Tuesday, December 4, 2012

U.S. Marshall Hired by CCA Accused of Ethics Violation

This story made me think of the former ICE supervisor from the Stewart Detention Center (SDC) that "The 270 View" previously reported on  who was allegedly hired by former SDC Warden Vance Laughlin to work for CCA in Natchez, MS.
Keep in mind that all opinions expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own opinion.
Marshal accused of ethics violation

Agent sought a job at contractor he oversaw

Originally found here.

by JJ Hensley - Dec. 2, 2012 10:44 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

A U.S. Marshals agent who was responsible for coordinating a $124 million annual contract with Corrections Corporation of America in Florence is facing criminal charges in federal court over an attempt to secure a job with the private-prison operator.

Thomas B. Bullen, 58, is on unpaid leave from the Marshals Service pending the outcome of the agency's administrative investigation into his conduct, said David Gonzales, U.S. marshal for Arizona.

Bullen referred a request for comment to his attorney, who did not return repeated messages. Bullen pleaded not guilty to the allegations at a hearing in October and is due to go to trial in the spring.

Bullen served as chief administrative officer for the Marshals Service from 2006 until early 2011, according to court documents, when he was demoted and assigned to oversee the agency's contract with the CCA, whose Florence facility holds defendants in federal cases awaiting trial

"What I do now is oversee a $4 billion, 20-year contract with (the CCA). ... I go throughout the facility and compare the contract with what they are doing," Bullen wrote of his job, a description included in court documents.

"I make surprise inspections at all times of the day or night; and file reports with the Arizona U.S. Marshals Service and also confer with the Office of Federal Detention Trustee in Washington, D.C."

One of Bullen's primary contacts was a woman referred to in court documents as "M.C."

About nine months into his new job, Bullen learned that M.C., who worked as the health-services administrator at the CCA, was going to retire, prompting Bullen to approach her about applying for the job.

Bullen applied for the job in October 2011, interviewed in November and was offered the job later that month.

The day he received the job offer, Bullen notified his supervisor that he was going to take a position with the CCA.

"This e-mail was the first time that anybody at the USMS had received notice of Bullen's possible departure," according to court documents.

The indictment notes that Bullen received ethics training, which included instructions barring federal employees from seeking employment that conflicts with their official duties, including a session the month before he started seeking the position with the CCA and another in 2008.

"During that training, Bullen was specifically instructed that 'if an employee who participates personally and substantially in a federal procurement exceeding $100,000 is contacted by a vendor/bidder with an offer for employment,' the employee must 'refuse the offer and report the contact in writing to a supervisor,' " according to court documents.

Federal prosecutions for conflict of interest are relatively rare, averaging about 13 cases in each of the last five years, according to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

None has originated in Arizona.

The most frequent prosecutions were for employees charged with violating the same section of the U.S. Criminal Code that Bullen is accused of violating, and they are typically resolved with guilty pleas, probation and fines.

Prison time is rare but is exercised in some cases.

In 2009, a Georgia woman was sentenced to three years in prison following a three-day trial in which prosecutors proved she was using her position with the Department of Veterans Affairs to place mentally ill veterans in an assisted-living facility in which she had a financial interest.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mitt Romney Profited from Failed Corrections Corporation of America Real Estate Investement Trust

In the last year there has been a lot of talk about Corrections Corporation of America forming a real estate investment trust or REIT. Corporations form REIT's to reduce or eliminate corporate tax. What has not gotten a significant amount of coverage is Corrections Corporation of America's last effort at forming a REIT.

When looking at REIT's to me it also seems like they do not necessarily serve a companies employees best interest. From what I understand REITs are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income into the hands of investors in the form of dividends. So basically a company dodges having to pay taxes and instead sends those untaxed dollars to stockholders and company executives with nice stock options and stock portfolios in the company. So if 90% of the profits go out this way then I would imagine that it would eventually negatively impact employees on raises and things like maintenance of CCA prisons and the funds with which say a company like CCA would put into inmate/detainee programs. 10% of profits just does not seem like much to go around to maintain or improve operations. But from a company executive standpoint having to put 90% of your profits into dividends could be quite the financial windfall.

Last time Corrections Corporation of America went this route there were lots of questionable red flags. Corrections Corporation of America's then Chairman Doctor Crant's twenty-eight year old son Robert Crants III was the founding President of Prison Reality Trust. This was the prison real estate company that merged with Corrections Corporation of America into forming the new CCA.

According to a prisonpolicy.org report in "July 1997, CCA Prison Realty Trust, a REIT registered in Maryland, made an initial public offering of 21.3 million shares, priced at $21, raising more than $400 million. Most of the proceeds of the offering were used to purchase nine facilities from CCA, which leased them back and continued operating them under government contracts." The report goes on to state that the REIT was paying to CCA for the nine prisons–more than $300 million for facilitiess that had cost only $170 million to build.

 Several of the nation's largest pension funds in fact claimed that this deal favored Corrections Corporation of America executives over the companies shareholders. In the merger it is my understanding that shareholders were paid well below the market price for there shares.

From what I understand the new company then also profited off of management fees and acquisition fees for prisons that the company bought and then farmed out to Corrections Corporation of America to run. Initially CCA would pay $400 for each new prison bed and this was renegotiated retroactively to $4000 per new prison bed. My understanding is that this time period is when the Stewart Detention Center was built and that it was tied up into CCA's REIT game. If this is true it would possibly explain why the Stewart Detention Center was built without a contract for any prisoners or detainees and why it sat empty for so many years. If my calculations are right with 1,800 prison beds at a acquisition fee of a paltry $4,000 per bed then it would mean that the boondoggle of a real estate company that apparently purchased the land to build the Stewart Detention Center on may have possibly led to a acquisition fee of $7.2 million dollars for just this one prison built on speculation. Sadly from what I have heard there were many other prisons built during the same speculative prison boom that more likely than not were driven by the prison bed acquisition fee's that they generated. For a company that claims it runs prisons better than public agencies one can wonder if the Stewart Detention Center can ever really turn a profit if it in fact financially started out $7.2 million in the hole.

This whole merging of companies led to a huge debacle in which Corrections Corporations of America employees lost significant money in the companies 401K. The financial mess this merger led to almost put Corrections Corporation of America out of business and at one time CCA stock plummeted to under a dollar a share. In response to this Corrections Corporation of America had to give stockholders 1 share of stock for every 10 they held. This was done in order to prevent being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange. Things were bad in CCA land. Ultimately in December of 1999 because of this huge financial mess Doctor Crants would get fired by Corrections Corporation of America. According to the book "Privatization of Criminal Justice: Past Present and Future" Corrections Corporation of America knew about a $80 million shortfall and neglected to let the stock holders in on this fact. the book also states that a person associated with Legg Mason Securities said "The way they disclosed the problem is very disappointing. It raises serious questions about the credibility of the management team. People are debating whether these guys are incompetent or thieves."

Gawker.com currently has 950 pages of documents relating to Bain Capital and Mitt Romney's investments. Crooksandliars.com has located some documents among those documents than link Bain Capitol and Mitt Romney to Corrections Corporation of America during this same period of time. According to there report (Mitt) "Romney bought shares in September, 1998 and sold them sometime in the first two quarters of 1999. Depending on when they were sold (and especially if they were sold before May 14th), there's a serious question about whether he had inside information and acted on it to the detriment of other investors." This story is a very interesting read and goes into even more detail about Corrections Corporation of America and it's failed REIT. Crooksandliars.com allege that Mitt Romney could have made up to $80 million in profit off of the debacle that was Corrections Corporation of America's failed REIT venture. The entire story can be found here.

