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Articles by Dale Chappell

Federal Judge “Troubled” by Arizona Prison Director’s Response to Coronavirus; State Rep Calls it “Reckless”

Court-appointed advocates filed a motion in federal court concerning the Arizona prison director’s response to the coronavirus, which federal Judge Roslyn Silver called “troubling,” writing that it “may reflect a failure to accept what could be a grave threat.”

She wasn’t the only one disturbed by Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry Director David Shinn’s handling of the pandemic. News that at least three Arizona prison guards had tested positive for the coronavirus as of April 1, 2020, did not reach prison staff and the prisoners through the department, but only via TV news.

It wasn’t until the morning after ABC15 broke the news that Winslow prison warden John Mattos sent an all-staff email admitting the details. Still, he criticized the news channel, writing that “they are not our friends” and “are only looking for a big story.”

ABC15 obtained internal emails and documents showing that as of April 1, only 30 percent of symptomatic prisoners had been tested, and that 358 prison employees had been turned away from coming to work because of health screening at the gate.

“I really don’t understand the rationale of DOC’s lack of transparency at all,” said Rep. Diego Rodriguez. ...

Federal Court Grants Default Summary Judgment in Favor of Indiana Prisoner as Sanction for State’s Lies

by Dale Chappell

In a rare move, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on January 3, 2020 granted default judgment in favor of a prisoner who sued Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, after prison staff and the Indiana Attorney General’s (AG) Office “blatantly” lied to the Court and refused to turn over evidence that exposed their falsities.

The prisoner, Phillip Littler, who acted pro se for much of the lawsuit, sued Wabash Valley guards for the use of excessive force committed on December 27, 2015. On that day, they shot him in the face with a pepper-ball gun and sprayed him with pepper spray when he refused to submit to a strip search, which he said was a ruse to humiliate him. He suffered a head injury, including a possible broken nose.

In response to Littler’s lawsuit, the AG Office represented prison staff and moved for summary judgment, arguing that Littler’s claims had no basis and that there were no material facts in dispute that would warrant further action by the Court.

In support of the summary judgment motion, the State offered sworn statements by guards that Littler’s claims were not only baseless, but that the guards ...

$25 Million Jury Award to Baltimore City Prisoner For Guards Setting Up Retaliatory Gang Attack

A jury awarded a prisoner brutally beaten at the Baltimore City Detention Center $25 million, after guards allegedly worked in concert with a gang and arranged a beating as retaliation for complaints filed by a detainee awaiting trial.

The beating left Daquan Wallace in a coma for two months, and now he has to use a wheelchair and cannot talk. The incident happened in October 2014, after three Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) guards cooperated with members of the Black Guerilla Family gang to set up the brutal beating. Wallace’s lawsuit claimed that the beating was in retaliation for complaints by his mother that jailers weren’t protecting her son from the gang.

Wallace’s mother told jail staff numerous times that her son was routinely beaten for refusing to join the gang, the lawsuit said. In response, staff allegedly moved him to a unit with the gang members, with more unmonitored areas to allow the beating.

Wallace claimed that when everyone went to dinner one night, guards allowed gang members to stay back with their cell doors unlocked, against policy. Within minutes, Wallace was beaten by the gang. Wallace’s cellmate returned to find him unconscious ...

Prison Plays Go on the Road, Teach Prisoners Life Skills

The Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) teamed up with the University of Denver’s Prison Arts Initiative and took some prison plays on the road last December. It’s the first time a prison play has gone on tour.

About 40 prisoners from the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility traveled ...

Suicide Rate of BOP Guards Keeps Increasing, Sets New Record

The suicide rate among guards in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) keeps increasing, reaching a record high in 2019 for the most suicides in a single year: 14.

Top brass at both state and federal prisons have known for years that the suicide rate of prison ...

Are Prison Law Libraries Adequate?

If you’ve ever had to rely on a prison law library to research for a court filing, you know just how sorely lacking they can be. And that’s if you were even able to access the law library. Many states do not provide law libraries for prisoners. ...

Federal Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Prisoner's Non-Prison Lawsuit Under PLRA's 3-Strikes Rule, Even Though Unrelated to Prison Conditions

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Native American prisoner’s lawsuit against the United States involving Indian affairs, citing the prisoner’s previous “frivolous” court challenges to prison conditions to invoke the 3-strikes rule under the Prison Litigation and Reform act ...

Court Grants Bail to Ex-Peruvian President Challenging Extradition Due to Solitary Confinement

by Dale Chappell

On October 10, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco granted bail to former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, requiring him to be released on a $1 million bond under home confinement and electronic monitoring.

The 73-year-old Toledo had been held in solitary confinement at ...

Oklahoma County Settles Jail Death Lawsuit for $3.2 Million

by Dale Chappell

The family of a man who was neglected to the point that he died in jail in Carter County, Oklahoma has settled a lawsuit against the county for $3.2 million, plus interest, after new and damaging evidence was uncovered.

Michael Manos was no stranger to staff at ...

California County Settles Failure to Protect Lawsuit for $90,000

by Dale Chappell

Contra Costa County has settled a lawsuit filed in federal court by Suneel Kumar, agreeing to pay him $90,000 after guards at the county jail allowed another prisoner to attack him while he was performing his job duties within the facility, and failed to intervene before he ...