Category Archives: Corrections

Following the Money of Mass Incarceration

Source: Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy, Prison Policy Initiative, January 25, 2017

In this first-of-its-kind report, we find that the system of mass incarceration costs the government and families of justice-involved people at least $182 billion every year. In this report:

  • we provide the significant costs of our globally unprecedented system of mass incarceration and over-criminalization,
  • we give the relative importance of the various parts, we highlight some of the under-discussed yet costly parts of the system,
  • and then we share all of our sources so that journalists and advocates can build upon our work.
  • Our goal with this report is to give a hint as to how the criminal justice system works by identifying some of the key stakeholders and quantifying their “stake” in the status quo. Our visualization shows how wide and how deep mass incarceration and over-criminalization have spread into our economy. We find:

  • Almost half of the money spent on running the correctional system goes to paying staff. This group is an influential lobby that sometimes prevents reform and whose influence is often protected even when prison populations drop.
  • The criminal justice system is overwhelmingly a public system, with private prison companies acting only as extensions of the public system. The government payroll for corrections employees is over 100 times higher than the private prison industry’s profits.
  • Despite the fact that the Constitution requires counsel to be appointed for defendants unable to afford legal representation, the system only spends $4.5 billion on this right. And over the last decade, states have been reducing this figure even as caseloads have grown.
  • Private companies that supply goods to the prison commissary or provide telephone service for correctional facilities bring in almost as much money ($2.9 billion) as governments pay private companies ($3.9 billion) to operate private prisons.
  • Feeding and providing health care for 2.3 million people — a population larger than that of 15 different states — is expensive.

Walnut Grove (Podcast)

Source: Criminal, January 6, 2017

Walnut Grove was such a violent prison that one Federal Judge called it “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.” Today, we have the story of an especially troubled youth prison, the for-profit corporations that managed it, and the small town that relied on it.

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As prison closes, Mississippi still reckons with debt
Source: Jeff Amy, Clarion Ledger, September 25, 2016

If you’ve got to keep paying for something, you might as well use it. That, more than anything, might be the logic behind the announcement from Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher last week that the state prison system intends to seek new uses for the recently closed Walnut Grove Correctional Facility. Fisher said last week saying the department is considering using the 1,500-bed facility as an alternative to prison, as a facility to house prisoners after parole violations, or to help prisoners prepare to re-enter society. … Grace Simmons Fisher, a department spokeswoman who is not related Marshall Fisher, said the department owes almost $194 million overall on Walnut Grove and three other private prisons — East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian, Marshall County Correctional Facility and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. She couldn’t break down exactly how much the state owes for each. But it’s clear from bond documents the debt is largest at Walnut Grove — as much as $91 million. That’s in part because the prison is the newest, having opened in 2001. Walnut Grove and East Mississippi were also more expensive because each has 1,500 beds, while the two older prisons have 1,000 apiece. … Overall, the state is scheduled to be paying $21.8 million a year on the prisons’ debt until 2027. That comes out of money that lawmakers appropriate to the Corrections Department for private prisons — $74.6 million this year. …

Privately Run Mississippi Prison, Called a Scene of Horror, Is Shut Down
Source: Timothy Williams, New York Times, September 15, 2016

A privately operated Mississippi prison that a federal judge once concluded was effectively run by gangs in collusion with corrupt prison guards, closed Thursday, its prisoners transferred to other state facilities, officials said. Conditions at the prison, the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, were deemed so substandard by Judge Carlton Reeves of Federal District Court, that he wrote in a 2012 settlement order that it “paints a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.” The move to shutter Walnut Grove, in Leake County, comes one month after the Justice Department announced that it would phase out its use of private prisons to house federal inmates after concluding that such facilities are more dangerous and less effective than prisons run by the government. But the Obama administration decision does not affect states, which have increasingly come to rely on private firms to manage prison populations, including Mississippi. … The Mississippi Department of Corrections said in June that it had decided to shutter Walnut Grove not because of the often-unrestrained violence at the facility, but for budget cuts. Grace Simmons Fisher, a corrections department spokeswoman, declined to comment on Thursday. Issa Arnita, a spokesman for the private prison contractor, said on Thursday in a statement that Management and Training Corporation had “made tremendous improvements to overall operations” at Walnut Grove since it took over management in 2012. But the 1,260-bed facility had been operating since 2012 under a federal consent decree for violating prisoners’ constitutional rights, and in 2014, Walnut Grove was the scene of two major riots. Last year, Judge Reeves extended federal oversight of the prison because of continuing constitutional violations. …

Mississippi closing private prison with history of abuse
Source: Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press, September 14, 2016

