Category Archives: Horror.Stories

Dilley’s Immigrant Jail Is A Cash Cow For Private Prison Company, But What About Dilley?

Source: Aaron Schrank, Texas Public Radio, December 21, 2016

President Obama expanded use of family detention camps a couple of years ago to include lockups for thousands of Central American women and children seeking asylum at the Southern border. That’s been a gold mine for the corporate prison industry. Private prison giant CoreCivic–formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America–has put up record profits running a 2,400-bed family jail in the tiny city of Dilley. But some in Dilley worry hosting the hub of a controversial family detention policy hasn’t paid off for locals. … “Well, in general, the whole town is dead,” says Ortiz. “There’s nothing here. This used to be a very big agriculture town. They called it the watermelon capital; you can see the watermelon there.” Ortiz points to the hard-to-miss statue of a half-eaten watermelon—wrapped in Christmas lights. Today, Dilley is known for other things. “Mainly oil and incarceration, says Jose Asuncion, a third-generation Dilley resident. By incarceration, he means the state prison and the so-called family detention center packed with immigrant women and children. Between the two of them: “That’s 3,700 potential incarcerated people,” says Asuncion. “That’s equivalent to the town’s population. I think that’s wrong.” … The Dilley City Council approved its agreement with the private prison company and the man-camp owner in October 2014. CoreCivic agreed to prioritize hiring Dilley residents to fill 600 jobs, but Asuncion hasn’t seen that. … The council’s agenda promised the project would provide $6.9 million in direct economic benefit to Dilley, but it’s unclear that’s come through. The agreement–and appraisal district data–show the city should have brought in less than $2 million in revenue sharing from CoreCivic and property taxes from the center since then. Dilley has also taken out millions in bonds called certificates of obligation—without voter approval—for city projects including a water and sewer line upgrade for the detention center. … In the new contract, CoreCivic agreed to cut costs at Dilley by 40 percent, mostly through reductions in staff. A woman who works for a CoreCivic subcontractor says her pay was cut by more than 30 percent. “Everybody was dropped to $16-something-an-hour,” she says. “Everybody quit in our company. I’m serious. Everybody quit. That’s when I called them and said, ‘I can’t afford my rent here at 16 something.” …

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Private prison stocks are spiking
Source: Robert Ferris, CNBC, October 18, 2016

Corrections Corporation of America shares extended their gains Tuesday on word that a Texas facility would extend their contract. Shares spiked Monday after the company reported it is extending and amending a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the 2,400-bed South Texas Family Center in Dilley, Texas. Corrections Corp. shares closed at $14.55 on Tuesday, up 20 cents, or about 1.4 percent. The contract will extend through 2021, thought ICE will pay a lower monthly fixed rate to the company. The agreement is subject to termination upon 60-day notice. … At the end of September, both stocks posted their worst quarter in roughly 16 years.

ICE Renews Private Prison Contractor To Run Largest Family Detention Center
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, October 18, 2016

Immigration and Customs Enforcement revised and extended a contract on Monday for a private company to keep running the country’s largest family detention center as a for-profit business for another five years. ICE renewed the contract with Corrections Corporation of America, despite a recent surge of criticism against the government’s reliance on private prison contractors. The South Texas Family Residential Center, which the Obama administration hastily constructed at the the tail end of 2014 to detain a sudden influx of Central American mothers and children, has also faced its own controversies, with lawsuits questioning the legality of the White House’s family detention policy. … Under CCA’s extended contract, the company will receive less money than before to run the Southern Texas Family Residential Center, according to a news release posted to the CCA website. The contract originally awarded to CCA to run the Dilley detention center was worth nearly $1 billion over four years and the company received the money regardless of how many people were locked up there. …

Private Prisons Are Cashing In on Refugees’ Desperation
Source: Antony Lowenstein, New York Times, February 25, 2016

The Dilley center holds people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a government agency, but it is run by the Corrections Corporation of America, America’s largest private prison and detention company. It is one part of a worrisome global trend of warehousing immigrants and asylum seekers at remote sites maintained by for-profit corporations. The United Nations estimates that one in every 122 people on the planet is displaced. This is a crisis that requires a humanitarian solution; unfortunately, some people view it as a business opportunity. … It has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The company Hero Norway runs 90 refugee centers in Norway and 10 in Sweden, charging governments $31 to $75 per refugee per night. Australia’s government has contracted the company Broadspectrum to manage two detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea for asylum seekers. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government awarded the security firm Serco a seven-year contract in 2014 worth over $100 million for running the Yarl’s Wood immigrant detention center. … In its 2014 annual report, the Corrections Corporation of America worried that changes to American immigration policy could cut into the company’s bottom line.

