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Articles by Jayson Hawkins

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, ...

Judge Orders COVID Emergency Release Procedures at Lompoc Federal Prison

by Jayson Hawkins

In July 2020, Judge Consuelo Marshall of the U.S. District Court for Central California granted class certification to a group of prisoners at Lompoc federal prison, granting in part and denying in part their motion for preliminary injunction.

The group of prisoners at Lompoc filed a complaint against the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the warden of Lompoc asserting violations of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment in relation to conditions of confinement at Lompoc during the COVID-19 pandemic and the BOP’s failure to alleviate overcrowding at the prison through home confinement and early release procedures provided for by law.

The suit, Torres v. Milusnic, survived the standard motions for dismissal, and the plaintiffs subsequently petitioned the court for certification as a class comprising “all current and future people in post-conviction custody at Lompoc,” and also sought a preliminary injunction compelling the BOP to institute emergency procedures for early release and release to home confinement during the pandemic.

In order to succeed in a motion for preliminary injunction, a petitioner must show (1) they are likely to succeed on the merits, (2) they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in ...

Resisting a Prison Without End

by Jayson Hawkins and Panagioti Tsolkas

The fantasy of those who profit off the Prison Industrial Complex has long been perpetual incarceration. This dream has seeped into reality in recent decades as many states began adopting LWOP (life without parole) sentences. Yet another means of warehousing people without a release ...

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