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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Matthew Clarke

Ohio Settles Suit Over Sexual Assault of Prisoner for $525,000

by Matt Clarke

In November 2017, Ohio state officials agreed to pay $525,000 to settle a lawsuit over the repeated sexual assault of a female prisoner.

Chesterland, Ohio attorney David B. Malik represented Dorothea Reynolds, who was incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) in 2008 and 2009 ...

Nevada County Settles Lawsuit Over Jail Prisoner’s Death for $500,000

by Matthew Clarke

In September 2017, Washoe County, Nevada settled a lawsuit brought by the parents of a man who died after a struggle with deputies at the county jail.

Reno police arrested Justin Thompson, 35, and took him to a hospital for treatment of injuries he received in a ...

Fifth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Federal Prisoner’s Retaliation, Conspiracy Claims

by Matthew Clarke

On November 15, 2017, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a Louisiana federal prisoner’s claims that prison officials conspired to retaliate against him for filing a grievance regarding power outages at his facility.

Derrick D.L. Brunson’s grievance expressed safety concerns related to several power outages at the federal prison where he was housed. Counselor K. Nichols told him the grievance interfered with staff members’ duties, and was potentially threatening to prison safety. She reported it to her supervisors, including Captain Valle, and charged Brunson with a disciplinary infraction.

As a result, he was placed in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) for three weeks pending his disciplinary hearing. At the hearing, Brunson was found guilty and sentenced to seven days of disciplinary segregation and forfeiture of three months’ privileges. He filed a pro se federal civil rights lawsuit pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging, among other claims, retaliation and conspiracy to retaliate against him for filing the grievance.

The district court dismissed all of Brunson’s claims on the grounds that the punishment was de minimus and insufficient to warrant a finding ...

Controversy in Utah Over Jail Deaths and Secret Jail Operating Standards

by Matt Clarke

In Utah’s local jails, a record number of deaths in 2016 caused both civil liberties groups and state legislators to question the standards under which the facilities operate. But there are no jail standards under state law, and the standards adopted by counties are kept secret by the company that developed them – a business founded by Gary DeLand, a former director of the Utah Department of Corrections (DOC), who claims the standards and results of compliance audits are his firm’s work product and thus exempt from public disclosure.

DeLand ran the Utah DOC from 1985 to 1992. During his tenure he supported radical measures such as using a hitching post on prisoners who refused to work. The DOC was known as a tough place to do time under DeLand, with numerous reports of abuse.

Lane McCotter succeeded DeLand as Utah’s prison director. They both later worked together in 2003 as paid consultants in the retrofitting of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, also training its staff. Afterwards, the U.S. military became involved in an infamous prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib when photos of prisoners being tortured and humiliated were released. DeLand and McCotter were ...

Dozens of Lawsuits Against Correct Care Solutions for Sometimes Fatal Denial of Medical Treatment

by Matthew Clarke

From 2014 through July 2018, at least 52 lawsuits were filed in federal court against Correct Care Solutions (CCS) – a private medical contractor based in Nashville, Tennessee – alleging failure to provide adequate medical care to prisoners in Colorado jails. Six of the cases involved fatalities ...

Los Angeles County Settles Lawsuit over Jail Prisoner’s Suicide for $1.7 Million

by Matt Clarke

On October 16, 2017, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.7 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by the family of a man who committed suicide at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility (TTCF).

Eric Loberg, 48, displayed signs of acute psychosis when he ...

Former Mexican Mafia General Turned Informant Receives $25,000 from GEO Group, 20 Years in Prison from Feds

by Matthew Clarke

After former Mexican Mafia general Raymond S. “Indio” Tellez agreed to testify against the gang, two gang members stabbed him multiple times in a secure area of a private prison operated by the GEO Group. He filed suit and, following a bench trial, received $25,000 in ...

Colorado County Settles Lawsuit Over Jail Prisoner’s Death for $3.5 Million

by Matt Clarke

In November 2017, Summit County, Colorado reached a $3.5 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by the family of a prisoner who died at the county’s jail.

Zachary Moffitt, 33, was being treated for acute alcohol poisoning in a hospital emergency room when he pulled out ...

Ohio City, Medical Center Settle Lawsuit Over Jail Prisoner’s Death for $210,000

by Matthew Clarke

In January 2018, the City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit over the death of a prisoner two days after she arrived at the city’s jail.

Ralkina Jones, 37, was booked into the facility on charges of assaulting her ex-husband ...

Federal Court Issues Injunction Over Conditions on Virginia’s Death Row

by Matthew Clarke

On February 21, 2018, a federal district court issued an injunction prohibiting the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) from reverting conditions of confinement on death row to those that existed when a lawsuit challenging those conditions was filed four years earlier. The DOC had improved conditions on death row in 2015, to the extent they were no longer unconstitutional. The court also held that its injunction did not violate the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3626.

The plaintiffs in the suit, prisoners on Virginia’s death row, filed a federal civil rights complaint in November 2014 alleging the conditions of their confinement violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Those conditions included 23 hours a day alone in 71-square-foot cells; no contact visits; no congregate meals; no congregate recreation, religious, educational or social programming; only three showers a week and just five hours of outdoor recreation per week in separate, isolated cages.

The district court found that those conditions of confinement, amounting to physical isolation, caused the plaintiffs psychological harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment. It also held the defendants knew about the potential for such harm and were ...


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