Thursday, March 18, 2010
Contact Jaime Sarrio at 615-726-5964 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metro Nashville officials don't properly penalize Corrections Corporation of America for apparent contract violations in running the city's jail, claims a new report released Tuesday by a Tennessee-based watchdog group.
The report from Tennesseans for Improving Public Accountability says the Nashville-based company potentially violated its contract in the way it handled an inmate's suicide and an escape, among other incidents. Metro imposed no fines and withheld no payments as a result of these incidents, the report says, which calls on Metro to revise its contract to allow those measures and get tougher on CCA.
"When prisoners are treated in a less-than-humane manner, that reflects badly on not just the organization doing the immediate treatment, but also on the people that are paying them," said Toni Hall, volunteer director of the group. "If you hire someone to do a job for you and they do it badly, you want to have a contract that allows you to do something about that."
Metro's sheriff says many of the concerns raised in the report have been addressed. CCA hired a new warden, and staff from the health department are working inside the jail rather than reviewing situations from afar.
Metro government first contracted with CCA in January 1992 to run the 1,092-bed jail, which is mostly used for prisoners serving one- to six-year sentences.
This report is the latest in a series of hits against the private prison provider.
Last week, CCA was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union over claims an Idaho jail operated by the company is so violent, inmates call it "gladiator school." Last year, the company was sued by a Metro police officer shot by a man who escaped from a CCA facility and by a group of 23 female inmates who claim they were raped at a Kentucky prison.
Sheriff: Changes made
The report highlights several high-profile incidents at the Metro jail as examples of contract violations.
In the death of Terry Battle, an inmate who died from pneumonia, the report suggests that CCA violated its contract by not providing up-to-standard medical treatment to prevent the death. In the case of William Williams, an inmate who hung himself in November, the report alleges the company did not offer the appropriate psychiatric care. Williams killed himself two hours after being treated for a slit on his wrist, which he said was from a fall.
Metro Sheriff Daron Hall said CCA and the city have made changes to improve the care of Metro's prisoners. The sheriff's department is also now reviewing all "use-of-force cases," he said.
"We need to look and see what's been going on last 12 months and what's working," he said of the report's recommendations to add additional outside staff. "I think we need to evaluate how the monitoring is going now — as far as I can tell, it's improved dramatically."
Inmate Ricky Escue, who is serving a six-year sentence for DUI, said he hasn't seen a big improvement in the conditions. His biggest complaint is the inconsistency from officer to officer.
"Every officer has different rules and guidelines," he said. "You never know whether you're breaking a rule or not."
A CCA spokesman e-mailed The Tennessean a response to the report, saying that Metro has always held the company to a high standard of performance and questioning the watchdog group's motives.
"The selective use of salacious excerpts from past news articles, unsubstantiated individual accounts, and other partial information on which to base its claims should cause readers to question the merits," CCA spokesman Steven Owen said.
Tennesseans for Improving Public Accountability's director said she would not reveal the authors of the report out of fear of retaliation. She said one is a Metro employee, one is a state employee, one has a relative working at CCA and one is a former CCA employee.
Longtime CCA critic Alex Friedmann, a former prisoner who now works with the Private Corrections Institute, a nonprofit that opposes for-profit prisons, confirmed that he provided some research and information for the report.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Originally found here.
By Jade Bulecza
HAHIRA, GA (WALB) – Nine-year-old Malkolm Poyer will undergo open heart surgery next week. And he's come up with a unique way to help pay the medical bills.
Little Malkolm Poyer is selling copies of a story he wrote on EBay. It's a Buy It Now item, and more than 200 of them have sold so far.
He just found out Friday he will have to have open heart surgery March 24. His heart condition he's been taking medication for has gotten worse.
"If he does anything he could have a heart attack and they said it can't wait," said his mother, Jennifer Poyer. He was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or 'Sudden Death Disease' at birth.
"The septum is thicker than it should be, and it takes up space the blood needs," said Ms. Poyer.
