Tag Archives: Montana

Montana to outsource autopsies in July

Source: Spokesman Review, June 29, 2015

Montana autopsies will have to be done in other states in the coming weeks because the state’s only two forensic medical examiners qualified to assist county coroners are leaving. …. The bodies of those who die under suspicious circumstances in the western part of the state will be driven by a coroner to Seattle. Bodies in the eastern part of the state will be transported to Rapid City, South Dakota, for autopsy.

Get Out of Jail, Inc.

Source: Sarah Stillman, New Yorker, June 23, 2014

Does the alternatives-to-incarceration industry profit from injustice? …. As we set off beneath loblolly pines, she recounted the events that had led me to her doorstep: her arrest and jailing for a string of traffic tickets that she was unable to pay. It was, in part, a story of poverty and constraint, but it was also a story of the lucrative and fast-growing “alternatives to incarceration” industry…..

….When she was unable to pay her fines, a judge sentenced her to two years of probation with Judicial Correction Services, a for-profit company; she would owe J.C.S. the sum of two hundred dollars a month, with forty of it going toward a “supervision” fee. Cleveland considered the arrangement a reprieve…..

…..With municipal budgets under enormous strain across the country, the industry has also pitched itself as a source of revenue for small courts. “If your municipality is looking to reduce incarceration rates and to increase the collection of fines and court costs in the municipal court, please give our office a call today,” the Georgia-based Freedom Probation Services advertises. In return for an exclusive contract with a municipality, companies like Freedom Probation offer their services to courts for free. The private-probation business has established a presence in such states as Utah, Missouri, Montana, and Colorado, although its home remains in the Cotton Belt. The industry aims to shift the financial burden of probation directly onto probationers. Often, this means charging petty offenders—such as those with traffic debts—for a government service that was once provided for free. These probationers aren’t just paying a court-ordered fine; they’re typically paying an ever-growing share of the court’s administrative expenses, as well as a separate fee to the for-profit company that supervises their probation and enforces a payment schedule—a consolidated weekly or monthly set of charges divided between the court and the company. The system is known as “offender-funded” justice. But legal challenges to it are mounting, amid concerns about abuse, corruption, and the use of state penalties to collect private profits. In a wide range of cases, offender-funded justice may not result in justice at all……

Louisiana corrections firm says it will operate treatment center in Hardin jail

Source: Mike Ferguson, Billings Gazette, April 10, 2014

A Louisiana corrections company plans a job fair April 16 at the Two Rivers Detention Facility in Hardin in an effort to find up to 115 employees to operate a therapeutic treatment center for Bureau of Indian Affairs inmates, beginning as early as May 15…. Treatment would be provided at the detention facility itself, built in 2007 through the issuance of $27 million in revenue bonds….Emerald Companies, which includes Emerald Correctional Management and Emerald Healthcare Systems, is involved in the design, construction, management and health care services in a variety of correctional settings in four states — Louisiana, where the company is based, as well as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. According to the company’s website, the company contracts with four federal agencies as well as state corrections departments and a number of city and county jurisdictions. A Montana Department of Corrections spokesperson said the company hasn’t contracted to provide services here….

…Jeff McDowell, executive director of Two Rivers Authority, the tax-funded economic development agency for the city of Hardin, said he had no comment Thursday about the company’s plans, but said he’ll issue a statement later. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said he won’t likely consider placing any county inmates at the Two Rivers Detention Facility “until they are up and running.”…

Thrown in jail for being poor: the booming for-profit probation industry

Source: Lauren Gambino, The Guardian, March 3, 2014

….More than 1,000 low-level courts across the US rely on the so-called “offender-funded” probation model, signing contracts with for-profit companies that oversee probation requirements like monitoring, drug tests and fine collection. The decades-old, for-profit probation industry is deeply rooted in the south, and especially in Georgia, but courts in states as far-flung as Michigan, Montana and Washington have also embraced aspects of privatized probation…..

….Throwing those nonviolent criminals in jail – especially when there are so many of them – gets expensive for cash-strapped states. Misdemeanor cases fill up jail cells with minor offenders who present no threat to society, but a great cost to the government: at a price to states and counties of around $50 per day per prisoner. In comparison, putting a nonviolent offender on probation costs, according to one estimate, only about $1.25 a day.

