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Articles by Derek Gilna

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, ...

San Bernardino County, California Sheriff’s Office Settles Civil Rights Suit

by Derek Gilna

The County of San Bernardino, California and Sheriff John McMahon have settled a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in February 2016, which alleged they had failed “to provide minimally adequate medical, dental and mental health care” to prisoners in the county’s jail system, and had failed “to ...

California Jail Settles Class-Action Lawsuit Over Conditions of Confinement

by Derek Gilna

A federal civil rights suit filed by the Prison Law Office against Santa Clara County, California after a mentally ill prisoner was beaten to death by guards at the county’s jail has settled for policy changes plus $1.6 million in attorneys’ fees and annual payments of $200,000 ...

Pennsylvania DOC, Mental Health Contractor Settle Wrongful Death Suit for $27,500

by Derek Gilna

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) have agreed to pay $15,000 to the estate of a mentally ill prisoner who was killed after being attacked by another prisoner in February 2015. 

The March 2018 settlement ended a suit brought ...

Georgia: Court Certifies Class Action for Prisoners Held Beyond Their Release Date

by Derek Gilna

U.S. District Court judge in Georgia has certified a class-action suit that seeks to hold the Fulton County Jail liable for failing to release dozens of prisoners after they posted bond or were otherwise eligible for release. 

According to Judge Michael L. Brown in his ...

Study Says Mass Incarceration Contributes to Poverty and Hunger

by Derek Gilna

A 2018 report by the Washington, D.C.-based Bread for the World Institute (BWI) made the argument that “U.S. poverty would have dropped by 20 percent between 1980 and 2004 if not for mass incarceration,” quoting a study by the Social Science Research Network. BWI also stated that ...