Category Archives: Corrections

Private Prison Company Made Detainees Work For Toilet Paper, Lawsuit Alleges

Source: Betsy Woodruff, Daily Beast, April 18, 2018

A private prison company forced immigrant detainees to work for as little as $1 per day if they wanted toilet paper, toothpaste, and safe lodging, according to a new lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The class action suit, filed in federal court for the Middle District of Georgia, pits three plaintiffs––Wilhen Hill Barrientos, Margarito Velazquez Galicia, and Shoahib Ahmed––against CoreCivic, the nation’s largest private prison company. Barrientos and Velazquez Galicia are both currently detained in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. Ahmed was previously detained there before giving up his asylum claim. The three allege that CoreCivic is violating a federal anti-human trafficking law with the work program that it oversees. …

… This isn’t the only suit targeting private prison companies over work programs, and CoreCivic isn’t the only company facing this kind of litigation. Last year, a federal judge in Colorado granted class certification to a similar lawsuit, letting thousands of current and former detainees join on to a lawsuit against GEO Group, the country’s second biggest private prison company. These lawsuits have drawn the attention of lawmakers. Earlier this year, 18 Republican members of Congress wrote a letter defending forced labor practices under the justification that work programs are good for morale.

Puerto Rico looks to privatize its prison system

Source: Beryl Lipton, Muckrock, April 24, 2018

As part of efforts to rebuild and restructure Puerto Rico after last fall’s destructive hurricane season, the island territory is actively planning to use private prisons on the mainland to house a third of its current inmate population. The “New Fiscal Plan for Puerto Rico,” approved last month by the Puerto Rico Fiscal Oversight Board, included “externalization of imprisonment services” as a key part of the Department of Corrections Transformation Plan. According to the proposed estimates, the move, if successful, would decrease costs for the affected population by about 15%….No company in particular has yet emerged as a front runner in the current Request for Proposals bidding process. An informational meeting was held today for interested parties, all of whom were expected to bring a 5% “bid bond.” ….

Louisiana prison guards indicted in alleged inmate assaults

Source: Associated Press, April 19, 2018

Five former corrections officers at a Louisiana prison have been indicted on charges they conspired to assault handcuffed inmates and submitted false reports on the incident. The former officers at the Richwood Correctional Center in Ouachita (WASH’-ih-tah) Parish were charged in a seven-count federal indictment that was unsealed Thursday. …The March 29 indictment says Loring “stood by” and didn’t intervene when the other guards sprayed a chemical agent into the faces of five handcuffed inmates, who were kneeling on the floor in an area of the prison without surveillance cameras. … The officers tried to cover up the assault on the inmates by filing false reports on the incident to explain why the inmates needed medical treatment, the indictment says. … Richwood Correctional Center is a private prison operated by LaSalle Corrections. Louisiana’s corrections department regularly inspects the facility but doesn’t employ the officers who work there, according to department spokesman Ken Pastorick. …

After issues with Aramark, Broome County continues search for food service provider

Source: Monika Hammer, WBNG, April 10, 2018

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar says the process is underway to find a new service provider for the Willow Point Nursing Home. In February, Garnar announced he would cut ties with a company that provides food service to three Broome County operations. “We’ve had some major issues with the food service provider Aramark and we decided that we want to disengage from the contract for several reasons,” Garnar said. …

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Broome County officials knew of Aramark issues in August, thought they could work it out
Source: Hannah Schwarz, Press & Sun-Bulletin, April 2, 2018

Problems with Aramark’s food service at Willow Point Nursing Home surfaced as early as 2016 — and several Broome County officials were aware of issues as early as August 2017 — but the county didn’t sever its contract with the company until February because officials believed Aramark could remedy the issues. Emails from former Willow Point Interim Director Denise Johnson obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin/pressconnects.com, as well as emails between Deputy County Executive Kevin McManus and Aramark Regional Manager John Sidorakis, obtained via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, show tray line service had been “problematic since ‘day one,'” and the county had been requesting reimbursement for more than eight to nine months. In a July 31 email, Johnson, who left the interim position in September when current director Ryan LaClair took over, said Aramark was requesting $100,000 in additional reimbursement from the county in what she believed was a misinterpretation of the contract. She also said Aramark was providing “untimely” meal service that was not expected to do well at the facility’s upcoming Department of Health inspection, and that Aramark had yet to set up steam table service. …

