Category Archives: Corrections

Kansas Senate bills expand reach of lobbyist registration, oppose private management of state prisons

Source: Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, February 20, 2018
 
Motivation for sweeping change in lobbying registration centered on behind-the-scenes activity to influence the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback when considering a controversial 20-year, $360 million contract with CoreCivic to build and maintain a new state prison in Lansing.  Opponents of the lease-to-own pact, approved in January, said they were concerned about being blindsided by CoreCivic’s strategy to privatize the state’s prison system.  Meanwhile, the Senate advanced to final action Senate Bill 328, which would block privatization by the executive branch of security operations and personnel management at state correctional facilities. The Kansas Department of Corrections would still be able to contract for food, medical and other support services.  Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, said the bill declared the corrections system wouldn’t be open to privatization without approval of the Legislature. …

Related:

Editorial: Bill against privatized prisons right move
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal, February 11, 2018
 
A bipartisan bill co-sponsored by majority and minority leaders of the Kansas Senate would limit privatization at state prisons and maintain the role the Kansas Department of Corrections fulfills regarding day-to-day operations of those facilities.  The legislation was authored after a 20-year, $362 million lease-to-own contract for a new state prison in Lansing was approved by the State Finance Council.  CoreCivic, which is based in Tennessee, was contracted to build the new prison. However, under measures outlined in the bill, which was endorsed by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, CoreCivic would not be granted authority to oversee personnel operations at Kansas adult and juvenile facilities. …

Kansas Senate GOP, Democrats embrace bill limiting privatization at state prisons
Source: Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, February 7, 2018
 
A rare exhibition of Senate bipartisanship Wednesday led to a committee’s prompt approval of a bill to prohibit outsourcing of personnel management operations at state prison facilities.  Motivation for the change reflected apprehension about approval of a $362 million contract with CoreCivic, a Tennessee company that builds and operates private prisons, to construct and maintain for 20 years a new Lansing Correctional Facility.  Under the contract, the Kansas Department of Corrections would retain supervision of corrections officers, wardens and other personnel. … Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the union supported the Senate bill because it would clearly prohibit outsourcing or privatization of management operations at state corrections facilities.  He said KOSE had many officers, counselors, maintenance specialists and administrative assistants who “do a fine job of making the state prison facilities run in a professional manner under trying circumstances working long hours for little pay.” …

Continue reading

Can Immigrant Detainees Have a #MeToo Movement?

Source: Rie Ohta, Human Rights Watch, February 15, 2018
 
… Laura Monterrosa is a lesbian asylum seeker from El Salvador who is being held in the privately run Hutto Detention Center in Texas. Last year, she told authorities that she was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a female guard. When Laura said she would report her, the guard allegedly said, “Do you think they’ll believe you or me?” In December, the FBI launched a civil rights investigation looking into her case. Meanwhile, local advocates say that Laura is facing punitive measures for coming forward. According to them, Laura says detention center officials have threatened to keep her in solitary confinement unless she retracts her allegations – a terrifying prospect for someone like Laura who, the advocates say, has attempted suicide in detention.… ICE provides no meaningful oversight to the hundreds of private detention centers and county jails which it uses on a contract basis. The result is that immigrant victims in detention like Laura may lack meaningful access to justice. So, can Laura, or any detained immigrant, safely pursue her claims without retribution when she says “me too”? The answer depends not only on ICE stepping up to ensure her rights are respected, but on systemic reforms to increase oversight, transparency, and accountability in the system.

Fight Club: Audit documents Florida juvenile justice failures

Source: Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald, January 19, 2018

Florida juvenile justice administrators sometimes fail to report the deficiencies of their privately run youth programs, and don’t always ensure breakdowns are corrected even when they are documented, says a new report by the state’s Auditor General. The state’s top government auditor reviewed the Department of Juvenile Justice’s oversight of contracts for 10 of 54 privately run residential programs — totaling $251.3 million in state dollars — examining the department’s compliance with state laws, as well as department rules and policies. The review, which is dated January 2018, looked at agency contracts for the budget year 2016. …

… The 21-page audit was released about three months after a Miami Herald series exposed long-standing, far-ranging lapses in oversight and accountability throughout the state’s juvenile justice system. The Herald investigation, called Fight Club, revealed a broad range of abuses, including the hiring of youth care workers with criminal records and histories of violence and sexual misconduct, the widespread use of unnecessary and excessive force, the sexual abuse of detainees and the outsourcing of discipline by staff members — who sometimes offer teens snack foods as a reward for doling out beatings. The series also highlighted a troubling history of medical neglect by officers, youth workers and even nurses assigned to youth programs. Lax contract monitoring was a persistent theme in one of the stories reported by the Herald in October. …

Related:
Fight Club: A Miami Herald Investigation Into Florida’s Juvenile Justice System
Source: Miami Herald, October 2017

