Prisons - FindLaw Blotter
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In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, President Barack Obama announced that he would prohibit solitary confinement for juveniles being held in federal prisons. The president pointed to the devastating and lasting psychological consequences of solitary confinement, as well as the need to give offenders a second chance as reasons for the ban.

The measure comes one day after the Supreme Court expanded the prohibition on mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders and amidst larger efforts from both parties in Congress to reform the criminal justice system as a whole, and sentencing and prisons in particular.

We already know the rights of those arrested and charged with a crime are limited. DUI suspects must submit to blood and breath tests. And the police can collect DNA samples from anyone they arrest. But what about jails forcing women inmates to submit to pregnancy tests?

This somewhat unusual practice was allegedly commonplace in Alameda County jails for several years, until the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the county over the practice. While the county has agreed to discontinue mandatory testing, whether it's legal in other jurisdictions remains to be seen.

LA to Pay $24M in Wrongful Conviction Settlements

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it takes longer to get to the punch line in life. Two men falsely imprisoned for decades will be getting cash from LA: $24.3 million between them, reports ABC News. And one of the men is named Kash Register. No kidding.

Kash Delano Register and Bruce Lisker this week settled wrongful conviction lawsuits with the Los Angeles City Council. Each spent more than 25 years in prison as murderers, convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Man Held in Guantanamo Bay for 13 Years on Mistaken ID

Everybody makes mistakes. But one made by the Department of Defense for 13 years with Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri takes the cake. He has been held prisoner in Guantanamo Bay for over a decade and he is the wrong guy, Gawker reports.

Captured in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan in 2002, the man from Yemen was considered an al-Qaida facilitator, courier, or trainer. But, says the DoD, "we now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists with names or aliases similar to [his]."

Being released from prison can be a struggle. Former inmates can find themselves far from support systems and have a difficult time landing a job, which can increase the rate of recidivism. One factor that contributes to recently released people returning to crime is often overlooked: access to health care.

People convicted of felonies often find their rights restricted upon release -- states may limit anything from gun rights to voting rights. But can they restrict access to government-funded health care systems like Obamacare and Medicaid?

Prison Phone Call Costs Fall Drastically

The Federal Communications Commission decided to cap the cost of prison calls. This is good news for prisoners and their families and bad news for phone companies that make a fortune connecting inmates with the outside world.

Two years ago authorities approved a cap that helped significantly reduce rates by a quarter to a half. But talking to an inmate can still be a serious financial drain. Last week, FCC authorities voted to cap prison phone rates at 11 cents a minute and minimize transaction fees.

It's the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in history. In one weekend from October 30th to November 2nd, the Department of Justice will provide early release to about 6,000 prison inmates.

So who are these inmates, and why are they being released early?

Family Sues for Inmate Death From Acute Withdrawal

What is a life worth? Jailed for thirty days for failure to appear on a careless driving charge, a man died in custody halfway through a sentence that could have been completed with community service or a $772 fine. Now David Stojcevski's family is suing Macomb County, Michigan, the sheriff, jail employees, and Correct Care Solutions, and the private contractor responsible for inmate medical care, blaming their neglect for David's wrongful death last year.

Th county is not commenting on the case publicly but is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit. The Stojcevksi family seeks an unspecified "substantial sum" for the wrongful death, court costs, attorney's fees, and punitive damages. But perhaps most importantly, it is seeking to change policy with this action, "so that this kind of failure ... never happens again."

There are currently fourteen wildfires burning in California, covering a total of almost 250,000 acres. In the fourth year of a historic drought, keeping these fires contained has been a challenge for fire crews statewide.

So who's doing the firefighting? As it so happens, quite a few of California's prison inmates are helping battle the blazes.

Incarceration can be hard for anyone, and for those suffering from mental illness, prison can be a nightmare. As public funding for mental health plummets and prison populations soar, the prospects for mentally ill inmates may only get worse.

While this situation may seem dire, there can be options available for inmates who seek mental health treatment while incarcerated.