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Corrections Corporation of America Engages in a Cloak and Dagger Campaign for the Mitt Romney Presidential Campaign

This is Part One in a new series on Corrections Corporation of America and politics. In the next part we will focus on Mitt Romney's campaign in even more detail.

Recently Corrections Corporation of America wrote an internal news story called "Presidents, Politics and Partnership Corrections" directed at and made available to all Corrections Corporation of America employees through it's own "Inside CCA" internal propaganda machine. To the 270 View this story appears to serve the sole purpose of attempting to manipulate or prod Corrections Corporation of America employees into voting for the Republican ticket in the upcoming presidential election. The 270 View decided to examine the Corrections Corporation of America story and look into a few of CCA's possibly less than truthful statements.

In the internally produced Corrections Corporation of America article CCA employee Bart Verhulst (Vice President of Federal Partnership Relations) states "We are non-partisan as an organization and do not wish to influence the choices of our voting employees." This is possibly the biggest misstatement in the whole Corrections Corporation of America posting. The way The 270 View reads that statement is that Corrections Corporation of America intentionally made a very deceptive claim to not be telling employees how to vote and then goes on later in the article to tell employees to vote for a specific political party. If Corrections Corporation of America is not trying to steer CCA employees into voting a specific way then what would be the purpose of this story? Mr. Verhulst's claim that Corrections Corporation of America is non-partisan would also appear to be very questionable if not an outright misstatement. According to OpenSecrets.Org in 2012 Corrections Corporation of America's Political Action Committee funding to federal candidates was broken down to only 18% of CCA's political funding going to Democratic political candidates while 82% of CCA's political action committee spending went to Republican political candidates. That hardly seems non-partisan to us.

The Corrections Corporation of America produced story goes on to get into how campaign themes on the role of government in businesses could directly relate to Corrections Corporation of America and CCA employees. Jeremy Wiley Corrections Corporation of America's Managing Director of Federal Partnership Relations states in the article that "Republicans and Democrats tend to be on opposite sides of this specific issue. If someone believes that a larger government better serves Americans, then as it relates to corrections, they may believe that only government should own and operate correctional facilities. If someone believes government should play a smaller role, then they may support companies like CCA and our ability to provide the same service as government, but at a lower cost to taxpayers. When candidates are talking about the role or size of government, that’s how it could relate to CCA." This appears to be the tipping point of the story in which Corrections Corporation of America basically dispenses with cloak and dagger subterfuge and the use of political buzzwords and comes out and finally says vote Republican.

The problem with Corrections Corporation of America's argument that CCA employees should be in favor of small government to preserve Corrections Corporation of America's own place in the business sector of privatized corrections is also the same reasoning that has led CCA's employees into sub par paying jobs in privatized corrections. It's not really a secret that many corrections jobs in state or federal prison systems pay much more than privatized corrections jobs. One could argue that the need to line investors and corporate officers pockets with millions of dollars in profits is the same rational that leads to Corrections Corporation of America employees having to go several years without raises and also having benefits that often are not comparable to state and federal correction workers benefit packages. The fact of the matter is there is only so much money to go around. When a disproportionate amount of salaries goes to the people at the top and then you shave millions of dollars off for investors, lobbying, political campaign donations and things like luxurious high priced corporate offices then perhaps the pay rate of employees in privatized corrections businesses like Corrections Corporation of American can only suffer. It's just a natural consequence of small government employing big business at the cost of American workers salaries and benefits. The fact that low paid Corrections Corporation of America corrctional staff have to work twenty-four hours a day for seven days a week to enable these dollars to be earned and driven to the top does not even factor into employees being paid a decent wage in many Corrections Corporation of America facilities. Perhaps this is what Corrections Corporation of America employees should be thinking about on election day.

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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Taking a Stand in Alabama

This week Dothan, Alabama based "The 270 View" was proud to join with The Rights Working Group and two hundred and thirty-three religious, labor and civil rights groups to call on the Obama Administration to end immigration reporting partnerships with local police in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, the 233 organizations said the recommendations were intended to “ensure that Department of Homeland Security enforcement operations do not contribute to racial profiling and prolonged detention in Arizona and the other states that have passed recent immigration enforcement laws.” The groups urge that DHS must take concrete steps to ensure that the federal government is not helping police to engage in discriminatory policing. In addition to calling for a termination of these states’ immigration enforcement partnerships, the organizations called on DHS to:

  • Collect data to determine whether state and local police in the six states are engaged in racial profiling or illegal detentions.

  • Establish a centralized unit at DHS headquarters to review all immigration enforcement decisions to ensure DHS enforcement does not further racial profiling.

  • Give specialized instructions to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Support Center on how to respond to inquiries made by local police in the six states to prevent DHS from serving as a conduit for discriminatory policing.

  • Devote more resources to implementing its prosecutorial discretion policy robustly in the six states.

  • The 270 View's Dothan, Alabama based founder Bryan L. Holcomb stated "As an organization located in Alabama it was personally very important to me that I participate with these other groups in urging for state laws like Alabama's own HB 56 to be examined. The passage of this Alabama law created a partnership between DHS/ICE and state & local governments and local law enforcement agencies. The vast majority of these local governments and local law enforcement agencies had no input in the passage of this law and did not necessarily wish to indirectly become enforcers of a broken immigration system. Furthermore the very nature of this partnership between states like Alabama and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency creates an environment under which the potential for the denial of civil rights is very likely for certain minorities who it appears can now be legally discriminated against according to laws like Alabama's current HB 56."

    Alabama's current immigration law (HB 56) is regarded by many as the nation's strictest anti-illegal immigration law. Under HB 56 Alabama has created a system under which undocumented immigrants are unable to interact with local and state Alabama government agencies in any way and for any purpose. This has effectively made an entire class of people into “non-persons” in the eyes of the law. For example, under this law if a person who was perceived by law enforcement to "look undocumented" was to call law enforcement for any reason they could be detained against there will until there citizenship was proven. This detainment and denial of basic civil rights could lead to large numbers of American citizens in states like Alabama being detained against there will until local courts or law enforcement decided to release them.

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    End Piracy, Not Liberty

    This fourth of July we would like to encourage everyone to support freedom on the internet. SOPA and PIPA are two copyright bills currently under stalled negotiation in the House and Senate. These bills as drafted would have a chilling effect on Internet innovation, the Engine of the American economy. Tell your Senators to find a better way. 

    Additional information can be found here.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    Former Adams Co. Prison employee: 'It was just a matter of time'

    Originally found here.

    "It was just a matter of time," said a former Adams County Correctional Center employee.
    A male employee who worked at the facility for one year said he was not surprised when he heard the news of the inmate riot that broke out Sunday night, killing one guard.
    He said did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation from gangs with members inside the prison - or from Corrections Corporation of America - which is contracted to run the federal facility.

    "There was talk among employees there in general that you know sooner or later something bad's going to happen," said the employee.

    He says he came forward because 24-year-old Catlin Carithers, the guard that was killed in the prison riot Sunday was his friend.

    "He was a good guy, he was really soft spoken, always smiling, always happy, always had something nice to say to everybody including the inmates."

    He says since January the prison has gone on lockdown three times.

    "The entire prison goes on lockdown because to try and keep the peace. The prisoners refuse to go back in to their specified housing units to be counted and they negotiated for them to get back in. If I had to guess, that's probably what happened yesterday and it just went south," he said. "Every time that I was there and it happened, it would happen on a Saturday or a Sunday because you had minimum staff there... they probably weren't able to get the prison locked down fast enough."

    He says the prison is understaffed.

    "On a night shift you may have 26 employees and 2500 inmates."

    And alleges the facility is overcrowded, with 2,567 beds, he said there are likely many more prisoners. "If I had to guess there's probably more inmates than that there - because I know one time when I worked there was over 2600."

    More than 400 inmates over capacity. He says guards would talk about how dangerous the prison was.

    "They're constantly hiring people, but people are constantly quitting just because a lot of it has to do with safety issues, a lot of people don't feel comfortable," the former employee said. "You're on a unit with one other person, one other guard, with you know 500 inmates."

    A facility spokesperson has said the low-security prison houses illegal immigrants who reentered the country after deportation.

    He says all inmates were internationals but, from paperwork he saw while employed at the facility, some of the men held at the prison have been convicted of dangerous crimes.

    "Criminals, I mean hard criminals - gang bangers, drug dealers, murderers, rapists that are doing time, who have been sent to a minimum security prison like the one in Natchez to finish out their time, then they will be deported."

    CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the prison does not respond to anonymous accusers, but said in an email that the company provides all employees with "multiple means to communicate concerns or greivances" and encourages all former and current employees to "pursue those appropriate avenues."
    In response to allegations that the prison is overcrowded and understaffed, Owen said: "The facility maintains a population that falls within the contracted capacity requirements of the Federal Bureau of Prisons." CCA refers questions regarding demographics - who is held in the prison and the number of inmates and staff - to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Owen said.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    Update: Some Answers But Still More Questions in the Death of a Correctional Officer

    This is an update to yesterdays story "Pictures Seem to Indicate that CCA Negligence Could Have Led to Officers Death at Adams County Correctional Facility." The original story can be found here.

    News media reports have reported that the murdered Corrections Corporation of America staff member was called into work as a member of the facilities special response team to deal with the riot. According to those same reports he was on the roof of the Adams County Correctional Facility to observe and deploy chemical agents against the rioting prisoners. Significant questions still remain on how this ladder got onto the facilities recreation yard and came to be in the physical possession of rioting prisoners. Reports now seem to indicate that the murdered CCA staff member along with another CCA staff member were confronted by ten to fifteen prisoners. This violent confrontation was allegedly in response to these staff members having deploying chemical agents during CCA's tactical response to end the riot.

    The existence of this ladder is still very troubling and continues to pose significant questions that CCA still has not publicly answered. Was it used by these staff members to access the roof or did prisoners gain access to a ladder inside of the Corrections Corporation of America prison? If it was used by CCA staff members to gain access to the roof then why did no CCA staff members maintain control of the ladder and why was it used in an area where inmates could gain possession of it?

    Keep in mind that a ladder is a very sensitive tool in a prison. As a tool that could be used in an escape very specific internal and external tool control policies and procedures apply. American Correctional Association (ACA) standards on tool control also would be applicable. If the staff members were given the ladder by other staff members to access the roof then that would seem to indicate that they would have been ordered to violate existing tool control policies in the middle of a prison riot. This would make absolutely no logical sense. All of these tool control policies, ACA standards along with various government prison requirements serve a purpose. A breakdown in following these standards and requirements could very well of led to the death of the facilities young staff member and the assault of another.

    Corrections Corporation of America put out a press release concerning the riot that read in part "Law enforcement officials are providing outside perimeter security as facility staff and management work to resolve the incident inside the facility." It would appear that part of this response was to send these two staff members up onto the roof to deploy chemical agents against rioting prisoners. A move that appears to of led to a brutal attack and unacceptable response from these prisoners in which they brutally attacked both staff members and very violently killed one of them. This blog finds it very troubling that CCA would have deployed these two correctional officers onto the roof by themselves.

    With a huge number of employees taken hostage it's very possible that Corrections Corporation of America employees got emotionally invested in the situation and moved much faster than they should have. Corrections Corporation of America's press release and media reports seem to indicate that Corrections Corporation of America was attempting to deal with the situation inside it's fence on it's own. A situation that may have been beyond the scope of it's staff members training and abilities to handle. With what appears to be the majority of one entire shift at the prison taken hostage it's possible that CCA just did not have the physical manpower to deal with the situation. Perhaps they should have waited until better equipped and better trained outside law enforcement agencies had arrived to plan and carry out a response with the assistance of these outside agencies manpower and assets.

    There is no excuse for what happened. There is no excuse for the brutal murder of this young correctional officer. There is also no excuse for what is starting to look like a very flawed response from Corrections Corporation of America's leadership at the Adams County Correctional Center to this riot.

    This blog continues to call for the resignation of CCA's Adams County Correctional Facilities Warden Vance Laughlin.

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

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Pictures Seem to Indicate that CCA Negligence Could Have Led to Officers Death at Adams County Correctional Facility

    A story first reported here by "The 270 View" Blog

    Negligence (Lat. negligentia, from neglegere, to neglect, literally "not to pick up something") is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.

    News media reports are stating that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) officer who died at the Adams County Correctional Center was murdered by prisoners yesterday on the roof of the facility during the riot. This would indicate that prisoners somehow got access to the roof. A situation that should not of been possible. While no news media has yet reported on exactly how this happened it seems quite obvious to this blog based upon available photographic evidence that CCA employees left a ladder unsecured. One could then logically assume that this ladder most likely was how prisoners accessed the roof.

    The picture in question was taken by a prisoner spokesperson for the rioting prisoners to prove to the station that they were involved in the riot. It was sent to Jackson, Mississippi station WAPT news (channel 16 locally). The picture clearly shows a metal ladder leaning against the roof of the prison (the actual picture is also posted above this story). The appearance of this ladder in a prisoner taken photographs would appear to be a mystery that needs to be answered. Was this ladder left unsecured? Was it left by staff involved in dealing with the riot?  If staff was using it then why would they do so on a recreation yard filled with prisoners?  It would seem that Adams County Correctional Center Warden Vance Laughlin and CCA have some serious questions to answer on how a metal ladder got onto a recreation yard full of rioting detainees especially since it appears that this same ladder was then used to gain access to an otherwise inaccessible part of the facility where a staff member was murdered. Typically ladders in prisons are chained when not in use. As a tool that could easily enable an escape ladders are generally not used in the immediate area of detainees. The people in Natchez are also very lucky that this ladder was not used by violent prisoners who had just murdered a Correctional Officer to escape from the facility.

    The family of the slain officer deserves to know how this happened and why CCA staff did not ensure that this ladder was kept in a more secure environment. While I'm not sure why this young officer was on the roof I'm guessing it was because he was sent to observe the rioting prisoners and report back on there actions. Most likely he had no clue that the prisoners would be able to access the roof and physically assault him in the very brutal attack that led to his death. He probably was unaware that prisoners could get on the roof until he was confronted by them. Based on the prisoner taken photographs it would appear to this blog that Corrections Corporation of America could very easily be negligent in contributing to the death of it's own staff member by not preventing prisoner access to a ladder during a prison riot. Without access to this ladder it's hard to imagine how this young staff member could have been murdered. The family of this correctional officer deserved much better from the company that employed there family member.

    This blog continues to call for the resignation of Vance Laughlin.

    The full news report from WAPT can be found here.

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

    The Aftermath of A Riot - Making Sence Out Of Madness

    I have been reading a lot of the various news media reports on what happened at the Adams County Correctional Facility and trying to make some sense out of it. None of the reports really seems to add up to me.

    We now know that twenty-five (25) staff members were taken hostage.  The Natchez Democrat reported that at 9:11 P.M. "Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said approximately eight staff members are still inside the prison, and a number of agencies are working to get them out." Keeping in mind that this riot happened on a Sunday.  Sundays are typically the slowest day in a prison and sometimes this can result in understaffing at prisons due to a perception that nothing really needs to happen on a Sunday. From my many years of working for Corrections Corporation of America it would seem highly likely that only around 30-40 staff member would be on duty for second shift on a Sunday. So based on media reports it sounds like every CCA employee was either taken hostage or in no sort of position to deal with what was happening.

    Now these CCA employees would be scattered at posts all over the facility. Keeping this in mind one can only wonder how twenty-five employees could be taken hostage so quickly. Almost all CCA facilities are based on the same floor plan or have a very similar layout. The design of the typical CCA prisons includes various "crash gates" or movable metal barriers spread through out them. These security measures are meant to break the prison up into smaller more manageable areas. This is intended to prevent problems from quickly spreading from one part a facility to another. One of the lax security measures under Vance Laughlin at the Stewart Detention Center was that these crash gates were frequently left open on weekends. This was done to speed up employee movement from one part of the facility to another. This blog can not help but wonder if this could of been a factor in what happened at Natchez. It just seems very odd that the entire facility was taken over so quickly. If pod controls inside housing areas were compromised then the facilities master control should of still been able to of contained the riots to the housing units or recreation yards by ensuring that these barriers cut off movement. These crash gates are visible through cameras and also equipped with audio devices so it's not likely that the Corrections Corporation of America employees in control rooms did not know what was happening.

    What happened here should never of happened. However in the aftermath of this horrible event this facility is going to be put under a microscope by both the news media and several government agencies seeking answers. So far it appears that Corrections Corporation of America is trying to place the blame on gang leaders having a power struggle over control of the facility. While some prisoners have claimed that it happened due to anger over inadequate medical care, food, and alleged physical abuse by CCA employees. None of these allegations by prisoners could justify what happened here. However if these allegations are true then it would at least explain the sequence of events that led into this riot. While it's possible that the gang activity allegation could be true after reading the various media reports (if they are accurate) it is beginning to sound a bit doubtful that this might have been done by rival gangs in a internal prison power struggle. News media reports indicate that nineteen (19) people were treated for injuries during the riot. These same reports state that only three of the injured were prisoners. If in fact it was an internal power struggle among prisoners then one has to seriously wonder why there were not more injuries or even deaths to prisoners by other prisoners. It seems quite obvious that most of the anger and violence done was directed at CCA staff members. It just seems highly illogical that prisoners would assault and take hostage almost every single staff member on duty, gain complete or close to complete control of a facility and then afterward some how decide that they were not mad any more at the other prisoners that they allegedly were locked in some type of prison control situation with that caused this whole deplorable situation to happen.

    One can also only help but wonder how so many mops and trash can lids were available to prisoners to use as offensive and defensive weapons. A trained correctional professional knows that these items need to be secured at all times when not in use. Various news media reports also talk about "camp fires" made by prisoners on the recreation yard. This also would be an indicator of problems. Why would wood be on a recreation yard? If it's from tables or bleachers as some has guessed then this would also be a bad sign. A professional outfit probably would have used solid metal outdoor furniture that could be secured with concrete to prevent situations from happening exactly like what did here.

    It just seems to this blog writer like what happened here took a lot of planning and coordination by prisoners. The fact that prisoners could contact news media directly through a cell phone also seems troubling and possibly part of a prearranged plan. Prisoners having a cell phone is yet another red flag that leads this writer to wonder whether this facility has a serious contraband situation. News media reports that the prisoners took pictures from inside the facility would seem to firmly establish that the prisoners did in fact have a cellular phone. One can only wonder where it came from. Staff inside CCA facilities are generally not allowed to have phones inside of a facility so it would appear very unlikely that the detainees got it during the riot.

    While CCA keeps calling this a "disturbance" it seems obvious to all that it was in fact a very bad riot. While CCA keeps parroting that the public was never in any danger it seems very obvious that this is not a very truthful statement. When the local sheriff tells the local Natchez Democrat newspaper that at 9 P.M. they had "taken back most of the interior," but were still working to gain control of the prison it seems quite obvious that the detainees at least briefly had control of the facility.

    The loss of control at the prison and the ensuing situation would also seem to demonstrate a total lack of preparation by CCA for the situation as well as possibly a troubling sign that staff did not know what to do during the incident. The sheriff indicated to the Natchez Democrat that the riot control (was) a "fluid situation. He also stated that "We are working on a plan right now." Prisons are required to have emergency plans and to train staff on them. This training should also have included outside agencies like the sheriffs department. When this riot went down the staff should have immediately pulled out the emergency plans and begun to follow them. The sheriff's answers to the news media could possibly be an indicator that the facility was locked in chaos when a plan should have been developed ahead of time and given guidance to responding agencies.

    If I lived anywhere near a CCA facility I would be losing sleep tonight. When you look at the rural location of the facility and the actual response time by outside agencies it seems to show that CCA can not be counted on to deal with large scale prison riots. It seems like this situation could have very easily been even worse. When the actual control of this facility was lost this could have turned into a mass escape or a slaughterhouse with little to no law enforcement standing in there way. A rural sheriffs department is not set-up or equipped to handle a mess like this. One only has to look at the faces of the many scared onlookers who showed up at this facility to see exactly how scared Natchez was on the day that CCA lost control of it's prison in there town. When CCA counts on an emergency response from outside agencies or other CCA facilities that in many cases are hours away would you feel safe living near a CCA prison?

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

    Troubled CCA Warden Vance Laughlin's Facility Riots - One Death

    I do not think anyone has been more critical of Correction Corporation of America's troubled Adams County Correctional Facilities Warden than this blog. We have repeatedly called for Vance Laughlins termination. We have filed complaints with ICE and publicly documented his repeated failures. Yet he still remained in control of a facility. In this blogs opinion his lax management and long proven track record of failing to maintain National Detention Standards should of led to his termination a very, very long time ago. Yet Corrections Corporation of America still stands by this guy. Having worked directly under Vance Laughlin in the past I have personally witnessed repeated human rights violations and a overwhelming number of CCA and Immigration and Customs Enforcement audit failure results under his leadership. Having several different audits from several different organizations all arriving at the same results should of clearly shown that he would seem to not have the ability to ensure that the facilities he runs could maintain government (and even CCA's own) standards for safety and security.