… Documents, interviews and surveillance videos show a disturbing pattern of beatings doled out or ordered by underpaid officers, hundreds of them prison system rejects. Youthful enforcers are rewarded with sweet pastries from the employee vending machines, a phenomenon known as “honey-bunning.” The Herald found fights staged for entertainment, wagering and to exert control, sex between staff and youthful detainees and a culture of see-nothing/say-nothing denial. Herald journalists also examined 12 questionable deaths of detained youths since 2000. In the end, untold numbers of already troubled youths have been further traumatized. With a one-year recidivism rate of 45 percent, it is a justice system that is supposed to reform juvenile delinquents, but too often turns them into hardened felons.

‘The Judge Is Upset:’ Federal Court Pursues Investigation Into Corizon Health Over Arizona Prison Allegations

Source: Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ, January 18, 2018

At a Dec. 20 status hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan read aloud from a KJZZ report detailing allegations of denying specialty health care in Arizona prisons. Duncan said it looked like Corizon, the health-care provider the state contracts with, was trying to perform an “end run” around the monitoring process he oversees. The judge called for a special hearing to explore the merits of the allegations and “see how deep this evil goes.” …

Related:

On the Inside: The Chaos of Arizona Prison Health Care
Source: Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ, December 18, 2017

The Arizona Department of Corrections contracts with privately owned, correctional health care company Corizon Health to oversee all medical, mental and dental care at 10 state prisons. However, that care has come under scrutiny in federal court. In 2015, inmates settled a lawsuit with Arizona over poor health care conditions in state prisons. More than two years later, Arizona and its provider have failed to meet the more than 100 stipulations agreed to in the settlement and a federal judge is threatening to fine the state millions of dollars. Inmates have testified in the settlement process to long wait times for medicine, delayed chronic disease care and a lack of access to specialists. The voices in this series confirm those allegations and more, recounting their experiences with the Arizona prison health care system. …

Low Staffing Levels at Arizona Prisons Could Lead to Big Fines
Source: Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ, August 9, 2017

A federal judge will appoint an outside expert to address low health care staffing levels in Arizona prisons and could soon issue economic sanctions against the state. For years the state has failed to comply with performance measures from a settlement between the state and the inmates. The main reason for the failures is staffing, and Judge David Duncan said economic currents are to blame. At a status hearing Wednesday, Duncan said the state’s private contractor, Corizon, has made the decision to simply pay fines instead of paying for full staffing at state prisons. … Duncan became increasingly incensed when hearing of the state’s failure to comply with measures that guarantee inmates access to their prescribed medicine. He repeated his threat that the state is facing steep fines and suggested economic sanctions to counter Corizon’s profit motive. …

Watchdog group finds errors with work on Mississippi prison food service

Source: Associated Press, January 21, 2018

A private company is not meeting all the obligations under a food service contract with Mississippi prisons. That is the finding of a legislative watchdog group that looked at the work provided by Aramark. Since in July 2016, the company has done food preparation and delivery for 22 prisons and regional jails in the state. In a report dated Dec. 18 and publicly released last week, the legislative PEER Committee said the company has fallen short of staffing obligations and has not provided the type of training specified under the state contract. …

Read full report.

For-profit prison company, CoreCivic, looks to build state facility

Source: Anne Galloway, VTDigger, January 16, 2018
 
A private company that owns and manages prisons is looking to build a 925-bed facility proposed by the Scott administration.  CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corp. of America, which owns 61 facilities in the United States, is lobbying lawmakers and the governor’s office for a contract to build and lease the facility to the state, according to a statement from the company.  CCA and the new company have been criticized for poor management of state and national prisons and have been the subject of several national exposes.  Jonathon Butler, director of public affairs for CoreCivic, said the company would not be operating any facility in Vermont. …

The Privatization Agenda Goes Bust

Source: Tom O’Leary, Jacobin, January 18, 2018

The collapse of Carillion, the mammoth UK government contractor that went bankrupt Monday, was wholly made in Britain, although it has negative consequences internationally. The reason for Carillion’s bankruptcy, which puts vital public services and thousands of jobs at risk, is that the firm and its component companies grew fat during the first phase of neoliberal economic policy and could not cope with the more recent phase, austerity. The immediate cause of the collapse is a failed acquisition spree since the crisis began. Yet the underlying cause is the disastrous relationship successive governments have had with the private sector. Whether the Thatcher, Major, and Blair governments believed the nonsense they spouted about the superior efficiency of the private sector is immaterial. Only the willfully ignorant could ignore the litany of failed privatizations and the extortion of PFI “public-private initiative” contracts that followed their policies. The real purpose of Thatcherite economic policy, which has become widely known as neoliberalism, was precisely to hand state resources and revenues to the private sector. …

