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Prison Legal News: August, 2019

Issue PDF
Volume 30, Number 8

In this issue:

  1. Force-Feeding is Cruel, Painful and Degrading – and American Prisons Won’t Stop (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 10)
  3. Cook County Sheriff’s Office Pays $110,000 to Settle PLN Censorship Suit (p 10)
  4. $30,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Jail Excessive Strip Search Suit (p 11)
  5. CoreCivic Prisons in Tennessee Have Twice as Many Murders, Four Times the Homicide Rate as State-Run Facilities (p 12)
  6. Kentucky Corrections, Parole Officials Fired (p 15)
  7. Illinois Prison Phone Rates are Lowest Following Grassroots Activism (p 16)
  8. Problems with Ion Scanners Used to Detect Drugs on Prison Visitors (p 18)
  9. $2 Million Awarded to New Mexico Prisoner Left in Hot Transport Van (p 20)
  10. Missouri County Agrees to $60,000 Settlement in Wrongful Death Case (p 20)
  11. Report Shows How Private Equity Firms Profit from Mass Incarceration (p 22)
  12. New California Law Bans Male Prison Guards from Pat-Searching Female Prisoners (p 23)
  13. New York County Pays $35,000 to Settle Retaliation Claim Against Sheriff (p 24)
  14. Habeas Petition Granted Over Failing Roof, Unsanitary Conditions at California Prison (p 24)
  15. Lawsuit Proceeds Over Death of Prisoner at Privately-Run Jail (p 25)
  16. Should Private Companies Exploit Prisoners Through Exclusive Government Contracts? (p 26)
  17. Arizona DOC Bans Book Critical of Justice System, Reverses Decision Following Criticism (p 26)
  18. Iowa Prisoners Say Law Banning Publications Containing Nudity Too Broad (p 28)
  19. Final Settlement Entered in 1976 Class-Action Suit Against Florida Jail (p 28)
  20. Correlation Between Dyslexia and Criminal Behavior; First Step Act to Require Screening, Treatment (p 30)
  21. New Jersey Jail to Pay $1.2 Million for Strip Searching Detainees (p 30)
  22. $118,000 Attorney Fee Award in Pennsylvania DOC Public Records Case (p 31)
  23. Mumia Abu-Jamal to Receive New Appellate Hearing (p 32)
  24. $60,000 Settlement for Female Pennsylvania Prisoner in Sexual Assault Suit (p 32)
  25. Washington: Prisoners’ Complaints Lead to Changes in DOC’s Drug Testing Policy (p 33)
  26. After Needless Prisoner Deaths, Connecticut DOC Takes Over Prison Healthcare (p 34)
  27. Mexican Mafia Crime Ring Busted in Los Angeles, San Bernardino County Jails (p 36)
  28. Pennsylvania County Pays $1.1 Million to Former Prisoner Beaten by Guards (p 36)
  29. $30,000 Settlement for Pennsylvania Pretrial Detainee Subjected to Excessive Force (p 38)
  30. New York: $655,000 Award after State Found 100% Responsible for Prisoner Assault (p 38)
  31. New York Appellate Court Holds Names of Prison Guards are Public Records (p 39)
  32. Lawsuit Claims Denial of Medical Care Nearly Killed Prisoner at Colorado Jail (p 40)
