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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Black Liberation Army Members Convicted of Murdering Cops Granted Parole

by Christopher Zoukis

Herman Bell served 46 years behind bars in New York. The 70-year-old was convicted of the 1971 murders of two NYPD officers, and received a sentence of 25 years to life. Denied parole on seven previous occasions, Bell, who long argued he was a political prisoner, was ...

Private Prison Company Pays to Play; Federal Election Commission Fails to Act

by Christopher Zoukis

GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison companies, donated $225,000 to the pro-Trump Super PAC Rebuilding America Now during the 2016 election cycle. Within a few months after President Trump’s inauguration, in April 2017, GEO was awarded a $110 million federal contract to build a ...

Solitary Confinement Reforms Sweeping the Nation but Still Not Enough

by Christopher Zoukis

Solitary confinement is “worse than any torment of the body” – so said famous British author Charles Dickens. French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, who toured American prisons in 1831, added that solitary “devours the victim incessantly and unmercifully; it does not reform, it kills.”

The U.S. Supreme ...

Top Federal Death Penalty Lawyer Demoted, Reassigned

by Christopher Zoukis

Kevin Carwile, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney in charge of the agency’s death penalty prosecution unit, has been demoted over allegations that he fostered a “sexualized environment” in his workplace.

The New York Times reported on the accusations against Carwile on March 31, 2018 in ...

Rikers Island Beat Down Suit Settles for $165,000, but Victim Won’t See a Penny

by Christopher Zoukis

On October 30, 2012, several guards at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City used batons to beat handcuffed prisoner Gabino Genao, 31, into unconsciousness. In the wake of that incident, guards Moises Simancas, April Jackson and Tyrone Wint resigned, pleaded guilty to criminal charges ...

$750,000 Settlement Paid by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for Wrongful Death

by Christopher Zoukis
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a wrongful death case brought by the parents of a mentally ill prisoner who died after prison guards sprayed him in the face and in his breathing tube with pepper spray. The deal was ...

Trump Calls Prison Reform “Very Important” as First Step Act Passes in the House

by Christopher Zoukis

Does “tough on crime” President Donald J. Trump support prison reform? If his comments at a January 2018 listening session can be believed, the answer is a qualified “yes” – qualified because his focus is mainly on reentry services, not on prison conditions or sentencing reform.

Jared ...

Federal Judge Dismisses Class-action Suits Over Jail Phone Rates, Commissions

by Christopher Zoukis

On August 10, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers dismissed four related class-action lawsuits in which prisoners challenged the rates and commission kickbacks associated with jail phone service contracts.

A group of attorneys representing California prisoners held in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa and ...

15 Years to Life for Jailers Who Beat Mentally Ill Prisoner to Death

by Christopher Zoukis

Three former California jail guards were convicted of second-degree murder for fatally beating a mentally ill prisoner who suffered what prosecutors called an “agonizing and painful” death. In January 2018, the three men were each sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.

The guards, Jereh ...

Prisoners Help Train Future (K9) Law Enforcement Officers

by Christopher Zoukis

Post-9/11, the demand for highly-trained explosives investigators has grown significantly; law enforcement agencies nationwide have hurried to recruit officers who have received specialized training in the detection of bombs and accelerants. And in an ironic twist, prisoners play a central role in the training of this new ...