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Prison Legal News: May, 2019

Issue PDF
Volume 30, Number 5

In this issue:

  1. Horrific Deaths, Brutal Treatment: Mental Illness in America’s Jails (p 1)
  2. Vermont Prisoner Sexually Abused at Private Prison in Michigan Receives $750 (p 10)
  3. From the Editor (p 12)
  4. Incarceration Decrease? Drop in Prison Numbers Called “Anemic” (p 12)
  5. Attorney-Client Privilege Under Attack in Jails Across the Nation (p 14)
  6. The Uphill Road to Prisoners’ Rights (p 16)
  7. Virginia Court Improperly Denied Transgender Prisoner’s Name Change (p 16)
  8. Humane Treatment for Terminally Ill Prisoners (p 18)
  9. Staffing Shortage at Ohio Legislative Oversight Committee has Interns Inspecting Prisons (p 20)
  10. Inspector General: California Prison Guards Violate Use of Force Policies Half the Time (p 20)
  11. Claim Denied; No Proof New York Prison Guards Acted Within Scope of Their Employment (p 22)
  12. Fifth Circuit Vacates Dismissal of Suit by Civilly Committed Sex Offender (p 22)
  13. CoreCivic Creates Nonprofit Foundation, Ostensibly to Reduce Recidivism (p 24)
  14. Hospice Programs Provided in Pennsylvania Prisons (p 24)
  15. Unlicensed Interns to Perform Psych Tests on Utah Prisoners (p 25)
  16. Wisconsin Pays Largest Civil Rights Settlement in State’s History –$18.9 Million – for Juvenile Offender’s Suicide Attempt (p 26)
  17. Beating of Michigan Jail Prisoner Results in $36.6 Million Verdict,$12.9 Million Settlement (p 27)
  18. Private Prisoner Transport Firm Closes After Escape; Problems Continue to Plague Industry (p 28)
  19. States Rack Up Tens of Millions of Dollars in Prison Guard Overtime Pay (p 30)
  20. New York: $775,000 Judgment for Prisoners Searched in Freezing Weather (p 32)
  21. Washington State: Jury Awards $549,000 to Prisoner Denied Pain Medication (p 32)
  22. Cancellation of Illinois Prison Debate Class Debated in Court (p 32)
  23. Wrongful Death, Whistleblower Suits Filed After Prisoner Dies at New Orleans Jail (p 34)
  24. $10 Million Awarded Against Corizon and Oregon County for Jail Detox Death (p 35)
  25. Prisoner’s Death from Methadone Over-Prescription Results in Summary Judgment, Settlement (p 36)
  26. $525,000 Settlement for Loss of Federal Prisoner’s Eye (p 36)
  27. HRDC Files Censorship Suit Against Tennessee County Jail (p 38)
  28. Illinois Agrees to Sweeping Prison Health Care Reforms (p 38)
  29. Delaware: No Convictions in Second Vaughn Riot Trial (p 39)
  30. New Jersey Prisoner Who Suggested Date to Nurse Has Disciplinary Action Reversed (p 39)
  31. Oregon: Knowledge of Injury and Defendants’ Causal Role Required for Accrual of § 1983 Claims (p 40)
  32. Search for Mental Health Care Ends Tragically at Florida Jail (p 40)
  33. Cell Phones Sold in Commissary at South Carolina Jail (p 41)
  34. $301,000 Awarded in Lawsuit Over Suicide at Illinois Jail (p 41)
  35. New York: Liability Established in Claim Over Assault by Prison Guard (p 42)
  36. Oklahoma: Sovereign Immunity Prohibits Lawsuits Over Prisoner Medical Care (p 43)
  37. $625,000 Settlement for Virginia Jail Prisoner’s Death from Untreated Ulcer (p 44)
  38. Private Halfway Houses Plagued with Escapes, Drugs, Sex and Violence (p 44)
  39. Lack of Outdoor Recreation for D.C. Jail Prisoners “Dehumanizing” (p 45)
  40. New York: 58-Month Prison Sentence for Former Jail Union Boss Who Took Bribes (p 46)
  41. “Free” Prisoner-Made Furniture Gets Ohio Prison Industry Officials in Hot Water (p 46)
  42. Eleventh Circuit Agrees Prosecutor is Entitled to Qualified Immunity in Retaliation Case (p 47)
  43. Florida Fleeces Prisoners with High Canteen Prices (p 48)
  44. Kansas Slaps Corizon Health with Millions in Fines for Contract Violations (p 48)
  45. Judge Initially Plays Pass-the-Buck with Proposal to Hire Suicide Prevention Expert (p 49)
  46. New Mexico Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Policy of Denying Transport to Medical Appointments During Lockdowns (p 50)
  47. Continued Problems with Mental Health Care, Suicides in Alabama DOC (p 50)
  48. Federal Prison Employee Sentenced for Defrauding Prisoners’ Families (p 51)
  49. Landlords Challenge Ordinance that Protects Former Prisoners’ Rental Rights (p 52)
  50. Settlement Provides for Improved Competency Procedures for Jailed Mentally Ill in Washington State (p 54)
  51. Prison Policy Initiative Issues Report on State of Prison Phone Justice (p 54)
  52. Federal Court Awards $3,750,000 in Damages for Sexual Assault by Prison Guards (p 55)
  53. Sixth Circuit Rejects Qualified Immunity for Jail Guard Accused of Sexual Abuse (p 56)
  54. Meek Mill and Michael Rubin Start Criminal Justice Reform Organization (p 56)
  55. BOP Official Who Ordered More Prisoners Sent to Private Prisons Hired by GEO Group (p 57)
  56. Kansas Federal Court Awards Prisoner $250,000 for Guard’s Excessive Force (p 58)
  57. Major Prison Telecom Merger Canceled; Victory for Campaign for Prison Phone Justice! (p 58)
  58. Two-Year Investigation, Litigation and Settlement Ends Segregation, Mistreatment of LGBTQ Prisoners at California Jail (p 59)
  59. Eighth Circuit Affirms Denial of Summary Judgment in Failure to Protect Case (p 60)
  60. Long-Term Recidivism Studies Show High Arrest Rates (p 60)
  61. New York Prisoner Harassed and Assaulted by Guard Loses in Court of Claims (p 61)
  62. Report and Video of Arizona Prison Riot Released (p 62)
  63. Former Angola Major Found Guilty – Twice – in Excessive Force Case (p 62)
  64. News in Brief (p 63)

