Browsing: Prison Life

prisonbars.1200x804Reading from the Voice Media empire: When one state’s branch of the American Civil Liberties Union heard that Iraqi detainees being held inside an immigrant detention center – a 1,500-bed facility run by the private prison company GEO Group – were being singled out and harassed by the facility’s guards, ACLU attorneys and staff members went to investigate. What they learned from two of the men, France Anwar Elias and Kamran Mallak, whom they interviewed over several trips in August, deeply concerned them. Westword has the story.

marvin.booker.surveillance.footageReading from the Voice Media empire: Marvin Booker died after being placed in a sleeper hold and tased while in jail for a minor offense seven years ago. The case netted a $6 million settlement, but questions raised in a documentary film about the Taser in the incident, which somehow disappeared during the course of the investigation, has led the family to call for a criminal investigation into a possible cover-up. Westword has the story.

william.anderson.mug.shotReading from the Voice Media empire:The death of William Anderson, a forty-year-old inmate at a big city jail, has led to a war of words between the local sheriff’s department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Anderson died during a fight with fellow detainee Ricardo Lopez-Vera, nineteen. But while the district attorney declined to charge Lopez-Vera in the incident, his undocumented status led to detention by ICE, which claims the sheriff released him without properly informing the federal agency even though there was an immigration hold on him. Westword has the story.


For decades of Texas summers, prisoners of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have lived in heat they described as equivalent to “walking out to your car in the middle of the summertime,” to “getting into a hot box in the sun.” They have often slept on the concrete because it is cooler than their mattresses, and away from fans that blow hot air on them. They have sometimes struggled to write letters because their sweat drips over the paper as if it were raining. Twenty-three men have died in these conditions since 1998, including Larry McCollum, who, just days after being booked for writing a hot check, died of a heat stroke while convulsing atop his bed. His internal temperature was found to be 109 degrees.

These are all among the reasons that, on Wednesday, a federal judge in Houston ruled that such conditions violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment — that there is a “substantial risk of serious illness or death from the current conditions at the Pack Unit.”

john.patrick.walterBreakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: The conclusion of an amended autopsy report for John Patrick Walter, who died in jail on April 20, 2014, has been changed from “undetermined” to acute withdrawal from benzodiazepine, a prescribed medication that was withheld from him by staff during his incarceration. The findings echo claims made in a lawsuit filed about Walter’s death, and Erik Heipt, an attorney for his family, feels the results would have been known years ago if not for obstruction by county officials. Westword has the story.

mark.ellis_1_Breakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: Just what does it take to get a murky child sex-assault conviction overturned? An admission of perjury by a key prosecution witness? Expert forensic analysis of the only piece of physical evidence in the case, which suggests that it may not be evidence at all? A ruling by a federal judge that your lawyer’s efforts in your defense didn’t meet constitutional standards and that you should be given a new trial or released? Westword has the story.

philippa.mccully.two.surveillanceBreakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: College coed Philippa “Pippa” McCully’s lawsuit claims that she was badly injured during a bizarre excessive-force episode at a county jail and then refused medical treatment for a knee injury severe enough to startle the team doctor for the Miami Dolphins. Video of the incident appears to confirm much of McCully’s account. But her attorney says the case has dragged on for more than a year in part because it took place during the administration of a former sheriff whose indictment on felony charges that include extortion and official misconduct arising from an alleged sex scandal involving at leat three employees has complicated the situation immeasurably. Westword has the story.

prison.illustration.gettyBreakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: When he entered a for-profit prison in July 2014, Dennis Choquette had a serious but treatable foot malady related to diabetes. But according to a lawsuit filed by his estate, his jailers repeatedly refused to address this problem as a way of saving money, thereby allowing his condition to deteriorate slowly and agonizingly over the course of more than a year. Westword has the story.

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