    Sadly today a Corrections Corporation of America correctional officer under his administrative supervision at CCA's Natchez, Mississippi facility died during a prison riot. This could very well be yet one more example of what happens when CCA continues to stand by a warden whose record in my opinion seems to clearly indicate that his leadership endangers both the detainees and staff who have to serve under him. I am pretty sure that over the coming weeks a huge host of reasons are going to come out on why this riot took place. In my personal opinion some of them will most likely point to his lack of adequate leadership abilities. Keep in mind that this is not the first riot at a facility he has supervised. Previously we documented on this blog how Vance Laughlin threw government ICE employees out of the area where a riot was taking place at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA during an ICE audit ironically covering National Detention Standards on things like safety & security. Sadly even after an incident like that CCA and ICE allowed him to still run a facility. Maybe if he had been previously terminated for one of the numerous things that this blog feels warranted his removal then this riot would not of happened. Perhaps then a CCA correctional officer would not of died today. This blog continues to wonder how CCA can stand by this individual. Now that a correctional officers life has been lost will CCA finally begin to take his leadership problems seriously? If not it is almost certain that more riots and deaths will follow.

    Numerous stories are on the net concerning this riot. It's becoming a rather huge news story. Links can be found here (WTVY Dothan, CNN, Chicago Tribune News, WDAM, The Inqusitr)

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

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    A 270 View Update

    I appreciate everyone's patience with my continuing health issues. "The 270 View" should be back up and running with some new posts next week as I get to feeling better. We look forward to finishing up the series of reports we started running some time back on the very recent inappropriate and unwarranted investigation of this humble blog by the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Regardless of government intrusion and perceived intimidation tactics we will continue to get the message out. We also have several other exciting projects in the works that should start coming out in the next week or so.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Part 3: Cuéntame, The Huffington Post and the Department Of Homeland Security

    This story picks up at the conclusion of part two. Click on these links for part one or part two of this series.

    A while after I had been unsuccessful in attempting to get the Federal Bureau of Investigations Atlanta office to look into the very questionable circumstances around the death of Roberto Medina, I was contacted about being interviewed by one of Robert Greenwald's Brave New Foundation's media campaigns. This interview was for the Cuéntame "Immigrants For Sale" video documentary series.

    During this interview I was asked about the death of Roberto Medina while he was being detained at the private for-profit Corrections Corporation of America run detention center in Lumpkin, Georgia. Investigating the many still unanswered questions around his death was part of the documentary series Cuéntame went on to produce (the actual video is posted above). The founder of Cuéntame, Axel W. Caballero, also wrote about Mr. Medina's death and the Cuéntame produced video documentary that I was interviewed in for the Huffington Post.

    At the time I did not understand the significance of having my name and story in part told on the Huffington Post. Later I would read a Reuters news service article by Mark Hosenbell that detailed how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was regularly monitoring news organizations, social media, video & photo sharing sites and Internet forum sites to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture." One of the websites specifically mentioned and confirmed by the United States government as being monitored was the Huffington Post. Other sites that the Department of Homeland Security listed as monitoring specifically covered immigration and the need for immigration reform. The report also states that secondary websites they found and went on to monitor from listed sites were not listed. A website like "The 270 View" would seem to fall into that category pretty easily as it could be considered as having been linked to a listed and confirmed government monitored site (The Huffington Post) and also covers information (immigration reform) that we now know that the United States government is monitoring.

    In the next part of this series I will get into the actual investigation of myself and this blog by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    GOP lawmakers ridicule aid for jailed immigrants

    Originally found here.

    By Brian Bennett
    WASHINGTON - Republicans in Congress mocked the Obama administration's plans to improve conditions for immigrants held in county jails and detention facilities Wednesday, saying that a raft of changes written by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement amounts to coddling lawbreakers.

    In a hearing titled "Holiday on ICE," Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, took aim at recent administrative changes designed to improve medical care for detainees, reduce incidents of sexual abuse, and increase access to safe water and outdoor recreation, among other changes.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the changes after coming under fire from news reports, human-rights groups, and internal investigations for putting immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes in detention facilities plagued by sexual assaults and inadequate medical care.

    Democrats on the committee took aim at the sarcastic title of the hearing, saying it belittled the serious issue of the agency's poor track record of ensuring the safety and health of detainees in custody. To help make that point, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.) displayed graphic photographs depicting immigrants with fatal wounds and medical conditions that went untreated in detention facilities.

    The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, had asked Smith to reconsider the title of the hearing.

    "I hope we can agree that the manner in which we treat immigrants in our detention facilities is not a laughing matter," Conyers wrote in a letter sent Tuesday.

    Smith was undeterred.

    "ICE has decided to upgrade accommodations for detained illegal and criminal immigrants," he said during the opening minutes of the hearing. "While we would all like to be upgraded, we don't have the luxury of billing the American taxpayers or making federal law enforcement agents our concierge."

    "Detention is no holiday," said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who attended the hearing. "I think they should be embarrassed to describe people who are deprived of their liberty as if they were on vacation."

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    ACLU of Georgia, Sutherland, and Attorney Brian Spears File Lawsuit on Behalf of the Widow of Roberto Medina-Martinez

    Roberto Medina-Martinez Died at Stewart Detention Center Due to Alleged Negligence of Medical Staff

    March 27, 2012

    Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia, (404) 574-0851; ashahshahani@acluga.org
    Brian Spears, (404) 872-7086; bspears@mindspring.com

    ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Sutherland, and Attorney Brian Spears filed a lawsuit today in US District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on behalf of Sara Hernandez-Gonzalez, the widow of Roberto Medina-Martinez against the US Government for its negligence which led to the death of Mr. Medina.  Mr. Medina was a 39 year-old man from Mexico who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Stewart Detention Center.  Mr. Medina died while in ICE custody at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia on March 11, 2009, from acute myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that is usually caused by a viral infection and is often treatable.

    “The records obtained by the ACLU show that Roberto Medina-Martinez was the victim of systemic negligence on the part of the medical staff at the Stewart Detention Center resulting in his unnecessary death,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the ACLU of Georgia. 

    The Government’s negligence included the staff’s failure to have medical examinations signed by a physician in violation of Department of Homeland Security’s Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS) policy and the failure to note Mr. Medina’s chest x-ray as abnormal.  The Government’s negligence also included the pervasive failure on the part of the lead physician to review health records, the proper review of which combined with appropriate follow-up could have prevented Mr. Medina’s death. 

    This failure was not an aberration.  An investigation conducted following Mr. Medina’s death revealed that the physician was systematically failing to conduct the required review of the medical examination information, thereby jeopardizing the health of the entire detention center population. 

    “With this lawsuit, we take the next step to seek justice for the widow and family of Roberto Medina-Martinez,” said Attorney Brian Spears.   “We contend that Mr. Medina’s death could have been prevented and that he died as a result of systematic neglect by certain medical professionals at the Stewart Detention Center.”

    The lawsuit against the US Government charges that negligent acts and omissions of the Government or its agents caused the death of Mr. Medina and asks the court to award damages to Mr. Medina’s widow for his wrongful death.

    Attorneys on the case include J. Dean Marshall and Benjamin Morgan of Sutherland; Chara Fisher Jackson and Shahshahani of the ACLU of Georgia; and Spears.

