Skip navigation

Articles by Benjamin Tschirhart

St. Louis City Jails Director Under Fire, County Jail Director Leaves After Nearly $2.7 Million in Legal Payouts

by Benjamin Tschirhart

When you’re arrested in St. Louis, it doesn’t much matter whether you end up in the city’s jail or the lockup in adjacent St. Louis County; both are mired in controversy. But in a letter defending city Jail Commissioner Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah, Mayor Tishaura O. Jones (D) took ...

Condemned Arizona Prisoner Reprieved

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On June 22, 2023, the chief prosecutor in Arizona’s Maricopa County dropped a suit filed to force the state to execute condemned prisoner Aaron Gunches. As previously reported by PLN, the state Supreme Court issued a death warrant on March 2, 2023, authorizing the execution of Gunches, ...

New York Jailhouse Lawyer Wins Resentencing, Release

by Benjamin Tschirhart

At 28 years old, drug addicted and semi-homeless, Kelly Harnett was nobody’s idea of a model citizen. So when implicated along with boyfriend Thomas Donovan in a July 2010 murder in a public park in Queens, New York, she knew it was bad. But she didn’t expect ...

Former Illinois Guards Sentenced for Prisoner’s Fatal Beating

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On March 16, 2023, Judge Sue Myerscough of the federal court for the Central District of Illinois sentenced former state prison guards Alex Banta, 31, and Todd Sheffler, 54, to 20 years in prison for the fatal beating of a handcuffed and helpless prisoner, Larry Earvin, at ...

New York City Stops Reporting Rikers Island Deaths Amid Rampant Guard Misconduct

by Kevin W. Bliss, Chuck Sharman and Benjamin Tschirhart

On May 31, 2023, Luis Molina, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction (DOC), announced his agency would no longer make public reports of in-custody deaths. Why? Molina blamed the federal monitor overseeing a long-running class-action lawsuit to improve ...

$500,000 Settlement for Texas Man Wrongly Imprisoned for Child Sex Abuse

by Benjamin Tschirhart

In 2013, Greg Kelley was a 17-year-old high school football star from Cedar Park, Texas. A good student, he already had a full scholarship to play football for the University of Texas in San Antonio. His coaches believed he might go on to the NFL. Instead, the ...

70 Months for Former Warden of BOP ‘Rape Club’ in California

by Benjamin Tschirhart

Ray Garcia was warden for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Dublin, California. He served as supervisor at the lockup for regular audits conducted under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). But after his sentencing before U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez ...

BOP Hits Back Hard After Federal Prisoner in Arizona Brandishes Gun

by Benjamin Tschirhart

As of mid-January 2023, almost 100 minimum-security prisoners from the Federal Prison Camp (FPC) in Tucson were still being held in segregation at the nearby U.S. Penitentiary (USP) in Tucson, six weeks after a fellow prisoner somehow got a gun and attempted to shoot his wife when ...

Former Prison Guard Hit With $2.5 Million Judgment in Suit to Force Painter to Acknowledge Painting He Did Not Create

by Benjamin Tschirhart

Over 10 years ago, when former prison guard Robert Fletcher heard from a friend that a painting he owned was an early untitled work by artist Peter Doig, Fletcher was understandably elated; Doig is a renowned artist whose paintings normally sell for millions of dollars.

Fletcher had ...

“All Signals Blinking Red” at Federal Prison in West Virginia After DOJ Releases Report on Killing of Mobster “Whitey” Bulger

by Casey J. Bastian and Benjamin Tschirhart

Citing “bureaucratic incompetence,” as well as “flawed, confusing and insufficient” policies and procedures, a December 2022 report by a federal government watchdog attempted to answer the question: How did a notorious but elderly criminal end up transferred by the federal Bureau of Prisons ...