Family Detention Centers Apply for Child Care Licenses
Source: Seth Robbins, Associated Press, October 16, 2015

A Texas agency will inspect two of the nation’s largest immigrant family detention centers to determine whether to issue them residential child care licenses as part of an effort to keep the facilities open amid a legal challenge. … The detention centers are overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and run by private prison companies, which are applying for the licenses. According to an application filed by Corrections Corporation of America, the 2,000-bed facility in Dilley would provide child care services that can include handling children at risk to themselves or others and restraining children physically. The application filed by The GEO Group, the contractor at the 500-bed facility in Karnes City, asked only for child care services. … Filings about the Dilley facility mention untreated or unrecognized ailments that resulted in children being hospitalized, lack of medicines, erroneous vaccine dosages and long waits. Corrections Corporation of America would not comment on the allegations or the licensing process, deferring to the Homeland Security statement.

Federal judge orders Obama administration to release detained mothers and children
Source: Franco Ordonez, Miami Herald, August 22, 2015

A federal judge ruled late Friday night that the Obama administration has just over two months to begin releasing hundreds of migrant mothers and children who have been locked up in government family detention centers as they await their asylum hearings. In a 15-page ruling that quoted Mahatma Gandhi, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Central California delivered a scolding rebuke of the government’s expanded use of family detention centers. But she also granted the government one of its key requests for additional time – as much as 20 days – to continue to hold mothers and children under extenuating circumstances like last year’s surge of nearly 70,000 Central American families into the United States. … Gee rejected a last minute plea by the administration to reconsider her July ruling that the government acted in violation of a 1997 settlement regarding child migrants. She called the government’s arguments improper and speculative. … Homeland Security officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but they are expected to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But they’re also likely relieved. Gee did not issue a blanket order prohibiting the detention of all families under any circumstances beyond five days as they had feared.

Dems press White House to end family detention centers
Source: Mike Lillis, The Hill, July 31, 2015

House Democrats are escalating their calls for the Obama administration to shutter the family detention centers housing thousands of illegal immigrant women and children. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, 178 Democrats contend the centers — which were established last summer, largely to accommodate the flood of immigrants arriving at the southern border – are illegal and impose prison-like conditions that risk physical and mental harm to detainees. …
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FATAL CORRECTIONS Inside the Deadly Mississippi Riot That Pushed the Justice Department to Rein In Private Prisons

Source: Janosch Delcker, The Intercept, December 17, 2016

FOR NEARLY TWO decades, the Bureau of Prisons has contracted with a handful of private companies to incarcerate thousands of non-U.S. citizens serving time for low-level federal offenses. Held in a dozen so-called “criminal alien requirement” prisons largely concentrated in remote, rural areas, the inmates in private custody are, for the most part, locked up for immigration offenses or drug violations. CAR facilities have been the target of sustained criticism from advocacy organizations, which argue that their existence reflects a two-tiered federal prison system that outsources a select population of inmates to contractors with a track record of abuse and neglect. In August, it seemed that years of pressure had finally paid off, when the Justice Department announced it would begin phasing out private prisons. … As the policies of the president-elect come into focus, it’s worth revisiting one of the incidents that prompted the DOJ’s resolve to cut ties with the industry in the first place — a deadly clash at a low-security, CCA-run facility on the outskirts of Natchez, Mississippi, that reflects how private prisons not only endanger inmates, but can also force low-wage workers from economically depressed communities into perilous circumstances. In May 2012, inmates at Adams County Correctional Center staged a protest over a litany of grievances, including claims that men had died in custody as a result of medical negligence. Though CCA officials were forewarned that dire conditions had bred a sense of desperation in the prison, they failed to prevent the escalation that followed. … CCA, now CoreCivic, runs three of the country’s CAR prisons; seven are run by the GEO Group and another two by Management and Training Corp. Like many of the isolated areas where CAR prisons operate, Adams County had a poverty rate about twice the national average. When CCA hosted its job fair in Natchez, more than 3,000 people lined up for 409 jobs. “We thought it was a federal prison … and we were under the impression that they would pay like $20 an hour,” Temple said when we met last year, in the closed bar of a casino by the Mississippi River. She was hired as a correctional officer in 2010, starting at $12.60 an hour. “Pretty good for here,” she told me. Later, she was promoted to sergeant. …

… According to federal investigations into the Adams riot, a group of Mexican inmates known as the Paisas, or “countrymen,” exercised considerable influence inside the facility, where only a fraction of the employees spoke Spanish. If inmates had complaints, they would consult with their Paisa representatives, who conveyed their concerns to prison management. In the weeks leading up to May 20, tensions had apparently risen within the group. “The Paisas felt their leadership was ineffective at communicating their grievances to prison officials since their complaints had gone unaddressed for so long,” stated an FBI affidavit later filed in cases related to the incident. The Intercept reached out to former Adams inmates who are now serving time on charges of rioting in a federal correctional facility. Responding in letters in Spanish, several described the unrest as primarily the result of conditions they felt had become increasingly dangerous and intolerable, including medical neglect, excessive use of segregation, spoiled food, a lack of interpreters, and mistreatment by staff. The Intercept is not naming the inmates who responded because of concerns about possible retaliation in their present facilities. …

