Skip navigation

Prison Legal News: April, 2021

Volume 32, Number 4

In this issue:

  1. Jail Suicides in Massachusetts Point to National Crisis: Challenging Legislatures to Say Not One More (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 16)
  3. Government Refuses to Follow Federal Court’s Discovery Order After Being Caught Recording Attorney Meetings with Prisoners at Leavenworth (p 16)
  4. Mississippi Joins Illinois and Few Other States Prioritizing Vaccination of State Prisoners to Slow Spread of COVID-19 (p 18)
  5. Pandemic Medical Update: “Herd Immunity” at Prisons? (p 20)
  6. Texas Winter Storm Freezes Plumbing, Power and Prisoners (p 22)
  7. Massachusetts Governor Ends Good Time Offer for Prisoners Taking COVID-19 Vaccine (p 23)
  8. Confidential Settlement in Case Involving Alleged Pattern of Racist Misconduct in Michigan Prisons (p 24)
  9. Connecticut Lawmakers Refuse to Address Corrections Issues During Pandemic (p 24)
  10. California Trans Women Struggle For Protection Under Prison Rape Elimination Act (p 26)
  11. Oklahoma Prisoners Call for Better Nutrition (p 27)
  12. Holiday Cards for Prisoners: Let’s End Collective Punishment in U.S. Prisons (p 28)
  13. Florida Jail Administrators Fired After Woman Gives Birth in Cell (p 28)
  14. COVID-19 Inspired Ban on Prison Visits in Texas Ends (p 30)
  15. Virginia Settles Two Lawsuits Over Misuse of Solitary Confinement (p 30)
  16. Activist, Political Prisoner, and Journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal Diagnosed With COVID-19, Energizing Calls for His Release (p 32)
  17. COVID-19 Pandemic Makes Job Hunting Especially Difficult for Ex-Offenders (p 32)
  18. U.S. Sues Alabama Over Prison Conditions (p 34)
  19. Florida Prison Guard Indicted in Prisoner Death by Blunt Force Trauma (p 35)
  20. Hawaii Fails to Provide Video of Two Prison Disturbances (p 36)
  21. Michigan Begins Video Visits During Coronavirus Pandemic (p 36)
  22. California Prison Factories Fined For Exposing Unwitting Workers to COVID-19 (p 38)
  23. "Conservative New York County Enacts Progressive Transgender Prisoner Policy" (p 40)
  24. Sixth Circuit Upholds Prisoner’s 18 U.S.C. § 111 Conviction for Assaulting Federally Contracted Private Prison Guard (p 40)
  25. COVID-19 Depletes State Prison Staffs Nationwide, Forcing Consolidation of Facilities and Increasing Risk to All (p 42)
  26. After 36 Years in a Louisiana Prison for a Rape He Didn’t Commit, Archie Williams Wins Freedom — and a TV Show Spotlight (p 42)
  27. COVID-19 Continues Rampage Through Pennsylvania State Prisons (p 44)
  28. $105,000 Settlement in Wisconsin Prisoner’s Excessive Force Claim (p 46)
  29. Alabama Jails and Prisoners Swamped With COVID-Related Problems (p 46)
  30. How States Exclude People With Criminal Records From Jury Service (p 47)
  31. Study Shows Misaligned Economic Incentives Fuel Mass Incarceration (p 48)
  32. California Enacts Legislation Strengthening Protections for LGBTQ Prisoners (p 48)
  33. Books: “Let The Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty” (p 50)
  34. Baltimore Demolishes Maryland’s Oldest Penitentiary, Burying Its Nostalgia And Nightmares (p 50)
  35. Florida Senator Wants to Keep Ex-Prisoners from Earning the $15 Minimum Wage Increase (p 52)
  36. Former Prisoner Becomes Activist for LBGTQ Rights in California Prisons (p 52)
  37. Parnall Correctional Facility in Michigan Copes with Scabies Outbreak (p 53)
  38. People in jails are using more phone minutes during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite decreased jail populations (p 54)
  39. Fourth Circuit: Deaf North Carolina Prisoner Should be Allowed Direct Videophone Calls to Communicate with Deaf Community (p 54)
  40. Ransomware Attack on GEO Group Exposes Sensitive Information (p 55)
  41. Hundreds of Virginia Inmates Await Parole Consideration Under New Law (p 56)
  42. Colorado’s Governor Bows to Pressure in Denying State Prisoners Priority COVID-19 Vaccinations (p 56)
  43. More Than 40 Immigrants Have Died in ICE Custody (p 58)
  44. Experts Divided on Drug Court Effectiveness (p 58)
  45. Secrecy Surrounded Flurry of Late-Term Federal Executions Under Donald Trump (p 60)
  46. New Advocacy Group for New Mexico Prisoners Created (p 60)
  47. Vermont Prisoner’s Death Under Investigation: Did Implicit Bias Play Role? (p 61)
  48. News in Brief (p 62)

Jail Suicides in Massachusetts Point to National Crisis: Challenging Legislatures to Say Not One More

From the Editor

Government Refuses to Follow Federal Court’s Discovery Order After Being Caught Recording Attorney Meetings with Prisoners at Leavenworth

Mississippi Joins Illinois and Few Other States Prioritizing Vaccination of State Prisoners to Slow Spread of COVID-19

“We talked to the guys and ladies upfront ...

