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Articles by Jayson Hawkins

St. Louis Jail Guard Charged with Allowing Brutal Beating of Prisoner

by Jayson Hawkins

A former guard at the St. Louis Justice Center (SLJC) was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 28, 2021, on charges that she allowed two prisoners to beat a third in March 2021. That was after she had pleaded guilty to state charges filed for ...

Washington Federal Court Grants Preliminary Injunction Halting Release of Transgender Prisoners’ Personal Information; Class Certified

by Jayson Hawkins

On April 8, 2021, the Federal court for the Eastern District of Washington issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to preserve the status quo and halt the release by the Washington Department of Corrections of records containing personal information including documents related to identifying prisoners who are ...

Montana Renews CoreCivic Contract; Major Water and Sewage Problems Persist

by Jayson Hawkins

The private prison industry has been under fire recently across the country—from lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to federal policies mandating a slow and unsteady move away from for-profit prisons to scandals arising from inhumane conditions and rampant sexual assaults.

Feeling the heat ...

Disenfranchisement the Old Fashioned Way

A federal district court judge looks at the history and impact of keeping prisoners from the polls

by Jayson Hawkins

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, legislatures across the nation responded to claims of election fraud by proposing a flurry of election laws that seem to be aimed at ...

Massachusetts Prisons Pledge to End Solitary

by Jayson Hawkins

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) surprised many critics with a June 2021 announcement of its intent to eliminate solitary confinement as it currently exists in the state prison system.

State Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco said in a statement that after a comprehensive review, ...

$170,000 Settlement and New Policy on Gender Identity from Lawsuit Against New Jersey DOC

by Jayson Hawkins

The New Jersey Department of Corrections had a policy of housing prisoners according to their gender assignment at birth, regardless of whether they are transgender or of any non-binary sexual orientation. As a result, when Sonia Doe (not her real name) was sentenced to prison, she was ...

New Jersey Women’s Prison to Close After Latest Abuse Debacle

by Jayson Hawkins

On the night of January 20, 2021, as the nation was buckling beneath the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a cascade of violence was unfolding inside a women’s prison in New Jersey.

Prisons are not immune to the social stresses playing out across the rest of ...

Delaware Mother Jailed for Not Paying $177 in Fines, Dies in Custody, Nurse Convicted

Tiffany Reeves, a mother of three, was arrested in October 2018 on two outstanding warrants and detained at the Sussex Correctional Institution, an all-male facility, to await hearings before two judges. One of the warrants stemmed from Reeves’ attempt to purchase heroin a year earlier in New Castle County, Delaware ...

Seven Guards Fired Over Collins County Texas Jail Death

by Jayson Hawkins

Marvin David Scott III was far from what most people would consider a criminal. The 26-year-old played football in high school, made straight As, and was described by friends and family as “generous to everyone around him.”

It is doubtful that police in Allen, Texas, a suburb or Dallas, knew anything about Scott when they arrested him on March 14, 2021 for a single marijuana joint. It turned into a death sentence.

Guards at the Collin County Detention Facility likely did not know about Scott’s history of mental illness when they strapped him to a restraint bed, pepper sprayed him, and put a spit hood over his head. Roughly four hours after entering the jail, Scott was dead. [PLN, Aug. 2021, p. 54]

Ensuing investigations by the Collin County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers led to the firing of seven guards and the resignation of an eighth.

“Evidence I have seen confirms that these detention officers violated well-established Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures,” said Sheriff Jim Skinner, although no details were provided as to what violations occurred.

In October 2021, the sheriff released a 41-minute video of the incident. It shows guards moving Scott, who ...

$170,000 Settlement By New Jersey DOC in Transgender Lawsuit With New Policy

by Jayson Hawkins

The New Jersey Department of Corrections had a policy of housing prisoners according to their gender assignment at birth, regardless of whether they are transgendered or of any non-binary sexual orientation. As a result, when Sonia Doe (not her real name) was sentenced to prison, she was sent to a male prison in 2018, even though she had publicly lived as a woman since 2003.

From March 2018 to August 2019, Doe was housed in four different men’s prisons, subjected to strip searches by male guards, lived constantly under the threat of sexual assault by other prisoners, and was repeatedly ridiculed and harassed by prison staff.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) operated a policy for transgender and intersex prisoners based on the mandates of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and state legislation. This policy mandated identifying prisoners in these categories, assessing their risk level, addressing them with proper pronouns, and housing them in a manner consistent with their safety and the general security of the institution.

What Doe encountered when she was processed into NJDOC was not at all consistent with the department’s stated policy. She was asked questions related to gender identity, ...