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Articles by Chuck Sharman

USDA Gives $1,000,000 Grant to Corizon to Treat More Sick Prisoners Remotely

by Chuck Sharman

Tennessee-based Corizon Health, one of the nation’s largest private for profit health care providers to prisons, with annual revenues of at least $800 million, announced on November 3, 2021, that it had received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “to expand distance learning and ...

$15,379,091 Judgment Entered Against Delaware DOC’s Former Health Care Provider for Narcotics and Medicare Fraud

by Chuck Sharman

Under a pair of consent judgments filed in federal court on October 29 and November 1, 2021, troubled former Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) health care contractor Connections Community Support Programs (CCSP) agreed to pay the federal and state governments a total of $15,379,091.60 to settle claims ...

Sherburne County, MN, Settles with HRDC for $98,000 Plus New Jail Publications Policy

by Chuck Sharman

A settlement was reached on May 11, 2021, in a censorship complaint filed in August 2020 against Sherburne County, Minnesota, and its Sheriff, Joel Brott, by the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the Florida nonprofit that publishes Prison Legal News (PLN) and Criminal Legal News (CLN).

Under ...

Indiana DOC Settles HRDC Mail Censorship Suit

by Chuck Sharman

On September 21, 2021, the Indiana Department of Corrections (INDOC) agreed to a slate of policy reforms embodied in a consent decree to settle a censorship lawsuit filed by the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), publisher of Prison Legal News (PLN)and Criminal Legal News (CLN). In addition, INDOC also agreed to pay HRDC a total of $265,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.

HRDC’s complaint was filed in November 2020 after what it termed “haphazard” censorship of its publications at INDOC prisons, including:

• Twenty-two consecutive monthly issues of PLN published from July 2018 to April 2020, which were confiscated at the state penitentiary;

• A dozen issues of PLN and CLN published from May 2018 to July 2020, along with copies of Prison Education Guide, The Criminal Law Handbook, How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim 9th Edition, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law, The Best 500 Non-Profit Organizations for Prisoners & Their Families, and Beyond Bars: Rejoining Society After Prison, all of which were seized at Pendleton Correctional Facility;

• Ten monthly issues of PLN and CLN published between August 2018 and March 2020, which were seized at New ...

HRDC Represents Wrongfully Convicted Florida Man Who Spent 37 Years in Prison for a Rape Murder He Did Not Commit

by Chuck Sharman

A Florida man who spent 37 years in prison on a wrongful rape murder conviction filed a federal lawsuit on October 4, 2021, against the Tampa Police Department (TPD) officers who mishandled his prosecution, along with the city and a forensic odontologist who provided “expert” bite mark testimony—which was later debunked—at his trial.

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC)—a Florida nonprofit that has published Prison Legal News since 1990 and Criminal Legal News since 2017—is providing representation in the suit filed by 56-year-old Robert DuBoise. He was convicted of the brutal August 1983 rape and murder of Barbara Grams while the nineteen-year-old was walking home from work at a store in a Tampa shopping mall.

TPD detectives zeroed in on DuBoise, then just 18, because he had allegedly been a problem employee at the same store—although he left six months before Grams started her tenure there. Fingerprint and hair analysis excluded him as a suspect, but police still pinned the case on DuBoise.

Worse, TPD Detectives Phillip Saladino, K.E. Burke and John Counsman—who are named in the suit—abandoned the search for Grams’s murderer as soon as a supposed “bitemark” was found on her cheek by then-Hillsborough County ...

CFPB Hits JPay with $6 Million in Fines and Restitution Over Fee-Heavy “Debit Release Cards”

by Chuck Sharman

In an order and settlement agreement released on October 19, 2021, by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), prison financial giant JPay, LLC agreed to pay $6 million in fines and restitution, after its prepaid debit cards were found to have taken unfair advantage of some 1.2 million prisoners who were issued one since 2011.

PLN has reported extensively on the whole debit card racket which takes money from prisoners and arrestees and then returns it to them on fee laden debit cards where the money’s owner must pay exorbitant fees for the privilege of spending their own money. The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), who publishes PLN, currently has three class action lawsuits pending against debit card companies, Jpay, Numi and Rapid Financial Solutions. In 2015 HRDC petitioned the CFPB to take action against these debit card companies. Six years later, our call was heeded.

The so-called “debit release cards” were handed out with a prepaid account balance, in lieu of a check, for monies that were owed to those leaving custody of prisons that contracted with the Florida-based private financial services firm. Those monies included cash confiscated when a prisoner entered a lockup, ...

Michigan DOC Eases Up on Pregnant Prisoners, Limits Shackles and Solitary Confinement

by Chuck Sharman

Under a new policy announced on October 19, 2021, pregnant prisoners held by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MIDOC) will be restrained less and will also have more time to spend with their newborns once delivered.

When it takes effect November 22, 2021, the policy change will largely reflect procedures already put in place by MIDOC after a bill was sponsored by state Sen. Erika Greiss (D-Taylor) in 2020 to address concerns that infants were being plucked from their mothers’ arms moments after birth.

“It’s the saddest thing that I have not only heard of, but been through,” said Siwatru-Salama Ra, who gave birth while locked up in 2018 at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility (WHVCF), the state’s only prison for women.

Nine babies have been delivered to WHVCF prisoners in 2021, with two more still expecting, according to MIDOC spokesman Chris Gautz.

The new policy doesn’t promise a new mother 72 hours with her infant, as Greiss’s bill would have guaranteed had it not stalled before reaching a vote in the legislature. But it does say that MIDOC “shall not restrict the prisoner’s contact with the newborn while in their assigned patient room subject to hospital ...

California Slashes High Call Rates in Prisons and Jails

by Chuck Sharman

On the heels of a May 2021 decision by federal regulators that sharply lowered rates prisoners and their loved ones pay for interstate calls, the California Public Utilities Commission (CAPUC) adopted a rule on August 19, 2021, which takes a hatchet to rates on intrastate calls—the lion’s share of the $1.2 billion U.S. market for prisoner calls, which currently run as high as $6.95 a minute in the state. The rule establishes a rate cap for the first time in the Golden State that now limits providers of “Incarcerated Person’s Calling Services” (IPCS) on an interim basis to a fee of $0.07 per minute.

Paul Wright, the director of the Human Rights Defense Center, a Florida nonprofit which publishes Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, provided expert testimony in the proceedings before CAPUC.

When the new rule takes effect on October 7, 2021, 45 days after it was both adopted and issued, it will provide immediate relief to nearly 77,000 prisoners held in California’s 249 local and county jails, plus almost 11,500 prisoners held in 16 federal prisons in the state. There are another 94,500 state prisoners held by the California Department of Corrections and ...

FCC Takes Further Action on Prison and Jail Phone Rates

by Chuck Sharman

A review of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report and adopted order on rates for interstate inmate calling services (ICS), released May 24, 2021.

When this rule takes effect—90days after its release—ICS interstate call rates will be capped at 12 cents per minute for prisons and 14 ...

HRDC Sues Florida DOC Over Censorship, for the Third Time in 18 Years

by Chuck Sharman

The publisher of Prison Legal News(PLN)and Criminal Legal News (CLN)filed a federal lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) on August 10, 2021, for “ongoing censorship” of both monthly publications in the state’s prisons.

The complaint by the Human Rights Defense ...