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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Texas Prison System Faces Critical Guard Shortage

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is understaffed by 3,152 guards, a 12% deficit compared to full staffing. The shortage has grown each year from an average of 8.5% in 2004. Some prison units have very large staffing shortfalls, including Dalhart (37%), Smith (33%), Coffield ...

$13,655,940 Award For False Massachusetts Rape Conviction

by Matthew T. Clarke

On October 4, 2006, a federal court in Massachusetts awarded $13,655,940 to a man falsely convicted of rape.

Eric Sarsfield was living in Marlborough, Massachusetts in July 1987 when Ms. Toni Gustus was raped in the same community. Gustus reported the crime and forensic samples were ...

$9,063,000 Jury Award For Illinois False Rape Conviction

by Matthew T. Clarke

On October 23, 2006, a federal jury in Illinois awarded a man who had been falsely convicted of rape $9,063,000.

On September 19, 1989, Alejandro Dominguez was a 16-year old living in an apartment complex in Waukegan, Illinois, when Lisa Kraus, 33, a resident of the ...

Eighth Circuit Upholds Arkansas Sex Offender Registration/Residency Restrictions

by Matthew T. Clarke

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a civil rights challenge to provisions of the Arkansas Sex Offender Registration Act, Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-901 et seq., and to a criminal statute that makes it a Class D felony for some sex offenders ...

Suicides Plague Wisconsin Jails; Attempted Suicide Suit Settles for $13.1 Million

by Matthew T. Clarke

There has been a rash of suicides in Wisconsin jails, including six in 2005 and four in the first half of 2006. One jail, in LaCrosse County, experienced prisoner suicides in 1997, 2002, 2005 and 2006. La Crosse County Sheriff Mike Weissenberger blamed the problem on ...

Guards Convicted of Stealing, Bringing Drugs into Washington State Private Jail

by Matthew T. Clarke

Security Specialists Plus (SSP) is a 60-employee firm operating out of Bellingham, Washington?s Irongate industrial area. It provides animal control services to unincorporated parts of Whatcom County, hires out private security guards, and serves legal documents. It also has a contract to incarcerate about 50 of ...

Iowa Jail Employee's Whistleblower Jury Award Reduced to $258,027

by Matthew T. Clarke

On December 31, 2003, a federal judge in Iowa reduced a whistle-blowing
former assistant jail administrator's $250,000 jury award for emotional
distress to $130,000 while letting stand the remaining award of $128,027
for lost wages and benefits plus interest. The court also held that the
sheriff ...

Prisoner's Civil Suit Filed When Given to Prison Officials in Texas

By Matthew T. Clarke

On December 8, 2004, the Texas Court of Appeals held that a prisoner's
lawsuit was considered filed the day he turned it over to prison officials
for mailing.

Edwin H. Witherspoon, a Texas state prisoner, filed a civil rights suit
against prison officials in state court. ...

No Forfeiture of Good Time for Frivolous Habeas in Texas

by Matthew T. Clarke


The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) has held that the statute
providing for forfeiture of good time belonging to a prisoner who filed a
frivolous lawsuit does not apply to state habeas corpus actions.

George William Bieck, a Texas state prisoner, filed his twenty-first state ...

Dismissal for Want of Jurisdiction is Judgment With Prejudice in Texas

by Matthew T. Clarke


On May 28, 2004, the Supreme Court of Texas held that a dismissal of a suit
against a governmental entity for want of jurisdiction under the Texas Tort
Claims Act is a dismissal with prejudice that bars further suit against the
government or its agents. Texas ...