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Articles by Benjamin Tschirhart

After 13 Jail Deaths in Eight Months of 2022, California Sheriff Finally Reveals How They Happened

by Benjamin Tschirhart

It took a civil complaint to make Sheriff Chad Bianco talk. The five jails he runs for California’s Riverside County had seen 13 deaths in the first eight months of 2022 — the highest number for any year on record. And until the press conference on September ...

$87,000 Paid to Virginia Prisoner Kicked in Testicles by Guard

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On June 22, 2022, an attorney for theVirginia Department of Corrections signed off on an agreement to pay $87,000 to settle a state prisoner’s claims that he was kicked in the testicles by a guard.

The incident occurred on July 15, 2016, when a guard identified as ...

Massachusetts High Court: Lawmakers Haven’t Stopped Sheriffs From Taking Kickbacks from Jail Phone Calls, and Neither Will We

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On May 17, 2022, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that sheriffs may continue the decades-old practice of collecting commissions from charges for phone calls made by those incarcerated in the state’s jails.     

At issue is the cost of communication for an extremely vulnerable population, which ...

Nebraska Assistant Warden Avoids Prosecution for Sexually Abusing Prisoner, Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charge and Gets a Year in Jail

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On October 3, 2022, the same day her jury trial was scheduled to begin for sexually abusing a prisoner, a former assistant warden with the Nebraska Department of Corrections (DOC) reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. Admitting to a charge of “unlawful visitation or communication with an ...

Former PLN Editor Settles Suit Over Detention in Tennessee ‘Iron Man’ Cell, Gets 40-Year Prison Term for Vandalizing Nashville Jail

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On September 29, 2022, former PLN Editor Alex Friedmann, 53, settled with the Tennessee Department of Corrections (DOC) in a federal action alleging his civil rights were violated when he was held 580 days in pretrial detention in an ‘Iron Man’ cell that he called “utterly barren ...

Fifth Circuit Finds No Liability for Dallas DA Who Improperly Relied on Polygraph to Imprison Sex Offender for 13 Years

by Benjamin Tschirhart

In November 2022, Dallas resident Christopher Arnone was charged with sexually abusing his son. He struck a deal and entered a plea of nolo contendere to one charge of injury to a child. The state court sentenced him to ten years ‘deferred adjudication community supervision,’ the conditions ...

Convictions at Any Cost: DOJ Report Slams Three Decades of Snitches and Due Process Violations in California’s Orange County

by Benjamin Tschirhart

The U.S. Constitution, in its idealistic fashion, guarantees citizens that they “shall not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” During the intervening centuries, the fine brush of precedent has filled in those broad, optimistic strokes.

But even a cursory examination will ...

New BOP Director Clears Up First Step Act Implementation

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On November 18, 2022, almost four years after Congress passed the First Step Act (FSA) to reduce the population incarcerated by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), new BOP Director Colette Peters finally clarified the agency’s policy to implement the law.

FSA was signed into law by ...

Investigation Reveals “Black Market in Broad Daylight” for Prison Food

by Benjamin Tschirhart

No one in prison expects to eat fine cuisine. The food served is merely intended to keep prisoners alive, with no thought given to how much it is or isn’t enjoyed. Yet certain people are seeing enormous benefits from prison food — just not prisoners.

In a ...

Ninth Circuit Says California Felons Can Fight Fires While Imprisoned, But Not After

by Benjamin Tschirhart

Most prisoners quickly learn that slavery has never been fully abolished in the United States. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution allows prisoners to be compelled to work for little or no pay, and most jurisdictions take advantage of the provision. In California, some state prisoners are ...