Friday, January 28, 2011

Why I Hate Wackenhut/GEO Group Today

The GEO Group is a spin-off company from the former Wackenhut group. Wackenhut split about a decade ago into a security services division and a corrections division (The GEO Group). George Wackenhut used to be an FBI agent and became famous as one of the early purveyors of secret dossiers on American citizens during the Red Scare. Wackenhut's security division provides sub-standard security services for government buildings, metro systems, and the like. The GEO Group is, as I maybe mentioned once or twice on here, an abusive, negligent, despicable organization that profits from the incarceration and suffering of human beings.

Which makes me all the more angry to read the story in this link. The Wackenhut estate is up for sale in Florida. Its price has been cut in half, to nearly 20 million dollars. 20 EFFING MILLION. That means the estate used to be valued at $40 million. A $40 million home, one of multiple homes the family owned, for a guy who is arguably one of the biggest aholes to ever grace this planet. Lord I really completely hate the GEO Group and the conservative, anti-American (yeah, I said it. Collecting secret dossiers on citizens, then running your own private security and incarceration business is anti-American.) jerk who founded it.

Making Good on a Promise

Governor Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii has begun the process of bringing Hawaiian prisoners back to the island from the private prisons they were housed in on the mainland. The governor made this pledge after two young men died in CCA-run prisons last year, and a class action lawsuit by other prisoners at Saguaro CF which alleged serious abuse by the guards. The governor had previously recalled all female prisoners after multiple sexual assaults at the Otter Creek CF, another CCA prison.

While the majority of Hawaiian prisoners remain in private prisons in Arizona, this is an important step in the right direction. I hope he continues to make good on his promise and return Hawaiian prisoners to their home state, where they will be safer and closer to their families.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Epic Fail

Paul LePage, the newly-elected governor of Maine, just declared that he is "looking to take the politics out of [Maine's} prisons." Which is curious considering he not only accepted $25,000 in campaign contributions from CCA, which doesn't even currently have a prison in the state - he also just appointed a CCA warden who has worked with the company for over 5 years to run the Department of Corrections.

Mr. LePage, that's an epic fail. As State Rep. Haskell said, "The only political part of this has been the part where CCA is a very politically active organization, and so I think the governor is bringing it in--instead of removing it." Exactly. Hiring an industry insider (he actually also used to work for Cornell) to a political position is the exact opposite of removing politics from your prisons. Though Joe Ponte is about as inoffensive as a CCA warden gets, he's still a company man and his hiring raises serious questions as to the future of the Maine prison system.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Letting the Fox Guard the Henhouse

I won't even try to summarize the absurdity in Kentucky highlighted in the linked article, because the author does an excellent job in her opening sentence:

"The state has appointed an acting medical director for Kentucky prisons who will continue to work for and be paid by the private company that provides the state prison system's health care"

I just don't get it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Touch of Sanity in Texas

The Budget Board of the Texas Legislature just released its preliminary budget for the next fiscal year. Texas is seeking to make up for its budget shortfall without raising taxes or dipping into its rainy day fund. As a result, tons of state services are being slashed. Among the cuts are, wait for it, PRIVATE PRISON BEDS! Yipee!

Specifically, the proposal calls for cutting 2,000 private prison beds from the budget. WhyIHateCCA strongly supports this specific budget proposal

"Privatization Does Not Make Sense"

A task force charged with researching and reporting on the prospects of bringing a private prison to Monmouth County, NJ just released its report, which basically shows that privatizating the county jail would be a huge risk. Perfectly summing up the argument against privatization, the chair of the task force remarked "Privatization does not make sense from a legal or financial standpoint...It poses increased safety and security risks, and Monmouth County would still be exposed to risks of potential liability."

My thoughts exactly

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The GEO Group has managed a few hospitals in Florida for the past couple of years. One of the hospitals managed by the private, greedy, corrupt organization had nearly double the amount of "Harmful patient events" as state-run hospitals. And this was in a study that has been criticized as biased in favor of the GEO Group! Yet the new governor, Rick Scott, has recommended privatizing the remaining state hospitals.

Let me go on record as saying this is a completely stupid and ridiculous idea. For some reason, GEO's track record of horrific negligence and unabashed greed in the private prison industry hasn't deterred this governor's desire to steer even more taxpayer dollars their way. Rick Scott is a corporate shill who is about to screwover Florida taxpayers and any poor folks who happen to need medical attention in his state.