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Federal Officials Ignored Years of Internal Warnings About Deaths at Private Prisons
Source: Seth Freed Wessler, The Nation, June 15, 2016

The fatal uprising at Adams was one of four riots to explode in the BOP’s private prisons since 2008, all triggered by grievances over medical care. A trove of 20,000 pages of previously unreleased monitoring reports, internal investigations, and other documents obtained through an open-records suit show that the BOP had been warned of substandard care by its own monitors for years but failed to act. … In a striking confirmation of these findings, the new records show that BOP monitors documented, between January 2007 and June 2015, the deaths of 34 inmates who were provided substandard medical care. Fourteen of these deaths occurred in prisons run by CCA. Fifteen were in prisons operated by the GEO Group. The BOP didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment or to written questions before deadline. The records and interviews with former BOP officials reveal a pattern: Despite dire reports from dozens of field monitors, top bureau officials repeatedly failed to enforce the correction of dangerous deficiencies and routinely extended contracts for prisons that failed to provide adequate medical care. …

10 indicted in Adams County prison riot
Source: Associated Press, July 24, 2013

Ten people have been indicted for their roles in a riot at a prison in Natchez that left one guard dead, federal authorities said Wednesday. The indictments, announced Wednesday by FBI Special Agent In Charge Daniel McMullen and U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Daniels, are in addition to nine others previously charged in connection with the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Center. The prison is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation’s largest private prison companies….The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after deportation for being in the country illegally….

Guard killed in prison riot / Several injured in uprising at Adams County facility
Source: Therese Apel, Clarion Ledger, May 21, 2012

An uprising in the Adams County Correctional Facility near Natchez Sunday left at least one unidentified guard dead and several more transported to the hospital, officials said. Adams County Coroner James Lee said one prison guard is dead of blunt force trauma to the head after the incident….The Adams County Correctional Facility is a $128 million, 2,567-bed prison owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. The facility houses adult male illegal immigrants for the Federal Bureau of Prisons….The disturbance started Sunday around 2:40 p.m., according to prison officials. It appears to have been the result of a power struggle among the inmates.

Miss. prison riot leaves guard dead, 8 hurt
Source: Holbrook Mohr, Associated Press, May 21, 2012
Fatal Mississippi prison riot quelled, authorities say
Source: Stephanie Gallman, CNN, May 21, 2012
SWAT Teams have entered the Adams County Prison
Source: WLBT, May 20, 2012
Mississippi Prison on Lockdown After Guard Dies
Source: Robbie Brown, New York Times, May 22, 2012

Rep. Jim Merrill took bus company payments while promoting school fleet privatization

Source: Paul Bowers, Post and Courier, December 17, 2016

When Berkeley County Republican state Rep. Jim Merrill introduced a bill in 2012 to privatize the state school bus fleet, the bus management company Student Transportation of America was quietly paying him to help promote its services. The bill came at a time when school leaders around the state — and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — were reckoning with one of the oldest, most polluting, least reliable bus fleets in the country. It also came at a time when STA says it was paying Merrill, who runs consulting firm Geechie Communications, at least $3,000 a month to help write business proposals to school districts across the Southeast. … While Merrill was indicted last week on 30 ethics and corruption-related charges, one portion of the complaint against him highlights what many see as a continual state problem with getting students to schools. South Carolina is the only state in the U.S. that owns and maintains buses for most of its school districts. The fleet is long overdue for replacement after decades of underfunding by state lawmakers, and the average bus on the fleet is now 15-and-a-half years old with 236,000 miles on the odometer. While the state owns and maintains more than 5,600 buses, some districts with the means to do so have begun buying their own buses to avoid reliability issues. Districts are also responsible for providing bus drivers, in many cases contracting out to companies like Durham School Services in Charleston County. … In stark contrast to the state fleet, STA says the 13,000 buses in its national fleet average just under 6 years old. The company put in a bid to provide bus services for the Charleston County School District in 2015, but it refused to use state buses, proposing instead that the district lease 370 new buses from the company. STA lost out when the district renewed its contract with Durham. …

Senators Push For Mass Student Loan Forgiveness Before Trump Takes Office

Source: Molly Hensley-Clancy, Buzzfeed News, December 19, 2016

Democratic senators are urging the Education Department to rush through tens of thousands of requests for student loan relief in the final weeks of the Obama administration, saying the government should race to clear the debts of students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges before the Trump team takes over. … Illinois senator Dick Durbin says he has repeatedly urged education secretary John King to make debt relief a top priority in the final weeks of his term. “We don’t know how committed the next administration will be to providing federal student loan relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges,” he said, “but we know that right now there are thousands of students out there who are eligible for this relief under the law and have not gotten it yet.” But no matter how quickly the Education Department moves through the claims from students who say they were defrauded — 80,000 of which have been submitted so far — most are likely to be left on the table when Donald Trump takes office. While much of the Obama administration’s late-term legacy is built on easily-overturned regulatory actions and executive orders, its debt forgiveness efforts are on even shakier foundations. The Education Department chose to prioritize so-called borrower defense claims from for-profit college students who say they were defrauded, but Trump’s administration can simply choose not to deal with them. … The Education Department has approved debt relief for more than 15,000 former students at Corinthian Colleges, who it determined had been defrauded by the for-profit college chain. But it has so far resisted calls from Durbin and other Democrats, like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, to move more agressively, by automatically forgiving such loans without requiring students to submit claims. …

