted, on the condition that he find a local pharmacy to store and dispense the cannabis.

The DEA required that the pharmacy provide a 24-hour armed guard for its cannabis, which would be stored in a safe alongside the pharmacy's drawers full of methamphetamine, Quaaludes, Demerol, cocaine, and morphine (which do not require an armed guard). Sioux Falls pharmacists all declined the honor.

All legal common-sense avenues closed, Ducheneaux provided for the day when he'd be busted. He found a compassionate, sensible, knowledgeable and courageous family physician who would at least provide some slight cover - a note that he was aware of Matthew's use and implicitly agreed with it. An outright "prescription" by a doctor for marijuana is illegal.

Knowing all this, Minnehaha County Prosecutor Dave Nelson continues to attempt to punish Matthew for trying to feel better. However, there is one note of encouragement on the Ducheneaux case.

On March 8, Sioux Falls Magistrate Patricia Riepel seemed disposed to grant a defense motion to allow a "greater necessity" defense strategy to Matthew. Essentially, this will allow Matthew and medical experts to testify that the use of marijuana, in this instance, prevents a greater harm. Her opinion hopefully will mean that the defense can present the jury with the facts at his trial in June. Then, we taxpayers will simply be left with a bill for a case that never should have been prosecuted.

See more about Matthew Ducheneaux at Bob Newland's journey is published at

Wisconsin to hold prison system accountable

In response to growing public pressure, Wisconsin Attorney General James Doyle and State Senator Gwendolynne Moore (D-Milwaukee) have called on the State Legislature to broaden the authority of the Attorney General to allow the State's top law enforcement official to intervene directly and prosecute if the civil rights of any Wisconsin citizen are violated.

At a Milwaukee news conference in late-March 2001 Doyle and Moore addressed concerns about the state of prison health care in Wisconsin and expressed the need to provide additional protection against the violation of inmates' civil rights. In their call to action, Doyle and Moore cited a recent series in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that recounted inmate deaths and health concerns in the Wisconsin prison system as well as possible violations of the civil rights of inmates.

According to a March 27th press release from Doyle's office, Wisconsin has excellent civil rights laws on the books, but there is no adequate method to enforce those laws. Wisconsin's Attorney General should have the power to investigate alleged civil rights violations. When appropriate, the Attorney General could then seek fines and criminal penalties when a person's civil rights are violated.

"Citizens and families often ask me to investigate violations of their civil rights," Doyle said. "They are entitled to a fair investigation and just prosecution, and the Attorney General's Office should be allowed to provide that service to protect the civil rights of Wisconsin residents." Doyle and Moore are also proposing that lawmakers give the Attorney General the power to call public inquests to investigate the death of a prison inmate. Under current law, only the local district attorney in the county housing the prison is authorized to call for an inquest, and that could cause a conflict of interest.

"It should go without saying that each and every human being, despite that person's mistakes, vices or crimes, deserves to be treated like a human being," Moore said, who has agreed to sponsor legislation to grant the Attorney General additional authority during the next legislative session. "When we allow one person's civil rights to be compromised or violated, we permit the subtle erosion of that which we have worked so diligently to achieve and maintain."

Moore has asked Attorney General Doyle to review the legality of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections' (DOC) practice of denying prisoner records regarding the health care and deaths of prisoners housed within Wisconsin and prisoners being housed in out-of-state private prisons. Doyle agreed that greater public access to information on the corrections system can lead to an objective review of the prison health system by the public, and he supports increased openness by the state.

The intent of Doyle and Moore's proposal is to safeguard the civil rights of Wisconsin citizens against even the rarest examples of abuse. Doyle said, "It is the foundation of our country, and it enforces the constitutional Bill of Rights for all of our citizens wherever they live and regardless of their income."

Doyle also cited the need to prevent more crime from occurring and to reduce the prison population by focusing on the needs of children at a young age. "Research shows that more than 80 percent of the people in prisons grew up in violent homes. If we want to reduce prison populations and curb violence on the streets and in our neighborhoods, we need to reduce domestic violence in our homes. Children are seriously harmed when they witness violence and often grow up to commit the same kind of violence later in life. It is time that we launch an all-out attack against violence in the home to protect children and stop the intergenerational cycle of violence."

Attorney General Doyle has proposed a new law that would make it a crime, punishable by up to two years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, to commit an act of domestic abuse in the presence of a child. In short, Doyle talks softly about prevention, still promoting punishment as the means to prevent violence.

For more information contact Mitch Henck of Attorney General Doyle's office at 608/266-1221. Send requests for more information to

Additional information about the crisis in health care within the Department of Corrections can be found at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal website ( under "Wisconsin's Death Penalty," by Mary Zahn and Jessica McBride, October 22-24, 2000.

Texas Court strikes down drug testing policy

In early-March, 2001 a federal judge in Lubbock, Texas struck down a school district's mandatory drug testing policy in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a father and his 12-year-old son. The ruling is the first of its kind in the nation to apply to every student. "The court's ruling sends an important message to school districts across the nation that they cannot treat students like suspects," said Graham Boyd, Director of the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation Project.

"The Texas policy was unique because it targeted every single student, not just athletes or participants in other activities," Boyd added. "The court agreed that the school went too far with this unprecedented policy." Larry Tannahill lost his job and became an outcast in his Texas hometown of Lockney after suing his son's school over the rule. Someone even shot his dog with a paint gun and left a note saying, "Next time it won't be your dog."

Tannahill said he knew his son Brady would pass the drug test but opposed it on principle. Under the policy, any student who tests positive or declines to be tested is subject to punishment, including in-school suspension and suspension from extracurricular activities. Unlike other policies that have passed constitutional muster, the court noted in its opinion, the Lockney School District tested all students, not just athletes, and failed to present evidence of serious drug use in the school.

In his ruling, federal district judge Sam R. Cummings said that he understood the motives of the school district, but found that its mandatory, suspicionless drug testing violated the Fourth Amendment. "Such an intrusion also comes at a great price to citizens' constitutionally guaranteed rights to be secure in their 'persons, houses, papers and effects,'" he said in the March 3rd decision.

Significantly, Judge Cummings cited case law from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in rejecting the policy. "Numerous cases have also made it clear that general concerns about maintaining drug-free schools or desires to detect illegal conduct are insufficient as a matter of law," the opinion said. That finding, said the ACLU's Boyd, could make it difficult for the school district to appeal the case to the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Tannahill and his wife Traci were the only parents in the school district who refused to permit officials to test their 12-year-old son for drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Tannahill himself, as well as his father and grandfather, was a student at the school his son now attends. Tannahill has said that many of his neighbors have told him privately they oppose the policy but don't feel they can speak out.

An ACLU special feature on student drug testing is online at: