Any lawyer with a brain could have predicted this!
Trump continues to waste YOUR money clogging the courts with absurd arguments.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s bid to use executive privilege to block a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection from accessing a trove of records created by Trump’s White House.
The move opens up a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators who have sought them to determine Trump’s actions and mindset in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, as well as what he did as his supporters were rioting at the Capitol.
The only member of the high court who signaled he would have granted Trump’s request for emergency relief was Justice Clarence Thomas.
ANATOMY OF A MURDER CONFESSION Texas Ranger James Holland became famous for cajoling killers into confessing to their crimes. But did some of his methods — from lying to suspects to having witnesses hypnotized — ensnare innocent people, too?
We hear “Texas Ranger” and we think “the ultimate lawman”. I remember posting an article several years ago suggesting that Texas Ranger James Holland was amassing many false confessions, using questionable tactics in his interviews with suspects. Here, The Marshall Project revisits the issue. I leave most of this Article in tact, not edited. Read it for yourself and you tell me: is Texas Ranger James Holland framing people, or solving crimes?
Excerpts from the Article:
CHAPTER 1: THE UNWITTING SUSPECT
Roughly 24 hours before Larry Driskill confessed to a murder he claimed he couldn’t remember, a stranger in sharply creased cowboy clothes approached him at the barn where he was working. The metal star above the man’s left shirt pocket indicated he was a Texas Ranger.
“Am I in trouble or what?” Driskill asked.
“No, we think you might be able to help us,” Ranger James Holland replied, inviting Driskill to chat at the sheriff’s office in Parker County, Texas. As they cruised the rural back roads west of Fort Worth on that afternoon in January 2015, Holland made small talk, drawing out that Driskill, a 52-year-old grandfather with a salt-and-pepper mustache and good-ol-boy twang, had served in the Air Force. Now, he oversaw county maintenance work performed by jail trustees. His worst brush with the law, he said, was a DWI in his 20s.
This article was published in partnership with Dallas Morning News.
Holland, who was secretly (and legally) recording this exchange, occasionally teased at his intentions: He said he was part of a small crew of Rangers who focused on unsolved murders. “They put us together…and tell us that we can do whatever we want, as long as we solve cases,” he says to Driskill on the recording, which I obtained through a records request to the Parker County district attorney.
Once they arrived at the sheriff’s office, Holland offered Driskill coffee and reiterated that he wasn’t under arrest. The Ranger pulled out an image of a petite woman with dirty blonde hair.
“She don’t look familiar to me, period,” Driskill said. “I ain’t never seen her.”
The woman was Bobbie Sue Hill. Nearly a decade before this conversation, kids had stumbled upon her body in a creek bed under a bridge, less than a mile from Driskill’s home. Investigators pieced together that she was a 29-year-old mother of five whose husband had died in a car accident. She had been struggling with drug addiction and subsisting in a series of squalid motels near downtown Fort Worth. Hill’s boyfriend told investigators that he had seen a man drive off with her in a white van.
Jenkins Road, where Bobbie Sue Hill…s body was found, pictured on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Aledo, Texas.
Jenkins Road, where Bobbie Sue Hill…s body was found, pictured on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Aledo, Texas.
Bobbie Sue Hill’s body was found off Jenkins Road, in the riverbed on the east side of a bridge, in Aledo, Texas. ELIAS VALVERDE II/THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
In their reports, the police signalled this could be the work of a serial killer. Fort Worth officers were already looking into the death of another sex worker, who entered a white van seven months prior and was also found in a creek bed. A third woman had accepted a ride from a man in a white van, and narrowly escaped after he fondled her at knifepoint. But despite these promising parallels, the leads dried up. “The lack of physical evidence in this case is frustrating,” one investigator wrote in a 2006 report.
In the small, fluorescent-lit room, Holland told Driskill that police had recorded his license plate near where Hill was taken and put his name on a list of men who “troll prostitutes.” But perhaps Driskill was just a good Samaritan who had given Hill a ride the night she was killed.
“I don’t ever remember giving someone a ride,” Driskill replied, “but that don’t mean I didn’t give someone a ride, either.”
Holland was lying about the license plate and the police list. This was perfectly legal — and effective, since Driskill rummaged through his memories and recalled driving through the area to visit his father, make car payments, and — perhaps — to bid on some home renovation work. He also remembered giving a woman he didn’t know a ride once, but not to Fort Worth. Eventually, he produced a hazy recollection of dropping someone off at a dollar store about a mile from where Hill was abducted.
In a recent interview at a prison in east Texas, Driskill told me that he didn’t believe he had witnessed a crime, but kept talking to the Ranger because he wanted to be helpful. Given his own work with jail detainees, he saw Holland as a fellow lawman.
But Holland interpreted the trickle of memories as a sign that Driskill was withholding information. In his genial drawl, the Ranger pointed out Driskill’s tendency to say, “Not that I know” and “Not that I can remember,” rather than just, “No.” He pulled out a picture of Hill’s corpse. “I think you’re afraid that you’re gonna get caught up in this deal,” he said, adding that if the DNA results he was awaiting matched Driskill, he’d be in trouble. “I don’t want you to be afraid,” the Ranger continued. “I want you to help me get the son of a bitch that did this.” But, he also said, “You’ve got to be honest with us, ‘cause if you’re not, then all of a sudden, I start looking at you as maybe the person who did this crime.”
That night, over barbecue, Driskill told his wife he was just a potential witness and had nothing to worry about. The next morning, he took a polygraph test. Many courts have deemed such tests unreliable, but police still use them in interrogations. His results indicated “deception,” and Holland dropped the previous day’s pretenses. “We already know it’s you,” he said.
Holland offered Driskill possible explanations: Perhaps he strangled Hill accidentally during sex. Or, had Hill and her boyfriend tried to rob the Air Force veteran, sending him into violent “military mode”? “You’re on the edge of the Grand Canyon,” Holland continued. “I’m asking you to take a jump off the edge. … I’m going to hand you a parachute.” Then he asked Driskill to utter two words: “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry if I took somebody’s life, but I don’t think I did,” Driskill said as he began to cry.
But slowly, Driskill accepted Holland’s theories, confessing even as he repeated that he couldn’t remember any of it. Sheriff’s deputies arrested him at his home that evening.
In jail, having traded in his denim work clothes for black and white stripes, Driskill came to believe that his admissions made little sense. Still, fearing a skeptical jury, he pleaded no contest. He was sentenced to 15 years at a state prison, where he soon made contact with lawyers at the Innocence Project of Texas. Holland, for his part, would go on to become one of America’s most celebrated homicide detectives.
When officers pull off jaw-dropping successes in cold cases, their tactics are seldom questioned. But over the next year, as lawyers go to court on Driskill’s behalf, Holland’s work will likely face more public scrutiny than ever before.
Over the last year, I identified a dozen of Holland’s best-known cases. I used public record requests to gather more than 30 hours of audio and thousands of pages of reports and court testimony, and I shared excerpts with detectives, psychologists and other scholars. I sent findings and scholarly analysis by email and certified mail to both Holland and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which declined to authorize an on-the-record interview, as did the Parker County Sheriff’s Office. As I finished reporting, a state spokesperson said that Holland, who is in his early 50s, retired from the agency at the end of last year. I sent him a final request in late December to interview him post-retirement, and he did not agree to an on-record interview.
Larry Driskill, pictured here while incarcerated in Woodville, Texas, was convicted for the 2005 murder of Bobbie Sue Hill. He claims Texas Ranger James Holland manipulated him into a false confession.
Larry Driskill, pictured here while incarcerated in Woodville, Texas, was convicted for the 2005 murder of Bobbie Sue Hill. He claims Texas Ranger James Holland manipulated him into a false confession. ELI DURST FOR THE MARSHALL PROJECT
One of Holland’s key tactics — lying to suspects — remains common and protected by the courts. But in the search for Bobbie Sue Hill’s killer, the Ranger also used more contested methods, including hypnosis and hypothetical narrations of the crime. Altogether, his tactics demonstrate how far a detective can go without breaking the law, and how easy it is for the legal system to rely on a questionable confession. Even after years of high-profile exonerations, academic research on why innocent people are convicted, and attempts by judges and lawmakers to fix the problems, detectives continue to use techniques that are known to produce false confessions.
Across the country, fewer murders are getting solved year by year, and a growing backlog of cold cases — especially those without strong physical evidence like the Hill case — may incentivize detectives to take similar risks.
CHAPTER 2: THE “SERIAL KILLER WHISPERER”
An elite class of state officers, the Texas Rangers are probably best known for inspiring a long-running TV series and the name of a professional baseball team. But they have been on the frontlines in the battle to resolve cold murder cases, working more than 160 of them since 2015, and closing more than 30. The Rangers — 166 strong as of last year — also police the Texas/Mexico border, uncover public corruption, and investigate deaths involving local law enforcement.
The Rangers’ two-century history is marred by episodes of hunting Black people who escaped slavery, massacring Tejano villagers, and harassing civil rights leaders. When the Rangers have faced scandal more recently, it’s usually about their homicide investigations. In the 1980s, they fed a man named Henry Lee Lucas details that allowed him to claim killings he could not have committed. Rangers also played roles in the wrongful convictions of two Black men, Clarence Brandley and Anthony Graves, who were exonerated from death row in 1990 and 2010, respectively.