A Mississippi private prison with a history of inmate abuse is preparing to shut down, three months after state officials announced their intention to close it because of a tight state budget. Thursday is the final day of operations at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman Grace Simmons Fisher said. About 900 inmates have been moved to state-run prisons in the past several weeks, and only a few remained in the Walnut Grove prison late Wednesday. Fisher said they would be moved by Thursday. … Utah-based Management and Training Corp. took over management of the prison in 2012 from Florida-based GEO Group Mississippi has been paying MTC $14.6 million a year to run the Walnut Grove prison, which has been one of the largest employers in a town of about 500 residents. The prison had 215 employees in June and was down to 175 about two weeks ago, MTC spokesman Issa Arnita said Wednesday. …

Walnut Grove: Prison loss ‘devastating’
Source: Mollie Bryant, Clarion Ledger, July 9, 2016

Uncertainty hangs in the air of Walnut Grove, a community bracing itself for the loss of its largest employer this fall. The state’s decision to close the privately run Walnut Grove prison, which under federal oversight since 2012 for its conditions, will leave the tiny town facing a precipitous drop in revenue as many residents look for work. … Citing budget cuts and a declining number of inmates, the Mississippi Department of Corrections announced it would close the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in September and transfer its 900 inmates to state-run prisons. The closure will mean about 200 fewer jobs in a town with a population that hovers around 500, and loss of revenue that will lead to furloughs and pay cuts for city employees. … The revenue loss will force the town’s 12 employees to begin a furlough once a week and police to take a $2-per-hour pay cut. … The state pays Management and Training Corp. $14.6 million per year to operate the prison, which is one of four facilities the company runs in Mississippi. While building the private prisons, the state racked up $195 million in debt. The Walnut Grove prison was presented to the community as an opportunity for jobs after the departure of several manufacturing plants. A shirt manufacturing and a glove maker closed several years ago and moved their operations overseas. It was touted as “recession proof.” The city annexed the land where the prison was built in 1999 and later expanded.

Mississippi to close privately-run prison as inmates dwindle
Source: Jeff Amy, Associated Press, June 10, 2016

Mississippi officials plan to close a privately-run prison in Leake County in September, another sign of Mississippi’s falling prison population after lawmakers cut prison sentences. The Mississippi Department of Corrections announced Friday that it would close the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, which is run by Utah-based Management and Training Corp. Commissioner Marshall Fisher said he made the decision because of lower-than-requested state funding in the budget year beginning July 1, as well as the decreasing number of inmates. … Fisher said MTC’s 215 employees at Walnut Grove could apply for jobs at other state prisons. However, the move could be a financial disaster for the 1,900 resident-town in Leake County, Mayor Brian Gomillion said. … The state pays MTC $14.6 million a year to run Walnut Grove. …

Judge Allows Class-Action Suit Over Mississippi Prison Conditions
Source: Timothy Williams, New York Times, October 1, 2015

Inmates at a privately run Mississippi prison where, they say, guards arranged for prisoners to attack one another, ignored fires set by inmates to signal distress, and allowed prisoners to trade whiskey and cellphones will be permitted to file a class-action lawsuit against the facility, a federal court judge ruled this week. The judge, William H. Barbour Jr., granted the request by inmates at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian on Tuesday in their lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections. … The company that operates the prison, the Management & Training Corporation, based in Utah, also runs another Mississippi prison, the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, which is under federal court oversight for conditions including severe and systematic violence against inmates. … At the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, about 70 percent of the 1,200 inmates have some form of mental illness, advocates say. Inmates there say that they are punished for seeking medical care, that toilets often do not work and frequently overflow, and that some inmates live in near-total darkness because light bulbs are not replaced.

Mississippi prisons prove dangerous to staff, inmates
Source: Jerry Mitchell, Clarion-Ledger, October 5, 2014

Mississippi taxpayers spend more to keep people in prison than on economic development, disaster relief, drug enforcement, hospitals, hospital schools and the state’s entire judicial system combined. So what exactly are taxpayers getting for $389 million in taxes? A system where gangs rule, where corruption festers and where at least one private prison has been called “barbaric.” …. Three different private contractors have operated East Mississippi Correctional Facility since it opened in 1999. The current operator is Utah-based Management & Training Corp., which was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Seeing Squalor and Unconcern in a Mississippi Jail
Source: Erica Goode, New York Times, June 7, 2014

Open fires sometimes burn unheeded in the solitary-confinement units of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, a privately run state prison in Meridian, 90 miles east of here. Inmates spend months in near-total darkness. Illnesses go untreated. Dirt, feces and, occasionally, blood are caked on the walls of cells. For years, the prison, the state’s primary facility for inmates with mental illnesses, has been plagued by problems. When a previous private operator, the GEO Group, left in 2012 after complaints to the state about squalor and lack of medical treatment, hopes rose that conditions would improve. But two years later, advocates for inmates assert that little has changed under the current operator, Management and Training Corporation, a Utah-based company. Civil rights lawyers and medical and mental health experts who toured the facility recently painted a picture of an institution where violence is frequent, medical treatment substandard or absent, and corruption common among corrections officers, who receive low wages and minimal training…..
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Privatized prisons serve terrible meals for inmates — and now protesters will fight back

