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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Steve Horn

Major Wage Ratio Gap Between Executives, Employees at Private Prisons

by Steve Horn

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings reviewed by Prison Legal News show a major gap between the pay of private prison employees and the executives of those companies. And, according to a new report by the non-profit group Public Citizen, those numbers may not reflect the whole reality when extremely low wages paid to immigrant detainees are taken into account.

Required to include wage ratio details under Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, SEC filings for private prison firms The GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) reveal their top executives are paid dozens of times more per year than the median pay of the companies’ employees.

With respect to GEO Group, CEO George Zoley made $9.6 million in total compensation in 2017 – a ratio of 271:1 compared to the median pay for rank-and-file workers. For CoreCivic, the ratio between the annual compensation of CEO Damon Hininger, who received a total of $2.37 million last year, and median employee wages was a more reasonable 62:1.

According to survey results published in February 2018 by Equilar, Inc., a firm that provides intelligence solutions and data for boards of ...

Tennessee: New Trial Ordered in Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Case

by Steve Horn

On April 5, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a lawsuit over the death of 33-year-old Charles “Jason” Toll – a prisoner who died in 2010 after being forcibly removed from his solitary confinement cell at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution (RMSI) in Nashville, Tennessee – should be remanded for another trial.

The Court of Appeals concluded that a February 2011 resignation letter written by William Amonette, an RMSI guard who had participated in the cell extraction involving Toll, should have been disclosed during the discovery process in the suit. Amonette’s letter, first reported by The New York Times in July 2014, centered around his belief that his concerns about the handling of Toll’s cell extraction were brushed aside by upper-level prison brass.

Amonette further wrote in his resignation letter that he felt he did not receive the proper number of training hours needed to carry out cell extractions, and that he was asked to lie on a document saying he had completed the proper training.

“This is falsification of training records,” he wrote. “With the extenuating allegations surrounding proper officer training, I felt it necessary to make you ...

“Survivors Guide to Prison,” by Matthew Cooke, director (Gravitas Ventures, February 2018); 102 minutes

Movie review by Steve Horn

A newly-released film that serves as an informative guide to surviving a stint in a U.S. jail or prison has hit the screens, and is streaming for a $4 rental fee on YouTube and Google Play, $5 on Amazon and is available for purchase on iTunes for $13. Titled “Survivors Guide to Prison,” the movie takes the viewer through a step-by-step process of how to make it out the other end of the tunnel if your life gets turned upside-down and you end up behind bars.

While serving as a how-to guide for each potential step of the incarceration process, the film also tells the broader tale of mass incarceration, human rights abuses in prisons and jails, the mental health crisis within penal facilities and racial biases endemic in the U.S. criminal justice system. That’s just to name a few of the myriad topics it tackles. “Survivors Guide” also utilizes the stories of multiple wrongful convictions as a way to tie the narrative together, and to demonstrate that even if you’re innocent, you could end up behind bars.

Matthew Cooke’s “Survivors Guide to Prison” has been well-received, with a 100% approval rating ...

Photos Show Aftermath of Lethal South Carolina Prison Brawl that Left Seven Dead

by Steve Horn

Photos obtained by Prison Legal News appear to show the bloody aftermath of a riot that occurred at the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina around 7:15 p.m. on April 15, 2018. The violence, which culminated in the deaths of seven prisoners, was the deadliest event of its sort in the past quarter-century in the United States – since the April 1993 riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville that resulted in the deaths of nine prisoners and a guard.

A source who requested anonymity and said he is currently imprisoned at the Lee facility in Bishopville provided PLN with a series of photos that appear to have been taken with a cell phone. The images show several dead or badly-wounded bodies covered with blood and a blood-soaked floor. PLN could not verify the photos at press time, and our investigation into the authenticity of the graphic pictures remains ongoing.

Along with the seven prisoners who were killed, whose names and photos were published by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), another 22 were wounded and are reportedly being treated. According to the SCDC’s official account of the incident posted on its ...