Their current image blends ruggedness and sophistication. Doug Swanson, author of “Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers,” described it to me as “Scotland Yard in cowboy hats.”
In recent years, James Holland has come to embody this mystique. He rose to prominence in 2019 after obtaining 93 murder confessions from a California prisoner named Samuel Little. Over 700 hours, the pair shared grits and milkshakes while addressing each other as “Jimmy” and “Sammy.” The Los Angeles Times christened Holland “a serial killer whisperer of sorts,” while “60 Minutes” observed a “swagger that would make John Wayne envious.”
Texas Ranger James Holland is famous for his expertise in obtaining confessions. He filled his office walls in Decatur, Texas, with drawings by serial killer Samuel Little, who claimed to recall the faces of his victims. Holland worked with other law enforcement agencies to identify them.
Texas Ranger James Holland is famous for his expertise in obtaining confessions. He filled his office walls in Decatur, Texas, with drawings by serial killer Samuel Little, who claimed to recall the faces of his victims. Holland worked with other law enforcement agencies to identify them. LOUIS DELUCA
His journey from state highway patrol to pursuing serial killers is documented in a personnel file full of words like “flawless” and “gifted.” He grew up in suburban Chicago, according to the Los Angeles Times, and ended up in Texas for graduate school in criminal justice. He made his mark using traffic stops to search for drugs and guns. “As a trooper, I was extremely successful in criminal interdiction,” he once testified. “I found behaviors and language that indicated that someone was lying.”
Holland became a Ranger in 2008 and began working out of Decatur, a small town north of Fort Worth. According to department records, he has been involved in more than 200 investigations, showing a rare gift for talking to murder suspects. “This is kind of my calling, dealing with these really strange cases, the serial killers, the ritualistic killings,” he told “48 Hours” last year.
One of his first murder cases involved Jose Sarmiento, a suspect in a 2005 killing who moved to Mexico before police could arrest him. Holland got his phone number from his sister and persuaded him to fly back to Texas and confess. Sarmiento later claimed that the Ranger threatened to “put up some money to drug dealers” who would target his family. But in court Holland denied threatening Sarmiento: “Did I appeal to him emotionally, mentally? Absolutely. Was that coercive? No.”
Murder victims’ families have praised Holland for the way he seems personally moved by their pain. Gay Smither, whose daughter Laura was murdered by a serial killer named William Lewis Reece told me, “Jimmy Holland is my hero.” After speaking with Holland, Reece agreed to help investigators find the remains of his victims.
“I’ve worked hundreds of murders, put people on death row, done all kinds of things. I have seen people get probation, seen people get a couple years. And I’ve seen the other end of the spectrum,” Holland told Larry Driskill at one point. “People always ask me, ‘How do you sleep at night, knowing what you do?’ I always tell them this: I go to bed with a clear conscience … I give people the opportunity to tell the truth and to help themselves out … I’m not just throwing people in jail for the hell of it.”
Some of Holland’s biggest successes involved convincing serial killers already behind bars to give up their secrets. But when a suspect is free, Holland has used a different set of skills. Sometimes, he begins with a lie.
CHAPTER 3: THE WEAPON OF DECEPTION
The Supreme Court paved the way for lying to suspects in a 1969 decision, but researchers are increasingly concerned about the practice. The National Registry of Exonerations has recorded more than 350 false confession cases since 1989, finding that police were accused of deception in a quarter of them. “The suspect comes to question their own sense of reality,” said Saul Kassin, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice psychologist who has studied confessions for decades. “This isn’t about being a bleeding heart. Usually, the real perp got away and killed others. That’s on your shoulders if you obtained a false confession.”
Last year, lawmakers in Illinois and Oregon banned the deception of juvenile suspects, based on the idea that they are especially vulnerable. The Innocence Project (which is not related to the group representing Driskill) said lawmakers in a half dozen other states have expressed interest in pursuing similar bans, and some may cover adult suspects.
Lying is one of several tactics that Holland’s approach shares with the Reid Technique, an interrogation method that has dominated the field since it emerged 70 years ago, replacing beatings and torture. The technique is so influential it has shaped a generation of television and movies — think claustrophobic rooms and smooth-talking detectives. But even without violence, researchers believe that it’s still too easy to manipulate an innocent person into confessing.
John E. Reid and Associates, the company that pioneered the technique, insists that false confessions arise when detectives violate their training. Lying “should probably be a last resort,” the company’s president, Joseph Buckley, told me in a recent interview. Still, he says it would be wrong to ban the practice entirely, arguing that false confessions usually involve additional coercive tactics. Of the 12 cases I reviewed with the help of forensic experts, Holland has attempted to deceive at least seven suspects.
Back in 2005, investigators combed the area around Bobbie Sue Hill’s body and collected four fresh cigarette butts. One of them carried human DNA, and eight years later, a crime lab matched it to a Dallas woman. She denied knowing about the murder, but described a man she dated in 2005 who had choked her during sex. The Parker County Sheriff’s Office enlisted Holland to interview this man, who flatly denied any knowledge of the crime. (Given their limited role in the case, we have chosen not to name the woman and man. The man did not respond to a letter sent to prison, where he is serving time for drug possession.)
Now that Holland was involved, he decided to interview Timothy Dawson, an organic chemist who became a suspect in 2005, after reporting his mother’s white van stolen. He had a record of violent crime and had spent time with people on the margins, including sex workers. According to prosecutors’ records, Dawson’s wife told a detective he’d been “extremely paranoid” around the time of Hill’s death.
Holland showed Dawson a picture of Hill, and he admitted she looked familiar. Then the Ranger said the victim’s brand of hair dye was found in his van. There is no indication in Holland’s report that this was true.
In a recent phone interview, Dawson unequivocally denied involvement and said he was put off by Holland’s swagger. “He came in big doggin’ it. I had the aha reaction. … He wasn’t trying to solve this crime. He was trying to hang me!” He remembers telling the Ranger, “If you want to solve the case so bad, you take the fucking charge.”
According to Holland’s later court testimony, the Parker County Sheriff’s Office thought Dawson was a “very good suspect,” but the Ranger said they had the wrong man. Holland had already begun searching for a new suspect, by less common means.
CHAPTER 4: TWO SKETCHES, A HYPNOTIST, AND A DISAPPEARING MUSTACHE
In October 2014, James Holland tracked down the only person who reported seeing the man who drove off with Bobbie Sue Hill: her boyfriend, Michael Harden. Tall and languorous, he was known to meander with a cane down the streets of Fort Worth’s skid row. Holland found him at the city’s downtown jail, where he was facing drug charges.
Harden had met Hill roughly a year before her death. They lived in motels, supporting their drug habits through her sex work and his odd maintenance jobs. One night, they stood outside a gas station, pretending to use a pay phone so she could advertise to johns. Harden saw a white van drive up and down the street numerous times. He felt suspicious, and when the van finally pulled up, he told Hill not to go.
“That’s OK,” he recalled her saying. “I’ve got it.”
In 2014, Michael Harden met with Texas Rangers James Holland and Victor Patton and underwent hypnosis while trying to recall the face of the man who abducted his girlfriend Bobbie Sue Hill nine years earlier. PARKER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
Harden told Hill to bring the man to a side street. When he walked over to check on them, Harden saw through a foggy window that the man had removed his shirt. “His eyes got big,” Harden told me during an interview. “He put his glasses on, he realized it was me, and then he threw that fucker into gear.” After Hill’s body was found, Harden blamed himself for letting her go. He also wondered if it was a hate crime, since she was a White woman and Harden was a Black man.
The police produced a sketch of the driver based on Harden’s description, which showed a wide, boxy face, prominent eyebrows and a thin mustache. Records do not indicate that it led to any suspects.
Sketch produced by Texas Department of Public Safety artist Shirley Timmons based on 2005 Michael Harden interview.
Sketch produced by Texas Department of Public Safety artist Shirley Timmons based on 2005 Michael Harden interview. PARKER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Nine years later, Holland asked Harden to try again, with some “weird” memory exercises. Holland turned off the lights, and asked Harden to close his eyes, picture details like the victim’s hair, and summon the sounds of their friends’ voices. He then directed him to replay his memories in reverse chronology, and to imagine himself at the top of a telephone pole, looking down at the van.
“Did you see a mustache?” Holland asked about the driver.
“No, he didn’t have a mustache,” Harden said.
Holland was using elements of the “cognitive interview,” which was developed several decades ago by American psychologists who wanted to help police get more useful information from crime witnesses and victims. (One of these psychologists, Ronald Fisher, read Holland and Harden’s exchange and said the Ranger did a generally good job.) When detectives use this method — which has not faced the same criticisms as the Reid Technique — they ask witnesses to revisit the entire context of the events, including smells and sounds.
When Harden opened his eyes, another investigator showed him photographs of faces. Harden pointed to one and said he was 70% certain it was the driver. The Ranger then showed him pictures of vans. Harden’s description of the vehicle changed as well, from a minivan with side windows to a windowless work van.
Between 2005 and 2015, Michael Harden’s description of the van involved in the abduction of his girlfriend Bobbie Sue Hill changed from a minivan to a large, windowless work van. ANIMATION BY BO-WON KEUM/THE MARSHALL PROJECT
It is impossible to know precisely why Harden’s memories changed, although Christian Meissner, who studies cognitive interviewing, said it was possible Holland had contaminated his memory by showing him pictures of faces and vans.
