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.