Friday, June 29, 2012

CCA Doesn't Want to Pay Taxes

Every once in a while a story comes along that really re-ignites my burning hatred of the private prison industry.  Like this one, describing how CCA is battling the town of Appleton, MN over the value of its prison.  The lower the prison's assessed value, the less CCA will have to pay in taxes on it.  The prison has been closed since 2010, which has cost the city jobs and part of its tax base; at that time, it was valued at $42.9 million.  After appealing that valuation, as CCA has done every single time it's been audited, the facility is now valued at only $14 million, but even that's not low enough for CCA; they want the value to be knocked down to about $10 million, which would even further reduce the taxes it pays to the city.  Meanwhile, over all the times CCA has appealed the valuation, it has already cost the county $2 million directly in legal fees, not to mention the lost tax revenue as they continuously try to undervalue their property.  But here's the real kicker; the most recent reduction in value, still being appealed by CCA who wants it to go even lower, would already raise taxes for the average resident by 20%.

Fuck you, CCA.  Fuck your insensitive, greedy manipulation of the tax code and legal system to maximize the already obscene profits you earn by incarcerating people (quite poorly, I might add).  Fuck you for exploiting towns like Appleton, who rely on your company for valuable revenue.  It's not enough that you dramatically overcharge governments to house prisoners, in facilities constantly face allegations of abuse and neglect; now you've just got to stick it to these poor folks as well?

Fuck you.

Excellent Blog on Walker's Underhanded Tactics

Just a quick link to a really excellent blog post breaking down the tactics being utilized by Scott Walker, asshole Governor of Wisconsin, to surreptitiously bring private prisons to his state.  In a nutshell; he's cutting positions and pay across the board in the prison system and facilities are becoming short-staffed and costing significantly more to operate as an increasing percentage of the labor is overtime.  He's then going to use the poor performance and high costs of the system that he screwed up to justify bringing in private prisons, likely the GEO Group, which has already had representatives meet with Walker's staff.  He, along with the rest of the GOP establishment, is continuing to erode the rights of employees and dismantle unions so he can hand out lucrative government contracts to his financial backers.

A Glimpse Inside the Industry's Influence in Florida

Florida's leadership is among the most aggressive in the nation in trying to bring private prisons to the state.  The governor, speaker of the house, former speaker of the house, and a host of Republicans in the legislature repeatedly attempted to force through what would have been the largest wholesale privatization of prisons in US history.  Though those measures failed, a battle is still being waged in court over the abuse of the political process by Republicans who tried to force the privatization by putting it into the budget and bypassing the committee that would have normally reviewed it.  The state is now also moving forward with plans to privatize 20 work release centers of the 21 that are still operated by the state, possibly because Governor Scott seems downright determined to put state employees out of work.  Lest you think I'm being unfair, a DOC spokeswoman said the state wasn't likely to save any money in the process, which would have theoretically been the only justifiable reason to do so.

The industry has fared rather well in the state despite the failure to pass the wholesale privatization, but not quite as well as it has with the federal government in taking responsibility for incarcerating immigration detainees.

The GEO Group has been particularly successful in both these arenas, due in large part to the amount of influence it peddles throughout governments.  This influence was apparent during the 2010 election cycle, when the company donated more than $800,000 to campaigns in Florida.  But what's not quite as easy to see is how these companies also gain political influence by having favorable people, and sometimes previous employees, placed in positions of power.  Take for example the chief of staff to young Republican superstar Marco Rubio, Cesar Conda.  Conda still maintains ties to a powerful lobbying firm in Florida that has lobbied for the GEO Group.  In fact, he still maintains partial ownership, and was paid between $50,000-$100,000 by the firm after he became Rubio's chief of staff..  So he's still being paid by companies like the GEO Group while working as the number-one guy to a US Senator.

