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Articles by Chad Marks

California: Court of Appeal Holds Possession of Marijuana in Prison Still a Felony Despite Proposition 64

by Chad Marks

Nisaiah J. Perry was serving time in a California state prison when he was charged with possession of marijuana under Penal Code Section 4573.6. He was eventually sentenced to two years for committing that offense, to run consecutive to his existing sentence.

Perry moved the court to ...

$1.6 Million Awarded to California Family After Man Dies in County Jail

by Chad Marks

On February 15, 2019, a federal jury ruled that Mark Pajas, Sr. should not have died at a jail in Monterey County, California, prompting an award of $1.6 million to his family in a wrongful death suit.

Pajas, 56, was riding a bicycle the wrong way ...

Gladiator-Style Fight Club at San Francisco Jail Results in $60,000 Settlement

by Chad Marks and Ed Lyon

For a second time, the City of San Francisco has agreed to settle a prisoner’s lawsuit stemming from a fight club orchestrated by jail deputies and induced by fear.

Former prisoner Quincy Lewis filed a federal civil rights action against several deputy jailers in ...

Federal Court Awards $3,750,000 in Damages for Sexual Assault by Prison Guards

by Chad Marks

A federal judge in Arizona awarded a former female prisoner $3.75 million in damages after she was sexually assaulted by prison guards.

On June 23, 2017, the victim, identified only as “Jane Doe,” filed a complaint in federal court alleging that guard James R. Toadvine, Jr. sexually ...

Kansas Slaps Corizon Health with Millions in Fines for Contract Violations

by Chad Marks

“They don’t care who dies, how they die or what they do to you.”

That’s what former Kansas prisoner Sarah Loretta Cook said about Corizon Health, the state’s prison medical care provider. With expected increases in the Kansas prison population over the next five years, Corizon’s contract ...

Eleventh Circuit Agrees Prosecutor is Entitled to Qualified Immunity in Retaliation Case

by Chad Marks

Douglas Echols was convicted of a 1986 kidnapping and rape in Georgia despite his protestations of innocence. After serving seven years of a 15-year sentence, a DNA test revealed that semen recovered from the victim did not match Echols. The trial court vacated his conviction and ...

“Free” Prisoner-Made Furniture Gets Ohio Prison Industry Officials in Hot Water

by Chad Marks

After an anonymous complaint was submitted to the Ohio Inspector General (OIG) in June 2017, the agency opened an investigation into misconduct by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and Ohio Penal Industries (OPI).

The complainant told the Inspector General’s office that OPI workers were ...

New York: 58-Month Prison Sentence for Former Jail Union Boss Who Took Bribes

by Chad Marks

Norman Seabrook, 58, who served as the head of the union representing New York City jail guards for over 20 years, once reportedly said, “It’s time for Norman Seabrook to get paid.” Soon after making that statement in 2014, he received a $60,000 bribe delivered in a ...

Private Halfway Houses Plagued with Escapes, Drugs, Sex and Violence

by Chad Marks

Halfway houses run by for-profit prison companies CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO Group, which are supposed to provide reentry programs and substance abuse treatment for soon-to-be-released prisoners, have been plagued with problems.

Colorado inspectors found that staff at two halfway houses – the Boulder ...

Washington State: Jury Awards $549,000 to Prisoner Denied Pain Medication

by Chad Marks

Etienne L. Choquette, incarcerated in a Washington State prison, suffered from multiple sclerosis. A neurologist prescribed gabapentin – used to control pain and seizures – to address his condition, but Dr. Cris DuVall recommended stopping the medication. Choquette was eventually taken off gabapentin but subsequently requested to ...