Category Archives: Corrections

$625,000 settlement approved in wrongful death suit involving Hampton Roads Regional Jail inmate

Source: Tim Dodson, Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 24, 2018

A $625,000 settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, its medical provider and a number of staff members was approved in federal court Tuesday. The suit was filed in June 2017 by the family of Henry Clay Stewart, an inmate who died Aug. 6, 2016, because of internal bleeding from a perforated stomach ulcer. …..The lawsuit said Stewart was arrested in May 2016 for allegedly violating the terms of his probation related to a 2011 shoplifting charge. He was first held at the Hampton City Jail but was transferred to Hampton Roads Regional Jail in June 2016. The suit alleged that “from mid-July through his death on Aug. 6, 2016, Stewart repeatedly sought medical treatment for severe medical conditions, including chest and abdominal pain, blackouts, inability to keep down water or food, and drastic weight loss, but his pleas for urgent medical care were either ignored or the care provided to him was substandard and did not address his life-threatening medical needs.” Hampton Roads Regional Jail has come under intense state scrutiny in recent years over the quality of its medical care after other inmate deaths, including 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell’s in 2015. The state medical examiner found that Mitchell, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, essentially wasted away in plain sight over a 101-day stay at the facility. He had been accused of stealing $5 worth of snacks from a convenience store…..

How Trump Radicalized ICE

Source: Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, September 2018

… Since its official designation, in 2003, as a successor to INS, ice has grown at a remarkable clip for a peacetime bureaucracy. By the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term, immigration had become one of the highest priorities of federal law enforcement: Half of all federal prosecutions were for immigration-related crimes. … ICE quickly built a sprawling, logistically intricate infrastructure comprising detention facilities, an international-transit arm, and monitoring technology. This apparatus relies heavily on private contractors. Created at the height of the federal government’s outsourcing mania, DHS employs more outside contractors than actual federal employees. Last year, these companies—which include the Geo Group and CoreCivic—spent at least $3 million on lobbying and influence peddling. To take one small example: Owners of ICE’s private detention facilities were generous donors to Trump’s inauguration, contributing $500,000 for the occasion. … An organization devoted to enforcing immigration laws will always be reflexively and perhaps unfairly cast as a villain. … Still, ICE, as currently conceived, represents a profound deviation in the long history of American immigration. …

Related:

For-profit prison company threatens anti-ICE group with lawsuit for telling world what they do
Source: Alan Pyke, ThinkProgress, August 6, 2018
 
A protest campaign targeting for-profit detention company GEO Group with numerous nationwide actions at facilities connected to President Donald Trump’s ramped-up deportations has been threatened with legal action by the company’s high-powered litigators. …

Why It’s Hard To Hold Contractors Accountable For The Suffering Of Immigrant Children
Source: Susan M. Sterett The Conversation, August 2, 2018
 
….Although federal detention is a government policy, the federal government does not directly run most of the facilities where families are detained or kids end up on their own. Instead, it hands nonprofit groups, for-profit businesses and local governments US$1 billion a year or more to house nearly 12,000 children. This money is dispensed through government contracts that do not always gain much public attention.  But now, amid protests and other forms of public pressure, some contractors are severing their ties to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. This is a new development as oversight by government officials and watchdog groups has historically centered largely on costs, fraud or whether contractors broke laws – not whether there was something inherently wrong with the contracts themselves.  Having studied the politics of accountability for many years, I would argue that the responsibility for these unpopular immigration policies largely lies with the federal government, not its contractors…..

