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Prison Legal News: July, 2024

Issue PDF
Volume 35, Number 7

In this issue:

  1. Alaska’s Prison System: Dangerous, Deadly Yet Repeating Past Mistakes (p 1)
  2. From the Editor (p 9)
  3. North Carolina’s Largest City Elects First Ex-Prisoner to Council (p 10)
  4. For Beating Handcuffed Prisoners, Former Alabama Guard Supervisor Gets 87 Months (p 10)
  5. Fifth Circuit: Texas Prisoner’s Declaration Alone Sufficient to Send PLRA Exhaustion Dispute to Trial (p 11)
  6. Four BOP Guards Sentenced for Three Federal Prisoner Assaults at Kentucky Lockup (p 12)
  7. Seventh Kentucky Guard Sentenced for Restrained Prisoner’s Beat-down (p 12)
  8. “Botched” and “Ill-Conceived”: BOP Slammed for Plan to Close California Lockup Known as “Rape Club” (p 13)
  9. Idaho Stopped From Repeatedly Scheduling Executions That It Cannot Carry Out (p 14)
  10. Securus Wipes Out Months of Washington Prisoners’ Writing—Again (p 15)
  11. “You Just Broke My Neck”: Ohio Detainee Sues Jail Where Guards Are Accused of Multiple Assaults (p 16)
  12. In New Jersey, Yet More Privileged Phone Calls Between Prisoners and Attorneys Recorded and Used by Prosecutors (p 17)
  13. BOP Hires Sentencing Reform Advocate (p 18)
  14. Federal Watchdog Slams BOP for Sham Accreditations (p 18)
  15. Cleveland Jail Warden Dismissed After Asking for More Reentry Assistance for Detainees (p 19)
  16. Exonerated Prisoner Sues New York City for 16 Years of Wrongful Incarceration (p 19)
  17. Oregon Parole Board Ordered to Consider Sex-Offense-Free Time When Setting Sex Offender Notification Levels (p 20)
  18. Third Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity to Pennsylvania Jail Guards and PrimeCare in Detainee’s Overdose Death (p 21)
  19. Ninth Circuit: Alleged Denial of Hepatitis C Treatment to Federal Prisoner in Washington Presents Valid Bivens Claim (p 22)
  20. Washington, Virginia Advance Bills to Make Prison Calls Free (p 23)
  21. Colorado Program Employs Prisoners as Professors (p 23)
  22. Georgia Sheriff Takes $160,000 Kickback from Pay Tel for Video Visitation (p 24)
  23. Decoding Recidivism: Unraveling Its Complex Metrics and Real Impact (p 24)
  24. Hope Against Hope (p 26)
  25. Tennessee DOC Faulted for High Staff Vacancy and Turnover, Inadequate Programs, PREA Violations (p 28)
  26. “You Are Not Above the Law”: Former Indiana Sheriff Jailed for Contempt of Court (p 31)
  27. $15,000 Net Award for Georgia Prisoner’s Delayed Hep-C Treatment (p 32)
  28. West Virginia Slammed for High Costs, Low Quality of Privatized Prison Food (p 33)
  29. CoreCivic Sued by Former Detainee Stabbed at Shuttered Kansas Jail (p 34)
  30. Seventh Circuit Finds No Problem With Surveillance of Chicago Detainees on Toilets (p 35)
  31. $500,000 for Texas Teen Sodomized in Jail (p 35)
  32. Warden, Eight Employees Arrested After Four Deaths at Wisconsin Prison in Eight Months (p 36)
  33. Pell Grant Restoration Not Reaching All Prisoners (p 37)
  34. Colorado Jail Guard Must Stand Trial for Opening Accused Sex Offender’s Cell, Subjecting Him to Assault (p 38)
  35. Wrongfully Convicted Michigan Prisoners Wait for Compensation (p 39)
  36. Illinois Prisoner Awarded Over $822,000 For Hernia Care Denied by Wexford Health (p 40)
  37. Minnesota Jailers Shrug Off Detainee’s Agony from Fatal Perforated Bowel as Withdrawal Symptoms (p 41)
  38. Hearing-Impaired Massachusetts Prisoners Win ADA Case (p 42)
  39. Virginia Legislature Tables “Second-Look” Bills (p 43)
  40. Federal Sentencing Guidelines Place Heavy Burden on Incarcerated Victims of Sexual Assaults (p 44)
  41. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Slows the Hand That State DOC Sticks Into Prisoners’ Pockets (p 46)
  42. Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Retaliation Claim By Federal Prisoner Against Guard in Illinois Lockup Who Saw Grievance Against Him (p 47)
  43. $8.9 Million Settlement Reached for N.Y. Prisoner’s Death Following Guards’ Baton Beating (p 48)
  44. Mentally Ill Detainee Allegedly Tasered and Starved to Death At South Carolina Jail (p 48)
  45. Maryland County Wins Fight to Let Bureaucrats Make Pretrial Release Decisions (p 50)
  46. Eighth Circuit Largely Restores Qualified Immunity to Minnesota Jail Guards in Use of Force on Bipolar Prisoner (p 51)
  47. Maryland Prisoner Prevails in Challenge to Denial of Public Records Requests (p 52)
  48. $2 Million Settlement in Death of Mentally Disabled Detainee Stripped of Anti-Seizure Device at Colorado Jail (p 53)
  49. Two Who Escaped from Arkansas Jail Recaptured (p 54)
  50. Despite Unemployment Spike, Alabama Refuses Prisoners Work-Release Paroles (p 54)
  51. Ohio Supreme Court Says Prisoner’s ‘Kite’ Is Public Record, But Denies Damages for Withholding It (p 55)
  52. $56.7 Million Awarded to “Harlem Park Three,” Exonerated of Baltimore Murder After 36 Years in Prison (p 56)
  53. Missouri Muslim Prisoners Advance Suit Against Guards For Assault During Prayer (p 57)
  54. Sixth Circuit Revives Ohio Prisoner’s Retaliation Claim That Guards Got Him Kicked Out of Religious Group (p 58)
  55. $4 Million Settlement in Class Action Challenging Unconstitutional Conditions at West Virginia Jail (p 59)
  56. Transgender Maryland Prisoner’s Suit Accuses Guard of Shower Rape (p 60)
  57. Two Prisoners Removed from Texas Death Row Due to Intellectual Disability (p 61)
  58. News in Brief (p 62)