  33. Missouri DOC Costs State Another $600,000 in Sexual Harassment Settlement (p 40)
  34. Tennessee Jail Sexual Assault Lawsuit can Proceed, Federal Court Rules (p 41)
  35. Seventh Circuit Reverses District Court’s Denial of Blind Prisoner’s Request for Counsel (p 42)
  36. Commander of Guantanamo Bay Military Prison Fired (p 42)
  37. $1.1 Million Settlement for Michigan Parole Officer in Sexual Harassment Suit (p 43)
  38. $100,000 Settlement for Suicide of Mentally Ill Prisoner Repeatedly Raped (p 44)
  39. Cops, Guards Beat Mentally Ill Arrestee to Death as Jail Nurse Watches; $5 Million Settlement (p 44)
  40. California Jailer Accused of Raping Detainees to Stand Trial (p 45)
  41. Build it and They will Come: Officials Claim Spokane, Washington Needs Bigger Jail (p 46)
  42. Former Florida Senator Now Employed by Private Prison Company He Helped While in the State Senate (p 47)
  43. Connecticut DOC Settles Calendar Lawsuit for $1,500, Policy Changes (p 48)
  44. Preliminary Settlement in Lawsuit Against JPay Over Prison Video Calls Ending Early (p 48)
  45. Steep Cost for Sending Hawaii Prisoners to Mainland Facilities (p 49)
  46. UK Using Facial Recognition Technology on Prison Visitors ... is the U.S. Next? (p 50)
  47. Arizona Federal Court Levies Sanctions Against Corizon Health (p 50)
  48. $185,000 Settlement in Beating of Florida Jail Prisoner; Guard Convicted (p 51)
  49. Thomas Silverstein, America’s Most Isolated Prisoner, Dies at Age 67 (p 52)
  50. Death Rate of Prisoners in Michigan Much Higher than Reported (p 52)
  51. Increasing Number of Walkaways from California Early-Release Programs (p 54)
  52. Allegation that Prisoner was Beaten after Guard Outed Him as Sex Offender Stated Eighth Amendment Claim (p 54)
  53. Tennessee Prisoners File Lawsuit Challenging Video Visitation Policy at County Jail (p 55)
  54. Ninth Circuit Rejects Lawsuit by California Prisoners Over Exposure to Valley Fever (p 56)
  55. Federal Court Caps Attorney Fees in Suit Over Teen Girl Raped in Oklahoma Jail (p 56)
  56. $50,000 for Missouri Jail Prisoner Who Suffered Injuries Caused by Broken Plumbing (p 57)
  57. $500,000 Settlement in Lawsuit Over Alcohol Withdrawal Death of Indiana Jail Prisoner (p 58)
  58. President Trump Pardons Conservative Political Allies (p 58)
  59. Former BOP Official Pays $50,000 to Settle Anti-Kickback Claims (p 59)
  60. Oklahoma County Settles Lawsuit Over Jail Prisoner’s Suicide for $350,000 (p 60)
  61. Tennessee Adopts Alternative Sentencing for Primary Caregivers of Minor Children (p 60)
  62. Kentucky Jail Rents Texting Devices to Prisoners (p 61)
  63. Cook County Commissioners Approve $1.5 Million Settlement for Jail Beating (p 61)
  64. California County Jail, Private Medical Provider to Pay $825,000 for Prisoner’s Death (p 62)
  65. $100,000 Withheld from Washington Jail for Failure to Fully Implement Ban on Juvenile Solitary Confinement (p 62)
  66. News in Brief (p 63)