Horrific Deaths, Brutal Treatment: Mental Illness in America’s Jails

by Gary A. Harki, The Virginian-Pilot

Bradley Thomas had bipolar disorder and was in a severe depressive episode when he was arrested for a misdemeanor in Oregon. He had spit on his landlord’s face and threatened her husband with a sword.

While in jail, Thomas refused meals and medication. His ...

Vermont Prisoner Sexually Abused at Private Prison in Michigan Receives $750

by Steve Horn

Bernard Carter was incarcerated at the privately-operated North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan when he alleged a prison nurse coerced him into sexually uncomfortable situations.

In a federal lawsuit, Carter v. GEO Group, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Mich.), Case No. 1:16-cv-00667-RHB-PJG, Carter laid ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

Welcome to the 29th anniversary issue of Prison Legal News! We published the first issue of PLN on May Day in 1990, which was 348 issues ago. At the time PLN consisted of 10 hand-typed pages and the inaugural issue was sent to 75 prospective ...

Incarceration Decrease? Drop in Prison Numbers Called “Anemic”

by Ted Gest, The Crime Report

Although the U.S. prison population has declined over six years, after increasing for nearly four decades, a new analysis by researcher Malcolm C. Young, published by the Center for Community Alternatives, concludes that the nation is not reducing prison populations at a pace ...

Attorney-Client Privilege Under Attack in Jails Across the Nation

by Douglas Ankney

As previously reported in PLN, the constitutional rights of prisoners at the Leavenworth Detention Center (LDC) in Kansas were violated by CoreCivic, the private operator of the facility for the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), when the company not only recorded phone calls between prisoners and their ...

