Tag Archive: lawsuits

North Carolina: Inmates win settlement after they were forced to sit naked in jail cells

settle-out-of-court

From Charlotte Observer

Two young offenders who contend they were forced to sit naked in their cells at the Alexander County jail have reached a legal settlement with the county.

Under the terms of the settlement, the county’s insurance company will pay former inmates Justin Helton and Austin Saddler $15,000 each, according to a source knowledgeable about the settlement.

The two were 16 in 2011 when they say they were forced to go naked for days at a time, sometimes in full view of adult inmates. They allege they were also deprived of their mattresses and their belongings as punishment for trying to tattoo themselves.

When they entered the hallway for meals and showers they contend they were forced to do so completely naked. Their allegations first became public in an Observer story published last year.

Wendy Greene, the Raleigh lawyer who represented the young men, contends that the punishment described by her clients “was not an isolated incident” at the jail in Taylorsville, 60 miles northwest of Charlotte.

(more…)

Supreme Court rules for Native American inmates in Alabama

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

Doug Dark Horns Bailey talks about trying to practice his religious beliefs during the more than 18 years he spent in prison.

From Montgomery Observer

The U.S. Supreme Court says a lower court must reconsider whether Native Americans in Alabama prisons can have longer hair.

The high court on Monday reversed an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had upheld an Alabama Department of Corrections policy saying Native American inmates had to keep their hair cut short, which Native Americans argue deny them their right to religious expression.

As is often the case, the justices did not issue an opinion with its ruling, but ordered the 11th Circuit to reconsider the decision in light of its ruling last week in Holt v. Hobbs. In that case, the court ruled that the Arkansas Department of Correction could not deny a Muslim inmate’s request to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs, saying the state had failed to show a compelling reason to deny the request.

Bob Horton, a spokesman for ADOC, said in a statement that the decision was expected.

“Until the 11th Circuit has a hearing and offers a ruling, ADOC will continue to enforce its current policy,” the statement said.

(more…)

Army of the 12 Monkeys Update

12_monkeysFrom Sean Swain.org

Update on the A12M Frame Up
The state has filed an answer to the lawsuit, which far as we can tell, summarily denies every allegation without evidence or argument, claims that Sean is not allowed to sue them, and requests that the court charge Sean extra fees for even trying. At the same time, the paralegal at OSP is making up reasons to not give Sean access to legal materials he needs to work on his response. A total coincidence, we’re sure. See Sean’s correspondence below for details on that.

In summary, the prisoncrats are scared, belligerent and desperate. As usual.

Wanna help ratchet up the pressure?

If so, you can:
1. Call OSP at 330-743-0700 and request to speak with Darnell Brady, politely ask them why Sean is being denied access to legal materials while working on a lawsuit against the ODRC.
2. Call the Warden at the above number plus extension 2600 and politely ask why Darnell Brady is refusing to give legal materials to prisoners. Remind the Warden that he and other OSP staff are currently not parties in Sean’s lawsuit, because, up until this point, we don’t have evidence that they have participated in the coordinated targeting and violation of Sean’s rights.
3. Call the ODRC legal services boss Stephen Gray and politely ask him (or his secretary) if Trevor Clark, the key orchestrator of  repression against Sean Swain is still working there. If they say “yes,” then ask “why?”  Stephen’s number is 614-752-1765.
4. Contact the Ohio Attny General, (614) 466-4986 and politely request that they demonstrate the thinnest pretense of  respecting constitutional rights or the rule of law by getting their pants sued off fair and square. Tell them that you enjoy the game where we pretend this is a democratic country and that, by breaking all the rules of that game they are making your feelings hurt. If they ask what you’re talking about, you can say something like… “well, everything you do really, but particularly how you’re cheating at SWAIN v MOHR, ET AL. Case #4:14-cv-02074.”

Whatever you do, don’t email anything unpleasant to thomas.miller@ohioattorneygeneral.gov from an anonymous email account. That would be rude, and we know the rules of the game are we’ve always gotta be polite while communicating with our oppressors.

Enjoy Sean’s correspondence on the subject… (more…)

California Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor

jailbreak!From Think Progress/ by Nicole Flatow

Out of California’s years-long litigation over reducing the population of prisons deemed unconstitutionally overcrowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obstacle to addressing the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration has emerged: The utility of cheap prison labor.

In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs.

The dispute culminated Friday, when a three-judge federal panel ordered California to expand an early parole program. California now has no choice but to broaden a program known as 2-for-1 credits that gives inmates who meet certain milestones the opportunity to have their sentences reduced. But California’s objections raise troubling questions about whether prison labor creates perverse incentives to keep inmates in prison even when they don’t need to be there. (more…)

Former Chief of Prisons in Mississippi, Is Arraigned On Corruption Charges

mississippicorruptionFrom New York Times

Christopher B. Epps, a former state corrections commissioner in Mississippi, was arraigned in federal court on Thursday on charges of participating in a corruption scheme in which he received nearly a million dollars from a contractor who paid off Mr. Epps’s home mortgage and helped him buy a beach condominium.

A 49-count federal indictment unsealed Thursday documents a complex conspiracy dating to 2007 in which Mr. Epps is accused of receiving dozens of bribes totaling as much as $900,000 in exchange for directing lucrative state prison contracts to firms connected to Cecil McCrory, a local businessman and former state legislator. Both men pleaded not guilty Thursday before a federal magistrate in Jackson, Miss.

The indictment says that Mr. McCrory operated several companies that had contracts with the state, including for prison administration, commissary services and evaluating Medicaid eligibility across the state prison system. (more…)

In Legal Battle Over Grand-Jury Secrecy, Ninth Circuit Court Sides with The Stranger

The doors of the Ninth Circuit courthouse in downtown Seattle—the same courthouse that was vandalized on May Day 2012, sparking very aggressive law-enforcement activity over people's political beliefs.