Continue reading

Labor leaders demand UC end contracts with ICE-collaborating businesses

Source: Mani Sandhu, Daily Californian, August 13, 2018
 
UC labor leaders are demanding that the UC system end contracts with businesses that work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, in response to President Donald Trump’s policy of separating immigrant families at the border.  The UC paid more than $200 million during 2011-15 through contracts with 25 businesses — including AT&T, Maxim Healthcare Services, Time Warner Cable and General Dynamics Information Technology, or GDIT — that also provide services for ICE, according to a document from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, or AFSCME Local 3299, the UC’s largest employee union.  “To add insult to injury, not only are they outsourcing our jobs, they’re outsourcing our jobs to the people who are behind Trump’s zero tolerance policy,” said AFSCME Local 3299 spokesperson John de los Angeles. “We want UC to stand up for the communities that they’re exploiting.”

Related:

Students, unions demand UC divest from ICE-related companies
Source: Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 2018
 
In reaction to President Trump’s policy of separating families at the border, students and labor leaders at the University of California are urging UC President Janet Napolitano to sever contracts with dozens of companies doing business with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.  UC labor leaders say they’ve found 25 companies — from uniform suppliers to weapons manufacturers — that do hundreds of millions of dollars of business with the university, and with ICE.  “We want UC to remove resources that are critical to ICE’s enforcement of zero tolerance and take a stand for” immigrants and people of color, said John de los Angeles, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME Local 3299, which represents thousands of workers across UC campuses and medical centers. …

Who Profits From Our Prison System?

Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation, August 9, 2018
 
The US prison system, now home to over 2 million Americans, runs like an economy unto itself: From the cafeteria line to the phone line to the assembly line, a steady stream of money is fueling our incarceration complex. But who profits off prisoners remains a trade secret.  That’s why advocates for criminal-justice reform are now harnessing big data to map out the carceral state, exposing the corporate networks that administer and finance the prison industry while driving its expansion. The Corrections Accountability Project of the Urban Justice Center (where, full disclosure, this author once interned) presents a kind of yellow pages of criminal justice, revealing the convoluted, self-serving mechanics of industrialized incarceration.

… Today, major private corporations administer services ranging from medical-record keeping to surveillance to psychiatric counseling. … But beyond direct in-house services, the CAP report points to various complex financing entities that fuel a built-in incentive to consolidate, monopolize, and expand the incarceration system and the sentencing and legal processes that keep it humming. …

Read full report.

Colleges, Cities and Pension Funds Pressured to Cut ICE Ties

Source: Candice Norwood, Governing, July 30, 2018
 
Murdoch’s campaign comes amid a sea of calls from students and immigration activists who want state and local governments, public colleges and politicians to sever their financial ties with companies and agencies involved in detaining immigrants. There is also a movement growing to abolish ICE.  While some of the politicians and institutions have given in to public pressure, others continue to defend their relationships with ICE and private prison organizations that operate detention centers. Last week, hundreds of educators petitioned the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), a public pension fund, to divest from private prison operators CoreCivic Inc. and the GEO Group. Both organizations operate immigration detention centers.  Across the country, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli earlier this month divested state pension fund holdings from GEO Group and CoreCivic. California’s pension fund, however, is unlikely to follow New York’s lead. …

Related:

Stop investing in immigrant detention companies, California teachers tell pension fund
Source: Caitlin Chen, Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2018

Hundreds of California teachers and a handful of left-leaning organizations are urging the state’s $225 billion teacher pension fund to pull its money out of for-profit prison companies and immigrant detention centers. The petition going to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System is the latest in a string of calls for California public pension funds to divest from controversial industries, such as fossil fuels and guns. With few exceptions, the pension funds reject appeals for divestment because they prefer to use their clout as major investors to compel industries to change their practices. They also worry that divesting causes them to miss opportunities to earn money, which increases their overall risk. …

