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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Steve Horn

California Prison Psychiatrists Blow Whistle on Poor Mental Healthcare, Falsified Records

by Steve Horn

The landmark case of Coleman v. Brown, a federal lawsuit that forced California to provide better mental health treatment for state prisoners, has taken an unusual turn after the state’s prison psychiatry chief blew the whistle about falsification of records related to mental health care in California’s ...

Ohio County Jail Settles PLN Censorship Suit for $45,000

by Steve Horn

In response to a censorship lawsuit filed in 2017 by Prison Legal News’parent organization, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), Greene County, Ohio agreed to settle the case for $45,000.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio’s Western Division ...

CoreCivic Bilked Rural Oklahoma Town, Forced to Pay Back Money in Lawsuit

by Steve Horn

Located in heartland America in an area historically dominated by the oil and gas industry, the small town of Sayre, Oklahoma recently found itself in the middle of a lawsuit against private prison operator CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. And the township prevailed, obtaining ...

Voters Consider Criminal Justice-Related Issues in Midterm Elections

by Steve Horn

The November 6, 2018 midterm elections saw a slew of criminal justice-related issues on the ballot in jurisdictions across the country. 

In states ranging from Florida, Ohio and Colorado to Louisiana and Michigan, various criminal justice-oriented measures went up for a vote. The most prominent ...

Santa Clara County Settles Lawsuit, Makes Jails Handicapped Accessible

by Steve Horn

In November 2018, the parties in a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed to settle the case in the form of a consent decree. The suit centered around issues of accessibility for handicapped prisoners in Santa Clara County’s ...

Under Pressure, Some Politicians Return Private Prison Campaign Cash

by Steve Horn

The 2018 election cycle saw a surge in the number of candidates and lawmakers promising to forego campaign donations from private prison operators such as Nashville-based CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and The GEO Group, headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. The catalyst appears to have been ...

Drafting Error in First Step Act Delays Application of Good Behavior Credits

by Steve Horn

The newswire service Reuters has reported that, due to a drafting error in the First Step Act, the increased good behavior credits included in the bill will not be applied until at least July 2019 or until the error is fixed. The First Step Act – landmark ...

HRDC Files Suit Against Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority

by Steve Horn

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), which publishes Prison Legal News, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority for censoring publications, books and other materials sent to prisoners.

The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western ...

First Step Act Passes – Includes Federal Sentencing, Prison Reforms

by Steve Horn

On December 21, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the 56-page First Step Act (S. 756), a bill that will usher in an array of reforms within the federal criminal justice system. The bill went to the president’s desk just days after passing the Senate on an 87-12 vote.

Seen by its proponents as a major policy victory, others have cautioned that – while a positive step in the right direction – the legislation still leaves much to be desired. From the most sinister lens, critics point out it will likely benefit the private prison industry while excluding certain prisoners from some of its beneficial provisions.

The First Step Act has 36 distinct sections which address many aspects of federal sentencing and prison-related policies. They range from placing prisoners in facilities closer to their families to sentencing reform and de-escalation training for guards, plus creating a risk and needs assessment system. The bill also calls for studies on medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment for prisoners, and an expansion and accompanying audit of Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), the Bureau of Prisons’ industry work program.

“Everybody said it couldn’t be done,” Trump said at the bill’s signing ceremony ...

Thurgood Marshall, Jr.’s Controversial Position on Board of Private Prison Firm

by Steve Horn

He’s the descendant of a slave and the son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was the lead attorney in the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated U.S. public schools. An attorney who served as White House Cabinet Secretary during President Clinton’s administration, Thurgood Marshall, Jr. also sits on the board of directors of CoreCivic, the nation’s largest for-profit prison company.

Marshall, Jr. has held a board position with CoreCivic – formerly Corrections Corporation of America – since 2002, though that has seldom been mentioned in the mainstream media. One criminal justice-focused news outlet, The Marshall Project – named after Thurgood Marshall – has only once reported on Marshall, Jr.’s affiliation with CoreCivic, burying it at the very bottom of an article titled “What You Need to Know About the Private Prison Phase-Out.”

In 2018 The Marshall Project received a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, a multi-million dollar philanthropic organization that acts as a major funder of criminal justice reform in the United States. As it turns out, that same year Marshall, Jr. was finishing up his second of two six-year terms on the Ford ...


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