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Articles by Douglas Ankney

Nearly 5,000 Sexual Victimizations Counted in Three Years in U.S. Prisons and Jails

by Douglas Ankney

On January 31, 2023, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report counting 4,895 sexual assaults on U.S. prisoners and detainees in just three years. From 2016 through 2018, the report said, there were 2,666 incidents of substantiated prisoner-on-prisoner sexual victimization and 2,229 incidents of substantiated ...

“Be Christian or Be Penalized”: After Fourth Circuit Revives Muslim Prisoner’s Challenge, Virginia Jail Settles Suit for $30,000

by Douglas Ankney

On May 22, 2023, a $30,000 settlement was reached between officials with a Virginia jail and a Muslim prisoner who objected to its broadcasts of Christian religious programming, which he claimed violated the First Amendment prohibition against any government action “respecting establishment of religion.”

The agreement between ...

Soaring Number of Detainee Deaths Spotlights Ongoing Crisis at Harris County Jail

by Douglas Ankney

In 2022, at least 28 detainees died while awaiting trial in the custody of the Harris County Jail (HCJ) – the highest number of deaths at the Texas facility in nearly two decades. Already 11 more have died in HCJ custody from January 1 to July 13, ...

Fourth Circuit Revives Virginia Prisoner’s Challenge to DOC Policy Restricting His Religious Headwear


by Douglas Ankney

On November 7, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a district court erred in finding that Virginia prisoner David A. Richardson failed to present evidence that a policy of the state Department of Corrections (DOC) substantially burdened the exercise of ...

Seventh Circuit: Cook County Jail Grievance Procedure An “Incomprehensible Trap”

by Douglas Ankney

On March 16, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the grievance procedure in Chicago’s Cook County Jail is an “incomprehensible trap,” making it effectively unavailable to a detainee and so excusing his failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the ...

Wellpath Sanctioned for Discovery Violations After Stonewalling in Prisoner Lawsuits

by Douglas Ankney

A review of court records by PLN has found repeated sanctions for discovery violations against private prison healthcare provider Wellpath in suits across the country blaming the firm’s dismal care for prisoner deaths – including four since 2020.

Washington – Benton County Jail

First, the firm was ...

L.A. County Watchdog Takes Aim at “Deputy Gangs”

by Douglas Ankney

In a letter sent to 35 deputies withtheLos Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) on May 12, 2023, county Inspector General Max Huntsman demanded they report for questioning about their involvement in deputy “gangs,” including showing their gang tattoos and giving up the names of other gang members. ...

Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of North Carolina Prisoner’s ADA Claim for Failure to Show Deliberate Indifference

by Douglas Ankney

In an instructive case for prisoners making claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ch.126 § 12101, et seq., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held on October 5, 2022, that a North Carolina prisoner failed to create a genuine issue ...

California Appeals Court Affirms Rate Caps and Fee Limitations for Prison Telecoms

by Douglas Ankney

On February 1, 2023, the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate Division, affirmed the denial by the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) of challenges to rate caps and fee limitations brought by Securus Technologies LLC (Securus) and Network Communications International Corporation (NCIC) over their contracts in the ...

Federal Court Holds Illinois DOC in Contempt for Failing to Remediate Substandard Healthcare

by Douglas Ankney

On August 5, 2022, Judge Jorge L. Alonso of the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois held the state Department of Corrections (DOC) in contempt, after repeated failures to draft a plan to complete agreed-upon remediation of a prison healthcare system that an appointed monitor told the ...