Normal stress tests are zero. "He just had a stress test that was 183. They usually do surgery between 10 and 90 so that's pretty significant," said Ms. Poyer.
You may recognize Malkolm's dad. He's the volleyball coach at Valdosta State University and also has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. "It's in my family but by the grace of God I've been able to live a normal life physically without any medication or seeing any doctors," said Sia Soyer.
He's glad doctors could notice Malkolm's condition early on. Malkolm suggested putting a story he wrote in school on EBay to raise money for the surgery and since then, interest has spring boarded.
Since Friday, $2,500 has been raised. "It almost took a life of it's own, the support from friends, from people we don't know, it's just been incredible," said Sia Soyer.
"For all those people that bought the stories, I want to thank them for donating and praying for me," said Malkolm.
The recovery process will take awhile after the surgery but Malkolm hopes he'll be able to participate in activities he couldn't before.
"I'm really excited because I'll be able to actually win races with my friends, and actually be able to keep up," said Malkolm.
The story is going for $10.00 on EBay.
Mar 16, 2010 08:30 ET
CCA Announces Receipt of Previously Anticipated Arizona Notification Not to Renew Contract at Diamondback Correctional FacilityNASHVILLE, TN--(Marketwire - March 16, 2010) - CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) (NYSE: CXW), the nation's largest partnership corrections provider to government agencies, announced today that it has received notification from the Arizona Department of Corrections of its election not to renew its contract at CCA's 2,160-bed Diamondback Correctional Facility in Oklahoma, which is scheduled to expire on May 1, 2010. Arizona expects to begin transferring offenders from the Diamondback facility beginning in May 2010 and expects to complete the transfer in June 2010. As a result of this notification, CCA intends to idle the Diamondback facility shortly thereafter, but will continue marketing the facility to other customers.
In January, CCA reported that Arizona budget proposals would phase-out the out-of-state private prisons, and the risk that CCA could lose the opportunity to house offenders from Arizona at its Huerfano and Diamondback facilities during 2010. Later in January we announced that we received notification from Arizona of its election not to renew its contract at CCA's Huerfano facility and that we would idle the Huerfano facility in late March 2010. CCA's 2010 guidance, made at the time of its year-end earnings release, included the anticipated loss of the Arizona contract at the Diamondback facility.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Originally found here.
D.C. police located an inmate who escaped while being transported to Greater Southeast Hospital.
The Corrections Corporation of America says 28-year-old Terrence Moore fled when he arrived at the southeast D.C. hospital around 9 a.m. Thursday.
The company said after officers opened the vehicle doors, Moore escaped and jumped into a burgundy colored Cadillac and got away with an unknown driver.
Police scoured the area and went to previous addresses and addresses of Moore's friends.
Moore was found just after 7 p.m. near Wheeler Road and 10th Place in Southeast and was arrested without incident.
Officials are investigating how Moore was able to remove his restraints.
The CCA runs the Correctional Treatment Facility where Moore, who is from Washington, was a pretrial inmate facing charges of assault with intent to kill. The facility was under lockdown.
Friday, March 12, 2010
originally found here.
A federal lawsuit claims that Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America is running an Idaho prison that is so violent it is known as "gladiator school" by inmates.
The American Civil Liberties Union says CCA should have to pay all of its 2009 net profits — $155 million — in punitive damages.
Idaho prison officials also were named in the suit filed by the ACLU on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boise.
The suit adds to the considerable controversies CCA has faced since its founding in 1983. Last year, it was sued by a Metro officer who was shot by an escapee from a CCA facility; berated for leaving a mentally ill inmate in his Metro jail cell without a bath for 9 months; and sued by 23 female inmates who claim they were raped at a Kentucky prison.
In 2006 CCA settled a suit over the death of a Nashville woman who was left in solitary confinement with massive head injuries. Charges against four guards accused of beating the woman were dropped.