So the GEO Group has revenues of nearly $2 billion per year, much of which comes from the federal government as payment for detaining immigrants.  It has spent more than $5 million in lobbying and political contributions in the past 8 years, a small fraction of their overall revenue, and in doing so has greatly expanded its role in the immigration detention system.  They also now have a paid lobbyist working in the office of a Republican Senator at the forefront of the immigration debate, in a state with major immigration issues.

In the state legislature meanwhile, President of the Senate Mike Haridopolous, one of the biggest proponents of the aforementioned failed privatization measure, has a really cozy relationship with a lobbyist as well.  He steered millions of dollars to a company that monitors juveniles for the state, after it had come to light that the company had failed to meet many of the terms of its contract.  But he went a step further - he removed the competitive bidding process as a last-minute budget move (sounds familiar...), assuring the company, which employes his close friend as a lobbyist, would maintain the contract.  The secretary of the state's Department of Juvenile Justice even wrote that "the use of this exemption from competitive procurement may not be in the best interest of the state."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is Michigan Going Back on Its Word?

The state of Michigan for some reason thinks it should contract out high-security beds to a private company, expecting to save about $1.3 million per year in operations.  Aside from the reality that those savings will probably never materialize, the state should be wary of proceeding with such a plan considering the industry's consistent failures to maintain adequate levels of well-trained staff, which could prove extremely risky with high-security prisoners.  A few years back, corrections officials had promised residents that security of the facility would be the top priority, as residents were worried about the potential risks to public safety inherent in bringing in a private, for-profit company to operate it.

Over the next few years, the state gradually reduced security at the facility, moving away from constant patrols to more mechanical security instruments.  Now, it wants to not only privatize security staff at the facility, but medical and mental health treatment as well.  Local leaders are upset at these recent developments, particularly because they have seen how privatization has failed to save money in many other states.  Many of the COs currently employed at the facility would likely either lose their jobs or face significant reductions in pay and benefits, the area in which private prison companies are able to reduce expenses most easily (by just cutting them).

So add me to the list of people who hope the state decides to keep to its word and ensure the facility remains secure (i.e. not privatized).

In New Zealand, a 40% Failure Rate Is Acceptable

Or so says the associate justice minister, who sees no reason to reconsider the country's relationship with Serco, the company that failed to meet 40% of the terms in its contract to operate a private prison there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GEO Group's Favorable Treatment in NM

Just a quick link here to an article discussing ways New Mexico can reform its criminal justice system to reduce recidivism and costs.  Among the proposals is a request that the state re-work its contract with the GEO Group to reduce payments to the company after staffing levels were reduced at the Hobbs prison.  The state still pays the GEO Group the same amount they did when the staffing levels were higher, a differential of nearly $2 million that the state is now just paying to the GEO Group as profit.  You may also recall that the GEO Group was hit with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines by the state last year for repeated failure to maintain staffing levels; so the actual levels of staff are probably even lower than the already-reduced number New Mexico is overpaying for.

MTC Takes Over Where the GEO Group Left Off

After the state of Mississippi announced it was not renewing its contract with the GEO Group (or that the GEO Group bailed on the state, depending on how you see it) following a litany of abuse and mismanagement issues at the prisons it ran for the state, the Department of Corrections needed to bring in another company to operate the private facilities formerly run by them.  Apparently, the state did not consider just hiring additional corrections staff and taking control of the prisons itself.

Into the picture now comes MTC, or Management and Training Corporation, the third-largest private prison operator in the U.S. MTC most recently made headlines as the company in charge of the Kingman prison in Arizona, from which 3 felons (2 convicted murderers) escaped, fled across the country, killed an elderly couple, and stirred up a multi-state manhunt.  Shortly thereafter, an audit found the facility had numerous security flaws that the prisoners exploited in their escape.  This was part of what prompted many advocates to call for a statewide audit of private prisons that found the facilities to cost more than government-operated prisons.  Then Republicans in the state legislature passed a bill to prohibit future audits. Of course.

