Investigation launched in school food incident

Source: By Dawn Marks, The Oklahoman, Jan 11, 2006

BETHANY – Western Oaks Middle School students were back in school Monday after being served food that was left out over the holiday break. In addition, Sodexho, the service company that provides food to the school, is investigating the incident to make sure it doesn’t happen again, company spokeswoman Stacy Bowman-Hade said. Some students became ill Thursday after eating hamburgers that were wrapped in foil and left in the food warmer Dec. 20, the last day of classes before break.

Private prison options offered

Source: Michael Erskine, Commercial Appeal (TN), January 10, 2006

A coalition opposed to private management of Shelby County’s jail and prison populations presented the Commission on Monday with a list of possible money-saving alternatives. A report by the local Coalition Against Private Prisons and the North Carolina-based Grassroots Leadership called for alternate sentencing for people convicted of misdemeanor offenses, as well as the transfer of state felons out of the Correction Center to make room for more jail inmates. …. The report comes a month after Sheriff Mark Luttrell and Mayor A C Wharton announced they would not support any proposal to privately manage the county’s jail and prison populations, halting an internal review of two privatization bids. The GEO Group and Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America had submitted proposals in hopes of landing a lucrative contract with county government to privatize the jail and Correction Center.

Editorial: Accurate is better than fast

Source: Journal Sentinel (WI), Jan. 11, 2006

The statewide voting database has yet to materialize. Election officials missed the federally mandated deadline – a development that prompted Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to announce recently that the city would go ahead with a purge of dubious names from its voter list. State election officials had recommended that the city do the purge on the new system, which they had thought would be online by now. A good deal of the blame for the delay doubtless goes to Accenture, the information management company that got the $13.9 million contract to set up the new database. But some of the delay is due to the commendable resolve of election officials to set up the system right rather than fast.
….. The software is not yet up to speed, for which Accenture, whose bid had been deemed the best, deserves the blame. The state is rightly withholding money from the firm until after it satisfactorily completes its contract.

Sodexho to pay $61,000 to settle San Jose sex harassment case

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal – 11:14 AM PST Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006

Sodexho Management Inc. has agreed to pay $61,000 to a custodian it employed at Agnew Development Center in San Jose who complained of sexual harassment by a male nurse, federal officials said Tuesday. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Gaithersburg, Md.-based Sodexho denied wrongdoing in the case but agreed to settle after voluntary mediation efforts. …. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Sodexho failed to investigate or stop the harassment, and they also retaliated against Sanchez for reporting it. The retaliation included tasking Ms. Sanchez with more difficult work, reducing her workload, and issuing disciplinary write-ups.

Prison fight stirs up crowding debate

Source: GWEN FLORIO, Great Falls Tribune (MT), Jan 11, 2006

The weekend fight at the Crossroads Correctional in Shelby that injured two correctional guards comes after repeated complaints that the state’s only for-profit private prison is too crowded. Still, both the Legislature during its regular session last year, and the Corrections Advisory Council more recently, rejected plans to expand the prison. …… The incident is being investigated by three different offices — the state Corrections Department, the Toole County Sheriff and the private Corrections Corp. of America, which runs the prison. None is releasing names of the five officers or about a half-dozen inmates involved in the incident, which lasted a scant six minutes.

Jail privatization plan piques Snyder County's interest

Source: By Marcia Moore, The Daily Item (PA), January 11, 2006

MIDDLEBURG — The Snyder County commissioners are closely following Beaver County’s attempt at privatizing its county jail. The commissioners contacted their counterparts in Beaver County after learning of their plan to save an estimated $1.6 million a year by hiring a private management firm to operate their prison. ….. The Snyder County Jail, which can house about 175 inmates and employs 32 full-time corrections officers and 18 part-time officers, has cost the county more than $2 million a year to operate. In the past two years, the prison board has taken steps to reduce expenses, including a recent move to no longer house federal inmates and reduce the inmate population to between 90 and 100. Beaver County officials said they anticipate saving $5 million over three years by having CiviGenics, of Massachusetts, operate their jail, which holds 400 inmates and has 70 full-time and part-time corrections officers. The union representing the jail employees [ed. note: SEIU] has been trying to negotiate an alternative way to lower costs.

Private firm promises to save millions by taking over health care at prisons

Source: Mark Hollis, Sun Sentinel (FL), January 10, 2006

Health care for inmates in all South Florida state prisons is being turned over this month to a national firm that promises to save the state millions of dollars a year. Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration is touting the boon to taxpayers that comes with putting Nashville-based Prison Health Services in charge of caring for more than 14,000 inmates in 13 prisons in southern Florida, including those in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Some legislators are wary, in part because Prison Health’s bid for the work was tens of millions of dollars lower than its nearest rival bidders. They worry the company will take shortcuts that could bring unnecessary health risks to the prisons, and hidden costs like inmate lawsuits.

Bill aims to help state workers' pay

Source: Michele McNeil, Indianapolis Star (IN), January 10, 2006

Legislators unveiled a proposal Monday that they say would improve salary conditions for state employees and pensions for those who have lost their jobs because of government cuts or privatization. Senate Bill 340, which will be heard in a Senate committee within the next few weeks, would allow employees to be vested in their pensions — regardless of years worked — when they are laid off because of outsourcing or an office closure. Now, employees get pension benefits only after working for the state for 10 years. …. Unions representing state employees say legislators aren’t doing much to help those state workers who have lost their jobs since Gov. Mitch Daniels took office. His administration has, for example, outsourced prison food service and shut the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center. “I don’t see how this bill protects the wages of state employees,” said Lettie Oliver, associate director, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Council 62.

Privatization pleases officials

Source: By LYNN HORSLEY, The Kansas City Star (MO), Jan. 05, 2006

Kansas City’s experiment with private management of Kemper Arena and the American Royal complex appears to be working. In 2005, paid attendance was up 75 percent, the number of events increased 74 percent, and several events scored record attendance. Perhaps more importantly, the floors and rest rooms are clean, and concessions are greatly improved. City Council members, who admitted they were skeptical when Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum took over management of the publicly owned complex in fall 2003, said Wednesday that they were pleased with the results.

Private Company Takes Over Prison

Source: Associated Press (IN), January 5, 2006

NEW CASTLE, Ind. — A Florida-based company has taken over operations at an eastern Indiana state prison and plans to quickly begin adding inmates to the facility. About 20 new inmates are expected to arrive at the prison each day this week, said Craig Hanks, superintendent of the prison for GEO Group Inc. ….. GEO Group contracted with the Indiana Department of Correction to assume management of the prison for an initial term of four years with three two-year extensions.