Opponents argue that CCA, the nation's largest private prison operator, uses its political influence to stifle those who say prisons should not be in private hands. It recently lost an attempt to keep all its prison records private when the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that CCA acts as a public entity in operating public prisons.
The latest lawsuit claims that Idaho's only private prison is extraordinarily violent, with guards deliberately exposing inmates to brutal beatings from other prisoners as a management tool.
The group contends the prison then denies injured inmates medical care to save money and hide the extent of injuries.
Steve Owen, Corrections Corporation of America's director of public affairs, said the company would respond to the lawsuit through court filings. He said state officials have unfettered access to the prison and provide strong oversight at the facility, including daily on-site monitoring.
"For the past decade, CCA has safely and securely managed the Idaho Corrections Center on behalf of our government partner, the Idaho Department of Corrections," Owen said in a prepared statement.
"Our hardworking, professional staff and management team are held accountable to high standards by our government partner, to include those of the American Correctional Association — the highest professional standards in the country for correctional management."
Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. Stephen Pevar, senior attorney for the ACLU, said he has sued at least 100 jails and prisons, but none came close to the level of violence at Idaho Correctional Center.
"Our country should be ashamed to send human beings to that facility," he said.
Suit asks for $155M
The ACLU is asking for class-action status and $155 million in punitive damages — the entire net profit reported by the company in 2009.
The ACLU said the money should go to lead plaintiff Marlin Riggs, who sustained permanent facial deformities and other medical problems after he was savagely beaten in his cell.
Guards use violence to control prisoner behavior, forcing inmates to "snitch" on other inmates under the threat of moving them to the most violent sections of the prison, ACLU-Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins said.
Hopkins said inmates will be beaten by fellow inmates if they become known as snitches. If they refuse to give up names, the guards will have them beaten anyway, she said.
"It doesn't do us any good as a society to put people in there where they have to turn to other gangs and become gang members to protect themselves," Hopkins said. "The thing is, there's a constitutional duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners."
The lawsuit also refers to an investigation by The Associated Press based on public records requests that found the level of violence at the prison was three times higher than at other Idaho prisons, and that Idaho Department of Correction officials believed violence was also dramatically underreported by Corrections Corporation of America and inmates.
At the time of that report, Steven Conry, CCA's vice president of facility operations, maintained the prison was safe and well-run.
The Idaho Correctional Center houses about 2,000 prisoners. The ACLU contends it is understaffed, with sometimes only two guards on duty to control prison wings with as many as 350 inmates.
Prisoners say aid denied
The ACLU lawsuit details the inmate-on-inmate attacks of about two dozen men, all of whom said they told guards they were in danger of being assaulted, had been assaulted or needed medical care after an assault.
In all the cases, the ACLU contends the men were summarily denied help.
Riggs, the lead plaintiff in the case, claimed members of a violent gang on his cell block told him in May 2008 that he'd be beaten unless he started paying "rent" to the gang.
He said in the lawsuit that he told correctional officers about the threat and begged to be transferred to another cell block but the guards refused. That same day, Riggs says, he was beaten by inmates, knocked down and kicked repeatedly in the face and torso. Blood was spattered on the ceiling of Riggs' cell and pooled on the floor, the ACLU said.
Guards eventually took Riggs to an infirmary where a doctor told him his nose was broken and tried to reset it. However, the doctor refused to take X-rays and ignored several other broken bones in his face, the lawsuit claims.
Riggs was denied medical care for six months before being taken to an ear, nose and throat specialist who said he needed immediate surgery, according to the lawsuit. He ended up with a plate in his cheek and a permanent dent on the side of his face, and he still suffers from blurry vision, headaches, pain, discomfort and mental trauma, Hopkins said.
CCA has paid out millions of dollars to settle dozens of individual lawsuits brought by inmates, family members of prisoners and employees.
Bay County officials are disputing some facts the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has been spreading around the state regarding their old contract to operate the Bay County jail.
Email Address: email@example.com
Hernando County commissioners are considering dropping Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and turning their jail over to the county sheriff.
