Category Archives: Corrections.Health

Corizon ordered to pay attorneys’ fees

Source: Phaedra Haywood, The New Mexican, March 21, 2017

A state district judge has ruled that Corizon Health, which formerly oversaw medical care for New Mexico prison inmates, must pay legal fees for violating the state public-records law. Corizon has refused to release to two newspapers and an advocacy group the settlement agreements it made with prisoners who had sued the company. Judge Raymond Ortiz said in his decision this month that Corizon must pay $37,535 to attorneys who represented the organizations that sought the records. Ortiz wrote that the petitioners — the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and the Foundation for Open Government — were denied written requests for public records. They successfully sued Corizon to obtain the records, and under state law they are entitled to attorneys’ fees, the judge said. He also said that awarding reasonable legal fees encourages attorneys to take the cases of private citizens who file lawsuits seeking to enforce the Open Records Act. Ortiz last August ruled on the merits of the case, finding that “the settlement agreements are public records subject to disclosure.” Corizon is appealing that ruling and the one regarding attorneys’ fees to the state Court of Appeals. It has yet to produce the documents.

… Until the state replaced Corizon last year, it held a $37.5 million a year contract to provide health care to state inmates. Corizon paid about $4.5 million to settle lawsuits brought by inmates in its nine years as the medical provider. The bulk of those settlements were with inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a doctor employed by Corizon. Both Corizon and the state Corrections Department have refused to release the settlement agreements in response to public-records requests, citing language in the company’s contract. … Corizon, the nation’s largest for-profit provider of inmate care, faced more than 150 lawsuits filed by some 200 inmates in the nine years it had the contract. That was a sharp increase in the rate of lawsuits by inmates during the 2004-07 tenure of the previous provider, Wexford Health Sources. The state fired Wexford over concerns about the quality of its medical care. And the Department of Corrections chose not to renew its contract with Corizon last spring after a six-month investigation by The New Mexican, published in April 2016, revealed deep problems with inmate care provided by the company and with the state’s lax oversight of Corizon. Even so, the state’s contract with new provider Centurion also allows the company to keep settlement agreements confidential. …

Related:

State mum on inmate health care oversight
Source: Justin Horvath, Santa Fe New Mexican, April 19, 2016

Gov. Susana Martinez was silent Monday when asked through a spokesman for reaction to the findings of Santa Fe New Mexican investigation into the lack of oversight of medical care delivered to state prison inmates by Corizon Health, a Tennessee company that has faced over 150 lawsuits by more than 200 inmates in the state since 2007 over allegations of negligent care, civil rights violations and sexual abuse. … Those warnings came internally from department employees about the lack of auditing of the contract as well as from the inmates themselves, who claim in lawsuits that Corizon denied or delayed care for health issues ranging from a hand crushed by a prison door to breast cancer that went untreated, even as the inmate’s breast turned purple, swelling to twice its size. … Corizon’s contract ends at the end of May. It is among the companies bidding to win a new contract to provide medical care for approximately 7,000 inmates in state custody. Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel also did not respond to requests for comment Monday on whether the new contract would contain similar litigation provisions.

Contract with state allows Corizon to keep its settlements secret
Source: Phaedra Haywood and Justin Horwath, Santa Fe New Mexican, April 17, 2016

Massive settlements and jury awards in other states over the years provide a dismal view of the medical care provided to inmates by Corizon Health and other for-profit prison health care companies. … But in New Mexico, Corizon has been allowed to operate almost entirely in the shadows, even as more than 200 inmates have filed lawsuits against the company since it took over medical services for most of the state’s prisons in 2007. That’s because not one of the lawsuits has gone to a jury, and Corizon has kept all records of settlements secret. The Corrections Department says the company can do that because under the terms of its contract with the state, it is responsible for defending itself in lawsuits and does so even when the state is named as a co-defendant. … Susan Boe, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said New Mexico “cannot contract away the state’s obligation under the Inspection of Public Records Act.” “If the state or its employees have been named as parties in those lawsuits, they should have a copy of the settlement documents, which therefore should be subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act,” she said. … In response to public records requests by The New Mexican, the Corrections Department said it had no record of settlements and referred questions to Corizon. The state Risk Management Division had no record of Corizon settlements either. Corizon told the newspaper: “Copies of medical malpractice settlements are bound by confidentiality restrictions between parties and we are not able to disclose the terms of those settlements.”

