Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘kentucky

Kentucky U.S. Attorney’s Office Sues Prisoner Who Files Four Lawsuits a Day

leave a comment »

I usually don’t link to articles lamenting frivolous prisoner litigation, because I don’t consider it a real problem. Of course there are recreational and vexatious litigants out there, but meanwhile the Prison Litigation Reform Act as well as institutional and cultural barriers make it exceedingly difficult for prisoners with legitimate grievances to get into court. On the whole, prisoners are actually less litigious than the general public, though you might expect them to have more claims to make since literally every aspect of their day is controlled by the state and thus brings opportunities for something potentially actionable to go awry.

That said, since Jonathan Lee Riches has his own Wikipedia page, has garnered coverage on the likes of Gawker and Above the Law, and has filed suit against everyone from Perez Hilton to Pervez Musharraf, I thought readers might find this item of interest. From the Telegraph:

The US Attorney’s Office in Kentucky said the persistent lawsuits were “a waste of judicial resources” and eat up court time that could be used for legitimate cases.

Prosecutors have now filed their own lawsuit asking for Riches’ outgoing prison correspondence to be screened by a court employee, and any frivolous legal filings stopped.

Riches has been in prison for nearly a decade after pleading guilty to using email to obtain credit card numbers from people online. He is due to be released in March 2012.

More here from the WSJ Law Blog. As I’ve noted before, the media has an unfortunate though not surprising tendency to focus on extreme cases like this one; meanwhile, the pressing need to reform the Prison Litigation Reform Act has been recognized by a broad coalition.

Written by sara

September 16, 2010 at 9:22 am

Kentucky Jail Guards Found Guilty in Federal Civil Rights Prosecution

leave a comment »

A jury unanimously found two Kentucky jail guards guilty on all counts in a federal civil rights trial that concluded earlier this week. Here’s an excerpt from the local news coverage:

The charges stemmed from reports that jail officials assaulted pre-trial detainees — people being held following an arrest but prior to conviction. On several occasions, the jailers slammed detainees’ heads onto the triage counter in the prisoner intake area or otherwise assaulted or planned to assault them, according to court records.

Records said the acts occurred when prisoners were not “resisting or posing a threat to any officer.”

The men then wrote false reports or failed to file reports about the incidents; they took place in 2006, court records said.

Written by sara

May 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

Because of Felon Disenfranchisement, One in Four Kentucky Blacks Can’t Vote

with 2 comments

The Brennan Center for Justice reports that one in four African-Americans in Kentucky has lost the right to vote, due to “Kentucky’s archaic criminal disenfranchisement law.” Anyone who has ever been committed of a felony in Kentucky is barred from voting for life, unless he/she gets clemency from the governor. (Virginia is the only other state in the union with such a sweeping felon disenfranchisement law.) Note that although African-Americans are only about 8% of the Kentucky population, they make up 1/3 of the incarcerated population in the Bluegrass State. I’ve blogged before on felon disenfranchisement, and as I noted then — and it’s worth repeating — felon disenfranchisement laws were typically first passed in the late nineteenth century specifically with the intention of disenfranchising black voters. As Pippa Holloway has demonstrated, in many states this was done in tandem with legislation to expand the definition of “felony” to include petty theft, making it easier to use felony prosecutions as a tool of disenfranchisement. Not coincidentally, in the late nineteenth century, felony conviction rates of black men would rise markedly in the months leading up to elections. A South Carolina Republican complained after the 1884 elections (quoted by Holloway, p. 950):

“Negroes are frequently arraigned before petty magistrates on the most trivial charges of larceny, and a conviction in these petty courts is sufficient to disfranchise them forever. This conviction is readily obtained, and the whole proceedings clearly indicate, in many cases, that the prosecution is merely a pretext to deprive the negro of his vote.”

Update: See also this Brennan Center post on Congressional hearings today on the proposed Democracy Restoration Act, which would allow all ex-felons to vote in federal elections, regardless of whether they can vote in state elections. For the Brennan Center’s explanation of its position that such a law would be constitutional, see here.

Written by sara

March 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm

In Federal Lawsuit, (Yet Another) Woman Alleges She Was Raped by Employee at Kentucky Private Prison

with one comment

A former inmate at Kentucky’s Otter Creek Correctional Center, a private prison run (like most private prisons) by the Corrections Corporation of America, has filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was raped repeatedly by a CCA employee who threatened to block her parole if she did not comply with his demands. This inmate is apparently one of many who alleges she was raped by Otter Creek employees. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an e-mail Thursday that the employee was terminated last March. …

At least six workers at Otter Creek have been charged with sex-related crimes involving inmates at the facility.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced last month that the state will move more than 400 women prisoners out of Otter Creek given the allegations of sexual misconduct by male workers there.

The women prisoners will be transferred to the state-run Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia this summer, and the nearly 700 male inmates now there will be moved to Otter Creek, which has more than 650 beds, and other prisons in the state.

Note that private prisons are considered “state actors” to the extent that they can be sued for constitutional violations — but unlike state employees, private prison guards don’t enjoy qualified immunity, per the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Richardson v. McKnight, 521 U.S. 399 (1997).

Written by sara

February 27, 2010 at 8:15 am

The Business Case for Criminal Justice Reform

leave a comment »

We have documented the cost issues from an independent perspective that is not “soft on crime” or “tough on crime.” We are approaching the issues from a financial perspective and pointing out that we simply can’t afford to lock up every offender. In order to get this message across, we have provided testimony to our legislative committees, appeared in statewide television forums and traveled the state to share our message with local chambers and civic clubs. We’ve offered to partner with our legislators to make common-sense changes to our policies to ensure public safety and save millions being spent on corrections.

— Dave Adkisson, President and CEO, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. From the Pew Center on the States report, Right-sizing Prisons: Business Leaders Make the Case for Corrections Reform (January 2010).

Written by sara

February 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Reflections

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: