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Articles by Jayson Hawkins

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 ...

Medical Staff Shakeup But No Charges After Teen Dies in Ohio Juvenile Facility

by Jayson Hawkins

The deaths of young Black men at the hands of police have drawn increasing scrutiny in the media and among the political chattering class, but less attention has been given to another type of criminal justice death—that of a juvenile while in custody.

Robert Wright was only ...

Guard Arrested for Running “Fight Club” in New Jersey Prison Kitchen

by Ashleigh Dye and Jayson Hawkins

A New Jersey prison guard was arrested on October 1, 2021, on charges he ran a “fight club” in the kitchen he supervised at Bayside State Prison, regularly beating and torturing prisoners who worked under him there.

“A badge is not a license to ...

$170,000 Damages and Fees As New Jersey Prisons Settle Transgender Lawsuit With New Policy

by Jayson Hawkins

As of June 29, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) has changed its policy of housing prisoners according to their gender assignment at birth, regardless of whether they are transgendered or of any non-binary sexual orientation. The policy change is part of an agreement settling ...