The Uphill Road to Prisoners’ Rights

by F.T. Green, The Crime Report

In the fall of 2010, a 12-year-old was in a fight at her middle school in northern Mississippi.

The police officer assigned to the school as a School Resource Officer arrested her for simple assault and brought her to the local juvenile ...

Virginia Court Improperly Denied Transgender Prisoner’s Name Change

by Matt Clarke 

On December 13, 2018, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that a state circuit court improperly denied a transgender prisoner’s application for a name change. 

Federal prisoner Brian Allen Leonard filed an application in Virginia state court for a name change to Bree Anna ...

Humane Treatment for Terminally Ill Prisoners

by Kevin W. Bliss

“No prisoner dies alone.” That’s the motto of a group of prisoners, pastoral care workers and other volunteers at the California Medical Facility’s (CMF) hospice program, one of only two licensed prison hospices in the state. Begun in the early 1990s during the height ...

Staffing Shortage at Ohio Legislative Oversight Committee has Interns Inspecting Prisons

by Matt Clarke

An administrative staffing shortage at the Ohio legislature’s bi-chamber, eight-member Correctional Institution Inspection Committee has left unpaid interns responsible for inspecting 27 adult prisons and three juvenile facilities. 

Five years ago, the Committee had six full-time employees – a director and five inspectors with backgrounds ...

Inspector General: California Prison Guards Violate Use of Force Policies Half the Time

by Steve Horn

report released in July 2018 by California’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that with respect to use of force incidents reported by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), guards abused their authority by misusing force about half the time. 

The 33-page ...

Claim Denied; No Proof New York Prison Guards Acted Within Scope of Their Employment

On June 13, 2018, the New York Court of Claims in Saratoga Springs found in favor of prison guards accused of assaulting a prisoner without provocation. Although it was undisputed that the prisoner had been beaten, he failed to prove the guards were responsible and, even if they were, “did ...

Fifth Circuit Vacates Dismissal of Suit by Civilly Committed Sex Offender

by Matt Clarke

In December 2018, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a civilly committed Texas sex offender against Tarrant County, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson and Avalon Correctional Services Fort Worth Facilities Administrator Greg Basham for retaliation and due process ...

CoreCivic Creates Nonprofit Foundation, Ostensibly to Reduce Recidivism

by Matt Clarke 

Private prison companies are known for their cynical motives. They lobby and give money to politicians to expand the for-profit prison industry, and have provisions in their contracts that guarantee minimum occupancy levels at many of their facilities – typically ranging from 90 to 100 percent ...

Hospice Programs Provided in Pennsylvania Prisons

by Ruth Hoskins, Ph.D., H.H.S., LCSW

Nine people were granted compassionate release in Pennsylvania from 2010 to today. – Public Source Roundup

Prisoners have the same concerns about death as everyone else. What will it be like to die? Will I die in pain? Will I ...

Unlicensed Interns to Perform Psych Tests on Utah Prisoners

by Scott Grammer

According to October 2018 news reports, Utah’s Department of Corrections wants to pay unlicensed interns to “train” at the Draper prison by administering psychological and IQ tests to prisoners in mental health and sex offender programs. Victor Kersey, Director of Institutional Programming for the Utah DOC, said ...

Wisconsin Pays Largest Civil Rights Settlement in State’s History –$18.9 Million – for Juvenile Offender’s Suicide Attempt

by Chad Marks and Derek Gilna

Sydni Briggs was 16 years old in July 2015 when she was remanded to a Wisconsin state youth prison for breaking into a store and stealing alcohol. She found herself alone in a cell at the Copper Lake School for Girls on November 9 ...

Beating of Michigan Jail Prisoner Results in $36.6 Million Verdict,$12.9 Million Settlement

by Chad Marks

In 2010, William Jennings was booked into Michigan’s Genesee County Jail on a DUI charge. According to surveillance video footage, within hours he was brutally beaten by sheriff’s deputies – slammed to the floor, his head smashed against a metal bench, and punched and kicked. 

