Tag Archives: Idaho

N. Idaho contract custodian charged with stealing courthouse TV

Source: Associated Press, March 14, 2014

A contract custodian police say stole a plasma television from the Nez Perce County courthouse where he cleaned has been charged with felony burglary. The Lewiston Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1gqgeeD) that 29-year-old Wyatt T. Swanson was charged Thursday. Court documents say a bailiff saw Swanson’s pickup backed up to the courthouse on a Saturday morning earlier this month. … Records at the pawn shop showed Swanson pawned the television on the same day his pickup was seen at the courthouse. Swanson is the owner of Vanguard Cleaning Systems, and has a contract with the county to clean office buildings.

The Case For Private Prisons

Source: Steve Owen, Senior Director of Public Affairs for CCA, Politico, February 28, 2014

…I also want to address the issue of minimum-occupancy guarantees. Fewer than half of our contracts have them, and those that do contain explicit provisions allowing our government partners to terminate the agreement in a short period of time if the capacity is no longer needed. The idea that somehow our partners are locked into space they aren’t using is grounded more in politics than in fact. … Where we can and do make a difference is in being an available tool for governments, providing them critical flexibility to meet their changing needs, while offering inmates services that can help turn their lives around.

The Private Prison Racket
Source: Matt Stroud, Politico, February 24, 2014

Companies that manage prisons on our behalf have abysmal records. So why do we keep giving them business? …

… As inmate populations have soared over the last 30 years, private prisons have emerged as an appealing solution to cash-starved states. Privately run prisons are cheaper and can be set up much faster than those run by the government. Nearly a tenth of all U.S. prisoners are housed in private prisons, as are almost two-thirds of immigrants in detention centers—and the companies that run them have cashed in. CCA, the oldest and largest modern private prison company, took over its first facility in 1983. Now it’s a Wall Street darling with a market cap of nearly $3.8 billion. Similarly, GEO Group, the second largest private-prison operator, last week reported $1.52 billion in revenue for 2013, its most ever and more than a hundredfold increase since the company went public ten years ago.

But while privatizing prisons may appear at first glance like yet another example of how the free market beats the public sector, one need only look at CCA’s record in Idaho—which recently cancelled its contract with CCA—to wonder whether outsourcing this particular government function is such a good idea. ….

Reality Has Turned the Tide Against Private Prisons

Source: Donald Cohen, Huffington Post, January 21, 2014

… Coast-to-coast, governments are realizing that outsourcing corrections to for-profit corporations is a bad deal for taxpayers, and for public safety. That realization isn’t always a result of facts (A recent editorial in the Arizona Republic noted that pro-private prison lawmakers in that state repealed a statutory requirement to compare costs between public and private facilities when those comparisons showed the public prisons to be a better deal.) Rather, the tide has turned against private prisons because reality is setting in….

Locked up and Shipped Away: Interstate Prisoner Transfers & the Private Prison Industry

Source: Holly Kirby, Grassroots Leadership, November 18, 2013

…As part of the ongoing efforts to create truly just public safety policy, this report examines state governments’ practice of transferring incarcerated people out of their home states to for-profit private prisons across the United States.

Major Findings:
– Interstate transfer of prisoners, or the practice of transferring incarcerated people to out-of-state prisons, is detrimental criminal justice policy that hurts families. The practice impedes prisoner rehabilitation by diminishing prisoners’ ties to family and community, compromising rather than enhancing the public good.
– Interstate transfers of prisoners to private for-profit prisons serve the interests of an industry that views prisoners as commodities and perpetuate our nation’s mass incarceration crisis.
– Today there are more than 10,500 state prisoners incarcerated in private for-profit prisons outside of their home states.
– Currently, four states – California, Vermont, Idaho, and Hawai’i – house prisoners in out-of-state private prisons, while West Virginia is moving forward with a plan that could move up to 400 prisoners to private out-of-state prisons.
– With little public scrutiny, state officials have pointed to overcrowding as justification for sending incarcerated people to out-of-state prisons, rather than prioritizing decarceration and sustainable alternatives to incarceration to address prison overcrowding.
– The lack of state laws regulating interstate transfers of prisoners has allowed state officials to send incarcerated people to out-of-state private prisons en masse without their consent.
– Currently, prisoners in out-of-state private facilities are held approximately 450 miles to nearly 3,000 miles from their home states.
– Using the most recent available contracts and government reports, we estimate that states will collectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars this year incarcerating state prisoners in private prisons outside of their home states….

Two Largest Private Prison Companies Won’t Bid on Idaho Prison Contract

Source: Rebecca Boone, Associated Press, November 8, 2013

The two biggest private prison companies in the nation say they don’t want the contract to run a troubled Idaho prison, and that could shrink the pool of potential bidders to just two smaller companies. GEO Group sent a letter to Idaho Department of Correction officials last month to say thanks but no thanks to the chance to bid on a contract to run the Idaho Correctional Center. Corrections Corporation of America, which currently operates the facility, has also said it won’t seek a new contract when its current $29-million-a-year deal with the state expires next summer. That leaves two smaller companies in the pool of likely bidders: The Centerville, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., and Community Education Centers, which is based in West Caldwell, New Jersey….
Idaho prison contract up for bid
Source: Associated Press, June 19, 2013

Idaho prison leaders are looking for a new company to run the state’s largest prison after Corrections Corporation of America admitted to understaffing and overbilling for its work operating the Idaho Correctional Center. But the Idaho Department of Correction won’t be allowed to submit its own bid or take over operations at the prison south of Boise, because Board of Correction Chairwoman Robin Sandy said that would amount to expanding state government.

