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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Muslim Prisoner Strip-Searched in Presence of Female Guard in California Prison Settles Civil Rights Suit

by Christopher Zoukis

Anthony Dean, a Muslim prisoner at California State Prison-Sacramento who was subjected to an unclothed body search while a female guard was present, settled a civil rights suit that claimed his right to the free exercise of religious beliefs was violated. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
On June 10 and 12, 2007, Dean and others who worked in the prison dining area were subjected to strip-searches. Dean requested that he be searched in private since a female guard, Hazewood, was present and his Muslim religious beliefs prohibited him from disrobing in the presence of any female besides his wife. His request was denied.
On July 15, Dean was interviewed about a prison grievance he filed regarding the searches. He claimed that he was warned that if he pursued his grievance he would be searched nightly. The next day, Dean was searched again, so he filed an additional grievance for retaliation.
On October 10, 2008, Dean filed a civil rights complaint in federal court against several of the guards. He alleged that his First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion and to be able to file a grievance against the government, and his Fourth ...

$25,000 Settlement Offer from NYPD over Assault, False Arrest Accepted by Parolee

by Christopher Zoukis

Jose Perez, a parolee who was assaulted, arrested and re-imprisoned over charges that were later dismissed, agreed to a $25,000 settlement with New York City in response to a federal suit alleging violation of his civil rights.

     On June 24, 2010, Perez was returning to ...

Quadriplegic Denied Required Meds Settles with Louisiana Prison Operated by CoreCivic

Robert Blackstock agreed to an undisclosed settlement in his federal lawsuit against private prison company CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America). The prisoner alleged medical indifference after staff and medical personnel refused to provide his required medications at Winn Parish Correctional Facility.

In 2002, Blackstock had been diagnosed with brain-stem hemangioma with resultant spastic quadriplegia. He was placed on several medications to control his condition. After entering the privately run facility on December 10, 2007, his required medications were refused on the grounds that they were not approved for the facility and/or they were not necessary.

Blackstock filed numerous medication requests and medical grievances, with only sporadic results. According to Blackstock, his condition deteriorated, he was in constant pain, and he was unable to handle basic tasks.

On October 16, 2008, Blackstock filed a complaint in federal court against CoreCivic Warden Tim Wilkinson, Assistant Warden Angel Martin, Medical Director Pat Thomas, Dr. Alphonso Pacheco, registered nurse Angelina Davis-Woods, and nurse practitioner Kathy Richardson.

Blackstock argued that his Eighth Amendment right to necessary medical care was violated when prison staff acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. He also asserted that CoreCivic failed to ensure its medical staff was ...

$30,000 Settlement for Brooklyn Man Falsely Arrested by NYPD

by Christopher Zoukis

Derrick Baxton, who was arrested by officers of the New York Police Department with no evidence of wrongdoing, settled his federal civil rights lawsuit with the city of New York for $30,000.

     On February 5, 2010, Baxton was allegedly on his way to visit his sister when he was confronted by officers getting out of an unmarked vehicle. He was searched, arrested and handcuffed despite nothing illegal being found. According to Baxton, he was taken to the 75th Precinct where he was strip-searched without cause and, again, nothing was found.

     Baxton said officers accused him of participating in illegal narcotics activities, which wasn't the case. After his arraignment, he was sent to Rikers Island Correctional Facility to await trial, and remained there until February 11, 2010. The matter was later adjourned.

     On January 11, 2011, Baxton filed a complaint in federal court against Sergeant Dominick Maranzano; Detectives Brian Wood, Christopher W. Ward, Demos Marinakos, Philip Smith, Jennifer Lavelle, Dennis Friendly and Andrew Prendergast; and three unnamed undercover police officers. Baxton accused the defendants of false arrest, unlawful search, failure to intervene and violating his constitutional right to a fair trial because of ...

