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.

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