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Prison Legal News: June, 2019

Issue PDF
Volume 30, Number 6

In this issue:

  1. PLN Interviews Randy Berg, Director of the Florida Justice Institute (p 1)
  2. The Isolation of Being Deaf in Prison (p 14)
  3. Missouri Sheriff Hires Girlfriend to Run Jail; Both are Arrested (p 15)
  4. From the Editor (p 16)
  5. Los Angeles County to Pay Almost $4 Million for Sexual Abuse by Jail Deputy (p 16)
  6. Republican-Appointed Federal Judges Sentence Blacks More Harshly, Women More Leniently (p 17)
  7. Ohio County Pays $115,000 to Settle Second Suit Over Restraint Chair Pepper-Spraying (p 18)
  8. HRDC Files Public Records Suits, Argues GEO Group is a De Facto Public Agency (p 18)
  9. Florida City, County Decide to End Use of Prisoner Slave Labor (p 20)
  10. Seventh Circuit Holds Heck May Not be Circumvented by Waiving Claims Related to Prison Disciplinary Punishment (p 20)
  11. PLRA Attorney Fee Award Discussed after Oklahoma Jail Prisoner Awarded $35,001 (p 21)
  12. Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora” Left Out Torture and Abuse (p 22)
  13. Prisoner Enters Federal System Able to See, Leaves Nearly Blind; $2.6 Million Settlement (p 24)
  14. California: Placer County to Pay up to $1.44 Million to Settle Class Action Suit for Jail Beatings (p 24)
  15. Privately-Run British Prison in Shambles, Ministry of Justice Takes Control (p 25)
  16. People with Traumatic Brain Injuries More Likely to Commit Crimes (p 26)
  17. Securus Hacked Again; Passwords, Personal Information, Location Data Compromised (p 27)
  18. Georgia Prisoner Left in Vegetative State; Lawsuit Settles for $1,500,000 (p 28)
  19. Gladiator-Style Fight Club at San Francisco Jail Results in $60,000 Settlement (p 28)
  20. California Cops Impersonate Prisoners to Obtain Evidence, Confessions (p 30)
  21. $750,000 Settlement After Mentally Ill Prisoner Dies at Virginia Jail (p 30)
  22. New Jersey County Pays $1,975,000 to Settle Suit Over Unlawful Strip Searches (p 30)
  23. Michigan Hit with Multiple Lawsuits Related to Women’s Prison (p 32)
  24. Texas: Prosecutorial Misconduct May Stymie Death Sentence (p 32)
  25. Former Wisconsin Governor Regrets Building Prisons (p 33)
  26. Louisiana State Prisoners Routinely Held Past Scheduled Release Dates (p 34)
  27. Director of Nonprofit that Locked Up Thousands of Immigrant Children Resigns Amid Federal Investigation (p 36)
  28. Lawsuit Against New York Jail, CCS Survives Motion to Dismiss (p 38)
  29. Illinois: Settlement in Suit Against Private Prison Medical Contractor is a Disclosable Public Record (p 38)
  30. Class Action Challenges Theft of Millions of Digital Music Files from Florida Prisoners (p 39)
  31. Corizon Settles Lawsuit Over Colorado Jail Prisoner’s Death for $3.7 Million; County Pays Another $200,000 (p 40)