Aramark details plans for Broome County’s meals
Source: John Roby, Press and Sun-Bulletin, January 14, 2016

Aramark officials detailed the company’s plan to take over Broome County’s food service operations to members of the legislature Thursday in the first public outline of the $3.4 million proposal. … The savings would result largely from the removal of 41 full-time and 34 part-time employees of Central Kitchen and the Willow Point dietary unit from the county payroll. Aramark will employ up to seven inmates to prepare meals — under company and sheriff’s supervision — at the jail, while company employees will cook and serve meals at the nursing home and those for delivery. … Aramark will charge Broome a per-meal fee that is set to increase each year of the five-year deal. Nursing home meals will start at $6.54 and rise to $7.36 in 2020, delivery meals will start at $3.90 and rise to $4.39, and inmate meals will increase from $1.76 to $2.

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Inside a Private Prison: Blood, Suicide and Poorly Paid Guards

Source: Timothy Williams, New York Times, April 3, 2018
 
According to evidence and testimony at a federal civil rights trial, far worse things were happening at the prison than inmates strolling around during a lockdown: A mentally ill man on suicide watch hanged himself, gang members were allowed to beat other prisoners, and those whose cries for medical attention were ignored resorted to setting fires in their cells. So many shackled men have recounted instances of extraordinary violence and neglect in the prison that the judge has complained of exhaustion. …

Management & Training Corporation, the private company that runs the East Mississippi facility near Meridian in Lauderdale County, already operates two federal prisons and more than 20 facilities around the nation. The genesis of the problems at East Mississippi, according to prisoner advocates, is that the state requires private prisons to operate at 10 percent lower cost than state-run facilities. Even at its state-run institutions, Mississippi spends significantly less on prisoners than most states, a fact that state officials once boasted about. … Testimony has described dangerous conditions, confused lines of oversight and difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified staff. …

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Clergy ask gov. to take prison from private company
Source: Terri Ferguson Smith The Meridian Star, Oct 13, 2014

In the wake of a lawsuit alleging neglect and abuse of prisoners, a group of Mississippi clergy is calling upon Gov. Phil Bryant to have the state take back control of the East Miss Correctional Facility, a 1,300 bed facility in Lauderdale County, west of Meridian.

The Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference drafted a letter asking the governor to end privatization of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, according to the Rev. Tom Clark, who helped draft the letter. In a recent interview with Clark and the Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, Clark said privately run operations often do better than governments, except for prisons.

GEO Group sues Washington to keep privately run immigration detention center open

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, March 23, 2018

Yesterday, the GEO Group, one of the world’s largest for-profit prison companies, decided to push back against attempts in the the American Northwest to limit their immigrant detention operations, filing suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the City of Tacoma, Washington. Tacoma is home to the only detention facility in the state dedicated exclusively to holding violators of immigration and entry laws, the Northwest Detention Center. Washington is just one of the West Coast states actively challenging the immigration policies of the current Presidential administration. …

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Private Prison May Have to Boost Detainees’ Wages
Source: June Williams, Courthouse News, December 7, 2017

Washington State can pursue claims that the private prison company GEO Group failed to pay federal immigration detainees the state’s minimum wage, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. GEO could not prove that the state’s minimum wage law as applied to detainee wages is preempted by federal law, and the state has a valid interest in pursuing the case, U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan ruled. Washington sued GEO in September for violating the state’s minimum wage laws. GEO Group is one of the country’s largest operators of private prisons. …

Detention center contractor asks judge to toss lawsuit over $1-a-day pay
Source: Gene Johnson, Associated Press, November 20, 2017
 
A federal judge is considering whether to throw out two lawsuits, including one by the state of Washington, that seek to force one of the nation’s largest privately run immigration detention centers to pay minimum wage for work done by detainees. The GEO Group, the for-profit company that runs the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, is asking U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan to dismiss the cases, saying Washington doesn’t have authority to bring the lawsuit and that the state’s minimum wage law is overridden by Congress’ decision to set rates for work performed by detainees. …

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Republican congressmen defend $1 a day wage for immigrant detainees who work in private prisons