So this is the company that Mississippi has apparently seen fit to give responsibility for prisoners in the former GEO Group facilities.  MTC will operate 3 prisons for the state; Walnut Grove, East Mississippi CF, and Marshall County CF, while CCA will continue to operate an additional 2 facilities (one of which just suffered a riot).  But many people, including this author, are skeptical that there will be any signifncant improvement at the prisons.  Hopefully, Mississippi will have learned from at least some of its mistakes with the GEO Group, such as not having an enforcement mechanism in the contract to ensure adequate staffing levels.

Meanwhile, it looks like the GEO Group is seeking to expand northward into Canada since its reputation has taken such a hit here, and MTC is focusing their sights on our continental brethren as well.  I just hope the Canadians learn from our mistakes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Another Major Blow To Private Immigration Detention

Following fresh on the heels of the announcement that the citizens of Crete, IL had successfully defeated a proposal from ICE and CCA to build a private prison there, Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines, FL residents got their own bit of great news: CCA isn't going to build there either!  After the mayor demanded an answer following months of back-and-forth, the company and ICE announced it was no longer pursuing the site.  This is a huge victory for all residents of the area, especially those who fought so hard to keep their neighborhood from becoming another victim of the prison industrial complex.  Congratulations to everyone involved!

CCA Planning to Evade Corporate Income Taxes?

As if I didn't hate them already enough, that's roughly the conclusion drawn by Christopher Petrella, a guest author of this blog, who analyzed CCA's recent announcement to convert into something called a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).  In a far more intelligent manner than I could ever hope to achieve, he captures the potential ramifications of this process for the company's tax liability and potential growth, so I really encourage you all to read it.

Another Riot in a CCA facility

Last week, a CCA prison in Woodville, MS became the site of the latest private prison riot.  At least 23 prisoners were injured in the disturbance to the point where they required medical attention.  Fights raged for nearly an hour before the prison staff got the facility back under control.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2 New Wrongful Death Cases in Texas

Both CCA and the GEO Group are facing backlash over the alleged wrongful deaths of prisoners in their care in Texas.  The family of a prisoner at the Central Texas DF has sued the GEO Group for negligence in allowing their son to commit suicide, two days after he was removed from suicide watch.  Then, at the Dawson State Jail in Dallas, a 30-year-old female prisoner less than two months before her anticipated release date.  She apparently died of pneumonia after the medical staff at the facility failed to treat it.  CCA doesn't provide medical care to prisoners at the facility, but leaked internal documents suggests CCA supervisors at the facility failed to follow protocol when they didn't call for medical attention sooner.  The chief of security recommended firing a shift supervisor, but the warden at the facility declined to do so and couldn't identify any need for further training of his COs.

Aramark Employee Caught Trying to Smuggle Drugs

Yet another employee of a private company has been caught trying to smuggle drugs into a prison.  In Las Cruces, NM, an Aramark employee was caught trying to smuggle a bunch of cocaine and heroin into a prison.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Crete, Illinois Residents Slay the Giant

Residents of Crete, IL have accomplished the (near-)impossible feat of successfully rejecting a plan by CCA and ICE to build an immigration detention center in their town.  The plan had come under heavy fire from residents practically from its inception, but CCA and ICE pushed hard to get permission to build the facility despite overwhelming opposition by the citizens.  The Sheriff of Lake County even threw his hat into the ring - publicly supporting legislation that could have prevented the facility's construction (it would have prevented agencies in the state from contracting with private prison companies), because the plan was clearly designed to benefit a private company with no obvious benefit to the community.  The legislation ultimately failed, but that wasn't enough to dissuade opponents of the facility from continuing to protest and work against it, even though many of their representatives had failed to support the bill.

In a voice vote, village trustees unanimously decided to reject the proposal.  This is a monumental victory for the hundreds of groups and individuals who worked so hard to prevent this facility from coming to town.  Congratulations to everyone involved!  This just goes to show that no matter how big and powerful some corporations can get, they can never completely trump the will of the majority.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Privatization Proposal Fails in Louisiana

Just a quick note here of some good news; as Louisiana finished up its budget negotiations, a bill that would have privatized the Avoyelles Correctional Center failed to pass, or even really spark a debate.

