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Articles by Derek Gilna

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 ...

Hawaii Supreme Court: Pretrial Solitary Wrong, but Warden Protected by Qualified Immunity

by Derek Gilna

Mukadin Gordon, who had an extensive criminal record, was arrested for a non-violent offense in August 2010 and placed in solitary confinement for several months. 

He sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law, arguing that his nine months in solitary were punitive in ...

Seventh Circuit Vacates, Remands Punitive Damages Award Against Wexford

by Derek Gilna

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has remanded a prisoner’s lawsuit against Wexford Health Sources, Inc., the healthcare provider for Illinois’ Department of Corrections, for either a reduced punitive damages award or a new trial on the issue of damages. 

After experiencing ankle pain in 2010, ...

Seventh Circuit Excuses Exhaustion Requirement for Spanish-Speaking Prisoner

by Derek Gilna

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the dismissal of an Illinois state prisoner’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), based on the fact that as a Spanish-speaker he did not understand ...

Illinois DOC Permanently Enjoined From Neglecting Prisoners’ Mental Health

by Derek Gilna

On October 30, 2018, a federal judge entered a permanent injunction that enjoined the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) from violating the Eighth Amendment and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to mental health care.

In issuing the injunction, the district court found the IDOC had ...

Eighteen Years After its Passage, Prisons and Jails Continue to Violate RLUIPA

by Derek Gilna

After decades of complaints by prisoners that corrections officials frequently denied them the right to practice their religion, Congress took action and passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), RLUIPA ...