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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Seventh Circuit Reinstates Claim of Illinois Prisoner Held 18 Months After Release for Refusing to Sign Incomplete Form

by Matt Clarke

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” as former British Prime Minister William Gladstone famously said. On August 7, 2023, a former Illinois prisoner finally got a measure of justice for a botched release 13 years earlier. On that date, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ...

San Diego County Jail Accused of Letting Mentally Ill Detainee Starve to Death

by Matt Clarke

On July 26, 2023, two sons filed suit for the estate of their schizophrenic dad, accusing officials at San Diego County’s Central Jail where he was incarcerated of letting him die from dehydration, starvation and pneumonia. The lawsuit raises the question: How should jail officials treat detainees ...

Michigan Supreme Court: DOC Owes Attorney Fees in Public Records Case Even if Plaintiff Is Represented Pro Bono

by Matt Clarke

On July 26, 2023, the Michigan Supreme Court held that journalists seeking release of videos from the state Department of Corrections (DOC) were prevailing parties and thus entitled to recover attorney fees—even if their attorneys were working pro bono.

Proceeding under the state Freedom of Information Act ...

Record-Setting $7 Million Settlement Caps LaSalle’s Legacy at Texarkana Jail

by Matt Clarke

A $7 million settlement reached in April 2023 marked the latest chapter in a sordid tale of mismanagement at Bi-State Jail (BSJ) in Texarkana, Texas, by former private operator LaSalle Corrections. But the family-owned prison profiteer, based in Ruston, Louisiana—which ended its contract to run BSJ in ...

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Jail Time Must Be Credited When Charge Causing Jailing Read in At Sentencing

by Matt Clarke

On June 14, 2023, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin held that a state prisoner must be given jail time credit on his sentence when the charge resulting in jail time was read in at his sentencing on another charge.

Michael K. Fermanich stole three trucks in Langlade ...

California Court of Appeal Reinstates Lawsuit by San Quentin Prisoner Over Botched Transfer That Sparked COVID-19 Outbreak

by Matt Clarke

On March 13, 2023, the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District reinstated a putative class-action lawsuit brought by a prisoner at San Quentin State Prison alleging a problematic prisoner transfer led to a severe outbreak of COVID-19 early in the pandemic.

As PLN reported, ...

In Suit Over Moldy Cells Causing Fungal Infection, Illinois Warden Denied Summary Judgment Wins Anyway

by Matt Clarke

On May 19, 2023, the federal court for the Southern District of Illinois denied a state prison warden’s motion for summary judgment in a federal civil rights lawsuit over cell mold that caused a prisoner to suffer an infection and pneumonia. But when the pro se prisoner ...

Class Certified in Suit Alleging Overuse of Solitary Confinement in New York Prisons

by Matt Clarke

On September 11, 2023, class-action status was granted to a suit filed the previous April against the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), accusing the prison agency of ignoring provisions of the Humane Alternatives to Long-term Solitary Confinement (HALT) Act, Correctional Law § 137(6)(k)(ii).

HALT ...

Eleventh Circuit Says Florida Prisoner Who Dismissed Complaint Cannot Be Assessed a “Strike” Under PLRA

by Matthew Clarke

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, raises several barriers for prisoner litigants, not least being a “three strikes” provision that prevents indigent prisoners from having court fees waived by filing in forma pauperis if they have also had three prior cases dismissed because ...

Academics Find Prisoners Denied Access to Public Information

by Matt Clarke

On April 18, 2023, Loyola University’s College of Law published a paper detailing the ways prisoners are often denied access to public records that those not incarcerated can easily obtain. Professor Andrea Armstrong and Distinguished Professor of Law Dr. Norman C. Francis described how various state statutes ...