By Matt Clarke In an unpublished ruling, the Fifth Circuit held on April 1, 2014 that a Texas prisoner’s sleep deprivation-based challenge to the security schedule used by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) may state a valid claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Michael Garrett, incarcerated…

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  The confessed leader of a powerful gang inside the Baltimore City Detention Center was the government’s star witness at the trial of eight remaining defendants in widespread racketeering, drug smuggling, bribery, extortion and money laundering operation that resulted in criminal charges against dozens of guards, prisoners, jail workers, and other defendants. Tavon “Bulldog” White,…

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By Prison Legal News

In the wake of a Tennessee federal district court hearing in a lawsuit challenging conditions at the Maury County Jail (MCJ), the number of suits filed by prisoners against the jail has nearly doubled.

At a September 2012 hearing, prisoners held at the MCJ testified they were losing weight and that the facility was overcrowded and infested with brown recluse spiders. They also claimed their requests for medical attention were often ignored.

At least 23 lawsuits concerning conditions at the MCJ have been filed. County Attorney Daniel Murphy, however, told the federal court at an October 29, 2012 hearing that the jail had made changes in response to prisoners’ complaints; for example, meals were increased from 2,700 calories daily to 2,900. He also said new meal trays were provided, hygiene supplies such as toothpaste and shampoo have been increased, and old mattresses, which were worn and moldy, are being replaced.

Murphy further noted that the MCJ had formalized its grievance and medical request procedures and that 25 state prisoners had been transferred out of the facility to state prisons, to address overcrowding.

U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes commended the MCJ on taking action, but still was concerned about “the things that you can plainly see.”

“[T]he bottom line here is that protecting the health of the inmates is the most important thing,” he said. “You still have the steel doors on the showers that are rusted, and the vents in the showers are heavily rusted.”

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A new report says state jails in Texas are ineffective, expensive, and actually result in higher recidivism rates than Texas prisons.The report from the Texas Public Policy Foundation suggests taxpayers are getting a bad deal on their tax dollars and public safety.The report’s author, Jeanette Moll, says through the research they have found state jails…

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By Christopher Zoukis

A growing and troubling trend has emerged within the prison consulting industry: persons spending time in prison, being released, and opening their doors as prison consultants, when they really have no business doing so in the first place.  This also applies to attorneys who have no real experience with the Federal Bureau of Prisons or state departments of correction, yet still advertise that they can assist with in-prison matters.  While there are a few glowing examples of how this can work out for the best (Brandon Sample and Michael Santos are two examples of ex-prisoners, and Alan Ellis and Todd Bussert are examples of attorneys who know what they are doing), there are also firms which operate on hope, fear, and a swindler’s charm.  One of the areas these swindlers profit immensely from is in allegedly brokering transfers for currently incarcerated inmates.  This interview serves as a warning against such swindlers, and aims to alert Prison Law Blog readers as to how the process actually works and how federal prisoners themselves can attempt to effect prison transfers on their own.

Jack Donson is the president of My Federal Prison Consultants (www.MFPCLLC.com).  During his career as a Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Case Manager and Case Management Coordinator (CMC), Jack was an integral part of the prison transfer process.  Currently, in Jack’s consulting business, he has come across many family members of prisoners who are concerned for their loved ones and have been scammed by nefarious “prison consultants.”  Due to this growing trend, he has asked to speak publicly about this matter, and the Prison Law Blog is glad to provide the platform for him to do so.

Christopher Zoukis: To start, please introduce yourself again to the Prison Law Blog readership.

Jack Donson: My name is Jack Donson.  I retired from Federal Bureau of Prisons’ in 2011 after a 23-year career as case manager and case management coordinator.  Currently, my principle employment is as the President of My Federal Prison Consultants (www.MFPCLLC.com), a Manhattan-based prison consulting firm.  I’m also the Director of Programs and Case Management at FedCURE, a Special Issues Chapter of Citizens United for the Reformation of Errants (CURE).  In addition, I serve as Executive Director for a new advocacy organization called Out For Good (O4G) and serve on the corrections committees of the ABD and NACDL.  I am very much plugged into the federal prison reform movement, legislation and the prison consulting arena.

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Inmates incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons are housed in communal living settings.  These “housing units” consist of either a number of cells or a dormitory.  Generally speaking, dorms are utilized at lower security institutions (e.g., federal prison camps and low-security federal prisons), while cells are utilized at higher security institutions (e.g., medium-security federal…

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