Category Archives: Corrections

Are Private Prisons to Blame for Mass Incarceration and its Evils? Prison Conditions, Neoliberalism, and Public Choice

Source: Hadar Aviram, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, UC Hastings Research Paper No. 113, September 7, 2014

From the abstract:
One of the frequently criticized aspects of American mass incarceration is privatized incarceration, which is frequently considered worse by definition, than public incarceration, both for philosophical-ethical reasons and because its for-profit structure creates a disincentive to invest in improving prison conditions. Relying on literature about the neoliberal state and on insights from public choice economics, this Article sets out to challenge the distinction between public and private incarceration, making two main arguments: piecemeal privatization of functions, utilities and services within state prisons make them operate more like private facilities, and public actors respond to the cost/benefit pressures of the market just like private ones. The paper illustrates these arguments with several examples of correctional response to the conditions caused by the Great Recession, showing public and private actors alike adopting a cost-minimizing, financially prudent approach, sometimes at the expense of prison conditions and inmate human rights. The paper ends by suggesting that, in a neoliberal capitalist environment, prohibitions and litigation alone cannot improve prison conditions, and that policymakers need to consider proper market incentives regulating both private and public prisons

How For-Profit Prison Corporations are Undermining Efforts to Treat and Rehabilitate Prisoners for Corporate Gain

Source: Caroline Isaacs, American Friends Service Committee, in collaboration with Grassroots Leadership (Austin, TX) and the Southern Center for Human Rights, November 2014

From the summary:
American Friends Service Committee, in collaboration with Grassroots Leadership (Austin, TX) and the Southern Center for Human Rights (Atlanta, GA), is releasing a groundbreaking report that exposes the ways in which for-profit prison corporations are adapting to historic reductions in prison populations by seeking out new markets previously served by non-profit behavioral health and treatment-oriented agencies.

“The Treatment Industrial Complex: How For-Profit Prison Corporations are Undermining Efforts to Treat and Rehabilitate Prisoners for Corporate Gain” highlights the expansion of the incarceration industry away from warehousing people and into areas that traditionally were focused on treatment and care of individuals involved in the criminal justice system–prison medical care, forensic mental hospitals, civil commitment centers, and ‘community corrections’ programs such as halfway houses and home arrest.

These developments pose a tremendous threat of unintended consequences for states seeking to reform their criminal sentencing practices. The greatest financial gains for incarceration companies are in residential settings that allow a company to charge a “per diem” rate. If the stated goal is simply to reduce prison populations, there is real danger that the result will simply be “prisons by another name.”

FOI Request: Grievances against Corrections Corporation of America

Source: Requested by Beryl Lipton, Muck Rock, on Sepember 5, 2014 for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration of United States of America and fulfilled on October 21, 2014

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
All complaints and grievances submitted to OSHA regarding facilities maintained by or work conditions under Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)…

FOI Request: Federal Bureau of Prisons contracts with GEO Group

Source: Requested by Beryl Lipton, Muck Rock on July 3, 2014 for the Bureau of Prisons of United States of America and fulfilled on October 21, 2014

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
Any and all contracts (active or out-of-date) between the Federal Bureau of Prisons (including its constituent divisions and other elements under its purview) and GEO Group, Inc., a private correctional facilities company (…

MDOC Scandal Highlights Privatization Problems

Source: R.L. Nave ∙ Jackson Free Press ∙ November 12, 2014

Facing a federal magistrate judge in Jackson, Chris Epps and Cecil McCrory made a curious pair. Until the news of his indictment on federal corruption charges broke last week, Epps, 53, had been the only African American director of a Mississippi agency, the state Department of Corrections. …. Together, they allegedly had what one federal official called a decade-long “criminal partnership” that involved bribes and kickbacks in exchange for Epps steering business to McCrory’s companies that contracted with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. … The alleged activities outlined in the indictment began seven years ago, in November 2007, when Epps signed a no-bid contract with G.T. Enterprises for commissary services at state prisons.

Vermont Lawmakers Quiz the State’s Private Prison Company

Source: MARK DAVIS, Seven Days, MON, OCT 20, 2014

A series of assaults last year inside a Kentucky prison that houses 400 Vermonters stemmed from a culture of drug use that involved prison guards and inmates, officials from the company that runs the prison said today.

Representatives from the Corrections Corporation of America made a rare appearance in Vermont, testifying before the Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee. The told the committee they have made improvements since a series of violent incidents inside Lee Adjustment Center last year alarmed Vermont officials. However, CCA officials faced sharp questions from lawmakers about their staffing levels and security measures.

Private prisons face suits, federal probes

Source: Jerry Mitchell, The Clarion-Ledger, October 14, 2014

Conditions have become so terrible in some private prisons that some have been kicked out.

Florida-based GEO got the boot in Mississippi after a federal judge in 2012 called the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions.”

In Idaho, the FBI is investigating the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America after allegations that records were falsified to cover up staff shortages at the Idaho Correctional Center, where gangs ruled and violence was so rampant it was called “Gladiator School.”

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.

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.