Force-Feeding is Cruel, Painful and Degrading – and American Prisons Won’t Stop

In a Colorado supermax facility, hunger-striking inmates have been force-fed and barred from sharing their ordeal with the outside world. A prisoner breaks his silence for the first time.

by Aviva Stahl, The Nation

It was November 11, 2015, and Mohammad Salameh hadn’t eaten in 34 days. The ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

Prison Legal News has long reported on control units in general and the federal “super max” prisons in particular, first USP Marion in Illinois and then ADX in Florence, Colorado after it opened in 1995. Many of the worst human rights abuses in American prisons occur ...

Cook County Sheriff’s Office Pays $110,000 to Settle PLN Censorship Suit

On June 25, 2019, Cook County, Illinois finalized a settlement in a lawsuit filed by Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), over the censorship of publications mailed to prisoners at the county jail.

In 2016, PLN filed suit in U.S. District Court against ...

$30,000 Settlement in Pennsylvania Jail Excessive Strip Search Suit

by David M. Reutter

Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County Prison (LCP) paid $30,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging a female pre-trial detainee was strip searched four times over her three-day stay at the facility.

Rebecca Brown was arrested on March 25, 2016 and taken to LCP. She was strip searched upon ...

CoreCivic Prisons in Tennessee Have Twice as Many Murders, Four Times the Homicide Rate as State-Run Facilities

On June 10, 2019, the Human Rights Defense Center and No Exceptions Prison Collective reported that from 2014 through June 2019, there were twice as many murders in the four Tennessee prisons operated by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) than in the 10 prisons run by the Tennessee Department ...

Kentucky Corrections, Parole Officials Fired

by Ed Lyon 

Rodney Ballard served as commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) from March 2016 to May 2017. He then abruptly left that job with a $100,000-plus annual salary for the private sector, and was replaced by deputy commissioner Jim Erwin. Erwin began his career ...

Illinois Prison Phone Rates are Lowest Following Grassroots Activism

by Brian Dolinar, Truthout

“There were a lot of times my sons tried calling me,” recalled Annette Taylor, who regularly receives calls from her two sons in prison, “but there was no money on the account.” Those were some of the “hardest calls,” she said. “I ...

Problems with Ion Scanners Used to Detect Drugs on Prison Visitors

by Ed Lyon

Ion scanners were initially installed in prisons in the early 1990s to detect controlled substances on visitors, whose hands and clothes are typically swabbed for testing. But visitors and prison staff who filed lawsuits – in states including New York, Massachusetts and Maryland – claimed they were ...

$2 Million Awarded to New Mexico Prisoner Left in Hot Transport Van

by Ed Lyon

Each year, throughout the duration of summer months, there are empathy-invoking news stories about children and pets left in unattended vehicles, sometimes resulting in deaths due to the scorching heat. A New Mexico federal jury recently held that prisoners should not be left in unattended transport ...

Missouri County Agrees to $60,000 Settlement in Wrongful Death Case

by Kevin Bliss

Ralph Caldwell, the father of Michael Kibbons, filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County, Missouri for deliberate indifference to his son’s mental health needs, resulting in his death. The suit alleged that jail staff failed to properly treat and house Kibbons in a manner consistent with his ...

Report Shows How Private Equity Firms Profit from Mass Incarceration

by Dale Chappell

A report released by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in February 2019 spotlighted several major private equity firms that invest in and profit from the private prison industry, which the organization says continues to fuel mass incarceration in the U.S.

In addition to private equity ...

New California Law Bans Male Prison Guards from Pat-Searching Female Prisoners

by Scott Grammer

On August 20, 2018, then-California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 2550, which prohibits male prison guards from going into areas where female prisoners are often undressed, such as showers, medical treatment areas and restrooms, when “there is a female correctional officer who can resolve ...

New York County Pays $35,000 to Settle Retaliation Claim Against Sheriff

by Dale Chappell 

Officials in Rensselaer County, New York approved a settlement on January 8, 2019 to resolve a federal lawsuit against Sheriff Jack Mahar. Mahar was accused of retaliating against the county’s jail chief, who was fired in 2013 for what the lawsuit claimed was her refusal to ...

Habeas Petition Granted Over Failing Roof, Unsanitary Conditions at California Prison

by Matt Clarke

On April 5, 2019, Robert Escareno, incarcerated at the California Substance Abuse Treatment and State Prison at Cocoran (SATF), submitted closing arguments in a Superior Court habeas action that alleged the failing roof over the Facility A dining hall allowed the intrusion of water, birds, bird and ...

Lawsuit Proceeds Over Death of Prisoner at Privately-Run Jail

by Scott Grammer

Michael Todd Sabbie, 35, died on July 22, 2015 at the Bi-State Jail, which sits astraddle the border between Texas and Arkansas. He left behind four children. U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven, in a 169-page 2019 report and recommendation, discussed the extensive record of mismanagement and ...

Should Private Companies Exploit Prisoners Through Exclusive Government Contracts?

by Dale Chappell

A recent article in the journal Criminology & Public Policy posed the question of whether private, for-profit companies should be allowed to contract with government agencies to be the sole provider of criminal justice-related services, without public transparency or oversight of the prices or fees set by ...

