Category Archives: Corrections

Who Profits From Plans to Lock Up More Immigrant Families? Private Prison Companies

Source: Zoë Carpenter, The Nation blog, September 30, 2014

…CCA has profited handsomely from the criminalization of noncitizens, but its record on immigration detention is particularly poor. The government stopped holding families at a CCA-run detention center in Taylor, Texas, in 2009 after the company was sued for mistreating women and children, some of whom reported that they were forced to wear prison uniforms. In 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union released records of 185 allegations of sexual abuse at CCA detention centers over four years; fifty-six of the reports came from facilities in Texas. Even before the government’s contract with CCA for the Dilley center was announced last Tuesday there were questions about the deal. According to a Texas nonprofit, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency did not take public bids before it signed up CCA. That the government and the company are tight is not particularly surprising, as CCA has vastly outspent other private prison companies on lobbying. CCA was profiting from the refugee crisis at the border before the Dilley deal, too. Investors anticipated that the surge in migrants would necessitate new detention services; CCA’s stocks went up by 8.5 percent in August, compared to a 1.5 percent rise in the S&P. “Investors see this as an opportunity. This is a potentially untapped market that will have very strong demand,” Alex Friedmann, an activist investor who holds CCA stocks, told CNN Money….

Profiting from Prisoners

Source: Center for Public Integrity, September 30, 2014

The Center for Public Integrity traveled around the U.S. to investigate the growing web of prison bankers, private vendors and corrections agencies … and how they profit off the innocent by shifting costs onto inmates’ families.

Part 1:
Prison bankers cash in on captive customers – Inmates’ families gouged by fees
by Daniel Wagner
This is the first in a two-part series examining how financial companies charge high fees to the families of prison inmates. The second part, which will run Thursday, focuses on no-bid deals between Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the U.S. Treasury, under which they provide financial services to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Part 2:
Time is money: who’s making a buck off prisoners’ families?
By Eleanor Bell and Daniel Wagner
How a web of prison bankers, private vendors and corrections agencies profit by shifting costs onto inmates’ families.

Related:
Debit cards slam released prisoners with sky-high fees, few protections
‘They kept charging me every time I used it’
By Amirah Al Idrus
When Clarence Justin Aldred was released from Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven, Michigan, in July 2013, he left with the balance of his inmate account, which consisted of his prison wages and any leftover money sent by family. Aldred received no cash. The money was accessible via a debit card issued by JPay Inc., a Miami-based company that provides financial services to inmates. After 29 years inside, the card was Aldred’s only way to make most purchases. After using it a few times, Aldred, 57, noticed that $15 was missing. “They kept charging me every time I used it. Nobody told me that,” he said. Michigan is one of at least 15 states where prisoners are given their inmate account balance on a prepaid card when they are released. The cards usually carry a variety of fees that eat away at the small amount of money most former inmates are left with to restart their lives. Inmate release cards have drawn criticism from consumer lawyers and faced litigation in at least two states….

In private prisons, grievances go unread and unanswered

Source: Beryl Lipton, Muck Rock, September 24, 2014

The Private Prisons Projects takes a look at how inmate complaints are muffled by red tape

FOI Requests:
Grievance policies for inmates at Oklahoma correctional facilities
Grievances against Corrections Corporation of America

The Private Prisons Project is a ongoing look at the growing number of the prison population that is held in for-profit facilities in the country, and the humanitarian and transparency issues that raises. Read the first installment here.

Cook County Begins 24-Hour Tracking of Juvenile Offenders

Source: Phil Rogers, NBC 5, September 19, 2014

A series of NBC 5 Investigates stories has prompted Cook County probation officials to take action. The department confirmed Friday it has began the giant leap of implementing 24 hour monitoring of juvenile offenders who have been placed on electronic home confinement. … The monitoring will be performed at a remote center in Irvine, Calif., operated by the County’s vendor, Sentinel Offender Services. …

CCA Has Long History of Wage Violations, Poor Treatment of Employees

Source: Prison Legal News, September 15, 2014

On August 20, 2014, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit prison operator, issued a press release that attempted to put a positive spin on over $8 million in back wages the company had agreed to pay to employees at one of its facilities. …. However, the company did not mention that it has repeatedly been sued by its own employees for failing to pay required wages. In fact, CCA settled an earlier wage and hour lawsuit involving the California City Correctional Center for an undisclosed amount in 2004, and has paid millions to resolve other wage-related cases over the past dozen years…

Arizona Prisons’ Widespread Failings Detailed in Newly Released Reports / Healthcare in Arizona Department of Corrections Facilities Does Not Meet Minimum Standards, Experts Find

