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Articles by David Reutter

Prisoner’s Death from Methadone Over-Prescription Results in Summary Judgment, Settlement

by David Reutter

In a November 30, 2018 decision, the Seventh Circuit upheld a summary judgment order in favor of county defendants in a lawsuit alleging they were deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of a pretrial detainee who died.

On March 30, 2010, Patrick McCann assaulted and threatened ...

Teachers’ Unions Divest Stock Holdings in Private Prisons

by David Reutter

Pension funds for teachers are abandoning their investments in private prisons. The divestures follow an appeal by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation’s second-largest teacher’s union, for public pension funds to liquidate their holdings in for-profit prison companies and other firms involved in immigrant detention ...

Iowa: Prisoners Entitled to Full Hearing on Termination of Parental Rights

by David Reutter

The Iowa Supreme Court held on November 30, 2018 that an incarcerated parent is entitled to participate in the entire hearing for termination of parental rights.

The Court announced the new procedure in the appeal of a mother whose rights were terminated. At issue was the process ...

A Blow to Prison Privatization: Florida Democratic Party Rejects Profiteers’ Contributions

by David M. Reutter

Calling it a victory in the battle against mass incarceration, activists within the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) won passage in July 2018 of a resolution banning donations from private prison companies, their affiliated political action committees (PACs) and lobbyists.

The resolution was adopted during a gala ...

Maine Prisoner’s Challenge to Confiscation of Funds States Declaratory Judgment Claim

by David Reutter

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court held on October 16, 2018 that a trial court erred by dismissing a petition challenging a prison rule that requires any prisoner who earns money for work to have 10 percent of his wages, up to $1,000, deposited into a “personal ...

LA County Jail Guards’ Conviction for Assaulting Visitor Upheld

by David Reutter

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the convictions of three guards who assaulted a handcuffed visitor at the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail in February 2011.

Gabriel Moses Carrillo and his girlfriend, Griselda Torres, were visiting Carrillo’s brother at the facility. Deputy Pantamir ...

Virginia Jail’s Video Calling System Replaces In-Person Visits

by David Reutter

Visitation is a major aspect of jail and prison operations. For corrections officials, it is wrought with logistical, staffing and security concerns; as a result, they have increasingly turned to video calling, which, in addition to addressing those concerns, can also be profitable.

The Virginia Beach Correctional ...

Former Guard Who Scalded Florida Prisoner 
to Death Hired, Fired by Police Department

by David Reutter

On June 23, 2012, Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) guard Roland Clarke placed Darren Rainey, a prisoner at the Dade Correctional Institution (DCI), into a shower and locked the door. He then turned on the hot water using specially-rigged controls in another room. The 50-year-old Rainey, who suffered from schizophrenia, was being “cleaned” after defecating in his cell. Two hours later, when Clarke returned, he found Rainey dead with large amounts of his skin peeling off due to the scalding water. [See: PLN, Feb. 2016, pp.1,14].

The case went largely ignored for two years before it gained notoriety following an investigation and news report by the Miami Herald, which prompted Clarke to resign from the FDOC in 2014. He was quickly hired as a road patrol officer by the Miami Gardens Police Department.

Investigations by the department’s Internal Affairs (IA) office into his conduct since then have included an incident in which Clarke ran a red light in his police truck and crashed into another vehicle. He also was reprimanded in 2016 for calling a tow truck to remove a car that belonged to a drowning victim without securing a wallet and cell phone, which ...

Florida Private Prisons Seek $4 Million for Employee Raises

by David M. Reutter

In a show of continued support for privately-operated prisons, the Florida legislature considered giving the state’s for-profit prison contractors a $4 million raise.

The GEO Group, MTC and CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, have had contracts to operate prisons in Florida since the 1990s. While state law requires a seven percent savings to comparable public prisons, that cost analysis is flawed and not given serious consideration. [See: PLN, Jan. 2018, p.52; March 2011, p.36].

The most important consideration is apparently campaign contributions. The GEO Group, which operates four facilities in Florida, is a major contributor to the Republican Party and state GOP candidates. In 2016 alone the company gave almost $2 million in political donations, including $40,000 to Senate President Joe Negron and $100,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee.

State Senator Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Criminal Justice Budget Committee, defended the increase in payments to for-profit prison firms as being a matter of fairness.

“The issue here is that a couple of years ago we raised salaries for correctional officers in our public facilities, but we never extended that pay increase to correctional officers in private facilities,” he ...

Alabama Prisoner in Failed Execution Attempt will Not Face Another

by David M. Reutter

In March 2018, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) agreed not to set another execution date for death row prisoner Doyle Lee Hamm. The settlement resolved a lawsuit that followed a failed attempt to execute Hamm, 61, on February 22, 2018.

Hamm was sentenced to die for the execution-style murder of Cullman hotel clerk Patrick Cunningham, which occurred during a 1987 robbery.

In the seven months that preceded the attempted execution, Hamm’s attorney, Columbia Law School professor Bernard Harcourt, warned ADOC officials that Hamm had no accessible veins. Harcourt even proposed an alternative method of execution by oral lethal injection, but the ADOC refused.

Years of drug use, as well as chemotherapy following a February 2014 diagnosis of large-cell lymphoma cancer and B-cell carcinoma, had left Hamm with deeply compromised veins and abnormalities in his lymph nodes. As a result, Harcourt warned that an attempt at intravenous lethal injection would amount to cruel and unusual punishment in Hamm’s case.

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor agreed, but they were the minority who dissented to the Court’s denial of Harcourt’s request to stay the execution – a decision handed down the same ...