After ...

Private Prisoner Transport Firm Closes After Escape; Problems Continue to Plague Industry

by Matt Clarke

In February 2019, Texas Prisoner Transportation Services (TPTS) informed its customers that it would cease operations that same month. CEO Ryan Whitten blamed the closure on new insurance rates that meant the company “simply can’t continue to operate.” The announcement came just days after a ...

States Rack Up Tens of Millions of Dollars in Prison Guard Overtime Pay

by Matt Clarke 

The pressures of mass incarceration, low pay and a tight job market are forcing states to pay tens of millions of dollars in overtime to prison guards – some of whom end up earning as much as governors. 

A report to the Wisconsin legislature ...

New York: $775,000 Judgment for Prisoners Searched in Freezing Weather

On August 14, 2018, a ruling by the New York State Court of Claims addressed ten consolidated claims that arose from an incident in which 15 to 20 prisoners were searched outdoors in windchill temperatures between -10 and -13 degrees Fahrenheit. The facts of this case were “overwhelmingly common,” ...

Washington State: Jury Awards $549,000 to Prisoner Denied Pain Medication

by Chad Marks

Etienne L. Choquette, incarcerated in a Washington State prison, suffered from multiple sclerosis. A neurologist prescribed gabapentin – used to control pain and seizures – to address his condition, but Dr. Cris DuVall recommended stopping the medication. Choquette was eventually taken off gabapentin but subsequently requested to ...

Cancellation of Illinois Prison Debate Class Debated in Court

by Kevin W. Bliss

In August 2018, Katrina Burlet brought suit in federal court against John Baldwin, director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), and Assistant Director Gladyse Taylor. The complaint, filed on behalf of Burlet by Uptown People’s Law Center legal director Liz Mazur, claimed the defendants had ...

Wrongful Death, Whistleblower Suits Filed After Prisoner Dies at New Orleans Jail

by David M. Reutter

Two lawsuits, one alleging wrongful death and the other a whistleblower claim, were filed in 2018 against Louisiana’s Orleans Parish Jail (OPJ), the Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office (OPSO) and Sheriff Marlin Gusman, as well as the jail’s private medical provider, Correct Care Solutions (CCS) – which ...

$10 Million Awarded Against Corizon and Oregon County for Jail Detox Death

by Matt Clarke

On December 5, 2018, an Oregon federal court entered a $10 million judgment against Washington County and Corizon Health, Inc. in a lawsuit over the death of a detainee who was detoxing from heroin. 

As she was being booked into the Washington County jail in Hillsboro ...

Prisoner’s Death from Methadone Over-Prescription Results in Summary Judgment, Settlement

by David Reutter

In a November 30, 2018 decision, the Seventh Circuit upheld a summary judgment order in favor of county defendants in a lawsuit alleging they were deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of a pretrial detainee who died.

On March 30, 2010, Patrick McCann assaulted and threatened ...

$525,000 Settlement for Loss of Federal Prisoner’s Eye

In August 2018, a former prisoner at USP Lewisburg accepted a $525,000 settlement to resolve a civil rights action alleging guards violated Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policy by using excessive force against him, resulting in the loss of an eye.

James Hunt was held in the Special Management Unit ...

HRDC Files Censorship Suit Against Tennessee County Jail

On March 7, 2019, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), PLN’s parent organization, filed suit in federal court against Marshall County, Tennessee, Sheriff Billy Lamb, Jail Administrator Sabrina Patterson and other defendants, raising claims of unconstitutional censorship at the county jail.

According to the complaint, since March 2018 ...

Illinois Agrees to Sweeping Prison Health Care Reforms

by Matt Clarke 

In a consent decree filed in federal district court on January 3, 2019, Illinois agreed to overhaul medical care in its Department of Corrections (DOC).

The resolution of the nine-year-old litigation was prompted by repeated reports of preventable prisoner deaths. The agreement includes the appointment of ...

