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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Fourth Circuit Moves North Carolina Prisons Closer to Recognizing Nation of Gods and Earths

by Matt Clarke

On December 13, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that a group of North Carolina prisoners can be treated like adherents of a religion even if the group denies the “religion” label. The case is one of three in which the state ...

Alabama Denied Summary Judgment in Prisoner’s Suit Over Knifepoint Rape

by Matthew T. Clarke

On August 22, 2023, the federal court for the Middle District of Alabama declined to dismiss all but a few claims against officials with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) that were made by a prisoner who was abducted at knifepoint, repeatedly sexually assaulted and held ...

Ninth Circuit Refunds Filing Fee to “Struck-Out” California Prisoner Denied Indigent Status Under PLRA

by Matt Clarke

On October 11, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined it was illegal to collect court filing fees from a prisoner denied indigent status to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) unless he decides to go forward and pay them on his own. Once ...

“Third Time Is Not the Charm” For Texas Jailers Barred by PLRA from Enforcing Prior Settlement Agreement Against Prisoner in New Suit

by Matt Clarke

On January 12, 2024, the federal court for the Western District of Texas refused a motion by Williamson County Correctional Facility (WCCF) officials, which argued for dismissal of claims by former detainee Rodney A. Hurdsman, 55, that jailers recorded his privileged calls with his attorney and shared ...

$15,000 to Virginia Prisoner Mauled by DOC K-9

by Matthew T. Clarke

On December 14, 2023, the state of Virginia confirmed that it had agreed to pay $15,000 to settle a state prisoner’s lawsuit alleging retaliation and excessive use of force by officials with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) who deployed a K-9 dog that bit and ...

Condemned Texas Prisoner Ruled Too Mentally Ill to Execute

by Matt Clarke.

Condemned Texas prisoner Scott Louis Panetti, 65, was taken off the state’s death row on September 27, 2023, when the federal court for the Western District of Texas found him too insane to kill—or as the Court said, because he “lacks a rational understanding of the connection ...

$9,000 Settlement in Wisconsin Prisoner’s Heat-­Related Illness Suit

by Matt Clarke

On October 3, 2023, the Wisconsin Department of Justice sent a check for $9,000 to a state prisoner in settlement of his claims that he suffered a heat-­related illness, fell and injured himself after state Department of Corrections (DOC) guards ignored his pleas for help. In addition ...

Oklahoma Jail Withholds Death Records, Fails to Report Five Since 2018

by Matt Clarke

Since 2018, at least seven vulnerable detainees have died at the 366-­bed Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center, 30 miles east of Oklahoma City. Yet despite state law requiring deaths be reported within five days to the Oklahoma Health Department’s jail division, the jail failed to report five ...

North Carolina Court of Appeals Reinstates Parolee’s Parental Rights, Says Parole Conditions Barred Him from Visiting Minor Daughter

by Matt Clarke

On September 5, 2023, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina reinstated a parolee’s parental rights that had been stripped for lack of contact with his minor daughter, after finding it was conditions of his parole which had prevented him from contacting her.

Crystal was born to ...

Federal Prisoners Released Under First Step Act Show 37% Reduction in Recidivism