  32. Cook County to Pay Over $5 Million for Depriving Prisoners of Dental Care (p 40)
  33. Ohio Restaurateur Founds Hot Chicken Takeover, Hires Ex-Cons (p 41)
  34. $1.6 Million Awarded to California Family After Man Dies in County Jail (p 42)
  35. L.A. Sheriff Claims Jail Reforms Resulted in More Violence; Court Appointed Monitors Disagree (p 42)
  36. Prisoners Seek Comprehensive Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment (p 44)
  37. Second Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s Lawsuit Dismissed for Failure to Comply with F.R.C.P. (p 46)
  38. Supreme Court Again Prevents Texas from Executing Intellectually Disabled Prisoner (p 46)
  39. Denver, Colorado Pays $30,000 Settlement Over a $50 Bond Fee (p 47)
  40. New Jersey Women’s Prison Again Under Investigation for Staff Sexual Abuse (p 48)
  41. Prosecutorial Misconduct Records Protected by Colorado Supreme Court and SCOTUS (p 49)
  42. Oregon Transitional Leave Violations Require Morrissey Due Process Protections (p 50)
  43. Pennsylvania Town Rejects Private Prison Firm (p 50)
  44. HRDC Prevails in New Mexico Public Records Suit (p 51)
  45. California Jail Prisoners Claim Sleep Deprivation; Court Issues Injunction (p 52)
  46. Study Shows Care for HIV-Positive Prisoners Poor after Release, Worse for Those Re-Incarcerated (p 52)
  47. Third Circuit: Female Jail Guard Loses Discrimination, Wrongful Termination Case (p 53)
  48. Texas Lawmakers Consider State Jails a “Complete Failure” (p 54)
  49. Seventh Circuit Reinstates Lawsuit Over Illinois Jail’s Denial of Legal Publication Without Notice (p 54)
  50. Washington State Prisoner Properly Denied Visitation with Daughters (p 55)
  51. Jailed North Carolina Teenager Commits Suicide; $650,000 Wrongful Death Settlement (p 56)
  52. Federal Prison Guard Admits to Sexually Assaulting Prisoners, Sentenced to Two Years (p 56)
  53. $115,000 Settlement after Nebraska Prison Nurses Ignore Prisoner Suffering Heart Attack (p 57)
  54. Consumer Watchdog Group Releases Report on Bail and Corrections Industry (p 58)
  55. Federal Court Approves $3 Million Settlement for Death of Virginia Jail Prisoner Jamycheal Mitchell (p 58)
  56. $300,000 Settlement in Lawsuit over Minnesota Prisoner’s Suicide (p 59)
  57. Over $980,000 in Damages, Fees Awarded in Deliberate Indifference Case Against Wexford (p 60)
  58. Eighth Circuit Holds Guards Not Liable for Disregarding Prisoner’s Stroke Symptoms (p 60)
  59. Illinois Court Rules Indefinite Detention of Sex Offenders Due to Lack of Approved Housing Unconstitutional (p 61)
  60. News In Brief (p 62)
  61. President Trump Wants Focus on Hiring Ex-Prisoners, Hosts Them at White House (p 62)
  62. California: Court of Appeal Holds Possession of Marijuana in Prison Still a Felony Despite Proposition 64 (p 62)
  63. Colorado Prisoner Claims She was “Bait” in Prison Sexual Assault Sting (p 2018)