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For-Profit College Ordered To Forgive $24 Million In Student Loans
Source: Molly Hensley-Clancy, Buzzfeed News, September 12, 2016

A large for-profit college company, Bridgepoint Education, has been ordered to forgive $23.5 million in private student loans after lying to students about how much the loans would cost. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday that Bridgepoint Education, a publicly traded company in San Diego that owns two universities, had run an illegal lending scheme, encouraging students to fill the gaps in their education funding with costly private loans that the school falsely promised would cost only $25 a month. In reality, the CFPB says, the loans were much more expensive. Bridgepoint, which owns Ashford University in California and University of the Rockies in Colorado, will have to refund all payments made by students on the private loans — about $5 million in refunds and $18 million in discharged debt — in addition to paying an $8 million penalty. … Federal rules say that for-profit colleges can get only 90% of their revenue from federal student loans, a provision meant to keep for-profit colleges from becoming too reliant on taxpayer money. … The Justice Department is also looking into this lending scheme at Bridgepoint. The department said in July that it was investigating whether the company had overstated the amount of money it got from private loan programs, violating the 90/10 rule. …

Ransomware recovery lessons from an Indiana county: Budgets matter, people matter

Source: Colin Wood, State Scoop, December 15, 2016

The Nov. 4 incident, which took hold of 600 county computers and 75 servers, forced a local jail to revert to pen and paper and had police officers calling other agencies for criminal record look-ups. The county paid a $21,000 ransom following the advice of its insurance carrier, Travelers Insurance, and commissioners subsequently approved three U.S. Signal contracts for defense and offsite storage totaling almost $200,000. The trojan that infected county networks – CryptoLocker – is one of the most common variants of ransomware found in the wild. When the malware infects a computer system it will encrypt data and create a personal key that is stored by the attackers. Victims will be asked to pay a ransom to unlock their files. … Cannon, who had been IT director just two months when the incident hit, traced the incident to three factors:

  1. Four years prior, the county’s IT budget had been cut from almost $1 million to about $400,000, reducing the department from 11 staff members to six.
  2. The county had no offsite backup.
  3. The ransomware made its way onto county networks via a vulnerability left behind by a vendor that the county should have monitored more closely.

An ongoing legal investigation prevented Cannon from revealing who the vendor was, or exactly what or where the vulnerability was. The bottom line, she said, is that the county is now watching its vendors more closely. …

… The problem began four years ago, when the county council slashed the IT budget, Cannon said. There was “so much going on with politics at that time,” she said, and implementation of the tighter budget was hasty and uncoordinated. A vote on a Tuesday determined the fate of five county workers on that Thursday. …

Rural/Metro Misses City Mandated Ambulance Response Times Again In October

Source: Tom Jones and Mari Payton, NBC San Diego, December 8, 2016

Rural/Metro ambulances have failed to meet mandated emergency response times again in the City of San Diego, according to a new report released to NBC 7 Investigates.  This latest report shows the ambulance company, now owned by American Medical Response or AMR, missed the city mandated response times in six of the eight medical response zones in San Diego for the month of October. … According to the company’s contract with the city, it is required to meet a response time of 12 minutes or less, 90% of the time.  In an email, Gina La Mantia, Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the City of San Diego said, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is “disappointed” Rural/Metro ambulances have not met response time goals but the company has “demonstrated marked improvement in November.” A former Rural/Metro emergency medical technician, EMT, told NBC 7 Investigates he witnessed situations where no ambulances were available to respond to calls. … In a ‘Level Zero’ situation, a page is sent out to all emergency crews alerting paramedics on calls to finish as soon as possible so they can be placed back into the rotation.  Ross said he witnessed ‘Level Zero’ alerts sent to emergency personnel on a weekly basis.  NBC 7 Investigates reached out to AMR, the company that owns Rural/Metro, for comment regarding not meeting mandated response times and ‘Level Zero’ situations. The company declined an on-camera interview and provided a statement to NBC 7 Investigates. …

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Ambulance Response Times Benchmark Met, Operator Told Council
Source: Alexander Nguyen, Times of San Diego, November 12, 2015

Officials with American Medical Response said Thursday they’re now meeting the city of San Diego’s benchmark ambulance response times, following months of shortfalls by predecessor Rural/Metro Corp. At a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, AMR Operations Manager Mike Rice said five ambulances have been added to their San Diego fleet. AMR, which recently completed its purchase of Rural/Metro, became compliant with the city’s response time goals Wednesday, Rice said. The times vary depending on the zone. … The firm is required under a five-year contract with the city — that it assumed after the Rural/Metro buyout — to meet certain response times in four zones 90 percent of the time. However, data from July, August and September showed that the benchmarks were met between 84 percent and 87 percent of the time. Rice told committee members that they haven’t been able to fill all the regular shifts in San Diego, even by offering overtime to employees, so medics were brought in from other regions to fill the void. Those unfamiliar with protocols particular to San Diego are being paired up with employees with experience in the city, he said.

