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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

GEO Group Produces Litigation Documents After HRDC Files Public Records Suit

by Christopher Zoukis, MBA

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization of Prison Legal News, prevailed in a lawsuit seeking to force private prison contractor GEO Group to comply with Vermont’s public records law. 

The complaint, filed in a Vermont Superior Court, sought to obtain records ...

The Second Step: Invest in Prison Education Programs, Reinstate Pell Grants

by Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Aaron Kinzel is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Jose Bou is the manager of Equity, Family and Community Partnerships in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Sean Pica is the executive director of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. Aminah Elster is a proud ...

Former Prisoners Become Attorneys: From Breaking the Law to Practicing Law

by Christopher Zoukis

“A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client,” the old adage goes. But Isaac Wright, Jr. knew he was innocent, so he represented himself at his 1991 trial on charges under New Jersey’s “drug kingpin” law. Unsurprisingly, he was convicted and sentenced ...

Prison Work Programs: “Cost-Effective Labor Pool” or “Slave Labor of Yesterday”?

by Christopher Zoukis

According to a 2017 survey by the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), of the more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails across the United States, 61 percent hold some form of job.

In marketing materials prepared for Federal Prison Industries, also ...

Class-Action Suit Against CoreCivic ICE Detention Center Allowed to Proceed

by Christopher Zoukis

A lawsuit alleging that private prison operator CoreCivic violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by forcing immigrant detainees to work at one of the company’s detention centers will proceed in federal court. The class-action claim withstood a motion to dismiss on August 17, 2018.

CoreCivic, formerly ...

Second Circuit: Prisoners Have the Right Not to Snitch

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has held that the First Amendment protects both a prisoner’s right not to snitch and his or her right not to provide false information to prison officials. The May 9, 2018 opinion established new precedent in the Second ...

Report Highlights Shortcomings of New York’s Parole Board

by Christopher Zoukis

An investigative report issued in August 2018 by two advocacy groups, Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) and the Parole Preparation Project (PPP), found significant problems with the New York State Board of Parole’s (BOP) policies, practices and political dynamics that have led the board to deny ...

Alaskan Native American Company Profits from Immigrant Detention

by Christopher Zoukis

Under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), guards at the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas are provided by Ahtna Support and Training Services – a subsidiary of Ahtna, Inc., which is one of 13 Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) created by Congress for the ...

Federal Prisons Use Nurses and Cooks as Guards While Officials Push to Fill Private Prisons

by Christopher Zoukis

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) houses over 181,400 prisoners in more than 120 facilities nationwide. As a rule, federal prisons are overcrowded and understaffed. With the Trump administration demanding a 12 to 14 percent workforce reduction – which equates to 5,000 to 6,000 BOP job positions, ...

Ninth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment in Favor of Jail Where Three Detainees Died

by Christopher Zoukis

In an unpublished June 7, 2018 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit partially reversed a district court’s ruling that Cowlitz County, Washington was entitled to summary judgment in a case that alleged county jail officials violated the civil rights of three detainees who ...