Author Archives: Info Center

Bush wants to privatize some veterans’ health benefits, but in Florida it didn’t go so well

Source: Chris Frates, CNN, May 1, 2015

Jeb Bush’s effort as governor to partially privatize veterans health care services in Florida went so poorly it was ended shortly after Bush left office. That hasn’t stopped the former Republican governor, now in the early stages of running for president, from arguing veterans should be given the choice to see a public or private doctor, with either visit being paid for by the government. …. But Bush’s experience outsourcing veterans’ nursing homes in Florida was a case study in privatization’s pitfalls. By the time it was over, Florida officials determined the state could provide higher-quality care at a better price for taxpayers. …. In 2001, the state opened a veterans’ nursing home in Pembroke Pines, Florida, that contracted out its nursing and food services to a private company. The contract went to PhyAmerica. The company’s chief executive, a major donor to Florida Republicans who gave to Bush’s campaign, lost control of the company in 2003 after it went into bankruptcy, according to news reports.
Two similarly operated facilities were open in Florida by 2004. By then, the Pembroke Pines facility was already having problems. It was placed on the state’s list of facilities providing substandard care and ranked in the bottom 20 percent of facilities in its county, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported then. In one incident, the nursing home was cited after inspectors pulled the records of 10 patients and found nine were not being properly cared for, leaving them at risk for falls and accidents, according to the paper. One patient fell repeatedly before nurses found him on the floor with a half-inch deep gash over his eye. An Alzheimer’s patient escaped from a window before being spotted by staff, the paper reported……
Veterans’ Nursing Home Under Scrutiny
Source: Diane C. Lade, Sun-Sentinel, September 27, 2002

Flags flew brightly and old soldiers proudly snapped to attention on a breezy January morning as Gov. Jeb Bush dedicated the new Sandy Nininger State Veterans Nursing Home in Pembroke Pines — the long-awaited dream of local veterans who lobbied for years to bring long-term care closer to home. Twenty-one months later, Nininger is on the state’s latest Nursing Home Watch List of facilities providing substandard care. The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration online reports show that from March through July, Nininger had 29 deficiencies involving residents’ rights, privacy, care and management, as well as three safety code violations. The most serious came during a March 26 inspection, when Nininger was cited for failing to properly monitor nine out of 10 residents whose records state inspectors examined, putting them at risk of falls and accidents….

Florida takes over care at 3 nursing homes
Source: BY SCOTT ANDRON, Miami Herald (FL), Wed, Aug. 13, 2008

The state is taking over direct management of nurse’s aides and food workers at three veterans’ nursing homes, including one in Pembroke Pines. The 208 employees now work for a contractor, North Carolina-based PhyAmerica Government Services. But as of Aug. 29, PhyAmerica is laying them off, according to a notice filed Tuesday with the state labor department. ….. The PhyAmerica employees can apply for the new state jobs, said Courtney Heidelberg, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. …… ”It’s more cost effective, it’s better quality of care for our residents, and our employees get better benefits,” she said.

Audit: Louisiana has long wait list for Medicaid community-based services

Source: Marsha Shuler, The Advocate, May 5, 2015

Louisiana’s elderly and developmentally disabled wait longer than people in other states to get community-based services through Medicaid, the legislative auditor reported Monday. As of October, the auditor said 54,677 people remained on lists for the various Medicaid programs with wait times ranging from 21/2 to 10 years. The national average for home and community-based programs serving the elderly and individuals with physical disabilities is 10 months to 13 months, the audit report said. … The Legislative Auditor’s report is designed to provide information on the current use, cost and quality of care in Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services in order to have a baseline for evaluation after privatization. …
Louisiana legislators want to see more information about Bayou Health
Source: Marsha Shuler and Mark Ballard, The Advocate, May 4, 2015

After three years in operation, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature effort to privatize Medicaid might be saving taxpayers millions of dollars and providing about 20 percent of the state’s population with better health care. Or it might not. …… Judging the success of the privatization initiative has proven complicated.

