Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CCA Tries to Suppress Info on Sexual Assaults

This story is almost too ridiculous.  A CCA shareholder introduced a resolution to the company that would require it to disclose information on sexual assaults that take place inside their facilities, and the company's efforts to combat sexual abuse within its prisons and jails.  The resolution would bring a measure of accountability to the largest company in an industry that, despite performing an inherently governmental function, is not required to disclose information to the general public in the same way a government agency must.

Now, CCA has had some trouble dealing with sexual assaults in its facilities in the past; female prisoners from Hawaii were removed from not one, but two separate CCA facilities (in Kentucky and Colorado) after routinely being victimized by staff.  Other women have been sexually abused in CCA facilities in New Mexico, Florida, The District of Columbia, and Texas.  And those are just the sexual assaults that have been reported within the past 3 or so years.

Maybe that's why CCA objected to the resolution calling on them to disclose information about sexual assaults; there's a good chance that, if more information on the sexual victimization of people they are charged with protecting comes to light, it could hurt the company's chances to secure future contracts, or cut into their bottom line if they're fined for non-compliance with existing contracts.  Thankfully, though. the SEC saw through their BS (they called the resolution a "personal grievance" of the shareholder - apparently wanting to reduce sexual assaults is a personal grievance), and rejected CCA's objection to the proposal, which was supported by numerous advocacy and policy groups.  Now, the resolution will come before all shareholders at the next annual meeting, where it will be put to a vote. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Banking on Bondage

Video from a Congressional Briefing last Thursday on private prisons and mass incarceration.  It's long, but incredibly informative.

PHS Hit With $312,000 verdict

Prison Health Services, a private company that provides "medical care" to prisoners, has just been found negligent in the case of a 41-year-old prisoner who broke his ankle and failed to receive proper medical attention.  They have to pay him $312,000.  It took them 5 days to X-ray his ankle, after which they put it in a cast and placed him in a top-tier bunk, forcing him to climb up and down stairs every day.

Van Crash Kills Prisoner, CCA Guard

Quick link here: two CCA guards were transporting prisoners in Colorado when the van they were in crashed and rolled over.  The initial investigation indicates that the driver was speeding before the crash that killed one guard and a 57-year-old prisoner.

Friday, February 24, 2012

NH City Working to Block Private Prisons

...and another quickie: officials in Manchester, NH are working to re-draft a city ordinance to make it more difficult for private prison companies to build there.

Occupy Protests Private Prisons in Harlem

Keeping up with today's short theme, here's a link to an article about a protest organized by the Occupy camp that took place in Harlem earlier this week against Wells Fargo, because it invests so much money in the private prison giants CCA and the GEO Group.

PA Says NO to Private Prisons

Another quick link here.  Pennsylvania is one of many states that has seen an explosion in its prison population, and the prison budget, over the past few decades, largely as a result of the government's push to become "tough on crime."  The wave of legislation that has dramatically increased our prison population to the point where it is grotesquely out of accord with anything resembling common sense, or anything seen anywhere else in the world, was actually largely the product of the private prison industry's work through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to draft and promote 3-strikes laws, mandatory minimums, and "truth-in-sentencing" legislation.  But that's a different story altogether.  Suffice it to say, they spent decades passing tougher criminal statutes, and are now planning to reap the financial rewards of locking up millions of people as they try to encourage states to give them their prisoners.  Thankfully, Pennsylvania is standing tall against the onslaught of privatization; Governor Corbett proposed a budget that won't increase spending for the state DOC, and a DOC spokeswoman recently said the state was not considering privatizing part of the prison system.  Bravo, Keystone State!

End of an Era? Not Likely

I just wanted to drop a quick link to an article from The Crime Report that came out earlier this week that discusses the growing divestment campaign and its potential to dismantle the for-profit prison industrial complex.  Though the movement is gaining steam, I don't think it's quite powerful enough to tear down the industry.  At least not yet.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Do Private Prisons Chase Escapees?

Just a quick link here to an article from Politifact that investigates whether or not private prison companies chase prisoners who escape from their facilities.  The overwhelming conclusion?  That a definite answer is hard to come by given the limited information available about the industry and its practices.

