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Articles by Kevin Bliss

College Education Disrupted for Washington Prisoners

by Kevin W. Bliss

At the same time the federal government is once again opening Pell Grants to prisoners, some have been left scrambling in Washington by closure of the State Reformatory (WSR) – which hosted the state’s primary college program behind bars.

The Second Chance Pell grant program will ...

Iowa Teen Who Killed Her Alleged Rapist Recaptured After Halfway House Escape

by Kevin W. Bliss

On November 9, 2022, an Iowa teenager convicted of murdering a man she claimed repeatedly raped her was recaptured, five days after her escaped from the Fresh Start  Women’s Center (FSWC) in Polk County, Iowa. Peiper Lewis, 18, was recaptured after walking out and then cutting ...

Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Poised for Much-Needed Cleanup

by Kevin W. Bliss

California’s Monterey County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) was under the spotlight in October 2022, when two “Jane Doe” lawsuits were filed accusing now-retired Undersheriff John Mineau of sexually harassing a pair of co-workers. But the agency has been embroiled in ethical issues at least since ex-Sheriff Steve ...

SCOTUS Ruling Forces Ninth Circuit U-Turn on Damages Suit by Federal Prisoner in California “Snitch Jacketed” by Guard

by Kevin W. Bliss

On October 11, 2022, the U.S.Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of California prisoner’s suit alleging he was assaulted because a guard labeled him a “snitch.” The ruling represents a reversal of the Court’s previous judgment in the case, which found that damages ...

BOP Revives Plans for Controversial Prison in Kentucky

by Kevin W. Bliss

On December 8, 2022, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) released a summary of the Public Scoping Meeting held in Whitesburg, Kentucky, regarding its proposed bid to build a $500 million federal prison on top of a former coal mining site in Letcher County.  

The meeting, ...

Iowa Ombudsman Calls Out DOC For Unfair Prisoner Discipline

by Kevin W. Bliss

The Iowa Ombudsman Office (IOO) released its Annual Report on December 15, 2022, calling out the state Department of Corrections (DOC) for unfairly addressing several difficulties it faces, including the abuse of K2 by prisoners.

Like many states, Iowa has struggled with the synthetic drug, which ...

Effort Stalls to Help Virginia Prisoners Overcharged for Canteen Sales and Phone Calls

by Kevin W. Bliss

When the Virginia House of Delegates’ Public Safety Subcommittee adjourned its meeting on January 19, 2023, it failed to advance several proposals for cutting prison and jail canteen costs, as well as one providing access to free communications for all state prisoners.

Virginia Delegate Irene Shin ...

“Nothing Has Changed”: Four Dead in Six Weeks at California County’s “Deadliest Jail”

by Kevin W. Bliss

On February 28, 2022, Candice “Cody” Vanburen became the fourth person to die in just six weeks at the Santa Rita Jail (SRJ) in California’s Alameda County. Now prisoner rights advocates fault the county’s Board of Supervisors for refusing to hold the office of Sheriff Yesenia ...

California Governor Vetoes State’s Humane Solitary Confinement Bill

by Kevin W. Bliss

The California Mandela Act –
Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2632 – passed with an overwhelming majority of votes from state legislators in August 2022, limiting the use of solitary confinement in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers in the state. But it was vetoed by Gov. Gavin ...

SCOTUS Helps Revive Malicious Prosecution Claim Against Chicago Police Officers

by Kevin Bliss and David M. Reutter

On July 14, 2022, in a case on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed that a “result opposite” was dictated to the opinion it had issued in a malicious prosecution case the year ...