Tag Archives: New Mexico

Editorial: Improve foster care

Source: The Register-Guard, October 27, 2017

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch have teamed up in support of a bill to better protect children in foster care. This bill is both badly needed and long overdue. The Senate Finance committee launched an investigation in April 2015 into the increasing practice of states giving the responsibility for some of their most vulnerable children over to private, for-profit companies. … Governors in 33 states responded to the committee’s request for information about the consequences of privatizing foster care, as did one of the largest providers in the country, the MENTOR Network. The results of the two-year investigation were both unsettling and, sadly, unsurprising.

The Senate found there were flaws in data collection and oversight when it came to for-profit foster care, at both the state and federal levels. Procedures set up by states to monitor providers’ performance and outcomes weren’t followed. Children under the authority of the state who received services from private, for-profit agencies were abused, neglected and denied services. Profits were prioritized over children’s well-being. High staff turnover sometimes made it impossible to monitor how children were doing, and foster parents with questionable backgrounds were given licenses to care for children, who were inadequately monitored by the state. …

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Senate Finds 86 Children Died In Care Of Giant For-Profit Foster Care Firm, Citing BuzzFeed News
Source: Aram Roston and Jeremy Singer-Vine, Buzzfeed News, October 18, 2017

At least 86 children died in a 10-year period while in the custody of a giant for-profit foster care company, according to an investigation by the US Senate Committee on Finance. In only 13 of those deaths did the company, The Mentor Network, conduct an internal investigation, the committee found. The Senate committee said the company “falsely” claimed that its child death rate was in line with the fatality rates in the overall foster care system.

The Senate probe started in part because of a series by BuzzFeed News that profiled problems at the company, which was the largest for-profit foster care provider in the country. In one case a 2-year-old girl who was placed at a home run by Mentor was murdered by her foster mother. In another case, a series of boys were sexually abused by a Mentor foster father, whom Mentor paid as a foster parent for years despite a series of red flags. He had requested that he be sent boys who were “male, white, any age.” Though Mentor denied the claim, employees told BuzzFeed News that the pursuit of profits sometimes took priority over child welfare. (The company is owned by Civitas Solutions, Inc., which recorded $1.4 billion in revenue last year and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.)

… As a result of the committee’s investigation, the chairman, Orrin Hatch, and its ranking member, Ron Wyden, introduced legislation Monday to require states to disclose the contractors they use in privatized foster care, and to report to the federal government how those contractors perform. …

The Brief Life and Private Death of Alexandria Hill
Source: Brian Joseph, Mother Jones, February 26, 2015

When the government took her from her family, it outsourced her safety to a for-profit corporation. Nine months later she was dead…..

….What happened in Rockdale that night would be the subject of a weeklong trial in the fall of 2014, focusing on the care of Alexandria. But it also opened a window into the vast and opaque world of private foster care agencies—for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that are increasingly taking on the role of monitoring the nation’s most vulnerable children. The agency involved in Small’s case was the Lone Star branch of the Mentor Network, a $1.2 billion company headquartered in Boston that specializes in finding caretakers, or “mentors,” for a range of populations, from adults with brain injuries to foster children. With 4,000 children in its care in 14 states, Mentor is one of the largest players in the business of private foster care, a fragmented industry of mostly local and regional providers that collect hundreds of millions in tax dollars annually while receiving little scrutiny from government authorities. Squeezed by high caseloads and tight budgets, state and local child welfare agencies are increasingly leaving the task of recruiting, screening, training, and monitoring foster parents to these private agencies. In many places, this arrangement has created a troubling reality in which the government can seize your children, but then outsource the duty of keeping them safe—and duck responsibility when something goes wrong…..

