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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Cell Phones Confiscated from Prisoners Given to Charities

Cell Phones Confiscated from Prisoners Given to Charities

by Christopher Zoukis

Thousands of cell phones seized from prisoners nationwide have been donated to charitable causes, including domestic violence programs and Cell Phones for Soldiers.

Cell phones are considered contraband in every prison and jail in the U.S. In many jurisdictions, their possession or use by a prisoner is a criminal offense, including in the federal Bureau of Prisons. [See: PLN, June 2011, p.34]. Despite such penalties there is a burgeoning market for cell phones behind bars, and many end up being found by prison officials. In California alone, 12,151 phones were seized from prisoners in 2013.

As the confiscation of contraband cell phones has become more common, many have been donated to charitable organizations.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections gave more than 1,100 cell phones to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The phones are refurbished by Verizon HopeLine and then provided to domestic violence victims. Phones that cannot be reused are recycled, with the proceeds donated to the program. The Alabama DOC sends confiscated cell phones to HopeLine and proceeds from the sale of refurbished phones are used for grants for domestic violence shelters.

Many ...

Vice President’s Son Discharged from Navy Due to Drug Use

Vice President’s Son Discharged from Navy Due to Drug Use

by Christopher Zoukis

In an embarrassing coda to Vice President Joe Biden’s long career as one of the chief architects of the War on Drugs, one of his sons was booted from the U.S. Navy after testing positive for ...

Tennessee Jail Considers Charging for Toilet Paper, Underwear

Tennessee Jail Considers Charging for Toilet Paper, Underwear

by Christopher Zoukis

On August 19, 2013, commissioners in Anderson County, Tennessee approved a resolution authorizing an expansion of pay-to-stay fees at the county jail. The resolution included a $50 daily fee for prisoners serving misdemeanor sentences, the removal of the existing ...

ACLU Awarded $50 Million to Help End Mass Incarceration

ACLU Awarded $50 Million to Help End Mass Incarceration

by Christopher Zoukis

On November 7, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it had received the largest grant in the organization’s history: $50 million from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. The donation will fund an eight-year campaign to slash America’s ...

Pell Grants for Prisoners: New Bill Restores Hope of Reinstating College Programs

Pell Grants for Prisoners: New Bill Restores Hope of Reinstating College Programs

by Christopher Zoukis

It’s been over 20 years since Jon Marc Taylor, Ph.D., a Missouri state prisoner and author of the Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada, published an op-ed in ...

San Diego Deputies Faulted for Jail Death

San Diego Deputies Faulted for Jail Death

by Christopher Zoukis

A civilian review board found that sheriff’s deputies lied and failed to take steps that could have saved a prisoner who swallowed meth before being booked into a San Diego Jail.

A sheriff’s official said jail staff thought Bernard Victorianne ...

Dehydration Death of North Carolina Prisoner Prompts Investigations, Firings, Resignations

North Carolina prisoner with a history of mental illness who was found dead in a transport van after being transferred to another prison died due to dehydration, according to the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office.

However, the state pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Michael Anthony Kerr, 54, said records ...

Forty Defendants, Including 24 Guards, Convicted in Widespread Corruption Scandal at Baltimore City Jail

Forty Defendants, Including 24 Guards, Convicted in Widespread Corruption Scandal at Baltimore City Jail

by Christopher Zoukis

The confessed leader of a powerful gang inside the Baltimore City Detention Center was the government’s star witness at the trial of eight remaining defendants in a widespread racketeering, drug smuggling, bribery, extortion ...

Transgender Prisoner Denied Adequate Treatment Hangs Herself

Transgender Prisoner Denied Adequate Treatment Hangs Herself

Petersburg, Virginia: At approximately 2:30 PM on February 24, 2015, Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg Medium inmate Ashley Jean Arnold (given name: Steven Roy Arnold), 32, ended her life by hanging herself in her prison cell. Arnold had sought medical and psychological care ...

Florida Prosecutor Suspended for Ex Parte Contact with Judge During Murder Trial

Florida Prosecutor Suspended for Ex Parte Contact with Judge During Murder Trial

by Christopher Zoukis

A Florida prosecutor who engaged in text messages, cell phone calls and dinner dates with the judge presiding over a capital murder trial has been suspended for two years by the Florida Supreme Court. The ...