Wrongful Death Suit Filed Against Tulsa County Jail Mental Health Provider

Source: News On 6, March 14, 2017

The estate of a Tulsa County jail inmate who died after a suicide attempt last March filed a wrongful death suit on Monday. Nathan Bradshaw’s estate cited negligence by Tulsa County jail’s contracted mental health care provider, Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. According to the suit, Bradshaw was booked into the jail on March 8, 2016. In a screening by Armor personnel Bradshaw told a licensed practical nurse he was a daily heroin user and had received treatment for bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, the lawsuit states. … The suit says a physician ordered a four-day Clonidine prescription for Bradshaw under that protocol but he didn’t receive the medication as prescribed. In the suit, jail records show Bradshaw requested to talk to someone from mental health on his third day behind bars, but jail records show no one responded to that request. … Jail records show the evening before Bradshaw was found unresponsive and hanging in his jail cell, jail staff had not checked on him until the early hours of March 13th. … The estate claims the inconsistent treatment of the detox protocol led to Bradshaw’s increased risk of suicide and eventual death.

Lawsuit: Understaffing Leads to Insufficient Care for Diabetic Inmates at Private Prison

Source: Steven Hale, Nashville Scene, February 9, 2017

Since it opened a little more than a year ago, Tennessee’s newest and largest prison has been a mess. Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, run by the private prison operator formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, was forced to stop accepting new inmates after just four months of operation. Staffing shortages had created a situation where, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press, “the guards were not in control of the housing units, were not counting inmates correctly and were putting inmates in solitary confinement for no documented reason.” … A lawsuit filed last month in federal court on behalf of four inmates at the facility claims that understaffing there has led to insufficient care for some 60 inmates who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The plaintiffs are seeking to bring a class action, representing all such inmates who “who are, who have been, or who in the future may become, housed at Trousdale Turner correctional facility.” … In addition to corrections officers who are inadequately trained, the suit alleges that the medical staff at Trousdale — which has a capacity of 2552 inmates — consists of four nurses and two nurse practitioners, with no nutritionist and no medical doctor on staff following the resignation of a doctor who hasn’t been replaced. …

An Input Adjustment Method for Challenging Privatization: A Case from Michigan Prison Health Services

Source: Roland Zullo, Labor Studies Journal, December 17, 2016

Abstract:
I investigate the feasibility of completely privatizing prison physical and mental health service. The study is based on bid documents from Michigan’s 2012 exploration of privatized health care, along with historical documents. Five lessons are reported: (1) Price differences are largely attributable to staffing strategies, with private agents using fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) and less-qualified staff; (2) privatization ushers in personnel practice that is less structured for long-term employee retention; (3) managed competition is impractical due to qualified provider scarcity and desirability of client-patient continuity; (4) tension between best practice medicine and the profit motive is unresolvable, which necessitates diligent monitoring; and (5) privatization ideology is a powerful force that is external to the public interest but one that can be challenged by “good government” coalitions.

Read full report.

Another death at Eloy migrant-detention center

Source: Daniel Gonzalez, Arizona Republic, November 28, 2016

Another detainee from the deadliest immigration detention center in the nation died this week. The  detainee, a 36-year-old woman from Guatemala, died Sunday at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. She was being held at the Eloy Detention Center, which an investigation by The Arizona Republic found to have the highest number of deaths in the U.S. … Calderon is the third person in ICE custody to die since the start of fiscal year 2017 on Oct. 1 and the 15th tied to the Eloy Detention Center since 2003. The 15 deaths represent 9 percent of the 165 immigration detainees who have died in ICE custody since 2003, according to ICE statistics. A 2015 analysis of ICE data by The Republic found that there have been more deaths tied to the Eloy Detention Center than any other detention facility in the nation. …

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Guatemalan Detainee Dies In ICE Custody In Arizona
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, November 29, 2016

