By Christopher Zoukis For more than 20 years, Prison Legal News has been “dedicated to protecting human rights” in the form of an independent monthly magazine focusing on criminal justice-related issues. As criminal justice is a broad-ranging topic, most of the publication’s attention is given to prison and prisoner related issues. Published by the Human…

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By Christopher Zoukis On March 12, 2013, USA Today ran an opinion piece entitled “Drivers Aren’t High, Still Busted for DUI.”  This editorial, authored by EJ Montini, presented a very troubling situation which is repeating itself time and time again in numerous cities across the country.  Simply stated, persons who have utilized drugs — say, marijuana —…

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By Christopher Zoukis The term “jailhouse lawyer” has been a polarizing one for many years.  To some, these men and women are the saviors of those who lack funds or legal wherewithal to mount a collateral attack upon an unjust criminal conviction or sentence.  They are considered the champions of those behind bars whose rights…

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By Christopher Zoukis In Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977), the Supreme Court held that “the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the…

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By Mike Brodheim and Alex Friedmann WITH SEVEN FACILITIES THAT HOUSE from 15,000 to 18,000 prisoners, Los Angeles County’s jail system is the nation’s largest – and, arguably, among the most dangerous in terms of staff-on-prisoner violence. The jail system, operated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), is facing an investigation by the…

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker Sherriff Joe Arpaio is a controversial public figure known for his “tough on crime” policy.Many folks are not fond of Sheriff Joe, but despite that every year he is reelected by people of Maricopa County in Phoenix, Arizona. The reason for Apraio’s unpopular status with a portion of the population is his aggressive…

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By Christopher Zoukis The Seventh Circuit has ruled that when prison officials intentionally destroy videotaped evidence of an alleged instance of excessive force, a suing prisoner is not entitled to an “adverse inference” jury instruction unless he can show that the prison’s intentional destruction of the evidence was done in bad faith. Larry Bracey is…

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