Source: Alex Orlov, Mic, January 12, 2017

In private prisons, where corporate food contractors are paid to provide nourishment and sufficient calories to prisoners, some are allegedly cutting corners.  Activists will march in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14 to protest food corporation Aramark, an $8.2 billion company, for allegedly serving subpar food, PBS News Hour reported. Leading the protests will be members of Free Alabama Movement, a group that previously organized a prison labor strike in 2016 to protest the use of free labor in prisons nationwide, a practice they say is akin to slavery. Aramark, their newest target, is a food service provider that serves over 380 million meals in correctional facilities in the U.S. each year. … The crux of the problem is that Aramark and other food contractors have no accountability when it comes to prison food, David Fathi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project said in a phone interview on Tuesday night. … It’s no secret that prison food — in private or public correctional facilities — can be borderline inedible. … According to allegations, Aramark’s service is mediocre at best and dangerous at worst. … It’s unclear what demands Free Alabama Movement will make when they take Washington on Saturday, but the fact that the group is bringing attention to the issue of prison food isn’t to be taken lightly.

Legislator’s audit: Florida paid private prison operator $16 million too much

Source: Mary Ellen Klas, Bradenton Herald, January 11, 2017

For the last several years, Florida prison officials have used an opaque pricing scheme that inflated payments to a private prison company operating Lake City Correctional Facility, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in excess charges instead of producing the promised savings, according to an independent financial audit by a Miami Beach state legislator. Rep. David Richardson, a Democrat and retired forensic auditor, investigated seven years of state payments to Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), now known as CoreCivic of Tennessee and concluded the pricing scheme approved by the Florida Department of Corrections resulted in at least $16 million in overcharges over the past seven years and was either the result of massive government ineptitude or a calculated fraud against taxpayers. … Richardson, who has been on a one-man crusade to bring accountability to Florida’s troubled prison system, delivered a copy of his two-inch briefing book and a summary of his report to Florida’s Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel. He asked Miguel to conduct an investigation into potential criminal violations surrounding the Lake City Correctional Facility contract, as well as the six other Florida prisons operated by other vendors. This is the only prison CoreCivic now operates. … The review of contracts, billing statements, and payments to the Lake City prison that houses 894 youthful offenders found that the contract, which was supposed to save state money, resulted in the state’s paying millions for air-conditioning at the facility, which was built by the state and then leased to CCA. The contract also appears to create ghost charges for personnel that were reimbursed, gave CCA four times more for education and substance-abuse education than the state spends to run the same programs in state-run prisons, and inflated occupancy rates to raise reimbursement, Richardson alleges. …

Illinois Launches Pay-For-Success Initiative For Dually-Involved Youth

Source: Open Minds, January 3, 2017

On November 18, 2016, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced the launch of a four-year, pay-for-success pilot project for youth dually involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The goal is to reduce or prevent time in institutional care, discourage repeat criminal behavior, and foster successful transitions to adulthood. Outcomes of the treatment group will be compared to a control group. To launch this project, DCFS contracted with Conscience Community Network LLC (CCN), a network of six Illinois non-profit provider organizations to deliver intensive care coordination and timely access to . . .

Dilley’s Immigrant Jail Is A Cash Cow For Private Prison Company, But What About Dilley?

Source: Aaron Schrank, Texas Public Radio, December 21, 2016

President Obama expanded use of family detention camps a couple of years ago to include lockups for thousands of Central American women and children seeking asylum at the Southern border. That’s been a gold mine for the corporate prison industry. Private prison giant CoreCivic–formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America–has put up record profits running a 2,400-bed family jail in the tiny city of Dilley. But some in Dilley worry hosting the hub of a controversial family detention policy hasn’t paid off for locals. … “Well, in general, the whole town is dead,” says Ortiz. “There’s nothing here. This used to be a very big agriculture town. They called it the watermelon capital; you can see the watermelon there.” Ortiz points to the hard-to-miss statue of a half-eaten watermelon—wrapped in Christmas lights. Today, Dilley is known for other things. “Mainly oil and incarceration, says Jose Asuncion, a third-generation Dilley resident. By incarceration, he means the state prison and the so-called family detention center packed with immigrant women and children. Between the two of them: “That’s 3,700 potential incarcerated people,” says Asuncion. “That’s equivalent to the town’s population. I think that’s wrong.” … The Dilley City Council approved its agreement with the private prison company and the man-camp owner in October 2014. CoreCivic agreed to prioritize hiring Dilley residents to fill 600 jobs, but Asuncion hasn’t seen that. … The council’s agenda promised the project would provide $6.9 million in direct economic benefit to Dilley, but it’s unclear that’s come through. The agreement–and appraisal district data–show the city should have brought in less than $2 million in revenue sharing from CoreCivic and property taxes from the center since then. Dilley has also taken out millions in bonds called certificates of obligation—without voter approval—for city projects including a water and sewer line upgrade for the detention center. … In the new contract, CoreCivic agreed to cut costs at Dilley by 40 percent, mostly through reductions in staff. A woman who works for a CoreCivic subcontractor says her pay was cut by more than 30 percent. “Everybody was dropped to $16-something-an-hour,” she says. “Everybody quit in our company. I’m serious. Everybody quit. That’s when I called them and said, ‘I can’t afford my rent here at 16 something.” …