Cognitive interviewing emerged at a time when judges and scientists were increasingly skeptical of another new and popular police technique: forensic hypnosis. Detectives argued that hypnosis improved recall, but psychologists were concerned it could make a witness overly confident about a mistaken memory. Throughout the 1980s, many courts banned testimony from witnesses who had been hypnotized, meaning police could no longer use it in numerous states.
But Texas remained a hub for forensic hypnosis. In 2020, The Dallas Morning News found that the Texas Rangers were among the last detectives nationwide to regularly use the method. Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a bill to ban testimony following hypnosis, even as the Texas Department of Public Safety formally ended its hypnosis program. The department did not, however, express doubt about previous cases solved with the practice.
And the program was still in full swing in 2014, when Harden agreed to be hypnotized. A week later, he had a session at the jail with another Ranger, Victor Patton, who told Harden to count backwards from 100, imagine grains of sand on top of his head, and describe the abductor’s face.
In a recent interview, Patton told me hypnosis was usually a last resort, and only useful if new claims could be corroborated. “It’s almost permission for people to tell you something they suppressed, or don’t want to talk about,” he said.
After the session, a forensic artist interviewed Harden and produced a strikingly different sketch, featuring wire-rimmed glasses, a flat-top haircut with shaved sides, and a darkened area above the lip that could suggest a faint mustache.
Sketch produced by Texas Department of Public Safety artist Jorge Molina based on 2014 Michael Harden interview.
Sketch produced by Texas Department of Public Safety artist Jorge Molina based on 2014 Michael Harden interview. PARKER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Then, to account for the passage of time, the sketch artist produced an “aged” version, with a few more wrinkles and more pronounced jowls and smile lines.
“Aged” version of 2014 sketch.
“Aged” version of 2014 sketch. PARKER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
When I found Harden at a motel in Fort Worth this past April, he did not clearly remember the hypnosis session. But he was skeptical. “Whatever the fuck I saw when I wasn’t hypnotized is going to be what the fuck I saw when I [was] hypnotized,” he said. When I showed him the two sketches — produced in 2005 and 2014 by two different artists — he said the latter more closely reflected his memory.
And yet now — seven years after the hypnosis session, and 16 years after he actually saw the face — Harden told me he did remember a mustache, after all.
I described the disappearance and reappearance of the mustache to Gary Wells, an Iowa State University psychologist who has studied composite sketches since the 1980s. Although sketches have helped solve numerous crimes, Wells said that even in ideal conditions, it’s difficult for people to accurately describe faces because we remember them holistically and not feature-by-feature. And “memory doesn’t get better with time,” Wells said of the nine-year period between Harden’s sketches. He also noted that the witness’s recall could have been contaminated by the thousands of faces he’d seen since the crime. “Any change is a big flag.”
The Innocence Project has found that nearly 70% of people freed through DNA testing were convicted, in part, due to an eyewitness misidentifying them. In a quarter of these cases, a composite sketch was involved. Errors grow more likely when the witness and perpetrator are of different races, as they were in Harden’s case.
Two months after Harden was hypnotized, the sheriff’s office put out a press release showing a full-size, windowless white van, the “age-progressed” sketch, and James Holland’s phone number. Within days, the Ranger received a call from a local pawn shop owner who was sure the image depicted his longtime customer Larry Driskill.
CHAPTER 5: HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING
Among the people who thought the sketch did not particularly resemble Larry Driskill was Larry Driskill. “I thought, Does that really look like me?” he told me.
During the second day of questioning, Holland shifted into a tactic less routine than lying: the hypothetical.
He told Driskill (truthfully) that Michael Harden, the victim’s boyfriend, had undergone hypnosis, but then said (falsely) that Harden admitted to trying to rob him. Based on this lie, Holland asked Driskill to describe the attempt without committing to it.
“Start with that… Just say, ‘Hypothetically, I was down there, and they were trying to rob me,’” Holland said.
“That’s admitting to something that I don’t even know happened,” Driskill replied.
“No it’s not,” Holland said. “When you say ‘hypothetically,’ it’s not locking you into anything.”
Holland offered Driskill chewing tobacco, and as they spat into cups, the suspect dropped his resistance. His hypothetical statements slowly became an admission.
“I was giving her a ride to the house and there was a confrontation in the vehicle,” Driskill said. “I think she was trying to take my billfold from me, and I went to defend myself, to try to push her out of the car, and my hands went from her chest to her neck. And I guess I choked her down.”
“You guess or you did?” Holland asked.
“I did. I did choke her down then. …I guess my military [training] kicked in when she tried to assault me.”
In a later version, Driskill said that he and Hill were having sex when she reached for his wallet. But he also continued to say he couldn’t remember any of it and broke down in tears a second time.
Writing to me from prison last summer, Driskill summoned a seemingly unrelated memory. While he was in the U.S. Air Force, a jet exploded at a training base, and he was ordered to handle soldiers’ remains. “It made me sick when [Holland] showed me pictures of the dead girl, and my mind took me back to that day tagging body parts,” he wrote. He believes post-traumatic stress disorder made him receptive to Holland’s argument that he snapped into “military mode” and blacked out.
After Driskill said he killed Hill, he and Holland discussed how he might have disposed of her. At the Ranger’s urging, he drew several pictures of her corpse folded into trash bags, depicting how he taped them shut. Driskill told me these drawings were guesses based on crime scene photos that Holland showed to him earlier. But Holland told him he was corroborating information only the killer would know.
Later on, Driskill contradicted some known facts, saying the victim asked him for a ride outside a 7-Eleven almost a mile from where she was taken. Holland asked if he was certain. He said he wasn’t, and then mentioned a cross street even further away from the abduction site.
Michael Harden said his girlfriend Bobbie Sue Hill was first picked up by the man who abducted her at a gas station (A). When Larry Driskill confessed to killing Hill, he said he had met her at a 7-Eleven (B) almost a mile west of the original gas station, and when pressed, he recalled a third meeting site (C) even further away. ANIMATION BY BO-WON KEUM/THE MARSHALL PROJECT
Without more evidence, it is impossible to know whether Driskill gave a false confession, lied to Holland about his inability to remember, or lied to me about his innocence. But several researchers who examined excerpts from Driskill’s interrogation transcript identified red flags.
It’s well known that false confessions can arise from stress. “I was hungry, tired, scared, nervous, and just wanted to do whatever it took so I could go home,” Driskill wrote in a July letter. “I was pretty desperate to get out of that room, but the Ranger was always between me and the door.”
But Driskill also describes a momentary belief in his guilt. “I’m sitting there thinking, Could I really do this?,” he told me. “Subconsciously, he had me thinking that I did it.”
His temporary belief in his guilt also squares with academic findings on just how easy it can be to implant memories, especially when hypotheticals are involved. In a 2015 study, Canadian researchers used suggestive memory exercises to convince college students that they had committed fictional thefts and assaults. The researchers concluded, “What something could have been like can turn into elements of what it would have been like, which can become elements of what it was like.”
When Larry Driskill confessed to the murder of Bobbie Sue Hill, he described having met her at two different locations, neither of which were the spot where an eyewitness said she had been taken. ANIMATION BY BO-WON KEUM/THE MARSHALL PROJECT
After reading interrogation excerpts, University of San Francisco law professor Richard Leo noted the moments when Holland pushed Driskill to claim self defense. Some scholars call this “minimization,” while some detectives call it finding “the out.” The problem, experts say, is that minimization can skirt dangerously close to a promise of a lighter sentence, which can further convince innocent people that confessing is their only way out.
In a recent email, Parker County district attorney Jeffrey Swain said Driskill’s confession was credible, despite the factual errors. He was struck by how Driskill correctly described how the victim’s body was found, even when the Ranger pressed him with alternative possibilities. The prosecutor praised Holland’s patience and skill, but acknowledged that prosecutors faced an uphill battle without physical evidence. “While we are confident that Mr. Driskill murdered Bobbie Sue Hill,” he wrote, “that doesn’t mean that the case was an ideal or easy one for a jury.”
CHAPTER 6: THE POWER OF FATIGUE
Two weeks after Driskill’s arrest, Holland traveled north to Gainesville, a town of 16,000 where deputies had reopened the unsolved 1997 murder of Shebaniah Sarah Dougherty. The 20-year-old had disappeared after working her shift at a video store, and people found her body while walking in a wooded area. A key suspect had died in a car accident before detectives could find enough evidence to arrest him.
Shebaniah Sarah Dougherty, 20, disappeared after working a shift at a video rental store in Gainesville, Texas, in 1997. Texas Ranger James Holland pursued a confession from her friend Christopher Ax, who regularly visited her during work shifts.
Shebaniah Sarah Dougherty, 20, disappeared after working a shift at a video rental store in Gainesville, Texas, in 1997. Texas Ranger James Holland pursued a confession from her friend Christopher Ax, who regularly visited her during work shifts. COOKE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
In April 2015, Holland drove to the workplace of Dougherty’s friend Christopher Ax. The Ranger learned that their families were close, that they had once gone on a date, and that he regularly visited her at the video store. Ax explained that he’d left town after a police officer suggested that he could be a suspect.
