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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Texas Prisoner’s Excessive Heat Death Reveals Continuing Danger

by Matt Clarke

After the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) settled a lawsuit over excessive heat filed by prisoners at the Wallace Pack Unit, by agreeing to air condition the facility and move heat-sensitive prisoners to cooler cells, many thought the issue of heat-related deaths in Texas prisons had ...

GEO Group Cancels Contract to Run New Mexico Private Prison

by Matt Clarke

On June 27, 2019, private prison operator The GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, announced that it would stop operating the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton.

The company cited inadequate compensation in its contract that made it impossible to recruit and retain staff in ...

Court Certifies Class of Former Washington State Prisoners Challenging Debit Release Cards in HRDC Case

by Matt Clarke

At the vast majority of the nation’s jails, when someone is arrested their money is confiscated during the booking process. Those funds are placed in a trust account, where prisoners’ families and friends can also deposit money to be used to purchase food and hygiene items from ...

No Error When Judge Ignored Iowa Prisoner’s Request for Substitute Appointed Counsel

by Matt Clarke 

On May 3, 2019, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court did not err when it failed to consider a prisoner’s request for substitute appointed counsel after the attorney initially appointed by the court said the prisoner’s lawsuit was without ...

Prisoner’s Activism Leads Colorado DOC to Reverse Ban on Greeting Cards, Postcards and Drawings

by Matt Clarke

Thanks to the activism of Colorado prisoner Tiffany McCoy, the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) has rescinded its prohibition against prisoners receiving greeting cards, postcards and drawings. 

In 2018, the DOC implemented a policy whereby prisoners only received black-and-white photocopies of greeting cards, postcards ...

Former Prisoner Named Secretary of Pennsylvania Board of Pardons

by Matt Clarke

It may have seemed like an April Fool’s joke to many Pennsylvanians when, on April 1, 2019, former prisoner Brandon Flood became the new secretary of the state’s Board of Pardons (BOP). In fact, it was part of a multi-prong strategy by Lt. Governor John Fetterman, who ...

“Feeling Cute” Social Media Challenge Reveals Brutality of Prison Guards

by Matt Clarke

The “Feeling Cute” social media challenge went viral in the spring of 2019, with photos tagged #FeelingCuteChallenge showing people in their work clothes, declaring they are “feeling cute” as they make a joke about their jobs. The statements were a variation of an online meme known ...

Arizona Prison Scandal: Cell Doors that Don’t Lock, Maintenance Funds Misused

by Matt Clarke

In June 2019, the Arizona legislature’s Joint Committee on Capital Review approved $16.5 million in special funding for the state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) to repair faulty cell door locks at ASPC-Lewis, after a June 2018 surveillance video aired by a Phoenix TV station showed prisoners ...

Texas Passes Laws to Preserve Dignity of Women Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

With the passage of House Bill 650, which Governor Greg Abbott has already signed into law, Texas took a first step toward protecting the dignity of women held in state prisons.

There are more women prisoners in Texas than in any other state. The number of women ...

Jails in Oregon and Washington State Have High Prisoner Death Rates

by Matt Clarke and Mark Wilson

The Spokane County jail in Washington State recently marked its ninth prisoner death since June 2017. But it was hardly unique. A study released in May 2019 by Columbia Legal Services (CLS), a nonprofit law firm, counted 210 prisoner deaths in local jails across ...