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Articles by Chad Marks

Coronavirus Kills Michigan Prisoner Days Before His Release After Serving 44 Years

William Garrison was 16 years old when he was arrested and eventually convicted of first-degree murder. He would spend the next 44 years of his life behind bars.

On April 13, 2020, Garrison’s cellmate called for help after Garrison was gasping for air. Macomb Correctional Facility staff had him transferred to the hospital where he died.

Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, stated that a post-mortem autopsy confirmed Garrison was infected with COVID-19.

Garrison was originally sentenced to life in prison. In 2012, the Supreme Court issued a decision striking down mandatory life sentences for juveniles. Later, in 2016, that law was ruled to be retroactive, paving the way for Garrison to be resentenced.

Due to the resentencing, Garrison was eligible for parole in February but rejected it. He opted to serve seven more months, which would eliminate parole.

Garrison changed his mind when COVID-19 hit the prison system. Prison officials issued Garrison immediate parole, but he was not released due to a Michigan law.

The law states prisons must notify prosecutors and any registered victims in order to release prisoners. The law requires prison officials to wait 28 days before releasing prisoners, ...

Mississippi Jail to Stay Open Despite Massive “Financial Trouble”

On December 12, 2019, the Board of Supervisors of Mississippi’s Issaquena County granted an eleventh-hour reprieve to the Issaquena County Regional Jail just five days before it was set to close and over 300 prisoners were to be moved. The Mayersville jail is the county’s largest employer, with a staff of 53, according to Sheriff Richard Jones.

In a meeting December 3, 2019, the Board of Supervisors had decided to cease jail operations effective December 17, 2019, saying the facility was costing the county more money than the government was taking in to house prisoners and pay staff. The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) has a contract to house some prisoners at the jail. As a regional correctional facility, it also accepts overflow prisoners from the jails in neighboring counties. Made with just two weeks notice, though, the announcement that the jail would close left some local officials stunned.

“We’re the county seat, so of course we’re going to feel the impact of it,” said Mayersville Mayor Linda Short, who added that the move would “truly hurt our small community and communities in the surrounding areas, not just Issaquena County but the surrounding Delta.”

She also suggested ...

Washington State Pays $500,000 to Family of Man Who Died by Suicide

The family of Morgan Bluehorse, who committed suicide in solitary confinement at the age of 29, will receive $500,000 from the Washington state Department of Corrections, in a settlement reached November 13.

Bluehorse was a 29-year-old man when he found himself in an isolation cell at Airway ...

$596,475 in Fees and Damages Awarded Against NY DOCCS For Contempt in Denying Pain Medication to Blind Prisoner

U.S. District Court Judge Loretta A. Preska has ordered the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to pay up in a victim of contempt case.

Amy Jane Agnew, an attorney representing Anthony Medina a prisoner who is blind, filed a complaint ...

$300,000 Settlement in Lincoln County Missouri Jail Attempted Suicide Suit

by Chad Marks

Mark A. Jaconski was arrested on June 17, 2015, for outstanding traffic warrants and taken to Mercy Hospital for a “fit for confinement” determination. Hospital officials made that determination and Jaconski was transported to the Lincoln County Jail in Missouri.

No mental health screening was done of ...

Undiagnosed MRSA Forced Arizona Prisoner to Have Heart Surgery

by Chad Marks

Walking 200 feet to the chow hall was excruciating, said 35-year-old Arizona prisoner Waylon Collingwood. Held at ASPC-Lewis, he had already been to the medical department several times in July 2019 to seek help for his symptoms, which also included vomiting and nausea, only to be wrongly ...

Prisoner Co-payments for Health Care Services Eliminated in California

by Chad Marks

In 1994, California lawmakers passed a bill that charged prisoners a $3.00 fee when they visited the infirmary for medical or dental care in city and county jails.

Twenty-five years later, on September 10, 2019, the California senate voted in favor of Assembly Bill 45, which eliminates ...

Los Angeles County to Pay $53 Million for Strip Searches of Female Prisoners

by Chad Marks

In 2010, a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of female prisoners at the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF) in Los Angeles who were forced to undergo humiliating strip and visual body cavity searches.

The searches were conducted outdoors in a bus garage area, where the women ...

Eighth Circuit Reverses District Court’s Order Requiring Halal Meals

by Chad Marks

Abdulhakim Muhammad, a state prisoner in Arkansas, filed suit under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000 cc-1 to 2000 cc-5. He argued that the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) refused to provide him with ...

Overzealous Prosecutors Seek to Lock Up Prisoners Released Under First Step Act

by Chad Marks

In December 2018, President Trump signed the First Step Act into law. Among other reforms, the legislation reduced some of the penalties for crack cocaine offenses. For many years, there were complaints that crack cocaine sentences were overly harsh and disproportionately affected black defendants.

Since the enactment ...