In Florida, clear guidelines give private prisons priority /Those with serious medical or psychological issues are left to the state

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, January 29, 2015

Florida, home to private prison giant GEO Group, Inc. and host to facilities managed by Corrections Corporations of America, has seen an uptick in inmate deaths and abuse over the past decade. Earlier this month, the overhaul of its struggling prison system was tasked to Julie Jones, the fourth Department of Corrections head in as many years….. “I asked [former Department of Corrections] Secretary Crews a very specific question,” State Senator Rob Bradley said during a meeting of the Committee on Criminal Justice, “and that was, I said, ‘Are inmates cherry picked for private facilities?’ and he said, ‘No.’”

Secretary Jones’s attempt to respond — “The inmates don’t select….” — was interrupted.

“No, no, no, no, I mean, do private facilities get to take the cheapest ones, the ones that don’t cost as much, the ones that aren’t as bad? ‘Does that happen?’ and he said it’s as random as anything in the world, that private facilities do not cherry pick,” Bradley clarified. “Because I asked that specific question of him and that’s what he told me. Are you giving me a different answer? That the privates get all the easy ones and y’all get all the bad ones?”

“That is my belief,” Jones replied, “yes, sir.”…

….MuckRock has placed requests for private prison contracts related to every CCA facility. We have yet to receive acknowledgement from Florida’s Department of Corrections on requests in that state — GEO took over operation of a few CCA facilities at the beginning of last year, and requests for contracts have only yielded GEO inmate transfer agreements thus far — but a look at a CCA contract we received from Bernalillo County, New Mexico illustrates the sort of restrictions that raise questions.

According to the contract, any inmate in need of “specialty treatment” is not accepted and “the Contractor reserves the right to refuse or remove any inmate from the Facility if the Contractor determines it is in the best interest of the Contractor.”….