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Private prison stocks are spiking
Source: Robert Ferris, CNBC, October 18, 2016

Corrections Corporation of America shares extended their gains Tuesday on word that a Texas facility would extend their contract. Shares spiked Monday after the company reported it is extending and amending a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the 2,400-bed South Texas Family Center in Dilley, Texas. Corrections Corp. shares closed at $14.55 on Tuesday, up 20 cents, or about 1.4 percent. The contract will extend through 2021, thought ICE will pay a lower monthly fixed rate to the company. The agreement is subject to termination upon 60-day notice. … At the end of September, both stocks posted their worst quarter in roughly 16 years.

ICE Renews Private Prison Contractor To Run Largest Family Detention Center
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, October 18, 2016

Immigration and Customs Enforcement revised and extended a contract on Monday for a private company to keep running the country’s largest family detention center as a for-profit business for another five years. ICE renewed the contract with Corrections Corporation of America, despite a recent surge of criticism against the government’s reliance on private prison contractors. The South Texas Family Residential Center, which the Obama administration hastily constructed at the the tail end of 2014 to detain a sudden influx of Central American mothers and children, has also faced its own controversies, with lawsuits questioning the legality of the White House’s family detention policy. … Under CCA’s extended contract, the company will receive less money than before to run the Southern Texas Family Residential Center, according to a news release posted to the CCA website. The contract originally awarded to CCA to run the Dilley detention center was worth nearly $1 billion over four years and the company received the money regardless of how many people were locked up there. …

Private Prisons Are Cashing In on Refugees’ Desperation
Source: Antony Lowenstein, New York Times, February 25, 2016

The Dilley center holds people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a government agency, but it is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, America’s largest private prison and detention company. It is one part of a worrisome global trend of warehousing immigrants and asylum seekers at remote sites maintained by for-profit corporations. The United Nations estimates that one in every 122 people on the planet is displaced. This is a crisis that requires a humanitarian solution; unfortunately, some people view it as a business opportunity. … It has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The company Hero Norway runs 90 refugee centers in Norway and 10 in Sweden, charging governments $31 to $75 per refugee per night. Australia’s government has contracted the company Broadspectrum to manage two detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea for asylum seekers. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government awarded the security firm Serco a seven-year contract in 2014 worth over $100 million for running the Yarl’s Wood immigrant detention center. … In its 2014 annual report, the Corrections Corporation of America worried that changes to American immigration policy could cut into the company’s bottom line.

Family Detention Centers Apply for Child Care Licenses
Source: Seth Robbins, Associated Press, October 16, 2015

A Texas agency will inspect two of the nation’s largest immigrant family detention centers to determine whether to issue them residential child care licenses as part of an effort to keep the facilities open amid a legal challenge. … The detention centers are overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and run by private prison companies, which are applying for the licenses. According to an application filed by Corrections Corporation of America, the 2,000-bed facility in Dilley would provide child care services that can include handling children at risk to themselves or others and restraining children physically. The application filed by The GEO Group, the contractor at the 500-bed facility in Karnes City, asked only for child care services. … Filings about the Dilley facility mention untreated or unrecognized ailments that resulted in children being hospitalized, lack of medicines, erroneous vaccine dosages and long waits. Corrections Corporation of America would not comment on the allegations or the licensing process, deferring to the Homeland Security statement.

Federal judge orders Obama administration to release detained mothers and children
Source: Franco Ordonez, Miami Herald, August 22, 2015

A federal judge ruled late Friday night that the Obama administration has just over two months to begin releasing hundreds of migrant mothers and children who have been locked up in government family detention centers as they await their asylum hearings. In a 15-page ruling that quoted Mahatma Gandhi, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Central California delivered a scolding rebuke of the government’s expanded use of family detention centers. But she also granted the government one of its key requests for additional time – as much as 20 days – to continue to hold mothers and children under extenuating circumstances like last year’s surge of nearly 70,000 Central American families into the United States. … Gee rejected a last minute plea by the administration to reconsider her July ruling that the government acted in violation of a 1997 settlement regarding child migrants. She called the government’s arguments improper and speculative. … Homeland Security officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but they are expected to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But they’re also likely relieved. Gee did not issue a blanket order prohibiting the detention of all families under any circumstances beyond five days as they had feared.