Nursing home industry’s resistance to privatization stalls bidding process to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Medicaid long-term care plan
Source: Marsha Shuler, The Advocate, April 22, 2015

Louisiana’s nursing home industry is trying to exempt itself from the final phase of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Medicaid privatization. The industry’s objection is stalling release of initial steps in the bidding process — called request for proposals or RFP — that would seek a private company to take over management of long-term care programs for the elderly and developmentally disabled. Under “managed care,” the idea is to provide needed services to people at the right time and in the most appropriate and generally less expensive setting. About 72,000 people considered elderly, developmentally disabled or disabled by an adult-onset condition are getting their care covered by Medicaid in either institutional or home-based settings. The price tag is $2.1 billion. The Jindal administration already has contracted with private managers to handle the medical and behavioral health components of the state’s $8 billion Medicaid program. The long-term care portion is the third and final installment….

Auditor questions data used in health department review of Medicaid privatization program
Source: Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press, August 18, 2014

An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal’s privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday. Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office raised questions about the report that Jindal’s Department of Health and Hospitals submitted to lawmakers in January. … The auditor’s non-partisan review said the report included “mathematical errors and inconsistencies” and used primarily self-reported data from the managed-care organizations that the department didn’t appear to verify.

Department of Health and Hospitals – Consideration of the Bayou Health Transparency Report
Source: Louisiana Legislative Auditor, Informational Audit, Audit Control #:80140104, August 13, 2014

Bayou Health faces changes, and queries from legislators
Source: Marsha Schuler, Advocate, July 8, 2014

The state’s Medicaid privatization initiative is approaching its third birthday and the Jindal administration claims it’s resulting in taxpayer savings. But the administration has been unable to provide the numbers that would compare the costs of traditional government-provided Medicaid versus the costs under the private healthcare model. It’s an elusive number because of the complexity of the program, state Department of Health and Hospitals Chief of Staff Calder Lynch said. But legislators have been asking for specific numbers as the first contracts are set to expire and as the administration contemplates changes in how health care services are provided to about 900,000 Louisiana residents — most of them pregnant women and children — for the next few years. … Legislators have received “no proof of savings” promised when the administration launched its privatization effort, agreed state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, who serves on appropriations and health care committees. …

La’s Medicaid privatization rollout rocky
Source: Associated Press, Posted Jan 16, 2012

Medicaid privatization firm selection challenged again
Source: Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune, August 23, 2011

Louisiana Medicaid makeover attracts 12 corporate applicants
Source: Jan Moller, Times-Picayune, June 30, 2011

Twelve companies have applied to participate in the state’s new “coordinated care networks” initiative, which will steer nearly 900,000 Medicaid recipients into private managed-care plans starting early next year.

WB-RC board votes to privatize food, custodial staff

Source: Matt Varcak, Ogemaw Herald, April 28, 2015

The West Branch-Rose City Area Schools Board of Education unanimously approved motions at a special meeting April 27 to privatize the district’s food and custodial services. The board approved requests for proposals from Chartwells for food services and Hi-Tec Building Services Inc., for custodial services while also appointing a committee to look into retaining current employees. …. Annually, the district is expected to save approximately $147,000 under the new contract with Chartwells and around $157,705 with Hi-Tec Building Services Inc., Money said. …. The contracts are slated to take effect July 1, with the agreement with Hi-Tec Building Services Inc. lasting for three years. The custodial staff currently earns $12.81 per hour, but under the contract with Hi-Tec, they would earn $9.50 per hour. …. “You start bumping them up to $12.81 (per hour), and all of a sudden you don’t have any savings,” board Vice President Scott Williams said. ….
WB-RC exploring food service privatization
Source: Tim Barnum, Ogemaw Herald, January 26, 2012

The West Branch-Rose City School District’s food service may be handled by an outside body in the future due to district efforts to save money. During a board of education budget and finance committee meeting Jan. 24, Kathy Clouse, from Chartwells Food Service, discussed the company’s proposal for food service with the board committee. Clouse said Chartwells’ proposal would save the district $304,671 per year.