….Mentor and other private foster care agencies say they are committed to children’s well-being, and that nothing can prevent the occasional tragic incident. But in my investigation, I found evidence of widespread problems in the industry—failed monitoring, missed warning signs, and, in some cases, horrific abuse. In Los Angeles, a two-year-old girl was beaten to death by her foster mother, who was cleared by a private agency despite a criminal record and seven prior child abuse and neglect complaints filed against her. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, prosecutors alleged that foster parents screened by a private agency beat their foster son so badly that he suffered brain damage and went blind. (A grand jury refused to return an indictment in the case.) In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a foster father vetted by a private agency induced his 16-year-old foster daughter to have sex with him and a neighbor. In Riverview, Florida, a 10-year-old girl with autism drowned in a pond behind a foster home. The private agency that inspected the home had previously identified the pond as a safety hazard but had not required a fence. In Duluth, Minnesota, a private agency failed to discover that a foster mother’s adult son had moved back into her home. The son, who had a criminal record for burglary that would have disqualified him from being around foster children, went on to sexually abuse a 10-year-old foster girl. In Texas, at least nine children living in private agency homes died of abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2013…..

How the Kochs are trying to shake up public schools, one state at a time

Source: Kimberly Hefling, Politico, October 30, 2017

With school choice efforts stalled in Washington, the billionaire Koch brothers’ network is engaged in state-by-state battles with teachers’ unions, politicians and parent groups to push for public funding of private and charter schools.  One of the newest campaigns is the Libre Initiative, a grassroots drive targeting Hispanic families in 11 states so far, under the umbrella of the Charles and David Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, a powerful conservative and libertarian advocacy group. … The group has had some initial success — for instance, helping to thwart a moratorium on charter school expansion in New Mexico. But it’s also created bitter divisions in the Latino community and led to accusations the Kochs are trying to undermine public education — and even in some cases, to subvert the Democratic process.

… Despite such criticism, the group is hunkering down for the long haul in states it views as ripe for change even as it eyes new states for expansion. Lima says it’s on track to make contact with more than 100,000 Hispanic households this year on school choice. Besides Nevada and New Mexico, Libre is organizing in Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Its recent efforts, with other Koch-backed groups, include:

  • A planned “six-figure” spend in Nevada on “deep canvassing” in Hispanic neighborhoods to build support for educational savings accounts, which enable families to use state tax dollars to pay for private school. …
  • A lawsuit brought by Americans for Prosperity, among others, aimed at stopping a 2018 Arizona referendum asking voters whether they want to keep a school choice law passed earlier this year. …
  • A “six-figure” Libre and Americans for Prosperity campaign in Colorado this summer to promote charter schools and education savings accounts and another ahead of a Nov. 7 school board race by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation to push choice-friendly issues.
  • A seven-figure investment In Virginia’s gubernatorial race by Americans for Prosperity that includes a video criticizing Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, for his opposition to education savings accounts.
  • Mailings in Spanish and English supporting a Florida law that encourages charter schools in communities with low-performing schools. After Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, signed it into law, the state Democratic Party said he’d “declared war on our public schools.” …

Nuclear Negligence

Source: Center for Public Integrity, August 1, 2017

Nuclear Negligence examines safety weaknesses at U.S. nuclear weapon sites operated by corporate contractors. The Center’s probe, based on contractor and government reports and officials involved in bomb-related work, revealed unpublicized accidents at nuclear weapons facilities, including some that caused avoidable radiation exposures. It also discovered that the penalties imposed by the government for these errors were typically small, relative to the tens of millions of dollars the NNSA gives to each of the contractors annually in pure profit.

  1. A near-disaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll on America’s arsenal: Repeated safety lapses hobble Los Alamos National Laboratory’s work on the cores of U.S. nuclear warheads
  2. Safety problems at a Los Alamos laboratory delay U.S. nuclear warhead testing and production: A facility that handles the cores of U.S. nuclear weapons has been mostly closed since 2013 over its inability to control worker safety risks
  3. Light penalties and lax oversight encourage weak safety culture at nuclear weapons labs: Explosions, fires, and radioactive exposures are among the workplace hazards that fail to make a serious dent in private contractor profits
  4. More than 30 nuclear experts inhale uranium after radiation alarms at a weapons site are switched off: Most were not told about it until months later, and other mishaps at the Nevada nuclear test site followed
  5. Repeated radiation warnings go unheeded at sensitive Idaho nuclear plant: The inhalation of plutonium by 16 workers is preceded and followed by other contamination incidents but the private contractor in charge suffers only a light penalty
  6. Nuclear weapons contractors repeatedly violate shipping rules for dangerous materials: Los Alamos laboratory’s recent mistakes in shipping plutonium were among dozens of incidents involving mislabeled or wrongly shipped materials associated with the nuclear weapons program