The Ranger called Ax numerous times over five weeks and told him — falsely — that his DNA had been on Dougherty’s socks and shoes. Over the course of these conversations, Ax recalled seeing the previous suspect at the video store and said the man had hit on his friend. He also remembered eating pizza with Dougherty at her job then going to his house to hang out, but 18 years later he couldn’t remember if this happened the day she was killed.
Using elements of the cognitive interview, Holland told Ax to close his eyes and focus on the flavor of the pizza they’d shared. Eventually, Ax said that the night she died, Dougherty was at his house watching TV as he rubbed her feet.
“Almost every fiber of me was saying, Stay the hell away from this guy,” Ax told me recently. “But my family was saying, ‘You need to go help him,’ and I kind of took her death personally. I really wanted to help get closure for [her] family.” Ax also admired Holland’s job title; as a teenager he had aspired to be a Ranger himself.
Against the advice of a lawyer, Ax agreed to take a polygraph. He failed, and Holland began to alternate between accusations (“You were there when it happened.”) and offers to help (“I want to prove definitively that you didn’t do this.”)
Ax failed the test around 9 p.m. Around 2 a.m. in response to Holland’s questions about how, hypothetically, he would have killed the victim, Ax described accidentally choking Dougherty, but added that he didn’t know if this was a memory or the “vivid imagination of a tired mind.” Holland secured an arrest warrant a few days later. At the jail, Ax repeatedly said he had no memory of killing anyone, but Holland encouraged him to believe he had done so in self defense.
The recording of their exchange, obtained from the Cooke County district attorney’s office, is more than eight hours long. Ax told me he remembers little beyond exhaustion and disorientation. At times, he believed he killed his friend: “He’s a Ranger — if he says it’s true, I guess it’s true,” Ax said. But at other moments, he was certain of his innocence and seemed to feel hopeless about his ability to prove it. At one point, Ax asked Holland to shoot him.
Early in the evening, Ax suggested they visit the area where Dougherty’s body was found. When they entered the barn near the site, Ax said he remembered the walls. A story emerged, with the Ranger and the suspect each supplying connective tissue: Dougherty made a sexual advance in the car, Ax rejected her, and she hanged herself. “I remember the arms were down.” Ax told Holland. “I think I took her down.”
Like Driskill, Ax had served in the military, and was traumatized by a fellow soldier’s death — a suicide by hanging. He too wondered if the police interrogation revived this stress, contributing to the blur between memory and invention.
Back at the sheriff’s office, they ate pizza, which Holland suggested might jog Ax’s memory. As they began discussing a green rope found around Dougherty’s neck, Ax threw up. Holland hinted this was a sign of guilt. (Ax says now he was just sick.) They talked through a scene of Dougherty attacking him with the rope. “If she comes at you with that thing and starts trying to wrap it around your neck and you’re pushing it off and it ends up around hers…” Holland said in the recording.
Later, Ax said, “I don’t remember every detail of it, but I can see it…I wish like hell I couldn’t.”
After 20 months in jail, Ax was released on bond. As the case crept towards trial, Cooke County prosecutors sent the victim’s clothing out for DNA testing, which had improved in the years since the crime. The results indicated a high probability that the DNA belonged to the original suspect, not Ax. In September 2018, the district attorney dropped charges, stating in a press release, “We cannot blindly seek convictions or close our eyes to evidence that points in a different direction than we are heading.”
Christopher Ax spent 20 months in jail after he was accused in the 1997 murder of Shebaniah Sarah Dougherty. The charges were dropped in 2018. ELIAS VALVERDE II/THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Eric Erlandson, a prosecutor who worked on the case, was more cautious. “I listened to every second of audio on that case and I was convinced he did it,” he told me. The DNA sample was small and left room for error.
Ax maintains his innocence and told me many people in his town are still convinced of his guilt, which makes it difficult to make friends, date, or find steady work. He said several loved ones died while he was in jail. Mostly, he blames Holland.“I don’t hate many people in this world, but he is one of them,” Ax said. He predicted that Holland “is going to do this to another innocent person.”
CHAPTER 7: THE JAILHOUSE INFORMANT AND THE GUILTY PLEA
No DNA results came back to aid Larry Driskill’s defense. From 2015 to 2017, Parker County law enforcement worked to build a case around his confession. A few days after his arrest, the sheriff’s office discovered that in 2005 he had worked for a casino party company, and sometimes drove a white cargo van. They seized the van. Inside they found black duct tape, which they believed matched the kind of tape found with the victim’s body 10 years earlier.
While Driskill awaited trial, a fellow detainee named Jesse Carrington came forward, claiming Driskill had confessed to him on the recreation yard. Driskill denies the encounter. Carrington, like many jailhouse informants, was not a disinterested party: In his case file I found an email from a prosecutor, who promised to reduce his sentence for theft, in exchange for testimony against Driskill. When I reached Carrington via Facebook Messenger, he stood by his story but told me he wouldn’t have testified to it in court because he “didn’t know enough about his situation.” Driskill didn’t know about the informant’s hesitation. As far as he was concerned, the jury would hear that he had admitted to murder not once, but twice.
Driskill and his family hired a lawyer who tried to get his confession to Holland barred from trial because he had not known he was a suspect. The lawyer also noted gaps in the interrogation recordings, caused by equipment malfunctions. But before a judge could rule, Driskill pleaded no contest to the murder charge. He is due to be released in 2030, although he will be eligible for parole this summer. “I feel like I lost everything,” he told me. He and his wife are divorcing. His adult children don’t visit him. His mother used to make the four-hour drive to his prison, but eventually he told her not to bother.
The Gib Lewis Unit prison in East Texas, where Larry Driskill was incarcerated from 2017 to 2021. ELI DURST FOR THE MARSHALL PROJECT
When I asked him about James Holland, Driskill addressed him directly. “You’ve ruined my life. Should you be able to walk around free, screwing other peoples’ lives up?” At other moments, he was more forgiving: “I don’t hate him. I’m upset with him — but I’m not mad at him. I don’t want revenge. That’s in God’s hands.”
Lawyers from the Innocence Project of Texas, who declined to discuss the case, are still investigating. Swain, the prosecutor, said he agreed to let them send items to a lab for DNA testing. “In our view, none of these items are the type of things that would change how a jury would have viewed the case,” he told me, expressing frustration that Driskill waited until after he “received the benefit of a plea agreement” to declare his innocence.
At the same time, the Rangers have not technically closed Driskill’s case. They are still trying to solve the murder of Trina Nash, a sex worker last seen entering a white van in Fort Worth, seven months before Hill’s death. When I requested records, I learned that the Rangers consolidated the two cases under a single “report number,” suggesting they may pursue Driskill for Nash’s death as well.
CHAPTER 8: BOBBIE SUE HILL
When Driskill received his prison sentence, Bobbie Sue Hill’s family gathered in the courtroom to watch. “My mom’s short life enriched the lives of so many people,” Hill’s oldest daughter, Ashley Lor, said in an official victim impact statement. “She’ll be loved and missed forever.”
They had spent 12 years waiting for this moment, but the heartbreak had begun well before her death. They remembered a rambunctious child, who had a loving relationship with her brother and a contentious one with their single mother. She dropped out of high school and married her boyfriend. By the time she was 27, they had five children. “Her kids were her life,” said her cousin Cindy Elmquist during a recent phone interview. (Her children, as well as a sibling, did not respond to requests for interviews.)
In October 2003, Hill’s husband died in a car accident. His family took in the kids, and she began disappearing for days at a time. Elmquist would drive over to East Lancaster to look for her. “I saw her sitting on a curb and I barely recognized her. Her face looked so weathered,” she said. “We would say, ‘Girl you need to get home, get off them streets. Something is going to happen to you.’”
Hill’s aunt Judy Tatum told me she would help Hill pay for places to stay and deliver food when she’d complain of hunger. “She saw her flaws and didn’t want to pass it on to her kids,” another cousin, Billy Day Jr., wrote to me. He remembered her crying as they used drugs together. “She didn’t believe she could be what her kids deserved. So she stayed away, seeking any means to numb her senses, memories, and dreams.”
Several weeks before Hill disappeared, she indicated to her oldest daughter that she was ready to return home. Then her mugshot flashed across the local news. “Everyone thought it was never going to get solved, and that nobody cared,” Elmquist said. When the Texas Ranger came along, they were thrilled. Still, they were bothered that Hill’s public image would be defined by her worst moments. They wanted the world to know there was so much more to her.
If Larry Driskill’s team does convince a court to free him, it may tarnish the reputation of Holland, and present a public relations problem for the Texas Rangers. But it will be Hill’s family that has to return to not knowing the identity of the person who killed her, or whether that person is still out there.
The history of supervised consumption sites in other countries proves that they save lives!
Excerpts from the Article:
In tears, Kailin See recounts a story that would not have been possible just weeks before.
A man addicted to heroin, who otherwise would have injected himself alone, visited one of the country’s first authorized locations to use drugs with supervision in early December. He had a job interview later that day, hoping to earn two paychecks by Christmas so he could afford gifts for his children, he told staffers at the Washington Heights site. But when he drew the drugs into his veins, he began to nod off and go pale, a sign of what could have been a lethal overdose. The trained workers sprang into action, giving him oxygen. He quickly came to, said See, one of the main organizers of the site.
