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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Sixth Circuit Rejects Qualified Immunity for Jail Guard Accused of Sexual Abuse

by Matt Clarke

On February 15, 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s denial of qualified immunity to an Ohio jail guard who allegedly ordered a prisoner to expose herself and masturbate for him.

Michele L. Rafferty and Katie L. Sherman were in the same housing ...

Prison Policy Initiative Issues Report on State of Prison Phone Justice

by Matt Clarke 

On February 11, 2019, the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) issued a report on the “State of Phone Justice,” noting progress on reducing state prison phone rates but fewer reforms in local jails, where high rates and fees persist.

Since the Federal Communications Commission ...

New Mexico Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Policy of Denying Transport to Medical Appointments During Lockdowns

by Matt Clarke

On December 7, 2018, a New Mexico federal district court denied a warden’s motion to dismiss a claim that his policy of denying transportation to off-site medical appointments during prison lockdowns delayed a prisoner’s medical treatment, resulting in serious injury.

Todd Jager was incarcerated at the Southern ...

New York: Liability Established in Claim Over Assault by Prison Guard

by Matt Clarke 

On November 28, 2018, a New York Court of Claims found the state liable in a claim filed by a prisoner over an assault by a prison guard.

Roy Harriger, 71, who walked with a cane, was serving a sentence at the Attica Correctional Facility for ...

Illinois Agrees to Sweeping Prison Health Care Reforms

by Matt Clarke 

In a consent decree filed in federal district court on January 3, 2019, Illinois agreed to overhaul medical care in its Department of Corrections (DOC).

The resolution of the nine-year-old litigation was prompted by repeated reports of preventable prisoner deaths. The agreement includes the appointment of ...

$10 Million Awarded Against Corizon and Oregon County for Jail Detox Death

by Matt Clarke

On December 5, 2018, an Oregon federal court entered a $10 million judgment against Washington County and Corizon Health, Inc. in a lawsuit over the death of a detainee who was detoxing from heroin. 

As she was being booked into the Washington County jail in Hillsboro ...

States Rack Up Tens of Millions of Dollars in Prison Guard Overtime Pay

by Matt Clarke 

The pressures of mass incarceration, low pay and a tight job market are forcing states to pay tens of millions of dollars in overtime to prison guards – some of whom end up earning as much as governors. 

A report to the Wisconsin legislature ...

Private Prisoner Transport Firm Closes After Escape; Problems Continue to Plague Industry

by Matt Clarke

In February 2019, Texas Prisoner Transportation Services (TPTS) informed its customers that it would cease operations that same month. CEO Ryan Whitten blamed the closure on new insurance rates that meant the company “simply can’t continue to operate.” The announcement came just days after a ...

CoreCivic Creates Nonprofit Foundation, Ostensibly to Reduce Recidivism

by Matt Clarke 

Private prison companies are known for their cynical motives. They lobby and give money to politicians to expand the for-profit prison industry, and have provisions in their contracts that guarantee minimum occupancy levels at many of their facilities – typically ranging from 90 to 100 percent ...

Fifth Circuit Vacates Dismissal of Suit by Civilly Committed Sex Offender

by Matt Clarke

In December 2018, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a civilly committed Texas sex offender against Tarrant County, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson and Avalon Correctional Services Fort Worth Facilities Administrator Greg Basham for retaliation and due process ...