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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Steve Horn

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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