The doors of the Ninth Circuit courthouse in downtown Seattle—the same courthouse that was vandalized on May Day 2012, sparking very aggressive law-enforcement activity over people’s political beliefs.

From The Stranger

Well, the court sided with The Stranger for the most part.

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit published its opinion about our ongoing fight with the federal government over how secret its grand jury proceedings should be. The short version: They wanted automatic and almost total secrecy and opacity, we wanted transparency—or at least some clearly argued standards about why certain documents should be sealed and kept away from the public. On Friday, the court found in our favor. We won. Mostly.

The background: In the summer of 2012, law-enforcement officials began handing subpoenas to activists around the Northwest, ordering them to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle. These weren’t all polite knocks on the door—in some instances, agents battered their way into activists’ homes before sunrise with guns drawn. The grand jury was supposedly investigating what happened on May Day, 2012, when demonstrators in an anti-capitalist march smashed out the windows of stores, banks, and the Ninth Circuit Federal Courthouse downtown.

The investigation landed several political activists in jail for months. Some, like Matthew Duran and Katherine “Kteeo” Olejnik, spent a few of those months in solitary confinement for reasons the federal government and the detention facility still refuse to explain.

These activists weren’t accused of any crime—prosecutors acknowledged they weren’t even in town on May Day. They were imprisoned because they appeared before the grand jury as ordered but refused to answer troubling questions about other people’s social habits and political opinions. (more…)

Daniel McGowan Sues the BOP

daniel_mcgowan_FREE!From HuffPost:

Daniel McGowan may have been the first person thrown in solitary confinement for writing a HuffPost blog. Now he’ll be the first person to sue the Bureau of Prisons over it.

The environmental activist and former prisoner filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the prison system over an April 2013 incident in which U.S. Marshals threw him in a Brooklyn federal jail — ironically, for criticizing earlier violations of his free speech.

“The Bureau of Prisons does not like criticism and their reaction was unsurprisingly to try and crush someone who stepped out of line,” McGowan told HuffPost Tuesday in an email.

After a federal judge labeled him a terrorist in 2007 for arson committed with the Earth Liberation Front, McGowan spent years in some of the federal prison system’s most restrictive prisons, the communication management units (CMUs). The Bureau of Prisons denies it, but internal prison files strongly suggest McGowan was placed there because of his continued outspoken association with the environmental movement. (more…)

Russell Maroon Shoatz released from solitary confinement – first time in general population in more than 22 years

maroonFrom Abolitionist Law Center

February 20, 2014: Pittsburgh PA —  Russell Maroon Shoatz was released from solitary confinement into the general prison population at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Graterford this morning, ending more than 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement. The news was confirmed by Maroon during a legal call with an attorney from the Abolitionist Law Center.

Maroon’s son, Russell Shoatz III, said, “We are very excited that this day has finally come. My father being released from solitary confinement is proof of the power of people organizing against injustice, and the importance of building strong coalitions. I especially want to thank all of those who have supported the collective struggle to end my father’s solitary confinement, including my siblings and members of the Shoatz family, the Human Rights Coalition, Abolitionist Law Center, Scientific Soul Sessions, the entire legal team, UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, the 5 Nobel Peace Laureates, the National Lawyers Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights, along with the dozens of other organizations and thousands of individuals who have participated in this effort.”

The move comes after Maroon, who turned 70-years-old in August 2013, was transferred to three different Pennsylvania prisons in the past nine months. It marks the first time that Shoatz has been in the general prison population in the state of Pennsylvania since 1983, when he was placed in solitary confinement due to his work with the Pennsylvania Association of Lifers to abolish life-without-parole sentences. For a 17-month period between 1989-1991, Maroon was held in the general prison population at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. (more…)

Pharmacy won’t provide lethal drug for Missouri execution

Revamped lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison supplied by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Revamped lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison supplied by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

From RT

An Oklahoma pharmacy has agreed not to supply compounded pentobarbital for an upcoming execution in Missouri, following a lawsuit filed by the convict arguing the substance is likely to cause “ultimately inhumane pain.”

The lawsuit was filed by Michael Taylor, whose execution is scheduled for February 26 and who alleged that Missouri could obtain the lethal drug – pentobarbital – from the Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa.

A federal judge ruled last week that the pharmacy must suspend the supply of the drug to Missouri until further review. The Apothecary Shoppe chose to settle the case out of court.

The Apothecary Shoppe has agreed that it will not prepare or provide pentobarbital or any other drug for use in the execution of Michael Taylor,” Carrie Apfel, Taylor’s attorney, said in a written statement, according to St Louis Public Radio. She also said the pharmacy had not sold any drugs to the Department of Corrections for this execution yet.

The settlement comes as US states which implement capital punishment face a growing shortage of lethal substances, following the 2011 decision by the EU to stop altogether the sale and export to the US of drugs that could potentially be used for executions. (more…)

Federal judge upholds the government’s right to search electronics at the border

borderFrom The Verge

A US judge has declared that the government can still search and confiscate your electronic devices when you cross the border — dismissing a lawsuit against the policy largely on the grounds that such searches are rare occurrences.

In a ruling released on Tuesday, a judge out of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York declared that the lawsuit plaintiffs didn’t have grounds for their case. “There is not a substantial risk that their electronic devices will be subject to a search or seizure without reasonable suspicion,” he noted. And even if the lawsuit had moved forward, the judge added that the government doesn’t need reasonable suspicion to confiscate or search devices like laptops or cellphones. (more…)