Skip navigation

Articles by Alex Friedmann

Prison Rape Elimination Act Standards Finally in Effect, but Will They be Effective?

"Sexual abuse is not an inevitable feature of incarceration. Leadership matters because corrections administrators can create a culture within facilities that promotes safety instead of one that tolerates abuse." – National Prison Rape Elimination Commission

A report released by Human Rights Watch in 2001, titled "No Escape: Male Rape in ...

PLN Resolves Censorship Suit Against Oregon County Jail for $51,000 Plus Fees and Costs

In August 2012, Prison Legal News accepted an offer of judgment made by officials in Umatilla County, Oregon to resolve a First Amendment censorship suit filed against the county, the sheriff’s office and several sheriff’s employees.

Approximately two months earlier, PLN had filed suit in federal court alleging that the ...

New Tennessee Parole Board Members have Apparent Bias Against Granting Parole

Tennessee Board of Parole Chairman Charles Traughber, who had served almost four decades on the Board and had a reputation for ruling it with an iron hand, retired in June 2013. To fill Traughber's vacant position, Governor Bill Haslam selected Board member Richard Montgomery, 66, to serve as chairman. Montgomery ...

New York DOCCS Settles Statewide PLN Censorship Suit for $155,000

The New York state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYDOCCS) has settled a federal lawsuit filed by Prison Legal News that challenged the censorship of PLN's monthly publication, books and correspondence at New York prisons statewide.

PLN claimed in its complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the ...

Tennessee DOC Accused of Covering Up Violent Incidents

As previously reported in Prison Legal News, the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) has been experiencing higher levels of prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff violence since Commissioner Derrick Schofield was appointed in January 2011.

The increased violence coincides with a number of policy changes implemented by Schofield that are widely perceived as ...

PLN Settles Public Records Suit Against PHS in Vermont, Obtains Settlement Payout Information

On February 21, 2012, Prison Legal News settled a public records lawsuit filed in Vermont state court against Prison Health Services (PHS, now operating as Corizon Health, Inc.). As part of the settlement PHS agreed to produce records related to its resolution of legal claims against the company in Vermont, which included a total of $1.8 million in six cases.

PLN had filed suit against PHS on August 26, 2010 after the for-profit company, which provided medical care for Vermont state prisoners until the end of 2009, refused to produce documents pursuant to a public records request.

PLN requested copies of PHS’s contracts with government agencies in Vermont, records related to settlements and judgments that PHS had paid as a result of lawsuits and civil claims, and documents concerning costs incurred by PHS to defend against claims or lawsuits.

One of those claims involved the August 16, 2009 death of Ashley Ellis, 23, a Vermont prisoner who died at the Northwest State Correctional Facility just three days into a 30-day sentence. PHS employees had failed to give her potassium despite her repeated pleas for medical care and an order from her doctor. The medical examiner cited “denial of access to ...

Solitary Confinement Subject of Unprecedented Congressional Hearing

by Alex Friedmann1

It’s an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.

— U.S. Senator John McCain, on his treatment as a P.O.W.2

On June 19, 2012, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, ...

What HRDC and Prison Legal News Accomplished in 2012!

Last January, the Center for Civic Media at MIT declared the work of Prison Legal News and PLN editor Paul Wright to be "The Front Line of the US Censorship Battle."


Interestingly, CCM provided the perfect prelude to another year of successful litigation, publication, coalition building and advocacy ...

Violence in Tennessee Prisons up 20 Percent Under New Commissioner

On September 18, 2012 the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization of Prison Legal News, released data indicating that levels of violence in Tennessee state prisons had increased approximately 20 percent since Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Commissioner Derrick D. Schofield was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam in ...

Hawaii ACLU Files Suit on Behalf of Women Who Want to Marry Prisoners

On May 15, 2012, the ACLU of Hawaii filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) of unlawful discrimination by prohibiting four women from marrying Hawaii prisoners housed at a mainland facility.

According to the complaint, the women submitted multiple applications to wed their ...