Alaska’s Prison System: Dangerous, Deadly Yet Repeating Past Mistakes

by David M. Reutter

 

Alaska is a small state with enormous natural resources. The native people, who largely subsist off the land, enrich its culture. The beauty of its landscape draws millions of tourists annually. Yet behind the sheen of natural and cultural richness lies a deadly and degrading ...

From the Editor

From the Editor

By Paul Wright

One of the realities of covering and reporting on prison systems is that, not surprisingly, the bigger systems with more prisoners tend to generate more news, especially the bad news. Generally speaking, the dearth of news by and about smaller prison systems does not ...

North Carolina’s Largest City Elects First Ex-Prisoner to Council

On December 3, 2023, Tiawana Brown became the first ex-prisoner sworn in to serve on the city council of Charlotte, North Carolina. In September 2023, the self-described “survivor of incarceration” won the Democratic primary in the city’s District 3, her life-long home, before going on to win the seat in ...

For Beating Handcuffed Prisoners, Former Alabama Guard Supervisor Gets 87 Months

On December 19, 2023, the federal court for the Northern District of Alabama sentenced former state prison guard supervisor Mohammad Jenkins, 52, to seven years and three months in federal prison for assaulting two handcuffed prisoners at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility. As PLN reported, Jenkins pleaded guilty in September ...

Fifth Circuit: Texas Prisoner’s Declaration Alone Sufficient to Send PLRA Exhaustion Dispute to Trial

On January 31, 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a Texas prisoner’s uncorroborated declaration outlining steps he took to exhaust administrative remedies through the state Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) grievance process was sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact, thereby surviving ...

Four BOP Guards Sentenced for Three Federal Prisoner Assaults at Kentucky Lockup

A former guard supervisor at the U.S. Penitentiary in Big Sandy, Kentucky, was sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison on December 6, 2023, for covering up three prisoner assaults by fellow guards. The federal court for the Eastern District of Kentucky also ordered Kevin C. Pearce, ...

