Skip navigation

Articles by Panagioti Tsolkas

Hunger Strike, Ceiling Collapse, Lawsuit Spotlight Deteriorating Conditions at Women’s Prison in Illinois

by Brian Dolinar and Panagioti Tsolkas

"I’ve been incarcerated since the age of 18, I grew up in the penal system,” shares Mishunda Davis. “I went from the Cook County jail, to Dwight prison, to Lincoln, and I have never seen as many condemned buildings as I’ve seen since arriving here at Logan. I know because I’ve lived behind these prison walls for 20+ years. Logan is by far in the worst shape.”

“Years of living like this was the spark,” says Davis. “I chose to starve for a change.” 

The worsening conditions at Logan Correctional Center, the main prison for women incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), recently grabbed headlines when three women organized a hunger strike. They wanted to expose the toxic and dangerous environment for all women there.

The Chicago Tribune reported in June 2021 news of the hunger strike. Women had been made to stand in raw sewage for days. There were 49 women who were moved to fix what IDOC spokesperson Lindsey Hess called “plumbing issues.” The women were housed in an old unit which had been previously shut down due to its crumbling infrastructure. 

Conditions were so bad for three of the ...

Florida Files Environmental Lawsuit Against Phosphate Company Pollution

Prisoners Remain Exposed and Without Evacuation Plans

by Panagioti Tsolkas

"We kept seeing them move the cows, but they didn’t move us.”

That was one reply to a series of interviews with people recently held at the Manatee County Jail, conducted by Jenn Hayes for Southerly magazine, published in August ...

Resisting a Prison Without End

by Jayson Hawkins and Panagioti Tsolkas

The fantasy of those who profit off the Prison Industrial Complex has long been perpetual incarceration. This dream has seeped into reality in recent decades as many states began adopting LWOP (life without parole) sentences. Yet another means of warehousing people without a release ...

Plans for a New Federal Prison on Coal Mine Site in Kentucky Withdrawn

Could the failure to move forward on USP Letcher indicate an end of the Appalachian prison boom?

by Panagioti Tsolkas

“I refuse to have our community’s future built on the backs of other people.” That’s what Letcher County, Kentucky resident Elizabeth Sanders said to an NBC reporter last year who ...

“It Smelled Like Death”: Reports of Mold Contamination in Prisons and Jails

by Panagioti Tsolkas

“There was big, dark, gray, blackish mildew around the air vent and that’s where the air was coming from … it smelled like death.” – Candie Hailey, Rikers Island pre-trial detainee

Over the past several years, Prison Legal News has focused attention on environmental health impacts that prisoners ...

Prisoners File Environmental Lawsuit Against Proposed Federal Prison in Kentucky

by Panagioti Tsolkas

More than three years after a controversial environmental review process for a new federal prison, conducted by the federal Bureau of Prisons and its consulting firm Cardno, attorneys filed suit in November 2018 on behalf of 21 federal prisoners spread across the country. The plaintiffs claim they ...

Litigation Surrounding Radon Exposure at Connecticut Prison Moves Forward

by Panagioti Tsolkas

“We’re talking about levels in some places that are equivalent to smoking 2½ packs of cigarettes a day,” said Lori A. Welch-Rubin, one of the attorneys who filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at the Garner Correctional Institution (GCI) in Newtown, Connecticut. The case centers ...

Arkansas DOC Says Water is Safe, but Most Tests Not Conducted in Housing Units

by Panagioti Tsolkas

In July 2018, former prisoners and their family members in Arkansas raised concerns about a variety of issues at a hearing with state lawmakers, included concerns about the water quality at several prisons. One ex-prisoner said the water at the East Arkansas Unit was not even “fit ...

California Prison Spends $417,000 on Bottled Water as Contamination, Violations Continue

by Panagioti Tsolkas

What was intended as a state-of-the-art, $32 million prison water treatment plant has turned into yet another state infrastructure boondoggle. Since the plant’s completion in 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Deuel Vocational Institution, which uses brackish wells on its grounds, is supposed to ...

Water at Massachusetts Prison Under Scrutiny from Prisoners, Advocates, Public Agencies

by Panagioti Tsolkas

When Wayland Coleman, a prisoner at MCI-Norfolk in Massachusetts, stepped out of the shower last year he noticed something strange. It was as if the towel he used to dry himself was, in his words, “used to wipe dirt off the floor.”

“I don’t know exactly what ...