The nation’s first legal overdose prevention centers opened in New York City on Nov. 30, 2021, as the number of U.S. overdose deaths continues to soar. In nondescript commercial buildings in Washington Heights and East Harlem, workers watch people use illegal drugs and step in when they overdose, a solution to the drug crisis once considered too fringe to operate in the open. Years of legal battles and debate delayed efforts by cities and states to supervised consumption sites, forcing the facilities to operate underground. These new locations, approved by the then-mayor of New York City, could spur a shift toward offering services nationwide, drug policy experts say. But these sites still present a tangled knot of concerns: The federal government has not approved overdose-prevention centers, still considered an untested concept, and neighbors worry about drawing crime to their area.
The Biden administration’s silence on the issue is not expected to halt potential sites supported by local officials. Now that New York City has claimed the title of first, more could be planned, experts say.
In a 12-month period that ended in April 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, an all-time high in a crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, when many were isolated. The people who use the privately funded sites, operated by the nonprofit OnPoint NYC, say they otherwise would have used those drugs by themselves at a park, public restroom, subway station or at home, according to organizers’ review of intake paperwork.
Since the authorized service began operating Nov. 30, organizers say workers have reversed 76 overdoses, a small victory at a time when the nation is reporting a record number of fatal overdoses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sam Rivera, OnPoint NYC’s executive director, recalls a time when clean-needle programs were stigmatized. Seeing overdose victims treated at the prevention sites today, he said, is “absolutely mind-blowing.”
Sam Rivera, the nonprofit’s head, is often reminded of taking clean needles to what were called “shooting galleries” in the 1990s.
At that time, clean-needle programs were stigmatized, recalled the now 59-year-old New Jersey resident. Now they are endorsed by the federal government as safe.
“I saw an entire society change, an entire city change, when folks were given the opportunity to use clean syringes,” Rivera said.
For decades, Rivera has carried the overdose antidote naloxone with him, running from his office or jumping out of his car with a vial when he heard of an overdose, finding people at a point when oxygen was no longer reaching their brain, a critical stage.
Now, when he hears of an overdose at the nonprofit’s sites, Rivera watches as the staff helps the overdose victim. At the prevention centers, the overdose is reversed so quickly that many people are still conscious. The sites have called 911 for medical help once since their opening, at a time when the city estimates overdoses cost the health-care system $50 million annually for emergency medical service calls, emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
“To see it live is absolutely mind-blowing,” Rivera said, “especially the interaction with the participant who is thanking us in that moment.”
Those who oppose these facilities say they may actually lessen the incentive for participants to enter treatment and recovery.
People still use drugs outside of the centers, and there is little data about those people’s risk of fatally overdosing, said David Murray, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington.
He argues that the resources would be better used for treatment programs.
“The goal to reduce overdose deaths is very laudable, but they seem to have problems demonstrating that that’s actually the outcome,” Murray said.
Keith Humphreys, an addiction researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine, questions the scalability of intervening when someone overdoses, when nearly 1 in 5 Americans used illicit drugs in 2018, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
“Will it be a game-changer?” Humphreys said. “Hell, no. It’s a pretty marginal effort.”
In New York City, the organizers of the sites hope that research conducted at the centers will change critics’ minds.
“If people aren’t alive, they can’t participate in treatment,” said Rivera, executive director of OnPoint NYC.
At the East Harlem site, all the accoutrements a drug user could need are neatly arranged in black trays on a folding table: needles of different sizes, cotton gauze, elastic tourniquets. Users need only bring their illegal drugs.
Although the site appears clinical, the staff tries to make the users comfortable, offering steaming towels when people come in from the waiting area — referred to as “the living room.” Above the defibrillator hanging on the back wall, a mural promises “THIS SITE SAVES LIVES.”
Yucef Colley works as an interventionist at the East Harlem site, keeping tabs on people through mirrors installed in each pod. One of the interventionists on guard was Yucef Colley, who started working at the facility at a time when people used drugs unmonitored in the bathrooms. Colley said he would find some people “to the point they are so blue you’re thinking there’s no way they’re going to come back.”
Now each pod is equipped with mirrors for the interventionists to see if people overdose.
For 61-year-old Bronx resident Danny Micco, the site is a far better alternative to his usual spots, “streets, corners, wherever,” to use heroin and cocaine.
“I was going wherever I could, which is not good,” Micco said, outside the East Harlem facility. “With this,” he said, motioning to the door outside, “you have a place to go, which makes all the difference in the world.”
Sitting in the nonprofit’s East Harlem office, See, a Canadian American dual citizen who worked for sites in Canada and unlawful locations in the United States, shared her worries: What if people who use drugs felt skeptical about the group’s intentions, fearing it was a poaching ground for police? Or rather, what if police were waiting at the door?
While unauthorized sites have operated underground in the United States, such a program has never been able to open legally. When an attempt was made to open one in Philadelphia, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department blocked the effort in court. The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court after the Supreme Court declined to review the case.
“This is such a historic moment for the U.S.” See said. “We couldn’t have known, because there’s really no example really to point to in the United States.”
Although the Justice Department under President Biden has stepped back from Trump’s aggressive legal challenges against sites opening, the administration has not taken a position on the issue and probably will not in the short term, said Lindsay LaSalle, a policy expert at the Drug Policy Alliance. LaSalle said she thinks that taking a position on supervised consumption sites is not “very high on the priority list for the administration,” which has faced a “wartime effort” against covid-19. She added that Biden’s history is another wrinkle. As a senator, he sponsored the “crack house” statute, which made it illegal for anyone to operate a facility for the purpose of using illegal drugs, a provision later used by Trump’s Justice Department to try to prevent supervised consumption sites from opening.
“I think that New York opening will put additional pressure on elected officials and government officials to take heed of what the advocates have been saying,” LaSalle said.
Approved drug-use sites have operated in other nations including Canada and Australia for years, with a spate of research showing that no one has died at such a facility and that the service enhances access to primary health care, limits the spread of diseases such as HIV and helps reduce the public nuisance of used needles discarded in neighborhoods. Scientists say no studies have found that these sites increase drug use or crime in the surrounding areas.
Still, American researchers won’t be able to learn more about the impact of these sites on their communities until more such facilities open.
Rhode Island legalized safe consumption facilities in July and is developing regulations for them, and similar legislation is under consideration in California. San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D), who this month declared a state of emergency in a neighborhood beset by drug use, has said a facility could be opened in her city as early as spring.
Alex Kral, an epidemiologist with RTI International who has researched one of the underground U.S. sites, cited benefits that authorized locations can offer. The East Harlem site has a doctor, social workers and holistic health workers, as well as a garden, showers, laundry machines and a meditation room.
Kral, who visited the New York locations before they opened, praised organizers’ efforts to inform not just participants but also others who tour the sites, possibly inspiring officials who see the sites’ success at reversing overdoses.
“People are trying to see if the sky has fallen or not,” Kral said three weeks after the sites opened. “Did the sky fall? No, it didn’t fall.”
Kral said the research conducted at authorized locations can offer more information about how much of a help these facilities are to their users. Organizers say they are collecting data that has not yet been reviewed by researchers.
More than 470 people have signed up as clients for the two sites, which have been used more than 3,300 times since the end of December, See said. Four of the city’s district attorneys praised the centers as “a model for other cities to follow” in a BuzzFeed News opinion piece, giving a green light for continued operations.
After decades of drug users’ hiding in isolation, fearing their illicit activities may stigmatize them, See and the other operators of the sites imagine a world where people who use drugs can gather, not just looking out for each other but also even helping one another through their drug use. People who use drugs have long learned misconceptions through word of mouth or online, further endangering themselves.
“I know this is going to sound controversial, and a little counterintuitive,” See said, “but we have to teach people to be the best drug users they can be while they’re using.”
Meanwhile, Rivera sees a future where sites like these will open across New York City, at least with a presence in every borough.
He said that could address the concerns of community organizers, such as the Greater Harlem Coalition, that oppose the sites in their own neighborhoods but might be assuaged by seeing others open throughout the city. The Greater Harlem Coalition lobbied against a site being opened in the predominantly Black neighborhood, which the coalition says is oversaturated with drug treatment clinics. Coalition leaders say they think the locations would become magnets for drug dealers soliciting customers.
Syderia Asberry-Chresfield, a co-founder of the Coalition, said data shows people who use these facilities come from elsewhere in the city.
Such criticism probably will be heard in other cities as local governments approve new sites.
Rivera argues that the staffers’ close connections with the participants allow them to gain trust to the point that when someone expresses an interest in treatment, they can encourage the person in that direction. Some of the staffers in the sites are in recovery themselves and have helped others find assistance, Rivera said.
“We can’t force people into treatment,” he said. “It doesn’t work. We know it doesn’t work. But when they’re ready, we’re ready.”
Weeks after recounting the tale of the job seeker, See was walking near her office and spotted him working at a street stall.
“The victories may be small, but they’re still victories,” she said, her eyes welling up as she recalled the man’s saying that his interview had gone well. “He survived, and he’s still trying.”
CCC founder and CEO Aleya Siyaj, and all others like him, should be prosecuted criminally; nobody should get away with ripping off folks because of their fear.
Excerpts from the Article:
First, there were bootleg hand sanitizer, counterfeit KN95 masks and vaccine cards. Now, nearly two years into the pandemic, the scam variant of concern involves testing.