PLN Interviews Randy Berg, Director of the Florida Justice Institute

by Paul Wright

On December 27, 2018, Prison Legal News editor Paul Wright interviewed Randall C. Berg, Jr., executive director of the Florida Justice Institute (FJI) in Miami. It is fair to say that no one has done more for Florida prisoners in that state’s history than Randy. He was ...

The Isolation of Being Deaf in Prison

“I didn’t have a way to communicate. And they basically just flipped me the bird.”

by Jeremy Woody as told to Christie Thompson, The Marshall Project

When I was in state prison in Georgia in 2013, I heard about a class called “Motivation for Change.” I think it ...

Missouri Sheriff Hires Girlfriend to Run Jail; Both are Arrested

by Scott Grammer

James Sigman, 48, was elected sheriff of Texas County, Missouri in 2012. He now stands charged with robbery, assault, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful use of a weapon, misuse of official information by a public servant and harassment. The charges stem from his alleged failure ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

This month’s issue of PLN is dedicated to the memory and work of Randall “Randy” Berg, a long-time advocate for prisoners’ rights and human rights who died on April 10, 2019 at the age of 70 following a struggle with ALS. I was fortunate to ...

Los Angeles County to Pay Almost $4 Million for Sexual Abuse by Jail Deputy

by Douglas Ankney

In November 2018, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay $3.9 million to settle claims against the county, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD), Sheriff James McDonnell and Deputy Giancarlo Scotti. The Board’s decision ended a lawsuit brought by two former female ...

Republican-Appointed Federal Judges Sentence Blacks More Harshly, Women More Leniently

by Ed Lyon 

Under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, presidents nominate judges to sit on federal district and circuit courts, as well as the Supreme Court. Federal judges are appointed for life and serve until they retire, resign, die or are impeached. Politicians (including presidents) have historically ...

Ohio County Pays $115,000 to Settle Second Suit Over Restraint Chair Pepper-Spraying

by Matt Clarke

On January 8, 2019, Montgomery County, Ohio agreed to pay $115,000 to resolve a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by a former jail prisoner who was pepper-sprayed while “largely strapped into” a seven-point restraint chair.

Charles Wade was being booked into the Montgomery County Jail on ...

HRDC Files Public Records Suits, Argues GEO Group is a De Facto Public Agency

by Steve Horn

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization of Prison Legal News, has filed lawsuits in Texas and Vermont arguing that the GEO Group – one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison companies – is a de facto public agency that should be required to comply ...

Florida City, County Decide to End Use of Prisoner Slave Labor

by Kevin W. Bliss

In January 2019, the city of Gainesville, Florida followed the lead of Alachua County by deciding to terminate its contract with the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) to provide prisoner work crews for such duties as ground maintenance, filling potholes and trash detail. Activists from the ...

Seventh Circuit Holds Heck May Not be Circumvented by Waiving Claims Related to Prison Disciplinary Punishment

by Matt Clarke 

On February 5, 2019, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a prisoner cannot waive challenges to portions of his prison discipline to circumvent the requirements of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997). Rather ...

PLRA Attorney Fee Award Discussed after Oklahoma Jail Prisoner Awarded $35,001

by Derek Gilna

James Jordanoff, a former pre-trial detainee at the Cleveland County Detention Center in Oklahoma, won a $35,001 judgment following a jury trial based on a First Amendment retaliation claim against ex-guard Josh Coffey. 

The May 9, 2018 judgment included $1 in nominal damages plus ...

Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora” Left Out Torture and Abuse

The miniseries depicting a New York prison escape fails to show what happened to the men left behind.

by Katie Rose Quandt, The Appeal, a nonprofit criminal justice news site

The true story of a 2015 prison break from a New York maximum-security facility has electrified viewers of Showtime’s acclaimed ...

Prisoner Enters Federal System Able to See, Leaves Nearly Blind; $2.6 Million Settlement

by Ed Lyon 

Vannara Nhar, 22, was sentenced to a term in federal prison for selling firearms to an undercover cop. He entered the Bureau of Prisons in October 2011 with near-perfect vision and was assigned to FCC Butner in North Carolina. When he left in 2013, his eyesight ...

California: Placer County to Pay up to $1.44 Million to Settle Class Action Suit for Jail Beatings

by Douglas Ankney

In March 2019, Placer County, California agreed to create a fund of $1,449,700 to settle potential claims arising from a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of prisoners who were beaten by guards at the county’s two jails. Placer County had previously settled six suits and ...

Privately-Run British Prison in Shambles, Ministry of Justice Takes Control

by Scott Grammer

On August 13, 2018, Great Britain’s HMP Birmingham, operated by G4S (previously Group 4 Securicor), a private security company, had to be taken over on an emergency basis by the Ministry of Justice. An inspection of the prison found that prisoners were drinking, using drugs and ...

People with Traumatic Brain Injuries More Likely to Commit Crimes

by Ed Lyon

After Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself in 2012, an autopsy revealed he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disease caused by blunt head trauma during football blocking. Problems associated with CTE and other types of Traumatic Brain ...