They've been consulting Bay County officials about a similar transition that took place here in the fall of 2008.
According to published reports, CCA criticized Bay County for terminating their contract, telling Hernando County officials they could have saved Bay County $3 million this year if they had still been running the facility.
But, Bay County commissioners are now reminding everyone that it was CCA that terminated the contract, claiming they couldn't abide by the financial terms of that agreement.
They also say sheriff Frank McKeithen has done a better job of running the jail, and has done it cheaper than CCA.
Bay County commissioner Mike Thomas said, "In 2009, the sheriff's budget, entire budget, with insurance, building payments, power, everything, was $1.3 million cheaper than it was in 2008 under CCA's operation."
Thomas says the county commission hasn't received nearly as many jail complaints since McKeithen took over from CCA.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
via Georgia Detention Watch:
Newly obtained records show lack of transparency in ICE’s investigation and inconsistency in ICE’s account pertaining to Roberto Martinez Medina’s death
Vigil marks second in the Dignity Not Detention Campaign
Atlanta, Georgia – A silent vigil at 3:00 p.m. March 11 in front of the ICE office in Atlanta at 180 Spring Street S.W. marks the 1-year anniversary of the death of Roberto Martinez Medina who was detained in ICE custody at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. Mr. Medina, aged 39, was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle which is usually caused by a viral infection and normally treatable, according to records of the St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The records also noted that Mr. Medina had experienced symptoms three days before being rushed to the hospital on March 10, 2009, when his condition rapidly deteriorated.
“Roberto Martinez Medina and I would be the same age if he were still alive today,” reflected Anton Flores-Maisonet of Georgia Detention Watch on the passing of a 39-year-old immigrant from Mexico.
“One year has passed since the death of Roberto Martinez Medina and ICE has yet to set the record straight,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, the ACLU of Georgia National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director. “The question still remains: Why did Roberto Martinez Medina die of a treatable heart infection?”
Newly Obtained Information Reveals ICE Investigation into Martinez’ Death not Transparent
New records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union from ICE related to the death of Roberto Martinez Medina highlight the lack of transparency in the ICE investigation. The investigation into Mr. Medina’s death was apparently referred to ICE’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; however, the results of that investigation are unclear. An on-site review of Medina’s death by ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility was apparently scheduled for April 6, 2009; yet there is no indication that this review actually took place.
Records show many inconsistencies in the accounts by ICE’s representative, the hospital records, and a report by the Division of Immigration Health Services about when Mr. Martinez started complaining of chest pain and other ailments. The most perplexing disconnect in these accounts is the acknowledgment by Assistant Field Office Director for ICE Detention and Removal Operations, Michael Webster, to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation last year that Mr. Medina had experienced chest pain for three days prior to his death, even though Webster reported that Medina “did not voice the complaint.” Newly-obtained records point to a report by the Division of Immigration Health Services stating that Mr. Martinez Medina ran a fever for three days before March 10, 2009. This is in contrast to the official ICE narrative obtained through the ACLU Freedom of Information Act request which states that Mr. Martinez Medina did not complain of chest pain or other ailments prior to March 10, 2009.
Records Reveal that Roberto Martinez Medina Complained of Health Problems Possibly Related to Lapses in Hygiene Standards
The newly-obtained documents also indicate that Medina made sick calls prior to March 10, 2009 for itchy eyes and foot fungus. These complaints are consistent with the information Georgia Detention Watch members obtained through interviews with detainees at the Stewart Detention Center where many complained of infections and rashes.
In April 2009, Georgia Detention Watch released a report on detention conditions at the Stewart Detention Center that pointed out the poor medical treatment given to detainees as well as hygiene standards. The report was based on interviews with sixteen detainees during a humanitarian visitation in December 2008. Using Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Performance-Based National Detention Standards to gauge conditions at Stewart, the report made specific recommendations in several areas, including medical care standards, food services standards, disciplinary system standards, personal hygiene standards, and staff training.