Seventh Kentucky Guard Sentenced for Restrained Prisoner’s Beat-down

Former Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) guard Sgt. Eric L. Nantell, 48, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison on June 11, 2024, for beating a restrained prisoner at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex. The federal court for the Eastern District of Kentucky also ordered him to serve two years ...

“Botched” and “Ill-Conceived”: BOP Slammed for Plan to Close California Lockup Known as “Rape Club”

One month after the federal court for the Northern District of California made the first-ever appointment of a special master to oversee rulings to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the agency announced on April 15, 2024, that it would close the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Dublin, California. Efforts ...

Idaho Stopped From Repeatedly Scheduling Executions That It Cannot Carry Out

Securus Wipes Out Months of Washington Prisoners’ Writing—Again

Writers are intimately familiar with the effort it takes to organize ideas and direct them through a keyboard into text. Most have the comfort of knowing their draft work waits for them to take the next step. But incarcerated writers do not have that comfort.

In November 2023, Christopher Blackwell ...

“You Just Broke My Neck”: Ohio Detainee Sues Jail Where Guards Are Accused of Multiple Assaults

Calling it “one of the most blatant and outrageous uses of excessive force” he’s ever seen, Cleveland attorney Nick DeCello of Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP filed suit in federal court for the Northern District of Ohio on January 25, 2024, accusing a Lorain County Jail (LCJ) guard of assaulting ...

In New Jersey, Yet More Privileged Phone Calls Between Prisoners and Attorneys Recorded and Used by Prosecutors

by Douglas Ankney

 

A New Jersey prisoner filed a putative class-action lawsuit on December 19, 2023, alleging that privileged telephone communications with his attorney were recorded by the jail where he was held, provided to prosecutors and used against him at trial. Disturbingly, this is not the first such ...

BOP Hires Sentencing Reform Advocate

In a strange-but-true story—like a fox asking a hen to help raid the coop—the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced on October 20, 2023, that its Office of Legislative Affairs has a new attorney advisor: Molly Gill, a long-time official at sentencing reform nonprofit Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM).

Gill ...

Federal Watchdog Slams BOP for Sham Accreditations

by Matthew T. Clarke

 

In November 2023, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published an audit of the $2.75 million contract awarded to the American Correctional Association (ACA) by DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to accredit and reaccredit its lockups. The ...

Cleveland Jail Warden Dismissed After Asking for More Reentry Assistance for Detainees

According to a report on December 7, 2023, when Warden Jeremy Everett sounded the alarm two months earlier over insufficient reentry assistance at Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Jail, the administration of County Executive Chris Ronayne demanded Everett resign.  

Reentry programs reduce the likelihood of repeat offending, and other Ohio counties have ...

Exonerated Prisoner Sues New York City for 16 Years of Wrongful Incarceration

Former New York prisoner Ricardo Jimenez, 55, filed suit in federal court for the Southern District of New York on August 2, 2023, accusing New York City and three former officers with its Police Department (NYPD), as well as the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office (DAO), of violating his civil ...

Oregon Parole Board Ordered to Consider Sex-Offense-Free Time When Setting Sex Offender Notification Levels

On November 28, 2023, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed a determination by the state Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision that denied a former state prisoner relief from registration as a sex offender without considering the time he had spent without recidivating.

When Dominique J. Sohappy was convicted in ...

Third Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity to Pennsylvania Jail Guards and PrimeCare in Detainee’s Overdose Death

by David M. Reutter

 

On December 6, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed denial of qualified immunity (QI) to defendant officials with Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg Police Department (HPD) and the contracted medical provider for Dauphin County Booking Center (DCBC), PrimeCare Medical, in a suit accusing ...

Ninth Circuit: Alleged Denial of Hepatitis C Treatment to Federal Prisoner in Washington Presents Valid Bivens Claim

by David M. Reutter

 

In a decision issued on December 11, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that the claim of a federal prisoner in Washington allegedly denied treatment for Hepatitis C did not require an extension of the government’s financial liability for violating ...

Washington, Virginia Advance Bills to Make Prison Calls Free

Lawmakers on both coasts of the U.S. sponsored legislation in January 2024 to make telecommunications free to state prisoners and their families. This follows a national trend to ease the financial burden on families with incarcerated loved ones and reduce the associated risk of reoffending for those who can’t afford ...