Arizona DOC Bans Book Critical of Justice System, Reverses Decision Following Criticism

by Anthony W. Accurso

According to news reports, earlier this year the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) banned prisoners from receiving Chokehold: Policing Black Men, a 2017 book critical of the criminal justice system. 

The author, former federal prosecutor and Georgetown University professor Paul Butler, explored the history and ...

Iowa Prisoners Say Law Banning Publications Containing Nudity Too Broad

by Kevin W. Bliss

In February 2019, Polk County, Iowa District Court Judge Scott Rosenberg denied the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by prisoners at the Anamosa State Penitentiary (ASP) challenging the Iowa Department of Corrections’ (IDOC) denial of access to publications that feature nudity.

Pro se ...

Final Settlement Entered in 1976 Class-Action Suit Against Florida Jail

by Scott Grammer

In August 1976, a lawsuit was filed in a Florida federal district court alleging numerous constitutional violations at the Broward County jail, including overcrowding. Two years later the case was certified as a class action. It took until 1994 for a consent decree to be reached, then ...

Correlation Between Dyslexia and Criminal Behavior; First Step Act to Require Screening, Treatment

by Douglas Ankney

“When you can’t read, you see no other way out,” said actor Ameer Baraka. “As a kid, I used to ask God to make me a drug dealer, because I knew in order to be someone in life you have to learn to read, and I ...

New Jersey Jail to Pay $1.2 Million for Strip Searching Detainees

by Kevin W. Bliss

Richard Wright and April Wedding were awarded $10,000 each as representatives in a class-action suit filed against Ocean County, New Jersey for its practice of strip searching everyone booked into the Ocean County Correctional Facility (OCCF), including arrestees held on non-indictable offenses such as traffic ...

$118,000 Attorney Fee Award in Pennsylvania DOC Public Records Case

by David M. Reutter

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania awarded $118,458.37 in attorney fees in a public records suit brought by Uniontown Newspapers. The award followed the court’s finding that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) had acted in “bad faith” by not producing the requested records.

Reporter ...

Mumia Abu-Jamal to Receive New Appellate Hearing

by David M. Reutter

“In order for the criminal justice system to stand, justice must be completely just,” Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker wrote in an order granting former death row prisoner and PLN columnist Mumia Abu-Jamal an opportunity to appeal his 1981 conviction for ...

$60,000 Settlement for Female Pennsylvania Prisoner in Sexual Assault Suit

by David M. Reutter

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit claiming a female prisoner at Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County Prison (LCP) was “repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted by numerous corrections officers over the course of a decade.” The suit alleged a “culture acquiescing to the sexual harassment and ...

Washington: Prisoners’ Complaints Lead to Changes in DOC’s Drug Testing Policy

by Chad Marks

After two unidentified prisoners complained that they were being punished based on faulty drug test results, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) made changes to its testing policies.

One prisoner was subjected to a drug test in September 2018. He had been admitted to the prison in ...

After Needless Prisoner Deaths, Connecticut DOC Takes Over Prison Healthcare

by Matt Clarke

For 17 years, Correctional Managed Health Care (CMHC), part of the University of Connecticut, held a no-bid contract – worth $100 million annually – to provide medical services for around 13,400 prisoners incarcerated in 14 Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) facilities.

But in 2016 ...

Mexican Mafia Crime Ring Busted in Los Angeles, San Bernardino County Jails

by Scott Grammer

In May 2018, federal authorities, including the FBI and DEA, in conjunction with California state prison officials and local police, arrested 32 people on charges related to the Mexican Mafia’s operation of a massive crime ring in Los Angeles County’s jail system. Approximately three dozen prisoners ...

Pennsylvania County Pays $1.1 Million to Former Prisoner Beaten by Guards

by Chad Marks

Patrick J. Haight, 53, was being held at the Erie County Prison in Pennsylvania on a $500 bond for driving under the influence when he was viciously beaten by guards.

On May 10, 2017, Haight injured his toe and was taken to the infirmary for treatment ...

