Category Archives: Corrections

Private option could help Ohio prison overcrowding

Source: Jona Ison, Eagle Gazette, January 15, 2015

Ohio will reactivate beds at prisons and investigate a possible contract for bed space at a private prison this year to deal with overcrowding. Since 2009, Ohio’s prisons have deactivated 2,358 beds, mostly through closures of facility camps, as one way to curb costs and in response to a decline in population from sentencing reform. ….. However, what is expected is a discussion about a contract for beds with Corrections Corporation of America at its Youngstown facility. CCA lost a federal contract for about 600 beds and is looking for new customers before the contract ends this spring.
Mohr said he has not talked with CCA but added he has been approached by legislators….

Does your state have a deal with the private prison industry? Check out our interactive map to find out.

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, January 5, 2015

Private prison corporations depend upon their relationships with government players to supply business. “Public-private partnerships”—established with local, state, and federal agencies—provide groups like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) the financial incentives that contribute to mass incarceration in the United States.

The contracts that make this happen are invaluable means of finding out what kind of deals governments are making with the incarceration industry. For example, In the Public Interest, a research group interested in the privatization of public services, first reported on the “lockup quotas” that require governments to keep facilities full, which they discovered via these contracts.

MuckRock has submitted requests for nearly every contract currently maintained between a government agency and CCA and plotted them by facility on the map below. Requests were submitted at the local, state, and (when applicable) federal levels, and the facilities are divided by agency holding the largest contract: a state or local government to host local inmates, a state government to hold inmates out-of-state, and then Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Many of these requests are fresh. If a particularly prison is interesting or relevant, be sure to follow the request and an alert will be sent when the request is updated. Check back in as additional requests are filled, or let us know if you’d like to file your own request!

Advisory council orders GBI investigation of Darien-based South Georgia Probation

Source: Terry Dickson, Jacksonville.com, December 17, 2014

The state council overseeing private probation companies voted unanimously Wednesday to launch a criminal investigation against a Darien-based firm, South Georgia Probation Inc., the day after the company’s owner, Shea Smith, informed three courts she was quitting. … Neither Smith nor her lawyer appeared before the council, which is an arm of the Judicial Council of Georgia, to answer findings on noncompliance in its supervision of defendants on probation. The council noted it is likely to hear other such cases against private probation companies from around the state in light of a recent State Supreme Court decision that says the companies cannot extend the probation of misdemeanor defendants over nonpayment of supervision fees. After that ruling, which resulted from a battery of suits against Sentinel Probation in the Augusta area, thousands of arrest warrants were rescinded around the state. Many had been secured by large firms that provide probation services in multiple counties.

In South Georgia Probation’s case, an October compliance review showed that Smith, who is a registered probation officer, had given administrative employees authority to make decisions on probations, that probation officers didn’t meet education standards, had unregistered employees and didn’t have procedures for indigent defendants. Among other deficiencies the company let probationers buy out of community service, collected dismissal fees on active warrants, collected fees for drug tests that weren’t completed and collected its fees upfront rather than monthly as courts ordered, the review said….

Will Private Prisons Finally Be Subject to the Freedom of Information Act?

Source: Alex Park, Mother Jones, December 16, 2014

Anyone can use the federal Freedom of Information Act to request records about prisons owned and operated by the government. Information about prisoner demographics, violent incidents, and prison budgets are all obtainable. But privately run facilities—even those that hold federal prisoners—are exempt from the law. Last week, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) introduced legislation to change that. On December 10, she introduced a new bill, the Private Prison Information Act. If passed, it would force any nonfederal prison holding federal prisoners to comply with the Freedom of Information Act…..

Is the Gates Foundation Still Investing in Private Prisons?

Source: Alex Park, Mother Jones, December 8, 2014

Bill and Melinda Gates’ philanthropy won’t say. … One year after Mother Jones reported on multi-million-dollar investments made on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that appeared to contradict the foundation’s mission, the philanthropy’s trust will not say if one of its most controversial holdings is still on its books.

In its 2012 tax filing, the Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the foundation’s endowment, reported a $2.2 million investment in the GEO Group, a Florida-based prison company. In its most recent tax forms, the Gates Foundation Trust listed an investment in the GEO Group worth more than $2 million.

In recent years, the GEO Group has faced accusations of detainee abuse and substandard care in multiple states. In 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Detention Oversight reported that GEO Group’s Adelanto facility near Los Angeles had committed “several egregious errors” in administering medical care to detainees. (GEO Group has repeatedly dismissed allegations of mistreatment.) More recently, a group of former immigrant detainees in Colorado sued the company for making them work around the prison for minimal pay, sometimes under the threat of solitary confinement. (The GEO Group said detainees were working under a “volunteer work program” and that its $1-per-day wages met federal standards.) The Gates Foundation Trust did not respond to requests for comment directed through a foundation spokesperson.

According to the Gates Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates—the only members of the trust’s board—have defined areas that the trust will not invest in, “such as companies whose profit model is centrally tied to corporate activity that [Bill and Melinda Gates] find egregious.” Tobacco companies fall into that category.

The trust’s last reported investment in the GEO Group took the form of a $2,148,790 bank loan. (The Gates Foundation Trust did not issue the loan itself. The term “bank loan” refers to a type of corporate debt that companies with low credit ratings occasionally sell through a conventional bank to get extra cash.) The asset was reported in a tax form filed with the Internal Revenue Service this October, but is accurate only through October 2013. ….

Tennessee says prison closing not tied to CCA

Source: Times Free Press, December 6, 2014

Tennessee prison officials say their plan to close a state prison in Nashville isn’t tied to a complex deal in which 2,550 state inmates will be housed at a Corrections Corporation of America-owned facility. Still, Corrections Commissioner Derrick Schofield acknowledged some of the estimated 660 minimum-security inmates at the state-owned and run Charles B. Bass Correctional Complex could eventually wind up at the new prison in Trousdale County. … The state in July signed a contract with Trousdale County, which in turn has contracted with CCA as it builds a new prison there. The Nashville-based, investor-owned company is constructing a $140 million medium-security prison in the county and will own and operate it. Closing Bass makes economic sense, Schofield said, citing a $92 cost-per-day for each inmate, compared to about $74 a day for other state-run prisons in Nashville. …

Publisher Files Federal Complaint Against Prison Company

Source: Christopher Ayers ∙ WFYI ∙ December 2, 2014

The publisher of Prison Legal News, or PLN, has filed a federal complaint after New Castle Correctional Facility staff failed to deliver copies of the magazine to several of its inmates. The complaint was filed last week in U.S. District Court for Indiana’s Southern District on behalf of the Human Rights Defense Center, the publisher of PLN. It claims that GEO Group, the Florida-based private prison company that operates the New Castle Correctional Facility, violated the publisher’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying inmates access to Prison Legal News—effectively censoring the publication.

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)…