    The actual complaint can be viewed here.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    In Memory of Ada Essie Sharpton

    Are thoughts are with Pastor Kenneth Glasgow today as his grandmother Ada Essie Sharpton is buried and his family deals with this very emotional time. Pastor Kenneth Glasgow is the founder of "The Ordinary People Society" (T.O.P.S.). Mr. Glasgow spoke out against Corrections Corporation of America at the 5th Annual "Rally to Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center" in November of last year (2011). Mr. Glasgow and his brother (The Reverend Al Sharpton) have also both been very involved in the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin. The link above shows Mr. Glasgow speaking at the Rally. It is worth noting that Mr. Glasgow also addresses the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which we blogged about earlier this week. His comments about ALEC are very timely as ALEC has also been drawn into the recent controversy surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

    Additional coverage of the funeral can be found here.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Cause & Effect - Does ALEC and the NRA have Blood on it's hands with the death of Trayvon Martin?

    The above video is from Cuentame's Immigrants For Sale campaign.

    Immigration rights groups have spoken out for a long time now about the self-enriching process that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) engaged in to fund, write and argue for the passage of anti-immigrant hate laws. When these laws were passed they led to a huge expansion of the for-profit detention business that CCA then made millions of dollars in tax-payer funds off of through entering into lucrative contracts to run for-profit detention centers for the United States government. This was all done through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Through being a member of ALEC, Corrections Corporation of America directly had a hand in writing and then lobbying for the passage of the recent anti-immigrant hate laws in Arizona that then spread to several other states. Without ALEC and CCA these laws would not have been written as they were. They were not developed to make the United States borders more secure. They were developed with the intention to make Corrections Corporation of America and it's investors money, which is exactly what happened.

    Reports are now coming out that ALEC and another one of it's members the National Rifle Association (NRA) wrote the highly controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. Law enforcement representatives from Sanford, Florida claim that this law legally protects George Zimmerman (the racist shooter of Trayvon Martin) from being prosecuted for his murder. The Talking Points Minute blog has reported that it obtained minutes from a 2005 meeting from an old ALEC website from the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause. These minutes reportedly show that Marion Hammer of the NRA pitched model legislation to ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force. The Talking Points Minute blog goes on to state... that an old NRA update also documented the meeting. “Her talk was well-received, and the task force subsequently adopted the measure unanimously,” the NRA wrote in an Aug. 12, 2005 post on the NRA website.

    Update: The Orlando Sentinel newspaper has also joined in or reporting a ALEC and NRA connection to the "Stand Your Ground law." It's article from today is available here.

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

    Sound Familiar? A United Nations Report Details Torture In United States Detention Centers

    On February 29, 2012 the United Nations Human Rights Counsel released a report alleging that 16 gay and transgender immigrants detained in United States immigration detention facilities were tortured. The report states that these actions were a direct violation of articles 7 and 12 of the United Nations Convention against Torture. This report also notes that the United States government declined to respond to a United Nations communication dated August 19, 2011, regarding allegations of torture and ill-treatment in immigration detention facilities. The United Nations Human Rights Council is now demanding an immediate investigation of the conditions of detention, solitary confinement and ill-treatment of the immigrants, and to prosecute and punish the individuals that are responsible for torturing immigrant detainees.

    As a side note it is also worth noting that the United States Department of Justice is so far refusing to cover detention facilities under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Sadly this report appears to be just another example of why PREA should apply to Detention Centers.

    This Blog writer has repeatedly gone on the record and stated that he observed behavior like this as having taken place at Corrections Corporation of America's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. Back in December of 2010 I discussed on this blog how the facilities Warden (Vance Laughlin) had openly mocked a transgendered detainee to a civil rights activist who was touring the facility. In December of 2011 I ran a three part series of articles directly addressing the rape and abuse of a transgendered detainee by both the staff and prisoners at Corrections Corporation of America's Eloy Detention facility in Eloy, Arizona. This writer has also previously gone on the record as having personally observed the placement of a transgendered detainee in Solitary confinement at the Stewart Detention Center for no reason other than being transgendered. This incident was one of the topics that I briefly discussed when I spoke at the "5th Annual Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center Rally" on November 18, 2011 in Lumpkin, GA.

    The United Nations Human Rights Counsel report confirms as existing conditions in United States detention centers exactly like I have previously spoken about as having personally witnessed. This blog continues to feel that if Corrections Corporation of America can not humanly hold people in detention then they are failing to live up to the contracts that the United States government has made with them. Corrections Corporation of America regularly claims that they comply with both American Correctional Association (ACA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS). Yet the facts continue to state otherwise.

    It is way past time for Corrections Corporation of America to be held accountable for the inhumane and deplorable conditions it forces upon both the immigrants in it's for-profit detention centers and the American citizens held in it's for-profit prisons. For this to happen the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would have to take it's self seriously and actually enforce it's own Detention Standards on the abusive companies that it contracts to run these taxpayer supported money pits of misery. However, when the United States government declines to answer the United Nations Human Rights Council's inquiries into torture it kind of makes you wonder just how seriously our government takes the conditions inside it's own detention centers.

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

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    A Look Ahead to this Weeks Posts

    This coming week I will be continuing my series of reports on the recent Department of Homeland Security/Immigration & Customs Enforcement agencies investigation of myself and my blog. This investigation took place after I had come forward in a high profile media campaign that documented deplorable conditions and human rights violations present at Corrections Corporation of America's Stewart Detention Center (SDC). Corrections Corporation of America runs the for-profit SDC facility through a contract with DHS/ICE and Stewart County Georgia.

    In a separate posting this week I will be addressing the findings of a recent United Nations report on violations against undocumented immigrants being held in detention facilities. I will be confirming having witnessed exactly the type of violations the report documents as having taken place at CCA's for-profit Stewart Detention Center.

    I appreciate everyone being so patient with my sporadic blog postings as I continue to deal with my medical issues.

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

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    Setting the record straight on Newt Gingrich

    Today the 270 View is going to discuss and set the record straight on Newt Gingrich's horrible ideas for reforming immigration. The reality is that this guy is really clueless and probably should of dropped out of the presidential race a long time ago. While he casts himself as a contender for the White House the reality is that he has next to no chance of making it onto the ballot against Barack Obama. I suppose if meteorites struck all of the current candidates who actually had a chance (and no one else then decided to enter the race) then he might have a chance but lets be honest that is not going to happen. Regardless though we are going to discuss a few of his less than stellar ideas on immigration today.

    First off Mr. Gingrich feels that undocumented youth should serve in the military in order to receive citizenship. As a military veteran myself it is ironic that candidate Gingrich feels this way when he sought out and received a military service deferment in order to not have to serve in the United States military during the Vietnam conflict. During this conflict many Wiregrass citizens chose to voluntarily join or were drafted into military service while people like Mr. Gingrich took a less dangerous path by dodging the obligation that others felt in serving. So how is it that Mr. Gingrich wishes to push military service onto undocumented youth when he himself as a legal citizen took steps to circumvent having to serve? With both the current conflicts in the middle east (Iraq & Afghanistan) ending the military is entering a period of down sizing. So it is debatable that the military even needs new recruits in numbers larger than it already could attract when people who possibly want to be in uniform might be phased out as the military shrinks over the next few years. Perhaps Mr. Gingrich is aware of this and just sees referring immigrants to non-existing work in the military as a way of not really having to offer an actual pathway to citizenship in any real or meaningful numbers.

    Following the rampant and well documented abuses in the current for-profit detention system by companies like Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Corporation it is worth noting that Mr. Gingrich favors expanding the monetization of undocumented workers by handing management of a guest worker program over to companies like American Express, Visa, or MasterCard. Mr. Gingrich does not seem to understand that human beings are not commodities that can be used to increase corporate profits. The current for-profit detention model is a failure and this laughable and misguided idea of his would also be doomed to failure and a huge waste of tax payer provided funds.

