Last year, José de Jesús Deniz Sahagun traveled across the Mexico-U.S. border in an attempt to reunite with his three children in Las Vegas. Those plans were interrupted when he was found and taken to a detention center. In the three days that he was locked up, de Jesús tried running away several times, hurt himself so badly that he was taken to a hospital and, ultimately, took his own life. … According to their research, 160 immigrants have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over the last 13 years. Since 2005, at least seven of those deaths have been by suicide, and five of those occurred at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, where de Jesús passed away. Eloy, which is owned and operated by one of the U.S.’ largest private prison companies, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), has “constant complaints about medical care, mental health care,” said Victoria Lopez, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union. … When de Jesús was brought to Eloy from the hospital, the center did not document his doctor visit or suicide attempt. But a psychologist in the facility did place the man on suicide watch with a guard observing him for 24 hours. The next day, de Jesús was removed from suicide watch but kept in solitary confinement, with a guard checking in every 15 minutes. During a 5:30 check, a patrol found de Jesús faced down without movement. … That wasn’t Eloy’s only error. According to an internal investigation, the detention center neither had a mental health staffer on call 24 hours a day nor a suicide prevention plan, despite there having been three such deaths in three years.
Private healthcare companies descended on Austin, Texas, last month to tout their services to jail administrators at a trade fair where they market everything from jumpsuits and meal trays to straitjackets and other restraints. …
Welcome to Jail Inc: how private companies make money off US prisons
Source: Rupert Neate, The Guardian, June 16, 2016
…The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Some 2.2 million adults were incarcerated in 2013 in US federal and state prisons and county jails, according to the bureau of justice statistics. States spend about $8bn (£5.5bn) a year on healthcare to try to keep prisoners alive. … There is no centrally collated data on prison healthcare privatisation, but Dr Marc Stern, an expert on correctional health at the University of Washington and former head doctor of Washington state prisons, estimates that more than half of all state and local prisons and jails have outsourced their healthcare and that the industry is worth more than $3bn a year. Federal prisons spending on outsourced healthcare increased by 24% to $327m between 2010 and 2014, according to a justice department report published last week. It surveyed 69 prisons and found that all of them paid much more for medical services than the Medicare rates, with some prisons spending as much as 385% more. The office of the inspector general report suggested the bureau of prisons explores “potential legislative changes that could help contain medical costs”. … Murphy declined to state how much the company charges counties for its services but said “it’s typically not cheaper, but it’s always better”. Not everyone agrees. Analysis of California department of justice data by Fairwarning found that about 200 inmates died under the care of California Forensic Medical Group (CFMG), the Californian arm of the CMGC, between 2004 and 2014. Excluding homicide, it works out at a death rate of 1.7 per 1,000 inmates at CFMG jails compared with 1.5 in other jails. …
Salem County’s 911 dispatch center and its jail medical staff will not be privatized as a way to balance the 2016 budget. Freeholders voted 5 to 2 Wednesday afternoon to adopt a $81.3 million spending plan. To prevent outsourcing, the county is raising taxes by a penny more than originally planned, taking more from the surplus fund and adjusting other accounts. The budget also reinstates the 2-cent open space tax that was originally eliminated this year as a way to ease the overall burden on taxpayers. That money is earmarked mostly for farmland preservation, something the county leads the state in. … The adopted budget will raise county taxes 8.6 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Originally, freeholders had proposed a tax hike of 5.6 cents. In total, the amount to be raised by taxation will be $52,933,660.48. Each penny on the county tax rate raises about $500,000. …
Privatization of 911, jail nurses would save Salem County $1.1M, officials say
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr, NJ.com, May 18, 2016
Salem County could save over $1.1 million by privatizing its 911 dispatch center and medical staff at its jail, officials say a cost analysis shows. It will now be up to the unions representing those county workers whether they can provide concessions that would come close to the savings that using outside firms would bring. … If privatization of the 911 center is OK’d, annual savings would be $950,646.36, Chief Financial Officer Katie Coleman said Wednesday. The privatization of the Salem County Correctional Facility’s medical staff would save an estimated $216,204.48. The combined overall projected annual savings is $1,166,850.84, according to Coleman. Coleman said the cost analysis for 911 and the nursing staff will be presented to officials from the Communication Workers of America to see if their workers can make concessions needed to match or come close to savings privatization could provide. … The projected savings to the county are based on the lowest bids received: One for 911 dispatching from IXP Corporation of Princeton for $2,398,487.50 and three received for medical services: $2,550,880 from CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlton, $2,262,051 from Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and $1,920,132 from Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee. Michael A. Blaszczyk, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1085, said his union, which represents the 911 and jail medical workers, wants to see their jobs saved. …
Bids are in for possible Salem County privatization. What’s next?