Death of Hawaiian Prisoner Sparks Lawsuit

Hawaii contracts with CCA to house some of its prisoners on the mainland, because they don't have room for them in prisons on the islands.  But their relationship has been marked by problem after problem, from the sexual assaults of women in a prison in Kentucky (after they had been moved there following sexual assaults at ANOTHER CCA prison)  and coverups to mistreatment of male prisoners in Arizona.  In light of these issues, and a report of the state's solicitor general that was highly critical of the private prisons housing Hawaiian prisoners the governor has pledged to bring all Hawaiian prisoners home, but has found the process for doing so more difficult than anticipated.

One of the most serious issues that has arisen is the deaths of two young men at the Saguaro prison in Arizona.  After a class of prisoners sued the state and CCA over their mistreatment at the facility, the ACLU of HI has just filed a lawsuit against the state and CCA over the death of Bronson Nunuha, who was murdered at the prison.  The 26-year-old's death is being challenged as preventable; the ACLU of Hawaii claims the state and CCA were both negligent, leading to his wrongful death.  Nunuha was even being held in segregated confinement, where he was separated from the general population, but even that wasn't enough to prevent him from being murdered only months before he was set to be released; only 1 guard was responsible for overseeing about 50 prisoners.  The lawsuit contends that CCA's "unchecked hunger for profits" led the company to cut staffing to such unacceptably low levels as to allow for Nunuha's murder; he was stabbed over 100 times.

Unfortunately for the state, which gives the company $10 million annually to allow its citizens to be murdered, their own officials have faced significant difficulties in trying to extract information from the facility.  The aforementioned report of the Solicitor General noted major obstacles the agency encountered in trying to conduct an investigation of conditions Hawaiian prisoners were housed in.  Maybe it's because CCA doesn't give a shit about the people it houses, and does everything possible to prevent governments from seeing just how poorly their tax dollars are being spent.

Another Escape from a CEC jail

CEC is a smaller company in the private prison industry, but they certainly have their fair share of problems.  In particular they seem to have a lot of trouble just keeping prisoners locked up.  A CEC prison in PA wrongfully released about a half dozen prisoners back in 2011, including a man accused of murdering someone on a playground in broad daylight.  And just yesterday, a man escaped from a CEC jail in Texas while out on work detail

OWS Targets the Private Prison Industry

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Should We Have Private Prisons?

The Young Turks Debate.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly from Crete Citizen on Vimeo.
A video discussing the proposed immigration detention center in Crete, IL, that is strongly opposed by residents.

Following Up on CorruptionFest2012

I'd like to just call your attention to two recent opinion pieces that have come out of Florida, the center of the worst prison privatization plan in human history (CorruptionFest 2012)

The first is from State Senator Paula Dockery, an adamant opponent of the privatization plan from the beginning.  She discusses how the state legislature finally came to its senses and blocked the stupid idea.

The other is an editorial from the Palm Beach Post that discusses how Florida nearly came to sell off half its prison system to companies that have spent millions trying to woo the legislature, but ultimately decided it was an asinine thing to do.

Bay County's Experience With CCA

Just a quick link here to an article from a few weeks ago that recalls Bay County, FL's experience in having CCA manage their jail.  In the words of the Sheriff, the facility was "a horrible, nasty, unbelievable mess," and shortly after the county signed its contract with CCA, CCA began to jack up the price the county would pay per prisoner.  For what clearly amounted to high-quality services.  After the county resumed operations of the facility, they were able to save millions of dollars compared to CCA, even after performing extensive maintenance that CCA had neglected, since they eliminated the profit motive from the equation.

This came out during the whole commotion about the state legislature's boneheaded plan to privatize half the prison system, but serves as a great cautionary tale of the risks of privatizing any prison.

Privatization Vote in Michigan

The state of Michigan is likely to take up a vote that could send state prisoners to a GEO Group facility in Lake County.  GEO actually had operated the facility as recently as 7 years ago (and have owned it since), but lost its contract after mismanagement, fraud, and failure to perform in accordance with the contract, along with the fact that it was one of the most expensive prisons in the state.  So of course it makes sense to give the prison back to them.  Especially considering the need for prison beds in the state has actually decreased in recent years as they've scaled back the prison population.  As  new report points out, this deal would be a great benefit to the GEO Group, but no one else.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Victory for Rape Victims in New Mexico

Just wanted to quickly update everyone on the trial in New Mexico regarding the rape of multiple women by a CO at a CCA prison in New Mexico.  As arguments closed, more lurid details emerged: the victims apparently had little-to-no access to grievance forms to voice their complaints, and even when they could fill out the forms, they were sometimes thrown away; the women were retaliated against for filing complaints; and other guards pretty much had to be complicit in the attacks to allow the CO to rape and assault the women out of the view of security cameras.