But that's not all! The GEO Group, along with two private healthcare providers, has submitted a proposal to run a mental health facility in North Carolina. They hired a lobbyist who used to work in both the NC Department of Corrections and on the NC Supreme Court to lobby for them. This is a frightening possibility; if GEO gets control of the facility, their doctors will be responsible for making determinations as to whether or not individuals with mental illnesses accused of crimes will be deemed fit to stand trial. Basically, a private company with a financial incentive to incarcerate as many people as possible will have direct control over the interactions mentally ill offenders have with the criminal justice system. Doctors could summarily declare folks unfit to stand trial, thereby ensuring they stay in the GEO-operated mental health facility, bringing them more revenue. It makes me sick to my stomach to even think of this, especially considering the deplorable lack of medical and mental health care prisoners receive in private prisons.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another Lawsuit from Saguaro

A Hawaiian prisoner who was housed at the Saguaro Correctional Facility (A CCA prison in Arizona) is suing CCA and a guard who sexually assaulted him while he was incarcerated on a drug possession offense. This is the same prison where two young men died of suspicious circumstances, the same one that has been run so poorly by CCA that the governor of Hawaii has vowed to bring all his prisoners home

Thursday, January 13, 2011

They Deceive Prisoners and Film Them Without Consent

36 former prisoners of Cornell (which is in the process of being acquired by the GEO Group) have sued the company over a promotional DVD that was made without their consent. While in a halfway house, the prisoners were subjected to filming which they weren't too fond of, even at the time. However, they were repeatedly assured the footage would only be used for purposes of their cases, such as allowing a judge to see their progress.

Of course however the greed of the industry compelled Cornell to turn the footage into a promotional film / fundraising vehicle. The film was shown to companies and local officials where Cornell was attempting to get contracts.

This Shouldn't Even Be in Question

Following up on my previous entries regarding the ACLU's lawsuit against CCA for its operation of the Idaho Correctional Center, today's link goes to an article that describes some truly reprehensible actions by the staff. The prison is so plagued with violence it's been dubbed "gladiator school" by the unfortunate souls who wind up there.

It's so bad in fact that the ACLU had to file a preliminary injunction to try to presuade the court to force prison staff to stop engaging in some really horrific acts. The injunction asks the court to prevent prison staff from intentionally opening cell doors to permit for violent prisoners to assault others. This problem is so pervavise that more than a dozen assaults at this facility have been linked to situations where guards opened doors then sat by and watched as inmates assaulted each other.

Further, the injunction asks the court to make the facility stop writing up prisoners for disciplinary sanctions when they try to defend themselves from assaults THE PRISON STAFF INITIATED. Getting written up can eliminate good time credits earned and keep prisoners from accessing programs designed to help them improve and transition back into the community. And prisoners were being written up for defending themselves!

This is such a sickening situation. Guards intentionally allowing known violent prisoners out of their cells to assault others. Guards writing up prisoners for trying to defend themselves against assaults the staff not only witnessed, but set up. And it has already taken a long investigation and legal battle to even get to the point of asking the court to stop CCA from doing this. There is simply no excuse for this type of negligence and blatant disregard for suffering. The activity of the staff at this prison is criminal. If any of this crap happened at a state-run facility, these people would be out of jobs and facing charges. But the warden at the Idaho Correctional Facility only got "reassigned." Which is a nice way of CCA saying they let him off the hook and gave him a cushy job at another prison, where he can abuse a whole new set of prisoners.

CCA is a completely effed company. Every single thing about them. I hate you so damn much.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Investigation Forthcoming?

Brent Yonts, a state lawmaker in Kentucky, has called for an investigation into the contract the state has with Aramark to provide food services to its prisoners. This comes in response to riots that occured last year over the quality and quantity of food being served to the inmates. It takes an awful lot for prisoners to riot, and the fact they did it over the food services is very telling. As Mr. Yonts said, "I believe it is obvious that the contract has not been complied with and that Aramark is in substantial breach of it." I would certainly concur

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More of the Myth of Economic Benefits

An unfortunate article from Ohio this past weekend describes all the wonderful reasons to further privatize the state's correctional system. The author discusses all the great economic benefits of a private facility in Youngstown, and how those benefits could be further realized by increased privatization. You might recall my writing about how Ohio's new secretary of corrections just so happened to be employed at high-level positions within CCA (and with a company consulting for them), for years.