AMR Pledges To Boost San Diego Ambulance Response Times
Source: Steve Walsh, KPBS, November 6, 2015

American Medical Response said it is bringing experts from inside the company to assess why Rural Metro was not meeting the requirement that its ambulances be on scene within 12 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. The new company has already brought in five additional ambulances to serve the city. … Rural Metro had submitted a plan to correct problems to the city on Oct. 16, before the sale was finalized. AMR plans to submit a correction plan to the city. At the moment, the new company does not plan to combine operations with any of its suburban operations.

City didn’t track ambulance complaints
Source: Jeff McDonald and Lauryn Schroeder, San Diego Union-Tribune, November 4, 2015

Under its contract, Rural Metro is required to report complaints like Miranda’s to the San Diego Fire Department every month. The idea is for city officials to track the number of dissatisfied customers — and monitor how the company responds. Section 7.5 of the agreement is titled “Monthly Records,” a paragraph that calls for Rural Metro to provide records detailing the company’s clinical and operational performance within the first 15 days of the next calendar month. … Deputy Fire Chief Colin Stowell said the department does not enforce that provision of the agreement — and hasn’t asked for complaint records or responses in years. After being asked to explain why the city is not enforcing the contract, Stowell said the city would begin collecting the information.

Rival buys Rural Metro ambulance company
Source: Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 28, 2015

The sale of Rural Metro Corp., which has a city contract to provide ambulance services in San Diego, closed on Wednesday. The Scottsdale, Arizona, company was sold to the parent company of rival American Medical Response, or AMR, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado. The sale price was announced as “approximately $620 million.” The company said Rural Metro generates $590 million in annual revenue, and the buyer expects operating savings of up to $28 million through 2017 by integrating the two services. …

Ambulance firm seeks better response times
Source: Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 26, 2015

Fined $230,000 earlier this month for failing to meet required response times, San Diego’s ambulance provider said Monday it plans to offer double-time pay to current employees and $3,000 signing bonuses to qualified applicants to reduce delays in service. Rural Metro Corp. also will add 800-plus unit hours per week, for a new total of 5,453 hours a week, so more paramedics and emergency medical technicians are available to transport patients. … Rural Metro likely could have been sanctioned for failing to meet response standards between January and June except a glitch in the city’s computer system incorrectly recorded times for 911 calls and the resulting dispatches and arrivals.

City Fines Ambulance Company for Missing Response Time Goals
Source: Wendy Fry, NBC San Diego, October 21, 2015

The city of San Diego is fining its ambulance contractor, Rural Metro, $230,000 for failing to meet emergency response-time requirements, according to a city compliance report. The company’s contract with the city requires its ambulances to arrive at high-priority medical emergency calls within 12 minutes at least 90 percent of the time. Documents released to NBC 7 Investigates show Rural Metro has not met that 90 percent mark during the last three months. According to the report, ambulances arrived within the 12 minute time window 87 percent of the time.

Editorial: Ambulance delays must be reduced
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, October 16, 2015

The Rural/Metro explanation is a plausible explanation for some of the problems with ambulance delays, but it is not an acceptable one for a matter involving public safety. Fixing this problem shouldn’t just be a top priority for Mainar. It should be for Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council as well. With Rural/Metro having secured a new five-year contract with the city in June, the company might not be inclined to address this issue with the urgency it deserves.
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ICE releases nearly 500 from Dilley, Karnes City detention centers over weekend

Source: Jason Buch, My San Antonio, December 6, 2016

A legal aid group representing immigrant families at two controversial detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley said the federal government released 460 women and children, about 25 percent of those being held, over the weekend. Some of the families had been in detention only a short time and have not yet had their credible fear interviews, the first step in the asylum process, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services said in an announcement about the releases. … ICE, however, said the releases “were scheduled as a part of normal operations and not in response to the court ruling.” “ICE is currently reviewing the court’s ruling on the matter of the operating license for the South Texas Family Residential Center,” spokesman Carl Rusnok said. “Operational activities continue without interruption at this time.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought licenses for the facilities last year after a judge in California ruled that the Karnes and Dilley centers were in violation of a court settlement governing the treatment of immigrant children. …

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Immigration detention centers will continue operating despite judge’s ruling
Source: Julian Aguilar, Texas Tribune, December 6, 2016

Two privately run immigration detention centers in Texas will continue their normal operations despite a Travis County judge’s ruling last week that prevents the state from licensing the facilities as child care centers. Late Friday, state District Judge Karin Crump ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services could not issue the licenses, which are needed to comply with a federal judge’s order issued last year. The centers are in Dilley and Karnes City and are operated by Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, respectively. The companies are under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run the centers holding some of the tens of thousands of Central American women and children that have illegally crossed into Texas since 2014. The centers have been criticized by rights groups for allegedly operating more like prisons. … In an email an ICE spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the ruling but said “operational activities continue without interruption.” The Texas Attorney General’s office filed an appeal of the ruling on Monday but declined to give additional details about the case.

