By Christopher Zoukis Pfizer, Inc., the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, recently announced new restrictions on the distribution of drugs used to execute prisoners. The May 13, 2016 announcement detailed “distribution restrictions” that the company is placing on certain drugs used in lethal injection protocols, including pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, propofol, midazolam, hydromorphone, rocuronium bromide and…

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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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By Prison Legal News

On April 24, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a former pretrial detainee at the Edgar County Jail (ECJ) in Illinois stated a claim concerning unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the facility. The appellate court also affirmed the dismissal of a claim alleging deliberate indifference to the detainee’s medical needs.

Over a period of two-and-a-half years, Richard D. Budd served three stints at ECJ as a pretrial detainee. He initially spent 45 days at the jail following a 2009 arrest. During that time he was confined with eight other detainees in an area of the facility intended for three; he had to sleep on the floor alongside broken windows and damaged toilets.

After another arrest two years later, Budd was placed in a section of the ECJ where overcrowded conditions again forced him and other prisoners to sleep on the floor amid water from a shower leak. The cells had broken windows, exposed wiring, extensive rust, sinks without running water, toilets covered in mold and spider webs, and a broken heating system. ECJ staff did not provide prisoners with cleaning supplies.

Four months later, Budd was again arrested and had to sleep on the floor in an ECJ cellblock. The cell’s vents were blocked, the heating and air conditioning systems did not work, and detainees were denied recreation. While living in these conditions, something scratched or bit Budd’s leg, resulting in an infection and swelling. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment after contacting the Sheriff.

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By Joseph Dole 

Many are aware of the dire fiscal state that Illinois currently finds itself in. One of the main causes of this has been years of passing laws without any consideration of the financial burdens of their enactment, and one of the most egregious examples concerns Illinois’ Truth-in-Sentencing law.

Truth-in-Sentencing in Illinois requires that nearly all violent offenders serve 85 to 100 percent of their criminal sentences.  Prior to the current Truth-in-Sentencing law’s 1998 enactment, offenders served, on average, 44 percent of their sentences.  For more than a decade Illinois resisted enacting a Truth-in-Sentencing law when other states rushed to do so.  Instead, Illinois increased sentencing ranges for violent crimes.  The State didn’t pass its Truth-in-Sentencing law until after the federal government monetarily incentivized Truth-in-Sentencing legislation.  Although this legislation was enacted in Illinois over a decade-and-a-half ago, not a single comprehensive cost/benefit analysis has been undertaken to determine what monetary effect enactment has had on the State.

Other states that enacted Truth-in-Sentencing legislation adjusted for it by reducing sentences so the average imposed sentence was about half of what it was before enactment.  That way prisoners ended up serving around the same amount of time in prison and didn’t cost the state additional money.  Illinois, on the other hand, failed to make such an adjustment.  Instead, Illinois judges actually increased average sentences imposed or continued issuing similar criminal sentences, which resulted in longer terms of incarceration due to the newly mandated Truth-in-Sentencing good conduct time provisions.  With the sentencing ranges having already been increased, Illinois taxpayers have continued to be hit twice as hard: once for the existing sentencing scheme and effectively again due to the Truth-in-Sentencing legislation.

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By Derek Gilna

A lawsuit filed by a transgender federal prisoner in Massachusetts has resulted in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) making appropriate medical care available “to [prisoners] who believe they are the wrong gender,” according to a May 31, 2011 memo issued to all BOP wardens. Previous BOP policy limited treatment of transgender prisoners to medical care that maintained them “at the level of [gender] change which existed when they were incarcerated.”

The prisoner who filed suit, Vanessa Adams, whose legal name is Nicholas Adams, had been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in 2005 by medical professionals at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (USMCFP) in Springfield, Missouri.
Adams sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202.

Her lawsuit noted that GID is a “recognized diagnosable and treatable medical condition listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).” Medically appropriate GID treatment options include providing patients with 1) hormones of the desired gender; 2) the “real life experience,” i.e. living full-time as the new gender; and 3) surgery to change the patient’s sex characteristics – often collectively referred to as “triadic therapy.”

According to her complaint, Adams “believed she was assigned the wrong gender,” which caused her “much emotional turmoil.” Those feelings intensified during her incarceration; she amputated her penis and attempted to castrate herself.

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Inmates incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons are entitled to a certain level of medical care throughout the duration of their incarceration.  This level of medical care is not the same as one would have access to in the community, but does include credentialed health care professionals who can provide access to health services…

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By Christopher Zoukis Times change.  People change.  Everything changes, really, and sometimes you just have to acknowledge that fact and move on. I was reminded of these facts recently when listening to a friend tell me about a federal prisoner who was seeking treatment for Gender Identity Disorder, or trans-sexualism as it has been called. …

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