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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Department of Justice Reports on Two Decades of Prisoner Suicides

by Matt Clarke

When actor Peter Robbins died by suicide in California on January 18, 2022, the news saddened fans of Charlie Brown, whose voice he provided for animated Peanuts specials in the 1960s. But Robbins, 65, also struggled with mental illness behind bars, spending four years in a San ...

Federal Court Hears that Mental Healthcare in Louisiana Prison is “Almost Non-existent”

State’s “scorched-earth” strategy runs up $3 million legal tab

by Matt Clarke

A bench trial opened at a federal court in Louisiana on January 10, 2022, with dramatic testimony from a former state prisoner, who said he witnessed guards at the David Wade Correctional Center (DWCC) order a mentally ill ...

California Court of Appeal Holds Prisoner May Challenge Administrative Disciplinary Violation Already Served

by Matt Clarke

A recent ruling by a California courtunderlines the importance for a prisoner to zealously guard his prison record, even after a challenge seems moot, for the impact it may yet hold in the future.

The decision on September 3, 2021, by the state Court of Appeal, held ...

Justice Department Releases Ten-Year Recidivism Study

Follows a half-million state prisoners released in 2008

by Matt Clarke

From 2016 through 2019, the last years for which reliable data are available, about 10.5 million arrests were made in the U.S. annually. Averaged over a decade, that’s less than one arrest for every three people. But a new ...

Sixth Circuit Holds Subjective Prong of Deliberate Indifference Test Inapplicable to Pretrial Detainee’s Claims; Reinstates Lawsuit

by Matt Clarke

On September 22, 2021, in a case with enormous impact on the way jails may treat pretrial detainees, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided that jail official do not need to have subjective knowledge of a serious risk to a detainee, and so ...

Federal Judge Sanctions Former Arizona DOC Director’s Foot-Dragging Attorneys in Pro Se Prisoner’s Suit

by Matt Clarke

On January 12, 2022, a federal judge advanced a former Arizona state prisoner one step closer to collecting fees for his own pro se legal work in a suit against the former Director of the state Department of Corrections (DOC), Charles Ryan, who had been required by ...

HRDC Appeals Denial of Public Records Request for Documentation of Secret Settlement in Maine Jail Prisoner’s Excessive Force Lawsuit

by Matt Clarke

On July 6, 2021, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), publisher of Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, filed an appeal in Maine state court after being denied access to public records. PLN had sought a copy of the settlement in a lawsuit brought by ...

$10,000 Awarded by Nevada Federal Court to Prisoner Assaulted by Former State Prison Guard

by Matt Clarke

On June 23, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada awarded a former state prisoner $5,000 for physical pain and another $5,000 for mental anguish caused by an unprovoked beating he received from a guard while shackled at Southern Desert Correctional Center (SDCC) nearly ...

North Carolina Renames Prisons Whose Names Honored Enslavers

by Matthew Clarke

On September 30, 2021, over 156 years after the end of the Civil War, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the renaming of four prisons and a drug addiction treatment facility whose previous names honored racists, enslavers, and chattel slavery.

The Morrison Correctional Institution ...

Eighth Circuit Rules Guard’s History of Excessive Force too Prejudicial or a Jury to Hear in Prisoner’s Excessive-Force Case

Another Guard Escapes Liability by Refusing to Participate

by Jacob Barrett and Matt Clarke

What happens to a prison guard accused of using excessive force who fails to show up for trial? A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit says the answer there is: ...