Using 2010-2011 school year data, board member Mike Eagan said Chartwells’ proposal included a decrease of $130,000 in labor and a $186,000 decrease in benefits compared to what the district is paying now…”For one thing, the wages will be slightly less,” she said. “It’s private sector wages.”

Republic Services wins Gary trash contract

Source: Carole Carlson, Chicago Tribune, April 10, 2015

Republic Services will collect trash in the city for the next five years under a contract approved last week by the Gary Sanitary Board of Commissioners. GSD Executive Director Dan Vicari said the contract sets a per household monthly fee of $15.27 based on 22,894 households, or about $4.2 million in the first year of the contract. Vicari said there’s a 3 percent increase on Jan. 1 of each year on the approximate $20 million contract. …. Republic Services has been picking up trash on an emergency basis since Oct. 31 of last year after the GSD terminated the contract of Waste Management. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city had received numerous complaints about the service, triggering the termination while in just the second year of a five-year contract. ….
Gary privatizes garbage pickup

Source: BY BILL DOLAN, Northwest Times, Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mayor Rudy Clay announced Monday that Allied Waste Services of Northwest Indiana has begun taking over garbage collection in the city. Clay said Allied will do the job for half the cost taxpayers have been paying for what he hopes will be better service than had been provided by the city’s municipal sanitation district. …. The mayor said 46 sanitation district employees who previously collected garbage for the city will either apply for jobs with Allied or other city job openings. Clay said it was costing the city $41 a household to pick up garbage because of increasing gasoline and health care benefit costs in addition to the maintenance of city garbage trucks and payroll costs. …. Ted Bilski, business agent for Gary Teamsters Local 142, said his union represents the workers laid off as well as Allied Waste employees….

Nursing home workers to act on contract offer

Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, April 23, 2015

Since the former Otsego Manor was privatized last year, the nursing home, now called Focus Otsego, has had to cope with occasional staffing shortages, a situation the new management wants to rectify, according to minutes of meetings of the facility’s Family Council and a management spokesman. Meanwhile, the workers represented by the Civil Service Employees Association, the union that remained at the home after it was sold, will today be asked to ratify a labor contract that will increase wages “for those who have stayed and shown dedication to our residents,” said Kirk Dorn, a spokesman for the management company.
CSEA agrees to contract at former Manor
Source: Daily Star, December 6, 2014

Civil Service Employees Association workers at the now privately operated Focus Rehabilitation and Nursing at Otsego have approved a contract between the union and the management, the facility management announced Friday. Details of the contract were not released. Before it was privatized in October, the facility was known as the Otsego Manor. The county Board of Representatives decided to sell it to highest bidder after its public subsidy spiraled.

County hands Manor off to private operator
Source:Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, October 15, 2014

As Ken Tyler of Cooperstown approached the front door of the Otsego Manor on Tuesday afternoon on his way to visit his wife, Marjorie, a patient at the facility, workers exiting the building had just punched out for their last time as Otsego County employees. Following Tyler into the nursing home were nurses and other staffers who were about to sign in for their first time as employees of Focus Ventures, a private company.

Union: Manor workers face drastic pay cuts
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, October 3, 2014

The health care management company taking over the Otsego Manor has made wage offers to county nursing-home workers that are significantly below their current pay, the union for those employees said Thursday. Mark Kotzin, a spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association, said the employees began finding out this week that Focus Ventures wants to impose wage cuts of about 20 percent for certified nursing assistants and some other job categories.

