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Articles by Derek Gilna

Sandoval County, New Mexico Settles Public Records Lawsuit with Human Rights Defense Center

Sandoval County, New Mexico on February 24, 2020, settled a public records lawsuit with the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent corporation of Prison Legal News, which alleged that the county had refused to provide records that were required to be released under the state’s ...

HRDC Settles California Jail Censorship Suit for $143,500, Consent Decree

On May 13, 2020, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization of Prison Legal News, settled a federal civil rights action concerning California’s Tehama County Jail censorship of prisoner publications like PLN in violation of the First Amendment.

The complaint, filed February 14, 2020 ...

Minnesota Sheriff Hit with Attorney Fees Award in Civil Rights Case

by Derek Gilna

Martin County, Minnesota Sheriff Jeffrey Markquart has been ordered to pay $6,075 in attorney fees to former prisoner Erik Daniel Christianson in a federal civil rights action where the district court found Christianson was the “prevailing plaintiff.” 

As noted in the court’s July 19, ...

Lawsuit Against New York Jail, CCS Survives Motion to Dismiss

by Derek Gilna

A federal civil rights complaint brought by the estate of deceased Monroe County, New York pre-trial detainee Pedro Sanchez, Jr. has survived a motion to dismiss filed by the county jail’s medical provider, Correct Care Solutions (now known as Wellpath), and several of the company’s medical staff, ...

PLRA Attorney Fee Award Discussed after Oklahoma Jail Prisoner Awarded $35,001

by Derek Gilna

James Jordanoff, a former pre-trial detainee at the Cleveland County Detention Center in Oklahoma, won a $35,001 judgment following a jury trial based on a First Amendment retaliation claim against ex-guard Josh Coffey. 

The May 9, 2018 judgment included $1 in nominal damages plus $35,000 ...

Two-Year Investigation, Litigation and Settlement Ends Segregation, Mistreatment of LGBTQ Prisoners at California Jail

by Derek Gilna

A federal class-action lawsuit against the sheriff of San Bernardino County, California, that alleged LGBTQ prisoners were confined in an “‘Alternative Lifestyle Tank’ at the West Valley Detention Center ... to which all inmates who self-identify as gay, bisexual, and/or transgender ... [were] automatically transferred and isolated ...

Wisconsin Pays Largest Civil Rights Settlement in State’s History –$18.9 Million – for Juvenile Offender’s Suicide Attempt

by Chad Marks and Derek Gilna

Sydni Briggs was 16 years old in July 2015 when she was remanded to a Wisconsin state youth prison for breaking into a store and stealing alcohol. She found herself alone in a cell at the Copper Lake School for Girls on November 9, ...

Human Rights Watch 2014 Report Set Goals to Reduce Human Costs of Excessive Incarceration

by Derek Gilna

 The nonprofit Human Rights Watch in 2014 published a 21-page report, “Nation Behind Bars: A Human Rights Solution,” which outlined the problems caused by mass incarceration and offered suggestions on how to reduce prisoner counts without endangering public safety.

This report helped set the stage for future ...

GEO Group, CoreCivic Face Class Actions Alleging Prisoner ‘Slave Labor’

by Derek Gilna

GEO Group, the Florida-based private prison behemoth, and Tennessee corporation CoreCivic, are the targets of several lawsuits alleging that “voluntary” work programs at their facilities violate state minimum-wage laws, as well as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and other labor protection statutes. These lawsuits alleged that many ...

New Jersey DOC Settles Sexual Abuse Suit, but More Cases are Pending

by Derek Gilna

The New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) agreed to settle a federal complaint that alleged multiple civil rights violations at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. That same facility, located in Hunterdon County, is also the subject of several lawsuits in state court raising similar allegations, ...