Source: ACLU of Arizona, Press Release, September 9, 2014

Nearly two dozen expert reports that detail widespread problems with the Arizona Department of Corrections’ healthcare system, as well as its use of solitary confinement, were made public late Monday. … Dr. Cohen found that almost half of people who died “natural deaths” while in ADC’s care over a six-month period received “grossly deficient” medical care (2/24/14 report, pages 1-2). Every week, on average, a patient who has been neglected or mistreated dies in the Arizona prison system, according to these expert reports. …. The complete reports now available can be found here.
Related:
Reports: Arizona Inmates’ Healthcare Quality Major Concern
Source: AZPM and Associated Press, September 12, 2014

A new series of reports says the quality of healthcare for inmates in Arizona’s prisons is declining to dangerous levels. It’s a finding disputed by the Department of Corrections. Don Specter, director of the Prison Law Office, said the reports were requested from national advisors in prison healthcare as part of a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections. The reports, “Come to the unanimous conclusion that the Arizona healthcare system is…an abysmal failure,” he said. Arizona’s correctional system puts prisoners at serious risk of sickness and death because of a lack of access to adequate healthcare, he added. …

Prison health provider Corizon sued by Arizona inmate exposed to tainted needle
Source: Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal, August 6, 2014

The private company that provides health care services at Arizona state prisons is being sued by an inmate who was exposed to a tainted hypodermic needle that may have contained Hepatitis or HIV. Kevin W. Mitchell filed suit in Maricopa Superior Court last month seeking damages from Corizon Health Inc. and the state of Arizona. Mitchell’s lawsuit says he was exposed a tainted needle in early January when he was given an insulin shot for diabetes….

Corizon: AZ inmates potentially received contaminated injections
Source: Breann Bierman, CBS5, January 8, 2014

A nurse has been suspended and an investigation is underway after two dozen inmates in Arizona were potentially exposed to contaminated injections. Corizon, the correction healthcare provider, said there was a violation of medication protocol on Jan. 5 at three of the seven units of the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye. The three prison units were Morey, Rast and Eagle Point. There was “improper procedures for injections, resulting in potential exposure of approximately 24 inmates to bloodborne pathogens,” Corizon spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said.

Arizona’s privatized prison health care under fire after deaths
Source: Abigail Leonard and Adam May, Al Jazeera, December 2, 2013

…We asked Regan if she actually saw prison officials opening up McDonald’s sugar packets and pouring the sugar inside her wound. “Yeah,” she said, adding that she was worried if it was sanitary…. Regan is not the only inmate alleging mistreatment. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections in March 2012, alleging that prisoners are at serious risk of “pain, amputation, disfigurement and death.” It cites examples of prisoners being told to pray to be cured or drink energy shakes to treat cancer symptoms. …

…A year and a half ago, the state handed over prison healthcare to a private, for-profit company. Legislators who supported the privatization promised that it would save taxpayers money, while maintaining adequate levels of care for inmates. At least 27 other states have also privatized prison health care, rewarding private companies for keeping costs down.

But there are studies showing prisoners could be suffering as a result. An October report from the American Friends Services Committee in Arizona found that since the state privatized its prison health care, medical spending in prisons dropped by $30 million and staffing levels plummeted. It also found a sharp spike in the number of inmate deaths. In the first eight months of 2013, 50 people died in Arizona Department of Corrections custody, compared with 37 deaths in the previous two years combined….

…There are signs though, that Wexford, the private health company that was providing care at the time of Brown’s death, was aware of the problems. America Tonight obtained a copy of a PowerPoint presentation written by top Wexford executives for a meeting with the Arizona governor’s office in November 2012 – four months after the company started providing care in the state. It warned that the care it and the Department of Corrections were providing was “not compliant with … constitutional requirements” and that “the current class action lawsuits are accurate.” It recommended an overall operational cleanup, staffing reassessment and the appointment of a governor’s office liaison. …

…Four months later, Arizona severed ties with Wexford and awarded the three-year, $369 million contract to another private healthcare company: Corizon, the largest prison healthcare company in the country. Corizon has similar contracts in 29 states, but it has faced problems in many of them. In fact, in the last five years, Corizon has been sued for malpractice 660 times….

Death Yards: Continuing Problems with Arizona’s Correctional Health Care
Source: Caroline Isaacs, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – Arizona, October 2013

From the summary:
On March 6, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) charging that prisoners in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections receive such grossly inadequate medical, mental health, and dental care that they are in grave danger of suffering serious and preventable injury, amputation, disfigurement and premature death.

