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Articles by David Reutter

$1 Million Settlement in Georgia Prisoner’s Preventable Suicide Attempt and Death

by David M. Reutter

A $1 million settlement was reached in a civil rights lawsuit alleging officials at Georgia State Prison (GSP) failed to take action to prevent a prisoner’s suicide attempt, which resulted in his death three years later.

Prisoner Nicholas Baldwin was 17 years old when he was transferred to GSP, which was a violation of its policy to house only persons 18 and older. Prior to that transfer, Nicholas had attempted suicide on two prior occasions. His mother, Debra Baldwin, became very concerned when he refused visitation with her on October 23, 2014, which compelled her to contact the prison to express her concern that Nicholas should be placed in a psychiatric facility.

Debra spoke to mental health counselor Kimberly Hall on November 6 and informed her of the prior suicide attempts. While Hall recognized after an interview with Nicholas that he needed “emergency” psychiatric care, her response was to schedule an appointment five days later on November 11.

Another mental health counselor, Madia West, met with Nicholas on November 6, and she suspected “possible psychosis” as his current mental health condition. He reported seeing Satan and practicing black magic. The reason he refused visitation was because ...

Seventh Circuit: PLRA Mandates Dismissal for Deceit on IFP Application

by David M. Reutter

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that when a prisoner deliberately misrepresents their financial status when seeking in forma pauperis (IFP)status, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires dismissal. In another case in the same opinion, the court held a lawsuit was improperly dismissed without ...

Fourth Circuit: No Privacy Expectation Exists for Prisoner in Diagnosis and Treatment of HIV

by David M. Reutter

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoner does not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in his HIV status while in a prison medical unit. The court further held that individuals have no private right of action under the Health Insurance Portability and ...

$10 Million Settlement in Taser Death of Mentally Ill Man in South Carolina Jail

by David M. Reutter

The death of a Black man who was Tasered multiple times at South Carolina’s Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston is the latest case to raise questions about law enforcement’s use of force in dealing with mentally ill prisoners. Likewise, the continued assertion that Tasers ...

$750,000 Settlement in South Dakota Pretrial Detainee’s Overdose Death

by David M. Reutter

A $750,000 settlement was reached in the methamphetamine overdose death of a female South Dakota pretrial detainee. The lawsuit brought claims against two separate county jails, state troopers, and guards at the jails.

Sarah Lee Circle Bear, 24, was arrested on July 3, 2016, after a ...

Florida’s Brutal Prison System Will Continue to Subsidize Rural Economies, With No Meaningful Reform in Sight

by David M. Reutter

When the Florida Legislature opened for its annual 60-day session in March 2021, hopes were high that at least some of the criminal justice reform bills would pass. High on the list was the savings of about $140 million by closing four prisons. By the end ...

Report Shows COVID-19 Reduced Life Expectancy for Prisoners in Florida, Same Likely for Other States

by David M. Reutter

Prisoners have faced a “substantially elevated total mortality risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the elevated risk for COVID-19 infection found in previous studies,” concluded a study titled, “Assessing the Mortality Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Florida State Prisons,” by Neal Marcos Marquez ...

$350,000 Settlement for New Mexico Pretrial Detainee in ‘Failure to Protect’ Claim

by David M. Reutter

New Mexico’s Lea County paid $350,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging guards at the Lea County Detention Center (LCDC) failed to protect a pretrial detainee.

John Cordova was housed at LCDC on April 29, 2017, on a probation violation. Guards Joe Portillo and Dillon Phipps observed ...

Lawsuit Filed Over Rodent Infestation at New Mexico Prison

by David M. Reutter

For many years, the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility (WNMCF) has had a “horrific and widespread” rodent infestation that makes the prison “a dangerous place.” Those allegations form the basis for a lawsuit filed in federal court by two former WNMCF prisoners.

The lawsuit was filed ...

Attorney Fees Awarded Against CoreCivic After Defamation Suit Dismissed

by David M. Reutter

A California federal district court held that CoreCivic, Inc., must pay attorney fees in a defamation lawsuit. The court held the calculation of fees in abeyance until the resolution of appeals related to the dismissal and whether it could award fees.

The court’s April 6, 2021 ...