Convicts Sue Over Prison Spiders, Extra Time

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Today’s prison litigation report:

A prisoner in Georgia’s Washington State Prison in Davisboro has filed a lawsuit alleging that she and other prisoners have been bitten repeatedly by spiders, including the venomous black widow and brown recluse, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Marcia Wall and other inmates in the 1,000-bed facility claim that prison medical officials are misdiagnosing their bites and denying them proper treatment. The state says the institution is fumigated monthly. Inmate attorney McNeill Stokes said, “It’s one thing to be in prison. It’s another thing to be discriminated against and have inhumane conditions.”

In Texas, Randolph Haas was sentenced to 20 years in prison for embezzlement. Now he is seeking up to $100,000 in damages and attorney fees over having to spend an extra 163 days in prison. Attorney John Carney told the Houston Chronicle that if the lawsuit is successful, he may sue on behalf of perhaps thousands of Texas prisoners who spent more time behind bars than required because of bureaucratic errors. He said he already has half a dozen names of people who have been referred to him.

The potential losses for Texas taxpayers could run into the millions, but Carl Reynolds of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice does not expect a successful class action case because there is a distinction between “wrongful imprisonment” and keeping someone locked up because of an “honest mistake” in figuring time credit. Reynolds his department has “a greater fear of releasing someone prematurely” than of holding someone too long.


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