Delaware: No Convictions in Second Vaughn Riot Trial

by Kevin Bliss

In February 2019, a second trial for prisoners accused of participating in a deadly 2017 riot at Delaware’s James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ended in not guilty verdicts.

Prisoners Abednego Baynes, 25, and Kevin Berry, 27, were acquitted of all charges. The jury hung on two counts ...

New Jersey Prisoner Who Suggested Date to Nurse Has Disciplinary Action Reversed

In an unpublished ruling, the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court reversed a disciplinary action against a prisoner who had contacted a prison nurse to suggest a date.

Shakey Norman was found guilty by a disciplinary hearing officer at Northern State Prison of threatening another with physical harm. The ...

Oregon: Knowledge of Injury and Defendants’ Causal Role Required for Accrual of § 1983 Claims

by Mark Wilson

unanimous Oregon Supreme Court held on January 17, 2019 that a claim that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the risk of sexual abuse by a guard at a juvenile facility accrued when the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known of his injury and the ...

Search for Mental Health Care Ends Tragically at Florida Jail

by David M. Reutter

County jails are ill equipped to care for people with mental health issues. That fact was not known to Vicki Futch, 80, when she called Florida’s Putnam County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) for help because her son, Gregory Allan Futch, 54, was “out of his mind ...

Cell Phones Sold in Commissary at South Carolina Jail

by Scott Grammer

There is a surprising item for sale in the commissary at the Union County Jail in South Carolina: cell phones. The $100 phones can be used to text and make calls between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., but do not have Internet ...

$301,000 Awarded in Lawsuit Over Suicide at Illinois Jail

by Kevin W. Bliss

In December 2018, a federal jury awarded Dwayne White $301,000 in a wrongful death claim filed on behalf of his brother, Bradley C. Scarpi, against St. Clair County, Illinois. Represented by attorney Vanessa del Valle with the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern University School ...

New York: Liability Established in Claim Over Assault by Prison Guard

by Matt Clarke 

On November 28, 2018, a New York Court of Claims found the state liable in a claim filed by a prisoner over an assault by a prison guard.

Roy Harriger, 71, who walked with a cane, was serving a sentence at the Attica Correctional Facility for ...

Oklahoma: Sovereign Immunity Prohibits Lawsuits Over Prisoner Medical Care

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court held on December 4, 2018 that the state is entitled to sovereign immunity to all tort suits, including violations of constitutional rights, arising out of the “operation or maintenance of any prison, jail or correctional facility.”

That ruling came in consolidated cases where two federal district ...

$625,000 Settlement for Virginia Jail Prisoner’s Death from Untreated Ulcer

A $625,000 settlement was reached in the death of a pretrial detainee due to an untreated, ruptured ulcer at Virginia’s Hampton Roads Regional Jail (HRRJ).

The August 6, 2016 death of Henry Clay Stewart, Jr., 60, came almost a year after the high-profile death of another HRRJ prisoner, Jamycheal ...

Private Halfway Houses Plagued with Escapes, Drugs, Sex and Violence

by Chad Marks

Halfway houses run by for-profit prison companies CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO Group, which are supposed to provide reentry programs and substance abuse treatment for soon-to-be-released prisoners, have been plagued with problems.

Colorado inspectors found that staff at two halfway houses – the Boulder ...

Lack of Outdoor Recreation for D.C. Jail Prisoners “Dehumanizing”

by Kevin W. Bliss

A round 60 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. on Valentine’s Day 2019. The protest centered around two D.C. jails – the Central Treatment Facility (CTF) and Central Detention Facility (CDF). Family members and advocates for prisoners held at those facilities were protesting the fact ...

New York: 58-Month Prison Sentence for Former Jail Union Boss Who Took Bribes

by Chad Marks

Norman Seabrook, 58, who served as the head of the union representing New York City jail guards for over 20 years, once reportedly said, “It’s time for Norman Seabrook to get paid.” Soon after making that statement in 2014, he received a $60,000 bribe delivered ...