County set to finalize sale of Otsego Manor
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, October 2, 2014

The now county-owned Otsego Manor is expected to formally become a privately operated nursing home next Wednesday. Focus Ventures was the high bidder for the nursing home, and is expected to pay the county $18.5 million to acquire the 174-bed facility…. Focus Ventures, headed by Joseph Zupnik and based in Rockland County, has required the current Manor employees to apply for the jobs they now have. County officials have said that they expect the company will keep in place most of the county workers now assigned to the nursing home. In recognition the service of four top Manor managers, the county Board of Representatives decided today to issue special one-time payments to each of them provided they remain on the county payroll through the day of the final transaction. Three of the non-union employees will get $10,000 each and the administrator of the Manor, Kurt Apthorpe, will get $20,000 within one month of the sale of the Manor, according to the resolution passed by the county board….

6 firms eye Otsego Manor purchase
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, August 20, 2013

Six companies involved in administering health care services have expressed interest in acquiring the 174-bed Otsego Manor nursing home, the chairwoman of the panel coordinating the effort to privatize the facility said Monday. The half dozen proposals were forwarded to the Otsego County Health Facilities Corporation (HFC) in response to a request for proposals issued two weeks ago, said Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta. She declined to identify the companies that are interested in purchasing the Manor…. Additional proposals could still be en route to the committee because the deadline for submissions is not until Sept. 27, she said. …The county board voted in January to contract with the Center for Governmental Research to serve as its consultant in the development and marketing of the Manor….

LDC formed to handle sale of Otsego Manor
Source: NEWSChannel 2, May 1, 2013

The Otsego County Board of Representatives has voted to create a Local Development Corporation to handle the sale of the financially plagued Otsego Manor.

CSEA takes aim at Manor sale plan
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, May 1, 2013

The central legal argument against a plan by Otsego County lawmakers to sell the Otsego Manor through a local development corporation deals with the fact they would have to declare the home no longer has a public purpose, a spokesman for the facility’s unionized workers said Tuesday. …

Editorial – Let LDC handle Manor sale
Source: Editorial, Daily Star, May 1, 2013

Board gets earful during Manor meet
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, April 30, 2013

Otsego County lawmakers were roundly criticized Monday night by citizens who accused them of forging ahead to create a local development corporation to sell the deficit-plagued Otsego Manor without first engaging in union contract talks and pressing the state for more aid…

Options for Otsego Manor to be explored this week
Source: NEWS Channel 2, April 9, 2013

The committee looking into selling Otsego Manor is scheduled to meet this week and vote on which plan, of three, will move forward. The first option is to sell the manor to the highest responsible bidder, the second is to create a local law to authorize a private sale of the nursing home, which would not have to go to the highest bidder, and the third option is to create a local development corporation and transfer the assets to it….

Meeting held to discuss future of Otsego Manor
Source: WKTV, March 23, 2013

Dozens of people packed in to the court house in Cooperstown Saturday to discuss the future of the Otsego Manor. The purpose of the meeting was to let the public know why Otsego County is getting out of the nursing home business and selling the manor to a private provider. The Manor’s administrator, Ed Marchi, says several options were looked at and found a lot of barriers for the home because it was operated by the county. Many residents are concerned about letting a private business take over what the county has built. …

Manor plan inches ahead amid outcry
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, March 7, 2013

A parade of advocates for keeping Otsego Manor a public nursing home failed to dissuade the county board Wednesday from moving ahead with authorizing a $35,000 expenditure to hire a law firm that will offer guidance on ways to sell the facility to a private buyer.

Judge voids vote to sell Otsego Manor
Source: Joe Mahoney, Cooperstown Crier, February 21, 2013

Ruling that the Otsego County Board of Representatives violated the Public Officers Law when it held a secret meeting dealing with the Otsego Manor, a state judge has voided the vote taken after that session to sell the nursing home to the highest bidder. The decision, handed down by Acting Otsego County State Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio, means that the board will have to again address the controversial proposal to privatize the 174-bed nursing home….

Board stays on path to Manor sale
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, February 20, 2013

Editorial: Ruling and vote clear air about Manor
Source: Editorial, Daily Star, February 21, 2013

Seward will not support tax hike for Manor
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, February 6, 2013

A plan to create a new stream of funding for deficit-plagued Otsego Manor by imposing a boost in the local sales tax rate ran into a roadblock Tuesday in the person of state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford….