Securus Hacked Again; Passwords, Personal Information, Location Data Compromised

by Matt Clarke

Some readers may recall how a hacker targeted Dallas, Texas-based Securus Technologies, a prison telecom company, resulting in the records of some 70 million phone calls made by over 63,000 prisoners being released on the Internet in November 2015. That incident revealed Securus was recording prisoners’ ...

Georgia Prisoner Left in Vegetative State; Lawsuit Settles for $1,500,000

by Ed Lyon

In March 2014, Mollianne Fischer’s term of probation for misusing a credit card was revoked and she began serving a two-year sentence at Arrendale State Prison. She appeared to be in good health at first, though later began vomiting and had trouble breathing and remaining continent. She ...

Gladiator-Style Fight Club at San Francisco Jail Results in $60,000 Settlement

by Chad Marks and Ed Lyon

For a second time, the City of San Francisco has agreed to settle a prisoner’s lawsuit stemming from a fight club orchestrated by jail deputies and induced by fear.

Former prisoner Quincy Lewis filed a federal civil rights action against several deputy jailers in ...

California Cops Impersonate Prisoners to Obtain Evidence, Confessions

by Ed Lyon 

It is not uncommon to see police officers on TV shows masquerade as criminals to obtain evidence and even confessions from suspects. Many people may not be aware that this is an example of art imitating life. Such law enforcement practices were vigorously challenged in the ...

$750,000 Settlement After Mentally Ill Prisoner Dies at Virginia Jail

by Ed Lyon 

Natasha McKenna, a diagnosed schizophrenic, died at age 37 at a jail in Fairfax County, Virginia, where she was being held awaiting transfer to Alexandria on charges of assaulting a peace officer. Alexandria officials had failed to take custody of McKenna three times during her eight-day ...

New Jersey County Pays $1,975,000 to Settle Suit Over Unlawful Strip Searches

by Douglas Ankney

Ocean County, New Jersey has agreed to pay $1.975 million to settle a class-action lawsuit, where the class was defined as “All persons who were admitted into the Ocean County Correctional Facility during the period between November 28, 2005 through December 28, 2007, after being arrested ...

Michigan Hit with Multiple Lawsuits Related to Women’s Prison

by Douglas Ankney

The State of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) have been named defendants in three separate lawsuits concerning the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility (WHV).

In August 2018, the state agreed to pay almost $750,000 to settle a complaint that was brought by the ...

Texas: Prosecutorial Misconduct May Stymie Death Sentence

On October 26, 2006, Paul David Storey, then 21, and his accomplice, Mark Devayne Porter, robbed Putt Putt Golf & Games, a miniature golf course in Fort Worth, Texas. During the course of the robbery they shot and killed assistant manager James Cherry. Porter pleaded guilty in exchange for a ...

Former Wisconsin Governor Regrets Building Prisons

by Scott Grammer

Tommy G. Thompson, who served as governor of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001, has recently said he regrets building so many prisons during his tenure. 

In April 2018 he wrote an op-ed for the Journal Sentinel, stating he had “come to believe that our corrections system ...

Louisiana State Prisoners Routinely Held Past Scheduled Release Dates

by Kevin W. Bliss

In the wake of a 2017 state audit that revealed Louisiana prisoners were regularly being held for weeks, months and sometimes even years past their scheduled release dates, a 2019 investigation of court records reviewed by the Times-Picayune, a New Orleans paper,found that at least ...

Director of Nonprofit that Locked Up Thousands of Immigrant Children Resigns Amid Federal Investigation

by Douglas Ankney

Juan Sanchez spent 32 years at the helm of Southwest Key Programs (SKP), a private contractor that operates shelters for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which has custody of unaccompanied migrant children apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as the children ...

Lawsuit Against New York Jail, CCS Survives Motion to Dismiss

by Derek Gilna

A federal civil rights complaint brought by the estate of deceased Monroe County, New York pre-trial detainee Pedro Sanchez, Jr. has survived a motion to dismiss filed by the county jail’s medical provider, Correct Care Solutions (now known as Wellpath), and several of the company’s medical staff ...

