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Articles by Edward Lyon

South Carolina Judge Halts State Executions by Electrocution and Firing Squad

by David M. Reutter and Ed Lyon

On September 6, 2022, the Richland County Court of Common Pleas granted an injunction in a challenge brought by four condemned South Carolina prisoners to 2021 state legislation making electrocution the default method of execution unless a prisoner opts instead for lethal injection ...

Arizona Closing Prison, Moving Prisoners to CoreCivic Lockup

by Ed Lyon

In January 2022, when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced the closing of the state prison complex in Florence, he pointed to the facility’s age—it was built in 1904—and said spending an estimated $150 million on needed repairs “just doesn’t make sense.”

What does make sense? Apparently ...

Celebrity Prisoners Profit from NFT Sales of Their Work While Incarcerated

by Ed Lyon

Two high-profile prisoners made nonfungible token (NFT) sales of some prison memorabilia in December 2021, adding to both the notoriety and bottom line of Michael Cohen, one-time personal lawyer to former President Donald J. Trump (R), and Ross Ulbricht, founder of the dark web’s “Silk Road” site. ...

Colorado Inaugurates Prisoner-Run Radio Station

By Ed Lyon

The years of the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult for everyone, especially prisoners. Like a form of universal long-term solitary confinement, the endless hours of boredom were broken only by an occasional shower, or a dry bologna sandwich with an occasional handful of raisins or prunes in ...

Mentally Ill Maine State Prisoner Finally Leaves Solitary, But Can’t Push State Lawmakers to Pass Bill Limiting Its Use

by Ed Lyon

By the time he was released from Maine State Prison (MSP) on March 7, 2022, Zachary Swain estimated he had spent half of his seven-year prison term in solitary confinement, isolated over 23 hours per day.

Swain, 25, was a high school senior when he stabbed someone ...

“The Worst Kind of Work” Thai Prisoners Forced into Labor, Often Without Pay

by Ed Lyon

In February 2022, watchdog groups called for a U.S. ban on imports of fishing nets from Thailand, after a December 2021 report by Thomson Reuters Foundation that found some of that country’s 280,000 prisoners are being forced to make the nets by hand under threat of punishment ...

Massachusetts Supreme Court Continues Trend of Easing Prison COVID-19 Protocols

by Ed Lyon

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted and more variants appeared in late 2021, courts were steadily easing restrictions to mitigate its spread in prisons. A case in point: Massachusetts, where initially strong rulings by the state Supreme Court eroded over time.

As early as January 2020, before ...

COVID-19’s Impact on Prisoners Far Worse Than It Needed to Be

by Kevin Bliss and Ed Lyon

In September 2021, a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit research and advocacy group Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) gave a failing grade to 42 U.S. states for their efforts to mitigate the spread of the disease in their prisons and ...

Lawsuits Filed Over Withheld Pain Medications That Left Ailing New York Prisoners in Agony

by Ed Lyon

Two suits playing out in federal court in New York in mid-2022 will determine whether the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) is held to account for a policy that denied pain-relieving medication to state prisoners for years.

Back in March 2016, as the opioid ...

Guards Saluting Fascism on the Job—Literally

by Ed Lyon

Prison guards in Arizona, Utah and West Virginia have recently been reported indulging white supremacist and anti-prisoner views on the job.

Most recently, members of the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) Special Tactics and Operations team proudly sported patches bearing a skull and crossbones, eerily reminiscent of ...