Board urged to consider Manor plan
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, February 1, 2013

Plan to keep Manor faces doubt, scorn
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, January 29, 2013

A plan aimed at derailing the privatization of the Otsego Manor nursing home was dealt a setback Monday when Otsego County Rep. James Powers — who heads a key committee on the county board — pronounced the proposal dead on arrival. …

Union leader: Workers were never told about Manor sale
Source: Joe Mahoney, Daily Star, September 11, 2012

The leader of the union representing more than 200 staffers at the Otsego Manor nursing home said Monday the workers have not been consulted about last week’s decision by the Board of Representatives to sell the county-owned facility to the highest-qualified bidder….County lawmakers are searching for a consultant to help them find potential buyers for the 174-bed Manor. The county subsidy to operate the Manor is expected to grow from $3.2 million this year to $5.6 million in the year ahead, because of escalating costs and a decline in the state Medicaid reimbursement rate. …

KY DOC contracts/MOUs re: Otter Creek Correctional Center

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, April 10, 2015

Beryl Lipton made this request to Finance and Administration Cabinet of Kentucky.

Pursuant to Kentucky Open Records Act , I hereby request the following records:
All contracts (and their amendments) and memorandums of understanding entered into by the Kentucky Department of Corrections for services and activities related to the Otter Creek Correctional Center (

Private Prison Closure Worries Rural Kentucky Town
Source: Associated Press, April 25, 2012

After a sex scandal at a privately run prison in rural Kentucky, the state cut off the institution’s funding and now it’s shutting down — and that worries town officials in an impoverished Appalachian community where incarceration meant jobs and economic survival….The prison, run by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, is set to close by this summer as Kentucky pulls its inmates out of the facility that was at the center of a sex scandal. It broke in 2009 when inmates accused prison staff of forcing them to trade sexual favors for privileges….Kentucky paid CCA $21 million in fiscal 2010 to operate Otter Creek, along with the Marion Adjustment Center, which has roughly 800 Kentucky inmates and Lee Adjustment Center, which no longer houses Kentucky inmates.

Prison closing leaving more than 170 jobless
Source: WYMT TV, April 13, 2012

USMS/ICE agreements/MOUs re: Central Texas Detention Facility

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, April 20, 2015

Beryl Lipton made this request to Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States of America.

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
All contracts (and their amendments), agreements, and memorandums of understanding entered into between the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for services and activities related to the Central Texas Detention Facility (….

Man Escapes From Texas Jail, Nobody Notices for Nearly a Day
Source: Associated Press, April 1, 2008

Law enforcement officials are trying to understand how a convicted felon managed to escape from jail without anyone noticing his absence for a full day. …. Pena was being held at the privately operated Central Texas Detention Facility for violating terms of his supervised release. …… The facility is operated by The GEO Group. A company spokesman did not immediately respond to a phone message left By The Associated Press early Tuesday morning.

Privatization Dogma Confronts Reality at Lawrence Livermore Lab

Source: Robert Weissman, Huffington Post, April 7, 2015

…Long managed by the University of California as part of the nation’s nuclear research infrastructure, Livermore had serious management problems, including significant security-related issues. But privatization of the university management arrangement turned out to make things worse, according to numerous published reports. A consortium headed by Bechtel took over operation of Lawrence Livermore in 2007. Although the Bechtel group had said it would add jobs at Livermore, in fact it slashed them, from 9,400 in 2005 to 6,800 several years after the privatization. Part of the job loss was due to cuts in federal spending on the lab, though funding losses would eventually be restored. The lost jobs were not. In 2011, The New York Times reported that “Lynda Seaver, a lab spokesperson, said spending on staff and operations had fallen because of a substantial increase in management fees.”… Indeed, reports are that management costs have drained a couple hundred million dollars — $40 million a year — from the operations of Lawrence Livermore and of Los Alamos National Laboratory (operated now by the same Bechtel consortium) since privatization….
Employee Lawsuit Exacerbates Issues at Livermore Lab
Source: John Upton, New York Times, September 10, 2011