Texas Judge Says “No More!” to Licensing Detention Facilities as Day Care Centers
Source: Ruth McCambridge, NonProfit Quarterly, December 6, 2016

In Travis County, Texas, Judge Karin Crump has ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services must end the practice of licensing immigrant detention centers run by private prison groups as childcare facilities, whether or not they meet basic standards. The Texas facilities in question are in Karnes and Dilley; together, they can hold 3400 women and children. They are run by the two mega-groups in the private prison industry, GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, and for the convenience of the feds are designated “state-regulated childcare centers.” The state made the concession, apparently, to “help out” the federal government after it was successfully sued twice for the conditions in which children were being held. The latest suit was brought in California and produced a ruling that advocates hoped would prevent further large-scale detention of families.

Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit opposing the use of private prisons, brought the suit, using as counsel Jerry Wesevich, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA). Wesevich says there was never any intention of putting the child’s interests first in this arrangement:

The state’s executives admitted in documents and testimony that DFPS wanted to license these facilities to help the federal government, and not the children. Motive matters, and we believe it was the key to the case.

My Turn: What it’s really like inside immigration ‘baby jails’
Source: Sambo Duz, Arizona Republic, September 20, 2016

I recently spent a week at the euphemistically named South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, the largest of the Department of Homeland Security’s “baby jails.” As a volunteer attorney with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, I conducted legal orientations and worked with recently arrived mothers and children to prepare them for the first step in the very long asylum process: the credible fear interview, in which asylum seekers must demonstrate a credible fear of returning to their country and a significant possibility of establishing asylum eligibility. … In the Dilley detention center, the tables are round and the outlets are covered — the place is baby-proofed, because babies are among the detained. Several times each day, a Corrections Corporation of America guard would knock on the door of the legal consultation room and ask the mother I was meeting with whether this lost, crying toddler was hers. … Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that children should not be detained in unlicensed and secure detention centers and that the government’s detention policy violates the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which governs the standards for the detention, release and treatment of minors in immigration custody. Indeed, as a recent report by Human Rights First details, detention for any amount of time exacerbates the trauma these children have already suffered. And a growing body of medical literature has found that detention can have long-lasting health and developmental consequences for children. … Last month, Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the establishment of a subcommittee to evaluate whether DHS should follow the lead of the Department of Justice and phase out the use of private prisons. This announcement comes on the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement soliciting proposals for 1,000 additional family detention beds in Texas. …

Largest Private Prison Company Could Lose Lucrative Family Detention Contract
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, August 12, 2016

The country’s largest private prison company saw its stock price dip this month, after revealing to investors that it might lose a lucrative contract to lock up migrant families in south Texas. Corrections Corporation of America reported in an Aug. 3 earnings call that it has presented a new plan to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reduce costs at the South Texas Family Residential Center, located an hour south of San Antonio. … Immigration authorities have been shopping around Texas for a new family detention center that might replace the Dilley facility or a similar facility in Karnes City, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Losing the contract would put a major dent in CCA’s revenues. The 2,400-bed Dilley facility generated $244.7 million for the company last year, according to its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February ― more than 13 percent of the company’s total revenue. …

Licensing of Detention Centers Violates State Law, Hurts Families, Attorneys Say
Source: Alexa Garcia-Ditta, Texas Observer, May 14, 2016

Attorneys representing detained immigrant women and children argued in court Friday that Texas is violating state law and jeopardizing families by approving child care licenses for the state’s two family detention centers. Lawyers for the state and private prison companies that operate the facilities maintained that the families’ lawsuit will keep Texas from ensuring that children are fully protected. … Robert Doggett and Jerry Wesevich — Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorneys representing the plaintiffs — argued before Travis County Judge Karin Crump that DFPS that does not have the legislative authority to issue licenses to immigrant detention centers. The state’s main motivation, they said, is keeping them open and in compliance with the 1997 Flores v. Meese agreement, which prohibits detention of children in unlicensed facilities. Last summer, a federal judge in California reaffirmed the Flores agreement and ordered that children in unlicensed centers be released. … Jay Brown, an attorney representing the Corrections Corporation of America that operates the Dilley facility, argued that the immigrant facilities do not meet the state’s definition of “secure detention center,” which the Legislature wrote before the centers began housing children. …

