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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Last Act in Office - Maryland Governor Commutes Four Death Row Prisoners

In a highly controversial decision, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) commutes the sentences of four death-row prisoners to spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole.

An opponent of the death penalty, O'Malley has been fighting to abolish the death penalty for years. "In my ...

Department of Justice Gives Formal Approval on Bureau of Prisons' Communications Management Units

Nearly a decade after the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) began operating its notorious "Communications Management Units" (or CMU's), the Department of Justice (DOJ) has formally issued a final rule approving the BOP's restrictive policies already in place at those facilities.

In 2006, the BOP opened its first CMU at ...

Another Hawaii DOC Guard Goes To Prison

For the second time in a year, a Hawaii Department of Corrections guard was convicted in federal court after being found guilty on corruption charges.

Former Halawa Correctional Facility guard Feso Malufau was found guilty by a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii on ...

Prisoner Settles with Federal Bureau of Prisons Over Civil Right Violations

Lonnie Benefield, a prisoner housed at United States Penitentiary Florence, Colorado, settled his claim against the Federal Bureau of Prisons for $150.00.

Benefield's suit was filed in March, 1998, and settled in June, 2002. The settlement agreement is one of many documents recently obtained by Prison Legal News after a ...

Tenth Circuit Finds Compelled, Incriminating Sex Offender Polygraphs Unconstitutional

In May 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that sex offenders released from custody cannot be compelled to answer potentially incriminating polygraph questions as a condition of their supervised release. The ruling came after an earlier emergency stay of a polygraph test was issued by ...

Prison Tobacco Bans Reduce Smoking-related Deaths

Tobacco use and secondhand smoke kill over 480,000 people in the United States annually. The mortality rate of smokers is three times higher than those who have never smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and smoking reduces an average smoker’s life expectancy by 10 years compared ...

Hawaii Prisoner Awarded $7.2 Million after Losing His Fingers and Feet

In October 2011, 30-year-old Aaron David Persin was accosted by police officers for having an open container of alcohol. When they determined that he had warrants for missing traffic court they arrested Persin, who was homeless. Unable to post bail, he was held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC). ...

Los Angeles County Undersheriff Convicted on Federal Obstruction, Conspiracy Charges

Paul K. Tanaka, 57, the former second-in-command of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and the elected mayor of Gardena, California, was found guilty on federal charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in April 2016. Accused of being the “ringleader” of the conspiracy, he was ...

Pennsylvania: Woman Dies in Jail While Serving Sentence for Truancy Fines and Court Costs

A 55-year-old mother of seven died in a Pennsylvania jail cell on June 7, 2014 while serving a 48-hour sentence for failure to pay truancy fines and court costs that totaled about $2,000.

Eileen DiNino was jailed by Berks County District Judge Dean Patton for debts that had been accruing ...

Pfizer Deals Blow to Lethal Injections

Pfizer, Inc., the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, recently announced new restrictions on the distribution of drugs used to execute prisoners.

The May 13, 2016 announcement detailed “distribution restrictions” that the company is placing on certain drugs used in lethal injection protocols, including pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, propofol, midazolam, hydromorphone, rocuronium ...