by Christopher Zoukis On May 16, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling which found a convicted sex offender did not violate the terms of his probation by refusing to participate in court-ordered treatment that included polygraph exams. Carl Daniel Ruch argued that requiring him to participate in the treatment program would…

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker 25-year-old Kyle has lived in Salida, Colorado most of life. He has also been involved with the court system for almost half of his life. His first brush with the law occurred at age 14 for just being a kid. Riding a dirt bike was the gateway to his path of being…

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By Prison Legal News

The Supreme Court of Kentucky has held that a probationer’s period of probation cannot be extended to require completion of a sex offender treatment program.

Elmer David Miller was originally charged with felony first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor. He entered into a plea agreement for a misdemeanor charge of criminal attempt to commit first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor, because the victim was over the age of sixteen. The plea agreement included two years of probation and required Miller to “[a]ttend any counseling recommended by probation and parole.”

Following the recommendation of the Division of Probation and Parole, Miller enrolled in the state’s sex offender treatment program. Shortly before his period of probation ended, his probation officer informed the trial court that Miller would be unable to complete the program before the expiration of his probation term. The court then held a hearing and extended Miller’s probation until he finished the three-year sex offender treatment program.

Miller challenged the trial court’s order and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that he had not agreed to the extension of his probation and, in fact, had opposed it at the hearing. The appellate court remanded the case for a determination of whether Miller’s term of probation should have been allowed to expire or should have been revoked for his failure to complete the treatment program. See: Miller v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 2010 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1001 (Ky. Ct. App. 2010).

On discretionary review by the Kentucky Supreme Court, the state agreed that the Court of Appeals was correct in concluding Miller’s term of probation could not be extended. The Court concurred, stating the statutory two-year period for misdemeanors is an “absolute limit, absent some overriding statute or waiver by the defendant,” neither of which applied in this case.

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By Christopher Zoukis For the past several months those of us in the prison litigation realm have watched the battle over prisoners’ voting rights unfold in the United Kingdom and the European Union.  Now we enjoy the ability to participate in our own such discussions, albeit not for current prisoners, but former prisoners in California.…

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By Christopher Zoukis

A former Pennsylvania prison guard who was convicted on 27 counts of abusing prisoners will serve no prison time of his own, after a state court sentenced him to five years’ probation and six months on house arrest.

Harry Nicoletti, 61, was convicted of numerous counts of official oppression, simple assault, criminal solicitation and terrorist threats, as well as three counts of indecent exposure. He was acquitted of more serious charges of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and institutional sexual assault.

The jury reached its verdict after deliberating three days following an 11-day trial that included 58 witnesses, some of them prisoners who recanted their earlier statements against Nicoletti. Charges against four other prison guards had previously been dropped.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge David Cashman could have sentenced Nicoletti to up to 18 months in prison, but instead told him, “I’m sparing you from the danger you posed to the individuals you were in charge of.”

Nicoletti was originally indicted on 117 criminal charges following his arrest in September 2011. He was accused of being the ringleader of a group of six guards at SCI Pittsburgh who targeted sex offenders and homosexual prisoners for abuse that included sexual assaults, beatings, tainting food with urine and feces, and other mistreatment. [See: PLN, Nov. 2012, p.40; April 2012, p.1]. “It was evil for evil’s sake,” said Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Jon Pittman at Nicoletti’s March 27, 2013 sentencing hearing.

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