A 36-year-old Guatamalan woman died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sunday, the third death of a detainee in two months. Raquel Calderón de Hildago died at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center in Arizona after a series of seizures, according to an ICE press release. Border Patrol agents caught her crossing into the U.S. from Mexico illegally on Nov. 17, according to ICE. She did not have a criminal record.   Calderón was sent to Eloy Detention Center on Nov. 23 to await deportation proceedings, but was rushed to the hospital by ambulance after the seizures started, ICE said. Some 15 immigrant detainees have died while confined at Eloy since 2003, according to The Arizona Republic ― the most of any immigrant detention center. Five deaths at Eloy since 2005 have been suicides, Latino USA reports. One was José de Jesús Deniz Sahagún, a 31-year-old Mexican national who was found dead at Eloy three days after being locked up there in May 2015. He was found with a sock stuffed down his throat in solitary confinement in an apparent suicide, according to two-part series by Latino USA. …

Immigration Detention Center in Arizona Failed to Contain Measles Outbreak
Source: Julia Preston, New York Times, July 12, 2016

Health officials in Arizona are pressing federal officials for better cooperation after an outbreak of measles at an immigration detention center was prolonged because some employees were slow to be vaccinated. The outbreak started in late May in the detention center in Eloy, Ariz., and has grown to 22 cases, currently the largest episode in the country of the disease, which was once eradicated in the United States. The cases include nine employees of the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency. … The facility, 65 miles southeast of Phoenix, holds about 1,250 immigrants from many countries, both men and women, who are awaiting court proceedings or deportation. They include migrants who have come in recent months from three violence-torn countries in Central America. The center is supervised by the federal agency but operated by a private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, which has more than 300 employees. …

MEASLES: Shots finally on rise
Source: Tri Valley Central, July 8, 2016

Almost 75 Corrections Corporation of America employees stationed at the Eloy Detention Center got vaccinated on Thursday and Friday of last week after an article appeared in the Casa Grande Dispatch detailing the low number of employees who had provided proof of immunity, according to Pinal County Health Director Tom Schryer. … Of the 353 CCA employees, 317 have now gotten vaccinated or provided proof of immunity. …

Largest US measles outbreak in Arizona
Source: Associated Press, July 7, 2016

Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated. Authorities have confirmed 22 measles cases in Arizona since late May. They all stem from the Eloy Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility managed by the private Corrections Corporation of America. … The facility includes about 350 CCA employees and an unknown number of ICE staffers, although Schryer estimates it’s about 100. ICE doesn’t publicly release staffing levels, nor does it require employees to be immunized. There are currently over 1,200 detainees being held at the facility. …

Prison employees risk more cases
Source: Tanner Clinch, TriValley Central, June 30, 2016

Although the entire detainee population at Eloy Detention Center has been inoculated for measles, mumps and rubella, as many as 40 percent of the facility’s employees have not provided proof of immunity to health officials. At the beginning of the measles outbreak that started at the detention center May 26, health officials had the facility’s leadership send an urgent request to all employees to provide proof of immunity. While the majority have provided their paperwork, more than 100 employees have not, according to Tom Schryer, director of Pinal County Public Health. … The facility is owned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, contracted out to be run by Corrections Corporation of America, and there are various subcontractors and federal employees throughout the facility. Other than the federal employees who do health work at the facility, none of the employees are required by law to show proof of immunity in order to work and cannot be barred from working even if there is an active outbreak. …

Health Department Confirms 19th Case of Measles at Eloy Detention Center
Source: Miriam Wasser, Phoenix New Times, June 27, 2016

Despite mitigation efforts, a measles outbreak at the Eloy Detention Center in Pinal County keeps getting worse. Over the weekend, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced the 19th confirmed case and expanded the list of potentially contaminated areas in Pinal and Maricopa counties. (See below for full list.) The facility, located about 60 miles south of Phoenix, is owned by a for-profit company, Corrections Corporation of America, and houses about 1,500 immigrants who are awaiting the outcome of their deportation proceedings. … It’s unclear how many people have been exposed or when the outbreak will be contained, but Pyritz says the detention center is taking precautions to keep sick detainees isolated and to get everyone on the premises vaccinated. Pyritz was unable to say how many people remain unvaccinated. …

CCA irons out agreement to house inmates in Arizona prison
Source: Nashville Business Journal – 12:09 PM CST Friday, February 24, 2006

Corrections Corp. of America has signed a deal with the city of Eloy, Ariz., to house U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees through an agreement between the federal government and the city. The agreement enables ICE to hold detainees in CCA’s 1,500-bed Eloy Detention Center. As of Feb. 23, that prison had a total population of 920 inmates. In January, the Federal Bureau of Prisons notified Nashville-based CCA (NYSE: CXW) that it would not renew an option to have inmates held at the Eloy facility. Eloy has housed federal inmates as well as immigration detainees. The detainees were held through an agreement between ICE and the Bureau of Prisons. The way this new agreement works, ICE contracts with the city which, in turn, contracts with CCA to house the detainees. The company expects that the facility “will be substantially occupied” by ICE detainees.