Did Ohio's AG Bend the Law to Help Privatization?

That's basically the conclusion of this analysis, which says that Attorney General Mike DeWine's ruling that the Ohio State Police would still be responsible for investigating crimes at the Conneaut prison the state sold to CCA was a politically-motivated, and possibly illegal, action.  Essentially, the author claims that DeWine overruled a couple of career attorneys in his office to hand down his ruling, which facilitated the politically perilous privatization venture -- folks in Conneaut were initially up in arms over the potential the sale had to unduly strain its police resources.

So a governor who hired a former CCA employee as the director of his DOC decided to sell a prison to CCA, then after some of his constituents were rightfully upset and fearful at the ramifications that would have for them, his attorney general bent the law to quell those concerns.  The attorney general happens to be the same guy who rallied federal support to re-open a private prison (with a $129 million contract to CCA) a few years ago that's been at the center of a dispute over back taxes.  Great.

"Sunk Costs"

Just another quick link here, this one to an excellent article from Al Jazeera focusing on the immigration detention system and the private prison industry's role in its expansion.  It also features some discussion of the report of the ACLU of Georgia on conditions facing immigration detainees in that state.

A CO's Evaluation of the Debate

Just wanted to drop a quick link to an article written by a CO from Florida evaluating the efficiency and safety of private prisons compared to government-ones.  Not surprisingly, he finds that private prisons fail to offer any significant cost-savings and are no safer than government-run facilities, even though he does so by relying on some older information.

Friday, June 8, 2012


In the interest of fairness and accuracy, I apologize for rushing to judgment on CCA without getting the full story of what happened in the beating death of Micheal Minick in Tennessee.  He was not beaten by CCA guards and to my knowledge had no direct interaction with CCA employees.  However, since CCA manages pretrial detainees for the county, they are being sued in their official capacity for failure to protect him from harm and deliberate indifference, essentially the same charges that have been brought against the city government (and rightfully so).  CCA and its employees had no direct involvement in Mr. Minick's death and in the grand scheme of things could hardly be considered responsible.  But if the company wishes to assume inherent governmental functions, it should at least be prepared to deal with lawsuits like this.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wrongful Death Suit Against Corizon

Corizon, the for-profit prison healthcare provider, recently came under fire for the "services" it has been providing to Idaho's prisoners.  They also are facing scrutiny as the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit coming out of the St. Louis Jail.  A 31-year-old man died there in 2009 from complications from a heart condition after requesting medical treatment numerous times.  His death should have never happened, though - a report nearly a decade and a half ago showed nearly 20 preventable deaths had occurred under the company's watch to that point, and a few other preventable deaths have occurred at this facility since.

But I guess that's the logical outcome when a profit-driven company is given responsibility to care for ill prisoners.

Report Slams Immigration Detention in Georgia

The ACLU of Georgia recently released a report on conditions facing immigrants detained in Georgia, who are held in one of four facilities (3 of which are privately operated).  CCA runs two of those prisons. The information for the report was compiled from interviews with immigrants who had spent time in the facilities; they detailed problems they faced with procedural due process, access to medical care, and the treatment of inmates.  CCA got its panties in a bunch over the report, blasting the ACLU in saying it had made over-broad generalizations and failed to paint a clear and comprehensive picture of immigration detention in Georgia.  Which is awfully rich coming from a company that refuses to publicly discuss the merits of its business model and actively attempts to thwart oversight and accountability for its many transgressions.