Attorneys general in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Oregon have issued consumer alert warnings in recent days about questionable coronavirus tests and pop-up sites. Complaints include markups on at-home test kits and sites in New York that wrongfully billed patients for tests that are free; fake at-home tests being sold in Michigan; and testing centers in Illinois that return dubious results — or none at all.
The surging demand for tests recalls the shortages seen in the summer of 2020 and is a stark reminder that the United States continues to struggle with its coronavirus testing strategy. Even before the omicron variant surfaced, tests were in high demand as students returned to classrooms, workers to offices and many to leisure activities like concerts and cruises requiring proof of a negative test.
Now the current omicron spike has pushed the rate of new infections in the United States to record numbers: On Friday, the seven-day average for new cases was 794,202, close to triple the previous peak from a year ago. Several large school districts are requiring a negative test to return to class. Long lines have formed outside testing sites. And health experts are pushing Americans to test whenever faced with a potentially risky situation.
Americans will be able to order free rapid coronavirus tests Wednesday on new federal website.
As officials struggle to meet demand at government-run sites, many are turning to privately run pop-up sites. Consumer advocates are warning the public to be cautious about these sites operating in mobile units, shipping containers and sometimes outdoors in tents.
Consumers confuse such pop-up sites for health-care clinics, said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Chicago and Northern Illinois. “They don’t realize they’re just a business that’s unlicensed and unregulated,” he told The Washington Post on Friday.
Authorities probing testing sites say one of the companies they’ve received several complaints about is the Center for Covid Control (CCC), an Illinois-based company that runs more than 300 pop-up testing locations nationwide.
The company has not been charged, but customers have complained of dubious testing protocols, paying for expedited test results that never arrive and being asked for personal identifying information, according to complaints filed with Better Business Bureau locations and attorney general offices in Illinois and Oregon.
This week, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s (D) office issued a blanket warning about pop-up testing sites; by Thursday, the office confirmed to The Post that it had opened a probe into the CCC after receiving at least 10 complaints.
“As a result of complaints from residents as well as reported problems at pop-up testing locations connected to the Center for COVID Control, we have opened an investigation,” spokesperson Annie Thompson said in an email.
Kristina Edmunson, a spokesperson for Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum, said the office this week opened a civil investigation into the CCCfor possible violations of Oregon Unfair Trade Practices Act, which helps consumers hold businesses accountable for deceptive business practices.
According to two complaints shared by Rosenblum’s office, one customer at a Portland-based site reported receiving a rapid test that had already expired, according to the packaging. Another customer at a Portland site went to a CCC drive-through and never received her test results — but was asked to upload a picture of her driver’s license and provide her insurance information.
On Thursday, the CCC announced that it was suspending operations for a week. The Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based company bills itself as the nation’s largest coronavirus testing operator that promises no-appointment rapid tests to those with and without insurance.
In a statement, CCC founder and CEO Aleya Siyaj blamed rapid company growth and the surge in testing demand as the reason “we haven’t been able to meet all our commitments.” Siyaj said many of the testing sites in the network saw a tenfold increase in patients with sites across the country cumulatively collecting as many as 80,000 tests a day.
In addition to the investigation by the Illinois attorney general’s office, the CCC is also being probed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Low ratings and complaints have flooded BBB chapters in other states; the BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois said it is “actively looking into this company as they have recently received numerous complaints both locally and from across the country,” adding that the CCC has been “unresponsive” to complaints.
The problems with pop-up sites point to the need for better regulation, Bernas said. The biggest concern that has emerged from consumers is that dubious pop-up operations — or bad actors who infiltrate them — are after personal information for potential insurance fraud and identity theft purposes. Anecdotally, Bernas said, there are concerns individuals are joining long, chaotic lines and posing as clinic employees to extract personal info from waiting customers.
“And when people think they’re dealing with health-care providers, they don’t think twice about the info being asked of them,” Bernas said.
Lee Fleisher, the chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the federal agency was aware of several allegations against the CCC.
“To be clear – the Center for COVID Control is not a federal agency,” he said. “CMS is actively investigating numerous complaints about multiple laboratories and testing sites associated with this private company.”
Health and law enforcement officials said that testing sites run by major hospital systems or state and local health departments are the most reliable, and that consumers should ask questions when visiting unaffiliated pop-up sites.
Illinois Attorney General Raoul’s office recommends asking what kind of tests are being administered — like molecular PCR or rapid antigen versus serology tests, which are not diagnostic — what lab processes the results and double-checking if the lab is properly accredited.
“In today’s numbers, the chances of someone has coronavirus are pretty significant,” said Ramon Lorenzo-Redondo, an assistant professor of medicine studying infectious diseases at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Ideally, every time you have a gathering, you take a test — at least until cases drop.”
A bogus test, he said, means someone trying to be cautious gets false assurance that they can go to the office or gather with grandparents and unwittingly spread the virus.
“That’s why right now, accurate testing is so important,” he said.
Rapid coronavirus tests are hard to find — unless you work for Google or play in the NBA
A 74-year-old woman spent 27 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit. This week she was exonerated
The worst example of how messed up the system is is the conviction of INNOCENT people. Nobody knows for sure, but depending which study you read, there are between 10,000 and 100,000 innocent people in America’s prisons!
Excerpts from the Article:
A Tennessee woman who was wrongfully convicted of murdering her great-niece and spent 27 years in prison, was exonerated this week.
On June 26, 1987, Joyce Watkins, now 74, and her boyfriend at the time, Charlie Dunn, went to pick up Watkins four-year-old great-niece, Brandi, in Kentucky, according to a report filed with the Davidson County Criminal Court. The next morning Brandi was unresponsive, so Watkins took her to Nashville Memorial Hospital.
Brandi suffered from severe vaginal injury and head trauma. She was pronounced dead the following day, the report stated. The two were with Brandi for only nine hours, but the medical examiner, Dr. Gretel Harlan, concluded the injuries were sustained during that time.
A year later, in August 1988, Watkins and Dunn were convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated rape. The two spent 27 years behind bars before they were both granted parole in 2015. Before his release, Dunn, unfortunately, passed away in jail.
Prior to Brandi being picked up by the couple, she was living at the home of Rose Williams, Brandi’s great-aunt. Brandi’s mother was in Georgia at the time. Throughout that period, a Kentucky Department of Social Services worker visited the home after receiving a report Brandi had been abused. Williams explained Brandi’s injuries were due to a playground mishap, and the investigation was closed.
Now 35 years later, Watkins has been exonerated after she made it a point to clear her name. Dunn was also cleared of the crime and posthumously exonerated.
His daughter, Jackie Dunn, was at the hearing on Wednesday. “I wish my daddy was here to witness this day,” she said. “He knew he was innocent, he knew he did not commit those crimes,” Dunn said to CNN affiliate WTVF.
Watkins got help from the Tennessee Innocence Project and the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office. “We got this case because she (Joyce) came to us,” Jason Gichner, senior legal counsel with the Tennessee Innocence Project told CNN. “She just showed up at the office and said, ‘Let me tell you my story. I need your help.’ “
The report was filed on November 10, 2021, asking that the pair’s convictions be vacated. Joyce Watkins spent 27 years in jail and was released on parole in 2015.
The filing clarified Watkins noticed blood in Brandi’s underwear when they arrived home, only an hour and a half after the couple picked her up, with at least an hour of that time spent driving back to Nashville.
A report from Dr. Shipla Reddy was also included in the filing, who said Dr. Harlan’s “methodology for dating the head injury based upon a lack of histiocytic response in the brain tissue is not a legitimate method for dating pediatric head trauma.”
He was wrongly convicted of murder as a teen. After fighting for 26 years, his name has finally been cleared
The ruling noted Harlan conceded the error in her methodology years after the trial.
“Joyce Watkins and Charlie Dunn are innocent,” District Attorney Glenn Funk told CNN, “We cannot give Ms. Watkins or Mr. Dunn their lost years but we can restore their dignity; we can restore their names. Their innocence demands it.”
According to Sunny Eaton with the District Attorney’s Office, Watkins is the first black woman to ever be exonerated in the state and only the third woman in Tennessee history.
“Miss Watkins, this charge against you is dismissed,” Davidson County Criminal Court Judge, Angelita Blackshear Dalton, said Wednesday morning, according to WTVF.
As far as Watkins or Dunn’s family getting compensated for their wasted time spent in jail, Gichner said he is unsure of what will happen down the road.
In a comment to the media and CNN affiliate WZTV Watkins said, “I thank all the people for their prayers and helping me get out of this mess which has cost me half of my life for nothing, But I’ll get over it.”
As I have said too many times: too many guns in America! Like many excellent articles these days this one is lengthy, and I do not have the time to edit it properly.
Click at the end to read the awful, poignant stories of more child deaths. YOU should know what is happening to our kids.
Excerpts from the Article:
The sisters in Ohio, both in elementary school, were shot by their father. The boy in Texas was shot at home by someone in a passing a car. The ninth-grader in Arkansas was shot at school by a friend. The girl in Kansas was shot by a toddler, who didn’t mean to do it. The teenager in South Carolina shot himself, but he did mean to do it.