“Free” Prisoner-Made Furniture Gets Ohio Prison Industry Officials in Hot Water

by Chad Marks

After an anonymous complaint was submitted to the Ohio Inspector General (OIG) in June 2017, the agency opened an investigation into misconduct by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and Ohio Penal Industries (OPI).

The complainant told the Inspector General’s office that OPI workers were ...

Eleventh Circuit Agrees Prosecutor is Entitled to Qualified Immunity in Retaliation Case

by Chad Marks

Douglas Echols was convicted of a 1986 kidnapping and rape in Georgia despite his protestations of innocence. After serving seven years of a 15-year sentence, a DNA test revealed that semen recovered from the victim did not match Echols. The trial court vacated his conviction and ...

Florida Fleeces Prisoners with High Canteen Prices

by Kevin W. Bliss

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has expanded the use of private contractors in the state’s prison system. With an annual budget of about $2.4 billion, the FDOC is increasingly shifting the burden of those costs to prisoners and their families through privatization.

Revenue from ...

Kansas Slaps Corizon Health with Millions in Fines for Contract Violations

by Chad Marks

“They don’t care who dies, how they die or what they do to you.”

That’s what former Kansas prisoner Sarah Loretta Cook said about Corizon Health, the state’s prison medical care provider. With expected increases in the Kansas prison population over the next five years, Corizon’s ...

Judge Initially Plays Pass-the-Buck with Proposal to Hire Suicide Prevention Expert

Eight prisoners have committed suicide at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) since 2016. In response, prisoner advocate Marion Damick asked the county’s nine-member Jail Oversight Board (JOB) to hire a nationally known expert on suicide prevention.

“It’s ... just to see if something can be done, to help the warden and ...

New Mexico Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Policy of Denying Transport to Medical Appointments During Lockdowns

by Matt Clarke

On December 7, 2018, a New Mexico federal district court denied a warden’s motion to dismiss a claim that his policy of denying transportation to off-site medical appointments during prison lockdowns delayed a prisoner’s medical treatment, resulting in serious injury.

Todd Jager was incarcerated at the Southern ...

Continued Problems with Mental Health Care, Suicides in Alabama DOC

by Kevin W. Bliss

Counting 13 suicides among Alabama state prisoners within a 14-month period ending in early February 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has accused the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) of not complying with a federal court order mandating improvements in mental health care. The SPLC ...

Federal Prison Employee Sentenced for Defrauding Prisoners’ Families

by Scott Grammer

On June 14, 2018, Tanya L. Richard pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud after being charged with taking money from the families of federal prisoners in return for a promise of sentence reductions. U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Crone ...

Landlords Challenge Ordinance that Protects Former Prisoners’ Rental Rights

by Douglas Ankney

In May 2018, landlords in Seattle, Washington filed a lawsuit claiming the city’s controversial “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance” violates their constitutional rights. The Ordinance prohibits any person from refusing to rent to a prospective tenant, or evicting a current tenant, based on arrest records, conviction records or ...

Settlement Provides for Improved Competency Procedures for Jailed Mentally Ill in Washington State

Washington State federal district court has approved a settlement in the Trueblood case, a class-action lawsuit filed in 2014 to reform Washington’s forensic mental health system. [See: PLN, Aug. 2017, p.22].

The complaint alleged that “individuals with mental health disabilities have languished in city and county jails ...

Prison Policy Initiative Issues Report on State of Prison Phone Justice

by Matt Clarke 

On February 11, 2019, the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) issued a report on the “State of Phone Justice,” noting progress on reducing state prison phone rates but fewer reforms in local jails, where high rates and fees persist.

Since the Federal Communications Commission ...

Federal Court Awards $3,750,000 in Damages for Sexual Assault by Prison Guards

by Chad Marks

A federal judge in Arizona awarded a former female prisoner $3.75 million in damages after she was sexually assaulted by prison guards.

On June 23, 2017, the victim, identified only as “Jane Doe,” filed a complaint in federal court alleging that guard James R. Toadvine ...