Illinois: Settlement in Suit Against Private Prison Medical Contractor is a Disclosable Public Record

The Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) contracts with a private company, Wexford Health Sources, Inc., to provide medical and mental health care in state prisons. In 2012, prisoner Alfonso Franco died from cancer; three years later, Wexford settled a lawsuit filed by Franco’s estate, the terms of which ...

Class Action Challenges Theft of Millions of Digital Music Files from Florida Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

A class-action lawsuit accuses the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) of confiscating prisoners’ “lawfully purchased property without compensation” so the department and its vendor, JPay, could realize profit through a new contract. 

The suit concerns prisoners’ loss of music files accessible only via their MP3 ...

Corizon Settles Lawsuit Over Colorado Jail Prisoner’s Death for $3.7 Million; County Pays Another $200,000

by Matt Clarke

A lawsuit over the 2015 death of Adams County, Colorado jail detainee Tyler Tabor was secretly settled for $3.9 million in August 2018. The settlement only became public after court documents were filed complaining that Corizon Health had met only $1 million of its $3.7 ...

Cook County to Pay Over $5 Million for Depriving Prisoners of Dental Care

by Douglas Ankney

In May 2018, commissioners in Cook County, Illinois agreed to establish a $5,263,000 fund to settle four lawsuits, including one certified as a class-action, alleging a complete denial of dental treatment for prisoners at the Cook County Jail (CCJ). The claims arose because, in a ...

Ohio Restaurateur Founds Hot Chicken Takeover, Hires Ex-Cons

by Scott Grammer

In 2013, Joe DeLoss founded Hot Chicken Takeover in Columbus, Ohio. HCT is a “Nashville Hot Chicken” restaurant that has nearly 50 employees, 70% of whom have had trouble finding work due to criminal records or other issues. DeLoss has also worked to establish other programs to ...

$1.6 Million Awarded to California Family After Man Dies in County Jail

by Chad Marks

On February 15, 2019, a federal jury ruled that Mark Pajas, Sr. should not have died at a jail in Monterey County, California, prompting an award of $1.6 million to his family in a wrongful death suit.

Pajas, 56, was riding a bicycle the wrong ...

L.A. Sheriff Claims Jail Reforms Resulted in More Violence; Court Appointed Monitors Disagree

by Matt Clarke 

Newly elected Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva held a press conference in late January 2019, claiming that court-ordered reforms in the county’s jail system had caused an increase in violence among its 18,000 prisoners – and that the previous sheriff had covered it up ...

Prisoners Seek Comprehensive Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment

by Kevin W. Bliss

In December 2018, the U.S. District Court for South Carolina granted class-action status in a lawsuit filed against the Department of Corrections (DOC) by state prisoners claiming they received inadequate medical care due to a lack of testing during intake to check if they had ...

Second Circuit Reinstates Prisoner’s Lawsuit Dismissed for Failure to Comply with F.R.C.P.

by Matt Clarke

On February 15, 2019, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a prisoner’s pro se lawsuit that had been dismissed for failure to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 20. In doing so, it held that such sua sponte dismissals should be reviewed de ...

Supreme Court Again Prevents Texas from Executing Intellectually Disabled Prisoner

In an unusual case where prosecutors sided with the defense and the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court crossed sides, convicted Texas murderer Bobby James Moore has again been ruled intellectually disabled and therefore not a candidate for execution.

Moore was convicted of shooting 70-year-old James McArble ...

Denver, Colorado Pays $30,000 Settlement Over a $50 Bond Fee

by Ed Lyon 

Denver, Colorado resident Mickey Howard, often homeless and unemployed, was arrested on June 9, 2018 and charged with public intoxication and domestic violence. He had $64 when he was booked into jail.

The next morning at his arraignment, a judge set Howard’s bond at $10 – ...

New Jersey Women’s Prison Again Under Investigation for Staff Sexual Abuse

by Kevin W. Bliss

In April 2019, an eighth guard at New Jersey’s Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (EMCF) was arrested and charged with official misconduct and criminal sexual conduct.