CCA operates 63 correctional facilities, including 39 it owns, in 19 states and Washington D.C.

East Baton Rouge Parish Prison nurses speak out against Holden’s privatization plan

Source: Sam Karlin, Baton Rouge Business Report, November 9, 2016

A group of nurses is hoping the Metro Council will reject at today’s meeting a plan by Mayor Kip Holden to privatize management of East Baton Rouge Parish Prison’s medical services. They argue the plan would be costly and ineffective, and would put current nurses and technicians out of work or reduce their benefits. Holden is asking the council for authorization to sign a one-year, $5.2 million contract with CorrectHealth, a Georgia-based private health care company that manages medical care for 37 jails and prisons in the Southeastern U.S., including in seven Louisiana parishes. The nurses plan to attend today’s council meeting to make their case. … Of the city-parish’s 30 prison medical workers, nine have worked at the prison for a decade or more. The nurses say the deal will end up costing taxpayers. They also worry CorrectHealth will have the ability to fire them, and they say the benefits and retirement packages offered by the company are not as good as those provided by the city-parish. The nurses also cite reports of poor employee ratings for CorrectHealth, as well as reports that Southern Center for Human Rights—a nonprofit advocacy and criminal justice law firm that represents death penalty clients—challenged CorrectHealth’s importing of the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental. Holden’s administration, however, says contracting with CorrectHealth will actually save a little money. The city-parish is expected to pay $5.4 million this year for prison health care costs, which is $500,000 over budget. The administration also says privatization is needed because the city-parish is ill-equipped to manage health care at the prison, especially after one doctor quit in October. …

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Prison privatization might save Baton Rouge money, but is there a higher cost?
Source: Diana Samuels, Times-Picayune, January 31, 2015

A distinctly awkward silence filled the Baton Rouge Metro Council chambers earlier this month when council member Joel Boe asked how much the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison pays to house its inmates. It might have been the moment when Mayor Kip Holden’s public safety tax plan truly died. …. Several council members say that having an outside, private company build and operate the parish prison is something the city should at least look into, particularly in light of how much money it could save. But the privatization of prisons is controversial: While communities typically want to see fewer citizens imprisoned, the business model of a private prison relies on keeping people locked up. And in East Baton Rouge, where the sheriff has the ultimate say on how the prison is operated, it could be a tough political challenge for the city-parish and sheriff to make a change that drastic and relinquish control over the facility.

Texas prisoner’s death casts spotlight on privatized health care

Source: Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN, October 27, 2016

With five prison guards on his back, Michael Sabbie takes a blast of pepper spray point-blank to the face. Guards then frog-march him to a nurse for a 40-second exam, take him to a shower, where he collapses, then toss him in an isolation cell. In the span of 10 minutes, Sabbie drools, spits, apologizes, pleads. He never asks the guards to lift up his pants, despite his genitals and buttocks being exposed as he’s led through the halls of Texas’ Bi-State Jail. … The next morning, on July 22, 2015, Sabbie was found dead in an isolation cell. A medical examiner said he died from natural causes. The case illuminates an ongoing debate about the quality of privatized healthcare in American jails and prisons, which critics say sacrifices the well-being of inmates to satisfy bottom lines. Prison and prison health care companies counter that they save governments money and their services meet national standards. … Still, the family blames the for-profit firm running the jail, LaSalle Corrections, which they accuse of ignoring accepted medical procedures. They also say the company refuses to provide transparency into the father of four’s death. … The autopsy lists hypertensive arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease as the cause of death. Erik Heipt, an attorney for Sabbie’s family, says the respiratory distress Sabbie experienced was a result of pulmonary edema, also cited in the autopsy. Common symptoms include coughing up blood, wheezing, rapid breathing, sweating and speech inhibited by shortness of breath, all of which Sabbie was experiencing, Heipt said. The nurse should have monitored his lungs, blood pressure, heart and breathing rate, the attorney said, adding he thinks Sabbie’s condition would have been treatable with simple measures including diuretics, nitrates, oxygen and medication. … Like many private prisons, the contract between LaSalle Corrections and Bowie County, Texas, has a clause indemnifying the county for costs and claims “arising from any and all acts done or omitted to be done by operator.” …