Colorado Program Employs Prisoners as Professors

David Carrillo, 49, was released from prison on January 31, 2024, a month after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) commuted his sentence. Polis praised Carrillo for completing a GED, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration while in prison. Carillo is also one of the first professor-prisoners, teaching ...

Georgia Sheriff Takes $160,000 Kickback from Pay Tel for Video Visitation

Under contract provisions that went into effect on January 1, 2024, prison telecom giant Pay Tel secured a monopoly on video visitation services at Georgia’s Glynn County Jail. A contract addendum inked in June 2023 says that the firm paid for the privilege with a $160,000 “technology grant” made to ...

Decoding Recidivism: Unraveling Its Complex Metrics and Real Impact

When the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) reported a drop in the recidivism rate for its state prisoners on December 15, 2023, it joined prison systems in Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia that have also celebrated lower recidivism rates.

But while tracking new criminal activities by convicted offenders after ...

Hope Against Hope

by Daryl Waters

A candid portrait of the experience of obtaining clemency in Louisiana—a route to freedom now severely threatened by a new carceral governor.

When the team of filmmakers behind the Visiting Room Project approached Daryl Waters about making a short profile of him, he had already been incarcerated ...

Tennessee DOC Faulted for High Staff Vacancy and Turnover, Inadequate Programs, PREA Violations

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of State Audit released a performance audit of the state Department of Correction (DOC) on December 12, 2023. Covering a four-year period ending the previous July 31, 2023, the audit found significant deficiencies at the DOC’s 10 state prisons, plus four more operated ...

“You Are Not Above the Law”: Former Indiana Sheriff Jailed for Contempt of Court

A $4.8 million embezzlement scheme involving his wife and daughter. A collection of cars and cigars purchased with the ill-gotten gains. More of the money diverted to a former county councilwoman for child support payments after their affair resulted in an out-of-wedlock birth. Commissary funds from the county jail plundered ...

$15,000 Net Award for Georgia Prisoner’s Delayed Hep-C Treatment

by David Reutter

 

On April 26, 2024, a long legal battle over his delayed Hepatitis C (HCV) treatment netted Georgia prisoner Ricky Johnson just over $15,000 from Defendant state prison officials and medical personnel. As PLN has reported, many prison systems have delayed HCV care due to the high ...

West Virginia Slammed for High Costs, Low Quality of Privatized Prison Food

Before food service in West Virginia’s prison system was taken over by Aramark Correctional Services, the nation’s largest for-profit food service provider in prisons and jails, all meals were prepared by prisoners, often using fresh vegetables grown in gardens and greenhouses as part of a culinary arts program.

But according ...

CoreCivic Sued by Former Detainee Stabbed at Shuttered Kansas Jail

by David M. Reutter

 

In a suit filed in Kansas state court on July 31, 2023, former detainee Joshua Braddy accused private prison profiteer CoreCivic of negligence that resulted in his stabbing at Leavenworth Detention Center (LDC), a now-shuttered lockup formerly operated for the federal government.

Before it closed ...

Seventh Circuit Finds No Problem With Surveillance of Chicago Detainees on Toilets

by David M. Reutter

 

On December 18, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Defendant officials of Cook County in a civil rights action alleging that surveillance cameras aimed at toilet areas in county courthouse holding cells violated detainees’ ...

$500,000 for Texas Teen Sodomized in Jail

According to final judgment entered in federal court for the Southern District of Texas on December 18, 2023, Brazos County paid $500,000 to a former detainee assaulted at the county jail in October 2022. The victim, identified as “A.R.,” was a minor at the time of the attack, during which ...

Warden, Eight Employees Arrested After Four Deaths at Wisconsin Prison in Eight Months

Just days before he was set to retire from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) Warden Randall Hepp was arrested on June 5, 2024, along with eight other staffers charged in the deaths of two state prisoners. Hepp and six of the other employees were charged ...

Pell Grant Restoration Not Reaching All Prisoners

Marina Bueno, an incarcerated writer, hopes to attend college but faces a harsh reality—no college classes are offered at her Florida women’s prison in Homestead. In fact, only 326 out of 80,000 state prisoners were enrolled in a college class as of January 2024.

Just three out of 28 state ...

