Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Details on an Assault at Idaho Correctional Center

One of the inmates named in a lawsuit by the ACLU against CCA for its failure to safely operate the Idaho Correctional Center is now suing the state for $25 million dollars.  The prison is so violent it is known as "Gladiator School;" inmates are routinely subjected to violence even while guards watch.  This particular inmate was beaten by inmates in retaliation for refusing to participate in a drug distribution organization.  His head was repeatedly slammed into a concrete wall by another inmate, who then stomped on his head nearly 2 dozen times, stopped to take a drink of water, then resumed beating him, all while the guards watched!  The ACLU's lawsuit seeks $155 million in damages, which is how much the company made in profit last year, and this lawsuit could end up costing the state of Idaho another $25 million.  You get what you pay for, Idaho.

Adios, Terrible Idea

The Minority Leader of Florida's Senate, Al Lawson, introduced an amendment Monday night to nullify JD Alexander's gift to GEO.  As of last night, it appears as though Alexander's bill is all but dead, and the state will seek some other way to fill Blackwater.

But I just wanted to note another reason why JD Alexander probably tried to force this last-minute deal through (in a great editorial): GEO gave more than $150,000 to the Florida Republican party in the last election:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Way More on JD Alexander's Gift to GEO

First (title link): An article quoting Walt McNeill, Secretary of Corrections for the state of Florida, saying that Alexander's estimate of savings is misguided.  Alexander claims it costs the state $65 to house a prisoner for a day; McNeill says it only costs $48 (so the state would only save $7/prisoner/day, not the $24 Alexander claims, and that's only if the new prison is filled to capacity)

Next: Laying off the amount of correctional officers Alexander has proposed would force the state to release more than 2,500 prisoners early due to a court order preventing overcrowding:

Next: folks in Sneads, Florida are protesting Alexander's sneaky amendment because it will cost the town $59 million dollars.  For a town like Sneads, that's a heck of a lot of moolah:

And finally: Even Governor Charlie Crist thinks JD Alexander's idea is terrible:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Poor Planning Will Lead to All Sorts of Problems

A new CCA prison in Natchez, MS, seems like a recipe for disaster.  95% of the new employees were just average citizens before coming to the facility, meaning they have no experience in managing a prison.  On top of that, 6 employees speak Spanish.  81% of the inmate population of over 1,500 inmates are hispanic.  And for some reason, no one seems to think this is a big problem.  Well I assure you, having a staff comprised of 95% of people with zero experience, and only 6 spanish speakers to communicate with thousands of men, will lead to a lot of major issues down the road.  I hate you for your lack of planning and cultural insensitivity, CCA.

Why I Hate CCA Stirring Up the Masses

Folks in Florida are rightfully getting upset over JD Alexander's last-minute budget amendment to force 3 new private facilities on taxpayers. I'm sure it's because of my great investigative journalism. Anyway, just wanted to drop a few links to some good articles on the situation:

"The Blackwater Prison Bailout":

"Sneaky GEO Deal Unifies North Florida":

"Watch This Bill":

Sneaky, Subversive Tactics

JD Alexander's last-minute amendment to privatize more beds in Florida has already been met with some harsh criticism, and rightfully so.  The accounting Mr. Alexander used to calculate the potential savings is questionable, as analysts have said the state could only save less than half of what Mr. Alexander claims, and even that hinges on the new Blackwater prison (which itself was forced through on a last-minute budget amendment that resulted in its sponsor stepping down in disgrace) operating at full capacity (most private facilities operate sligthly under capacity because they get paid the same amount regardless) - otherwise they state will save even less.  He also seriously undercut the projected job loss among state employees by more than 50%, as part of the amendment calls for privatizing an existing facility that will bring the total loss of state jobs to nearly 1,400.  Mr. Alexander's amendment is a blatant, unethical handout to the GEO Group that should immediately be nullified by the legislature.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why I Hate GEO Today

The budget chief of Florida's Senate, JD Alexander, just rammed through an eleventh hour "bailout for the private prison industry," according to the President of the PBA (Police Benevolent Association, a union). His amendment to the budget will close 3 state prisons and result in more than 630 state employees losing their jobs, even though their prison population fell short of projections (and they don't need extra beds). GEO is a huge player in Florida politics, being based in Boca-Raton, and already operating 4 facilities in the state. Now, they will be operating 7 facilities and adding more than 1,300 new beds. The GEO Group and Wackenhut (GEO's former name) have both made contributions to Mr. Alexander, which I'm sure had nothing to do with his handing them this wonderful gift (found that on Florida's Campaign Finance Database)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Throwing Their Weight Around

CCA spent $250,000 lobbying the federal government in the last 3 months of 2009 (more than $83,000 per month, for those keeping count (i.e. me)). This doesn’t include lobbying state governments or contributions to PACs or other interest groups like American Legislative Exchange Council. But I am glad to see that even after all that money, they still lost a few contracts and their stock value dropped.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The good news just keeps on comin'

CCA stock continues its nosedive, dropping another $0.25 per share yesterday. Of course, CEO John Ferguson is still dropping his stock like its burning a hole in his pocket, selling another 20,000 shares. Isn't it nice that even though his company is tanking, he can still make cash hand over fist?