After a day of deliberation, the jury awarded $325,000 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages for the victims.  This is a decision that CCA is almost certain to appeal, as they will likely try to pass on the liability for the damages to either the individual employees or the state of New Mexico.

Locals Oppose Secretive ICE Detention Center

ICE and CCA have been working to bring an immigration detention center to the town of Crete, IL, though they've been far less than forthcoming with information about the plan.  Once local residents began to get wind of the proposal and demand greater transparency, ICE agreed to hold a public meeting to discuss it.  About 35 people showed up to voice their displeasure at the proposed 750-bed prison, amplifying the concerns of over 600 residents who signed a petition opposing the plan.  As one resident put it, "It doesn't look like something [Crete residents] want to get involved in."

New Company Emerging

It looks like there's a new company trying to get a slice of the private prison pie.  Continental Prison Systems, Inc.is undertaking an aggressive expansion, and has apparently already secured 4% of the privately-held prisoners in the country.  Just another shady group to keep an eye on.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Judge Blocks Shady Deal w/ Emerald

Emerald Corrections Corporation is a small player in the market, dealing mostly in the south.  In Louisiana, a judge just blocked a local sheriff from turning over operations of his jail to the company, because "it makes absolutely no sense."  The move would eliminate many local jobs and jeopardize the county's ability to provide quality law enforcement services, according to the judge.

Gangs, Drugs, Cellphones in GEO Group Prison

Just a quick link here to a story about how some Mexican Mafia members were able to smuggle drugs (including heroin) and cellphones into a GEO Group-run federal prison.  They of course used the cellphones to conduct criminal activity, including the destruction of evidence that police had failed to find at one of the gang member's house

Privatization Fails in Florida, Again

For the second year in a row, legislation that would have resulted in a massive overhaul of Florida's prison system (CorruptionFest 2012) has been defeated.  The bill would have privatized half the state's corrections system, basically everything south of Orlando; 27 facilities and thousands of state employees would have been affected.  This is a great victory in the fight against for-profit corrections that would not have been possible without the work of many socially conscious groups and politicians who fought to prevent the state from contracting away its responsibility to manage the prison system it overpopulated.  Among the groups who came out in opposition to the measure were a coalition of faith-based organizations, the NAACP, and the tea party, who refused to buy the bogus claims that private prisons save money.  They were up against stiff opposition in the form of a few Republicans who stretched the truth about the potential savings and sullied the political process by trying to force through the unpopular measure, which only really drew support from people and groups who have received funding from the industry.

Instead of trying to hand over half its correctional system, the state should look to reduce its prison population as a smart and safe way to save money.  Florida, like many other states and the federal government, has difficulty managing its prison population because far more people are in its prisons than necessary.  Simply privatizing half the system would have hardly saved 1% of the correction budget and turned over responsibility for tens of thousands of prisoners to an industry that consistently fails to treat its ward with basic human decency.  That's probably a big reason why opposition to the plan was bipartisan, at least among those not purchased by the millions of dollars the industry spent in donations leading up to the vote. The industry not only lost out on the millions in donations they've spent in recent years; the GEO Group had invested nearly $650,000 in lobbyists to try to get the legislation passed.  That would be mostly taxpayer dollars, spent trying to influence the legislature to embark on this foolish mission.

I'm more than certain that we haven't seen the last of the industry's efforts to acquire half the state's prison system; in fact, Governor Scott can utilize mechanisms to privatize a few prisons without going through the legislature.  The state already has 7 private prisons, and the industry is not likely to stop spending oodles of money to try to force its way in.  But for now, Floridians can breathe a collective sigh of relief in knowing that, despite the efforts of some crooked and corrupt politicians, their legislature apparently does try to represent their best interests.  At least most of it does, anyway.

Prison Privatization: Florida's Game Changer

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stay Classy, GEO Group Execs

This is an odd story....

Thomas Wierdsma, an executive at the GEO Group, is being accused of harassment and intimidation by his daughter-in-law, after he allegedly threatened to report her to ICE.  His daughter-in-law is a legal immigrant from Hungary, who has been repeatedly abused and nearly killed by her husband, Wierdsma's son.  After she filed domestic violence charges against her husband, who tried to drown her (among other loving gestures), Wierdsma threatened to report her to ICE, which is troubling not only because he'd have nothing worthwhile to actually report (assuming reporting illegal immigrants is a worthwhile venture), but because the company he works for is the beneficiary of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts from that very agency.

