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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Fourth Circuit Says Virginia May Require Muslim Prisoner to Purchase Prayer Oil From Vendor Also Selling Pork and “Idols”

by Matt Clarke

On February 1, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) did not violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq., by requiring a Muslim prisoner to purchase prayer ...

Seventh Circuit Allows Wisconsin Prisoner to Amend Inartfully Pleaded Pro Se Complaint

by Matt Clarke

On February 2, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit revived a Wisconsin prisoner’s retaliation claim against a state prison guard, saying that the district court erred when it dismissed the poorly pleaded pro se civil rights complaint with prejudice without first granting an ...

Embattled Los Angeles County Sheriff, Brawling Over Closing Decrepit Jail, Accused of Ignoring Deputy “Gangs”

by Matt Clarke

Forced into a November 2022 runoff by a close primary vote, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva came out swinging at the Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) the very next month, defying a subpoena to testify on July 25, 2022, about reports that deputy “gangs” persist in the ...

Pennsylvania County Pays $147,500 to Jail Detainees Held in Solitary for Refusing To Cut off Dreadlocks

by Matt Clarke

On January 6, 2022, the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP) announced a settlement had been reached in a lawsuit filed for a trio of its clients, who were thrown in solitary confinement while incarcerated at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility (LCCF) after they refused to cut off ...

Seventh Circuit Says No Evidence Illinois Prisoner Lied About Endangerment to Circumvent PLRA’s Three-Strikes Rule

by Matt Clarke

On February 1, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a district court committed clear error when it found that a severely mentally ill Illinois prisoner lied about being endangered in an attempt to “sneak around” rules that would prevent him from ...

Tenth Circuit Reinstates Federal Prisoner’s Claim Against BOP Over Denial of Muslim Group Prayer Five Times a Day

by Matt Clarke

On February 9, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reinstated the claim of a Muslim federal prisoner allegedly frustrated in his attempts to observe his religion in prison, including denial of the opportunity to participate in group prayer five times a day.

Ahmed ...

Reinstating Suit by Louisiana Detainee’s Mother Over His Jail Suicide, Fifth Circuit Schools Lower Court in Meaning of “Standing”

by Matt Clarke

On February 14, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reinstated the claim of a woman whose son fatally hanged himself in Louisiana’s Bossier Parish jail in March 2019. In doing so, the Court said that a district court erred in dismissing the case ...

Vermont Supreme Court Keeps State Prisoner’s Challenge Alive to DOC’s Use of Expunged Convictions in Classification Decision

by Matt Clarke

On January 21, 2022, the Vermont Supreme Court remanded a case to the state Department of Corrections (DOC) so that it could respond on the record to a prisoner’s allegations it improperly used his expunged convictions to make classification decisions that would ultimately affect his release, in ...

$825,000 Paid to Estate of New Mexico Jail Detainee Who Died from Heroin Withdrawal

by Matt Clarke

In a settlement reached on March 1, 2022, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, agreed to pay $825,000 to resolve claims filed over the heroin withdrawal death of a detainee at the county’s Adult Detention Facility (ADF) six years earlier.

When Ricardo Jose Ortiz was booked into ADF ...

A First Glance in Rear-View Mirror at Pandemic

by Kevin W. Bliss, Matt Clarke, Ashleigh N. Dye and Keith Sanders

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes from the headlines, its full effect on prisoners and detainees is coming into clearer view. One of the first glimpses was provided in a December 2021 report by the federal Department of Justice ...