The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a civil rights claim brought against the Jefferson County, Missouri Sheriff’s Department by a man beaten during a traffic stop. Edward C. Schoettle, an insulin-dependent diabetic, was driving his truck down a highway on November 6, 2010. When he became lightheaded,…

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By Prison Legal News

The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Eighth Circuit held on February 5, 2013 that a Missouri bankruptcy court was correct in concluding prison officials did not violate a discharge injunction by collecting money from a prisoner’s account for incarceration costs that accrued after the injunction was filed.

Missouri prisoner Zachary A. Smith became subject to an $87,830.13 judgment under the Missouri Incarceration Reimbursement Act (MIRA) on January 20, 2009, for the costs of his incarceration through March 26, 2007. The state of Missouri was also granted a judgment for reimbursement costs accruing after March 26, 2007 through Smith’s release from prison – which is unlikely since he is serving life without the possibility of parole. The judgment further allowed the state to collect 90% of all deposits to Smith’s prison account, excluding wages and bonuses earned while incarcerated.

Smith filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition on September 14, 2010 and received his discharge on March 11, 2011. In September 2012, the state seized a $45.00 deposit to Smith’s prison account pursuant to the MIRA judgment. He then filed a motion for contempt with the bankruptcy court, claiming the state had violated the discharge injunction. The bankruptcy court agreed that the MIRA judgment was void with respect to all costs accrued as of the bankruptcy filing, but held the judgment remained valid as to future reimbursement costs and that the costs incurred by the state since Smith’s bankruptcy petition were not dischargeable debts.

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We here at Prison Education News don’t often have the opportunity to report good news concerning educational and vocational training programs in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, so today we’re pleased to be able to do so. In an innovative partnership between the Federal Bureau of Prisons, North East Community Action Corp., and the Carpenters…

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Last Tuesday morning when inmate #1137593 bent down to tie his shoes, he did not know what the rest of the day would bring.

The inmate’s name was Ryan Ferguson.

Ferguson remained neutral with his emotions because had been through the same scenario before. He was holding back from getting his hopes up that this would be the last day he spent behind bars. Ferguson had served ten-years of a 40-year sentence for a murder he claims he did not commit.   

November 12, 2013 turned out to be Ferguson’s lucky day. Just seven-hours later, a composed Ryan Ferguson was surrounded by probing reporters outside the Tiger Hotel in Columba, Missouri. After ten years of being incarcerated for murder, 29-year-old Ryan Ferguson was finally exonerated and set free.

The main question inquiring minds want to know about Ferguson is this:  is he bitter about having a decade of his life snatched away from him? Ferguson was a 20-year-old college student when he was arrested. He spent all of his 20s incarcerated.

Amazingly, Ferguson is more interested in moving forward with his new life on the outside than seeking revenge. He has even forgiven his friend that initially lied about his involvement in the murder. Ryan now wants to start a campaign to free this man.

On Halloween night, 2001, Ferguson and his friend, Charles Erickson went out for a night on the town. They engaged in a night of underage drinking until the bars closed at 1:00am.  According to Ferguson, Erickson dropped him off at home and he went to sleep. During the wee hours of the morning, Kent Heitholt, sports writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune was brutally murdered in the parking lot of his office.  

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