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Articles by Derek Gilna

Federal Class Action Settlement Aims to Eliminate Horrific Conditions at Santa Barbara, California Jails in Three Years

$6 Million Payout in Montana Wrongful Conviction Case

Administrator of “Whitey” Bulger’s Estate Sues BOP Over His Murder

Federal Judge Approves $25 Million Class Action Settlement Against Global Tel*Link

Fifth Circuit Order Denies Texas Prisoners Hand Sanitizer and Cleaning Supplies

COVID-19 Deaths in Jails, Prisons Exceed Number of Deaths by Execution From 1990 to Present

There the comparison ends. While executions come ...

Federal Judge Rules Prisoners Eligible for $1,200 Stimulus Checks; Application Deadline Extended to Nov. 21 for Online Filing

The same court has also laid out detailed guidelines for the government to follow to ensure that the incarcerated are not misinformed about their right to the stimulus.

It also forced the IRS to extend its paper-filing deadline to receive stimulus requests, since most people behind bars don’t have access to a computer and can’t take advantage of a later deadline previously granted to online filers. Prisoners and detainees originally had until October 15, 2020 to file by mail but that was extended until October 30. The deadline to file online, using the portal at irs.gov, is November 21.

In her original September 24 order, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the 9th Circuit U.S. District Court certified a nationwide class of incarcerated individuals denied federal stimulus checks and granted them a preliminary injunction against the IRS and Treasury, stopping the agencies from blocking such payments and expediting previously denied payments.

Although many federal and state statutes bar current prisoners ...

Private Prison Industry Ramped Up Campaign Contributions, Favoring Republicans

With a sitting president who has campaigned against illegal immigration and in favor of strict enforcement of immigration laws, the industry clearly wants to maintain its profit stream from facilities holding immigration detainees.

However, whether or not President Donald Trump is reelected, or his Democratic challenger Joe Biden prevails [Editor’s note: This story is being written shortly before the election], the private prison concerns will not likely be going out of business any time soon, for a reason that transcends party politics: There is insufficient space in federal prisons or immigration-holding facilities to house all detainees. There also is no support in Congress for increasing bed space.

In a little-reported development, the Department of Justice quietly transferred the last immigration detainees from its prisons in 2018.

As a result, DOJ and immigration officials were left with no other option but to use private facilities to house them. Both major companies made ...

Rikers Island Death Case Against City of New York Settles for $5.5 Million

Eva Luckey, a prisoner at Rikers Island, New York, jailed for petit larceny, died in April 2002, because of negligence on the part of jail staff to provide her with the prescription medication needed to control her asthma, and failed to perform CPR on her when she went into respiratory distress.

The December 2019 settlement ended a multiyear legal odyssey, which initially saw the medical providers found guilty of negligence for failure to prescribe needed medication, but also the dismissal of Section 1983 civil rights and negligence claims against other defendants. Luckey’s attorney, Richard Gross of the New York law firm of Rubert & Gross, P.C., appealed, and the court reinstated the dismissed counts, setting the stage for the settlement.

As noted by Prison Legal News in April 2015, the appellate court’s decision found that New York could be held liable for failure “to protect decedent from reasonably foreseeable harm in providing emergency medical assistance once ...

HRDC Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Colorado Sheriff for Censorship of Prisoner Publications

HRDC alleged in its complaint that Adams County, Colorado; its sheriff, Richard Reigenborn and the jail chief, Chris Laws, “since June 2019 ... have refused to deliver dozens of HRDC’s mailings to incarcerated persons, directly violating HRDC’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech (and its) Fourteenth Amendment rights to notice and an opportunity to challenge censorship.”

“Although the Jail has an official mail policy in place, its correctional officers arbitrarily enforce that policy,” it further alleged. “HRDC respectfully requests that the Court order the Jail and its employees to cease and desist from continuing their ongoing violation, under color of State law, of HRDC’s rights (and those of its would-be readers) …and to award HRDC damages for the injuries it has sustained as a result of Defendants’ unlawful conduct.”

PLN noted in its complaint that HRDC “has thousands of subscribers to its monthly magazines in the United States and abroad, including incarcerated persons, attorneys, judges, ...