Martinez’s veto pen dims hopes for criminal justice reform

Source: Andrew Oxford, Santa Fe New Mexican, April 6, 2017

Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have prohibited state prisons and local jails from locking minors and pregnant women in solitary confinement, a practice that prison reformers say can cause lasting psychological damage but that jail officials say is key to maintaining order among inmates. … Advocates for criminal justice reform have pushed in past legislative sessions to curb the practice of solitary confinement, defined as locking an inmate alone in a cell for at least 22 hours a day. … But following pushback from Corrections Department officials and jail administrators who argued the stricter bill would lead to unrest among inmates, House Bill 175’s sponsor argued that this year’s narrower proposal would have at least ended some of the most egregious uses of solitary confinement, cases that have led to scandals and millions of dollars in legal settlements.… The bill called for county jails to regularly report on the use of solitary confinement, and for private jails to disclose every three months how much money was paid to settle any lawsuits filed by former inmates. The New Mexico Association of Counties dropped its opposition to the bill after changes that would have given detention facilities more flexibility. And representatives from the union representing corrections officers — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — spoke in favor of the bill. …

Corizon ordered to pay attorneys’ fees

Source: Phaedra Haywood, The New Mexican, March 21, 2017

A state district judge has ruled that Corizon Health, which formerly oversaw medical care for New Mexico prison inmates, must pay legal fees for violating the state public-records law. Corizon has refused to release to two newspapers and an advocacy group the settlement agreements it made with prisoners who had sued the company. Judge Raymond Ortiz said in his decision this month that Corizon must pay $37,535 to attorneys who represented the organizations that sought the records. Ortiz wrote that the petitioners — the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and the Foundation for Open Government — were denied written requests for public records. They successfully sued Corizon to obtain the records, and under state law they are entitled to attorneys’ fees, the judge said. He also said that awarding reasonable legal fees encourages attorneys to take the cases of private citizens who file lawsuits seeking to enforce the Open Records Act. Ortiz last August ruled on the merits of the case, finding that “the settlement agreements are public records subject to disclosure.” Corizon is appealing that ruling and the one regarding attorneys’ fees to the state Court of Appeals. It has yet to produce the documents.

… Until the state replaced Corizon last year, it held a $37.5 million a year contract to provide health care to state inmates. Corizon paid about $4.5 million to settle lawsuits brought by inmates in its nine years as the medical provider. The bulk of those settlements were with inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a doctor employed by Corizon. Both Corizon and the state Corrections Department have refused to release the settlement agreements in response to public-records requests, citing language in the company’s contract. … Corizon, the nation’s largest for-profit provider of inmate care, faced more than 150 lawsuits filed by some 200 inmates in the nine years it had the contract. That was a sharp increase in the rate of lawsuits by inmates during the 2004-07 tenure of the previous provider, Wexford Health Sources. The state fired Wexford over concerns about the quality of its medical care. And the Department of Corrections chose not to renew its contract with Corizon last spring after a six-month investigation by The New Mexican, published in April 2016, revealed deep problems with inmate care provided by the company and with the state’s lax oversight of Corizon. Even so, the state’s contract with new provider Centurion also allows the company to keep settlement agreements confidential. …

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State mum on inmate health care oversight
Source: Justin Horvath, Santa Fe New Mexican, April 19, 2016

Gov. Susana Martinez was silent Monday when asked through a spokesman for reaction to the findings of Santa Fe New Mexican investigation into the lack of oversight of medical care delivered to state prison inmates by Corizon Health, a Tennessee company that has faced over 150 lawsuits by more than 200 inmates in the state since 2007 over allegations of negligent care, civil rights violations and sexual abuse. … Those warnings came internally from department employees about the lack of auditing of the contract as well as from the inmates themselves, who claim in lawsuits that Corizon denied or delayed care for health issues ranging from a hand crushed by a prison door to breast cancer that went untreated, even as the inmate’s breast turned purple, swelling to twice its size. … Corizon’s contract ends at the end of May. It is among the companies bidding to win a new contract to provide medical care for approximately 7,000 inmates in state custody. Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel also did not respond to requests for comment Monday on whether the new contract would contain similar litigation provisions.

