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Articles by Benjamin Tschirhart

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 ...

Fourth Circuit Says Three-Strikes Federal Prisoner’s Imminent Danger Claim Must Be Evaluated on ‘Totality of Circumstances’

by Benjamin Tschirhart

By the time he filed a pro se complaint against the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in U.S. District Court for the District of West Virginia in May 2020, prisoner Marc Pierre Hall was a “frequent litigant in the federal courts,” as the U.S. Court of Appeals ...

$60,000 Paid by Pennsylvania County to Jail Detainee Savagely Beaten by Cellmate While Guards Allegedly Ignored Cries for Help

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On July 15, 2022, Pennsylvania’s Bedford County agreed to pay $60,000 to a former detainee in the county jail, settling claims that guards purposefully failed to protect him from a vicious assault by a mentally ill detainee incarcerated there with him.

The suit was filed by Jeffrey ...

Rhode Island Prisoners Go on Hunger Strike, Staff Denies It

by Benjamin Tshirhart

On August 22, 2022, as many as half of the prisoners in the maximum-security unit of Rhode Island’s Adult Correctional Institution staged a hunger strike, protesting conditions in the 144-year-old prison. But officials with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) denied it happened.

“There have been no ...

‘Qualified Immunity Cannot Shield Them’: Fourth Circuit Advances Suit by Virginia Prisoners for Overlong Solitary Confinement

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On June 14, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed denial of qualified immunity (QI) to officials with Virginia’s Department of Corrections (DOC) in a suit by a group of state prisoners alleging they were held in solitary confinement too long.

Red Onion ...

Second Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Wardens Accused of Violating Religious Freedom of Muslim Prisoners in Connecticut

by Benjamin Tschirhart

On June 17, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision denying qualified immunity (QI) to federal prison wardens in Connecticut, who were accused of unconstitutionally restricting prayer practices for Muslim prisoners.

In 2014, while held by the federal Bureau ...

ACLU Accepts $37,500 Settlement Over Redacted Records From New Mexico Prison Healthcare Provider

by Benjamin Tschirhart

Wexford Health Sources had been sued over 50 times in just four years when the state of New Mexico terminated the firm’s contract to provide healthcare to state prisons. That was in 2007. So the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was understandably alarmed ...

Massive Price Tags and Meager Results: The Legacy of Federal Monitors in New York City

by Benjamin Tschirhart

From payoffs to teachers over biased tests to oversight for excessive force in New York City jails, there’s money in being a federal monitor for New York City agencies. But are the results worth the incredible outlay by taxpayers?

The history of these monitors and “special masters” ...