Thursday, February 2, 2012

CCA Gets off Really Easy in Hernando County, FL

Florida, as you know if you've heard anything about private prisons in the past month, is in the midst of a huge, subversive campaign to force private prisons on its residents, despite widespread opposition.  The state should take a look at the situation in Hernando County for an example of the things that can all go terribly wrong when a prison is privatized.

After operating the local jail there for 22 years, CCA was found to have ignored myriad maintenance issues totaling millions of dollars.  The sheriff took over the facility after CCA bailed on the contract rather than repair the facility, which they had been operating since it opened.  After taking over the facility, he saved local taxpayers more than a million dollars in operating costs in the first year, even after taking into account all the maintenance that needed to be done.

So after the government assumed responsibility for its jail and trimmed its expenses by more than a million dollars, there was still the issue of back-pay that the county had withheld from CCA to cover the maintenance they had consistently failed to perform.  The dispute was over $1.8 million worth of payments; CCA sued the county to try to recoup the money they shouldn't have gotten in the first place.  Unfortunately for Hernando County, CCA's well-paid attorneys did their job quite effectively, and CCA has been ordered to pay only $100,000 of the money owed to the county.  In other words, 5%.  And, even more unfortunately, this precludes the county from releasing an accounting of just how CCA could have let millions of dollars worth of maintenance needs go unchecked.  But, according to the editorial board at the Tampa Bay Times, "ending the privatization of the jail will produce long-term dividends for the citizens of Hernando County."


  1. The disrepair of the facility is only the tip of the iceberg as far as the damage CCA did to the Hernando County Jail. Women inmates reported being sexually assaulted by staff (one of them a psychological "professional"), inadequate medical care, and staffers who took jail keys home with them. After the jail was reclaimed by the county, very few of CCA's employees were kept on by the country, although each one who appled was considered. Some could not pass background checks & drug tests.

    Here's a link from last summer which gives more detail about problems that were found after CCA left:

  2. It's called"LOBBYING" at the local, county state and federal levels. They promise "GOLD" and give you "COW MANURE". They do a presentation to select groups, one group at a time, like a spider luring his dinner into his web. HOORAY to the SHERIFF in Hernando. We need him in Southwest Ranches. Our Elected Council Members are missing brain cells. They're looking to CCA to bail out their overspending, and hoping their "PARENT" like spoiled children will place more spending money in their account. We were able to provide validated and documented information to Pembroke Pines Commissioners over a period of time and they saw the danger in this partnership to their town Children and Residents. We did this with your help and postings. We don't see ourselves making a difference with SWR by educating them.They're aren't educable. So, sorry for the sexual and physical abuse, but this is what happens with CCA. We really need to stop them from providing another means for HUMAN TORTURE. We don't want this abuse in foreign countries, why are we accepting it in AMERICA?

  3. Hey Jan,

    thanks for the link! The Hernando situation was a clusterf*** of epic proportions; I covered it more extensively about a year ago (maybe a little more), when the contract was in dispute. But thanks for the extra info.


    I think you hit the nail on the head here; the industry is quite successful at lobbying, at the federal, state, and even local level. They are salespeople, trained to convince lawmakers that the risky investment they're hocking will provide some real value, which it never seems to do. Hernando is but one example of small towns with tight budgets who fell prey to the industry. But the more the public (and legislators) are informed of the pitfalls of prison privatization, hopefully the more they will reject these plans for risks they pose.