Editorial: Documents in CCA suit should be unsealed

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, September 1, 2016

Corrections Corporation of America, the Nashville-based private prison operator, has a propensity for secrecy that now extends to a court case. The company is seeking to seal documents in a lawsuit brought by female visitors to Tennessee’s South Central Correctional Facility who were subjected to strip searches to prove they were menstruating, according to an Associated Press report. U.S. District Magistrate Judge E. Clifton Knowles has sealed the documents for the time being, but he should unseal them during the case if they do not compromise security because court proceedings should be as public as possible and CCA, as the operator of a Tennessee prison, is subject to the state’s Public Records Act. … With the opening of the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville last year, CCA is expanding its footprint in Tennessee. The company’s stock plummeted last month, however, when the Justice Department announced it would no longer use private contractors to run federal prisons. The agency said the government could run prisons more safely and effectively than private companies. The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General found using private companies did not result in substantial cost savings — a determination state officials should note. …

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Corrrections Corporation of America fights to seal documents about strip searches
Source: Travis Loller, Associated Press, August 25, 2016

Private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America is trying to seal from public view documents in a lawsuit that claim female visitors to a Tennessee prison were forced to undergo strip searches to prove they were menstruating. Three women have accused the company of violating their rights by forcing them to expose their genitals to guards after they tried to bring sanitary pads or tampons into South Central Correctional Facility, about 85 miles southwest of Nashville. One woman said her three children had to witness the search. … The Nashville-based company said the plaintiffs, who have been allowed to proceed anonymously, are trying to “inflame the public” and expose confidential prison information. The controversy began last month after the plaintiffs publicly filed a motion for partial summary judgment, asking a judge to rule on some issues where the facts are not in dispute. Two supporting documents were also filed publicly but the exhibits were filed under seal, with plaintiffs asking the judge to let them file a redacted public copy in ten days. …