Ciera Roddy, 32, faces charges similar to those that resulted in the conviction of Jason Mays, a senior guard ...

Prosecutorial Misconduct Records Protected by Colorado Supreme Court and SCOTUS

by Ed Lyon

In a February 2019 decision that impacts access to public records, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) refused to review a unanimous ruling by Colorado’s Supreme Court issued eight months earlier which denied The Colorado Independent access to court documents in a capital murder case. That ruling ...

Oregon Transitional Leave Violations Require Morrissey Due Process Protections

by Mark Wilson

In a case of first-impression, a fed­eral district court held that Oregon prisoners have a protected liberty interest in transitional leave that may not be revoked without procedural protections required by Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972). 

Oregon created an Alternative Incarceration ...

Pennsylvania Town Rejects Private Prison Firm

by Ed Lyon

Regular readers of Prison Legal News are well aware of the abysmal reputations that private, for-profit prisons have earned. Apparently word travels and people on the outside eventually listen and pay attention to such matters, as the citizens of Lancaster, Pennsylvania demonstrated when they decided to ...

HRDC Prevails in New Mexico Public Records Suit

by Ed Lyon 

The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization of Prison Legal News, has prevailed in a lawsuit filed in New Mexico state court after Otero County violated provisions of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). 

On June 19, 2018, HRDC requested records ...

California Jail Prisoners Claim Sleep Deprivation; Court Issues Injunction

by Kevin W. Bliss

In March 2019, Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited Alameda County’s jail system from depriving prisoners of their constitutional right to sleep. Judge Donato ordered jail officials to revise their ...

Study Shows Care for HIV-Positive Prisoners Poor after Release, Worse for Those Re-Incarcerated

by Scott Grammer

A study published by the Public Library of Science on October 18, 2018 found that prisoners with HIV tend not to retain their level of care after being released, and that those who are re-incarcerated fare even worse. The study reported that during a three-year post-release evaluation ...

Third Circuit: Female Jail Guard Loses Discrimination, Wrongful Termination Case

by David M. Reutter

On December 31, 2018, in an unpublished ruling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a summary judgment order in a lawsuit that alleged employment discrimination. The appellate court found that officials at Pennsylvania’s Franklin County Jail (FCJ) had properly terminated the plaintiff, a ...

Texas Lawmakers Consider State Jails a “Complete Failure”

by Matt Clarke 

In 2019, the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence issued a report that called the state jail system “a complete failure.” Created in 1993, the category of crime known as a state jail felony was intended to segregate certain nonviolent, low-level offenders – especially those ...

Seventh Circuit Reinstates Lawsuit Over Illinois Jail’s Denial of Legal Publication Without Notice

by Matt Clarke 

On February 8, 2019, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court erred when it reframed a former Illinois jail prisoner’s lawsuit over denial of a legal publication as a broad First Amendment challenge to the facility’s policy of prohibiting prisoners from receiving ...

Washington State Prisoner Properly Denied Visitation with Daughters

by David M. Reutter

In an unpublished opinion, the Washington Court of Appeals held on December 18, 2018 that a prisoner was properly denied visitation with his daughters, who were victims of his crimes.

John M. Pino pleaded guilty in 2009 to three counts of first-degree child molestation. His 150-month-to-life ...

Jailed North Carolina Teenager Commits Suicide; $650,000 Wrongful Death Settlement

by Ed Lyon

After a troubled and tormented life, capped by a year of being assaulted and bullied in a Durham, North Carolina adult jail, 17-year-old Uniece Fennell hanged herself in her cell. 

Uniece was raised in California. Her father, an abusive drug addict, had recently been released from ...

Federal Prison Guard Admits to Sexually Assaulting Prisoners, Sentenced to Two Years

by Ed Lyon 

Apolonio Gamez, 41, worked for the federal Bureau of Prisons as a guard for six years, beginning in 2012. In May 2017, at FCI Victorville in California, Gamez caught a female prisoner stealing food from the kitchen. Rather than writing her a disciplinary report, he decided ...