The three-member Board of Correction made the decision during a meeting Tuesday evening, opting not to let an automatic two-year extension of CCA’s $29.9 million contract kick in when the current contract expires on June 30, 2014. The board also decided that it would consolidate medical services at all the prisons under one statewide medical contract, rather than keeping the medical care services at the Idaho Correctional Center separate. Currently, Corizon provides medical care at every prison in the state except for Idaho Correctional Center, where it is handled by CCA….

…Board member J.R. Van Tassel said it was time for the state to “shuffle the deck” and see what other potential bidders are interested in the contract. But Van Tassel said he also thought that the state needed an idea of what the real costs are for running the prison, and said that in order to do that, the Idaho Department of Correction should put together its own bid….

…It’s the second time the Board of Correction has decided against having the department examine what it would cost the state to run the facility. About five years ago Reinke asked the board and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s office if his department could bid for the contract to run ICC, and the board responded with a firm “no.”

The Idaho Correctional Center building and property is owned by the state but CCA has operated the facility since it opened in July 2000. The prison appeared to operate uneventfully for several years until so many inmates began filing lawsuits alleging similar civil rights abuses that a federal judge began consolidating the cases. Amid the lawsuits the U.S. Attorney’s office for Idaho acknowledged that the FBI was also investigating the prison for alleged abuses against prisoners; that investigation is ongoing….

Bill would require Idaho to compare state, private prison costs

Source: Betsy Z. Russell, Spokesman-Review, September 4, 2013

After Idaho’s Board of Correction refused to consider state operation as it seeks a new operator for a troubled prison south of Boise, a state lawmaker has drafted legislation requiring all state agencies to consider that option when they solicit bids.

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said he’s not convinced the state is saving any money by paying Corrections Corp. of America $30 million a year to operate the Idaho Correctional Center. “There is a view that private contractors can perform functions less expensively, but I think sometimes they can’t,” he said.

In late June, the Board of Correction voted to seek new bids to operate the Idaho Correctional Center starting next year, but rejected the idea of considering state operation as well. Board Chairwoman Robin Sandy said at the time that state operation would grow Idaho’s government, which she opposed. “There would be several hundred more state employees,” she said.

Private Prison Company Increases Profits as More Blacks Land in Prison

Source: Freddie Allen, Atlanta Daily World, July 16, 2013

Corrections Corporation of America opened its first immigration detention center in a renovated motel in Houston nearly 30 years ago and now leads the nation’s for-profit prison industry, generating billions of dollars in revenue for housing prisoners, most of whom are Black and Hispanic… As Black and Brown incarceration rates soared, over the last three decades, companies such CCA profited from that growth. “Now a multi-billion dollar corporation, CCA manages more than 65 correctional and detention facilities with a capacity of more than 90,000 beds in 19 states and the District of Columbia,” stated the report. “The company’s revenue in 2012 exceeded more than $1.7 billion.”…

…“The low wages of most CCA employees certainly do not extend to its top executives,” stated the report. “In 2011, CEO Damon Hininger was paid $3,696,798, while Chairman of the Board John Ferguson received a salary of $1,734,793.” According to the most recent self-reported industry statistics recorded in 2000, “the average turnover rate was 53% in private prisons, 16% in public prisons.” Experts say that the practice of cutting benefits and pay to workers to increase corporate profits greatly impairs the sensitive prisoner-corrections officer relationship, often endangering public safety as poorly-trained, overworked, underpaid guards resort to breaking the law to make quick cash….

…CCA joined the American Legislative and Exchange Council’s (ALEC) model to promote legislation “to increase drug law enforcement presence on public school campuses and tougher sentencing for drug offenses in drug-free school zones.”…

…“This is a company that reinvests millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions to ensure that its interests are met,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “It’s a very troubling trend in criminal justice and immigration and it’s difficult for us to move forward on a path where we are able to reduce the prison population and make smart public policy choices when you have a corporation that has that kind of political power involved in the game.”…

Gangs Ruled Prison as For-Profit Model Put Blood on Floor

Source: Margaret Newkirk and William Selway, Bloomberg, July 12, 2013

…More than 130,000 state and federal convicts throughout the U.S. — 8 percent of the total — now live in private prisons such as Walnut Grove, as public officials buy into claims that the institutions can deliver profits while preparing inmates for life after release, saving tax dollars and creating jobs.

