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Articles by Chad Marks

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 ...

Hickman’s Egg Farm Puts Prisoners to Work at High Cost to the Community, Residents Say

by Chad Marks

Since 1995, hundreds of Arizona prisoners have held part-time jobs at Hickman’s Family Farms near Arlington, part of an effort by the state Department of Corrections (DOC) to help them successfully reenter society after serving their sentences. But in October 2018, local residents joined with environmental activists ...

Eighth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s Suit Over Inadequate Shoes

by Chad Marks

Geronimo DeLuna was housed at theMower County jail in Minnesota when guards made him wear shoes that were too small for his feet. The improperly-sized footwear, according to DeLuna, resulted in a blister that caused a severe infection requiring multiple corrective surgeries over a 10-day period.

Along ...

New York City’s Rikers Island Jail Expected to Close by 2026

by Chad Marks

The Rikers Island jail complex, one of the largest urban lockups in the United States, will soon be closing its doors if New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has his way. Operating under a 2015 consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which found ...

NBC Sends Anchorman Lester Holt to Prison as Part of its “Justice for All” Series

by Chad Marks

NBC anchorman Lester Holt has been to many prisons as part of his news reporting. But he had never slept in a locked cell for a few nights – until he went to the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in April 2019.

Holt said he and ...

Maryland: Parole Changes Needed for Life-Sentenced Prisoners

by Chad Marks

In Maryland, prisoners sentenced to life with the possibility of parole must serve 15 years before they can be considered for release. After serving the minimum 15-year term, they have an initial hearing before two commissioners. Once passing that hurdle, they are scheduled for a risk assessment ...

Three Deaths in Three Days at Illinois Prison Spur Calls for Greater Transparency

by Chad Marks

In September 2018, three prisoners died on three consecutive days at the Menard Correctional Center in Illinois. Kevin Curtis, 31, who was on suicide watch, died on September 5. The next day, Edwin Freeman, 45, also on suicide watch, was found unresponsive in his cell and taken ...

New Jersey: Appellate Court Shoots Down $7.5 Million Verdict in Prison Whistleblower Case

by Chad Marks

Lisa R. Easley was a longtime New Jersey prison employee. She began her career in February 1996 as a prison guard, and by 2009, after forking over some bribes, became an assistant superintendent.

The pay-for-play scheme within the New Jersey Department of Corrections began after Easley met ...

New York: Prisoners Have No Expectation to Privacy During Jail Phone Calls

by Chad Marks

In 2012, Emmanuel Diaz found himself in the custody of the New York City Department of Correction (DOC). While housed at the Rikers Island jail complex on multiple counts of burglary and robbery, he made nearly 1,100 phone calls. During some of the calls he made incriminating ...