St. Luke’s sues prison contractor over $12 million in medical bills

Source: Audrey Dutton, Idaho Statesman, July 16, 2018

St. Luke’s Health System is suing an Idaho prison contractor over $12.6 million in medical bills it says the contractor hasn’t paid. The lawsuit was filed June 28 against Corizon Health, a company hired by the Idaho Department of Correction to provide medical care to Idaho’s inmates. The dispute stems from Corizon’s decision to pay St. Luke’s at the Medicaid rate for services the health system provided between July 1, 2014, and March 26, 2018. The Medicaid rate is “substantially lower” than the rate the health system says Corizon had agreed to pay, according to the lawsuit. St. Luke’s said it should have received 76 percent of its billed charges. St. Luke’s also seeks more than $3 million in interest on the medical bills, as well as a total of more than $600,000 for individual patients’ bills it says Corizon underpaid. … The lawsuit is the second filed by Idaho health care providers against the contractor. Saint Alphonsus Health System in April sued Corizon over similar claims, saying it was owed $14 million for medical care to inmates. Saint Al’s also sought $5 million in interest from the allegedly unpaid bills. …

Related:

Prison violations led to amputations and death, Idaho inmates say
Source: Associated Press, March 27, 2017

Idaho inmates are asking a federal judge to penalize the state after saying prison officials repeatedly violated a settlement plan in a long-running lawsuit over health care, leading to amputations and other serious injuries and even some prisoners’ deaths. In a series of documents filed in federal court, the inmates’ attorney Christopher Pooser painted a bleak and often gruesome picture of the alleged problems at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise. The prison is the state’s oldest, with more than 1,400 beds, including special units for chronically ill, elderly and disabled inmates. Pooser and the inmates allege some prisoners were forced to undergo amputations after their blisters and bedsores went untreated and began to rot, and others with serious disabilities were left unbathed or without water for extended periods and given food only sporadically. The prison’s death rates outpaced the national average as well as rates at other Idaho facilities, according to the documents. And despite hearing evidence to the contrary, prison officials failed to double-check the numbers when its health care contractor, Corizon, reported being 100 percent compliant with state health care requirements. Meanwhile, prison officials were falsifying documents to make it look like all employees were trained in suicide prevention when many were not, the filings said. The inmates are asking the judge to hold the state in contempt of court and levy more than $24 million in fines against the Idaho Department of Correction. They say the state could cover some of the fines by recovering money paid under its contract with Corizon, but they also want the state to feel the budget hit so prison leaders will be motivated to make a fix. …

How an inmate’s death led to changes at the Hudson County jail

Source: Monsy Alvarado, NorthJersey, July 14, 2018

… Towle’s death in the early hours of July 14, 2017, and that of an immigration detainee five weeks earlier fueled allegations of medical neglect at the jail and spurred changes that included the early termination of the county’s contract with the company that provides medical care to inmates and the hiring this week of a new one. The county also embarked on a renovation that will expand the medical infirmary and mental health services at the jail at a cost of more than $1 million. … The Hudson County freeholders asked a “medical review panel” it appointed to examine the circumstances surrounding Towle’s death and that of the immigration detainee, Carlos Mejia-Bonilla, a native of El Salvador who fell ill at the jail and died later at Jersey City Medical Center. … The report, which was given to the freeholders in the spring, has not been made public. O’Dea said it prompted officials to terminate the county’s contract with CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlboro and look for a new medical provider for the jail. … Since the deaths of Towle, 48, of Washington Township in Warren County, and Mejia-Bonilla, 44, four additional inmates have died at the jail.

… “We had to get rid of the other one, no ifs, buts about it,’’ Anthony Vainieri, chairman of the Hudson County freeholder board, said, referring to CFG. “Everyone wanted us to get rid of it, the activists wanted us to get rid of it, the [jail] director wanted us to get rid of it, and with all the deaths, God forbid … something had to be done.” … On Thursday, the Hudson County freeholders approved a one-year, $7.68 million professional services agreement with Correct Care Solutions (CCS) of Nashville to provide medical and mental health care at the jail. …

Petty charges, princely profits

Source: Joseph Neff, The Marshall Project, July 13, 2018

… Brian Corbett has sewn up the bail bond trade in this largely rural corner of the nation’s poorest state, minting millions from people charged with minor offenses. Operating out of a Tupelo storefront behind the county jail complex, Corbett Bonding pocketed $2.6 million in fees over a recent span of 18 months — 46 percent on bonds of less than $5,000, the ceiling for most misdemeanors in the state. Brian Corbett, right, poses for a photo with Dog the Bounty Hunter. Corbett has 73 percent of the bail business in Lee County and 84 percent in neighboring Union County. (Photo: Marshall Project/USA Today Network) It was the highest take in Mississippi, according to a Marshall Project analysis of bonds tracked by the state Department of Insurance.

