Category Archives: Corrections

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.

Access Investigate

CCA deal boosts investment in half-way houses

Source: Getahn Ward, The Tennessean, October 29, 2015

Corrections Corporation of America now also touts itself as the largest domestic owner of community corrections beds after buying Oklahoma-based halfway house operator Avalon Correctional Services on Thursday. With that $157.5 million deal, CCA now operates 17 re-entry facilities totaling 4,365 beds. For Nashville-based CCA, the push into the residential reintegration market is aimed in part at expanding relationships with existing clients such as the federal Bureau of Prisons. On any given day, that agency has roughly 9,000 inmates in re-entry facilities nationwide and has been seeking additional funding to expand that program. … The $157.5 million price includes $7.5 million in earn-outs incentives. CCA expects the acquisition to increase its annual revenues by up to $40 million.

Shattered dreams: Immigrants in lock up

Source: The Stream, Aljazeera America, October 27, 2015

Every year, 400,000 undocumented foreigners are locked in US facilities that can feel more like prison than a processing centre. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) monitors them, but a new report slams the government agency for obscuring and perpetuating “widespread abuses of detained immigrants”. Is the US whitewashing or cleaning up immigration detention? … The report accuses ICE of being complicit in hiding human rights abuses and unexplained deaths at detention facilities. It says that despite documented violations of federal standards, ICE has given passing inspections to immigration detention centres in order to keep government funds flowing to them.

Lives in Peril: How Ineffective Inspections Make ICE Complicit in Detention Center Abuse
Source: National Immigrant Justice Center, October 2015

This report by the National Immigration Justice Center (NIJC) and Detention Watch Network (DWN), exposes how the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspections process for immigration detention centers obscures and perpetuates widespread abuses of detained immigrants. Lives in Peril: How Ineffective Inspections Make ICE Complicit in Detention Center Abuse draws on information from ICE inspections documents for 105 immigration detention facilities and features focused analyses of inspections for detention centers in Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Illinois. NIJC obtained the inspections through a federal court order resulting from three years of litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. NIJC and DWN’s review of the documents reveals fundamental inconsistencies within and between inspection reports for individual detention centers which suggests that the immigration detention inspection process is a sham – designed to perpetuate a broken and abusive system. For this second of a series of reports, NIJC released hundreds of inspection reports and the deposition of the chief of ICE’s Detention Monitoring Unit, who provided insight into ICE’s inspections system.

Read full report.

If Officials Want to Reduce Incarceration, They’ll Have to Take on Private Prisons

Source: DJ Pangburn, Good, October 2015

Over 130 American police chiefs and prosecutors have signed on to reduce incarceration with the new national coalition Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. … Equally vital is a reckoning with the prison industrial complex. This industry includes not only for-profit prisons, but also those companies that supply prisons with materials and goods—clothes, beds, toilets, prison facilities themselves, and so on.  As the ACLU noted in the 2012 report “Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration,” for-profit prison expansion has “walked hand-in-hand” with an increase in incarceration. This came about in part because of the war on drugs and tough-on-crime laws that delivered harsh sentences to drug offenders and other convicts. …

Former Aramark worker accused of sexual misconduct with inmate

Source: Nicholas Grenke, Ionia Sentinel-Standard, October 21, 2015

Michelle Ludwick, 42, of Ionia, reportedly admitted to kissing inmate Shawn Burnett while she was employed by Aramark, a food service contractor formerly contracted with the state to provide food services for the Michigan Department of Corrections. She is facing two counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct. Each count has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The incident was investigated by the Michigan State Police. … In a written confession from February, Ludwick said there were 15 incidents that happened while she was employed at the prison. … The state of Michigan agreed to a buyout of the contact with Aramark in July that canceled a three-year, $145 million contract.

Five myths of the private prison industry

Source: Beryl Lipton, Muckrock, October 19, 2015

Let’s take a look at the most common myths and misconceptions surrounding the incarceration industry.

5. They’re a reaction to, not a cause of, prison crowding.
….The constant overlap of players and the seemingly lax conflict of interest rules for those moving between the private and public sectors makes it difficult to talk about the private prison system as a whole having no influence on how mass incarceration is actually being treated, as opposed with dealt with, by those whose jobs it is.

4. They’re a relatively small part of the problem without much influence on the system as a whole.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that private operators contain nearly 20% of the federal population, with bites more taken out of various state systems: 16.5% in Arizona; 18.3% in Colorado, 38.7% in Montana, 24.3% in Hawaii. …

3. They work for the government, so even though they’re not open to public inspection, the courts and the oversight committees keep them in check.
…But just because the government has hired someone to watch over a prison contract doesn’t mean that so much will come of any wrongdoings they find. Consider in Kingman, where an inspection of the prison noted that the facility was deficient in multiple areas. The following month, there was a riot, and the Governor ordered an investigation into the facility, ultimately declaring that the operator, Management and Training Corporation, would be losing its contract.

2. They don’t profit off of the inmates themselves.
There are plenty of ways that prisons can profit off of their inmates: labor, room and board, commissary fees, telephone commissions. …

1. They save money.
…Given the incidentals — contract monitoring, utility provision, external medical bills — the argument that privately-operated prisons are a cost-saving measure with no loss in quality has been thrown about with almost no actual explanation….

Sheriff signs new food contract for jail

Source: Travis Morse, Mount Vernon Register-News, October 9, 2015

Jefferson County Sheriff Travis Allen has hired a new firm to provide food for inmates at the Justice Center. Estimates are the change could save up to $60,000 a year. The new firm, which will begin its service Dec. 1, is Consolidated Correctional Foodservice out of Des Moines, Iowa. The current food company for the jail is Aramark, which charges $2.46 per meal. Allen said he negotiated a deal with Consolidated Correctional at a cost of $1.71 per meal as long as the inmate count stays at the current level. … Allen said there will be some changes to the menu, including smaller portions and an evening meal of peanut butter and jelly and bologna and cheese sandwiches.

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. ….