$30,000 Settlement for Pennsylvania Pretrial Detainee Subjected to Excessive Force

by David M. Reutter

A $30,000 settlement was reached in a lawsuit alleging that guards at the Clinton County Correctional Facility (CCCF) in McElhattan, Pennsylvania used excessive force on a pretrial detainee. The suit also claimed that medical staff failed to treat him for his injuries.

Joel R. Snider ...

New York: $655,000 Award after State Found 100% Responsible for Prisoner Assault

by Douglas Ankney

A New York Court of Claims held the state was 100% responsible for a prisoner-on-prisoner assault that resulted in severe injuries, and awarded $655,000 in damages.

Perez Aughtry, 37, testified that around noon on July 27, 2012, he had finished showering and was drying off near ...

New York Appellate Court Holds Names of Prison Guards are Public Records

by Ed Lyon

From February 2015 to January 2016, Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLS) made a series of records requests to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). The requests were made under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), and included prisoner behavior ...

Lawsuit Claims Denial of Medical Care Nearly Killed Prisoner at Colorado Jail

by Matt Clarke

A former Colorado jail prisoner whose medical bills exceeded $2 million filed a lawsuit alleging a private health care provider at the jail denied him treatment until guards overruled them and transported him to a hospital. He was then airlifted to a Denver medical center where he ...

Missouri DOC Costs State Another $600,000 in Sexual Harassment Settlement

by Douglas Ankney

A lack of basic respect for female employees, as well as any notion of appropriate workplace behavior, continues to plague state agencies in Missouri, most notably the state’s Department of Corrections (DOC). And the cost to taxpayers is staggering. Lawsuits against the state, including those over sexual ...

Tennessee Jail Sexual Assault Lawsuit can Proceed, Federal Court Rules

by David M. Reutter

A Tennessee federal district court has held the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Esco Jarnagin can be held liable for the sexual assault of a pretrial detainee. The ruling was based on long-standing deficient conditions at the Hamblen County Jail (HCJ).

The Tennessee Corrections Institute ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses District Court’s Denial of Blind Prisoner’s Request for Counsel

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a district court’s order denying a blind prisoner’s motion to appoint counsel.

James V. Pennewell was blind in his left eye due to retinal detachment when he began serving a prison sentence on February 3, 2015 ...

Commander of Guantanamo Bay Military Prison Fired

by Douglas Ankney

Navy Rear Admiral John Ring, commander of the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, commonly known as GITMO, was relieved of his position on April 27, 2019. Admiral Craig Faller, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, met with Ring and informed him that he was being ...

$1.1 Million Settlement for Michigan Parole Officer in Sexual Harassment Suit

by David M. Reutter

The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit alleging parole officer Shannon Woods was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment for complaining about the harassment.

Her suit alleged that immediately after being hired as ...

$100,000 Settlement for Suicide of Mentally Ill Prisoner Repeatedly Raped

by Douglas Ankney

On February 27, 2019, the State of Hawaii and a prison medical contractor agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Helen Coma, the mother of 32-year-old Jonathan Ibana. 

Ibana, incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility (HCF), killed himself on March 11, 2013 ...

Cops, Guards Beat Mentally Ill Arrestee to Death as Jail Nurse Watches; $5 Million Settlement

by Ed Lyon

It is estimated that around 20 percent of prisoners have a serious mental health condition, and due to the criminalization of mental illness in the United States, the mentally ill are more likely to end up behind bars than in a psychiatric facility.

The tiny city of ...

California Jailer Accused of Raping Detainees to Stand Trial

by Ed Lyon 

On March 31, 2018, two female detainees at a jail in Contra Costa County, California decided to play a dangerous game and began a flirtation with male guard Patrick Morseman. Early that day, the women passed a note to Morseman, 26, that he understood to be ...

Build it and They will Come: Officials Claim Spokane, Washington Needs Bigger Jail

by Dale Chappell

Despite millions of dollars in grant money to reduce the population at Washington State’s Spokane County jail, the sheriff and police chief say the county requires a newer and larger facility to hold an ever-increasing number of prisoners.

The need for more jail beds in Spokane ...