But in 2008, after the United States Department of Energy stripped a contract to run the lab from the University of California and handed it to a mostly private-sector coalition led by Bechtel, the contracting giant based in San Francisco, Mrs. Barraza was laid off. …Privatization of the lab’s management was supposed to lead to greater efficiency and increased employment, but instead it led to cutbacks that have left the lab with around 6,800 permanent employees, down from some 9,400 in 2005. Some scientists at the lab contend that the quality of scientific research has suffered, as evidenced by a sharp drop in the number of peer-reviewed research papers produced by lab employees. Security risks, which had helped prompt the Energy Department to overhaul lab management, have remained a problem. And Livermore’s biggest project, the National Ignition Facility, a giant array of lasers designed to fuse hydrogen atoms, has been plagued by delays, cost overruns, and heath and safety concerns.

MDOC, Private Prisons on Trial

Source: R.L. Nave, Jackson Free Press, April 8, 2015

…. But over the three days that they presented their case, attorneys for Walnut Grove prisons did more than argue whether MDOC and Walnut Grove had violated the Eighth Amendment; they put private prisons themselves on trial as well. ….. The strategy of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who presented their case between April 1 and April 3, was to show how MTC’s business practices—namely, a profit motive—create an environment that relegates prisoner and staff safety to the back burner.

Riot at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Leake County
Source:, July 11, 2014

The Leake County Sheriff’s Department confirms to News Channel 12 that a riot has occurred at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Leake County, Thursday evening. Officials say nine inmates were injured, seven of them were taken to the hospital. They say a group of inmates in one of the six housing units began fighting around 10 p.m. Prison officers tried to stop the disturbance but it quickly escalated. The Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Michael Epps said the riot is related to someone attempting to introduce contraband into the facility. One person was arrested in connection with that attempt…. This same prison made headlines on New Year’s Eve, after a gang-related fight occurred at the prison. The facility is operated by Management & Training Corporation, a private company that has a contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections….

After Miss. prison fight, monitors call for change
Source: Jeff Amy, Associated Press, April 21, 2014

Violence is out of control, drugs are being smuggled in and guards are not adequately trained at the privately run Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, a prison with a history of troubles, according to court documents. The documents, filed by monitors who oversee the prison and plaintiffs who sued over conditions there, said a Dec. 31 fight between two gangs in which 16 inmates were hurt shows more improvements are needed at the prison in Leake County. Utah-based Management and Training Corp., which took over the 1,500-bed prison in 2012, disputed most of the findings by the monitors and plaintiffs. MTC said the prison “has made great progress in creating a safer environment for offenders and staff.” Six prison guards and one supervisor were fired or resigned after the December fight, court papers said. Another staff member was placed on administrative leave. The monitor’s report said, among other findings, that contraband was being smuggled into the prison and security personnel were ignoring rules violations and fraternizing with prisoners. Five former employees and three others were indicted by a Leake County grand jury in March, mostly for smuggling marijuana. The prison is under legal scrutiny because of earlier misdeeds. The state removed youth offenders from Walnut Grove after U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves described conditions as “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts” while it was being managed by Florida-based GEO Group. Reeves’ order came after a Justice Department report charged the state was “deliberately indifferent” to sexual abuse, overuse of force and inadequate medical care for young inmates. The state agreed to improve conditions. GEO Group gave up its contract and the Department of Corrections hired MTC to house adult inmates at Walnut Grove. Since then, all parties agree conditions have improved….

Investigation of the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility- Walnut Grove, Mississippi

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, March 20, 2012

From the press release:
Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department announced today its findings that the state of Mississippi violated the constitutional rights of youth detained at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (WGYCF). WGYCF is a 1,500-bed prison that houses young men aged 13-22 who were convicted as adults and are in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. WGYCF is run by the GEO group, a private prison company, under contract with the state….