Dems press White House to end family detention centers
Source: Mike Lillis, The Hill, July 31, 2015

House Democrats are escalating their calls for the Obama administration to shutter the family detention centers housing thousands of illegal immigrant women and children. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, 178 Democrats contend the centers — which were established last summer, largely to accommodate the flood of immigrants arriving at the southern border – are illegal and impose prison-like conditions that risk physical and mental harm to detainees. …
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S.L. County launching 2 programs serving at-risk homeless, repeat offenders

Source: McKenzie Romero, Deseret News, December 19, 2016

After two years of preparation, Salt Lake County is ready to launch two data-driven and results-based programs addressing persistent homelessness and treatment for men at risk of repeated trips to jail. Calling the plan a “new frontier” for delivering essential services while safeguarding taxpayer interests, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said $11.5 million will go toward two projects kicking off early next year with the goal of eventually serving an estimated 550 people. The launch comes just days after Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced the locations of four new homeless shelters to be established around the city, and the eventual closure of the Road Home facility, operated by one of the two nonprofit organizations partnering in the county program. … In January, the Road Home will begin work on its Homes Not Jail project, which will provide a place to live for those who have been homeless for 90 to 364 days in hopes of keeping them from becoming homeless for much longer. The program is expected to serve 315 people. … Later in 2017, First Steps House will receive funds for its “REACH” initiative, which aims to provide comprehensive intervention, support and treatment for an estimated 225 men who have been incarcerated and are becoming repeat offenders. The acronym REACH stands for recovery, engagement, assessment, career and housing. …. Support for the “pay for success” programs has come from the Gail and Larry H. Miller Foundation, the Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, Living Cities, Synchrony Bank, Zions Bank, Northern Trust, QBE Insurance Group Limited, Ally Bank and the Reinvestment Fund. …

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Salt Lake County budget up for public hearings, with focus on ‘Pay for Success’
Source: Mike Gorrell, Salt Lake Tribune, December 4, 2016

Two public hearings are on the Salt Lake County Council’s agenda Tuesday. The first, at 4 p.m., will seek public comment on Mayor Ben McAdams’ proposal to invest $3.75 million in two “Pay for Success” programs, one aiming to reduce homelessness, the other to lower jail recidivism. … The council wants to apply $500,000 to extending substance abuse and mental-health treatment services from April to July for people entered into programs through the recent Operation Diversion roundups in downtown Salt Lake City. That joint county-city effort is aimed at curbing illegal drug trafficking by arresting dealers and diverting addicts into treatment. Another $250,000 would be dedicated, in the council plan, to an initiative to combat opioid abuse. The county district attorney’s office helped kick off the effort earlier this fall, providing funding to equip Unified Police Department officers with anti-overdose kits. The Pay for Success plan is a key piece of both McAdams’ budget, which does not require a tax increase, and his multiyear plan to address criminal-justice reform by attacking its root causes. … Both programs are designed to achieve specific success rates based on a variety of criteria. If the programs reach those benchmarks, the county will repay the investors with interest. If they don’t succeed, the county has no repayment obligations. Nelson told the council that four senior lenders would invest up to $6.5 million:

• Northern Trust Bank in Chicago.
• Ally Bank in Midvale.
• Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia-based “catalyst for change in low-income communities.”
• QBE Insurance from Australia.

Another $2 million in subordinate loans have been pledged by the Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center at the University of Utah and New York City-based Living Cities, a collaboration of foundations and financial institutions dedicated to low-income urban residents.

FATAL CORRECTIONS Inside the Deadly Mississippi Riot That Pushed the Justice Department to Rein In Private Prisons