    With ideas like these one can clearly see that Newt Gingrich is out of touch with any real ideas on immigration reform. He remains opposed to the Dream Act and instead sees ways of expanding the ability for private corporations to cash in on undocumented immigrants. Currently it is pretty obvious that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is doing a horrible job in this country. But does Newt Gingrich really have such little faith in ICE that he would remove them from large parts of the immigration system and instead replace them with even more corporations who could then profit off of immigration and the taxpayers instead of simply reforming current ICE policies.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012


    LOVE LIFE: The Tale of Steve Fugate from Erin Henning on Vimeo.

    I am going to change gears here for a post. I usually don't cover non-detention/immigration related matters on this blog. However a few weeks ago I received a link to the video posted above from one of my good friends and a fellow Vero Beach High School classmate from many, many years ago. After watching it I have thought about it a lot over the last week or two. I have posted it above and I would like to encourage you to take a few minutes and watch it. Mr. Fugate's son, Stevie Lee Fugate, was also a Vero Beach High School classmate. While I did not know him well I do remember that he was a friendly and nice person.

    This Saturday Mr. Fugate completed walking over 30,000 miles through 48 states in honor of both his children in Oakland, California. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a story about him completing his walk on our local Dothan stations website. My understanding is that while his walking days might of ended he is currently fundraising to purchase a vehicle in order to keep getting his very important message out. If you wish to support him you can purchase LOVE LIFE merchandise from here. Mr. Fugate's website can also be found here.

    Imagine how great the world would be if we all were so passionate about a message of are own that addressed a problem in the world. My message for the last few years has been immigration abuse. Mr. Fugate's message is an even more important and powerful one of loving life. What's your message? Don't have one? Why not?

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    CCA or GEO will not get Florida Prisons!


    Florida has just voted 21-19 not to hand over south Florida's state run prisons to a private for-profit company. The full story can be found here. I wonder if CCA and GEO regret all those donations to Florida Governor Rick Scott's Inauguration and campaign now. Apparently donating to a Governor's election fund is not as effective in getting prison business as financing a anti-immigration law through membership in a group like ALEC.

    In my opinion if this legislation had passed then those state of Florida correctional officers probably would no longer have a starting salary of $34,000 a year. Instead it would probably drop to the $20,000-$25,000 range that these cut-rate for-profit prisons seem to like to pay. It's also worth noting that these same Florida state Correctional Officers have gone 6 years without a raise. Recently at the Stewart Detention Center employees also had to go several years without raises themselves. Unlike the state of Florida (who is having extreme budgeting problems) CCA was posting profits of millions of dollars and spending millions more buying back stock. Not to mention executive compensation of millions of dollars to the chosen few who lord over all those reduced rate correctional/detention officers from the companies palace corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. From what we heard CCA rewarded as many as sixty (60) of  Stewart Detention Centers loyal Detention Officers with termination papers for not passing credit checks after those same officers went years without raises. It's really a no-brainer that employees in one of the poorest counties in Georgia who have gone years without raises would have bad credit. In my opinion that is just a natural consequence of the recession and cut-rate pay with no raises from a shady for-profit company like Corrections Corporation of America. I wonder why CCA could not understand that this would be a problem? Perhaps they should of been honorable and given there loyal staff some notice before exploiting them for years without a raise and then handing them a pink slip. At least in this bill getting defeated Florida state Correctional Officers won't be getting a loyalty bonus like that from CCA or GEO!

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

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    CCA Has An Escape While Leasing Inmate Labor To A Nursing Home

    Originally found here.

    Area Civil Rights Museum/Black Culture Center Celebrates First Anniversary This Weekend

    This weekend I will be attending celebration activities for the first Anniversary of the "Dee and Doc Melton Senior Black Culture Center." A ceremony will held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Shiloh Baptist Church, located at 2113 Southern Ave. After the ceremony a free dinner will be held at the Neighborhood Community Center on South Central Avenue. If you are free I would encourage you to attend.

    The "Dee and Doc Melton Senior Black Cultural Center" was established by  Rue’Nette Melton (the daughter) and James “Bob” Washington (son) of the late Daughtry Benjamin “Doc” Melton Sr. and the late Ella Dora Alexander Melton. It’s located at 1006 Doc Melton Sr. Drive in Tifton, GA.

    The late Doc Melton was very involved in the struggle for civil rights in Georgia. He paved the way for African American politicians in Tift County when he became the first African American to seek public office in 1966. In a past article by The Tifton Gazette, Melton at age 87 stated that he wasn’t trying to take over the Tift County government. “I just wanted to be a part of it,” Melton was quoted as saying that the election for county commissioner in 1966 brought a lot of black and white people together. “It was really hard, but it opened the way for other blacks,” Melton said at the time.

    According to a February 18, 2011 story in the Tifton Gazette, “People lined up at the courthouse to see if he would qualify,” Rue’Nette stated. “He felt compelled to do what he was called to do. He was a visionary and an unselfish man. He was guided by God and continued to go after what he was led to do. He took a stand when no one else would. He believed in equal rights and knew of the injustice going on here and in surrounding towns back then. My mother encouraged him to take the grocery money to qualify for county commissioner.”   

    In 1967 "Doc" also organized the first NAACP branch in Tift county.

    Dee and Doc Melton's legacy now lives on through outreach activities conducted by their children at the museum and cultural center named in their honor. His children are also involved in fighting for civil rights and taking a stand against injustices. I am proud to of met and marched with them both at the recent protest against abuses in the immigration detention system at CCA's Stewart Detention Center in November of 2011. I look forward to seeing them both again this weekend as we celebrate the continuing legacy of their parents as well as there own accomplishments in the local community.

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Part 2: An Unanswered Call for Answers

    Below is the actual letter that was sent to Special Agent Lamkin and the Federal Bureau of Investigations seeking answers for the very questionable death of Roberto Martinez Medina. Mr. Medina died while he was in the custody of Corrections Corporation of America at the For-profit Stewart Detention Center. To this day no one from the FBI or Department of Homeland Security has contacted me to investigate this matter or respond to my very serious allegations relating to his untimely death. 

    Incidentally I still feel "that this issue is much bigger than a blog entry on my humble blog." However I now feel that I'm left with no choice but to release my allegations here to possibly force a government investigation into this matter by airing the actual complaint as well as highlighting this incident that I believe led to the Department of Homeland Security to target myself and my blog for a rather lengthy and detailed investigation. In Part 3 I will focus on media coverage related to my blog and in Part 4 I will focus on the actual investigation that ICE/DHS conducted on me. (Picture is courtesy of Georgia Detention Watch).

    Special Agent Lamkin,

    Almost two years ago Roberto Medina died at the Stewart Detention Center (SDC) in Lumpkin, GA. This is a private for profit facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). It is my belief that CCA and Public Health Services workers have covered up pertinent details of his death and that Mr. Medina had his civil rights violated while in custody. Public Health Services provides medical services at SDC.

