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Articles by Matthew Clarke

New Yorker Held Three Years at Rikers Island Before Acquittal

A man from New York City was held three years in a Rikers Island jail before a Brooklyn jury acquitted him October 1, 2019 of a knife-point armed robbery.

Mike Colon, 51, was just eight months out of prison when four police cars slid up beside him as he was walking to a Burger King. With drawn guns, police jumped out of their cars and arrested him.

The victim had been robbed of his cellphone and other items about 20 minutes earlier. Police had used an app to trace the cellphone to Colon. But Colon was not in possession of the cellphone when he was arrested.

His attorney noted that Colon was underneath an elevated train station when he was arrested and theorized that the robber and cellphone were on the platform above him at the time.

Prosecutors countered that stolen credit cards were strewn near the arrest site and that Colon had a distinctive knife in his pocket like the one used in the robbery.

The prosecution’s case fell apart during trial. NYPD Officer Raymond Lewis, a key prosecution witness, contradicted himself several times and admitted to having been previously disciplined for fixing traffic tickets. Then ...

$33,000 Settlement For Pro Se Arizona Prisoner Assaulted by Guard

In October 2019, Arizona settled for $33,000 a pro se federal lawsuit brought by a state prisoner who alleged he was assaulted by an Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) guard while handcuffed behind his back.

According to court documents, DOC prisoner Shawn Michael Folta was incarcerated at ...

Continuing Problems at Texas Jail Roil County’s Relationship with GEO Group

As previously reported in PLN, Florida-based GEO Group has had a litany of problems at the jail it operates for Liberty County, Texas. During a rocky 57-day stretch in mid-2019, there were prisoner escapes and suicides, discovery of contraband, guard theft of prisoners’ trust fund monies ...

Tenth Circuit Holds BOP’s Change in Policy and Delivery of Censored Issues at ADX Super Max Prison Moots PLN’s Lawsuit

On December 13, 2019, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s dismissal of a federal lawsuit brought by PLN against the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) over censorship of the magazine at the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado.

BOP ...

Sixth Circuit Holds Ohio Rule Requiring Merit Affidavit Inapplicable in BOP Prisoner’s Tort Action

On November 7, 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an Ohio rule requiring a person alleging medical negligence to include a medical professional’s affidavit stating the claim has merit cannot be applied to a federal prisoner’s legal action against the federal Bureau of Prisons ...

$10 Million Post-Appeal Settlement in Oklahoma Jail Prisoner Death Suit

by Matt Clarke

After having most of its defenses rebuked by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, opted to settle for $10 million a lawsuit brought by the estate of a jail prisoner who died after police and jail personnel ignored obvious signs of suicidal intent and ...

$550,000 Settlement in Nationwide Class-Action Lawsuit Over High-Fee Debit Cards

by Matt Clarke

In September 20, 2019, an Ohio federal court granted preliminary approval of a settlement in a class action lawsuit against Stored Value Cards, Inc., doing business as Numi Financial, and Republic Bank & Trust over jails using their high-fee debit cards to return prisoners’ funds upon release ...

Report Decries Ongoing Inadequate Medical Care for Pregnant Arizona Prisoners

by Matt Clarke

ACLU and Prison Law Office attorneys representing Arizona state prisoners toured the Perryville prison for three days in April 2019, interviewing 25 women who had recently given birth or suffered miscarriages in prison. The report they gave the court describes “shocking and horrifying” stories of a “deficient” ...

Federal Court Orders Videophone Access for Deaf Prisoners in Colorado

by Matt Clarke

On September 18, 2019, a federal district court ordered the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide access to videophones for all of its deaf and hard of hearing prisoners and prisoners who wish to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The court ...

$2.5 Million Settlement Over Prisoner’s Restraint Death in Houston, Texas Jail

by Matt Clarke

The family of a man who died at a jail in Harris County, Texas while being subjected to a dangerous form of restraint settled for $2.5 million in a lawsuit they brought against the county and seven jail officials.

Kenneth Christopher Lucas, 38, was arrested on a ...