$115,000 Settlement after Nebraska Prison Nurses Ignore Prisoner Suffering Heart Attack

by Ed Lyon

In mid-August 2015, diabetic Nebraska prisoner Aron Lee Boyd­-Nicholson was washing clothes in his cell when he began experiencing classic heart attack symptoms – including chest pain, dizziness and weakness – before he collapsed. Nurse Carolyn Moore tested his blood-sugar levels, then instructed him to ...

Consumer Watchdog Group Releases Report on Bail and Corrections Industry

by Scott Grammer

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), a Boston-based nonprofit, released a report in March 2019 titled, “Commercialized (In)justice: Consumer Abuses in the Bail and Corrections Industry.” The 62-page report “discusses the growing problem of ‘commercialized injustice’ – consumer abuses perpetuated by companies profiting from ...

Federal Court Approves $3 Million Settlement for Death of Virginia Jail Prisoner Jamycheal Mitchell

by Scott Grammer

In a case that involved circumstances she called “heartbreaking and shocking,” U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Beach Smith approved a $3 million settlement in a wrongful death suit filed by the family of Jamycheal M. Mitchell, a 24-year-old man who, according to the complaint ...

$300,000 Settlement in Lawsuit over Minnesota Prisoner’s Suicide

by Matt Clarke

In December 2018, Minnesota agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a prisoner who committed suicide while guards ignored orders to keep him under constant observation, then forged documents to cover up their lapses. 

William Roy St. John, 47 ...

Over $980,000 in Damages, Fees Awarded in Deliberate Indifference Case Against Wexford

by Kevin W. Bliss

Private prison medical care firm Wexford Health Sources, Inc. filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, asking for judgment as a matter of law after being found liable for policies that created an atmosphere of deliberate indifference to the ...

Eighth Circuit Holds Guards Not Liable for Disregarding Prisoner’s Stroke Symptoms

by Matt Clarke

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held on March 7, 2019 that prison guards could not be held liable for failing to act on a prisoner’s self-reported symptoms that medical staff had incorrectly diagnosed as the flu.

Barton Roberts was incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in ...

Illinois Court Rules Indefinite Detention of Sex Offenders Due to Lack of Approved Housing Unconstitutional

by Scott Grammer

“Paul Murphy is indigent and homeless.” So begins a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia M. Kendall, released on March 31, 2019. Murphy, convicted of possession of child pornography in 2012, was sentenced to three years probation. His probation was later revoked due to ...

News In Brief

Alabama: “The public should know that the state, its officers, representatives, or employees would never request any type of payment in the form of a prepaid money card or other similar method,” the director of the Alabama DOC’s Investigation and Intelligence Division, Arnaldo Mercado, said in a November 9 ...

President Trump Wants Focus on Hiring Ex-Prisoners, Hosts Them at White House

by Scott Grammer

On April 1, 2019, President Donald Trump hosted ex-federal prisoners at the White House for the 2019 Prison Reform Summit and First Step Act Celebration. He said he wants to promote efforts that help federal prisoners find jobs after they are released. The President noted that ...

California: Court of Appeal Holds Possession of Marijuana in Prison Still a Felony Despite Proposition 64

by Chad Marks

Nisaiah J. Perry was serving time in a California state prison when he was charged with possession of marijuana under Penal Code Section 4573.6. He was eventually sentenced to two years for committing that offense, to run consecutive to his existing sentence.

Perry moved the court ...

Colorado Prisoner Claims She was “Bait” in Prison Sexual Assault Sting

by Scott Grammer

On April 20, 2018, Susan Ullery, 32, filed a civil rights suit in federal court naming Rick Raemisch, director of the Colorado Department of Corrections; Warden David Johnson, Captain Ramona Avant and Bruce Bradley at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility; and two DOC investigators. Her complaint alleged ...