Goodyear, AZ "Grateful" To Not Get a Private Prison

That is all.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Raped, Stalked, Threatened, and Terrorized"

Those are the words used by an attorney representing one of a few women who were traumatized by their experience at a CCA prison to describe how an officer at the Camino Nuevo facility in New Mexico.  After being transferred, her client found the new facility completely unprepared to house prisoners; there were no programs, no guidelines for prisoners, and only a very short briefing before the women were locked down.  The lack of oversight allowed a guard, Anthony Townes, to rape 4 women in his tenure at the facility.  The abuse the women suffered caused them to fear retaliation so desperately that they did not speak out about the sexual assaults they endured for years.

Unfortunately, New Mexico houses more of its prisoners in private facilities than pretty much every other state, based on percentage of its population.  So there are thousands of other potential victims across the state.  But thankfully there are still some sane officials in the state; the County Manager for Eddy County, Allen Sartin, is one of them.  He refuses to permit a private company to operate the local detention center, despite the difficulty the county has encountered in trying to recruit corrections officers.  Having previous experience in a county that did contract out services to a private company, he recognizes that using private prisons "opens the door for more lawsuits."

CorruptionFest 2012 Set for Monday Vote

Looks like Haridopolous thinks he has the votes he needs to force CorruptionFest2012 through.  He's setting a vote on the measure before the full Senate for either Monday or Tuesday of next week, after previously delaying the vote because he didn't have enough support (even after he fired his main opposition).  If you're from Florida, you should contact your Senator to let him/her know that bringing 30 private prisons to the state is a terrible idea, and nothing more than a handout to the industry that spends millions of dollars lobbying to get more people locked up.

ICE Proposal Defeated

Though it can be difficult to advocate against an industry that reaps billions in government contracts annually, and turns that money around into lobbying efforts to ensure they continue to get contracts despite consistently failing to perform up to the standards of those contracts, every once in a while we get to bask in the glow of a thwarted proposal to build a prison.  I can't take any credit personally for this, but a group of advocates down in Texas, led by Grassroots Leadership, have defeated a proposal from ICE to construct an immigration detention center near Austin.  This center would have housed entire families, similar to the Hutto facility in Texas that was the target of a (successful) lawsuit that challenged the placement of children in prison-like settings.

So, I just want to say kudos to the groups who worked so hard to challenge this proposal, and keep up the good fight!

Our Cynical Prison-Industrial Complex

Just wanted to drop a quick link here to a great story from The Guardian that discusses our prison-industrial complex and its perverse incentives to lock up an ever-growing segment of our population.  I'll let the byline speak for the article:

"A major factor in why US prisons are overflowing is the highly profitable privatised industry that has an incentive to fill them."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Revolving Door in Tennessee

Quick link here to a discussion of a recent report documenting the revolving door between Tennessee's legislature and its lobbying force.  Many former state officials now work in the private sector lobbying for major industries that hope to gain favor with the establishment.  Among those officials is the former governor of the state, Don Sundquist, who has been hired as a lobbyist by CCA, which is headquartered in Nashville.  As if that weren't bad enough, Sundquist also used to employ current CCA board member (and former CEO) John Ferguson in his administration.

No wonder this perpetually poorly performing industry is so effective at securing contracts.

Coming Out of the Shadows

ICE and CCA have been working in near-complete secrecy in designing an immigration detention center that would be placed in Crete, IL.  As residents began to discover the plan, which was already in motion given the tentative approval of the construction worked out by CCA and ICE, they grew increasingly concerned over the possibility of a prison coming to town.  Now, after public outcry has continued to grow, ICE officials have finally agreed to hold a meeting with residents to discuss the proposed facility.  Two Congressmen from the state have convinced ICE to hold the hearing, where residents will be able to voice their concerns directly to ICE.  The meeting will be held sometime in late March or early April; I encourage anyone who lives in or near Crete to go tell ICE you don't want a prison in your town.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

They Sue To Keep Expanding

The private prison industry's business model is predicated on constant expansion of facility space and bed capacity.  The industry is able to generate such tremendous profits by continuously expanding their capacity and taking on more and more prisoners.  But what happens when a town doesn't want a private prison to expand its capacity?  If you're the GEO Group, you threaten to sue the town to force them to allow you to house more prisoners.