Colorado Jail Guard Must Stand Trial for Opening Accused Sex Offender’s Cell, Subjecting Him to Assault

by David M. Reutter

 

On December 13, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado denied summary judgment to a jail guard who allegedly failed to protect a pretrial detainee from assault by another detainee. But the Court dismissed a municipal liability claim against Colorado’s Chaffee County, ...

Wrongfully Convicted Michigan Prisoners Wait for Compensation

Seven years after Michigan lawmakers adopted the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act (WICA)—and 17 years after state Sen. Steve Beida (D-Warren) began working to get it passed by a legislature then dominated by Republicans and signed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder (R)—a group of state lawmakers introduced legislation to close gaps in ...

Illinois Prisoner Awarded Over $822,000 For Hernia Care Denied by Wexford Health

by Douglas Ankney

 

On April 2, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois denied relief to Wexford Health Sources, Inc., the private healthcare contractor for the state Department of Corrections (DOC), from a $750,000 jury verdict for delayed surgery that left a state prisoner to ...

Minnesota Jailers Shrug Off Detainee’s Agony from Fatal Perforated Bowel as Withdrawal Symptoms

Arriving at the Hennepin County Jail in July 2022, Lucas Bellamy, 41, warned staffers at the Minneapolis lockup that he had ingested a bag of drugs. Yet when he died three days later of a perforated bowel, he had been given nothing more than anti-acid medication. Why? Because jailers assumed ...

Hearing-Impaired Massachusetts Prisoners Win ADA Case

On January 17, 2024, the federal court for the District of Massachusetts issued a ruling in a long-running case brought by hearing-impaired state prisoners, finding that the state Department of Correction (DOC) had violated their rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ch. 126 ...

Virginia Legislature Tables “Second-Look” Bills

Virginia’s General Assembly tabled a pair of bills that would have provided a path to early release for state prisoners after serving at least 15 years with good behavior, with Senators continuing S.B. 427 to next year’s session on February 28, 2024, and the House of Representatives leaving H.B. 834 ...

Federal Sentencing Guidelines Place Heavy Burden on Incarcerated Victims of Sexual Assaults

by David M. Reutter

 

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) marked a critical step in condemning and curbing sexual assault and harassment in jails and prisons. Sadly, rape, groping and sexual harassment still occur regularly in America’s gulags, with guards often the perpetrators. Now a new provision in U.S. ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Slows the Hand That State DOC Sticks Into Prisoners’ Pockets

by David M. Reutter

 

On December 19, 2023, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled for a prisoner who claimed that the state Department of Corrections (DOC) violated his civil rights by upping the rate at which it docked his prison pay “without pre-deprivation notice and an opportunity to be ...

Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Retaliation Claim By Federal Prisoner Against Guard in Illinois Lockup Who Saw Grievance Against Him

by Matt Clarke

 

On November 28, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit declined to let a federal prisoner sue officials with the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) who allegedly put him in harm’s way at an Illinois lockup. The decision was predictable, given the adamant ...

$8.9 Million Settlement Reached for N.Y. Prisoner’s Death Following Guards’ Baton Beating

by David M. Reutter

 

On February 13, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York gave final approval to a settlement paying $8.9 million from the state to the family of Terry L. Cooper, Jr. a prisoner who died after a violent clash with state ...

Mentally Ill Detainee Allegedly Tasered and Starved to Death At South Carolina Jail

A suit removed to federal court for the District of South Carolina on December 15, 2023, accuses Bamberg County and its jailers of Tasering a 51-year-old mentally ill detainee and starving him to death the year before. The jail medical contractor, Southern Healthcare Partners (SHP), was also named as a ...

Maryland County Wins Fight to Let Bureaucrats Make Pretrial Release Decisions

by David M. Reutter

 

There’s something rotten with bail decisions in Prince George’s County, but as of March 29, 2024, the federal court for the District of Maryland isn’t going to do anything about it. That was the date it granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and ...

Eighth Circuit Largely Restores Qualified Immunity to Minnesota Jail Guards in Use of Force on Bipolar Prisoner

by David M. Reutter

 

On December 26, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit largely reversed a lower court and restored qualified immunity (QI) to guards at Minnesota’s Washington County Jail (WCJ) in a prisoner’s claim that they either used excessive force against him or failed ...