Related:

Carillion directors to be investigated
Source: BBC, January 16, 2018

The government has ordered a fast-track investigation into directors at the failed construction firm Carillion. The UK’s second biggest construction firm went into liquidation on Monday, after running up losses on contracts and struggling with heavy debts. The business secretary has asked for an investigation by the Official Receiver to be broadened and fast-tracked. The conduct of directors in charge at the time of the company’s failure and previous directors will be examined. Carillion’s business is now in the hands of the official receiver, which is reviewing all of Carillion’s contracts. The company employed 43,000 people worldwide, 20,000 in the UK, and had 450 contracts with the UK government. …

Carillion’s Government contracts could have been stopped by a single law. Why wasn’t it used?
Source: Hazel Sheffield, Independent, January 16, 2018

Carillion is part of what is known as ‘the shadow state’: a group of large companies secretively awarded government contracts to run Britain’s public services. There are others. …

Continue reading

 Boca-based prison operator Geo Group to pay $550,000 to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

Source: Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel, January 8, 2018
 
Boca Raton-based The Geo Group has agreed to pay $550,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Arizona’s attorney general.  The lawsuit, filed in 2010, concerned two Geo-operated prisons: the Central Arizona Correctional Facility and Arizona State Prison-Florence West Facility, both in Florence, Ariz. …. The lawsuits, filed in the in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleged that GEO retaliated against female employees who complained or sought help by disciplining them, forcing them to quit, firing them, or placing them in unsafe conditions in the prison. ….

Related:

Private Prison GEO Group to Pay $60,000 To Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment And Retaliation Lawsuit
Source: EEOC Press Release, August 25, 2017
 
The GEO Group, Inc., operator of the Central Arizona Correctional Facility (CACF) in Florence, Ariz., will pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, GEO allowed its employees and managers to sexually harass Roberta Jones since June 2007. For example, the agency alleged that certain male superior officers and coworkers would frequently stand around bragging about their sexual exploits. At least two superior officers were alleged to have put their hands on Jones in an unwanted manner. GEO failed to adequately respond to Jones’s complaints of sexual harassment, the EEOC said. The lawsuit also alleged that Geo assigned Ms. Jones to less desirable posts, disciplined, and terminated her after she complained about the harassment and participated in protected activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. …

Florence Private Prison GEO Group Sued a Second Time by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), September 25, 2015

The GEO Group, Inc., operators of the Central Arizona Correctional Facility in Florence, Ariz., violated federal law by sexually harassing a female correctional officer and then retaliating against her for having participated in a prior lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against GEO alleging systemic sexual harassment, EEOC charged in a lawsuit it filed today. According to EEOC’s lawsuit, GEO allowed its employees and managers to sexually harass Roberta Jones since June 2007. …

Private Prisons Offer ‘Poor Compensation, Instability’ to Employees: Study

Source: The Crime Report, December 12, 2017

Private prison staff are disproportionately women of color and receive “poor compensation” compared to employees of incarcerated state and federal populations according to a study published this month in the International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice. … Just as significantly, Burkhardt says his findings show that private prison inmates serve shorter sentences on average than their counterparts in federal and state institutions. … Compared to state-run prisons, inmates in private sector prisons have limited access to disease prevention programs, are guarded by staff with less training, and have more grievances. The study also found that private prisons are typically non-unionized workplaces that disproportionately hire female workers and in particular women of color. Staff workers in private prisons also receive lower wages than those in the public sector. The demographics for private prison employees show similar imbalances when compared to state and federal prisons. … The study raises questions about the process by which inmates are assigned to private vs. public prisons. …

Read full study (preprint).

Why is a Private Prison Corporation Doing Business with the IRS?

Source: Donald Cohen, Huffington Post, December 8, 2017

… CoreCivic now owns what appear to be its first buildings that have nothing to do with incarceration. In September, the publicly traded corporation that owns and operates prisons, jails, immigration detention centers, and halfway houses bought properties in North Carolina and Georgia that are leased to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). In their words, the deals are part of a plan to make “additional investment via acquisition in mission-critical government real estate asset classes outside of our traditional correctional detention residential reentry facilities.” In other words, CoreCivic wants to be a landlord of all types of government buildings. … We shouldn’t be surprised. If you recall, CoreCivic used to be Corrections Corporation of America, which rebranded last October not only to outrun bad PR but also to provide a “wider range of government solutions” and “better the public good.” And several years ago, along with primary competitor GEO Group, they changed their corporate legal status to a real estate company—technically, a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)—to score a massive tax break. In 2015 alone, the corporations used their REIT status and other avenues to avoid a combined $113 million in federal income taxes. … But CoreCivic’s latest move highlights the newest private prison trend, towards building, owning, and leasing real estate—and they’re selling it hard. …