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Supreme Court Takes Up Case That May Limit Civil Asset Forfeiture

On November 28, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Timbs v. Indiana, a case that could reshape civil asset forfeiture. Tyson Timbs, who attended the Court’s oral argument, is an Indiana resident who became addicted to opioids he was taking for chronic pain. To support his habit, he became a low-level drug dealer. When

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Federal Judge Rules County Jail Must Allow Addict Methadone

A federal judge in Boston has ordered officials at the Essex County House of Correction to allow an incoming inmate to take his doctor-prescribed methadone while he serves a sentence there. It was thought to be the first such order issued by an American judge. Geoffrey Pesce, a 32-year-old resident of Ipswich, Massachusetts, faces a

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Pricey Video Services Increasingly Supplant In-Person Prison Visits

Video visitation services are already available in more than 600 penal institutions, and the upward trend shows few signs of the growing trend slowing down. They’ve also sparked a debate over whether the services are a valuable, lower-cost alternative to in-person visits to distant locations (as the American Correctional Association recommended in 2016) or a

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High Court Stays Execution Where Judge Overrode Jury Recommendation

A little over two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court in Hurst v. Florida ruled 8-1 it was unconstitutional for state judges to overrule jury sentencing recommendations in death penalty cases. The high court ruled a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury was violated if the jury was not permitted to

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Inmates Lose Court Challenge to Ohio’s Execution Drugs

  A divided federal court of appeals has rejected a challenge to the three-drug execution protocol Ohio plans to use. The state had suspended executions for more than three years due to litigation attacking its three-drug lethal injection method, and to its inability to obtain barbiturates formerly used to anaesthetize death row prisoners before being

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Pfizer Deals Blow to Lethal Injections

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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When is sexual abuse not sexual abuse? When it happens to a prisoner.

This past week saw the handing down of an important ruling in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the rights of prisoners; specifically a prisoner’s right not to be sexually abused by prison officials. If you’re questioning how this could even have been a question before the Supreme Court, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

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Fifth Circuit: Sleep Deprivation May Violate Eighth Amendment

By Matt Clarke In an unpublished ruling, the Fifth Circuit held on April 1, 2014 that a Texas prisoner’s sleep deprivation-based challenge to the security schedule used by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) may state a valid claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Michael Garrett, incarcerated

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Flimsy Reasons for Prolonged Lockdowns

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an Illinois prisoner’s complaint that frequent lockdowns for substantial periods of time deprived him of exercise and caused him various health problems stated an Eighth Amendment claim. However, the Court found that he failed to state a due process claim concerning the loss of his monthly

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