The article however bases its conclusions on some details this author is rather skeptical of. For starters, the author assumes an average salary of $35,000 per year for correctional staff, which is about $5,0000 - $7,000 higher than what I'm used to seeing for COs at private facilities (Because, mind you, they're paid a lot less than employees at state-run facilities).

However, the most troubling assumption is one taken directly from John Kasich, Ohio's new governor. Mr. Kasich wants to privatize prisons more in order to save money, because corrections takes up such a sizeable portion of the state budget. Never mind the fact that privatizing prisons has been repeatedly shown to have, at best, very negligble cost savings over state-run facilities (which are more than negated by the extremely sub-standard quality of private prison operations). It should not be at all surprising though, considering this is the traditional conservative approach to politics; ignore facts, decry government waste, and then steer huge government contracts with little oversight to wealthy allies. Apparently, it's an awfully effective system. This sort of direct conflict of interest is practically omnipresent in the private prison industry.

Friday, January 7, 2011

CCA Officials Try to Cover Up Sexual Harassment Claims

Another sexual harassment lawsuit has been filed by a former prisoner of the Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Kentucky. You may remember Otter Creek as the CCA facility where not one, but 2 governors had to remove all the female prisoners due to rampant sexual abuse. What's even worse is that officials in the prison seemed to cover up the harassment and abuse. CCA has already faced a few lawsuits from this particular facility, and, thanks to conservative judges who apparently care little for women who are sexually harassed (as long as they're in prison), they've been dismissed from the cases. Sooner or later, one starts to realize that company culture helped create this situation, and it's not just the actions of a few rogue individuals, which CCA would like the public to believe.

This story is particularly troubling though because it also highlights a major problem in the prison arena; namely, that prisoners are often directed to file complaints about conditions or abuse with the very guards who abuse them. According to a law called the Prison Litigation Reform Act, all prisoners must go through a facility's internal grievance procedure before filing a lawsuit in federal court. Unfortunately, this has resulted in countless thousands of grievances and complaints mysteriously "disappearing," and retaliation or threats of it from guards against inmates who complain. The PLRA actually makes it very easy for correctional administrators to insulate themselves from lawsuits by making the grievance process as difficult as possible.

A Word of Caution

Title link goes to an excellent and well-reasoned article expressing skepticism over the purported economic values of bringing a private prison to town. The article focuses on the town of Milo, Maine, where CCA unsuccessfully attempted to pitch a prison to local officials a few years ago. Maine's new governor, Paul LePage, a business friendly super-conservative jerk who loves privatization (don't they all?), has renewed a push to bring CCA to Milo, touting all the great benefits like jobs and tax revenue the facility could bring. Apparently he ignored the report of the Congressional Research Service, released this past April, which found that "prisons may not generate the nature and scale of benefits municipalities anticipate or may even slow growth in some localities.” But I guess those sorts of things matter little to someone who just wants to help his business pals make a few extra bucks (especially when CCA donates $25,000 to your campaign).

Thankfully though this article introduces a strong dose of cynicsm into the debate. It highlights some cases where the economic benefits promised by private prison operators never quite materialized (which is basically everywhere). The author also discusses alot of the potential ramifications of privatization, such as the horrendous human rights abuses that take place in the facilities. So hopefully, Mainers will recognize this pitch by the new governor as a thinly-veiled attempt to steer state tax dollars to a company that donated heavily to his campaign. Which is exactly what this is.

What The Eff?

It just blows my mind sometimes how ridiculous the conflicts of interest in politics can be. Governor Brewer in Arizona created a Commission to study ways to reduce the budget, called the Commission on Privatization and Efficiency. Basically, it's a way for conservative Arizona politicians to legitimize their attempts to undermine government agencies and transfer money from the public sector to their private-sector pals.

So this commission on privatization was comprised of, among other people:

1) A former Senior Director of State and Customer relations for CCA

2) The outgoing president of the Arizona Senate, who received campaign contributions from both CCA and GEO, and who also happens to be the Arizona Public Sector chair of ALEC. ALEC has a very strong contingent of Arizona legislators, and CCA is a major player in what has been called "Corporate America's Trojan Horse."

3) President of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, of which CCA is a "Board Level" Corporate member

Shockingly, this commission recommended, wait for it, that Arizona PRIVATIZE MORE of its prisons. You know, despite the fact that private prisons in Arizona are unsafe, unsecure, and don't save money.

