Category Archives: Corrections

Contract with McCrory donor won’t be renewed as NC weighs privatization

Source: Beau Minnick, WNCN, November 19, 2015

Some controversial prison maintenance contracts will expire and not be renewed at the end of the year, according to North Carolina officials. The contracts are with a Charlotte company whose chairman is a campaign donor for Gov. Pat McCrory. … The maintenance will be done by the Department of Public Safety, officials said. But many are still asking questions about the circumstances surrounding how state leaders extended the contracts with The Keith Corporation of Charlotte back in 2014. Gov. Pat McCrory pushed for a meeting with Graeme Keith, the company chairman, and key state officials. The meeting was held in Charlotte in the fall of 2014. Documents obtained by WNCN show that at the meeting, Keith said he wanted to get some benefit from his giving to candidates. … Perry expressed security concerns about privatizing maintenance at state prisons. Those concerns were echoed by the State Employees Association of North Carolina, who represents correction workers. … The State Employees Association is voicing concerns about whether there will be a movement toward wholesale privatization in the future.

Public hearing Tuesday on plan to add 2,000 private-prison beds

Source: Craig Harris, The Republic, November 16, 2015

Critics and supporters of Arizona’s expanding private-prison system will have two hours Tuesday evening to weigh in on the state’s plan to add up to 2,000 medium-security beds. … Officials with Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the only bidder for the lucrative state prison contract, will be on hand with Arizona Department of Corrections administrators. CCA currently houses up to 1,000 medium-security inmates at its Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy. That facility began housing state inmates in January 2014. That facility is expected to be the site of the first 1,000-bed expansion, according to CCA spokesman Steve Owen. He said there are more than 500 empty beds at Red Rock, and the company would renovate the facility to provide the additional beds. … Political proponents argue it is less costly for taxpayers to have private prison companies house inmates. Gov. Doug Ducey is among the proponents, and he has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from private prison companies. However, there is no independent state study to support claims of the cost-effectiveness of prison privatization.

As Asylum Seekers Swap Prison Beds For Ankle Bracelets, Same Firm Profits

Source: John Burnett, NPR, November 13, 2015

Under the pressure of a federal court order, ICE is now exploring ways to release the mothers and children with alternatives to detention — but human rights activists are unhappy that the same for-profit prison company that locked up the families now manages their cases after release. A dozen young Central American mothers in jeans and sneakers wait in a corner of the Greyhound station in downtown San Antonio. Each of them has a chunky, black, blinking device about the size of an olive jar strapped to her ankle: an electronic monitor. … These immigrant women — with their fussy kids eating french fries — have no idea that their odyssey through the American asylum process is making tens of millions of dollars in profits for a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The GEO Group calls itself “the world leader in private correctional, detention management, and community residential re-entry services,” and ICE is one of its major customers. … Last year, GEO Care earned $330 million — about a fifth of the corporation’s $1.7 billion in revenue. This year, the government will pay GEO $56 million to manage ankle monitors for 10,000 immigrants, and to run telephone check-ins for 20,000 immigrants. The idea is to keep track of released detainees to make sure they show up for ICE check-ins and court appearances. And there’s more: In September, ICE selected GEO Care to administer a first-of-its-kind pilot project, worth $11 million, to do case management for released immigrants.

NOT SO SECURUS: Massive Hack of 70 Million Prisoner Phone Calls Indicates Violations of Attorney-Client Privilege

Source: Jordan Smith and Micah Lee, The Intercept, November 11, 2015

AN ENORMOUS CACHE of phone records obtained by The Intercept reveals a major breach of security at Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside the nation’s prisons and jails. The materials — leaked via SecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls. … Particularly notable within the vast trove of phone records are what appear to be at least 14,000 recorded conversations between inmates and attorneys, a strong indication that at least some of the recordings are likely confidential and privileged legal communications — calls that never should have been recorded in the first place. … The Securus hack offers a rare look at this little-considered form of mass surveillance of people behind bars — and of their loved ones on the outside — raising questions about its scope and practicality, as well as its dangers.

Dallas County approves halfway house lease with controversial Corrections Corporation of America

Source: Conor Shine, Dallas Morning News, November 3, 2015

Despite unease at doing business with a for-profit prison company with a history of alleged inmate mistreatment and abuse, Dallas County commissioners approved a lease Tuesday allowing Corrections Corporation of America to operate a county halfway house, largely because they didn’t have any other options. … Commissioner Theresa Daniel said she was “aghast” when she found out the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America would be running the halfway house for recently released prison inmates who don’t have a place to live. The commission’s decision Tuesday addressed a legal technicality to reflect that the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America is taking over operations from the nonprofit Lifestyle Management Inc. as part of a larger business acquisition.