$125,000 Settlement in Case of Michigan Man Who Killed Himself In Jail

by Christopher Zoukis

The estate of a man who committed suicide while in the custody of the Crawford County Sheriff's Department in Crawford County, Michigan, agreed to a settlement offer of $125,000 in response to a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county, the sheriff's department and ...

Native American Prisoner Settles with California State, Prison Officials over Religious Liberty

by Christopher Zoukis

Ralph Martinez, a Native American prisoner who was denied the use of elements fundamental to the practice of his religion while incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison in California, agreed to a settlement with state and corrections officials. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

     While imprisoned at Calipatria, Martinez was allegedly denied several components necessary for his spiritual practices, such as sacred plants and tobacco for use in ceremonies, burnable wood for a sweat lodge, access to the outdoors for ceremonies, a spiritual adviser and other religious items.

     On March 25, 2008, Martinez filed a complaint in federal court against several state and prison officials, including Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Calipatria guard H. Maciel, Nancy Mejia and Clauidia Richie. He argued that the restriction on his free exercise of his religious beliefs violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the First Amendment, the California constitution, and state law.

     On November 7, 2011, Brown, Maciel, Mejia, Macias and Richie were dismissed from the case. A final settlement was reached with the remaining defendants and the case was dismissed by Judge Roger T. Benitez on February 21, 2012.

See: Martinez ...

Pennsylvania Prisoner Settles with Prison Officials over Permanent Injuries Caused by Medical Neglect

by Christopher Zoukis

 Thomas K. Turner, a prisoner housed at Berks County Prison, Pennsylvania, agreed to an undisclosed settlement with prison officials in response to permanent injuries caused to his leg as a result of medical indifference.

     While Turner was imprisoned at Berks County Prison, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. According to Turner, he was not given proper medical care for about seven months, leading to a permanent limp and regular confinement to a wheelchair.

     On May 1, 2008, Turner filed a complaint in federal court against Jessie Kirsch and several prison officials and staff, alleging that the neglectful medical treatment he experienced violated his civil rights. He also accused them of medical malpractice, and sought $250,000 in future lost income claiming that he would be unable to work following his release.

     A settlement was agreed upon, the terms of which were undisclosed, and the case was dismissed by Judge David R. Strawbridge on February 22, 2012.

See: Turner v. Kirsch, et al., United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 2:08-cv-02005-DS (Feb. 22, 2012)

$91,615 Awarded to Injured Aramark Employee After Indiana Jury Finds Against Prison

by Christopher Zoukis

 An employee with Aramark, a government service contractor, who suffered a back injury that required surgery after having to force open a gate at an Indiana prison, was awarded damages of $91,615 by a Superior Court jury.

     On September 3, 2008, Aramark employee William Kelly ...

Disabled Louisiana Police Department Employee Settles Discrimination Suit with City

by Christopher Zoukis

Walter Steele, a city employee who worked with the Oakland Police Department in Louisiana and had cerebral palsy with partial paralysis, agreed to a settlement with the Oakdale police chief and the city after he was required to do more work for less pay due to his disability.

     Steele was hired by the Oakland Police Department in September 2003, and in October 2006 assumed warden duties in the jail, but without warden pay. He was not promoted until two years after he became eligible, based on a lack of qualifications. Allegedly, Police Chief Bobby Gordon was trying to get Steele to do extra training that was not required of others, and denied him equal pay because of his disability.

     On December 12, 2008, Steele and his wife Carol filed a complaint in federal court against Gordon, the department, and the city of Oakdale. The Steeles argued that the defendants' actions violated Steele's Fourth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

     On March 9, 2010, Judge Dee D. Drell removed the police department from the suit and dismissed the claims of Fourth and Sixth Amendment violations. A settlement ...

$9,900 Settlement Reached After New York Prisoner Denied Medication Resulting in Seizures

By Christopher Zoukis

 Jerry McKoy, a prisoner at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in New York who suffered seizures because medical staff denied him his medication, agreed to a $9,900 settlement with the doctor in charge.

     Beginning on May 9, 2006, McKoy was denied Neurontin, a medication he used ...


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