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Articles by David Reutter

Pennsylvania Prisoner Loses Part of Leg, Wins Appeal in Precedential Grievance Process Case

When the plaintiff in the case, Steven Patrick Hardy, entered the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill in July 2017, he was in urgent need of medical care. Part of a leg amputated due to diabetes had developed an infected open wound as a result of an ill-fitting prosthesis. Because of his condition, he was sent directly to the prison infirmary rather than to a cellblock.

As a result, he did not receive the normal orientation given new prisoners, nor was he issued a copy of the Camp Hill Inmate Handbook. Nevertheless, staff assured him that a handbook copy would be waiting for him in his cellblock, so Hardy agreed to sign an acknowledgment he had received it. But, in fact, the handbook was not awaiting him when he finally arrived on the cellblock.

Hardy requested a copy from a guard, who said he “should have already gotten one” ...

Florida Spent $1.7 Million, and Counting, to Impede Felon Voting Rights

In November 2018, Florida voters overwhelming approved Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to felons, except those convicted of murder and sex offenses, “after they complete all terms of their sentences including parole and probation.”

Florida’s Republican Legislature responded to that public mandate by passing SB 7066. That law required felons to pay all court ordered fines, fees, costs and restitution associated with their convictions to be eligible to vote.

Legislators “knew going into the [2019] legislative session that they were going to be sued for it,”  said Leah Aden of  the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Gov. Ron DeSantis authorized $2.34 million in contracts with private law firms to represent the State in defending against that litigation, which resulted in a September 11, 2020, en banc decision from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that reversed the district court’s judgment that found SB 7066 was an unconstitutional poll tax. 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS ...

Ankle Monitor Shortage at Chicago Jail Put Prisoner Releases During COVID in Limbo

Civil rights groups had filed a federal lawsuit on April 9, 2020 that sought the release of medically vulnerable people from the jail during the pandemic. A federal judge ordered Sheriff Thomas Dart to increase testing and keep detainees apart from one another. Dart appealed, and his motion to stay was denied. [See: Mays v. Dart, Case No. 20 C 2134, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ill.)]

Reduction of the jail population came through electronic monitoring releases. The jail population dropped from 5,604 on March 1 to 4,281 on May 29. That increased the EM population from 2,417 on March 1 to 3,205. It was a move Dart criticized due to a lack of resources.

The surge in the need for devices caught sheriff officials off-guard. There were 10 detainees who could not be released on May 7 due to a shortage in ankle monitors, ...

Failed Michigan Jail Site to Host Innovation Center

As PLN reported, construction was halted in 2013 on the WCJ after it was discovered the project was running tens of millions of dollars over its $300 million budget. [See: PLN, April 2016, p.58.]

At least $150 million in 2010 bond funds were spent on the half-built jail. Since construction was halted, taxpayers paid nearly $1.2 million per month in costs for debt financing, security, and other fees related to the site.

In early 2018, the site was sold to Dan Gilbert, who owns the Rock Ventures development company, for $21.8 million. His company demolished the half-built jail with plans to build a soccer stadium if Major League Soccer awarded Detroit an expansion team. Instead, teams were awarded to Cincinnati and Nashville.

UM announced in October 2019 plans to partner with Gilbert and billionaire real estate mogul and UM alum Stephen Ross to build the $300 million Detroit Center ...

Second Circuit: Denial of Exercise Over Four Months Defeats Summary Judgment

Before the court was the appeal of New York prisoner Lionel McCray. Proceeding pro se, McCray alleged that while at Green Haven Correctional Facility (GHCF) in 2013-2014, he was on “keeplock” status, which allowed him out of his cell for one hour of daily exercise. GHCF had several outdoor exercise yards and one indoor gymnasium that was restricted to prisoners in other categories.

McCray alleged that in the winter of 2014, one or more of GHCF’s outdoor recreation yards was closed, which when combined with the prison’s maximum capacity population and the waist-high snow and ice accumulations that blocked access to exercise equipment, “prevented McCray from moving sufficiently freely to be able to exercise” for four months. McCray also alleged he was injured during a slip and fall on the ice.

After the district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, McCray ...

