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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Fifth Circuit Reinstates Louisiana Prisoner’s Excessive-Force Claim Despite Prison Disciplinary Conviction Issued for the Same Incident

by Matt Clarke

In its decision 28 years ago in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a prisoner’s claims affecting the duration of his confinement—including loss of “good time”—are barred when a favorable decision would “negate” a prison disciplinary decision.

Further explaining ...

Fifth Circuit Reinstates Louisiana Prisoner’s Suit Dismissed on Heck Grounds, Holds Related Disciplinary Convictions Don’t Absolutely Bar Excessive Force Claims

by Matt Clarke

On November 17, 2021, the same day it explained that a Louisiana prisoner’s civil rights claims are not necessarily barred by related prison disciplinary convictions under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit applied that reasoning to ...

$12.5 Million Settlement Over Invasive Strip and Body Cavity Searches of NYC Jail Visitors

by Matt Clarke

On November 29, 2021, the federal court for the Southern District of New York approved the final settlement of a class-action civil rights lawsuit over suspicionless and invasive “strip/body cavity” searches of visitors at New York City Department of Correction (DOC) jails. [See: PLN, Aug. 2018, p.54.] ...

Sacramento Shooting Stokes Debate Over CDCR Rule Changes on Good Conduct Credit

by Matt Clarke

After a shootout between rival gangs in downtown Sacramento left six dead and 12 injured—many of them bystanders—on April 3, 2022, one of three suspects apprehended was Smiley Martin. Martin, 27, had been released from custody by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) just two ...

U.S. Prison and Jail Populations Flat or Rising Again After 2020 Decline Spurred by Pandemic

by Matt Clarke

After they were slashed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, U.S. prison populations have leveled off and jail populations appear to be rising again, according to research published by the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) on March 14, 2022.

The report mirrors another published in December ...

Third Circuit Reinstates Suit Filed by Transgender Prisoner Assaulted at New Jersey Federal Prison

by Matt Clarke

On September 1, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss the claim of a pre-operative transgender federal prisoner who accused Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials of deliberate indifference to her serious risk of sexual assault when she ...

Sixth Circuit Revives Tennessee Detainee’s Suit, Holds Lower Court Not Required to Retain Jurisdiction of State Law Claims After Dismissing Federal Claims

by Matt Clarke

On September 22, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit extended the life of civil rights claims brought under Tennessee law by a jail detainee whose federal claims were dismissed by the federal court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

In its ruling, the ...

Fifth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity to Texas Sheriff Who Rehired Abusive Jailer Who in Turn Again Abused a Detainee

by Matt Clarke

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that by rehiring a jailer who previously abused detainees at the jail, a Texas sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity in a new suit brought by another prisoner making abuse allegations against ...

PrimeCare: Less Medical Care for Prisoners, Higher Expenses for Taxpayers, More Profits for Corporate Owner

by Matt Clarke

The news from Pennsylvania on April 4, 2021, had a sadly familiar ring to it: A prisoner died a preventable death in a county lockup, costing a bundle to settle, so county officials were turning to a private healthcare provider. They granted a multi-million-dollar annual contract—a million ...

$8.5 Million Paid by Pennsylvania DOC for Death of Asthmatic Prisoner Improperly Pepper-Sprayed

by Matt Clarke

On October 18, 2021, a federal court in Pennsylvania approved an $8.5 million settlement reached the prior month between the state Department of Corrections (DOC) and the family of an asthmatic state prisoner who died after being pepper-sprayed with oleoresin capsicum (OC) by guards at State Correctional ...