Source: Janosch Delcker, The Intercept, December 17, 2016

FOR NEARLY TWO decades, the Bureau of Prisons has contracted with a handful of private companies to incarcerate thousands of non-U.S. citizens serving time for low-level federal offenses. Held in a dozen so-called “criminal alien requirement” prisons largely concentrated in remote, rural areas, the inmates in private custody are, for the most part, locked up for immigration offenses or drug violations. CAR facilities have been the target of sustained criticism from advocacy organizations, which argue that their existence reflects a two-tiered federal prison system that outsources a select population of inmates to contractors with a track record of abuse and neglect. In August, it seemed that years of pressure had finally paid off, when the Justice Department announced it would begin phasing out private prisons. … As the policies of the president-elect come into focus, it’s worth revisiting one of the incidents that prompted the DOJ’s resolve to cut ties with the industry in the first place — a deadly clash at a low-security, CCA-run facility on the outskirts of Natchez, Mississippi, that reflects how private prisons not only endanger inmates, but can also force low-wage workers from economically depressed communities into perilous circumstances. In May 2012, inmates at Adams County Correctional Center staged a protest over a litany of grievances, including claims that men had died in custody as a result of medical negligence. Though CCA officials were forewarned that dire conditions had bred a sense of desperation in the prison, they failed to prevent the escalation that followed. … CCA, now CoreCivic, runs three of the country’s CAR prisons; seven are run by the GEO Group and another two by Management and Training Corp. Like many of the isolated areas where CAR prisons operate, Adams County had a poverty rate about twice the national average. When CCA hosted its job fair in Natchez, more than 3,000 people lined up for 409 jobs. “We thought it was a federal prison … and we were under the impression that they would pay like $20 an hour,” Temple said when we met last year, in the closed bar of a casino by the Mississippi River. She was hired as a correctional officer in 2010, starting at $12.60 an hour. “Pretty good for here,” she told me. Later, she was promoted to sergeant. …

… According to federal investigations into the Adams riot, a group of Mexican inmates known as the Paisas, or “countrymen,” exercised considerable influence inside the facility, where only a fraction of the employees spoke Spanish. If inmates had complaints, they would consult with their Paisa representatives, who conveyed their concerns to prison management. In the weeks leading up to May 20, tensions had apparently risen within the group. “The Paisas felt their leadership was ineffective at communicating their grievances to prison officials since their complaints had gone unaddressed for so long,” stated an FBI affidavit later filed in cases related to the incident. The Intercept reached out to former Adams inmates who are now serving time on charges of rioting in a federal correctional facility. Responding in letters in Spanish, several described the unrest as primarily the result of conditions they felt had become increasingly dangerous and intolerable, including medical neglect, excessive use of segregation, spoiled food, a lack of interpreters, and mistreatment by staff. The Intercept is not naming the inmates who responded because of concerns about possible retaliation in their present facilities. …

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Federal Officials Ignored Years of Internal Warnings About Deaths at Private Prisons
Source: Seth Freed Wessler, The Nation, June 15, 2016

The fatal uprising at Adams was one of four riots to explode in the BOP’s private prisons since 2008, all triggered by grievances over medical care. A trove of 20,000 pages of previously unreleased monitoring reports, internal investigations, and other documents obtained through an open-records suit show that the BOP had been warned of substandard care by its own monitors for years but failed to act. … In a striking confirmation of these findings, the new records show that BOP monitors documented, between January 2007 and June 2015, the deaths of 34 inmates who were provided substandard medical care. Fourteen of these deaths occurred in prisons run by CCA. Fifteen were in prisons operated by the GEO Group. The BOP didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment or to written questions before deadline. The records and interviews with former BOP officials reveal a pattern: Despite dire reports from dozens of field monitors, top bureau officials repeatedly failed to enforce the correction of dangerous deficiencies and routinely extended contracts for prisons that failed to provide adequate medical care. …

10 indicted in Adams County prison riot
Source: Associated Press, July 24, 2013

Ten people have been indicted for their roles in a riot at a prison in Natchez that left one guard dead, federal authorities said Wednesday. The indictments, announced Wednesday by FBI Special Agent In Charge Daniel McMullen and U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Daniels, are in addition to nine others previously charged in connection with the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Center. The prison is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation’s largest private prison companies….The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after deportation for being in the country illegally….

Guard killed in prison riot / Several injured in uprising at Adams County facility
Source: Therese Apel, Clarion Ledger, May 21, 2012

An uprising in the Adams County Correctional Facility near Natchez Sunday left at least one unidentified guard dead and several more transported to the hospital, officials said. Adams County Coroner James Lee said one prison guard is dead of blunt force trauma to the head after the incident….The Adams County Correctional Facility is a $128 million, 2,567-bed prison owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. The facility houses adult male illegal immigrants for the Federal Bureau of Prisons….The disturbance started Sunday around 2:40 p.m., according to prison officials. It appears to have been the result of a power struggle among the inmates.

