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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

California State Bar Recommends District Attorney’s Disbarment

The State Bar of California has recommended the disbarment of Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Michael Alexander, 64, who was deemed “not eligible to practice law” until the California Supreme Court makes a final decision in his case.

In an April 5, 2013 ruling, State Bar Court Judge Lucy ...

Sixth Circuit: Disciplinary Conviction Does Not Bar Excessive Force Claim

Prisoners who claim they were assaulted by guards in violation of the Eighth Amendment are not barred from challenging such abuse in court even if they were found guilty of disciplinary charges in connection with the incident, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held. Moreover, it is erroneous for ...

U.N. Considers Revisions to Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners

The U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice held its 22nd session in late April 2013. A significant item on the Commission’s agenda was the development of revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs). Originally adopted in 1955, SMRs are rules that regulate the ...

No Free Speech Protection for Prisoners Who Copy Excerpts from Books

Prisoners who copy "arguably inflammatory” or “incendiary” passages from the books they check out from a prison library or are allowed to purchase are not entitled to rely on the First Amendment to protect them from disciplinary punishment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held on ...

ADX Prisoner Not Allowed to Communicate with Family Members or Receive Publications under SAMs

In another series of court rulings upholding the use of Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), a prisoner at the federal ADX supermax facility in Florence, Colorado was prohibited from receiving certain publications and communicating with his nieces and nephews.

The federal Bureau of Prisons’ use of SAMs originated in a regulation ...