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Articles by Derek Gilna

NY Federal Judge Deals Rare SHU Placement Defeat to BOP

Viktor A. Bout, a Russian international arms dealer ensnared in a DEA sting in 2008, extradited from Thailand and held in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York, won a court order compelling the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to transfer him to ...

The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, by William J. Stuntz (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011). 432 pages, $35.00

Book review by Derek Gilna

The late William J. Stuntz, a Harvard law professor who conducted extensive research into the “rule of law” in American society, authored a tome that attempts to explore how the U.S. justice system has arrived at its current state. His posthumously published book, The ...

FBI Loses Prisoner’s Property but Sovereign Immunity Foils Recovery

On May 29, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals barred Galo Alejandro Ordonez from compensation after the FBI and the federal government acknowledged that property that had been previously seized from him and ordered returned was “presumed to be lost or destroyed.” The appellate court held the government had ...

Alabama Law Meant to Ensure Transparency in Judicial Elections Not Enforced for 16 Years

An Alabama law that became effective in 1996, designed to remove any appearance of impropriety in the funding of judicial election campaigns, has languished while all three branches of state government have failed to implement the statute, codified at Alabama Code §§ 12-24-1 and 12-24-2.

According to the Birmingham News, “The ...

Ohio Supreme Court Sides with Defendant in Sex Offender Registration Case

On May 8, 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wesley Lloyd, who was convicted of a sex offense in Texas and then moved to Ohio in 2005. He was arrested and convicted in Ohio for failing to register as Tier III sex offender “within three days” of ...

Obama Pardons Two Turkeys, No Prisoners in 2012

Barack Obama has served as president since January 2009. From that time until the end of 2012, he has issued just 22 pardons and one commutation of sentence.

His first nine pardons, on December 3, 2010, mainly went to people who had received probation or short prison terms for minor ...

Transgender Prisoner’s Lawsuit Sparks BOP Policy Change

A lawsuit filed by a tranmasssgender federal prisoner in Massachusetts has resulted in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) making appropriate medical care available “to [prisoners] who believe they are the wrong gender,” according to a May 31, 2011 memo issued to all BOP wardens. Previous BOP policy limited treatment of ...

GAO Report Examines Contraband Cell Phone Use in BOP Facilities

by Derek Gilna and Brandon Sample

A September 2011 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which reviewed the use of cell phones by federal prisoners, recommended various options to reduce the recent spike in such contraband devices. According to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), “a number ...

Misconduct at U.S. Army Lab Taints Hundreds of Military Prosecutions

Pentagon investigators are looking into allegations that an analyst at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL) botched hundreds of DNA tests, casting doubt about lab results in hundreds of prosecutions. An accused soldier who was forced to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct that were allegedly verified by ...

U.S. Sentencing Commission Calls Federal Mandatory Minimums “Excessively Severe”

In a 645-page report prepared by the U.S. Sentencing Commission for Congress, released in October 2011, the Commission found that federal “mandatory minimum” sentences are harsh and unjust – especially in cases where there is no physical harm or threat of physical harm. The study was the first thorough examination ...