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Articles by Kevin Bliss

Death and Inhumane Living Conditions Persist in Nation’s Worst Jail

by Kevin W. Bliss

Crisis conditions continue at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex, where 13 deaths have been recorded through the first eight months of 2022. Given a population of some 5,700 prisoners and detainees at the jail, that’s a death rate over twice as a high as ...

New Florida Law Shrouds Executions in Secrecy

by Kevin W. Bliss

On May 12, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed HB 873, “providing an exemption from public records requirements for information or records that identify or could reasonably lead to the identification of any person or entity that participates in an execution.”

Sponsored by state Sen. ...

New York Closes Moriah ‘Shock Camp’

by Kevin W. Bliss

The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) shuttered its upstate “shock camp” on March 10, 2022. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced in her 2022 budget the closing of several prisons including the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility. That leaves the state’s last shock ...

California Appeals Court Lets CDCR Define Term Adopted From Legislation

by Kevin W. Bliss

Is a man your mother marries after you grow up and leave home your stepfather? What if she dies — is he still your stepfather then?

The questions sound like parlor games, but the answers carry significance under regulations promulgated by the California Department of Corrections ...

Seventh Circuit Lets Wexford Skate from “Appalling” Treatment of Illinois Prisoner With Painful Anal Abscess and Fistula

by Kevin W. Bliss
After an Illinois prisoner developed a painful anal abscess and fistula, his medical care was “appalling” and the prison healthcare system was “dysfunctional.” But that’s just negligence, and the Constitution doesn’t protect prisoners from that.

That’s the takeaway from a ruling by the U.S. Court of ...

Settlement Delivers Huge Gains for Montana Prisoners with Mental Illnesses

by Kevin W. Bliss

The Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) and Montana State Prison (MSP) entered into an agreement with Disability Rights Montana, Inc. (DRM) on March 10, 2022, settling a lawsuit DRM filed on behalf of state prisoners with serious mental illnesses (SMI) with a major overhaul to the ...

Nebraska Prison Staffing Crisis Sees Supervisors Take Demotions to Get Hourly Overtime Pay

by Kevin W. Bliss

Despite a watchdog report finding state prisons so short-staffed that some guard supervisors sought demotions to take advantage of ballooning hourly overtime pay, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS) will not see any help from lawmakers this session, after an ambitious prison overhaul bill died ...

California Appeals Court Says Prop. 57 Doesn’t Require In-Person Parole Hearings

by Kevin W. Bliss

On March 28, 2022, the California Court of Appeals for the Third Appellate District ruled that a new “paper review” process for parole consideration did not violate the equal protection or due process rights of state prisoners affected by it.

After a federal district court ordered ...

Florida Now Digitizing Incoming Mail for State Prisoners

by Kevin W. Bliss

Starting from a four-prison pilot launched on January 18, 2022, the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) has now banned state prisoners at all 128 of its facilities from receiving any tangible routine mail. Instead they are delivered electronic copies of their mail on tablets.

DOC has ...

Three Killed in Gang Activity at Mississippi Private Prisons Plus High-Profile Escape, But Only One MTC Guard Arrested

by Kevin Bliss

Though a state investigation concluded a Mississippi prisoner had inside help making a short-lived escape in September 2021, no charges have ever been announced for officials at East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), the privately operated prison where he was held.

In fact, even as allegations of rampant ...