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr, NJ.com, May 15, 2016
On Friday, officials opened the lone bid for providing 911 dispatching services by a private firm. From IXP Corporation of Princeton, that bid was for $2,398,487.50. On May 6, three bids to provide medical services at the Salem County Correctional Facility were opened. They included: $2,550,880 from CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlton, $2,262,051 from Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and $1,920,132 from Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee, according to the county. … The 911 center has approximately 37 full- and part-time employees. The jail nursing staff includes about 20 employees full- and part-time. Asked for how much the 911 center costs the county operate and how much the medical unit at the jail costs, a county spokesperson said those numbers were not available Friday. …
Don’t privatize our jobs, union workers tell Salem County freeholders
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr, NJ.com, April 7, 2016
Union workers have a clear message for Salem County freeholders: Don’t privatize our jobs. One option the county administration is considering to reduce costs is trying to determine whether money can be saved by privatizing the county’s 911 dispatching services and the medical staff at the Salem County Correctional Facility. … Estimates on how much privatization would save Salem County weren’t discussed. Solicitor Michael Mulligan confirmed that the county has completed a draft of a request to seek bids for privatization of the jail nursing staff. And a draft to seek bids for countywide dispatching services is in the works. Before these requests for proposals, or RFPs, can be put out seeking bids, the freeholder board must OK that action. The 911 center in Mannington Township, which is overseen by the Salem County Sheriff’s Office, has 31 full-time and seven part-time employees. At the neighboring jail, also under direction of the Sheriff’s Office, the medical staff is comprised of 16 full-time employees and two part-time workers, officials said.
An inmate dying from an overdose while behind bars at Nashville’s privately operated jail makes the jail operator and Metro government liable for $5 million in damages, the family of the inmate argues in a recently filed lawsuit. The family of Nonnie Kasben is suing Corrections Corporation of America and Metro Davidson government over Kasben’s death, according to federal court documents published Tuesday. CCA, a massive private prison company headquartered in Nashville, operates the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility Kasben’s family says an autopsy shows Kasben died from “an acute overdose of a controlled substance,” according to the court documents. They also argue CCA officers and medical personnel didn’t respond quickly enough to help save Kasben. … Kasben’s family argues CCA and Metro should pay $5 million in damages because they acted negligently in both allowing Kasben to obtain a controlled substance and not immediately providing medical treatment. …
In three-quarters of deaths attributed to substandard medical care, the victims were held in for-profit prisons. Their deaths are tragic proof that profit motives have perverse and harmful effects on our judicial system. Corporations have built a business model out of detaining as many people as they can for as long as possible. … As Seth Freed Wessler documented in The Nation earlier this year, medical neglect was also likely a factor in many deaths at the privately run facilities the Bureau of Prisons uses to house immigrants caught crossing the border after deportation. In the saddest of ironies, these impoverished and meager asylum seekers form the basis for lavish and lucrative contracts. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)—the company that runs the Eloy facility where José de Jesús Deniz-Sahagún perished last year—saw a $49 million increase in their second-quarter earnings in 2015 as compared to the same time period in 2014. Just one of their facilities, in Dilley, Texas, generated $100 million in the first half of 2015 alone. CCA and others like it maximize profits by minimizing concern for the people they ensnare. For considerations of food, clothing, medical and dental needs, education, and amenities, every dollar they spend is a dollar off their bottom line. Is it any wonder, then, that so many fatalities from medical neglect are taking place in for-profit facilities?
Family Sues Private-Prison Operator Over Deaths at Immigrant-Only Facilities
Source: Seth Freed Wessler, The Nation, March 14, 2016
… Geo Group and CCS said they would not comment on pending litigation. But Big Spring’s own mortality review faulted both the LVN and the PA for failing to alert the clinical director when Garay’s condition did not improve. The review found that the PA “did not respond correctly to the initial report from nursing describing new onset of presumed seizure of a previously healthy 41 year old male.” It also found that neither diagnosis nor treatment was “appropriate and timely.” … Garay is one of at least 137 men who have died while incarcerated in privately run Bureau of Prisons facilities. Medical records obtained through a federal open records lawsuit revealed systemic shortcomings in their medical care. Doctors who reviewed 103 of the medical files agreed that in 25 cases, including Garay’s, substandard medical care likely contributed to prisoners’ premature deaths. The reviewers repeatedly found evidence that the private contractors who operate these facilities—Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America, and Management and Training Corporation—and medical subcontractors have used low-trained medical workers like LVNs to fill positions that in Bureau of Prison-operated facilities would be staffed by more highly trained registered nurses. The prison contractors are not bound by BOP staffing plans.
Death by privatization in US prisons
Source: Mary Turck, Aljazeera America, February 24, 2016
Reports show a pervasive pattern of inadequate medical care at privately run immigrant prisons in the United States. A Jan. 28 report by Seth Freed Wessler, a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, analyzed medical records of 103 immigrant prisoners who died in private prisons from 1998 to 2014. It concluded that in at least 25 of those cases, subpar care “likely contributed to the premature deaths of the prisoners.” … But the lack of medical care at these immigrant-only private prisons receives less scrutiny than any public or other private prisons. Families of immigrant inmates often live outside the United States. This limits their ability to fully advocate for imprisoned family members. They have little access to visit or maintain phone contact with prisoners. They don’t have access to U.S. courts for medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuits. They cannot vote and are not represented in Congress.
