Category Archives: Corrections

5 concerns about private prisons from the ’80s that are still valid today

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, January 13, 2016

Another thirty years later, and Massachusetts has zero private prisons. Half of the United States, however, can’t say the same. It should be straightforward to evaluate the efficiency of this system at this point, but it actually is not. That, in turn, makes it difficult to evaluate the lines on which the option was sold in the first place. After a generation, the same answers to the same question feel less okay. … There are those that have found the very concept of for-profit prisons a bit creepy from the get-go, and the question of what right private operators have to hold inmates continues to bother people. It’s in part why Massachusetts decided against them. … But even when government oversight is in play, the extent to which it’s effective is hard to pin down. A study of Mississippi facilities recently found that prisoners were being held longer in private than public facilities. A recent release of inspection materials related to the now-closed Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Center in Texas noted that improper procedures had been taken in administering disciplinary justice inside, where crimes mean time and time means money.

University of California drops prison investments amid student demands

Source: Curtis Skinner, Reuters, December 18, 2016

The University of California system said on Friday it will drop its roughly $30 million worth of investments in private prison companies following demands from a black student group. The decision comes amid a wave of student protests against racism at college campuses across the country as well as the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement against the U.S. criminal justice system, which disproportionately impacts black people. … Klein said the amount invested was less than $30 million, a tiny fraction of the UC system’s $100 billion investment portfolio. Klein said she did not know exactly which private prison companies the system held shares in or exactly how much money was invested. The coalition, a California-wide student group, said the UC system had $25 million invested in Corrections Corporation of America and The Geo Group.

Michigan to clamp down on privatized prison deals

Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, Januaryn 7, 2016

The Michigan Department of Corrections, which was at the center of a recent controversy over problems with its former prison food contractor, is setting up a 30-person unit to monitor the department’s private contracts for the supply of food, medical treatment and other services. … Critics say the full cost of contract monitoring, highlighted by MDOC’s new 30-person unit, does not always get factored in when the state opts to replace state employees with private contractors in a bid to save money. … A December report from the state auditor general said the Corrections Department spent about $2.1 million to monitor the Aramark contract between December 2013 and August 2015.

Private Prison Exec Waves Off Criminal Justice Reform, Predicts More Profits

Source: Lee Fang, The Intercept, December 22, 2015

A senior executive with the second-largest for-profit prison company in America assured investment bankers last summer that despite talk of drug policy and criminal justice reform, America will continue to “attract crime,” generating new “correctional needs.”

“The reality is, we are a very affluent country, we have loose borders, and we have a bad education system,” said Shayn March, the vice president and treasurer of the Geo Group. “And all that adds up to a significant amount of correctional needs, which, thankfully, we’ve been able to help the country out with and states with by providing a lower cost solution.”

The previously unreported remarks were made during a presentation at the Barclays High Yield Bond & Syndicated Loan conference in June….

The For-Profit Probation Maze: A for-profit “offender-funded probation” payment system unfairly penalizes, and often traps, the poor

Source: J. Weston Phippen, National Journal, December 16, 2015

In the Mis­sis­sippi Delta town of Green­wood, a for-profit com­pany prom­ised city lead­ers it could take over its cash-strapped pro­ba­tion sys­tem without any ex­pense to tax­pay­ers. Not only that, but the com­pany said it could ac­tu­ally turn a profit for it­self, and the city, by col­lect­ing fines. Just eight months later, nearly 10 per­cent of the town’s 15,000 pop­u­la­tion was on pro­ba­tion for minor of­fenses like traffic vi­ol­a­tions and ow­ing fees to the com­pany. By the time city lead­ers real­ized the dam­age, the com­pany had en­titled it­self to profits of at least $48,000 a month, all paid for, as one county of­fi­cial said, “off the backs of the poor people.” …..

The For-Profit Probation Maze

State to reshuffle prisoners, consolidate sex offenders

Source: Justin Horvath, The New Mexican, November 17, 2015

The state Department of Corrections plans to house sex offenders at a prison in Grants and move the women inmates now housed there to two different prisons. Crowding at the state’s only prison for women is the reason behind the changes. In a domino effect, moving women prisoners from Grants will cause hundreds of other inmates to be shifted to different prisons. … Corrections Corporation of America now manages the prison for female inmates. Espinoza said the department will seek proposals in coming months from private companies that want to manage the proposed male-only sex offender facility in Grants. Male sex offenders currently number about 1,200 in New Mexico prisons, she said. Miles Conway, a spokesman for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 18, said the union opposes a private company managing the prison for sex offenders.

The prison-building simulator that makes you part of the problem

Source: Zach Hines, Engadget, November 20, 2015

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I started off with altruistic intentions. I was going to create a spacious, roomy penitentiary. I was going to double the minimum size of cells. There was going to be a big yard, with a pool table and TVs. This was going to be a decent prison; a social service. But then I ended up blowing the upfront from my grants on all that square footage – plus, I needed guards, a warden; then, when the money started to tighten, an accountant to find tax loopholes – and the next thing I knew I was in the red … Then it dawned on me: This isn’t a resort; this is a prison. It’s big business and I’m its architect, and I’m losing because I took my eye off the prize. I need to be focused on selling my prison for profit, not getting bogged down in frivolous niceties. And, I suspect, that’s exactly what Prison Architect, a PC strategy game from Introversion Software, wanted me to feel. If you’re looking to build a prison dedicated to rehabilitation, go play some kind of Norwegian prison simulator. This is America, and prisons are for profit: In 2010, total government spending on corrections was pegged at around $80 billion, a hefty slice of which goes to private prisons. The two market leaders in this regard are The GEO Group, and the Corrections Corporation of America — they posted $1.69 billion and $1.65 billion, respectively, in total revenues for 2014, of which they pocketed $471.7 million and $225 million in net operating income. These companies would be considered definite “winners” in the logic of Prison Architect, which quickly strips the player of compassion and replaces it with a profit-driven mindset. After all, the game’s “victory” state is to sell your prison so that you can start the next one with a bigger capital investment.

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.