Contract with state allows Corizon to keep its settlements secret
Source: Phaedra Haywood and Justin Horwath, Santa Fe New Mexican, April 17, 2016

Massive settlements and jury awards in other states over the years provide a dismal view of the medical care provided to inmates by Corizon Health and other for-profit prison health care companies. … But in New Mexico, Corizon has been allowed to operate almost entirely in the shadows, even as more than 200 inmates have filed lawsuits against the company since it took over medical services for most of the state’s prisons in 2007. That’s because not one of the lawsuits has gone to a jury, and Corizon has kept all records of settlements secret. The Corrections Department says the company can do that because under the terms of its contract with the state, it is responsible for defending itself in lawsuits and does so even when the state is named as a co-defendant. … Susan Boe, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said New Mexico “cannot contract away the state’s obligation under the Inspection of Public Records Act.” “If the state or its employees have been named as parties in those lawsuits, they should have a copy of the settlement documents, which therefore should be subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act,” she said. … In response to public records requests by The New Mexican, the Corrections Department said it had no record of settlements and referred questions to Corizon. The state Risk Management Division had no record of Corizon settlements either. Corizon told the newspaper: “Copies of medical malpractice settlements are bound by confidentiality restrictions between parties and we are not able to disclose the terms of those settlements.”

15 Lawmakers Plotting to Privatize America’s Public Lands

Source: EcoWatch, March 17, 2017

…Despite the irreplaceable value these places hold, in recent years, a concerted effort has been driven forward by certain senators and U.S. representatives to seize, dismantle, destroy and privatize our public lands. These lawmakers are backed by fossil fuel corporations and other extractive industries that already squeeze massive profits out of America’s public lands and only want more. In order to realize this goal, every year these corporations push millions of dollars toward federal lawmakers to motivate them to introduce and pass legislation that would have the effect of either fully privatizing public lands or opening them up to unfettered extraction and development. The Center for Biological Diversity issued a report that analyzed 132 bills that were introduced in the past three congressional sessions, between 2011 and 2016, and identified the lawmakers who authored and cosponsored the greatest number of these bills. The list of “Public Lands Enemies” that emerged includes nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives and six U.S. senators from eight western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

These 15 Public Lands Enemies are:
1. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
2. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah, 1st District)
3. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
4. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz., 4th District)
5. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
6. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah, 2nd District)
7. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska, At Large)
8. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
9. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho, 1st District)
10. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, 3rd District)
11. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev., 2nd District)
12. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
13. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M., 2nd District)
14. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif., 4th District)
15. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

Read full report.

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How Politicians Are Using Taxpayer Money To Fund Their Campaign To Sell Off America’s Public Lands
Source: Matt Lee-Ashley, ThinkProgress, June 18, 2014

…According to a ThinkProgress analysis, the American Lands Council (ALC) — an organization created to help states to claim ownership of federal lands — has collected contributions of taxpayer money from government officials in 18 counties in Utah, 10 counties in Nevada, four counties in Washington, three counties in Arizona, two counties in Oregon, two counties in New Mexico, and one county in Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming. In total, county-level elected officials have already paid the ALC more than $200,000 in taxpayer money. A list of these counties and their “membership levels” can be seen on the ALC website. Since its inception in 2012, the ALC has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative front group backed by the oil and gas industry and billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, to pass state-level legislation demanding that the federal government turn over federally owned national forests and public lands to Western states. So far, Utah is the only state to have signed a law calling for the seizure of federal lands, but Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have passed bills to study the idea and further action is expected in statehouses during 2015 legislative sessions….

