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Articles by David M. Reutter

Eleventh Circuit Says COVID-19-Wracked Miami Jail Can’t Be Forced to Give Prisoners Soap, Masks

On May 5, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a Florida district court’s preliminary injunction that required officials at Miami’s Metro West Detention Center (Metro West) to employ numerous safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and imposed extensive reporting requirements.

Metro West is one of three jails run by the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (MDCR). It is also the largest jail in Florida.

In early March 2020, MDCR took precautions against COVID-19. It canceled visits, screened arrestees, detainees and staff, and advised staff on protective equipment use and sanitation practices. Social distancing efforts included staggering dorm bunks by requiring detainees to sleep head-to-toe and instructing staff to encourage detainees to practice social distancing.

Seven detainees at Metro West filed a class-action lawsuit on April 5, 2020. They challenged their confinement conditions and sought habeas corpus relief for the named plaintiffs and a “medically vulnerable” subclass of detainees. The suit alleged Metro West did not have enough soap or towels to wash their hands properly, waited days for medical attention, were “denied basic hygiene supplies” like laundry detergent and cleaning materials, and were forced to sleep only 2 feet apart.

The district ...

More States Restore Felony Voting Rights

In 2019, Colorado, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Nevada enacted legislation to restore voting rights to felons who have been released from prison but are still under such supervision, the latest of 24 states to make similar moves since 1997. Still, a 2016 estimate by the nonprofit ...

PLN Awarded Injunction in Arizona Prison Censorship Suit

by David M. Reutter

In November, 2019, PLN was awarded injunctive relief in a lawsuit challenging the Arizona Department of Corrections’ (ADC) “policy prohibiting sexually explicit material” as a violation of the First Amendment.

As we previously reported, ADC censored the October 2104, April 2017, May 2017 and June 2017 ...

$850,000 Settlement in Florida DOC Prisoner’s Gassing Murder

by David M. Reutter

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) agreed to pay $850,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging guards murdered a prisoner at Franklin Correctional Institution (FCI).

The suit stemmed from the September 19, 2010, death of Randall Jordan-Aparo. His death was initially covered up by guards, but Aubrey ...

18-Month Prison Sentence for Former Alabama Sheriff in Food Bank Scam

by David M. Reutter

The former sheriff of Alabama’s Pickens County was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for a scam to defraud a food bank and his church, and pocketing leftover funds to feed detainees.

David Abston was sheriff for 32 years. As allowed by Alabama law, he ...

$250,000 Settlement in Assault Upon Luzerne County Detainee

by David M. Reutter

A former Pennsylvania pretrial detainee who sustained serious injuries from a guard’s use of excessive force received a $250,000 settlement.

As guard Christopher Refner was making rounds at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility on June 28, 2016, he smelled marijuana and began to investigate. He determined ...

Veteran Dies After Beating by Guards at North Carolina Jail

by David M. Reutter

Guards at North Carolina’s Wayne County Detention Center (WCDC) abused and beat to death a mentally ill veteran who was arrested for breaking the window out his neighbor’s truck in May 2017, a civil rights complaint alleged.

Graydon “Jerry” Parker, III, 54, served two years in ...

Fulton County Ordered to Clean Up Repulsive Jail Conditions for Mentally Ill Women

by David M. Reutter

A Georgia federal district court ordered the Fulton County Sheriff to give more out of cell time and to provide sanitary confinement conditions for women at the South Fulton Municipal Regional Jail.

The court’s order came in a lawsuit brought by the Georgia Advocacy Office, a ...

Florida Prison Isolation Suit Survives Dismissal Stage

by David M. Reutter

A Florida federal district court denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the Florida Department of Corrections’ (FDOC) policies and practices related to isolation are unconstitutional.

As PLN reported, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed this suit on behalf of five prisoners, and it ...

Alabama Jail Guards Face Liability for Inaction to Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

by David M. Reutter

In an unpublished opinion, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of qualified immunity to guards in a civil rights action alleging they were deliberately indifferent to a pretrial detainees health issues stemming from methadone withdrawal.

The lawsuit was filed by Whitney Foster, who ...