All of them were killed in an epidemic unique to the United States, where, on average, at least one child is shot every hour of every day. Many survive, but many others do not. In the nation’s capital, nine children were killed in gun homicides last year. In Los Angeles, 11 were fatally shot. In Philadelphia: 36. In Chicago: 59. Those figures don’t include the hundreds of other kids who died in accidental shootings and by suicide.
Just how many were taken by gun violence last year will remain unknown until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases its data months from now. But in 2020, the number exceeded 2,200 — by far the highest total in the past two decades — and 2021′s tally is expected to be worse.
The children featured below are broadly representative of those killed every year in America. Even babies are shot to death, but the vast majority of young victims are teenagers. Black kids are more than four times as likely to die in shootings as White ones, according to CDC data, though White kids are much more likely to use guns to take their own lives.
Often, children killed by bullets are memorialized only by brief news reports or anguished obituaries. But the way they lived matters as much as the way they died.
The 13 children profiled here were funny: the 6-year-old who wanted to be a doctor so she could give shots to all the doctors who had given her shots. They were generous: the 12-year-old who used his chore money to take his family out to McDonald’s. And they were ambitious: the 15-year-old who wanted to be a nuclear physicist.
These are their stories, one for each month of a violent year.
Muhammad, smiled from the front seat of the car. He loved to see his daughter so happy, but he wasn’t surprised. Janaria, who went by “Nana,” knew how to turn every single day into a party.
Her bedroom was proof of that. The previous year, she’d painted the walls a grayish purple, hung a string of lights, purchased a plush carpet and started to save up for a trundle bed, which she thought would help create a makeshift living room for sleepovers and after-school hangouts. It was a sparkle-filled teenage playground, perfect for the privacy she’d started craving from her parents.
Janaria had paid for that whole makeover with earnings from a handful of odd jobs: shifts at a local grocery store, babysitting and dog-walking gigs, and a side hair-cutting business. Because that’s who she was. Scrappy, flashy and fun.
Janaria was also a caretaker, of every member of her family. She helped her dad with technology so often that he liked to call her his secretary. When it came to her brothers, Janaria ruled the house. Whenever she heard that their grades were slipping, she would march up to them and say, “If you don’t study, you’re going to be a dummy. Period.” She liked to end most of her sentences with “period,” so you knew she was serious.
Janaria’s sister, 10-year-old Aniya, copied everything she did. And the list was long. Basketball. Volleyball. The dance team. If Janaria had had it her way, her parents said, she would have been quarterback of the football team, too.
“At 15, she was movin’,” her dad said. “You said describe her? She was like the sun. When you saw her, you lit up.”
That light was extinguished on Feb. 16. Janaria had left her house about 7:40 p.m. to meet her friends for a quick trip to her favorite restaurant, Kings & Wings, when gunfire suddenly erupted and a bullet pierced her chest. Lawrence held his daughter in his arms as she bled to death, steps from her freshly painted purple room.
She was one of five students at her neighborhood high school who were shot to death in the first half that year. No one has been arrested, police said, who are still investigating the incident nearly a year later.
Kathleen will do her duty, and will not be fooled by the city’s stay of enforcement of the ordinance!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware’s Democratic attorney general filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a small town’s passage of an ordinance mandating burial or cremation of fetal remains.
The Seaford town council passed the ordinance last month regarding disposal of fetal remains following any abortion performed within the city limits. The move came after Planned Parenthood opened a facility in Seaford in September, its first clinic in southern Delaware since a Rehoboth Beach location closed in 2011.
State officials are asking a Chancery Court judge to declare the ordinance invalid under Delaware law and to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting it from being enforced.
The ordinance makes clear that women have the right under state and federal law to get an abortion, while also noting that courts have held that the disposal of fetal remains can be regulated. The ordinance also states that Delaware gives municipalities broad “home rule” powers.
Attorney General Kathleen Jennings warned town officials before Tuesday’s court filing that the “anti-choice” ordinance is pre-empted by state laws regarding disposal of human remains and medical waste, as well as state regulatory powers over health care facilities.
State officials also argue, for example, that a fetus that is aborted before 20 weeks of gestation or which weighs less than about 12.5 ounces, is not considered a dead human under Delaware law. Therefore, most elective abortions would not result in a “dead body,” according to Jennings.
A dead body cannot be buried or cremated without a permit, and a permit cannot be issued without a death certificate, and “a death certificate can only be issued for a dead human body,” according to the state’s complaint.
Jennings also argues that the ordinance would pose a hardship on women by forcing them to pay for burial or cremation, even though a woman could opt not to select either option. In that instance, the abortion facility would be left to decide, at its expense, how and where to dispose of the remains.
“This ordinance is part of a national wave of anti-abortion policies funded by extremists who would have our country dragged fifty years into the past,” Jennings said in a statement. “Left unchecked, it threatens serious, irreparable, and unconstitutional harm. And at the end of the day, it will amount to little more than an expensive publicity stunt.”
The statement included supporting comments from officials with Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Delaware chapter of the National Organization for Women.
Seaford city solicitor Daniel Griffith did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The city council reviewed a draft of the ordinance in September but delayed a scheduled Oct. 12 vote after the attorney general and the ACLU of Delaware raised concerns about its constitutionality. On Dec. 14, despite threats of litigation, the council voted 3-2 to approve the ordinance.
The council voted on Dec. 30 to stay enforcement of the ordinance, but not its Jan. 22 effective date. The stay of enforcement was purportedly to see whether the General Assembly might enact legislation that could resolve the issue, but the council could vote to lift it at any time.
This is a good idea. We cannot allow domestic terrorism, and a specialized unit like this one is the best way to tackle this growing problem.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Justice Department is forming a new domestic terrorism unit to help combat a threat that has intensified dramatically in recent years, a top national security official said Tuesday.
Olsen said that the Justice Department previously had counterterrorism attorneys who worked both domestic and international cases and that the new unit would “augment our existing approach.”
His testimony came just a few days after the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, an event that some lawmakers say showed that the FBI underestimated the threat posed by domestic extremists and violence-prone members of far-right groups.
“This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country,” Olsen said.
The hearing was convened to assess the threat of domestic terrorism a year after the Jan. 6 attack. It often devolved into partisan bickering over the riot, which involved hundreds of Trump supporters who marched to the Capitol after a rally outside the White House, and the violence and looting that erupted at some racial justice protests in 2020.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) opened the hearing with a video showing footage and news coverage from the Jan. 6 riot, taking aim at Republicans for not being fully supportive of congressional efforts to investigate the attacks on police officers, threats against lawmakers and attempts to undo Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“They are normalizing the use of violence to achieve political goals,” Durbin said.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) countered with a video showing unrest in Portland, Ore., and elsewhere. “These anti-police riots rocked our nation for seven full months, just like the January 6 assault on the Capitol rocked the nation,” he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) lambasted Olsen and Jill Sanborn, the head of the FBI’s national security branch, for not answering certain questions about Jan. 6-related criminal charges or about whether any FBI informants encouraged or participated in the violence.
“Your answer to every damn question is ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know,’ ” Cruz railed at Olsen. To Sanborn, he suggested that undercover FBI agents or informants may have spurred on the rioters — an assertion for which there is no known evidence but which Sanborn would not categorically rule out.
“Ms. Sanborn, a lot of Americans are concerned that the federal government deliberately encouraged illegal violent conduct on January 6th,” Cruz said, asking her whether that was true. “Not to my knowledge, sir,” she replied.
She and Olsen sought to assure lawmakers that the Justice Department is investigating and prosecuting all of those who committed crimes, no matter what motivated them. Olsen said authorities had arrested and charged more than 725 people, including more than 325 facing felony counts, in connection with their roles in the Jan. 6 attack. The FBI is seeking to identify and arrest more than 200 additional suspects.
Sanborn said the bureau had opened more than 800 cases in connection with the riots during the summer 2020 and arrested more than 250 people.
The bureau assessed racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and anti-government violent extremism as being the most “lethal” terrorism threats, Sanborn said. She added that the FBI had recently elevated anti-government violent extremism as a priority, on par with racially motivated violent extremism, homegrown violent extremism and extremism planned or inspired by the Islamic State.
The breach of the Capitol has spurred new political and policy debates about failures of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to prevent the attack, and about how the government combats domestic terrorism.
The Justice Department and the bureau have faced criticism in recent years for not focusing as intensely on domestic terrorism as they do internationally inspired threats, though officials have insisted they take both matters seriously.
Last year, the White House released a national strategy to address the problem, calling for, among other things, new spending at the Justice Department and FBI to hire analysts, investigators and prosecutors.
Capitol attack will spur broad crackdown on domestic extremists, analysts say
Historically, domestic terrorism investigations come with more procedural and legal hurdles than cases involving suspects inspired by groups based outside the United States, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. The charge of material support for a foreign terrorist group, for instance, has no legal equivalent for someone eager to commit violence in the name of domestic political goals.
As a result, domestic terrorism investigators frequently settle for filing gun or drug charges, and often those are filed in state — not federal — court, which can mask the overall extent of extremist threats.
Democrats pressed Olsen to explain why prosecutors had not sought tougher sentences in Jan. 6 cases by seeking enhancements for terrorism. Olsen did not answer the question directly, saying each case had to be evaluated on its particular facts. He pointed to recent remarks from Attorney General Merrick Garland, who suggested such enhancements could come as prosecutors win convictions in more-serious cases.