It costs even less when the states and counties hire private companies to monitor those on probation. Sentinel Offender Services and Judicial Corrections Services are the two big players in the industry, although there are a smattering of smaller companies.

Those companies make offenders pay for their own probation by charging them fees. It saves the states and counties a lot of money. It also makes the companies a lot of money: Human Rights Watch estimated that private probation companies in Georgia alone rake in nearly $40m in fees a year.

While states save and companies profit, the offenders pay a lot. There is no cap on the amount of fees a private company can charge minor offenders, and the longer the probation period, the higher the fees.

In some cases, the probation fees can add up to twice as much – or more – than the court-ordered fines…..

GSA Close to Unloading Two More Excess Federal Properties

Source: Charles S. Clark, GovExec.com, May 9, 2013

The General Services Administration on Thursday announced two signs of progress on the Obama administration’s push to sell off excess federal properties, one a completed sale and transfer of an Army munitions plant in Arden Hills, Minn., and the other an online auction in the final stages of selling an empty federal office building in Billings, Mont….

Cascade County inmates get meatier menu in new contract

Source: Karl Puckett, greatfallstribune.com, December 19, 2012

A new food service provider has been hired at the Cascade County Regional Detention Center that a sheriff’s office commander says will provide more nutritious food for inmates at a lower cost to taxpayers. One of the deciding factors in awarding the contract to Trinity Services Group over Aramark Correctional Services was that its menu had more meat, said Cmdr. Dan O’Fallon, who runs the Cascade County Regional Detention Center. The menu of foods submitted by Aramark was predominately soy-based. …

… Aramark and Trinity were asked to submit menus that were shown to nutritionists with the state Department of Corrections. Both menus failed the test initially, with the menu offerings having too much salt and not enough fiber, O’Fallon said. … Another factor in Trinity’s favor was it agreed to a firm per-meal price over the five-year life of the contract, with only cost-of-living adjustments, O’Fallon said. …

Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets

Source: In the Public Interest, September 2012

From the press release:
For years, corporations have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for the opportunity to develop legislation that diverts public dollars into their corporate coffers. A new report by In the Public Interest, “Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets,” exposes ALEC’s extensive privatization agenda. The report details how private prison corporations, online education companies, health care corporations, and major industry players pay large membership fees to ALEC in exchange for valuable and unfettered access to state legislators. Corporations are able to work with ALEC lawmakers to craft bills that allow private control of public functions, and guarantee a steady stream of tax dollars to enhance profits.

Corporate and legislative ALEC members work together to jointly develop pro-privatization model bills, and then legislators introduce and push these bills in their state legislatures. These bills make it easier to create virtual public schools, encourage states to privatize vital health programs that help vulnerable populations, force state governments to sell public prisons to prison corporations, and help other industries take control of public assets and services.

In 2011 and 2012, ALEC model bills that sought to privatize core public functions were introduced in states across the country, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Many ALEC bills fail their first time, but examples of success expose their real goal: enhancing corporate pocketbooks with lucrative government contracts.

OSHA fines janitorial company for risks to workers at Missoula nursing home

Source: Jenna Cederberg, Missoulian, August 15, 2012

A janitorial company working in a Missoula nursing home has been cited with almost $60,000 worth of safety violations after exposing workers to multiple hazards, including failure to provide hepatitis B exposure prevention training to employees. Healthcare Services Group Inc. was issued five citations Aug. 7 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after inspections were opened in May at the Missoula Health and Rehabilitation Center…. Inspections at Missoula Health and Rehabilitation Center were opened on May 21. Calls to the center, which is classified as a “skilled nursing home” in the OSHA news release, were referred to the company’s EmPres Healthcare corporate office….

County OKs Cooney Home sale to private operator

Source: Eve Byron, Independent Record, June 1, 2012

The historic Cooney Convalescent Home, owned and operated by Lewis and Clark County since its initial construction in 1870, will become privately owned today.

County officials have wrestled with facility’s operations for years, noting that it loses $200,000 to $400,000 annually, and currently carries a debt of about $1.5 million to $2 million. After looking at various options in recent years, the county commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to sell the nursing home to Apple Rehab West for $2.8 million. The closing is set for today.

All three commissioners said it was with heavy hearts that they’re selling the facility, which originally was known as the County Hospital and Poor Farm.