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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Ohio Supreme Court Orders Prison Official to Produce Public Records

by Matt Clarke

On August 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio granted in part and denied in part a prisoner’s pro se petition for a writ of mandamus to compel a prison official to provide him with records he had requested pursuant to Ohio’s public records act, R.C. 149.43. ...

Denver Settles Female Deputies’ Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $1.55 Million

by Matt Clarke

On September 9, 2019, the Denver City Council voted to pay $1.55 million to settle a lawsuit brought by female deputies who worked at the Denver jail. The settlement included $609,228.78 in attorney fees, and each of the 15 plaintiffs will receive $62,715.42. The suit complained of ...

Oklahomans Pay for Release of Woman Whose Case Helped Start Marijuana Reform Movement

by Matt Clarke

When she received a 12-year prison sentence for selling $31 worth of marijuana to a police informant in December 2009 and January 2010, first-time felony offender Patricia Spottedcrow, then-25, thought she wouldn’t see her four young children until they were teenagers. Then her story was featured in ...

California Jail Prisoner’s Broken Leg Nets $550,000 Settlement

by Matt Clarke

Nevada County, California and Correctional Medical Group Companies (CMGC) – now known as Wellpath – agreed to pay $550,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former jail prisoner who alleged his leg was broken by a jailer in an incident involving excessive force.

Christopher Joshua Howie, ...

Texas Convict-Leasing Burial Ground Uncovered

by Matt Clarke 

The first prison ever closed in Texas was the Central Unit in Sugar Land, which had originally been a leased convict labor camp known as the Imperial Sugar Company State Prison Farm. When the facility was established in 1867, the state leased its prisoners to the ...

California’s Firefighting Prisoners in Short Supply

by Matt Clarke

California has a history of using prisoners to fight wildfires that dates back to World War II. But that practice is being questioned after 2018 was one of the worst fire seasons ever recorded, and several prisoners were seriously injured fighting the infamous Camp Fire.

Critics point ...

Death Penalty Prosecution in Colorado Costs State Over $1.6 Million, Ends in Life Sentence

by Matt Clarke 

After spending seven years and more than $1.6 million seeking the death penalty for a prisoner who killed a Colorado prison guard, prosecutors plea-bargained the case for a life sentence. The state is reimbursing the county for the costs of prosecution; the expenses for defense counsel ...

Texas Jail Administrator Fired for Tampering with Government Documents

by Matt Clarke

The Hill County Sheriff’s Office in Texas fired the head of the county jail on June 19, 2019. Jail Captain Sherry “Diann” Hammer, 68, had been on administrative leave since March while Texas Ranger Jake Burson investigated allegations that she had ordered a jailer to shred the ...

Kansas Federal Court Holds U.S. Attorney’s Office in Contempt

by Matt Clarke

On August 13, 2019, federal judge Julie Robinson issued a 188-page order holding the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas in contempt of court for its pattern of misrepresentation, obfuscation and lack of cooperation during a three-year probe previously reported in PLN. [See: PLN, May 2019, p.14; May ...

Food Survey Reveals Washington State Prisoners’ Concerns and Complaints

by Matt Clarke

It might be classified as “better late than never,” but a March 2019 report on a food survey of prisoners at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP), undertaken by the state’s Office of the Corrections Ombuds, cast light on the kinds of problems with prison food that led ...