    I would like to request that your agency look into this incident and resolve the many questions that still exist almost two years after his death. I run a blog that has previously reported on conditions at SDC. I was contacted by a current employee that revealed the following timeline concerning Mr. Medina's death:

    2000 Hours (8 PM) - Roberto Medina is alive and lying on his bunk. Detainees report to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) staff members that Mr. Medina is very sick. The control room operator is asked by another CCA staff member to call medical to get Mr. Medina treatment. Several second shift officers then state that medical already knew and that Mr. Medina was fine. A staff member calls medical on the telephone from the unit anyway. Medical staff tells this staff member that the Public Health Service (PHS) doctor had previously seen Mr. Medina and that he was "okay."

    0100 (1 AM) Before 2nd count a CCA staff member calls a "Medical Emergency" over the radio. Instead of coming to the unit (as policy requires) a medical staff member calls the unit on the telephone and asks what the emergency is. PHS were told on the phone that Mr. Medina was "very sick" and "would not respond" to CCA staff members. PHS again asserted that they were not coming to the unit because Mr. Medina had already been seen by medical and that he was fine. After count a different staff member was put into the housing unit with Mr. Medina. This was allegedly because the previous staff member was causing "trouble" by calling medical emergencies and medical staff about Mr. Medina's health status. A staff member alleges that Mr. Medina was deceased at the time of the 0100 count.

    The next day staff learned that Mr. Medina had died. Word was sent to at least one staff member by the Sergeant on duty (at the Captains request) that they needed to keep "there mouth shut about stuff that they did not know anything about or that they might loose there job for talking about someones medical condition." Staff members were also reminded that CCA had had them all sign a privacy statement at the time that they were hired.

    It is my belief that CCA and PHS violated Mr. Medina's civil rights by not providing him with emergency medical care. Furthermore that CCA and PHS both have attempted to cover-up the incident and that plenty of evidence of this exists if a proper investigation was to be conducted by your agency. Your agency should consider reviewing log book entries, video tape and interviewing staff on duty that day etc.

    Mr. Medina was denied medical care over several shifts even though both staff and detainees attempted to get him seen by doctors. I feel that this issue is much bigger than a blog entry on my humble blog and deserves to be looked into in a much more formal manner.

    Best Wishes,
    Bryan L. Holcomb

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Demand Wells Fargo Invest in Jobs Not Cages

    I will not be attending this event due to health problems. However I would like to strongly encourage my readers to participate. If you bank with Wells Fargo in a city other than Atlanta you can still participate by closing your account and letting them know that you are doing so in opposition to there investment practices.

    Contact:  Everett Howe, ABLE,  f22ev@yahoo.com, 404.290.9504
    Roger Sikes, Jobs with Justice, Roger@atlantajwj.org, 404.782.0737
    Priscilla Padron, Georgia Detention Watch,  priscatran@gmail.com, 404.373.7325

    Atlanta, Georgia - January 24th, 2012 - National Day of Action Against the Private Prison Industry

    Georgia groups join with communities in thirteen other cities across the country  at a rally urging Wells Fargo to divest from the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo stock and invest in humanity.  The action is at Wells Fargo Downtown, 2 Peachtree Street at 11:30 a.m.

    I am outraged that a bank invests in incarcerating fathers and mothers whose only crime is working to improve the lives of their families.  That's why we are asking Wells Fargo to divest from CCA and GEO,  says Everett Howe, a retired Air Force engineer, who is active in both Georgia Detention Watch and Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE).

    We urge Wells Fargo customers to move their accounts and deposit boxes from Wells Fargo, a major investor in Corrections Corporation of America CCA and GEO, said Priscilla Padron of Georgia Detention Watch. Both companies promote, build, manage, and profit from private prisons.  Instead, community members should consider opening accounts with local credit unions.

    CCA and the GEO Group are the two largest corporations profiting from imprisoning immigrants. By lobbying legislators and contributing to their campaigns, they are the power and brains behind the anti-immigrant laws that are incarcerating community members in states like Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona.

    Sponsors of the action include:
    Georgia Detention Watch*
    Gamaliel organization (ABLE)*
    Atlanta Jobs with Justice
    Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR)
    Occupy Atlanta

    *Georgia Detention Watch will lead the rally on behalf of the Atlanta area.  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.

    *ABLE is a local affiliate of Gamaliel, a grassroots network of non-partisan, faith-based organizations in 18 U.S. states, South Africa and the United Kingdom that organizes to empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Part 1: Death of an Immigrant

    I'm a little late in posting this due to some health problems I have. This is the first part in a new series of articles on this blog detailing why I believe this blog was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. See last weeks blog for more information.
    In March of 2009 Roberto Martinez Medina died while being detained at Corrections Corporation of America's (CCA) Stewart Detention Center (SDC). Mr. Medina died from what many people believe was a very treatable heart infection. Mr. Medina allegedly was repeatedly denied medical attention for this condition. Many activists and organizations have also pointed to the location of CCA's Stewart Detention Center as being a major factor in his death. With almost 2,000 people being detained at the Stewart Detention Center many people continue to believe that a location closer to major medical service providers should of been chosen for the facility. By locating this facility almost a full hour away from any source of advanced medical care, immigrants being detained there will continue to pay a price. For Mr. Medina that price was his life.
    Many months after Mr. Medina's Death this blog began to receive reports of incompetence and indifference among Corrections Corporation of America and Public Health Services employees that we believe led to Mr. Medina being denied medical care. Allegedly the Public Health Services medical staff on duty refused to see Mr. Medina while some of the Corrections Corporation of America staff on duty (who were aware of Mr. Medina's pleas for medical care) displayed an uncaring attitude that ignored Mr. Medina's pain and suffering even as they watched him very slowly die in front of them. It is my personal belief that the repeated denial of medical services while in Corrections Corporation of America's custody at the Stewart Detention Center had an immediate and terminal effect on Mr. Medina's health.
    This blog however also wishes to highlight the previously undocumented actions of a few unnamed Corrections Corporation of America staff members who in the face of corporate adversity did the right thing and continued to try and seek medical care for Mr. Medina. Perhaps if the Corrections Corporation of America supervisors on duty and the facilities administration had been more sympathetic to there pleas of needed care then Mr. Medina would still be with us today. It is regretful that these employees can not get the recognition that they deserve for trying to prevent what ultimately became a possibly preventable tragedy. The fear that these employees felt in contacting me in regards to Mr. Medina's death speaks volumes about the environment and corporate culture that Corrections Corporation of America appears to have in place at the Stewart Detention Center.
    As a blogger I chose at the time not to write about the allegations I received regarding Mr. Medina's untimely death on this blog. I believed that this issue was much larger than my own blog. I believed that it was far more important to try and get justice for Mr. Medina than to write about it to my blog's own very small readership. So instead of blogging I optimistically contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Atlanta, GA through FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin to make a Civil Rights Complaint in the death of Mr. Medina. I contacted the FBI several times and to this day I have never received any type of reply from the FBI or any other government official or department regarding Mr. Medina's death. It had been my hope that an investigation into Mr. Medina's death would be conducted in order to prevent future situations like this from taking place. I had apparently wrongly believed that someone in the government would care about the death of a detainee who died while in the custody of a for-profit company that the United States government had subcontracted with to detain him.
    All opinions expressed here are just that. Please cross check anything you read before forming your own opinion.

    In the next part of this series I will release my actual (unanswered) letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (F.B.I.) that outlines what I believe was a conspiracy to cover-up Corrections Corporation of America and Public Health Services negligence in the death of Mr. Medina. It is still my belief that employees of both of these entities denied Mr. Medina basic medical care which led to his death while in Corrections Corporation of America's custody.