Former Florida Senator Now Employed by Private Prison Company He Helped While in the State Senate

by Kevin W. Bliss

After Florida Senate President Joe Negron stepped down from his office in the legislature, he was immediately hired by the same private prison company that he helped secure $6.9 million in state funding over the past two years.

The Boca Raton-based GEO Group announced on ...

Connecticut DOC Settles Calendar Lawsuit for $1,500, Policy Changes

The Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) has agreed to pay a $1,500 settlement in a lawsuit filed by state prisoner Jeremy Barney, who alleged his First Amendment right to receive publications was violated when the warden at Osborn Correctional Institution implemented a policy that prohibited prisoners from receiving calendars ...

Preliminary Settlement in Lawsuit Against JPay Over Prison Video Calls Ending Early

by Scott Grammer

Oumer Salim, a resident of Colley­ville, Texas, wanted to communicate with his brother, who was in an Ohio state prison. The facility used JPay for video calling, at a cost of $9.90 for each 30-minute session. So Salim began using the system. He noticed a recurring ...

Steep Cost for Sending Hawaii Prisoners to Mainland Facilities

Hawaii has long been considered a tropical paradise, but those who run afoul of the law on the islands stand a good chance of being exiled. Over a third of Hawaii’s prisoners are shipped to a privately-operated facility in Arizona to serve the majority of their sentences. 

Critics have ...

UK Using Facial Recognition Technology on Prison Visitors ... is the U.S. Next?

by Chad Marks

After more than 23,000 packages containing drugs and cell phones were seized in UK prisons in 2018 – compared to just 4,000 the year before – officials with Her Majesty’s Prison Service decided to use new facial recognition and document-scanning technology on visitors at three ...

Arizona Federal Court Levies Sanctions Against Corizon Health

by Ed Lyon

Corizon Health, headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, is the nation’s largest private prison and jail healthcare provider. The company has, for many years, been mentioned in Prison Legal News – usually in connection with misconduct by Corizon employees, grossly inadequate medical care and lawsuits resulting in verdicts and ...

$185,000 Settlement in Beating of Florida Jail Prisoner; Guard Convicted

by David M. Reutter

Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) has paid $185,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging a jailer assaulted a pretrial detainee.

Audra West was booked into the North Broward Detention Facility on April 2, 2014 for disorderly intoxication, trespass and resisting arrest without violence. While sitting ...

Thomas Silverstein, America’s Most Isolated Prisoner, Dies at Age 67

by Matt Clarke

Instead of being “The Man in the Iron Mask,” federal prisoner Thomas “Tommy” Silverstein spent decades in prison as the man in a concrete box. On May 11, 2019, he was released from that confinement in the only way it seemed possible – by his ...

Death Rate of Prisoners in Michigan Much Higher than Reported

by Kevin W. Bliss

An investigation by the Detroit Free Press into the Michigan Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) reporting of prisoner deaths revealed major discrepancies. 

Since 2013, the total number of deaths reported by the MDOC to the U.S. Department of Justice differed from the total reported ...

Increasing Number of Walkaways from California Early-Release Programs

by Ed Lyon 

In 2018, almost half of California’s 50 prison escapees walked away from early-release programs where they were finishing their sentences – more than double the number of “walkaways” in 2014, the first year the programs were established. While the number represents only a tiny fraction of ...

Allegation that Prisoner was Beaten after Guard Outed Him as Sex Offender Stated Eighth Amendment Claim

by Douglas Ankney

A federal district court in the Western District of Virginia held that a prisoner who alleged he was beaten after a jail guard informed other prisoners of his sex offender status had stated an Eighth Amendment claim.

John E. Lonewolf arrived at the Rockbridge Regional Jail (RRJ ...

Tennessee Prisoners File Lawsuit Challenging Video Visitation Policy at County Jail

by Chad Marks

In April 2014, then-Sheriff James “J.J.” Jones implemented a video visitation system at the Knox County, Tennessee jail through a contract with Securus Technologies. The video system coincided with the elimination of in-person visits between prisoners and their family members.

Remote video visitation costs $5 ...

