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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Federal Prisoner Challenges Constitutionality of Death Penalty; Gets Plea Deal for Life Without Parole

by Matt Clarke

On September 28, 2018, a Vermont federal judge approved a plea bargain to grant life without parole to a death-sentenced federal prisoner who had challenged the constitutionality of the death penalty in post-conviction proceedings.

Donald Fell was convicted of the interstate kidnapping and murder of Teresca King ...

Washington State Settles Suit Over 15-Hour-a-Day Lockdown of Mentally Ill Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

In June 2019, Washington State officials settled a lawsuit over conditions of confinement for mentally ill prisoners at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP), by agreeing to improve their living conditions. The settlement will end mandatory 15-hour-per-day lockdowns of prisoners with mental health issues, regardless of their custody ...

Arizona Court Grants Partial Summary Judgment to PLN in Censorship Suit

by Matt Clarke

On March 18, 2019, an Arizona federal district court granted in part a motion for summary judgment filed by Prison Legal News in a lawsuit over censorship by the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC). The court ruled that the ADC had violated PLN’s due process rights ...

Nevada Supreme Court Reverses Dismissal of Prisoner’s Native American Religion Suit

by Matt Clarke

On May 10, 2019, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed a summary judgment order dismissing a prisoner’s claim that requiring him to prove tribal affiliation or otherwise demonstrate Native American association or ethnicity before he could participate in Native American sweat lodge and sacred pipe ceremonies violated his ...

Missouri Jury Awards $113.7 Million to Prison Guards Required to Work Without Pay

by Matt Clarke

On September 14, 2018, a Missouri state court issued an amended final judgment in a class-action lawsuit brought by Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) guards who alleged they were required to work without compensation before and after each shift. The judgment included a jury award of $113 ...

Muslim Civil Rights Group Files Discrimination Suit Over Virginia Jail’s “God Pod”

by Matt Clarke

In November 2018, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of four Muslim prisoners at the Riverside Regional Jail in North Prince George, Virginia.

The complaint alleged that Riverside officials, including the jail’s superintendent, senior chaplain, food services supervisor, security ...

Fifth Circuit Terminates Consent Decree for Muslim Services in Texas Prisons

by Matt Clarke

On July 2, 2019, a strongly divided three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion terminating the consent decree in Brown v. Collier, which allowed Muslim prisoners in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to hold religious services without direct supervision when ...

Judge Orders Federal Prisoner with Cancer Released Due to Poor Medical Care

by Matt Clarke

In June 2019, a U.S. District Court ordered that a prisoner held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville, Alabama be released due to the poor medical care she received from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for invasive breast cancer.

In 2013, Angela Michelle Beck, 47 ...

Maricopa County Pays $300,000 to Settle Lawsuit Over Arpaio-Era Prisoner Death

by Matt Clarke

On November 23, 2018, Maricopa County, Arizona agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit over the death of a prisoner at the Maricopa County Jail while self-styled “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio was still in office.

Anthony Singleton, 27, was arrested on October 21, 2015 ...

Mississippi Prison Deaths Spike for Second Year; Disturbing Photos Revealed

by Matt Clarke & David M. Reutter

In July 2019, seven prisoners died in facilities operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections (DOC). The deaths followed a similar spate in August 2018, when 16 deaths occurred at the DOC’s three state prisons. Media coverage of the most recent deaths was ...