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Articles by Dale Chappell

ICE Deportations Fueling Spread of COVID-19 to Latin American Countries

After being detained by ICE in the Krome Detention Center in Florida for three weeks, “Carlos,” a Colombian national who flew to Indianapolis under a travel visa to go shopping with his aunt for toys and clothes for his newborn son, was put on a plane and sent back to Colombia by ICE. What nobody knew was that Carlos was infected with COVID-19 and brought it back to his country, along with several others on that plane. And nobody on the plane was given masks.

Nicholas Barrera, another Colombian deported by ICE, spent four months in Krome and another ICE facility in Wakulla County, Florida. Protected in a “sanctuary city” in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Barrera was picked up by ICE in Florida (not a protected area) for a broken headlight. He was deported, leaving his wife and kids back in Maryland. He tested positive for ...

Can Kentucky Keep Charging Prisoners for Their Jail Stay if They Are Found Not Guilty?

That’s what happened to David Jones, who was held for 14 months in the Clark County Detention Center in 2013 before the state conceded that Jones was innocent of the charges. He was released, but not without a departing gift from the jail: a bill for over $4,000 to cover the cost of his incarceration.

After an initial payment, Jones filed a lawsuit in the federal and state courts, claiming that the law was unconstitutional. But the courts disagreed and dismissed his lawsuits. First, the federal court ruled that because Jones was billed for his stay in jail after his release and no money was taken from him out of his control, he had no constitutional ...

Rhode Island Takes Uncommon Steps to Address a Common Problem: Drug Addiction in Prison

Though it’s the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island has the ninth highest rate for drug overdose deaths. This prompted Governor Gina Raimondo to invest $2 million in 2020 into a program that provides prisoners the option of medication-assisted-treatment (MAT) for their drug addiction. The program was implemented in 2016. Within one year, drug overdose deaths of prison releasees dropped by 61 percent.

The program is so effective that the American Medical Association’s journal Psychiatry published a report on it in February 2018, suggesting that Rhode Island’s MAT program prevented one overdose for every 11 prisoners it treated.

But Rhode Island is an outlier. While this country imprisons more than 2 million of its residents, at least 60 percent of whom struggle with drug addiction, most prison systems don’t offer MAT — or any drug addiction treatment. Two reasons they cite are lack of money ...

Lifers Now Exceed Entire Prison Population of 1970

The United States imprisons about 2.3 million of its residents, not counting the millions more in county jails and on probation or parole. It also holds 83 percent of the world’s prisoners serving life sentences without the possibility of parole (LWOP). The U.S. lifer population today stood at 206,268 — which exceeded the entire country’s prison population in 1970 of 197,245.

The study found that in 24 states there were now more people serving life in prison than who were in prison for all crimes back in 1970, and an additional nine states were within 100 people of their 1970 prison population. The highest numbers were found out West, with Nevada and Utah more than quadrupling their 1970 populations (469 percent and 408 percent, respectively), with life sentences in ...

BOP Guard Pleads Guilty to Sexually Molesting Prisoners at MCC Manhattan

The 43-year-old naturalized citizen from Nigeria, also known as “Akon” or “Africa,” had been charged in a nine-count indictment handed down in May 2019 with sexually abusing a total of seven female prisoners between 2012 and 2018. The other six women were willing to join the seventh victim in public testimony against Akparanta, prosecutors promised.

In exchange for his guilty plea and undefined restitution to the seven women, prosecutors plan to ask for a prison sentence of 36 to 47 months, less than one-third the maximum sentence of 12 years that Akparanta faces. He was scheduled for sentencing on July 8, 2020, but on June 4, 2020, his attorneys requested a delay until September 2020. Prosecutors did not object. He remains out of confinement on bail at his New Jersey home with his wife.

Akparanta allegedly smuggled feminine hygiene products, makeup and food to his victims to extort their cooperation in the abuse and its coverup. ...