Sixth Circuit Rejects Qualified Immunity for Jail Guard Accused of Sexual Abuse

by Matt Clarke

On February 15, 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s denial of qualified immunity to an Ohio jail guard who allegedly ordered a prisoner to expose herself and masturbate for him.

Michele L. Rafferty and Katie L. Sherman were in the same housing ...

Meek Mill and Michael Rubin Start Criminal Justice Reform Organization

by Kevin W. Bliss

Robert Rihmeek Williams was 18 when he was arrested and convicted for possession of guns and drugs. Following his release he began a successful career as a hip-hop artist by the name of Meek Mill, with multiple platinum selling albums.

Thirteen years later Mill was still ...

BOP Official Who Ordered More Prisoners Sent to Private Prisons Hired by GEO Group

by Scott Grammer

Frank Lara was the Assistant Director of the Correctional Programs Division for the federal Bureau of Prisons when, on January 24, 2018, he sent a memo to all Chief Executive Officers of the BOP. The memo required them to “submit eligible inmates ... for transfer consideration to private ...

Kansas Federal Court Awards Prisoner $250,000 for Guard’s Excessive Force

by Matt Clarke 

On December 7, 2018, a federal district court awarded a Kansas Department of Corrections (DOC) prisoner $250,000 in a lawsuit over a guard’s excessive use of force. 

Wesley L. Adkins filed a pro se civil rights action after he was assaulted by DOC guard ...

Major Prison Telecom Merger Canceled; Victory for Campaign for Prison Phone Justice!

The prison phone industry, which provides telecom services for prisons, jails and other detention facilities, has a long and sordid history of exploiting prisoners and their families by charging exorbitant phone rates and fees. [See: PLN, Dec. 2013, p.1; April 2011, p.1]. Over the past decade the industry ...

Two-Year Investigation, Litigation and Settlement Ends Segregation, Mistreatment of LGBTQ Prisoners at California Jail

by Derek Gilna

A federal class-action lawsuit against the sheriff of San Bernardino County, California, that alleged LGBTQ prisoners were confined in an “‘Alternative Lifestyle Tank’ at the West Valley Detention Center ... to which all inmates who self-identify as gay, bisexual, and/or transgender ... [were] automatically transferred and isolated from ...

Eighth Circuit Affirms Denial of Summary Judgment in Failure to Protect Case

In a December 28, 2018 decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the denial of summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by a prisoner who claimed prison officials violated his rights by failing to protect him from three separate attacks by other prisoners. The failure-to-protect claim was based on ...

Long-Term Recidivism Studies Show High Arrest Rates

by Matt Clarke 

Two reports on long-term recidivism among prisoners released from state and federal prisons showed very high arrest rates. The rate for state prisoners was 83% over a nine-year study period, while it was 39.8% for nonviolent and about 64% for violent federal prisoners over an ...

New York Prisoner Harassed and Assaulted by Guard Loses in Court of Claims

A New York state prisoner who was repeatedly harassed and assaulted by a guard over the race of his girlfriend had his case dismissed by the New York Court of Claims because the incidents did not take place “within the scope” of the guard’s official duties. 

On November 7 ...

Report and Video of Arizona Prison Riot Released

by Matt Clarke

In December 2018, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) released surveillance video of a major riot that occurred at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma’s medium-security Cheyenne Unit on March 1, 2018. The ADC had previously issued a report on the disturbance, in which one prisoner was killed ...

Former Angola Major Found Guilty – Twice – in Excessive Force Case

by Scott Grammer

On January 26, 2018, former prison major Daniel Davis, 41, was convicted of conspiracy to cover up the beating of an unnamed prisoner at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The prisoner did not resist when Davis began yanking the prisoner’s shackles, but when he fell face-first ...

News in Brief

Alabama: Jesse Bailey, 28, a former FCI Aliceville prison guard, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one count of abusive sexual contact and one count of making false statements. Despite leaving an email and telephone trail with his victim, Bailey lied about having had such communication and sexual contact with ...