I shit you not.

GEO has threatened to sue El Monte, California, after the town denied its request to expand its existing halfway house.  The town's representatives were only following the wishes of its residents, who are adamantly opposed to the expansion.  But the greedy corporate steamroller that is the gluttonous GEO Group wouldn't let pesky things like public and official opposition stand in their way.  So they're bullying the small town by threatening to sue it, which could have set the town back more than $100,000 in legal fees (in addition to the $45,000 they've already spent in litigation against the company).  Of course, a spokesman for the company says the motive isn't to generate profits, but to serve its client (the federal BOP), despite the fact that their client never requested the effing beds in the first place.

Another Preventable Death in a CCA Prison

A 26-year-old young man just died in a CCA Prison in Colorado, after seeking treatment for days for his inability to urinate.  Terrell Griswold was found slumped over on a toilet about 12 hours after a nurse said he "looked fine;" but that was far from the case.  The medical examiner who reviewed circumstances leading to his death said he feels "very strongly that if they (CCA) treated this, he'd still be alive today."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CorruptionFest 2012, Live from Florida!

I'll spare everyone a summary of what's been happening in the Florida legislature over the past two sessions (see here here, and here, or just search for "Florida" to catch up); instead, I'll just try to continue to update what I'd like to call CorruptionFest 2012.  Again, I apologize in advance for the plethora of links to follow, but the news is coming so fast that I can't keep up any other way.

First comes an article written by a state Senator, Paula Dockery, who calls out her fellow senators for the false promises of savings and the absurd fast-tracking of the bill, which for some reason never found its way to the legislative committee that oversees corrections.  No, it just went before 2 different committees headed up by JD Alexander, who has been pushing this privatization effort for years.  Alexander has been telling anyone who will listen that the plan will save $22 million for the state, but he has never actually backed those numbers up with evidence.  As a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel noted, such "savings" can be particularly hard to calculate, especially given the industry-friendly contract terms that keep the most expensive prisoners in state facilities and leave the privates to handle the cheap, low-risk prisoners.  Many experts who have studied the industry (and who weren't funded by the industry in their research), have found savings from private prisons to be negligible at best; and considering the state would even leave some of the more high-risk prisoners in private facilities (which is a stupid idea in its own right), Florida's taxpayers would likely not save much, if anything, in this process.

In response to the fast-tracking of the legislation through committees that should have no say in corrections policy, the Florida Nurses Association has sued the state over the secrecy of the plan that could cost thousands of state employees their jobs.  They were followed by a coalition of 17 other organizations opposed to the privatization, who petitioned the effort's champion, Mike Haridopolous.  Then the Correctional Officers' Union called for the state to conduct an honest cost-benefit analysis, after their initial review found that this privatization could cost Florida taxpayers MORE THAN 120 MILLION FRIGGING DOLLARS.  All of these groups, and seemingly everyone in the state other than Haridopolous, Alexander, and employees of CCA and the GEO Group, adamantly oppose this privatization push that is "too big and too fast," according to the former deputy secretary of the state's DOC.  In fact, the entire history of this bill's movement through the legislature alone should raise some eyebrows; it was introduced over a holiday weekend, then only 1 day was permitted for public debate (in which nearly everyone was opposed to the bill), before it passed through two Committees in record time; just eleven days after its filing, it came up for a vote before the full Senate.

Thankfully though, the Republican party in the state finally tried to live up to its reputation of fiscal responsibility, as some Senators opposed the privatization plan, and the bill stalled.  Mike Fasano, who has opposed the previous, illegal push for privatization as well as the current one, spearheaded the campaign to bring some accountability to the measure.  He introduced an amendment that would have required the state to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the plan.  So Haridopolous, standup guy that he is, called for a hold in the debate.  Fasano then became the latest victim of the industry's crazed drive to privatize when Haridopolous FIRED him from his committee seat for opposing the privatization.  That's right, Haridopolous; just remove any competition you come up against in your bloodlust.  Thank you, you "petulant crybaby," (That's a fun read, btw) for removing any doubt as to whether or not you've been bought by the industry.  To sum up this whole stinking situation, "It's obfuscation. It's secrecy. It's circumvention of laws, vindictive plots, and some smelly conflicts of interest."