Moratorium on charter schools heads to full House

Source: Andrew Oxford, The New Mexican, February 25, 2017

A committee voted along party lines Saturday to temporarily halt the creation of any new charter schools, sending the moratorium to a vote in the full House of Representatives. Backers, including teachers unions, argue House Bill 46 would allow time to develop better oversight of charter schools and prevent new schools from drawing funding at a time when the budget for public education is already tight. But opponents, including the Public Education Department, business groups and parents with children on waiting lists for existing charter schools, argue the measure would limit options for students. … Sponsored by Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, the bill is only one sentence long, stating simply that no new applications for charter schools would be accepted or approved between June 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2020. The bill follows a report last year by the Legislative Finance Committee that recommended additional guidelines for authorizing charter schools and a new system for funding those schools. The report found inconsistent oversight of charter schools, with charters rarely revoked, despite poor performance. … The number of charter schools around New Mexico has grown from 63 in fiscal year 2008 to 99 in fiscal year 2016, though about five are expected to soon close, according to the Legislative Finance Committee. The committee found charter schools, when compared to traditional public schools, serve a lower percentage of students who are Hispanic or economically disadvantaged. … Even if the full House of Representatives and the Senate pass Trujillo’s moratorium, it would still require the approval of Gov. Susana Martinez, whose own Public Education Department has opposed the measure.

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Study: Unclear laws give New Mexico charter schools funding edge over public schools
Source: Robert Nott, Santa Fe New Mexican, July 15, 2016

Charter schools in New Mexico receive more funding per student than traditional public schools, in part because of unclear laws that give them an edge in squeezing out dollars from the state, a new study says. The report by the Legislative Education Study Committee and Legislative Finance Committee says charter schools on average receive about 15 percent more funding per student than regular public schools. In Albuquerque, for example, traditional public schools receive about $7,400 for each student while that city’s charter schools get about $8,700 per student. The reasons include statutory language that allows charter schools to take advantage of the state’s small-school funding formula — designed to give rural school districts adequate money to operate — and a law that lets charter schools begin new programs with funding that doesn’t require legislative approval. … Earlier this year, for example, a state audit of 55 state-chartered schools in New Mexico found many of them deficient in internal financial controls and out of compliance with some provisions of state law. Some of those problems were minor and others have already been corrected. In addition, a Legislative Finance Report earlier this year stated that while New Mexico’s charter schools only serve 7 percent of the student population, they have received 46 percent of public-school funding increases in the past seven years. National studies on charter schools say that for the most part they do not out-perform more traditional public schools in academics. Sallee told the committee that the Legislature has yet to authorize an in-depth study on this issue in New Mexico. …

Report: New Mexico charter schools cost more, perform same
Source: Morgan Lee, Albuquerque Journal, January 18, 2016

Rapidly expanding charter schools in New Mexico are spending more per student with similar academic results to traditional public schools, state program analysts told lawmakers on Monday. … The study found that charter school students received $8,663 per student, while traditional district schools received $7,597, during the budget year ending June 2015. New Mexico’s charter schools have received nearly half of school funding increases since mid-2007, while serving about 7 percent of all students, the report said. … New Mexico had 97 charter schools serving about 22,000 students last year, up from 59 in 2010 and just two in 2000. That steady growth mimics the growth of nationwide attendance at charter schools, which surpasses 2.5 million students. The state evaluation raised specific concerns about costs and performance at so-called virtual charter schools that provide remote online courses. New Mexico has two virtual schools — New Mexico Connections Academy and New Mexico Virtual Academy — that both have ties to for-profit organizations.