Miss. prison riot leaves guard dead, 8 hurt
Source: Holbrook Mohr, Associated Press, May 21, 2012
Fatal Mississippi prison riot quelled, authorities say
Source: Stephanie Gallman, CNN, May 21, 2012
SWAT Teams have entered the Adams County Prison
Source: WLBT, May 20, 2012
Mississippi Prison on Lockdown After Guard Dies
Source: Robbie Brown, New York Times, May 22, 2012

New Youngstown prison contract could put hundreds back to work

Source: WYTV, December 15, 2016

Hundreds of people could be back to work at the private prison on the east side of Youngstown. Mayor John McNally said on Thursday CoreCivic recently let him know of new developments for the facility formerly known as the CCA. The company laid off more than 250 workers at the Youngstown prison in 2015 after federal prison contracts ended. McNally said CoreCivic received a new contract to house up to 600 federal immigration detainees. It will start at the beginning of the year. … Gov. John Kasich just approved a plan to send some state inmates to the private prison. That could take place as soon as next spring. …

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Governor gets bill that could benefit Youngstown’s private prison
Source: WFMJ, December 7, 2016

A bill on its way to the desk of Ohio Governor John Kasich could breathe new life into a private prison in Youngstown. Lawmaker in Columbus have passed a bill to ease overcrowding in Ohio’s state operated prisons by allowing more people to be housed in prisons for profit, such as the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons pulled 1,400 offenders from the private prison in Youngstown last year after awarding its contract to another company. The reduction resulted in the loss of 185 jobs at the prison according to a notice posted under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. …

Ohio Senate OKs bill allowing private prisons to take state inmates
Source: Mark Kovac, The Vindicator, December 2, 2016

Legislation that would allow state prisoners to be transferred to private prisons, like the one in Youngstown, has cleared the Ohio Senate. The Thursday vote on Senate Bill 185 was 26-1, and the legislation heads back to the Ohio House for consideration of Senate amendments. The original legislation focused on arson offenses, expanding the crime to include unoccupied structures. Language added by senators during committee deliberations would enable the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to contract with private facilities to house state prisoners. State Sen. John Eklund of Chardon, R-18th, who serves as chairman of the committee that considered the legislation, said the language would allow the state to take advantage of inmate beds left vacant when the federal government ended contracts to house federal prisoners at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown. … The Federal Bureau of Prisons opted in March 2015 not to renew a contract, which expired May 31, with NOCC on Youngstown’s East Side, resulting in the exodus of about 1,400 of its 2,000 prisoners. Those prisoners were illegal immigrants charged with felonies. Also, 185 employes were laid off. Then, four months ago, federal officials announced they no longer routinely would house federal inmates in privately operated prisons because of a rapid decline in the U.S. inmate population nationwide. The prison, run by CoreCivic of Nashville, currently houses about 580 inmates through a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service that expires at the end of 2018. …

ICE releases nearly 500 from Dilley, Karnes City detention centers over weekend

Source: Jason Buch, My San Antonio, December 6, 2016

A legal aid group representing immigrant families at two controversial detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley said the federal government released 460 women and children, about 25 percent of those being held, over the weekend. Some of the families had been in detention only a short time and have not yet had their credible fear interviews, the first step in the asylum process, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services said in an announcement about the releases. … ICE, however, said the releases “were scheduled as a part of normal operations and not in response to the court ruling.” “ICE is currently reviewing the court’s ruling on the matter of the operating license for the South Texas Family Residential Center,” spokesman Carl Rusnok said. “Operational activities continue without interruption at this time.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought licenses for the facilities last year after a judge in California ruled that the Karnes and Dilley centers were in violation of a court settlement governing the treatment of immigrant children. …

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Immigration detention centers will continue operating despite judge’s ruling
Source: Julian Aguilar, Texas Tribune, December 6, 2016

Two privately run immigration detention centers in Texas will continue their normal operations despite a Travis County judge’s ruling last week that prevents the state from licensing the facilities as child care centers. Late Friday, state District Judge Karin Crump ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services could not issue the licenses, which are needed to comply with a federal judge’s order issued last year. The centers are in Dilley and Karnes City and are operated by Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, respectively. The companies are under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run the centers holding some of the tens of thousands of Central American women and children that have illegally crossed into Texas since 2014. The centers have been criticized by rights groups for allegedly operating more like prisons. … In an email an ICE spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the ruling but said “operational activities continue without interruption.” The Texas Attorney General’s office filed an appeal of the ruling on Monday but declined to give additional details about the case.

Texas Judge Says “No More!” to Licensing Detention Facilities as Day Care Centers
Source: Ruth McCambridge, NonProfit Quarterly, December 6, 2016

In Travis County, Texas, Judge Karin Crump has ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services must end the practice of licensing immigrant detention centers run by private prison groups as childcare facilities, whether or not they meet basic standards. The Texas facilities in question are in Karnes and Dilley; together, they can hold 3400 women and children. They are run by the two mega-groups in the private prison industry, GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, and for the convenience of the feds are designated “state-regulated childcare centers.” The state made the concession, apparently, to “help out” the federal government after it was successfully sued twice for the conditions in which children were being held. The latest suit was brought in California and produced a ruling that advocates hoped would prevent further large-scale detention of families.

Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit opposing the use of private prisons, brought the suit, using as counsel Jerry Wesevich, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA). Wesevich says there was never any intention of putting the child’s interests first in this arrangement:

The state’s executives admitted in documents and testimony that DFPS wanted to license these facilities to help the federal government, and not the children. Motive matters, and we believe it was the key to the case.

My Turn: What it’s really like inside immigration ‘baby jails’
Source: Sambo Duz, Arizona Republic, September 20, 2016

I recently spent a week at the euphemistically named South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, the largest of the Department of Homeland Security’s “baby jails.” As a volunteer attorney with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, I conducted legal orientations and worked with recently arrived mothers and children to prepare them for the first step in the very long asylum process: the credible fear interview, in which asylum seekers must demonstrate a credible fear of returning to their country and a significant possibility of establishing asylum eligibility. … In the Dilley detention center, the tables are round and the outlets are covered — the place is baby-proofed, because babies are among the detained. Several times each day, a Corrections Corporation of America guard would knock on the door of the legal consultation room and ask the mother I was meeting with whether this lost, crying toddler was hers. … Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that children should not be detained in unlicensed and secure detention centers and that the government’s detention policy violates the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which governs the standards for the detention, release and treatment of minors in immigration custody. Indeed, as a recent report by Human Rights First details, detention for any amount of time exacerbates the trauma these children have already suffered. And a growing body of medical literature has found that detention can have long-lasting health and developmental consequences for children. … Last month, Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the establishment of a subcommittee to evaluate whether DHS should follow the lead of the Department of Justice and phase out the use of private prisons. This announcement comes on the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement soliciting proposals for 1,000 additional family detention beds in Texas. …

Largest Private Prison Company Could Lose Lucrative Family Detention Contract
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, August 12, 2016

The country’s largest private prison company saw its stock price dip this month, after revealing to investors that it might lose a lucrative contract to lock up migrant families in south Texas. Corrections Corporation of America reported in an Aug. 3 earnings call that it has presented a new plan to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reduce costs at the South Texas Family Residential Center, located an hour south of San Antonio. … Immigration authorities have been shopping around Texas for a new family detention center that might replace the Dilley facility or a similar facility in Karnes City, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Losing the contract would put a major dent in CCA’s revenues. The 2,400-bed Dilley facility generated $244.7 million for the company last year, according to its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February ― more than 13 percent of the company’s total revenue. …

Licensing of Detention Centers Violates State Law, Hurts Families, Attorneys Say
Source: Alexa Garcia-Ditta, Texas Observer, May 14, 2016

Attorneys representing detained immigrant women and children argued in court Friday that Texas is violating state law and jeopardizing families by approving child care licenses for the state’s two family detention centers. Lawyers for the state and private prison companies that operate the facilities maintained that the families’ lawsuit will keep Texas from ensuring that children are fully protected. … Robert Doggett and Jerry Wesevich — Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorneys representing the plaintiffs — argued before Travis County Judge Karin Crump that DFPS that does not have the legislative authority to issue licenses to immigrant detention centers. The state’s main motivation, they said, is keeping them open and in compliance with the 1997 Flores v. Meese agreement, which prohibits detention of children in unlicensed facilities. Last summer, a federal judge in California reaffirmed the Flores agreement and ordered that children in unlicensed centers be released. … Jay Brown, an attorney representing the Corrections Corporation of America that operates the Dilley facility, argued that the immigrant facilities do not meet the state’s definition of “secure detention center,” which the Legislature wrote before the centers began housing children. …

Judge weighs fate of South Texas family immigration detention centers
Jazmine Ulloa, American-Statesman, May 13, 2016

As long as immigrant family detention centers remain open in Texas, the state Department of Family and Protective Services should be allowed to regulate them to protect the safety and welfare of immigrant children, state lawyers argued Friday. In a Travis County hearing, lawyers with the Texas attorney general’s office sought to show the benefits of allowing the state agency to provide child care licenses to the controversial facilities in South Texas. … State District Judge Karin Crump on Friday extended a temporary restraining order against the Department of Family and Protective Services, keeping the agency from issuing a child care license to at least one of the centers. Now, she is weighing whether to issue a temporary injunction that would invalidate the new rules all together. … On the other side, immigration lawyers and three immigrant detained mothers argued that jail-like facilities are no place for children. The mothers, who were brought in from Dilley, took the stand in bright T-shirts and jeans they said had been handed to them by detention center officials. They said they escaped gang violence and terror with their children only to end up in a place where they feel incarcerated. Their children have grown depressed and have trouble sleeping at night as guards shuffle through their rooms about every 30 minutes, they said. They said they are served the same dishes over and over, and the water tastes like chlorine and makes their children sick. …
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