A hearing-impaired inmate serving 15-to-life for a 2002 Portage County killing filed suit against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, saying the department’s refusal to replace his hearing aids is a safety risk. James Handwork, 55, is serving his sentence at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed suit on his behalf on Tuesday in federal court in Cleveland. … Prison officials have refused to replace both hearing aids and said they would only give him one new one, the ACLU says. The officials told Handwork that the corrections department’s policy only requires staff to ensure that an inmate can hear from one ear. … The suit says that the prison system is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and Handwork’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU is asking a judge to issue an injunction requiring the prison to give Handwork new hearing aids and to change their policy to accommodate people who are hard of hearing.
As criminal justice reform sweeps the nation, an alarming trend has emerged that could mean private prison profiteers control a person’s fate for life, not just the term of a prison sentence. The same private prison profiteers who built billion dollar empires as partners in tough on crime policies are adapting to reforms by rebranding themselves — as humane treatment providers. The criminal justice system has created ample opportunities for their expansion, including mental health hospitals and civil commitment centers, correctional healthcare, and community corrections. This report will look specifically at one segment of their expansion: mental health hospitals and civil commitment centers, facilities that represent the potential for lifetime confinement and long-term guaranteed profit. In fact, the same for-profit company is making aggressive moves to take over both types of facilities. Correct Care Solutions, formerly known as GEO Care, a spin-off of GEO Group, has deep roots in the private prison industry. Although the company has shifted and changed numerous times over the last few years, CCS currently runs seven “treatment” facilities in Florida, Texas and South Carolina, including five mental health facilities and two civil commitment centers. This report’s in-depth analysis of GEO Group, GEO Care and now Correct Care Solutions’ involvement in operating mental health hospitals and civil commitment centers exposes serious concerns.
For the fourth time in two years, Moody’s Investor Service downgraded the Corporate Family Rating (CFR) for Valitas Health Services, a Missouri-based company which owns Corizon Health Services, the largest inmate medical provider in the United States. A CFR is assigned to a “corporate family,” rating a parent company and its subsidiaries as though it were one entity. In determining the ratings action, Moody’s cited volatility among Corizon’s contracts and confusion regarding the status of company’s agreement with Florida, where state prison officials claimed they would rebid around $1 billion in inmate medical contracts, but have yet to do so. Moody’s called for “greater clarity around the status of the company’s Florida contract” as one condition that would need to be fulfilled before the rating could be upgraded. … In April 2013, a Moody’s Ratings Action stated “near-term earnings pressure following the recent losses of the Maine, Maryland, and Pennsylvania DOC contracts” influenced a ratings downgrade. … Five months later, in September 2013, Moody’s downgraded Valitas again and changed their ratings outlook from stable to negative, where it has remained ever since. Moody’s downgraded Valitas a third time in August 2014, writing, “we expect the company to continue to face near-term earnings pressure following recent contract losses and certain underperforming state Department of Corrections contracts.”
According to documents obtained by Shadowproof, St. Louis “anticipates selection of an apparent successful proposer at the beginning of October 2015.” A contract could go into effect approximately six weeks after the selection, following a review by the County Council. The document, titled “Answers to Proposers Questions,” was filed in August of this year and provides greater detail into an opaque bidding process for a lucrative contract to provide medical services to over 1,000 inmates in St. Louis. It also serves as a window into the serious and expensive healthcare needs currently facing the county. … The county explains it is exploring privatization for “cost containment, quality control, and the deployment of universally accepted optimum performance standards for the delivery of corrections medicine as identified by the NCCHC and ACA.” The county says it is open to evaluating all “cost saving pricing models,” such as shared or capped risk models.
The following is an excerpt Chapter 12, “Incarceration Inc.,” from Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People’s Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time.
In addition to the private prison corporations, a wide range of companies, organizations, individuals, and even towns profit economically or politically from prisons. They all have “skin in the game” – and have a definite interest in opposing attempts to reduce or end mass incarceration. These prison profiteers recognize that incarcerating people is an economic as well as a political operation. Keeping a person in prison is costly, whether in New York, where in 2010 it cost on average $60,076 a year to lock up one person, or in West Virginia, where the price tag was $26,498. … As of 2012, about twenty states had contracted their prison health care to private companies. Many county jails have done the same. Corizon Correctional Healthcare, the largest prison medical provider, takes in around $1.5 billion in annual revenue with contracts for prisons in twenty-eight states and jails in numerous cities and counties. … Another service where outsourcing is the dominant trend is food provision. The giant in this market is Aramark, which has a presence in more than six hundred correctional facilities throughout North America, serving more than a million meals per day according to its website. …