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CoreCivic Has Interest In County Judicial Complex

Source: Donald Jaramillo, Cibola Beacon, November 27, 2016

County Commission Chairman Walter Jaramillo has always said the biggest issue that has concerned commissioners the most is the 250-bed Detention Center, the county’s jail. That says a lot coming from Jaramillo, a two-term commissioner and former City of Grants councilman. In short, the challenges are revenue and the risks involved in owning a jail. The Detention Center this year alone could ultimately cost the county an extra $3 million. … The county recently put out an RFP (Request for Proposal) for management of the Detention Center. The only response they received was from CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. However, CoreCivic officials are really interested in purchasing the entire Criminal Justice Complex, not just the Detention Center. The Judicial Complex includes magistrate court and the sheriff’s office. “That would mean that the sheriff’s office and magistrate court would have to move back to the current Cibola County complex where they used to be,” said Jaramillo. “Now understand, nothing is set in stone, these are just talks for now,” he noted. CoreCivic recently sent a team of experts who reviewed the facility and it was at that point they informed Jaramillo and the rest of the commission that they are not necessarily interested in managing it but are very interested in purchasing it. … The county currently owes $7.4 million on the Judicial Complex. It was built in 2003. The bonds for the jail were renegotiated two years ago. In the new deal, according to the county’s accounting department, the expiration date for the bonds went from year 2032 to 2030. And, we got a lesser interest rate,” said Joseph Sanders, director of the county’s accounting department. “In reality, it was a savings – two years less in payments and less interest,” he explained. According to Jaramillo, a price tag has not been set on the jail. However, Jaramillo definitely plans on the amount being enough to pay off the bond debt and some. So, the bottom line is something needs to give – either the Detention Center gains a new big contract or contracts that will stop the bleeding , or the county can sell the Criminal Justic Complex altogether and the Detention Center burden is totally gone. …

One man’s death hints at the wretched medical care in private immigration prisons

Source: Oliver Laughland, The Guardian, November 1, 2016

Jose Jaramillo was 52 years old and in the middle of a three-year sentence when he collapsed inside his cell at the Cibola County correctional center in May 2008. His crime had been to illegally enter the US to reunite with his wife and children. Jaramillo would never regain adequate cerebral functions, as his impoverished family battled on his behalf, first to keep him in America and then to sue the prison’s private contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), for medical negligence. … Just weeks after Jaramillo’s death this year, the US Department of Justice announced that all 13 of these private prisons would be closed following a scathing audit that revealed they were markedly less safe than similar facilities run directly by the government. The first scheduled to close would be the one where Jaramillo suffered his catastrophic illness, as reports indicated that the Cibola County prison was among the worst providers of medical care in this cohort of private prisons, and the DoJ found that medical complaints were the most frequent grievance of inmates held in the contract network. Advertisement But just as migrant rights advocates celebrated the planned closure, it was announced last week that the Cibola County facility would in fact remain open, as CCA secured a new contract with a different arm of the federal government, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), to turn the prison into an immigration detention center. The failings in Jaramillo’s case, reported here for the first time and pieced together through court documents, depositions, public records and interviews, reveals extraordinary details of the substandard medical care given to inmates in this facility and, advocates warn, the likelihood of continued failure when the institution reopens its doors to detainees this week. …

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CCA Awarded New Management Contract at the Cibola County Corrections Center
Source: Global Newswire, October 31, 2016

Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE:CXW) (the “Company” or “CCA”), which announced on October 28, 2016, that it is rebranding its corporate enterprise as “CoreCivic” later in 2016, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Cibola County whereby CCA has agreed to operate its Cibola County Corrections Center to meet the responsibilities of a separate Intergovernmental Service Agreement (“IGSA”) between Cibola County and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) regarding detention services for up to 1,116 detainees. The new contract at the Cibola County Corrections Center commenced on October 27, 2016, and contains an initial term of 5 years, with renewal options upon mutual agreement. CCA had previously housed inmates from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) at the Cibola County Corrections Center under a separate contract that expired on October 30, 2016.  On November 2, 2016, in connection with its report of financial results for the third quarter of 2016, CCA will update its financial guidance for the financial impact of this new contract. …

Cibola County supports reopening private prison to help detain immigrants
Source: Uriel J. Garcia, Santa Fe New Mexican, October 27, 2016