Nevertheless, Governor Scott, who drug tests welfare recipients but recently refused to submit a urine sample as the beneficiary of taxpayer dollars, is "extremely disappointed" that more people haven't bought into his bullshit and supported this terrible idea.  I guess he's not a regular reader, otherwise he probably wouldn't be so convinced that private prisons offer better services for a better price (they do neither).  In fact, he need look no further than his own government's accounting office, which has consistently been incapable of proving any of the supposed cost-savings promised by the companies who have donated millions of dollars in campaign contributions state legislators over the past few years, and hundreds of thousands more hiring a small army of lobbyists, for this push.  The aforementioned Paula Dockery is trying to find the numbers that folks like Alexander and Scott have been referring to, going so far as to send a letter to Alexander specifically requesting the information he has that demonstrates cost-savings, because she has never seen any evidence to support a claim that private prisons save money, and believes they may in fact cost more.  She has also reviewed tons of evidence showing that any potential cost-savings would undoubtedly be offset by the inevitable reduction in quality of services provided by private prison companies, who are notorious for cutting costs to maximize their bottom lines.

So as the masses call upon legislators in Florida to have some common sense and decency, to reject the privatization plan for the corrupt shitshow that it is, I urge anyone reading this from Florida to do the same.  Call your representative (especially if your representative is Haridopolous or JD Alexander), call your governor, call your neighbor, your mother-in-law, or your mortal enemy, and let everyone know what a perilous adventure the state is about to undertake.  The jobs of 4,000 Florida employees, and the safety and well-being of nearly 20,000 of its residents are at stake.

Escape from a CCA Facility in Tennesee

A low-security prisoner in Tennessee has escaped from a CCA facility.  He was working on a laundry detail and somehow, unbeknownst to the guards on duty, just slipped away.  Thankfully though, there have been "only a handful" of times that a CCA prisoner has been able to walk away from work detail at this facility.

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."

The Truth Hurts Their Bottom Line

Another quick link here to update you on the case Prison Legal News is currently litigating against CCA in Tennessee.  For now the third time, CCA has appealed a court ruling ordering it to release records regarding legal complaints filed against the company.  Tennessee is one of only two states (the other being Florida) in which private prison companies are forced to comply with public records requests, as they are legally seen as government agencies in those jurisdictions.  But CCA has been fighting this order tooth and nail, because they don't want the public to be informed of the litany of legal complaints filed against them for all the abuse prisoners suffer in their facilities.  This battle is especially relevant in Tennessee, where an analysis from last year found that private prisons in the state have a higher incident rate than state-run facilities.

CA to Stop Shipping Prisoners Out of State?

As California seeks to re-align its prison population to comply with the Supreme Court's order in Brown v. Plata, it needs to figure out what to do with tens of thousands of prisoners that it simply does not have room to house.  But thankfully, the state does not appear to be considering the use of out-of-state private facilities to house its prisoners.  In fact, quite the opposite seems to be true; the Secretary of Corrections recently said it was a "primary goal" of the department to stop sending prisoners to private prisons in other states.  Let's hope they reach their goal.

Protecting Against Losses

Quick one here.  In Liberty County, Texas, officials have been working to reduce the population at the county jail, run by CEC.  That's a great thing; that means less people will be incarcerated, and the county can save money and focus on people truly deserving of being behind bars at the same time.  If only CEC hadn't structured the contract so that they get more money per prisoner when the population drops.  So as the population decreases, CEC earns more money per prisoner, and the county loses out on potential savings.  As a county judge said, "They [CEC] are taking all the incentive out of [releasing prisoners]."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

National Actions Targeting Private Prison Investors

More coverage from the protests last week over Wells Fargo's and other banks' continued investments in the private prison industry:

Privatization Proposals in NH, MT

Despite the industry's lackluster record, private prisons are still seemingly in high demand.  For instance, legislators in New Hampshire have released a request for proposals (RFP) to construct at least 1,500 beds from private companies, even though every town in the state that has been proposed as a site has come out strongly in opposition to a private prison.  Thankfully though, there is still an option to just add on to existing prison facilities, which may preclude the state from bringing in a private prison company.

Meanwhile, over in Montana, the state has failed to learn from the example set by the government in Hardin, which is one of the clearest examples of the perils of privatization.  The state also released an RFP, this one for 120 medium-security and "special needs" beds.  Though the scope here is smaller, the risks are the same as with any other proposal to privatize such an inherently governmental function.