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Articles by Jayson Hawkins

New Policy Banning Care Packages Makes Life Harder for N.Y. Prisoners

by Jayson Hawkins

To justify rules making life difficult for prisoners, officials often point to contraband — even when facts point in another direction. That was the case when the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) rolled out a new policy for prisoner packages in May 2022. ...

Settlement Reached in COVID-19 Class Action Against DC Jail

by Kevin W. Bliss and Jayson Hawkins

On April 12, 2022, the federal court for the District of Columbia approved a settlement agreement to resolve a class-action lawsuit which challenged conditions of confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic at the DC Jail. Like an earlier preliminary injunction (PI) issued in the ...

Advocates Insist Migrant Detainees “Don’t Have to Die” in Custody – So ICE Releases Them First

by Jayson Hawkins

After Kesley Vial, a 23-year-old Brazilian immigrant, hanged himself at the Torrance County Detention Facility in Albuquerque on August 24, 2022, his death became one of four reported for the year by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The agency has reported a total of 41 detainee ...

San Diego County Pays $250,000 After Detainee Suicide in County Jail

by Jayson Hawkins

On March 29, 2022, the federal court for the Southern District of California approved a settlement between the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSD) and the widow of a 21-year-old U.S. Marine who committed suicide while held in pretrial detention at the county’s Vista Detention Facility (VDF). ...

Maine Settles Suit Over COVID-19 Jobless Benefits Seized From Prisoners

by Jayson Hawkins

Like many prison systems across America, Maine’s Department of Corrections (DOC) has a work-release program that allows prisoners to hold jobs in local communities while serving their sentence. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, the programs were suspended as part of the effort to ...

Idaho Joins Missouri in Banning Incarceration for Inability To Pay Court Fines, Fees

by Jayson Hawkins

It is no secret that in most prisons, poverty is the characteristic most often shared by prisoners. Some countries are trying to reduce crime by reducing poverty. But in many American states a different tactic is used: They criminalize being poor.

Take what happened to Roxanna Beck. ...

New York Lifts Blanket Internet Ban on Sex Offenders

by Jayson Hawkins

A settlement was finalized on January 19, 2022, in a lawsuit challenging a New York law barring those on the state sex offender registry from accessing the internet. The settlement allows some registered sex offenders now to access and use the internet, unless they previously used it ...

California Sheriff’s Pay-to-Play Scandal Reflects Nationwide Corruption Potential Documented in Watchdog Report

by Jayson Hawkins

Engulfed in a campaign finance probe that has snagged ten others on corruption and bribery charges in an alleged “pay to play” scheme, the Sheriff of California’s Santa Clara County, Laurie Smith, announced in March 2022 that she would not seek another term to the office she ...

“Jailhouse Lawyer 360” Shut Down by California Bar

by Jayson Hawkins

Like many other California parolees, Anthony David Urbano wanted to use the skills learned in prison to make a living on the outside. Unfortunately, his skill was serving as a “jailhouse lawyer,” helping other prisoners with their legal work, and his right to use it remained behind ...

$1,425,000 Paid to Epileptic Illinois Detainee Denied Medication Who Suffered Seizure and Fell From Upper Bunk in Jail

by Jayson Hawkins

On December 26, 2021, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by an epileptic former Illinois jail detainee after he accepted $1,425,000 to settle claims that he was denied medication and placed in an upper bunk from which he fell while suffering a seizure, leaving him with ...