Critics of private prisons applauded the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision in August to end 13 contracts with for-profit corporations operating detention centers for immigrants convicted of federal crimes, including one in a small community in Western New Mexico. The cause for their cheers ended this week when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — an agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Justice — reached out to Cibola County officials with a request to reopen the prison in the village of Milan to detain immigrants who have entered the country illegally, many of them seeking asylum after fleeing violence in their home countries in Central America. The Cibola County Correctional Center has been run since 1998 by one of the nation’s largest prison firms, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America. … On Wednesday, the five-member Cibola County Commission was scheduled to discuss federal immigration officials’ plan to house undocumented immigrants there, according to a meeting agenda on the county’s website. County officials said Thursday they are supporting the plan, but it was unclear if they took official action. For the tiny community of Milan and nearby Grants, reopening the prison means hundreds of jobs for residents who have limited economic resources. The federal agency’s plan to reopen the facility is part of a larger deal with Corrections Corporation of America to increase its capacity to house immigrants. With an influx of Central American refugees fleeing violence in El Salvador and Honduras, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have extended a contract with the company to run a 2,400-bed facility in Texas. The immigration agency, known as ICE, also is considering a contract with the company to operate an immigrant detainment facility in Youngstown, Ohio. …

The Justice Department closed this troubled private prison. Immigration authorities are reopening it.
Source: Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post, October 27, 2016

When the Justice Department announced two months ago that it wanted to end the use of private prisons, Cibola County Correctional Center was exactly the kind of facility that officials desired to shut down. After a history of questionable deaths and substandard medical care, the New Mexico facility lost its contract. In recent weeks, it was emptied of inmates. But the vacancies won’t last for long. As soon as this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — which is separate from the Justice Department — is going to begin moving immigrant detainees into the facility under a new set of agreements with Corrections Corporation of America, a county official said. … Singling out the Cibola facility in particular, the advocacy organization wrote that the case “illustrates how CCA is literally operating a revolving door — shuttling out prisoners one month, shuttling in immigration detainees the next month.” … Cibola County Board of Commissioners Chair T. Walter Jaramillo said local authorities had been pushing for the private prison deal since the Bureau of Prisons decided to end its contract to use the facility this summer. …

ICE Seeks to Use Private Prisons Shuttered by DOJ
Source: Alan Neuhauser, US News and World Report, October 25, 2016

Barely two months after the Justice Department announced it would curtail its use of privatized prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is apparently negotiating to reopen two of those same facilities, including one repeatedly cited for abuses that included several questionable deaths. ICE is seeking as many as 5,000 beds to help house the record number of people in the country illegally who are being detained and deported by the Obama administration. It’s considering at least three detention centers owned and managed by private corporations, including a pair of troubled facilities in Youngstown, Ohio, and Cibola County, New Mexico, both owned by the Corrections Corporation of America and previously used exclusively by the Justice Department. … In late July, in the wake of The Nation investigation and a little more than a week before the release of the inspector general’s report, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons abruptly announced it would cancel its 10-year contract with the facility in Cibola. The Corrections Corporation of America subsequently announced it would close the prison. The next month, the Justice Department said it would “substantially reduce” its use of private prisons overall, citing the findings of the inspector general’s report. … ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which is conducting its own review of privatized prisons, the results of which are expected to be released by Nov. 30. Previous reports raising concerns about ICE detention practices, however, have had seemingly little impact on the bureau’s decisions. Although an ICE advisory committee earlier this year called for ending family detention and overhauling detention policies for families and children, for example, the agency renewed a contract with the Corrections Corporation of America for detaining families at a facility in Dilley, Texas.