Pandemic Medical Update: “Herd Immunity” at Prisons?

Course of the Pandemic

Declining numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths: After the peak in mid-January at about 220,00 cases per day, infections have been declining in the United States. In mid-March, infections appeared to be stabilizing at about 60,000 per day, a level similar ...

Texas Winter Storm Freezes Plumbing, Power and Prisoners

Massachusetts Governor Ends Good Time Offer for Prisoners Taking COVID-19 Vaccine

Confidential Settlement in Case Involving Alleged Pattern of Racist Misconduct in Michigan Prisons

Connecticut Lawmakers Refuse to Address Corrections Issues During Pandemic

On September 29, 2020, two prison reform advocacy groups held ...

California Trans Women Struggle For Protection Under Prison Rape Elimination Act

Oklahoma Prisoners Call for Better Nutrition

The ...

Holiday Cards for Prisoners: Let’s End Collective Punishment in U.S. Prisons

Florida Jail Administrators Fired After Woman Gives Birth in Cell

COVID-19 Inspired Ban on Prison Visits in Texas Ends

Virginia Settles Two Lawsuits Over Misuse of Solitary Confinement

Taken together, the payouts cost the state’s taxpayers over $250,000. At a time when Virginia’s General Assembly made progress on other justice issues — abolishing the death penalty, legalizing marijuana and restoring felon voting ...

Activist, Political Prisoner, and Journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal Diagnosed With COVID-19, Energizing Calls for His Release

COVID-19 Pandemic Makes Job Hunting Especially Difficult for Ex-Offenders

U.S. Sues Alabama Over Prison Conditions

Florida Prison Guard Indicted in Prisoner Death by Blunt Force Trauma

The charge stems from the death of ...

Hawaii Fails to Provide Video of Two Prison Disturbances

Outside, police were called in to help restore order and conduct a subsequent investigation to assign culpability for prosecution ...

Michigan Begins Video Visits During Coronavirus Pandemic

California Prison Factories Fined For Exposing Unwitting Workers to COVID-19

"Conservative New York County Enacts Progressive Transgender Prisoner Policy"

The ...

Sixth Circuit Upholds Prisoner’s 18 U.S.C. § 111 Conviction for Assaulting Federally Contracted Private Prison Guard

COVID-19 Depletes State Prison Staffs Nationwide, Forcing Consolidation of Facilities and Increasing Risk to All

After 36 Years in a Louisiana Prison for a Rape He Didn’t Commit, Archie Williams Wins Freedom — and a TV Show Spotlight

Despite this experience, Williams has maintained a warm ...

COVID-19 Continues Rampage Through Pennsylvania State Prisons

$105,000 Settlement in Wisconsin Prisoner’s Excessive Force Claim

Barnett’s civil rights action stemmed from events that occurred at Columbia Correctional Institution. While locked in his ...

Alabama Jails and Prisoners Swamped With COVID-Related Problems

For weeks, Dylan Garrard fell asleep on a thin foam mat on the floor of his jail cell, next to a toilet. ...

How States Exclude People With Criminal Records From Jury Service

But state laws ...

Study Shows Misaligned Economic Incentives Fuel Mass Incarceration

California Enacts Legislation Strengthening Protections for LGBTQ Prisoners

Books: “Let The Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty”

Baltimore Demolishes Maryland’s Oldest Penitentiary, Burying Its Nostalgia And Nightmares

Florida Senator Wants to Keep Ex-Prisoners from Earning the $15 Minimum Wage Increase

Brandes is a long-time GOP member who also has ...

Former Prisoner Becomes Activist for LBGTQ Rights in California Prisons

Rojas, 39, spent 15 years as a gender nonconforming (GNC) prisoner who endured abuse from guards. Finally, in the last year of the sentence at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), the largest women’s prison in the state, Rojas decided to fight back by documenting abuse, filing grievances and forcing the ...

Parnall Correctional Facility in Michigan Copes with Scabies Outbreak

MDOC ...

People in jails are using more phone minutes during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite decreased jail populations

Our study of 14 jails finds that there were 8% more overall minutes used during the pandemic, despite the fact that nationwide jail populations have fallen about 15%.

Fourth Circuit: Deaf North Carolina Prisoner Should be Allowed Direct Videophone Calls to Communicate with Deaf Community

The Fourth Circuit held ...

Ransomware Attack on GEO Group Exposes Sensitive Information

GEO said it was sending data-breach ...

Hundreds of Virginia Inmates Await Parole Consideration Under New Law

Colorado’s Governor Bows to Pressure in Denying State Prisoners Priority COVID-19 Vaccinations

More Than 40 Immigrants Have Died in ICE Custody

Experts Divided on Drug Court Effectiveness

The tough-on-crime policies that dominated the 1980s were soon ...

Secrecy Surrounded Flurry of Late-Term Federal Executions Under Donald Trump

New Advocacy Group for New Mexico Prisoners Created

Called the New Mexico Prison and Jails Project (PJP), it ...

Vermont Prisoner’s Death Under Investigation: Did Implicit Bias Play Role?

News in Brief

Alabama: Two Alabama jail guards were arrested in just two months for allegedly smuggling cellphones to inmates. In February 2021, 27-year-old D’Mario Jones was fired and charged with two counts of promoting prison contraband at the Lee County Detention Center in Opelika where he worked. According to a report by ...