I apologize, because I'm about to break my tradition of a PG-rated blog,

but this is completely fucking absurd!

It is ludicrous that these asshats are the ones directing policy in Arizona. I hate you, Arizona Commission on Privatization and Efficiency, the hypocrisy in your name and mission, and the ignorant moron of a governor that created you.

It is exactly this sort of absurd conservative political manipulation that has caused our country to lead the world far and away in rates of incarceration. If anyone remains unconvinced that our prison system is simply a cash cow for private corporate interests, his head is clearly buried in the sand. This is little more than corporatocracy masquerading as legitimate government. It is corruption and a conflict of interest to the highest degree. These greedy assholes are the reason our justice system is a joke to the rest of the world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Contract Issues

The auditor for the state of Hawaii just released a nearly 80-page report blasting the state's interactions and contract with Corrections Corporation of America to house Hawaiian prisoners in facilities in Arizona. Among the findings:

The contract all but eliminated competitive bidding for the procurement of future contracts, ensuring all the state's privatized corrections dollars would flow directly into CCA's coffers.

CCA was essentially treated as a governmental agency rather than a private company seeking to make a profit, which is both factually inaccurate and laughably ironic, considering CCA spends millions of dollars lobbying against legislation that would simply force it to adhere to the same levels of oversight as government agencies.

Cost analyses of the contract have been fatally flawed by artificial cost figures based on a flawed methodology

And that management (of CCA) is basically "indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information"

The audit was so damning in fact that the auditor called for the authority of the Department of Public Safety to award contracts to be suspended.

I hate you, CCA

And the Revolving Door Continues

The incoming governor of Ohio, John Kasich, has said repeatedly that he wants to look to further privatize the state's correctional system. This is despite the fact that a poorly-managed private prison in Youngstown became the focus of one of the biggest lawsuits ever against a private prison manager in the late 90s, which resulted in a multi-million dollar decision. Anyway, he just decided to hire a former CCA consultant, and former managing director of the company, Gary Mohr, to run the state department of corrections. This is a terrible, awful decision, and I feel sorry for Ohio's prisoners, who will soon be shipped of to abusive private facilities in large numbers, as Mr. Mohr steers contracts to his friends in the industry.

So damn frustrating.


In July 2008, Michael Crespin died at a private prison in New Mexico after intentionally being denied medical care for months by a private medical contractor, Wexford Health Sources. He had a diganosis of colon cancer upon entering the facility, but was deprived from contact with medical personnel, and "Wexford essentially lost track of Mr. Crespin for treatment purposes." This sort of intentional neglect is all too common among private prison operators and private, for-profit companies that provide "medical services" to prisoners.

After a few nurses and doctors who had seen Mr. Crespin were finally able to convince the cheapskates at Wexford to provide the surgery he needed to live, another tumor was found, for which he was again denied medical treatment. 'I couldn't come out of my unit,' he told Journal investigative reporter Mike Gallager. 'I had no access to anyone.'" After repeatedly missing critical appointments, He eventually had the surgery, but the lawsuit said it was "only after investigative reporters had commenced review of Mr. Crespin's case and multiple other and serious instances of Wexford's deliberate indifference in providing medical services."

Thankfully, New Mexico terminated its contract with Wexford last year. But this case should serve as a reminder that privatizing things like medical service isn't always such a great idea. It's terribly sad to think of all the poor souls being denied medical treatment because private companies are able to exploit such an unsympathetic population. This goes on literally all the time at private prisons, to varying degrees, and it often results in very serious long-term health effects for thousands of prisoners, or, their untimely death. But what gets me most of all about this, is that, as part of the settlement, Wexford was able to officially deny any wrongdoing, so they essentially paid this family hush money.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Awesome Expose

Just a link here to an excellent story on the private prison industry from the Daily Kos, explaining how the industry continues to reap tremendous profits despite overwhelming evidence of the abuses that take place inside private facilities, and scant evidence demonstrating they even save money, both in the United States and abroad. Enjoy!


Stacia Hylton, a former consultant for the GEO Group and CCA, was just unanimously confirmed to be the next head of the US Marshall's Service, a federal agency that has millions od ollars worth of contracts with these companies. Just another example of the revolving door of industry and politics at work.

For some good commentary on the situation and its implications, check out this piece from the Washington Times.