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Articles by Derek Gilna

Justice Sotomayor Slams Solitary Confinement, but Supreme Court Declines to Accept Colorado Solitary Case

by Derek Gilna

The U.S. Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions for writ of certiorari from federal appellate rulings each term and denies the vast majority of those applications, generally with a one-sentence rejection.

However, the Court’s October 9, 2018 order denying the petitions of Colorado state prisoners Jonathan Apodaca, ...

Arkansas: $21,000 Settlement in Jail Release Debit Card Class-Action Suit

by Derek Gilna

A federal class-action complaint filed against the Benton County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Office and Keefe Commissary company, over the practice of issuing fee-laden debit cards to prisoners containing their release funds, has settled for just over $21,000 plus attorney fees and incentive awards.

Arrestees processed into the jail ...

Class-action Settlement in Mississippi “Debtors’ Prison” Case

by Derek Gilna

In April 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced a settlement in a federal class-action suit filed against the city of Corinth, Mississippi that accused the municipality and its chief Municipal Court judge, John C. Ross, of running a “modern day debtor’s prison” that discriminated against ...

Colorado Accused of Failing to Comply with Settlement in Mental Health Care Suit

by Derek Gilna

On June 13, 2018, attorneys representing mentally ill defendants held in Colorado jails moved to reopen a 2012 class-action settlement in which the state agreed to cease “warehousing” mentally ill prisoners and provide them with timely evaluations. According to plaintiffs’ counsel, “Under the terms of [that] settlement ...

Two Former Oklahoma Death Row Prisoners Obtain $3.15 Million Settlement

by Derek Gilna

Last year, Yancy L. Douglas, 43, and Paris Lapriest Powell, 44, former death row prisoners in Oklahoma, accepted a total $3.15 million settlement in their federal civil rights lawsuits brought against their prosecutor and the State of Oklahoma. Douglas and Powell were exonerated, and their wrongful murder ...

Arizona: Lawsuit Spurs Significant Reforms for Death Row Prisoners

by Derek Gilna

A federal lawsuit that settled in March 2017 resulted in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) drastically improving conditions of confinement for death row prisoners. Pursuant to the settlement, most of the state’s 120 condemned prisoners were moved from solitary confinement in the Browning Unit at the ...

With Help from ACLU, Parolee Wins $10,000 Settlement Plus $100,000 in Attorney Fees

by Derek Gilna

After serving a 16-year sentence for forcible sodomy and forcible oral copulation, California state prisoner Sherman D. Manning was released on parole in February 2016 under the custody of the state’s Division of Adult Parole Operations. Following months of harassment and retaliation by that agency, Manning, with ...

Canadian Woman Wins Settlement for Death of Son Born in Jail

by Derek Gilna

Julie Bilotta obtained a settlement from the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre in the Canadian province of Ontario after staff took nine hours to call emergency personnel when she went into early labor. Her son, Gionni, suffered a traumatic birth in September 2012, and succumbed to chronic breathing problems ...

Two Chicago Prisoners, Released Due to Police Misconduct, Seized by ICE

by Derek Gilna

In December 2017, Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes saw their confessions in a 2000 murder trial that resulted in their convictions set aside by Cook County Circuit Court Judge James M. Obbish. But as soon as they were released from prison they were immediately taken into custody ...

Washington Prisoner Has First Amendment Right to Threaten to File Suit

by Derek Gilna

In June 2012, following a dispute with officials at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP), prisoner John Thomas Entler filed written complaints in which he said he would file lawsuits and seek criminal charges if his grievances were not addressed. He was then disciplined for those statements under ...