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Articles by Jayson Hawkins

Georgia Prisoners Lacked Food, Water, Leading to Melee

Innovative Vermont Prison Superintendent’s Demotion for Sexist Language Proves Controversial

by Jayson Hawkins

Former Vermont prison Superintendent Ed Adams has found himself the subject of repeated media scrutiny over the last few years, and his story is illustrative of the problems that surround prison reform, public records availability, and bridging the often jarring disconnect between societal norms and prison reality. ...

The Role of Prosecutors in Mass Incarceration

Privatized Food Service Problems at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County Jail

California First State to Eliminate Post-Prison Fees

Julian Assange’s Potential Fate in U.S. Prisons

Assange is under a 17-count indictment in the U.S. for violations of the ...

Maine Superspreader: Few Masks at Wedding Lead to Big Problems at Prison

California Prison Guards Keep Jobs After Aiding Attacks on Sex Offenders

The attorneys argued that the allegations against the officers were substantiated only by the testimony of prisoners and that evidence of that sort would not hold up before the State Personnel Board.

A parallel investigation by the state Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which is tasked with overseeing the conduct of corrections department employees, concluded on January 10, 2020 that the evidence in this particular case was adequate to pursue the termination of the six guards identified by the warden. Inspector General Roy Wesley, however, expressed concern that it might set a dangerous precedent when it came to firing officers based solely on the word of prisoners.

Dana Simas, a spokesperson for CDCR, disagreed with the assertion that the department was dismissive ...

Temporary Halt of Federal Prison Labor at National Parks, but New Policy Proposed To Resume It

According to the report: At one unnamed national park—the prisoners, whose criminal histories included firearms and drug related convictions—were found with contraband after they had been left working unsupervised in a park campground for about two hours. NPS employees were overseeing the work detail program without any formal training or guidance, which led to inmates gaining access to contraband such as tools and knives.

The investigation also uncovered that the rules relating to prisoner work details varied from one park to the next and required no approval beyond the local level. No structure for oversight has been in place from the Interior Department.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt responded to the report by putting a temporary hold on allowing prisoners to work in national parks effective April 2, 2020.

“I hereby order and direct NPS to immediately cease the use of prison labor,” stated Bernhardt. “Any agreements in place regarding the same are hereby rendered null and void.”

Bernhardt noted that NPS officials ...

Growing Need to Protect Attorney-Client Emails

“It’s common attorney sense, a bedrock of American law: when your attorney communicates with you, that’s supposed to be privileged,” said Jumana Musa, director of the Fourth Amendment Center at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). 

Common sense or not, that principle has not stopped federal prosecutors from prying into electronic communications to pursue convictions. The practice dates to at least 2011 when an incarcerated former Pennsylvania state senator’s emails to his attorneys were used as evidence to lengthen his sentence.  

An assistant U.S. attorney in New York’s Eastern District warned defense lawyers in June 2014 that such communications were fair game, writing that “emails between inmates and their attorneys ... are not privileged, and thus the office intends to review all emails.”

A bipartisan bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 21, 2020, seeks to end this practice by barring emails from prisoners to their lawyers from being monitored. 

The Effective Assistance of Counsel in ...