Category Archives: Corrections

Maxey school ends

Source: Livingston Daily, October 7, 2015

The start of state government’s 2016 budget year Oct. 1 marked the controversial end of the boys training school in Green Oak, shuttering three state-run juvenile justice facilities and upending of 65 state employee jobs. … Maxey staff worked with judges to reassign the youth to the remaining two state facilities and to independent living facilities, halfway houses and private facilities. … Of the 65 Maxey employees, Wheaton said 19 were laid off, nine retired and 37 were transferred to other state government positions. Eleven of those laid off are eligible for retirement and could still file the necessary paperwork. … AFSCME and other state employee unions question the Legislature’s claims of how much money could be saved, noting that the school routinely costs less to run than the Legislature appropriates and hasn’t been filled to capacity. Funding unemployment benefits for any laid off employees and claims on retirement benefits also would cut into the savings, Ciaramitaro said. …

Related:

Dozens of state-worker jobs at stake in budget proposal
Source: Justin A. Hinkley, Lansing State Journal, April 27, 2015

State worker unions and others are fighting a budget proposal that would eliminate nearly half the state’s publicly run residential juvenile justice slots and put dozens of state jobs at stake.
A state Senate budget bill for the Department of Health & Human Services would close the W.J. Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake, a 60-bed facility for juvenile offenders ages 12 to 21. The state House and Gov. Rick Snyder would keep the facility open, though they would trim spending to reflect lower-than-expected costs at the facility. …. But that’s simply untrue, argued state Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who championed the closure. He mentioned two of the state’s private juvenile justice partners, Spectrum Human Services and Wolverine Human Services, who have facilities similar to Maxey and who, MacGregor said, have signaled a willingness to take on Maxey youth. …. Others — including Ciaramitaro, Burghardt and state Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, who serves on the same committees as MacGregor — doubt private facilities can or will pick up the slack. ….

Even in Government­-Run Prisons, the Profiteering off of Human Lives Is Staggering

Source: James Kilgore, Truth Out, October 4, 2015

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. …

In Tucson, an alternative to more private prisons and a chance to escape drug addiction

Source: Craig Harris, The Arizona Republic, October 5, 2015

LaWall said DTAP, started in 2010 and funded mostly by federal grants, costs less than half of what it takes to send a non-violent drug offender to prison. LaWall, a prosecutor for nearly 40 years, added that the state could save millions of dollars if it shifted money to drug treatment instead of adding more private prison beds. The attorney, a Democrat, is among a growing number of elected officials and community activists calling on the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey to end the state’s growing reliance on private prisons. Lawmakers and the governor have said private prisons save the state money, but have not offered independent research to back up their claims. The state has 16 prisons, with private companies operating six. Just one private-prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, on Sept. 30 submitted a bid to provide up to 2,000 more medium-security beds that could cost taxpayers nearly $50 million. … Since it began, DTAP has had 113 participants. It has an overall success rate of 70 percent, according to LaWall’s office. There were 43 defendants in the program in fiscal 2015. Those who fail and return to drugs are sent to prison. … State budget records show funding for private prisons has more than tripled to nearly $152 million during that era, as private-prison companies have made campaign contributions to key Republican legislative leaders and current and former governors.

Private Probation Company Accused of Abuses in Tennessee

Source: Shaila Dewan, New York Times, October 1, 2015

A private probation company in Tennessee is violating racketeering laws by jailing impoverished people who fail to pay court fines for traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses, and by refusing to waive fees for the indigent, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday. In the lawsuit, seven probationers, many of them sick or disabled and living on as little as $129 a month in food stamps, say they lost housing, jobs and cars, sold their blood plasma and went without food after repeated threats by the company that they would be jailed if they could not pay. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Nashville, alleges that the county and the company, Providence Community Corrections in Rutherford County, southeast of Nashville, are violating racketeering laws by extorting money through “the wrongful use of fear.” … Providence Community Corrections targeted probationers who had some fixed income, like disability payments, and repeatedly threatened them with jail if they did not bring in money, the lawsuit says. On at least two occasions, receipts submitted by two plaintiffs show, their entire payments were applied to their probation fees while their court cost balance remained the same. One plaintiff, Cindy Rodriguez, originally owed the court $578. After a year on probation, though she had paid nearly that much to the company, she still owed $512, she says in the lawsuit.

Related:

Private Probation Company Called An Unregulated Tool for Corruption
Source: Liz Potocsnak, Courthouse News Service, Thursday, January 27, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CN) – A class action accuses a private probation company of bilking and extorting probationers who must pay for its services. The class claims that Providence Community Corrections, which operates in 45 states, triples the probation term of its average “client” so it can milk monthly supervision fees from them, charges far more in fees than the courts or service providers do, and does it all without an agency to regulate it, or to whom probationers can complain. And the class notes that there are “obvious and inherent problems associated with judges owning an interest in private probation companies.”

