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.