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Dallas County gets key concessions from for-profit prison operator
Source: Stephen Young, Dallas Observer, November 3, 2015

It may have been impossible to stop CCA — a company that ran both a Kentucky prison that was shut down after the discovery of widespread sexual abuse of inmates by guards in 2009 and a Tyler immigration detention center whose supervisor went to prison for sexually assaulting female detainees — from taking over the halfway house, but commissioners did delay the vote to accept the lease transfer for two weeks. In taking over the lease, CCA will be required to provide transportation for residents of the halfway house, have a maximum of 300 beds at the facility and not use the Cabana as anything but a halfway house. CCA will also not be allowed to accept anyone civilly committed by the state of Texas as a resident. Civil commitment is the process by which certain sex offenders who have completed their prison sentence are required to enter a state treatment program.

Prison firm with troubled history could soon operate Dallas County halfway house
Source: Melisa Repko, Dallas Morning News, October 22, 2015

A Dallas County halfway house may soon be operated by a large, for-profit prison company that’s been accused of abusing and mistreating inmates. Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America is set to take over a transitional housing program for sex offenders released from prison. The company is assuming a 40-year lease for the halfway house site through a deal with Lifestyles Management, a nonprofit that held the county contract. … The transitional housing program CCA is set to take over in Dallas County provides a home for about 125 people who have no job, family or place to live after their prison term. They stay in the former Bill Decker Correctional Facility on Stemmons Freeway. Early next year, residents will move into a new, 300-bed facility at 1200 Langdon Drive near Hutchins on a 10-acre site that’s owned by the county. The former jail has been sold to Lincoln Property, which plans to build a data center. … Jenkins said he wants answers about CCA’s plans and contract terms. Before the vote, he said he wants to make sure the company cannot use the land for a detention center or any program without a mission of rehabilitation.

Settlement reached on costs in prison records access case

Source: Rutland Herald, November 6, 2015

A 2013 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont against the Corrections Corporation of America over public records access has been settled. … CCA did not provide the documents, saying as a private contractor it was not subject to public record law disclosure requirements. A judge ruled that CCA met the criteria, saying imprisonment “is one of the most intrinsically governmental of functions.” The ACLU says the settlement reached this week regards fees and costs to plaintiffs.

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Legal settlement extends public records laws to out-of-state Prison Contractor
Source: Elizabeth Hewitt, Vermont Digger, November 5, 2015

A court case settled this week involving access to records held by a private out-of-state prison contractor could have implications for other public records in Vermont. After more than two-and-a-half years of litigation, the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, on behalf of Prison Legal News, and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) settled a case involving access to records held by the private prison contractor. CCA had refused to supply Prison Legal News, national monthly news service, with records relating to lawsuits brought by Vermont inmates housed in the CCA’s private prison facilities.

Court Rules Public Records Suit Against Prison Firm Can Proceed
Source: American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, ACLU of Vermont blog, January 14, 2014

A state superior court has denied an attempt by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit prison company, to dismiss a public records suit filed against it. The lawsuit, filed by Prison Legal News, a monthly publication that reports on criminal justice-related issues, seeks records related to the treatment of Vermont prisoners held in out-of-state CCA prisons. Each year, about a third of Vermont’s prison population spends time in CCA-operated facilities in Beattyville, Kentucky and Mason, Tennessee. While there, CCA provides Vermont prisoners with everything that the state’s Department of Corrections would: uniforms, food, recreation and supervision. The state has paid CCA about $73 million since July 2007. … CCA moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Vermont’s public records law does not extend to private corporations. In opposing the motion, PLN argued that private contractors performing government functions are the equivalent of government agencies, and thus subject to the state’s public records law. On January 9, 2014, the superior court agreed with PLN, denying CCA’s motion and ordering further proceedings. …

Prison Operator GEO Accused of Fair Credit Act Breaches

Source: Kevin McGowan, BNA Daily Labor Report, November 3, 2015 (Subscription Required)

A private company that operates prisons, and a consumer background reporting firm are violating federal and state fair credit laws by not providing job applicants with timely notice of reports including criminal histories that are used to deny them employment, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Keels v. GEO Grp. Inc., E.D.N.Y., No. 15-6261, 10/30/15). The proposed class action alleges that the GEO Group Inc. doesn’t give applicants with criminal histories prior notice or a chance to challenge the reports before withdrawing job offers based on the reports. Accurate Background Inc. is also named as a defendant. … The GEO Group systematically violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act by using consumer reports that include past convictions and arrests to make adverse employment decisions without first providing the applicant with notice of its intent to take adverse action, a copy of the report and a summary of the applicant’s FCRA rights, the complaint alleged.