Curbing Sexual Abuse in Immigration Detention

A few weeks back, the Obama Administration finally got around to releasing new regulations governing sexual abuse in correctional facilities, as mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003.  PREA initially only applied to DOJ facilities and agencies, but the Administration has expanded its scope to include immigrants in detention here in the US (mostly under the jurisdiction of ICE).  This is particularly relevant for the private prison industry, which houses about half of the immigration detainees in the US, though it remains to be seen how effective these new regulations will actually be in stopping sexual abuse.  ICE will have to draft rules and regulations to govern its facilities, but given all the problems ICE has had in ensuring the private prison companies it contracts with provide humane treatment to its detainees, I'm not overly optimistic that the oversight of efforts to stop prison rape will be any more stringent than for a host of other issues.  Especially considering the fact that CCA just recently finished battling a shareholder who wanted the company to report on its efforts to curb sexual assault in its facilities.

Mental Health in Prisons and the GEO Group

By Jenny Landreth

The news that GEOCare, a private for-profit company, is hovering around the prisoner mental health honeypot in North Carolina is an extremely worrisome development. Mental health in prisons tends to fall at or near the very bottom of the list of priorities in prison management– and likewise in prison budgets– not least because a large percentage of the typical prison population suffer from mental health issue. This covers everything from anxiety and depression, to self-harm, insomnia, suicide attempts, psychosis, borderline personality disorder, uncontrollable anger and violent impulses associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and eating disorder. To be honest, if a prisoner is not suffering from some sort of despair related condition whilst incarcerated in the US prison system, they are doing remarkably well. Some prisoners are clearly more robust mentally than others, and it cannot be denied that these prisoners are likely to become the strongest of the population, sometimes to the point of bullying of vulnerable, mentally ill prisoners.

Tough Lives
Bullying of those with mental health issues is as common outside of prison walls as it is on the inside. Many criminals have suffered lives of appalling neglect, which has stunted their ability to feel anything approaching a normal response to others. When you think of these prisoners, think also of the little three year old child they once were, being abused, ignored, going hungry, being battered and shouted at. Any child being brought up in this sort of impoverished manner, often with parents who are poor and criminalised, will be seriously scarred by the experience, and will be developmentally and socially underdeveloped. Abused children often go on to be bullies themselves, in response to their own feelings of powerlessness. It’s not an excuse for such behaviour, but it goes a long way to explaining it. Beginning life with a poor home background is a huge disadvantage, and often the young teenagers who end up behind bars never had a chance at a better future. The thought of mental health services taking over the care of damaged and vulnerable prisoners – the bullies as well as the bullied, beggars belief. In the words of Dana Cope, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, "It just boggles my mind that folks think a for-profit private company with shareholders can perform a more efficient, better service at a cheaper rate than state employees." Quite so.

Forensic Psychiatry
Although GEOCare is circling mainly around the care of those prisoners who have committed serious mental health related crimes, such as murder, rape and violent assault, it won’t be long before they are pitching for wider mental health service provision.  In this business model, medical care programs become commodities and there is money to be made for shareholders. The state is considering the privatization of the whole of the prison health care system already. GEOCare is part of the GEO Group, which is the second-largest private prison company in the US. GEO Group has been charged on a number of occasions regarding the ill-treatment of prisoners and their own employees. They were fined $1.1 million in recent months by the state of New Mexico, for failing to adequately staff one of its prisons, putting the lives of staff and inmates at risk.

Fit to Run Prisons?
Questions must be asked about GEO Group’s fitness to run prisons, let alone a sophisticated forensic psychiatry service. Under the GEO Group’s management, a prison riot occurred in the New Castle Correctional Facility in Indiana in April 2007; eight prisoner deaths occurred at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County (STATE?), with subsequent lawsuits claiming negligence by GEO Group in the medical treatment and supervision of prisoners. The number of cases against the company, and presumably the attendant costs, led the GEO Group to pull out of the facility in 2008; that same year, Delaware County Jail (PA) was the site of the death of Sandy Morgan, a schizophrenic woman who died after not being given medication for a thyroid condition; in another 2008 incident Kenneth Keith Kallenbach also died after being denied medication for cystic fibrosis. Multiple cases of abuse and negligence were highlighted at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, including sexual abuse by staff, staff smuggling drugs in for inmates and the denial of medical treatment and education. The inmates’ ages ranged between 13 and 22 years of age. The list goes on and on. Now, GEO Group wants to take over the most complex form of mental health care for some of North Carolina’s most dangerous and disturbed criminals. The prospect is, frankly, terrifying both for the patients and the wider community.

