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Articles by Alex Friedmann

A Primer on Prisoners’ Constitutional Rights

Prison Legal News (PLN) regularly reports on prison and jail-related court decisions involving violations of prisoners’ constitutional rights. Those who are new to the arena of civil rights litigation and unfamiliar with prisoners’ few remaining rights may need a basic introduction to the legal issues concerning such claims.

            This ...

Apples-to-Fish: Public and Private Prison Cost Comparisons

by Alex Friedmann*

It sounds like such a simple question: do private prisons save money? The answer, however, is dependent on a number of factors – including how “saving money” is defined.

Consider that in 2013, the nation’s largest for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made $300.8 ...

Securus Faces Lawsuit Over Recorded Attorney Calls

On May 27, 2016, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Securus Technologies, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, accusing the company of recording privileged phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys as described in this issue’s cover story.

The suit was filed by ...

PLN Challenges Postcard-only Policy at Jail in Knoxville, TN

PLN Challenges Postcard-only Policy at Jail in Knoxville, TN

by Alex Friedmann

On October 6, 2015, Prison Legal News filed suit in federal court against Knox County, Tennessee, Sheriff James “J.J.” Jones and the assistant chief deputy at the Sheriff’s Office, challenging mail restrictions at the Knox County Jail which, among other provisions, only allow prisoners to receive correspondence in the form of postcards.

PLN also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the court to prohibit the defendants from “improperly censoring publications and correspondence mailed to prisoners at the Knox County Jail ... by Plaintiff and other senders pursuant to a postcard-only policy, publication ban, and arbitrary book size restriction,” and to enjoin jail officials from denying due process when publications are rejected.

According to PLN’s complaint, the Knox County Jail has censored at least 147 pieces of mail sent to prisoners since November 2014, including PLN’s monthly magazine, brochures and books. Not only were the mailings censored, but the jail failed to provide PLN with notice of the censorship or the reason why the correspondence was rejected, nor an opportunity to appeal.

The jail also imposes restrictions on books, including size (no larger than 6 ...

Who Owns Private Prison Stock?

Who Owns Private Prison Stock?

by Alex Friedmann

The nation’s two largest for-profit prison companies, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Florida-based GEO Group (GEO), are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Other private prison firms, including Management & Training Corporation (MTC), Community Education Centers (CEC), LaSalle ...

32 Deaths at CCA-operated Immigration Detention Facilities Include at Least 7 Suicides

32 Deaths at CCA-operated Immigration Detention Facilities Include at Least 7 Suicides

by Alex Friedmann

On June 17, 2015, U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, requesting an investigation into recent deaths at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. The facility, which ...

How the Courts View ACA Accreditation

How the Courts View ACA Accreditation

by Alex Friedmann

The American Correctional Association (ACA), a private non-profit organization composed mostly of current and former corrections officials, provides accreditation to prisons, jails and other detention facilities.

According to the ACA, “Accreditation is a system of verification that correctional agencies/facilities comply ...

Recidivism Performance Measures for Private Halfway Houses in Pennsylvania

Recidivism Performance Measures for Private Halfway Houses in Pennsylvania

by Alex Friedmann

In 2013, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) officials announced they would provide financial incentives to privately-operated community corrections facilities – halfway houses – that reduce the recidivism rates of offenders released from those facilities.

The unique initiative followed ...

Lowering Recidivism through Family Communication

There are currently 2.2 million people held in prisons and jails in the United States,1 and an estimated 95% of prisoners currently in custody will one day be released. Based on 2012 data, around 637,400 people are released annually from state and federal prisons.2

According to ...

Best Criminal Defense Pleading Ever!

PLN primarily reports on civil litigation involving prisons and jails rather than criminal cases. There are other resources that address criminal law; for example, Punch & Jurists (www.fedcrimlaw.com), which covers issues related to federal criminal cases.

However, when we ran across a pleading filed in a criminal court proceeding ...