1. ALABAMA —
(Associated Press) Alabama’s plan to sell $725 million in bonds to finance the construction of two new supersize prisons is being opposed by advocacy groups. The organizations formed the Communities Not Prisons coalition to fight the state’s plan for dealing with Alabama’s prison problems, saying it ignores the bigger problems of staffing levels and leadership and the underlying issue of mass incarceration. This project would “marry our state to mass incarceration for the better part of this century. It means that Alabamians, and Black Alabamians in particular, will continue to be incarcerated and brutalized by the Alabama Department of Corrections on a breathtaking scale,” said Veronica Johnson, executive director of one of the coalition groups. Alabama is facing an ongoing lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice over the conditions in its prisons.
2. TEXAS —
(AP) Texas’ struggling juvenile prison system, which serves five states in total, is giving employees 15% pay raises to help address staffing shortages and high staff turnover. The staffing situation has become so dire it’s forced officials to stop accepting new children into their facilities. The pay raises are “the first step in stabilizing the agency,” said Interim Executive Director Shandra Carter.
3. ARIZONA —
(AP) In a “blistering verdict,” U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver ruled Arizona prison officials have been acting with “deliberate indifference” to the risks of inadequate care for prisoners that has led to preventable deaths. The judge criticized Corrections Director David Shinn for claiming that prisoners often have greater access to health services than people who aren’t locked up in his sworn testimony. Shinn’s claim “is completely detached from reality,” Silver wrote. “Given the overwhelming evidence and repeated instances of insufficient care leading to suffering and death, Defendant Shinn could not possibly believe prisoners have the same access to care as people in the community.” Arizona could be headed for a federal oversight receivership of its prisoners health care, similar to the one ordered for prisons in other states such as California.
4. ARIZONA —
(AP) A three-member U.S. appeals court panel from the 9th Circuit has sided with Arizona Department of Corrections’ (DOC) ban on sexually explicit material for inmates, in the process denying Prison Legal News’ claims of First Amendment violations for censorship. An Arizona DOC rule prohibiting prisoners from “sending, receiving or possessing sexually explicit material or content seen as ‘detrimental’ to the safety and operation of prison facilities,” was enacted in 2010 after staff, mostly females, complained inmates were harassing them with sexual images. Prison Legal News won an initial lawsuit in 2019 challenging the ban, but the 9th Circuit panel ruled the censorship was not a violation if officials were keeping incarcerated people from accessing content that “would make prisons less safe.”
5. KANSAS —
(AP) A county government in Kansas has agreed to pay a $12.5 million settlement to Lamonte McIntyre and his mother after he spent 23 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit. McIntyre and his mother sued the county government and its former police detective, Roger Golubski, who they accuse of coercing the mother into sex and then framing the then teenage McIntyre for a double homicide because she rejected the detective’s later sexual advances. They also allege that “Golubski abused dozens of Black women for years and many officers were aware of his conduct.”
6. VIRGINIA — (AP) Virginia lawmakers recently approved a budget amendment from Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin that excludes an estimated 8,000 incarcerated people with violent offenses combined with a non-violent offense from receiving earned sentence credits for good behavior under an expanded 2020 state law. Relatives and advocates for the affected incarcerated people contend the retroactive reversal cruelly cancelled reunion and homecoming plans and caused hardship for incarcerated people and their families. “Using this back-door method days before they were supposed to get out was, to me, hugely wrong,” said Christopher Ford, whose father was schedule to be released after serving 25 years of a 28-year sentence for a murder-for-hire scheme. “I understand the fears some people have (about releasing him from prison), but there are people who have changed during their time. My father is not the same person he was in 1997 when he committed these crimes.”
7. OREGON —
(AP) Administrators at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, are denying showers to prisoners engaged in a hunger strike, according to a court filing by a federal public defender. The hunger strike was to protest conditions inside the facility’s detention center, and the day after it started, the filing claims prison warden DeWayne Hendrix issued a memo saying showers were postponed indefinitely in that unit “due to continued threats of assault to staff.” Deteriorating conditions in the Sheridan prison have been causing complaints and concerns since the pandemic started in 2020.
8. PENNSYLVANIA —
(Bloomberg Law) A prison health-care provider, Corizon, has been ordered to turn over documents related to an incarcerated man’s death after been denied that it was shielded from discovery by the Patient Safety Quality Improvement Act’s privilege clause for “patient safety work products.” Jonathan Gleaves Jr. died while in the custody of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons while Corizon conducted the mortality review to assess the circumstances and cause of his death. Gleaves’ estate sued the department and Corizon, requesting a copy of the mortality review as part of the discovery process.
9. PENNSYLVANIA —
(WHYY-PBS Philadelphia) The United Way is offering residents of the City of Brotherly Love the opportunity to clear their criminal records for free by sponsoring 30 record-clearing clinics staffed with lawyers. “This is just a mathematics game. If you increase the number of clinics, and you spread them around the city in an equitable way… it should provide equal access to individuals,” said Michael Banks, who is helping with the effort on behalf of the city and the United Way. Under Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law, non-convictions, summary offenses, and most nonviolent misdemeanors, including drunk driving, shoplifting, and prostitution, can be sealed after 60 days and most other convictions after a decade, as long as another crime has not been committed since and all court fines and fees have been paid in full.