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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

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 lawmaker. ...

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 foreign ...

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, Chief ...

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 have ...

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 ...

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 tired basically ...

Pennsylvania: No Prison Time for Guards Convicted of Abusing Prisoners

A former Pennsylvania prison guard who was convicted on 27 counts of abusing prisoners will serve no prison time of his own, after a state court sentenced him to five years’ probation and six months on house arrest.

Harry Nicoletti, 61, was convicted of numerous counts of official oppression, simple ...

Oklahoma Parole Board Members Charged with Violating Open Meeting Act

Oklahoma City District Attorney David Prater announced on March 13, 2013 that all five members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board (“Board”) had been charged with criminal violations of the state’s Open Meeting Act in connection with some 51 early release requests that the Board considered but did not ...

Prison Health Care Provider under Fire in Illinois

In 2011, the State of Illinois signed a 10-year, $1.36 billion contract with Wexford Health Sources, a for-profit company, to provide medical services to Illinois prisoners. Since the contract went into effect there have been numerous complaints concerning the level of medical care that prisoners are receiving – or rather ...