Judge weighs fate of South Texas family immigration detention centers
Jazmine Ulloa, American-Statesman, May 13, 2016

As long as immigrant family detention centers remain open in Texas, the state Department of Family and Protective Services should be allowed to regulate them to protect the safety and welfare of immigrant children, state lawyers argued Friday. In a Travis County hearing, lawyers with the Texas attorney general’s office sought to show the benefits of allowing the state agency to provide child care licenses to the controversial facilities in South Texas. … State District Judge Karin Crump on Friday extended a temporary restraining order against the Department of Family and Protective Services, keeping the agency from issuing a child care license to at least one of the centers. Now, she is weighing whether to issue a temporary injunction that would invalidate the new rules all together. … On the other side, immigration lawyers and three immigrant detained mothers argued that jail-like facilities are no place for children. The mothers, who were brought in from Dilley, took the stand in bright T-shirts and jeans they said had been handed to them by detention center officials. They said they escaped gang violence and terror with their children only to end up in a place where they feel incarcerated. Their children have grown depressed and have trouble sleeping at night as guards shuffle through their rooms about every 30 minutes, they said. They said they are served the same dishes over and over, and the water tastes like chlorine and makes their children sick. …
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Another death at Eloy migrant-detention center

Source: Daniel Gonzalez, Arizona Republic, November 28, 2016

Another detainee from the deadliest immigration detention center in the nation died this week. The  detainee, a 36-year-old woman from Guatemala, died Sunday at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. She was being held at the Eloy Detention Center, which an investigation by The Arizona Republic found to have the highest number of deaths in the U.S. … Calderon is the third person in ICE custody to die since the start of fiscal year 2017 on Oct. 1 and the 15th tied to the Eloy Detention Center since 2003. The 15 deaths represent 9 percent of the 165 immigration detainees who have died in ICE custody since 2003, according to ICE statistics. A 2015 analysis of ICE data by The Republic found that there have been more deaths tied to the Eloy Detention Center than any other detention facility in the nation. …

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Guatemalan Detainee Dies In ICE Custody In Arizona
Source: Roque Planas, Huffington Post, November 29, 2016

A 36-year-old Guatamalan woman died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sunday, the third death of a detainee in two months. Raquel Calderón de Hildago died at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center in Arizona after a series of seizures, according to an ICE press release. Border Patrol agents caught her crossing into the U.S. from Mexico illegally on Nov. 17, according to ICE. She did not have a criminal record.   Calderón was sent to Eloy Detention Center on Nov. 23 to await deportation proceedings, but was rushed to the hospital by ambulance after the seizures started, ICE said. Some 15 immigrant detainees have died while confined at Eloy since 2003, according to The Arizona Republic ― the most of any immigrant detention center. Five deaths at Eloy since 2005 have been suicides, Latino USA reports. One was José de Jesús Deniz Sahagún, a 31-year-old Mexican national who was found dead at Eloy three days after being locked up there in May 2015. He was found with a sock stuffed down his throat in solitary confinement in an apparent suicide, according to two-part series by Latino USA. …

Immigration Detention Center in Arizona Failed to Contain Measles Outbreak
Source: Julia Preston, New York Times, July 12, 2016

Health officials in Arizona are pressing federal officials for better cooperation after an outbreak of measles at an immigration detention center was prolonged because some employees were slow to be vaccinated. The outbreak started in late May in the detention center in Eloy, Ariz., and has grown to 22 cases, currently the largest episode in the country of the disease, which was once eradicated in the United States. The cases include nine employees of the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency. … The facility, 65 miles southeast of Phoenix, holds about 1,250 immigrants from many countries, both men and women, who are awaiting court proceedings or deportation. They include migrants who have come in recent months from three violence-torn countries in Central America. The center is supervised by the federal agency but operated by a private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, which has more than 300 employees. …

MEASLES: Shots finally on rise
Source: Tri Valley Central, July 8, 2016

Almost 75 Corrections Corporation of America employees stationed at the Eloy Detention Center got vaccinated on Thursday and Friday of last week after an article appeared in the Casa Grande Dispatch detailing the low number of employees who had provided proof of immunity, according to Pinal County Health Director Tom Schryer. … Of the 353 CCA employees, 317 have now gotten vaccinated or provided proof of immunity. …

Largest US measles outbreak in Arizona
Source: Associated Press, July 7, 2016

Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated. Authorities have confirmed 22 measles cases in Arizona since late May. They all stem from the Eloy Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility managed by the private Corrections Corporation of America. … The facility includes about 350 CCA employees and an unknown number of ICE staffers, although Schryer estimates it’s about 100. ICE doesn’t publicly release staffing levels, nor does it require employees to be immunized. There are currently over 1,200 detainees being held at the facility. …

Prison employees risk more cases
Source: Tanner Clinch, TriValley Central, June 30, 2016

