Five months after the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield privatized its Community Services Division, the contract with Key Behavioral Essentials has been terminated. “The Department of Mental Health has terminated the certification of the provider that was to assume responsibility for providing services to some of the individuals who had been receiving services through the hospital’s Community Services Division,” Mississippi State Hospital spokesman Adam Moore said last week. “Based on that decertification, Mississippi State Hospital canceled the agreement with the provider.” …. McNair said it appeared the private company lacked experience in treating people with mental illness, especially serious mental illness.
The GEO Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., has entered into a corporate-wide settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor that requires the company to implement comprehensive procedures and policies to better safeguard its workers against the hazards of workplace violence in every correctional and adult detention facility that it manages in the nation. …
In June 2012, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for workplace safety violations at a prison facility it managed in Meridian, Miss. These violations included a willful violation for the company’s failure to: provide adequate staffing of correctional officers; fix malfunctioning cell door locks; and provide required training and personal protective equipment to protect employees from incidents of violent behavior by inmates, including stabbings, bites and other injuries. The company contested the citation to the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. Under the three-year agreement, the willful citation has been reclassified as a serious violation and the company will pay a $13,600 fine. Additionally, the company is required to hire a third-party consultant to develop and maintain a workplace violence prevention program and conduct onsite workplace violence safety audits at each of the 42 correctional and adult detention facilities that it manages across the country. They will also need to create a corporate-level workplace violence coordinator position and develop a workplace safety committee at each of these facilities. In those unionized facilities covered under the agreement, the committees will include representatives from both labor and management. …
…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. ….
My previous study published in Radical Criminology, (Issue 2, Fall 2013) demonstrates that people of color-though historically overrepresented in public prisons relative to their share of state and national populations-are further overrepresented in private prisons contracted by departments of correction in Arizona, California, and Texas.
My current research on the relationship between U.S. racial formation and prison privatization enlarges my previous work by foregrounding the question of why. That is, why is it that people of color are overrepresented in private versus public facilities in select states even in the absence of explicit racially discriminatory correctional placement or classification policies?
In order to explain why people of color tend to be overrepresented in private relative to public facilities around the country this study draws on data from nine (9) states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. These states were selected on the basis of their reliably large sample size. Each of the nine states considered currently houses at least 3,000 prisoners in private minimum and/or medium security facilities. Additionally, this study controls for differences in facility population profile. Therefore, only public and private facilities/units with a minimum and/or medium security designation are included in this comparison. And finally, as in my previous work, in order to avoid artificially inflating the over-incarceration of people of color in for-profit prisons this examination intentionally excludes figures from federal detention centers controlled by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Marshals Service, and detention facilities managed at the local level. For similar reasons, it strategically excludes data from transfer centers, work release centers, community corrections facilities, and reception centers. ….
Why There’s an Even Larger Racial Disparity in Private Prisons Than in Public Ones
Source: Katie Rose Quandt, Mother Jones, February 17, 2014
The Color of Corporate Corrections: The Overrepresentation of People of Color in the For-Profit Corrections Industry
Source: Christopher Petrella, Josh Begley, Radical Criminology, no. 2, 2013
The Hattiesburg City Council will soon hear proposals for the possible privatization of the city’s sanitation department. Council president Kim Bradley says this discussion comes at a time where current leases are nearing expiration as well as a continuing problem of equipment malfunctions with garbage trucks. … Another concern that must be considered, according to Bradley, is any employees who would be out of a job if the city decides to privatize the sanitation department. “You’re talking 13 to 15 people that are driving these trucks,” said Bradley. “We would try to find them another position, that would be our goal.” …
For-profit schools prey on Mississippi veterans by getting their education assistance benefits but providing, in turn, an inferior education, charges the nonprofit Mississippi Center for Justice.
Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, more than $83 million GI Bill funds went to Mississippi schools. For-profit schools received 14 percent of the funds, although they enroll only 7 percent of the students. These trends are mirrored nationally, but Mississippi veterans are hit especially hard, as the state is chronically plagued by high rates of poverty, increasing unemployment rates, low educational success and rampant use of predatory loans, according to an 18-page report issued on Veterans Day by the Center for Justice.
…For-profits schools are motivated more by profit than educational success, the report says. Students at for-profits are spending massive amounts of public tax dollars, while yielding little to no return on investment.
When compared to traditionally higher-cost, private, nonprofit institutions, post-9/11 veterans spent $2,933 more per student at for-profits. Post-9/11 veterans attending for-profits from 2009-13 spent $11,900 more than those attending community colleges and $10,321 more than those attending all traditional public colleges or universities….
…The report says: “Multiplied by hundreds of post-9/11 veterans, it is clear that for-profits impose a proportionally larger financial impact on veterans than public institutions. Of the available post-secondary options, for-profits are not only the most expensive but also yield low rates of loan repayment and graduation.”…
People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves temporarily unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. Xerox announced late in the evening that access has been restored for users in the 17 states affected by the outage, hours after the first problems were reported….Earlier Saturday shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn’t get their benefits, said shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the system was down due to maintenance, she said. … Wasmer said the states affected by the temporary outage also included Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Ohio’s cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Johnson said Xerox asked retailers to revert to a manual system, meaning customers could spend up to $50 until the system was restored. …
…. The privatization of social services has in the past resulted in some spectacular failures. …. As private corporations like ACS and Maximus rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in massive contracts, and their executives rake in colossal compensation packages, shareholder profits and warped incentives detract from the standards of care provided by these corporations….
…As some cash strapped governments choose to balance the budget on the backs of children and families, corporate contractors’ profits are soaring.
According to SEC filings, Maximus raked in total revenue of $1.05 billion during its 2012 fiscal year, with CEO, Richard Montoni receiving more than four million dollars. Over the past five years his total compensation has been $16,194,847. From 2008-2012, Maximus’ top executives have pulled in $41,808,585, with substantial revenue from state taxpayers.
During the 2012 fiscal year, ACS’s parent company, Xerox, took in $22.3 billion. Lynn Blodgett, the former CEO of ACS (prior to its acquisition by Xerox) who is currently a Xerox Executive Vice President, made $7,561,949 in total compensation last year.
In the three years since Xerox bought ACS, Blodgett’s compensation has totaled $17,475,776. Xerox — which directly benefits from the government contracting work done by ACS and its other division — compensated its top executives a total of $124,842,705 from 2008-2012….
…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. …
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. …
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