Related:

East Texas jail sued by family of dead inmate
Source: Associated Press April 7, 2014

The family of a man who died in custody in a Texarkana jail is suing the private company that operates the facility. The Texarkana Gazette reports that the sister and two daughters of James Hankins have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Community Education Centers, which is contracted to run the Bowie County Jail.

A disturbing lawsuit claims private prison guards forced an inmate to perform oral sex

Source: Casey Tolan, Fusion, October 18, 2016

A former inmate of a Louisiana private prison is suing the company that runs the prison after two guards forced him to perform oral sex. Aaron Franklin, 27, says that he was abused by Derrick Deshotel and Tyler Strothers, two correctional officers at the Allen Correctional Center, a private prison in rural Kinder, LA, run by the GEO Group. An investigation by the prison substantiated his allegations, the state Department of Corrections said. … After the first incident, Franklin tried to forget it. But the next year, on July 19, 2015, Deshotel ordered Franklin into the prison’s hobby shop and told him he wanted sex again. … Franklin decided he had to report the abuse. After he did, he was briefly kept in solitary confinement before being transferred to a state prison, and was released last month. In all, Franklin served eight years for two armed robbery convictions. The guards were fired by GEO and criminally charged with malfeasance in office. They pled guilty and received only probation, Franklin’s lawyer said. (Local court officials said court records could not be immediately released.) The Allen Parish Prosecutor’s office, which handled the case against the two officers, did not respond to a request for comment. … Franklin’s lawsuit, which asks for $4 million in damages, accuses the officers of violating his rights and GEO of letting it happen. “My judge sentenced me to do time, but he didn’t sentence me to this,” Franklin said. “Being abused and mistreated, that wasn’t part of my sentence.” Lawyers for the two officers did not respond to requests for comment. In their motions in the case, however, they appear to imply—in an argument couched in legalese—that Franklin was asking for, or wanted to, have sex with them. …

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Former Allen Correctional Center inmate sues operators for alleged denial of medical care
Source: Hoang Tran, Louisiana Record, February 17, 2016

Ben Thompson filed a suit on Feb. 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division against The Geo Group, for alleged breach of duties and violations of his rights. Thompson was formerly at the Allen Correctional Center, which is operated and owned by The Geo Group. … On or about Feb. 12, 2015, Thompson was acting as a peer-facilitator in a substance abuse class when a ceiling tile fell 12 feet and struck him on the middle of his neck on the posterior side, the suit states. Thompson claims to have immediately felt a shocking sensation and instantaneous pain but was allegedly given only ibuprofen. Thompson alleges that the pain did not subside on Feb. 15, 2015, but was again allegedly given only ibuprofen when he sought treatment. On March 11, 2015, Thompson allegedly was given a CT scan and on March 20, a doctor at Allen recommended that plaintiff be observed by a neuro or orthopedic surgeon for appropriate diagnosis. The defendant allegedly denied such recommendations.

Private Medical Contractors in Virginia Prisons (Audio)

Source: John Ogle, Idea Stations, September 1, 2016

A VCU expert was asked to investigate whether Virginia should be buying prison health care. Researchers found that facilities near large metropolitan areas, like Richmond, have access to major hospitals while for prisons in rural areas, private contractors are a useful option. Dr. Carolyn Watts chair the Department of Health Administration at VCU led the study. She and her team visited seven prison facilities and talked to a variety of people.

Related:

30,000 Inmates, 40 Doctors: Health Care Remains A Concern At Virginia Prisons
Source: Sandy Hausman, WAMU, January 9, 2014

…In Virginia, the issue isn’t how many inmates the commonwealth has, but rather how they are cared for. A lawsuit over prison care is pending, and this year the General Assembly may consider more funding or reforms in how prison’s provide medical and mental health care to inmates… Amezquita says crowding is a problem, and she points to one other potential issue — care at many facilities is provided by a private company, Nashville-based Corizon, which has contracts for 500 prisons in 29 states including Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia….