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Geo Group Sued for Allegedly Violating Federal Background Check Law, According to Job Applicant’s Legal Team
Source: PR Newswire, November 2, 2015

The Geo Group, Inc. (“Geo Group”), and Accurate Background, Inc. are accused in a new federal lawsuit of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) during criminal background checks of Geo Group job applicants, the law firm Outten & Golden LLP announced today. Filed in New York federal court, the nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of plaintiff Eric Keels, and all similarly situated applicants for employment with Geo Group, alleges that Geo Group and Accurate Background, Inc. failed to comply with the FCRA’s notice requirements before taking adverse actions against job applicants and that Accurate Background, Inc. has failed to notify job applicants when it furnishes Geo Group with negative background check reports and to follow strict procedures to ensure the accuracy and completeness of those reports.

Kansas prisons full; official outlines $27 million expansion option for El Dorado

Source: Associated Press, The Wichita Eagle, November 2, 2015

Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts told a joint legislative committee that the state already has slightly more adult male inmates in its custody than space for them. He said that by mid-2018, the Department of Corrections expects to have about 9,400 male inmates – about 600, or 7 percent, above capacity. By mid-2018, the state also will be short of space for female inmates, Roberts said. The state expects to have more than 1,000 female offenders in custody; it now has 837 beds for them. … He also said the state could boost the number of inmates held in county jails or private prisons, though he called either idea a temporary solution. … Roberts said the department could safely house between 300 and 350 offenders in county jails and contract with private prisons. But, he said, with private prisons the state could spend several million dollars outside Kansas, and the per-inmate, per-day cost of $55 would be comparable to expanding the El Dorado prison. The expansion proposal would add 512 beds to the El Dorado prison, which has space for about 1,500 male inmates. The state would finance the construction with 20-year bonds, and the new beds would be available in 2018. The prison would add more than 100 staff members, and its annual budget would increase more than $8 million.

One community welcomes bid for detention center, another rejects it

Source: St. John Barned-Smith, Houston Chronicle, October 29, 2015

Emerald Correctional Management approached city officials in Shepherd on Monday, asking for permission to pursue a bid to build the facility in the small municipality of about 2,000 people an hour northeast of Houston. The Louisiana-based company is among three expected to submit bids to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency for a 1,000-bed detention center the federal organization wants to build in the Houston area. Before Shepherd signed off on the proposal, Emerald approached nearby Cleveland, where leaders narrowly rejected the deal. … The company has made headlines in years past for its business practices, persuading small towns across the country to build the jails on speculation – like one in Hardin, Mont., that stood empty for years, leading officials there to offer to house suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At another, in the small south Texas town of Encinal, in LaSalle County, Emerald’s operations came under additional scrutiny after it abruptly pulled out of the center after the inmate population dropped, saddling county officials with a facility with a leaky roof, about $20 million in debt, and scrambling to find a new operator to save the jobs of the 100 guards and staff.

New Tool Exposes Companies Profiting from Mass Incarceration

Source: American Friends Service Committee, November 2, 2015

Human rights advocates are deploying a new digital tool to help convince corporations to stop profiting from mass incarceration. … Dalit Baum, AFSC’s director of economic activism, is set to unveil the committee’s new platform called Investigate at the annual Sustainable Responsible Impact Investments conference this week in Colorado. … Baum says the Web application is not just an information site. She says for the first time, people will be able to automatically scan their investment portfolios and find out if they are invested in the prison industry. She’s hopeful the platform will give investors and consumers the information they need to decide whether or not to support companies making money on mass incarceration. Baum says a lot of people are already familiar with high profile private-prison companies, such as the Corrections Corporation of America or the GEO Group. But she says this new tool helps expose firms people might not realize operate throughout the industry, from transportation and telephone companies to food, and even probation services.

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