Comedian-Activist Calls On State To Divest From Private Prisons

Source: Karen DeWitt, WSKG News, October 1, 2015

A New York comedian, who is also an activist on prison rights issues, is drawing attention to the state’s practice of investing a small amount of its pension fund in the private prison industry. Stand-up comedian Randy Credico, who helped bring about reform of the state’s Rockefeller Drug Laws,  is now setting his sights on the New York state comptroller’s office, where he is protesting against state pension fund investments in the private prison industry. He says the prisons’ business model is dependent upon large groups of young men, primarily African American, becoming inmates. … A spokeswoman for the state Comptroller’s office confirms that the state’s pension fund holds investments in the two largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America, and the GEO group. It’s difficult to place a specific dollar amount on the investments because they are part of larger mutual- type  funds that invest in numerous companies. The total for the three funds is around $12.5 million, out of the  $184.5 billion pension fund. …

Kent County removed from lawsuit over bad jail tacos

Source: John Hogan, WZZM, September 21, 2015

It appears that Kent County is off the hook in a federal lawsuit filed by 16 former inmates who claim they were sickened by chicken tacos served at the jail in April 2012 by embattled food vendor Aramark Corp. A tentative settlement has been reached in the inmate lawsuit filed against Kent County and Aramark Corp., but the deal has not been finalized, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. … County attorneys said the lawsuit was based on “a single alleged incident of mild food poisoning, the symptoms of which were resolved within a few days without the need for hospitalization or any continuing medical treatment.” The gloves came off in July when lawyers representing the former Kent County inmates filed an amended complaint which included the words “mass poisoning.” It also accused the county and Stelma of accepting “greatly increased risks of food poisoning in return for reduced costs.”

Related:

Jail inmates who say tacos made them sick file suit
Source: Associated Press, February 28, 2015

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of some western Michigan jail inmates who said they became sick after chicken tacos were served. The Grand Rapids Press reports that Kent County and food contractor Aramark Corp. are named in the suit. It says the tacos were served on April 15, 2012. About 250 inmates said they were sickened. None were hospitalized. Tests later showed bacteria may have caused the illnesses. …

7 good things that will happen if we ban private prisons with the #JusticeNot4Sale Act

Source: Grassroots Leadership, September 17, 2015

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013, there were 31,900 federal prisoners and 92,100 state prisoners in for-profit prisons. Based on these numbers, banning private prisons at the federal and state level would necessitate a significant 124,000 prison bed reduction. Taking these for-profit prison beds off-line and eliminating the option of privatization should spark lawmakers to prioritize efforts to reduce prison populations and minimize the demand for new prison beds. … Private prison corporations make their money off of human misery. The lack of respect for human dignity inherent in the industry is showcased in the egregious conditions in the prisons and detention centers they operate. The largest of these companies, Corrections Corporation of America, has a 30+ year legacy of medical neglect, sexual assault, riots, escapes, and financial scandals. This includes the Idaho Correctional Center, nicknamed the “Gladiator School” where guards allegedly allowed and even incited violent attacks as a tool of social control. Then there’s Management & Training Corp (MTC), which presided over riots in their Kingman and Willacy prisons, spurred by horrendous conditions and ill-trained staff. The GEO Group, another of the largest prison corporations, recently saw a hunger strike from moms at its Karnes family detention camp near San Antonio protesting deplorable food and medical care and the prolonged detention their children in a secure, prison environment.

Related:

Sanders to push a plan to ban private companies from running prisons
Source: John Wagner, The Washington Post, September 17, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil a plan Thursday to ban privately run jails and prisons, which he says have a “perverse incentive” to increase the number of incarcerated people in the country. Under the proposal by the Democratic presidential hopeful, the federal government would have three years to end its practice of using private companies to keep people behind bars. The ban would also apply to state and local governments, which have increasingly turned to private contractors in a bid to save money. … More than 19 percent of federal prisoners are housed in private facilities, as are nearly 7 percent of state prisoners, according to statistics cited by Sanders in a two-page summary of his legislation. Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds more than 60 percent of its detainees in private facilities.

Sanders to unveil sweeping prison reforms
Source: Mike Lillis, The Hill, September 16, 2015

Leading liberals in both chambers will introduce legislation Thursday promoting a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s prison system. Sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the package aims to reduce incarcerations nationwide by eliminating privately run prisons, reinstating the federal parole system to allow for more early releases, and ending the quota system governing immigrant detentions. …. Dubbed the Justice Is Not For Sale Act, the Sanders-Grijalva bill would bar federal, state and local governments from contracting with private companies to own or operate prisons within two years.