Source: Tracy Jan, Washington Post, March 16, 2018
 
A group of 18 Republican congressmen is urging the Trump administration to defend private prisons against lawsuits alleging immigrant detainees are forced to work for a wage of $1 a day.  The members say that Congress in 1978 had explicitly set the daily reimbursement rate for voluntary work by detainees in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, and that the same rate should apply in government-contracted private prisons. … In the March 7 letter, first reported by the Daily Beast, the congressmen argue that the detainees are not employees of private prisons, so they should not be able to file lawsuits seeking to be paid for their work. … At least five lawsuits have been filed against private prisons, including GEO and CoreCivic, over detainee pay and other issues. The lawsuits allege that the private prison giants use voluntary work programs to violate state minimum wage laws, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, unjust enrichment and other labor statutes. The state of Washington sued GEO last year for violating its minimum wage of $11 an hour and sought to force the company to give up profits made through detainee labor. … Inmates in Colorado and California have also sued the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, alleging that they were forced to work for $1 per day to pay for necessities like food, water and hygiene products. …

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Using Jailed Migrants as a Pool of Cheap Labor
Source: Ian Urbina, New York Times, May 24, 2014

… As the federal government cracks down on immigrants in the country illegally and forbids businesses to hire them, it is relying on tens of thousands of those immigrants each year to provide essential labor — usually for $1 a day or less — at the detention centers where they are held when caught by the authorities. … The federal authorities say the program is voluntary, legal and a cost-saver for taxpayers. But immigrant advocates question whether it is truly voluntary or lawful, and argue that the government and the private prison companies that run many of the detention centers are bending the rules to convert a captive population into a self-contained labor force. … Officials at private prison companies declined to speak about their use of immigrant detainees, except to say that it was legal. Federal officials said the work helped with morale and discipline and cut expenses in a detention system that costs more than $2 billion a year. … The compensation rules at detention facilities are remnants of a bygone era. A 1950 law created the federal Voluntary Work Program and set the pay rate at a time when $1 went much further. (The equivalent would be about $9.80 today.) Congress last reviewed the rate in 1979 and opted not to raise it. It was later challenged in a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets workplace rules, but in 1990 an appellate court upheld the rate, saying that “alien detainees are not government ‘employees.’ ”…

ICE Broke Contracting Rules in Establishing Its Largest Detention Facility

Source: Eric Katz, Government Executive, February 27, 2018
 
The nation’s largest immigrant detention facility was procured improperly, according to a watchdog report, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2014 using an existing agreement with a town in Arizona as a vehicle to establish the center 900 miles away in Texas. Since 2014, ICE has spent $438,000 annually for Eloy, Ariz., to serve solely as a middleman for a 2,400-bed detention facility in Dilley, Texas, according to the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general. The agency first contracted with the city of Eloy in 2006 to establish the Eloy Detention Center, which the city subcontracted to a company called CCA. ICE reached the agreement with Eloy through a process known as an intergovernmental service agreement, or IGSA. …

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Texas prison is big business for Eloy
Source: Tanner Clinch, Tri Valley Central, July 4, 2016

The city makes more money from a private immigration detention facility located in Texas than it does from the one housed in Eloy, budget figures show. The tentative budget for Eloy is around $38 million, but that reflects only a fraction of the actual money that passes through the city. Every year roughly $290 million is given to the city by the federal government in what’s called agency pass-through funds, which go directly to Corrections Corporation of America. Of this $290 million, around $37 million goes to operate Eloy Detention Center and the rest, $253 million, goes to run another Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center over 900 miles away in the small town of Dilley, Texas. … The federal government did not go through a traditional, and possibly long, bidding process to decide who would run the facility, and the Eloy City Council modified the intergovernmental services agreement it already had with ICE to include the Dilley facility. Eloy gets a good deal out of the agreement, according to City Manager Harvey Krauss. The city itself received $450,000 from the Dilley facility and $96,000 for the Eloy facility during fiscal year 2015-16 just to act as a fiscal agent between ICE and CCA, according to the city’s budget. …

Dept. of Corrections awards private prison beds contract
Source: Lindsey Reiser, KPHO CBS5, September 01, 2012

A private prison company is getting a multimillion dollar contract for a new prison in our Arizona. But not everyone is celebrating. The contract goes to “Corrections Corporation of America” and according to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), the company will house 1,000 medium-security male inmates.