In spite of several requests by members of Georgia Detention Watch and partner organizations to meet with ICE to discuss the findings of the report, ICE has yet to respond.
Immigration Detention Centers in Georgia
Georgia has three immigration detention centers, including two which are run by the Corrections Corporations of America, the country’s largest private prison corporation. With a capacity of 1700+, the Stewart Detention Center based in rural southwest Georgia is the largest corporate-run immigration detention center in the country.
The recently opened North Georgia Detention Center also operated by CCA is located in Gainesville and has a capacity of 500.
Silent Vigil for Dignity Not Detention
The silent vigil sponsored by Georgia Detention Watch remembers the death of Roberto Martinez Medina, as well as the more than 100 other detainees who have perished in ICE custody since October 2003, and stresses the focus of another vigil held two weeks ago in Gainesville, Georgia where more than 50 people congregated to protest the recently opened North Georgia Detention Center and to join in the national launch the campaign: Dignity Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights and Restoring Justice.
Through taking part in the campaign, Georgia Detention Watch and partner organizations call for an end to contracts with the Corrections Corporation of America for the operation of the North Georgia Detention Center and the Stewart Detention Center due to CCA’s deadly track record and lack of adherence to ICE’s own standards. Georgia Detention Watch also calls on the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to:
Institute binding standards for treatment of immigrant detainees that correspond to international human rights norms.
Utilize community-based and humane alternatives to detention.
End detainee transfers away from loved ones and communities of support.
End local enforcement programs that are contributing to the growth of the immigration detention system.
Georgia Detention Watch is a coalition of organizations and individuals that advocates alongside immigrants to end the inhumane and unjust detention and law enforcement policies and practices directed against immigrant communities in our state. Our coalition includes activists, community organizers, persons of faith, lawyers, and many more.
Member organizations of Georgia Detention Watch include: the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, American Immigration Lawyers Association Atlanta Chapter, Amnesty International-Southern Region, Amnesty International -Atlanta local group 75, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), Coalición De Líderes Latinos (CLILA), Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Immigrant Justice Project- Southern Poverty Law Center, International Action Center, Open Door Community, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), and others
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Originally found here
Nugent says he can run jails more efficiently
Updated: Tuesday, 09 Mar 2010, 5:40 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 09 Mar 2010, 3:35 PM EST
SPRING HILL - It may say "Hernando County Jail," but the county lock-up in Spring Hill is actually run by a private company, the Corrections Corporation of America.
Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent told county commissioners Tuesday it's time for CCA to go.
"We hear a lot of complaints about the jail, we transfer all those to the county and we never hear about them being resolved, because it's not a public institution," Nugent said.
He told commissioners if he assumes control of the jail it would be better for inmates and taxpayers. Nugent said while he supported the idea of a private company running the jail in years past, times have changed.
"In ten years, my budget has grown by 80 percent, CCA's budget has increased by 190 percent," he said.
The sheriff conceded, however, he can only estimate the actual cost savings. That's because CCA is a private company that is reluctant to make its business records public.
"If I was a private company, I would want to hold that close to the vest also, but when you're a public entity, those are all open for disclosure," Nugent said.
Ending the agreement that's been in place for 22 years may have consequences, CCA warned commissioners. Tommy Alsup, CCA's director of partnership relations said
"...we came in good faith in the fall, negotiated a contract. We felt like we want to live up to our obligations of the contract. We felt like the county should live up to the contract also," said Tommy Alsup, CCA's director of partnership relations.
Tony Grande, another CCA executive, told commissioners it would actually cost Bay County $3 million more to run its jail if it terminated their contract with the company. That was enough to make one commissioner nervous.
"We've got look at the fiscal realities," said commissioner Jeff Stabins. "I don't know what the final answer is but I would really hate to see this contract severed by either side today."
The contract was not terminated, but despite Stabins' concern, the county asked both the sheriff and CCA to submit proposals to continue running the jail by next month.