Although the entire detainee population at Eloy Detention Center has been inoculated for measles, mumps and rubella, as many as 40 percent of the facility’s employees have not provided proof of immunity to health officials. At the beginning of the measles outbreak that started at the detention center May 26, health officials had the facility’s leadership send an urgent request to all employees to provide proof of immunity. While the majority have provided their paperwork, more than 100 employees have not, according to Tom Schryer, director of Pinal County Public Health. … The facility is owned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, contracted out to be run by Corrections Corporation of America, and there are various subcontractors and federal employees throughout the facility. Other than the federal employees who do health work at the facility, none of the employees are required by law to show proof of immunity in order to work and cannot be barred from working even if there is an active outbreak. …

Health Department Confirms 19th Case of Measles at Eloy Detention Center
Source: Miriam Wasser, Phoenix New Times, June 27, 2016

Despite mitigation efforts, a measles outbreak at the Eloy Detention Center in Pinal County keeps getting worse. Over the weekend, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced the 19th confirmed case and expanded the list of potentially contaminated areas in Pinal and Maricopa counties. (See below for full list.) The facility, located about 60 miles south of Phoenix, is owned by a for-profit company, Corrections Corporation of America, and houses about 1,500 immigrants who are awaiting the outcome of their deportation proceedings. … It’s unclear how many people have been exposed or when the outbreak will be contained, but Pyritz says the detention center is taking precautions to keep sick detainees isolated and to get everyone on the premises vaccinated. Pyritz was unable to say how many people remain unvaccinated. …

CCA irons out agreement to house inmates in Arizona prison
Source: Nashville Business Journal – 12:09 PM CST Friday, February 24, 2006

Corrections Corp. of America has signed a deal with the city of Eloy, Ariz., to house U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees through an agreement between the federal government and the city. The agreement enables ICE to hold detainees in CCA’s 1,500-bed Eloy Detention Center. As of Feb. 23, that prison had a total population of 920 inmates. In January, the Federal Bureau of Prisons notified Nashville-based CCA (NYSE: CXW) that it would not renew an option to have inmates held at the Eloy facility. Eloy has housed federal inmates as well as immigration detainees. The detainees were held through an agreement between ICE and the Bureau of Prisons. The way this new agreement works, ICE contracts with the city which, in turn, contracts with CCA to house the detainees. The company expects that the facility “will be substantially occupied” by ICE detainees.

CCA operates 63 correctional facilities, including 39 it owns, in 19 states and Washington D.C.

Woman who used charter school money for Mercedes-Benz sentenced to prison

Source: Alan Johnson, Columbus Dispatch, November 28, 2016

A Columbus woman who used money from a startup charter school in Powell to buy a $40,000 Mercedes-Benz among other things will serve three years in prison for her crime. Wendy Marshall, 39, was sentenced today by Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge Everett H. Krueger. Marshall pleaded guilty to taking $88,750 earmarked to open Directions Academy, a new charter school on Powell Rd. Marshall siphoned off the money for personal use. … The crime was uncovered by Auditor Dave Yost office following an investigation earlier this year triggered by a financial audit. The audit showed Ohio Department of Education funds were not used to open the charter school as intended, instead being spent by Marshall for a Mercedes-Benz, airline tickets, sports equipment and other items. …

Chicago nursing home fined after residents overdose on heroin

Source: David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2016

State and federal health officials are seeking penalties totaling more than $100,000 from a North Side nursing home after five residents overdosed on heroin inside the facility in February, the Tribune has learned. The residents of Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center were hospitalized and recovered, but at least two used heroin again hours after they were returned to the facility, even though they were supposed to be on close watch, Illinois public health department inspectors allege. One of the two overdosed again. … Illinois law requires nursing homes to notify the Department of Public Health of unusual events that put patients at risk, but state officials said they learned of that case only when the Tribune filed a query about it. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has imposed civil monetary penalties totaling $76,000 for alleged violations in the February incident. Continental is contesting an additional $25,000 fine from the state public health department, which says the facility failed to properly monitor and treat residents with drug addictions. … Continental, which has housed a mix of older residents and younger adults with mental illness, did not admit deficiencies when it outlined corrective actions it would take — plans that were accepted by CMS in April. “The facility has ceased admitting any residents with active substance use,” its plan said. In a brief interview with the Tribune, Continental part-owner Moishe Gubin said he was not aware of any heroin overdoses or other problems at the facility. … Continental is part of a rapidly growing, South Bend, Ind.-based nursing home operation that includes more than 50 facilities in eight states, records show. Their 13 northern Illinois facilities include one that earned a top, five-star rating for overall quality from CMS. Four others, including Continental, were given a one-star quality rating, the lowest possible, and police and public health inspection records have alleged unsanitary conditions and negligent care at Continental and some other northern Illinois homes. Medicaid and Medicare last year paid those 13 facilities a total of roughly $150 million, and the facilities reported a combined 2015 profit of $6 million, according to cost reports filed with the state. Similar data was not available for a recently added 14th northern Illinois facility. …