…The United States conducted an in-depth investigation, including an on-site inspection of WGYCF, accompanied by expert consultants in the areas of corrections, medical care and mental health care. Evidence reveals systematic, egregious and dangerous practices at WGYCF exacerbated by a lack of accountability and controls. The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct exists in several areas, including:

– Deliberate indifference to staff sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior with youth;
– Use of excessive use of force by WGYCF staff on youth;
– Inadequate protection of youth from youth-on-youth violence;
– Deliberate indifference to youth at risk of self-injurious and suicidal behaviors; and
– Deliberate indifference to the medical needs of youth.

Groundbreaking Settlement in SPLC Case Protects Incarcerated Children from Abuse in Mississippi
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center blog, February 27, 2012

Town Relies On Troubled Youth Prison For Profits
Source: John Burnett, NPR, All Things Considered, March 25, 2011

First in a two-part series on private prisons

Prisons are filled with stress and violence; without proper supervision they can revert to primitive places. That’s what happened at Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, an NPR news investigation has determined. As the nation’s largest juvenile prison, Walnut Grove houses 1,200 boys and young men in a sprawling one-story complex ringed by security fences about an hour’s drive east of Jackson. The State of Mississippi pays a private corrections company to run the prison. NPR’s investigation found that allegations swirling around the prison raise the fundamental question of whether profits have distorted the mission of rehabilitating young inmates. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU National Prison Project have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 13 inmates against the prison operator, GEO Group, the prison administration and state officials. The complaint describes rampant contraband brought in by guards, sex between female guards and male inmates, inadequate medical care, prisoners held inhumanely in isolation, guards brutalizing inmates and inmate-on-inmate violence that was so brutal it led to brain damage. The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, whose members represent youth facilities in all 50 states, reports that a guard-to-inmate ratio of 1 officer to 10 or 12 juvenile prisoners is common. The state audit of Walnut Grove found the guard-to-inmate ratio to be 1 to 60. Salaries are the largest expense of a correctional budget, and reducing staffing is typically a way to keep costs down. Pablo Paez, vice president for corporate relations for GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Fla., declined repeated requests by NPR to give the company’s side of the story. He cited the pending lawsuit. GEO, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, is the nation’s second largest prison corporation and had more than $1 billion in revenue last year.

Madison Schools to keep busing privatized

Source: Simon Husted, News-Herald, February 10, 2015

Madison School District officials will continue privatized bus service for another five years despite a push from union leaders to restore the service and employees in-house. …. The Ohio Association of Public School Employees was one of three groups that submitted a proposal last year to the district’s Request for Qualifications and Proposals. Its proposal, which included rehiring 31 unionized bus drivers, four assistants, a secretary and a supervisor, argued that reversing the school board’s privatized busing strategy could cost the district far less at an annual price-tag of $1,342,822 a year.

State employee union asks Madison Schools to restore bus union
Source: Simon Husted ∙ The News-Herald ∙ November 19, 2014

More than six years after privatizing its bus department, Madison School District officials are being asked to consider restoring a unionized, in-house bus fleet as leaders shop around for the next contractor. The Ohio Association of Public School Employees was one of five groups that submitted information for the school district’s request for qualifications that ended Oct. 10. …. Rains and Mark Murphy, author of the proposal, told The News-Herald in a joint interview Nov. 17 that other school districts have restored in-house bus services in the past. ….. In the Columbus City School Board gave up its private contract with First Student to grow its own unionized fleet. The district still had an in-house fleet at the time covering most of its routes. Murphy, who is a fiscal policy analyst for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Rains said the Madison School District can viably reverse privatization more so than other districts because it still owns the buses and does their maintenance with in-house mechanics.

Madison School District hires private firm to bus students
Source: Jennifer González, Plain Dealer (OH), Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Madison School District is handing over responsibility for busing students to a private company. The school board voted this week to hire Youngstown-based Community Bus Services to manage the district’s transportation department. The move comes after the district and Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 238 were unable to agree on a new contract for the roughly 40 bus drivers. The current contract expires June 30.