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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Four West Virginia Officials, including Circuit Court Judge, Face Federal Charges

A former West Virginia judge is facing up to ten years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges that he conspired to protect a county sheriff from allegations of drug-related activity.

Former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury, 57, pleaded guilty on October 2, 2013 in the U ...

Former Georgia DOC Official Charged for Embezzling Public Funds

A former deputy director of operations for the Georgia Department of Corrections has been indicted on 35 counts of identity fraud, after admitting he used his state purchasing privileges to buy electronic items and make other unauthorized purchases for his personal use.

Benjamin Hopkins, 42, was indicted by a Fulton ...

Missouri: Arrestees Billed for Cost of Police Tasers

Police officers in St. Joseph, Missouri have successfully recouped payments from defendants for the cost of “tasing” them during an arrest. It costs $24.99 for a Taser cartridge and about $1.05 in battery use each time an officer tases a suspect, according to the police department’s Taser ...

Oklahoma’s DNA Law Means Post-Conviction Testing Available in All 50 States

On May 24, 2013, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law a comprehensive post-conviction DNA review process for defendants in cases involving violent felonies or resulting in sentences of 25 years or more. Oklahoma thus became the final state to pass a post-conviction DNA testing statute.

Barry Scheck, co-director of ...

500 Escape from Abu Ghraib and Taji Prisons in Iraq

On July 21, 2013, military-style assaults at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison and another prison in Taji resulted in the escape of more than 500 prisoners, including an unknown number of al-Qaida members. Many of the prisoners were captured or killed the same day, said Hakim al-Zamili, an Iraqi ...

Utah DOC Ends "English Only" Visitation Requirement

Utah DOC Ends "English Only" Visitation Requirement

by Christopher Zoukis

As of August 1, 2013, Utah state prisoners are able to talk to their visitors in languages other than English, reversing a longstanding policy.

The change puts an end to the nation's only state prison system rule that forbids ...

TransCor May Face Punitive Damages for Prisoner's Death

TransCor America, LLC, a for-profit prisoner transportation company and subsidiary of Corrections Corporation of America, may be held liable for punitive damages if it is found responsible for the death of a prisoner who died while being transported in a TransCor van.

U.S. District Court Judge James F. Holderman ...

Oklahoma: Hospital Sues Sheriff over Unpaid Medical Bills, for Third Time

For the third time in the past eight years, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel has been sued for damages by a local hospital, which accuses him of releasing dozens of jail prisoners to avoid having to pay their medical bills.

Prior lawsuits involving Whetsel's handling of detainee medical costs ...

Maryland Repeals Death Penalty

On May 2, 2013, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to abolish the death penalty, and the 18th state – along with the District of Columbia – that has rejected capital punishment. Maryland is the first Southern state to forgo executions in nearly half a century, joining West Virginia, with ...

Oklahoma Escapee Surrenders to Police after 14 Years on the Run

On April 26, 2013, David Lee Kemp, 43, turned himself into the Comanche County, Oklahoma Sheriff's Office. He was actively being sought by the FBI, U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies for escaping from the Comanche County Jail 14 years earlier. "He said that he was just ...