Maryland Prisoner Prevails in Challenge to Denial of Public Records Requests

As PLN has reported, prison and jail employees have been identified in racist or extremist groups. [See: PLN, Feb. 2022, p.40.] The problem was manifested in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when participating members of the Oathkeepers and other white supremacist organizations included law ...

$2 Million Settlement in Death of Mentally Disabled Detainee Stripped of Anti-Seizure Device at Colorado Jail

by David M. Reutter

 

On May 1, 2023, following an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that reversed a grant of summary judgment to a guard at Colorado’s Mesa County Detention Facility (MCDF), a $2 million settlement was reached in a suit filed by ...

Two Who Escaped from Arkansas Jail Recaptured

Two detainees were back in custody a week after breaking out of W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center in Arkansas’ Jefferson County on January 22, 2024. Noah Roush, 22, and Jatonia Bryant, 23, cut a hole in the ceiling of a shower, another in the roof above that, and then ...

Despite Unemployment Spike, Alabama Refuses Prisoners Work-Release Paroles

Alabama is notoriously stingy with parole grants to eligible prisoners, but it also leaves many to languish in work-release centers, where the unemployment rate in January 2024 hit 26%—far above the state’s overall rate of just 2.9%

Though numbering just 350 of the state’s 20,469 prisoners, the unemployed highlight the ...

Ohio Supreme Court Says Prisoner’s ‘Kite’ Is Public Record, But Denies Damages for Withholding It

by Matt Clarke

 

On November 22, 2023, the Supreme Court of Ohio reiterated that a prisoner’s “kite”—his communication with staff—is a public record subject to disclosure upon request. Moreover, the Court added, a prisoner may bring a petition for a writ of mandamus to enforce his right to a ...

$56.7 Million Awarded to “Harlem Park Three,” Exonerated of Baltimore Murder After 36 Years in Prison

by David M. Reutter

 

On September 29, 2023, Maryland’s Baltimore Board of Estimates approved a $48 million settlement for former state prisoners Alfred Chestnut, Andrew Stewart, Jr. and Ransom Watkins, all 56, who were released from prison on November 25, 2019, after serving 36 years for a murder they ...

Missouri Muslim Prisoners Advance Suit Against Guards For Assault During Prayer

by Doug Ankney

 

On December 14, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri granted only part of a motion by defendant state prison officials to dismiss a complaint filed by Muslim state prisoners, who accused guards of beating and pepper-spraying them while they were praying ...

Sixth Circuit Revives Ohio Prisoner’s Retaliation Claim That Guards Got Him Kicked Out of Religious Group

by David M. Reutter

 

On December 13, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed dismissal of an Equal Protection Clause claim by Ohio prisoner Lyle Heyward that officials frustrated his attempts to celebrate Ramadan. However, dismissal was affirmed for companion claims that they also violated ...

$4 Million Settlement in Class Action Challenging Unconstitutional Conditions at West Virginia Jail

by David M. Reutter

 

West Virginia Division of Corrections (WVDC) officials agreed to pay $4 million on November 8, 2023, to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging unconstitutional conditions at the Southern Regional Jail (SRJ) in Raleigh County. The settlement provided for a cash payment to current and former detainee ...

Transgender Maryland Prisoner’s Suit Accuses Guard of Shower Rape

On October 2, 2023, transgender Maryland prisoner Dmitry Pronin, known now as Leyleen Lillith Aquino, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, alleging that she was raped in a state prison shower area by a guard.

            Pronin, 39, was incarcerated by ...

Two Prisoners Removed from Texas Death Row Due to Intellectual Disability

by David M. Reutter

 

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals resentenced death row prisoner Tomas Raul Gallo, 49, to life imprisonment on April 5, 2024, approving an agreement by prosecutors that Gallo’s intellectual disability (ID) prohibits his execution. The agreement further acknowledges that Gallo’s death sentence violated his due ...

News in Brief

Alabama: Tyree Lynette Hoyle, 36, resigned from her guard job with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) after her arrest for contraband smuggling on April 24, 2024. The Birmingham News reported that Hoyle allegedly met an unnamed fellow guard in November 2023 at the Montgomery Zoo, where she accepted three ...