State looks to hire those laid off due to jail closure
Source: Matt Howerton, KOAT, August 22, 2016

The New Mexico Department of Corrections is looking to turn a devastating situation for Cibola County into an opportunity for hundreds without jobs. A few weeks ago, the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan announced it will close after the Federal Bureau of Prisons told prison officials that its contract would not be renewed. An estimated 300 people working at the prison were told they were being laid off, but had the option of transferring to other prisons run by the Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs the jail. The federal Department of Corrections is now looking to give those people jobs. … The Department of Corrections will be holding a job fair at the National Guard Armory in nearby Grants this Thursday and Friday. The state already has two prisons in Grants and is trying to curb a staffing shortage. …

Feds will shut down troubled private prison in Nation investigation
Source: Seth Freed Wessler, Reveal, August 15, 2016

… Cibola is one of several facilities that have been the focus of a Nation and Investigative Fund series that has uncovered dozens of questionable deaths in 11 privatized federal prisons. Based on 30,000 pages of previously unreleased federal records obtained through an open records lawsuit, we documented dozens of premature deaths following shoddy medical care in these federal prisons, which are used to hold noncitizens. The documents, as well as interviews with former BOP officials and contractors’ medical staff, reveal the BOP’s own oversight monitors issuing increasingly stern warnings about medical neglect, understaffing of medical units, and underperforming internal quality control systems. Yet federal administrators repeatedly extended contracts at the same prisons that the agency’s monitors declared to be in trouble. …

Private Prison Company Already Shopping Around New Mexico Prison That Doesn’t Close Until October
Source: Donald Cohen, Huffington Post, August 11, 2016

Last week, the country’s second largest private prison company told its investors it had some bad news. The federal government had just decided to remove its prisoners from a prison the company owns, the Cibola County Corrections Center in rural western New Mexico. Come the end of September, the 1,200-bed prison now holding immigrants will sit empty. But Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) also told its shareholders not to worry. In a practice remarkably common in the mass incarceration era, the publicly traded corporation has already begun to, in their words, “actively market” the prison to potential “customers.” For CCA, which made $222 million in profits last year, there’s no value in an empty prison. … And they’ve often been successful at doing so. In early 2010, CCA lost a contract to incarcerate prisoners at a prison in California City, California. Before the end of the year, the company inked a new deal with the state of California and other federal agencies to fill the facility. GEO Group began “actively marketing” a California prison in 2014 and filled it with immigrant detainees a year later. Private prison companies are roadblocks to meaningful criminal justice reform. Every taxpayer dollar that goes to their profits is a dollar not spent on improving conditions in jails and prisons or investing in alternatives to incarceration. …

New Mexico Prison Closure to Impact 300 Workers
Source: Correctional News, August 10, 2016

The upcoming closure of the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan is set to relocate approximately 1,200 inmates to other facilities and leave some 300 employees without work. The facility, which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) of Nashville, Tenn., is scheduled to close in late September. The Cibola County Correctional Center houses minimum-security federal male inmates and has been owned and operated by CCA since 1998. However, the facility leadership was notified in early August that the Federal Bureau of Prisons will not renew the company’s contract. … Senators George Munoz, (D-4-Cibola, McKinley and San Juan) and Clemente Sanchez (D-30-Cibola, Socorro, McKinley and Valencia) have also expressed concern for the facility’s soon-to-be-unemployed workforce. …

State Human Services Dept. brings on law firm for food stamp suit, investigation

Source: Justin Horwath, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 23, 2016

The New Mexico Human Services Department awarded a politically connected Albuquerque law firm a $30,000 emergency contract to represent the agency amid a growing scandal over the department’s alleged practice of falsifying emergency applications for food assistance, resulting in delayed help for people in need. The department on May 16 awarded Paul Kennedy & Associates a two-month, $30,000 sole-source contract to provide legal research and advice to the department regarding a lawsuit as well as to help with an internal investigation. … Miles Conway, spokesman for the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees Council 18, said that because of the “tenor” of Kennedy’s cross-examination during the federal court case, the union would feel that “his inclusion in the inspector general investigation would totally change the tone of that process.” Conway said union members in the department have felt comfortable speaking with the Inspector General. But he added that if Kennedy’s behavior “is any indication of what the department is expecting he’s going to do with our members, then we could have a big problem.” The department launched its internal investigation in late April, a day after Human Services employees testified about alleged document falsification at a court hearing in Albuquerque. …