Exclusive: Photos Show Aftermath of Lethal South Carolina Prison Brawl that Left Seven Dead

by Steve Horn

WARNING: This article contains graphic images.

Photos obtained by Prison Legal News appear to reveal the bloody aftermath of a riot that occurred at the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina around 7:15 p.m. on April 15. The violence, which culminated in the deaths of seven prisoners, was the deadliest event of its sort in the past quarter-century in the United States.

            A source who requested anonymity and said he is currently imprisoned at the Lee facility in Bishopville provided PLN with a series of photos that appear to have been taken with a cell phone. The images show dead or badly-wounded bodies covered with blood and a blood-soaked floor. PLN could not verify the photos at press time, and our investigation into the authenticity of the graphic pictures remains ongoing.

            The images are posted below this article.

            Along with the seven prisoners who were killed, whose names and photos were published by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), another 17 prisoners were wounded and are reportedly being treated. According to the SCDC’s official account of the incident posted on Facebook and Twitter, the fighting between ...

Breaking News! Tennessee: New Trial Ordered in Prisoner’s Wrongful Death Case

by Steve Horn

On April 5, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a lawsuit over the death of 33-year-old Charles “Jason” Toll – a prisoner who died in 2010 after being forcibly removed from his solitary confinement cell at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution (RMSI) in Nashville, Tennessee – should be remanded for another trial.

            The Court of Appeals concluded that a February 2011 resignation letter written by William Amonette, an RMSI guard who had participated in the cell extraction involving Toll, should have been disclosed during the discovery process in the suit. Amonette’s resignation letter, first reported by The New York Times in July 2014, centered around his belief that his concerns about the handling of Toll’s case were brushed aside by upper-level prison brass.

            Amonette further wrote in his letter that he felt he did not receive the proper number of training hours needed to carry out cell extractions, and that he was asked to lie on a document saying he had completed the proper training.

            “This is falsification of training records,” he wrote. “With the extenuating allegations surrounding proper officer training, I felt it necessary to ...

EXCLUSIVE: 'Survivors Guide to Prison': An Interview with the Film Producer

by Steve Horn

 A new film, “Survivors Guide to Prison,” has hit the small screens on-demand on Amazon, iTunes, Fandango, Hulu and other online streaming venues. It provides not only a step-by-step guide to how to survive if you’re walled up in a U.S. jail or prison system, but also walks viewers through the brutal and seldom-told realities of life inside these penal institutions. It does so by presenting the audience with startling statistics and jaw-dropping horror stories of people serving time in the “big house,” making a de facto case that the title of the film could just as easily have been “How Hard it is to Survive in Prison.”

The movie hits hard and fast, and at times can be difficult to watch.

But the story also is told through the lens of survivors and offers a ray of hope for those locked away in prisons, jails and other detention facilities, whose voices often are not heard. Prison Legal News conducted a phone interview with the film’s lead producer, Steve DeVore, to talk about the issues covered in the movie, the art of making a film on this topic and the production team’s plan ...

Immigrant, Refugee Detainees Allege Abusive Treatment at Private Texas Facility

Detainees predominantly from Somalia have alleged abusive conditions and treatment at a Sierra Blanca, Texas, immigration detention facility operated by LaSalle Corrections, according to a new report published by the Texas A&M University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic, and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

Based on roughly 30 interviews conducted with detainees by the groups on March 13 and 14, 2018, the report alleges detainees at the West Texas Detention Center have been placed into solitary confinement and subjected to pepper spray without cause. The detainees also faced “verbal insults, including racial slurs; dangerous and unsanitary conditions of confinement; and denial of medical and mental health care,” according to the report.

While the acts were allegedly committed by employees of the family-owned LaSalle Corrections between February 23 and March 2, they may also have been overseen by officials employed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The detainees who were interviewed have since been moved to the Coastal Bend Detention Center, also in Texas, which is owned by the GEO Group, another private prison firm.

According to the report, many of the men ...


 

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