Jenny Landreth is a freelance writer from England who has written for a number of journals and textbooks on the issue of workers' rights often using pay per click services to advertise her message.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Story Behind LaSalle

LaSalle Corrections is a private company based in Lousiana that operates mostly within its home state.  I don't write about the company very often on here, but I wanted to turn your attention to an excellent article detailing the history of the company and how it came to be one of the power players in Louisiana's part of the prison industrial complex.

Serco Loses Another Prisoner

Serco, the company that operates New Zealand's only private prison, somehow let a prisoner escape from the Mt. Eden correctional center, the second prisoner to escape from the facility this year.  The company is likely to be ordered to pay its second fine of $150,00 this year for the escape.

CCA Can't (Or Won't) Defend Its Business

About three weeks ago, the ACLU challenged CCA to a public debate on the merits of prison privatization, a timely request given that it came on the day of CCA's shareholder meeting where it faced a proposal from a shareholder that would have required the company to report on its efforts to curb sexual violence within its facilities.  The ACLU asked CCA to discuss rationales behind using private companies to perform an inherently governmental function, particularly when the industry has failed in so many respects, from efficiency and oversight to the humane treatment of the prisoners it houses.

CCA, incapable of actually defending its morally reprehensible and laughably inefficient business model, meekly rejected the ACLU's offer to debate in a public forum. I guess they find it difficult to justify abusing and neglecting human beings while reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profit every year, and having spent millions more lobbying for an ever-expanding prison industrial complex while crime rates continue to fall.

Just a hunch...

Slam the Door on Private Prisons!

Just a quick link here to an excellent article from the Huffington Post discussing the proposed immigration detention center in Crete, IL, and the larger private prison industry.

Assaulting a Malnourished and Restrained Man

CCA is being sued by the family of Michael Minnick, a Tennessee man who was killed by Sheriff's deputies while in restraints.  After being arrested for failing to appear in court for a suspended drivers' license hearing, Minnick was taken into custody and turned over to CCA.  Some time later, he was admitted to the hospital for loss of muscle mass and extreme dehydration.  While in the hospital and handcuffed, he was beaten so severely by the guards that he fell into a coma.  The hospital was able to revive him temporarily, but Mr. Minnick died a few hours later

Monday, June 4, 2012

Prison Health Care in Idaho Questioned

Corizon, a private, for-profit medical care provider, has come under fire for the services it has been providing to Idaho in managing health care at the Idaho State Prison.  A lack of medical care and persistent negligence were components of a huge lawsuit against the facility that was settled last year.  Following that lawsuit, a federal court appointed an expert to oversee medical care at the facility, and his initial findings detailed some rather grave findings, including chronic patients going unfed and being left in soiled linens, delays in reporting serious health issues, and possibly even some preventable deaths due to a lack of treatment.  Corizon then commissioned its own report, which found that the company was just peachy.  Shocking.  Somehow, the report they commissioned from the NCCHC found that nearly half of the records it reviewed had problems ranging from "minor to significant," but yet the facility was in substantial compliance with national health standards.

ALEC & State-Sanctioned Corruption

Apologies for being pretty late on posting this excellent article from PR Watch discussing ALEC's role in fostering corruption in Ohio.  It's a wonderfully detailed examination of how the non-profit trade works to skirt regulations and transparency while promoting corporate legislation.

CCA Ordered to Pay $1.3 Million in Taxes

A judge in Youngstown, OH has ordered CCA to pay $1.3 million in taxes that it had disputed paying.

