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Articles by Mark Wilson

Idaho Arrestees Act Voluntarily When Declining Opportunity to Surrender Contraband Before Entering Jail

by Mark Wilson

On July 15, 2020, the Idaho Supreme Court held that an arrestee acts voluntarily when given an opportunity to surrender contraband before entering jail but chooses to continue possessing it.

On January 20, 2018, Idaho Falls Police arrested Nicole Lyn Gneiting on drug charges. Police felt a ...

Seventh Circuit: Wisconsin Jail Officials’ Response to Detainee’s Suicide Risk Objectively Reasonable

by Mark Wilson

On July 15, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a lower court’s conclusion that a detainee’s attempted suicide was not caused by objective unreasonableness of jail staff.

Wisconsin police arrested Zachary Pulera during the early morning of April 21, 2012. He ...

Dismissal Not Authorized for Oregon Victim’s Refusal to Comply With Subpoena

by Mark Wilson

The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a criminal proceeding when the victim refused to comply with a subpoena to appear for trial.

Alex David Murray Lorenzo was charged with attempted third-degree assault, constituting domestic violence, for attempting to physically injure his stepfather. ...

Seventh Circuit Rejects Retaliation Claim Based on Suspicious Timing Alone

by Mark Wilson

On July 20, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment on a prisoner’s retaliation claim. The court found that suspicious timing alone is insufficient evidence of retaliatory motive.

Illinois prisoner Elijah Manuel’s disabled cellmate became hostile ...

Theft, Lies and Bribes Force California Warden’s Early Retirement, $11,500 Monthly Pension

Joe Lizarraga began working for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in 1986. He was appointed warden of the Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) in 2013, where he was named Warden of the Year by the California Prison Industries Authority in 2017.

Lizarraga reportedly stole from the Interfaith Food Bank Thrift Store in Sutter Creek, California on September 14, 2018. Despite earning an estimated $150,000, annually, he allegedly removed price tags from merchandise, then suggested lower prices to the cashier.

When Sutter Creek police investigated the matter, Lizarraga allegedly lied to the police chief, claiming that he did not suggest prices to the clerk. He also told the chief that he purchased the equipment for his family when it was allegedly for personal financial gain.

Lizarraga wrote a $125 personal money order in an attempt to dissuade a witness from participating in a criminal prosecution and later made a second bribery attempt using prison charitable funds, according to investigative reports.

On January 25, 2019, FBI agents raided Lizarraga’s Mule Creek office, seized his computer and escorted him off the ...

San Francisco Eliminates Fees on Jail Phone Calls

Before this, California law authorized counties to charge prisoners for telephone calls and jail commissary items to pay for rehabilitation and reentry services. Under that law, San Francisco generated an estimated $1.7 million annually by charging prisoners 15 cents per minute for telephone calls — $4.50 for a 30-minute call — and a 43% markup on soap, toothpaste, food and other commissary items.

“It can really add up. It’s people’s families who really foot the bill,” said Stuhldreher as she recounted heartbreaking stories of prisoner family members being forced to choose between staying in touch with incarcerated loved ones and paying their utility bills. “Our research shows it’s almost always low-income women of color.”

While Black individuals make up less than 6 percent of San Francisco’s general population, they represent roughly half of the jail’s population, Stuhldreher noted.

San Francisco ...

Maine DOC, Medical Provider, Pay $250,000 Settlement Due to Excessive Force on 11-Year-Old

According to court records and reporting by The Bangor Daily News, Somali refugee Sadiya Ali arrived in the United States from Kenya, when her son, identified only as A.I., was 6 months old. Her primary language is Somali.

A.I. suffers from severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a brain disorder characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity. He also suffers from several other “serious mental disorders.”

Maine’s only state-run juvenile detention center, Long Creek Youth Development Center (Long Creek), has a troubled history. In October 2016, Charles Knowles, a 16-year-old mentally ill transgender boy, killed himself while on suicide watch. Staff promised his mother they would protect him but provided no mental health treatment.

In January 2017, the Maine Department of Corrections found that more than 80 percent of Long Creek detainees had been diagnosed with three or more mental health diagnoses and over 75 percent ...

Tioga County, New York Police Informant Paid $50,000 to Settle False Arrest Claims

In March 2014, Russell D. Towner was a prisoner at New York’s Tioga County Correctional Facility. Fellow prisoner David Nugent allegedly told Towner that he intended to kill or pay someone to kill ADA Cheryl Mancini. Nugent supposedly solicited Towner and other prisoners to assist him.

On March 26, 2014, Towner wrote Mancini to warn her of Nugent’s threats. Tioga County District Attorney Kirk Martin became aware of Towner’s letter on April 10, 2014. Martin contacted Towner’s attorney, Alan Stone, to arrange for Tioga County Sheriff’s Department investigators Patrick Hogan and Wayne Moulton to interview Towner at the jail.

That day, Towner and Stone met with Hogan and Moulton for a videotaped interview. Martin remained in an adjoining room and learned of the interview results soon after it ended.

“You will be acting as an agent of the police and nothing you say or do can be used against you,” Hogan advised Towner during the interview.“Show us you care ...

Second Circuit Vacates Summary Judgment on Connecticut Prisoner’s Failure to Protect Claim

Connecticut prisoner Christopher J.M. Lewis was a member of the PIRU or PIRU Bloods gang. He was housed in a maximum-security prison where all prisoners are confined to their cells except for one hour of recreation in a small prison yard.

Lewis was designated as a gang member who posed a threat to the general population, assigned to the Security Risk Group Threat Member (SRGTM) program and confined in the Phase 1 area. Phase 1 prisoners must be strip searched and handcuffed behind their back when escorted to the yard.

In July 2010, gang intelligence supervisor Lieutenant Brian Siwicki intercepted a written communication, accusing Lewis of disagreeing “with ‘PIRU Bloods’ rules” and accusing him of breaking them. Siwicki learned that PIRU leader Christian Mulligan had decided that Lewis “was done.”

In August or September 2010, Siwicki informed Lewis that he was going to be assaulted. Siwicki and Captain David Butkiewicus later told Lewis that they were aware of the July 2010 incident, that his safety could be ...

Oregon Court Holds Prison Litigation Reform Act Exhaustion Tolls Statute of Limitations

Anthony Sam White is a paraplegic prisoner of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC). He was denied mobility aids and adequate housing while confined in the Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU) at the Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) between February and April 2017.

After exhausting administrative remedies, as required by 42 USC § l 997e(a) of the PLRA, White brought federal suit on July 18, 2019. He alleged that prison officials violated the Eighth Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when they denied him mobility aids and adequate housing.

Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that White’s suit was untimely because it was filed outside the applicable two-year statute of limitations period.

The district court denied the motion. Quoting Soto v. Sweetman, 882 F3d 865, 872 (9th Cir. 2018), the court noted that this “circuit has, with other circuits, adopted a mandatory tolling provision for claims subject to the Prison Litigation Reform Act.” See also Brown v. Valoff, 422 F3d 926, 942-43 (9th Cir. 2005). ...