Eleventh Circuit: Florida’s Treatment Plan for Hepatitis C-Positive Prisoners Constitutional

The court’s August 31, 2020, opinion was issued in an appeal brought by FDC. The appeal challenged a district court’s order requiring FDC to treat all HCV-positive prisoners with direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs within two years of their diagnosis.

HCV attacks the liver, causing scarring or fibrosis that is scored from F0 to F4. The district court, after a five-day hearing in October 2017, granted a preliminary injunction that required FDC to treat prisoners with F2 (moderate fibrosis), F3 (severe fibrosis), and F4 (cirrhosis) with DAAs. (See PLN, December 2017, p.24.)

The district court subsequently granted the prisoner class motion for summary judgment that included, but expanded upon, its preliminary injunction. The permanent injunction required FDC to treat prisoners with F0 (no fibrosis) and F1 (mild fibrosis) with DAAs within two years.

On appeal, FDC conceded that chronic HCV is a serious medical need. The Eleventh Circuit began its analysis by pointing to ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses and Allows Ohio Prisoner’s Civil Rights Lawsuit to Proceed

The court’s July 7, 2020, opinion was issued in an appeal brought by prisoner Cecil Koger, who is a practicing Rastafarian. Between 2006 and 2018, Koger submitted numerous requests, appeals, and letters to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) asking for religious accommodations and exemptions. All were denied. He filed suit on November 16, 2017, alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the First Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants.

Koger was subjected to four forced cuttings of his dreadlocks. but that was not at issue. Instead, the issue was the validity of ODRC’s grooming policy, which went into effect on October 22, 2018. That policy was in response to a declaration in Glenn v. Ohio Dep’t of Rehab. & Corr., 2018 WL 2197884 (N.D. Ohio 2018), which ...

Fourth Circuit Orders Sealing of North Carolina Court’s Order to “Protect Defendant from Harm”

“John Doe” moved a North Carolina federal district court in 2016 “for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Guidelines Amendment 782, which lowered base offense levels for federal drug crimes.” Doe pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and 500 grams or more of cocaine.

At sentencing, the government moved for a downward departure under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines § 5K1.1 in light of Doe’s substantial assistance to state authorities before he was federally indicted. As a result, the district court sentenced Doe to 252 months’ imprisonment, which was well below his 292 to 365 Guideline range.

In denying the motion for resentencing in July 2018, the district court referred to the government’s § 5K1.1 motion. Concerned about that reference, Doe in November 2018 moved to seal the ...

$70,000 Settlement in Private Firm’s Failure to Treat Arizona Prisoner’s Broken Wrist

Eric Kevin Pesqueira incurred a wrist injury on October 17, 2013. He alleged it “was not promptly treated with medical devices or surgery.” When he had an outside evaluation, “he was told that his wrist was deformed with a limited range of motion that is likely permanent.” He was diagnosed in June 2014 with “SLAC wrist.”

In May 2016, Pesqueira reinjured his wrist by falling from his bunk “due to the failure to properly treat his wrist.” Then, in September 2017 he fell while doing jumping exercises and reinjured his wrist. Pesqueira was seen by a Corizon doctor in August 2018, and it was found “the fracture healed with some displacement of the third finger and wrist, and arthritis of the wrist.” Pesquiera underwent two surgeries to repair his right third finger in September 2018.

Seventh Circuit Dismisses Summary Judgment for Defendants in Illinois Prisoner’s Lawsuit Over Beating, Choking

Western Illinois Correctional Center prisoner Carlos Bowman’s civil rights action arose from events that occurred on April 14, 2014, during a “tactical shakedown” at the prison. Bowman alleged guards beat and choked him and forced him and other prisoners to stand so close together that their hands were on or near each other’s genitals for hours.

Bowman timely pursued the two-stage prison grievance system. After those remedies were denied, he brought Eighth Amendment claims for excessive force and failing to intervene against multiple guards and supervisors. He proceed in the district court and on appeal pro se after making several requests for the appointment of counsel.

Early in the proceedings, the defendants flagged the exhaustion issue. In March 2016, the district court entered a scheduling order that required ...