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Articles by Dale Chappell

Pennsylvania and Utah Expunge Criminal Cases to Help People Get Jobs, Find Housing

by Dale Chappell

Nearly 30 million criminal arrest and conviction records – those of anyone ever apprehended for a low-level crime in Pennsylvania – will automatically be expunged under a new law passed in June 2019 designed to help combat discrimination in employment, housing and education.

Under a change to ...

Local Taxpayers Face Higher Taxes, Crime Rates Due to Death Penalty Trials

by Dale Chappell

Taxpayers in Texas counties where death penalty cases are held get hit with a double whammy: Not only do they face higher property taxes to pay for the trials, they also have to deal with increased crime rates after public safety spending is reduced to offset those ...

Allegheny County Settles Three Lawsuits Over Medical Care at County Jail

by Dale Chappell

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania has settled a lawsuit over lack of adequate care by Corizon Health, the medical contractor at the county’s jail, for failing to feed a prisoner, which led him to go into cardiac arrest, according to court records.

The prisoner, Christopher Wallace, was arrested on ...

Whistleblower Lawsuit Exposes Violence, Cover-ups at Rikers Island Jail

by Dale Chappell

A former guard at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City has filed a lawsuit in state court exposing misconduct and cover-ups by staff. A subsequent report by the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) confirmed evidence of cover-ups of over a thousand prisoner fights in ...

Washington DOC Medical Director Fired for Negligence

by Dale Chappell

Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) medical director, Dr. Julia Barnett, was terminated on April 18, 2019 because she “failed to exercise sound clinical judgment and failed to provide adequate medical care” to prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC), resulting in the deaths of several prisoners.

Barnett ...

Judge Calls Prison Guard ‘Feckless Coward’ Yet Still Grants Him Immunity in Lawsuit

by Dale Chappell

 A jail guard who ran and hid when a prisoner he was watching grabbed his gun and terrorized a hospital was a “feckless coward,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said, but nevertheless held on September 18, 2019, that he was entitled to qualified ...

California Court of Appeal Reverses Convictions for Possession of Marijuana in Prison

by Dale Chappell

Overturning the convictions of five defendants, the Third Appellate District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, California held on June 11, 2019 that Proposition 64’s decriminalization of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana also applied to possession in a state prison.

The five defendants, separately convicted ...

Court Grants Compassionate Release After BOP Says Prisoner Wasn’t Dying Fast Enough

by Dale Chappell

In a case that demonstrates exactly why the First Step Act included much-needed changes for compassionate release for federal prisoners, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana granted immediate release to a terminally ill, wheelchair-bound prisoner after the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) rejected his request ...

Colorado DOC Settles Lawsuit, Agrees to Treat Thousands of Prisoners with HCV

by Dale Chappell

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit by providing lifesaving treatment to thousands of prisoners with hepatitis C (HCV), which will cost the state at least $41 million. [See: PLN, June 2019, p.44].

The suit, filed by the ACLU of ...

First Step Act Update: Over 1,600 Sentences Reduced, 3,000 Prisoners Released

by Dale Chappell and Douglas Ankney

As of late July 2019, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had released over 3,000 prisoners under the First Step Act, a landmark criminal justice reform measure signed in December 2018 by President Trump. [See: PLN, April 2019, p.1; Jan. 2019, p.34]. The ...