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Articles by Dale Chappell

New York’s Prison-to-Shelter Pipeline is Poor Option for Parolees

by Dale Chappell

Released from prison, many New York parolees – instead of getting back on their feet through re-entry programs – are heading to homeless shelters in New York City. Of approximately 9,300 prisoners paroled from state prisons in 2017, 54 percent (around 5,000) went directly to shelters – up from 23 percent just three years earlier.

Those 5,000 parolees represented about one in seven of the state’s 35,500 parolees and about one in five new arrivals at New York City homeless shelters last year. The state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) does not track how long they stay there, but said the population is fluid enough that only about 1,600 parolees are in the city’s shelter system at any given time.

“It’s like living in a maze,” said Fred Henderson, who was released from prison in 2009. “The shelter system is worse than prison. At least in prison you know how long you’re gonna be in there and then you get released. In the shelter system, you’re allegedly free, but you’re not. It’s like doing another sentence.”

Henderson, 58, served 10 years for bank robbery at the state’s Franklin ...

San Diego County Targets Reporter Who Exposed Sky-High Jail Death Rate

by Dale Chappell

When the widow of a prisoner who committed suicide at a San Diego County jail filed suit claiming staff had been made aware of the jail’s high death rate due to a reporter’s local news reports, the county went after the journalist instead of trying to address the problem.

Although Los Angeles County’s jail population is three times larger than San Diego’s, the death rate in San Diego jails is higher. Much higher. Between 2007 and 2012, 60 prisoners died in San Diego County’s jail system – including 16 suicides. In fact, none of the 10 largest jails in the state had a higher death rate.

The county has been hit with multiple lawsuits over prisoner deaths and paid out millions of dollars in two lawsuits in 2017. The county was well aware it had a problem with high death rates in its jail system.

When former U.S. Marine Kristopher Nesmith’s widow sued in 2017 over her husband’s death by suicide at a San Diego jail, part of the evidence cited in the lawsuit was a San Diego CityBeat article titled “60 Dead Inmates” by Kelly Davis, an award-winning journalist who exposed the problem of the ...

Louisiana Jail Settles with DOJ Over HIV Discrimination

by Dale Chappell

The Union Parish Detention Center (UPDC) in Farmerville, Louisiana reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in March 2018 to stop discriminating against HIV-positive prisoners, plus the parish agreed to pay $27,500 to one detainee held in segregation for six months due ...

Oregon County Pays $2.85 Million for Dehydration Death of Mentally Ill Jail Prisoner

by Dale Chappell

Lincoln County, Oregon agreed to pay $2.85 million to settle a wrongful death suit filed by the family of a 55-year-old mentally ill prisoner who died of dehydration at the county jail.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in 2016, claimed that jailers had violated Bradley ...

Maine: Superior Court’s Dismissal for Lack of Jurisdiction Not Supported by the Record

by Dale Chappell

A sua sponte dismissal for lack of jurisdiction by a state Superior Court was improper, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court held on April 19, 2018, when the record was “otherwise devoid” of any indication the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction in the case.

Steve Anctil, a state prisoner ...

Despite Lack of FCC Action, States Can Still Make Prison and Jail Calls Affordable

by Dale Chappell

Although prison phone service providers and law enforcement officials won their lawsuit to block the FCC’s $.11-per-minute cap on intrastate (in-state) prison phone calls [see: PLN, July 2017, p.52], states can still lower the rates – to even below $.11 per minute – and some have ...

Federal Compassionateless Release

by Dale Chappell

For thousands of federal prisoners who have filed for compassionate release after the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) expanded eligibility criteria in 2013, the response has been a familiar and consistent refrain: “Denied.” Over the following four years, just six percent of compassionate release requests were ...

Ex-Prisoner Awarded $150,000 after 'Savage Beating' Arranged by Guards

by Dale Chappell

Sussex County, New Jersey, has agreed to pay a former prisoner $150,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging guards at the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility (KDCF) – the county’s jail – put a “hit” on him and had him beaten.

After Robert Woodruff was convicted of burglary and ...

“Egregious” Lack of Care by Jail’s Medical Contractor Leads to $1 Million Settlement

by Dale Chappell

An “egregious” lack of medical treatment that resulted in the death of a jail prisoner led Albany County, New York and its private health care contractor to settle a lawsuit filed by the prisoner’s family for over $1 million.

Mark Cannon died in 2014 after he suffered ...

Indiana’s SOMM Program Declared Unconstitutional by Federal Court

by Dale Chappell

Indiana’s Sex Offender Management and Monitoring (SOMM) program violated the Fifth Amendment by compelling prisoners to incriminate themselves or face longer prison terms, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana held on September 28, 2017.

The ruling was entered in a class-action suit ...