This class action lawsuit has the potential to force the state of Arizona to improve its prison medical care. But legal battles are long and costly. The state is fighting tooth and nail, including an upcoming challenge to the suit’s class action status. The final resolution will likely take years. But what has changed in the day-to-day provision of medical care to prisoners in Arizona? Have conditions improved in light of the charges brought by the suit? Has the transition in management of the medical care from one for-profit corporate contractor (Wexford) to another (Corizon) addressed any of the previous health care lapses?

Sadly, the answer appears to be no. Correspondence from prisoners; analysis of medical records, autopsy reports, and investigations; and interviews with anonymous prison staff and outside experts indicate that, if anything, things have gotten worse.

Advocates allege inadequate care by prison health contractor
Source: Anne M. Shearer Cronkite News Service, November 9, 2013

An advocacy group alleges that a private health care company contracted by the Arizona Department of Corrections has delayed inmate care, failed to provide medication and hasn’t offered any treatment at all to some needing it. At a Phoenix news conference to release a report detailing its allegations, the American Friends Service Committee called on the agency to terminate its contract with Brentwood, Tenn.-based Corizon, which has provided health care at all state prisons since March, replacing another private company. …

Prisoners Denied Medical Care, Told To Pray Instead
Source: Carimah Townes, Thinkprogress, November 15, 2013

A year after a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging grave medical neglect of prisoners by Arizona’s private prison health care providers, prisoners have continued to die or endure unnecessary suffering after lack of basic treatment. After asking for medical assistance, many prisoners were told to “be patient” or “pray,” according to a new report. …

Arizona prison horror: “Critically ill” inmates told to “pray” for healing
Source: Josh Eidelson, Salon, November 14, 2013

…Shortly before that lawsuit was filed in March 2013, the state contracted with its current for-profit health provider, Corizon, to replace the departed company Wexford. But the AFSC charges that “Correspondence from prisoners; analysis of medical records, autopsy reports, and investigations; and interviews with anonymous prison staff and outside experts indicate that, if anything, things have gotten worse.” Among the allegations: “delays and denials of care, lack of timely emergency treatment, failure to provide medication and medical devices, low staffing levels, failure to provide care and protection from infectious disease, denial of specialty care and referrals, and insufficient health treatment…”…

Chasing Bail

Source: Sam Black, Sebastian Walker, & Abdulai Bah, Al Jazeera America, Fault Lines, May 24, 2014

Fault Lines examines America’s profitable bail bond industry, and investigates how money determines who goes free and who stays behind bars while awaiting trial. The number of Americans incarcerated before standing trial in a court of law—over 750,000 inmates—has never been higher. On any given day, nearly 70 percent of the national jail population is awaiting judgement—locked up without ever having been convicted of a crime. The U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that allows private companies to bail people out of jail at a profit. Bail bond companies earn $2 billion annually by getting people out for a fee. The majority of the accused remain behind bars because they cannot afford to pay for their release. Proponents of commercial bail say it provides a public service at zero cost to taxpayers. But what are the ultimate costs of the pay-for-freedom, pretrial process? Fault Lines travels to California, Maryland, and New York to examine how money determines the fates of those awaiting trial by the criminal justice system.

Ohio to court: Privatizing prisons in budget legal

Source: Associated Press, September 8, 2014

State lawyers tell the Ohio Supreme Court that using a budget bill to privatize state prisons didn’t violate a constitutional provision holding bills to a single subject. In a brief filed Monday, Ohio said the state’s budget involves both revenues and expenses — not just appropriations. The filing comes in a legal dispute with the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association. The prison workers union sued over privatization in 2012, contending that lawmakers extended beyond the single-subject rule when they used the budget to sell a state prison and turn others over to private operators….
Related:
Ohio Supreme Court will hear Kasich appeal of budget review
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, June 26, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court accepted an appeal yesterday by Gov. John Kasich that seeks to prevent a court-ordered review that could invalidate “fraudulent” parts of a prior state budget. The governor and other statewide officials contend that unprecedented court proceedings to dissect the 2012-13 budget bill and its hundreds of changes in state law would illegally amount to “judicial line-item vetoes.” The Franklin County Court of Appeals ordered the review in finding that lawmakers violated the “one subject/one bill” provision of the Ohio Constitution by inserting a prison-privatization measure in the $55.8 billion budget….The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association and ProgressOhio filed the lawsuit over the section of the budget that privatized one prison and sold another. The union seeks damages for employees who lost jobs and invalidation of the private-prison contracts, returning both prisons to state control and ownership….