“HE WEIGHED 71 POUNDS. THAT WAS LIKE SOMEBODY STARVING.”

Source: Shane Bauer, Mother Jones, August 2, 2016

I met Damien Coestly on my first day on the job as a guard at Winn Correctional Center, a private Louisiana prison then run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). I’d been sent to monitor the suicide watch cells in the segregation unit. … Prison records obtained from the Louisiana Department of Corrections by Anna Lellelid, the lawyer who currently represents his family, show that he went on suicide watch at least 17 times in the three and a half years before he died. … Mixed in with Coestly’s paperwork was a printout from CCA’s website on which he highlighted the phrase, “We constantly monitor the offender population for signs of declining mental health and suicide risk, working actively to assist a troubled offender in his or her time of need.” Yet mental health staffing at Winn was thin while I was there. It consisted of one part-time psychiatrist, one part-time psychologist, and one full-time social worker for more than 1,500 inmates. (CCA confirmed this, adding that “the staffing pattern for mental health professionals at Winn was approved by the Louisiana Department of Corrections.” However, DOC documents show that it had asked CCA to hire more mental health employees at Winn.) The prison’s single social worker told me that most Louisiana prisons had at least three full-time social workers. Her caseload, she said, included 450 inmates with mental health issues. …

Related:

What you see when you go undercover at a private prison for 4 months
Source: German Lopez, Vox, July 13, 2016

When Shane Bauer packed his bags, he didn’t know what to expect. He wasn’t headed to a far-off country. He wasn’t going to a cabin or a beach. Bauer was off to work for the next four months at a private prison in Louisiana: the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield. Bauer’s experience, documented in a long piece for Mother Jones this month, exposes a prison in disarray. The inmates are violent, with stabbings a regular occurrence. The guards are demoralized — too outnumbered, understaffed, and underpaid to create a genuinely safe environment. The facility regularly experiences all kinds of other issues, from failing to provide adequate medical care to inappropriate sexual relationships between guards and inmates. And the company that formerly owned the prison, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), offered little reassurance in answering the more than 150 questions Bauer sent them in a lengthy back and forth through email. It was a system so chaotic and broken that it began to creep into Bauer’s mind. The longer he spent in the prison, he said, the more he began to act and feel like a guard and less like a journalist. He felt more aggressive, finding himself overbearingly asserting his authority while at the prison and even hoping for a fight while shooting pool at the local bar. …

Louisiana’s Private Prisons Are Facing Deep Budget Cuts
Source: Becca Andrews, Mother Jones, July 6, 2016

In the face of deep budget cuts, Louisiana’s private prisons are going to have to scrape by with a lot less. A recently enacted $29.3 million reduction in the budget of the state Department of Corrections will mean much smaller payments to private prison companies, which will see their per inmate rates shrink from nearly $32 per day to around $25, close to what sheriffs are paid to house inmates in local jails. In comparison, Louisiana spends roughly $52 per inmate per day in its state-run institutions. The cash crunch in Louisiana’s private prisons isn’t new, as documented by Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer, who spent four months working in a Louisiana prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America. During the time he was at Winn Correctional Center, CCA received $34 per inmate per day. But the cost per prisoner at Winn, in real dollars, had dropped nearly 20 percent between the late ’90s and 2014, according to the state budget office. …

Opinion: Louisiana’s private and parish prisons are little more than warehouses
Source: Robert Mann, New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 1, 2016

The concerns that you and I should have with this are many. First, it suggests that Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) officials were paying insufficient attention to Winn’s operation. That raises questions about procedures at dozens of parish prisons across Louisiana, where 75.5 percent of parish prison beds are occupied by state inmates (the highest percentage in the nation), all housed for less than $25 a day. “Lock and feed is what I call it,” DOC Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc candidly told a reporter recently. Spend 20 minutes reading any one of Bauer’s stories and tell me if you feel comfortable knowing that people convicted of violent acts were supervised in such a cavalier fashion. … That said, it’s important to remember that Louisiana didn’t privatize Winn because corporations and sheriffs run superior prisons. They did so only to save money.  If you run a private or a smaller parish prison, “corrections” may be a foreign concept. It’s often about little more that housing inmates for the lowest cost to generate the most revenue. …