Monday, March 8, 2010
By Dan DeWitt, Times Columnist
In Print: Friday, March 5, 2010
We all know that when the real estate bubble burst a few years ago, it cost us all. When the incarceration bubble bursts — as may be happening — it should save us money.
Because it's sure been expensive to blow it up.
In 1988, when Hernando County hired Corrections Corporation of America to run its jail, it paid the company $1.7 million to house 160 inmates; in recent years, the number of inmates, averaged over the course of a year, crested at 591 a day in 2007, and the annual cost of running the jail is now $11.4 million.
Sure, Hernando County's overall population has almost doubled in that time, and inflation did its usual dirty work. But the main reason for the increased costs here and across the country is that we are locking up a higher percentage of our residents.
"In the past decade, we've more than doubled our jail population, and consequently costs have gone up,'' said county purchasing director Jim Gantt.
What else has changed?
Well, 22 years ago, privatization seemed a new and promising approach to handling a growing inmate population at a reasonable cost.
Now, a lot of people think private jails and prisons waste taxpayer money, not save it. And I'm not just talking about union-funded activists. I'm talking about one of Hernando's most middle-of-the-road politicians, Sheriff Richard Nugent.
"The difference between us doing it and CCA doing it is, we don't have to carry the corporate load,'' said Nugent, who this week said he wants his department to reassume control of the jail.
"We don't have to support all the staff (at company headquarters) in Nashville. We don't have to show a profit margin for shareholders.''
CCA has a reputation for cutting costs to the bone, so I'm not sure Nugent really can save much money.
But we'd come out ahead even if he just keeps the costs level. The guards would be better paid and better qualified, judging from CCA's historic pay rates and turnover levels. And all the money spent on the jail would stay in the county.
Nugent has talked about a lot of potential savings. One big one is that, unlike CCA, he has a motivation to cut the jail population.
Big picture, the growth of CCA, from its founding in 1983 to a company that today supervises facilities with 80,000 beds, has coincided with the explosion of the nation's prison population.
The company isn't the main cause of this increase, of course. Twenty years ago, as crime rates climbed and prisons were filled to bursting, even violent criminals in Florida could get credit for three years of their sentence for every year they served. People had a right to be mad, and to demand longer sentences and to elect tougher judges.
But also consider this: CCA has contributed millions of dollars to the campaigns of politicians who backed longer sentences, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of Private Corrections Working Group, who is one of those aforementioned union-funded activists.
And remember those laws that required prisoners to serve 85 percent of their sentences or, for many repeat offenders, a lifetime behind bars?
They were written by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Counsel at a time when CCA was helping steer its criminal justice policy, said Byron Price, author of Merchandising Prisons, a book about the private corrections industry.
This advocacy makes sense. The more people who are behind bars, the more CCA profits.
Locally, Nugent says, the company likes to stretch the booking of inmates out to at least six hours, even if money is available for bail. CCA also has no motivation to explore alternatives to jail time, such as ankle bracelets that could allow the Sheriff's Office to track the movement of people charged with nonviolent crimes.
There would seem to be plenty of candidates for such a program.
A county study showed that in April of last year, 48 percent of the inmates were in jail for probation violations. Another 30 percent were in for traffic offenses (not including driving under the influence) or for either possessing or selling marijuana.
Counties and states are looking to cut inmate populations to save money all over the country, said Steve Owen, a CCA spokesman, but that doesn't mean the idea of private corrections is a thing of the past. CCA is growing fast in some states, including California, where he expects CCA will supervise about 10,000 prison beds before the end of the year.
But the Private Corrections Working Group issued a statement in February stating that CCA had lost 7,594 beds in the previous 16 months, including the termination of its long-standing contract to run the Bay County jail in the Florida Panhandle.
If Hernando follows Bay's lead, it could leave Citrus as the only county in the state with a CCA-run jail.
You can almost hear the air going out of the bubble.
[Last modified: Mar 04, 2010 08:40 PM]