Florida's Love Affair With Private Prisons

Many lawmakers in Florida, home of the GEO Group, are enamored with the idea of prison privatization.  Legislators, mostly Republican, have thrice attempted (and failed) to privatize half the state's prison system within the past two years.  The former speaker of the house, serving time in prison, is still being investigated by the FBI in part for his role in bringing a private prison to the state and attempting to force the closure of multiple state facilities to populate it.  He's also the target of a federal grand jury investigation for his dealings with the GEO Group.

In the towns of Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines, residents have been waging war against CCA and ICE, who want to build a huge immigration detention center there.  Upset over the risks of bringing a private prison to town, residents have already faced legal harassment after they have failed to capture the attention or sympathy of their representative, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.  The parties are engaged in a struggle over resources, as CCA is attempting to strong-arm the small towns into providing water and sewer services to the prison.  Pembroke Pines has already had to shell out more than $120,000 in legal fees to battle a detention center that the federal government seems to be forcing on them.

The most recent battle in Florida has arisen over the state's plans to privatize health care for all its prisoners, which I guess was the fall-back option if wholesale privatization failed.  The plan is being challenged by the Nurses' Association, which filed a lawsuit similar to the one that successfully defeated the wholesale privatization; basically saying the state Legislature didn't have the authority to order such a sweeping change to such a huge portion of the state budget without passing a stand-alone bill.  It's estimated that as many as 2,800 jobs and $300 million of the budget could be impacted by the switch, which is also opposed by the union that represents COs.

It seems simple to explain part of this love affair, the GEO Group and CCA have contributed huge sums of money to Florida legislators, with most of that going to Republicans.  During the last election cycle, the industry donated nearly $1 million to campaigns, with more than 80% of that coming from the GEO Group.  GEO has already given more than $100,000 to Governor Scott for the upcoming election.

But just looking at the campaign contributions fails to reveal the whole story.  Governor Scott's closest advisor and de facto gatekeeper, Steve McNamara, is a man with so much political influence he's been called the state's "Shadow Governor."  He also happens to be close personal friends with Jim Eaton, head lobbyist for the GEO Group, which might help explain why Scott decided to can the head of the Department of Corrections for challenging the privatization scheme.  After news came out that McNamara had been using his influence to advance himself and his friends politically and financially, he was forced to resign.  Jim Eaton, by the way, also happens to be the head lobbyist for Wexford, one of the companies in the running for the state healthcare contract.  So McNamara's influence is likely to last well beyond his tenure as "Shadow Governor."

Friday, June 1, 2012

TYT's Coverage of the Riot in Mississippi

Riots Causing Concern

The recent riots (or "disturbances," in industry parlance) at CCA prisons in Georgia and Mississippi have raised the concern of advocates in other states looking to privatize prisons.  The teamsters union down in Florida is urging state lawmakers to consider CCA's poor management of the facilities when it inevitably takes up the now annually-recurring massive privatization effort.  Information about the cause of the riot has been slow to trickle out of the facility in Mississippi, but it looks at least preliminarily like my intuition was correct.  Prisoners claim they routinely suffer abuse at the hands of guards, and that the medical care, food, and programming at the facility, which houses immigrants in the US illegally, were woefully insufficient. Even the Nashville Business Journal picked up on the story, albeit it to discuss how CCA can save face.

Another Wrongful Death Suit Against CCA

The ACLU of Hawaii has filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family of Clifford Medina, a 23-year-old Hawaiian prisoner who was murdered in the Saguaro Correctional Center, a CCA prison in Arizona.  The lawsuit contends that the company's negligence and drive for profit led to Medina's murder by a fellow prisoner.  This murder was one of two in a very short time frame at the facility, and one of a few issues that led the Governor of Hawaii to pledge to return all his prisoners to the islands, including an alleged sexual assault by a staff member at this same prison.

The lawsuit has already been covered by a ton of media outlets, so I won't go into a detailed breakdown.  Suffice it to say, I effing hate CCA.  I'll just give you links

KVOA News in Tucson, AZ
KITV News in Honolulu
Hawaii Reporter
Hawaii News Now
Nashville Scene
Courthouse News Service