Bernie Sanders Adds to His Radical Justice Platform By Proposing to Close Down Private Prisons
Source: Kelsey Rupp, IJReview, August 21, 2015

Bernie Sanders promised Tuesday to take his racial justice platform from the campaign trail to the Congress by introducing legislation to end private prisons in the United States. … According to a 2012 report by the National Council on Crime & Delinquency:

  • In 2010 alone, the three largest prison companies spent more than $1.5 million on federal lobbying;
  • Between 2004 and 2010, the three largest companies donated over $3.7 million to individual political candidates, party committees, and ballot measure committees;
  • In 2011, the combined revenue of the two largest companies totaled over $3 billion.

According to the report, over 400 private prisons held about 8 percent of all U.S. state and federal prisoners in 2010, including half of federal immigration detainees. That means, in 2010, private prisons held over 128,000 inmates.
Continue reading

Private North Fork prison in Sayre to shut down in November

Source: Associated Press, September 16, 2015

The privately run North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre is scheduled to be shut down in November. … The prison held 2,354 California inmates as of May 27, the last head count provided by Corrections Corporation of America.

Related:

Oklahoma Department of Corrections wants private prison companies to share information, official says
Source: Andrew Knittle, newsok.com, December 10, 2012

The actions of a private prison company that took months to turn over investigative materials to local agencies after a 2011 riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre could lead to a change in Oklahoma law…. The change would force private prison companies housing out-of-state inmates in Oklahoma to provide information concerning “a riot, escape or other serious emergency and facility operations upon request of Oklahoma DOC,” agency records show. It also would allow the state agency to fine companies who don’t comply. Minutes from a recent corrections board meeting show the Oct. 11, 2011, prison riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility — which required a sizable response from local law enforcement agencies — is the impetus of the soon-to-be-proposed law change.

Jail Officials Arrested After Inmates Say Labor Exploited

Source: Travis Loller, Associated Press, September 16, 2015

Three Nashville jail employees — two current and one former — are accused of pocketing money from the sale of inmate-made products through a personal business they marketed as a “Christian-based organization.” Robert Hill, Stephen Binkley and Roy Napper were arrested Tuesday on charges of official misconduct and inmate labor violation, according to The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Former inmates Larry Stephney and Charles Brew say they spent their days at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility building bean-bag games, plaques shaped like footballs, birdhouses and dog beds for the trio. They say they worked for no pay in the jail’s building trades department where they were supposed to be serving as tutors to other students. … The jail is managed by Corrections Corporation of America.

Related:

Trio Charged With Profiting From Inmate Labor At CCA Facility In Nashville
Source: The Chattanoogan, September 15, 2015

Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments against three Middle Tennessee men charged with official misconduct and inmate labor violation at a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) facility. … The investigation revealed that some of the inmates learned wood-working skills through the Building Trades class, and made products such as wooden plaques and games. During the course of the investigation, Agents learned that three individuals who had taught classes at the facility were also part-owners of a wood-working business called Stand Firm Design. Agents developed information that from December 2014 through June 2015, some of the products made by the inmates in the Building Trades class were taken from the CCA facility and sold at a flea market as products of Stand Firm Design. The investigation further revealed that the three men kept profits from the items for themselves and the business.

CCA inmates in Nashville say they worked for free, and it profited jail officials
Source: Associated Press, August 17, 2015

Former inmates at a privately run Nashville jail say they worked without pay building bean-bag “cornhole” games, plaques shaped like footballs, birdhouses and dog beds so that officials could sell them through their personal business at a flea market. Inmates can legally be required to work without pay, in some circumstances, but jail employees are not supposed to profit from their labor. But former inmates Larry Stephney and Charles Brew say that is what happened with Stand Firm Designs, run by two jail employees and one former employee, according to their business card. … To prove the items being sold by Stand Firm Designs were made by inmates, Stephney and Brew concealed their names under pieces of wood nailed to the backs of items. They also wrote the number 412148, which refers to a section of Tennessee code that makes it illegal for jail officials to require an inmate to perform labor that results in the official’s personal gain. … The jail is run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private prison operator, through a contract with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

State Dems Call For Audit Of Portage Prison Understaffing

Source: Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, September 14, 2015

Two Democratic state legislators are asking for an audit of overtime and safety issues at a maximum security prison in Portage, but the Republican chair of the Legislature’s audit committee is asserting that the Legislative Audit Bureau has too much to do to address the issue right now. Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Dave Considine visited the Columbia Correctional Institution last week and spoke with correctional officers who said they’ve been forced to work double shifts. Considine said understaffing at the prison means new guards are getting less training than they have in the past. …