Line-item review by trial judge challenged
Source: Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, March 8, 2014

Gov. John Kasich and statewide officeholders are asking the Ohio Supreme Court to kill an unprecedented court-ordered, line-by-line review of the previous state budget to determine whether parts of it should be invalidated. The appeal says the order requiring a trial-court judge to conduct an evidentiary hearing to dissect the 3,000-plus-page budget bill and its hundreds of changes in state law would illegally amount to “judicial line-item vetoes.” The Franklin County Court of Appeals ordered the review in finding that lawmakers violated the “ one subject/one bill” provision in the Ohio Constitution by inserting a prison privatization measure in the $55.8 billion 2012-13 budget. The appellate judges ordered Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick E. Sheeran, who had previously dismissed the case, to review the budget and strike “fraudulent” sections that violate the one-subject requirement. The budget addressed such diverse matters as abortion restrictions, teacher merit pay, a gambling hot line, barber licenses and court testimony by coroners….

Coalinga council OKs sale of jail

Source: Marc Benjamin, Fresno Bee, September 4, 2014

Coalinga’s City Council gave its city manager the go-ahead Thursday night to try to sell its closed jail. Claremont Custody Center has been closed for three years, but the city continues to pay about $100,000 to maintain the 70,000-square-foot complex. The proposal approved Thursday seeks bidders and requires them to lay out their plans for the property….
Related:
Coalinga considers putting unused, costly jail up for sale
Source: Marc Benjamin, Fresno Bee, September 3, 2014

Three years after the Claremont Custody Center in Coalinga closed, city officials are weary of the growing financial burden and are considering selling the jail. The City Council will take up the issue tonight. The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had leased the building from the city for 20 years after it opened in 1991. The jail was closed when the state prison realignment program began shifting inmates to county jails. The state removed inmates from the Coalinga jail and three similar Kern County jails that were under state contracts. Today, the city’s 70,000-square-foot jail is a costly vacancy. So Coalinga wants to see if there may be buyers. … The city had to lay off 90 employees and lost about $1 million in annual revenue when the jail closed. In addition, the city and local businesses lost money from local purchases by employees and the jail, which had a $5 million payroll and an $8 million annual budget. Inmates also had provided a cheap source of labor on city projects. …

Costly contract requirement scrapped for sole bidder of Alabama’s $224 million inmate health care contract

Source: Casey Toner, AL.com, September 7, 2014

A competitor for Alabama’s $224 million inmate health care contract claimed in a letter critical of the process that a costly stipulation helped push the firm out of the bidding race. The Alabama Department of Corrections required that the winning vendor had to buy a $5 million performance bond in order to get the contract. But when the deal was signed two years ago, the Alabama Department of Corrections scrapped the requirement altogether. Private prison health care firm Corizon was then awarded the 34-month contract after it submitted the only bid for the work. AL.com is examining the health contract in light of a lawsuit the Southern Poverty Law Center filed against the state. The suit, which is pending before a federal judge, alleges that inadequate healthcare was provided to the state’s 25,000 inmates. Corizon has hired powerful lobbying firm Maynard Cooper & Gale to fight the lawsuit on behalf of Alabama. Two lobbyists at the firm, a fundraiser for Gov. Robert Bentley and Bentley’s former special counsel, have represented Corizon in 2012, and 2013 and 2014, respectively

Related:
Parent company of Alabama prisons’ health care provider ‘speculative’ investment, investor service says
Source: Casey Toner, AL.com, July 30, 2014

The firm that owns the company the Alabama Department of Corrections hired to supply health care to its 25,000 inmates was labeled “speculative” and given a negative rating outlook last year by Moody’s Investor Service. A Moody’s report from September 2013 says that Valitas Health Services, the owner of ADOC health care supplier Corizon, faces “earnings pressure” following prison contract losses in Maine, Maryland, Tennessee (excluding mental health), and Pennsylvania. It says Valitas’ financial obligations are “subject to high credit risk.” The report calls Valitas the largest provider of prison health care and offers some hope for the firm’s future. “Recent business wins” are expected to inject money into the company in 2014, according to the report. However, Moody’s estimates that Valitas’ “competitive environment will remain challenging,” and the company’s “liquidity profile will remain weak.”…

….Previously, AL.com reported that two firms hiring the husband of the ADOC’s top healthcare official were hired by Corizon to X-ray Alabama’s inmates. State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he planned to meet with ADOC officials amid questions he had about the relationship and a lawsuit the Southern Poverty Law Center filed against the ADOC and others alleging inadequate health care for inmates…. Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company, a Chicago based private equity management firm, owns a majority of Valitas, a private company. Valitas reported revenue of about $1.2 billion for the year ending on June 30, 2013…..