Friday, December 9, 2011

Part 3: Is CCA America's Leader In Not Holding Wardens Accountable?

It's Ironic that at almost exactly this same time last year we were discussing bigoted homophobic comments that former Stewart Detention Center Warden Vance Laughlin made about a transgender detainee. Even after this blogs extensive coverage of his many scandals he is still employed with Corrections Corporation of America. Although we have been told that his attempts at climbing the corporate ladder in recent times have been unsuccessful. Apparently Vance like the Warden we are about to discuss has not yet done enough in violating the rights of incarcerated detainees to warrant being terminated by "America's Leader in Partnership Corrections."

Lets get back to Arizona and the more recent events that we have been examining at Corrections Corporations of America's Eloy Detention Center. In reading the complaint filed on behalf of the transgendered detainee who was criminally abused by a Corrections Corporation of America detention officer many things jumped out at us.

Just a few of the many allegations:

* According to documents obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act request since 2007 eight (8) allegations of sexual abuse were documented at the Eloy Detention Center.

* From the beginning of her confinement at the Eloy Detention Center the victim was subjected to repeated verbal abuse and harassment by male detainees and male (Corrections Corporation of America) detention officers who insulted her by calling her “dog,” “faggot,” and “boy." On one occasion, a (Corrections Corporation of America) detention officer told other detainees that they could “have her” if they gave him three soup packets.

* The victim was often inappropriately patted-down by male (Corrections Corporation of America) officers.

* The victim was sexually assaulted twice by males at Eloy Detention Center. The first of these assaults occurred on December 7, 2009, when the victim was sexually assaulted by a Corrections Corporation of America detention officer, Defendant Manford. This assault followed a history of frequent inappropriate behavior and inquiries by Manford about the victim, including questions about her sexuality, whether she had a boyfriend, and whether other inmates had seen her breasts. Manford harassed and assaulted the victim in the course of his employment with Corrections Corporation of America, and utilized the authority conferred upon him by State law as a detention officer at the Eloy Detention Center.

* Even after learning of the sexual assault committed by Manford, Defendants failed to take appropriate action to protect the victim. On April 23, 2010, she was sexually assaulted a second time, this time by a male detainee, Johnny Pereira Vigil (“Vigil”). Like Manford, Vigil assaulted the victim after harassing her for some time prior, including calling her a “faggot,” making inappropriate sexual gestures, following her in and out of her cell and peeking into her cell when she was using the toilet or dressing.

Since August of 2009 Chuck DeRosa has been Warden at the Eloy Detention Center. This would mean that he was Warden of the facility during both of the sexual assaults on the victim. With all of the allegations outlined in the victims complaint I can't help but wonder how he did not know about the discriminatory and inappropriate environment that the victims report talks about being present. It's also worth noting that according to the allegations outlined in the complaint there was a lead up time period before both sexual assaults during which numerous inappropriate and demeaning comments were made. Perhaps if Warden DeRosa had intervened when these signs were allegedly present at the facility he was responsible for then the victim would never of been sexually assaulted on one of or both of the occasions. I personally believe that the allegations the victim made regarding the facilities environment were true. But to a certain extent in examining the Wardens response it is inconsequential. Even if they were untrue or Warden DeRosa was somehow unaware of them it does not change the fact that he was Warden at a detention center where a detainee whose safety and security he was ultimately responsible for was sexually assaulted not once, but twice. This blog strongly feels that as a Warden he should of at the very least ensured that a victim of a previous sexual assault in his facility was not sexually assaulted a second time. I mean really how could you not accept the fact that she was vulnerable to abuse after she had already been sexually abused by one of your own staff members?

With all this going on if Warden Chuck DeRosa had a venue to say something to the entire company and CCA's President and CEO what do you think he would say? Would he ask about more training for his staff on the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)? Perhaps ask about better ways to supervise detainees so that a sexual assault victim is not re-victimized? Nope. Warden Chuck Derosa would actually ask CCA's President & CEO "What's going on with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and how well equipped are we to embark on new opportunities with ICE?" Apparently a little thing like multiple sexual assaults in the facility you run leads one to ask about new opportunities to make (we are assuming) more tax-payer money off of ICE.

I guess to me it's just unacceptable that a detainee could be sexually assaulted again less than five months after she was sexually assaulted the first time. As we read the allegations and facts in this case it seems to us that at the very least Corrections Corporation of America should of terminated Chuck DeRosa as a response to the lack of control he seems to of had over the environment and staff at his facility. To this blog everyday that passes in which Warden DeRosa continues in his present position reflects on just how serious Corrections Corporation of America takes the sexual assault of detainees placed in it's care.

Chuck's biography reads that he was once an electrical worker foreman. The 270 View feels strongly that maybe he should go back to this line of work. In fact we made this little ditty up....

If Warden Chuck had really bad supervision skills and luck, Would Warden Chuck end up back in an electrical company truck?

