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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Unconstitutional Statute Authorizing Forcible Medication of Involuntarily Committed Prisoner

C.S. suffers from schizophrenia. He was convicted of mayhem as a repeat offender and sentenced to 10 years of extended supervision. Then the state filed a petition to have him involuntarily committed and medicated.

Almost a decade later, the state filed to extend C.S.’s involuntary commitment and medication. A jury found that he was mentally ill, a proper subject for treatment, in need of treatment, a state prisoner on whom less restrictive forms of appropriate treatment had been unsuccessfully attempted, and fully informed of his treatment needs and rights.

This met the requirements of Wis. Stat. § 51.20(l)(ar), permitting commitment without a determination of dangerousness, which the court did. The court also found that C.S. was incompetent to refuse medication pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 51.61(1) and ordered involuntary medication. C.S. appealed, arguing that the involuntary medication statute was facially unconstitutional.

The court of appeals affirmed. With the assistance of assistant state public defender Kaitlin A. Lamb, C.S. successfully petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court for review. ...

$420,000 Settlement in Lawsuit Over Opioid Withdrawal Death in Georgia Jail

In January 2015, Amanda Helms allegedly tried to purchase hydrocodone from Cynthia Mixon, using money provided by her uncle, Herman Bill Hendricks, 57. He was arrested, along with his 32-year-old niece. Police searched Mixon’s home, finding firearms and an abundance of trash, but they did not find her. Three days later, the 51-year-old turned herself in to the Wilkinson County jail to face drug charges.

Mixon had valid prescriptions for Oxycodone, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Losartan, and Tegretol. She had been taking the Oxycodone for back pain and fibromyalgia.

Helms began suffering from opioid withdrawal soon after she arrived at the jail three days before Mixon. Jailers ignored her pleas for medical treatment and told her she needed to “dry out.”

“At no point during those nightmarish two and a half days was Ms. Mixon ever taken to see a doctor or a nurse ...

Fifth Circuit Reinstates Lawsuit Over Texas Jail Prisoner’s Death

Diana Simpson had previously attempted suicide when she told her husband she would try again by overdosing on pills. She even laid out her plan to get cash from an ATM and check into a motel where he could not find her. A few weeks later, when he noticed a withdrawal from their bank account, he became worried. But he was unable to contact her. When she missed work the next evening, he notified law enforcement.

Police in a nearby city found Simpson asleep in her car the next day, surrounded by empty beer containers and empty blister packs of medication. They asked her how much she had taken. She said, “all of it.”

After denying it to police, Simpson admitted to a medic she was trying to kill herself. She was arrested for public intoxication and ...

Fifth Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Texas Jail Suicide Lawsuit, Holds Discrimination Not Proven

Danarian Hawkins was 27 in February 2014 when he died by hanging himself with a bedsheet in his holding cell at the jail. He had been arrested in June 2012 after allegedly threatening a man with a knife in a parking lot.

His mother, Jacqueline Smith, said she was unable to pay his $30,000 bail, so he remained in custody over a year and a half awaiting trial. He made an unsuccessful suicide attempt in April 2013, after which he spent time in the jail’s Mental Health Unit (MHU). But he was then released back into the general population at the jail.

All told, Hawkins attempted suicide at least five times at the jail—usually by hanging but once by an overdose of 100 prescribed pills he amassed by hiding them under his tongue when he was supposed to take them.

Two and a half weeks before he died, he was found attempting to hang himself using a sheet tied ...

Fifth Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Prisoner's Lawsuit Over Guard's Failure to Protect Him From Another Prisoner's Attack

 by Matt Clarke

On August 24, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the Rule 12(b)(6), F.R.Civ.P. dismissal of a prisoner’s civil rights lawsuit alleging a prison guard failed to protect him from being stabbed by another prisoner.

Texas prisoner Christopher Bryan Torres was a ...

Does Increased Guard Violence Mean Texas Prisoners Are at Greater Risk?

Beyond Harsh: 86 Mississippi Prisoners Serving Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses

Justice Department and GEO Group Challenge California’s Ban on Private Prison and Detention Facilities

Alabama DOC Report: Staff Beat, Hog-Tied, and Denied Medical Care to Fatally Injured Prisoner Seeking Help; Then Covered It Up

Kansas Prison Dental Instructor Sentenced to 32 Months for Molesting Female Prisoner

A man who taught female Kansas state prisoners how to make dentures was convicted on March 6, 2020 of molesting a prisoner, sentenced to 32 months in prison and required to register as a sex offender for 25 years.

Thomas Co, 73, was the supervisor of the ...