(Link to story about Fergie selling his shares:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good News of the Week

Market analysts are now recommending folks sell their shares of CCA, GEO, and Cornell stock because of recent reductions in state and federal prison populations, which cut into the market share of the private incarcerators. I've got nothing to hate about this story, because all 3 of the biggies are losing money.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

The mayor of Hardin, Montana is warning commissioners in Benson, AZ to be wary of a new immigration detention facility being pitched to them by Corplan Corrections, the shady company affiliated with CCA that builds private detention facilities. I've written briefly about Corplan before, but they're basically the ones who come into a small rural area with a sales pitch of creating a ton of new jobs and tax revenue by building a private prison. Of course, things rarely if ever pan out exactly as they would want people to believe, as a few of their facilites still remain empty (thus drawing no money and actually costing towns hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate), and most fail to live up to correctional standards. So I am calling on you as well, Benson, Arizona, to be very careful about who you do business with, and to reject this proposal from Corplan. it will not end well if you let them build.

2 Reports Show a Lack of Oversight and Enforcement

2 separate reports by independent agencies evaluating CCA's contract compliance in Texas and Tennesse both found essentially the same thing: that there is inadequate oversight of CCA facilities by the government and that governments rarely sanction the company properly in instances of non-compliance. I'm sure that has nothing to do with the millions of dollars CCA pumps into legislatures to buy friends and allies.

Title link goes to an article about the Texas report; here's a link to an article about the Tennessee one:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shady Shadesters

In light of a recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU against CCA over its operation of a prison in Idaho, CCA replaced the top two administration officials at the facility. I'm sure that will fix every problem.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Holding Private Contractors Accountable

Just a quick link today to a great editorial on the recent decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court to hold CCA to the same level of public oversight that government agencies are required to meet. The case was brought by Alex Friedman, who works at both Prison Legal News and Private Corrections Institute, seeking documents related to CCA's operations (which they of course didn't want to produce, claiming they were exempt from public records laws as a private company) - check out the links above to their websites!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Case Study: Privatization can be more expensive and less efficient

A short piece concerning the jail in Bay County, FL. The county sheriff took over operations of the jail from CCA in 2009, and has run the jail for significantly less money, and with less complaints from inmates, than CCA had. This came out in response to the situation in Hernando County, where the sheriff has proposed taking over the operations of the local jail, claiming he can also run it cheaper than CCA. Though he hasn't made the best case for it so far, I tend to think he's right that he can run the jail better and cheaper than a profit-driven company.

Why I Hate CCA and GEO Today

Just a quick link to a great blog on Alternet about how CCA and GEO work with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to enact stricter punishments for various crimes, thereby ensuring their beds, and pockets, remain full.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Two depressing stories about GEO's international operations to start your morning. The title link is to an article about a GEO prison in the UK that is detaining immigrants for "excessive periods."

And here's a link to a story about an aboriginal boy in a GEO facility in Australia that died after being denied medical care when he was "too sick to walk." Great, GEO. Just great.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why You Should Hate the GEO Group

This is just an awesome article on the GEO group, its continued failure to operate humane facilities, its deep ties to the government from its inception, and how its lobbying efforts help ensure it remains a viable and profitable corporation in the face of repeated, egregious violations of human rights.

What happens when you don't pay fair wages

Employess of PHS, a company that provides healthcare services to prisons, are on strike. They're protesting what they call unfair labor practices and the failure to sign a new contract. I usually don't write about the private healthcare providers, which are their own mess, but I just wanted to link to this because the private medical providers, just like the private prison operators, often pay considerably less to their employees than a state would. This is one of the main ways they keep costs down, because salaries make up a large portion of a prison's operating cost.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Even CCA Exec's Know Private Prisons are a Bad Investment

CCA's Chairman and an Executive VP have each sold about 40,000 shares of company stock in the past 3 weeks. I have a feeling the price may drop again... (yes, I am again implying that they engage in insider trading)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Unintended Consequences of a Prison Closure

CCA is closing its Huerfano County (CO) Correctional Facility at the end of this month, after they lost a contract renewal bid with the state of Arizona to house 700 prisoners. Not only will 200 people lose their jobs; the sheriff's department and a local theater will suffer as well. How, you ask? Well part of the contract with CCA permitted for a "Prison Authority Fund," which provided subsidies to both those entities. Now that the prison is closing the theater will need to come up with a few extra hundred dollars per month to pay its utilities, and vehicle purchases and youth programs from the sheriff's department could also take a hit. It's just a shame to see these areas suffer from an inevtiable turn of events.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why I Hate Corplan Corrections Today

Corplan Corrections is a company that works with CCA, GEO, and other private prison firms to fleece smaller towns into building prisons they can’t afford, which end up becoming huge economic drains. Corplan is sort of the front company that proposes and builds private prisons for the big operators, then disappears from town as soon as their bond payments come through. The link is to a great article on their shady business model, and how they’ve managed to pull fast ones on small towns all over the country.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

insider trading!

Both GEO's and CCA's stock dropped recently amid news that the federal government decided against soliciting bids for more beds. GEO's stock dropped to $18.76. But conveniently Mr. Zoley (GEO's Chairman, mentioned in the previous post) was able to sell his stock at nearly a dollar higher per share. I'm sure he had NO idea the stock would tank, you know, being the effing CEO and chairman of the company.

You deserve to be put in one of your own facilities, George Zoley. I hate you you crook.

A Fire Sale

The Chairman and CEO of the GEO group recently sold more than 97,000 shares of stock, valued at nearly $2 million dollars (well $1,927,001). I don't know why the execs at these big companies are selling off all their stock. Maybe they finally realized that what they're doing makes them amoral, greedy jerks....