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Articles by Kevin Bliss

Illinois Department of Corrections Cancels Contract with Canteen Provider Keefe

by Kevin Bliss

On December 14, 2021, the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) canceled its contract with the Keefe Group as provider of prison commissary items. The next day, the state’s chief procurement officer, Ellen Daley, released a 25-page ruling determining the firm’s bid was improper and erroneous.

DOC had ...

COVID-19 “Wonderful” to Oklahoma County Jail

By Kevin W. Bliss
Audio released on February 8, 2022, captured Oklahoma County Jail (OCJ) administrator Greg Williams and Oklahoma County Detention Center communications director Mark Opgrande in a discussion two months earlier about how the COVID-19 pandemic had benefitted the jail, with Williams commenting that the disease which has ...

Deaths and Violence Mount at Overcrowded Alabama Prisons While Parole Rate Hits New Low

by Kevin Bliss and Jo Ellen Nott

On February 5, 2022, the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a nine-year sentence had been handed down to the last of four Alabama prison guards convicted of beating state prisoners they suspected of smuggling contraband at Elmore Correctional Facility (ECF).

Three days ...

$1.5 Million Awarded for Failure to Protect Rikers Jail Prisoner Who Was Attacked Repeatedly

by Kevin W. Bliss

On June 2, 2021, a federal jury in New York City ruled in favor of a prisoner at the city’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex, deciding the city and the jail’s warden were liable for injuries he suffered there in a 2009 gang attack and awarding ...

Ninth Circuit Overturns California Law Banning Private Prisons

by Kevin Bliss

On October 5, 2021, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a California statute, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), barring private companies from entering new contracts with any government—including the federal government—to operate jails, prisons, or detention centers in ...

$100,000 Paid by Pennsylvania DOC to Family of Pro Se Prisoner Litigant Who Committed Suicide

by Kevin Bliss

A Pennsylvania prisoner’s long and contentious history with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) came to a bitter end on September 29, 2021, with an agreement by the state to pay $100,000 to his brother after the prisoner hanged himself.

The prisoner, Joel Snider, 44, was found ...

JPay Founder Ryan Shapiro Indicted for Securities Fraud

by Kevin Bliss

On January 6, 2022, Ryan Shapiro, the 44-year-old founder of prison financial services firm JPay, was charged in federal court in Boston with conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Also named in the criminal complaint was Shapiro’s friend and neighbor in Florida, hedge fund manager Kris Bortnovsky, 40. ...

Living and Dying on Rikers Island: The Latest Installment

by Kevin Bliss 

When 55-year-old William Brown, a pretrial detainee from Brooklyn, suffered a medical emergency and died on December 15, 2021, it was the 16th death recorded for the year of someone incarcerated at Rikers Island, the sprawling and troubled New York City jail complex. Former Mayor Bill ...

Lawsuit Over Winter Power Outage at Brooklyn’s Troubled Federal Detention Center Granted Class Certification

by Kevin Bliss

Class-action status was granted on May 25, 2021, to a federal lawsuit brought by a half-dozen prisoners held by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at its Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, who said that when the power went out in January 2019 and ...

Do County Jails Treat Black Women Worse Than Other Prisoners?

by Kevin Bliss

Black women in pretrial detention were treated worse than any other group of detainees due to the inherently racist, sexist, and economically prejudiced practices in the criminal justice system, according to an Al Jazeera report published July 7, 2021.

The United States currently incarcerates over two million ...