This blog has decided not to identify the victim of multiple sexual assaults by name. In order to prevent confusion we are referring to her by the gender she has chosen as representing her.

All opinions expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own opinion.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Part 2: Is Being Transgendered a Crime to Corrections Corporation of America?

During last months fifth annual "Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center" rally I very briefly spoke about a transgendered detainee at Corrections Corporation of America's (CCA) Stewart Detention Center (SDC) who was locked down in the facilities segregated housing unit. When I spoke at the rally I had no idea of the human rights abuses that had also been committed at CCA's Eloy Detention Center against a transgendered immigrant being detained there.

It's interesting to me that both detainees were held in a segregated housing unit setting. In the case of the transgendered detainee being held at the Stewart Detention Center I know for a fact that she was locked down in a segregated housing unit cell for a very prolonged period of time for no offense other than her lifestyle. Let there be no doubt that this happened as I was present and a witness to the events that took place. Knowing what I personally observed as having happened at CCA's Stewart Detention Center I can not help but wonder if this was also to a certain extent the same thing that was going on at CCA's Eloy Detention facility. If this is what is actually going on here then that would mean that Corrections Corporation of America is in effect locking transgendered detainees up in segregated housing unit's for no offense other than leading an alternative lifestyle.

Legally even in Detention facilities and prisons hearings must take place if detainees are deprived of rights and placed in disciplinary confinement for extended periods of time. Usually some sort of rule violation or crime is required to of happened. I'm very much aware of the pattern of abuse in disciplinary and confinement hearings that took place at CCA's Stewart Detention Center. It would be very interesting to see just what basis CCA used to lock these individuals up in the most restrictive and confining of available housing units. Is this yet another example of the abusive disciplinary procedures that are or were in effect at the Stewart Detention Center? Is being transgendered a confinable "crime" or disciplinary offence in CCA ran facilities?

As we discussed in yesterdays post proper supervision of detainees would in effect mean that personal lifestyles would probably not matter to the degree that they apparently did at one (or more) CCA for-profit run Detention Centers. Transgendered individuals in the United States are a very small minority group and yet these individuals manage to have a place in many other government controlled or influenced settings. Some local schools have dealt with transgendered students and as far as i'm aware it's not acceptable for these schools to just lock them away from other students in an in-school detention room. I also can't imagine a US city in current times that would task it's police department with rounding up all the transgender individuals to some sort of local transgendered internment camp. With this in mind I have to ask myself what makes it acceptable for Corrections Corporation of America to apparently behave this way? I guess if CCA is unable to adequately supervise and provide for the safety of transgendered individuals then perhaps it needs to stop taking taxpayer money for detaining them.

All opinions expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own opinion.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Part 1: Documented Abuse of A Trangendered Detainee in a CCA Prison

On Monday a lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Transgendered detainee who was the victim of intolerable acts while being held at Corrections Corporation of America's (CCA) Eloy Detention Center.

In the worst of the incidents detailed in the lawsuit, Justin Manford a CCA Detention Officer at CCA's Eloy Detention Center, is alleged to of "maliciously forced the transgendered detainee to watch him masturbate into a white Styrofoam cup and then demanded that she ingest his ejaculated semen." Keep in mind that at this point there is absolutely no doubt that unacceptable things happened to this immigrant while she was being detained at CCA's Eloy Detention Center. After all on June 8, 2010 Manford was convicted of the crime of "Attempted Unlawful Sexual Contact" for his victimization of the transgendered detainee in question while he was employed by Corrections Corporation of America.

We have previously reported several times on the record levels of sexual assaults in Corrections Corporation of America's (CCA) for-profit prisons and detention centers. Sadly this trend is continuing. In fact one could quite effectively argue that this is not a trend but is instead a widespread and systemic pattern of sexual assaults and abuse. It is this former CCA employees belief that this is caused by a for-profit corporation that places profits above adequate supervision levels of both detainees and CCA's employees. How else does one explain the sexual activity that seems so prevalent at CCA's detention centers and prisons? How does someone masturbate into a cup on a job site and there is no co-workers around to notice? Could this happen where you work? Is your job site a controlled environment where supervision is the proven key ingredient to stopping most the major problems that could happen? It is my personal belief that this is because CCA has set staffing levels at minimal levels in order to reap higher profits while providing minimal or non-existent supervision to both detainees and employees. Incidents like this are perhaps a consequence of Corrections Corporation of America's own policies and practices that led to the low levels of supervision in the first place.

I am a very unlikely advocate for gay rights, I don't think I have ever known anyone that identified with this type of belief. But to me that's inconsequential. What we are talking about here is basic human rights. I would also argue that the undeniable patterns of sexual abuse we are seeing within Corrections Corporation of America prisons and detention centers is a natural progression of the government turning a blind eye to CCA's proven track record of being a leader in the sexual abuse of detainees and prisoners.

All opinions expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own opinion