Thursday, October 13, 2011

Supreme Court to Hear Private Prison Case

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on a case involving the GEO Group which could have broad implications for both employees and residents of private prisons.  In Minneci v. Pollard, the Court will hear arguments over whether or not prisoners held in private prisons should be permitted to sue corrections officers in those facilities for violations of their Constitutional rights.

The case is important because of the implications it has for private contractors working with the government.  Currently, they are protected by a form of qualified immunity, basically meaning they can't be sued for actions performed in the course of their duty.  However, since private prison guards aren't officially government agents, the Court seeks to determine whether they should be protected by this immunity.  If the Court holds that they should be protected, it would have to hold essentially that private prisons perform an inherently governmental function (a question which they have never really focused on), which could impact standards for contracts and performance for the industry.

Oral arguments are set for November 1st, 2011, morning session (11am-noon).

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