It is difficult to peer into the financial workings of the bail industry, where public sector services are performed by private companies largely shielded from scrutiny. New data collected by Mississippi and obtained by The Marshall Project offers a rare glimpse into how bail companies profit from the steady march of low-level offenders into county jails. Corbett Bonding is one of 193 bail companies in the state that over 18 months collectively took in $43 million — 36 percent from small bonds — in a state where the average annual income is under $22,000. … But this lucrative trade in petty charges may be coming to an end. A little-noticed but seismic change in state court rules last year — bolstered by lawsuits and a blunt-spoken state insurance commissioner — is making it easier for people charged with misdemeanors to leave jail earlier, or avoid it altogether, without securing a bond. It is a striking shift in a state that has long been one of the friendliest places in the nation for the bail bond industry. …

Illinois governor profits off ICE detention center contracts

Source: Natasha Korecki, Politico, July 9, 2018
 
Gov. Bruce Rauner this year reported turning a profit from a health care group that services U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, including facilities that hold immigrant families with children.  In his most recent statement of economic interests, the multi-millionaire Republican governor disclosed earnings from a private equity fund that owns Correct Care Solutions, a for-profit health care provider that has millions of dollars in government contracts with jails and prisons across the country, including immigrant detention centers. The governor said he relinquished investment decisions to a third party and has no direct ties to Correct Care Solutions, a group whose work extends to places like Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, one of just four immigrant family detention centers in the country contracted for profit. …

Despite problems, Michigan is hiring Trinity employees to work in its prison kitchens

Source: Tom Perkins, Detroit Metro Times, June 19, 2018
 
For several years, private food service employees in Michigan’s prison kitchens have been a consistent problem. … Despite that, the Michigan Department of Corrections is now hiring some of Trinity’s employees, and they will be unionized state workers within the next several months. … The employees will be a part of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union. Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for AFSCME Council 25, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. …

Related:

Michigan’s $56.8B budget tackles prisons, potholes and pot
Source: Emily Lawler, MLive, June 12, 2018
 
The House and Senate on Tuesday voted to approve a $56.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019, putting more money toward things like roads and regulating medical marijuana facilities while saving $19.2 million by closing a prison. … In his budget proposal earlier this year, Snyder moved to get rid of the contractor altogether and go back to state workers. The legislature followed suit, putting an extra $13.2 million into food services and authorized 352 new full-time equivalent employee positions.    Overall the Department of Corrections gets $2 billion in the budget. …

Prison guards: Michigan is deliberately hiding extent of prison kitchen horror show
Source: Tom Perkins, Detroit Metro Times, May 23, 2018

Since Michigan privatized its prison kitchens in 2014, problems with Trinity and Aramark’s employees have been well documented. But of all the issues, one that corrections officers say hasn’t received much attention is also perhaps the most dangerous — gangs are trying to exploit Trinity’s weaknesses to exert control over the food supply. … Officers say the kitchens are vulnerable because Trinity is understaffing them, undertraining employees, and underpaying employees. They allege that the Tampa-based company has unwittingly hired gang members along with inmates’ family members and ex inmates. But Trinity’s problems extend well beyond gangs. Documents show some Trinity employees have supplied drugs to inmates, or taken drugs or drank on the job. Trinity employees have had sexual contact with inmates so many times that one officer tells us, “We can tell which new [Trinity] employees will walk out of the prison with a boyfriend.” …

Continue reading