No national data tracks whether the facilities are run as well as public ones, and private-prison lobbyists for years have successfully fought efforts to bring them under federal open-records law. Yet regulatory, court and state records show that the industry has repeatedly experienced the kind of staffing shortages and worker turnover that helped produce years of chaos at Walnut Grove. …

…In Texas and Florida, which hold about a third of all privately detained state inmates, employee turnover rates were 50 percent to more than 100 percent higher in private prisons than in public ones, according to data from the Texas Criminal Justice Department and the Florida Law Enforcement Department. In Mississippi, Tennessee and Idaho, company-run prisons have had higher assault rates than public ones, state data show. …

…The for-profit prison industry has encountered staffing issues in other states. Idaho Corrections Department officials voted last month not to renew a contract with Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the largest U.S. prison company, after it admitted billing for hours that weren’t worked. …

State and federal officials have reported dangerous conditions at understaffed privately run prisons in Ohio, Colorado and in Mississippi. New Mexico fined Geo $2.4 million in 2012 for excessive staff vacancies at three prisons in 2011 and 2012, according to Jim Brewster, general counsel for the state corrections department. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration last year sought $104,000 in penalties against Geo, including $70,000 for worker shortages, faulty cells and inadequate training at a prison in Meridian, Mississippi, that the agency said put workers at risk of being attacked. Geo is contesting the matter. …

…Walnut Grove is now run by Management & Training Corp., a closely held company based in Centerville, Utah. Brick Tripp, Walnut Grove’s former warden, runs another Geo prison in North Carolina. Through Paez, he declined to comment. …

The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America

Source: Holly Kirby, Bob Libal, Piper Madison, Julia Morris, Kymberlie Quong Charles, Grassroots Leadership and the Public Safety and Justice Campaign, June 2013

From the blog post:
Today Grassroots Leadership released our latest report, The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation of America, with our partners at the Public Safety and Justice Campaign. It’s part of our yearlong campaign to tell CCA and the private prison industry that there is nothing to celebrate about 30 years of private prisons.

Founded in 1983, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) gave birth to the modern for-profit private corrections industry. Over the last 30 years, the company has profited from the “war on drugs” and “tough on crime” policies and found a lucrative market in the detention of immigrants. Now a multi-billion dollar corporation, CCA uses its substantial political influence to make sure its interests are met.

The Dirty 30 offers 30 examples from the company’s history intended to shine a spotlight on the grave consequences of privatization for incarcerated people, prison staff, and the public at large, and brings a critical eye to the role of for-profit prison firms in criminal justice and immigration policies. …

Chapters include:
1. Auspicious Beginnings: “Just Like Selling Hamburgers,” CCA Opens First Detention Center in Houston, TX
2. A “Groundbreaking” Example of Prison Privatization: Squalor and Violence at Lake Erie Correctional Institution
3. Keeping Costs Low and Profits High Through Employee Mistreatment
4. A Disturbing Culture of Staff Misconduct
5. A Testament to Ineptitude: Escapes and Mistaken Releases
6. Riots Spiral Out Of Control
7. Denial and Death: Cutting Operational Costs Through Basic Medical Care
8. “Gold Star” Accreditation and “Impartial” Research
9. Tax Loopholes and Avoidance
10. UK Aspirations: Unlawful Death and a Violent Legacy
11. Fines, Failures and Scandal: Chased Out Of Australia
12. CCA Attempts Takeover of Entire Tennessee Prison System
13. Columbia Training Center Juvenile Abuse
14. 1990s REIT Disaster and Near Bankruptcy
15. CCA, A True Community Player
16. Oklahoma: Tulsa Takes Back Its County Jail
17. “Our Country Should Be Ashamed”: The Idaho ‘Gladiator School’
18. CCA Lobbies Against Transparency
19. CCA and ALEC’s Conservative Agenda
20. The Revolving Door: Insider Connections Win Big Contracts for CCA
21. CCA Helps Develop the Detention Business, Profits from Arizona’s Immigration Law SB1070
22. Family Detention and Sexual Abuse at Hutto
23. “It’s Been A Nightmare”: Violence and Death at Youngstown
24. Securing Beds in Colorado
25. Mismanagement and Violence at the Kit Carson Correctional Facility
26. The Death of Estelle Richardson
27. Paving the Schools-to-Prison Pipeline
28. Hawaii Women Removed from Otter Creek in Kentucky After Sexual Assaults
29. Murders at Arizona’s Saguaro Correctional Center
30. “No baby should be born in a toilet in prison”: Indifference Leads to Death at Dawson State Jail in Texas

Nampa School Board votes to outsource custodian contracts; more than 80 employees affected

Source: Eric Fink, KIVI, April 17, 2013

After more than 90 minutes of testimony from some of the districts 83 custodians, the Nampa School Board voted 3-2 in favor of outsourcing custodian and classified staff contracts Tuesday night. The cash-strapped school district maintains this cost-cutting move saves more than $300,000, but several custodians say this decision will cripple families. Many custodians fear not only losing their jobs come June, but also seeing their health insurance and retirement benefits disappear….According to the district, the classified staff section of its budget is a prime area to cut because there has been substantial turnover in this department over the last several years. GCA custodial will manage Nampa Schools custodial services starting in July. The district’s current custodians can reapply for their positions this summer, but they are not guaranteed jobs….