Tag Archive: lawsuits

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…)

Woodfox: Daily Death Row strip searches left him feeling ‘hopeless’

woodfoxFrom The Advocate

Albert Woodfox, serving life in prison for the 1972 murder of a security officer at Angola, told a federal judge Wednesday in Baton Rouge that multiple, daily strip searches and visual body cavity inspections leave him “helpless, hopeless.”

Woodfox, 66, is a maximum-security prisoner at the David Wade Correctional Center near Homer in Claiborne Parish. He is the last of the so-called Angola Three remaining in prison.

Woodfox seeks a court ruling that would end such searches as routine prison policy any time he is removed from his cell block for outdoor exercise, visits to the infirmary, visits from friends or family and discussions with his attorneys. (more…)

In States That “Reduce” Their Use of Solitary Confinement, Suffering Continues for Those Left Behind

tapley-supermax-photo-300x198From Solitary Watch

Under pressure from activists, lawsuits, and even a few reformers within the corrections system, several states have significantly reduced the number of people they hold in solitary confinement in their prison systems. These reductions, achieved largely through “reclassifying” prisoners and returning the least troublesome ones to the general population, have rightly been celebrated by opponents of solitary confinement.

In recent months, however, reports by organizations and investigative journalists have documented what happens to those who remain behind when the use of solitary is “reduced” rather than eliminated. In doing so, they show the pitfalls involved in opposing the “overuse” of solitary, rather than confronting all extreme isolation as torture. (more…)

Suit: Mentally ill NC inmate often pepper sprayed

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as "The Hole."

Questions have been raised about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special 192-bed section at Central Prison known as “The Hole.”

by Michael Biesecker/ from WNCN

Lawyers for an inmate who suffers from a serious mental illness say he was abused at North Carolina’s Central Prison by guards who repeatedly doused him with pepper spray while he was locked in a tiny cell.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and a victim of childhood sexual abuse, inmate Jerry C. Williams has spent much of his 57 years in state psychiatric hospitals and prisons. He was first arrested at age 10 for shoplifting and began hearing voices in his head in his late teens, according to his prison mental health evaluation.

He was most recently sentenced in 2002 by a judge in his native Wayne County to more than 28 years in prison for being a habitual felon, following a lengthy record of convictions for trespassing, assault and burglary. He has an IQ of 76 that provides him with “borderline Intellectual functioning,” according to prison records. (more…)

Pelican Bay solitary confinement case set to expand

guardtowerpelicanbayFrom Los Angeles Times

OAKLAND — A federal judge Thursday said she is likely to allow a lawsuit alleging that solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison amount to psychological torture, to be expanded from the cases of 10 prisoners to include about 1,100 inmates now held in indefinite isolation.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken expressed concern at a hearing, however, that changes the state has made in how it identifies inmates for isolation means those prisoners won’t be included in the pending class-action lawsuit.

What’s more, lawyers for the state say they are in the process of moving some existing prisoners out of confinement in Pelican Bay’s super-maximum security isolation cells.

“I’m wondering how I would manage a class that has people moving in and out,” Wilken said. Nevertheless, she used Thursday’s hearing in Oakland to set Nov. 3, 2014, for the trial. Her ruling over whether that trial will be a class action, or remain confined to the few inmates who filed the case, is yet to be decided. (more…)

Native-American inmates in Alabama continue fight over prison system’s rule against having long hair

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.

11th Circuit ruling sided with Ala. Corrections Department

From Montgomery Advertiser

Doug Dark Horns Bailey held the silver-and-brown strands of his hair, gathered in two tails running down his back. This, he said, was sacred.

“Long before science ever heard of DNA, our ancestors knew our essence was contained in our hair,” said Bailey, an artist and Creek Indian who lives in Wetumpka. “Long, long before they ever started using DNA, we believed our essence was in our hair. That’s why we don’t cut it.”

While serving an 18-year sentence for robbery in the Alabama prison system, Bailey reconnected with his faith, and said it was key to helping him reform his ways and stay out of legal trouble.

“I just felt reconnected again,” he said. “I felt like myself again. I felt like a real individual, and not some lost, castaway soul.”

Bailey, released in 2004, is a plaintiff in a long-running suit brought by Native-American inmates against the Alabama Department of Corrections over religious rights. The suit, which dates back to 1993, has opened the door for some practices for inmates. However, DOC policies require all male inmates to keep hair cut short, and that remains a point of contention. (more…)

Judge to hear arguments in Central Prison lawsuit

Central_Prison315_280By EMERY P. DALESIO, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge was scheduled to hear arguments Thursday about dismissing a lawsuit that accuses guards at North Carolina’s maximum security prison of sadistically beating inmates, resulting in broken bones and wheelchair confinement.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle planned to consider whether there is enough evidence already presented in court documents to go ahead with the lawsuit on behalf of eight inmates at Central Prison in Raleigh.

The inmates accuse 19 correctional officers of taking handcuffed and shackled inmates from solitary confinement cells where they were placed for disciplinary reasons to blind spots out of view of security cameras, then severely beating them. Former prison administrators Gerald Branker and Kenneth Lassister are accused in the lawsuit of failing in their duties for not developing policies on investigating inmate abuse complaints and to preserve video tapes that might contain evidence from being erased.

“For years, the inmates of Unit One have pursued every avenue available to them to put an end to the violence that is routinely inflicted upon them. They have filed grievances, engaged in letter writing campaigns to public officials, gone on hunger strikes, and exhausted all of the administrative remedies available to them. The violence has not stopped,” wrote Elizabeth Simpson, an attorney for North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services representing the inmates. (more…)

Daniel McGowan Loses Lawsuit Against Bureau Of Prisons

daniel_mcgowan_FREE!By Matt Sledge / Huffington Post

A federal court has dismissed an environmental activist’s claims against the U.S. Bureau of Prisons over a restrictive prison wing he was housed in, but a lawsuit filed by other prisoners against the government over its restrictive communication management units continues.

Daniel McGowan, 39, served seven years in federal prison for arson connected with the Earth Liberation Front, four of them in the secretive communication management units, or CMUs, dubbed “Little Guantanamo” by critics.

Along with dozens of other mostly Muslim inmates, McGowan’s phone calls with the outside world and physical contact with his family were severely limited. Even after he was released to a halfway house, McGowan was briefly tossed back into prison this year for writing a Huffington Post blog entry detailing his case. (more…)

North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services On The Chopping Block

jailNCPLS is encouraging people to contact their state house representatives to support their funding (find your representative here)

From NC Policy Watch

Moving the State Bureau of Investigation from Attorney General to Department of Public Safety oversight may have been one of the lead stories coming out of the Senate budget released on Monday, but there’s several other head-scratching and fiscally short-sighted ideas tucked away in there.

Among them: slashing funding for North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the group providing the often constitutionally-mandated legal assistance for some 37,000 inmates in state corrections facilities.

The Senate proposal calls for the elimination of the $2.89 million contract with Prisoner Legal Services, “in favor of prison legal terminals provided by Department of Public Safety.” (more…)