“Collateral Consequences” of Convictions Hinder Chances of Post-Prison Success

At least 77 million American adults have criminal records. That’s almost one out of three adults over the age of 18 in the entire nation (and doesn’t even include those with juvenile records). The Council of State Governments tracks collateral consequences of a conviction in  detail and said a conviction makes it impossible to obtain a license to work as a plumber, barber, manicurist, interior designer, or bans altogether the ability to get an occupational license, which about one in four Americans rely on to do a multitude of jobs. A conviction can cause someone with a license to lose all of this.

“One thing I’ve learned while researching criminal justice reform and teaching college classes in prisons is that ...

California Scrambled to Staff Wildfire Crews After Firefighting Prisoners Locked Down Due to COVID-19

As of early July 2020, 12 of California’s 43 prison fire camps were on lockdown due to the massive COVID-19 outbreak, including the training facility in Northern California in Lassen County. This means that only 30 of the 77 prisoner-staffed wildfire crews were available to battle these devastating blazes.

For decades, prisoner wildland firefighters have fought on the front lines as “hand crews,” using chainsaws and hand tools to cut fire lines around properties. It’s a critically important and dangerous job. Each crew has 17 prisoners trained in firefighting, led by a Cal Fire captain. There are about 2,200 prisoners certified as firefighters to work alongside Cal Fire’s 6,500 year-round employees, which swells to 9,000 during peak fire season.

But on June 23, 2020, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) locked down all its prisons, keeping the ...

Coronavirus Shuts Down Ramen Soup Plant; Prisoners in Michigan Limited on Purchase Amounts

In a memo from the state Department of Corrections (DOC), Michigan prisoners were told that “until the supplier has made a full recovery in production, there may be times when specific ramen products are out of stock.”

DOC spokesman Chris Gautz confirmed on June 14, 2020, that the ramen noodle plant was indeed shut down and that prisoners were now limited to purchasing only half the amount of ramen soup they could before — 15 packages every two weeks, instead of the usual 30.

In early April 2020, reports surfaced that American sales of ramen had spiked 578 percent at the beginning of widespread lockdowns to combat COVID-19. No shortages have been reported other than the one plaguing DOC. In May 2020 a ramen factory in suburban Richmond, Virginia, reported seven positive tests for the disease among its 420 workers, but ...

Sixth Circuit: Courts Must Construe Pro Se Notice of Appeal as Motion for Extension of Time to Appeal

Brandon Young filed a prison-condition lawsuit in the district court when he was on “dry cell protocol” and was later moved to a psychiatric unit. During those moments, he was unaware that the district court had dismissed his lawsuit, triggering the 30 days he had in order to file his notice of appeal. When he later became aware, he filed his notice of appeal but it was eight days late. Attached to his notice, however, he provided proof for why he was late.

Determining on its own whether it had jurisdiction to hear Young’s appeal, the Sixth Circuit noted that Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5) (“FRAP”) allows for a motion to extend the time for filing a ...

Book Review: The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct Is an Invaluable Resource for Challenging Prosecutorial Misconduct

I have to admit that the idea of a citebook in the age of searchable databases was a little lost on me. “Who needs a citebook these days,” I would say. But then Richard, managing editor at Criminal Legal News, asked me to take a look at a new citebook by Prison Legal News Publishing called The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct (“THC”) and to give him my thoughts. So I did.

First, I want to say thanks to Richard — I’m keeping this book. You’re not getting it back. This book is a goldmine of information. This book proved me wrong about not needing a citebook these days.

If you have a prosecutorial misconduct claim or you think there’s even a possibility you might have a prosecutorial misconduct claim, you need this book. Sure, you could sit at a computer for hours searching for on-point cases to support your claim and trying to learn the perfect way to bring your claim to court.

Think of this book as the best “assistant” you could ever hire, one that’s an expert on prosecutorial misconduct. THC lets you invest your time into other important work, knowing that your “trusted assistant” ...