Ninth Circuit Rejects Lawsuit by California Prisoners Over Exposure to Valley Fever

by Chad Marks

On February 1, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of lawsuits filed by current and former California prisoners who alleged that state prison officials had violated their Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment by exposing them to a known heightened risk ...

Federal Court Caps Attorney Fees in Suit Over Teen Girl Raped in Oklahoma Jail

by Matt Clarke

In March 2019, a federal district court held that attorney fees in a lawsuit filed by a teenage girl who was repeatedly raped by a guard at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma were limited by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) to ...

$50,000 for Missouri Jail Prisoner Who Suffered Injuries Caused by Broken Plumbing

by Ed Lyon

Nicholas Ayers was a pretrial detainee at the Jackson County Detention Center in Missouri in 2015 and 2016. On January 1, 2016, a water pipe to Ayers’ cell broke so the water to his cell was cut off. A feature of plumbing unique to jails and prisons ...

$500,000 Settlement in Lawsuit Over Alcohol Withdrawal Death of Indiana Jail Prisoner

by Matt Clarke

In February 2019, LaPorte County, Indiana agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the estate of a jail prisoner who died of seizures caused by alcohol withdrawal. The suit alleged that the county jail, its private health care provider, the arresting officer and ...

President Trump Pardons Conservative Political Allies

by Douglas Ankney

In a continued pattern of granting clemency to conservative political allies, on May 15, 2019, President Trump pardoned former newspaper mogul Conrad M. Black, who served 42 months in federal prison after being convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007. The charges were related to ...

Former BOP Official Pays $50,000 to Settle Anti-Kickback Claims

by Scott Grammer

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had accepted a $50,000 settlement from Cary J. Hudson, a former Bureau of Prisons financial administrator, to resolve allegations that he took kickbacks from Integrated Medical Solutions, Inc. (IMS). Hudson was accused of accepting ...

Oklahoma County Settles Lawsuit Over Jail Prisoner’s Suicide for $350,000

by Matt Clarke

On February 20, 2019, Tulsa County, Oklahoma agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the estate of a man who committed suicide while incarcerated in the county’s jail. The suit accused jail staff of ignoring both the prisoner’s known history of mental ...

Tennessee Adopts Alternative Sentencing for Primary Caregivers of Minor Children

by Ed Lyon 

Study after study has shown that children of incarcerated parents often suffer, sometimes catastrophically. Children with an incarcerated parent have higher incarceration rates as adults themselves than children who never had a parent behind bars.

Some states are taking action to try to circumvent that vicious ...

Kentucky Jail Rents Texting Devices to Prisoners

by Scott Grammer

The Noble County jail in Albion, Kentucky has found a new way to make money – by renting texting devices to prisoners. For $4.00 a month plus $0.10 per text, prisoners can send and receive monitored messages. The $0.10 fee applies to incoming texts ...

Cook County Commissioners Approve $1.5 Million Settlement for Jail Beating

by Chad Marks

Irene Nash, suffering from bipolar disorder, found herself on the wrong side of the law when she returned to her former childhood home. She entered the house and drank a bottle of wine. It was not long before the homeowners arrived, discovered her in the house and ...

California County Jail, Private Medical Provider to Pay $825,000 for Prisoner’s Death

by Chad Marks

Lara Ann Gillis, a 47-year-old mother, died in December 2015 after spending just over 24 hours at a county jail.

Gillis was arrested on December 4, 2015 in Monterey County, California on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs, obstructing law enforcement and possession of marijuana ...

$100,000 Withheld from Washington Jail for Failure to Fully Implement Ban on Juvenile Solitary Confinement

by Chad Marks

The King County jail system in Washington State was slated to receive $100,000 in March 2019, but the payment was put on hold following reports that jail officials were not fully complying with a ban on placing juvenile offenders in solitary confinement.

The payment was premised ...

News in Brief

Alaska: Former governor Sarah Palin’s troubled son, Track Palin, 29, was released from an Alaska halfway house run by The GEO Group after a judge granted a motion on January 24, 2019 that gave him credit for time already served on electronic monitoring. Track had only been at the halfway ...