My four months as a private prison guard
Source: Shane Bauer, Mother Jones, July/August 2016

I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison? …

Why We Sent a Reporter to Work as a Private Prison Guard
Source: Clara Jeffrey, Mother Jones, July/August 2016

But while such investigations were commonplace in the muckraker era, they’ve grown increasingly rare. Why? First, there’s a real concern over ethics. When is it okay for reporters to not announce themselves as such? There’s no governing body of journalism, but a checklist written by Poynter ethicist Bob Steele provides guidelines for assessing when this kind of reporting is acceptable. … To see what private prisons are really like, Shane Bauer applied for a job with the Corrections Corporation of America. He used his own name and Social Security number, and he noted his employment with the Foundation for National Progress, the publisher of Mother Jones. He did not lie. He spent four months as a guard at a CCA-run Louisiana prison, and then we spent 14 more months reporting and fact-checking. We took these extraordinary steps because press access to prisons and jails has been vastly curtailed in recent decades, even as inmates have seen their ability to sue prisons—often the only way potential abuses would pop up on the radar of news organizations or advocates—dramatically reduced. There is no other way to know what truly happens inside but to go there. …

Shane Bauer Talks About His Four Months Working in a Private Prison
Source: Mother Jones, June 23, 2016

Mother Jones: How did you get the idea for this project?

Shane Bauer: The first time I thought about it was while talking to another reporter about writing about prisons. We were talking about Ted Conover’s Newjack, about his experience working as a guard at Sing Sing. I thought, “I should try that at a private prison.” There isn’t a lot of reporting on private prisons because they are not subject to the same public records laws as publicly run prisons and it’s pretty hard for journalists to get inside them. They’re a corner of the American prison system that we don’t know a lot about. …

MJ: How did Winn handle medical care and mental health care for prisoners?

SB: Prisoners regularly complained about medical care at Winn. I met a prisoner who had no legs and no fingers. He had lost them within the past year to gangrene. His medical records showed that he had made at least nine requests to see a doctor in that time. He would go to the infirmary and get sent back; the staff was suggesting that he was faking it. He said he showed the warden his feet, which were turning black and dripping with pus. But CCA had to pay to take a prisoner to the hospital, which costs a lot of money, especially when you consider it made $34 a day for each prisoner. …

Inside Shane Bauer’s Gripping Look at the Workings of a Private Prison
Source: Mother Jones, June 23, 2016

…Bauer’s article also includes profiles of guards and prisoners struggling to survive, “locked in battle like soldiers in a war they don’t believe in.” It also describes his reaction to the stress and risk of being a prison guard—a transformation that revealed the unsettling reality of one of America’s most difficult jobs. “More and more, I focus on proving I won’t back down,” he writes. “I am vigilant; I come to work ready for people to catcall me or run up on me and threaten to punch me in the face.” Shortly after Bauer left Winn in March 2015, CCA announced that it was backing out of its contract to run Winn Correctional Center. Documents later obtained by Mother Jones show that the state had asked CCA to make numerous immediate changes at the prison, including filling gaps in security, hiring more guards and medical staff, and addressing a “total lack of maintenance.” Another concern was a bonus paid to Winn’s warden that “causes neglect of basic needs.”…

The Corrections Corporation of America, by the Numbers
Source: Mother Jones, July/August 2016

The Corrections Corporation of America launched the era of private prisons in 1983, when it opened a immigration detention center in an former motel in Houston, Texas. Today the Nashville-based company houses more than 66,000 inmates, making it the country’s second-largest private prison company. In 2015, it reported $1.9 billion in revenue and made more than $221 million in net income—more than $3,300 for each prisoner in its care. …

CCA Documents
Source: Shane Bauer, Mother Jones, June 23, 2016

Here are legal documents and other records that provided valuable information for Shane Bauer’s investigation into the Corrections Corporation of America’s private prisons. …

What We Know About Violence in America’s Prisons
Source: Mother Jones, July/August 2016

Safety is an issue in all prisons, but accurate data on violence in prisons can be hard to come by. Here’s a look at what we know about physical and sexual assault in America’s prisons—and what was reported at the private prison in Louisiana where Shane Bauer worked. …