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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by David M. Reutter

Protesters Rally Against Private Prison Contractor GEO Group

by David M. Reutter

Activists protesting President Trump’s immigration policies are also rallying against a company that profits from immigrant detention: The GEO Group. The activists have been protesting at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities as well as GEO-run detention centers.

At $471 million, GEO Group’s contract with ICE is the agency’s largest. The company has outgrown its headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, where a new six-story building is under construction. Meanwhile, protestors claim that people detained for immigration violations, which are civil matters, are treated like criminals in ICE detention facilities. 

The protests ruffled the feathers of GEO Group to such a degree that it employed the law firm of Holland & Knight to send Florida-based Dream Defenders a stern cease and desist letter that accused the group of libel and inciting violence. That letter came just four days before a series of planned protests. 

Dream Defenders was a force behind the Florida Democratic Party’s agreement to stop taking donations from private prison contractors such as GEO Group and Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) – a promise repeated by the Democratic parties of New York and California, said the organization’s leader, Rachael Gilmer ...

New Trial on Causation Required in Illinois Jail Detainee’s Suicide

by David M. Reutter

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held on August 10, 2018 that an Illinois federal district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law on the issue of causation in the death of Lyvita Gomes while she was incarcerated at the Lake County jail. In doing so, the appellate court set a new standard in the circuit for medical claims involving pretrial detainees.

Gomes, 52, was arrested improperly in the fall of 2011 for failing to report for jury duty; as an Indian national, she was ineligible to serve as a juror. While being arrested, Gomes pulled away from the officer and was charged with resisting arrest. She made statements that landed her on suicide watch, but a few days later was released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She was then freed. 

After failing to appear on the resisting arrest charge, Gomes was arrested on December 14, 2011. By the 18th, she was on suicide watch and hunger strike protocol due to her refusal to eat or drink. Her weight dropped from 146 pounds to 128 pounds on December 28. During that time period, “Drs. [Rozel] Elazegui and [Hargurmukh] Singh deliberately chose ...

Florida Prisoners Get Tablets, Lose $11.3 Million in Digital Music

by David M. Reutter

In 2011, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) entered into a contract with Access Corrections that allowed prisoners to purchase MP3 players which could be hooked up to a kiosk for music downloads. Over the six-year life of the contract, prisoners bought 30,299 players at around $100 apiece plus 6.7 million songs for $1.70 each, for a total of about $14.4 million – an amount that netted the FDOC $1.7 million in kickbacks from Access.

In August 2017, sales of the MP3 players were halted after prison officials reached an agreement with JPay, owned by prison telecom provider Securus, to sell tablets to Florida prisoners. But since FDOC policy allows prisoners to possess only one electronic device, a directive was issued that would make the MP3 players contraband.

As part of its contract with both vendors, the FDOC forced prisoners to swap their MP3 players for a JPay tablet by January 23, 2019. The players turned over to prison officials were slated for disposal unless prisoners paid to have the devices returned to Access Corrections, which agreed (for a $25 fee) to have security features unlocked and the music downloaded to ...

$750,000 Settlement for Family of Man Who Died in Illinois Jail

by David M. Reutter

Illinois’ Whiteside County Jail (WCJ) agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a civil rights action alleging jail officials failed to treat Walter E. Divers, Jr. for severe alcohol withdrawal, resulting in his death.

Divers, 28, was arrested for failing to pay fines or appear in ...


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