Where precisely to draw lines about who is or who isn’t a domestic terrorist is also a subject of debate. At the hearing, Sanborn said that last year, there were four attacks conducted by domestic violent extremists, resulting in 13 deaths. She did not identify or describe the incidents, and FBI officials did not provide any details in response to questions from The Washington Post in the hours after the hearing.
Federal law defines domestic terrorism as criminal acts within the United States that are dangerous to human life and that appear to be intended “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population . . . to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or . . . to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”
After the Jan. 6 attack, Democrats said the Justice Department and FBI did not aggressively pursue domestic terrorism cases during the Trump administration.
From 2016 to 2019, the number of domestic terrorism suspects arrested per year fell from 229 to 107, before jumping to 180 in 2020. Since 2020, the number of open investigations has grown rapidly. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has previously said that to handle the caseload, he more than tripled the number of agents and analysts working on domestic terrorism cases.
At Tuesday’s hearing, conservative lawmakers pushed Olsen and Sanborn to explain and justify a memo Garland wrote last year urging more scrutiny of threats against school officials. Grassley said the memo had “a chilling effect on freedom of speech.”
Olsen and Sanborn said the school-threats issue was a small part of their divisions’ work. Olsen said such matters were largely handled by other Justice Department components — including the criminal division and civil rights division — while the national security division played an “advisory role.”
Sanborn said the issue “is not a particular focus for the counterterrorism division,” adding that the FBI would only get involved if there was an allegation of a violation of federal law. She also sought to downplay the significance of the FBI’s efforts to track such cases by applying a particular record-keeping tag, saying that was “simply an administrative process to be able to better analyze trends.”
Even though Black men are more likely than Black women to be victims of domestic violence, Black men FOUR TIMES more likely than Black women to be arrested for domestic violence.
My friend Ed Bartlett sent me this. The racism in the system really is wild.
Dear Criminal Reform Colleague,
As you know, the over-arrest of Black men is a major injustice in our country. Here’s the mind-boggling problem:
Even though Black men are more likely than Black women to be victims of domestic violence, Black men FOUR TIMES more likely than Black women to be arrested for domestic violence. Because it’s such a disturbing problem, here are the actual numbers:
Annual numbers of Black victims of partner abuse:
· Male victims: 1.5 million
· Female victims: 1.4 million
Annual number of Black persons arrested for domestic violence:
· Males: 27,031
· Females: 6,341
You can see the links to the CDC and DOJ studies here: https://endtodv.org/black-men/
To stop this injustice, the Coalition to End Domestic Violence has set up a Change.org petition: https://www.change.org/p/congress-help-stop-the-mass-arrest-of-black-men-doing-nothing-ensures-this-will-happen-again
In advance of Black History Month, please sign our petition. Then share it with your colleagues and friends to get word out!
We can’t allow the current epidemic of arrests of Black men to continue. Thank you!
Edward E. Bartlett, PhD
Coalition to End Domestic Violence
3220 N Street, NW, Suite 114
Washington, DC 20007
This joins scores of articles I have concerning abominable prison health care.
Excerpts from the Article:
Prisoners, wardens, psychologists, correctional experts and medical specialists testified over the course of four weeks in the Jensen v. Shinn prison health care trial in Arizona.They described their personal experiences and observations in Arizona prisons in a legal challenge in which prisoners allege the state is providing unconstitutional levels of health care.
But on the last day of the trial on Wednesday, Dec. 8, the court heard “damning” testimony from the state’s prison health care provider, Centurion of Arizona, that may undermine the state’s entire defense.
Tom Dolan, Centurion Vice President for the Arizona prison contract, took the witness stand to discuss his company’s performance since it took over from the previous provider, Corizon Health, in 2019. “We learned early on that, in order to meet the needs of our clients, some facilities needed additional staff,” Dolan said.
Dolan testified that the health care staffing levels in the Arizona prison system were set by the Department in a 2019 request for proposals. The contract requires Centurion to have 1,052.75 full-time equivalent positions.
But soon after it took over in July of 2019, Dolan said Centurion did its own independent evaluation to determine if that number was sufficient. He said the company worked with the 10 state-run prison sites to identify what additional positions they needed in order to provide services that lived up to the performance measures agreed to in the Jensen v. Shinn lawsuit, which was still under a settlement agreement at the time.
“We look at all of the statistics that we collect each month,” Dolan said. “We look at provider visits, nurse lines, number of HNRs, med passes, number of meds that patients are on. We look at man-down encounters per facility. We look at the overall facility and then build the staffing on the data.”
Dolan said Centurion used that information to submit a proposal to the Department to amend the staffing matrix. In an email sent in January of 2020 to an administrator at the Arizona Department of Corrections health services contract monitoring bureau, Dolan outlined what he referred to as a staffing “wish list.”
According to an attorney for the Department, Dolan was responding to a request from DOC “to review the staffing matrix and submit a staffing proposal without budget constraints.”
Dolan’s staffing proposal called for 161.5 additional positions than were in the 2019 Centurion contract. The additional staff included administrators, nursing directors, regional directors, records clerks, nurses, physicians, and special “man down” teams dedicated to emergencies.
But Dolan testified that after he submitted the staffing proposal, the Department of Corrections did nothing with it. Dolan said the Department was not open to amending the contract to add the additional FTEs, and they were not included when the Centurion contract was extended in July 2021. He testified that the current Department staffing matrix is still the same as the one provided in the original 2019 contract.
ACLU National Prison Project Deputy Director Corene Kendrick, representing the prisoners in the lawsuit, called the staffing proposal a “damning admission.”
“The legal analysis for this type of case is something called deliberate indifference,” Kendrick said. “This document is the epitome of deliberate indifference. Prison officials were told in Jan 2020 that they needed to increase health care staff by 15 percent and nothing happened. Instead, what happened over the next year and half is that many, many people died preventable deaths because of the failure to provide basic medical care and mental health care.”
“I think what it shows is that Centurion’s leadership recognized that the current staffing model that the state has dictated to them is not adequate to provide basic health care,” Kendrick said.
In 2012, the federal court recognized a group of people in Arizona prisons who claimed their Eighth Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment were being violated. The class action lawsuit was then named Parsons v. Ryan, after named plaintiff Victor Parsons and then-director Charles Ryan. Arizona agreed to settle the case in 2014 and it was certified in 2015.
But since that time, the federal courts overseeing the settlement have found the state was not living up to the terms of the settlement agreement. Federal judges have twice held the Department in contempt, fining the agency millions of dollars. The case has outlasted judges, named plaintiffs and prison administrators. In 2021, it is now known as Jensen v. Shinn.
In July, Judge Roslyn Silver took the drastic measure of rescinding the settlement and ordering a bench trial, which began on Nov. 1.
During the four-week trial, the court heard testimony from several currently incarcerated people who claimed they had suffered due to lack of medical and mental health care.
Kendall Johnson, a witness for the plaintiffs incarcerated in the Perryville Women’s Prison, said she entered prison at age 19 in 2004 as a healthy young woman. In 2017, she started to experience numbness in her legs and feet. She repeatedly requested medical treatment for several years as her symptoms progressed. She said she experienced several falls that resulted in broken bones and eventually lost the ability to write and walk. In 2020, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Johnson wrote health needs requests begging for proper treatment, but she didn’t get it until May 2021. She told the court she is now confined to a special needs medical unit at the prison where she spends her days “counting the ceiling tiles.”
She is nearly immobile and has trouble speaking. “I tried to get help but it was like hitting my head against the wall,” she said.
Dustin Brislan, a named plaintiff, testified from the Tucson prison. He provided the names of more than 10 officers he accused of taunting him and encouraging him to self-harm, a tactic known in the prisons as “kickstarting.” “Kickstarting is where an officer or mental health staff push your buttons — they know your triggers — and get you to react,” he said. “It happened many times.” Brislan said he would often cut himself with rust from the isolation cells while on constant suicide watch, while correctional officers were watching and encouraging him to do so. He said the officer would watch him and not act to stop him.
“The officers actually encourage me to cut myself,” he said. “They say they want to see how bad I can get. They heard stories about me and wanted to see how seriously I could hurt myself. They know exactly how serious I am. There’s a lot of them that do it.”
Judge Silver could order receivership, in which a federal monitor who answered to the courts would be in charge of the health care services for state prisons. Silver could also order Centurion to hire more prison health care workers, or she could order the state to resume direct operations of the health care in state prisons as opposed to hiring a contractor.
If the ruling is unfavorable to the Department, it will almost certainly be appealed, as has been the strategy of the defense team in most other instances in response to orders from the court in the Jensen lawsuit.
Kendrick said she feels optimistic about their case.
“We presented testimony from multiple experts and people who actually still work there, Kendrick said. “We showed that the conditions in isolation units and the medical and mental health care are abysmal.”
“We hope that Judge Silver will find that the department has been violating the rights of incarcerated people,” Kendrick said. “We’ve asked her in the past to appoint someone independent to oversee the delivery of health care. And we’ve asked her to place very strict limits on the use of solitary confinement, including banning its use on people with serious mental illness, pregnant people and juveniles.”
The parties must now file findings of fact and conclusions of law by Jan. 21. Responses to those filings are due Feb. 11, meaning the ruling might not happen until March.