Skip navigation

Articles by Derek Gilna

Federal Judge Rules Prisoners Eligible for $1,200 Stimulus Checks; Must Apply by October 30

by Derek Gilna

In a clear victory for prisoners and their families, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make stimulus payments previously denied to people in prison and jail. Affected individuals must apply no later than October 30, 2020 for ...

BOP Inspector General Rips State for Failure to Control COVID-19 at Lompoc in California

The 36-page, July 23, 2020 report found that continuing medical staff shortages and failure to follow BOP national guidelines for detection and treatment of COVID-19 put the Lompoc prison complex in a state of crisis, which had been beginning to abate in summer.

After two guards apparently introduced the virus into the prisons in February or March of 2020, it spread rapidly, and at one point over 75% of the prisoners at the FCI were found to be infected. According to a previous story in Prison Legal News [PLN, June 2020, p.32], “Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Lompoc, located in Santa Barbara County, holds 1,162 low-security prisoners, of whom 911 had tested positive for the novel Coronavirus that causes the disease … the highest number of cases in any BOP prison.”As of mid-July, more than 1,000 inmates had tested positive and four had died.

All of this came after March 2020 when Attorney General William Barr directed the BOP ...

DC Federal Court Enters Partial Preliminary Injunction Against District Jails For COVID-19 Deficiencies

However, the court concluded, “the Court finds that some of the relief requested by Plaintiffs, such as the immediate release of inmates and the appointment of a downsizing expert, is inappropriate at this time on the current factual record.”

The court had initially ordered the jail “to provide a list of the names of the approximately 94 prisoners who had been sentenced to misdemeanors and who could be released; the numbers of people who had been tested for COVID-19 and a break-down of the identities of those individuals ... and the results of those tests; the date on which Defendants began testing people coming into the jails; the number and a breakdown of the results of COVID-19 tests which had been done on those who were incarcerated prior to the date on which Defendants began testing all incoming inmates; (and) all relevant ...

Damage to South Carolina Prisons Shifts Prisoners to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Speaking on condition of anonymity to spare loved ones retaliation from the BOP, the family members were highly critical of the decision, arguing that it put prisoners at risk. Heightening their anxiety was the ever-present risk of COVID-19, which has made all prisoner transfers problematic, and even before the storm, the virus had forced the federal prison system to end all in-person visits. Inquiries to the BOP by family members as to their family member’s whereabouts went unacknowledged and unanswered.

BOP staff was also concerned about the abrupt transfer to a prison that was already short on staff. Union national president Shane Fausey of Employees Council 33 said ...

How Kamala Harris’ Orange County, California “Snitch” Scandal Investigation Imploded

by Derek Gilna

Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, has long touted her law enforcement background in winning election to the offices of district attorney, California attorney general, and U.S. senator. But, serious questions have been raised about an investigation her office launched in 2015 regarding corruption in the Orange County jail.

That investigation quietly ended without any charges filed against law enforcement personnel who perjured themselves and compromised many criminal trials, resulting in numerous retrials and dismissals, as detailed by the Los Angeles Times in a January 20, 2020 story.

“Though the scandal sparked a U.S. Department of Justice investigation and led to retrials for dozens of defendants, including convicted murderers, the unexplained conclusion of the state inquiry has stirred frustration that many key players will escape accountability, the Times said.

The investigation began after a public defender probed the Orange County Sheriff’s Office practice of placing prisoner informants, or “snitches,” in cells with individuals already charged with serious crimes, hoping to elicit an unguarded confession.That violated theirconstitutional right to have an attorney present while being questioned.

Orange County public defender Scott Sanders uncovered this clearly unconstitutional practice as he reviewed discovery records given to him ...

Bloomberg Allies Make $20 Million Push to Help Enfranchise 30,000 Florida Ex-Felons

Computer scientist Robert Montoye noted in a New York Times opinion piece Sept. 21: “Because of an 11th Circuit appeals court ruling on Sept. 11, an estimated 774,000 Floridians who have already served their time in jail or prison are not eligible to vote in the 2020 election until they pay the fines and fees associated with their sentences.”

The funds will flow to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), run by former felons, Bloomberg said. “The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right,” he said. “Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it.” NBA star LeBron James is one of the major backers of the Coalition.

The money will aid tens of thousands of ex-felons who have served their sentences and had debt of less than $1,500, allowing them to cast ballots ...

Williams & Connolly, HRDC Win Censorship Case Against Virginia Regional Jail, $210,000 in Attorney Fees

PLN ...

Supreme Court Affirms Lower-Court Dismissal of Colorado Prisoner In Forma Pauperis Actions

In the case of ...

Medical Director of California Prison System Removed After Dubious Transfers Spike COVID-19 Counts

IRS Blocks Prisoners from CARES Stimulus Checks