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When Corecivic Comes to Town: Lessons From Elkhart’s Grassroots Struggle to Preserve a Vibrant Community

Source: Sydney Boles and Rowan Lynam, Medill Reports, February 27, 2018

In Pembroke, Illinois, it started in Hopkins Park; in Gary, it started right across the street from their small airport; in Crete, it was Balmoral Park. In Elkhart, Indiana, it started at the intersection of county roads 7 and 26. It was a stretch of weeds and snow next to the county’s correctional facility and its huge, methane-leaking landfill, catty-corner from the well-worked farmland of German immigrants. This unremarkable piece of nowhere, Indiana would have held over a thousand immigrants in ICE civil detention. They would have been held in a private, maximum-security facility with the capability to hold 60 in solitary confinement, encased in a total visual barrier. Would have — because Elkhart, like so many Chicagoland towns before it, said no. …

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Here’s What Happens When Trump Policy Comes to Trump Country
Source: Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, February 2, 2018

…. It all started in mid-November, when local activists including Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations at Goshen College, learned that the private prison company CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) was eyeing a location near the landfill and county jail. Within weeks, CoreCivic filed a proposal to build an immigration detention center that could hold up to 1,240 people awaiting immigration court decisions or deportation.The company was seeking to fill Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s need for detention space to hold the increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants its agents were picking up in the Midwest. ICE interior deportations in the first eight months of Trump’s presidency had ticked up 37 percent compared to the same period in 2016, and the agency wanted beds within a 180-mile radius of four cities, including Chicago and Detroit. Elkhart County, Indiana, was in range of both cities, and CoreCivic, which gets more than a quarter of its $1.8 billion annual revenue from incarcerating ICE detainees, spotted the opportunity. ….

CoreCivic has history of complaints, violations Company accused of mismanagement, abuse
Source: Caleb Bauer, South Bend Tribune, January 29, 2018

Corrections Corp. of America’s stock prices plunged in recent years when the Bureau of Prisons began phasing out private, for-profit prisons amid reports of problems with oversight, safety and security. The Nashville-based company responded by shifting its focus to housing Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees and rebranded itself as CoreCivic. After the election of President Donald Trump, who campaigned to increase immigrant detention and deportation, CoreCivic’s stock prices jumped. Now, the private prison company is angling to open a new ICE facility in Elkhart County. Who is this firm that’s promised to bring 300 new jobs to Elkhart County? Since its foray into ICE business, CoreCivic has continued to be dogged by ongoing allegations of mismanagement and abuse at its detention facilities…..

Brother: Cuban was healthy before dying of pneumonia in ICE custody

Source: Jeremy Redmon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 20, 2018

The family of a Cuban man who died last month from pneumonia while in the custody of federal immigration authorities has hired an Atlanta attorney and a local immigrant rights group to investigate what happened to him. Yulio Castro Garrido, 33, is the third U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee to die in less than a year after being held in detention centers in Georgia. The questions surrounding his death come as the Trump administration is proposing adding hundreds of additional immigration detention center beds nationwide amid its crackdown on illegal immigration. … The detention center was the subject of a stinging report released last year by the U.S. Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General, which cited long waits for medical care and other issues that “undermine the protection of detainees’ rights, their humane treatment, and the provision of a safe and healthy environment.” … CoreCivic, a Nashville, Tenn.-based corrections company that manages Stewart through agreements with ICE and Stewart County, referred questions about Castro to ICE. Castro is the third ICE detainee held in Georgia to die since May. On May 15, Jean Jimenez-Joseph, 27, a Panamanian national with a history of mental illness, hanged himself with a sheet in his solitary confinement cell at Stewart. …

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Immigrant dies after being held at Georgia detention center accused of poor medical care
Source: Esther Yu Hsi Lee, Think Progress, February 1, 2018

A Cuban immigrant held at a federal immigration detention center in Georgia died Tuesday, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) press release, making him the third immigrant detainee death in Georgia since last May. …

Private Prison Continues to Send Ice Detainees to Solitary Confinement for Refusing Voluntary Labor
Source: Spencer Woodman, The Intercept, January 11, 2018

Officials at a privately run Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in rural Georgia locked an immigrant detainee in solitary confinement last November as punishment for encouraging fellow detainees to stop working in a labor program that ICE says is strictly voluntary. Shoaib Ahmed, a 24-year-old who immigrated to America to escape political persecution in Bangladesh, told The Intercept that the privately run detention center placed him in isolation for 10 days after an officer overheard him simply saying “no work tomorrow.” Ahmed said he was expressing frustration over the detention center — run by prison contractor CoreCivic — having delayed his weekly paycheck of $20 for work in the facility’s kitchen…..